2/28/11

My Food Philosophy

I am going to go ahead and make a bold statement;

I believe that the majority of healthy folks (like us) spend way more time thinking about food than the majority of less-than-healthy folks.

Ok there, I said it, and I even made it bold.

Now I'll explain it:

I believe that health conscious people think about food and issues related to food so much, due in most, to the fact that it is quite difficult to be healthy and NOT think about food. Healthy requires a balanced diet, which means we must be aware of what we eat, how much of it that we eat, how often we eat, and what else we should be eating (or not eating as the case may be).

Is is obsessive? NO! Not at all. At least not when done correctly. All it means is that we are mindful of what we put into our bodies so that we can get the most out of the bodies we have been given. We are respecting our bodies and ourselves through nutrition, which we know is a HUGE component in overall wellness. Its essential and we are acknowledging that necessity.

My approach to food (also known as my Food Truths) is this:

Eat what you love and love what you eat

Remember when you were a kid and your mom wanted you to finish your lima beans so you plugged you nose chomped twice and swallowed those little beans before they were sufficiently chewed? Yeah, don't do that any more.

Instead learn to love the healthy food that you use to fuel your body. That means trying new things and creative ways to cook them. Learn to enjoy different flavors and spices. Step outside your comfort zone and you might be surprised how much you enjoy the good stuff.

Truth be told, I never force myself to eat anything. I eat salads because I love them, much the same as I eat ice cream because I love it. I just try to make the former more of a habit then the latter.



Hint: Make salads this delicious and you'll be thinking, ice cream who??




















Nothing is off limits

Ok, let me re-phrase that. Don't limit it because its "bad for you". I don't eat red meat but not because of calories, fat, cholesterol. I just don't. Otherwise there is nothing thing that I don't eat, because "off limits" can quickly become a "fear food" and a list of "fear foods" can grow and that can become a lot more unhealthy and restrictive then the occasional piece of pizza.

Instead have an idea of your "Eat Always" and "Eat Sometimes" foods. Stick with column A 80% of the time and it's all good! Moderation is another way to look at it but carefully define what moderate means (ie: a big bowl of steamed veggies daily is awesome! Same bowl of french fries? Not so much!)






















Eat the rainbow

No, not Skittles....I said eat, not taste! Ok fine, Skittles too but let's not get too out of control alright? The other rainbow is a variety of brightly colored fruits, vegetables and grains. Make green a priority in as many meals as you can. Trust me on this one, Popeye and that Jolly Giant are on my side anyway.





















Mix it up a little (or a lot)

Enjoy a variety of foods. I said it before but I'll say it again, try new things! I never knew I liked beets until I threw them in some salad and ta-da! A healthy new salad fixin' was born! Sometimes its easy to eat the few things you know are healthy but guess what? You are probably going to get bored and stop eating them. And then what? Doritos city baby!

While I eat the same breakfast and lunch on work days I make a variety of things for dinner so I don't get the "Oh... you again" blahs and turn to the phone book for fried chicken in a bucket delivered to my doorstep.




















Embrace food for what it can do for you

Good wholesome food gives you energy. It helps ward off pesky colds and flus. It makes you stronger and faster and fitter. It nourishes you, body, mind and soul. Food in general is absolutely essential to life and healthy food is almost as crucial.

If you are what you eat I'd rather be a Green Monster then a Double Down, that's for damn sure!!





















Treat yourself and love it!

All things considered if I follow the other truths most of the time then you'd better believe I am going to enjoy something cheesey or chocolatey from time to time. It's my life and I want to live it to the fullest. And a full life, in my definition, means chocolate chips!!



















Now that's the truth!



So tell me, what's one of your Food Truths?
Reactions:

2/27/11

1/2 Marathon Training- Week One in Review

Happy Sunday everyone. I know many of you are probably gearing up for the Oscars (I'm more a Grammy's girl) but I thought I would stop in with a quick update on week one of my 1/2 marathon training.

According to my training plan week one called for:



Click to enlarge





For the full plan click here

Here's how the week unfolded:

Monday: 4k walk
Tuesday: 12k run (treadmill)/ taught Tabata (40 minutes)
Wednesday: 5.5k speed session (treadmill)
Thursday: taught Tabata (40 minutes)
Friday: taught Cycle Pump
Saturday: 12k long run
Sunday: rest

Total distance ran: 29.5k

What I learned:

  • Sometimes life happens and you have to roll with it. My plan changed twice this week at the last minute but I made due and did my best.

  • Sometimes you are going to be really tired at the end of a workout and no one will believe that you love it as much as you say you do. The important part is that you still believe it(I definitely do!)



















  • Sometimes the weather is going to get in the way and you are going to run anyway. It snowed during my long run and the sidewalks were slippery but it was manageable which actually proved to be that I love running more now then I did eight months ago.

  • Sometimes you should triple check your training plan before you head out for your long run so you actually do the planned distance (Duh!)

  • Sometimes reading and snacks are a great way to spend a rest day. Brushing my hair? Not so much!

I'm reading The Long Run by Matt Long...if you haven't read it you really need to!



















  • Sometimes training for one race makes you eager to train for others (like a Century this summer and, oh I dunno, maybe even a marathon! More to come on that one though....)

