Sunday, April 5, 2015

favorite running + fitness blogs

I was sick for pretty much four weeks after getting home from Florida. What started out as an ear infection turned into a sinus infection. Four years in college and I never had more than a little cold. WTF. While I was resting (couldn't really run with a sinus infection, especially since I read online that it could turn into pneumonia if I did!), I read a lot of blogs. I've been reading some of these for a while now. Some are vegan, some aren't. It's always better to keep an open mind.

Strongest Hearts

The videos on this site profile vegan athletes. There's everyone from professional cyclists to ultrarunners to baseball team mascots (the cutest). I'm inspired by each and every one of the athletes, even if they're doing something I'll probably never do.  I'm super excited to see the creators of the show, Matt Ruscigno and Sasha Perry, speak at Vida Vegan Con in May. 

I like Courtney's voice and attitude towards running. I also love that she's in DC because that was always my favorite city and where I saw myself living as an adult (haha, that's definitely changed). 

Pretty much every one of Kelly's posts make me LOL. That's enough to keep me reading. I really appreciate her honesty about running and her tips about good gear (found out about SPIbelts from her blog, they're amazing). 

I just recently found Lacy's blog and I've already read through about 25 pages.  My favorite thing about this blog is Lacy's emphasis on body positivity and acceptance. Although I don't have a history of eating disorders, I think the content can be helpful to any woman who's felt shameful about their food choices or just uncomfortable in their skin. I don't know if that's generalizing too much though. So I'll just say I love this blog. Lacy is also speaking at Vida Vegan Con! 

This blog offers helpful info on vegan nutrition. Of course it's affiliated with the Vega company, so some posts are obviously trying to sell the product, but if you're not vegan or don't use their products, the info is still super interesting. One of my favorite posts is about what to eat the day before a half marathon.

This is probably the first vegan fitness blog I ever read, for obvious reasons. I used the half marathon roadmap for the Princess Half. I used the training plans, but didn't follow the food plan/recommendations (other than already being vegan, obvs). The food plan is geared towards people who aren't already vegan and he suggests a smoothie and raw salad to be the anchors of your diet. I definitely focused on upping my raw veggie intake, but couldn't get on board with the smoothies. I'm thinking it might sound better in the summer. I really like the running inspiration found on the blog. Some of my favorite posts are this one, this one, and this one

Friday, March 13, 2015

princess half marathon recap + vegan at disney world

I really didn't want my week in Disney World to end. Even with a trip to urgent care (yep, I got an ear infection for my first half marathon), super cold weather at the beginning of the trip and then the hottest temps for the Princess Half, I didn't want to leave. I just had to remind myself that at least I wasn't going home to Virginia where there were snow and ice storms. 

As usual, eating vegan in Disney World was easy, but not without a few disappointments. We were really trying to save money on food for this trip since I was running a race that cost almost $200 to begin with. We also saved money by only going to one park (even though that's just because we spent one day in urgent care instead of the park meh). Of course, by the time we went to Magic Kingdom on Monday after the race, Disney had raised the ticket prices. WHILE WE WERE THERE. Yes. We could have bought the tickets earlier but we don't do that anymore since my mom got food poisoning a couple years ago and couldn't use her park ticket (Disney won't give you any kind of compensation unless you get a doctor to diagnose you with food poisoning, or so I've heard). ANYWAY. Most of our food was good. Disney is great place to carb load (not that you really need to carb load for a half marathon, but it's vacation, so whatever). 

My mom and I were starving when we finally arrived at Pop Century at about 11pm. We didn't know if they would be able to make us anything special since it was so late, but we tried anyway and our favorite allergy chef was there, Jose. He has helped us out at Pop Century for a while now! We requested vegan and gluten free pizzas. How awesome is that pizza? And we only got charged for two kids cheese pizzas. I know some people do not like Daiya, but I love it. So I loved this pizza...until the next time we tried to order it from another chef, he told us that the crust has egg whites...BOOOO. So disappointing. I know Disney used to have Namaste and Bob's Red Mill brands for allergy pizza crust, but it looks like they've changed to a brand that has milk powder. I can understand that it would be hard for the chefs to keep up with all the changes, but then again that's your job. I even asked about the non-gluten free crust (since I can have gluten) and they said that wasn't safe either. I ended up just getting some rice pasta with the same veggies and marinara sauce (they gave me so much pasta that I couldn't eat it all and only charged for kids mac n cheese, so that meal was only about $6). 

