Black Bean Brownies

Hey No-Meat Athletes!  It’s Christine, back with another healthy dessert recipe!  For this Sweet-Tooth Friday I made a batch of vegan black bean brownies.  I’m going to cut to the chase- for me this recipe is hands-down the best Sweet Tooth Friday yet!  They’re even better than regular brownies!  If you haven’t tried any of my recipes yet, drop what you’re doing and get baking!
[black bean brownies with can photo]
I adapted this recipe from a King Arthur Flour recipe.  I made a few changes like using whole wheat flour, raw sugar, and more coffee.  Instead of adding chocolate chips (which add more sugar) I decided to use hazelnuts instead.  The hazelnuts add a seriously fabulous “nutella”-like flair.

In my research on black bean brownies, I came across a nice tip on  Someone mentioned there that it was a good idea to wash the salty can liquid off the beans, then return the beans to the can and fill with fresh clean water.  This is what I did with great success.  However, I’m not sure if this would be different with a pre-packaged mix, but when I mixed the pureed beans and water with the dry ingredients, there was not nearly enough liquid to make a batter.  I ended up adding another cup of water to get it to the right consistency.

Without further ado, I give you my Hazelnut Mocha Brownies:

Vegan Black Bean Brownie Recipe

4.8 from 4 reviews
Vegan Black Bean Brownies
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2¼ cups raw sugar
  • 1¼ cup cocoa
  • 4 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1½ cups chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and filled with new water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of water (eyeball it by filling up half the empty can)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the flour with the salt and baking powder. For a nice layered presentation in a jar start with half the sugar, then add half the flour mixture, all the cocoa, the coffee powder, the remaining flour, the remaining sugar, and the nuts on top. When ready to bake, dump out the jar into a mixing bowl and stir to combine all the dry ingredients.
  3. Drain a can of black beans and rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear. Return the black beans back to the can and fill with water. Puree the beans and water. Add the puree to the dry mix along with the vanilla and extra cup of water. Stir to combine.
  4. Pour the batter into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan around halfway through. When the brownies are finished they should be firm in the center and the edges will be slightly puffy and starting to pull away from the sides. My batch was finished at 28 minutes. It's important not to overbake in the oven because they will keep baking once you take them out.
  5. Let brownies cool completely then use a 2x2 in cookie cutter to cut into 24 squares.



[black bean brownies photo]

I don’t think I can accurately express over the internet how freakin awesome these brownies are! I said it before and I’ll say it again: these are better than ANY brownie I’ve had, including the ones laden with tons of butter and eggs. It’s time to put your bean prejudices aside and give this recipe a try!

Happy Sweet-Tooth Friday!
xoxo, Christine

P.S.- Check out the rest of my sneakily-healthy desserts, including vegan pumpkin bread and gingerbread cookies with Guinness!

About the Author: Christine Frazier writes vegan recipes through lots of research, trial, and error … now she is applying the same theory to her other passion, writing stories. Follow along as she deconstructs bestsellers and learns how to write a novel.



How to Predict Your Marathon Time

Let’s say you’re cruising through your first marathon.  You’re running a little faster than you’ve trained, but hey, it’s race day, and you’re charged with adrenaline.

You cross the halfway point five minutes faster than you had planned based on your training pace.  You’re rocking your first race, and everything is great.  And then disaster strikes.

At Mile 15, it hits you.  For the first time, you notice your legs feel heavy.  By Mile 16, the idea of a quick walk break sounds great.  By 17, you’re not sure you can even finish the race.

What happened?  You were so disciplined in your training, and you tried to listen to your body on race day.  The problem is that you didn’t know what you were capable of and had no idea how fast to run.  And a good rule of thumb is that for every minute too fast that you run the first half of a marathon, you’ll lose two minutes in the second half.

You need a better idea of how fast you can reasonably expect to run.  These three marathon prediction methods well help you do that, and avoid the race-day disaster that so many runners experience.