All in all week one was really good (among all the active stuff I also had a great time checking out a new band on Thursday and had a fun date night with The Boyfriend on Friday) I am absolutely looking forward to week two and beyond but for now I am eager to plop down on the couch and enjoy some more of this lazy rest day!


So tell me, what is one thing that you learned this week? Are you a fan of the Oscars? Who had your favorite red carpet look?
Reactions:

2/26/11

A Few of My Favorites....

Sometimes every runner needs a little motivation:


"Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal"

"Opportunity is often passed up because it is disguised as hard work"

"The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare."

"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."
 
"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
 
"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars."

"We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment."

"Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful "
 
 
And this one:
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Run and your heart will follow"


 
How awesome is my new favorite t-shirt? Gotta love Victoria's Secret a little more for this one....
 
 

So tell me, whats your favorite motivational quote?
Reactions:

2/24/11

26 Things Thursday....wait, whaaaat???

Hey friends! First and foremost thank you for all your amazing comments on last night's post. It was a tough one to write (I literally sobbed as I typed) but it makes it easier to know you guys are out there supporting me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

I am heading out tonight to check out my good friends new band FirexFire tonight but I wanted to leave you with a little random info about me...cuz really, who can get enough of the random info. Not this girl! Thursdays are usually 4 Things Thursdays up in here but why not get a little crazy and switch it up!

ABCs.....

A: Age: 28

B: Bed size: A Queen (like me! j/k…well sort of)


C: Chore you dislike: Laundry! Sharing laundry facilities is the worst thing EVER! I delay laundry until the last possible moment each and every time.

D: Dogs: I love ‘em! I’m now a part time dog mama to Barkley (he stays with The Boyfriend’s family a lot)




















E: Essential start to your day: Breakfast. It’s dangerous if I don’t get it.


F: Favorite color: Black. Ok, so technically its not a colour but I’m picking it anyway!


G: Gold or silver: White gold. Always. And forever. You reading this Boyfriend? Taking notes maybe??


H: Height: 5’8


I: Instruments I can play: Does Rock Band guitar count??


J: Job title: Workforce Analyst. Glamorous right??


K: Kids: None…unless you count my fur baby monsters


L: Live: Toronto, Ontario Canada


M: Mom’s name: Frances


N: Nicknames: Sam, Sammy


O: Overnight hospital stays: None.


P: Pet peeve: Oh boy…where do I start? Lateness is a HUGE one.

Q: Quote from a movie: “Stop looking at me swan” Billy Madison



















R: Righty or lefty: Righty.


S: Siblings: Sister who is 25.


T: Time you wake up: Depends on the day. Usually around 7am.


U: Underwear: Uhhhh……where are you going with this?


V: Vegetables you dislike: Can’t think of one….well unless a water chestnut is a vegetable. Blech!


W: What makes you run late: Forgetting to turn of my straightening iron (or thinking I did) but again, I really hate lateness!


X: X-rays: Teeth


Y: Yummy food you make: Lasagna, chili, Super Salads


Z: Favorite zoo animal: I like all of them!



That's it for me...it's time to go party like a rockstar!






















I'm not actually in the band per se (ok, not at all) but when in Rome right??


So tell me, what's essential to start your day?

Reactions:

2/23/11

In a Moment of Weakness

I made a mistake today.

I stepped on a scale and let the number hurt me.

I let it cause me to doubt myself and my accomplishments.

I let it make me feel less worthy somehow.

I let it take over.

And then I stopped.

Because I am not defined by the number on a scale, a dress, or candles on a birthday cake.

Because I am proud of who I am and of who I strive to be.

Because I run farther and work harder then every before.

Because I have come too far to let that stupid number take it all away.


In support of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week I needed to acknowledge that moment and then release it. I don't want to be held down. I embrace me at any size, any weight, any age.


Click to enlarge


















I have thunder thighs
And that's a compliment because they are strong and toned and muscular
And while they are unwelcome in the petite section
They are cheered on in marathons
Fifty years from now I'll bounce a grandchild on my thunder thighs
And then I'll go for a run

Source


And how could I not love them...after all, they got me through my speed training today:

Warmup
5 min walking @ 3.8
5 min running @ 5.8

2min @ 6.0
4min @ 7.0
2 min @ 3.8

Repeat 3 times
(during the 3rd repeat the 4min was reduced to 3)

Cool down
5min running @ 6.0
2 min walking at 3.5

Total time: 40 minutes

I love running, I really do. But you want to know what I love more??
























Me!!


So tell me, what makes you love you?? (even if you don't usually comment I'd love it of you'd participate in this one!)
Reactions:

2/22/11

Substitute Teacher

The nice thing about having volunteer instructors at my gym is that the full time instructor/facility coordinator has a back up plan in the event that he is sick. Enter me, otherwise known as the back up plan.

The nice thing about teaching a class like Tabata is that the routine can be put together in a pinch and used to cover for a scheduled step class (which I couldn't teach to save my life!)

The nice thing about life is that you can't always plan for everything and sometimes you just go with the flow. Like today for example, when the email came in for me to teach after I had run 7.5 miles. (which is 2k more than my training plan...ya me!)

