Vegan Power II!

Another friend, gym-mate, and fellow vegan, Matt, will be fighting this weekend in San Francisco. Despite my jealousy from watching him eat platefuls of chips and guacamole, pizza, and a generous slice of Maggie Mudd ice cream cake less than a week before weigh-in, I wish him luck. Hurray for ass-kicking vegans!

Admittedly, I'm not the most disciplined eater. There's a half-box of candy cane Joe-Joe's in the kitchen calling my name. It's a little daunting when my coach just told me yesterday that he'd like to see me fight at a weight I haven't seen since high school. I like food and I like to eat! It's not too surprising that I managed to turn the freshman 15 into the sophomore 50. After several years and falling in love with the gym, I feel much healthier and happier than I used to. I still feel pretty good about cake, too, but I try to keep on track nowadays by starting each morning off with my go-to shake.

Breakfast of champions

The idea of green shakes always repulsed me until I tried one, but I've learned that they don't really taste like blended salad with the right combination of ingredients. I combine soy, almond, or rice milk with a couple tablespoons of hemp protein, 2-4 leaves of kale or collard greens, about 3/4 - 1 cup of frozen strawberries, 2 - 3 pitted Medjool dates, 1 teaspoon of flax seeds, and about a teaspoon of cocoa powder, and then hit it with the immersion blender. If I have it on hand, I'll throw in a handful of spinach, lettuce, or cilantro. Maybe some frozen pineapple, if I'm feeling really crazy.

To be honest, it doesn't sound too palatable when I see the ingredients listed out, but I promise that you can't really taste the greens (OK, you can taste cilantro...) They just add a fresh, bright flavor to what really just tastes like a chocolate-strawberry shake. It's a nice dose of protein and carbs, and full of vitaminy, fibery, Omega goodness, all wrapped up in tasty drink.


shane and I have made it a tradition to visit Farm Sanctuary in Orland for their Celebration for the Turkeys event. He was out of state visiting family this year, so I went up with friends Shalon and RJ instead.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, and as always, it was so nice to see these lucky animals living out their days on a picturesque farm, a wonderfully drastic change from the nightmares they had come from. I love seeing people interact with enormous steers and talkative pigs for the first time, and I appreciate that staff and volunteers take care to allow the less gregarious animals watch from a distance. It was also great to see Josh, Michelle, and the lovely Ruby, proprietors of Herbivore in Portland. Josh gave an excellent talk about everyday advocacy, and how to be eloquent with stupid people, even when all you really want to do is punch them in the face.

For the actual holiday, shane and I went over to Shaudi and Danny's home for a feast, where we enjoyed cornbread-stuffed seitan, tamales, biscuits, cornbread, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, and green beans.

Violet outdid herself with a kick ass pumpkin cheesecake. There was also apple, pecan, and pumpkin pies, and chocolate cookies.

My contribution for the night was stuffing and glazed sweet potatoes. As much as I like the traditional candied yams, they are never quite as candied as I would like. Most recipes call for boiling first, which doesn't let the potatoes live up to their full sugary potential, and they're usually so soft, they might as well be mashed.

Instead, I slowly roasted cubed sweet potatoes (nutritious skins on!), starting in a cold oven, to give the starches time to convert to sugar (thank you checkout stand America's Test Kitchen) until they were toasty brown. Meanwhile, I made a glaze from water, sugar, molasses, freshly grated ginger, cardamom, and a touch of cayenne pepper, that I boiled to a syrup. Once the potatoes were roasted, I sprinkled them with a bit of salt and tossed them in the caramel-like glaze. Finally, I topped them off with a bit of Shaudi's marshmallow cream and popped them in the broiler. Sweet, but not too sweet, crispy outsides with creamy centers, and just a little hint of spice.