The Science-Based Plan to Fuel the Plant-Based Athlete

I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole again.

An innocent browse through social media and before I know it, I’m reading scientific nutrition papers well past my bedtime.

What caught my attention this time was this paper outlining specific, scientific guidelines on how to fuel vegan athletes.

YES!!

No more guessing or cobbling together various bits and pieces from all over the internet.  This is a comprehensive analysis of what the best science says now about how to fuel a vegan athlete for health and performance.

Written by David Rogerson and published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, this long paper takes all the available data out there and sifts through the good and the bad, the praises and the pitfalls of a plant-based vegan diet and how it specifically applies to athletes.

I’ll give you the highlights and my take on them.

Greens, legumes, and plant-based fats are keys to a nutrient-rich vegan diet

While I like to think that I’m doing everything right when it comes to eating well for my health and for my training (and those can be very different things), I’m always open-minded  to learn something new that could make my nutrition just a little bit better.

And it looks like I need to make a couple of changes!

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of scientific research specifically on vegan athletes, so Roberson admits that some of the information has to be extrapolated from non-vegans.   Sure, vegan athletes are becoming more visible, but it’s not like there are enough of them yet to conduct widespread, double blind, replicable nutrition studies.

But even without perfect studies, the plant-based movement is becoming popular enough that athletes and sports nutritionists are looking for answers.

One issue is that the word “vegan” can mean a huge range of eating styles.  Some believe that if it didn’t come from an animal, it’s fair game, while others, myself included, base their food selections on whole, unprocessed food, free of artificial ingredients. In other words, “junk food vegans” and  raw, microbiotic herbivores (not me!) can’t all be lumped together.

So let’s assume that the vegans that are being referred to in this analysis are less the Oreo-cookie-and-French-fry vegans and more the whole-foods variety.

This triple berry nut and seed mix includes walnuts, dried cranberries, dark chocolate, almonds, dried cherries and blueberries, cashews, and pumpkin seeds.  The perfect snack with lots of protein, good fat, and micros.

The author does not seem to think that vegan athletes have an easy road.  He states that “while little data could be found in the sports nutrition literature specifically, it was revealed elsewhere that veganism creates challenges that need to be accounted for when designing a nutritious diet.”

Well, sure, eating just plants can be challenging in the sense that you do need to make sure that you are getting in beans, greens, seeds, nuts, fruits, whole grains and veggies each and every day, but once you get in that habit, I’d hardly call it a challenge at all.

This hearty, high protein vegan bolognese sauce stars kidney beans and walnuts in a classic tomato basil sauce

Nearly all nutrition guidelines seem to claim that just about everyone is missing some kind of nutrient, no matter what diet.  Omnivores need to pay attention to their micronutrient needs just as much as plant based eaters so a lot of the information in the paper is fairly universal.

Roberson points out that vegans and vegetarians do need to be mindful of several nutrients, specifically “the sufficiency of energy and protein; the adequacy of vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium, iodine and vitamin D; and the lack of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in most plant-based sources.”

I personally have zero trouble getting all my calories in, so I’m not deficient in energy (aka calories).  I love to eat and love to eat big portions, so I rarely ever have the issue of eating too little.

“Achieving a high energy intake is difficult in some instances,” Roberson writes, “owing to plant-based foods promoting satiety.” In other words, plants make you feel full and satisfied!  In fact, this is one of the great benefits of eating plants. You get to eat a lot and you get to feel full!

But if you are new to plant-based eating, you might want to track your calories for a little while to be sure you are eating enough.

Let’s take a deeper look into the recommendations that vegans need to pay attention to.  Come down the rabbit hole with me!

Protein  

From the studies cited in the article, many vegan athletes tend to fall short of optimum protein levels.  Furthermore, fewer plant proteins contain all of the 8 essential amino acids required by the body.  A glass of cow’s milk, for example, will be a complete protein, while a glass of almond milk will fall short.