The nice thing is that sometimes, when I really, really need to, I can find some extra energy and pull off small feats like this. Never fear, Samantha is here!!!

That being said I am utterly and completely exhausted! Thank goodness for the convenience of healthy yet prepared foods on a night like this





































Don't get me wrong, I am all for homemade lasagna goodness but if I'm too lazy tired to cook and it comes down to this or McDonalds I'm taking this each and every time (The Boyfriend would like me to point out that he does not endorse that statement....boys!)

And now my friends, if you will excuse me I have a date with this bad boy




















Just another wild Tuesday night for yours truly!



So rell me, what's your go-to food on a night when you are just too tired to make dinner??
Reactions:

2/21/11

1/2 Marathon Training: 12 Weeks and counting..

Hi friends! I hope you are all enjoying your holiday Monday (If you didn't get the day off I'm sorry and I dedicate my extra sleep this morning to you!). There is something to be said for a mid-winter long weekend, even if the provincial government basically just made it up and called it Family Day. I, for one, am not complaining!

In honor of this not -so- special day I kept busy by:
  • Fending off weird stomach troubles that had me (and The Boyfriend..thanks hun!) up half the night
  • Postponing my planned long run and instead taking a slow 4km walk instead
  • Foam rolling some achy muscles (that sucker hurts!)
  • Giving myself a mini- makeover, going from this:


















To this.





































I'm a home hair colour girl all the way. Truth be told I have never, ever had my hair professionally colored and I have changed my hair colour a lot. (How's that for a little random info for ya??)




  • Putting together my long awaited 1/2 marathon training plan


(Click to enlarge)

The Details:

Weeks until Race Day- 12
Runs per week- 3 to 4
Cross training sessions per week- 3 to 4
Rest Days- 1 "active" rest day (ie: yoga or walking)
Max distance for long run: 22km
Max. weekly distance: 47km
Taper timeline: 1 week

Additional information:

I will be in sunny Cuba from April 8-April 14th. Luckily I am travelling with very active friends (including bride-to-be Cynthia) who will motivate me to visit the hotel gym a few times during the trip, although training will definitely fall back during this time.

In addition to the training I will put added emphasis on stretching and foam rolling (daily), sleep (8 hours daily), good nutrition and hydration (2L+ daily)

As always, I am prepared to adjust the plan as necessary to avoid mental and physical burnout. Mondays currently include strength training but can easily be converted to rest days as required.

My end goal is to PR at this race but ultimately I want to stay strong and healthy through this training and finish the race with a smile on my face. Its my hope that this plan will get me there.

And that, my friends, was my Monday...fun stuff huh??


So tell me me, what did you do today? If you had the day off how did you make the most out of your long weekend? What do you think of my training plan? Any advice? 



Reactions:

2/18/11

A Love Triangle

In life we are lucky to have one great love. I have two.

The Boyfriend is one of them (in case you were worried)

The other is fitness.

Fortunately for me neither are a secret love affair and at times they have even found ways to co-exist.

Is it me or does he have a GIANT hand in this picture?

























But if you are like me, and caught in the middle, you probably know it's not always that easy. Sometimes you have to choose.

Stay in bed on a Sunday and enjoy a morning coffee with your partner or go for a scheduled 10 mile long run......

Nachos and beer during the game with your partner or pasta and H2O before a big race...

Late nights and one too many glasses of wine enjoyed with your partner or early mornings and Gatorade enjoyed on the treadmill....

Yes, sometimes you have to choose.

























I read an article recently called A Workout Ate My Marriage which takes a closer look at how an active lifestyle can sometimes get in the way of a happy relationship. You may have heard the terms "exercise widow" or "triathlon widow" and as funny as they seem they are no joke. Actual couples have faced serious marital issues as a result of one partner's commitment to fitness/sport. For some couples it gets so out of hand that the relationship ends entirely. Now that's serious!

I want to believe that my relationship is safe from that fate but then again I am the one leaving one love for another. When I crawl out of bed with the sun on the weekend The Boyfriend is left with an empty bed and no one to sip coffee with. Hmmm...could there be more here then I realized?

The Boyfriend is a good support system and fan. He gets up early for races and contends with road closures and crowds to meet me at the finish line. He listens to me go on (and on and on and on..) about my latest Tabata class or a funny post on another blog. He even tries to pretend he understands why I consume more spinach than Popeye or travel around town looking for Greek yogurt. Yeah, he's good like that.

























But despite his Super Fan status I can't help but wonder am I doing enough to strike a balance between two of my biggest priorities? Does he know that the difference between him and my training is true love and a passion?

