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The past year, I was in the habit of buying a package of Medjool dates every week, to make my energy bites to fuel my hubby for his Ironman training. Well, he pretty much rocked the Ironman on a plant-based diet, but now that it’s over, the training is scaled back a lot. Even though he’s still swimming/biking/running, now it’s just to keep up his fitness level and to feel great. I don’t have to be super-involved in planning his diet anymore, and we have found a lot of great vegan restaurants to eat out here in California since the move. But I’ve had these dates, sitting in the fridge, for the past few weeks, because at the time, my mind was still in his training mode. What to do with all these dates?!

I thought of what I’ve seen some people out there in Pinterest-land do, and that was to make a date paste. It’s basically a bunch of soaked dates, and pureed into a paste with some added water if necessary. I was then thinking of making something simple, since I am a few weeks from going into labor and have been feeling like the energy is sapped out of me. I’ve been making soups and other foods to put in the freezer, and wanted something else to add to the foods I had. I decided on a banana bread. I’ve made the past few banana breads with coconut oil, all of which has been great. Instead of the brown sugar, though, I subbed in an equal amount of the date paste.

The result? A wonderful, hearty banana bread that has just the right amount of sweetness with the dates and ripened bananas. No refined sugar! I’m sure that after having the baby, I will want to keep my sweets intake moderate to try to get my pre-baby body back and feel normal again (but I will obviously still want the sweets)! This would be perfect, especially taken from the freezer, toasted, and then with a smear of vegan Earth Balance butter. Yum!

Date-sweetened banana bread
Serve a slice of this banana bread, toasted, with a smear of vegan Earth Balance butter!
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Date-sweetened banana bread
Serve a slice of this banana bread, toasted, with a smear of vegan Earth Balance butter!
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Instructions
Date paste:
  1. For the date paste, cover whole, pitted dates in boiling water for about 20 minutes. Drain, and puree in a food processor. Add a few tablespoons of hot water to get the dates to process into a puree, resembling a loose peanut butter. Set aside 1 cup, and store the rest in a covered mason jar in the fridge for another use.
Flax eggs:
  1. For the flax eggs, whisk flaxseed and water in a small bowl until combined. Set aside for 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes gelatinous and egg-like.
Banana bread:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan with canola oil spray and coat lightly with flour. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, coconut oil, flaxseed eggs, and date paste. When incorporated, pour the wet mixture into the large bowl of dry ingredients. Stir to incorporate, and pour evenly into prepared loaf pan.
  4. Bake banana bread for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf pan comes out clean. Allow to cool at room temperature, then slice and serve.
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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted something on the “beauty” page, because I don’t like to buy lots of things and accumulate them! I use what I have, make what I can, and only buy something when it’s absolutely essential.

If you guys know me, I’m a simple kind of gal. I don’t get manicures or pedicures, dye my hair (because there’s not too many white hairs on my head…yet!), wear tons of makeup, spend lots of money shopping, or other things like that. My mother-in-law has told me she brags to her friends that I just splurge on buying good food to feed my family. Which makes me feel good. It’s flavor and experiences that matter in life, not all that other stuff.

But I’m in my third trimester of pregnancy now, and I’m in love with the scent of rose water. I try to keep my exposure to chemicals minimal, because what I’m exposed to, baby’s also exposed to. Things like bisphenol-A in plastics and canned foods (which I rarely consume anyways, because I’d rather cook from fresh produce), all the fragrances in perfumes or lotions scented with unnatural things, and cleaning products (which is why I’ve been on a rampage making cleaners out of vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, and essential oils). I’ve never used toner before, but I ran across rose water toner on Amazon to spritz on my face. It claims to balance the pH of the skin, tone without irritating or introducing unnatural chemicals, and absorb excess oils on the face. And when you’re in the third trimester of pregnancy, feeling great is an absolute necessity when you’re out of breath doing simple things around the house, or you can’t even bend down to put on your shoes (thank you to my 5-year-old and hubby for helping me with all that!).

