Monthly Archives: January 2010

LOW Fat is the Key

While many in the nutrition field like to pass off low fat eating as another embarrassing 80s trend along the lines of a Sony Walkman with those foam headphones or leg warmers, no one can really argue with the clinical success and scientific research about a diet where 10% of calories come from fat. Some like the Atkins crew, Gary Taubes or even South Beach, FL like to argue that all that low fat preaching did no good. It did a lot of good, but only for the people who made the effort. Most people went their merry fat way and barely changed at all. Check my man Soulveggie’s explanation as to why in this case, 10% is the magic number.


Belgian Training Part 2: Monsoon Monday

Belgian Training Part 2: Monsoon Monday

If last week I thought all the grey made it like Belgium, this week’s forecast calls for a monsoon: heavy rain and high winds all week, mudslide and flood risk, general meteorological mayhem. Well. I guess the gym and indoor trainer are on tap for the week.  The gym is fine, I should be working on building more of the strength that I began creating before the holidays.  The training is working, but I am starting to fade a bit, thanks to the hectic school schedule of girls basketball and finals. I’ve got a little sinus thing going on as well, I feel fine, except for my head, so I must watch my recovery carefully.  This week’s long ride went much better.  I ate more before, and during, so I felt much stronger, although I kept the exact same pace as last week, over the same course.  I also recovered better, although I drank too much coffee before the ride, so that my post ride nap was not quite the bliss I had hoped for.  I got that after my long run yesterday.  I changed my run course a little, adding in another little loop, that didn’t actually add that much time overall.  I felt very good on the run. I reminded myself to slow down and keep a relaxed pace, walking occasionally to drink, and I felt great up until the very end, where my legs started to go dead. I consoled myself with the fact that I did do a long ride the day before.
Sat. Long ride 2:55 I haven’t this much endurance this early before, good news!
Sun. Long run 1:35 Need to figure out how to integrate yoga into the week.
Farmer’s Market:
yellow peppers, brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe, fingerling and red potatoes
In the kitchen:
Mediterranean Stew in the crock pot. I love crock pot season! This one had beans, veggies, herbs, wine, and I forgot the artichoke hearts. Oh well, it was still good over Kashi 7 Grain Pilaf. Tonight will be the broccoli rabe over soft polenta.
Her: Are you training for a marathon, young man?
Me: (aloud) No, just running because I love it!
Me: (in my head) Young man ?! You mean I don’t look like a middle aged knucklehead? Marathon? Is that because of my ultra smooth stride, gleaned from reading books about Kenyans and Tarahumara?
Ah, the kindness of strangers, everyone needs a little ego boost, even Buddhists!

Belgian Training Bust

Whenever the weather in the endurance “off-season” gets murky, I just think of Belgium. The Flemish hardmen are out training in worse weather, what right do I have to complain? Especially since there is no real “off-season” anyway. Now I am supposed to building a base, which means training hours, right? The Belgians are even more intense, they are racing cyclocross in the snow, or preparing for their biggest road races which start in just a couple of months. I have no right to complain, but I will anyway. It was cold, foggy, and damp this morning for my 3 hour road ride. I felt like I was in Belgium. It has been cold and grey for so long now I forgot what the sun looks like. Vitamin D? Not a chance, son, go pop a few hundred IU and suck it up. I was low on energy, nearly bonked, and struggled to recover the rest of the day. A quick look at the 2009 training log revealed a possible cause: it has been a long time since I rode 3 hrs. Oh well, better luck next week. On the flip, I don’t think I have ever been doing such long rides this early in the season, so that bodes well for the rest of the season. On the food front, my crock pot rocks, because it cooks up a mean pot of gourmet pinto beans!

Evolution or Revolution for New Year’…

Evolution or Revolution for New Year’s Resolutions?

