Because Size Matters

FOOD

The week started with dinner out with my boyfriend. We like to spend time on the Eastern Shore of VA, and stopped at this totally adorable restaurant called Kelly’s. It’s in an old bank building. Very quaint. I had a really delicious portobello mushroom dish with veggies and roasted potatoes.

I made a big batch of one of my fav soups too – carrot/coconut/ginger. Ate soup for days!

Then it was off for a work trip. Just an overnighted, so it was quick. Work dinner on Tuesday was at an Italian place, and I had a salad and pasta dish.

All day meetings the next day and they catered. Breakfast was fruit, roasted veggies, and bagel. I skipped lunch. Sick of pasta. Ate a Clif bar instead.

Got home really late Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Had off Thursday and Friday to focus on school stuff (though truthfully, I worked quite a bit). But after very little sleep, I was glad for leftover soup and a quick veggie burger.

Friday morning was a smoothie (of course). And dinner was at my boyfriends house. He made the rice and poured the (very delicious) wine, and I made a tofu stir fry.

This morning was java on the porch before heading grocery shopping and then home. Once home, made a gigantic smoothie. But here’s what’s fun – it’s a new-to-me superfood company that I’ve been intrigued by since learning about them. They’re called Your Super. Anyway, I’ve been intending to do a 3-5 day detox (I used to do them at the change of every season – but fell off that the past two years). So timing worked out that I’m going to review their 5 day detox plan. Since I hadn’t had breakfast yet this morning, I figured – why not start today? So…I did!

Essentially it consists of gigantic smoothies for breakfast and dinner, and a BAS (big a$$ salad for newbies) for lunch. Not a lot of guidelines other than to stick to whole food plant based foods. Um. Ok. That’s my jam anyway. You’re supposed to skip caffeine, but that’s not gonna happen. I love my early morning cupa black coffee. Typically when I do a detox, I try to do it only during weekdays – mainly because I’m so busy, I don’t think about being hungry, or tired, or cranky, or headachy, or any of the other things that can accompany a detox. Not worried about that on this one, mainly because you still have food – though it’s far less than normal, and it comes with a protein powder, so that keeps me full anyway. So, starting today – Wednesday, it’ll be following the Your Super detox plan and, lucky you, you get to read about it :). Will give final thoughts when it’s done.

FITNESS

I went for a run on Monday and Friday. Sadly, that’s it. I spent Tuesday traveling, Wednesday in meetings, Wednesday night into Thursday morning traveling, and then at the hospital for a bit on Thursday with my eldest, and then home contemplating taping my eyeballs open to keep me awake!

Was thinking of spinning later, but think I’ll run instead.

So, not me, but my youngest started yoga this week! I signed her up for an intro series (with her blessing, of course). She’s been stressed out, but also loves being athletic, so I thought this would be good for her both physically and emotionally. I was traveling so my son took her, but she absolutely loved it! I’m excited for her – besides, it’ll give me someone to do yoga with!

LIFE

Sunday late afternoon I went over to my guy’s house. We went out for a bit, but storms started rolling in and we went back to his place. Spent the night there and then work on Monday.

Yummy ciders before the rain hit!
So true, in so many ways

Tuesday I flew to Cleveland. Met two girlfriends for lunch (forgot the pic – Greek salad, no feta), checked into my hotel, worked for a bit, and then Uber’d to dinner with the crew. That was a ton of fun.

Wednesday was up early and at the Cleveland Clinic at 7am for an hour tour before heading to the IBM offices for all day meetings. I will say that this initiative we’re working on – which is literally building a blockchain ecosystem for healthcare – is utterly amazing to be a part of. Currently working with 7 other organizations, and I can say I legitimately adore everyone I’ve met and work with. It’s a ton of work to build this start-up, but incredibly fun and rewarding too. Good times!

Groovy robots CC uses to haul everything except people around!

Then it was time to head home. Flight delays due to East coast storms, but ended up home by 230am. Thursday was busy, Friday I took off to focus on school stuff, which is what I intend to focus on the rest of today and all day tomorrow.