So I bought Teddie Organics: Organic Rose Water Toner this week. I was SO HAPPY I made this purchase (under $20). A spritz on my face every day, either on a clean face or over makeup, makes me happy. I feel like it rejuvenates my skin, gives me a little aromatherapy, and it’s not drying as some rose water products can be. It’s not tested on animals, is 100% rose water, so it’s vegan. If you want a little splurge (as I do in this pregnancy), I say go for it! From my research, rose water is fine to use during pregnancy and doesn’t contain those questionable chemicals that regular facial toners have. I bought an organic rose water toner to be sure there were any pesticides sprayed on the roses before it was made into rose water. #treatyoself ! 🙂 <3 signature

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We went to a Strawberry Festival the other week, and naturally, you buy tons of strawberries! I was back in the kitchen after an almost two-month hiatus (see previous post) and so glad to uncover these 4-inch tart pans from my baking arsenal.

Because I moved to a new area, I spent a lot of time the past few weeks figuring out where to buy my groceries. I discovered a Mother’s Market nearby, and this vegan strawberry Jel seemed interesting to me, so I thought I’d give it a try. I wanted a jello-like consistency and glaze to top off fresh strawberries, that can’t really be acheved with cornstarch, rice flour, agar agar, or tapioca starch. It worked great, and my 5-year-old was able to help me make this simple dessert.

This strawberry tart is fresh, not too sweet, and perfect for a hot and sunny day. I love the crust, too! I intended to make the crust out of graham crackers, but everything I found in the store had honey in them. Animal crackers didn’t and were perfect with what I added in. Hope you make these – they’re delicious!

Fresh strawberry tarts with animal cracker crust
Servings Prep Time
4 4-inch tarts 20 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 4-inch tarts 20 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Fresh strawberry tarts with animal cracker crust
Servings Prep Time
4 4-inch tarts 20 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 4-inch tarts 20 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Animal cracker crust:
To assemble:
Servings: 4-inch tarts
Instructions
For animal cracker crust:
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a food processor, process the animal crackers until coarsely ground. Add the dates, melted vegan butter, maple syrup, and salt, processing until ingredients are incorporated and finely ground.
  2. Press equal amounts of the crust mixture into 4 4-inch tart pans. Bake at 300 degrees F for 10 minutes and cool at room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Strawberry Jel:
  1. For the vegan strawberry Jel, boil 1 cup water in a small saucepan. When water boils, turn off the heat, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and whisk in Jel powder until incorporated. Set aside for a couple minutes while you pile the strawberries onto the pie crusts.
Assembly:
  1. Pile the sliced strawberries onto the pie crusts, and spoon the Jel mixture evenly over the strawberries. Let cool and set for about an hour in the refrigerator, and garnish with fresh lemon zest, as desired.
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Hey guys! It’s Tram, and I’m still here! The past few months have been a blur of activity, so I haven’t posted at all in awhile. This is what our family has been up to the last couple of months:

– Moved from Annapolis, MD, to Southern California
– Traveled to The Woodlands, TX, for my husband to compete in the Ironman 140.6 (he is a FINISHER! Check out my fueling strategies here and here.

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– Said our goodbyes to work, friends, midshipmen, school, and life on the East Coast

– Entering my third trimester of pregnancy with kiddo #2

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That is A LOT! We are currently unpacking our stuff from Annapolis, and even though I’m so proud of the fact that I majorly downsized and embracing a minimalist-ish lifestyle, I still want to purge some more. Maybe that’s the nesting phase I’m going through in this pregnancy? Anyways, when the movers came the other day to unload our stuff, they were pleasantly surprised that we only had 4 crates of home goods to unpack, and one crate was going to our newly commissioned midshipman, to furnish her new digs. They said the most they’ve moved was 22 crates for one family! That is nuts (I’m so glad we’re not those people!).

Back in December, I read Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” When I was done with it, I gave it to a friend, and told her to keep sending the book along to other people who needed it, because I learned all the things I needed to know from that book. I sent this picture of my closet (my house in Annapolis was built in 1910, hence the super tiny closet space!) to my MIL back in December when I went through phase 1 of decluttering, and so proud to say that when we moved in May, the amount of clothes that I had had not changed. Of course, there’s a separate dresser for my undergarments, sleepwear, and gym clothes, but that picture’s what I wore for work and everyday-wear.
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It was awesome, feeling like I could coordinate different outfits and looks without getting a whole new wardrobe. I was donating and selling my clothes, and even had a great consignment store in Annapolis (Navette) that helped me find some transition pieces for my growing belly bump.

