Gena from ‘Choosing Raw’

While I relax with Erin and new baby Holden, several distinguished bloggers have been kind enough to guest-post here.  Next up is Gena, a nutritionist and raw-food enthusiast with one of the most informative blogs out there, Choosing Raw.  Here she is with an insanely helpful intro to raw foods and how they can make us better runners and endurance athletes.

Gena 200x300Hey all!

Thanks, Matt, for having me as a guest on No Meat Athlete today. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a vegan with a passion for raw foods, who’s living and working in NYC. I’m also a clinical nutritionist, and my emphasis as a counselor is on helping people learn to eat healthy plant-based diets. I’m also the voie behind Choosing Raw – a blog devoted to helping people of all lifestyles to enjoy the benefits of raw.

RAW. What does that word suggest to you? Let me guess: extremism. Fringe movement. Zealotry. Deprivation. Starvation. Weird. Wacky. If you’re one of the many people who thinks this way, I’ll confess: I don’t entirely blame you. Many strict raw foodists can be zealous or fanatical in their approach, and some are a little wacky! (Many others are smart, welcoming, and altogether awesome.) I blame many of the misconceptions about the raw lifestyle on a single fact: raw foodism tends to attract extremists. And for this reason, many of the men and women who appreciate raw foods also tend to be a little militant in their thinking: they begin worrying about “how raw” they’re eating, or become convinced that eating 100% raw is absolutely mandatory. Oftentimes, this kind of thinking is married with other sorts of food dogmas: strict adherence to food combining (the practice of eating foods that take similar amounts of time to digest together), fixation on toxicity in water, air, and the home, and obsession with fasting are a few examples.

In many ways, raw foodists have it right: many of us do upset our stomachs by eating foods that don’t digest well together all at once; we are constantly exposed to a barrage of toxicity simply by living in the contemporary world; and fasting can be a useful practice for those with compromised health. With all of that said, though, it’s a mistake to assume that one has to be dogmatic about 100% raw foodism or health practices associated with raw foodism in order to experience good health. One doesn’t. The important thing is to eat raw foods some of the time–a lot of the time–which is more than many people do. Cooking is so commonplace that none of us stop to consider the novel prospect of NOT cooking–of enjoying food just as it springs up from the earth. And the point of experimenting with raw food is to remind ourselves that raw foods have real health benefits, and that it’s important to enjoy food in both cooked AND raw form. Does it have to be all the time? Absolutely not. Is it wise to eat raw some of the time? Yes, it is.

So this leads me to an obvious question: What’s so great about raw food, anyway? And for the purposes of this blog, how can raw food help us perform athletically?

Let’s focus on the first question. Why raw? Well, it’s a complicated question, but I have a pretty simple answer: cooking food, especially veggies, can strip them of a great deal of their nutrient value. If we eat raw foods once in a while–or more than that–we give ourselves a chance to experience the full nutritional potential of a food. Some nutrients–like the lycopene in tomatoes–are actually released by cooking, and so it’s wise to eat raw AND cooked. But most of us could use more raw, and less cooked, and that’s why I’ve made it my mission to help people find simple, everyday ways to incorporate raw foods into their diets.

Pretty simple, huh? No hocus pocus, no scripture. Now, there are many other reasons why raw foods can be important. One of the main reasons why many people seek out raw foods is to get more live enzymes: it’s a fact that enzymes in food begin to die at 115 or 117 degrees. Enzymes are building blocks in many important bodily processes, and they’re also key to digestion. Our bodies make enzymes, of course, but the idea is that, if we keep a food’s enzymes intact, we actually give our body an extra boost of digestive power: the food aids in its own digestion, so to speak. This is less of my own motive for eating raw than it is for some other raw foodists, especially those who eat raw exclusively. But it’s important to remember, because digestion is hard work, and causes us to exert a great deal of energy. If our bodies are working overtime to digest food, they have less time to focus on other bodily processes.

