Kill Your Microwave — How and Why I Got Rid of Mine

[no microwave image]Admission: I really wanted to call this post Kill Your Microwave … Before It Kills You!

But I didn’t. Because that’s not why I killed my microwave. I don’t think microwaves are dangerous, nor do really believe that microwaving your food necessarily destroys the nutrition therein.

Living without a microwave is weird, yes. Inconvenient, sure. But somehow, I love it.

Think microwave-freedom might be for you? Here’s everything you need to know.

Why Give Up the Convenience?

For thirty years, I never lived in a home without a microwave.

Like just about every kid who grew up in the 80’s, I have fond memories of Hot Pockets, TV dinners, Toaster Strudels, and personal pizzas coming out of that magic (if constantly dirty) black box after a minute and thirty seconds or so. Even the two fires I started in the microwave (one when I forgot to add water to my Top Ramen, the other when my sister and I tried to reheat a bagel the first time we stayed home alone, and had to evacuate to the neighbor’s house) make for good stories.

I’m not on an anti-microwave crusade. If it’s unhealthy, that remains to be seen — emissions may or may not be any worse than what our cell phones and laptops throw off, and even the “common knowledge” that microwaves destroy more enzymes and nutrients than other cooking methods has been largely refuted.

So why get rid of it?

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S’nuts! A Healthy, Smoky, Vegan Snack from Asheville’s Plant Restaurant

When it comes to healthy, plant-based food options, we’ve come a long way in the past few years.

But one area that’s apparently still lacking bigtime: snacks.

I sent out a survey to the NMA newsletter list a few weeks ago — mainly to get some feedback about what features you’re looking for in the upcoming community site — and in doing so I asked about your frustrations with fitness and diet (which, it turned out, was also a pretty good way to generate blog post ideas).

One of the most common problems, at least when it comes to food? Not enough vegan snacks!

The No Meat Athlete post about 24 healthy vegan and vegetarian snacks is a perennial favorite, but today I’m excited to share one of the snacks I almost always have on hand — an amuse bouche I discovered at a local Asheville restaurant that’s simple, healthy, and incredibly tasty.

Speaking of Asheville, though, I owe you an update …

Why We Love Asheville

Two years ago, my wife and I decided to pick up and move our family away from a comfortable home amongst family and friends in Maryland. We wanted adventure, and to try a place more befitting of our lifestyle, and we found it in Asheville — a small city in the mountains of western North Carolina that’s known for its arts, craft beer, vegan-friendliness, family- and pet-friendliness, running and hiking trails, and (for lack of a better term) laid-back hippie vibe.

I get a surprising number of emails from readers considering a move themselves who ask about our impression of Asheville now that we’ve been here close to two years. In short: we love it.

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Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Penne with Broccoli, from Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Get ready to party like it’s 2009.

One of my main reasons for starting this blog, back in that ancient day, was to share plant-based recipes that I found fit for athletes. And for several years I did just that, but soon I started to enjoy writing other types of posts. Recipes, I figured, were best left to cooking blogs (like my current favorite, Oh She Glows).

But I miss those days of kitchen experimentation, so starting with this post, I plan to share new recipes now and then, whenever I find one that’s especially delicious, healthy, and easy to make.

First, an announcement …

… and it’s a big one. Susan, Doug, and I — along with Wendy, the newest member of the NMA team — have been working hard on building something special for the past few months.

That something special is a No Meat Athlete community site. With not just forums and other ways for members to connect (both online and in person, if they wish), but also a place where we’ll feature interviews and stories of No Meat Athletes kicking ass in the world — sometimes pros and elites, but often regular, everyday people from our amazing community. And all with the friendly, welcoming vibe that’s too often lacking in other approaches to sharing this message.

The new site isn’t quite ready yet — right now we’re incorporating feedback from over 1,400 people who gave us their input — but should be within the next two weeks, and you can be sure I’ll let you know.

(And by the way, we’re trying to come up with a name for the community blog — if you’ve got an idea, submit it in the comments section of this post. If we choose yours, you’ll win a No Meat Athlete shirt and book!)

Ok, enough with the teaser. Recipe time!

Isa Does It

[isa does it cover]If pressed to name just one, go-to cookbook that my wife and I use at home (when not in Eat to Live mode — see the postscript below), it would be Appetite for Reduction, written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, with nutritional input from No Meat Athlete co-author Matt Ruscigno.

Appetite for Reduction is Isa’s healthy, low-fat cookbook, though quite honestly, that only just occurred to me — I figured the name was just a meaningless Guns ‘n’ Roses reference. And if you think about it, there’s no higher praise for a low-fat cookbook than not realizing it’s low-fat!

So when Isa asked if I wanted to check out her latest, Isa Does It, of course I said yes. It didn’t hurt that I scored major points at home when the book showed up on our doorstep while I was away on my book tour — and my wife, Erin, has been cooking her way through the book ever since.

Isa Does It, while of course vegan, isn’t specifically about healthy cooking, the way Appetite for Reduction so clearly is (at least for those who get puns). And when just a few minutes ago I asked my wife what she thought was premise of Isa Does It, I realized that yet more wordplay had gone over my head.

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How to Go Plant-Based (When Your Partner Won’t)

[i hate broccoli image]One of the most common questions I get in Q&A sessions following talks:

What if you want to go vegan or vegetarian, but your partner is not on board? 

