Sunday, March 27, 2011

I have a shoe problem...

My new Vibram Fivefinger shoes!
I have been told that the first step is to admit you have a problem...I have a shoe addiction! However, I will clarify that my two most recent shoe purchases were necessary rather than frivolous.

I've been thinking about the swim portion of my triathlon, actually the entry and exit from the swim portion. I usually don't have a problem being barefoot, but for some reason I have started to be concerned about running barefoot out of the water to the transition area to change into cycling gear, being in a hurry and stepping on a rock, causing problems later in the run portion. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but I started thinking maybe I'd like to have something on my feet to avoid an injury at the beginning. Plus, was thinking about the cold. I got my dividend from REI and a 20% off coupon in my email so I headed down to check out some lightweight "toed" shoes. I ended up with the Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSport Multisport Shoes. They are so lightweight, despite having a rubber sole. I swam in them already and they don't seem to have a drag affect, which I was concerned about. Comfy too, which for a ticklish foot person, I was pleased about. I won't be doing the running portion of my triathlon in these shoes, however, as they take a little time to wiggle each individual toe into and they will be all wet from the swim portion. They slip off easily and should shield my feet from any gravel between the water and the transition area.

After the Shamrock Run I discovered two little blisters on two toes of my right foot. I hadn't noticed them during the run, fortunately. I was concerned, though, as I never get blisters; it may have been due to my feet being completely soaked from rain the entire run. But, I have had my Asics running shoes for quite a while now and have logged quite a few miles on them, so I thought it was probably time to get a new pair. Besides, now seemed to be a better time to break in new shoes than later. 

The Asics I had were no longer available. I had purchased several pairs of them online from clearance running shoe stores and have finally gone through my supply. So I went back to Fit Right Northwest, had my run analyzed again to ensure nothing had changed, and spent time with them finding a new shoe. I ended up with Brooks Defyance 4...and not because they're orange like my bike, they're wonderful!! Brooks also just became a sponsor of the Portland Triathlon Club, so I will pick up another pair with my new discount.

The next purchase I made...yes, another purchase...was a Garmin Forerunner 310XT GPS trainer. I've really wanted a heartrate monitor/GPS mileage tracker for my sports. I have used the Nike Plus sensor with my iPod, but it doesn't do heartrate and is not entirely accurate with mileage, even when calibrated. And, much to my dismay, I have learned that I cannot use my iPod during the run portion of a triathlon anyway, according to USAT rules. I tend to prefer having 1/4 mile distance goals and this will provide me with that and so much more. I got a notice from one of my frequent flyer mile programs that I had mile points I needed to use or lose, so I checked the catalog and lo and behold, they were selling the Garmin 310XT I wanted--so I picked it up with miles! Woo-Hoo! It is a tri-sport trainer, works with running, cycling (with add-on for the bike), and swimming, although GPS signals do not transmit through water. I've been playing with the settings and should have it all dialed in soon to provide what I need. I'm learning more every time I use it. I love all the data I get out of it after I upload to my computer (sample below).

Data from Garmin 310XT from run portion of Brick
Training-wise, it's been a GREAT week! Swam on my own and with the Tornadoes Masters Swim group. I can already tell my form is better. Now it's just to work on my strength and endurance. I will be able to make swim training with them three times a week with my work schedule, so that's awesome! I got several runs in, both treadmill and outside runs. Did some indoor cycle interval training with the Carmichael training DVDs...a lot of work! And....a little brick, what I called Baby Brick 1. I did a 7 mile road ride from my house and then followed immediately with a 1.5 mile run. It went really well, and I was pleased with my performance. I hadn't done any bike/run bricks since the Muddy Buddy.

Groupon had a special on Bikram Hot Yoga this week, so will be adding that in. Next weekend is the field trip to ProMotion Wetsuits in Hood River, Oregon with several tri friends and then Portland Triathlon Club party at Athlete's Lounge in Portland. Things seem to be progressing well. I'm getting my training in, even doing some at work, which isn't my favorite, but keeps me on track.

