Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Great Pumpkin (bread)




Dry Ingredients in a big mixing bowl:
1.5 cups of whole wheat flour
.5 cups of ground flaxseed
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Wet Ingredients in a small mixing bowl:
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut or canola oil
3 tablespoons honey

After combining wet into dry to form batter add:
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup crushed walnuts

I made the pumpkin puree by roasting 6 fist-sized pumpkin chunks in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes - until tender with a fork.  Then I separated the pumpkin meat and rocked it in the Vitamix for about 15 seconds.  I used a fine wire mesh strainer to drain some of the water out of the puree.  Learn from my mistake:  Don't press the puree with any sort of pressure in the strainer or you'll lose most of it through the mesh.  Just stir it a bit and let it sit over the sink while you prepare the dry ingredients.

Messy Puree
Because I'm a Portion Control Warrior and knew I would be sharing this bread with my running girls, I used 3 mini loaf pans to control the size of the slices.  If you use the mini loaf approach bake at 325 for 35 minutes.  A regular loaf pan should be 350 for 40-45 minutes.  Either way, a toothpick should come out clean when tested.

Happy Pumpkin Loaves


Finally, I must include the following gratuitous photo for my Ks!  (I run with three women ALL named Kathy, all live the in the same housing community and three of their husbands work in the same office!  Weird.  And weirder still - there are actually 2 MORE Kathy's in the same neighborhood whose husbands ALSO work in the same office.  An office of only 7 people.   I swear, I need to give this information to a statistician to find out the ODDS on that.)

The K's are now referred to as K's 1 - 5 for ease in communications.  I run with K3, K4 and K5.  All K's and this L are psycho peanut butter lovers and have spent many running hours discussing our love of nut butters.  After I made the loaves above, I indulged in the following treat:

1 handful of left over roasted pumpkin seeds
The remaining pumpkin bread batter, squeegeed out of the bowl with rubber spatula
1 squeeze of honey
1 spoonful of natural chunky peanut butter

I mixed it all up in a coffee cup and then spread on whole wheat toast.  Then I died and went to heaven.  I had to exercise extreme self control to stop and take this picture.  It was a close call.  THIS is the kind of food that makes marathon training worth it!  Also good to note the beauty of a vegan kitchen... you can lick every spoon any stinkin' time you want!



I can still taste it...




Monday, July 15, 2013

Wanna Start an EVolution?!

Call it what ya want:  vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, plant-strong, kind, compassionate.  People are writing about it, talking about it and most importantly trying it!  But with all of the good press and open minds, I can't help but feel a little nervous.  I already see a rise here in Barbados of processed and essentially "junk" vegetarian foods.  The same food scientists and marketers that got you to LOVE McDonalds are hard at work for your newly minted vegetarian dollars. 

I attended a raw food demonstration and lunch with Chef Manuela Scalini last weekend and it was so literally food for thought.  As we discussed the benefits of one ingredient over another, where to get sea moss, how to purchase coconut jelly and the best brands of nutritional yeast, I had an out of body moment.  Three years ago (two years ago!) I wouldn't have had a CLUE as to what anyone was speaking about.

That's the evolution of diet. 

Three years ago I started by removing the meat and substituting things that look and taste like meat. Remember, I was coming from 20 years in a fitness culture that preaches 10 chicken breasts a day and calls potatoes The Devil.  Where was I going to go from there?  Straight to Morningstar Farms Chix Patties is where!  The path I took was junkie (I can't read half of the ingredients on any MF package) but it worked.  And my diet evolved from there.

When I eliminated dairy and eggs, that was another step in the process.  Learning to make my own veggie burgers propelled me forward again, and I was able to walk away from processed fake burgers.

When I started added greens and green shakes to my diet my taste buds started to change.  I craved (and still do) all those greens I missed for 40 years.  Greens lead to other things - more vocabulary - chia, salba, hemp, spirulina. 

Now my focus has turned to the work of pioneering doctors (Esselstyn, Campbell, Barnard, Klaper, McDougall, etc.) and the way they are reversing diabetes and heart disease through plant-based, whole food diets. It's the most inspiring reading, watching and learning that I've ever done.  Lest we forget, I'm a fitness junkie at heart!

Which brings me back to the raw food demo last weekend.  The food was beautiful, Manuela was beautiful and I so enjoyed spending an afternoon with like-minded women but I have to admit that a raw food diet is farther out on the evolutionary spectrum then I'm ready for.  I took some great things from that class - a kickass recipe for Passionfruit Flan and this little piece of self awareness.

My evolution isn't over and neither is yours.  Keep growing, keep learning, keep eliminating and adding new foods.  Don't believe anything on the front of any food package - read the ingredients. Take a step and then take another one. As animal-free diets rise, so will the naysayers, the lobbying groups and the companies that have too much invested to just let you walk away.  Do your own research and feed your body whole food - often.  Most importantly: Enjoy your evolution!

I was inspired this week by the following interview with one of my favorites, Dr. Michael Klaper.  He is one of the most kind people and an excellent messenger.  Your time will not be wasted :)




Evolve On!








Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tough Run

Runing has taken on new meaning since I've been injured.  I used to be constantly striving for a longer distance or a 'little bit faster' but these days I'm ecstatic to log five miles without pain.  It took some time to let go the ego and settle into where I am but man I have learned valuable lessons. Lesson #1:  Ignoring pain for five months is a bad idea.