This becomes especially important for athletes to remember. There is a growing body of research nowadays to suggest that recovery is as crucial as performance in determining the endurance of an athletic career. And recovery is contingent upon the body devoting vast resources to muscle repair, to the stabilization of the endocrine system, and to immunity. If our bodies aren’t constantly trapped in a cycle of digesting and assimilating hard to digest food–like cooked animal protein–they have more energy to boost recovery. And that’s why raw foods can be so crucial for athletes. They not only give the body extra nutrition, and spare the body digestive difficulty, but the variety of foods in a semi-raw diet (nuts, veggies, seeds, fruits, sprouted grains, etc.) happen to be far easier to digest than most animal protein.

There’s another part of this puzzle: alkalinity. Our bodies exist in a ph balance. The more acidic we are, the more susceptible we are to chronic disease, and so our bodies work desperately to neutralize acidity. They do this by leeching minerals from our bones and blood to “buffer” the acidity with alkaline bases. By flooding our bodies with alkalinity, we spare them this arduous process, and we stave off many common health complaints. So how do we get more alkaline? You guessed right: most raw foods (veggies, fruits, some grains, vegetable juices, greens) are heavily alkaline. They help our bodies to stay in a ph range that’s healthy, which (once again) preserves energy that would otherwise be devoted to buffering. Now, with a few exceptions, those same foods (veggies, fruits, sees, grains) are also alkaline when cooked (in other words, it’s the foods themselves, not the rawness, that is alkaline), but if you eat them raw you get the alkalinity+the high nutrient value. Win win situation!

Get the idea? Raw foods = greater stores of preserved energy. And we all know what more energy means: it means hopping out of bed with a clear head for your morning run. It means sustained performance in triathalon training. It means recovering from a marathon faster, or healing an injury in weeks, rather than months. In short, it means a wellspring of endurance. What’s not to like about that? And indeed, a growing body of athletes is proving to us all that a vegan diet with emphasis on raw foods can prove optimal for physical endurance and performance. Among well known vegan athletes are Scott Jurek, Tim Van Orden, and Brendan Brazier. Brendan is not only a world renowned triathlete, but he’s also an outspoken proponent of veganism and the author of Thrive, a book I recommend heartily to anyone who’s interested in a plant based diet for athletic performance. (Check out my recent interview with Brendan here for more information on his work.)

This all sounds great on paper, of course, but for many of us, raw foods still seem intimidating. Here’s the good news: they don’t have to be! Raw foods aren’t just crazy dehydrated concoctions or sugary snacks, and they aren’t just wacky “superfood” cocktails. Raw foods can be simple. Salad. Gazpacho. Smoothie. Guacamole. Dates. Sauerkraut. Almond butter. Guess what, guys? These are raw foods! And they’re far from terrifying: in fact, many of these are foods we eat on a regular basis, without considering how “raw” they are. Focus on eating more of these foods, and perhaps finding a few other ways of enjoying raw fruits and veggies each day. Snack on raw, homemade trail mix, rather than packaged, before a workout, and refuel with a fruit smoothie; enjoy a big salad with guacamole and raw hemp seeds for lunch, rather than a boring sandwich. Soon enough you’ll be eating more raw foods without giving it too much thought. But from these easy new habits will come a torrent of energy — energy you can devote to your sport, or simply to your own life.

I hope this gives you an overview of why eating more raw food can be rewarding and worthy. For more tips, please visit Choosing Raw’s How to Get Started Tab. And if you are seeking out private help, check out my nutritional counseling. I wish you all energy, vibrant health, and–most of all–fun with your rawventures. Enjoy!

Gena xo

12 Comments

 

Caitlin from Healthy Tipping Point

Caitlin needs little introduction in the health blog world.  She’s the blogger behind Healthy Tipping Point and Operation Beautiful, and a newly-published authorMaybe you’ve seen one of those positive Post-it notes on a mirror somewhere?

caitlin finish photo 300x200Hello, No Meat Athlete Readers!  I am so happy to be writing a guest post for Matt while he enjoys being with his new baby.

