As If You Couldn’t Get Enough…

Remember last week I mentioned that I was doing an interview for the column “The Extreme Self”? Well, to prove I wasn’t lying, here it is!  Katie did such a great job putting this piece together and making me seem a heck of a lot cooler than I am.  She even referred to me, the same guy who cooks and blogs while his wife mows the lawn, as “manly”!  And Katie is a vegan athlete currently training for a triathlon, so she had all kinds of pertinent questions for me.  And we talked a little bit about blogging too.  In summary: Katie is awesome, I owe her a huge thanks, and please check out her other articles while you’re there.

I’ll leave you to check out the interview, plus two quick things from Twitter, so as not to keep you from your football.

  • [kawus at berlin marathon]The Berlin Marathon is today, and a blogger I like, Pete from Chasing Geb, is running it.  And so is Kawus, who tweeted this photo of himself in NMA garb at yesterday’s breakfast run.  Ich bin ein No Meat Athlete!
  • Also via Twitter, I found out about, a neat social networking site where you can make lists like this one (of top vegetarian-friendly chain restaurants) and automatically meet people with similar interests.  I haven’t tried it yet but I will soon.

Alright, off to watch football, drink beer, and eat buffalo wings.  What are Sundays for?  Ok, no wings.



Gluten-Free Carrot Macaroons

Happy Sweet-Tooth Friday!  This is Christine with a special gluten-free edition of STF. You’re going to love this simple recipe for vegan macaroons made with carrots!

[christine baking photo]When I last checked in with you guys I had just decided to eliminate meat from my home cooking.  I made a list of this week’s dinner menu with a lot of my NMA favorites like smoky black bean burritos, lentil sloppy joes, and sweet potato chickpea curry.  These are my tried and true meals- the ones that never leave me poking around my plate wishing for chicken.  I also hit up my local library and couldn’t resist a couple more vegetarian cookbooks.

I checked out one called The Oats, Peas, Beans & Barley Cookbook by Edith Young Cottrell.  What a delightful little book!  Maybe you’ve heard of it— it’s been around since the early 70’s!  My copy has library due dates stamped in it from 1984!  Of course nowadays I just swipe my keychain library card with its barcode and self checkout the books!

The author puts a lot of emphasis on whole foods, urging you to avoid foods that have nutrition lost in processing, and seek out those with their natural balance of nutrients intact.  Some of the nutrition facts are a bit out of date in their focus on protein and many soy-centric recipes.  However, there are soy recipes I’ve never seen before, like how to make your own tofu, soy milk, soy sour cream and whipped topping!  Even homemade wheat tempeh!  Though these certainly don’t have a place in my daily diet, it is really cool to know that there is a way around all the processed and prepackaged convenience food.

For now, I’ve got a couple of the recipes on my list like Lentil-Oat Waffles, Split Pea ‘Golden’ Nuggets, and Bulgar Chickpea Patties.  I checked out this book for my personal dinner planning, but I was totally psyched when I came to the dessert section.  Tons of low sugar, naturally vegan recipes!  It was love at first sight when I read the recipe for “Golden Macaroons,” made golden of course by carrots.  Why didn’t I think of that?!

For my version, I decided to go gluten-free because the flour was already playing second fiddle to the coconut and carrot.  Macaroons don’t need a delicate cake-like crumb from wheat.  If you’ve been avoiding rice flour because of its gritty reputation, this is the recipe you gotta try!  These little heavenly nuggets just melt in your mouth.  I made them with white rice flour that I had left over from a cake order, but I think they’d be even better with brown rice flour.

[six macaroons photo]

I couldn’t get my hands on unsweetened coconut flakes (anybody seen it?) so I cut out the rest of the sugar called for in the original recipe.  In the end I did add just a smidge of agave nectar to help keep the balls together.

