Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Phil Maffetone's Vegan Two-Week Test

Hi, it's me! Sorry for the absence. I've got lots of food photos to catch up on from the past few weeks (still behind in posting), but I'll get back to random meal posts later. Tonight and for the next few posts, I want to talk about Phil Maffetone's Two-Week Test. But let me back up first. 

This week, I started the "Run Free" program from Born to Run 2, the training guide follow-up to Christopher McDougall's wildly popular Born to Run book. The new guide includes a training plan to help runners work on form, foot strike, cadence, and transitioning to minimalist shoes. Don't worry; I'm not going full-on barefoot running! But I am transitioning from Hokas to zero-drop Altras. But you're not here for running nerdery. You're here for food.

Well, the first two weeks of this run program includes Phil Maffetone's Two-Week Test, a carb elimination diet to test your body for tolerance to various types of carbs (beans, grains, breads, fruits, etc.). I love carbs, and they're vitally important for fuel for both life and running. So this is not "cutting carbs" keto weight loss B.S. It's just an elimination diet for two weeks while your runs are short, and then you add the carbs back in one at a time and see how your gut tolerates each one. I love a good food experiment, and I think this stuff is fun. 

So what can I eat? Vegetables (except corn and potatoes), all coconut products, nuts, seeds, avocados, oils, red wine, spirits, coffee, tea. The two-week test was designed with meat eaters in mind, and they get all the meats, too. So I've decided I can have low-carb, high-protein meats, like Beyond Burgers. And on Maffetone's website, he recommends hemp and pea protein for vegans on the test. So I'm having lots of Complement Protein to meet my protein needs.

So far, it's not so bad. Here's what I ate on Monday. I started my morning with Vegan Bulletproof Coffee with coconut oil and ashwaganda and a handful of mixed nuts before my run.

Afterward, I had a protein shake. And lunch was a Big Ass Salad larger than my head (topped with cashew ranch and half a giant avocado).

I had another protein shake in the afternoon after my gym session. And my dinner was Zoodles with Carrot Top Pesto from the Born to Run 2 book (it has lots of vegan recipes, though not all fit into the two-week test). 

One thing I'm finding is that the foods I'm eating are not dissimilar to what you'd eat on a raw food vegan diet. But I can have cooked things. 

On Tuesday, I had more mixed nuts before my run (no bulletproof coffee) and another post-run protein shake. Morning snack was Raw Flax Crackers and Wholly Guacamole. I made a big batch of flax crackers to munch on during this thing.

I had more mixed nuts in the afternoon. Nuts are my life my right now! I'm trying to eat lots of fat. And dinner was a Veggie Curry with Coconut Milk over Cauliflower Rice with Fenugreek Sprouts. It was really good, but it would have been tastier with basmati rice and chapati. Ha!

I had another protein shake after an evening workout. I'll probably have two protein shakes a day on this. I'm usually blending the powder with almonds, flax seeds, and sometimes coconut oil. But other times, it's just powder and water. Plant milks (and any dairy products) aren't allowed on the test. Except canned coconut milk, but that would get pricy fast, so I'm saving that for meals.

I'll check in throughout theses two weeks with more meals and updates on how I'm feeling. Am I ready for carbs? Yes!! But it's only two weeks!

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Cucumber Sando, Asparagus Soup, & Elote Fries

I try to hit up my friends' bakery, Lulu's, most Fridays for lunch. The specials change from week to week, but my favorite recent special was this Cucumber and Cashew Cream Cheese Bagel Sandwich. Most all of the produce served at Lulu's is local and in-season, and these cucumbers were no exception. They were lightly pickled, and there was lots of fresh dill and Lulu's homemade cashew cream cheese. The sourdough bagels are also baked in-house.

On the side, I ordered the Cream of Asparagus Soup with homemade croutons. Also very good!

On Cinco de Mayo weekend, Shroomlicious offered a special of Mushroom Street Tacos for $2 each, so I got three. These were excellent. The mushrooms were heavily seasoned, and all of the flavors paired perfectly.

But the real highlight of that meal was these Elote Fries, also on special. WOW!!! Corn, cilantro, and a vegan parmesan aioli topped this massive bowl of fries. It was so deep and heavy that I ended up only eating half and saving the rest for later. I hope they add this one to the regular menu!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Bitter Melon, Moshdown Meal, and Tofu Tacos

Since January, I've been trying to incorporate more Blue Zones meals into my life. The Blue Zones are the five regions with the world's longest-lived people, and I'm trying to make it to 100, y'all! In the Okinawan Blue Zone, they eat a lot of bitter melon. And that's one veggie I'd always been scared to try. The name just sounds, well, bitter.

