Am I a Vegan MoFo Failure?

While scrolling through my Facebook Newsfeed this morning I saw a post about Vegan MoFo coming to a close and thought to myself, “WHAT?! That’s can’t be right.”

Vegan MoFo, also known as Vegan Month of Food, is a month where bloggers commit to posting at least 20 posts in a month that relate the vegan food in some way, whether it’s recipes, restaurant reviews, tips for vegan eating, pictures of food they microwaved and ate, etc.

I signed up to be a part of Vegan MoFo this year and decided that I wanted a theme for my food blogging, to make it more fun. It actually made it a little stressful. I picked veggie burgers and my plan was to post 20-something blogs about veggie burgers. That did NOT happen. I blogged about 8 veggie burgers, or 9 if you count the last frozen burger I ate but barely talked about and didn’t even identify as a Vegan MoFo post.

So, does that make me a Vegan MoFo failure? NO! It makes me feel guilty that I committed to sticking to a theme and wasn’t better about it, but I didn’t fail. I know I definitely got in 20 posts about vegan food over the course of the month.

I still feel bad though. I had such high hopes for Vegan MoFo this year. I was going to post amazing things, make people fall in love with my blog, and I was going to discover tons of new blogs and new recipes to try, too! I discovered two new blogs and a few recipes, but overall I feel let down. It’s my own fault though. I set my hopes too high for this month.

I plan to contribute to Vegan MoFo again next year and hopefully I am able to achieve whatever goal I set for myself. I hope that by then I will be better at this whole blogging thing, since I’ll have a year under my belt at that point, and I’ll be able to come up with a better theme and really stick to it!

For today, though, I am going to share a couple of food related things with you so that I’m going out with a pop (I’m not even going to pretend like I’m going out with a bang).

My Favorite Veggie Burger

I really wanted to share my absolute favorite veggie burger with you guys this month, but there was a problem. I love this burger so much that when I make them I always make enough to have 4-5 extra to freeze. So going into this years Vegan MoFo I had four frozen patties on hand. I didn’t want to just post the recipe and a picture of me eating a thawed-out burger though. Not for my favorite burger!

I wanted pictures of the whole cooking process! I also wanted to make a few tweaks to the recipe and pay attention to documenting them. This didn’t happen though, because I couldn’t justify making more burgers when I already had several perfectly good burgers in my freezer. I thought about quickly eating them at the beginning of the month so I could make more, but since I wouldn’t be blogging about those particular patties I was scarfing down, and I still wanted to post OTHER veggie burgers for you all to enjoy, that seemed like it might cause me to go into veggie burger overload too early in the month.

The result? You never got to hear about THE BEST veggie burger I’ve ever had. I am so sorry for this. If it makes you feel any better, I did actually end up eating one of these frozen patties this weekend and I did take pictures of it.

I got my recipe from someone else originally. I still want to tweak mine a bit more before sharing it with you as an official recipe, but you can check out the inspiration for my burger HERE. Oh She Glows is one of my favorite food blogs and I’ve made her version of the burger as-is several times and absolutely loved it each time!

Other Things I Cooked This Weekend

I made a delicious mushroom soup!!

It’s not my recipe, so you can find it HERE. Seriously, it’s sooooo good! Tip: Really follow the instructions and do not let it boil after you’ve added the flour.

I also made some yummy delicata squash! I just cut it up, mixed it with some maple syrup and cinnamon, and baked at 450 for 20-30 minutes.

Yummy! It was like dessert, but it’s a vegetable! It doesn’t get any better than that.


Can a Tortoise BECOME a Hare?

Every time I have a really great run I get excited and think to myself, “I can’t wait to share this on the blog!”

Not only does it make me feel good to be able to share my exciting runs and new achievements but I also like to think that it might be motivating to at least one person out there. I am not a naturally fast runner so when I see progress being made in my running it makes me happy that my hard work is paying off, and it makes me want to tell all of you that YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!

How I Became a Runner – The First Time

I’ve been running sporadically for several years (and I always spell sporadically wrong). I wrote a bit about it a few weeks ago here, but want to talk a little more about it and take that talk in a different direction this time. I started running in February 2010 because of Ross. He is a competitive cyclist and really into his training, and he insisted that I could/should be an athlete too (in an individual sport, not like soccer or something). I wasn’t as convinced as him but I agreed that I would give it a shot. I basically had three choices: swim, ride, or run.

Being a swimmer was definitely out of the question. I get so bored swimming laps in a pool and I always feel like I’m done after 10 minutes of swimming. Maybe that’s because I’m not in good swimming shape and my attitude about it would change if I swam more. That’s alright though, I don’t really want to swim more. Plus I don’t own a decent “swimming” swim suit.

Biking wasn’t for me either. I used to ride a bike all the time as a kid, but after taking about 8 years off from bike riding my feelings about it have changed. Turning corners scares the shit out of me. Going down hills scares the shit out of me. Being near other bikers or cars scares the shit out of me. Plus, bikes and bike gear is expensive. Like, really expensive, and I have a lot of student loan debt that is constantly nagging at me and my bank account.

Running didn’t really appeal to me either. I was really into working out and was a bit of a gym rat at the time, so I had gotten to know the treadmill pretty well. We were acquaintances but I certainly wouldn’t call us friends. And I remembered the last time I had gone running outside – it was in college and I hated it. Again, I felt like I was done after 10 minutes.

I shared all of these thoughts with Ross and he essentially told me to suck it up and just do something. He said it a lot nicer than that, but that was the gist of it.

I decided that running would be the best option for me for several reasons.