But this fact is easily rectified by eating a variety of sources of protein throughout the day (it doesn’t have to be the same meal).  Grains, legumes, nuts and seeds while provide all the protein needed to support recovery and adaptation from training.   Aim for 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for endurance athletes, 1.8-2.7 if you are trying to lose fat.  I easily reach this target without protein powders or a ton of soy and tend to come in somewhere around 1.75 and 2g/kg a day.

 

Carbohydrates

 This is where plant-based athletes shine. “Vegan diets tend to be higher in carbohydrates, fibre, fruits, vegetables, antioxidants and phytochemicals than omnivorous diets,” Robertson concludes. “The consumption of micronutrient and phytochemical-rich foods is an important benefit of any plant-based diet. This might help to mitigate the effects of excess inflammation and promote recovery from training.”  Endurance athletes should aim for 4g to up to 12g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight depending on training load.  I easily reach 6-8g/kg a day or 55-65% of daily calories.

 

Fat

Roberson notes that fat intake needs to focus on quality intake instead of quantity and admits that the relationship between fat consumption and athletic performance needs additional study.   It’s almost too easy to  meet the fat guidelines with avocados, nuts and seeds.  Endurance athletes should consume 0.5–1.5 g of fat per kilogram of body weight per day (or 30% of daily caloric intake) through avocados, nuts and seeds.  I’m generally in the 25-35% range and well over 1g/kg.

 

ALA, EPA and DHA

 Unless you’re eating salads of seaweed and microalgae, vegans are not getting many dietary sources of the omega-3 fatty acids, ALA, EPA, and DHA.  You can consume ALA in walnuts and flaxseeds, but as little as 0.5% convert in the body to DHA.  This may have important performance implications as omega-3s play an big role in cardiovascular health.  

Fish aren’t the only living beings in the ocean that supply omega-3s.  Supplementing with microalgae oil combined with whole-food sources of ALA might benefit health as well as performance.  The recommendation is 500-1000mg DHA to EPA in a 2:1 ratio or 2-4 commercially available capsules a day.  Yep, I need to get some of these!  I just ordered this brand.

 

Micronutrients

 Vegan diets tend to be higher in micros than omni diets, but attention does need to be paid to a handful of them:  B12 (vegans should supplement), iron (get a blood test to determine if you need to supplement), calcium (greens, broccoli, beans and fortified foods are great sources), vitamin D3 (“further research is warranted to determine optimal vitamin D doses for athletes”), zinc (beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds to the rescue again!), and iodine (choose iodized salt over sea salt).

My favorite afternoon ritual: A matcha latte made with calcium-fortified almond milk supplies important phytochemicals and antioxidants

And now the really interesting part, ergogenic (or performance enhancing) aids:

  • Creatine: The classic bodybuilders’ supplement may actually help endurance athletes and its effect may be more pronounced in vegans and vegetarians who have naturally lower muscle stores of creatine.  “Creatine supplementation might also lead to increased plasma volume, improved glycogen storage, improved ventilatory threshold, and reduce oxygen consumption during submaximal exercise.”  But before rushing out to your local GNC, creatine has also been shown to lead to weight gain, so be sure to think about how to time that appropriately for your training, if you choose to try it.
  • Beta alanine: If you are racing at high intensity for longer than 60 seconds, your performance might benefit from this beta amino acid, which is mainly found in meat and poultry.  Because vegans’ muscles would be low in this amino acid, supplementation would theoretically help vegans even more dramatically than omnivores who might have larger reserves.  (The article was not as clear about whether or not this would apply to the marathon distance which is not at high intensity.)

I’m not sure if I’m ready to experiment with creatine and beta alanine just yet, but it’s certainly something to think about!

The paper ended with the following conclusion:

Through the strategic selection and management of food choices, and with special attention being paid to the achievement of energy, macro and micronutrient recommendations, along with appropriate supplementation, a vegan diet can achieve the needs of most athletes satisfactorily.

All athletes need to pay attention to their diets, just like they pay attention to their training.  Perhaps plant-based athletes need to focus on things a little differently than omnis, but it’s great to know that the science is starting to catch up with us!