Yasso 800’s

Here’s the idea.  Pick a marathon time you’d like to run.  Replace hours by minutes and minutes by seconds to get your 800 meter pace.

Sounds complicated, but it’s not!  Since I need to run the marathon in 3 hours, 10 minutes to qualify for Boston, my 800 pace becomes 3 minutes, 10 seconds.  If you can do 10 of these 800’s, slowly jogging for that same amount of time between each (3:10 for me), then this method predicts you can run your marathon at the corresponding hours-and-minutes time!  A lot of people say that Yasso 800’s are too optimistic a prediction time, so adding five minutes to the time you predict is probably a good idea.

Here’s a link to Runner’s World’s take on Yasso’s.

Galloway’s Magic Mile

Former Olympian and current coach Jeff Galloway (the walk-run guy) has his own method for predicting race times, and not just marathons.  And the great thing about his method is that it’s simple, albeit painful.

Here’s how it works.  Run one mile as fast as you can, middle-school style (don’t barf or die, though).  Then to predict your marathon time, take your mile time (in seconds) and multiply by 1.3.  The result is your marathon pace per mile, in seconds.

I haven’t done this one yet, but just to give an example:  In my last 5K, I ran the first mile in 5:53.  Let’s say that if I were going all-out, I could have run a single mile in 5:40 (you’re supposed to actually do it, of course, not guess).  That’s 340 seconds, and 340 x 1.3 = 442 seconds, or 7:22 marathon pace, for a 3:13 marathon.

Galloway actually gives you a break; he says to run four one-mile time trials, drop your lowest, and average the remaining three to get your mile time.  He also gives different adjustment factors to predict 5K, 10K, and half marathon times at his website.

[daniels running formula image]Jack Daniels’ Tables

Jack Daniels is a well-known running coach and author of a book I really like, Daniels’ Running Formula (Amazon affiliate link).  In the book, he gives a table for predicting any common race time, given any other common race time, based on what seems like a lot of research and statistics.  You can find such a pace table here (Table 1).

Basically, you look up a recent race time, and from that you look to the left or right to find your projected time for another distance.  Don’t worry about the “VDOT” column, it’s something from the book.  Ideally, you want the race distances to be similar (i.e. use a half marathon time to predict a marathon time, if you have a recent one).  You also want things like the terrain and conditions to be similar.

Example:  My half marathon a few months ago was extremely hilly, so I can’t really compare that one.  But if I look up my recent 5K time of 19:15 on a very flat course, the equivalent marathon time is about 3:04.

If you’re not into tables, running coach Greg McMillan has a similar tool here, called McMillan’s Running Calculator.

This post is part of a series of posts designed to teach you how to run long and strong.  Go check out the rest!



Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Lotsa Giada Pasta

Wow, it’s been a few weeks since this blog has seen a completely “normal” meal!  But that’s just what this one is—nothing sprouted or soaked, no hemp oil, nothing raw, and real, actual, pasta (not “pasta”).  And extra cheese, please!

[pasta bake photo 2]In the spirit of taking a week off from running (I get back to it today, see below), I figured it would be fun to cook my favorite kind of food, Italian, since I haven’t done that in a while.  I wanted to make a pasta dish with lots of zucchini and squash, since we have a small glut of it in the house.  We picked some up at the farmers market last weekend, and Erin’s garden has (finally) produced some!

[jalapeno plant photo]This has been the strangest summer for the garden; everything seems to have gotten a slow start.  In fact, the two zucchini we just picked are the very first produce this summer!  That is, if you don’t count the baby jalapenos we’ve been eating, their lives cut short by our dog Linus and his penchant for peppers—he ripped the plant out of the ground!  I’m not sure what it is about jalapenos, but he loves them.  We find half-eaten ones in the yard all the time!  Erin has been trying to revive the sad plant, but I don’t see it working out.