It’s funny where embarking on a more plant-based lifestyle can take you. I feel like it snowballs into other areas of your life. Because my eyes were opened to the health, environmental, and animal welfare aspects of becoming more plant-based, I was becoming more excited about the creativity I could express when cooking and the effects of it all. My husband, while training for the Ironman, did it on mostly a plant-based diet. We’d eat seafood maybe once a week when going out. His recovery time for hard training sessions was so great; he didn’t feel lethargic and was always so quick to bounce back. He lost 30 pounds in the three years we were in Annapolis, and improved his cholesterol lipid panel to become NORMAL. He FINISHED his first triathlon, which was the full-on Ironman 140.6, and I didn’t have to wait forever at the finish line (thanks, babe, because it was pouring Texas rain).

I felt good about the dishes I made, because they were not making a great environmental impact for the large get-togethers I would host (Naval Academy midshipmen eat A LOT). No meat at parties means less carbon emissions from animals, less water waste, less demand for slaughtering of animals. But that didn’t mean I served steamed kale and broccoli, heck no! Teaching plant-based cooking classes to vegans and non-vegans alike at Whole Foods Annapolis allowed me to spread the message that vegan food is great when done right. I’d teach appetizing things such as lemongrass seitan tacos, lemon-blueberry scones, Thai red curry and butternut squash soup, and farro salad.

From all this, and especially the environmental aspect of eating more plant-based (saving tons of water and reducing greenhouse gas emissions that stem from cow farts, as one of my students used to say), I started becoming more mindful of my use of plastics and non-biodegradable items that we use. I started using more mason jars for storage, reusable grocery bags, and reusable produce bags. I started making my own toothpaste, bought bamboo compostable toothbrushes, making some easy, non-toxic cleaning solutions, and donated MORE items that we didn’t need. Minimizing, making more of my own stuff, reusing, reducing what I consumed, recycling, and next up: composting. Baby steps, people.

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So, friends, that is my update. I’ve recently gotten back into the kitchen (thank goodness, because eating out often gets boring and $$), and baked a delicious, easy-peasy strawberry pie yesterday. I’ll share the recipe with y’all next week!

 

**follow me on Instagram @this_veglife for more plant-based recipe and lifestyle ideas!*

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When I first ventured into eating more plant-based, I thought I would have to just say goodbye to flavors such as bacon for good. But the more I cook vegan food, the more in awe I am of how flexible this way of cooking can be (as long as I eat in; when we eat out in Annapolis, it’s hard).

Some things I’ve learned to cook with: I’ve discovered that there’s such a thing as liquid smoke seasoning, to impart that smoky, bacon-y flavor to my “non-meats.” I can soak cashews overnight, and make things like cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, and cheesecake of all things! I’ve discovered that adding some nori to a dressing can give it that fishy, sea flavor, so I’m no longer deficient in things like Caesar salad dressing. Adding cooked lentils to a chili gives that meaty texture. Making date paste out of dates and water adds subtle, natural sweetness to foods of all kinds. Adding apple cider vinegar to non-dairy milk replicates buttermilk (which is great, because I’ve always disliked the idea of sour buttermilk from a cow). And of course, there’s that nutritional yeast, or nooch, as the vegans call it. A little bit of this adds that cheesy flavor I’ve been looking for in pasta dishes, that umami factor. There really is no “bending” on the way of flavor and texture – all the people that have tried the things I made often exclaim, “but it tastes like the real thing!”

And I’ve discovered my own little ways of making this all easy to prepare with a busy life in the mix. Always be soaking something (cashews, almonds, dried beans), utilize the time you have to multitask (put a pot of beans on the stove to cook while you get ready for the day, make a jar of overnight oats for the next morning while your dinner is sauteing on the stove, blend soaked cashews quickly to make cream cheese for the week, etc). Not only that, think ahead to the next meal, jot down what you’ll make on your phone (or what you need on your grocery list, also on the phone), and just be productive when life gives you a spare few minutes (I only watch an hour of TV at night before bed).

Back to the “bacon.” I’ve been making BLTAs (“bacon,” lettuce, tomato, avocado) a few times the last couple weeks, because I love pairing them with my adaptation of Isa Chandra’s vegan flaxseed mayo. I have tried making other vegan versions of bacon before – with portabello, or baking tempeh, but I just find my version to be heartier, quicker (it takes less than 10 minutes-12 minutes, tops), meatier, and full of flavor. You can make this with breakfast potatoes in the morning, BLTAs for lunch, or top your vegan burger off with them for dinner. SO easy and tasty. Make it today!