And I never have a good answer. I was very fortunate that from the minute I came home and said, “Honey, I want to try being vegetarian,” she said, “Let’s do it!”

Same with going vegan a few years later. So while I can give suggestions (don’t be preachy, lead by example, and look for recipes that can swing both ways), they’re based only on others’ experiences.

My friend Jeff Sanders has such firsthand experience; he’s a nearly-raw vegan and his wife is an omnivore. I asked Jeff if he’d help me answer this common question, and this post is the result.

Jeff, by the way, is the host of a fantastic podcast called the 5AM Miracle — one that I’ve started listening to as I’ve become more intentional about my mornings (even if I’m still sawing logs in my bed at that ungodly hour). I was even a guest on the podcast a few months ago; so have been other vegan runners Rich Roll and PJ Murphy.

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Lift’s Quantified Diet Project: The Largest-Ever Measurement of Popular Diets

landing-logo
Not a lot of people online know this about me, but I’m a numbers guy at heart.

The only time it really comes out nowadays is in posts like my randomized plan to quit coffee (before I embraced the habit of enjoying a single, delicious cup of the stuff each day) and in the mindset to create formulas instead of recipes.

But prior to starting No Meat Athlete, numbers were my life: I was in grad school working on a PhD in Applied Math (I decided to stop with a Masters after No Meat Athlete took off), and spent my free time — when I wasn’t running or cooking — building models for sports betting and poker-playing, or reading books about randomness, artificial intelligence, and game theory.

Not even three years removed from that life, I still have a soft spot for numbers, and that’s the reason for today’s post.

You may have heard of Lift; it’s a habit-change app that uses coaching, group accountability through check-ins and encouragement, reminders, and other tools to help people reach goals — but it gets especially interesting when you consider the information that so much activity creates. With all of this user-generated data about what works and what doesn’t, Lift is in a unique position to discover new things about how human beings change habits.

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My ‘Eat to Live’ Challenge

eat to live coverFive years ago, a 10-day challenge led to my eventual decision to go vegetarian (and to start this blog).

A few years later a 30-day vegan challenge, which I completed successfully, actually taught me that I wasn’t ready to go vegan yet. But when I was ready six months later, that month-long experiment was probably to thank.

Why should we do uncomfortable challenges like these, with food or anything else? For me, the answer is clear: you might just discover something you love, when you learn that actually doing the thing is easier than worrying about how tough it surely must be.

But even if your experiment doesn’t lead you to change your life, a challenge around something so near-and-dear as food will almost certainly teach you something about yourself.

And so …

My Latest Challenge

For several years I’ve long been intrigued by the “don’t eat extracted oils” philosophy. Because if I’m honest, oil isn’t a whole food, and I’m fond of saying that I eat whole foods.

I also knew that I ate a lot of salt, woke up every day with an urge for a small, strong cup of coffee, and enjoyed a single (usually strong) beer almost every night.

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Vegan on the Road: How I’ve Eaten Healthier than Ever While Driving Across the Country

It took three weeks and 5500 miles, but yesterday, I hit the unofficial halfway point of my book tour — Seattle, Washington.

Fun place, by the way, with tons of vegan-friendly restaurants. And as I head down the west coast and back across the southern half of the country, I’m looking forward to more food options than I’ve had so far.

And believe me, when you’ve spent most of the past week driving long, barren stretches through states like Wyoming, Idaho, and Nebraska, you appreciate options.

To be honest, I’ve never found eating vegan while traveling all that difficult. But the constraints of the past three weeks — owing to the fact that I’m in a car — have made it more challenging. The three big ones:

  • I’m in a new hotel every single night, always without a kitchen and often with no fridge or microwave.
  • The car is packed so tightly that there’s no room for a cooler.
  • I’m without my beloved Blendtec — I left it for my wife and kids — or any blender, for that matter.

Finally, this is all on a budget — I’d go broke if I ate out at restaurants for all or even most of my meals. Selling books has helped to offset some costs of hotels, gas, and food, but this tour is a labor of love, not something that’s financially profitable by any means. So I’ve really got to keep an eye on my food cost.

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The Healthy (But Practical) Plant-Based Diet — A Typical Day

[Typical day's food image]Two and a half weeks into my book tour, things are finally becoming routine.

I’ve mastered the last-minute hotel search, figured out how to eat healthily while traveling, and gotten used to answering many of the same questions over and over in interviews and Q&A sessions.

One of the most common questions: What exactly do you eat during a typical day? 

Several people have expressed surprise that I didn’t include this in my book. The reason? Mainly, I didn’t include my typical day’s diet because the book is not about me. There are so many ways to “do” a plant-based diet; my way is just one of them. The book provides a framework and my favorite recipes, but there’s plenty of flexibility for the reader to swing towards raw or oil-free or even a vegetarian-but-non-vegan diet. I think of No Meat Athlete as a “gateway book” that gives people the tools to try out a healthy, practical plant-based diet, so that once they’re on board, they can take it in the direction that works for them.

But since people are curious, I’m happy to share here what I eat most days (when I’m at home, not on the road).

My Typical Day’s Diet

I eat according to a few simple guidelines (e.g., until I feel mostly full), and of course my meals and snacks vary, day to day. My focus is on practicality and health, and one of the amazing things I’ve found since going vegetarian and then vegan is that as I get further and further away from the processed-food world, my palate has adjusted so that those two aims coincide amazingly well with the goal we all have of eating food that tastes good.

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