Monday, October 27, 2014

Kale Salad!

Hitting up the Farmer's Market these last few weeks I really hit it big!  The Clemson Farmer's Market is SOOOO much better than it has been.  True, many farms come for one year and then head the Greenville, but it is a lot better then the craft heavy market then it started out.  The last official date of the market was a week and a half ago and I cleaned up the last couple of weeks.  My new favorite farm, 3 Oaks Farm, had green beans for $1 a pound.  And cause I have a JOB, I can't get there until after 5 so they always give me some sort of a discount.  This farm also had the most beautiful kale for $2.50 a pound.  A pound is a lot of kale, but with this kale, that's ok!!  The first week I bought some, I made a shredded kale salad, some kale chips, then washed the rest and well, see, I got this new fridge and sometimes it freezes my food.  Including my kale, which is a major bummer, but luckily there one more week left to the season.  Just went back and bought more of everything.  I made more kale chips, and the same shredded salad.  And you have to try this salad!  It is from Oh She Glows.  By chopping the kale into ribbons, I think that helps to keep the kale salad from being too tough.  Plus you add Craisens and what, what, what?  A Vegan Parm Cheese?  And it actually kind of taste like Parm Cheese.  LOVED IT.  Put it on everything for about a week.

The Best Shredded Kale Salad with Pecan Parmesan and Cranberries

Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free
5 from 8 reviews
print icon   The Best Shredded Kale Salad
Inspired by a kale salad my mom enjoyed at True Food Kitchen, I knew I had to make my own vegan version as soon as I was back in my kitchen. The key to this salad is finely chopping (or shredding) the kale. The lemon garlic dressing will coat each and every tiny piece of kale, working its magical softening powers and infusing it with so much flavour. Instead of cheese, I topped the salad with my homemade toasted pecan "Parmesan" topping and a handful of dried sweetened cranberries. The result is one of the BEST ever kale salads I've tried to date. No joke. Two bunches of dinosaur kale might seem like a lot, but once it's shredded, it only makes about 8 cups and then it further reduces in volume as it marinates by almost half. If you are making this salad for more than 4 people, I suggest doubling it. I felt like I could've had half of the lot just on my own...



  • 2 medium bunches destemmed Lacinato/dinosaur kale, finely chopped (8 cups chopped)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (just eyeball it)
  • 1-2 handfuls dried sweetened cranberries, for garnish
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 1.5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pinches fine grain sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 300F. Spread the pecans onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden.
  2. Remove the stems from the kale and discard (you can save for smoothies if you are hard core!). Finely chop the kale leaves (the smaller, the better!).
  3. Wash the kale and spin dry. Place dried kale into a large bowl.
  4. For the dressing: In a mini food processor, process the garlic until minced. Now add the lemon, oil, salt, and pepper and process until combined. Adjust to taste, if desired. Pour the dressing onto the kale and mix it into the kale with your hands or toss with spoons. Keep mixing for about 1 minute to ensure everything is coated perfectly.
  5. For the pecan parm: Rinse out the mini processor and pat dry. Add the pecans into the processor and process until the pecans are the size of peas or a bit larger. Now add in the nutritional yeast, oil, and salt and process again until it's a coarse crumb. Be sure not to over-process - we still want a nice crunchy texture here, not powder.
  6. Sprinkle the pecan Parmesan all over the salad. Toss on a handful or two of dried cranberries. Wrap and place in the fridge for 30-60 minutes to soften. I tried letting this salad sit overnight in the fridge and I greatly preferred the flavour of the salad served the day of, so I don't recommend making this salad the day before and letting it sit in the fridge overnight.
Note: 1) Instead of a mini processor, you can chop/whisk the dressing and pecan "parmesan" by hand. 2) For a nut-free version, try using breadcrumbs instead of pecans.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rice Cooker Rice and Peas

When I first started to eat meatless dished, one of my favorite times to eat this way was after trips.  The reason for this was two fold:  one, I probably had been eating crap for a couple of days and needed to "cleanse" and two, it was usually pretty easy to throw together a vegetarian dinner from usual pantry items.  I made Rice Cooker Rice and Peas after a recent trip to the mountains.  The original was from a blog that I try to follow, but like a lot of blogs (cough, this one, cough) the posting has dwindled down.  But, it is still a good site for easy vegan/vegetarian meals.  At any rate, this recipe only calls for things you probably already have in your kitchen.  I don't usually make jasmine rice, but I loved the combo of the light rice with the coconut oil.  I topped my rice with toasted almonds and served it with roasted chickpeas.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Its the fall - my favorite time of year.  I love the cool weather, football and the anticipation of the holidays ahead.  Its easy to go nuts on all the sugary - spicy baked goods around at this time of year too.   I wish they were healthy for us.   I'd pig out without restraint.  But my waistline won't allow that - even for a second.