My name is Caitlin, and I blog at HealthyTippingPoint.com and OperationBeautiful.com.  Healthy Tipping Point is a food and fitness blog, and over the last two years, I’ve documented my journey as I went from a newbie, meat-eating runner to a marathoner, triathlete, and cyclist vegetarian.   I also blog healthy recipes.  If you’re interested in checking out my healthy vegetarian meals, check out my breakfasts and lunches/dinners.  My favorite recipes include my Perfect Baked Tofu and my Pumpkin Spice Toasted Quinoa.

caitlin swim photo 300x199Recently, I raced in my first Olympic Triathlon.  The journey to this triathlon began almost two years ago, when I decided to do a sprint triathlon. I was a newbie when it came to racing – I only had a 10K and a 15K under my belt.  I remember standing at the water’s edge and FREAKING out. My husband and my dad tried to calm me down, but there was no stopping the hysteria rising in my chest. I was breathing way too fast before I even got into the water.

The sprint swim was only 0.25 miles, but I had a panic attack almost immediately.  I flagged a lifeguard and got towed to shore.  I exited the water feeling… beaten.  Embarrassed.  Weak.  The worst part of that triathlon was that I quit because I mentally couldn’t handle the pressure. I would have felt better if I had undertrained and was physically was incapable of doing the race. Instead, I let fear overtake me, and I got sucked in. I fed my negative emotions instead of rising above them.

For a long time, I said I’d never do another triathlon.  But after I finished my first marathon (another goal I doubted I could ever obtain), I decided to tri, tri again!

To help myself better prepare, I swam… a LOT.  I usually swam three days a week, doing the race distance (1,500 meters) as often as possible.  I only had 8 weeks in between the marathon and triathlon, and swimming served as a great recovery exercise.  My friend Ryan taught me some invaluable swimming tips (who knew my form was completely off?), and I began to feel very comfortable in the pool.

However, two weeks before the race, I pulled a muscle in my arm.  Unfortunately, I’ve been injured enough from running (I suffer from runner’s knee) to know that I needed to take time off swimming, which meant I couldn’t do a practice open water swim.  I was nervous that I would miss my trial run, but I had to do what I had to do to keep my body safe.

On the morning of the triathlon, I was terrified.  I have such an intense open water phobia, but I knew I needed to face my fears and finish the race.  I told myself it was OK if I was the last one out of the water… and you know what?  I was the last one out.  I’m used to blowing past people in races, but I didn’t feel bad to be so behind the pack.  I was trying my hardest, and in my heart, that’s what mattered.

To find out the details of what happened during my triathlon, read the race recap.  Here’s a short video that I put together as well.

Moral of the story?  Finishing last doesn’t mean you didn’t finish strong. The race truly is about yourself and your own goals and abilities.

Rock on, No Meat Athletes!  Rock on!

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39 Comments

 

Running From Body Image Issues

Hey everybody, this is Christine here for Sweet-Tooth Friday.  I was working on a healthy dessert recipe for this week, but I couldn’t stop thinking about a weird experience I had concerning body image issues…it all started off with the simple phrase:

Let’s plan a weekend and go to the beach!

christine running on beach photo 300x200A trip to the beach sounds innocent enough, but the words brought fear to my heart, followed by a wave of embarrassment.

Fear, because the idea of wearing a bikini in public makes me want to move to Iceland.  And embarrassment, well, because I can’t believe I’ve fallen into that female stereotype of feeling embarrassed about my body.

I guess that’s embarrassed times two.

I don’t want to be lumped in with the skinny girls eating their diet-chocolate-meal-bars and whining about how fat they are.  In fact, I’m not interested in losing weight at all; I love that my diet is filled with the steady nutrition of clean whole foods, and that I am never “on” a diet.  I love seeing the results in my running ability and endurance from week to week.