Would I give up working out and training for races because he asked me to? No. But I love him because he never would. He knows how much it means to me and wouldn't expect or want me to sacrifice a huge part of my life for him. (He also wouldn't want to deal with my insane crankiness if I didn't de-stress through activity but that's another story for another day)

To show my appreciation I try work out in the morning or at lunch so our evenings are ours. I am happier and more well rounded when I exercise and that doesn't go unnoticed (how could it, did I mention a grouchy lady lives inside me??) And I try to be a fan for him whenever the opportunity comes up because as much as I like taking part in a challenge there is something to be said for being the loud obnoxious spectator. Any hockey game he plays in, no matter how informal it may be, and I am going to make every effort to be there, steaming cup of hot chocolate and all! (I'd get a giant foam finger but he might actually leave me for that one)





















So to my boyfriend and every other Super Fan out there, who stands on the sidelines while we crazy fitness types do our thing, I thank you. My booty, my heart and my lungs thank you. The moody girl that doesn't have as many excuses to rear her ugly head doesn't thank you, but who cares what she thinks, she's a witch anyway.

xoxoxo

So tell me, how does you partner/family/friends support you? How do you return the favor?
Reactions:

2/17/11

4 Things Thursday

Well kiddies it's time for the next edition of 4 Things Thursday but first I have a confession to make:

I am consuming copious amounts of chocolate as I type this.




















That's right, I am sitting here thinking "Ohhh, look at me, I'm a Healthy Living Blogger writing my Healthy Living Blog" as I stuff my face with milk chocolatey goodness. The logic may be a tad flawed but I can't say I mind one little bit!

And with that, let's get on with our regularly scheduled program:

4 Things Thursday

4 Things I Am Super-Duper Excited About Right Now:

  • It's a long weekend in Ontario and that means SLEEP!
  • I am teaching my very first Cycle Pump class tomorrow
  • It's +5C outside which means Spring is right around the corner
  • Tabata (along with all the other workouts) is starting to really wield some result

Me likey some chick muscles!





















4 Breeds of Dog I Want to Adopt:

  1. Bernese Mountain Dog
  2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  3. Golden Retriever (because one isn't enough!)
  4. French Bulldog
4 Things I Love About Spring

  1. Running outside again
  2. Spring fever- I get an energy boost that even Red Bull can't recreate!
  3. Feeling warm sunshine on my face
  4. Rain boots..not just for first graders anymore!


How cute is this? Source

















4 Thoughts to Live By

  1. It is better to try and fail then live your life wondering "What if?"
  2. You can't change the past but you can learn from it and thereby change the future
  3. Control only what is yours to control, leave everything else to fate
  4. Don't take life too seriously, no one gets out alive anyway!

4 Blogs That I Want You to Check Out

  1. Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!
  2. The Life and Lessons of Rachel
  3. I Run, I Eat
  4. Crazy Running Legs


And that my friends concludes another 4 Things Thursday and it really leaves only one thing left to do.....Jersey Shore baby!! G'night!



So tell me, what's your favorite thing about Spring?
Reactions:

2/16/11

Product Review: Enjoy Life Cookies

You know you're a runner when...

There are probably a million examples I could insert here but the one that rang true today was:

"When you make your way home after a long, exhausting day and a tough lunch time workout only to discover that the temperature has risen above zero for the first time in what feels like years so you promptly drop your bag of groceries in the entrance way, throw on your running gear and head out for a brisk 5 kilometre jaunt."

Yeah, that's how you know you're a runner.

One thing that kept me running tonight was knowing that I had a fun night ahead of me. Thanks to the good people at Enjoy Life Foods I would be taste testing three different types of their soft baked cookies.





















If you aren't familiar with the brand, Enjoy Life manufactures products that are free of:

  • gluten
  • wheat
  • dairy
  • peanuts
  • tree nuts
  • egg
  • soy
  • fish
  • shellfish
The products are also free of:

artificial ingredients
trans fats
genetically modified (GMO) ingredients

On paper, Enjoy Life Foods sound like a no-brainer. But what about taste? With all that's missing is there room left for flavour? We'd be the judge of that.






















Facing the rather esteemed panel tonight were Snickerdoodle, Double Chocolate Brownie and "No Oats" Oatmeal cookies.

At first glance each cookie is conveniently proportioned and as soft and chewy as the package suggests. So far so good. But once again, this is about the taste....






















The verdict:

Snickerdoodle- Good. A subtle cinnamon flavor without overpowering sweetness.

Double Chocolate Brownie- Good. Tasty chocolate flavor.

Oatmeal- Really good. Noticeable hint of cinnamon and an unexpected crunch.

I was pleasantly surprised by these cookies and would absolutely recommend them to anyone looking for a gluten free, allergen free or vegan treat.

The Boyfriend (a more skeptical critic) was also quite surprised. In his words: "They definitely don't taste like a foot."

In case you didn't know, that's a two thumbs up!


So tell me, have you ever tried Enjoy Life products? If you are looking for allergen/gluten free do you turn to store brands or make these treats at home?
Reactions:

2/15/11

I Got Babies on the Brain

I should warn you, this post isn't about running, fitness or nutrition. Oh no, no, no. Instead it's about a yearning and desire so strong I can barely contain it sometimes. I spend countless hours on the Internet trying to satisfy my urges. I think about it constantly. I can barely admit it to family and friends who would think I was crazy if they knew just how bad its gotten. It's almost out of control if I'm being perfectly honest....

Have I piqued your interest yet?

Alright, I'll just put it out there, for all the world to see and judge:

I WANT A PUPPY!

I know, I know its crazy! I already have a dog but he's all grown up now and spends more time with his furry friends at The Boyfriend's house then with me. He doesn't need me anymore. And I miss being needed.

























