Eat Like a Gatherer, Bake Like a Rockstar

Hello everybody!  It’s Friday, so this is Christine with another healthy dessert recipe!  Today’s recipe for Fresh Fruit Tart with Almond Crust is an unlikely cross between primitive and elegant—but all your tastebuds will say is “wow!”

Does your body crave caveman ingredients?

The paleolithic diet craze seems extreme, and definitely fudges some historical details, but I get the underlying principle.  Our bodies had finished evolving their digestive systems before the birth of agriculture, so our stomachs aren’t really prepared for the wheat, legumes, and refined sugars we force it to process.

It makes me think of cows who just want to chew on grass all day, but instead get their seven stomachs loaded up with antibiotics so they can fatten up on a cheap corn diet.  Shouldn’t my body get as much care as grass-fed beef?

Of course, progress and technology are part of what makes us human.  Now that we don’t have to spend all day foraging for food, we have time to think about food philosophies and compassion for animals, and even develop fad diets.  Besides, didn’t the caveman only live to be like 30?  If I only have 3 good years left, and can’t even eat peanut butter, well I just don’t think it’s worth it.

What would Betty Rubble do?

Luckily, this month’s featured cookbook Clean Food offers a good compromise.  Lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, artfully paired with beans and grains.  This minimally-processed approach takes the good notions of the paleo diet without the Flintstone-fervor.  Like all the recipes in Clean Food, you don’t get that classic food-coma feeling after finishing this meal; instead, you’re left feeling satisfied and full of energy.

I also really appreciate the focus on seasonality in this book: Each of the four seasons has its own table of contents, and get this—its own dessert section! Finally, a way to sweetly showcase each season’s unique offerings, from rhubarb to butternut squash.

This fresh fruit tart is from the summer section, but since it’s a little early I was unable to get the peaches and used black plums instead.  The natural geometric patterns of the overlapping sliced fruit take the panic out of decorating and provide a no-fail Betty-and-Wilma-approved elegance.

Here’s the recipe posted with permission, copyright CLEAN FOOD, copyright 2009, Terry Walters, Sterling Publishing, Co, Inc.

Fresh Fruit Tart with Almond Crust

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 kiwis, peeled and thinkly sliced
  • 3 peaches, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups berries of choice
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup fruit nectar or juice of  choice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon agar powder or flakes
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot or kudzu
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparing crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place nuts in food processor and pulse to chop coarsely.  Add rolled oats, oat bran and salt and process until mixture resembles coarse meal.  In small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, oil and almond extract.  Add to almond-oat mixture and process to combine.  Transfer to 9-inch oiled tart pan or springform pan and press down to form crust.  Pierce several times with fork and bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and set aside on wire rack to cool.

Assembling Tart:

Arranged sliced kiwis and peaches around outside edge of tart and fill center with berries.  In medium pot over no heat, combine apple juice, fruit nectar, syrup, agar, and arrowroot.  Turn the heat to medium-high and whisk continuously until agar dissolves and mixture thickens.  Add vanilla, remove from heat and set aside to cool 5 minutes.  Spoon evenly over tart and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

I really enjoyed this tart; the ease of assembly, the presentation, and the taste make it a winner for me, especially for bringing to parties or potlucks.  When you walk in with this vegan tart that looks as fancy as a Parisian patisserie, you’re gonna feel like a baking rockstar.

It’s an easy introduction to animal-free food for those less-enthusiastic guests, so go ahead and try it out!  Even cavemen like nuts and berries.

See you next Sweet-Tooth Friday!


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.



New Drinks for Runners

I am lucky to find increasingly cool stuff on my doorstep these days.  Recently I got two new drinks, both of which are of interest to runners looking to improve their performance or recovery.

As I learn more about blogging and the laws surrounding disclosure, I feel compelled to let you know that this stuff was sent to me for free.  But nobody’s paying me to write these reviews, so hopefully you’ll find my opinions trustworthy.

Vega Sport Performance Protein

For those who are late to the party, Vega is vegan pro-Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier’s line of sports nutrition products.  Brendan wrote Thrive, which is considered by me and others to be the undisputed bible of vegan sports nutrition.

I’ll go ahead and say it: Vega products are my absolute favorites.  Every ingredient that goes into Vega products is there for a reason— usually high net-gain energy, alkalinity, digestion, inflammation reduction, muscle repair, or performance enhancement.