Oh, and a friend of mine is organizing a Try and Sprint distance Triathlon in Woodland, Washington August 13. Stay tuned for more details as soon as I get them from him!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I Think I Might be a Witch!

It's been a good week...some recovery from the Shamrock Run, some training! Continuing to learn how to train, working on skills and form, and learning what equipment I need.

I'm going to be heading to Fit Right NW this week for new running shoes. After the Shamrock Run I discovered two little blisters on my toes and I never get blisters. I don't know whether it's due to how soaked my feet were in my shoes during that run or if my shoes are wearing out (my tread looks find), but I don't want to have to break in new shoes during the Triathlon season, so I'll go now. I'd like to have my running gait analyzed again, which they do there, since it's been almost three years since I had that done last. I'm sure my running has changed, as last time I was just getting started and now I have been running for the past few years and am training for triathlons. I loved the shoes I got there after being analyzed, so much so that I went online and purchased several more after they were no longer available at Fit Right NW. I've now run out of my supply of new running shoes and they are not available on-line anymore!

Today I attended a Tri Athlete Open Water Swimming Clinic put on by Jon Anderson, Adult Swim Coach of the Tornadoes Swim Team here in Vancouver--it was great! It was held at The Kennedy Center Pool at the Washington State School for the Blind. The Kennedy Pool is a beautiful new saline pool, another facility in Vancouver I did not know existed! The Tornadoes have a masters swim team and have training swims nearly every night of the week, most of them coached, some open swim, for a mere $30 a month! Jon took us through about a dozen different drills he uses to create muscle memory for freestyle swimming effectiveness:

Kick Drills
Kick-on-Side (KOS) Drill
KOS with One Stroke Drill
KOS with Five Stroke Drill
Catch-up Drill
Single-Arm Drill
Human (as opposed to doggie) Paddle Drill
Treading Water Drill
Vertical Kicking Drill
Open Water Peak Drill
Another drill we did was an exhalation drill. We started from floating face-down in the deep end and slowly exhaled all of our air to sink to the bottom and then stay there until we needed a breath. This was to practice exhaling all of our air, using our lungs to their capacity. Do you think I could sink? NO! It was a riot, which led to me exclaiming, "I think I'm a WITCH!" That pretty much concluded that drill!

I did learn that I need to swim more often than I am in order to create muscle memory needed to be a more efficient swimmer. I will be participating in the Tornadoes training sessions on my non-work days now. The price is great, the pool awesome, and with the couple of hours of training I had today I can already see improvement in my swimming. And, I know it was a better training session than what I do on my own because my arms are tired tonight, and that's a GREAT thing!

Til next time!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shamrock Run 2011

Along with 32,000 of our closest friends, high school girlfriends Patty May and Seriny Kunz joined me for the 2011 Shamrock Run in Portland, Oregon March 13. Despite being the morning after our first night of Girlfriends' Weekend, daylight savings with an early wake-up, and drizzly rain, we had a ball!

The three of us participated as part of the Portland Triathlon Club Team, Seriny ran in the 5K Walk, Patty ran in the 5K Run, and I ran in the 15K Run.

Rebecca Hillary brought her pooch all dressed up in a Tri Club running top to hang out in the tent area. He was much more interested in the sirens and lights from Portland Fire Bureau's Engine 1 heading out of the station than getting his picture taken (note the red glow from the engine lights on his front leg!)

15K Race Route

The 15K (9.3 miles) started on the waterfront of the Willamette River, up town, over Markham Hill and back down. There were some misplaced mile markers along the way, notably Mile 1 and 2, which were not fair at all! I think they had been in place for the 8K race that started prior to the 15K.

Elevation Profile for the Shamrock Run

It's not an easy route, by any means, gaining 587 feet in elevation over 4.5 miles! You start to climb after the first turn onto Burnside and climb gradually through town and then start the ascent up Marquam Hill via Terwilliger Boulevard around mile two. I walked/ran this three mile section, being hillier than my practice runs had been. The reward was the 4.5 mile down hill run back to the finish line!