Raglan Road Irish Pub is crazy. There are so many people and there's live music and Irish dancing. We didn't have to wait too long, but while we waited, my sister and I went to the bar outside to order hot toddies. Mind you, Orlando was super cold then, about 50 degrees. The bartender was incredibly rude because she had to go inside to get hot water. At least the drinks were strong. Once we got a table, the chef or allergy person informed us that they could make any of the fried things gluten free. We ordered the gluten free onion rings and while I mentioned "vegan" as well, I was just worried that the batter had eggs. I tasted a few and they were just ok. 

I knew the risotto could be made vegan after seeing multiple people post about it on the Veg Disney Facebook group. It came with arugula and skewer of grilled vegetables including zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes. I knew for sure that this dish was vegan because there was obviously some flavor missing (a pile of cheese). Once I'd eaten about half of the dish, I used the lemon from my sister's fish and chips and drizzled some lemon juice on the risotto along with a little salt. OMG, so much better! Just that little tweak turned the whole dish around. I should be a chef.....but not a photographer because that is a terrible picture. 

My mom ordered the vroom salad with quinoa, beans, sweet and sour carrots, and watercress. The honey mustard dressing that comes with it isn't vegan, so they waitress brought both balsamic and a house citrus herb vinaigrette dressing. The citrus was the winner. 

We went to the Port Orleans French Quarter resort to get some allergy (vegan, gluten free) beignets. They were pretty good, but we thought they were fried in old oil. Meh. 

We were supposed to go to Magic Kingdom on Friday, but I was up all night coughing so we had to go to an urgent care place. Ugh. I ended up going to Centra Care close to Downtown Disney. I made an appointment when I woke up for 1pm. We got there 30 minutes ahead and still waited about an hour and a half. They diagnosed me with an ear infection and gave me a prescription for antibiotics and a cough medicine so I could sleep.

After a good night's sleep, we all headed to Kona Cafe at the Polynesian Resort for breakfast. We didn't have to wait long at all even though the place was packed with Enchanted 10K runners. My mom had some vegan, gluten free Mickey waffles, potatoes, and an awesome fruit bowl. I ate most of the kiwi. SO GOOD. 

Here is the elusive vegan Tonga Toast. Tonga Toast is basically fried cinnamon sugar covered bread, stuffed with gooey, baked bananas. Instead of dipping the bread in eggs, they used rice milk. IT WAS AMAZING. The potatoes here are great, too. My sister had an omelette with no potatoes and I had to muster every bit of sisterly love to share a potato with was hard. I really love the lilikoi juice here, which is a blend of passionfruit, orange, and guava juices. It's not too sweet and I think they also have it at Boma and Tusker House under different names.

The Polynesian really has it all. After breakfast, we walked the property (lots of construction), rode the monorail to the Grand Floridian to people watch, then rode the monorail back to the Poly for Dole Whip. They have a dedicated walk-up just for Dole Whip. If you thought you could just get Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom, you're wrong. You don't HAVE to pay $110 to get in a park for this. You can just drive right up to the Poly and get a Dole Whip or a Dole Whip float. Then you can sit on one of the comfiest couches in Disney World, demolish your sweet, creamy, pineapple concoction and take a nap. My definition of resting before my first half marathon. 

A Run Disney event is just that: AN EVENT. The official race start time was 5:30am but you had to be in your corral by 4 and buses started running at 3 from the Disney resorts. I wanted to be on the bus as close to 3 as possible so I woke up at 2am. I got dressed and immediately started eating. I had a rice cake with Earth Balance coconut peanut spread, which is amazing and reminds me of JIF but is way better for you, and jelly. I really wasn't that hungry so it was hard to choke down a rice cake. My ear infection manifested as a bad cough so that made it even worse. I also had a banana closer to 3am and then brought a CLIF bar to nibble on until the start. I probably should have had a CLIF shot blok before the race, too, but I just wasn't hungry! I probably ate the least before this race than before any of my other long training runs, but I didn't notice, because I was running in DISNEY WORLD. UGH. It was amazing. 

