Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to make the perfect cheeseless pizza!




When I first met my husband, he actually referred to himself as a "pizza connoiseur" (apparently I found his dorkiness charming). That being said, pizza is still his favorite food.



When I went vegan, I knew that pizza would still be part of our dinner rotation. Daiya is okay on occasion, but I'm not a superfan and I prefer not serve it to someone who still eats regular dairy cheese (which my husband does). Through mostly trial and very little error, we've come up with our favorite vegan pizza recipe. This is so delicious, we find that we don't miss the cheese at all!




Most grocery stores will have a fresh refrigerated pizza dough- many are vegan, but always check ingredients. If you live near a Trader Joe's, their par-baked organic pizza crusts are awesome (and always going out of stock, so apparently I'm not the only person who thinks so). If you can't find pizza dough, and don't live near a TJs, here is a good recipe.

Our secret for amazingly tasty veggie pizza is to roast our veggies first. The second secret is to use an awesome homemade marinara. This recipe is what my marinara is based on, although every time I make it I play with seasonings and spices, so no two batches are the same. The marinara is pretty smooth, but if you really hate any chunks of tomato in your pizza sauce, run it through the blender or use a jarred pizza sauce.

I sometimes add bruschetta and dollops of Not-zarella Sauce from the Sexy Vegan Cookbook,




or sliced Field Roast sausages.




You can even top it with this delicious vegan parm. But our very favorite combination is broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, red/green peppers, fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and kalamata olives.







Roasted Vegetable Pizza

It's hard to say how much you need of each vegetable- eyeball it and figure out how much will fit on your pizza. We load our pizza up!

Cut up broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers and add to rectangular pan with several cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, and toss. Sprinkle with sea salt, oregano, and parsley, and toss again. Roast at 450 for 25-30 minutes- stir every 10 minutes or so.

***Roasting time depends on two things- what sort of pan you use- metal cooks faster (I usually use a vintage Pyrex pan, which is glass and cooks a bit slower), and how long the crust will need to cook. If it's par-baked, you can roast your veggies a little longer. If your crust needs to cook longer, roast the veggies for a little less time.***

I like to brush a little olive oil or melted Earth Balance (vegan butter) on the crust and sprinkle with garlic salt. Then I spread a thin layer of marinara sauce, and put my roasted veggies, fresh basil leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and olives on top. Bake according to crust instructions, then dig in!


 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

My first 5k!!



I've been reading Runs For Cookies for several years. Katie has lost and maintained a huge amount of weight, is an accomplished runner, and has even appeared on the Doctor Oz show! She is very real on her blog, which I love. All in all, I'm a total fangirl. She's organized a virtual 5k on her birthday the last few years, and I was finally able to participate this year!
My goal on the entry form was to finish in 40 minutes or less. When I first began to dream of becoming a runner someday (around 250 lbs or so) I remember thinking I'd be thrilled to finish a 5k in 45 minutes!!! And actually, when I got back to running after breaking my ankle this fall, I was running very slow 15 minute miles.
When I ran 3 miles last weekend, I did it in a little over 39 minutes, which told me I could step up my time goals for the race. I didn't really have a specific number in mind, I just knew I wanted it to be faster than 39 minutes!
I decided to run on the treadmill (my physical therapist suggested I use the treadmill, especially during longer runs, since it's lower impact than road running), got my music fired up, and started running!




 It was pretty uneventful considering I was inside, but nearing the end, I decided to really push myself to see how fast I could finish. Thinking I was almost there, I basically sprinted and then realized that I was at 3.01 miles...not 3.1.




That last .1 mile was the most difficult part of the entire run.



My miscalculation totally paid off because I finished in 38:15, with a pace of 12:18.68888888888888 (or 12:19, I guess)!!!!!!





I am thrilled that I was able to pull that pace off less than 6 months after breaking my ankle and having pins put in (and with an extra 50-ish pounds on board)! 

I love that my first 5k was virtual because I was able to do it on my own time without the race day stress. Because I made my goal, I was able to enter a drawing for a Garmin Forerunner 10 running watch, which incidentally has been on my Amazon wish list for several months. Fingers crossed!






Saturday, January 24, 2015

Workout Log for this week

This week's workout log is unimpressive. My ankle has been really aching and I'm freaking out about all the ibuprofen I'm taking for it. I did switch my runs around this week so that I could rest my ankle but still get my mileage in.

Sunday- Ran 3 miles
Monday- Rest
Tuesday- Oops, another rest day
Wednesday- 2 miles (hills)
Thursday- Walked 35 minutes, ran 1 mile (speed)
Friday- 3.25 mile bike ride
Saturday- Runs for Cookies virtual 5k

Total mileage: 9 ish miles (goal, 9-10)

Strength training: totally freaking forgot (goal, twice/week)

Cross training: twice (goal, 4-5)



I'm not going to make excuses, workouts were really hard to fit in this week. I am bummed that I failed to stick to my goals regarding strength and cross training, but proud to have gotten my mileage in!








 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Imperfect Vegan: Socializing

Many people equate being vegan with being perfect, or pure. I really can't say it better than vegan guru Colleen Patrick-Goudreau:




I'm not looking to get imaginary certification, but I am trying to make the best decisions for my body, and, of course, the animals I love so much.

That being said, one of the hardest things as a vegan is going to social events that involve food. In my field (I recently entered real estate), it's hard to avoid socializing. The other day, I was invited to a gathering and, not wanting to be a bother, I didn't mention my diet and just "pre-ate" a protein bar. I didn't realize how awkward it would feel to be the only one not eating! The wonderful hostess said I should've mentioned it ahead of time and pulled out a yummy veggie tray. In a split moment decision, I added a spoonful of ranch to my plate of vegetables.