1. I didn’t have to buy anything to do it, whether it be a bike, helmet, swimsuit, etc. I had shorts and tennis shoes, so I felt I was good to go.

2. I could do it inside or outside. If I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to drive, or the weather was really nice then I could just walk out the front door and begin my training. If I was already at the gym working out or it was too hot outside then I could just run on the treadmill.

3. Running doesn’t scare the shit out of me.

4. Running burns more calories than either swimming or cycling. WIN!

Once I had it decided that I was going to become a runner I started running on the treadmill for 30 minutes at a time (my cardio was already pretty good from spin class and the elliptical) and started bumping it up by 5 minutes each week. I think I was running around 5 days a week, but I don’t remember exactly. I do remember pushing back our plans on Valentines Day that year because I had to work until 2 and then I had to go to the gym and get in my run.

Shortly after that I decided I wanted to run some races. I’m not a real athlete if I’m not competing, right?  I don’t necessarily agree with that now, but that’s definitely how I felt at the time. So I signed up for a 5K for April that I ended up not running due to a foot injury, and a 10K in May. I ran the 10K (which included obstacles) in about 61 minutes, which I was very happy with.

I also signed up for a half-marathon for that October. I trained and trained and trained for this race got my long run up past 12 miles, and then I got shin splints. OH THE PAIN! This led me to get very discouraged and my relationship with running was not the same after that.

How I Became a Runner – AGAIN

After missing the half marathon I had trained for, and my shin splints finally healed, I began running again. I wasn’t AS consistent as I had been when I was training for a race, but I was running 3-5 days a week most of the time. Then in April 2011 I got a stress fracture in my foot from running in Vibram Five Finger shoes. This put me in a boot for the next 6 weeks so I was certainly not doing any running. I also couldn’t do lunges.

After I got out of the boot it was essentially summer time here in Austin, which is my least favorite time of the year to run. It gets so hot here! I can’t stand it and I complain. A lot. So I was running sporadically again. I wasn’t training for a race and it was too hot for me to really enjoy the running much, so I was basically only doing it for the fitness gains. But I could get those gains elsewhere, so I really wasn’t that motivated.

Finally, in August of THIS year I realized I personally needed a goal to keep me motivated and dedicated to running (which I really do love, as long as it’s not 100 degrees outside). That’s when I asked Ross and Lynn to train for a triathlon with me (read about our race HERE) and I began really running again.

I started training for the triathlon and sticking to a regular running schedule on August 20th, about two weeks before I started this blog. Since I’ve developed a few running injuries during training in the past I decided to take the advice of Ross and some elite runners (through books they’ve written) and begin my training with at least eight weeks of base training, keeping my heart rate in Zone 2.

You can read more about that here, but essentially it means that I wore a heart rate monitor with my runs and didn’t allow my hear rate to get above 75% of my maximum. That meant that I had to run sloooooooow. It was really hard for me to run so slowly at first because while I’m not a naturally fast runner I could certainly run faster than I was. I was assured that if I stuck with this training then I would get faster and it would feel easier.

Proof That Training Really Works – I AM Getting Faster!

That chart basically shows you that my average “easy” run used to take me 15 minutes and 20 seconds to run one mile when I started this training over 10 weeks ago. Now my easy run is 12:47 per mile. Yesterday my temp run was done at less than 9 minutes per mile!! (!!!!!!)

I know that I am still not fast compared to lots of other runners out there, but I am getting faster! And the best part about it: even though I’m running faster than I was before, it doesn’t feel any harder because I’m in better shape and properly trained.

I tell you all of this to show you that YOU CAN DO IT TOO! If the thought of running back to back 9 minute miles sounds like something you could never do, I promise you that’s not true! They key is to get in a good amount of base training before doing any hard runs, make sure your easy runs are really easy, and your hard runs are really hard.

Sooooooo, back to the first sentence of this blog: Every time I have a really great run I get excited and think to myself, “I can’t wait to share this on the blog!”

Yesterday was a tempo run and it was great! Well, parts of it really sucked because I was pushing myself hard and there were some hills involved, but it was a good kind of sucking. I warmed up with an easy mile, did three hard miles, and then cooled down for another mile. During the hard three miles I just kept reminding myself:

“The faster I run these three miles, the sooner I can stop. It’s only three miles, I ran eight on Sunday. Lauren runs more miles than this all the time and much faster than I do. So does Dorothy. And Emily. (those are all other running blogs that I read) Dorothy was a slow runner like me when she first started and through good training she now runs marathons at 7 minute miles or something crazy like that. (What?!) If she can do that, then surely I can bust out three miles at a reasonable pace, right? The better I run these three miles, the better I will run the next next three miles I do.” 

All in all I just really enjoyed the run. And I enjoyed it even more once it was over and I was able to look at how fast I’d run (while lying on my living room floor).There’s nothing better than a good run and I’m happy to report I’ve been having a lot of those lately! Honestly, I think part of it is the weather. I do love running and when I’m not distracted by disgusting humidity and searing temperatures then I’m really able to focus on the run itself and enjoy it. Let’s hope it stays like this for a while! : )


Running Progress and Easy Homemade Halloween Treats

I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything for three days! I apologize.

I can’t believe I think anyone who reads this even noticed that I didn’t post anything for three days. Again, I apologize.

While I was busy not writing blogs I finally got my marathon training schedule made! This is what it looks like…

The yellow bits are the races I have coming up. Can you see that I’m going to be running 581 miles with all this training?!

There isn’t really a good way for me to post the entire thing on here for you guys to see so I’m just going to take it two weeks at a time.

