A 30-Day Juicing Challenge (+ 3 Favorite Juice Recipes)

Note: This post was written by Doug Hay, who blogs at Rock Creek Runner (and co-hosts the NMA podcast!).

juicer imageIt all started with a documentary.

We were flipping through Netflix looking for a post-dinner movie when my fiancée Katie landed on Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.

As tends to happen after a good documentary, I was immediately convinced. I knew everything about juicing and had to do it immediately or I might very well die. Before the credits rolled, we were looking up juicer options and trying to fit the purchase into our budget.

As if the Juicing Gods were smiling down on our household, the No Meat Athlete inbox received an email from the good people at Lifestyle Products Group asking if we wanted to test out their new product, the NutriPro Juicer.

Just like that, a challenge was born.

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The 17 Weirdest Things I Do Now That I’m Vegan

We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.

-Dr. Seuss

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The cover of We Are All Weird, by Seth Godin. Good book.

Let’s face it. Being vegan (or even vegetarian) is pretty weird.

But that’s okay — weird is the new cool. It’s also the new normal, according to Seth Godin (whose post I borrowed the Dr. Seuss quote from).

It seems weird begets weird, though, because in the two years my family has been vegan, bit by bit we’ve gone a little nuts-o in our other habits — many of which have nothing to do with veganism.

And yet, in a way, they’re all tied back to that fundamental choice to be different from 98 percent of the rest of the world in our food choices. Being weird, I’ve found, is not just fun; it’s addictive.

And so — since my brain is fried from book writing and moving and NYC-Vegetarian-FoodFest-ing — I figured I’d write a fun post today about the kinky things we do since going vegan.

1. Live microwave-free. I thought I could never give up my microwave, but it turns out it was a lot like going vegan — I used it less and less over time as it became less appealing, and eventually it was just a matter of making the decision to go all the way. It’s great — lots of counter space, one less big, ugly box in the kitchen, and food that feels better for us (whether it actually is or not, I’m not sure). It’s slightly more work to steam or bake or simmer our leftovers, but it’s work that is somehow joyful.

2. Hand-grind our coffee. More oddly joyful work. After reading Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Chef late last year, I got a hand-crank burr grinder and an Aeropress, and it’s the only way I’ve made coffee since. The combination not only makes the best coffee I’ve ever had; it’s also convenient enough to bring on a plane. I did have a bit of disaster when I spilled the grounds all over my lap on a flight home from San Diego, though. [FYI, links to Amazon here are affiliate links.]

3. Have a freezer full of broccoli stems and strawberry tops. Why? To feed to our Blendtec, of course. Might as well waste one less thing and get some more green in our smoothies. Speaking of which …

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Everyone Welcome (Even “Hipster Vegetarians”)

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Leslie, Cathy and Jon at the No Meat Athlete tent after Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona

“So … are you guys, like, real vegetarians? Or just the hipster kind?”

It was 5 AM on a Sunday morning and I hadn’t found a cup of coffee yet. It was far too early for this shit. I looked the stocky dude at the next-door tent up and down.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Well, you know how vegetarians are. You guys probably say you don’t eat meat, and then you go home and eat a whole steak but don’t tell anyone.”

“Well, I don’t know about that, but …”

“Yeah, you just can’t resist bacon, right?” he interrupted.

I smiled politely and walked away in search of coffee.

I shared this story several times on Sunday, January 20, as I congregated with No Meat Athletes at our VIP tent at Rock & Roll Arizona. The response was always the same: an eye-roll and a chuckle of “oh, yeah, I’ve heard that before!”

To outside observers, our tent may have looked like any other team tent. There was a cooler full of water and juice, fruits and breakfast burritos on the table, and a lot of happy people in matching shirts. But for the 47 marathoners, half-marathoners, and mini-marathon finishers in No Meat Athlete shirts, it was something much more.

It was a community.

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Finally — NMA Women’s Tanktops, Cycling Jerseys, & More!

Hello from 24-hour lockdown! I’m in the thick of finishing up the No Meat Athlete book — the manuscript is due Friday, and it looks like the book is still on track to be released this fall. I’m excited; it has turned out really well and I can’t wait to share it with the world. Lots more details to come.

