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My First Half-Marathon Race!!

All these past years of running have finally paid off!!!!! I have completed my first half-marathon and it was amazing!!  I signed up with the encouragement of some veg strong friends that I met when I did Rugged Maniac this past summer.  I started looking up races and signed up for the Yonkers Half Marathon without knowing that it is one of the hardest races in the US.  I followed a 12 week training program by Hal Higdon and combined lots of running with some cross training as well.  It was tough both physically and mentally but it was totally worth it in the end.

The day before the race was probably more difficult than the race itself! I was off from work and therefore was stuck home all day thinking and thinking and thinking about the race and hoping not to psych myself out.   I just wanted the day to be over so I could wake up and race!  When I get anxious and nervous all I want to do is eat – EVERYTHING!  I was watching tv, stretching, walking around, trying not to overeat and give myself a stomach ache.

Thankfully, 9pm came around and I was able to go to bed and attempt to sleep.  I managed to fall asleep pretty quickly and go up nice and early at 5am.  I made a large batch of green smoothie to drink and ate a banana.  I got to the race early so I could find a parking space and pick up my pre-race packet which consisted of my race bib and t-shirt.  Since I was doing the race by myself (no family or friends at the race with me) there was more waiting around.

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The waiting around involved a lot of people watching, from people putting on compression socks to men putting bandages on their nipples, I got to see a lot of different pre-race rituals.

FINALLY hundreds of people got to the starting line for some last minute announcements about the route and where we even had a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon.  Then the race began at 8am sharp.

The two weirdest things I saw at the beginning of the race was a man running with a tutu on and holding a “magic wand”.  The next was at around mile 2, a man ran past me juggling three balls – don’t know if he did it the whole race but I saw him run for about half a mile while juggling.

The route wasn’t too bad, with water stations at every mile and only a couple hills to get over.  It was certainly different from what I expected.  I was happy to see runners net to me, behind me and in front of me at all times.  For some reason I though after a couple of miles I would be all by myself and everyone would have separated.  There was one girl with a bright pink shirt on that I would pass some times and she would pass me then be way in front of me and then I would catch up to her.  By the last 2 miles we were neck and neck and she kept me going fast!! By the last mile I lost her completely behind me and kept running fast making it to the finish line.

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At the end of the race there were people there handing us metals and the shiny blankets to keep runners warm.  They also had food for all the runners including bags and bags of bagels and lots of fruit.

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Overall the race was an incredible experience and made me so happy that I signed up for.  I have two more half-marathon races coming up before the year 2013 ends in the winter time.  I have continued my running and have even added in gym workouts to build up my core and upper body strength.

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Vinaigrette

Everyone loves a great vinaigrette to go with salads, to go over steamed veggies or even with a protein! (I am thinking rice and beans or marinated with tofu).  The key is to find a good balance between the oil and vinegar and all the other flavors in between.  Plus, don’t remember to shake!

I usually don’t ever use measurements because I find it boring (hence I HATE baking because you have to use measurements).  But now because I want to post y recipes I have estimated the measurements of the ingredients I use and you can always adjust them to your like.

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What is great about vinaigrettes is that if you have an oil that you love or a vinegar that you love it is really easy to add other herbs, sweeteners or anything else to enhance the flavor and mix it up.  I love adding garlic so I will mince it up with some salt on a cutting board and then turn it into a paste by rubbing the flat side of the knife on the chopped garlic.  (A tip I learned from Food Network)

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Something else I have found about almost any salad dressing recipe is that it is best if the dressing has time to infuse with all the flavors so I would recommend making it at least 4 hours or more before you plan to use it.  This recipe in particular can make any dish delicious so if you are trying to be healthy by eating a bowl of brown rice and steamed vegetables and all you can think about is macaroni and cheese or a juicy steak or deep fried foods this vinaigrette can make your dish taste so delicious you will forget about all those other foods.

IMG_0725(make sure to mix up the vinegar and oil dressing before pouring – they will separate naturally when left undisturbed)

Vinaigrette
Author: 
Recipe type: Dressing
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Salad dressing is the best way to make a drab pile of vegetables delicious!
Ingredients
  • ¼ - ½ cup oil (extra virgin olive oil, hemp oil, flax oil...)
  • ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
  • splash fig balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper for taste
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend away

Superfood Bar

Protein bars are very popular because they are satisfying and are  convenient!  However they are not always healthy with added sugars, whey proteins and unnecessary preservatives.  This is not to say there are no good ones out there.  I love larabars and raw revolution because of there clean ingredients making them terrific post workout snacks on the go or a bite to eat at work.

But to get a bar that is perfect for you – you can make it yourself!