Here’s my version:

Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Macaroons

1 packed cup grated raw carrots (1-2 medium sized carrots)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups coconut flakes
3/4 cup rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla extract
2 tbs agave nectar

optional garnish: 1 handful semisweet chocolate chips, melted.  I use Tropical Source brand which are vegan and gluten-free.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all the ingredients together except for the chocolate in a large bowl.
Lightly grease a cookie sheet.  Wash your hands and pat the mixture into 24 balls, slightly smaller than golfballs.
Place balls on pan 2 inches apart and bake for 30 minutes, rotating once.  Use a spatula to remove the macaroons from the pan.
If desired, drizzle melted chocolate over the macaroons with a fork.

These carrot macaroons are just divine!  There’s a decent amount of oil in them (about 1 tsp per macaroon) so they are definitely a treat.  But for people with celiac disease, this treat is well-deserved!  These macaroons do backflips over your standard vegan gluten-free desserts.  Heck, I’ll say it:  They’re better than regular macaroons!  The carrot adds a really nice subtle flavor that goes naturally with the coconut.  And the gorgeous color is perfect to welcome in the new season.

[four macaroons photo]

I hope you give this simple stir-together recipe a try.  I’d also like to hear from anyone else about their experiences with The Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Cookbook.  Any longtime vegetarians have this on their shelf?  Have any of you actually made your own soy milk?  I’ll keep you updated with my experiments.

Until next week,
Stay Sweet!

xoxo Christine



No More 20 Milers!

Check out how dirty (read: hardcore) I am!

[dirty legs photo]

Check out how I eat anything I want after long runs!  (I’m sitting on the floor because I’m dirty.)

[eating pizza photo]

I just got back from running the fourth and final 20 miler of my training, and the trail was all muddy.  That didn’t affect my run much, but I made a crucial mistake that did.  I under-hydrated/fueled, choosing to stop only one time, at mile 10, for some sports drink and an apple.  I’ve been stopping to drink and eat only twice during my recent long runs, so I figured that just stopping once wouldn’t be too big a stretch.

The result:  Bonk City, Utah.  I cruised along for 17 miles, right at my target 7:30 pace or under, then got hit with a ton of bricks as everything broke down during the last three.  My splits for those final three miles were 7:58, 8:01, 8:28.  And I really had to fight for those!  Still not as bad as my worst run ever, but if I had to run another mile or two it would have gone there.

So I’m a little mad at myself for that; it would have been nice to have a successful final 20-miler to think about during the next two weeks as I taper.  But at least it’s done.  I got so busy earlier this week that I had to postpone it (and—gasp—not even write a blog post on Tuesday), so I was worried that it would be too close to the race for the long run to do me any good.  But with 16 days to recover, I think I’ll be fine.  The rest of the training is still no vacation, but it’s definitely a reduction in mileage, which I’m looking forward to.

Daily Dose of Inspiration

  • I read a great post by Rachel of Shed It and Get It yesterday.  Rachel just signed up for her first marathon, the Walt Disney World Marathon!  I think WDW is a great first marathon because it’s so much fun, and when you’re having fun, the horrible pain of those last six miles isn’t quite so horrible.  (Kidding, kind of.  Not really.)  Erin and I did it this year and had a great time.  Check out Rachel’s post and get inspired!  And by the way, Rachel followed my steps for moving your blog to self-hosting.  See how awesome your blog could be if you read Health Blog Helper?
  • Caitlin of Healthy Tipping Point posted her personal mission statement.  I’ve thought about writing one of these but I’ve never done it, though I do always write down goals. I think this kind of stuff (and not being scared to share it) is so inspiring!  Also cool: Caitlin is training for her first marathon, also at Disney!

Bean Quesadillas

[bean quesadilla photo]

I whipped up some quick bean quesadillas from The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook yesterday.  Quick and easy, but kind of bland, the way a lot of the meals from this book have been.  The second time around, I’ll have to spice them up a bit.  I won’t give the amounts here, since I’d recommend just seasoning everything to taste and adding some Mexican flavors that you like, but gist of it is this: combine two cans of black beans, some cumin, salt, cilantro, and a little olive oil in a food processor.  Spread over half of one side of some whole wheat tortillas, add some diced tomatoes, cheese, and whatever sauce you like, fold it over, and bake for about five minutes.  So easy.