Anyway, I found this recipe on the Food Network’s website, from Giada De Laurentiis.  I don’t make much of Giada’s stuff, mainly because she scares me.  Something about her head.  But this one was exactly what I was looking for, so I got over it.

You’ll see that it has tons of vegetables (healthy), and loads of cheese (not healthy).  If I’m making something really special, I don’t worry about how healthy it is, but for weeknight dinners like this, I do what I can to make it better.  So I skipped out on the final part of the recipe, where you’re supposed to top everything with Parmigiano-Reggiano and melted butter.  I’m sure this would have been delicious, but with a cup and a half of different cheeses already in the recipe, it kinda seemed like overkill.  So I just saved some of the other cheeses to sprinkle on top before I put this dish in the oven.  Those other cheeses, by the way, are nothing to shake a stick at—smoked mozzarella and fontina!  Make sure you get smoked mozzarella; it adds such a wonderful flavor.

I used organic whole wheat pasta, and for the marinara sauce, I realized at the last minute that I didn’t have enough.  Luckily I had a can of San Marzano tomatoes in the pantry, so I drained their liquid and cooked them over medium heat with some salt and basil for 20 minutes to make my own!  Much better than the sugary crap you get in the store.

Giada’s Faulty Math

Also, I used twice as many mushrooms as Giada calls for.  She wants four mushrooms, halved.  So eight halves total.  The dish makes eight servings (it says six, but it’s more).  So if we assume that the eight mushrooms are uniformly distributed throughout the pasta bake, then a quick calculation tells us that the chances of some serving have no mushrooms at all are [1-(7/8)(6/8)(5/8)(4/8)(3/8)(2/8)(1/8)] = [1-7!/(8^7)] =99.76%.  Of somebody having no mushrooms!

Oh no, Giada, this will not do.

To take care of the problem, I doubled the amount of mushrooms.  (Strangely, I don’t recall getting a mushroom in mine.  Ah, the limits of science.)

Statistical improbabilities aside, this meal was really good.  I’m going to say 4 cows out of 5, easy.  The best part is that it was pretty cheap—the cheese was the most expensive part—and it was really easy to make, requiring just a little bit of chopping and 40 minutes total baking time.  Plus with eight servings, we’ll be eating this until it’s coming out our ears.

[pasta bake photo]

Return the Road

After a full week off from running, save for one three-mile test of the blister, I’m back at it tonight.  I have a track workout scheduled (6 x 800 meters), and I’m anxious to see how I’ll do.  I had to abort last week’s because of the blister, the one before that I worked out with some friends and did their workout, and three weeks ago I was recovering from a 5K race so I didn’t do the track workout.  So even though I’ve been anything but idle, it’s been four weeks since I’ve legitimately  completed a track workout.  I should be fine, but still it’s a little scary.

I’ll be back tomorrow to let you know how it goes.  Happy hump day!



New Stuff

Quick extra post to let you know about two new pages I’ve added to my site…

Yesterday I mentioned that shirts are for sale, hence the new Shirts page where I can hawk my wares.  Half the first run of shirts has sold already—thanks everyone!  Not much else to say about it; check it out if you’re interested.

The second new page is The Protein Thing, addressing the most popular question vegetarians get asked (like I did, for example, in my radio interview).  The page is a summary of a lot of research that my mom did when she went vegetarian and noticed that something wasn’t right and sensed it was because she was not getting enough—or not getting the right kinds of—protein.  The page is all about amino acids and the vegetarian foods that contain them, so if you’re in the same boat as she was, I imagine you’ll find it useful.

That’s all, enjoy your evening!



Grilled Onion and Eggplant Sandwiches with Sweet Potato Fries

As much as I’ve been loving my Thrive meals over the past few weeks, I have no intention of eating that way every day.  Cooking new stuff is just too much fun, and there’s only so much you can do with vegan ingredients and low-temperature cooking.  I mean come on, no meat is enough of a limitation!