I completed the run in 1:45, giving me a 11:30 pace overall. I'm good with that, being that I had stopped all my training for the previous two weeks due to a sinus infection, including one whole week spent in bed. Plus, well, it was Girls Weekend kick off the night before, and I didn't hydrate or sleep properly...

Seriny and Patty after the race

 After the race comes...Beer! It's Portland, and all races end with a beer garden, well at least all the races I have participated in, except the Rum Run, that ended with Rum, go figure! We all caught back up at the Triathlon Club tent and made our way to the beer garden, had about a half a glass of beer in the rain and decided we needed food, water, and warmth!

During lunch it was decided that the Shamrock Run will now be an annual tradition for our Spring Girls Weekend from now on! Wow, Girlfriends Rock! It was great to start the running season with great friends and good times!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pump it Up....Maybe not so Much

It's been another cold recovery week, which surprised and dismayed me. The cold lingered longer than I ever expected. Will start my workout again tomorrow morning, a whole TWO WEEKS from my last one, and then I have the 15K Shamrock Run.

I did manage to make it to the last Portland Triathlon Club meeting and learned a lot of bicycle tips that I'm going to share. Also some info on sports drinks and dental health.

Tori Bortman of Gracie's Wrench held a Bike Maintenance Basics Clinic prior to the meeting and went over what you should clean and check after every ride. I'll share what she told us, as I had never been taught any of this and had been doing some things wrong, that could damage my bike components!

  • Spray frame with a citrus-based cleaner or Simple Green and wipe with a rag. Do NOT spray with jet of water from a hose any harder than "what comes out of your grandma's watering can", as this spray can enter your bearing chases, along with road grime.
  •  Clean your rims with a dry rag about every 100 miles. This is not only to get dirt or water off, but to remove brake dust. The dark grime on the rims is generally rubber dust which actually works as a lubricant if you leave on your rims, and even worse if mixes with water. If left on your rims it can coat your brake pads, like a shellac, and decrease your ability to brake even further.
Drive Train
  • Clean and lubricate your chain about every 100 miles. Use a chain oil that is a combination cleaner/lubricant...NEVER use WD-40 to oil your chain, it's a solvent only and will cause damage!! Tori recommends ATB (stands for Absolutely The Best) Lube (available at bike shops) and noted that they manufacture different lubricant/solvent mix for different regions due to different conditions, so the blend you buy in Bend will be slightly different than the blend you buy in Portland--Interesting!
  • Leave the chain on the drive gear and apply lubricant/cleaner from top, then bottom while cranking the pedals, then wipe all sides of the chain with a rag. Note: your goal is not to have oil in the open section of the chain that slips over the gear cogs, but in the little articulating surfaces between the links.
  • Clean/lube the pivot points on the derailleur except the pulleys once a week, more if riding in wet conditions.

  • Cassette (rear wheel gear stack) should be cleaned once a week. Do to this, remove the wheel from the bike and "floss" between the gears with a solvent covered rag (this IS where you use WD-40!) but do NOT spray solvent directly on the cassette, only on the rag, as you risk spraying solvent into bearing chases.
This was fascinating to me! I have always used the tire pressure indicated on the sidewall of my tires, thus 120 psi front and back. The sidewall inflation is a figure determined by the manufacturer by inflating a tire on a test rim, off a bike, until it blows off the rim, and then they take that number and cut it in half for the safe operating pressure!
Tori shared information she learned from the Randonneuring community (ultra-distance cycling), that your tire inflation should be based upon your weight and that you need more surface area contacting the ground than what the general tire inflation on the sidewall gives you.  Most people do not require as much pressure at noted, in fact, she uses 85 psi on the front and 90 psi on the back. Please check out these links on how to determine the optimal inflation pressure for you and the science behind it, way better than me trying to summarize it! and
Decreasing her tire pressures has increased her speed and eliminated "rock pinging" (throwing rocks laterally) while riding.
  • Check your sidewall for correct tread direction and wear/cuts.
  • Check pad wear when you clean your rims, remove any grit or rocks. Replace if shiny or worn. Check your rims and pads if you have metal shavings in your brakes, you probably picked up a rock in your brake pad and cut a little groove in your rims.
  • Keep cable stops clean and debris-free.
  • Check your derailleur hanger alignment--this is critical if you drop your bike on the cassette or crash. Your derailleur should be the same distance away from your wheel from top to bottom--if not, you risk your derailleur moving your chain completely off the largest gear on the stack into your spokes, causing a catastrophic crash! Unequal distance between your derailleur and wheel indicates that you have bent, or most likely cracked the mounting on your frame for your derailleur. Some mountings are replaceable, some are built into your frame. Take your bike in to a repair shop for derailleur issues!
  • Lubricate springs occasionally with oil.
Gracie's Wrench does offer basic bicycle repair/tune up courses. Check their website for details!