My running partners have also changed over the past few months.  My sweet Rachel ran until her sixth month of pregnancy but is finally resting up for delivery and my husband is running so strong that I can't keep up or run his routes - yet another ego blow but I'm still standing! So I've coerced some new girls a couple of mornings and I run alone a couple of mornings.

Which brings me to the tough run... I just can't clear it from my mind so maybe writing it down will help?

I was running alone two Sundays ago before my yoga class and decided to take a flat stretch of road to the base of a large hill and then turn around.  Hills are no friend to my hamstring these days. When I got to the base of the hill, I could hear a horrible sound over the music coming through my iPod.  I clicked it off and my ears were flooded with the sounds of a pig screaming from the house in front of me - which was also my turn around point.  It was the most awful sound I had ever heard. Wailing terror is the best I can describe it.  And then a man screaming awful guttural noises while killing the pig.  And then many other pigs screaming in fear.  I cannot express how loud it was.  In the driveway a refrigerated truck sat idling.  A woman was sitting with her legs dangling out of the open truck door, her head in her hands, covering her ears.

I panicked.  Tears sprang to my eyes and I didn't know what to do, how to make it stop.  Without much thought, I plowed forward up the hill.  It hurt like hell but it seemed the best way to get away from the sound.   But instead the sound travelled upward with me and resounded across the hillside as I climbed the switchback.  Having only my legs to carry me felt like the classic nightmare of running but getting nowhere.  I couldn't get my iPod loud enough and I couldn't keep the tears at bay.  It was truly awful.

I don't know whether I ran far enough or if the noise stopped but when I could no longer hear it and could no longer see the road through my tears, I stopped.  I squatted low and prayed for the pigs and prayed that whoever sat down to dine tonight would somehow think of the life that had been taken so violently. And I prayed that the woman in the truck who could not listen could also not partake of the pork - that her heart had been touched in some way. Probably silly on my part but even as I sit here typing, I am overcome.

The sounds stayed with me through my yoga class and I have had a hard time shaking the whole experience.  I watched a few slaughterhouse videos when I was becoming a vegetarian as a way to "seal the deal" but I have never been physically close to a slaughter before that run.  I drove by that house last night on my way home and saw another truck in the driveway with two people milling around the front yard.  I rolled my windows up tight and cranked the stereo but I could not stop my eyes from watering as I gunned it up the hill.

I was reminded of a famous quote by Paul McCartney - "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian."

True enough Sir Paul.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Half Year In Review

The last thing I remember was a New Year's party and suddenly it's June 30.  Half of my last year on Barbados is gone. What?

Time to admit my shortcomings review my progress on my half year goals of 2013.  Annual goals are just too "out there" for me and the statistics on successful New Year's Resolutions suggest that I'm not alone.  Setting my goals and reviewing them publicly is the best way I've found to get sh*t done!

To recap my 2013 half year goals:
1. Publish 26 blog posts by June 30
2. Get half marathon time under 2:10
3. Simplify our stuff in anticipation of a move
4. Pass my Precision Nutrition Exam
5. Send a birthday card to every family member
6. Complete the Great Train Race across Barbados in February

Oh dear.  Mixed bag.

I've taken the blog posts down to the WIRE.  THIS is the 26th post for 2013.  I only posted once in April and twice in May (for absolutely no reason) and it placed me squarely behind the 8 ball.  When I'm writing consistently, I have no problem coming up with topics, recipes, etc. but when I take a break it's like my brain goes dead.  At least I can rack this up in the "completed" column.  Frankly, I need it!

Taking a good long injury break from running made #2 impossible.  I needed the break more than anything and honestly, taking the time off was much harder than getting the 2:10.  All runners know this.  It killed me to drop from Pittsburgh and the months spent running down down down into more pain did a number on my mind.  After a rest, adjustments to some of my yoga postures and great chiropractic care, I'm running up up up into the light of day.  That 2:10 will be mine!

I'm giving myself an A++ for simplifying our lives. After two brutal garage sales I have NOTHING in any closet or dresser that is located outside my bedroom.  My kitchen is pared down to the essentials (read: Vitamix).  I have eliminated all but three small boxes of important documents and I have scanned our entire life into the computer - which is now backed up locally and remotely AND our credit is protected by LifeLock.  BAM!

Not taking the PN exam is killing me.  I have procrastinated this for 6 months.  Time management is the problem here and I have no one to blame.  I only have the final quarter of the material to go through but the information at the beginning of the course is the hardest to retain (cell structure, energy production systems, etc.) so when I fall off the study train I feel the need to go back and review from the beginning before plowing through the final bit of material.  I need to move this goal into a shorter range category.  Like, 30 days.  Get it DONE Lauren.

I sent not one single birthday card.  And it's not that I don't care... I really do care.  I call family on their birthdays but getting a card from our crappy card shop and ordering stamps online (it's my only option with our APO mail system) is something that I just don't do.  I think this goal might be physically impossible for me :)

And here we are - my favorite goal of all - The Great Train Race.  Yes!  Completed it and became only the 17th or 18th (depending on how you list me and the huz) people to complete the whole race as individual runners.  It was an amazing day that definitely pushed my limits, both physical and mental.  I can only hope that our move date will allow for one more crack at it in February!

So there you have it.  I'm working on a list of goals for the remainder of 2013 which I'm sure will get blown to hell once we get our next assignment.  I am a madwoman once the next location is revealed!

I know that a few of you posted your own goals in response to my New Years post.  I would love to hear from you! How's it going?