So I have found a way to indulge without the junk.  Pumpkin Oatmeal.  I found two versions that are very similar, and both can be made vegan or with dairy - whatever your preference.  The two below were made with full fat coconut milk (the canned kind).

If you have the time - like 30 minutes - to cook breakfast, steel cut oats are a great choice. They are very hearty and will carry you through you work morning or a good mid-distance run.  One of my favorite blogs is The Greatist and the photo above is the one I found on their site.  

For a creamier version of Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, I'd recommend my own creation below.  I was inspired to create this recipe from one I found on all that was not vegan and used methods I don't have good luck with. 

I always cook my oats on the stovetop.  Whenever I use the microwave I usually have an explosion of oats to clean up.  It takes a few minutes longer, but I like the results better. 

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal (serves 1-2)

1 C old fashioned oats
3/4  - 1 C milk (I used coconut milk)
1/2 C canned pumpkin
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t cloves, ginger
dash nutmeg
1 t brown sugar

Combine the oats, milk and pumpkin in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine and stir frequently until thickened. Add more milk to adjust consistency as desired. Add the spices and sugar. Garnish with muesli, nuts, raisins and sweeten with a little maple syrup. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

I did it!

I'm so proud. I just ran my first marathon!

after the race

My brother took this picture somewhat early in the race. 

This is probably the most exciting personal achievement I've ever had.  Overall it was great experience.  I'd do it again.

Enter a teasing eye-roll from my husband.
"Why run 26 miles when you can drive?!"
"Because its fun" I say.
"You know what happened to the first guy that ran a marathon, right? He died!" he responds.
"Maybe he had a heart condition" I say.
"It's a good thing it's only 26.2 miles. Because 26.3 would be insanity."

I know he supports me and he is proud of me.  I like the way he gives me a hard time.  It's almost like he's challenging me. I love it.

If he didn't support me, he wouldn't have surprised me after the race with this really awesome charm for my necklace. I love it and its my most special momento.  My sister-in-law bought me the 13.1 charm for Christmas last year, so now I can wear them together.  I think he gets husband-of-the-year award.

It was freezing at the start. I don't know the exact temp, but somewhere in the mid-high 30's.  At least it wasn't windy.  I bought myself a pair of arm sleeves to wear on the race and boy am I glad that I did. I wore them almost the whole way.

Me and my brother in the corral waiting to get started

For those of us who are wondering what the heck they are, its basically just the sleeve of a shirt. They come in several price points (most around $25) and different fabric technologies. Mine were $10 from Louva (I found them at the Health and Fitness Expo when I picked up my race packet).  These were pretty inexpensive. I figured I would try them and if they sucked I could just toss them and not feel like I lost anything.  But they were actually pretty great.  I chose to wear arm sleeves instead of a long sleeve shirt because:

1) I wanted the flexibility to take them off if I got too hot (I never did)
2) My core gets hot when I run, and I hate being hot.  I planned to wear my Captain America tech shirt and I knew a double layer would be too much.  Although these may look corny, they were the perfect solution. I love them and they were a smart purchase.
3) The brand I bought are by a local company called Louva. These are knitted and I was concerned they would either be too hot or not stop the wind from reaching my skin. Neither of these issues were a problem for the race.  They extend to the palms of my hands and had the thumb holes- a very cool feature.  AND THEY STAYED UP!  Not once did they fall down around my elbows, which would have been super annoying. One of the cardinal rules of running is never try anything new on race day, but I got lucky and they didn't bother me at all.  I'd recommend them to anyone.

It was a fair amount of work to get here. And I remember getting sick of my training plan and starting to think that it wasn't worth it. I was struggling in my runs and beating myself up mentally.  But then magically it all turned around about 4 weeks out and the rest of the training seemed to be smooth sailing.

Tapering was a learning experience for me. I started paying attention to my food intake too late in the game according to what I learned in my clinic (just a few days out, as opposed to a week), but honestly I was getting so nervous and uncomfortable that it wouldn't have mattered. I couldn't eat. Food just didn't have flavor and the thought of eating anything made me nauseous.

But this is how I get when I'm nervous. I have an appetite, but I just feel sick all the time. There's not a whole lot of give and take in the department though. Bodies need fuel, especially if you're going to run a marathon.  You have to eat. A lot. Its a delicate line to walk when the food you eat makes you sick.  I manage this the best I can.  I eat super small portions of foods that are gentle on my stomach (bread, rice, bananas, smoothies).

Then on race day I planned to eat my usual pre-race power breakfast of Overnight Oats and I just couldn't eat it.  I picked at it until it was time to enter the corral and just tossed it out.  Not the best start to my run.  So naturally I'm hungry by mile 4.  WAY earlier than in my training runs (usually not ready to eat until mile 8 or 10).  So I scarfed down one of my Vega Sport bars.

