Monthly Archives: June 2009

SmarterFitter in the U.S.A.

Requisite photo of The Bean

This blog usually comes to you from merry England, but for the next three weeks I’ll be writing from my home country: the U.S. of A.

First, Chicago, my home town and the place I’m writing from now (alongside a hot cup of coffee and a very crazy bird). Tim and I are staying with my parents and couldn’t be happier to be in a city where summer actually FEELS like summer (it may be hot and humid in Chicago, but I’m not the least bit cold – yesterday in England I was still wearing thermals).

On July 2nd we’re off to Austin, where Tim and I met and where I went to grad school. I suspect Chicago’s balmy 93 degree weather is just a primer for what’s waiting for me in Austin. But so are good friends, excellent food, and a rental house with central a/c.

Frost Bank at 5

After our travels we pack up and move to the country and it won’t be until July 17th-ish that we’re finally in our new place and able to settle into our new routine. Until then, all bets are off.

This is a bit of a challenge for the SmarterFitter mindset, which knows that keeping fit is largely about consistency. True as that may be, there is also the part of keeping fit that involves trying new things and setting new challenges. Not only does this keep things interesting, but it also avoids those dreaded plateaus many of us struggle with.

So I’m going to look at these next few weeks of unrest as the ultimate plateau buster. I’ve been feeling a little stuck lately in the same routine. Swim, walk, cycle, repeat. As dear as these activities are to me, I fear I’ve been growing more in boredom than I have in muscle mass. I’m tired of counting laps, cycling down Kingsland Road, and circling Clissold Park. I’m ready for something new.

We don’t often think of travel as a part of a healthy fitness “routine”, but I wonder if travel can be just as effective for breaking out of plateaus as is all the other plateau-busting strategies out there? After all, travel is a great opportunity to

  • Relax – In between this trip’s various weddings and other social commitments, I plan to do a lot of chillin’, hopefully in the sun with a cold beverage and a hot barbecue. What could be better for the mind and soul than a healthy dose of relaxation.
  • Have a think – About life, goals, the future, and all those other things sitting in the back of my mind that I always feel like I don’t have the time to think about.
  • Try new things – New foods, new scenery, new moves and new people. Even just walking in a different environment can lead to all sorts of ideas. I’m already thinking where my walks will take me when I move to the country. As much as I love Clissold Park, it will be great to be in a place where walking is as much an adventure as it is a sport. The scenery along is enough to inspire me to up my mileage into day-long hikes, with a pack, working my way up to the point where I’m able to go on multi-day backpacking trips.

Of course, there are some routines I can’t live without, and one of those is Bircher Muesli. But how can I not spread the love of my favorite breakfast cereal?

Bircher Muesli Chicago Style

So far I’ve taken Bircher Muesli to L.A. and Chicago, convincing both my parents and my sister of its extreme awesomeness. I’m still waiting for the rest of the world to catch on, but I think it’s coming along. In fact, yesterday there was an article in the Chicago Tribune for overnight oats, which is basically steel-cut oats soaked overnight to reduce cooking time in the morning. But I say skip the cooking altogether. After all, it’s summer, and a hot one at that. Days like these call for cool, refreshing foods, and Bircher fits the bill like a charm.

Recipe: Bircher Muesli

Soy Yogurt “Cheese”

Cornmeal Crepes of Bliss

I like a little creaminess with my crepes, and have been experimenting with various tofu- and cashew-based “creams” with fairly decent results. I decided to give it a try with soy yogurt, then shortly thereafter found Emilie’s post on The Conscious Kitchen about soy yogurt “cheese”.

I hate to use the word “cheese” here because this is nothing like cheese, but it’s what Emilie calls it and it’s the closest word I can think of to what this is like. The concept is simple:

Soy Yogurt with BerriesPlace some plain soy yogurt in a fine mesh colander for a few hours. The liquid will strain out and you’ll be left with really thick soy yogurt. Mix the result with yummy savory or sweet seasonings and use it as you would Greek yogurt, cream cheese, or other soft cheese.

Emilie’s got a couple great variations, including herbed soy yogurt cheese, and sweet soy yogurt cheese. I mixed mine with agave nectar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cinnamon, then used it as both a crepe filling and a crepe topper. I loved it! It’s also really good plain with fruit, and when eating it out of this ramekin, I wondered if I could turn it into a creme brulee. But that is an experiment for another day.

Food and Exercise Log | Sunday, June 21, 2009

Calories In: 1,553
Calories Out: 2,150
Deficit: 597

Breakfast #1

Vegan Cornmeal Crepe with Marmalade, Fruit, and Soy Yogurt “Cheese”

Cornmeal Crepes of Bliss

A light breakfast to get me through my swim. One cornmeal crepe with a dollop of soy yogurt “cheese”, a bit of fresh fruit, and a decaf coffee.

Calories: 195
Protein: 8g
Fat: 3g
Carbs: 37g


1750 meters / 55 minutes

Calories burned: ~250

Breakfast #2

Vegan Cornmeal Crepes with Fresh Fruit, Toasted Almonds and Soy Yogurt “Cheese”

Cornmeal Crepes of Bliss

Done with my swim and time for crepes round two. This time I filled the crepe with banana and toasted almonds. I had this with a healthy dose of the soy yogurt “cheese”, lots of fruit, and more flaked almonds. SO good.

