Vegan Can Be Yummy

Give me a Five Guys Burger and you can’t go wrong. But, getting healthy has definitely changed my taste buds and tolerance for protein heavy and fat heavy meals. My body craves vegetables. Tom tells me my gut flora has changed and it is telling me what it wants to eat. Whatever…

The thing is, I really like my veggies. Even those veggies that I tolerated (eggplant, yellow squash, mushrooms) and those I hated (kales, swiss chard) are regular visitors to my meals. I can even eat tofu, although I have to say it is not my favorite and is only in the tolerated column. In fact, if you look at my meals, and even some of my days, I’m definitely on the verge of a vegetarian diet and not always so far off from a vegan diet.

Don’t get me wrong. I applaud those that morally live by veganism. I just don’t have that moral fortitude and am happy to keep my omnivorous ancestry alive in my diet. I love eggs, cheese and fish. What I will own up to is that if you take away the moral argument and only apply the healthy argument, then verging on vegan is possible and not at all a restriction.

Case in point. Heading to San Francisco, the restaurants know their customers and recognize that vegans are a dominate group – for moral and health reasons. It isn’t uncommon to see menu items with vegan symbols to make it easy to find dishes to eat when dining out with your non-vegan friends. In fact, restaurants are going out of their way to create amazing vegan food that rivals non-vegan menu items. It is almost hard for the non-vegan to ignore these delicacies. I can’t!

Always searching for healthy menu items to avoid travel spread, and formerly trying to still lose weight while on the road, restaurants that had vegetarian and vegan items were a god send. Being in California is always the easiest, and this visit was no disappointment.

Anku, an Asian restaurant inside the Hotel Nikko, not only has an entirely healthy menu, but also has vegetarian options that can easily be converted to vegan dishes. Purple Cauliflower Soup and a Portobello Mushroom and Couscous Purse surrounded by baby carrots, asparagus and yellow squash sitting in a vegetable puree  (the purse is swiss chard) was my dinner.  The lack of meat wasn’t noticeable. The flavors and textures were surprising and wonderful. Along with a glass of French rose wine and my meal was every bit as good as a steak dinner. The fact that my meal was preceded by complementary nuts, olives and pickled purple cauliflower made it that much better. Really!

I’m not saying you need to give up your meat. I am only saying that there is enough evidence that too much meat has health risks and cutting your 10 oz steak down to 3-4 oz and loading your plate with vegetables or creative vegan delicacies isn’t the hardship your mind keeps telling you. Don’t deny yourself, just nurture your body a bit more.

Be a vegan for a day. It can be yummy.

 

 

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Off Plane – Must Run!

Made it into San Francisco this afternoon and needed to shake off my flight. I got lucky with flatbed seats and took advantage of them. But, the poor lady next to me must have thought I was a head case.  After the first hour of a nap I woke myself up from my snoring. Then I fell back asleep again and immediately went into some crazy bad dreams where I was calling out, “Help me!” and realized that I was whimpering when I woke up. Completely embarrassed.

Anyway, after slamming through my email between the runway and taxi ride into the city, I needed to pull myself together. Even though I did mobile check-in my room wasn’t ready yet. So, I asked for a key to the gym, changed into my running gear in the locker room, and handed my bags to the bell hop.

San Francisco is gorgeous today. 75 degrees, sunny, and awesome breeze (wind). Playlist on and my watch counting down to go, I started my run down to Market St, opening up my stride wider with each step/leap.

I side stepped people and construction feeling like I was on an agility course and picked up my pace doing a cool 9:30 min/mile (fast for me). Heading down Market St. I people watched, dodged a crazy guy, checked out the trolley, tried to keep up with another runner, and overall felt my plane ride slip away.

The Embarcadero gave me more than two miles of less congested walkway, but there were still plenty of people and rickshaws to go around. The wind was pushing against me keeping me cool and adding resistance that I pushed back into. As I got closer to the Alcatraz ferry then into Fisherman’s Warf there were more and more people making it difficult to keep moving, so I turned around and headed back.

Market St felt shorter and I was paying more attention to find the street to turn back on and get to the hotel. I had more lights against me, but instead of slowing me down, I got my wind back which allowed me to sprint back up to speed. Finding my street, I headed up and put my legs into the hill for my last push. Then I turned into the hotel entryway and was greeted with a big smile and, “Welcome Back!” from the bellhop.

A quick shower topped off my run and a text on my phone let me know my room was ready. Which is where I sit now still basking in my runners glow.

San Francisco Proved I’m Ready for a 5K

I did it! I logged 3.4 miles in a loop from my hotel, to the Embarcadero and back down Market In San Francisco this morning. Man did I feel good – from the runner high as well as the fact that I actually made it.

Getting my chubby girl body running outside has been a struggle to say the least. Old shoes left me with little cushion causing hip pain. Strength in my legs made moving from treadmill to road near impossible. And, I needed to get my cardio and stamina up so that my heart rate stayed lower than 140 (preferably in the 135 range) so as not to collapse.

Getting back to being a runner has been a big goal of mine and the frustration of taking what seems like forever (over 4 months)  only added to my impatience to feeling like I was truly healthy. What finally encouraged me was being able to stay on the elliptical for an hour, getting in some short trail runs on a cushier surface than pavement, and starting to do some squats, lunges and hip exercises for strength. It took a month of concerted effort, but I finally made it.

The best part, I ran a respectable time – 12 minute mile. And, to be honest, some of this was due to waiting for traffic lights and getting a little lost and needing to check in with my phone’s map. Not too shabby. I think I might actually make the under 30 club for a race.

My run was not without adventure. heading back on Market I took a turn after 4th between some buildings where I’d cut through before. It just had been a while ago and I couldn’t figure out where Howard was. Thus, it required checking in with my phone map. Lo and behold, I had a route, I forgot to adjust for walking. Let’s just say that this added not only distance, but also a tour of one of the seedier parts of town – down 6th. Let’s just say that for a little girl on her own early in the morning heading past homeless people and some sordid fellows, I was feeling a bit nervous. But, I did make it back to Market and checked my phone again to put me back on track.

In the end, I certainly needed to push myself a bit more than on a machine, so a Guns and Roses mix helped a lot. I also ran the flattest part of the city. We’ll see what happens when I get home and have to tackle Hopkinton’s hills. But, all in all, not a shabby day.

I can now say – I’m a runner again!