Nutrition: Peanut Powder

For a long time I thought smoothies were what people ate/drank when they were trying to be "healthy" but really just wanted a milkshake. Now I know that wanting a milkshake is actually fine, and smoothies are always delicious. 

I bought a Ninja 1,000-watt blender a few months ago at Costco. I made a few smoothies with frozen fruit and fruit juice. I bought some Vega protein powder. They were fine: refreshing and healthy. It all lasted about 2 weeks. Until...I discovered powdered peanut butter. When I first saw this stuff (years ago), I rolled my eyes. I didn't get it. I thought it was for people to take backpacking. But then it finally dawned on me: IT'S FOR SMOOTHIES. Now I'm researching if it's okay to live on peanut powder and banana smoothies for all meals of the day. I highly recommend the PB + banana combo with almond milk as the liquid, but I've also mixed in cherries, and all kinds of berries. Nothing I've tried it with has been bad. 


The nutrition breakdown on the peanut powder is: 2 tablespoons (which is a LOT of powder) contains 50 calories,  1.5 grams of fat (zero saturated fat), 95 mg of sodium, 5 grams of protein, and only 2 grams of sugar. It's like the perfect "food." (I'm in no way against regular peanut butter, the powder is just super amazing for mixing). 

Especially on hot days (it's already been in the 90s in Colorado more than I remember from the past two summers), smoothies are the way to go. I sometimes have a hard time eating after a hot workout, but I will drink all the liquids. 

Nutrition: From the Garden


When I was in first-grade, my mother let me help her build a garden in our side yard. It was a raised box, probably 10' x 10'. We had 4 different kinds of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and basil. Probably other things things too, but all I really remember is that we had SO MANY tomatoes and peppers that my mother took bags to all the neighbors, and gave some to the mailman. I didn't even like tomatoes back then, but was so proud of our garden, that I tried them on everything. 


When I was in graduate school, I lived in what seemed at the time like a tiny apartment; that was before I had lived in New York City. My friend and I bought a plot at the community garden and spent a couple evenings a week tending to it. That was the first time I had planted potatoes: they were amazing. So creamy and earthy. We also grew Brussels sprouts and all kinds of herbs. We attempted baby eggplants, but they never came up. But, the old woman with the plot next to ours had beautiful eggplants all summer. 


I grew window-box herbs at our 4th-floor walk-up in Harlem. The box overlooked our fire-escape and 146th Street. It wasn't much, but I still loved adding fresh basil to homemade pizza. 

Now that we have a ton of room in Colorado, we're growing all kinds of things. We just keep adding. In the raised box we have strawberries, peppers, 2 kinds of basil, tomatoes, arugula, onions, and garlic. We also have a little plot of squash and zucchini, two more pots of tomatoes, an area of potatoes, and I just put in pumpkins. Everything is coming along pretty well so far. We've sampled the basil and arugula: so good. I forgot how peppery fresh arugula is. I've really got my fingers crossed for everything else. It's trial and error this year, but I'm looking forward to some hearty garden meals. Throughout my life, everything I've ever grown has tasted infinitely better than store-bought; but also, it looks and smells better. Grow what you can where you are: if you ever have too much, give it away!

Nutrition: Bars for Picky Eaters


For a long time, my go-to pickup line/explanation for my diet was, "but I eat eggs, so at least we can go out to breakfast!" I've been vegetarian since I was 10-years-old, and dairy-free for most of my adult life. I've done stints of entirely-vegan, and I largely consider myself vegan, except that I occasionally eat eggs, and honey. I love honey. People have different reasons for being picky eaters, and I'm aware that being able to choose what I eat (and don't eat) is generally a luxury. When I was a kid, I was overly attached to animals. Some might argue that I still am. When I found out that someone had to kill a turkey so that we could have Thanksgiving dinner, I vowed (to myself and my family) that I would never eat an animal again. I ate nothing that Thanksgiving: my first version of protest. 