On Summit Avenue, only a few miles from the finish. I hit my stride and finally felt like I was running at my potential (sub-10 minute miles).

I've eaten these bars so many times on training runs before with no incident whatsoever. It never occurred to me what would happen next.  My stomach hurt for the next 22 miles.  I wanted to puke the entire way.  I needed to use the bathroom. Aside from nerves, there was nothing different about the race than usual.  I grabbed a half banana at one of the refueling stops and held onto it for the next 2 miles.  That banana and water were the only things I ate for the rest of the race.

I'm sure this is why my time was dismal. I wanted to hit around a 4:30 finish.  Instead I finished at 4:54:30.  Still not too bad for my first one. I'm not going to allow myself to be mad about my time. After reviewing my experience in my head, I don't know what I could have done differently. When you're sick, your'e sick. You just have to manage.

I felt rotten the rest of the day. My knees were actually okay.  I felt tired, but not really too bad. My stomach is what hurt the worst.  I still couldn't eat. I tried to eat the bagels, bananas, broth and milk at the finish line, but I just couldn't.

It was great that Mom had supper ready for us when we got home.  I really wanted it, but all I could do was nibble.  I had been up since 445 and just wanted to take a nap. Now its 3AM and I woke up hungry, went downstairs, ate a bowl of cereal and started to write.  I feel pretty good.

No recipe today.  Just my story.  I'll write again soon.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Taper Time Goulasch

Its taper- time.  The last two weeks before the big one. 


I'm in new territory here. I've run half marathons before.  But I don't recall feeling like I needed to pay special attention to my diet during taper time then. But then again, you read my blog, so you know how I eat. 

But I'm discovering that training for a marathon is a whole new ball game. As my mileage increases to 18 - 20 miles during training, throw out the old rules and muddle your way through this new domain. 

I compare training for your first marathon like going from 2 kids to 3.  All of a sudden everything is completely different. The way you did things before doesn't and can't apply and you have to find a new way. 

My brother sent me a good quote: 

"The race always hurts. Expect it to hurt. You don't train so that it doesn't hurt. You train so you can tolerate it." - Coach Mark Rowland.

Hmm. I don't think I like that. Not very inspiring. I'm kind of a sissy.  But what he says has truth to it.  Running a marathon isn't easy.  If it were, everyone would do it.  I am hoping I am the exception to the rule and I can just run it and feel great at the end.  But I expect my knees will hurt, my legs will feel like Jell-O and I'll just be wiped out.  

So to give myself an edge this week, I'm going to listen to my body, follow my taper plan and eat carefully.  My running group had a nutrition talk last night.  One of the gents who leads the 10 mile group and has considerable racing experience shared what he knows about eating while tapering.  

Rule #1: Drink water. Lots of it.  Okay, I can do that. 

Rule #2: Its not enough to carb load the night before. We should be eating the right balance of carbs and proteins throughout the entire week (news to me!).  This will help our muscles increase glycogen stores that we can use during the race. 

Ok, Its 1 Oct. The race is Sunday. I have some catching up to do. 

Tim was gracious enough to share a recipe that he uses for preparing for his races.  Its totally flexible and you can tailor it to your tastes.

Taper Time Goulasch
Tim Floyd
1. Whole grain mix (brown rice, wild rice, quinoa.  Buy them mixed, whatever you can find. If you only like one type of grain, just use that, just make sure it's whole grain.
2. Chicken breast, cooked and diced (to make it vegan, I'm using firm tofu)
3. Whatever vegetables you like.  Carrots, broccoli, edemame, celery, sugar snap peas, etc
4. White beans or black beans or whatever you like, for added protein
5. Ro-tel, 1 or 2 cans
Tim likes to add hot sauce too. It is a little spicy either way with the Ro-tel.

Combine it all together.  Eat small portions though out the days leading up to the marathon.  Make as much as you'd like and freeze some.  Eat it cold or hot.

I made mine with a South of the Border flair and wrapped it in a 100% whole wheat burrito shell (Mission makes them and they are very good).

I also served it like a burrito bowl with a few crushed tortilla chips on top for added crunch.

Here is what I did for my goulash. My measurements are approximate.  When I put it together I just put it what I had in the fridge and what I thought would be delicious.  It was!

South of the Border Goulasch

2 C cooked brown rice 
1/2 C firm tofu cubes, sautéed in olive oil until lightly brown on the edges
1/2 C black beans
1/4 C coarsely chopped cilantro
1/8 C coarsely chopped red and green onion
1/2 small can of sliced black olives
1/2 each red and green peppers, coarsely chopped
1 can Original Ro-tel with green chilis (drained. FYI I don't like chunks of soft tomatoes so I ran mine through the food processor to make them smaller)
a dash each of chili powder and cumin

Stir it all together. Store in the fridge until you are ready to use it up.  Serve in a burrito shell or bowl and garnish with tortilla chips, avocado slices, fresh tomatoes.... whatever you can think of.