[grilled veggies photo]So I’ve felt really inspired to make the most of my non-Thrive days by cooking new, fun meals.  Yesterday I knew I wanted to make something buffalo (my favorite sauce in the world), but I wasn’t sure what.  So I pulled out a cookbook that I think I’ve literally never pulled out before, creatively titled Grilling.  Marketing brilliance.

I found a good-looking recipe for grilled onion and eggplant sandwiches, which are supposed to be made with an Asian grilling sauce.  Since my wife Erin doesn’t have the unconditional love for buffalo sauce that I do, I made hers with the Asian sauce and mine with the buffalo.

[ezekiel bread photo]Even though this wasn’t a Thrive day, I opted for sprouted whole wheat buns for some added nutrition.  Sprouted bread is something I’ve discovered only recently, and it actually tastes just as good as any rustic whole wheat bread you’ll find.  The brand I’ve been getting is Ezekiel—so named because of some Bible verse that my Catholic school education must have omitted— that’s actually quite popular among health foodies.  I found it in the frozen section of the health food store; it’s sold frozen because sprouted stuff doesn’t last long, owing to the high nutrient content.  Rule of thumb: if something has a long shelf life, it’s either loaded with preservatives or has been stripped of so many nutrients that it’s of no use to the microorganisms that cause food to spoil!

To go with our grilled sandwiches, I also made some sweet potato fries.  Though I guess they’re not technically fries, since I cooked them on the grill.  I adapted a Thrive recipe for these fries, substituting canola oil for coconut oil and cooking them at much more than 300 degrees.  (Hey, it was an off day!)  And I stole an idea from my sister Christine (of Sweet-Tooth Friday fame), who suggested dipping sweet potato fries in honey Chobani as part of the Chobani giveaway contest a few months back.  Thanks Chris, and sorry if I was ever mean to you when we were little!

The sweet potato fries in honey Chobani were awesome, but to be honest, the sandwiches fell a little flat.  Neither the buffalo sauce nor the Asian sauce did justice to the grilled vegetables, which can be so heavenly when prepared with just some olive oil, salt, pepper, and maybe a little garlic.  So I’ll just give you the basic recipe, without the marinades, allowing you to use your favorite (or none) instead.  If you do want to make buffalo sauce, it’s really simple.  One part Frank’s Red Hot, one part melted butter.  But I’m telling you, olive oil and S&P would be better!

[grilled sweet potato fries photo]

Grilled Onion and Eggplant Sandwich Recipe (adapted from Grilling)

Ingredients (for 4 sandwiches):

  • 4 eggplant slices, 1 inch thick
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into 4 slices (as thick as possible)
  • 4 tomato slices
  • arugula or other lettuce
  • 4 whole wheat buns (Ezekiel Sprouted Whole Wheat buns are great)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup favorite grilling marinade, I think simple EVOO, salt and pepper, and garlic would be best

Soak some wooden skewers in water for 15 minutes.  Stab each onion slice with a skewer to hold it together.  Marinate the onions and eggplant for 15-20 minutes and preheat an outdoor grill on medium while you wait.

Remove the vegetables from your marinade and save the excess.  Move the vegetables to the grill; grill for 15-20 minutes until tender, basting with the marinade a few times and turning once.  During the last few minutes, toast the buns on the grill.

Top the buns with the eggplant, onion, lettuce, tomato, and whatever condiment you like.  Power to the people!

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries Recipe (adapted for the grill from Thrive)

Ingredients (serves 4 people)

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp coarsely chopped pumpkin seeds
  • 1.5 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup greek yogurt, like honey-flavored Chobani
  • drizzle of honey

Heat an outdoor grill to medium.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl except sweet potatoes, yogurt, and honey.  Coat the potato wedges in the mixture and grill for about 5 minutes per side, testing them for doneness and being careful not to let them burn.

Serve with yogurt drizzled with honey as a dipping sauce.