"Bacon" tempeh with maple-tamari glaze
This is a flavorful, easy, and quick bacon that is no-fuss, but sure to please in any meal.
Servings Prep Time
4-6 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5-7 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5-7 minutes
"Bacon" tempeh with maple-tamari glaze
This is a flavorful, easy, and quick bacon that is no-fuss, but sure to please in any meal.
Servings Prep Time
4-6 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5-7 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5-7 minutes
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, tamari, liquid smoke seasoning, apple cider vinegar, and black pepper. Add the tempeh slices into the bowl, tossing the slices in the marinade with your hands and coating the tempeh. Marinate for 5 minutes.
  2. In a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, spray some canola oil cooking spray. When the pan is hot, add the tempeh and marinade. Toss the tempeh every so often and allow the marinade to caramelize and coat the tempeh. It’s done when the marinade almost evaporates and the tempeh is coated with the maple-tamari glaze, about 5-7 minutes. Serve with breakfast potatoes, toast, or scrambled tofu.
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Hi friends! It’s been awhile since I posted about beauty products that are animal cruelty-free. I’ve been using these products for a few months now, and they work for me.

Let’s start with Burt’s Bees fragrance-free body lotion, with shea butter and Vitamin E. Burt’s Bees is an example of a company that does not do animal testing, but is not vegan, because their products contain ingredients such as honey, beeswax, milk, or other animal byproducts. Some vegans use honey, some don’t. It’s totally a personal choice – as is my lifestyle, to be as plant-based as much as possible. Anyways, I love this lotion. It moisturizes, is not greasy, and not too thin.

On to facial wash. I found this face wash a year ago and loved it. It’s Yes to Cucumbers Gentle Milk Cleanser with Hydrolyzed Soy Proteins. It’s cruelty-free, but I’m a little unsure if it’s vegan. I did email the company but am still waiting for a reply. I’m guessing that the “milk” part of this face wash is the hydrolyzed soy protein. This facial wash was out of stock in the usual stores I’d go to, but luckily I found it online on Amazon, so have just been getting it there. It smells clean, moisturizes, is good for my finicky, sensitive skin, and does the job.

Mama Bee Belly Butter up at the top of the picture. Again, this is made by Burt’s Bees, which is a cruelty-free company, but not all of its products are necessarily vegan. Side note about stretch marks: you can’t apply a magic lotion to apply to areas prone to stretch marks during pregnancy. The most you can do is to just gain weight steadily (as opposed to quickly), exercise to keep the skin elastic, and moisturize to hydrate and keep the skin supple. I’m currently halfway through my pregnancy (where did the time go?!), try to be active in some way each day (walks at work, gym time a couple times a week, and prenatal yoga), drink loads of water, eat TONS of fruits and vegetables, and slather on this belly butter once daily. So far, so good. And I feel great, too!

Being on the East Coast the past three years always does a number to my skin in the wintertime. This winter, especially. A couple of months ago, it seemed like nothing was keeping it moisturized. Even my regular moisturizer by LUSHImperialis. I even resorted to spreading some coconut oil on my face for some much-needed relief. The skin under my eyes was rough, you could see peeling around my lips, my whole face felt like sandpaper, and I was a hot mess.

I usually moisturize with coconut oil when there are super-dry parts on my body (my feet and hands, usually), but the day after I put coconut oil on my face, lo and behold, a pimple showed up. Kind of irritated, because by eating super plant-based for over a year and a half, my skin was really clear and I had no problems. Until that dang coconut oil! I love that stuff, and use it to brush my teeth with baking soda too, but not on my face. Lesson learned.

I went back to LUSH and told them my facial skin woes. They were really helpful and suggested I try the moisturizer that is a bit heavier than Imperialis, which was Celestial. I used it for a few days, and my skin became less irritated, felt soothed, and I stopped looking like sandpaper. THANK GOODNESS! Since then, I went back to using Imperialis, because the weather is warmer (by warmer, I mean 50 degrees instead of 25 degrees), and all has been dandy with my skin. Whoop! Both moisturizers – Imperialis and Celestial – are vegan and animal cruelty-free. No animal testing. No animal products or by-products used. Both awesome.

So there you go – a look inside my skincare regimen!