Friday eve at my guy’s was dinner, wine, and snuggling on the sofa watching The Boys on Amazon Prime! Pretty perfect evening.

Also took 2 days off next week just to work on school stuff. I’m so close to getting research approval, but have to get my lit review done first, and that’s a HUGE effort. Excited about it though 🙂

And despite it being a busy week, it was a really great one too. Pretty confident the coming one will be as well 🙂

Silly selfie my son M took with my iPad when I wasn’t paying attention

The Revised and Expanded China Study Cookbook!

Okay boys and girls, this is apparently a Two for Tuesday on the blog post front! This post, however, will focus on a single topic – a review of the latest China Study cookbook!

If you haven’t read The China Study, which was originally published in 2005, and revised a couple times since – I highly suggest it. For people like me who would rather make my decisions based on facts over emotions (okay, so that may NOT always be true when buying new shoes, but for something as important as choosing a dietary path in life – gimmie the science!) it’s perfect.

In a nut shell, several scientists, in an effort to improve nutrition in developing countries, conducted the longest study of dietary habits ever – a 20 year study called the China-Cornell-Oxford Project. The China Study’s author (T. Colin Campbell) is one of those scientists. Without going into the details (it’s a large tome and would be a 50 page paper by the time I’m done!), it examines the link between meat eating and chronic illness. It presents significant data showing that a whole food, plant-based, low-fat diet leads to superior health and disease reversal. So – check it out if you are so inclined – it could honestly change (or save!) your life.

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you’ll see other posts reviewing cookbooks that were spawned from the original China Study book. They are written by family members of the author who have embraced this life-style and make recipes that are easy, tasty, and accessible for anyone.

So, when I was approached by the publisher to review the latest, it was an easy YES. I can honestly say that each book has gotten better. The first, while good, was very basic, but could generate wonderful meals with some minor modifications (usually spices in my case). I also have to modify any meals to be nut-free due to an allergy in the house.

So – when the Revised and Expanded China Study Cookbook arrived in my mailbox, I did what I always do – get excited, and lock myself away with a notebook, a highlighter, and some sticky notes to mark the recipes I really want to make.

And yes, placement of the stickies have meaning 🙂

So, I spent about 2 weeks cooking my way through it, and here’s my assessment. BUY IT. Okay, okay. I’ll go into more detail…

The book was penned by LeAnne Campbell, the daughter of T. Colin Campbell. She lives in the Dominican Republic, and that influence is apparent in many recipes, much to my delight. This very hard working humanitarian’s main purpose with this specific book was to develop recipes that were quick and nutritious and could easily be fit into a busy life. And…anyone who reads my blog typically sees the word “chaotic” mentioned several times, so this was perfect.

As usual, the book begins with forwards and backstory, but also spends a significant amount of time talking about raising plant-based children if you so choose to, using local ingredients – home grown gardens if possible, food storage and prep to maximize nutrient content, how to transition into a WFPB diet, suggested substitutions, and the tools you may want to outfit your kitchen with. And THEN it gets to the 175+ recipes. So it’s as much a lifestyle book as it is a cookbook.

I made several dishes from each chapter. Delights including corn bread, pancakes, salads (particularly fond of the Ensalada Azteca and the Asian Ginger Cabbage Salad), baked tofu cubes, the lemon tahini and mango Azteca dressings, Aztec soup (seeing a theme here??), coconut corn chowder, sweet and sour fusion, and the one I’m going to share with you today – Thai Vegetable Curry!

So again – if you’re a regular reader, you KNOW I have curry at least once per week. Now, my curry of choice is Thai Green Curry with steamed tofu and extra veggies. Of course from a Thai restaurant, it’s not exactly going to be overly healthy, but it’s SO yummy.

This version is incredibly simple to make, and very flavorful. Rather than curry paste (which Thai Kitchen makes one that’s pretty easy to find in most grocery store’s with an Asian or International aisle), my very favorite is a curry powder made by The Spice House – which happens to be from my home town and is AMAZING. But have no fear, if you don’t have this or any other red curry paste, the author has a substitution suggestion.