Sports Drinks and Dental Health

So looking at icky mouths is not my favorite thing, but one of our club members, Ryan Voge, DMD, from Downtown Dental Associates, is a dentist and did a presentation on dental health of athletes, which started with a game "Meth Mouth or Triathlete Mouth"...really, there were some similar examples. I don't have the pics to share, you can use your imagination...blech.

The big thing I learned from this was how most Sports Drinks, like Gatorade and others are just as damaging to our teeth as sodas and most gels and gummies can be even more so. Sports drinks and gels/gummies are sugary and acidic, two things that contribute to plaque, dissolve enamel, and create an optimum environment for bacterial growth that lead to gum disease; gels and gummies are worse in that they are viscous and sticky and remain in the mouth longer than liquid drinks. Triathletes are at a greater risk because the events last hours and if you sip sports drinks every 15 minutes or so your mouth has a constant sugary, acidic level. There are a couple of things you can do to lessen your risk:
  1. Follow your sip of sports drink, gel, or gummy with water, swishing it around your mouth before swallowing.
  2. Use sports drinks with Xylitol or Stevia for sweeteners. Both of these sweeteners are natural and do not have the same effect on your mouth as sugar, glucose, or other sugar-based sweeteners. Xylitol is even better in that it actually inhibits bacterial growth in your mouth! I seem to remember Mother Superior telling my about xylitol years ago when she worked in the dental office... The drawback, it can have a laxative effect if taken in large amounts, so watch the amount you use to prevent the dreaded trots.... It's also toxic to dogs, so keep it away from fido.
Hammer Nutrition's HEED is one sports drink containing xylitol 

 Well that's all for to you after the Shamrock Run!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Transitioning to a Vegan Diet

"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." - La Rochefoucauld

I realize that not everyone can go cold turkey and go vegan overnight like I did! I was that compelled, and really didn’t like milk and eggs and hot dogs and things like that anyway, so it wasn’t a big stretch for me. Sarah Taylor, author of Vegan in 30 Days: Get Healthy. Save the World has done a great job, I think, in helping someone transition from a Western diet to a vegan diet. Below I am outlining her plan, with notes of mine on learning, pitfalls, etc. I do suggest you get her book for more detailed information. There are other transition plans, including the Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn. Explore them and see which works best into your lifestyle.

Vegan in 30 Days: Get Healthy. Save the World, by Sarah Taylor

1. Explore why you want to be vegan.

My reason was for health, for cancer risk reduction, but there are lots of reasons for vegan lifestyle, including cardiovascular health, animal rights, reducing your carbon footprint, weight loss, etc. What will compel you?

2. Know the basics.

What exactly is vegan? What is organic? What is raw and why is it good for you? What is a whole grain? Why no honey? Are all foods labeled “vegan” healthy?

3. Fruit and veg cleanse.

Try a day with only raw fruits and veggies…Eat more if you feel hungry! Cook some if all raw all day is too much. See how you feel.

4. Eliminate red meat.

This was a huge windfall for my meat-eating family and friends….Cindy’s freezer opened up for a free-for-all! Donate to a local food pantry or shelter. If it’s not there, you won’t be tempted while you’re learning a new way of eating. Later, believe it or not, it probably won’t even interest you anymore. If you are the only one in your family making the change, make fridge, freezer, and cabinet space for your "stuff"!