[open quesadilla photo]

Alright I’m out; these legs won’t clean themselves.  Make your Friday a Sweet-Tooth one!



You Have to Believe

From an application letter I wrote in early 2006 to the University of Maryland Applied Math department:

As an example of my determination in achieving goals, I would like to mention one of my personal interests—marathon running.  Having always been involved with athletics and fitness, I decided in 2002 that I would run a marathon (26.2 miles).  At the time I made this decision, I was not able to run more than three miles.  I trained for five months, making the obvious sacrifice of committing to four weekly runs and weekend runs of 10 to 20 miles each (while in college, no less), and in June of that year I completed the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon.  Unfortunately, a shin injury prevented me from running in my target time of four hours.

After recovering, I began training again, and again my shin got injured.  This happened a few more times, and every time I made adjustments to my training to increase my chances of success.  Finally, in January 2006, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in a time of three hours and fifty minutes, shattering my four-hour goal.  My training was still not free from injury, however, and I know that my personal best time is still to come. My next goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon with a time of three hours, ten minutes. While perhaps lofty, I know this goal is realistic and I have no doubt that eventually I will achieve it.

What I didn’t mention in the letter was that the Boston goal had been in my mind from the very beginning; any intermediate target times were nothing more than stepping stones along the way.

I was really excited to find this letter and read it again.  Not because it shows me how far I’ve come, though it’s kind of neat to remember how excited that 3:50 made me when my previous marathon had been a 4:53.  What really amazes me is the confidence I had that I could qualify for Boston.  I went through so much frustration in dealing with the shin stress fractures and just to get under four hours!  How, I now wonder, did I possibly have “no doubt” that I would eventually do it, when it meant taking off 40 more minutes (about a minute and a half per mile)?!  Did I have no idea of how much work this would take, how impossible this would feel at times?

To anyone who knows anything about running, I must have looked like a complete fool going around saying I’d eventually qualify for Boston, when I’d never even trained for a marathon without getting injured.  Yet I’m 100% positive that this naive certainty is the very reason that in just over two weeks, I’ll go to bed the night before my race knowing, for the first time, that when I wake up I’m going to have a chance of qualifying for Boston.

As corny as it might sound, this entire process has served to completely reinforce what I know to be true, that when you believe with every ounce of your mind and body that something is possible, that alone makes it so.

There’s a chance that it still won’t be my day this time.  But even if it’s not, there will be more race days, and eventually one of them will be my day.  Of this I’m certain.

(In case you’re wondering, I did get accepted, but without funding. So I went to a different school.  Jerks!)

This post is part of 10-part series on qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  Check out the rest!



Blast from the Past, Part 1

“Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to reconsider the miserable life of the pig—an animal easily as intelligent as a dog—that becomes a Christmas ham.”

-Michael Pollan in The New York Times Magazine, 11/10/02

[pamphlet cover photo]

Someone on campus handed me this pamphlet during the first week of school this semester.  It’s the same as one that I got two years ago, one that played a big role in my becoming vegetarian.  And I had completely forgotten about it!

The pamphlet two years ago could not have come at a more opportune time.  I had been reading some books about consciousness, like I Am a Strange Loop, and had recently seen the movie-version of Fast Food Nation. I had no intention of becoming vegetarian at the time; it really was coincidental that I was exposed simultaneously to so many ideas to make me think twice about eating animals.

[pamphlet inside photo]I got the pamphlet and quickly leafed through it.  This is the point when I throw most of this stuff away—I figure it doesn’t hurt to at least look at whatever someone feels strongly enough about to stand there and hand out, but it’s almost always worthless to me.  With this one though, I couldn’t bring myself to toss it.  I wanted to bring it home to show Erin, and to be able to look through it again.  It made me feel horrible about the way I ate.  And in some strange way, I was happy that it made me feel so bad.