 

 

You Can’t Beet This Salad

I usually roll my eyes when I come across salad recipes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love salad and eat one every day, but a recipe for a salad?  Don’t you just throw some veggies on top of some greens with maybe a little dressing and call it good?  What do you need a recipe for?

As it turns out, a little saladspiration is exactly what I needed to break free from the same old sad salads.

So before a recent dinner party, I opened one of my favorite cookbooks, Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking. Inside was a gorgeous photo of a beet and orange salad that looked perfect for an early fall evening.

This is not that gorgeous photo.

This is a oh-I-just-made-dinner-for-eight-people-I-should-probably-hurry-up-and-take-at-least-one-picture picture.

Lets just say the photo in the cookbook is far better than mine!

Roasted beets paired with sliced oranges and toasted walnuts drizzled with a tahini dressing was the perfect accompaniment for the rich and creamy golden broccoli soup I served.  Along with Thanksgiving-style sweet potato dinner rolls browned in a cast iron skillet, the humble soup/salad/bread trifecta was elevated to company status.

But as simple as this salad might sound, there’s quite a bit of effort involved in washing, peeling, chopping and roasting the beets let alone toasting the walnuts just right so they don’t burn.  If you want to make this salad for a weekday lunch, you’re probably just not.

With race day coming up, I’m trying to get beets in any way I can and I can’t always spend an hour in the kitchen just to make a salad!

So I decided to make the weekday lunch version that seriously took less than 5 minutes to put together and tastes just as good.

Admittedly, I do have a love for the rich sweetness of roasted beets that cannot be rushed, but this is close enough for your average Tuesday.

I also found that I prefer honey instead of maple syrup in the lemon tahini dressing.  (Honey is not strictly vegan so if you are, you can sub agave or maple syrup.)  The combo of honey and tahini is something that I learned from some of the Greek athletes I coach at RunnersConnect who eat it on their toast in the morning.  It’s perfect whisked with lemon juice for a light and tangy complement to the beets, oranges, and walnuts.

The dressing couldn’t be simpler or more delicious

Using raw walnuts, easy-to-peel mandarins, and economical canned sliced beets, a wow-worthy salad can be ready in minutes!

Make this salad even more of a meal by adding kidney or black beans along with cooled leftover rice or quinoa!

 

Serves 1 salad

You Can’t Beet This Salad

5 minPrep Time

5 minTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups spinach or mixed greens
  • 6-7 slices of canned or jarred beets (containing water and salt only)
  • 1 peeled and sectioned mandarin orange
  • optional other vegetables of choice, cold cooked grains and/or legumes
  • 2 tablespoons (15g) raw walnuts
  • Honey Tahini Dressing:
    1/4 cup (55g) tahini
    2 tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
    1-2 tbs (15-30ml) honey
    2-4 tbs (30-60ml) warm water to thin

Instructions

  1. For the salad, place greens in a bowl, arrange the rest of the salad ingredients on top in a way that looks pretty!
  2. For the dressing, mix dressing ingredients in a small jar and stir until it's the consistency you like.
  3. Drizzle over salad and enjoy!
Cuisine: Salad |

Notes

Inspired by Minimalist Baker

7.6.4
27
http://theplantedrunner.com/you-cant-beet-this-salad/

Not Your Kids’ Summer Camp

I have loved camp since I was seven years old.

Campfires, shared meals with new friends, lots of time outdoors playing and exploring, are memories of camp that I think of fondly from my childhood.

Running camp for grown ups is just as good.  Maybe even better because there’s wine.

Chuck Irsak’s photo of ZAP before the campfire

 

Last year was my first experience with ZAP Fitness Running Camp with Runners Connect and I can truly say that it changed my life.

It was there that my coaching journey began, although I didn’t know it at the time.

It’s hard to believe that a year later, I returned to ZAP this time as a coach for Runners Connect.

Up to the Manor House

 

Many of the attendees from last year were able to return again this year, which made it seem even more like the summer camp I remember.

Camp friends become forever friends.

