Saturday, July 5, 2014

Almond Milk Lattes at Peet's Coffee & Tea

As I eliminated more things from my diet (e.g. meat and dairy) I had to adjust to having fewer options when I go out. Not the end of the world, but a minor inconvenience at times nonetheless.

In our area the only dairy alternative offered by most coffee shops is soy milk, but I try to avoid the stuff due to the high probability of it being genetically modified (thanks Monsanto!) and because it's known to be an endocrine disruptor (bad news for those of us with thyroid issues). It can be frustrating, but you learn to order your coffee black and move on with your life.

Every so often I encounter the rare unicorn of the coffee industry, the almond milk latte, and have to hold myself back from doing a happy dance right there in front of the barista. Slowly but surely more places are starting to offer almond milk as an option, but it's still pretty rare. I was thrilled to find a chain of coffee shops here in Metro Detroit that have it on the menu!
Peet's Coffee & Tea has locations in Commerce, Rochester Hills, Novi, Shelby Township, Royal Oak, Grosse Pointe, and Ann Arbor, and all of their coffee drinks can be made with almond milk!


[Insert happy dance here]

Where else have you found almond milk lattes in Michigan? If you live elsewhere, are they easy to find?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

On the road to a half marathon

After completing my first 5k last year I quickly learned what the term "runner's high" is all about. For me, the thrill comes from pushing myself just a bit further than I think I can go, and, as a result, discovering what this awesome body of mine is capable of. The incredible cocktail of endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine that hits you after a successful run or race is worth its weight in complex carbs, ice packs, and sweaty laundry.

The only "problem" with pushing yourself and accomplishing your goals is that as soon as you've crossed the finish line your mind starts racing (pun intended) toward a newer, faster, longer goal. I surprised myself by running most of the Tough Mudder last year and haven't been able to get the idea of a half marathon out of my head ever since.

My tall, muddy teammates and me at Tough Mudder 2013 in Brooklyn, MI

Last week I decided that there's no time like the present and signed up for a race that will take place this October! While I don't doubt that I'm capable of running 13.1 miles in 13 weeks, I really wanted some direction as to what my running schedule should look like leading up to race day. I turned to the internet in search of a training plan and happened to find the perfect resource on one of my favorite plant-based fitness blogs, No Meat Athlete.
HM Training 3D
In the Half Marathon Roadmap guide, author Matt Frazier provides two different 12-week plans, a variety of plant-based recipes for each meal of the day, training tips, packing lists for race day, and so much more. The guide is intended for runners who have completed a 5K or who are consistently able to run a few miles already, and NMA also offers a similar guide for those working toward a full marathon. SOLD!

Eating a plant-based diet has improved my athletic experiences in more ways than I can count, so it was very exciting to find a training plan that goes hand-in-hand with this plant-strong lifestyle that I love. I know that I will be able to fuel my body in a healthy way while gradually working toward my half marathon goal. Talk about empowering!

Yesterday I completed day one of the training plan, and despite the brutal heat and humidity we're having here in Michigan I finished the run feeling motivated and excited for the weeks to come. It's still hard to imagine that I'll ever be able to run more than 13 miles, but I can't wait to see how it feels when I do.


Just So Ya Know: Me and my sweaty forehead were not compensated in any way for writing this post. Matt Frazier and the No Meat Athlete team have no idea who I am, but I think they're awesome and I look forward to sharing my experience with their Half Marathon Roadmap on this blog.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

This infographic from Hero Health Room is just too good not to share. It covers the main reasons we decided to go plant-based last year, and why it has been the best choice we've ever made. Feast your eyes on this wholesome information and then consider feasting on something that grew in the ground! haha.


Monday, June 16, 2014

SASHA Farm's Summer Fun Day

Did you know that the Midwest's largest farm animal sanctuary is located right here in Southeast Michigan? NEITHER DID WE! Until about an hour ago, that is. This afternoon I stumbled upon a blog post featuring SASHA Farm of Manchester, Michigan, and I eagerly clicked through to read more about this wonderful place that happens to be just over an hour away from us.

Borrowed from here.
SASHA (which stands for Sanctuary and Safe Haven for Animals, and is also the name of the owners' first rescue dog) is a non-profit that houses and cares for more than 200 rescued animals. According to their website, the farm is a 75-acre haven for livestock that once faced abuse, neglect, and goodness knows what else.

