Vega Shake & Go Smoothies

shakeIf you read my last interview with vegan pro triathlete Brendan Brazier, you can understand why I was a tad less excited to try Vega Shake & Go than I normally am about trying a new Vega product.

Brendan described Vega’s Shake & Go Smoothie as a “mass-market product” that “doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of nutrition as Vega Health Optimizer.” And this from the guy who created it!

The truth is, Shake & Go is more about convenience than anything else. The name says it all: Put a few tablespoons in a shaker cup, add water, and you’re set. Unlike most protein powders or meal replacement shakes, there’s no need for a blender.

Given Brendan’s description and the concept, I first thought that while a fat couch potato might enjoy this product, a strapping young lad like myself would have no use for it.  After all, I make fresh, green, custom smoothies for myself every day.

And, as is always the case when my thinking rests on the assumption of me being a strapping young lad, I was wrong: The convenience of Shake & Go has really come in handy. And nutritionally, it’s actually got a lot going on. (See the ingredient list later in this post.)

The Taste

At first I didn’t love it. Like most of the other Vega products I’ve tried, Shake & Go has what I describe as an “earthy” taste. Basically, you can tell that it’s healthy — I’ve come to realize that when protein or meal placement powders taste really good, it’s because they contain lots of sugar or artificial sweeteners.

vega shake and go close up image 300x225

Vanilla Almondilla: When it comes to supplements, green is good

But as I’ve started to make Vega products like Vega Sport Performance Optimizer and Vega Sport Performance Protein part of my routine, the taste has grown on me. I think it’s another instance of the “recalibration” Brendan describes in his book Thrive: as your taste buds become accustomed to more natural flavors, you start to enjoy them more. Not only that, but you lose the taste for artificial things. As an example of this, I recently tasted the way protein powder I used to love, and was shocked when all I could taste was the Splenda!

I tried two flavors of Shake & Go: Choc-a-Lot and Vanilla Almondilla. At first, I preferred the vanilla, which has a strong almond extract flavor. But as I tasted more of each, I started to like the chocolate better, as the almond flavor of the other one got kind of overwhelming. If you’re going to try one of these, I’d go with the chocolate, and just realize that it might take a few days to grow on you.

The Nutrition

Vega products never fail to deliver in the nutrition category. It’s almost funny to look at Shake & Go’s ingredient list in light of Brendan’s description of it as a mass-market product. Here are the ingredients in the Choc-a-Lot Shake & Go:

Organic green pea protein, natural flavors, organic coconut palm nectar, flaxseed, hemp protein, organic sprouted brown rice protein, organic green food blend (alfalfa grass, organic kale leaf, organic spinach leaf, organic broccoli sprout, spirulina), xanthan gum, digestive enzyme blend and dairy-free probiotic blend (L. acidophilus, B. bifidum).

It’s hard to imagine Jane Couch Pototo or Joe Meathead or anyone else in the “mass market” comparing ingredients in different meal-replacement products and coming across this list, isn’t it?

It may not be Vega Health Optimizer, but it’s good enough for me.

The Convenience

Just as advertised, Shake & Go dissolves nicely in water in a shaker cup or even a water bottle.  Not gritty at all.  I’ve found that adding a few ice cubes improves the taste and helps the powder dissolve even more quickly.

There have been more than a few occasions when I was in a hurry and didn’t know what I could eat quickly on the way out the door or before a workout, when I was happy to remember that I had Shake & Go in the pantry.  And as I said, I really didn’t expect to benefit from this feature of the product, because I gave myself way too much credit for being organized and never late for anything. (Just ask my wife.)

Vega Sale This Weekend!


As it happens, all Vega products are on sale through Sequel Naturals’ website this weekend (Friday, July 30 through Sunday, August 1).  Just enter coupon code CJ-SUMMER10 at checkout and you’ll get 15% off anything you buy from Sequel Naturals.

I know it took a lot of convincing (from trying free samples) before I finally decided to plunk down my own cash for Vega products, which are certainly not cheap.  If you’re in the same boat I was, here’s your chance to try them for a little bit less money than usual.