Later in life, I discovered that I was lactose intolerant, and gave up dairy. But I've also been an endurance athlete my entire life, and from ages 18-26 I had a hard time maintaining a healthy weight. So I allowed myself eggs. As I've gotten older and have learned more about nutrition and cooking, I've gotten better at balanced meals and proteins. But also, things have changed. Back when I made my vow to that turkey and myself, even being vegetarian was weird. Now, living close to Boulder and in 2018, alternative diets are the norm.  


If being "vegan" isn't picky enough, I'll add that I'm also allergic to caffeine and don't drink alcohol. If you're suddenly thinking that I would NOT be a fun date, it's not true! At least I hope not. But also, my idea of a fun date involves outdoor adventure, water filtered from a mountain lake, and a protein bar. Which brings me to...protein bars: I've eaten a lot. Like, A LOT. A protein bar stands in for lunch at least a few times a week. My current absolute favorite is Clif Bar's carrot cake. That's been my go-to lunch on the slopes, in a bike jersey, or on a day-hike for a while. But! I also just discovered No Cow; (their motto is "No Cow. No Bull. No Whey!") These bars are dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, soy-free, vegan, with no sugar added. I know that SOUNDS like eating dirt, but they're not that bad! My overall review of a bar that has only 1 gram of sugar, 22 grams of protein, and none of the "bad" stuff, is, they're good. I ate one of these for lunch before a decent swim workout, and felt full with no distress. 

One thing I've never done--even though I've trained and raced my entire adult life--is get up early to eat breakfast 2-3 hours before activity, as is recommended. In fact, I usually train on an empty stomach, which I know is horrible. But, if I'm going to do something longer than 2ish hours, I'll eat a bar. Today I did a 75-mile bike ride (5 hours) with a few big climbs. I ate a Clif bar maybe 30-minutes before I left at 7am. I used electrolyte mix (Skratch) in my bottles, stopped mid-way for a lemonade, ate a gel and some electrolyte chews as needed. As soon as I got home I had another Clif bar (new flavor!) and a vegan yogurt. And tons more water. Probably not an ideal way to get protein and nutrition--I do enjoy real food--but for me, when I need something quick and easy, it works. 

Nutrition: Home Brew


Most people have something that they're willing to spend money on, even when they don't have money to spend: small vices--things that make us feel extravagant. Cigars, alcohol, chocolate, shoes. For me, it's kombucha. (I mean, I spend money I don't have on plenty of other things, too...usually cycling socks, cycling caps, and sunglasses). But kombucha is stupid expensive, and I buy it. On-tap, some of the cool new places in hip mountain towns charge more than $5 a glass! I rationalize it by reminding myself that I *don't* smoke cigars, drink alcohol, or care much at all about a shoe collection. Still, once I became the person buying the family-sized bottles of kombucha at Sprouts, I decided I should try my own hand at making it. 

Back in the day, my mother made her own yogurt, so I figured I had it in me to do this. Some friends gave me a "scoby" (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) or "mother" and that's maybe the best gift I've ever received. The scoby is...super gross: slimy and unappealing to look at or imagine ingesting in any way. And it grows. But also, it's super amazing! When put in a broth of tea and sugar, it creates a delicious effervescent beverage that's claimed to help everything in the body, but at the very least just tastes good.  


I've experimented quite a bit over the last 2 months. The first batch I tossed entirely. It was like pure vinegar. I hadn't put enough sugar in. The second batch was better but I didn't let it sit long enough before refrigerating, so it was mostly flat. But now it's getting good. I've been brewing 5 tea-bags of earl grey black tea with at least a half cup of white sugar. I let that sit for a day or two and then add it to the scoby. I test it with a straw after 10 days, but it can sit for up to 2 weeks. Then I add a little honey to individual bottles (recycled from purchased kombucha before I was in the brewing biz). I pour the 2-week-old concoction into the small bottles and let it chill. The earl grey and the honey work really well together. Next I'm going to start adding some fruits to the 2-week sit. 


I'm making a gallon (or 6-8 small bottles) of kombucha for less than I was spending on one at the store. Which is nuts. I've also started making my own hummus in big batches. So...I guess it's clear that I live in Colorado is what I'm saying. And that now I can buy more cycling caps. Let me know if you have any tips for kombucha! I'm excited to try new ideas/flavors.