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Working at Whole Foods Market, I was required to demo food.  Instead of getting a protein bar to show and allow people to taste, I made some myself at home with only 5 ingredients!

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These bars are excellent for any time of the day.  They are great for breakfast because they are filling or for dessert because of the chocolate.  These are also excellent bars for athletes for pre, post or during a workout.  They have good proteins from the almonds, healthy fats from the coconut oil, high magnesium from the cacao powder and  healthy antioxidants from the goji berries.

cacao powder   coconut   goji

Any almonds, dates and coconut oil can be used however my favorite brand for cacao powder is Navitas Naturals.  They also have goji berries and many other superfoods that call all be added to these bars ingredients list.

 

Superfood Bar
Author: 
Recipe type: Protein Bar
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 30
 
A delicious homemade superfood bar that is a great alternative to the store bought stuff.
Ingredients
  • 1 16oz bag of almonds
  • 1.5 lbs mejooli dates
  • ¾ cup cacao powder
  • 7 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 cup goji berries
Instructions
  1. I put all the almonds in the food processor and processed until it became a fine powder.
  2. I added the dates a couple at a time and blending until it had all come together and there were no more large chunks of dates.
  3. I then added the cacao powder to the processor along with the coconut oil (a tbs at a time).
  4. Once it has all been combined and is a sticky chocolaty mass I added the goji berries and pulsed the food processor so that the goji berries were combined but not so that they were pulverized.
  5. I put the whole mixture onto a baking sheet pan and laid our flat and thin.
  6. I then put the sheet pan in the fridge to set (a couple of hours should be good).
  7. I pulled it out this morning, and cut it up ready to eat!!!
Notes
To make this easier, you can always purchase almond meal rather than almonds and just skip the first step by putting the almond meal in the food processor and immediately adding the dates.
If allergic to almonds you can substitute cashews and you can substitute the goji berries for a (less expensive but still delicious) dried fruit of choice.

 

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Beans and Rice

A great easy high protein dish is brown rice and black beans.  They both add good amounts of protein and fiber.  However, as good as it is for you, it can be kind of bland and tasteless.  Therefore it is an excellent foundation for adding more veggies and healthy flavoring.

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When I was at college it was the first time I was buying food on my own.  I also didn’t have a car and so making the one mile trek to Trader Joe’s was not that fun, especially in the winter.  Therefore I would not want to go food shopping more than twice a month.  Going that infrequently I had to pack up a lot of fresh produce.  So when the time came to go food shopping again, I wouldn’t have much left in the fridge.  Maybe a few handfuls of lettuce or the last lonely cucumber.  Therefore, the night before I would go food shopping I would make a dish for dinner I called “the garbage bowl” that would start with some brown rice and beans.  I would then scour my fridge to find whatever was left of my veggies and cook it all together in a stir-fry with some tomato sauce or soy sauce.

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This is a great way to finish off the last half of a bell pepper sitting at the bottom of the fridge before heading to the supermarket to get a fresh bunch peppers.  So the following morning my fridge would be empty and ready for a large new fresh batch of food.

Beans and Rice
Author: 
Recipe type: entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
This is a great way to finish off veggies before food shopping or veggies that will go bad in a few days and you don't want to waste
Ingredients
  • ¼-1/3 cup brown rice
  • ¼ black beans
  • ALL THE VEGGIES YOU WANT
  • sauce to bring the dish all together
Instructions
  1. Cook the brown rice and black beans.
  2. Stir fry all ingredients together.

Raw-Kale

GREEN Smoothie

So as I had posted earlier, my oatmeal recipe is a delicious breakfast for a pre-run or just for a good hearty breakfast.  However, I have been reading the book Finding Ultra by Rich Roll and he had mentioned how he loves his green smoothies before a run so I have decided to experiment on todays 12 mile run.

I know it had to be a big smoothie to power me through my longest run to date.  I decided to fill it with lots of GREEN and was kind of apprehensive of how it would taste because it looks like salad in a blender.

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Surprisingly it was really good!! It certainly was not an ice cream sundae but I also didn’t gag while drinking it and enjoyed it!  In this recipe, every ingredient had an important healthy purpose to fuel my run.  The first is an ingredient I cannot stand on its own and I actually do gag when I drink it and that would be coconut water (thank goodness this recipe hides the taste).  Coconut water is filled with electrolytes and minerals that are important for rehydrating yourself before and after hard exercise.

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I also added kale and parsley which are filled with tons of vitamins and chlorophyll that is just plain healthy and everyone should eat them!  I added cucumber for added hydration and a green apple for flavor.  Because of green apples strong tart taste I have found it is the best apple choice to go in a green smoothie.