In the interest of disclosure, you should know that Vega sent me Shake & Go to try for free, and that I’ll earn commissions on the purchases of Vega products through the links in this post.  So while you are welcome to call me greedy and evil for wanting to make a few bucks from my website, you may not call me deceptive.

Enjoy your weekend! If you’re finally getting a break from the heat like we are in Maryland, take advantage of it!

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The Belief that Will Take Your Training to the Next Level

iStock 000012955843XSmall 300x200If you look at people who are successful in almost any field, you’ll find a belief that they all share.

I learned it from Tony Robbins (you watched his show on Tuesday, right?), and it has made a major difference not just in my running, but in my life.

Last summer when I was training to qualify for Boston, I noticed something about my thinking that was holding me back. If I had a good run, I’d tell myself, “I’m really running well; I must be getting stronger.”

But if during a run I noticed I wasn’t hitting my paces, I’d find something external to blame it on.  It was the heat, it was the hills, it was that I hadn’t fully recovered from the last workout.  If it helped me feel better about myself and my chance of qualifying, anything would do.

In the moment, that felt good.  But if I’d kept on thinking like that, I’m sure I never would have qualified.

The belief that made all the difference

The belief that, once adopted, destroyed that type of thinking, was this one:

Whatever happens, I am responsible.

It doesn’t mean you have to beat yourself up over anything that goes wrong.  It means when something isn’t good enough, it’s up to you to change it.

And only you.

When you adopt this belief, and I mean really, truly accept it as fact, you begin to see through all the excuses you’ve been employing to keep yourself from feeling any pain.  And once you can do that, change is inevitable.

How I (briefly) forgot this

I haven’t written much about running in the past month, mainly because I took about four weeks off after my 50-miler.  I needed a break from running, more mentally than anything else.

This only became a problem when I realized that my next 50-miler, in Vermont, was nine weeks away.  I had to get back to running, to build up mileage again, and fast.

Only that wasn’t so easy to do.  The month of July has been one big heat wave where I live, and apparently, my mental muscles got a little flabby during the time off too. When I knew I had to get back out there but didn’t quite feel like it, the heat was the perfect excuse to stay inside.

“I would train, if only it weren’t so hot out.”

“It’ll be cooler next week.  I’ll start then.”

And then I realized what I was doing.

If I show up to that start line in Vermont and have to run 50 miles that I’m not in shape to run, nobody is going to care when I tell them it was too hot to train in July.  And having an excuse like that certainly isn’t going to make the 50 miles any less miserable to actually run.

As soon as I recognized that I am responsible, regardless of the weather or anything else, I was able to make it happen.  Since I did that, I’ve been in the gym or out on the trail almost every single day.

It’s not just running

Believing that you’re responsible for whatever happens affects more than just your training, of course.  When you believe it, you stop making excuses, even little ones you didn’t realize you made.

And not just in your own head, but in your interactions with others.  I don’t know who Kimberly Johnson is, but she said you should “never ruin an apology with an excuse.”

I love this quote.  When you say, “Sorry I’m late, traffic was bad,” that’s an excuse.  Even when it’s true.  So is, “Sorry I didn’t call you back, I had such a busy day.”

Keep the “sorry,” lose the excuse.

In the short term, it’s harder.  There’s a moment of awkward silence the excuse used to fill, because the person you’re talking to expects the excuse.   The first time you’re standing there, high and dry with nothing but the apology, it sucks.

But in the long term, you come to take responsibility for every last bit of your life.

To me, that’s pretty badass.

Check it!

Courtney, at Be More With Less, is doing a Julie/Julia-type project and cooking her way through my new pinole and chia e-cookbook!   But she needs a name for project, since “Julie & Julia”  (a) is taken and (b) makes no sense here.  If you suggest a name and she chooses it, you’ll win a copy.  So head over there and help Courtney decide what to call the project!

This post is part of a series on motivation for running.  Check out the rest!

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How To Turn Starbucks Scones Into Fuel For Running

Post by Christine Frazier

lentil scone photo 300x225For just about a year now I have been the resident baker here at No Meat Athlete, filling your Fridays with healthy sweet treats.  And during that year, NMA has evolved into a resource for both people kick-starting a new vegetarian lifestyle and runners interested in more natural running fuel.

