Beanfields Recipe #2: Roasted Bell Pepper and Eggplant Dip!

Who doesn’t love a good dip? I absolutely love hummus, but I don’t want to eat hummus all the time. So I decided to create this Beanfields Snacks recipe for a dip that I know you’ll enjoy! It’s vegan and gluten-free and it can be used as a spread or, as I can attest to, be eaten straight out of the bowl!  And do you see those ingredients? It’s completely guilt-free and full of nutrients! That’s what I call Food As Medicine.

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Nutrients of this recipe (only some!):

Bell peppers – Vitamin C (157% in 1 cup!), B6, Vitamin A

Eggplant- Not an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, but a source nonetheless. Instead, though, eggplant provides us with nasunin, a potent antioxidant compound that protects cell membranes from damage.

Chickpeas- Manganese, Folate, Copper, Fiber, Phosphorus, Protein, Iron, Zinc

Health Benefits: In short, this recipe is packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to keep us well. Don’t know what phytonutrients are? Think again. I’m sure you’ve heard of  carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols before. Well, this recipe is full of phytonutrients that work to keep our body healthy and functioning properly. I won’t make specific health claims, but I recommend that if you are really curious about them, visit WHFoods.com to research some of the foods in this recipe and read about the numerous health benefits and you can follow up with the studies that support the claims.

Admittedly, as I’m learning as a nutrition student, it is best to eat bell peppers and many other vegetables without exposing them to heat (i.e. raw) due to the loss of some nutrients, but who says both can’t be done? I mean, what’s to stop you from enjoying this dip with slices of bell pepper, carrots, or celery? So, go ahead and have fun making this dip and eating it too!

ROASTED BELL PEPPER & EGGPLANT DIP

Ingredients

Red bell pepper- 1 medium

Eggplant- ½ medium

Chickpeas- 1 cup

Beanfields Jalapeno chips- ¼ cup crushed

Nutritional yeast- 1tbsp (optional)

Garlic- 1-2 cloves

Onion- ½ onion, sautéed

Olive oil- 4 tbsp (1/4 cup)

Water- 2-3 tbsp

Salt- ¼ teaspoon (more or less to taste)

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Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Coat roasting dish with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Slice bell pepper and eggplant and coat with oil using an oil brush. Place on roasting dish and roast in oven for 45 minutes.
  4. Pour and spread teaspoon of olive oil on sauté or frying pan and heat skillet on low heat.
  5. Chop onion and garlic and sauté in skillet on medium heat until almost fully cooked (approx. 5 minutes).
  6. Add chickpeas to pan for another 3-5 minutes. Add another teaspoon of olive oil if necessary.
  7. Take out the bell pepper and eggplant and place all ingredients in a blender, including remaining olive oil, Beanfields chips, and nutritional yeast if you are using it.
  8. Blend the ingredients on a lower mode until a proper dip texture is formed; the dip should not be too thick when in blender as it will thicken more when it sits and cools. Pour/scoop the dip into a bowl or container and place in fridge for an hour or so to cool. (This dip can also be enjoyed hot as a topping or as a side.)
  9. Enjoy however and with whatever you please!

 

Happy Eating & Cooking!

Baked Tofu Fries: A Beanfields Recipe

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to join Beanfields Snacks as a food/recipe blogger. I’ll be writing up a more detailed post about why I love Beanfields, so I’ll keep this post to just sharing my first recipe for them that it also available on their site.  This recipe for baked tofu fries is dairy-free, gluten-free, corn-free, and vegan!

I hope you enjoy!

Print

Baked Tofu Fries

Ingredients    (Serves 2)

Tofu – 1 package

Beanfields Nacho Chips- 1/3 bag (or another flavor you love!)