5. Find substitutes.

Try things, lots of things! Some stuff is awful—seriously! Some stuff is AMAZING! Don’t give up if you try something that’s awful, it’s just one brand…try another. For milk, there’s soy, rice, hemp, coconut, almond, oat, on and on and on. Check and make sure they don’t have loads of added sugar or oil and find what tastes good to you. There’s even nut cream to substitute for heavy or whipping cream. There’s Tofutti brand sour cream and cream cheese substitutes, Coconut Bliss Ice Cream that I would mug someone for! Earth Balance margarine and Vegannaise vegan mayo when you need a little spread. Soy Curls!! OMG, worth searching for or ordering by mail… Cheeses, there’s soy, almond, rice, etc., make sure they don’t contain casein, a milk protein.

6. Get a beautiful fruit bowl and keep it filled!

Ok, I have TWO huge fruit bowls because I can’t contain it all into one… This is huge! If it’s out on the counter and beautiful, you will reach for it. It’s a great fast breakfast or snack or dessert. And, on hand and ready for smoothies or juicing. I buy oranges by the box from my produce market and store in my cool garage, taking a few oranges in every day to resupply my fruit bowl. While you’re at it, find new fruits you may never have tried before! Make it fun!

7. Start each day with a green smoothie

Ok, it doesn’t have to be ALL GREEN! Do what Mother Superior does and “sneak” handfuls of spinach, some celery, and kale into a beautiful fruit and hemp milk smoothie that the grandkids LOVE! You won’t even taste the greens!

I will make a product pitch here…I recommend a Vitamix blender. And believe me, I thought Mother Superior had lost her marbles and been seduced and brainwashed by late night shopping television when she told me she had ordered a $400 blender from QVC! I was really alarmed! But, after trying it and trying to replicate what it does in my regular blender, I quickly changed my mind and bought one too.  Besides smoothies, you can make your own almond milk, grind your own grains, make phenomenal ice cream, amazing soups and sauces, grind your own tahini and nut butters. It’s solid, easy to clean and worth every cent!

8. Eliminate poultry

Alright, you cut red meat, now cut poultry.  You know, poultry really doesn’t have much of a taste…it’s all the sauces we put on them. Try the sauces over potatoes, quinoa, Portobello mushrooms, pasta! Friends, family, and food banks rejoice!

9. Add a large salad every day

I have a beautiful Asian bowl that is my personal salad bowl! It’s meant for Vietnamese phó noodle soup. Fill it up with a variety of beautiful veggies you are stocking up on, add seeds or nuts, even fruit or raisins. Top with a new non-animal product dressing, hummus, or salsa, balsamic vinegar.

Get a salad spinner! When you come home from the market, prepare your salad greens, rinse them in the spinner basket, spin out the water and dump that water out, and store your cleaned prepared greens in your spinner in your fridge. I find that the biggest hurdle that keeps me from making a salad is all that prep and chopping…do it ahead of time and then making a salad is a breeze! Preclean and chop your other veggies too, store in containers in the fridge and then dump, dump, dump together for an instant beautiful salad!

10. Read Diet for a New America

Or any other vegan information book. Sarah Taylor was very moved by John Robbins’ book. He was the heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune and walked away from it after he discovered the ill-effects of animal protein in our diets. Check out The China Study by Dr. T. Collin Campbell, The Food Revolution by John Robbins,  Prevent and Reverse Hearth Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, or one of many other books about veganism.

11. Fruit and veg cleanse

A repeat of Day 3.

12. Eliminate cheese

Ok, folks, this was the scariest part of the whole transition for me! Those who know me KNOW and have KNOWN that CHEESE was my FAVORITE FOOD on the PLANET. My partner, at the time, said I wouldn’t be able to do it because of the cheese. Well, I tell you what…I DON’T MISS IT!! I don’t even crave cheese substitutes…I don’t want it.  Gone.