Andrea running on the beautiful trails in Blowing Rock, NC

 

I feel incredibly lucky that I get to run and geek out about running as a job.  Over the four-day weekend, in addition to lots of beautiful miles with some amazing people, I led exercises on goal setting and strength training and had several one-on-one personal coaching sessions.

I’m learning that it’s not always the technical running training advice that matters the most.  More often than not, the athlete already has many of the answers she is looking for and it is a joy to discover how to tease those answers out together.

As the weekend came to a close, there were hugs and exchanges of email addresses.

And just like the last day of summer camp as a kid, it was a bit sad for it all to end, but we knew we’d made memories and friends that are much bigger than a single weekend.

Just one day later, most of us are already looking forward to next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Train for a Marathon Fueled By Plants

One of my favorite parts of my job coaching at Runners Connect is stepping behind the mic to host a week of the Extra Kick Podcast each month.

We answer just one running or training questions per day in a short daily podcast. 

Normally, I don’t post what I talk about there on The Planted Runner, but today’s question was just too perfect not to.

And my answer might just surprise you!

Below is the full transcript.

If you’d prefer to listen instead of read, click here and go to Episode 143.  Better yet, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and you can get the latest episodes daily!

Mary Kate sent in her question for the podcast by email:

 I’ve been considering trying out a vegan diet for a long time but hesitate as I’m afraid it will affect my running. Any tips on plant-based diets for runners? Should I make the transition during my marathon buildup or wait until I’m taking a break? Thanks!

Great question, Mary Kate, and this is something that is very near and dear to my heart as a 100% plant-based marathon runner myself.  Or maybe I should say it’s near and dear to my stomach!

Yes, you absolutely can become vegan during marathon training and it very well could affect your running–for the better.  But let’s be sure we are talking about the same thing here.

Vegan simply means that you choose not to consume or use any animal products.  This lifestyle can have health benefits, but animal welfare and/or environmental issues are the primary reasons behind the choice.

Being a vegan is defined by what you don’t eat, not what you do eat.

Which means that you can be entirely vegan and subsist on potato chips, margarine, and white bread.  Not exactly rocket fuel for a marathoner.

Now if you are talking about a 100% whole foods plant based diet, that also just so happens to be better for the planet and certainly better for the animals, then you are creating an eating pattern that focuses on what you do eat and has very little to do with what you don’t eat.  Big difference!

And despite whatever the most militant vegan, plant-based, whole foods advocate out there says, there is simply ZERO evidence that a 90% plant diet is healthier than a 100% plant diet.

Eating more plants is good for everyone and most certainly for your running, so focus on the rich variety of foods that you include on your plate (like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds), and less on the foods that you are trying to eliminate.

Most athletes are afraid of plant diets because they think that they won’t have enough fuel to run well.  This can happen to you as you transition to eating just plants, but it is very unlikely to be coming from the food you are eating.  It’s far more likely to happen because most people naturally eat fewer calories when they fill up on salad, black beans, and sweet potatoes and instead of cheese and bacon.

So the key to avoid under fueling is to eat more!  Sounds awesome, right?  For me, this is a huge benefit to eating this way.  I have a big appetite and I am much happier with a full belly than constantly trying to eat less.  Plants naturally are micro-nutrient dense, full of fiber, and with the exception of nuts, seeds, and oils, have fewer calories by volume than meat and dairy.  So you can eat a larger volume of food for fewer calories.

The flip side to that if you are someone who struggles to eat enough while training, you’ll need to be sure that your meals are filling and you eat often.  Liquids are great for cramming in a lot of nutrition and calories without your brain realizing it, so a veggie and fruit packed smoothie can be very helpful meeting your recovery needs quickly after a long run.

Once you tell the world that you are no longer eating meat and dairy, be prepared to answer the number one question you’ll face: where do you get your protein?

All whole, unprocessed plants have protein.  We eat food, not macronutrients.  Nuts, seeds, legumes and grains have lots of protein as well as soy products like tofu and tempeh.

And you don’t need to specifically combine proteins like rice and beans in the same meal to get all your amino acids as long as you are eating a variety throughout the day.