Looking back at it, the seed must have already been planted before I got the pamphlet.  The graphic photos of animal abuse in some factory I’ll never see in person are not that different from promises of fire and brimstone in the religious pamphlets that do so little to move me.  But even when I consciously decided to keep eating meat since I thought I couldn’t run marathons without it, the images of chickens being debeaked kept coming back to me and it all felt very wrong.  Within a few weeks of getting the pamphlet, I made my first attempt at becoming vegetarian.

That first attempt didn’t last, though it did result in my giving up red meat for a year.  It took some more leverage, in the form of becoming convinced that I’d be healthier (not less healthy, as I initially thought) if I were to stop eating animals.  Armed with this knowledge, I was finally able to make the big change that has done so much for my health and outlook over the past six, almost seven, months.

I hope this doesn’t come off as preaching.  If you read this blog, then you probably aren’t someone I need to preach to anyway—you’re informed about what you eat, at the very least.  But being handed this pamphlet again, this pamphlet with gory images and an unbefittingly modest goal of getting people to just eat less meat, made me very happy to look back on the past six months and know that I now eat the way I wanted to so badly back when I first read it.  And to me, that’s something worth sharing.

Blast from the Past, Part 2 tomorrow!  And it’s about running, so you have my personal guarantee that you will see NO chickens being debeaked! 🙂

[Update: It turns out the booklet was distributed by Vegan Outreach, who saw my post and included it in their newsletter.  They exist to end cruelty to animals, so check out their site!]



A Raw Curry Soup Disaster

I read a great post by Hanlie yesterday that revitalized my excitement about raw food.  I love the idea of eating raw, and the increased energy that comes along with it.  And I do eat a lot of raw food, in the form of raw smoothies, salads, and fruits— my guess is that about a third to one-half of my calories come from raw sources.  But I haven’t really had much success in incorporating raw lunches and dinners into my diet.  Part of the problem is that I love cooking, but I think the bigger issue is that given a choice between a hot, comforting dinner and a room-temperature or cold one, I’ll take the hot one every time.  They’re always healthy and vegetarian, but not often raw.

[raw curry soup]Anyway, as part of my hangover-induced burst of inspiration last weekend, I picked up some raw food books from the library.  And since Erin is away this weekend, I was saddled with the meal-planning duties and grocery shopping.  So I chose a few raw-food dinners to try this week, the first of which I screwed up made tonight.

The recipe was for curried soup, from the book RAWvolution.  (And it had a beautiful orange color that’s unfortunately obscured by foam in the photo.) I made a few adjustments, including using regular soy sauce since I didn’t have raw.  Here’s the version I made:

Raw Curry Soup

Ingredients (for 2 large servings):

  • 2 15-oz cans coconut milk (lite, optionally)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Tandoori curry powder
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • salt to taste

For garnish:

  • 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

Combine all the non-garnish ingredients except coconut milk in a blender and blend on high until well-combined.  Add coconut milk, blend again.  Pour into bowls, scoop off foam with a ladel, and garnish.

[coconut cream ingredients]Well, that’s almost the version I made.  This soup smelled so good that I couldn’t resist dipping my finger in to taste it while it was in the blender.  When I did, I was shocked at how sweet it was, and my first thought was “Does coconut milk have sugar in it?”  Immediately I knew what went wrong.  I checked out the ingredients on the can of Goya Cream of Coconut that I had just bought at the store to use in the soup, and realized that this was not simply a matter of those crazy foreigners mistranslating “coconut milk” as “cream of coconut.”  No no, it was more a matter of me inadvertently adding 240 grams of sugar to my curried soup! I think cream of coconut is the stuff they put in pina coladas.  Mierda!

I choked down a bowl of this stuff, trying to cover up the sweetness with loads of salt.  It didn’t work (of course), and here I sit with a nice stomach ache by which to remember my rawful dinner for one.  At least Erin wasn’t here to eat it.

It’s a damn shame, because I think it would have been delicious, and a great example of a comforting, satisfying raw dinner.  Maybe I’ll try it again later this week, without the cup and a half of sugar.

Cure Your Case of the Mondays — 2 Fun Things

  1. My mom, who is doing what I think is a really cool thing by living in France for three months, started a blog about her trip!  Check it out at
  2. There’s a fun article on True/Slant asking “What would you do with $500,000 to spend on running stuff?”  I love the idea of the running cruise!  For two weeks, it drops you off each day for a 5-8k in some awesome place?  Yes, please!  Also cool: I’m going to be doing an interview with Katie, the author, later this week.


Vegan Pink Bean Muffins

Hey there guys!  It’s Christine here with for Sweet-Tooth Friday!  Today’s recipe is for Vegan Pink Bean & Berry Muffins.  These muffins are moist, delicious, and super easy!

[christine baking photo]Before I get to the muffins, I have two updates to share.  First of all, I have a new job!  I just started coaching Middle School Field Hockey.  It’s a ton of fun, and since it’s after school it doesn’t interfere with my morning baking.  I’m excited to have a scheduled workout session daily, especially now that Camogie is over for the summer.  It’s definitely a different experience working with 12, 13, and 14 year olds!  Who would believe that getting 20 hormonal girls to do sprints would be so trying—especially when the boys soccer team goes by!?

My second piece of news is that I have decided not to cook meat anymore at home.  I usually only fix meat (chicken, tuna, or ground turkey) about two times a week, but this is still a big change for me.  I’ve had my toes in the vegetarian water for awhile now.  What started as “Meatless Monday” ended up so yummy, doable, and inexpensive that I think it can easily fit into the rest of the week.

Omnivore's DilemmaPlus, I finally got around to reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma while on vacation.  I expected to enjoy the book, but I thought I knew enough about healthy eating that I wouldn’t take much from it.  Boy was I wrong!  The chapters about corn, corn syrup, and every other thing fed with corn made me feel sick and like a big ear of corn myself.  It also got me thinking more about meat being treated like a delicacy, as it was in the past.  So, I am ok with occasionally ordering meat at a trusty restaurant, but for the most part it’s veggies and beans for me!

Now back to the muffins!  I knew I was in the mood for muffins this week; they are one of my weaknesses at work but I always feel guilty about starting my day with all that dairy, fat, white flour, and sugar!  I found a great recipe from the US Dry Bean Council.  I veganized their recipe by using egg replacer for the eggs and juice instead of the milk.  I also cut down on the sweetener, used whole wheat pastry flour, and swapped an assortment of berries for the raisins and spices.

The recipe called for 1 cup of cooked pinto beans.  At the store I was delighted to stumble upon PINK beans!  Sorry, but sometimes my girly side gets the best of me!  In my excitement, I misread the recipe and used a whole CAN of beans instead of a CUP.  My muffins still turned out great, but I think they would but a little fluffier and have a better texture with the correct amount, so that’s what I’ve listed here.

[vegan pink bean muffins]

Vegan Pink Bean & Berry Muffins

  • 1 cup cooked pink beans (rinsed if from a can)
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • 2 tsp Ener-g egg replacer mixed with 3 tbs water
  • 3/4 cup real fruit juice (I used pomegranate-blueberry)
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (+1 tbs to coat berries)
  • 1/3 cup sucanat
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mixed berries
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    Mix the 1 1/2 cups of the flour, sucanat, baking powder, and salt together, set aside.
    Mix together the beans, oil, and egg replacer.  Beat until the beans are just about smooth.  (You can also puree this in a food processor if you prefer.)
    Alternate adding the dry mix and the fruit juice to the bean mixture.  Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl and scrape the bottom to get everything mixed evenly.
    Toss the berries in the tablespoon of flour to coat, then stir in.  It’s better to stir in the berries by hand so that you don’t crush them.
    Divide batter into 12 lined muffin cups.  Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a knife comes out clean and the tops are springy.