I love puppies. They are messy and time consuming and tear-your-hair-out frustrating but their sweet and innocent energy combined with their willingness to be taught and molded just melts my heart. And who doesn't just adore the softness of a puppy's fur or the distinct aroma of puppy breath?




















I know puppies don't stay puppies forever but I want another chance to take a sweet little 8 week old ball of fur and make her into a beautiful, friendly, well rounded canine companion.






















Hell if they come in pairs I'll bite the bullet and take two. Double the fun and double the love right?? (Probably not, but how cute are these little guys??)

While I'm probably a year out from getting another pooch it's always nice to daydream. (I blame the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show) And if you don't mind, don't mention any of this to Barkley. He's a teenager and thus prone to overreaction and might think he's being replaced.


So tell me, what's your favorite breed of dog and why?
Reactions:

2/14/11

You wanna Cycle Pump? I wanna Cycle Pump? Alright, let's Cycle Pump

If the title didn't give it away I am finally feeling better (that or the medication has done permanent damage to my brain...let's hope for the best though!). And after days of not feeling alive well its great to be able to think "exercise" again and not going need to lay on the couch. Hooray for energy!!

I mentioned this here before but I am in the process of becoming certified as a Fitness Instructor Specialist. (Remember that announcement last month?) While I haven't officially registered for the course yet (I am waiting on the verdict of my stress inducing tax return) I am already getting lots of experience as a volunteer instructor at the private gym owned by my company. How freakin' awesome is that??

Currently I teach Tabata on Thursdays but what's even better (oh yeah, it gets better) is that I was graciously granted creative license to introduce a new class to the gym. OMG!!!!




















Yes, I am this excited. No, I am not currently on any of the aforementioned medication. That's all me baby!!

The class I am designing and will be debuting is named Cycle Pump but really it's Tabata but to the next level. Essentially it borrows a lot of the principles of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that are fused into the Tabata routine but incorporates more heart pumping cardio (ie the cycle part) into the mix.

Classes will include 6 rounds of 6 minutes, starting on the spin bike for round 1 ( as well as 3 and 5). During rounds 2, 4 and 6 we move to the mat for some hardcore strength and conditioning exercises that target the major muscle groups (legs, arms/shoulders, back and core). Finally we cool down and stretch for 5 minutes on the mat.

Some may call it Psycho Pump and I say let 'em!! Pain is just weakness leaving the body! (I'm not sure if I even like that saying but it works for these purposes and as such I will use it to my advantage)






















Anyone want to go to the gym??


So tell me, what got you excited today? And yes, you can gush about Valentine's Day if you'd like
Reactions:

2/13/11

Vegan Challenge Day 6 & 7: The End is Near

As the sun sets on the 7 Day Vegan Challenge I am both happy for the return to my regular diet and a little sad that the experience was tainted by illness, which hindered my ability to fully appreciate it. I didn't get to attempt the fine art of Indian cooking (Chana Masala) or reawaken my love for quinoa in the morning. In fact the protein pancakes that were an epic flop early on in the week were the one and only chance I had to put a spin on a go-to recipe. Am I really prepared to leave it at that?

Yeah, you know what, I am. For now anyway.

I am ready to return to the lifestyle I have come to know and love because it works for me. Its not perfect but its a work in progress and one that I am committed to every day. And I'm proud of that.

That being said, this challenge taught me a lot of valuable lessons:

  • Veganism is not a diet, its a lifestyle. Being vegan isn't just what to eat and what not to eat, its a way of life. The commitment is huge because let's be honest, all things considered, its a hell of a lot easier not to be a vegan. And I find a deep respect for those who have made this choice because their moral and ethical fabric has lead them here.
  • Read food labels. Vegan or not, take the time and get to know what's in your food. Better yet, make more of it yourself so you can actually control what goes into it (and what doesn't)
  • Keep trying new things. You may not like them (*couch* soy yogurt *cough*) but then again, maybe you will. And how will you know unless you try?
  • Be a responsible consumer. Even if you eat meat you can make responsible choices about where it comes from (treatment of animals, hormones etc)
  • Walk a mile in their shoes. Even if something isn't for you, an informed decision is always better than an assumed one.

So a few questions remain:

What is the first non-vegan meal I plan to eat once the challenge is over?

I'll admit, the challenge is actually over for me when I publish this. The meal is pizza which will be delivered not long after. If that's wrong then baby I don't want to be right!

Will I ever eat vegan again?

Sure. I eat a lot of meat free meals and I'm sure many of them can be made vegan quite easily. And I will definitely be making Chana Masala so I guess its a guarantee.

Would I recommend this challenge to others?

Of course! I would love for my meat eating friends and family to try it out, if for no other reason then to prove to themselves that vegetarian/vegan doesn't mean gross (why do so many people assume that??). I managed to get The Boyfriend to eat an entire vegan meal this week and my meat eating BFF is joining me for a vegetarian meal this Tuesday so I think I am already well on my way to getting my wish!


All in all, I am grateful for this experience and all the things that I can happily take away from it. If you took part I hope you enjoyed it. If you are a vegan everyday kudos to you! And if neither are applicable to you thanks for following along anyway. As always, you guys kick butt!!

But now my friends, it's time for me to fill my belly with the ooey-gooey cheese I've been craving!





