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For the past 8 months, my husband has been embarking on a crazy journey towards training for the Ironman in Texas. It has consumed our lives as a family. He trains for hours a week, and my 5-year-old daughter sometimes will run over to his bike trainer, to hang out with her daddy or feed him an energy bite made out of dates. I have taken over his nutrition plan, making sure he gets adequate macronutrients to perform and recover. I really don’t know how Ironman-hopefuls do it themselves, because left to his own devices, as ravenous as he gets after his training sessions, he would raid the pantry for chips and crackers if I didn’t have a substantial meal waiting for him. The craziest thing is that, even though he’s had a few marathons under his belt, he hasn’t done a single triathlon…ever. Not even a sprint triathlon! His motto is always “go big or go home” though, and I love that about him. Even though I do think he’s a little cookoo sometimes.

When we (and I say “we,” because this seriously is a joint effort. He could not do this without me!) started this whole training regimen eight months ago, I was overwhelmed with the amount of nutrition information I needed to know. Yes, I am a Registered Dietitian, but the type of work I’ve done was more in the clinical side of nutrition – like educating patients on dietary management of diseases, writing out tube feedings, all that stuff that Clinical Dietitians do. I was definitely not a sports dietitian, even though I had a basic grasp on it from my college studies. I ordered Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook by Nancy Clark, MS, RD, and got right to it (fellow RDs, you can get a whopping 25 CEUS going through this book, too! SCORE).

This book, along with Brendan Brazier’s “Thrive,” websites like www.active.com, and www.ironman.com, helped me put together a nutrition plan for P. I started making his electrolyte drinks, recovery smoothies, energy gels and energy bars for his bike rides, and optimized everything he ate so that I knew I did everything I could to ensure his success. My basic goal was to have him (and our family) consume good, wholesome food, as plant-based as possible, and that has totally worked for him.

On Saturdays, P has up to 5 ½ hours of intense training sessions. I make him weigh in before and after his workout so I could measure his sweat rate (some references recommend weighing in after an hour, but that’s really hard when P is outdoors running). The thing that gives me the jitters is that he’s training in the cold here in Maryland, and the Ironman is in Texas. It’s going to be hot and humid (we’ve lived there before), and so I need to know that the amount of salt I’m giving him in his electrolyte drinks right now is enough.
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This is what I mean when I talk about sweat rate.

The thing you want to avoid is hyponatremia – water intoxication – and this happens when, for example, athletes run an entire marathon in hot hot heat, sweat a lot, and only drink water instead of an electrolyte drink. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes, and the big one is sodium. Taste your sweat (gross, I know), but the point I want to make is that it tastes salty. With lots of sodium loss and no replenishment of that sodium, athletes can develop nausea, have disorientation, headaches, and even in extreme cases, land in a coma. I need to know P’s sweat rate, because if he loses more than 2% of his body weight in sweat, I need to be more aggressive in his nutrition management, like adding in a little more salt to his carbohydrate gels, electrolyte drinks, and so on. Even shove a pickle spear at him once in awhile (I’ve done that). Yes, he could drink things like Gatorade, but there is not enough sodium in those drinks for the level of intensity he’s working at. Plus, I like to do things the hard way. Oh, gosh, I sound like my husband now.

For long training days, like his Saturday 5 ½ hour sessions, the nutrition plan goes something like this**:

→3-4 hours before the training session/event:
Consume a large meal, of complex carbohydrate and moderate protein. This is usually breakfast on these days, so I’ve developed this high-powered sweet potato and quinoa pancake recipe (recipe follows) for the hubby. The sweet potato provides complex carbs, and the quinoa is one of the few plant-based sources of a complete protein. He usually eats two of these, with almond butter spread on top (I do allow moderate fat intake at this meal, because it’s well-tolerated for him), and a light drizzle of maple syrup. It is calorie and nutrient-dense, because he will be burning so much energy the next few hours.

→1-2 hours before:
A light snack (this could be anything like a bagel with banana, a small hummus sandwich, or granola) with about 2 cups of water. Ease up on the protein and fat here, and make it mostly carbohydrate to fuel you. You don’t want to overload on the water; just make sure you are adequately hydrated.

