Monday, September 16, 2019

Fueling for a Trail Race on 80/20 Plants

Yesterday (Sunday) was supposed to be the day I ran my first 50K, the Nesbit Park Trails Classic in Bartlett on the Stanky Creek Trails (my favorite local trail system). But I got yet another stress fracture back in June, and I had to stop training for about 2 1/2 months. My foot was finally getting better at the end of August, so I started running again. But I had to bump my 50K down to the half-marathon distance. Fortunately, the Nesbit Park Trails Classic offers multiple distances.

I was super-bummed to not be able to run 50K, but I'm glad I was able to run at all! I'll just aim for 50K another day. Now I can say that I've successfully run my 8th half-marathon, so that's something to be proud of.

Fueling for a race always starts the day before. I try to eat super-clean the day before a race with plenty of whole, plant-based carbs. I'm currently doing the 80/20 Plants program, which calls for 80% of your meals to be whole food, plant-based, with the other 20% for indulgent meals and snacks. 

On Saturday (day before the race) morning, I made the Banana Oat Pancakes from 80/20 Plants. These are gluten-free and made with oat flour, mashed banana, and chocolate chips (the indulgent part), served with maple and fresh berries.

I had some homemade cashew cheese and whole wheat crackers as a mid-morning snack, but I forgot to take a picture.

For lunch, I met my friend Megan at the cafe at Crosstown Arts. It was her birthday! So we enjoyed mimosas (more of that 20%!), and I had a Big-Ass Salad (romaine, olives, chickpeas, tomatoes, vegan ranch, and focaccia croutons).

Dinner was a totally WFPB meal based off an idea from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I made the Peanut Butter Tempeh from that book and used it to top a bowl with quinoa, roasted beets, and steamed kale, plus tahini sauce on top. The PB tempeh is one of my favorite recipes from that book. You make this yummy PB nooch sauce and coat tempeh cubes before baking them in the oven. The peanut butter sauce gets all crunchy and delicious.

I always have one pre-race night-before beer, so I enjoyed a Bear Walker Ale after dinner.

Race morning is totally different though! I opt for white bread bagels because white bread carbs digest more quickly for quicker fuel. Here's my (poorly lit) Blueberry Bagel with Vanilla Almond Butter, eaten at 5 am before the race.

During the race, I used a combo of energy gels and chews. I'm loving Muir Energy gels right now (full review coming soon), which are made with whole, natural foods. Since this was a trail ultra, the aid station had all kinds of snacks, like soda, chips, cookies, and PB&Js. I would have gone for all of those things if I were running the 50K, but since I was just doing the half, I stuck with a few chips (for salt), Gatorade (for electrolytes), and a little soda (for fun). Soda is SO GOOD when you're running distance on a hot day. 

Post-race, I wanted to reward myself with something amazing! So first, I had an Oktoberfest beer from Ghost River Brewing.

Then I went to Imagine Vegan Cafe for a meal that I don't typically order because it's purely indulgent — Vegan Chicken and Waffles!!! Six crispy vegan chicken strips are served with a soft, buttery waffle. I ordered some collards on the side for good measure.

What a fun weekend! Now I'm back on that 80/20 plan!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Cookbook Review: Heavenly Vegan Dals and Curries

I love Indian food! In fact, long story, but it was Indian food (and an Indian family) that influenced me to go vegetarian as a 14-year-old in 1994. But I don't eat authentic Indian food nearly often enough. My favorite Indian food in Memphis is served at South Indian restaurants WAY out east, at least a 30-minute drive from my house.

It's much more convenient for me to just make it at home. And that just got easier thanks to Heavenly Vegan Dals and Curries by Rakhee Yadav. This new colorful vegan cookbook features both traditional dishes and plenty of fusion cuisine that adds Mexican, Mediterranean, and American flair.

The book is divided into four chapters — Meatless Wonders, Vegan Power Bowls, Plant-Based Delights, and Wholesome Snacking. As much as I wanted to try everything, I settled on one recipe to try first — Spicy Green Peas, Potato, and Bell Pepper Curry.

I'm not typically one to pick a main dish that doesn't contain a legume or bean or some sort of significant protein. But this veggie-based dish called to me! Peas, potatoes, and peppers are cooked in a spicy tomato-based sauce seasoned with toasted spices, like coriander, cardamom, cumin, and clove. Served over brown basmati with a side of vegan naan (from the Sprouts bakery), I didn't even miss the protein. Of course, all veggies have protein, but this dish was still very filling without legumes.

There are plenty of legume-based dishes though, and I'll have to try one soon. The Toor Dal Carrot Turmeric Soup (with split pigeon peas) and the Red Masoor Dal (with red lentils) are both on my list.