Yet here I am, feeling ashamed of a body that from every other angle I am proud.

Healthy—but happy?

So what gives?  This gut feeling of panic is annoying, because I like to believe I have a good head on my shoulders.  It’s not like I look at pictures of Heidi Montag and think “Yes, that is how I should look.”

There’s the phrase that bothers me—how I should look.  The focus of this blog, how I fuel my body, and how I exercise are otherwise focused on how I feel; the looking great is just an added bonus.

It’s funny, because two years ago I probably was the unhealthiest I’ve ever been, supplementing a diet of cigarettes and coffee with the occasional delivery pizza and gin martini.  Even though mentally and physically I felt like crap, I had no problem bearing all in a bikini then.  Looking back, I realize that my ultra-thin figure tricked me into believing that I must be taking okay care of myself.

But now, fifteen happy pounds later, I am a cigarette-free vegetarian future-law-studying bona-fide-runner, a title that should bring me all the confidence in the world.

julia louis dreyfus shape magazine april 09 220x300Yet here I am, uncomfortable in my new skin.  I guess I figured feeling so healthy would naturally bring about looking like someone on the cover of Shape Magazine, instant abs and all.

Confidence in three easy payments of $33.33

In a low moment while watching an infomercial (when most low moments are bound to occur) I considered springing the $100 for an AbRocket.  The idea of pumping up and down on shoddy brightly colored metal goes against all the themes of balance in my life.

Could the AbRocket ever bring that zen-like running trance I’ve come to rely on?  Could I be motivated to do crunches on this thing out of pure vanity?

Of course, I could tell myself the real motivation to tone my “core” (oh, that dreaded buzzword!) would be to improve my running, prevent injury by relieving my other muscles and joints as the sole workhorses, and possibly improve my strength as a camogie player.

But I would know the real reason I’d be doing it, and somehow directing exercise towards a superficial goal makes me feel ashamed.  It’s as if I’d be admitting that I am not above the crappy Cosmopolitan-Slimfast marketing.

In other words, I drank the girly kool-aid.

I like to imagine yoga as an ideal solution for my slightly irrational woes.  The ancient postures that move the body’s muscles together in meditation seem directly opposed to violently crunching six muscles into some sort of sexy pack.

The trouble is, I’ve never been able to get into yoga.  I find the positions confusing and always wondering if I’m hurting in a good way or just doing it incorrectly.  I would whole-heartedly welcome a recommendation for a good book or video to help me get over my beginners hump.

Does anyone else have nagging insecurities about an otherwise healthy body?  Do you other runners (male or female) grapple with perceptions of fitness?

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this.  The point here is not to fish for compliments or just beach and moan– I really would like to turn this anxiety into something productive instead of a pseudo-pity-party.  It’s just so frustrating to see my happy, well-reasoned, healthy lifestyle get rattled by something so silly as a bikini.

Thanks, and don’t worry—I’ll be back next week with some vegan cookies!

xoxo
Christine

41 Comments

 

Training Plan for the Big 5-0

Only eight weeks left until I run 50 miles at the North Face Endurance Challenge in Washington, D.C. !

Sometimes that’s exciting; other times it makes me want to soil myself.

north face endurance challenge logo 300x168As a coping mechanism, I’ve written out a training schedule.  (This is something I normally don’t do, since I prefer to play it by ear, depending on how my body is feeling on a given week.)

But I have this terrible fear that somehow I’m going to wake up on race day morning completely unprepared for the distance, so at least this will prevent that.

Just add miles!

A friend of mine who has notched several 100-milers gave me this advice regarding ultramarathon training:

Just add miles to a regular marathon training program.

That seems to embody the spirit of ultramarathoners and trail runners; other advice I’ve received includes the rigid “Do a few 50K’s (31 miles) and then just go out there and do it.”  Sweet.