I can't promise its going to be pretty but I know it's gonna be good!!


So tell me, what have you learned about you lately? And while we aren't on the topic, how freakin' cute is a super fat cat anyway??
Reactions:

2/11/11

Vegan Challenge Day 5- Guest Post: Vegans and Honey

Can I just ask; What is UP with the flu this year? It seems like everyone I know who's gotten sick has stayed sick for what seems like decades. Sadly I am no exception. Day three of the flu (not to be confused with day five of the Challenge) was very much the same as days one and two: Tired, headache, nauseated and zero appetite. Cue the pity party!

Annnd, the party is over. Moving on to today's eats. The lack of appetite combined with the vegan challenge limited me to recoiling from practically everything in my fridge and cupboards. Enter a good ol' smoothie to the rescue!




















I added 1/2 a scoop of protein to this one. I shouldn't have. I am not a fan of protein powder on a good day and today definitely doesn't get classified as a "good" day. I had to choke that sucker down. All in the name of health right.

Along side the smoothie I had some leftover vegan chili. I smothered it on a spinach wrap. I don't know why but I'll blame the medication. I needs a spoon, a fork and a knife to master this one!




















It even looks weird. Again, I blame the drugs!

I am really excited to feature a fellow blogger on tonight's post. The idea for this came about in a Twitter discussion that I started around vegans and their views on honey. I got varied responses from "Its cool" to "No, no, NO!" and thought it would be really interesting to keep the conversation going. Rachel was kind enough to agree to a guest post on the topic and the rest is history...

I've done enough talking for one night and my chili mess is a clear indication that its better to leave it to someone much more coherent. Without further adieu:

______________________________________________________________________________

Why I’m vegan and why honey isn’t



My journey to a vegan lifestyle began when I was 10 years old and declared myself to be a vegetarian. That lasted about a week! Fast forward three years and 13 year old me gave up red meat and pork, leaving me to consume, and consume I did, poultry and seafood. I wish I could say I had some altruistic reason for giving up what I did, but in reality it was because the news was making a big deal about people dying from eating fast food hamburgers and I was scared, E. coli did not seem like fun. I lived this way for five years, happily eating birds and fish without thinking about the animal that my “food” once was. Then, one night after I had gone away to college my younger brother sent me a link to a video. It was PETA’s “Meet Your Meat” video and it changed my life. At that moment I was a vegetarian and while I don’t agree with PETA and their ways now, I do have to credit them and that video for getting me to become a vegetarian. I remained a happy vegetarian through all four years of college.


After graduating college, I got my first “real” job. While I was doing web-based training classes that require a minimum of time, no matter how fast you actually finish it, I started reading a free download of Erik Marcus’ book “Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating.” I was consumed by all of this new information and could not stop reading. That was it, I had to go vegan. It was the only way to live my life in accordance with my values. I looked at my two dogs, my Hamlet and my Bailey, my little canine loves and realized that there was no difference between them and any animal used for food. Veganism just made sense. And again, while my current views on animal rights issues differ greatly from Mr. Marcus’ I still have to give credit where credit is due and his book is what inspired me to go vegan.


Tired of hearing about me yet? Well, I’m tired of talking about myself. On to the real reason Samantha asked me to guest post: Honey. That’s right, that sweet sticky stuff that bees make. It can be a hot topic in the vegan world and I’m here to tell you once and for all WHY HONEY IS NOT VEGAN.

The simplest way to tell you that honey is not vegan is to look at its definition. The word vegan was first introduced in 1944 by Donald Watson:


“Veganism is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life. It applies to the practice of living on the products of the plant kingdom to the exclusion of flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animal milk and its derivatives, and encourages the use of alternatives for all commodities derived wholly or in part from animals.”


There you go, plain and simple, honey is NOT vegan. But, I know people don’t like to make things that simple. Why not? Isn’t life already too complicated?


So, why, other than that pesky definition is honey not vegan?


1. Honeybees, like other animals, have a complex central nervous system, which means they are able to experience pain and suffering


2. Bees create honey for themselves. Beekeepers take this from them and replace it with corn syrup or sugar water, a poor substitute.


3. Queen honeybees have a natural lifespan of five years but most will be killed every one to two years.


4. Bees are smoked out of the hives to retrieve honey and many are killed during this process either by being crushed or when they sting the keepers.


The list really could go on; if you have a sincere interest in the subject I suggest you check out the Vegetus.org page on the subject here. It is a well thought out, well written, and researched explanation of why honey is NOT vegan.


Honey is not something hard to avoid, there are plenty of alternatives to honey including agave nectar, maple syrup, and Just Like Honey. Am I bummed that the otherwise vegan cinnamon rolls at my local bakery contain honey? You bet! Am I going to eat them anyways? Nope! I can live without honey, but the bees work hard to produce it FOR THEMSELVES, and so they should be the ones consuming it.