Here’s what I learned about cheese. It’s an addicition! Ok, stop laughing and let me explain. Dairy contains casein, which during digestion break down to form caseomorphins which bind to opiate receptors in our bodies, the same as morphine, heroin, and other narcotic substances! It is food crack! There have been studies that administered naloxone (Narcan®), the drug used to reverse narcotic overdoses (that I give as a paramedic), and found that subjects no longer craved or enjoyed cheese after its administration. Interesting!  So, I ended up going “cold turkey” on my narcotic cheese addiction and didn’t even know it!

Oh, and if you need further help, as Mother Superior notes, it’s mostly pus anyway… a pound of cheese can contain up to 7.5 billion pus cells. Thanks, Mom, I’m grossed out now.

13. Take a tour of your local health food store

Most towns have a health food store, even if it’s a closet-sized shop tucked in a strip mall somewhere. Go check it out, don’t be afraid. Ask questions! Get to know them. If there’s something you heard about but don’t see, ask, they will probably order it for you!

Fred Meyer has a large health foods section. And then there’s Whole Foods and New Seasons Market. Vancouver has Chuck’s Produce Market. Look for produce-only markets, like Gateway Produce in Vancouver. And head to the local Farmers’ Markets when in season.

14. Gather vegan recipes

Go to the bookstore or library and spend time, and I mean spend time looking through vegan cookbooks. Get one or two that inspire you, have recipes that you would love to try, perhaps have copycat versions of what you’re used to eating to help you transition. These are two that I bought that are great resources and were very helpful:

The Vegan Cook’s Bible by Pat Crocker
1000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson

Go online, search for vegan recipes. You will be amazed at what’s out there!

15. Try a new recipe

Pick a new recipe every week, from your new cookbooks or online. Build your arsenal! Maybe try a new food, grain or vegetable, that you have never cooked with before!

16. Eliminate fish and seafood

OK, like red meat and poultry earlier…kick the fish!

17. Commit to the kitchen

For some people, going vegan is scary because it means being prepared, having food on hand…there’s not many vegan fast-food drive thru’s out there! I tend to make more than I need when I cook and freeze individual containers so I have things in a pinch. Make sure you have veggies and fruit and things to snack on!

18. Buy a veggie chopper

I didn’t do this…but buy a veggie chopper or a great knife! Some specialty kitchen tools such as a microplane grater for ginger or garlic, a mandolin for beautifully cut veggies, a pressure cooker, or juicer… Treat yourself!

19. Treat yourself

Ha! I just typed that and saw it was Day 19’s topic!! Splurge on something vegan…a book, a shirt, kitchen gadget, something!

20. Eliminate eggs

There are lots of ways to substitute for eggs in cooking and baking…and note, liquid Better’n Eggs and other cartoned egg substitutes are made from eggs.

1 heaping tsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp water = 1 egg
1 oz. mashed tofu = 1 egg
½ mashed banana = 1 egg
Egg replacer such as Ener-G per package directions
Or check out for more

Miss scrambled eggs for breakfast? Try a tofu scramble! They’re really good!

Want egg salad sandwich? Use Extra firm tofu! It’s the mayo and sweet pickle that makes egg salad good anyway!

Sorry, haven’t found a substitute for over easy…

21. Meet other vegans

This is HUGE! Mother Superior and I bounced things off each other consistently when we were starting, as did members of my fire station crew. Check with your health food store, there’s probably a vegan group in your area…Portland has a huge vegan community at and has monthly potlucks, presentations, and even a fantastic convention every year. Look at and search for vegan groups.  And heck, ask me, I'll be your vegan friend! :o)

22. Stay Motivated!

This goes with meeting other vegans, but find other things to keep you motivated, like conferences, books, websites, etc. Learn more about a specific aspect of being vegan, explore! Find a vegetarian or vegan restaurant!