Once I’ve completed a day, I change the color to red and type in what my pace was for that run.

This week’s long run was 8 miles and you can see that I’m not going to do a long run next weekend. I’m running a 5K on Sunday and I don’t think it’s a good idea to run 9 miles the day before a race, so instead I’m going to run 10 miles the following weekend. Once I get past the 5K race then I’ll go into more detail about my marathon training plan, why I’m doing it the way that I am, what some of it means, etc.

My plan on Friday had been to run 4 miles but the temperature was starting to drop while I was running and it was getting closer to dark, so I called it quits after just 45 minutes (it was a scheduled easy run so my pace was supposed to be slow!). I really hate skimping on my runs but I knew that Saturday was going to be a really active day so I just accepted it and went home.

Ross and I went to Austin Java for dinner Friday night and I was disappointed with my food. I got a veggie sandwich and it just didn’t wow me. I was also in the mood for soup and none of their soups are vegan, so I think I went into the meal already disappointed. I had Ross take me to Sweet Ritual after dinner to make me feel better. He got an almond milk mocha since it was about 45 degrees outside, but I got a peanut butter cup ice cream sundae with a giant brownie. Delicious!

Saturday I made us some blueberry muffins for breakfast!

I used this super easy recipe for single serve muffins and just doubled it, plus added some extra blueberries. Ross devoured his and then asked for another. When I told him I only made two muffins he just sat and stared at me for a second, like he couldn’t understand me. So I made him two more muffins.

I met Lynn at the gym for another session of our power workout around 10:45 and we powered through it (get it?). I really like doing power because Lynn and I have to work together during the workout and it makes it a lot more fun. Plus it’s hard work, which I love.

After I got home from the gym I ate half a banana and a homemade energy ball and then headed out for my run. I listened to Taylor Swift’s new album for the entire run and it was lovely. : ) I ran two miles away from my house and then turned around and headed home again so I could eat another energy ball and grab some water. Since it was only 55 degrees while I was running I knew that I wasn’t going to sweat too much and get overly thirsty, but I also knew that I shouldn’t go the entire 8 miles without drinking or eating anything. I thought it would be best just to loop back to the house at the halfway point rather than try and carry food and drink with me. It’ a good thing I did that because I really had to pee at the 4 mile mark!

My run was perfect and amazing and I loved every step of it! Here’s the comparison to the last time I ran 8 miles, just about a month before:

PROGRESS!!! It was nice and crisp outside and I ran in my ear-warming headband (if my ears get cold then I get a headache and get grumpy), shorts, and a tank top. I was still kind of warm from my gym workout when I started my run and I got warmer the longer I ran, so shorts and a tank top were perfect for me.

After running I came home and made a yummy recovery pudding from the Thrive diet and then got started making some goodies to take to a Halloween party later that night. I opted for one sweet treat (peanut butter cups) and one savory treat (cheddar flavored biscuits). They were both a hit!

I didn’t want to make a trip to the store for anything so I just used what I had on hand.

Peanut Butter Cups – makes 10ish large or 20ish mini

  • 1 bag non-dairy chocolate chips OR 1 package unsweetened baking chocolate and 10 Stevia packets
  • 12 tbsp PB2 mixed with 7 tbsp water and 1/8 tsp salt OR 12 tbsp regular peanut butter (PB2 has about 1/4 of the calories as regular peanut butter)
  • Cupcake liners

I had half a bag of chocolate chips and half a package of unsweetened dark chocolate squares. I chopped up the the unsweetened chocolate bars into small pieces and melted them in the microwave in 30 second increments (stirring between) and then stirred in 5 packets of Stevia. I covered the bottom of as many cupcake liners as I could with this much chocolate (ended up being just 10). Then I figured it would take a little more than 1 tbsp per liner of PB2 so I mixed up 12 tbsp of the powder with half as much water, stirred in a little salt, and then added that to the cupcakes liners. Then I melted the the chocolate chips in 30 seconds increments and spread that over the top.

I popped them in the freezer to harden for about an hour, then peeled off the liners and put them back in the fridge until we were ready to leave. I wish I had mini cupcake liners so I could have made twice as many with the same ingredients. I plan on making these again soon so I guess I’ll just have to buy them!

I also wanted to make sure there was something savory to balance out the sweet treats. I found a recipe for cheddar biscuits (not vegan) and decided to make it my own. This recipe was also super simple.

Cheddar Biscuits makes 20-25

  • 1 cup flour
  • 8 oz Daiya cheddar style shreds (or other vegan cheese)
  • 6 tbsp Smart Balance Light or Earth Balance
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

I put all the ingredients except the flour into the food processor and mixed it all up. Then I slowly added the flower while the food processor was running and processed until well mixed and starting to get clumpy.

I used a heaping tablespoon as a scoop and used my hands to mold into flastish balls. Originally I wanted to find a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter to use but Ross said it was silly to buy something like that. So instead I got creative and decided to draw pumpkin faces on. I am NOT artistic at all so this proved to be a challenge for me.

First I tried using BBQ sauce but that wasn’t dark enough so I moved on to food coloring. Ross didn’t like the red so I mixed all the dark colors together to make a blackish color, and then used the end of a chopstick as my paintbrush. It took me at least 30 minutes to draw all the damn faces.

Even though they clearly look like they were drawn by a child, Ross kept telling me that they looked great. He’s so sweet! : ) Then I baked them at 350 for 20 minutes and let them cool for about two hours on the cooling rack before putting them in Tupperware. I knew they wouldn’t get stale in that amount of time and I didn’t want any trapped heat to turn to moisture and make them soft.