Without much thinking about it, you will naturally consume anywhere for 50-60% unprocessed carbohydrate, 10-20% healthy fats, and 10-20% protein a day, which is well within the US recommended daily allowances as well as what most sports nutritionists recommend for endurance athletes.

For reference, elite Kenyan athletes typically eat a mainly vegetarian diet with only meat a couple times a week and it’s reported that their diets are about 75% carbohydrate, so there’s something to be said for that!

Some examples of a typical whole plants breakfast is a bowl of steel cut or rolled oats mixed with non-dairy milk, fresh fruit, some chia or flax seeds.

A good snack would be fresh or dried fruit with a small handful of cashews or almonds.

Lunch could be a big salad with lots of veggies, avocado, chickpeas, tahini, and quinoa.

A banana with peanut butter on toast makes a good snack or breakfast and of course the standard veggies and hummus is a classic vegetarian snack for a good reason.

Dinner might be a veggie burrito or chili and cornbread, way too many choices to list here!

The point is when you fill your plate with plants, you are doing more for your body and your running, regardless of whether you choose to go 100% plant based or not.

I personally find it simpler to be a 100% herbivore because it helps me continually make better choices without as much temptation.  I’m definitely a black and white person, so going 100% makes the most sense for me.

One thing all vegans need is to supplement with is vitamin B12.  In fact, many meat eaters are short on this nutrient as well, but the sources in a plant-only diet are limited to a few fortified foods, so taking a chewable sublingual B12 pill once a day or once a week depending on dosage is essential.  But other than that, if you are eating your greens every day as well as all of the rest of the colors, you are most likely doing a great job getting everything your body needs.

Most people find that they recover better and have more energy when they eat this way.  I know I do.

I could go on all day on this subject, and I appreciate you sending in the question, Mary Kate.  And if you are interested in learning how you can improve your nutrition and your running and you have a question for one of the coaches, go to runnersconnect.net/daily and record your question there.  We’d love to hear from you.

 

The Wind Strengthens the Tree Only After It Stops Blowing

I’ve just finished one of the heaviest training weeks I’ve had so far this marathon cycle:  just over 80 miles.  I’ve reached this barrier before while preparing for other marathons, so I’m not celebrating too much, but it’s time to take a step back.

Yes, instead of continuing to build the quality and quantity of my runs each and every week, I’m purposely cutting back for a week.

Research shows that intentionally dropping mileage for a week during the 10-12 week marathon specific period not only does not hurt your progress, but it leads to growth.

It seems so counterintuitive to build, step back, build, step back.  Our minds want progress to be linear.  We should simply build and grow in a nice smooth arching line upwards.

The logical way to build endurance should be like building a house out of Legos.  You start with the foundation, add some walls, then a roof, and you’re done.  One step after another.  Relentless forward progress until the house is built.

But that’s not how growth in living things work.

We are more like a tree in a windstorm.  As our tree sways back and forth in the wind of hard training, intense cellular damage is taking place in the trunk and in the branches.  The tree is being pushed farther than it is used to going so it stretches and bends and tears a little.

After the storm passes and the winds become calm, the tree repairs itself, builds stronger cell walls, and becomes even more resilient to withstand the next storm.

Yet, if the wind is unrelenting, blowing day in and day out, the tree has no chance to repair the damage and get stronger.

It will break.

So tomorrow I’ll skip my run and rest.  I don’t feel especially tired or worn out, but my long run today was not the quality run it should have been.

Missing splits is often a sign that you need to rest, instead of continuing to push and train harder.

How much should you drop down for an easy week?  Well, that’s a bit subjective.  Many experienced athletes many only need 10-20%, while those venturing into new territory of distance and/or intensity should probably aim closer to 30%.

I’m planning for about 20%.  Maybe I’ll take a bit more than that if I need it.

I admit that dropping that much when I know I can handle another 80 mile week hurts my ego a little.  It plays on my fears that I’m not doing absolutely everything I can to get better.

But ironically, there is a freedom in restraint.  I know that resting and cutting back on mileage is a training strategy for improvement, not a sign that I’m not fit enough or not working hard enough.

