Powered by Fruit Smoothie

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Vega and Silk. I received free samples for the purpose of this post. All opinions are my own.

As a 100% vegetarian and mostly vegan ultra runner I make a point of drinking a protein shake most days. That being said, I don’t think a protein supplement is necessary for all vegetarians and vegans but as one that is exercising daily and does not always have enough time to meal plan, I feel that it is the right choice for me. My favourite brand, and really the only one I use, is Vega – specifically, their Vega One product as it has a lot of greens and other nutrients as well.

I go through phases with my protein drinks. Sometimes I make elabourate smoothies that involve combining every healthy ingredient I can find into my Vitamix until it’s overflowing and other times I just mix Vega powder with non-dairy milk in a shaker cup. During my recent seven-day stage race in the Alps called the TransAlpine Run, I had an individual packet of Vega One and a shaker cup waiting for me at the finish line each day. Part of my post-race routine became finding water, making a shake, and drinking it well stretching. Personally, I don’t love the water and Vega combination but it’ll do in a pinch.

Vega shake overlooking the streets of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Stage 2 finish line with my Vega shake in Imst, Germany.

Now that I am back home, I’m taking a simple smoothie or shake to-go for breakfast every morning. One of my recent creations was inspired by a vegan friend who biked across most of Canada eating mainly fruit. After reading his updates and eating lots of fruit during my own race, I got a newfound appreciation for the wonders of fruit. I would literally leave aid stations with both my hands full of bananas, orange slices, and melon. Sometimes I view fruit as being lesser than vegetables, I guess due to their sweetness, but I need to be reminded every now and then that they have their own amazing benefits!

Below is a recipe for my “Powered by Fruit” smoothie using one of my favourite Vega flavours, almond coconut. It’ll give you one last crisp, sweet taste of summer before we head into the rich, savoury fall flavours of pumpkin spice and eggnog.

Powered by Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients:

Instructions:

It’s pretty self explanatory – just dump everything in a blender and enjoy! Note: if you use fresh fruit, I recommend adding ice cubes for a cold, refreshing smoothie.

Because one Vitamix is never enough … 😉

Recipe: Vegan Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

Last weekend, I posted a half-eaten casserole my mom had made on Instagram and Twitter. The posts were pretty popular and I was asked for the recipe. Finally after a few emails and text messages back and forth with my mom, here it is!


Vegan Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 8 (for reference, the casserole dish in the photo holds about 1/2 of the recipe, if full)

Ingredients:

  • 8 large or medium potatoes (or substitute sweet potatoes or yams)
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance or other vegan buttery spread
  • 1/2 cup rice milk (or substitute almond milk)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup celery
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup carrots
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (canned, not drained)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • Two 15-ounce cans of lentils, lightly drained
  • 2 tbsp dry red wine (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 2 to 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 to 3 tsp all-purpose seasoning blend
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Peel and dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Stir the Earth Balance into the potatoes until melted, then add the rice milk and mash until fluffy. Season with salt, cover, and set aside until needed.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400º F.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the celery, carrots, peas, diced tomatoes, garlic, and mushrooms, and sauté over medium heat.
  5. Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the optional wine, soy sauce, ketchup, chili powder,  seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Combine the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.
  6. Remove from the heat, taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
  7. Lightly oil a 2-quart casserole dish, or two deep-dish pie plates. Pour in lentil mixture, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top. If using two pie plates, divide each mixture evenly between them.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes then cut into wedges to serve.

Let me know if you make this dish! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the recipe and if you have any suggestions or substitutions.

Caffeine-free for over a week!

First off … I LOVE coffee.

I used to get one large, black coffee on my way to work which would basically sip on throughout my entire day. Then I started drinking it faster and needed an afternoon coffee as well. Then we started making pots of coffee at my office in the morning and afternoon most days.

So now I basically have a never ending stream of coffee at my disposal. It’s not even that I need the caffeine, it’s just that I love drinking it. It’s delicious! I don’t even care if it’s fresh or hot (although that’s definitely preferred). I will drink a cold pot of coffee that’s been sitting in the kitchen all day and still enjoy it.

When I started the Freshii juice cleanse, I cut out coffee cold turkey. Generally, you should try to cut it out before hand so your not going through caffeine withdrawal on top of significantly changing your diet. But I didn’t plan that far ahead.

I felt fairly tired during the juice cleanse, especially days 2 and 3 … but the NEXT day, after the cleanse was over, I felt great! Sure, it could have been because I was able to eat food again and consume a reasonable amount of calories, but I definitely thought that going off the caffeine had played a big part in it. I decided that I would stay off caffeine for a while and test my theory.

It’s been about a week and a half and so far I’ve been bright-eyed and bushy tailed in the mornings (as much as anyone can be). I’ve been drinking decaf at work so I can still enjoy coffee.

Before early morning runs, I never used to drink coffee. I would be quiet, grumpy, and sleepy until I finally “woke up” after about a half hour into running. Last weekend I noticed that I was much more pleasant, happy, and social right from the start.

I think I might continue this experiment for a while long, although ultimately, I think my body just needs a break every now and then from the constant overload of caffeine.