I used fresh jalapeños and basil from my garden, and an orange bell pepper since I took my red one to my boyfriend’s house this past weekend! And I skipped the peanuts. I also served mine over riced cauliflower rather than regular rice, though it would be delicious over any rice or quinoa too.

So I guess you’ve waited long enough. Here’s the recipe! Enjoy – and if you enjoy it, drop me a note and consider picking up the book. Happy (and healthy) eating!

THAI VEGETABLE CURRY

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

This simple, tasty dish can be prepared with a wide range of vegetables. I often make it at the end of the week, using whatever vegetables remain in my refrigerator. It’s slightly different each time, but always tasty.

1 cup sliced onions

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons minced jalapeno

2 tablespoons vegetable broth

2 cups lite canned coconut milk

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1½ teaspoons Thai red curry paste

1 teaspoon lime juice

2 cups chopped broccoli, steamed

1 cup green beans, steamed

½ red bell pepper, sliced, steamed

2 cups chopped spinach, steamed

1 cup fresh basil, loosely packed

Cooked brown rice, for serving

Peanuts, for garnish

Lime wedges, for garnish

1. In a large pot, saute onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno in vegetable broth over medium-high heat for 3–4 minutes, until onions are browned.

2. Add coconut milk, soy sauce, curry paste, and lime juice. Bring to a low simmer.

3. Fold in steamed vegetables and basil. Cook for 1 minute. I generally like my vegetables crunchy, but if you want, cook 1–5 minutes longer.

4. Serve over brown rice, garnished with peanuts and lime wedges.

Note: If I don’t have Thai red curry paste on hand, I replace it with 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, and ½ teaspoon of garam masala.

Program Review, Races, and Kitty Crack

FOOD

I'm wrapping up week 2 on the Fresh Start Cleanse. Eating prescriptively is both a good and a bad thing for me I think. Having meals dictated in advance certainly takes the guess work out of what I'm going to have for each meal and snack, but it also takes out the creativity – which is one of my favorite parts of cooking. I love to “play”, and while I am experiencing some new recipes, it's just not the same.

Anyway, here' some pics of the week's eats.

cauliflower soup
baked oatmeal. I really enjoyed this one

FITNESS

This week was all runs and home yoga, but no hot yoga. I wanted to hit up some classes, but I just couldn't fit it in this week.

Tuesday's run was the first really cold one of the year. Temps dropped down to the 40's and maybe a little below, as there were snow flurries when I headed out! But out I went anyway. Bundled in a thermal shirt, T shirt, pull over, hat, gloves, pants, and blinky, I headed out into the cold. I warmed up after a quarter mile or so, and while it was a chilly run, it was still a good one. D was on his way home from work and the store when I went out, so he drove around until he saw me. He said he could see blinky from really far away, so that was awesome. He gave me a quick kiss – commented on how cold my face was and how maybe he should just take me home – but then went home to start dinner while I finished my run.

I did another neighborhood run, and one today at the park. Good times.

I've also signed up for my first big race in a long time. The Shamrock Half! I hope I'm not pushing it with my joints, but I'm feeling good and miss those longer races to train for. I'm also training with a group, so no excuses to lace up and hit the pavement!

LIFE

This was a really good week in pretty much every aspect. I felt really productive at work, which is always better than that overwhelming “holy crap, my to do list is HOW long?!?” feeling like I typically have 🙂

Kids are doing great. R had a Dr's appt this week, and has the all clear to continue to kick butt as a competative athlete! M has auditions this week for a production of Tarzan and got a call back! His second round of auditions went well (he thinks), and is waiting for a call to see if he's got a part. Here's hoping!

R and I went on a Candlelight Ghost Tour in Williamsburg last night. Over two hours of walking the downtown area listening to stories and lore from the area. R was eating it up! She loved every second of it and now wants all the books about haunted Williamsburg.

So a bit about the cleanse I'm on. D and I have talked at length about it, and there are things I like and things I don't like. I like that it focuses on clean eating with whole foods and nothing processed or out of a box. I think that's the biggest thing people at large are missing in understanding. If you food came from a factory (boxed, bagged, chemicals, preservatives), it's not healthy. I don't care if it says “fat-free”, “no trans fats”, etc – it's not a health food. So in that sense, this program gives your body nurishing foods that, for the most part, taste great.