Yadev gets super-creative with her dishes, infusing them with bits of other food cultures. There's a Dal Minestrone with chickpeas, kidney beans, brown lentils, and plenty of herbs and veggies. Or the Baked Sweet Potato Stuffed with Chana Masala Lentils and Cashew Cream. Or — my fave — the Naan Tacos with Green Pea Amaranth Falafels and Spicy Avocado Chutney.

The snack section goes global with Puy Lentils & Avocado Hummus and Split Green Pea Pizza but also includes more traditional Indian snacks (better known as chaat), like the Crunchy Lentils (soaked legumes that are then deep-fried and served with onion).

Most of the recipes require several steps, so I wouldn't call this a "quick and easy" cookbook, but it's perfect for a weekend night when you have more time to lovingly prepare a meal.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

80/20 Plants Lunch Week 1

For the past couple weeks, I've been following a test version of 80/20 Plants, a soon-to-be-released program designed to help people eat more whole food, plant-based meals. It includes recipes, health coaching, videos, and more. And it slowly eases you into the WFPB life, starting by only changing breakfasts in week one, adding WFPB snacks in week two, and focusing on WFPB lunches in weeks three and four.

The goal is to get you eating WFPB 80% of the time, saving the other 20% for processed treats, plant meals, desserts, and other indulgent meals. Once you're eating WFPB breakfast, snacks, and lunch, you're pretty much at 80/20 (assuming your dinners are whatever you want).

The first lunch week started Monday. I've been focusing on salads this week since they're easy to pack for desk lunches. I did a lot of meal prep on Sunday and made two oil-free salad dressings and some Dijon Potato Salad.

The potato salad recipe was included with 80/20 Plants. I had some today for lunch with added chickpeas (for protein) and broccoli/cauliflower microgreens (locally grown from Rolling Along Farms). The salad has a dijon base and includes capers, celery, and cucumbers. It's oil-free and vegan mayo-free and, yet, still really yummy!

Yesterday, I used the oil-free Goddess Dressing I made (also an 80/20 Plants recipe) for a salad in a jar. I had jury duty yesterday (they let me go today), so I packed this in my bag.

And I enjoyed it at Fourth Bluff park for lunch. I packed my own bowl and fork too! I also made some Maple Balsamic Dressing for salads later this week.

My dinners are still whatever I want, so I've been enjoying restaurant meals and fun things like Daiya mac & cheese. I like this way of eating. Makes me feel really healthy, and I still get to eat the fun stuff.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Review: Daddy Burt Hemp Co. CBD Oil

I usually blog about vegan food, but lately, I've been throwing in some CBD product reviews too. Because CBD products are awesome (and if they're also vegan, they're fair game for reviews). Daddy Burt Hemp Co. shipped me some of their hemp extract oil.

This stuff contains 16 mg of THC-free CBD per serving, and it's peppermint flavored! It's made with Kentucky-grown hemp. I've been experimenting with CBD products to help me stay asleep. I can fall asleep with no problems, but I tend to wake up several times throughout the night (and sometimes struggle to fall back asleep).

I've been taking a dropper-full of this after work in the evenings, and I'm happy to report that I'm sleeping better. I've gone from averaging about 45 minutes of deep sleep to getting closer to an hour and a half (according to my Garmin sleep score). Now to be fair, I think some of that may also be due to me trying to get in bed earlier so I'm sleeping longer overall.

CBD is also supposed to help with anxiety, and though I don't experience anxiety often, I sometimes have situational anxiety. And today was one of those days.

I took some of this stuff today after being released from jury duty. I have a lot of anxiety around being responsible for determining someone else's guilt or innocence. Like a lot. And I was a bundle of nerves all day while I waited to be called. When they finally called me, it was for a murder trial. ANXIETY CITY. As the judge and lawyers were questioning me, I was a nervous wreck. I'm sure they could tell, and they dismissed me. Whew.

Though I was relieved, I was still so wound up when I got home. I took a dropper of this CBD oil, and it definitely helped me calm down. There's no high or head change. It's THC-free, but there's a sort of calm that washes over you after you take it. It's subtle, but when you're all wound up, it's noticeable.

The Daddy Burt oil has a nice minty flavor that doubles as a breath mint. And it works! Daddy Burt also sells CBD gummies (and they're vegan too!).

Thursday, September 5, 2019

80/20 Plants Snack Week!

For the past week and a half, I've been easing into the 80/20 Plants program — a plant-based meal program that encourages you to eat 80% whole foods and 20% whatever else you want (plant meats, desserts, oils, and other processed foods). I love a good reset plan, and after all the crap I've eaten lately, I needed one.

80/20 Plants, which is affiliated with No Meat Athlete, is currently in a test phase, so I joined on as a guinea pig. I'm supposed to try the plan and give feedback so it can be improved before it's released to the public. Last week, we switched over our breakfasts to whole food, plant-based breakfasts, so I've been having smoothies and oats every day for the past couple weeks.