But as you can imagine, this final push to get it done has made it one of those weeks where I have no plans to change out of my pajamas except to run, and even then, certainly no time for a shower. And I’ve left the dogs in charge of babysitting our toddler. (I figured with two dogs for only one kid, that counts as acceptable parenting.)

Anyway, I wanted to quickly post three big pieces of news about the store before I get back to writing.

1. We Finally Have Women’s Tanktops!

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Tank you for waiting!

For the past three years, people have asked about women’s tanks just about every time we’ve mentioned No Meat Athlete shirts on Facebook. Well, we finally have them …

Right now, we’ve got extremely limited quantities of two different styles of tanktops. One is a really nifty-looking, racerback-style tank in charcoal color, and the other is a more traditional tank in the same colors (green with white sides) as the men’s version you may have seen.

We only have 5-15 of each size, so I don’t expect them to last past today. But we’re going to try out something new once they’re gone — a pre-order to make sure everyone gets what they want, as long as they order ahead of time. If your size is gone already, you can sign up here to be notified when we’re ready to take pre-orders for the tanks.

Oh yeah, and we’ve also added a black version of the men’s tank. I’m a fan, myself, but perhaps I’m just a tad biased.

2. Cycling Jersey Pre-Order!

nma jersey 300x148Another thing people ask about all the time is cycling jerseys. I’m actually nationally recognized as the country’s 4th or 5th worst cyclist, depending on who you ask, so I didn’t exactly have the fire under my arse that was necessary to get this done.

Thankfully, our lovable Susan Lacke did, and she helped design the shirts and make arrangements with Primal Cycling Apparel to have them print and handle the orders. (Okay, actually Susan did all of that. I didn’t help at all.)

The shirts look amazing, even to this non-cyclist. Without us making a cent on them, they cost 70 dollars from Primal (but people tell me that’s what cycling jerseys go for). If you’d like to get one, visit the Primal page, create your account, and then order before the deadline.

Mega-important note: This is a PRE-ORDER. That means there’s a firm deadline (Saturday, Jan. 26th, at 11:59 PM Eastern), and then it will take 10-12 weeks for the shirts to be printed and shipped. (That puts us in April.)

If it goes well, we’ll bring them back and do this again, but this your only chance to grab a No Meat Athlete cycling jersey for at least a few months. So if you want one, get it here, and before the end of the day on Saturday!

3. A Sale on Everything Else!

And last but not least, we finally got in the big shipment of stuff we’ve been waiting for ever since we ran out of just about everything during our Black Friday sale back in November.

So now through Monday, Jan. 28th, everything in the store, including ebooks like the Marathon Roadmap and the new Marathon Starter Kit (but excluding the new tanks), is marked at 15% off.

Why a sale? Because shirts went so fast in the Black Friday sale that a lot of people didn’t get a chance to take advantage of it before we ran out of everything, and I felt bad about that. So think of this as a make-up sale. And hey, sales are fun, plus it’s nice to get everyone all decked out in NMA stuff before spring race season starts!

Visit the store to take advantage of the sale before it ends on Monday!

Alright, that’s all from me. It’s back to writing, to get this book finished and out the door. 

See you soon! 

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My Answers to 3 Questions about Protein, Avoiding Injury, and Vegan Cheese

A few months ago, I posted an interview with my friend Leo from Zen Habits, where we talked about creating healthy habits and his new fitness program, Simple Fitness Habit, which is unique in that it uses the principles of habit change to keep you on track.

As part of the program, each month one of the contributors (of which I’m one) does a live webinar, and another does a Q&A to answer questions submitted by members. This month was my turn for Q&A, and I figured it’d be useful to share some of those questions and my answers here. (Don’t worry, I got the okey-doke from Leo, so I won’t likely get kicked out for this.)

Hope you find my answers helpful!

Q: How much protein is REALLY necessary and what are the best vegan sources? I do find I work out better having eaten some type of meat than when I eat more vegetarian/vegan, but is that because my vegetarian meal is lacking something? Thanks!

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How I Do Thanksgiving as a Vegan

iStock 000017500087XSmallA lot of things seem like a big deal before you’re vegetarian or vegan. For me, as a Marylander, it was crab feasts — that was the one thing, I said, I’d never give up, even after I was mostly vegetarian.