It was amazing, but it was also hot and crowded! I do still run/walk/run (Galloway style, I guess) and that was fun because pretty much everyone else in my corral did the same thing, so there were about 500,000 other Garmin watches beeping for run/walk intervals. The princesses arrived at the castle around mile 5/6 and I almost cried. It was pretty legit. Disney is magical. Anyway...

I hadn't quite mastered my runfie technique yet, but here's me looking rough. 

The stars of the show aka Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff, were looking down on their plebeians as they entered the super congested, hot, stinky castle. I smelled things I never want to smell again, but I WAS IN CINDERELLA'S CASTLE OH WELL. After we left Magic Kingdom, there was a lot of road left and it felt like it kept getting hotter and hotter! On my longest training runs, including my 11 miler, I only drank water once. In Disney World, I ended up taking a cup of water at every mile. I felt like I really needed it and honestly, it was so awesome to not have to worry about carrying water or running out of water! It was also awesome to just run and not have stop at crosswalks or run up hills (there was only one hill and everyone walked). 

I don't have any awesome finish pictures because once I crossed the finish line, I wanted to get on the bus and go straight to the shower. I crushed a bottle of cold water and ate some of the snacks from the snack box (only a few were vegan).  When I got back to the room, I had more water and ate a Theo dark chocolate peanut butter cup that I had bought at Whole Foods in Orlando (I guess this is going to be a race day tradition now because I ate one after my first 10K too). I also had some grapefruit and probably other things that I can't remember...

After my glorious shower, I wanted to nap, but I had to go to Erin Mckenna's Bakery's grand opening in Downtown Disney!!! I was so disappointed when I heard Babycakes was closing in Disney and I've known since November that it was re-opening but I had no idea when. I hoped that it would be open for my trip, but I wasn't sure. They announced the grand opening on Wednesday of the week were there. And it was Sunday! After the half marathon. It was perfect.

Erin McKenna was there! I got to tell her how long I've been using her books and she was super nice. I love her hair. 

There was a line outside and I actually saw a few people leave the line once they found out everything was vegan and gluten free. One person left because they thought there were cronuts. Ugh. You all missed out. But more for me! The second time I went, I helped a couple in line decide what to try after they asked me how weird everything really tasted (I recommended the Samoa or cookie crunch donut). I do think that vegan and gluten free baking is hard. I know it is because my mom and I have been baking that way for 5 years now. Even Erin McKenna's recipes don't always work out. So I wasn't surprised that not everything at the bakery was perfect. Here's a list of what I tried: 

 Onion poppyseed bagel: really, really good. I loved the flavors on this. It was amazing toasted and smeared with the homemade coconut oil-based vegan butter. Maybe I was a little biased because it was the first real thing I ate after the half marathon. 

 Regular bagel: We had these on our last day at Disney and toasted them in the Pop food court. They were not as good as the onion ones...less like a bagel and more just like fluffy bread, but still decent.

  Coffee cake: super moist and a little crumbly, this was one of my favorites. 

Samoa donut: coconut, caramel and chocolate drizzle on top of a perfect cake donut.

 Coffee crunch donut: good, not as good as the samoa. 

Mounds bar: just like a real mounds bar, but vegan and delicious. Wish I had bought two or three. 

Mocha frosting shot: just as awesome as I remember. I was going to get the brownie cupcake with mocha frosting, but asked if they could do a frosting shot instead, because I really just wanted the frosting.  
Veggie cheddar (?) roll: This was not cooked all the way through and really could have used a few minutes in a toaster oven. It's a good idea, but just wasn't cooked all the way.

Cinnamon roll cupcake: basically a cinnamon roll made into cupcake form. This would have been better heated up in a microwave or toaster oven, but overall good. 

My post-half marathon meal: hazelnut iced latte with soy milk from STARBUCKS, onion poppyseed bagel and mocha frosting shot. OMG. This all tasted so good and I was so hungry and tired. We ended up sitting in Earl of Sandwich because there is no seating inside or near the bakery itself. My sister had the roasted veggie sandwich from Earl of Sandwich and it looked so good that I wanted one too, but the line was so long and I didn't want to stand anymore. haha

Here is the samoa donut and my shiny, perfect medal. 