I’m simply taking some time to prepare for a hurricane.

So the Washington Post Called…

I was more than a little excited.

After listening to an episode of the Run to the Top Extra Kick Podcast about running after menopause (episode 116), a reporter called up for an interview!

Now, let’s be clear that I still have a loooong way to go (I hope!) before I reach that time in my life, but the majority of my athletes are in that age range and so many of them are simply rocking their health and fitness.  I’ve had to learn a lot on their different needs and perspectives and was happy to share what I’ve learned.

Click here to read the article!

 

Might As Well Jump

What if I told you there was a way to improve your speed, agility, power, endurance, balance and coordination in just five to ten minutes a day, three times a week?

And not only that, it would be fun?

Most runners are always looking for a way to get stronger and faster.  More running usually is the best way to do it, but there’s a limit to how much running you can do with your body and your lifestyle.

This is where plyometrics come in.  Plyos are high-velocity movements that generate power which translates to more speed and stamina on your runs.

In other words, jumping.

Studies have shown that adding plyos into your weekly routine improves muscle strength and running economy.  One study of highly trained athletes showed that after 9 weeks of plyo training 3 times a week, elite runners increased their running economy by 4.1%!

Yes, please!

Does that mean that you have to do a million burpees and box jumps to increase your power?  Those are great, but there’s a more fun way.

Jumping rope.

Jumping rope works all the major running muscles (calves, quads, glutes) as well as your stabilizer muscles (core, shoulders, back and chest) used to turn the rope.

It also increases the elasticity of your Achilles tendon, making it a great choice for runners prone to this common injury.  When you jump rope, you strengthen your feet, ankles, and calves, which all support the tendon.  You are training your feet to land properly, avoiding some of the alignment issues that can cause Achilles tendon pain.

As far as calorie burning, jumping rope is roughly equivalent to running, but there’s no way you can keep it up as long!

The first thing you need, obviously, is a jump rope.  But don’t get one of those old-school ones that are actually made of rope or covered in plastic rigatoni noodles.

You need a speed rope. They cost less than $10.  The thin cable is easy to turn fast so you can spin the rope quickly.

Here are a few pointers to getting the hang of it if you haven’t jumped rope since the fourth grade.

Keep your arms low on your sides and turn the rope with your wrists only, not your whole arms.  You want to jump exactly once per rotation and avoid that “double bounce” thing that a lot of people do when they start.  In order to do that, it means you need to spin the rope quickly so that it passes under your feet in time.

You’ll need to have great posture with your core tight and your shoulders down and back in order to jump rope smoothly.  Just like running!

Be sure that you are landing and taking off on your forefeet.  Don’t crash down flatfooted or with your heels.

A great routine to start off with is one I borrowed from pro athlete Sarah Brown.  Often sidelined with Achilles injuries, Brown and her coach had to come up with ways for her to get her explosive speedwork in without so many risky sprint sessions on the track.

Her routine is 10 jumps with both feet, 10 with only the left, 10 with only the right, and then 20 jumps alternating feet.  Aim for 3 to 5 sets of these allowing for short rests in between sets if you need it.  The entire thing takes less than 10 minutes and is perfect right after an easy run.

When you get bored with that, add in some high knees, jacks, front-to-backs, and side to side moves. Have fun and play with it!

There are tons of jump roping videos on YouTube and here’s one that talks about all the benefits from a super fit dude that can do all the tricks! (Or mute it if you just want to watch a buff guy jumping on the beach!)

I keep my jump rope right next to the front door and after I get back from a run, I’ll grab a drink of water, and then jump for a few minutes.

Of course, just like with running, you can get carried away with too much of a good thing.  If you go too hard too soon with your new toy, you’re going to end up hurt, so go easy on it at first.

The routine I’ve described is fairly low impact since you are only jumping a few inches off the ground, typically much less than you would running, so you can jump rope several times a week without adding much more stress to your training.  But add a heavier rope, throw in some double unders, and you are changing this into a high-impact exercise that requires recovery time, so be sure to factor that in.