Cow-rating, you ask?  I give the sweet potato fries 4 cows out of 5, the sandwiches (with the buffalo or Asian sauce) only 2 cows out of 5.  But like I said, a simple marinade that doesn’t step on the toes of the simple flavors of grilled vegetables would make all the difference.  If you find a winner, let me know!

[matt eating sandwich photo]

I had been eating a vegetarian diet for seven weeks and initially felt more refreshed and lighter- not so bogged down. But then I noticed that I did not feel quite right. My body needed more protein- I could feel it. My muscles started to feel limp and saggy. And I could feel that feeling inside, when you just aren’t getting what you need. I’m really concerned about my muscles. Some people want to be strong- I want to LOOK fit and LOOK good. And my vegetarian diet was moving me away from my goals.

I definitely was not getting enough protein. I spend my day in a deli that is known for its pit beef and cold cut subs. After we close, I usually meet friends for a late evening dinner in places that serve fried foods and hamburgers. I wasn’t eating meat, but I was filling myself with french fries, pastries, bread and pasta. Not conducive to a healthy, no-meat diet.

Instead of giving up and going back to eating meat, I decided to be pro-active and learn exactly what my body was missing and how to replenish it. I have read “by consuming a wide variety of plant foods, a full set of essential amino acids will be supplied and the human body can convert the amino acids into proteins”. But that wasn’t enough- I wanted details.

Which amino acids does my body not make? From where do I derive the amino acids that are most responsible for strong, healthy muscles and how much of those foods do I need to consume? And what if I only get half of the required essential amino acids or… what if I’m missing one amino acid? What’s the effect?

I thought that others might have the same questions I had and would be interested in an easy-to-read guide that describes which foods are best to consume to produce healthy muscles.



Blisters, “Pizza,” Pie, and Shirts!

A Small Leak Sinks a Great Ship

Well, I’m a little bummed out today.  I’m still sidelined, not by injury, but by that frickin’ blister on my foot!  I figured that four days off would take care of it, but when I went for an easy three-miler yesterday to test it out, it was still bothering me.  There’s no way I could run my scheduled 20 miles today.  So I’m skipping it, and hoping that come Wednesday, I’ll be all healed up for my track workout. Fortunately, my next scheduled long run is a shorter one, 13 miles, so I’ll do the 20 that day and not have missed too much.

In case you don’t have time to take lunch today and you’re looking for an appetite suppressant, read on.  What I’m calling a blister isn’t really a blister anymore.  I drained it and it’s healing; the area is just really tender still.  I’ll refrain from posting a picture.  Or maybe I’ll set up a “Premium Content” area, where you can pay to view it!

More Food In Quotes

I have another vegan Thrive meal for you today, this one a sunflower seed beet “pizza.”  Sounds weird, I know, but a lot of the Thrive meals do, and they all turn out to be good.  To my knowledge, this is the first time I’ve ever eaten fresh beets; I usually get them in a can but we found these babies at the farmers market.  I thought that the deep red color and juice was a by-product of the canning process, but it’s not.  Check out the crime scene in my kitchen!

[beet photo]

According to Thrive, beets are alkaline-forming, so this meal is good for reducing stress.  (The cheese, white flour, and high temperature cooking of real pizza, tasty as they are, make it highly acid-forming and rough on the body.  This partly explains why I feel crappy after I eat it.)  Two hours after we ate the beet pizza, we found ourselves in Hawaiian shirts and bare feet, reggae music playing, margaritas in hand, and without a care in the world!  Ok, this is a lie.

Even though we weren’t transported to the islands, Erin and I still found this meal surprisingly enjoyable, and better than the chickpea curry pizza we had last time.  Nothing will replace real pizza in my heart, but for a vegan, low-temp-cooked meal packed with nutrition, this one’s not bad.  And it’s simple to make, since most of the work is done in by the food processor.  Here’s the recipe.