It also focuses on eliminating the things in your normal diet that may not be the best for you – and this is more of the detoxing part. No caffeine (which is acidic to the body), no gluten (I liked their analogy and explanation – gluten comes from a root word meaning glue – which is a great description of the sticky mess it creates in your digestive tract), no booze. Eliminating these things totally or mostly is not a bad thing.

What I don't like – I already eat this way a lot of the time, so what I got mostly out of is was a few new recipes. Though giving my body a break from gluten, wine, coffee, and processed foods (I won't lie – I love Tostitos and other foods that come from a bag/box too!) has been a good thing. Unintentionally, I've lost 9 lbs in just under 2 weeks. That's crazy!

One of the big pitches for this program was the support via the Facebook page. I'm not finding I relate to anyone on here, and the program creators are basically absent. So what I see are people making tons of changes to the program because they're afraid to try something (like the beet and fennel soup) or don't like a food, so I mainly see things posted like “is this cleanse friendly”. Perhaps I'm missing the intent of the cleanse – but if it has a mapped out meal plan, I don't believe there's an opt-out unless there's an allergy involved. So the “holding each other accountable” part of the FB page seems to not be very successful in my opinion. I also think most people on this cleanse don't come from a clean eating background, so I think it's great for them.

So here's my take. If you already eat mostly healthily, then I wouldn't spend the $60 on this program which is essentially a collection of healthy recipes in an ebook format only. If you don't currently eat healthy or eat a Standard American Diet (SAD), this could very well be worth it – a kick in the butt to clean up your plate and palate, detox with whole foods, break some food addictions, and clear up some lingering issues the SAD way of eating causes (weight gain, bloating, skin issues, body aches, joint pain, fatigue, etc). You can also get – for far less $$ – some great books that have prescriptive plans, such as the Crazy Sexy Diet (an amazing book about healing cancer with healthy foods), which also gives a 21 day program. So that's my 2 cents on the Fresh Start Cleanse. A decent program depending on what your goals are.

On a lighter note, non food related pictures 🙂

finally, a small fridge for my office! I pack some serious foods and snacks and never find room in the community fridge's in the break room.
canned Fancy Feast. Like crack for kitties

 

Growing With Something (a product review #VegaOneStart)

FOOD REVIEW

Okay, so it's seriously groovy to “grow up” with a product and see how much we've both matured over the years! I became a vegan nearly 7 years ago (day after Thanksgiving, 2006), and one of the first products I used was Vega whole foods powder.

I read a lot, and it was a product that was often mentioned in Vegetarian Times magazine, but not something I could find on the shelves. So, after being impressed by what a complete nutritional package it was, I bit the bullet, and ordered a bin online. Admittedly, it was NOT cheap, but, at the time, I was worried about things like protein and fiber (and who isn't, right – I mean especially when we've all been raised to think you can only get enough protein from animal products, and no one eating a Standard American Diet gets enough fiber!), and I thought this would be a sure way to keep my diet balanced.

Well fast forward, and Vega has really grown! They revamped their formula to be easier to blend, came out with new and fun flavors, launched several different lines including a sports line, raw bars, are available on the shelves of Whole Foods, and the founder Brendan Brazier (an amazing world champ triathlete) has even published a few books (that I am the proud owner of). So when Vega asked me to do a review of their new starter pack, I was very happy to!

What's fun about the starter pack is there is little commitment involved. The big tubs are still quite pricy (but worth it when you can get 30+ smoothies out of it), and these little packs means you can try them, decide if they're worth it to you, and also give you a little variety in flavors.

kit arrived in the mail!  The only thing I didn't like was the Styrofoam peanuts.  I would like to see vegan companies also embrace environmentalism, and use a biodegradable alternative to Styrofoam.
kit arrived in the mail! The only thing I didn't like was the Styrofoam peanuts. I would like to see vegan companies also embrace environmentalism, and use a biodegradable alternative to Styrofoam.
two chocolate, two chai vanilla, and one berry pack, plus a coupon and little recipe booklet
two chocolate, two chai vanilla, and one berry pack, plus a coupon and little recipe booklet

I drink smoothies most days, and when I know it's going to be my only meal for awhile, I ALWAYS use Vega (which I've certainly blogged about before). What's fun, is that you aren't limited to just making smoothies with them. The vanilla chai is a particularly yummy stirred in to a bowl of oatmeal for some added punch and flavor, for example. I've also tossed some into homemade granola bars. And while I'm not a big chocolate eater, the combo of the chocolate pack, coconut milk, and frozen banana is one of my all-time favorites.