While the original Vega Sport is a high-carbohydrate drink for fueling workouts, Vega Sport Performance Protein contains very few carbs and is most useful as vegan means of meeting protein needs.

After reading Thrive last summer and learning that whey and soy protein powders are highly processed and acid-forming, I switched to hemp protein powder.  Hemp is minimally processed, so it’s green (not white), it’s alkaline forming, and it’s as close to a whole food as protein powders get.

The problem: hemp protein powder contains only 13 grams of protein per 4 tablespoons.  Now, I’m no protein-junkie, but that’s not a lot.  Especially considering the cost.

But in each 2-tablespoon packet of Vega Sport Performance Protein, Brendan has somehow packed in 20 grams of the big-P.  It comes from a seemingly-alchemistic combination of sprouted brown rice protein, organic green pea protein, hemp protein, and organic alfalfa juice protein.  And there’s a complete, balanced amino-acid profile, plus some greens, glutamine, and digestive enzymes.

But how does it taste?

The drawback of such natural goodness is that it never tastes quite as good as a nice, terrible-for-you Gatorade.  So how does Vega Sport Performance Protein do in the taste category?

Mixed with just water, I found it a little hard to drink.  My samples are berry-flavored, and it also comes in vanilla-flavor, but the sweetness (which comes from stevia leaf) did little to mask a very raw flavor.  It mixed well in a shaker cup, which was nice, but it tasted very—well, earthy.

In a smoothie, it was great.  It tasted like the normal hemp protein I use does, just a little sweeter.

Vegan Smoothie Recipe

I’ll be sad when my Vega Sport Performance Protein samples are gone.  If I could afford this stuff, I’d put it in my smoothie everyday.

Here’s the recipe for my daily smoothie, with Vega substituted for the usual hemp protein.  Just combine the ingredients in a blender.  It makes two smoothies.

  • 1 packet (27 g) Vega Sport Performance Protein
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon raw agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon hemp oil
  • 1 banana
  • 2 handfuls of frozen strawberries
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice

Ok, so this one’s not exclusively for runners.  Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice is billed as an antioxidant and nutrient drink, similar to the acai or pomegranate juices that you see at the grocery store.

But here’s the thing.  I don’t think this sort of drink is really right for the sedentary individual looking to be healthy without exercise.  There’s just too much sugar.

But in a post-workout drink, sugar is pretty good.  Especially when it’s from tart cherries, whose pain-preventing properties Megan explained in a Running Shorts post.

The ingredient list in Cheribundi is short, always a good thing: tart cherry juice, water, apple juice concentrate.  An 8-ounce bottle contains 32 grams of carbohydrates (28 of which are sugar) and one gram of protein.  So to follow proper post-workout guidelines, you should consume a small amount of protein with it.  There’s a version of it that contains whey protein, but I say “no way” to whey.

I tried Cheribundi after my tempo run yesterday and found that it really hit the spot.  The flavor is simple to describe: cherry-pie filling that’s tart, not sweet.

If you struggle with joint pain or general soreness, it’s worth a try.  It’s definitely drinkable, and one a day would probably do you some good.  Just as long you’re not total a couch potato.



The Indoorsman’s Guide to Trail Running

I like air conditioning.  I like baths.  I like reading books in a cozy chair.

And I’m not afraid to admit that in our house, my wife does most of the yardwork while I do most of the cooking.

For all of these reasons, I’m an indoorsman.

And that’s why I always thought trail running was moronic.  When we have such nice, flat, uniform roads to run on—and better still, oval tracks of exactly 400 meters—what kind of hillbilly would you have to be to run on trails where you might get wet, dirty, lost, hurt, bitten, or eaten?

And putting aside the whole death thing for a minute, how the hell could you keep track of your splits when every mile is different?

And then I actually tried it.

It was primal.  It was muddy and my shoes took on an amount of water that would have ruined any previous run.   And it was completely liberating.

Since I’ve started trail running, I’ve gotten wet, dirty, and lost.  (I’ve avoided those other things, so far.)  And I’ve finally become a runner.

It took me way too long to get into trail running, mainly because I didn’t know how.  And that’s why I’ve put together…

Trail Running for the Complete Indoorsman

1. Find a trail.

Do you have a local running club?  They might have a trail-running contingent who can tell you where to run.  Maybe they’ll even run with you.  That’s how I got started.  If not, check‘s listings of trails by state.  (They’re not all there, but it’ll get you started.)