In talking it over with one of my favoritest people later that night, she suggested that I figure out solutions for the future to avoid last-minute decisions I might later regret. So I began brainstorming and I thought what I came up with may be useful for other newbie vegans:

1. Bring one or two dishes to luncheons/pot lucks.

A few dishes that came to mind were tempeh pâté and better-than-tuna salad from The Vegan Table. Bring an assortment of crackers or a loaf of french bread and you're good to go. Fruit salad is always a good option too.

2. Bring my own ranch (aka plan ahead)

Okay, this is a little tongue-in-cheek, but I do bring my own creamer when I go out to breakfast- I've even brought my container of Earth Balance (vegan butter) to Einstein Bros! If you have to attend an event at a restaurant, look up their menu online and even call ahead to find out more information and plan what you can order.

3. Speak up!

When I go out to eat, I have no issue with speaking up as a vegan.




But when you are invited to someone's home, it's hard not to feel like you're being a burden. I think I expect people to be antagonistic or defensive when I bring up my veganism, but in reality, my in-person interactions have been extremely positive. Most people are curious and usually ask wonderful, respectful questions. Truly, the only negative interactions I've had have been online.




Any vegans/vegetarians out there who have been through awkward social events? What is your solution?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Running playlist for your inner musical theater nerd

You're thinking, who actually listens to Broadway showtunes when they run?




All I really need for a good run is something uptempo and I happen to love musicals. Often I just turn on the "Broadway Showstoppers" channel on Pandora (OMGSOGOOD) but thought I'd help you all embrace your inner theater nerd.  Purists beware; a couple of the links are to the movie versions because I like those better.

One Day More- Les Miserables (warmup)
Defying Gravity- Wicked
Take Me or Leave Me- Rent
The Phantom of the Opera- The Phantom of the Opera
You're the One That I Want- Grease
I Feel Pretty- West Side Story
Good Morning, Baltimore- Hairspray
Out Tonight- Rent
Footloose- Footloose
All That Jazz-  Chicago  (cooldown)

Total time: 42 minutes (including warmup and cooldown)





Obviously, the tempo for these songs will be best suited to slower runners like yours truly. You can speed songs up in GarageBand or similar programs to match your pace if you subscribe to the BPM (beats per minute) training theory, which I find really interesting. It's a great way to work on speed! For me personally, I find that the way a song makes me feel is even more important than the BPM, which is why a playlist like this gets me through a run just as well as a playlist full of Pitbull and Katy Perry.

By the way, there are several more songs from some of these musicals that would work- Rent and La Vie Boheme from Rent, We Both Reached For the Gun from Chicago, We Go Together from Grease are all fun running songs. And I've had some great runs listening to tunes from Aladdin and Frozen. In fact, I may have to do a Disney playlist at some point. #disnerd

If you want to look up the BPM for any song, this website is awesome.

Anyone else listen to Rent far, far too much in high school? I find that the older I get, the more I identify with Benny, which is a sobering thought.

Is this playlist way outside your running music comfort zone and are you thinking I am totally insane?







Monday, January 19, 2015

I did it!


After spending all of yesterday trying to come up with a good excuse to push my 3-miler to today, I finally admitted defeat, got my playlist ready, and hopped on the treadmill (after almost 2 years here in the desert, my lungs have come to think of anything under 70 as cold and worthy of an asthma attack, so I've been running inside for the last month or so).

And I DID IT!




So much of running is a mental challenge for me. It starts to feel physically difficult, and my brain (and body) just want to quit. Stopping is never an option. If I feel like I need a break, I just slow down.




Or, as Martin Luther King Jr said:




I maintained my 13 minute mile pace for all 3 miles, so I'm going to rethink my time goal for the 5k next weekend. I had initially wanted to finish under 40, but I can definitely push myself to go faster.

I (actually, my screaming muscles) made the decision to swap Wednesday's rest day with today's 1 miler so I can take it easy. During my short 1 mile runs, I usually work on speed- this really helps me with setting a new "normal" pace for myself. I don't know how fast I can go unless I push myself!





Sunday, January 18, 2015

Recipe: Cranberry Almond Muffins







I love these muffins. Baked goods can be kinda dangerous for me when I'm trying to lose weight, so I don't do it as much as I'd like. Oh, and vegan baking? You can eat as much batter as your little heart desires.




 
Cranberry Almond Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup almond meal*
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup almond milk (vanilla or plain, I use vanilla unsweetened)
1/2 cup applesauce or coconut oil
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup dried cranberries**
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds

*if you don't have any almond meal, just use a full 2 cups of whole wheat flour
**you can also sub fresh or dried cherries for the cranberries (I originally conceived these as cherry almond muffins)



Makes 12 small muffins or 6 large muffins.

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare your muffin tin- I use coconut oil to grease it up.





Whisk together dry ingredients (flour through sugar). Make a well in the center.

Combine wet ingredients (milk through extract) and pour into well; gently mix.





Add cranberries and almonds and mix evenly into batter.

Pour into greased muffin tin. You can sprinkle some slivered/sliced almonds if you're fancy like that.

Bake for 18-20 minutes (for smaller muffin pan), 25-27 minutes (for larger muffin pan).

Let cool for a few minutes, then remove from pan onto cooling rack. In my house that means either letting the dog out or having to stand directly in front of said muffins like a prison guard.







Nutritional Info (for 1 large muffin; halve if using small muffin tin)

Calories: 385
Fat: 11 g
Carbohydrates: 68 g
Sugar: 37 g
Protein: 9 g
Fiber: 8 g

I can think of healthier things to eat for breakfast, but they are delicious, convenient to grab on the go, and far better for you than the big ass muffins at Panera or the local coffee shop/breakfast joint.







Happy baking!