Sunflower Seed Beet Pizza Recipe (from Thrive)

[beet pizza photo]Ingredients for the crust:

  • 2 cups ground sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup grated beet
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, hemp oil, or EFA blend (I used a combination of coconut and hemp)
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • sea salt to taste

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 Spanish onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup green onions

For the sauce, use the spicy sun dried tomato marinara from the zucchini pasta recipe.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a food processor, process the crust ingredients until the mixture starts to ball up.  Lightly oil a baking tray with coconut oil.  Spread the mixture on tray about 1/4 inch thick.  Spread sauce over crust and add toppings.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until desired crispness is reached.

I’m still working on getting the crust crispy.  I have been leaving the pizzas in the oven for up to a half hour longer than the recipe says, but without too much success.  Maybe this is just how it has to be if you insist on low-temperature baking.

Ok, so it’s not the nicest-looking food I’ve ever made.  To make up for that, check out this beautiful photo of the blueberry peach pie Erin made with farmers market produce over the weekend!  Of course (warning: sappy husband comment ahead), it’s not just the pie that makes the photo beautiful…

[erin with pie photo]

Erin got the recipe from the Food Network’s website.  We eat well enough that on the rare occasions when we do have dessert, we don’t really get concerned about how healthy it is.  But this one’s actually not too bad, since a lot of the sweetness comes from the fruit.  And I don’t think I need to tell you that it was delicious.

Shirts (finally)!

[matt shirt photo]After having to say “not yet” one too many times to people at races asking me if No Meat Athlete shirts are for sale, I finally did the legwork necessary to get some made.  And I’m very happy with how they turned out!  They’re technical moisture wicking shirts, meaning you can wear them during races to show everyone that you’re a proud vegetarian athlete.  And since that’s such a great way to spread the word out about my site, I’ve decided to sell the first batch at cost.  In fact, once you account for setup fees, I’m actually losing a little money on each shirt, but it’s all good.  All I ask in return is that when people at races ask you where you got it (and they will), you put in a good word about my blog!

The shirts are made by Badger Sport (what, you were expecting Under Armour for 12 bucks?), and as I said, they’re technical moisture wicking shirts.  I wanted to make these available as soon as possible, so for now you can buy them by clicking the “Add to Cart” link in the sidebar. But soon enough I’ll get a “Shirts” page up with more photos and details.

[erin shirt photo]

[shirt back photo]



Thrive Diet Review

Ever since I finished reading vegan professional Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier’s Thrive two weeks ago, I’ve been completely inspired to transform the way I think about food.  I’ve made the meals and smoothies from it almost every day, posting many of them on this blog (with Brendan’s permission, of course).  But amidst all my excitement, something occurred to me.  I haven’t yet written a review to let you know what it’s all about!  Enter this post.

[Thrive cover photo]

Eating to Maximize Energy

Perhaps the most astounding thing about this book, subtitled “The Vegan Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life,” is that you forget it’s vegan. When I first picked it up, the v-word scared me.  But just a few pages in, I forgot all about that.  The focus isn’t on avoiding animal products—it’s on eating the foods that your body can break down most efficiently and turn into as much energy as possible.  And those foods just happen to not come from animals.

In addition to the choosing plant-based foods that pack the most energy in the smallest space, Thrive places a lot of emphasis on preparation.  Brazier promotes a high-raw diet, meaning (of course) that most of the food is either raw or cooked at relatively low temperature, 300 degrees or lower.  The point here is to make digestion easy—when we cook foods at very high temperatures, we destroy the digestive enzymes present in them, placing a bigger burden on our systems at the cost of precious energy.

Still, none of this is what I like the most about Thrive.  For me, the best part is the way this food makes me feel.  Perhaps even above maximizing energy, the diet is about reducing stress on the body and mind—and 40 percent of such stress, according to Brazier, comes directly from the foods that we put into our bodies.  Thrive is about eliminating the causes of unhealthy stimulation (refined sugar and caffeine come to mind) and choosing alkaline-forming foods to promote cellular regeneration and energy production and to create an environment in which viruses and bacteria cannot survive.  (Cancer can’t develop in an alkaline environment, either.  Bonus.)