If you’ve never run trails before, look for something that’s not too long or too technical (translation for indoorsman: rocky and hard to negotiate).  Most importantly, pick something that will be easy to navigate if you’re unfamiliar with the route.

2. Buddy up.

Being lost is probably a lot more fun when you’re with a pal.  So is hobbling back to the car if you get hurt.  So is fending off a bear.

Run with a friend the first time.

3. Get dressed.

Slip out of your high-thread-count robe and into your running stuff.  You might want to eschew your fanciest technical gear in favor of something that you don’t mind getting snagged or muddy.  (I promise it will.)

If you don’t have trail shoes, you can get by with road shoes.  They don’t offer the protection or the grip that trail shoes do, but they work.  If possible, I’d go with a thinner sole rather than the SuperUltraCushion 5000, for greater stability on the rocks and slopes.  And leave the Vibram Fivefingers at home the first time, until you see how rocky your chosen trail is.

4. Exit the comfort of your home and drive to the trail.

Things to bring along: a towel, a change of shoes, socks, and maybe clothes for afterward, whatever food and drink you’ll want on your run, plus more for emergencies, a cell phone, identification, your water vessel of choice (handhelds and backpacks are popular, especially if they have extra pouches to carry stuff), a headlamp if you’ll be running at dusk or night.

And beer for afterward, if you’re like me and all that primal hardcoreness brings out the wild man (or woman) in you.

5.  Forget about pace.  Run slowly and walk the hills.

Mile splits are concepts that we indoorsmen have made up to cram what used to be a freeing experience into our modern, time-obsessed world.  To get the most out of your foray into the great outdoors, forget about pace.

But for safety’s sake… Trail runner magazine tells me you’ll be 10 to 20 percent slower on trails.  That sounds about right, maybe even on the low side.  Especially while you’re new, take it easy so you have energy for any unexpected bonehead moves you pull, like missing a trail marker and running 10 miles instead of 5.

One of the joys of trail running is that you can walk hills and not feel like a slacker.  Everybody does it.  In fact, it’s often more efficient to do it this way, since you’ll encounter hills steeper than what you find on the roads.

6.  Run through the streams.

You are not to slip on a rock and sue me, however.  This entire trail running thing is done at your own peril.

But when I run with my trail group, I get made fun of for tiptoeing across rocks.  Embrace the sloshiness and run right through it.  Just don’t slip.

7.  Let loose.

Guess what?  You are officially trail running.  Now enjoy it.  Splash through the mud and water.  Think about granola and hugging trees and everything zen.

8.  Once you’re done, drink one of those beers you brought.  Ideally, while you’re still dirty.  Just don’t break any laws.

Congratulations, you’re kind of hardcore.

What questions do you still have? Ask them in the comments so you can get yourself out there!  Trust me, it’s really fun.  Don’t let stupid fears keep you from doing cool stuff.

For a more serious look at getting started on the trails, see Blaine Moore’s Trail Running 101.

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



There Ought to Be a Name For This

No crowds. No timing chip. No medal.  And no name, either.

When I used to think about training for an ultra, I always wondered:

What happens when you run the marathon distance in training? Are you then entitled to add another notch to your marathon count?

Having done it for the first time yesterday with a 27-miler (just over half the distance I’ll be running in June), I can say that it’s not the big deal I made it out to be.  When it’s a training run and not a race, it doesn’t take the mental—and physical—toll that is so deserving of the medal.

The run took me 4 hours and 25 minutes, and for almost the whole time, it was relaxing and easy.  I happened to glance at my watch when it read “3:09” and found my current level of exertion laughable compared to the battle I had been through at that point during my Boston-qualifying race.

No, this was not deserving of the title marathon.

Still, I feel today like I accomplished something special yesterday.  For the first time in my life, I ran a distance like that all on my own.  A normal Saturday, with none of the hoopla of a race.  Just me and my hydration vest, and several stops at the car for pitas with hummus.  And a whole lot of miles.

I wish there were a name for running a marathon-that-isn’t.

Maybe a Karnazes, as he does this every morning before he starts his day (and apocryphally eats whole pizzas and cheesecakes in the process).

Or maybe just a marathon-that-isn’t.  Or a n’arathon.  Any other ideas?

Making a Difference

A girl named Amanda (who’s also a runner, vegetarian, and member of the Air Force) emailed me the other day asking about t-shirt sizing.  But she also asked a question that really impacted me.