23. Begin taking vitamin B12 and ground flaxseed

Vitamin B12 is produced by a bacteria in soil, however, not absorbed by plants growing in that soil. When we wash our vegetables, we wash away vitamin B12, as opposed to animals who pull up roots and consume the soil with the plants and grasses they eat and then pass it on to us. Many vegan foods are fortified with vitamin B12, such as non-dairy milks, breads, etc. You only need trace amounts and I have heard that someone who switches from meat-based to vegan diet has enough vitamin B12 in their body to last two years, however, to avoid the possibility of adverse health effects of vitamin B12 deficiciency, a vitamin B12 supplement can be a good thing. Here is some more information: You can also have your doctor check your blood levels for vitamin B12.

Flaxseed contains Omega-3 fatty acids which research has shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, help reduce high blood pressure, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), joint pain and other rheumatoid problems, certain skin ailments, may boost the immune system, and help protect us from Alzheimer's disease. Flaxseed is a vegan source of Omega-3 fatty acids, usually associated with fish oil. Flaxseed must be ground in order for your body to absorb the fatty acids, so run it through a grinder (a coffee grinder works great for this) or buy it ground. A simple tablespoon of ground flax sprinkled on your food is all you need! Keep your flaxseed meal in the fridge or freezer to keep it from going rancid.

24. Eliminate all dairy

You’ve dropped cheese…you checked out substitutes…go for it!

25. Learn to eat in restaurants
It's not as scary of difficult as it may seem, but there are a couple of things you can do to make things easier on yourself:

  • Look at the menu online! If you know where you are going, most restaurants have their menus on their websites! Scope it out.
  • Ask for a vegan menu! Did you know that most places have a special diets menu but only give it out if you ask? I was floored the first time someone asked the waiter for that and the waiter produced one!
  •  Get a smartphone app…Seriously! On the iPhone, check out VeganXpress, they list common restaurants and what items are vegan.
  •  Look for easy substitutions…veggie fajitas without the sour cream or cheese, Chinese chicken salad without the chicken, rice bowl with veggies only. Most places have a hummus plate anymore these days, check the appetizer's a great option!
  •  Ask for what you want if you can’t find it on the menu. A lot of places are used to vegetarians and vegans and can accommodate special requests, like a fruit and salad plate, etc. even if it’s not on the menu. Don’t be afraid to ask!
  • Call ahead…at some restaurants, mostly non-chain restaurants, the chef will be willing to make something special if they have enough notice to do this.
Be creative…last summer my engine company was invited to a special appreciation BBQ at the local Big Box hardware store…no veggie burgers….so I had the BEST lettuce, tomato, pickle, mustard, and ketchup on a sesame seed bun ever, and no one was ever the wiser! Actually, I realized at that point that what makes a hamburger taste like a hamburger was all the toppings…so I had two! No hurt feelings for anyone!
26. Attending and hosting dinner parties

If you’ve been asked to a dinner party, simply politely note you are vegan when you RSVP and say you would love to bring another dish that everyone can share at the dinner party, since they have so much cooking to do—your way to help! Then bring something fabulous! I’ve not had any problem with this with anyone. There will most likely be a salad and veggies you can enjoy along with it!

When you host, let folks know you are vegan and make it potluck, so they can bring non-vegan options to go along with your things so they don’t feel underserved! And you know what? Your guests will always be amazed at how good vegan food is! Vegan sounds so austere and scary, but in reality is very varied and wonderful--it surprises most people!

27. Learn to say, “no thank you—I’m vegan”

Don’t be embarrassed! People usually are not offended, and most often, they are interested. Be prepared to talk about it. Be prepared, though, so you are comfortable and know how you are going to approach the situation.

28. Eliminate remaining animal ingredients

Here’s the “secret list” of hidden animal ingredients! Learn to read food labels and give away items that contain:

  • Acetate
  • Albumin
  • Casein
  • Fatty Acids
  • Gelatin
  • Glycerin
  • Lactose, most ingredients with the prefix “lact-“
  • Lanolin
  • Lard
  • Lethicin (unless soy lethicin, which is ok)
  • Lipase, most ingredients with the prefix “lip-“
  • Milk protein
  • Milk sugar
  • Natural flavoring (often is of an animal source)
  • Natural sources (often is of an animal source)
  • Olean/Olestra
  • Palmitate
  • Rennin
  • Retinol
  • Stearic Acid
  • Sterol
  • Whey

29. Clean out your kitchen

You’ve probably done this along the way, but do a final walk-through, and replace with healthy alternatives!