Then Ross and I got ready and walked to our party. Our friends who were having the party live 1.2 miles from our house so we decided to walk. I love Halloween parties and getting to see everyone’s costumes! I forgot to upload the pictures from the party so I’ll have to share those with you later… Sorry!

By the time we got home that night it was just after 1:00 and we were exhausted! I’d gone to the gym and worked out plus ran 8 miles, and Ross went for a 3 hours bike ride earlier that day. Then we walked another 2.4 to get to and from the party so we passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillow. We didn’t wake up until 10:00 the next morning! That never happens. Sometimes we’ll stay in bed that late but we always wake up around 8 or 9 and have to make ourselves go back to sleep. We both felt really refreshed.

I did a lot of cooking and running on Sunday too but I feel like I’ve been rambling enough, so I’ll share that with you (along with pictures of our costumes) later on! : )


My Thoughts for the Day

1. I am so happy that it’s going to be cold this weekend! Well, coldish. Just got to get past today’s 90 degrees and then I can wear the new sweaters I bought last weekend!

2. I had to work late yesterday so I skipped my run. BUT I am going to make it up today, which is supposed to be an off day from running. I’m flexible, not flaky.

3. My boss is out of town today and tomorrow so I’m going out to lunch both days! Today: Whole Foods by myself. Tomorrow: El Mercado with Alex and Amanda.

4. This veggie burger was really good. It reminded me of a real burger (of the frozen variety or from McDonalds, not homemade). I ate it with BBQ sauce and an English muffin.

5. I’m in love with Taylor Swift. I think she kind of looks like an elf but I could listen to her music all day long, and sometimes I do (like today). Some of it’s really cheesy but that’s ok. Also, I was a Backstreet Boys girls, not N*Sync.

6. I keep thinking that it’s Friday. It’s only Thursday.

7. Ross and I rented Halloween costumes this year. It was more expensive this way but I’m not creative at all and the only option if I purchased one was to be a slut of some variety, or The Green Lantern. Our costumes sort of coordinate. Sort of. Here’s what we’ve looked like the last three years:

Halloween 2009
Halloween 2010
Halloween 2010
Halloween 2011

8. I officially signed up to compete in the Vegetarian Chili Cook-off on November 11th! Thanks again to Lynn and The Law Offices of Kenneth Nollen Bethune for their support!

9. My wisdom teeth are coming in and starting to bother me. I’m going to wait to get them removed until after I run the marathon because I don’t want my recovery to interfere with my training.

10. I am excited to go grocery shopping today. I have grocery shopping problem and my pantry inventory list is NOT helping me. Now I’m going to set myself a weekly grocery budget that I can’t exceed and hope that helps keep me reined in at the store. Wish me luck.

11. I’m going to start purchasing decorations for my wedding soon and I’m really excited!!!

12. I don’t have my wedding dress yet and I don’t know when I’m getting it. This is starting to cause me a moderate level anxiety. Also, it is true… I fell in love with the very first dress I tried on. I continued to try on about 30 more dresses after the first but still came back to that one in the end. I thought that was a big fat lie that brides tell, saying they tried on one dress and knew it was “the one,” kind of like when they say, “It was love at first sight! I told all my friends I was going to marry him the day I met him!” Whatever.

Anyway, the reason we don’t have my dress yet even though I have it picked out is because we’re going to try and get it from a used wedding dress site. There are several pretty legit sites and people cancel their weddings all the time after they’ve already bought a dress, or buy one and fall in love with another and decide to sell the first, or even if it’s been worn already, so what? It was only worn once.

Here are pictures of me in two dresses I liked but that looking nothing like the dress I will be wearing. Sorry the first one is blurry, I wasn’t the one taking pictures. : )

I actually loved both of these dresses and they were honestly the two most comfortable dresses that I tried on, however the dress I really want to wear looks nothing like these two. Well, they’re all white and they’re all the same designer, but that’s about it.

Happy Friday Thursday!


A Recipe and Some Weekend Tid Bits

Sometimes I feel guilty when I don’t do a blog post on the weekends. Then I remind myself that I have to live my life in order to have anything good to write, and that’s what weekends are for! Then I feel guilty when I don’t have any exciting weekend stories AND I didn’t write a post over the weekned. What was I doing?

Friday night Ross and I made tentative plans to go to a drive-in movie here in Austin. BlueStarlite Drive-In is awesome and is showing some pretty cool movies for the Halloween season (is Halloween a season?). Ross called me on his way home from work and told me that some friends of ours wanted to meet up for dinner. We haven’t seen them since their wedding three weeks ago so we decided to ditch our date night and meet up with them at Kerby Lane (lots of vegan options).

Saturday I had planned to go for a longer run that I had been doing lately, somewhere around an hour and fifteen minutes to and hour and thirty minutes. I forgot to take me water bottle with me so by an hour and ten minutes I was wiped out and had to quit. Rookie mistake.

After my run Ross and I headed up to Pflugerville to babysit my nephews (ages 4.5 and almost 6). They helped me make some cookies for a party we were going to that night and some mini pumpkin bread loaves for a vegan bake sale on Sunday.

These are the best vegan chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had! Recipe here. The pumpkin bread was also amazing, though I don’t remember where I got that recipe. I printed about seven different recipes for pumpkin bread and studied each of them to see which I wanted to use or if I wanted to combine a few. I think I threw away the recipe after making them, which I never do. After we finished baking I helped the boys to decorate some mini pumpkins with markers. They we so cute –  I wish I’d gotten a picture of them!