The response to the Sweet-Tooth Friday series has been wonderful and encouraging, but I started to wonder if I was putting unnecessary limits on what I could offer you.  I had the opportunity to really research baking-as-running-fuel while making the recipes for our book Fuel Your Run The Tarahumara Way. I also began dabbling in the savory side, bringing you recipes like five easy versions of rice and beans and grill-worthy smoky veggie burgers.

The success of these recipes has led me to the decision to develop a weekly vegetarian recipe for you No Meat Athletes, whether it be savory or sweet, with a focus on food fit for an athletic-training diet.  And by popular demand, the nutrition facts will be posted along with each recipe.

Now I just need to figure out what works for you so that you’ll have a chance to give these recipes a whirl.  What day of the week is best for a new vegetarian recipe? I was thinking of setting the day mid- to end-week so you’d have time before the weekend to plan, but I’d love to hear what you think.

The Elegant Side Of Energy Bars

This week’s Petite Lentil Scones are perfect for runners because they combine dates and agave nectar to get both the immediate boost of sugar to burn as well as a slower-releasing one to keep you going.  Plus, they’re portable so you can pack them along.

I made these with Starbucks Petite Vanilla Bean Scones in mind— so easy to pop in your mouth, but I wanted something less likely to leave you crashing later.  That’s why besides being animal-free, my version offers protein and fiber that the originals are lacking (as well as less sugar, fat, cholesterol and calories!)

If you’ve never baked with beans before, get ready to be blown away by how deliciously well they work in desserts— I promise, you’ll never guess these are made from lentils.  And I’m no stranger to sneaking beans into desserts; check out my popular black bean brownies, white bean blondies, and homemade energy bars for more I-can’t-believe-these-have-beans desserts.

Petite Lentil Scones

Scone Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry lentils (or 2 cups cooked)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dried currants or other dried fruit, nuts, or chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted (about 7 dates)
  • 6 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water or nondairy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon white vinegar

For the Scones:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse 1 cup of dry lentils, then combine with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until tender.  Drain and let cool.
In a small bowl, mix the ground flaxseed with 1/4 cup of warm water.  Stir and set aside to thicken.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and currants.  Set aside.
In a food processor, process the lentils, dates, agave nectar, almond extract, and flaxseed paste until smooth.  Fold this lentil mixture into the dry ingredients.  Continue folding lightly with a spatula to combine.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten and pat with your hands into about a 10×10 inch square, around 1/2 inch thick.  Cut the dough into 16 equal squares.  Cut each square in half diagonally to make 32 triangles.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with flour.  Place the cut triangles onto the sheet about an inch apart.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until puffed and firm.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Make the icing by mixing together the powdered sugar, water, vanilla extract, and vinegar.  Lightly drizzle the icing across the cooled scones just before serving.

Go ahead and add the glaze and then these energy scones are ready to outshine the Queen’s crumpets.   Just stick your pinkies in their air while eating these, and enjoy!

Don’t forget, let me know which day you’d prefer to have the weekly vegetarian recipe!

Nutrition Facts for 1 scone with glaze: Calories 89.8, Total Fat 0.6, Saturated Fat 0.1, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 119 mg, Potassium 107 mg, Total Carbohydrates 20 g (Fiber 2.6 g, Sugars 7.3 g), Protein 2.5 g.

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The One Time I’m Going to Encourage You to Watch TV

It may not have a lot to do with running or being vegetarian, but it has everything to with making big changes.  And, for that matter, with this blog.

breakthroughA year and three months ago, I went to Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within seminar. People have asked me if it was life-changing, and I feel sort of funny saying, “Yes.” Because isn’t that what anyone would say? Who’s going to be honest enough to say, “Yeah, I spent 600 bucks and four days of my life and walked across hot coals, but it was a total waste”?

But honestly, it was worth every cent, every second, and even the little burn I got on my foot from the coals. When I came home from that seminar, I was excited about my life in a way that I never had been. That’s when I decided to become vegetarian, to work harder than ever to qualify for Boston, and to start writing about it.

And when Tony returns to New York in November, you can bet I’ll be there again.