30. State your Case

Own it! You’ve done it!

Friday, March 4, 2011

What a Vegan Eats

What I Eat!

“What do you eat?” is one of the most common questions I’m asked besides “Why?” I think it is simpler to say what I don’t eat, since that list is much, much shorter!

I don’t eat:
  • Meat (poultry, beef, pork) or products made from meat (bacon, hot dogs, lard etc.)
  • Fish or seafood
  • Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream, sour cream, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Mayonnaise (contains eggs and milk protein)
  • Margarine (contain milk protein)
  • Gelatin (made from animal hooves and bones)
  • Honey
  • Non-dairy creamers (contain milk protein)
  • Additives in processed foods (a few here, will have a full list in another post):
    • Casein (in many “vegetarian” cheeses, a binder made from milk protein)
    • Whey
    • Lactose
    • Glycerin
  • Oils (I sauté everything in water or vegetable stock rather than oil)
 I eat sparingly:
  • Nuts
  • Tahini
  • Avocados
  • Processed foods, including tofu, soy, tempeh, and seitan
Why do I eat these things sparingly? These foods provide a lot of oil, and while they are monounsaturated fats and better than saturated fats found in animal-based products, I am trying to limit the total quantity of oils I consume. While Dr. Esselstyn recommended eliminating these products entirely, I do believe there is a bit of benefit in eating some nuts and avocado oils, and as I do not have heart disease, think my body can handle these products. Processed foods, well they are processed elsewhere, contain extra ingredients to preserve them, and are often soy-based. I don't mind eating some soy products, but it is very easy to move from typical Western diet to a nearly 100% soy diet and still not get the benefits of fruits, vegetables, and grains. I don't believe soy should be the bulk of your diet.

I try to eat whole foods as much as possible, so whole grains rather than refined flours, raw sugar or stevia rather than granulated white sugar, agave nectar, etc.

So what does that leave? Every vegetable, fruit, whole grain goodness under the sun! Too many to list, as opposed the easy to list "what I don't eat!"

How do you get your protein?

Another top question! Did you know, that the typical Western diet provides twice the amount of protein their body needs, mostly from animal sources full of saturated fat? The recommended daily allowance for protein is calculated by the following formula:
Body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = recommended protein intake

So a 140 pound female would only need 50 grams of protein a day, perhaps adding a margin more if in heavy athletic training. And consider this, when did you grow the most in your lifetime? You doubled your size in the first three months of your life. What did you eat? More likely than not, breast milk, which contains just 0.9% protein or 1.1g/100ml. You grew at the fastest rate on the perfect food for you at the time, low-protein breast milk. I tend to keep that in mind, that while protein is a building block, it is one of many. Here is a sample of protein levels in some vegan foods:

Healthy Protein Sources (in grams)
Black Beans, boiled (1 cup)
Broccoli (1 cup)
Bulgur, cooked (1 cup)
Chickpeas, boiled (1 cup)
Lentils, boiled (1 cup)
Peanut butter (2 tbsp)
Quinoa, cooked (1 cup)
Seitan (4 oz)
Spinach, boiled (1 cup)
Tempeh (1/2 cup)
Tofu, firm (1.2 cup)

So by eating a variety of grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, it is easy to get adequate non-fat protein in our diets!

The hardest thing for people switching to vegan is learning how to cook again. It's easy, and actually a lot of fun, once you get tips and tricks and the hang of it. Get a few new cookbooks, search the Internet...oh, wow, there are millions of vegan cooking blogs out there with food that looks so good you want to lick the screen!

What the Hell does a Vegan Eat Anyway?

Just to name a few...type in your own search for Vegan Recipes and you will be amazed!