Magic Kingdom Mickey Pretzel. They have spicy mustard packets. WINNING

Be Our Guest is a unique dining experience. It's a quick service place at lunch and a table service place at dinner, and there aren't reservations for lunch so you have to wait in line to get in. The wait wasn't TOO BAD but if you were really starving I'd imagine it would be bad. It was about 80 degrees that day and standing in that line in the sun was getting to me, but I just remembered that I don't really see the sun at all at home so I was just grateful. I can't imagine waiting in that line in the summer in 100 degree heat though. They should really find a better way...

Once you get through the line, you order your food on a computer and you can mark all your "allergies" and it will narrow the menu down to what you can have. I was able to have the French onion soup with no cheese and the quinoa salad with golden beets, green beans, potatoes and olives. Everything was good, not amazing, and I think it's worth the wait only if you've never been before. 

Later in the day, we went to Cosmic Ray's. I had the veggie burger (vegan but had gluten) with the gluten free, egg free allergy bun and fries made in separate fryer. My mom had the greek salad made vegan and the allergy person (or chef, I guess) told her that there was no vegan dressing so she got a salad without dressing....ugh. My burger was tasteless but at least they have the nice toppings bar with cooked onions and mushrooms, pickles, lettuce and tomato. We were so disappointed after eating that we complained and another person found an oil and vinegar dressing packet in the ALLERGY refrigerator and so they gave us our money back for the whole visit. So if you ever have a problem at Disney don't be afraid to talk to someone right away. Someone will help you out. 

Here's the cinnamon roll cupcake and coffee crunch donut 

Other food not pictured: Breakfast at Pop Century included allergy waffles and special breakfast potatoes cooked with onions and (too much) oil, but they were still appreciated because they are regularly cooked with both eggs and cheese! Way to ruin a potato! Also had gluten free and vegan pasta at Pop, just ok, but fills you up. A trip to Whole Foods in Orlando was underwhelming. I'm so spoiled with the west coast Whole Foods'. There were vegan options on the hot bar and I got a few different things, all were blah. They had no vegan pizza slices and an $8 pre-made gardein wrap. I hate most pre-made wraps and I don't like gardein. There's a Chipotle down the street so I ended up eating there the night before the half marathon, getting my standard veggie bowl with brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, salsa, corn, guacamole and lettuce.  It was a solid choice and cost less than $8. 

I was well-fed on this trip and obviously had so much fun running my first half marathon in Disney World. I honestly cannot wait to run my next half in May! 

If you're still reading, thank you! I hope you learned something fun about eating vegan in Disney World!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

vegan spinach artichoke dip

A couple weeks ago, I decided I really wanted a vegan spinach artichoke dip. I found one recipe that looked decent on Dreena Burton's blog and I tried it. While I liked the base of the dip which included cashews, almond milk, spinach, and frozen artichokes, I found that it was severely lacking in the flavor and creaminess of a good dip. I tweaked it and after making it about three times, I think I can say I've made my favorite vegan dip yet. The caramelized onions really up the flavor factor and the vegan parmesan on top gets a little crispy and reminds me of breadcrumbs. Unlike my buffalo chicken dip that relies heavily on store bought vegan cheeses, this dip is only a little bit unhealthy and so it just feels lighter.  I'm definitely making it again this Sunday. GO HAWKS 

yeah, this picture is not cute! but this dip is

served with Trader Joe's Fritos...they're organic so obviously better for you......

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip 

¾ cup raw cashew pieces
¾ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/3 cup Daiya regular cream cheese
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup nutritional yeast 
1 teaspoon vegan worcestershire sauce (I use Kroger brand) 
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bag of frozen artichokes, thawed
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1 whole yellow onion, caramelized (tips on caramelizing onions here)
1/4 cup Daiya jack cheese or mozzarella shreds for topping
Parma vegan parmesan for topping, or homemade vegan parmesan like this one 

Process the first 11 ingredients (cashews- ground pepper) in a food processor until smooth. Add the thawed artichokes and baby spinach and process, making sure to leave the mixture a little chunky. Transfer the mixture to a 1 quart baking dish. While the oven is preheating to 425 degrees, you can caramelize the onion. 
Add the onion to the dip, distributing evenly. Taste for salt and pepper. 
 Add the Daiya and vegan parmesan on top and bake for 20-25 minutes.