Tony’s New Show

I realize not everybody is going to like Tony Robbins. But since you read this blog, chances are you’re similar to me. You like feeling motivated and inspired to make changes. Maybe you can do that without the help of this gigantic guy of infomercial fame, but he sure makes it easier for me to get excited about the future.

Tony has a new show that starts tomorrow (Tuesday) on NBC. It’s called Breakthrough with Tony Robbins, and this is the one time you’ll hear me suggest that you watch TV instead of doing something cooler. The premise is that Tony takes somebody who’s really down and out and helps them change their life in 30 days. I can’t say for sure if it will be any good — the trailer makes it look disconcertingly similar to The Biggest Loser — but this seems like a good opportunity for a bunch of people to get acquainted with Tony without having to buy one of his books or audio programs (or to walk across hot coals).

There’s a website where you can find out more information about the show, including the trailer and 12 minutes of Tony talking about it.

Trust me, I’m not the type that I would expect to buy into this sort of stuff. Probably by now you know me to be someone who’s skeptical but willing to try things. I tried a single cassette tape of Tony’s about six years ago when I was lacking direction, career-wise.  And that led me to his books, his 30-day Personal Power program, and finally to his seminar.

No television show is going to capture everything that Tony teaches, but I expect it’ll be as good an introduction as any. And who knows what kind of change that might eventually lead you to.

Isn’t it worth an hour to find out?  Tuesday night, 8/7 central, NBC.

(You are now free to make fun of me.)

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What Beginning Triathletes Need to Know About Safety

Newbie Stank: (noo-bee STANK) noun. The gaffes of the new triathlete which make it very obvious he or she is new to the sport. See also: Susan Lacke, No Meat Athlete’s resident triathlete and Perma-Noob.
iStock 000002151277XSmall 300x225There are things that I wish people had told me when I began training for triathlons…things that seem like they should be obviously ingrained in our common sense. However, people make newbie mistakes all the time – myself included. I’m used to making an ass of myself on a daily (actually, hourly) basis, so I readily confess that I’ve made almost every mistake in the book.

Yes, lovely NMAs, my Newbie Stank is pungent, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I wear it like a fine perfume.

Some of my mistakes have just been embarrassing, while others have been downright dangerous. The world was not designed for triathletes (I know, I’m shocked, too!), and when you begin triathlon training, you’ll learn this firsthand.

It’s a mad world out there.

Recently, during a bike ride in the backwoods part of town, I was minding my own business in the designated bike lane when a pickup truck whizzed past me, spanking me with its side mirror. When I realized what was happening, I saw that the truck was partially in my bike lane…and he wasn’t stopping, even though I was down for the count.

Maybe he was trying to be ironic about the “Share the Road” sign posted not even 20 feet away. Maybe he wasn’t paying attention. Or maybe he was just a jerk. Whatever the case, I hope karma comes back to hit him. Literally. And then maybe backs up to hit him again, just for good measure.

This is the second time my training has caused me to get up close and personal with an object of the vehicular variety. In addition to my recent experience on my bike, I’ve also been buzzed by a car during a run, sending me to the Emergency Room with some scrapes, hip issues, shoulder pain, and some pretty sexy bruises. I consider myself lucky. It could have been much, much worse.

You might be your own worst enemy

I’ve made no secret of the many bumps, scrapes and bruises self-inflicted by my own lack of grace. But some of my injuries have been a direct result of Newbie Stank, and were entirely preventable — if I had just been smarter. Learn from my mistakes, NMAs. Some of you may read the tips below, roll your eyes, and think I’m being patronizing. I’m not trying to insult your intelligence, I swear – I’m pointing out the stupid, ridiculous, asinine mistakes that I see all the time. Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself safe when you’re training for a triathlon:

IN THE WATER:

Don’t try to be Michael Phelps if you’re not. If you’re a newbie, know this: There’s no shame in asking for swim lessons, even if you think you’re ”too old.” It’s much less embarrassing than the alternative — trying to teach yourself, only to have the lifeguard come to your aid when she sees your pathetic doggy-paddle ain’t keeping you afloat. A Masters Swim Group (basically an adult swim club) is a GREAT place to hone your skills.