She asked what she could do to help.

Not to help me and my blog, but to help the cause.  She said she had been inspired by Brendan Brazier and me (how funny is that?) to be an athlete who chooses not to eat meat.

I wrote back that she could start a blog or perhaps run a race for a cause, maybe to help animals.  She emailed me back to say that she was already in the process of doing both.

Her blog is called The Year For Kindness, and there’s something special about it.

Why am I linking to a brand new blog that only has two posts up?

It’s not because she wrote about me.  (Though I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make me like it even more.)  It’s because her reason for starting the blog is so admirable.

She wants to help.

I encourage you to read Amanda’s first two posts.  They’re good reads, and they’ll inspire you.  It’s neat to see such optimism and excitement at the discovery of this lifestyle.

So many people want to do something, and so few people do.  Maybe it’s because people think new blogs will never get off the ground, or because they think their friends will make fun of them for wasting their time.  Maybe it’s the fear of failure.

When it’s about a cause you care about though, all of that goes out the window.  When you have a cause, you have a bunch of built-in fans, right from the start.  The others who support the cause.

If you’re worried about starting something to help this cause of running with a conscious diet, I encourage you to do it.  For whatever it’s worth, I’ll be on your side.



Pretend Peanut Butter Cookies with Real Taste

Happy Sweet-Tooth Friday everybody!  This is Christine, and things sure have changed around the NMA house since I last checked in with you.  Of course you know by now that I am a proud aunt, ready to spoil the crap out of my new nephew with healthy treats.  That is, as soon as he’s ready to chew…

Cookies fit for 3,000,000 of your closest friends

In the meantime, these sunflower butter cookies will satisfy the rest of our palates.  In fact, everybody can enjoy these, even the 3 million people in this country with peanut-allergies.  Yep, there are no nuts here, and no gluten, eggs, soy, or dairy either.

Since receiving the Allergy-Free Desserts cookbook, I’ve had my eye on these so-called “Pretend Peanut Butter Cookies.”  Obviously I am not allergic to peanuts— peanut butter made its debut in my first Sweet-Tooth Friday recipe for chocolate avocado mousse, and has popped up in everything from my vegan chocolates to rice krispie treats to chickpea granola bars.

So with a love of peanut butter this strong, what would tempt me to make pretend peanut butter cookies?

The secret is sunflower seeds

I had never tried sunflower seed butter or any seed butter except for tahini before seeing this recipe.  On its own, sunflower seed butter is a delicate and creamy spread that tastes very similar to actual sunflower seeds.  But in the oven, the taste  magically transforms to something very similar to good ol’ peanut butter.  Plus, sunflower seeds are loaded with protein and vitamin E.

As for the gluten, eggs, and dairy, you’ll never miss them here either.  Again, I’m not allergic to gluten, but I enjoy a dessert more knowing that I am eating mainly ground chickpeas instead of just white flour.  If you’re curious about gluten-free baking, check out my interview with author Elizabeth Gordon as well as my post on Allergy-Free Pineapple Upside Down cake.

Here is the recipe from Elizabeth Gordon’s Allergy-Free Desserts (Wiley), reprinted with permission.

Pretend Peanut Butter Cookies


  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 1/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 cup organic palm fruit oil shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a cup or small bowl, combine the water and flaxseed meal and allow to thicken for 3 to 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the shortening, sugars, and sunflower seed butter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the flaxseed mixture and the vanilla.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.  Stir in the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop, drop the dough 2 inches apart onto the prepared sheets.  Press the cookies down with the tines of a fork (dipped in sugar) in the criss-cross pattern characteristic of peanut butter cookies.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are golden and the tops no longer look wet.  Transfer the baking sheets from the oven to cooling racks and cool for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies directly onto the racks to cool completely.

Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.  Makes about 20 small cookies.

These cookies are really great, and will give any traditional peanut butter cookie a run for its money!  You’ll immediately reap the benefits of baking these goodies, especially if you happen to live with a breastfeeding mother with an insatiable craving for cookies…yep, you’ll get an extra 5 minutes of snuggling with the baby while everyone else chows down!

See you next Sweet-Tooth Friday!

(Aunt) Christine



Of New Babies and Chickpea Fritters

This blog is about running.  This blog is about cooking really good vegetarian food that helps you with running.

It’s only about my life to the extent that these things are part of it.  So while an open letter to my unborn baby about whether or not we’d raise him vegetarian was sort of appropriate, and so might be a jogging stroller review one day, a full-on baby report probably isn’t of interest to all that many of you.

