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PCRM Vegan Kickstart September 2012

The racing season is mostly over, school is back in session, and I need to find a new writing and blogging groove. No more grueling mountain bike races, maybe one more short sprint triathlon, but my real focus will be training for a December marathon. In contrast to triathlon and mountain biking, running is much simpler. Less time consuming too. I just have to keep pushing my one long run each week and maintain the rest of the days.

So what to write about?

I think it’s high time to leave Maffetone, heart rate, lactate threshold, and heart rate variability on the sidelines and get back in the kitchen. After all, this is the best time of year for fresh produce at the Farmer’s Market. Thanks to my sister, I found out about PCRM’s 21 Day Vegan Kickstart, and signed on to help support her and a friend, along with anyone else on the forums making the effort. I could use a little inspiration, and this challenge looks like a good one. My midseason break from training has been refreshing, but I need a new focus. The Kickstart lays out a meal plan complete with shopping lists. I won’t follow all the meals, but I will follow the rules. My breakfasts are uniform: oats and fruit, and lunch is nearly always left overs from dinners. But I will try  as many of their dinners as I can for a little variety.

So my first Kickstart meal was Moroccan Bean Stew with Sweet Potatoes.

It came out more like a soup, a LOT of liquid. I winged it on the spices, but the flavor was good. Needed more heat, and some sriracha fixed that up. I added some red bell pepper, zucchini, and green beans because I had some laying around. And its funny that the garbanzo and black beans the recipe called for I already cooked up in the slow cooker before I signed up. Brilliant. I didn’t have the couscous, so I used a wild rice blend, which was OK. Too much liquid and a little over cooking of the veggies made the final dish a little mushy. I’ll keep the leftovers separate when packing my lunch. The next recipe is a black bean chili, to which I’ll add some extra veggies as well.

In addition to the how to, they’ve got an impressive list of celebrities adding their inspiration. Today’s message from NBA star John Salley was interesting, since I don’t follow basketball. Hopefully this community effort will lift me out of the Back to School doldrums.

What does everybody else do when motivation sags?

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Help From The Freezer

Coming back home from the holidays is always a challenge. Trying to reintegrate myself into the regular routine is always hard. Knowing this, I planned ahead and had some dinner food already cooked and frozen so I would have less to do. Good thing I did this, because I came back with pneumonia, and cooking was a real chore. My freezer food saved me! What I stocked in my freezer was two huge containers of two different split pea soup. I was worried about they might freeze, but they were fine. Here’s how they work out, nicely color coded:

Green Split Pea Soup

 1 pound green split peas

8 C water

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2-3 potatoes, cubed

1 head broccoli, chopped into florets

2 bay leaves

2 T parsley flakes

1 T prepared mustard

1 t basil

1 t paprika

Directions:

Put split peas and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. While peas simmer, chop veggies. Add veggies and seasonings and simmer for 30 minutes more. Check to see that everything is done to your liking, cooking longer if needed.

Yellow Curried Split Pea Soup

Follow above recipe with these substitutions:

Yellow split peas for green

Cauliflower for broccoli

2 T curry powder for the other seasonings.

To serve, you can top rice with it, or have bread or naan alongside. Or wrap in a tortilla.

There you go, two easy, inexpensive soups/stews complete with cancer fighting crucifers. Can’t beat that with a bat.

Marathon Millet and Mung Beans

Braised Greens, Mung Beans and Millet

Mung beans are a funny little green bean. They are the basis for the white bean sprouts in many Asian dishes. They are also common in a hulled and split form in Indian dal. They are reputed to be easy to digest, and I like them, but I hardly ever come across any recipes for them in their unhulled and whole form. One of the few I have found came from a recipe in an old cookbook for Kenyan beans. Now the legendary status of Kenyan runners and the plant based diet they consume immediately attracted me. I can’t find many Kenyan recipes, so I don’t know if mung beans are common or not, but I combined a mung bean stew with two African staples, millet and spicy cooked greens. This is definitely a plant strong recipe that might not make me run exactly like a Kenyan, but I am hoping that it will power me through my marathon this December.

MARATHON MILLET AND MUNG BEANS WITH SPICY GREENS

Ingredients:

1 cup mung beans, rinsed
4 cups water
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, minced
1 each red and green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup millet
2 cups water
1 teaspoon seasoning blend like Mrs. Dash or Spike
1 bunch kale, collards or chard, chopped
1/4 cup water
hot sauce to taste

Instructions:

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add mung beans. Lower heat and simmer for 30 min.
  2. After mung beans have cooked for 30 min. add vegetables and cook until done, about 30 min.
  3. In a separate saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add millet and seasoning blend. Lower heat and simmer for 30 min. When done, let rest off heat for 10 min.
  4. Braise greens in water, covered until done, about 10 min. Optional: greens may be braised with chopped peppers, onions and/or tomatoes. Season to taste with Bragg’s and hot sauce.

To Serve:

Fluff millet and scoop into bowl. Top with a scoop of mung beans, then top off with greens. Add hot sauce to taste. Enjoy, and run faster.

Tuscan Beans and Greens Crockpot Casserole


While watching the Food Network with my mother, we saw the beginnings of a great slow cooker dish. While the TV chef used chicken, I saw the potential to make it right: fat free vegan! It makes a great stew that we served on soft polenta, but it could be served with other starches, such as potatoes, or a whole grain pilaf. Or, serve with crusty bread and a green salad.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cans rinsed, drained white beans
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
8 oz. sliced portabella mushrooms
1-2 jarred roasted red bellpepper, chunked
1 cup veggie broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 bunch kale, chopped

Option 1:

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low until done, 6-8 hrs. Discard rosemary, check seasoning and serve.

Option 2:

Saute onion, garlic, celery, and fennel and carrots in a little wine or broth until soften.
Add to slow cooker with other ingredients and cook as above.

VARIATIONS:
Change the beans, using kidney beans or chickpeas.
Change the seasoning to sage or herbes de Provence.
Add chopped tomatoes.
Use chard, spinach or other greens instead of kale.

I love the slow cooker in winter, and this dish shows it with a slow simmering, good smelling dish that is ready when you are.