With these gems in mind, here’s the schedule I’ve put together for the remaining eight weeks.  Keep in mind that I ran a 50K about four weeks ago, and another one back in January, so this isn’t just starting from scratch.  Then again, my week-to-week training over the past few months has been a little bit spotty.

What the workouts mean

Tempo – 30-45 minutes of running at a moderately uncomfortable pace (around 6:30-6:50 per mile, for me), plus warmup and cooldown miles.

Speed – intervals of 400 meters to 1600 meters at the track.  See my post about my three favorite track workouts.

Lift – the simple (but exhausting) power-endurance workout I wrote about a few months ago.

All other miles are at comfortable pace, 8:00-10:00 per mile, depending on distance. And don’t forget, there’s a baby coming soon, so that will require some flexibility.  I guess I’ll sleep once the race is over, if the baby lets me.

The plan

Week Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Total
11-Apr Rest Tempo (5-7 mi) Lift + 4 mi Speed (5-7 mi) 7 mi 4 mi 25 mi 52 mi
18-Apr Rest Tempo (5-7 mi) Lift + 4 mi Speed (5-7 mi) 7 mi 4 mi 15 mi 42 mi
25-Apr Rest Tempo (5-7 mi) Lift + 4 mi Speed (5-7 mi) 7 mi 4 mi 30 mi 57 mi
2-May Rest Tempo (5-7 mi) Lift + 4 mi Speed (5-7 mi) 2×7 mi 4 mi 21 mi 55 mi
9-May Rest Tempo (5-7 mi) Lift + 4 mi Speed (5-7 mi) 7 mi 4 mi 35 mi 62 mi
16-May Rest Tempo (5-7 mi) Lift + 4 mi Speed (5-7 mi) 2×7 mi 4 mi 15 mi 49 mi
23-May Rest Tempo (4-5 mi) 4 mi Speed (3-4 mi) 7 mi 4 mi 10 mi 29 mi
30-May Rest Tempo (4-5 mi) 4 mi Speed (3-4 mi) 4 mi 2 mi 50 mi 68 mi

My biggest concern here is that the weekly mileage is relatively low. I’ve never been a high-mileage guy, choosing instead to focus on short, hard workouts so that I can spend more time drinking beer on other pursuits than running.  Certainly a different approach is required for ultra training, and I’m wondering if what I have here is enough.

Any experienced ultrarunners have suggestions for what I can do better? Do I need more mid-week miles?  I’m kinda looking to not die.

Finally, I’d like to mention that Charm City Run Bel Air (follow them on Twitter @CharmCityRunBN) has been awesome enough to get me a free entry to the race, saving me some serious scratch.  I’ll be wearing a singlet from them in the race.

Thanks a million to CCR and The North Face for hooking it up.

9 Comments

 

The Most Disturbing Film I’ve Ever Seen – And Why You Should Watch It

There were parts I missed because I had to turn away. At other times I acted like a little kid watching a horror film, covering my face with my hands, only watching what could slip through the cracks between my fingers.

But this is no horror movie. Earthlings is real.

logo earthlings

The opposite approach to mine

Of the compliments people sometimes give me about this site, one of the more common is, “I like that you promote vegetarianism without being preachy.”

That’s no accident. When I became vegetarian, I came more from a place of “vegetables are cool because they make you healthier” than of “meat is evil because animals die.” I’m not here to tell you about all the wrong you’re doing when you eat meat; I’d rather tell you how eating plants can help you run faster and farther than you’ve ever thought possible.

And that’s not going to change.

I’m not going to attempt to describe the gruesome scenes in Earthlings. But having suffered through an hour and a half of the most sickening footage I’ve ever seen, I realize that there’s tremendous power in the shock-and-awe approach.

For that reason I’m linking to the trailer here; you can choose to watch it if you’d like. There’s some extremely graphic animal violence—some of you won’t be able to even finish the trailer. I didn’t my first time.

Why watch something you know is awful?

Because it will make you care. And really caring about something, I’m discovering, feels good.