→During the event:
If it’s going to be less than an hour, just drink water. You don’t need an electrolyte drink. If it’s going to be greater than an hour, however, be sure to drink an electrolyte drink that contains sodium. You lose sodium through sweat, and so you need to replenish if you’ll be sweating a lot. You also lose some potassium through sweat, but your body has a lot of potassium stores, so as long as you eat lots of fruits and veggies, you’re most likely good in the potassium department. The dates that I give to P during his workout have potassium, too.

In addition, for these long endurance events, I have to make sure P has a steady supply of carbohydrate to fuel his muscles. For him, dates (again) have proved to be a good source of easily digestible carbohydrate. For you, it might be something different. I’ve even read that one biker liked to boil small potatoes (they also have potassium too!), roll them in salt, and ate that on his long bike rides.

You need to experiment with what works for you in terms of fuel. Some people buy all packaged gels and products; I, on the other hand, prefer to feed the hubs homemade stuff, because I can control his performance based on what his input is. We’ve totally seen a difference. The one time I got lazy and let him rely on pre-packaged drink formulations and energy gels was the last time, because he felt weak and sluggish, and performed poorly in terms of time.

→After your workout: Rehydrate over the next few hours. Everyone is different in how much they have to rehydrate dependent in sweat rate and pounds lost, so I strongly urge you to do your research!

→45 minutes after the event/training session: This is the window you have to nourish, repair, build, and recover your muscles and body, because you put them through so much stress the past few hours!

You need to feed yourself a combination of carbohydrate and protein – if you’re weight-lifting, you need to eat carbohydrates too! Don’t be protein-centric. Carbohydrates make up muscle glycogen and need to be replenished. In addition, amino acids from protein need to restore your muscles.

I usually give P a smoothie, full of almond milk, fruit, green veggies, and plant-based protein after a workout (this can be hemp seeds, protein from soy milk, almond butter, chia seeds, pea protein powder, etc). He’s usually starving when he’s done, so will have this, take a shower, and sit for a bit.

Within the 45 minutes, I also give him a meal. This can be some vegan chili with rice, a big Buddha bowl (a huge bowl of brown rice) packed with veggies and moderate protein (sautéed tofu cubes, seitan, or beans), basically something very substantial and filling. Your body can only process 20-25 grams of protein at a time, so don’t go all crazy by putting 40 grams of protein in your shakes. You’re just wasting your money, and will have to go to the bathroom more because your body will try to excrete the excess as urea, a product of protein breakdown.

So there you have it. That is JUST ONE DAY, and not even what I feed the guy the whole week! It is very involved, but through this whole thing, I’ve discovered that I actually LOVE sports nutrition, and maybe I’ll get to do more of it in the future. Who knows? I’ve got this under my belt, at least!

Here’s the recipe for P’s Saturday morning sweet potato and quinoa power pancakes. For all you endurance athletes that try this a few hours before your training sessions or events, let me know how it works for you!

**This nutrition plan, although I follow the general format given by Nancy Clark, MS, RD, should be tailored and individualized to meet your needs. It is not intended as medical advice to you, the reader, and all questions on sports nutrition and your specific diet should be directed to a nutrition professional familiar with your situation.

Sweet potato and quinoa power pancakes
Servings Prep Time
4 pancakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 pancakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Sweet potato and quinoa power pancakes
Servings Prep Time
4 pancakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 pancakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
dry ingredients:
mix in:
Servings: pancakes
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients (it's okay if there are lumps). Fold in the cooked quinoa. The batter will be very thick.
  4. In a griddle pan or frying pan over medium-low heat, add about a teaspoon of canola oil. When the oil is hot, scoop about 2/3 cup of batter onto the pan. Spread the batter so it's about 6 inches in diameter, and cook for about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the pancakes.
  5. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup. I like to add some almond butter on top of these, too!
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Every week, I boil a few sweet potatoes to incorporate into my hubby’s power breakfasts. I mash them up, and sometimes I add them in his pancakes, or even oatmeal. Sweet potatoes are fantastic because they give him that good carbohydrate that he needs as fuel for his Ironman training. They’re also full of fiber and vitamins A, C, B6, and potassium. I always tell my students to eat a rainbow of colors of fruits and vegetables daily, because each different color hosts a plethora of good-for-you nutrients.