This week is snack week! And we're encouraged to eat fresh fruit and veggie-based snacks. They provide sample recipes, and I used one of those for Buffalo Cashew Ranch to make a yummy veggie dip.

I've been snacking on that all week. I also made a batch of their Roasted Garlic Hummus to eat with brown rice crackers and raw veggies. Perfect snacks for home or my desk.

And I'm trying to eat a bowl of Mixed Fruit daily. I get lots of fruit in my smoothies, but I find the NMA-affiliated healthy eating plans are very fruit-heavy (and I like that!). So I'm having additional fruit in the afternoons. This week, that's been some version of peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, bananas, kiwis, mango, and apples. Luckily, Sprouts has cheap prices on fresh fruit!

Next week, we'll be focusing on switching up our lunches!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Stuff I Ate: Seitan Steak + Nut Tacos + More!

Some random meals I've had! Earlier this week, the cafe at Crosstown Arts made my favorite thing — Seitan Steak & Cheese! They usually put this in a wrap, but this time, it was served on a pretzel roll, topped with melty vegan cheese. Side of sweet potato fries.

I don't start my whole food, plant-based lunches on the 80/20 Plants program until next week, and that's a good thing because I'm just eating whatever I want for lunch this week.

Just today, I had this lovely bowl for lunch — also from the cafe at Crosstown Arts. They made Tempeh Meatballs over handmade vegan pasta with marinara and veggies. It's so hard to find homemade vegan pasta, so I couldn't pass this up.

Here's a healthy plate from Sunday night. I'd picked up a lot of grab-and-go items from the Turnip Truck, a health food store in Nashville, before I left. They made a great quick dinner when I returned home on Sunday night. I had Tofu Edamame Salad, Chickpea Kale Salad, and Cashew Carbonara.

And here's last night's dinner — Carla Lee's Nut Tacos. These are little frozen mini tacos are made with a nut-based filling. They cook up in the air fryer in less than 10 minutes. I love keeping these tacos in the freezer for a quick week night meals. As convenience food goes, these are pretty
unprocessed! Mine are topped with avo, tomato, lettuce, and salsa. I had a salad on the side.

Though I'm still eating whatever I want for lunch and dinner, the 80/20 Plants plan has me eating whole food, plant-based breakfasts and snacks so far. I'll be doing a snack post tomorrow, but here's a breakfast from this morning — Savory Steel Cut Oats with Broccoli, Fresh Turmeric, Bragg's, & Nooch.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Labor Day Kayaking & Vegan Eats in Nashville!

This past Sunday, Paul arranged a kayaking trip down the Harpeth River, right outside Nashville. I made the drive over to Nashville Saturday morning with plans to stay the night Saturday and Sunday. And I got there JUST IN TIME for the BE-Hive Summer Cookout pop-up. This all-vegan fest featured food multiple food vendors, including the host BE-Hive (a vegan butcher shop).

But the fest started at 11 am, and I didn't make it in from my three-hour drive from Memphis until almost 2 pm. So all the vendors were sold out except for BE-Hive. Lucky for me, that's where I was planning to eat anyway since I saw on IG that they were having Nashville Hot Chik'n Corn Dogs (omg) and Chili Cheese Fries.

Y'ALL. This deep-fried hot chicken seitan on a stick was FIRE. I savored every bite. And the chili cheese fries (made with a homemade cheese sauce) were top-notch. Washed down with a vodka strawberry cocktail. Everything was so good that I didn't even mind that I had to stand in this line for an hour to get food. Shout-out to BE-Hive though for SUPER-fast food delivery once the orders were made! I had my food less than five minutes after ordering!

On Sunday, Paul and I met up with his sister Sheila, her daughter Samantha, and our friend Kevin (who drove over from Memphis) for an 8-mile float down the Harpeth. This was waaaay easier than our last canoe trip down the Wolf River in Memphis because 1) kayaks are BETTER and 2) the Harpeth is a wider river with less swamp and more banks for stopping to rest.

I snacked all day on the river (PB&J, Clif Bar, NOKA Superfood Pouch, vegetable chips, pickled carrots), but I was still famished by the end of the trip. I'd planned to eat some food I'd stashed back at Paul's parents' house afterward, but on the drive back, we passed Tailgate Brewery. 

We decided to spontaneously stop in for a beer. When we entered the brewery, I noticed a pizza menu. And then I saw the words "vegan" and "Beyond sausage"! They had a Meatless Sausage Pizza (which could be ordered with vegan cheese!!!). This really hit the spot. Washed down with a Hazy IPA! This pizza was EXCELLENT. Paul tried a bite, and he said it was the best vegan pizza he's ever tried (and he's not typically a fan of vegan cheese).

By the way, I'm still doing my 80/20 Plants plan! Last week (including this past weekend), the focus was on breakfast. So even though I indulged in crazy lunches and dinners, I made sure to have oats with berries for my breakfasts. This week is snack week, and I'll be checking in about that later this week.