For now, I’m just keeping it simple as the marathon miles are starting to add up.  But if a few minutes a few times a week are all it takes to make me a stronger, more powerful runner, then I’ll take Van Halen’s advice and jump!

 

My Favorite Vegan Pancakes and Waffles

At any given moment, our freezer has no less than three different varieties of pancakes and an assortment of waffles.  If I’m going to go to the effort of making pancakes (not really that much effort, but still), I want lots of extras for quick breakfasts on busy mornings.

I have so many favorite recipes for no-egg, no-dairy waffles, that to share just one wouldn’t be fair.

And to be honest, I’ve found so many recipes that work so well, that I haven’t bothered to even change them up much.  So here’s a roundup of my favorites:

Hannah Kirshner’s Best Ever (Vegan) Waffles:

Hanna’s Kirshner’s Best Ever Waffles. Accidentally vegan, delicious on purpose.  From Food52.

When Food52 calls something the “Best Ever (Vegan) Waffles,” you’ve gotta try it.  Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, they are exactly what you want in a waffle, vegan or not.  And they are full of protein (if you’re into that sort of thing!).  I half the oil called for and they still turn out great.

Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes:

Fluffy, tropical pancakes with grilled pineapple rings in the center.

Chocolate Covered Katie is the girl to follow if you have a sweet tooth, but are still trying to (pretend) that you are eating healthy.  Our kids love these pancakes and I love how the sugar in the pineapples caramelizes into a deep brown color.  Pretty sure that Katie is still single because her recipes are typically only enough for one normal person or two people who’ve already eaten something else.  I quadruple her recipe.

Apple Cinnamon Waffles:

Can’t you almost smell how good these are?

My notes next to this one in my recipe book say, “*AMAZING! NO SUBS!” so suffice it to say, it’s a hit in our house.  (Almost everything that I’ve made from Minimalist Baker turns out this well, so I’m not surprised. ) Soft, buttery, sauteed apples drench crispy cinnamon waffles.  Don’t wait until fall to make these!

Vegan Coconut Milk Waffles:

Vegan Waffle

These coconut milk waffles remind me of funnel cake from the county fair.  And it’s oil-free!  The original recipe is deliciously sweet (the recipe is from The Art of Dessert, after all!), so I typically half the sugar.  Even my traditional-waffle-loving husband likes this simple recipe!

Brownie Batter Pancakes:

I promise it’s healthier than it looks, but you don’t have to tell anyone!

Chocolate Covered Katie does it again with a decadent but healthy, teeny tiny single-girl recipe.  To say my kids love this one would be an understatement.  We sprinkle these with a touch of powdered sugar and then hose off their chocolatey faces in the back yard.

These are just some of my favorites, but I’m always adding to my collection!

What about you?  Do you have a favorite breakfast recipe?

 

Aquafaba Mango Ice Cream

Aquafaba is a miraculous ingredient.  The liquid from a can of chickpeas that you normally dump down the drain can be whipped into meringues, baked into cookies, and frozen into ice cream.

What’s normally thought of a waste product is actually one of the greatest egg substitutes that’s ever been discovered and it seems that there is almost no limit to what it can do. (Well, don’t try to make an angel food cake with it, but that’s another story.)

Aquafaba whipped into stiff peaks

At only 5 calories per teaspoon, with a touch of carbs and protein and almost no fat, it makes the lightest, creamiest, and impossibly delicious ice cream!  And, no, it does not taste like chickpeas at all.

Each enormous serving has less than 100 calories!

Even if you are not vegan, you’ll want to try this just for the sheer magic of it.   It really is that amazing.

And no ice cream maker required!

I love mangos and when they are on sale, I like to grab a big box of them.  And they make perfect ice cream.

But you can substitute any fruit you like with this recipe.  It really is that simple.

Scoops easily even without using an ice cream maker!

Just 5 ingredients (or fewer if you omit the lime and salt) and four hours in the freezer and you’ll have your own delicious treat that hits the spot after a hot summer run!

I swear, this recipe is so good, even my non-vegan husband loves it.