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What I love about this smoothie is that because it so jam packed with nutrients you feel surprisingly filled!  In fact, after drinking it I felt energized and great for my 12 mile run.

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Since this smoothie makes about 64oz of greenness, on a day when I am not doing a long run, I will drink about 32oz first and save the rest to drink throughout the day.

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GREEN Smoothie
Author: 
Recipe type: Smoothie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
This smoothie is packed full of delicious greens that can power you throughout your day or a hard workout
Ingredients
  • 2 cups kale
  • Large handful of parsley
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 8oz coconut water
  • 1 green apple
  • extra water
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients into a vitamix and blend till liquified.
Notes
You can put all parts of the fruits and veggies into this blender. You don't need to remove the core of the apple or the stems of the kale.
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Moo Shoo Vegetables With Pancakes

Yes, another Asian dish!  As you will see a lot of my recipes will either be Asian themed or have asian ingredients in them.  For one, I freaking love asian food but also, lots of Asian ingredients are super tasty giving a dish lots of flavor with little to no calories.  (They tend to be high in salt but I have always had low blood pressure and excess salt has never affected me).

This dish was taken from Chloe Coscarelli‘s book Chloe’s Kitchen (that has the best pictures ever to go with her recipes).

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This recipe also takes a while to cook because you are starting the pancakes from scratch so it also gets messy, but thats the joy in cooking!

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One thing I learned about making this dish is to make the pancakes first!! They take a while to make from start to finish and you don’t want to have cold vegetables and super hot pancakes that you can’t pick up!

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Since the recipe has chopped cabbage, they can be really tough so I marinated them in some soy sauce and miso paste to make them a little tender and then put it all in the pan to cook.

Moo Shoo Vegetables With Pancakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Asian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
This is a delicious dish that does take some work and is messy! But it so worth it in the end!
Ingredients
  • Veggies:
  • ½ package tofu
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • ½ tbs miso paste
  • ½ package shredded cabbage
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • 2 scallions
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • Sauce:
  • ¼ cup VEGAN hoison sauce
  • 1-2 tbs soy sauce
  • Pancakes:
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • sesame oil for brushing
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Mix together the flour, salt and boiling water with a wooden spoon until you can mix with hands.
  2. Kneed the dough and leave on a floured surface covered with a kitchen towel for 20 minutes.
  3. Marinate the veggies in the miso, garlic and soy sauce.
  4. After the dough has sat for 20 minutes, roll the dough into a log and cut into eight one inch pieces.
  5. Roll the pieces of dough as thin as you can and brush with sesame oil
  6. Heat a skillet and cook the pancakes until they are slightly browned on the bottom and bubbling on the top and then flip to brown the other side.
  7. While the pancakes are cooking cut and cook the tofu until brown and crispy and then add the veggies (with some sesame oil to make sure it doesn't stick).
  8. Hopefully timing is right and the pancakes will all be finished by the time the veggies are done cooking.
  9. Serve veggies, sauce and pancakes on separate plates/bowls and serve!
Notes
If you are not sure about timing, cook the pancakes first and then focus on the veggies. You don't want super hot pancakes and cold or overcooked veggies.

 

 

Walnut Kernels

Walnut Butter

I have made my own raw almond butter and raw cashew butter and was ready for something different.  Looking in my cabinets I eyed the new sprouted raw sunflower seeds I just bought but then realized it was a little too expensive to make sunflower seed butter.

Then I saw a large container of walnuts and thought – why not?

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It turned out great!  It was actually easier to make than the almond and cashew butter because walnuts are softer and did not take as long to make.  One thing I did add was a little bit of maple syrup because the walnut butter had a little bitterness in it so the sweetness helped even the flavors out.

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This nut butter can be used for anything that you would use almond, peanut or cashew butter for.  It is nutty and super creamy.  I paired it with an apple and a banana for breakfast. Only a few tablespoons of the nut butter paired with the fruit gives you a super filling meal that is healthy and raw! (I didn’t use all the walnut butter featured in the picture)

Walnut Butter
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
This is a great alternative to regular nut butters and is made with no oil (unlike lots of nut butters in grocery stores)
Ingredients
  • 2-3 cups walnuts
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • pinch of salt (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put the walnuts in the vitamix and blend until creamy so that it can all blend together.
  2. After removing the creamy butter from the blender, mix in the maple syrup and salt if using.
Notes
You need at least 2-3 cups of walnuts so that it can blend well in the vitamix. If you do less then it all just goes to the sides and is very difficult to blend.

 

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Raw Hummus

Most people don’t realize, but hummus that you buy at the store is NOT raw hummus.  Even the stuff you make at home is not raw if you are using chickpeas out of a can.  The chickpeas in the can have been cooked making most hummus’ not raw.