Also, a note on vegan nomenclature from Vegetus.org that I find particularly important:


If you are thinking to yourself, "But I'm a vegan for health reasons" or "I'm a vegan for environmental reasons," read on. Unlike the word vegetarian, the word vegan specifically implies moral concern for animals, and this concern extends to all areas of life, not just diet. If you do not believe in animal equality, please consider referring to yourself as someone who doesn't eat animal products, as one who follows a plant-based diet, or as one who follows a vegan diet. Or, continue to educate yourself about veganism, and perhaps you will choose to practice veganism. Additionally, anyone who eats honey, yet refers to herself as a vegan, makes life difficult for other vegans--it's like having someone who eats fish and calls herself a vegetarian. When a vegetarian comes along, it is much harder for her to explain that fish is not acceptable for vegetarians.

I have been a happy and healthy vegan for over three years! I truly believe that it is the best life decision I have ever made, not only for me, but for the animals and the planet we all live on! I’d like to thank Samantha for letting me share my story. If anyone has any questions on veganism or would like some advice on transitioning to a vegan lifestyle I can be found on twitter @Rachel_Runs or at my blog http://www.rachel-runs.blogger.com/.

If you’ve gotten this far, congrats and thanks for reading! I hope I wasn’t too boring.

Rachel

__________________________________________________________________



Thank you so much Rachel for sharing your story and your thoughts with us!

So tell me, what are your thoughts on veganism and honey?


Reactions:

2/10/11

Vegan Challenge Day 4- Cravings

With the worst flu that I have had in well over a year I have to admit that the 7 Day Vegan Challenge got easier simply because I lost my appetite for nearly 32 hours. Its pretty simple to avoid cheese when you can't stomach the thought of eating anything at all.

Today I decided that appetite or not I needed to get some nutrients into my body to help myself get back to health. While nothing seemed overly appetizing I figured the best bang for my buck was an antioxidant fuelled smoothie.





















I call this my Come Back to Life mix- frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, grape juice and 2 handfuls of baby spinach. I forced down two big glasses, despite the nausea (and the brain freeze that ensued from the gulping).

I also made myself a wrap with leftover bean salad




















I managed to get through half and pushed the rest to the side. Still not ready for it, although I am not surprised. I love me a salad on a good day but when I'm sick or sad (or in today's case most of column A and a wee bit column B) I want comfort food. I even had a dream about Pizza Pops during one of my six naps today. They were filled with pepperoni. I don't even eat pepperoni when I'm not trying out veganism. What is up with that?


Which leads me to my vegan topic of the day:

Do vegans get cravings?

Do vegans crave cheese/ice cream/chicken wings?
How long until the craving subside after you make the switch?
Is the natural transition vegetarian first then vegan or do people go cold turkey (pardon the pun!)?

When I became I vegetarian at age 14 I did it overnight. I made the decision, then the announcement and stopped eating meat immediately. It was hard at times (my first Christmas without turkey was rough) but I'd made it known that I had made this change and wasn't about to back down on it.

Cravings were another thing though. I missed Chicken McNuggets, hamburgers and that good ol' holiday turkey. But being a vegetarian meant something to me and I got through it for 7 years (and seven Christmas dinners)

During this challenge I have found myself having cravings. An ooey-gooey slice of cheese pizza has been a recurring thought. Brie and goat's cheese have crossed my mind too. Mostly I think that its a case of "Wanting What You Can't Have". Much in the same way that restrictive weight loss diets fail because they push people to crave the items that have been labelled as bad, I am craving the things that I usually eat but have been told (on account of participating in the challenge) to stay away from.

That said, I am really starting to appreciate those individuals who live by a vegan diet and not because of their will power. I admire their conviction to a belief and a cause. So I'm not really sure if vegans get cravings and I suppose the experience is different for everyone but what I do know is that vegan eating requires you to change your lifestyle because you believe in something that is worth that change. That's pretty darn cool if you ask me.

Check back tomorrow for a guest post from a vegan named Rachel who blogs over at Rachel Runs. She will be sharing her insights on another interesting topic: Vegans and Honey

Until then, I've got some getting better to do and some American Idol to watch. G'night!


So tell me, what cravings have you been having lately? Ever crave something you don't ordinarily eat?Are you a vegan with a craving?
Reactions:

2/9/11

Vegan Challenge Day 3- Sick Day

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for an unplanned sick day. I wanted to quickly check in and thank each of you for your wonderful comments on yesterday's post. I've said it before but I am always utterly impressed with how intelligent and respectful you are. You guys rock!!

As for a recipe for the salad, its actually quite easy (my favorite kinda recipe!)

Mix 2 cups black beans, 1 cup corn, 1/2 cup diced red pepper, 1/2 cup diced onion, 1 dices tomato, 1 cup chopped baby spinach and 2 diced avocados. Add 1/2 cup lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and serve. (like I said, simple and delicious. When I get my appetite back I am using leftovers for a wrap)

Please tune in tomorrow for more but until then I'm heading back to bed.

Goodnight my lovelies!




















So tell me, what's your favorite thing to do on a sick day? Mine is watch game shows like Family Feud!
Reactions:

2/8/11

Vegan Challenge Day Two- But What About the "Real' Vegans?

Controversy alert!

Today's post my contain a discussion that is considered somewhat controversial. My hope is that any discussion that ensues will be fair, respectful and informative. Let's keep it clean folks!

But first here's a look at some of my vegan eats for the day

Breakfast:




















I channelled my inner third-grader and munched on a toasted bagel with peanut butter and banana. Old school but it did the trick!