Yields Makes 4 HUGE servings

Aquafaba Mango Ice Cream

Light, creamy, low-fat mango ice cream with less than 100 calories per each enormous serving!

15 minPrep Time

4 hr, 15 Total Time

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (180g) aquafaba, or about the amount from a standard can of unsalted chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup (about 50g) powdered sugar (more or less to your taste)
  • 1 cup (about 165g) sliced fresh or thawed frozen mango
  • 1 teaspoon (about 5g) lime juice
  • dash table salt

Instructions

  1. Beat aquafaba on high in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form. This can take up to 12-15 minutes, so be patient!
  2. Meanwhile, blend the rest of the ingredients in a blender on high until liquified.
  3. Add mango sauce to whipped aquafaba and mix slowly until just incorporated.
  4. Pour into a freezer-safe container and let freeze for 4 hours or more.
  5. Scoop and enjoy!
Cuisine: Dessert |

Notes

Each serving has 93 calories, 23.3g of carbs, 0g fat, 0.9g protein.

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http://theplantedrunner.com/aquafaba-mango-ice-cream/

Make Your Own PB Chocolate Protein UCAN

As much as I would love to believe that people come to my site to read my sage training advice and chuckle at my endless witticisms, I (sadly) know that’s not the main draw.

People want the recipes!

By far the most popular thing I have ever posted is my recipe for DIY Generation UCAN, a sugar-free race fuel made with slow-release carbohydrates that you can mix up in you kitchen for pennies.

So when a reader recently asked if I had a version of the Chocolate Protein UCAN, I decided to rise to the challenge.  I’ve already posted my chocolate version, but it’s naturally low in protein by design.

Of course, my version will not contain whey powder (obviously not vegan, but even if I weren’t plant-based, I wouldn’t recommend it, and here’s a few reasons why) xanthan gum (I’m okay with this ingredient, but I don’t like thick drinks), or sucralose (an artificial sweetener that definitely should be avoided) like the original contains.

The protein of choice instead is PB Fit Peanut Butter Powder, which makes this a rich peanut butter chocolate flavor.

PB Fit does contain a little sugar, so if you are looking to make this sugar-free, use a defatted peanut butter powder or flour that is sugar-free.

One scoop of UCAN’s protein version contains 110 calories for a 30 gram scoop, 18 grams of carbohydrate, 7 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fat.

My version is 122 calories, 19.6 grams of carbs, 7.3 grams of protein, and 1.9 grams of fat.  Mine also includes 354mg sodium, 87.5mg potassium, 4.7% of the RDA of calcium, 5.3% RDA of iron, and a touch of magnesium.

Now I’m not going to lie and tell you this tastes like drinking a luscious chocolate peanut butter milkshake.  But it’s still pretty good.

And let’s be real:  not even the pricey commercial version can claim that that people are ending their meals with UCAN milkshakes for dessert simply for the scrumptious flavor.

This is performance fuel, not dessert, and it works!

For me, this is far superior to any gel or other race fuel that I have ever tried and keeps me going without the crash!

Let me know what you think!

Make Your Own PB Chocolate Protein UCAN

Liquid starch-based fuel that is an alternative to gels or chews.

My version is 122 calories, 19.6 grams of carbs, 7.3 grams of protein, and 1.9 grams of fat.  Also includes 354mg sodium, 87.5mg potassium, 4.7% of the RDA of calcium, 5.3% RDA of iron, and a touch of magnesium.

5 minPrep Time

5 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon (14g) PB Fit
  • 1 teaspoon (2g) cocoa powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon Morton's Lite Salt
  • 10 drops stevia extract or other sweetener of your choice
  • 2 to 4 ounces of water or more, depending on preferred thickness

Instructions

  1. Mix all dry ingredients except water in a small measuring cup with a spout.
  2. Slowly add enough water to your desired thickness.
  3. Stir thoroughly and pour into a small running bottle.
  4. Shake before drinking.
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http://theplantedrunner.com/make-your-own-pb-chocolate-protein-ucan/