And please…don’t attempt a triathlon with an open water swim until you’ve logged some hours in the pool or lake building up the fundamentals. You don’t have to be the world’s strongest swimmer, but you definitely need to have a strong enough stroke and breathing abilities to stay afloat and focused in the mass swim start.

Your lifeguards may not look like David Hasselhoff or Pamela Anderson, but they’re still your best friends in the water. Whether in your fitness center’s pool or in a lake for an open water swim, always swim with someone watching you. This person, ideally, should be a lifeguard employed by the place you swim. Not only will they rescue you if you face distress, they’ll also prevent the errant kid from cannonballing onto you. If you can’t snatch up a lifeguard, find alternatives. Many triathlon clubs host group open-water swims where people paddle alongside the swimmers in kayaks, dispensing help as needed.

Stay inside the breakwater. Choppy waters are highly dangerous for swimmers, plus you have an added threat – big freakin’ boats. You wouldn’t run in the middle of the freeway, would you? That’s pretty much what swimming outside the breakwater is. So don’t do it.

ON THE BIKE:

Wear the right gear. This includes the obvious helmet, but also the not-so-obvious. If you slide sideways on your bike, your shoulders, hips, ankles and knees usually take the biggest beating, so cover them up if you’re able – the fabric may minimize your road rash. Wear eye protection, too. My friend Summer tells a story of the time two bees flew into her eye and still had 20 miles to go before she could get home. It’s actually a pretty common occurrence for cyclists and triathletes, believe it or not.

Shine. Even if you aren’t riding in absolute darkness, cars will have trouble seeing you. Make yourself as visible as possible. Wear light colors and reflective materials, and equip your bike with a blinking tail light. Include mirrors that help you see what’s coming behind you as well as reflect the headlights of vehicles. Who cares if it looks like Tour de France meets La Cage Aux Folles? It’s better to be seen and alive than not seen and roadkill.

Ride the left stripe, in the same direction as traffic. When I first started road biking, I wanted to be as far away from the cars as possible, so in the bike lane, I’d ride all the way over on the right hand side. I’ve since learned that when you do that, cars driving in the next lane either don’t see you, or assume they can get by just fine without moving over. When you ride closer to the left-hand side of your bike lane, cars are more likely to see you AND they’ll feel obligated to steer to the left to give you a bit more space. When they do that, don’t forget to smile and wave at them in their rear-view mirrors.

DURING YOUR RUN:

Run as far off the road as possible, facing traffic. If sidewalks or dirt paths are available off the road, use them. However, if you must run on the road, stay as far off to the side and run facing traffic so you can see them and they can see you.

Reflective stripes are sexy. Same principle as on the bike – the more you glow using bright colors or reflective stripes, the better odds that you’ll be seen. Add a headlamp if you must run when the sun isn’t out – you’ll not only increase visibility, but also have an easier time seeing potential hazards, such as potholes or debris that might cause you to trip.

Carry water in a squeeze bottle. This not only gives you the benefit of hydration, but also might keep you safe. One friend, Tim, was chased by a loose dog while on a run. In a mad attempt to protect himself from being attacked, he squirted the dog in the face with his water bottle. It stunned the dog long enough for him to get away. This may also work for those annoying kids who are fond of yelling “Run, Forrest, run!” They think they’re so darn clever, don’t they?

One essential item for safety, regardless of sport

As the daughter of an EMT and sister of a paramedic, I remember more than one family dinner where blood, gore, and injury to a cyclist or runner were described in gruesome detail. It’s made me realize that no matter how many precautions we take, we can’t control what other people do. Accidents happen every single day.  If one happens to you, I want to help people like my dad and brother give you the best care possible.

Enter RoadID. This is a set of identification products available to people to wear while training and racing. RoadID allows you to wear your essential information so that, in the event that you’re injured and can’t speak for yourself, EMS professionals know how to best help you and reach your loved ones. Sure, you could carry your driver’s license, but that doesn’t have your medical information…and, child, those silver Med-Alert bracelets are SOOOOO 1990’s. RoadID comes in multiple styles and colors, and some are stylish enough to wear even when you’re not working out.