[pink bean muffins photo]

Even with the extra beans I added, my batch of muffins turned out surprisingly delicious!  I was worried they would be super-dense-hockey-puck-style muffins, but they still rose and domed nicely.  Finally I have an easy fix for my pesky muffin craving!  I can’t wait to do these Pink Bean & Berry muffins again with the correct bean measurements- and I’d love to hear how yours turn out!

Hope you enjoy this protein and fiber-rich vegan breakfast!
Stay Sweet!

xoxo, Christine

Pink Bean on FoodistaPink Bean



Living Harvest Hemp Protein and Oil

Protein.  Tell someone you’re vegetarian, and they’ll ask how you get protein.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating.  I don’t worry about protein. Or any nutrient, for that matter. I just eat a variety of whole foods, and I get what I need to feel great and support my training.

And whey and soy protein powder, by the way, aren’t whole foods.  They’re isolates.  The other nutrients have been removed to boost the protein concentration.  They’re highly processed, acid-forming foods.  (Ever wonder how they got to be pure white?)  I stopped eating them a few months ago.

[hemp protein photo]

Enter hemp protein.  Raw, vegan, minimally processed.  Made by simply milling whole hemp seeds.  And it’s green, because it still contains that wonderful alkaline-forming chlorophyll.

Warning!  If you’re one of those I-need-30-grams-of-protein-every-morning-in-my-smoothie types, then hemp protein isn’t for you.  Go back to the snow-white stuff.  Most hemp protein contains less than 15 grams of protein per serving.  Again, because it’s not an isolate!  In addition to the protein, there’s still a good amount of healthy carbohydrate and fat in it.  But that’s just the point.  It’s a whole food, so you’re getting the fiber, omega-3’s and other goodies in their natural state, not as additives.

Living Harvest, the same people who make Tempt non-dairy products, sent me some coupons to try their hemp protein powders.  I’ve been using hemp products for a few months now, since reading Thrive, so I was really excited to try some of their stuff.

[hemp protein green photo]I tried three products:  unflavored organic hemp protein, vanilla spice flavor hemp protein, and hemp oil.  I tested all of these products out in my morning smoothies, putting the unflavored hemp protein in my mango jalapeno smoothie and the vanilla-spice in my blueberry rooibos smoothie.   And I put the hemp oil in both smoothies, in place of my normal Udo’s oil blend.

And wouldn’t you know it, both protein powders were delicious.  Or, at least, they didn’t mess up the smoothies, because I could hardly taste them.  And isn’t that the idea?  The vanilla-spice flavor did come through a little bit in the blueberry smoothie, but it was a good, natural flavor.  (It’s made from organic spices and vanilla bean.)

The hemp oil did impart a little bit of a taste to the smoothies, but I got used to it almost immediately.  It’s just like with flaxseed oil or Udo’s blend; it’s a little weird at first but very easy to adjust to.  And the health benefits of these oils make adding them to your smoothies a no-brainer.  (Brendan Brazier chooses hemp oil over the other types of oil.  If it’s good enough for B-squared, it’s good enough for me.)

I will say this: on both protein canisters, it says “mix with your favorite non-dairy beverage to make a delicious smoothie.”  I tried this with both kinds, and they were most definitely not delicious.  They tasted very green and weird.  In fact, I couldn’t finish either one of them.  I’ll think I’ll stick to my other smoothies.

The one drawback of hemp protein, at least from the perspective of a full-time grad student, is the cost.  The price is just over a dollar per serving.  If you want bang for your protein buck, it’s not the way to go.  But when you look at it in terms of total nutrition and get away from that protein fetish (come on, admit it, you know you still have one), it starts to seem a little more reasonable.  Plus, Erin and I have been using only about half a serving in our smoothies, since that’s what’s called for in the Thrive recipes.

Overall, great products and I highly recommend them.  Just not mixed with non-dairy beverage and nothing else. 🙂  Thanks Living Harvest!