I feel as if some part of me died while I watched Earthlings last night.

I’m talking about part of me that, consciously or unconsciously, has chosen to ignore what goes on in the food industry and others like it that treat living beings as a product.

I’m talking about a naive belief that we as humans are being fairly responsible in the way we treat others in our position as rulers of the earth.

And when that part of me died, another part awoke. A part that wants to work hard to create change in the face of overwhelming, appalling misuse of the power we have over the other thinking, feeling beings with whom we share the planet.

Who should watch it?

If you’ve thought about becoming vegetarian but it just seems too hard, you should watch it.

If you’re vegetarian (like me) and think you’re already doing enough, you should watch it.

If you’re vegan and you want to strengthen your conviction and motivate yourself to do even more, you should watch it.

But what about meat eaters?

It has been said that if we had to kill our own meat, all of us would be vegetarian.  Watching this movie isn’t far from that.

If you eat some meat but do so in as responsible a manner as possible, making sure to get your food from sources that you know treat animals with respect, then I hope watching this makes you more passionate about that cause.

If you eat lots of meat, don’t care much about animals, and are happy with that, watching Earthlings will probably make you less so. (Why are you reading this blog though?) If your goal is to stay as you are in an ignorance-is-bliss approach, then you should not watch it.

But I hope you do anyway.  And I hope you share it with someone else.

If you watch the trailer and decide you’d like to watch the whole thing, you can get more info at Earthlings.com. The entire movie is available for free as a Google video (thanks @VegBassist for this). I’d recommend the DVD though, since if all it took were a mouse click to turn it off, I wouldn’t have made it 15 minutes.

And thanks to Melissa and Lisa for making me aware of Earthlings in their comments on my how to give up meat post.  I can’t believe this thing was not on my radar until now.

127 Comments

 

CEP Compression Socks Giveaway

cep compression socks photoGood news, loyal NMA readers.  Based perhaps on how pleased I was with CEP compression socks (or, more likely, on Chris H.’s wistful comment, “No free giveaway though? :O[ “), CEP Compression Sportswear has offered up a pair of their compression socks to give away to a reader!

This might be the coolest giveaway I’ve ever done, so I’m excited.

Here’s all you need to do to enter.

1.  Head over to CEP’s website.

2.  Figure out which of their socks or sleeves you’d most like to win.  (They have the running socks and all-sport sleeves that I reviewed, plus walking socks, trekking socks, skiing socks, and soccer sleeves.)

3.  Leave a comment on this post telling me which ones you’d choose.

As always, this contest is as non-techie friendly as possible.  Tweets, Facebook shares, link, and subscribes are all GREATLY appreciated and will boost your karma, but they won’t actually increase your chances of winning.

I’ll select a random winner a week from now.  Good luck!

Important info about the compression sleeves

After reading my review, Michael from CEP Compression Sportswear also gave me a word of warning that I thought I should pass on to you.

Apparently, wearing the sleeves (which don’t cover your feet, like the socks do) for long periods of time can cause swelling in your feet, as blood pools there.  Not everyone will have the problem, so train in them before racing to figure out if they work for you.  But the sleeves are really designed for short runs, and definitely NOT for long car rides or flights, as the swelling could even be dangerous if not addressed.  (For that matter, any compression tights that stop at the ankle should not be worn for car and plane rides.)

The full socks put compression on the feet to prevent swelling and are therefore better than the sleeves for longer-period use.  So when I used the sleeves for my long run this weekend, I probably should have been wearing the socks instead.  Oops.  Luckily, I’m still alive and kickin’.  icon smile

Now get those entries in!

202 Comments

 

21 Miles I Once Called Impossible—It’s Gotta Be the Socks!

There’s a trail in my town that I love.  It’s called the Ma and Pa trail, short for Maryland and Pennsylvania, I think.  It’s partially paved, partially gravel, and it goes through the woods with some winding bridges.