The Thrive Diet Plan

The actual diet “plan” doesn’t involve any kind of calorie-counting, even for athletes.  No protein or carb numbers to hit, no “phases,” or even foods that are off-limits.  It’s much more about creating a lifestyle, a way of eating that, the more you can do it, the better you’ll feel and perform.  But for those who like to be told exactly what to eat, Brendan does provide a 12-week meal plan, for which all six meals of each day are specified exactly.

Instead of following the 12-week plan—I like more flexibility than that—I’ve been eating about half of my meals directly from the Thrive recipes section.  And this includes the sports drinks, recovery drinks, energy bars and even energy gels that Brendan uses during his training and races.  In only two weeks, I’ve added so many new energy-dense and alkalizing foods to my diet.  Coconut oil, hemp protein (better than whey or soy), hemp seeds and oil, raw almonds, ground flaxseed, sunflower seeds, acai juice, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, quinoa, dates, mangos, rooibos tea, agave nectar, adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, and of course, loads of “normal,” fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.

If I have one complaint about the Thrive diet, it’s this: I miss cooking.  The recipes are for the most part simple to prepare (and they should be, since this book isn’t a cookbook, it’s a book about maximizing energy).  They make frequent use of the blender and food processor, and since a lot of the food is raw, there’s not too much cranking up the heat and getting a nice sear and carmelization on my foods.  But if you’re not much of a cook anyway, all the better!

Thrive Diet Recipes

Ok, this post is getting way long, but I want to quickly share two great Thrive recipes with you.  The first is a raw veggie burger that Erin and I had for lunch yesterday, one of our first totally raw meals, and so surprisingly tasty and filling.  The other is an awesome immune-booster mango jalapeno smoothie (weird, right?) that we made this morning and are absolutely making again tomorrow.

Almond Flaxseed Burger Recipe (from Thrive)

[almond burger photo]Ingredients (for two burgers, each very filling)

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup raw almonds (Brendan recommends soaking almonds to improve their nutrition)
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (one of few alkalizing types of vinegar)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, hemp oil, or EFA oil blend
  • Sea salt to taste

Process all ingredients in a food processor until well blended.  Form into two patties.

Erin and I were so surprised at the flavor of these burgers.  And it’s been that way with a lot of raw foods; it’s hard to believe they have such incredible flavor without any cooking.  These burgers we so filling that neither of us could finish them, with only a salad on the side.  Warning!!! — I reduced the garlic amount to 1.5 cloves, and though the flavor was incredible, we were both tasting raw garlic for the rest of the day.  Next time we’ll use even less, or maybe even no garlic.

Mango Lime Hot Pepper Smoothie Recipe (from Thrive)

[mango smoothie photo]Ingredients (for two smoothies):

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 banana
  • 1 mango, peeled and pit removed
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • 1.5 cups water and 1 cup ice
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 Tbsp hemp protein
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp hemp oil or EFA oil blend

Mix it all in a blender.

We loved this smoothie!  I removed the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno and there was still quite a kick!

Thrive is loaded with recipes like these, plus lots of sport-specific recipes.

Last thing, I have some exciting news… I’ll be interviewing Brendan Brazier on this blog sometime in the near future.  Look for the post soon!

For more natural sports nutrition posts and recipes, check out the Running Fuel page.



Frozen Banana Truffles

[christine photo]Hello again, and Happy Sweet-Tooth Friday!  It’s Christine here, back with another healthy dessert.  This week I made Frozen Banana Truffles, perfect for your summertime sweet-tooth!  This dessert is vegan, gluten-free, and raw!