RoadID sent products for Matt and I to test out. Matt wears the WristID Elite, and I tried the Ankle ID. Both of us liked the look of the products, and found them easy to wear during training activities. The Ankle ID was especially nice to have during a recent triathlon I did – I was able to wear my timing chip on my RoadID. It was kind of nice to have that peace of mind that if something happened to me, my friends and family would be contacted.

RoadIDs are easy to order – you visit their site, select your style and color, then go about personalizing the information engraved on the plate. Most people choose a format that looks kind of like this:

screen3

That’s it. Six lines, 24 characters per line. It’s not complicated – and yet, in an emergency, those 6 lines with 24 characters each can speak volumes about you. It may even save your life. It also can be a way to wear your inspiration. Many people put some sort of motivating quote in the “Et Cetera” line…Matt chose the poignant “MILES 2 GO B4 I SLEEP,” while mine reads “WHERE’S MY DAMN CUPCAKE?”

Don’t judge me. We all have our ways of being inspired.

RoadID is way cool, and on behalf of EMS professionals everywhere, please get one. I like all of you too much to let you go without one.  Also, RoadID has given us three gift cards to give away to three lucky NMAs. To win, comment below…if you won, what would you put on the “Et Cetera” line of your RoadID? Remember – it needs to be less than 24 characters!

This post is part of a six-part guide designed to help the beginning triathlete get started (without screwing up too badly).  Check out the entire series!

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Pro-Vegetable or Anti-Meat?

From a reader:

I’m curious why you take the anti-meat approach instead of pro-vegetable. Your blog is interesting but I find that you talk a lot about meat substitutes and various ways to “fool” meat eaters. Why not more posts regarding the incredible health benefits of simple vegetables?

This one caught me by surprise.  Since the beginning of this blog, I’ve gotten many more emails to the tune of “I like that you promote vegetarianism without being preachy.”  I think this guy caught me just a few days post-Earthlings, when I was hating meat a bit more than I was loving vegetables.

But then it got me thinking.

Being vegetarian, vegan, or even a “selective carnivore” comes with some responsibility.  It’s not like being a huge fan of, say, apple pie, where you can just love the crap out of your apple pie and be done with it.  You can spread your apple pie love if you want, even preach it, but the only ones affected by your message are people with a choice.  Not the pie.

For us, it’s different.  Most vegetarians feel that, on some level, eating animals is wrong (or, more generally, that treating animals badly is wrong).  You can be a good vegetarian without spreading the message.  But when you tell someone else about it and help them to change their eating habits, you’ve helped more than just that person—you’ve helped improve the lives of animals that are treated so horrendously by the industrial food complex.

The question, then, is how best to spread that message.

The pro-vegetable approach is the one that has more potential to reach the masses.  Perhaps to the vast majority of Americans who eat meat as the main part of most meals, or to whom the idea that they eat a lot of meat (especially bacon) is for some reason funny, the pro-vegetable approach is less likely to be an immediate turn-off.  And those spreading it are less likely to be criticized.  In other words, it’s safe.

But safe has a shortcoming: By its very nature, it doesn’t hold onto passionate people to help share it.  I don’t know many passionate almost-vegetarians.  The passionate ones go on to become vegetarians, and the more passionate to become vegans.

Michael Pollan is passionate, and he’s created a passionate following of conscious eaters, even if they won’t give up meat entirely.  But he’s an exception: For the most part, I think people who claim to enjoy eating this way don’t actually do it. Plenty of people want to be the type who eat only ethically-raised animals (and I’m sure some especially like for others to see them as such).  But when the time comes to vote with their dollars, their vote is for factory farms, because of convenience, price, or really sadly, taste (how many people eating in restaurants really ask where the meat comes from?).

The other approach, anti-meat, isn’t perfect either.  It certainly spreads faster—wouldn’t you be more likely to read “7 Ways Meat Will Kill You” than “7 Benefits of Broccoli”?  And when you’re anti-meat, you get really mad. So mad that you feel you have to do something.  Anti-meaters tend to congregate, volunteer, and otherwise work to create change.

But as I wrote above, anti-meat also turns people off in a way that pro-vegetable does not, and I sense that the reader who emailed me was slightly turned off.  While pro-vegetable offers people an alternative or a new way of looking at things, anti-meat tells people that the way they live is wrong and they must change.  And nobody wants to hear that.