And it’s really hilly.

matt cep sleeves photo 300x225This is great, except there’s one problem.  It’s so hilly that I’ve never been able to do long runs on it.  I attempted a 16- and 18-miler on it a few years ago, and since then I’ve told a lot of people that my body just can’t handle that distance on this trail.

Yesterday, though, I broke through that barrier.  In my first “official”  training run for the North Face Endurance Challenge 50-miler in eight weeks, I ran 21 miles on the Ma and Pa.

What made the difference?

Mostly, the fact that I’m in the best shape of my life.  I’ve run two ultras this year, haven’t been injured in over a year, and my diet is cleaner than it has ever been.

But partially, I think it was the socks.

CEP Compression Socks

Compression socks (for use while running, not just after) first appeared on my radar when I saw Blaine Moore of Run to Win wearing them in a race.  And then I started seeing them at lots of races.

They look kind of ridiculous, so I doubt people are wearing them as a fashion statement.  Could they really make that big a difference to your running?

cep socks photo 225x300

CEP Compression Sock

I was so excited when CEP Sportswear offered to send me a pair of their compression socks and compression sleeves to review.  (The sleeves are for your legs, not your arms as I first thought.)  CEP’s socks offer graduated compression, and they’re sized based on shoe size and calf size.  And get this: According to CEP, there’s a published medical study showing that runners in CEP compression socks experienced 5% better performance, which equates to 10-12 minutes in a marathon!

Let me tell you, I am really impressed at how well these work.  Even as I’ve become a stronger runner, runs of 18 miles or more always end with my feet and legs hurting and feeling really heavy.  Running in compression socks, I don’t get any of that!

Sure, I still get tired by the end.  But there’s not that discomfort, and I think that’s so important.  Even if you can run through the pain, I really believe that so much of running long is about eliminating stressors to your mind and body.  And pain is a major one.

cep sleeve photo 225x300

CEP Compression Sleeve

Of the socks and sleeves, I prefer the sleeves.  They don’t have a “foot” to them, so you can wear whatever sock you want.  And if you need to change shoes and socks, like I’m sure I will after I run through a few streams during my 50-miler, you can do so without taking the sleeve off.  (If the foot part of the sock provides any additional benefit, I didn’t notice it.)

Can they really make you run faster?

Without a lot of testing on my own, that’s hard to say.  But based on how I feel running in them, it would be strange to think that wouldn’t translate into better performance on race day.

I’m almost certain that I’ll wear these during part or all of my 50-miler.  Whether they make me run faster or not, they’ll make me more comfortable.  And if I’m going to spend a Sunday running that freaking far, then I’ll take whatever comfort I can get.  And I’d highly recommend them to anyone else who experiences foot or leg discomfort as the miles add up.

CEP offers compression wear for all different sports, not just running.  Check out their products page to learn more.  Thanks, CEP!

And while we’re talking about socks…

injinji photo 300x225I figured I’d also mention another pair of socks I just got: Injinji toe socks!  I paid my own hard-earned money for these, mainly so that I could wear them with my Vibram FiveFingers, to avoid the nasty blisters on my instep that the VFF’s give me.  But I’ve also heard that they’re great for avoiding blisters in regular shoes, since by separating your toes from one another, they prevent the skin from rubbing.

Anyway, I’ve worn them twice.  They worked out great on the track in the VFF’s, and on the trail in my trail shoes.  Maybe one day I’ll pair them with the CEP sleeves for the dream combo.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Get out there for one more run before it’s over!

P.S. No baby yet.  Any day now…

33 Comments

 

Oh Baby! A Vegan Cookie Worth Celebrating

Hi guys!  It’s Christine here for Sweet-Tooth Friday!  This week I have a crowd-pleasing recipe for Vegan Cut-Out cookies that are perfect for personalizing and decorating for any occasion.  These are yummy enough to pass off as regular cookies to friends and family, and at Matt and Erin’s baby shower I did just that!Christine holding vegan cookie 300x224

Surprise…you don’t need eggs and butter!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s a whole world of baking outside of the standard butter and egg set.  But even if you’re in the healthy-baking know, chances are your aunts, cousins, and friends of friends are still unenlightened about the joys of animal-free baking.

That’s where this recipe comes in—it’s the perfect introduction for a non-vegan crowd!  So while the raw chia carrot cake may seem a little too foreign for your grandma to enjoy, these pretty cookies are plenty sweet, “buttery,” and dare I say, decadent.  It’s really fun to watch people’s astonishment when you tell them these cookies are vegan.

Instead of egg-white based royal icing to decorate, I made an icing with a super-fine sugar called dry or candy fondant.  I actually like it better than royal icing because it doesn’t dry as teeth-breakingly rock hard.  You could also use a variation of the icing I used on my vegan gingerbread cookies.  The shortbread-style dough here is less sweet than a normal cookie, which is a must for frosted cookies.

Cookie cutters: not just for Christmas anymore!

No Meat Athlete Organic Baby Bodysuit1 300x300If you only enter the cookie-zone around the holidays, you’re missing out on a whole year’s worth of cookie-worthy celebrations.  I like to call these “party cookies” because they are always such a hit!

Unlike many of my recipes, these cookie aren’t seasonally flavored, which lets the fun shapes and decorating be totally adaptable, and inevitably the real focus!

Maybe you remember my eclectic collection of cookie cutters…with most designs being under $2, it really is easy to impulse-buy whenever the mood strikes.  For the baby shower I decided on a baby onesie cutter like this one, which was inspired by the No Meat Athlete onesie Matt and Erin got for the baby.

Let’s break out the cookie cutters and rolling pins and get ready to celebrate with these Vegan Cut-Out Cookies!

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Vegan Cut-Out Party Cookies

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups palm oil shortening, or 3 sticks palm oil based vegan shortening
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Icing Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups dry fondant sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (or any flavor you like!)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

For the cookies, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.  With a mixer, beat the palm oil with the sugar until fluffy.  Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice.  Stir in the dry ingredients until a cohesive dough starts to form.  If it is too crumbly, add another tablespoon of lemon juice.

At this point you can chill the dough for an hour to make it easier to work with, but you don’t have to.  Line a insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with baking spray.  Dust with confectioners sugar.  Take a small amount of dough, about the size of a tennis ball and flatten it with your palm right on the baking sheet.  Dust your rolling pin with confectioners sugar, and roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out shapes with the cookie cutter, and remove excess dough, leaving cut-outs on pan.  Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes- this ensures the cookies will keep their shape and not spread.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until just barely starting to brown.  While different trays of cookies are baking or chilling, you can keep working on pieces of parchment paper and then just transfer to pans when ready.   It’s ok to re-roll the same dough twice, but try not to do it more than that so the flour doesn’t get tough.  Allow baked cookies to chill thoroughly on wire racks.  Makes about 3 dozen large cookies.

For the icing, stir together the dry fondant, water, and extract.  Check the consistency and add more dry fondant or water as needed; you want it pretty thick at first for outlining cookies, and then you can thin it out later for filling in color.  Using a pastry bag or a baggie with a small hole clipped from the corner, outline the borders of your cooled cookies.  Once the icing is sturdy, fill in the background of the cookie with a thinner icing, letting it “flood” into the borders.  Once the background is dry, add colored icing to make carrots or any design, or sprinkle with colored sugars.  Allow to dry uncovered overnight.Vegan baby shower cookies 1024x682

Whether you serve these cookies for a baby shower, birthday, or just keep them frozen for midnight snacking, they really are a great way to indulge with animal-free style.  Plus, they are a lot of fun to make and decorate!

I absolutely can’t wait to meet the reason for these celebration cookies…the long anticipated Baby Fraz!

See you next Sweet-Tooth Friday, possibly with a brand spankin’ new NMA baby niece or nephew in tow!

xoxo Christine

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