Vega also has a very active online community where people share their favorite ways to use it. If you're starting out in the smoothie world, exploring more plant-based meals, or just want to up your nutrition, it's a good place to connect. check out My Vega and Thrive Forward for more info.

I want to leave this review with a few fun facts about one pack (or scoop) of Vega powder, just in case you weren't sure how awesome it is for you…

• 50% daily intake of vitamins and minerals
• 15g protein
• 6 g fiber
• 1.5g Omega-3
• 3 servings of greens
• Antioxidants
• Probiotics

And don't let all that healthiness scare you away. If it wasn't good, believe me, I wouldn't eat/drink it. And if you're looking for a way to build some more goodness into your diet, vegan or not, this is a great way to start. So my advice? Pick up a starter pack, give it a go, and then let me know what you think!

I was given this product free by the company, though the views expressed here are not influenced in any way by that fact. I've been a Vega fan for years, and was happy to check out a new offering in their product line.

 

How About a Box of Fun?

We're going to have a little bit of a special addition of RunCrissieRun today. Not to fear, we'll be back to regularly scheduled programming soon enough.

I wanted to share some information about a company called Vegan Cuts. I'll be honest…I'd heard about it for a while now, but never really took the time to learn what it actually is. After going to Vida Vegan Con 2013, I got to meet people from Vegan Cuts, and see what their company is really about.

So here it is in a nut shell. There are two major categories of vegans out there. Dietary vegans – who's only concern regarding animals is about the food they put in their mouths, are where many of us start. Most vegans I know fall into the other catgory – as I do – and we are ethical vegans. This means that it's not enough that we keep animal products out of our bellies, but we keep them out of everything, including clothing, beauty products, household cleaner, and basically anything that involves our lives. This is called being an ethical vegan – I don't want to contribute to the suffering of any animal, so while a certain mascara, for example, may not have animal ingredients in it, the company may test on animals, and therefore I, as an ethical vegan, will not use it (even if it's free).

For me, becoming an ethical vegan was an evolution after starting as a dietary vegan. My friends going shopping with me would always wonder what the heck I was doing when I would check the ingredients on those cute pumps at the mall before trying them on or consiering buying them. Don't get me wrong – they're all used to it now – but shopping can be trickier than people realize (especially when locating companies that do and do not test on animals).

Enter Vegan Cuts (you had to know I'd get to the point soon). They provide a way to purchase ethically made/vegan products that go beyond food. Beauty products? Check. Clothes? Yup. Killer handbags? Oh yeah.

They also have this groovy little box program. You can sign up for a Vegan Snack Box or Beauty Box and get sample sizes of various products to try them out. Sort of like a test drive before buying that new car.

I was the lucky recipient of a vegan cuts box just a week ago. It had a mixture of food and non-food products, and was quite a fun little surprise to open. Sort of like a birthday present – you know you're getting something, but you have no idea what it is until you open that box!

My box had a bag of GF chips, chia seeds (which I LOVE making pudding with), lip balm, this killer cookie from Michy's, a snack bar, a package of superfood macro greens to put in a smoothie, dried fruit snacks, sweet chickpea snacks, vegan parmesan, and a sports drink powder to fuel my workouts.

 

This particular program is $19.95 per month, and you get 7-10 vegan products dropped right to your door. It's a neat way to try out new things and expand your vegan-purchasing options. If you're interested in checking it out, just click here!

Disclaimer – Vegan Cuts sent me this box on the house. That said, the freeness of it did not impact my review. I think it's a groovy program – like a book of the month club – but for fun vegan products.