Neither approach is perfect, but they’re both infinitely better than doing nothing.

I’m asking you to choose one.  Or both.  Or make up your own.  Just do something.

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‘Viva Vegan!’ Author Terry Hope Romero Shares Three Summer Salad Recipes

Today I’m pleased to feature a guest post from Terry Hope Romero, author of Viva Vegan!, Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  You can learn more about Terry and her books by visiting her website, Vegan Latina.

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Terry's Red Chile Corn Salad with Limas and Cherry Tomatoes

Hey there NMA fans, this is Terry Hope Romero, dropping in for a quick chat about hearty warm weather salads. I’m no triathlete (I’m more at home on a treadmill or a long city stroll down Manhattan avenues) but on moist summer days hot enough to steam a tamale I can appreciate a hearty vegan salad as much as the next active guy or gal. These three recipes have been modified from my latest release Viva Vegan!, switching out more exotic ingredients for those likely to be found at your local grocer or natural food store.

Confession: I used to not be the biggest salad fan (and usually it’s not my first pick when it comes to a good stick to one’s ribs kind of meal) after an early veggie life of having to resort to the salad fixin’s bar when dining out with family or co-workers. But being the salad chef yourself opens up a whole new list of horizons and among them is the infinite flexibility of adding cooked grains and beans, some of the simplest and cheapest protein foods out there to bulk up the usual green leafy fare.

These two salads are based off some of my favorites from my latest book Viva Vegan!, a beautiful hearty bean salad featuring buttery smooth white lima beans and a tangy salad dressing inspired by gazpacho, the classic raw, cold tomato soup used to dress the everyone’s favorite summer salad combo of avocado, black beans and corn. These salads rich with protein and fiber should highlight the best seasonal produce you can find, a perfect showcase for those farmer’s market tomatoes and fresh herbs. Both the corn lima salad and dressing keep very well in the fridge, just cover tightly and enjoy as a substantial meal, or even serve by the cupful nested in lettuce leaves as an uber-healthy snack.

Red Chile Corn Salad with Limas & Cherry Tomatoes

Here’s a quick and nourishing salad with a gentle spicy kick from chile powder or hot smoked paprika. It makes good work of essential Latin American favorites like corn, tomatoes, cilantro and lima beans. I like to serve it on a bed of baby spinach to supply that green element for a well-rounded entree.

Serves 4 as a side or starter.

2 cups fresh corn kernels (frozen is okay in a pinch)

1 1/2 cups cooked white lima beans, if using canned drain and rinse well

1/2 lb. red ripe tomatoes (cherry tomatoes look cute here)

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder or hot smoked paprika

2 tablespoons good quality olive oil

2 teaspoons agave nectar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large 2 quart saucepan bring for cups of water to a rolling boil. Stir in corn kernels and cook for 2-3 minutes or until corn is just cooked enough so that it’s no longer starchy but still crunchy. Drain corn into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop cooking process. Shake corn to rid of excess water or let drain for 10 minutes. You may also cook corn in the microwave by steaming with 3 Tablespoons of water in a covered glass container. Drain and rinse corn as directed. Place corn in a large mixing bowl and add rinsed lima beans. Slice cherry tomatoes in half into bite-sized pieces and add to corn and limas. Stir in chopped onion and cilantro.

In a large mixing cup whisk together lime juice, chile powder or paprika, olive oil, agave nectar, dried oregano and salt until combine. Pour over corn and bean mixture. Sprinkle with cracked pepper to taste using a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula stir salad ingredients together to thoroughly coat everything with dressing. Cover and chill salad for 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Fresh Gazpacho Salsa Dressing

Gazpacho, that famous cold fresh tomato soup, is the inspiration for this tangy, sweet and spicy dressing. Love how this juicy and tomatoey dressing hugs fluffy green lettuces like Bibb or Red Romaine and thin rings of red onion or how it elevates that favorite combo of black beans, corn and avocado in the following salad.

Makes about 1 cup dressing.