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Before                                            After

However, here I have made RAW hummus by sprouting dried organic chickpeas and then putting them in the blender with other delicious ingredients!

Hummus is an excellent thing to have on hand because it makes snacking very healthy my using celery, carrots or endive leaves to dip into it.  (You can also go not so healthy with unhealthy chips but lets pretend we don’t know that).

When going to work I usually don’t like to make time to prepare a big lunch so this hummus and a bag full of veggies on the go is a great alternative.  It is also a guarantee that I get some veggies and protein during my day.

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So after sprouting the chickpeas I blended it in the vitamix with olive oil, herbs.

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Raw Hummus
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
This hummus recipe is great because it is raw and it is something different!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 2-3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbs dried basil
  • ½ tbs dried rosemary
  • ½ tbs dried thyme
  • ½ tbs dried oregano
  • 2 (or more if you want) cloves of garlic
  • splash lemon juice
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • ½ cup of water (more or less) to thin
Instructions
  1. Sprout chickpeas over the course of 2 or 3 days
  2. Put all ingredients (except water) in the vitamix to blend
  3. Add water as needed
  4. Refrigerate hummus for at least a couple of hours to let the flavors meld
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Juicing!

Juicing juicing juicing.  It has been in the news, there are millions of books out there about it and it is the new hip thing in hollywood to do when you want to lose weight!!  It is also a terrific pick-me-up in the afternoon, a great start to the morning or a delicious dessert at night.

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Today after work I decided to stop by the Elixir Juice Bar where I got a juice called The Skin Tonic.  It has aloe vera (great for hydration and helping stomach indigestion), spinach, kale, celery and green apple.  At first glance it looks like a liquid salad in a cup but it tastes so much better than that.  For the “regular” person who eats more of a SAD diet (Standard American Diet) it will probably taste like lawn mower leftovers.  However, if you eat mostly fruits and vegetables and LOVE them than this drink is refreshing, surprisingly filling, and highly nutritious.

Juicing is still slightly controversial as there has been no special scientific studies to show how great it is.  Many people who don’t agree with juicing believe that removing all the fiber from fruits and veggies when juicing makes the juice not beneficial.  There are even some who don’t believe the juice you drink has all the nutrients it claims to have (meaning that most are lost with the leftovers).

However, for anyone who has juiced and does it regularly can tell you that that is all CRAP!!! Well, their opinion is that it is crap and that juicing is a fantastical, wonderful, amazingly wonderful way to drink your nutrients!

 

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Salad Fabulous

Being a vegan (or really any human being) you need to eat your veggies!!  I am fortunate to not be a picky eater and will eat pretty much any fruit or vegetable.  Well, living at home for the last year my parents have not made me pay rent at home (thank goodness!!) So in turn, my “rent” has been making a salad for dinner every night for them and myself.

The basics for the salad are lots of raw vegetables.  Then my parents and I all add in our own things.  I usually add sprouts, steamed potato or tempeh; my dad adds cheese (dairy cheese, couldn’t get him to try daiya); my mom adds cashews and we all add our own dressings (mine are usually homemade which will be in another recipe post).

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The easiest way to start a salad is with a lot of green!!! The base should be kale, mixed greens, spinach, arugula or iceberg lettuce.  Then pile on as many raw vegetables as you would like – making your salad look like it could be served to 10 people.  This is the one recipe where the more the better and there is no limit.  Just keep piling it on!!!

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Dressing is where a lot of people lose the “healthy” in a salad, piling on lots of thick creamy dressings.  For simplicity I used do oil and vinegar for this salad.  Vinegar adds lots of flavor with very little calories and no fat (like Eden’s Ume Plum Vinegar) and the oil helps balance out the acidity of the vinegar while giving great flavor, texture and in the case of Flora Udo’s Oil – omega 3, 6 and 9.

Salad Fabulous
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
A salad can be simple or complex but always delicious if you make it right. It can also be healthy or not so healthy.
Ingredients
  • ANY VEGETABLES YOU WANT!!! However for the salad pictured, this is what I used
  • 4 cups iceberg lettuce
  • 3 white button mushrooms
  • ½ tomato
  • 2 baby cucumbers
  • ⅛ red onion
  • ½ bell pepper
  • 1½ tbs Udo's oil
  • ½ tbs Ume Plum Vinegar (balsamic works as well)
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Chop all ingredients into the size you want. I like chopping the vegetables very small to make it like a chopped salad and mix with the dressing.
Notes
You should only put enough dressing to touch each of the vegetables, you don't need to drown your salad.
Although I didn't in this salad I usually add a handful of nuts for crunch, either almonds or sunflower seeds and ¼-1/2 of an avocado for rich healthy fats.