But then one day the idea of eating crabs just stopped appealing to me, and after that I found it easy to drink a beer or two and, enjoy the company, and just skip the crabs.

Thanksgiving has been a lot like that for me. My first vegetarian Thanksgiving occurred eight months after I stopped eating meat, so by then the turkey just wasn’t that interesting. Since then, Thanksgiving hasn’t been nearly the big issue it seemed before I was vegetarian.

And yet, “What do you do on Thanksgiving if you don’t eat meat?” is one of the more common questions people ask me. Almost as common is, “Do you have any advice for a first vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving?”, so I figured I’d write a post about how I handle this holiday that’s based so much on (traditionally not-even-close-to-vegan) food.

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A Tale of Two No Meat Athlete Shirts

Without a doubt, my favorite part of this gig is hearing stories like this one, from first-time marathoner Scott. We posted it on Facebook earlier, but I wanted to share it here too.

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Scott and Felipe

Matt,

On Sunday I ran my first marathon, and I wanted to thank you. 15 miles in, my knee started hurting; by 20 miles I thought I was never going to finish. Somehow I dug deep and hobbled my way to mile 25.

As I was half running, half limping, I came upon a fellow runner wearing a No Meat Athlete shirt named Felipe. He was walking, so I slowed down to compliment him on his shirt. As soon as he saw my shirt, he stopped walking and started running with me, and explained he had tweaked his knee a few miles back and couldn’t find the motivation to start running again, until we met. We ran the last mile all out together and crossed the finish line with arms raised and proud of our shirts and accomplishment.

Thank you for bringing together runners that share a common thread, your shirts helped me and Felipe share the last push across the finish line together.

-Scott

If you’ve got a story or photo to share, post it on our Facebook page!

P.S. — Did you hear Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona is offering a discount on registration for No Meat Athlete readers? We’ll have a tent at the finish, too, with vegan treats for anyone who shows up in their NMA shirt. Check it out here.

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9 Essential Cookbooks for the Plant-Based Athlete

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My cookbook (and wine) shelf

When it comes to cookbooks, my wife and I are big fans of the library.

You can leaf through a normal book and get an idea of whether it’s any good, but you can’t really decide about a cookbook until you try it. So we like to borrow first, then buy if it’s great.

And so we’ve tried a bunch (well over 50, I bet) in our short three and a half years of being vegetarian. I’m always surprised at the selection of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks in most libraries, even if a lot of them are those 1980’s-style designed ones, with tons of fake meat recipes that are probably a lot worse for you than the even real thing.

(Case in point: I recently saw a recipe in this book, which my sister checked out from the library, for vegan chili cheese dogs. The recipe: get a vegan hot dog, vegan cheese, a bun, and vegan chili, and microwave them. Then assemble as you would an ordinary hot dog. This book also has a “Vegan Chopped Liver” recipe …)

Anyway, my point is that we’ve tried a ton of cookbooks, and we usually end up buying our favorites. And from this handful of favorites, we cook probably 90% of the meals we make.

Before I get to my list, let me explain the criteria.

What makes a great vegan or vegetarian cookbook for athletes?

I called this list 9 Essential Cookbooks for the Plant-Based Athlete, and here’s what I mean by that. To make my list, a vegetarian or vegan cookbook’s recipes had to be:

  • Whole-food based — more than any particular nutrient mix, this is my main criterion for healthy (see this post).
  • Not rabbit-foodish — it’s gotta be substantial, filling, satisfying food.
  • Quick — most meals shouldn’t take more than 30-40 minutes to prepare, since athletes are generally pretty busy.
  • Tasty — maybe the best athletes don’t care so much about this, but the rest of us do.
  • Varied — I wanted each book to have a lot of different types of food in it, so that you could buy just one and still have a nice mix of meals (as opposed to just vegan Indian or Italian food, for example).

So with that, here’s my list. Please note that amazon.com links are affiliate links, so No Meat Athlete will earn a small commission when you buy anything through them!

1. Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

To me, this is a classic, even if it’s only five years old. Though some of the recipes are slightly more involved than I have time for on a weeknight, most every meal in this book turns out wonderfully, and makes you feel like you did something. There’s also tons of supporting material to introduce the reader to different ingredients and techniques used in vegan cooking, making this a perfect first “serious” vegan cookbook.