But I picked some up from the Vietnamese market by my house and looked up the recipe for Goya Champuru in the Blue Zones Cookbook. I used two bitter melons and made sure to scrape out the seeds before slicing. And then I sauteed them with tofu, soy sauce, and some other spices. And let me tell ya, this stuff is called "bitter" for a reason. Wow. I'm not sure I liked it. I ate it all because I knew it was good for me, and the heavy soy saucing helped. But I doubt I'll ever eat bitter melon again.

A few weeks back, I made the Ayurvedic Moshdown Meal with homemade chapati from The Plant-Based Athlete. This was a veg-heavy curry with chickpeas over turmeric-cashew basmati, and it was perfect! My chapati didn't turn out quite like it was supposed to though. Still tasty as a flatbread, but it didn't puff up.

And here are some quick week day Tofu Scramble Tacos. These were excellent!

Monday, May 22, 2023

"Fish" Sticks, "Chicken" Fries, and Fake Risotto

A few weeks back, I noticed Sprouts had a LOT of plant meat on close-out sales. And while I hate to see that because it makes me worry for the future of the plant meat industry, I also really like a sweet deal. I got a box of Good Catch Vegan Fish Sticks for a couple bucks. These were really good! I was never a big fish fan, but I always did like fish sticks in my pre-vegan days. I think it was processed enough to not be as gross to me. Ha! 

Speaking of finger foods a toddler would love, I also picked up some Morningstar Farms Pringles-flavored Vegan Chicken Fries. Now, this is just a weird concept, but I love it! Why Pringles flavor? I don't know. But they're good. Do they taste like Pringles? Not really. But if you think really hard about Pringles while you're eating them, it comes through a bit.

Imagine Vegan Cafe has a few new menu items, and I'm slowly working my way through them all. The new Popcorn Chicken Po'boy is so good! It has a Thousand Island-style sauce, and the vegan chicken is super crisp. Messy but worth it.

And finally, here's some faker risotto! The No Meat Athlete Cookbook has a recipe for Baked Sunflower Brown Rice Risotto that has the creaminess of risotto without all the stirring. You just bake the rice in the oven with a lot of liquid, sunflower seeds, and spices (including saffron, which gives it that awesome color). A nice healthy dinner. 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Mama Crunk Turns 69!

My mom's birthday was May 4, but I've been so behind in posting that I never posted a recap. I had plans to go to the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis on her birthday weekend, and my 50-mile race was the weekend of Mother's Day. So I visited my parents the last weekend in April to celebrate both her birthday and Mother's Day.

She got lot of presents since it was a double holiday! I got her a few things (a shirt, some aluminum cups, and beer bread mix) at the Budweiser gift shop when we toured the brewery HQ in St. Louis, and I got her some wine and tequila seltzers. Paul got her a nice bottle of vodka. Buying for my mom is easy! 

For birthday dinner, we had my mom's favorite cuisine — Tex-Mex! My parents made Veggie Fajitas in the oven with lots of bell pepper, mushrooms, squash, and other veggies. My dad made the best Spanish rice, and mama made seasoned black beans in the Crock Pot. Plus, we had fresh pico and guacamole. A perfect dinner!

I wasn't drinking for a full month leading up to my 50-miler, so I had a zero-proof margarita, while my parents enjoyed real ones. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Race Recap: Flower Moon 50

I'm back! And I can now say that I've run a 50-mile ultra (52.87 miles to be exact). On Saturday, I ran my first 50-miler at the Flower Moon 50 in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. And boy, was it hard. 

But first, let's back up: On Friday, I arrived in Pawhuska (the town from "Killers of the Flower Moon," the book and soon-to-be Martin Scorcese film) and checked out the downtown area. It's also the home of Pioneer Woman's HQ, and while I'm not into her, my mom is. So I had to stop into her shops.

While I was in town, I scoped out Osage Hills State Park, where my race would be on Saturday. Just so I'd know where I was going at 4:30 am. 

Then I checked into my super-cute AirBnB in nearby Bartlesville (about 20 minutes from race site). This place is called the Quapaw on AirBnB, and if you're ever in the area, stay here! 

It's very affordable, and you get the whole house to yourself. The host is super-helpful, and the Netflix worked great. Plus, I had full kitchen to cook my pre-race pasta (and post-race pizza). I enjoyed my meal and watched Outer Banks and then headed to bed at 7:30 pm (for a 3:30 am wake-up!).