Olive oil – 2 tablespoons

Nutritional yeast – 2 tablespoons (more or less based on preference)

Sesame seeds – 1 teaspoon

Garlic powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Onion powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Cayenne pepper – 1/4 teaspoon

Smoked paprika – 1/4 teaspoon

Salt – 1/4 teaspoon (a tad more if desired)

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Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Spread the olive oil in baking sheet or baking dish.
  3. Slice the block of tofu into strips resembling French fries. Keep in mind that the thicker they are, the longer they will need to bake and if the strips are too thin, they make break apart as you try to handle them.
  4. With an oil brush, or something similar, brush the tofu strips with oil and place in baking sheet or dish.
  5. Crush the Beanfields chips until they are finely ground (can be done mortar-and-pestle-style or using a blender).
  6. Mix powders, ground chips, spices, salt, sesame seeds, and nutritional yeast in a bowl and, with a spoon, distribute the flavor mix onto the light oil-coated tofu strips. Be sure to not only coat one side of the strips with the mix.
  7. Spread out the tofu strips so they are not touching each other. Place coated tofu strips into the oven for 35-45 minutes (length of time depends on the quality/power of your oven).
  8. Enjoy with or without your favorite condiment(s)! My favorite is Valentina’s hot sauce!

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Happy Cooking!

 

 

 

Forget La Vida Loca. Live “La Vida Veggie.”

When I was at Portland VegFest (2016 dates: October 22-23) this past November, I learned about a lot of new companies and people doing awesome things with food, clothing, magazines, speaking engagements, cooking, fitness, and so much more. One of the benefits of being part of such a great event was learning about people within my community, the Portland community, who are doing great things. One such person is Heather Solano.

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In 2014, Heather saw an opportunity to spread plant-based eating to others outside of Portland (already a haven-and heaven-for veg-eaters) and so she opened up La Vida Veggie in next-door Beaverton, OR (hometown of Nike World Headquarters). After VegFest, Heather announced that she was turning her vegetarian menu into a 100% plant-based, vegan menu. I was intrigued and I recently finally got around to asking her more about this decision. I was able to learn the narrative of Heather and of La Vida Veggie and I bring you what is not a short Q&A, but Heather’s responses are so well-crafted, you won’t look at the clock once!
So grab your chips, salsa, and the guac, get comfy, and enjoy:

What made you open up a restaurant? Why vegetarian?

I have lived on the Westside of Portland since I was a kid. I’ve been all over by bike, foot, bus and car. I know this side of the river like the back of my hand. When I became vegan 6 years ago, I really longed for a place that I could go, relax and eat that was close. This desire along with my love of cooking with plant foods mixed with divine timing and moral support from my community, really inspired me to go for it. I specifically wanted a plant based restaurant for two reasons: 1. It is a lifestyle that I truly believe in and 2. I believe that it was an unfilled need on the west side. The summer of 2014, my youngest child was ready to start full day kindergarten and this small, humble space opened up across the street from school. It was perfect; and worth a try. Why not, right?!

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Are you vegetarian or vegan? Why do you follow this diet or lifestyle?

I am vegan. I have been on this journey, bumps in the road and all, for six and a half years. I used to have a vegetarian friend in middle school. I thought she was eccentric and couldn’t understand her emotional meltdowns when my 14 year old self and friends would gather all of our change, order a half vegetarian/half pepperoni pizza from Old Town Pizza. The pepperoni juice would get on HER half of the pizza and she would then insist on getting her own personal pizza. This was my first brush with vegetarianism. (I totally understand her now!) Although I was a particular child who picked at my chicken to make sure I was only eating white meat and hid my pork chops in my pockets at the dinner table so I wouldn’t have to eat them, I never considered this lifestyle until my second child was born. His arrival via HVBAC in my kitchen (go figure!) changed many, many things in my life. One of these happened when, after nursing him, he would spit up his food and have gastro intestinal issues. I started to research what could have been causing this. One book suggested that dairy could be the culprit. I was eating my fair share of cheese and ice cream, so I did an experiment and cut it out of my diet. Not only did his discomfort go away but headaches that I had been living with, on almost a daily basis since I was a teen, miraculously disappeared. I was amazed! I picked up the book, Skinny Bitch and then The Kind Diet. What I read horrified me, but inspired me to learn more. I watched Earthlings, Forks over Knives, Food Inc. and anything else I could get my hands on. That was it for me. I could not support an industry that harmed animals, the environment and us human beings ever again. Cutting out meat was easy and surprisingly natural for me. I haven’t looked back since.

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What made you decide to have La Vida Veggie make the shift to an all-vegan menu? How has the customer response been?