That said, it would be sort of weird (and some of you might get mad) if I didn’t at least write a little bit about my brand new son.  So that’s what the next section is for.  If you’re not interested in that, feel free to scroll past it to get to a great new recipe from Clean Food and to where I announce the winners of two recent giveaways.

Presenting Holden Matthew

Last Friday morning, three days before the official due date (which happened to be the day of the Boston Marathon), Erin decided she’d go for a walk at the trail.  I had planned to run easy that day, and my dad met us there to run with me.

But something told me I should walk with Erin on this day, and I’m glad that I did.  Near the end of the two-mile walk, Erin noticed some discomfort unlike any she’d had before.  She was hesitant to call them contractions, but as they started to occur regularly, it became clear that this was it.

The rest of the day went pretty much as I had imagined.  While I tied up loose ends, gathered our things and prepared to unplug for a few days, family members came over to be with Erin and soak in those magic moments before all hell broke loose.

And break loose hell did.

Actually, it wasn’t that bad.  (From my end, anyway. Erin might tell the story differently.)  The contractions got stronger and closer together, and around 6 p.m. we decided it was time to go to the hospital.  In my dad’s motorhome, no less.

And just like the rest of the pregnancy, the delivery went smoothly.  At 2:44 on Saturday morning, out came a beautiful, healthy, little boy, weighing in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces.  (Ok, not exactly little.  That’s veggie power for you, I guess.)

We had chosen not to find out the sex of the baby in advance, and we hadn’t even completely decided on a name, figuring we’d wait to see our baby before we finalized what we’d call him or her.  Within five minutes or so, we had decided on Holden Matthew.

In his first five days of life, little Holden has been an absolute joy.  It’s been amazing for me to watch Erin love him; he’s one lucky baby to have her for a mother.  And he’s been flooded with the love of his grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

The youngest Boston runner?

As you know (assuming my April Fool’s joke didn’t go over your head), I missed the Boston Marathon for this little guy’s birth.  It was a bummer that the due date and Patriots’ Day coincided, but there was never any doubt about which was more important.

But now I get an unexpected gift: My friend Steve informed me that the day Holden turns 18 will be the day of the 2028 Boston Marathon, meaning Holden could be the youngest runner in it, if he so desires (and qualifies).

Who knows if he’ll even be a runner.  But as a brand new dad, I now have my first unreasonable expectation to keep in the back of my mind.  Maybe I’ll inform him of the opportunity when he’s about 10.

Thank you all for the congratulatory comments you’ve written.  And special thanks to Caitlin, Gena, Billy, and Jamie for giving you something to read while I took some time to just enjoy being a dad.

Chickpea Fritters from ‘Clean Food’

How do you segue from a baby to a recipe?  Like this.

In anticipation of the lack of time that a new baby brings to his parents, Erin and I have been making meals that can be easily doubled and frozen for use in a pinch later on, say when Holden has decided that nobody in the house needs to sleep after about 3 a.m.

The millet patties from Clean Food were perfect for this—we made two batches and froze a good 12 or 15 patties for later.  And we found another that works just as well: Chickpea Fritters.

When I first saw the name, I expected glorified falafel.  They turned out to be so much more interesting than that.  These chickpea fritters, we discovered, are a nearly perfect vegan substitute for eggs.

Yes, eggs.  I’ve never been a big egg-eater; the taste and smell turn me off.  Which is a shame, because omelets always look so appealing with all their fresh ingredients.  And savory breakfast just seems so good.

We ate them for dinner, but now that I know what they’re like, I have a new breakfast food for special occasions.  The turned out nice and fluffy like eggs, but without that egg smell that grosses me out.  And they’re not unborn chickens, which is cool by me.

I hope you give these a try.  They take a little advance planning, since they’re required to chill for 2 hours.  Other than that, it’s a pretty simple recipe.

Crispy Chickpea Fritters

(posted with permission, copyright CLEAN FOOD, copyright 2009, Terry Walters, Sterling Publishing, Co, Inc.)

  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Grapeseed or extra virgin olive oil for frying

In a large pot over no heat, combine chickpea flour, water, salt, onion, carrot, rosemary and olive oil.  Whisking continuously, turn heat to medium and continue to whisk until mixture becomes quite thick (about 15 minutes).  Remove from heat and either whisk by hand or with a handheld blender to smooth out any lumps.