Lunch:





















Spinach salad with crumbled black bean burger, walnuts and almonds


Dinner:







































Black bean and corn salad with lime. I <3 this salad in a big bad way! (So did the Boyfriend and he's so NOT a salad person. In fact, his dinner was just as vegan as mine. Score!)


Question of the Day

After doing quite a bit of thinking I posed the follwoing question on Twitter this afternoon:







Clearly if anyone took "offense" to this it was my 12th grade English teacher but I digress...

There were varied responses to this question that got me thinking even further about whether non-vegans participating in a challenge of this sort could be perceived as offensive to those who live this lifestyle every single day.

I can imagine vegans being concerned that it might:

  • make veganism seem like the "thing to do" or the latest fad rather then a lifestyle choice based on ethics
  • make veganism seem like a diet or weight loss gimmick
  • make veganism seem like a flippant decision that you can easily commit to and then abandon
  • make veganism seem too hard (use of the word "challenge")

On the other hand I think we can all appreciate that the challenge:

  • highlights the lifestyle choice and the varied reasons for why one would become a vegan (ethics, health,etc)
  • sheds light on hot-button issues like factory farming and animal cruelty/exploitation
  • allows non-vegans to see this issue from a different perspective and have a more well rounded perspective about it
  • teaches non-vegans to read food labels and have a better understanding of what goes into their food
  • influences non-vegans and non-vegetarians to learn to cook and enjoy meat-free meals that they may continue to include in their regular meal plans
  • keeps its participants from eating animal products for 7 full days

Ultimately, I think (and hope) that the vast majority of participants in this particular challenge are doing it to better understand what it means to be a vegan and not because its the cool thing to do at the moment. And I sincerly hope that at the end of the challenge every single person will have learned enough to make educated decisions about their food and nutrition going forward (even if the first thing that they do is grab a big hunk of brie when the challenge is over!)

And at the end of the day, if Oprah made being vegan "cool" the end result is fewer animals harmed. I think we can all agree that that's a win no matter why it happened, right?

So tell me, what are your thoughts on temporary veganism?
Reactions:

2/7/11

Vegan Challenge Day One: From Sam's Kitchen to You...

Hi friends! I am very happy to report that day one of the vegan challenge has gone quite well. I started off the day with a 5.6 mile run, which was completely unexpected because I haven't run more than a mile or two in weeks. Yay for being pain free during and after the run!! I'm such a total rock star it hurts...oops I mean it doesn't hurt. Not even a little bit.

Following my early morning workout I dug into my first vegan meal of the day:





















Soy yogurt, blueberries and Fibre One cereal.  I can't say that I loved this as much as the Greek yogurt that usually accompanies my breakfast but it filled me up and kept me that way until lunch. That said, would I buy soy yogurt if I wasn't a vegan? Sorry but unfortunately the answer is no. Greek yogurt all the way baby!

After a morning of work (and some good news from my boss!) I taught Tabata during lunch. It was great to get up in front of the class again and I am hoping I really motivated the participants to push themselves. ( I think sweat puddles = motivated but I can't be too sure)

Once that butt kick was done it was time for lunch which meant my first taste of yesterday's vegan chili.





















Verdict for this one? Yum! I had forgotten that I included fire roasted tomatoes and was surprised by the spice factor (hello instant runny nose) but all and all it was really good. Phew, the 25lbs of leftovers won't go to waste!!

Tonight's menu consisted of a vegan rendition of my own black bean burgers


You will need:

2 cups black beans
1 cup diced vegetables (I used onions, red pepper and eggplant)
3 tbsp BBQ or Heinz 57 sauce
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp Cajun spice
1/2 tsp salt


Prepare the beans in advance (or if using canned you can just go ahead and skip this step)





















Mash the beans in a bowl, ensuring that you don't over mash (don't and I repeat DON'T take your  rage frustrations out on these poor beans ya hear?)






















Add vegetables, oil and sauce. Stir thoroughly.


Form mixture into balls (what size you ask? Why don't we live a little and let you decide that one for your self) and refrigerate for 30 minutes



















Place patties into a frying pan at medium temperature. Press down with a spatula to flatten.

Allow patties to cook until crispy on one side (you won't be able to flip 'em if you don't) Ok, now flip ' em!!(approx. 5-8 minutes if you are timing me...sheesh!)























Serve on a bun* with your favorite vegan-friendly condiment (I chose hummus, spinach and tomato)





















*Verify that your bun/bread is vegan by reading the ingredients. I used a Stonemill Bakehouse bagel which is free of animal products.


The burgers were good.although admittedly they fall apart quite easily. In other words they would be great crumbled up and added to a salad (yea I am totally doing that for lunch tomorrow)



What I Learned Today

Being a vegan takes time.
Homemade meals require a lot more planning and effort than prepackaged fare.
That said, the effort is worth it because you know what goes into the food that you eat.
Oh, and it doesn't hurt that I was able to avoid the sugary cake at the office by explaining that it's not vegan. (for some reason a simple "no thanks" is never a good enough response)

And if vegan cooking has got you down throw in a few of these to pass the time




























They're vegan friendly, I checked!!


So tell me, are you a fan of homemade meals? Do you like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen?
Reactions: