Thursday, May 24, 2012

*Raw* Week 3 - Fancy Raw Dinner!

*Raw* Vegan Challenge – Week 3 (May 14 – May 20)

Colorful Salads

I totally dig making super colorful salads, they just look so fresh and vibrant and taste great too.  Who wouldnt want to dig into something so inviting!  Most of the time, my favorite colorful salads come from Whole Foods because they have everything nicely chopped and diced, I dont have to do the work.  Plus they have red cabbage, beets, detox salad (finely chopped, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, kale, currants, parsley, sunflower seeds and lemon juice) and this kale avocado salad that is to die for.  I usually get a salad there a couple of times a week, we'll walk there for lunch one day and during the weekend I'll use it to refuel between my AM and PM workouts.  I usually drizzle some lemon juice, agave, balsamic vinegar and/or apple cider vinegar on there as my dressing.  The salads I make on my own are pretty kicking but I dont normally have beets and cabbage lying around but perhaps that'll have to change!

Strawberry Banana Smoothie! 
This week I decided to mix it up a bit with my morning smoothie, I wanted to try something different instead of going green every day although there are plenty of options with that as well.  I tossed some strawberries, a banana and few pineapple chunks into the blender, added a dash of raw vanilla protein powder.  Wow this smoothie rocked!  Traditional flavor with the strawberry banana combo but the pineapple made for a pleasant addition.  I went on to make a few other tasty combos – mango/pineapple/strawberry, apple cinnamon, a great classic chocolate banana (gonna add some almond butter next time), and one of my new favorites pear w/ cinnamon and vanilla – superb!  It’s fun to get creative, sometimes they turn out awesome and other times its just eh but ya never know until you try. 
Since I realized I could chop up the raw sweet potato, I’ve been enjoying that regularly as well.  Plus found some raw bars that are quite tasty, there are traditional Larabars and Raw Revolution has some rocking flavors and are packed with protein.  Brendan Brazier’s thrive bars can be good too, packed with protein as well.   All of these bars have that same somewhat mushy consistency though, so if you’re looking for something with more texture and a little crunch, I suggest making some yourself or trying the Two Moms in the Raw bars, they have a few various flavors and they’re all pleasing to the palate. 
I also found you can buy already sprouted nuts and seeds that have a hint of flavor to them, haven’t tried em yet but they’ll be tossed in the grocery cart this upcoming weekend same with some raw granola that I found.  These bags of snacks will be a staple for me when traveling to Taipei in June.  Not sure what kind of food they’ll have for me there but I’m hoping to find some markets where I can get fresh fruits and veggies to nibble on. 
Raw Dinner – Yes, Please!!
Sunday night, I was lucky enough to experience a raw feast that was prepared by Sam Romano (the lovely, Barb McGovern’s son) who just graduated from culinary school with a focus on raw vegan cooking.  This meal was amazing!!  I was totally spoiled; it definitely put my salads to shame.  There are so many creative things you can do with raw cooking and a dehydrator works wonders.  If I could make these elaborate meals at least weekly, I’d be happy.  I think “normal” foodies could appreciate this food; it’s so great eating something that tastes amazing without the guilt of fat, sugar, calories, etc. It’s wonderful to know that what you’re eating and enjoying is good for you at the same time! 
The only “issue” with raw “cooking” is that things either have to be soaked or sprouted which can take hours if not days.  And things are “cooked” in the dehydrator which can also take days so you really have to prepare in advance but the positive side is there’s no last minute rush to get things in the oven!
I got to Barb’s house early so I could help out and write down a few tips/pointers.  I was able to help make the dolmades (grape leaves that were stuffed with zucchini, ground up brazil nuts, currants and loaded with spices).  The grape leaves were soaked and packed with flavor.  I was allowed to roll a few of these, however my technique left much to be desired, they weren’t rolled tight enough, oh well, haha. 
The dinner consisted of Mexican rice (the rice was in the dehydrator for like 24 hours!); enchiladas with homemade shells made from yellow peppers, corn and avocado possible a few other things, refried beans that weren’t even made from beans!  I think the beans were like beets, carrots and a few other magical ingredients, wow.  We also had a fresh mango avocado salsa and a green leafy salad.  The flavors were incredible in everything.  For dessert we had a peach cobbler, the cobbler part was made in the dehydrator and had nuts in it for an added crunch.   Earlier that week Sam had made a chocolate graham cracker cake, I really wanted some of that!!  I gotta make me some raw chocolate dessert soon!  I think I might find myself purchasing a dehydrator sometime in the near future so I can create some unique meals. 
I know there are a few raw restaurants in Chicago, I most certainly wanna venture to one over the summer.  Just need to find someone willing to make the trek with me, I think it’ll be well worth it. 
Seeds – They may be small but they pack a punch (kinda like me!)
I’ll add seeds to my salad, smoothies or night time snacks (ie smashed larabars or other raw bars with a piece of fruit) or I might just snack on a handful of them.  I talked about chia seeds and flax seeds in previous posts so feel free to take a gander back through those.  I think chia seeds are my favorite, when immersed in water they swell up like tapioca balls and just have a really funky texture that I enjoy.  They are rich in calcium, omega 3 and fiber - just an all around super food!

Breakfast Blueberry Chia Pudding - Brendan Brazier's Thrive Foods

Since chia rapidly absorbs fluids and takes on gelatinous properties when soaked, it makes an ideal nutrient-dense pudding base.

Blueberry Chia Seed Pudding2 tablespoons chia seeds
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup cashews
2-3 fresh pitted dates, or dried pitted dates soaked in water overnight to rehydrate
Pinch of cinnamon 
pinch of sea salt
Fresh or frozen blueberries

Soak chia in water for 15 minutes. In a blender, combine with the rest of the ingredients, except the blueberries, and blend until smooth. Transfer to serving bowl and top with blueberries.
Hemp is available in three basic forms: seed, powder, and oil. Hemp seeds come straight from the plant and are rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. When pressed, the seed becomes hemp powder and oil. The powder, sometimes referred to as flour, is then milled finer to remove some of the starch. The result is hemp protein.
The protein present in hemp is complete, containing all 10 essential amino acids, which boost the immune system and hasten recovery. Hemp foods also have natural anti-inflammatory properties, key factors for speeding the repair of soft tissue damage caused by physical activity. Raw hemp products maintain their naturally high level of vitamins, minerals, high-quality balanced fats, antioxidants, fiber, and the very alkaline chlorophyll. Edestin, an amino acid present only in hemp, is considered an integral part of DNA. It makes hemp the closest plant source to our own human amino acid profile.
When it comes to protein, quality, not quantity, is paramount.  Hemp protein is the easiest protein to digest. Since it is raw, its naturally occurring digestive enzymes remain intact. That and its relatively high pH allow it to be easily used by the body. As a result, the digestive strain placed on the body to absorb and utilize protein is reduced, making it a high-net-gain food. Top-quality, complete protein, such as hemp, is instrumental not only in muscle tissue regeneration but also in fat metabolism. Protein ingestion instigates the release of a hormone that enables the body to more easily utilize its fat reserves, thereby improving endurance and facilitating body fat loss.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron, a nutrient some people have trouble getting enough of, especially if they don't eat red meat. Anemia, a shortage of red blood cells in the body, is commonly caused by low dietary iron or by strenuous exercise. Iron is lost as a result of compression hemolysis (crushed blood cells due to intense muscle contractions). The more active the person, the more dietary iron she needs. Constant impact activity, such as running, reduces iron levels more dramatically than other types of exercise because of the more strenuous hemolysis. With each foot strike, a small amount of blood is released from the damaged capillaries. In time, this will lead to anemia if the runner doesn't pay close attention to her diet. Iron is also lost through sweat.
Seems like pumpkin seeds are very important to runners, I know as a female vegan athlete, I’ve been told to watch my iron levels so snacking on pumpkin seeds is great for me.
Sesame seeds are an excellent, easily absorbable source of calcium. Calcium is in part responsible for muscle contractions—of particular concern to athletes, who will need to ensure that they maintain correct levels of calcium in the body. Calcium plays another important role in the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. Athletes and people living in a warm climate will need extra amounts of dietary calcium since it is excreted in sweat.
Made up of about 22 percent protein, sunflower seeds offer a good amount of dietary substance. Rich in trace minerals and several vitamins important for good health, sunflower seeds are a food worthy of regular consumption. Sunflower seeds are quite high in vitamin E and are antioxidant rich.
Sunflower seed butter is another good way to eat these seeds.  That stuff is quite tasty, spread it on fruit or just eat it straight out of the jar, yum!
PRs Galore
My workouts this week were pretty decent.  The ones during the week were standard, I found myself feeling banged up after my Tuesday mountain and Wednesday stair workout so Thursday was destined to be a recovery day.  And it most certainly turned out to be a wise decision.  The plan for the weekend was a double stair workout on Saturday followed by a 5k on Sunday. 