Oil 9 x 12-inch glass casserole and spread mixture evenly across the bottom.  Cool slightly, cover and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).  Remove from refrigerator, cut into thin strips and gently remove strips from casserole.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat large saute pan (cast-iron gives a nice crispy outer crust), cover the bottom in oil and fry fritters 2-3 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.  Keep fritters warm in the oven while you fry up the remaining strips.  Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8. and CEP Compression Sock giveaway winners

To close out this long post, I believe I owe you two giveaway winners.

The first is for the contest, where you were asked to select a favorite vegan cookbook you’d like to win.  The winner is Brittney, who selected Veganomicon.  Can’t fault her for that choice.

The second giveaway was my biggest yet, a pair of awesome compression socks from CEP.  The winner is Katy, one of few women who didn’t choose pink.  She went with black compression socks, and perhaps for that reason, the gods of randomness smiled on Katy.

Congratulations to the winners, and big thanks for and CEP Sportswear for hosting these great giveaways.



Jamie from ‘I Like Granola’ on Being a No-Meat Athlete

Well, things with little Holden are starting to settle down as we adjust to life with a new baby and the resultant joy and lack of sleep.  I’ll be back with a new post tomorrow; in the meantime, enjoy this final guest post, from my friend Jamie.

In addition to being the biggest granola-lover I know, Jamie likes running.  A lot.  Here I thought training for a 50-miler was a big deal, and this girl has seven 50-milers and three 50K’s to her name!  You can read more about Jamie’s running and healthy message at her blog, I Like Granola.

Like Matt, I am a no-meat athlete; I’m not only a vegetarian but also an ultra marathoner. Among all of the other things I do in my life and my many identities, running and vegetarianism are the two things that tend to elicit the most response.

On being vegetarian:

  • What do you eat? Lettuce?
    • Yes, I eat big heaping bowls of plain lettuce for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Seriously, when did meat become the centerpiece of our plates?
  • So you really never eat meat? What about Inn & Out?
    • When I say I don’t eat meat, I mean it. Burgers count even if they’re from Inn & Out, White Castle, Carl’s Jr’s or whatever else you might have in mind.
  • You’re no fun.
    • Seriously, my own mother says this to me in response to me being a vegetarian. Since when does “fun” have anything to do with eating animals?
  • How do you get enough protein?
    • Actually I probably eat a more balanced diet than you. I eat a variety of legumes, quinoa, seeds, nuts, tofu and more.
  • Don’t you get bored?
    • Hardly. Read my blog and tell me if my meals sound boring. My guess is they’re probably much more exciting than your usual meat with a side of oily veggies.

On being an ultra-marathoner:

  • 50 miles??!! – are you crazy?
    • Yes, a little.
  • 50 miles??!! – why would anyone want to run for that long? I can’t even drive that far.
    • Running is fun; it not only challenges me physically but also mentally. And I’m sorry about you not being able to drive 50 miles, you really should try to get out more.
  • How do you go to the bathroom?
    • Well, errr, um…I’m assuming its very similar to how you do it. Do you really want me to elaborate?
  • What would you even wear?
    • Most of us just run naked – when you’re crazy enough to run 50 miles, why not just let it all hang out?
  • You don’t listen to music!?!?? – how do you not get bored?
    • No, I don’t listen to music while I run – its important to disconnect once in awhile. I appreciate taking in all the sights and sounds.  I love talking to other runners, listening to the sounds of the trail and just being in my thoughts.
  • How long does that take? I mean, 50 miles?!!!?
    • Really depends on the course. Sometimes 10 hours, sometimes less.
  • Running for that long is BAD for you.
    • Says who? There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m in great shape and great health. Eating cheeseburgers and smoking cigarettes are BAD for you.

But seriously, all joking aside its really interesting how people react when you say you are a vegetarian or ultra marathon runner. What kind of funny reactions, questions have you received?



Beer’s Dirty Little Vegan Secret

Billy is a beer blogger at where he’s saving the world from bland, tasteless beer by teaching about flavorful craft beer. Like me, he is a homebrewer. Billy manages to avoid a beer gut by staying active in snowboarding, barefoot running, and kettlebell training.

Oh delicious beer.

Sitting there so innocently, just waiting for that lucky person to pop you open and take a sip.

If that person is vegan, however, they may be in for a startling surprise.