See my review, along with the recipe for BBQ Black Eyed Pea Collard Rolls, here.

2. Thrive Foods, by Brendan Brazier.

Probably my favorite of all, and the one that I’d rescue from a fire if some weirdo came and lit only my cookbook shelf on fire. The reason I love Thrive Foods is because it’s the perfect balance between extremely healthy (Brendan was a pro triathlete and developed many of these recipes to fuel his career) and normal. I wouldn’t call most of this food gourmet — you can tell that health comes first in most of these recipes — but even my two-year old will eat it, and that’s saying something. And the first one-third of the book makes for interesting reading about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

See my review of Thrive Foods for more, including the delicious Shanghai Rice Bowl recipe.

3. Clean Food, by Terry Walters.

Simple, seasonal, whole ingredients are what I think of when I think of Clean Food. Though it doesn’t say so anywhere on the cover, the book is entirely vegan and mostly gluten-free, too. This is my favorite cookbook for finding what’s fresh at the farmer’s market and making it for dinner that night. (Terry is also a marathoner and triathlete, so it’s no coincidence that the food here is so perfect for athletes.)

Here’s where you can find my review of Clean Food, along with a recipe for Millet Black Bean Patties with Corn.

4. Jai Seed, by Rich Roll.

Jai Seed is a little different — partly because it’s an ebook, but not just that. There’s something else about the food that distinguishes it from that of the other cookbooks on my list. The recipes are unique and interesting, and in general, the ingredients Rich uses are fresh, often raw, superfoods that he combines in simple smoothies, salads, sauces, meals and desserts — and somehow they turn out to be delicious. And it never hurts to know you’re eating the same food a vegan Ultraman triathlete eats!

See my review of Jai Seed here.

5. Appetite for Reduction, by Isa Chandra Moscowitz.

Isa is the only author to appear twice on my list, but Appetite for Reduction is somewhat different from Veganomicon, so I won’t lose sleep over including both. The focus is on simplifying, so that these meals are quicker, healthier, and cheaper than those in V’con. And my friend Matt Ruscigno, a vegan Registered Dietitian and ultra-distance cyclist, contributed a nutrition primer and lots of nutrition notes throughout the book (see the protein and iron posts Matt wrote for No Meat Athlete).

PS — We made the black bean zucchini tacos a few nights ago, and they were mind-blowing.

6. 1000 Vegan Recipes, by Robin Robertson.

1000 Vegan Recipes was the first vegan cookbook I ever bought, and my gateway from vegetarianism to veganism. To be honest, I haven’t found a ton of standout recipes in this book (Mac ‘n’ Chard is one delicious exception), but the sheer number (you’ll never guess how many!) and variety of quick and simple recipes in the book makes it a go-to for so many nights when I’ve got nothing planned but need to get something on the table fast. The salads section is long and excellent, too.

7. World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jaffrey.

This is the only non-vegan cookbook on my list (many of the recipes call for yogurt or other dairy products, for which you could often substitute vegan versions). But if you don’t own an ethnic cookbook, this is the one to start with. I’m always impressed by the authenticity of these meals and the depths of unfamiliar flavors in them; this is the book that helped me fall in love with vegan cooking back when I was still stuck on the idea that cooking wasn’t as much fun when you were restricted in your choice of ingredients.

8. Supermarket Vegan, by Donna Klein.

Great book, great title, kinda dumb tagline: “225 Meat-free, Egg-free, Dairy-free Recipes for Real People in the Real World.” Okay, I got the first part from “vegan,” and exactly who counts as not a real person in the real world? Still, like I said, it’s a really great book — it selectively uses prepared ingredients from the grocery store to save a lot of time when you’re in a pinch, and most of the recipes turn out well. And for the most part, these meals are cheap, even when you’re paying for the prepared ingredients. If you find yourself time-crunched or otherwise intimidated about cooking, Supermarket Vegan is a place to start.

9. __________, by ___________. Ah, trickery. I said there were nine, and I could only think of eight that truly deserved to be on *my* list. But I’m only one guy, with one set of taste buds, so I want to hear what your favorite is! Leave it in a comment and we’ll have massive list of new books to try!

Happy cooking!

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