Saturday night we went to an engagement party/scary movie party. Our old roommate proposed to his girlfriend exactly one week before we got engaged and they’re getting married about a month before us. She has thrown a totally cheesy scary movie party for the list nine years and wanted to keep the tradition so they combined that party with their engagement party. There was lots of good food (she was nice enough to make some vegan stuff for me), friends we hadn’t seen in too long, and the scary movie for the night: The Newlydeads.

Some people stayed for a second movie they were showing but I’m turning into an old lady and decided to call it a night. I was in bed by 11:00 Saturday night and slept until 9:30 the next morning. It was glorious! After a huge bowl of cereal and some coffee Ross and I headed out to meet Lynn at the gym. Lynn and I just finished doing four weeks of super sets so it was time for Ross to get us set up with something new.

Super sets are comprised of doing one activity working a muscle group immediately followed by doing another activity that works the same muscles. For example, I would do a set of 12 chest presses laying on a bench with 20 lb dumbbells, and then immediately go into doing 12 pushups with no rest in between. Then I would wait 45 seconds to a minute to let my muscles recover and then do it again. I love super sets! I think they’re a lot of fun and they go by really quickly. Now Ross has us doing power. That involves us throwing around medicine balls and so far I really like it!

After the gym I went home and had a quick and tasty lunch:

Baked the tortilla and beans in the oven until the tortilla was crispy, then added my toppings.

I paired this with a mini pumpkin loaf and then set out for an afternoon of errands by myself. First stop was driving to Counter Culture to drop of the goods for the bake sale. Then I headed to Plato’s Closet to sell some clothes and buy some nice pre-owned clothes for work. Nice dress pants are like $80 a pair purchased new, but I was able to get two pair of Express pants and one pair of J. Crew pants for $14 each. Win!

Sunday night I went for a nice easy one hour run and then came home and ate a veggie pot pie that I bought at the bake sale earlier that day paired with some miso curry roasted potatoes that I made. Delicious!

Monday I treated Hannah to lunch at Zpizza for her birthday. They have great pizza with tons of vegan options, but they are really s.l.o.w. We were the only people in there an it was over 30 minutes before we got our hummus and pita bread appetizer and 45 minutes before we got our pizza. It’s a good thing I really like their food.

Monday night I made a quick potato soup for dinner. This soup is seriously easy to make and Ross and I both love it!

Potato Chowder – servings: 7

Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  40 minutes

  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, white and light green part, sliced
  • 6 cups frozen chopped hash brown potatoes ( I used 3 red potatoes and 2 white potatoes, grated with my food processor attachment) or potatoes cut into small cubes
  • 2 cups unsweetened soy, rice, or almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parsley flakes
  • 2 tablespoons dried chives (optional)
  • 1.5 tablespoons liquid smoke

In a large soup pot, sauté the onion, celery, and leeks over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add a few splashes of water if necessary to prevent sticking.

Add the potatoes, seasonings, and just enough broth to cover everything.  Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, process the soup while still in the pot. You can also place the soup in a blender jar and process until fairly smooth (be sure to vent lid to prevent explosion) and return to pan.

Add 1.5 cups of milk to the soup and stir. Mix the corn starch with the remaining ½ cup of milk and then add to the soup. Continue to cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the soup from sticking on the bottom.

The lighting in my kitchen seriously sucks so the picture I took of the soup at home looked weird and green, not like something I should be eating:

So I snapped a picture of the leftovers I had for lunch yesterday and those pictures turned out much better!

Tomorrow I’ll probably post about what I had for dinner last night (veggie burger!).


Upcoming races and training plans

I feel like I haven’t written much about running lately so let me tell you what I’ve got going on!

After completing the relay triathlon with Ross and Lynn a few weeks ago I decided to do a bit more base training before starting my marathon training program. Before training for any race (whether running, cycling, or swimming) it’s best to build up a good level of base fitness. This helps you to get the most out of your training and really allows your body to improve from the training. This is done by doing your sport of choice (in my case running) for 8-12 weeks keeping your hear rate between 70-75 percent of your maximum (zone 2). It feels REALLY SLOW and is difficult to do both physically and mentally, but it pays off in the end.

I got in about 6 and a half weeks of base training before the triathlon and the marathon training program I picked is 16 weeks long, which gives me three weeks between the two. In my base training preparing for the triathlon I ran five days a week – four moderate runs and one long run. I started with the moderate runs being 45 minutes and my long run 60 minutes. I bumped up my moderate runs by five minutes each week until I reached 70 minutes and my long run eventually reached 125 minutes (2 hours, 5 minutes, which was 8.2 miles). In the two weeks before the triathlon I also did 4 tempo runs at a faster pace with my heart rate around 85%.

The training really seemed to work because I ran my 10K portion of the triathlon (6.2 miles) at a pace of 9:04 per mile! My goal was around 10-10:30 per mile so I was really pleased!

The week after the triathlon I just did five runs at 45 minutes, and then last week I did four runs at 60 minutes and one run at 70 minutes. This week is my last week of base training before my marathon training starts and it also marks two weeks until the 5K race that I signed up for in November. So this week I plan on doing five runs like usual – two easy runs of 60 minutes, 2 tempo runs at 30-35 minutes, and one long run of 7 miles.

My marathon training talks about runs in terms of mile covered instead of time spent running, which is normal, so I’m going to make my long run this week be the transition run from tracking time to mileage. I plan to talk about my marathon training program in more detail once I get past the 5K race, but here’s what my training tentatively looks like for the next 2 weeks:

(For those of you who are wondering, I’m using the Hanson’s 16 week training program to train fro the marathon. You can read about it here and buy it here).

I am pretty sure that I’m going to have to tweak the first week of official marathon training because I don’t think it’s a good idea to do my long run of 10 miles on Saturday and then try to run a fast 5K on Sunday. I’m going to sit down and talk to Ross about it in the next couple of days and see what suggestions he has for me. Even though he’s a cyclist and not a runner he’s been training and racing for years and knows a lot about the body (certified personal trainer with his master’s degree in exercise science) so I respect his opinion.

I am getting really excited and nervous about the marathon, as well as the other races that I’ve decided to run to help me prepare. Here’s what I’ve got coming up:

Having races scheduled makes me feel like I’m really a runner and not just a recreational jogger. I’m excited about them but also nervous! Ross asked me why I’m nervous and I said, “What if I’m not fast?” He just laughed because that’s the same thing I said when I told him I was nervous about the triathlon, and then I ended up exceeding all of our expectations. Hopefully that continues to be the case with my upcoming races.

I’ve never really cared about speed before so this is a new feeling for me. I think it’s impressive to get out there and run and stay committed to it, regardless of the speed. Lately I’ve been reading other running blogs and finding out that there are normal women (i.e. not professional athletes) who started out running a pace just as slow as mine and they now run 7 minute miles on a regular basis. That leaves me wondering if that’s something I’m capable of too.

For now my goal is to just become better than I am now. 16 weeks of training should show some definite improvements in my running, but I’m not going to stress myself out by picking a specific goal and feeling disappointed if don’t reach it. One day I’ll dream big and set difficult goals for myself to attain, but for now I want to ensure that I maintain my love for running and just become better than I am now.



Sprouted Hummus

I’ve been reading about the Thrive diet in Brendan Brazier book, which is all about vegan nutrition for athletes. One thing that he talks about is how sprouting seeds and legumes is so good for you. The first time I had heard of sprouting I had no idea what it was.

Sprouting is when the seed germinates and starts to grow into a little plant. The reason sprouted seeds and legumes are good for you is because it makes the seed more easily digestible and increases the bioailability of the nutrients. The nutrients actually change during the germination process, converting the proteins to amino acids, the fats to essential fatty acids, and a form of pre-digestion also occurs. This is all done by nature to help the seed grow into a healthy plant, but humans also benefit from eating the sprouted version of these seeds.

Knowing all of that science crap still doesn’t help me understand what sprouting is though. It turns out the sprouting process is not hard at all, so I thought I would give it a try. Brendan recommends starting with a jar (like an empty spaghetti jar), filling it a quarter of the way up with the dried seed or legume, and filling it three-quarters of the way full with water. Then take some cheese cloth and a rubber band and cover the top. Allow them to soak over night, or all day while you’re at work. Then rinse the beans/seeds in a colander, return to the jar with no water, cover again with the cheese cloth, and turn upside down to drain. Keep them moist by continuing to rinse the beans with fresh water every 8 hours or so, and turning the jar upside down with the cheese cloth to properly drain. You should begin to see sprouts within 24 hours and it usually just takes about 48 hours for them to be completely ready.

That was his recommendation. I didn’t have cheese cloth at the time so this is what I did instead. I started Thursday night with 1 cup of raw, dried garbanzo beans and put them in a bowl.

Then I filled the bowl with lots of water to give the beans room to expand but still be covered with water, and then covered the bowl with a bamboo place mat that Ross and I bought at IKEA a couple of years ago for $2. I did this before I went to bed and the next morning I drained the water, rinsed the beans well with fresh water, and put them back in the empty bowl with the place mat on top. I rinsed them again when I got home from work on Friday around 5:00, and was excited to see that they had already started to sprout! I rinsed them again before I went to bed at 11:00, and then again when I woke up at 9:30 Saturday morning.

This is what the beans looked like by 2:00 Saturday afternoon. I popped one in my mouth to see how soft it was (and was a little worried because they look like little tadpoles) and deemed that they were ready to be turned into hummus. Sprouted garbanzo beans are soft enough to eat raw but they have a completely different flavor than the cooked beans do. I dumped them into the food processor and added the rest of my ingredients.

I knew that sprouted hummus would have a different flavor than regular hummus, but I didn’t expect that it would have a different texture too. It’s not quite as smooth a cooked-bean hummus, but it’s still nice and creamy.

At first taste I wasn’t really sure what I thought of it. It doesn’t taste like the hummus that I’m used to but I do like it! It’s like a completely different dip. I’ve tried it with carrot sticks, in sandwiches, and on crackers and it’s great all three ways. I also love that it’s better for me than the regular hummus I make when the only thing I changed was sprouting the bean!

Here’s my hummus recipe, which can be used for canned, home-cooked, or sprouted beans:

  • 2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed OR 1 cup dried garbanzo beans, cooked or sprouted
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • Juice from 2 whole lemons
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1/3 tsp ground coriander
  • ¾ tsp cumin
  • ¾ tsp sea salt (more to taste)
  • ¼ cup water

If you’re going to cook raw garbanzo beans, you still need to start by putting them in a bowl to soak for at least 8 hours. This softens them up a bit and lessens the cooking time. The beans expand a lot when they soak so you need 3-4 times as much water as you have beans. Once they’ve soaked at least 8 hours, rinse with fresh water and add to a pot with lots about 8 cups of water.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook 2-3 hours until beans are soft. During the first 10 minutes of cooking foam will rise to the top of the water. This foam is created by the undigestible sugars in the bean that cause you to be gassy. Skim the foam off the top of the water and this will make the means more easily digestible (this is true for cooking any dried beans). Add more water to the pot if necessary as they cook. Once they’re soft enough to eat, drain and rinse with fresh water (to get the rest of those undigestible sugars off).