Borrowed from here.
It's rare to find a rescue that will take in farm animals under these circumstances, and so most are euthanized or left to die. There are currently cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, and more at SASHA, and each animal has its own unique history. Regardless of how we all feel about the fate of these creatures and whether or not they should end up on our plates, the stories of SASHA's rescues remind us that all animals have a will to live and thrive. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that livestock are just as spirited as the four-legged friends we keep as pets, and that's just one of the reasons we choose not to eat meat.

I've wanted to visit a farm sanctuary for quite some time now, so I searched SASHA's website for an upcoming opportunity to visit the farm. Lucky me- they're hosting a Summer Fun Day fundraiser on Sunday, August 3rd! They had me at the adorable cow photo and the catered vegan lunch...


The Summer Fun Day event will take place from 12:00pm to 4:00pm on August 3rd. If you're interested in purchasing tickets in advance, you can do so here. If you can't make it on the 3rd but are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to SASHA Farm, you can do that here!

We are so excited to meet these beautiful animals and to help such a good cause! Will you join us in supporting this incredible farm?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pantry Storage, Macronutrient Style

When it comes to food storage, no two homes are alike. Some of us have sizable walk-in pantries while others have to get creative with minimal cupboard space. No matter your kitchen situation, it's incredibly helpful to store your edible items in a way that makes sense to you and that keeps meal prep easy.

As I became more confident with plant-based cooking and the ratio of foods that I wanted to have on my plate, I started to rethink how I organize my groceries. All of a sudden it no longer made sense to just keep canned goods with other canned goods, or all frequently used items on the same shelf. Instead, I began to stock foods based on the different components that were present at each meal.

For the most part, one of my typical meals looks a lot like this:

Borrowed from Precision Nutrition

The three macronutrients that we all require for growth, metabolism, and other important bodily functions are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and the great news is that we can easily and cheaply get all of them from plants. I don't obsess over calories or grams, but I do make an effort to have healthy sources of these three nutrients at every meal. To keep things interesting and nutritionally diverse for myself, I try to keep a variety of foods that fulfill these basic dietary needs on hand at all times. Vegetables are definitely my biggest food group, but those are kept in the fridge and that's a post for another day.

For me it makes the most sense to have my "carbs" on one shelf, and my "proteins" on another. Fats are a more minimal "food group" and they often overlap with proteins (nuts and seeds, for example), so I happen to stock those two together. It's weird, but it works.


THE CARB CUPBOARD
This shelf is home to my favorite whole grains and starches. Mmm, fiber!

Ezekial Almond Cereal
Brown Rice
Amaranth
Kamut
Farro
Quinoa
Whole Grain Pasta
Brown Rice Pasta
Soba Noodles
Steel-Cut Oats
Potatoes




THE PROTEIN/FAT CUPBOARD
If you're concerned about my protein intake, look no further.


Beans (black, cranberry, pinto, chickpeas, lentils, etc)
Nuts (cashews and almonds)
Ground Flax packs (I also have a bulk container in the fridge)
Almond Butter (including to-go packs)
Pumpkin Seeds
Sesame Seeds
Hemp Seeds
Chia Seeds
Vega protein powder



My cupboards are pretty deep, so I keep my beans behind the more commonly used items in a basket that I can slide in and out as needed. I try to cook dried beans whenever possible to avoid BPA from cans, but I do keep canned beans on hand as well. Sometimes you just need ready-to-go beans. Ya know what I mean?



There are some weird exceptions to this system, I'll admit. Quinoa, for example, is a complete protein which also happens to be a whole grain and is cooked just like rice, so for that reason I keep it on my carb shelf. In fact, almost every item pictured in this post has protein in it, some just offer more than others and therefore serve a different nutritional purpose on my plate. The lesson to be learned here is that...

(Clearly)


Whole foods are complex and most often contain multiple nutrients, and therein lies the beauty of a plant-based lifestyle; If you surround yourself with a variety of real foods, it's unbelievably easy to get the macro and micronutrients your body needs. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. The key is to store, prep and prepare your foods in a way that makes you excited to get cooking!

Do you have any tips for organizing your kitchen or pantry?