I'm also inspired by the fall colors and flavors to create something more seasonal.  I hope to have it ready in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Acai Berry Bowl

Jamba Juice is catching on to the newest craze.  Smoothie Bowls.  They call them Energy Bowls.

Jamba Juice Acai Bliss Energy Bowl

I get the Jamba Juice promotions via email.  Last week I had a coupon for 50% off an Energy Bowl.  They retail for $5 (yikes!) so I was happy to give it a try at 50% off.  It was good. Not like my previous experience with smoothie bowls.

A few months ago I tried to make one at home, inspired by this cool food blog Green Kitchen Stories.  Eh..... I didn't see what the fuss was about. Its basically a thick smoothie in a bowl.  It seemed weird to consume a "smoothie" like cold soup when I'm accustomed to drinking it out of a cup with a straw (here's where my husband give me a figurative wrist slap for polluting the planet by using straws).

But now smoothie bowls are picking up steam and I think its time to revisit this.

Acai (pronounced ah-SIGH-ee) is a berry found in South American Rainforests and, according to what I've read, is packed full of anti-oxidants and other healthy stuff.  We can't just get a carton of it as if they were blueberries. A company called Sambazon (SAM-ba-zon) purees it and sells it in frozen, unsweetened packs or as part of pre-made smoothies and other products.   The smoothie packs aren't cheap. $6 for a pack of 4 - 4.5 oz packs.  Find them in freezer section at your local health food store, co-op or Whole Foods.

Yesterday I was starving. I needed a snack.  So I thought I'd give the smoothie bowl another try.

My Acai Bliss Smoothie Bowl

Oh man, it was good. I felt spoiled.  Like I was back in California or Europe.  The added chunks of fruit and muesli make the difference. Without them it would still be just a plain old smoothie in a bowl.  No big whup. Here's what I did.

Acai Smoothie Bowl (makes 2)

1 pack of Sambazon Acai Berry (unsweetened)
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 C- 3/4 C frozen mixed berries
1/4 C (approx) organic apple juice

Combine the ingredients above in a blender until smooth. Pour into bowls.  Top with sliced bananas, blueberries, strawberries, muesli, nuts and a sprinkle of hemp seed.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Product Review: Energy Bars

As my miles have increased during my training program, I needed to find mid-run fuel.  Running 14 miles is pretty challenging for most of us, and our bodies need calories to burn so we can complete the run.

Its not easy to eat and run at the same time.  Its learned.  Small bites.  Something that is easy on the stomach.  But it has to be something that can sustain you.

I REALLY don't like energy gels.  Too sweet.  I just can't swallow them.  Shot Blocks are too soft.  Honey Stingers are okay, but a few of those only sustain me for 2 miles at a time.   At least they are organic, so they have that going for them.

But my bigger issue with food for runners is that its not real food.  I want the good stuff. I'm running to make my body healthy, but feeding it lab-created "ingredients" with 13 syllables is not helping my mission of caring for and rewarding the body I have.

Earlier this spring, when I was preparing for my marathon clinic I bumped into Vega Sport.  A socially responsible, environmentally and animal-friendly company from Canada.   This company creates foods for athletes that are vegan, gluten-free and free of junk.

They got my attention when I first saw the bars at the food co-op in Stillwater.  I ordered their trial pack and was excited to get a bunch of different stuff.  Some of it I liked, some of it I didn't.

My favorite and probably the most effective product from that trial pack was the endurance bars.   They are part of their "Sustain" line of products. Vega Sport products have 3 parts "Prepare" "Sustain" and "Recover".  I've tried them all, but I will talk about the Endurance bars here since they are the ones I rely on the most.

This product bar far has been the most effective fuel I've tried on my long runs.  Each bar basically gives me about 8 miles of running fuel. I predict I will need to carry 3 of these on my marathon to get me through.  The chocolate ones do get a little soft and melty when they are warm, but they are not gooey and unmanageable to eat out of the wrapper.   I've found these easy for my stomach to tolerate while running. I've never felt like puking after eating one.  Even after eating these all summer on long runs I still get a little bit of weird sensation in my tummy when I first swallow a bite, but it goes away fast.

I don't feel an immediate spike or burst in energy when eating these, but more of a sustained energy release. Which for me is great. I don't want to pop sugar to keep my energy up.  I want my body to process its food like it should and convert it to energy over the long haul.   I feel better during my runs and I don't feel hungry.

Find these bars at Whole Foods, local food co-ops or health food grocers. I buy them by the case from