Time: Less than 10 minutes

1/2 lb. red ripe tomatoes

1/2 cup diced sweet white onion

1/2 green, red or yellow bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 green chili pepper, seeded and chopped

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

pinch of sugar (optional)

freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Use immediately or store tightly covered in the fridge for up to a week.

Black Bean Corn Salsa Salad

Yet another way to dig into everyone’s favorite energy-packed pals black beans, corn and avocado.

Gazpacho Salsa Dressing

6 cups Bibb or Butter Lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces

2 cups Roasted Corn Kernels (I love Trader Joe’s frozen corn kernels, thaw by rinsing with warm water)

2 cups (or one 14 oz can) cooked rinsed black beans

1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pit removed and diced

Place lettuce, corn, black beans and diced avocado in a large bowl, add freshly made gazpacho salad dressing and toss thoroughly to coat salad dressing with ingredients.

All recipes copyright 2010 Terry Hope Romero.

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How Michael Pollan is Like Barefoot Running

Michael Pollan is the “barefoot running” of diet advice.

Barefooters argue that running shoes don’t prevent injuries, they cause them.   Armed with a growing mound of scientific evidence, barefooting and near-barefooting advocates claim that modern attempts to improve on the design of the human foot—one that natural selection has been working on for millions of years—are effective at precisely one thing: selling shoes.

michaelpollan 240x300To understand what Michael Pollan is doing, simply replace “running shoes” with “the fortified, processed foods that line grocery store shelves,” and “barefoot running” with “eating real food.”  Real food, as in “food your great-grandmother would recognize as such,” one of Pollan’s acid-tests for authenticity.

The book that introduced me to Michael Pollan’s approach to eating was In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. In it, Pollan presents his arguments for eating whole foods and avoiding foods that have been fortified or otherwise altered (think added omega-3′s and the low-fat craze).  He first strengthens his case by citing lots of science, which makes for mostly interesting, but sometimes dull reading.  The most memorable part of the book is the last section, in which Pollan lists a few ridiculously simple, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that rules for eating well.

I suspect others felt the same way I did regarding which part of In Defense of Food was the most compelling, as Pollan’s next book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (Penguin), contains nothing but the good stuff.  64 rules, each followed by about a half a page of explanation, and nothing more (except for a tiny introductory section).

Whether the 64 simple rules are enough to replace every diet book on the shelves, I don’t know.  But it’s possible.  These rules make a lot of sense, and they make eating well really simple.

I’d recommend the book to anyone unfamiliar with Pollan’s work, as an introduction to this style of eating that really ought not to need an introduction, if only we hadn’t f-ed it up with with all the Go-gurt and Hot Pockets.  But since there’s not much science in the book, if that part interests you I’d recommend In Defense of Food instead.

My three favorite rules from Food Rules:

#13: Eat only foods that will eventually rot.

Makes sense, right?  Foods that rot do so because bacteria eat what nutrition they have in them.  If your food won’t rot, it probably doesn’t have anything worth eating in it.  I’ve heard this one stated slightly differently as “Eat what will rot before it does.”

#39: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

This is the rule a friend told me about that made me buy the book.  I’m hoping it might do the same for a few of you.

If you had to actually take the time to prepare all the junk that’s so readily available in convenience stores and fast-food joints, you might do it a couple times a year, but that’s it.  Pollan uses french fries as an example.  (Though I wish he’d have said “Eat all the meat you want, as long as you slaughter it yourself.”  Pollan is not a vegetarian, but it sounds like he’s pretty close, eating meat mainly as a side dish.)

#41: Eat More Like the French.  Or the Japanese. Or the Italians.  Or the Greeks.

This is perhaps my favorite rule in the entire book, and it strengthens further the comparison of Michael Pollan’s ideas to the barefoot running movement, in that it’s based on evolution.

The point here is that these cultures survived and thrived, each on their own, very distinctive diets.  And the diets themselves survived precisely because the people eating them survived to reproduce.  Since different cultures thrive on different diets, it’s clear that we aren’t meant to eat any one way.  But there is certainly a wrong way to eat, and that’s what most of us in the United States now do.

You can read Michael Pollan’s article in the Huffington Post to see more of his rules, including the actual discussions following them instead of my stupid ones.

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