The idea to make a banana-themed dessert this week was obvious to me.  Obvious, because I had SEVEN pounds of bananas sitting on my counter.  I’m a sucker for a good deal, and I am always willing to scour through the “scratch and dent” produce.  Thus I left the grocery store with a 5 pound bag of slightly spotty, half price bananas.  I forgot to grab my spinach and greens, and when I brought them to the checkout I noticed a coupon attached to the salad bags that read, “buy two bags, get two free pounds of bananas.”  So that brings me to seven pounds!  Greg and I ate them as quickly as we could but I ended up freezing some that went black.

My brother’s 30-day challenge and Thrive recipes piqued my interest in the raw diet so I decided to give a raw dessert a shot.  I found a really interesting recipe for a Raw Banana Split on  I used the same ingredients used for the “Banilla” ice cream but altered the amounts, mainly increasing the number of bananas. (I have a few to spare, remember?)  I also skipped the “split” and turned these into almost three dozen bite size truffles.

[truffles photo]In the original recipe they use a food processor but my crappy one was not having the frozen bananas, so I threw it all into my trusty KitchenAid stand mixer. I also used tahini instead of the nut butter—my 30 -day challenge excludes peanut butter—and I was pleasantly surprised at how creamy it was without making everything taste like hummus.  I am not sure if the cocoa and coconut I used were actually raw or not.  I think it depends on the temperature at which they were dehydrated.  Maybe somebody can fill me in on what qualifies; neither package was specifically marked raw.

Here’s the recipe.  Start a day ahead of when you want to serve them so there is plenty of time to freeze.

Frozen Banana Truffle Recipe

[ingredients photo]Ingredients:

  • 4 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp alcohol free vanilla
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 4 tsp agave nectar


  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup nuts, chopped fine

Chop the bananas into chunks.  Beat all ingredients (not the toppings) in the mixer until smooth and creamy.  Start with 2 tsp of agave and add more to taste, it will depend on how ripe your bananas are.

Separate the banana mixture into three containers and freeze until solid.  I froze it one container and it took over 6 hours, but three containers should shorten the time.

[ingredients 2 photo]Spread the toppings out on three separate plates.  Remove one container of the banana mixture at a time from the freezer, and shape into balls using a melon baller or mini ice cream scoop.  Roll around in one of the toppings to coat.  Place in mini cups and return to the freezer.  Repeat with the other two containers and other two toppings.  It is important to work quickly so that the truffles will hold their shape.  If they are too soft when you shape them into balls, they will slouch in the freezer.  I made the mistake of having just one container and the second half of my truffles were all slumped over in their cups (though still delicious).

Freeze the truffles until they are firm again, and keep frozen until ready to serve.

[truffles close photo]

These are just FANTASTIC!  So pretty and refreshing!  I can’t believe how decadent they taste with such simple ingredients.  They would be perfect to pass around at a summer get-together.  But pass around quickly, because they melt!  I can’t decide which topping is my favorite, so I keep sampling and sampling and sampling…in fact, these are so addicting I think I pop one in my mouth every time I walk by the fridge!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot!  Guess who stopped by again?!  The SQUIRREL!  This time the window was closed, so he just clung to the screen for awhile and checked out my truffle toppings.  Sorry, buddy—no treat for you this time!

[squirrel photo]

A New (Old) Sport!

Before I sign off, I just wanted to let you know that my 30 day challenge is still going strong.  I really look forward to my workouts and feel so much better without the dairy and caffeine.  I think excluding those two things just constantly makes me think about every food choice and I end up picking a healthier item.  I am still rocking that giant salad in the fridge for convenient snacking.  Oh, and this week I joined a camogie team!  It’s an ancient Irish sport, the girl’s version of hurling.  It’s a ton of fun and it definitely works a group of muscles I wasn’t hitting in my workouts- my butt is super sore!!  I’ll keep you updated on how camogie is going- I definitely have a lot to learn!

Until next time, stay cool and sweet!

xoxo Christine