You Wouldn’t Think It

In its purest form, beer is made from four main ingredients: water, malt, hops, and yeast. Sure other ingredients find their way in, especially during our current American craft beer revolution where innovative brewers are really pushing the envelope, but their concoctions are usually still plant-based: raspberry wheat ales, chili pepper beers—that sort of thing.

Yup, at first glance beer seems to pass the vegan test with flying colors.

But further down the process line, past the main cooking tanks, beer often becomes a vegan no-no.

What to Watch Out For

Note: This is a good point to pause and define what I mean by vegan. To cover all bases I’ll take a strict approach and say vegan means no animal products, whether the animal was killed or not. Less-strict vegetarians may be cool with some of the following ingredients mentioned, but not others. I’ll let you use your judgment.

Although there are plenty of vegan-friendly beers out there, many breweries use animal products in the brewing process. Their most common use is as clarifying agents, but animal parts are also used for head retention, flavor, and coloring.

Because the U.S. does not have any laws requiring disclosure of non-vegan ingredients, beer labels rarely mention their use.

Some animal products are the main ingredients in a beer and are easy to spot.  These are usually indicated on the label and can easily be avoided.  Honey is a common example.

It’s the animal products used in smaller proportions that don’t make it to the labels that you need to watch out for.

Here is a list of the most common animal products that are used in brewing:

  • Isinglass – Clarifier that is very common in brewing. Comes from the dried swim bladders of fish. Almost all cask conditioned ale uses isinglass as a clarifier, although it is more common in England than the U.S.
  • Gelatin – Clarifier obtained from the skin, connective tissue, and bones of animals. Typically taken from cattle and frozen pigskin.
  • Casein/Potassium Caseinate – Protein found in cow milk used as a clarifier.
  • Charcoal – Used for filtering. A portion is usually produced from animal bones.
  • Diatomaceous earth – Used in filtering. Comes from fossils or sea shells.
  • Insects – Made into dyes and used for coloring.
  • Glyceryl monostearate – Animal derived substance used to control foam.
  • Pepsin – Also used to control foam; it is sometimes derived from pork.
  • White sugar – Flavor additive often whitened using bone charcoal.
  • Albium – Refers to any protein that is water soluble. Most common type in brewing is serum albumin, which is taken from animal blood.
  • Lactose – Beers labeled as sweet, milk, or cream stouts may or may not contain lactose.  Sometimes the description refers to the texture and not the ingredient.  It’s best to double check these to be sure.  Milk chocolate is common in certain styles, but some so-called “chocolate” porters or stouts actually contain no real chocolate at all. Some malted barley is called “chocolate malt” simply to describe the flavor the roasting imparts.

Protecting Yourself

Here are a few ways you can make sure your beer is up to your standards:

Contact the Brewery – Through my research I’ve discovered that the best way to be 100% sure that a beer is vegan-friendly is to contact the brewery directly. For example, I contacted Flying Dog brewery in Maryland and learned that they are vegan-friendly. Here is part of their response:

“Our packaging manager is a vegan and we have 5 vegetarians on our staff including myself. We are always very conscientious of how we make are beer because we want to make sure that we can all enjoy it. If a consumer is concerned about our beer, or any beers, being vegan I would recommend that they ask the brewery directly what ingredients and conditioning methods are used.”
– Gwen, Flying Dog Quality Assurance

Online Resources
1. – Very clearly labeled site and the data is based on real communication with the brewery. Some of the information is out of date so you may want to double check it.

Here are some of the bigger breweries from the list. Keep in mind these are breweries that are 100% vegan-friendly or unfriendly, but most breweries have brands that fall into both categories.

Vegan-Friendly: Flying Dog Brewery, New Belgium, Magic Hat.
Not Vegan-Friendly: Guinness (although there’s debate about their Extra Stout), Bear Republic Brewing, Newcastle.

2. Brewery Websites – Some breweries put their vegan status right on their website. For example, the FAQ section of Rogue Ales says that they are vegan-friendly.

3. Google Search – Simply searching for a  specific beer is a good strategy.

Homebrewing – Want to really be sure of what is in your beer? Try homebrewing. You can control exactly what ingredients are used, plus it is a really fun hobby. If you’re not the DIY type then maybe you have a generous homebrewing neighbor who will hook you up.

Are you a vegetarian or vegan who enjoys sipping suds? How do you make sure your beer is safe to drink? I’d love to hear from you down in the comments. Cheers!