Many times I think that we try the path of revolution for the New Year.  As the feasting wears off and we think of what didn’t get accomplished in the previous year, we set truly ambitious goals.  It’s like we are trying the personal equivalent of storming the Bastille.  If any aristocrats of our old habits are found, off with their heads! Vive la revolution!  Does becoming a Bolshevik of our psyche actually work?  For some, yes. A clean sweep for many people often succeeds.  But for many others, I think that if we get down on ourselves for not executing the “revolution” last year may find some solace in looking at evolution. Perhaps we have progressed some.  Perhaps we can build on that. Maybe the revolution functions best not in totality, but as just enough shock to overcome inertia and create enough space for change.
For myself, I look back on some of my goals from last year to see how well I did. If I treat it as a pass/fail exam, then I failed.  But I don’t feel like a failure. In fact, I feel a lot better! So what worked? I set a goal of getting into racing.  I wanted to run a half marathon, (fail) Xterra triathlon (fail) ultra mountain bike race (fail).  But the big picture was racing: I ran 5 trail races, two road races, one MTB race and one triathlon. Pass, with flying colors! I wanted to lose weight to improve my power to weight ratio, I lost about 15 lbs.(pass) I wanted to learn more and improve my skills for following the McDougall Program to lose that weight and improve health.(pass) I feel and perform better than I have in a long time, and have learned a lot. If I don’t look at the bigger picture it would be easy to look at 2009 as a fail, but I definitely don’t feel that way.  Seen in this perspective, 2009’s lessons are motivating for 2010.
So what’s on tap for 2010?
sub 45 min. 10K run (road)
1 mile swim in open water
150 lb. bench press for reps
225 lb. squat for reps
Pull-ups at body weight for reps
(those lifts would return me to previous levels when endurance was not the priority)

100 mi. road bike century

Xterra: Nor-Cal complete season: Granite Bay, Del Valle, Tahoe x2
Uvas and Sac Sprint Triathlons
Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz Triathlons
50 mi. MTB Race
July Fri. MTB Series
Try cyclocross
Skyline to the Sea Ultra 50K
Attain race weight (150 lbs. ?)
Improve McDougalling skill
Further reduce oil, cheese, flour and sugar
Create recipe resource 
Join triathlon club
Write article for Veg Times (publishing optional!)
How much editing is allowed?  Unlimited editing dilutes commitment, but carving them in stone might mean discarding them altogether.

Pressure Cooker Paranoia

Like many people, I have an irrational fear of pressure cookers. I have long read of their advantages, especially for vegetarians who like bean dishes. Speeding up the bean cooking process would be fantastic as I already like to cook from dry beans whenever possible for better flavor. So I received a pressure cooker as a a gift and I was so excited that I … left it unused. I especially wanted for high altitude cooking, but fear overcame me. I read that there are the old school “jiggle top” cookers, and the new school cookers that have a tighter seal. That caused confusion and the source of my fear crystalized. Everyone knows the horror stories of ruined dinners, ruined kitchens, and even injury from an exploding pressure cooker. Apparently, this almost never happens, not even in the old days, but once a belief takes hold, watch out!

So, it took my sister to decide to conquer the fear by making a fabulous lentil-quinoa soup while I was skiing. No tragedies occurred, but a great soup was the result. So today we tried a more ambitious recipe: New Mexico Pinto Bean Soup adapted from Lorna Sass’s book Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure. I used my heirloom pinto beans from Adobe Milling, since they have great flavor. Here is more or less what we did:

New Mexico Pinto Bean Soup

2 C soaked dried pinto beans
1 T canola oil (while I eschew all oil, in this case the pressure cooker requires it for beans, to prevent disaster)
1 t cumin seeds, whole
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 red bellpepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 C corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 t dried oregano
Dash of chipotle chili powder
Dash of ground coriander
4 C water or broth

For finishing:
2 T tomato paste
1/2 C minced fresh cilantro
2 T lime juice

1. Sizzle cumin seeds in the oil until they pop, add garlic and brown
2. Add onion and peppers and saute one minute
3. Add beans, corn, water and spices
4. Lock lid and bring to high pressure, lower heat and cook for 8 min.
5. Remove from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally.
6. Using an immersion blender, whizz in the tomato paste until the desired consistency is achieved
7. Add cilantro and lime juice, check for seasoning and serve.

New Year’s Day Crash

So while the purported 60,000 New Year’s Eve partiers slept of there new decade enthusiasm, we continued our recent tradition of skiing on New Year’s Day. The blackout period of our season passes has ended, and the hill is not crowded. Time to make some turns! For my niece, Gabrielle, this is probably her favorite thing in the world: skiing with her uncle and grandpa and especially her dad. It’s not often that her dad skis with her since usually my dad and I take her. (We are the enthusiastic skiers in the family) So we had a nearly perfect session on the hill even though the weather was nasty and cold, and I tweaked my knee trying to goof off with 70s fresstyle. But the highlight of the day was the chairlift crash, which happened right in from of my eyes, while I was powerless to help. Enjoy!