Honestly, I wanted to be an all vegan establishment from the very beginning. But, I was scared. I was scared of the doors closing before I could even open. I was scared of not being supported and not being able to acquire enough interest; after all, it is the wild wild west side! I didn’t have corporate money to advertise and open a huge, fancy place. I knew I had a lot of vegetarian supporters in the community. But, vegan? I wasn’t so sure. After one year of being open, I went for it. I always talk about being true to oneself; I wear my heart on my sleeve and I have to practice what I preach. It was scary to take the leap. However, I’m glad I made this decision. There have been a few people upset, but the response from the vegan community has been so great that it makes up for it. At the end of the day, I’m happy and satisfied with my decision.

What are some of LVV’s most popular dishes/foods?

We have a few best sellers. As expected, our specials usually sell out. I love specials! It’s a way for my staff and me to be creative, try out crazy and fun ideas and keep things fresh and interesting. Our menu is seasonal and changes every three months, however, our jackfruit and walnut meat tacos as well as our Portobello pesto grilled Panini are definitely our best sellers. The tacos are topped with guacamole, pico de gallo, oregano, pickled cabbage and a cashew lime cream. The Portobello Pesto has marinated portobellos, basil pine nut pesto, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and cashew cheese. Everything besides our breads and tortillas (at least for now!) is housemade.

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What is your favorite food to create with?

Mushrooms…mushrooms are amazing! Not only do they taste amazing but they are so important to our environment. They purify the land, have complex underground systems and provide our bodies with important nutrients like Vitamin D, riboflavin and potassium. I love using them as one of my sources of protein too!  I have a love affair with portabellos. They are super “meaty” and I always bring them to family BBQ’s! I also always look forward to Chanterelle season every year. My favorite way to prepare them is to sauté them in fresh garlic and ginger with a touch of shoyu, cooking sherry and sesame oil. I also love to make gravy with them. One of my favorite ways to use mushrooms, however, is to pick out many different varieties and make a big bowl of mushroom ceviche. All of the flavors of the tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, cilantro and lime really marinate into the mushrooms and make them so tender and juicy.

La Vida Veggie doesn’t just dish up tasty vegan dining. LVV also puts on classes and workshops, right? What kinds of events are generally on the calendar and why take that on?

We absolutely love it when practitioners, artists, community organizers, etc. come to us and want to host events. I really envision LVV being a community space as well as a restaurant. Some events that we have hosted would include Women’s Red Tents, painting classes, tea ceremonies, art shows and of course, our monthly “Make Tamales Not War.” This is an event that is held most last Saturdays of the month where volunteers and I make up to 200 tamales that are then passed out to homeless men, women and children in our area. It’s really an amazing experience. We are currently also selling food tokens that are then given to the Beaverton Help Center next door, whom then distributes them to homeless families to redeem at our restaurant. Our events bring so much energy flow in and out of La Vida Veggie and they really bring the community together in many fun and interesting ways.

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What’s been your most memorable experience since opening La Vida Veggie?

Oh my goodness….every day is memorable. Seriously; I learn so much every day. I’ve made so many mistakes (aka opportunities for growth) and I’ve just had to laugh at myself. So…memorable in a mind-blowing, “wow that was amazing!” way would have had to been attending the Portland VegFest 2015. I had made it my one-year goal to attend and it was an incredible experience. It was a major amount of work but it was so rewarding. I remember weeks and nights before having checklists—and checklists for my checklists—outlining everything that I needed to do and when. Something that has been invaluable for me has been to learn the art of delegation. So, nights before, I just had to give up some control and enlist help. Some wonderful volunteers, as well as my employees helped me prep everything. We had an open dining room for service plus about six people in our teeny tiny kitchen, hands on, making Operation VegFest happen. That Friday night [the night before VegFest], my kids were dressed to the nines making their acting debut on stage at school across the street for a spring performance. So, here I was, staying until the last second that I could at the restaurant and then jogging to school to catch my daughter’s lead role as “Narrator 1” just for it to end to jog back to answer my shop’s text message of “help!” Ha! It was a crazy (but fun!) couple of days. My most memorable moments have been like this, actually. Moments where I think I’m being tested and pushed so far to the edge that I actually may just fall off but in reality I’m growing, learning and accomplishing things that I never thought I could. I’m sure one of these days, the mountains to climb over are going to be 100 times larger and I’m just going to read back on this, chuckling, shaking my head and remembering how easy I (once) had it.

What drives you every day?