Put all ingredients in a food processor and puree until nice and smooth. Stop a few times and scrape down the sides with a spatula. You will want to blend this for about 10 minutes to make sure it is nice a creamy. Seriously, even when you think it’s done just keep blending. I always taste once it’s almost done to see if I want to add more salt or lemon juice. I almost always add more salt.


What IS My Healthy Chef??

I haven’t really talked much about My Healthy Chef on the blog and I’m sure some of you probably think it’s a weird name for a blog. Since I did not make a veggie burger last night to share with you for Vegan MoFo I thought I’d take the time today to give a little background information on My Healthy Chef.

Last year was kind of a rocky year for me. I was working at a large law firm and going to school to be a paralegal, but I had zero passion for any of it. I knew that I loved cooking and eating as well as nutrition and working out, and wished that I could do something along those line as a career. But what? I toyed with the idea of opening my own restaurant but that didn’t really appeal to me.

Two weeks after I made the switch to a vegan diet I attended the annual Vegetarian Chili Cook-off that takes place in Austin every year. Several of the chili contestants were promoting some kind of business and one woman had business cards on her table. I picked one up and read, “The Passionate Vegan Personal Chef Service.” I had no idea what a personal chef was but at the time I was interested in anything that had to do with being vegan, so I stuck the card in my purse and made a note to check out her website when I got home.

As soon as I visited her site and learned about her business I knew that’s what I wanted to do! A personal chef is someone who prepares meals for their clients, usually on a weekly basis. They cook the food in their client’s home, package and label it, and leave heating instructions for each dish so the client has a weeks worth of food to heat up and eat at their leisure.

Even though I was immediately in love with the idea, I didn’t tell anyone about it for a while. I wanted time to site and think about it on my own, and kind of give myself time to change my mind if I wanted. I visited lots of other personal chef websites in the mean time.

Finally in January of this year I started telling people that’s what I wanted to do. I researched it a bit more and found out that there is a personal chef training program that I could participate it. With the support of my family, Ross, and my best friend Hannah, I took the plunge and registered the name My Healthy Chef as a personal chef business in Austin, bought the domain name, purchased the training materials, and enlisted the services of my friend Jordan to design a logo, website, and business cards.

I had dreams of building up a big enough client base by the end of the summer that I could quit my job at the law firm and begin cooking for people full time! I started going to all kinds of networking events and vegan events around town to try and promote my business. My hope was to be able to cook for clients on the weekends and occasionally use my built up vacation time until I got to the point where it could really support me.

I did well for a few months, cooking for clients here and there, and then I got nervous and honestly a little lazy. I knew that if I wanted this business to succeed I was going to have to really give it my all. Was I ready to do that? To really get my name out there and promote my business would take a lot of work, and I just wasn’t sure if I was ready to put in all that extra work since I didn’t know that it would work out in the end.

I have an absurd amount of debt from student loans ($76,000 from just my bachelor’s degree) so was I really ready to take the leap and quit my full-time job with benefits to follow my dream?

Sadly, the answer is no. I did quit the paralegal program and I also found another job that got me out of the law firm, but now I’m finding it even harder to follow my dream. Taking time off from my new job isn’t as easy as it was at the law firm, so ever cooking for clients during the week is out of the question. The pay is also significantly better with my new job, and the benefits are incredible. This company contributes 10% to my 401K and Ross and all of our future children can be added to my health insurance for free! My company pays for all of us!

Now that I’m making more money (and throwing most of it at my debt) and have these great benefits, the adult in me feels like I should wait to pursue my dream until the debt is paid off (hopefully just 4-6 years from now). That’s part of the reason that I started this blog. I want a way to be influencing people with regard to healthy food and fitness and still feel like I’m being responsible.

My dream in life is still to be working with food all day long, and I think I would really love being a personal chef. I’m not going to ignore that dream and anytime I have the chance to cook for clients on the weekend I will always take it! For now I am going to wait on trying to make it my full time job though. It makes me sad to say that, but I feel like that’s what’s best for Ross and I as a family.

If you want to learn more about My Healthy Chef personal chef services, check out my website! My friend Jordan Horstman just redesigned it for me (finished last night) and I LOVE IT!! Click on the picture below and it should take you right to the website. : )

Right now the Sample Menu Choices link takes you to my recipe page here on the blog, but I’m going to have him fix that so it will take you to my RECIpage instead, which you can find here:


The Ultimate Beet Burger – Vegan MoFo Burger #8

Last night’s burger utilized some beets that I bought last week at the farmer’s market. The recipe isn’t mine (it can be found here) but it is way delicious!

I started by cooking up some brown rice and green lentils, both of which are needed in this burger.

While these were cooking I started preparing my other ingredients. Well, actually, that’s a lie. I should have prepared my other ingredients and made my salad while the rice and lentils were cooking, but instead I finished watching the last episode of Glee I had recorded so I wouldn’t be behind today when we made the switch to Direct TV. This meant that when Hannah and Jordan showed up for dinner around 7:15 I was not done cooking. Oops.

After I finished watching Glee, and with the last episode of Breaking Amish on in the background, I finally starting preparing the rest of the meal.

I started by peeling these lovely beets. It’s not necessary to peel them but I was too lazy to wash them, so peel I did.