I was gonna have to push myself in the stairwell because it was just me and my dad and he’s not really the same speed as me :)  I wanted to shoot for my best 5 climb average but who knows how I’d feel, sometimes your legs can feel great until you start climbing.   Tired muscles can be deceiving when it comes to stairs, might feel fine running or biking or walking around but as soon as you start going vertical, watch out – it’s a totally different sensation and you might come to realize your legs are shot.  Anyways, I started off with a positive mindset and kept encouraging myself along the way.  I was focusing on my form; I really wanted to yank the rail and was trying hard not to rely on my standard technique of pushing off my leg on the turns and in certain spots.  I was forcing myself to use the rail until at least halfway. 
I knew that Taipei was gonna be a challenge with the steep steps and right turning stairwell so it would need plenty of mental fortitude and a positive mindset, my goal was to practice that during my stair workouts.  I can’t let myself back down or get weak; I need to push through it.  This workout was definitely positive reinforcement, I kept the rest the same after each climb and it happened to little bit shorter than our normal workouts.  The last one, I really wanted to push it and give it my all, I was hoping for a sub 2:30, came in at 2:31 not too shabby.  I busted my previous 5 climb PR by 1-2 seconds; it may not seem like a lot but when the climb only takes 2:30-2:35 then its more substantial, haha. 
My second workout wasn’t as pretty; my legs felt pretty ragged during the normal climbs so took the “easy” way out and did some 10 floor sprints.  Those felt much better!   
Sunday morning I was up and out the door bright and early.  Who knows how my legs would feel racing a 5k, I don’t think I’ve done a road race since fall 2011 so it’s been a while!  Pushing myself while running is totally different than in the stairwell, I still need to find my limits and blow past them.   That morning, I tried to convince some of the guys to run the 10 miler with me; we could turn it into an easy fun run instead of racing in the blazing sun and heat.  They all declined so I guess we were gonna full-out race this thing.  I didn’t put any pressure on myself, set a loose goal time of 19:30-19:40 and just wanted to go out with the guys and try to stick with them as long as I could. 
I got boxed in for a little bit at the start and fell behind but that’s ok, my legs were feeling a bit iffy.  I came across mile 1 (6:08) and they weren’t that far ahead so I just kept my eyes on them.   We turned onto a limestone path, which we all thought would be shaded but of course it wasn’t.  A water stop was up ahead, I knew this was my time to blow past Brad and Rick, which is exactly what I did, and they were suckers for water, haha.   Mile 2 was a bit slower 6:17 although I didn’t really feel like I was slowing down, my legs still felt fresh and my breathing was under control.  I was starting to feel the sun though; it was slowly baking me and draining my energy.   Came off the limestone back to the road and there was a slight downhill which I tried to use to my advantage.  Turned the corner to the home stretch, geez where is the finish?!?  I wasn’t sure if we’d have to run past the start then shoot back the other direction or if it was just a straight shot into the finishing shoot.  I tried to muster up a finishing kick but it’s hard when you’re not sure how much is left.  I picked it up a little bit when it came into sight, slapped the stop button on my watch 19:22.   How the heck did I just run a PR in the sun and heat, on a course that has crushed limestone and the day after a double stair workout?!?  Plus I finished as the 2nd female overall!  I was somewhat shocked but totally pleased with myself :) it really does pay off to stay positive and decrease the pressure, you end up pleasantly surprised.  I think the stair training is good for 5ks; the intensity is most certainly beneficial for the shorter road races! 
I think the raw diet has something to do with it too, I’m still feeling great and my workouts are solid so I’ll continue on this path :)


  1. Awesome blog. A 19:22 - 5K is awesome!!! GREAT JOB!

  2. thanks jeff! :) my goal is to creep closer and closer to 19:00

  3. Nice Kristin! My fastest 10K back in the day was only 18:50 something. You're flying! Today I'm running 8:30 miles! hahaha. Oh well - right? I enjoyed your workout detail. I love reading this stuff. Wish you, Justin, Jesse, and everyone else would write about what you're doing a lot more! I'd read it all...

    So, you are in Taipei now - yes? Are you able to get up the tower for a practice reconn mission? Can you take photos and get some measurements of the average step height? Count steps? Really wish I was there... the surgeries I have to pay for are not mine, I'm in good shape far as I know. Lol.

    Best of luck in the Taipei 101 race!