This question makes me laugh! I think that I am extremely stubborn and will-driven. Don’t think I can do it?! Well, yes…yes, I can and here, let me prove it! Besides my natural tendency to want to do everything, the fact that I truly, in my heart, believe in this lifestyle and everything it has to offer the world drives me to get up and go to work every day. I love to connect with people; I crave it and it is my purpose in life. I want to spread the message of veganism through this connection; through love and compassion; through non-judgmental living examples; through me and my business. I’m most definitely a dreamer and the reality of the business world has and continues to bring me back to Mother Earth but I just know in my heart that I was sent here to make a difference. And, I will only dedicate my time and energy to something if that is exactly what I’m doing.

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Are you perfectly content with La Vida Veggie and its now-vegan menu or do you have additional plans in mind for your and LVV’s future?

La Vida Veggie will continue to be vegan forever. This will not change. However, I do dream of expanding out of my little 14 seat café restaurant. I think about it every single day of my life! I envision a larger, full restaurant with a hood (imagine that!). I would love to be able to exercise all of the menu ideas that I have and bring an incredible, classier version of La Vida Veggie to the Westside. I would love the capacity to make our own breads, tortillas, chips as well as have a more extensive and varied menu. I would also like to entertain the idea of a dance floor and stage for live music as well as a full drink menu, using the finest fresh juices and elixirs. I am convinced that this is where La Vida Veggie is going and I hope to continue to grow with the support and love from our community.

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So what are you waiting for? Either add it to your list of restaurants to dine at when you visit Portland, or if you are local, make lunch or dinner plans  at La Vida Veggie! You won’t only be supporting this incredible small woman-owned and run business, but also the community that it supports through all it offers beyond creating and serving really good food.

Happy Eating!

7 Days of 10 Miles a Day: Why I Did It and What I Learned

THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED FROM FEBRUARY 2016; UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2016.

Last winter, I decided to turn what was a three day streak of 10 (tempo), 13 (trail) , and 10 (slower) miles, into a personal challenge. The challenge was that I would run at least 10 miles a day for 7 days straight, including the 3 days I had just run. I wasn’t worried about having enough time. Even with work, writing, and other commitments, I knew I had enough time to log the miles. It would take up about 75 to 85 minutes of each day and I was more than willing to dedicate that time to running.

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I got the initial idea for this challenge from a seed that was planted months before while I was reading Nick Symmonds’ book, Life Outside the Oval Office. Nick Symmonds is a phenomenal 800m specialist and has represented the US on numerous occasions, has many championship titles to his name, and is the 4th fastest American ever in the 800m event. In the book, Symmonds mentions running about 10 miles a day when he started to take his running more seriously and started to pursue qualifying for Team America for the next Olympics at the time. I wondered what running 10 miles a day was like. I’ve put in 80+ mile weeks when training for ultramarathons, but they didn’t consist of running 10 miles a day. What would my body feel like? How would I recover? What could I do to speed muscle recovery to avoid injury? Would I get tired of running after completing even just one week of that? I put these questions aside and went about my running as normal, but I couldn’t hold off any longer and I resolved to find some answers.

At the time of the beginning of this challenge, I had already run 3 days of 10+ miles and I was feeling great. What was 4 more days of it? Because I was entering the work week on that 4th day, I knew I would likely need to split my runs up. I figured this strategy would help me get through the runs without risking very unnecessary and unwantedr injury.

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There is also one other reason I decided to attempt this challenge. Sure, Symmonds’ book had planted the seed of 10 miles a day, but the seed to run repetitive long runs was planted many, many months before when I first started learning about stage racing. Stage racing, or multi-day racing, involves running x number of miles a day or per stage, for number of miles per each stage. As this truly is an endurance running event, the miles are not generally anything to laugh. Take, for example, the Grand to Grand Ultra race that is held in Utah at the end of September. Runners must run the 170 mile course, self-supported, in 6 stages; runners cannot go ahead and run extra miles a day as that is simply not what stage running is about. Here is the stage breakdown for Grand to Grand:

Stage 1: 30.8 mi

Stage 2: 26.9 mi

Stage 3: 52.6 mi

Stage 4: 26.0 mi

Stage 5: 26.0 mi

Stage 6:  7.7 mi

And here is elevation, which over the 6 stages, total ascent is 18,041ftCourse profile

Now I know that all of this may scare some people and people may think these runners are downright crazy…I just so happen to be okay with being crazy.

When I decided to start eating a vegan diet, the first thing I noticed was how quickly my body recovered. I went from only running 5ks here and there, to training for a triathlon on a vegetarian diet and then for a marathon on a vegan one and recovery was the most obvious change for me. I no longer had any knee pain which I occasionally experienced (most likely inflammation due to my diet), and I didn’t experience fatigue or low energy even after hard workouts. It was remarkable. Eventually, I signed up for my first ultramarathon a year after being vegan and I knew it would be a daunting training period, but I was up for the challenge. I went through back-to-back long runs of up to 5 hours each from July through September in addition to tempo runs and strength training workouts and I didn’t experience the slightest bit of injury or real fatigue (of course I got tired, but not genuinely fatigued). I was recovering from my workouts so well and I attributed all of it to 1) being a smarter runner and 2) my plant-based diet. All of this to say that I learned a few years ago that my body recovers rather quickly. When I learned about multi-day stage racing, I fantasized about someday putting my ability to recover quickly to the test.

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The challenge of running that number, 10 miles for 7 days, may have came from Nick Symmonds’ book, but I committed to this personal challenge to see what I would learn, not to be like Nick. When I’m financially ready (some of these races are several hundreds of dollars or a thousand and that’s just for registration!) and have the ability to put in the training, I want to start running these events. I figured, repeating 10 miles a day would give me a very slight glimpse as to what it feels like to engage in this kind of training. I could have made it more of a challenge by committing to 10 miles straight each day without breaking up the mileage, but it was still a learning experience.

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An important part of the recovery: making sure my nutrition was balanced. I increased my calories (I did so probably by at least 500, but I didn’t count) because I was naturally hungrier, but I would have done so anyway to ensure my body had the energy it needed to do its daily job of functioning properly and recovering efficiently. Some runs, like Day 5’s especially, were run with very tight calves, so an adjustment in my stride was required, but I still made it through each of those 5 mile runs (morning and afternoon) at just under 8 minutes/mile pace.

The week-long challenge was completed with a 10 miler which I ran straight thru. What was so great was that I had to force myself to not run on day 8 because of how energized I was to do so, but I knew I needed a rest day after running what turned out to be 80 miles in 8 days or, for the challenge, 73 miles in 7 days (I ran the minimum 10 miles a day for 7 days but the day before I started the challenge I had run 7 miles).

So what did I learn?

By taking care of my body, my body was able to get through the mileage–mileage I hadn’t run in over 6 months–and not result in getting sick or feeling any signs of injury or physical stress. I kept up on my nutrition–eating additional calories and eating more nutritiously–and stretched and rolled more which all helped a lot. Stretching was so helpful especially for not waking up sore and tight in the morning. I wish I got more sleep and I wonder how sufficient sleep would have helped me even more…maybe something to try out next time I embark on this challenge.

My best advice: find out how you best recover because no matter how much you train or don’t train, the ability to recover efficiently is the key to staying healthy and enjoying running and isn’t that the point of it all?

Happy Running!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy and Delicious 3-Ingredient Pancakes

Many people reserve pancakes for the weekend; this is true for when I was growing up as well. I am not positive why this is, but I have a feeling it has something to do with pancakes being thought of as not the healthiest of breakfasts and it’s probably not if you stick to the most popular pancake mixes out there. Just look at how many ingredients there are in these two popular pancake mixes:

BISQUICK

Enriched Flour Bleached (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate,                                  riboflavin, folic acid), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil,                            Leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate),                  Dextrose, Salt.

AUNT JEMIMA 

INGREDIENTS: ENRICHED BLEACHED FLOUR (BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR,                                 NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID),                       SUGAR, LEAVENING (SODIUM BICARBONATE, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE,                   MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE), DEXTROSE, NONFAT DRY MILK, PARTIALLY                               HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL, SALT, WHEAT GLUTEN, CALCIUM CARBONATE,                   CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, SODIUM CASEINATE, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, LACTIC                     ACID.

Corn syrup solids? Partially hydrogenated oils? Bleaching agents to make my pancakes whiter and fluffier? “No, thank you,” to all of that!

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What if I told you that you can have pancakes everyday and, unless you go overboard with the mix-ins, not jeopardize your health goals? Well, with these guilt-free pancakes, you can. They are perfect for fueling, recovering, pleasing, and just plain living. Seriously, though: I’ve had these pancakes every morning for three days straight so far and I didn’t once feel heavy or go into a food coma.  So I have for you today, a simple recipe for making the most nutritious and delicious pancakes you’ve probably ever had (Okay, maybe this applies to the “nutritious” part.). Now, you can make these less-healthy or healthier by adding certain add-ins (e.g. adding chocolate chips and loads of syrup every morning is not something I’d advise) , but the 3 main ingredients stay the same.

3 Ingredients:

  1. ROLLED OATS (3/4 cup)
  2. NONDAIRY MILK (1/2 cup)
  3. BANANA (1 medium-sized)

That’s right. You can turn this:

Into this:

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Or this:

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Whenever you want.

Recipe for 3-Ingredient Pancakes (makes 3-4 medium sized pancakes):

  1. Pour the dry rolled oats into a blender and blend them until they become like flour. This should take less than a minute.                                                                       11
  2. Add the nondairy milk and the banana and blend until a batter forms. This should take less than a minute.
  3. Pour the batter into a pre-heated pan that is lightly smeared (like you would any other time you make pancakes). Earth Balance or coconut oil are probably good options here, but I’m sure you can find a way to not use either fatty option.                              16
  4. Monitor and flip like you would any other time you’re making pancakes. They aren’t as fragile as you think they might be thanks to the banana. pan1
  5. Serve with whatever toppings you want. I top with pure maple syrup because it’s a sweetener that at least has some nutritional value (e.g. zinc, manganese, calcium).

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I’m a sucker for (vegan) chocolate chip pancakes and I added hemp seeds, ground cinnamon, and cacao powder for extra nutrients.

pan4                       Added crushed almonds to this batter.

Additional ingredients to add to the batter after 3 ingredients have been blended or on top of the pancakes once ready (your preference): cinnamon, cacao or cocoa powder, chocolate chips, crushed nuts, seeds (hemp, pre-soaked chia, pumpkin, sunflower), blueberries, goji berries, apricots, figs, apples.

There you have it! Pancakes so good you’re dishwasher (child, partner, or machine) will want to thank you! 🙂

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Now you have an easy way to make healthy pancakes that are nutritious and delicious. They are also vegan and gluten free so you can share this recipe with friends and family members without worry of conflicting with their dietary choices.

Yay! Pancakes for everyone!

PS: If the batter and finished products are a bit on the thicker side where you can tell they are definitely made from hearty oats, add a tad more nondairy milk to the batter. Optimally, they have a bit of fluffiness to them and shouldn’t be close to dry when you are eating them.

 

 

 

Home for the Holidays

I’m back! I have missed writing a lot, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being home in New Jersey for the holidays and taking a break from the computer. While the parts of NJ I frequent aren’t nearly as beautiful as Oregon, being around family and friends has been most welcome during this holiday season. I’ll be keeping this post short in words and share my NJ trip thus far through pictures I’ve taken and captions.

friends4 It didn’t happen the first night, but it happened all the same. Love these rice and beans that I couldn’t wait for my parents to make. They make it much, much healthier nowadays which means more veggies, less sodium, and brown rice instead of white. Win.

friends5 friends2   friends6 Decorating for Christmas.

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Seeing friends has been great for us.

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Had a great 16 mile run  and was awarded with an awesome view of Jersey I hadn’t seen before but was never far from.

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Talk about holiday eating! What’s the green? Spinach. And red: Mom’s cranberry jam.

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Christmas Eve dinner was a huge healthy and tasty success! All plant-based except for one dish for some of Val’s family. Val made an incredible vegan apple pie. I’m pretty sure I ate a third of it myself!

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I tried to eat healthy at every chance I could which included snacking.

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Christmas was the best! We’re sporting our “World’s Best Aunt/Uncle” mugs here due to the very thoughtful niece of mine.

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And this happened on Christmas as well. She’s not giving you the finger; she’s showing you that I put on a ring on it!

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We couldn’t visit home and not pay a visit to Sprig and Vine. They introduced Val and I to what really good vegan dining could be like and they remain close to our hearts. My parents love going there too so that’s a plus for getting them to enjoy plant-based fare. That’s a Cauliflower Bahn Mi sandwich and some kind of apple and cranberry pie that we had for dessert.