Well, I had an extra cup of mashed sweet potato left over in my fridge, so I decided to make a little healthy treat for me and my daughter. I thought of sweet potato muffins, since they are so easy to eat early in the morning before school, but this time, I decided to add in some mini chocolate chips. BEST. IDEA. EVER. If you’ve never had this combo before, of lightly spiced sweet potato with chocolate, now is the time to make these. I’m totally making these again!

Sweet potato and mini chocolate chip muffins
Lightly spiced, these muffins have great flavor when sweet potato and chocolate are paired together!
Servings Prep Time
12 muffins 10 minutes
Cook Time
22 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 muffins 10 minutes
Cook Time
22 minutes
Sweet potato and mini chocolate chip muffins
Lightly spiced, these muffins have great flavor when sweet potato and chocolate are paired together!
Servings Prep Time
12 muffins 10 minutes
Cook Time
22 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 muffins 10 minutes
Cook Time
22 minutes
Ingredients
dry ingredients:
Servings: muffins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with canola oil cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until just about incorporated (there can still be white from the flour left). Add the chocolate chips, and stir until there is no more white flour left.
  4. Fill the 12 muffin cups evenly with the batter, which will be dense. Bake for about 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Take the muffin pan out. After a couple minutes, remove the muffins from the tin to cool on a cooling rack. Serve!
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I make a huge bowl of pasta once a week, whether it be spaghetti with vegan meatballs, Asian wheat noodles with tofu and mushroom-soy-ginger seasoning, pesto pasta, or a simple vegetable pasta. These dishes come together pretty quickly, and last a couple meals between the three of us (and with all the food my Ironman-to-be hubby eats, a pasta dish is always a sure bet!).

What’s usually in your quick meal plan?

A pasta with all the goodies
I make pasta once a week, and they're usually like this - filled with veggies and herbs that I love, and packed with flavor.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
A pasta with all the goodies
I make pasta once a week, and they're usually like this - filled with veggies and herbs that I love, and packed with flavor.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Instructions
  1. Prepare spaghetti noodles according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot over med heat, add the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, add the asparagus, cremini mushrooms, garlic and shallot, sauteing for 3-4 minutes. While sauteing, mix together the water, bouillon cube, lemon juice and zest, and nutritional yeast.
  3. Add the pasta into the vegetables, then the water-bouillon mixture. Incorporate. Add the peas and continue to incorporate until heated through. Add the basil, sun-dried tomatoes, black pepper, and red chili flakes. Continue to incorporate all ingredients together, and season to taste. Serve.
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This weekend, Blizzard Jonas came into town. In the past couple years that we’ve been here, the most I’ve seen is about 8 inches of snow, which is a lot for this Cali native. In TWO DAYS, we had almost 30 inches of snow – it was crazy! Some cars in my neighborhood were buried in snow, and by that, I mean you could only see the roof of the car. Thank goodness for midshipmen from the Naval Academy, who as a good deed shoveled snow in neighborhoods around us.

We spent the weekend indoors, hosting a big lunch and snowplay with the midshipmen that are close to our family, since we were all stuck inside anyways. The mayor of our town issued a warning that no one was to drive, because the winds and snow were CRAZY. Work also got called off yesterday to clear the roads. It was basically a good time to clear the rest of the food from my fridge and pantry, because I wasn’t about to drive on uncleared streets. A few sad-looking apples hanging out in the fridge, combined with the ever-present bag of frozen wild blueberries in the freezer, made an awesome dessert. This would be perfect with some coconut vanilla ice cream, too!

Apple and Blueberry Crumble
A perfect dessert to end a meal (or as a stand-alone snack!), with or without some coconut vanilla ice cream.
Servings Prep Time
5 4-oz ramekins 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
5 4-oz ramekins 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Apple and Blueberry Crumble
A perfect dessert to end a meal (or as a stand-alone snack!), with or without some coconut vanilla ice cream.
Servings Prep Time
5 4-oz ramekins 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
5 4-oz ramekins 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: 4-oz ramekins
Instructions
for the filling:
  1. Before starting on the recipe, preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and spray the inside of 5 4-oz ramekins with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together. Set aside.
for the crumble:
  1. In another medium bowl, use a pastry cutter to combine all ingredients, until butter resembles the shape of small peas.
assemble:
  1. Evenly divide the fruit filling into the 5 ramekins. Top with the crumble mixture, also evenly divided among the ramekins.
  2. Bake the ramekins in the oven for 30 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and crisp, and the fruit filling is bubbly.
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