Unfortunately, it started storming around 11:30 am, and I woke up to booming thunder. The thunder sounds deeper and more menacing in the plains! Plus, I knew the trails would be a muddy mess the next day. Glad I packed extra shoes.

On race morning, I had my bagel with vegan cream cheese and coffee, and then headed to Osage Hills State Park. Packet pickup started at 5 am for the 50-milers, and I got my bib and hoodie and waited for the race start.

At 6 am, we were off, and as expected, the trails were muddy. But the insides of my shoes stayed relatively dry, which was good. The course started on a small trail and then opened into a Jeep road for a mile or so. At that point, I thought, oh yea, this will be a breeze! I love a good Jeep road. 

But then, we hit the real trail, and I had a rude awakening. Turns out the trails in the Osage Hills and quite a bit more technical than what I'm used to. 

I selected the Flower Moon 50 because it's not a mountain race (and living in Memphis, I can't train for a mountain race) and it had a long cutoff time (18 hours). But I didn't expect the trails would be mostly all rocks — lots of little rocks and lots of large boulders to navigate around. Some faster runners were still flying over the rocks, but I had to walk those rocky stretches to make sure I didn't fall on my face!

The race involves four 13.1-mile loops, but each of those loops is broken up into four trails that clover-loaf around one aid station. The first section goes past beautiful Lookout Lake (where people were relaxing in kayaks and making me very jealous!). It also went past an old CCC camp, which was pretty cool.

And it went past a filming location for the "Killers of the Flower Moon" movie, which is coming out in October. It was a little ways off the trail and down a hill, so I didn't venture too far down for fear of getting back up. But I peeked down the hill. 

The second two sections are made up of a large and a small bike loop (though I don't know how anyone could bike over those rocks). And the fourth section was a mile-ish trail that led to the start/finish area, where there was another aid station.

So we passed the bike loop aid station 16 times, and I got to know the volunteers pretty well. 

The station was stocked with all the essentials (chips, pickles, soda, Oreos, bananas, oranges, watermelon, popsicles, water, Gatorade, and first aid supplies). Mid-day, the temps reached the high 80s, and the popsicles and watermelon (with lots of salt!) were a lifesaver. I also packed lots of my own snacks in my drop bag, which I could access at the bike loop aid station. I had sesame rice balls, Uncrustables, chips, vegan cheese puffs, Plant Bites, UCan gels, applesauce packs, and chocolate pudding packs.

We passed the start/finish aid station four times, and they had hot food (though not vegan; mostly bacon and fry bread tacos) and the same kinds of vegan-friendly snacks. 

My first two 13.1-mile loops went well, and I was on target to finish in about 15 hours. But the wheels started coming off in loop three. It was just so hot, and my sunscreen was wearing off. I could feel my skin burning, and my feet were tired. When I got to mile 31, which up to that point was the longest I'd ever run, I was miserable. Though these reptiles brightened my mood a bit.

Look at this baby copperhead that I leaped right over on the trail. Yea, I know, he's dangerous. But so cute!

Fireball also helped when things got really tough. Fireball is a trail-running superpower. All it takes is half-shot, and suddenly, things feel alright for awhile. Most Memphis trail races provide Fireball, but I didn't see any at the Flower Moon aid stations. I suspect alcohol wasn't allowed at state parks in Oklahoma, but I packed a couple tiny bottles in my drop bag.

After I finished that third loop (mile 39.3-ish), I decided to change out of my trail shoes and change socks. I put on my road shoes, and I instantly felt better. Suddenly, I had a spring in my step, and I started passing people. I felt great! I had long wondered what it would feel like in an ultra to go to such a low place and then push through. And this was it!

But what goes up must come down, right? About mid-way through my fourth and final loop, the rain began. I knew it would get dark on my last loop, and I had my headlamp at the ready. And I was actually looking forward to the sun going down and cooling things off. But I wasn't prepared for rain, which was pretty hard at times. I typically enjoy rainy runs, but not at mile 45-ish of a 52-mile race in the dark. 

Luckily, I wasn't too alone out there. There were a number of people around my same pace, so I could see other headlamps bouncing through the woods. That made me feel a little better. We were all suffering together. It seemed like the second half of my last loop lasted forever, but somehow I finally came through and made it through the finish line in 15:51:45. 

They handed me this beautiful buckle — my first ultra buckle! — and every minute (even the miserable ones) seemed worth it. By then, it was about 10 pm, so I quickly gathered my drop bag and headed back to my AirBnB for a shower, a vegan Blackbird supreme pizza, and a can of champagne. I picked up the pizza at Whole Foods in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on the drive in, and it was the perfect thing to put in the oven while I showered all the mud off me.

What an experience! If you're looking for a first 50, I'd highly recommend Flower Moon. It's so well-organized, and the generous cutoff time takes the pressure off for us slow folks. Just prepare yourself for rocks!

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Blue Zones Minestrone, Pad Thai, and "Pork" Dumplings

I'm still catching up with some older food pics! Here's a very tasty Crispy Tempeh Bowl from the Fiber Fueled Cookbook with steamed kale, broccoli, brown rice, and a lemon-tahini sauce. A classic grain, green, bean combo!

The Herbed Lentil Minestrone from the Blue Zones Cookbook is one of the best soups I've had. It's loaded with barley, which I love. And there's lentils, chickpeas, fennel, potatoes (I used purple ones), and sundried tomatoes. It's a Sardinian recipe best enjoyed with chunks of sourdough.

This is the Plant-packed Pad Thai from Plant You. Recipes in this book just keep impressing me! It's oil-free, and I do like to use oil these days. But the dishes are so full of flavor, you'd never know they were oil-free. Will make this again!

Here's a quick weeknight Soy Curl Stir-fry with broccoli and carrots over quinoa. When I don't have much to cook, I typically make a stir-fry. And quinoa cooks more quickly than brown rice.

I had that stir-fry with these Hungry Planet Vegan Pork Gyoza that I got on closeout at Sprouts. They've had a lot of plant meats on closeout lately, which concerns me. But I was happy to stock up on the cheap. My deep freezer is filled with all kinds of stuff that was on sale for $2!

Alright, I leave town tomorrow for my first 50-mile race! So, I'll check in some time next week!

Monday, May 8, 2023

Chickpea Salad and Spring Eats!

Man, sorry I ghosted y'all last week. I am getting ready for my 50-mile race (it's next Saturday!), and I've got a month-long work project that's taking up a lot of time. So, in my off time, I've just not wanted to be on the computer. And I'm running. A lot.

But here I am with another random food photo dump. Some of these are from the Spring Equinox, which was March 20, so yea, these are pretty old. Let's just start there. On Ostara, the first day of spring, I made a couple recipes from the Llewelyn's Sabbats Almanac. This Wilted Butter Lettuce Salad was kinda weird, but it was good. It definitely tasted like spring with its green peas, mint, sauteed leeks, and butter lettuce. I'm not real big on wilted salads, but every once in a while, they're nice.

I also made some Noochy Stuffed Mushrooms (they're stuffed with diced and sauteed mushrooms, nuts, and lots of nooch), and I had some vegan Wundereggs with a tahini drizzle. Wundereggs are life-changing. By the way, that weird grey color on the "eggs" is black salt. Not super pretty but tasty.

For dessert, I made a Strawberry Yogurt Parfait with crumbled vanilla cookies and mint. A very spring-y meal indeed!

Here's a random Hot Dog and Chips that I ate at my parents' house. I'd gone over to visit them and needed a quick lunch while I wrapped up some work, so my mama made me a vegan hot dog. Food is always better when mama makes it, no matter what it is.

And finally, here's another spring-y meal. I made the Chickpea Salad from Plant You, and it was SO GOOD. Plant You is all whole food, plant-based, so this was a vegan mayo-free recipe that had a tahini base. I didn't think it would be as good as chickpea salad with mayo, but it was actually better!

Monday, May 1, 2023

Pancakes, Avo Toast, and the Best-ever Smoked Tofu Sammich

I'm back with a random food round-up, and I'm way behind on these. I ate these meals quite a while ago! Here's some Sunday Pancakes with almond Reddi Whip and Vegan Sausage. These days, two weeks out from my 50-mile race, I don't get many pancake Sundays. It's always get up, eat a light snack, run, drink a smoothie. Every Sunday. I'm ready for this training block to be over!

This was a very tasty Avocado Toast with Tofu Eggs and kimchi. The recipe is from The Fiber Fueled Cookbook.

And here's another recipe from that book, but I can't remember what it was called. It was basically harissa white beans on toast. It called for harissa paste, but I only had harissa spice. So this was a little dry.

A few weeks back, Lulu's had the best-ever Smoked Tofu Sandwich. The tofu was thinly sliced, so it had the look and texture of deli meat, and it was served on Lulu's home-baked sourdough. I still dream of this sandwich.

I enjoyed it with a side of hearty Cabbage Soup, which was awesome on a chilly day.

And I grabbed a Vegan Concha bun to go. This was my first time trying the Mexican pastry, and it was good. Just a lovely sweet bun.