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Went to Blossom for a vegan and organic brunch with my mom and Val. The Florentine and the french toast were out of this world!

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Walked around the Chelsea Market and grabbed some Beyond Sushi for an all-vegan sushi wrap snack. Val simply can’t resist vegan sushi.

n4 View right out of Penn Station.

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Enjoyed the city with family and my one and only.

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That’s right. This is why I run.

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I found out a few days ago that I have been accepted as a member of the RunSquad 2016 team for Run Gum. This is the company most notably known to be partly founded by Nick Symmonds, an 800m Track and Field Olympian. Can’t wait to rep them throughout 2016.

friends7 As much as we love being back in NJ, we CANNOT wait to get back to Portland to see our two wonderful family members we have waiting for us at home.

That’s all I’ve got! I have several posts in the works so I’ll be sure to get back to writing more frequently! Don’t forget to catch me on Instagram (@eatrunanddone) and Facebook for posts and pics that I don’t incorporate here at the site.

How were/are your holidays? What’s your exercise and eating been like during the past month? Let’s chat!

Somehow I Wrote About Portland VegFest in Less Than 600 Words

Sorry, ERaD readers, for the really long delay in posting anything! I had quite a busy weekend and the week was spent preparing for a Chemistry exam. I have to do well if I’m going to get into the Nutrition master’s program and bring you the best posts on eating and nutrition I can muster!

Last weekend was truly remarkable. I had the honor of representing No Meat Athlete at Portland VegFest and the booth couldn’t have been in a better place; we were right next to the amazing Brenda Carey, founder and editor of Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine, as well as Robert Cheeke who is a 2-time champion vegan bodybuilder. And yes, I was giddy when I first saw them. Vegan celebrities do exist, people.

With others, I helped bring in several of the presenters on the demo stage which included the well-accomplished runner Tim Van Orden, pro-cyclist Zak Kovalcik, and a few other local persons in yoga (Yoga isn’t exercise?? Clearly you haven’t tried it.), Nia, and boxing.

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Annie (yogaRIOT), Andrea (Nia), Me, and Tim .

The four of us in the picture each had our own presentation, but we are captured here waiting for the fitness panel Q&A to start. Tim gave an inspiring and informational talk about overcoming obstacles to reach one’s fitness goals; it’s obvious what Annie and Andrea demoed; and I demoed what the crux of the next post will be about: dynamic stretches with an explanation for why dynamic exercises are encouraged over static ones. I’ll get into that in my next post but first, allow me to share with you some more photos from Portland VegFest.

I was swamped with volunteering and demoing and working the booth and taking pictures of everything was the last thing on my mind…and probably something that would have been impossible unless I had deleted every picture from my phone’s library just to make enough room. No worries though; the creative guys at Vegan Foodiot posted a 20 minute cover of Portland VegFest which I embedded at the very end of this post for your pleasure! And yes, all of the food they tried (and didn’t try) was superbly plant-based and superbly delicious. Gotta thank these two guys from Vegan Foodiot, because without them, I’d have to talk up VegFest way more than I do now. Now, you can just watch it!

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The Friday before VegFest weekend was a nutrition and health conference organized by the group that puts on Portland VegFest, Northwest Veg.  NW Veg brought in fantastic speakers and an exquisite vegan/plant-based lunch buffet was provided as well!

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While the health conference was happening, scores of volunteers  were downstairs helping to set up for VegFest. The No Meat Athlete booth was just one of the many booths represented that has veganism as part of its constitution.

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Val was pretty darn excited for her Yeah Dawg lunch! This hotdog-shaped food is made entirely of a blend of plant foods (veggies and legumes to be exact). The Cali Kush Dawg is pictured; topped with coconut bacon, avocado, and jalapenos that I added. Oh and the image above the title? That’s Homegrown Smoker  which is a place that if you are vegan in Portland and tell someone you’ve never been, you’ll get looked at like you just said you’ve never drank water. Truth.

Okay. That’s all for VegFest…for now. Stay tuned for my next post which will include the details of dynamic stretching which I demoed at VegFest and now that it’s getting much colder out there, proper stretching and warming up should be paid attention to even more to help prevent injury.

Were you at Portland VegFest? What were some of your favorite foods, products, or other booths/organizations that you visited. Have you ever been to a VegFest? Tell me about your experience!