Beets kind of get a bad rap but I LOVE them! I was so nervous the first time I bought them and made them but I was determined to try new foods. I am so happy that I did! The best part of eating beets – if you eat enough of them they turn your pee pink and your poop purple. Scared the crap out of me the first time it happened (no pun intended). I was worried that something was seriously wrong with me and almost headed to the doctor.

Next I used the grater attachment on my food processor to get my beets ready for the burgers.

Then I switched out the grater attachment on the food processor for the normal blade, added in some of the beets, the rice, and the lentils and pulsed until the mixture was chopped but still had texture.

Then I transferred the mixture to a bowl and added in all the other ingredients. 

The only change I made to this recipe was using oats instead of bread crumbs. The recipe called for “very fine bread crumbs” (just normal store bought) but I didn’t have any. Making my own would not result in very fine bread crumbs so I processed some dried oats in the food processor. I knew they would come out very fine and work just as well in this recipe.

I love how much these burgers remind me of raw meat before they’re cooked! I think this recipe was supposed to make four burgers, but there were just going to be three of us eating them so I made three giant patties.

I had a ton of left over beets and some kale in the fridge so I decided to throw together a salad inspired by another recipe I’d seen recently.

Beet and Kale Salad

  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale (you could use other kinds, this is just what I had), leaves torn off stems
  • 1 large pear or apple, sliced thinly
  • 2 beets, grated (I justed used two handfuls of what I had… and still had leftovers)
  • 1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (I actually used hemp oil because it’s more nutritious)
  • 2 tbsp orange juice (I had an orange so I peeled it and squeezed it. The rest went in my smoothie this morning)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup

I used a pear in this recipe because that’s what sounded good to me! You could also use a pear and an apple and no beats, or sub in whatever fruits you wanted!

Check our the stains from cutting my beets! Next I just added everything to a large bowl and mixed it all up.

Then I cooked up the burgers and plated up the food.

Do you see how big the burger is that you can’t even tell there’s an English muffin underneath it? 

The flavor of the salad and burger were both great! I am kind of sad that there aren’t any leftover burgers but I am happy that I got to have more of this salad for lunch today. : )


Recipe: Classic Lasagna

Someone asked me yesterday if I’m getting tired of veggie burgers yet. Honestly, I’m not getting tired of eating them but I am getting tired of making them. I’m not really sure why that is.

Tuesday night is the only night that Ross gets home early so I switched my gym date with Lynn to Thursday so he and I could spend a bit of time together last night. Ross and I usually like to go for walks together in the evening when we’re both home, but yesterday was kind of rainy and we also had a very important task to accomplish for the night.

We’re switching from cable to satellite on Thursday which means that we have to watch all of the shows that have been piling up on the DVR. Monday I tackled 3 episodes of Glee by myself and last night Ross and I got through one episode of Breaking Amish, two episodes of Parenthood (which of course made me cry), and one episode of The Walking Dead. We still have another episode of Breaking Amish, he’s got some Modern Family episodes, and I’ve got one more Glee and a few Restaurant Impossible’s.

I have a lot of shows that I like to watch but I honestly don’t watch that much TV. That’s how all of these shows built up on the DVR! I may watch one while I’m cooking dinner, and maybe another one with Ross later in the night, but often times I won’t watch any TV at all in a day. By the end of this week I’m definitely going to be TV’d out and need a break!

While Breaking Amish was on in the background I prepared a yummy lasagna for us for dinner! When I usually make lasagna, I’ll use two glass loaf pans and make two separate lasagnas; one with lots of veggies for me, and one with almost no veggies for Ross. I didn’t do this last night for the simple reason that I didn’t really have any veggies that would be good in a lasagna. Instead I created the vegan equivalent of what I consider to be a classic lasagna and what I feel like I see most often at restaurants. Pasta, meat sauce, ricotta. Here it is.

Classic Vegan Lasagna – serves 6

  • 12 No-bake whole-wheat lasagna noodles
  • 2 jars pasta sauce
  • Optional items: 1.5 cups Boca meatless crumbles, ½ cup sun dried tomatoes soaked for 20 minutes in ½ cup water, then pureed in food processor with 2 cloves minced garlic.
  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • Juice from 1 large lemon
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 20ish fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you don’t have no-bake noodles, go ahead and boil water for your pasta now.

2. Drain tofu. Stand the tofu on it’s side and cut block in half. Press between two kitchen towels to soak up some of the water. Add tofu, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, dried basil and oregano to food processor and process until well combined.

3. In a coffee grinder or mini food processor, blend together sesame seeds, other reserve of nutritional yeast and salt. Set aside.

4. If using optional sun dried tomato sauce, add to bowl with jarred sauce and Boca crumbles and stir well.

5. Begin assembling the lasagna. Spray a baking dish and begin layering as follows:

  • Sauce
  • 3 pasta noodles
  • Tofu blend
  • Sauce
  • 3 pasta noodles
  • Tofu blend
  • Fresh basil leaves (I left mine whole)
  • Generous sprinkling of sesame blend (use ½ of what’s there)
  • Sauce
  • 3 pasta noodles
  • Tofu blend
  • Sauce
  • 3 pasta noodles
  • Sauce
  • Generous sprinkling of sesame blend (the rest of what you made)
Half way through the layering
Assembled and ready to bake

6. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Enjoy!

Baked – nice and crispy on top and ready to eat!

Ross successfully snacked the entire time I was preparing the lasagna and the entire time it baked, so by the time it was done he wasn’t very hungry. Since he only had half of a piece I decided that I deserved a piece and a half. It was delicious!