Calories: 241
Protein: 9g
Fat: 8g
Carbs: 37g


Three laps ’round Clissold Park with Tim. About 4 miles.

Calories burned: ~300


Black Beans and Raw Kale Salad

Black Beans and Raw Kale Salad

This picture doesn’t really represent my lunch because I didn’t end up eating that patty-type object shown on my plate. It was a black bean burger pulled from the freezer, but I overcooked (i.e. burnt) it and it was kind of dry and tasteless anyway. So I opted for 2 ramekins (about 200 grams) of black beans, along with my raw kale salad dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper (I love this).

Calories: 414
Protein: 21g
Fat: 11g
Carbs: 61g

Random Snackage

Grapefruit, More Black Beans, and a Brazil Nut (not shown)


Black Beans

Calories: 267
Protein: 11g
Fat: 4g
Carbs: 50g


Veggie Pizza with Marinated Italian Grilled Tofu and Broccoli

Veggie Pizza

Italian Grilled Tofu

To me, it is not the cheese that makes the pizza, but rather the delicious ingredients that go around the cheese. Thus, I bring you the easiest vegan pizza around. Don’t bother with cheese substitutes, just put on lots of nice veggies. Here I did grilled zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, garlic and tomato sauce. It was SO good. Served it with Italian Grilled Tofu topped with marinara sauce and a bit of blanched broccoli on the side.

Calories: 434
Protein: 16g
Fat: 19g
Carbs: 56g

Vegan Cornmeal Crepes

Vegan Cornmeal Crepes

A couple people have asked about my vegan cornmeal crepes so I thought I’d post the recipe.

These were adapted from a recipe in Veganomicon. They’re pretty yummy, and would be great with savory fillings. I think you could actually up the cornmeal in this recipe with good results (replacing some or all of the regular flour with cornmeal).

Vegan Cornmeal Crepes

Cornmeal Crepes of Bliss

1.5 cups rice or soy milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1 tbsp arrowroot flour or cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour into an airtight container and let rest at least one hour (I let mine rest in the fridge overnight).

When ready to make crepes, give the batter a good stir to mix up any flour that may have settled. Heat a nonstick pan and spray with non stick spray.

Ladle about 1/2 cup into the center of pan and spread into a thin layer by rotating the pan.

Cook for about a minute, until the top is dry and the edges start to come up slightly from the pan. Flip and cook the other side for about 15-30 seconds.

Remove from pan, fill with your favorite fillings, and enjoy! Or do what I do and return the rolled crepe to the pan on a low heat to let the filling warm up and the crepe to crisp a tad.

Makes about 10 crepes. Per crepe: 71 Calories. 2.8g Protein, 1g Protein, 12.7g Carbohydrates.

Where do Calories come from?

This is one in a series of food photo diary posts in which I track my food in pictures. I’m also counting my calories. Read all about it in this post or click here to view a detailed breakdown of my calorie intake in a nifty spreadsheet.

A Half Pint at The Harp

I’ve been keeping track of my calories for a while now, but it doesn’t seem like the numbers quite correlate with my progress. Overall, the numbers tell me I’m burning more calories than I’m consuming, however I’m not losing weight (a good thing, because the whole point of this was to gain weight), but I can’t help but feeling like I’m missing something here. I’m certainly not going hungry. Take yesterday, for example. The diary shows me having consumed 1,234 calories. That’s absurd. So what am I missing?

These strange numeric anomolies add to my existing uncertainty about the purpose of calorie counting. A lot of this comes from consistency, something I struggle with, especially when it comes to eating out. Although I only eat out a couple times a week, when I do, these Calorie injections, riddled with beer and wine and usually delicious (and rich) food, rarely make it into the diary. (As the photo above demonstrates, I’m usually too busy enjoying my beer to think about my silly spreadsheet – no laptops at the pub!) Could it be that my regular calorie deficits are balanced by these once- or twice-weekly social outings?

I don’t know. So what’s the whole point of this if I’m not being consistent? I’m not sure. The number crunching is teaching me a few things about the foods I eat and how much protein I’m getting. I also like that I’m building up a collection of healthy, low-cal meals that other people might benefit from. But I wonder if I’m really getting out of it what I put in. Is this really the way to getting stronger, faster, smarter and fitter?

The answer: TBD.

Food and Exercise Log

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Calories In: 1,234
Calories Out: 1,900
Deficit: 665


Vegan Cornmeal Crepes with Fresh Fruit and Toasted Almonds

Vegan Cornmeal Crepes

Two cornmeal crepes filled with orange marmalade, then topped with strawberries, bananas, blueberries and toasted almonds. Served with tea and soymilk.

Calories: 364
Protein: 12g
Fat: 9g
Carbs: 64g


3 Clissold Parks, about 4 miles
Calories burned: ~300


Avocado on Toast with Chickpeas and Salad

Saturday Lunch

One slice of homemade french bread, 1/4 avocado, chickpea salad, leftover stir-fried mushrooms, and fresh leaves and veggies dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Calories: 288
Protein: 9.5g
Fat: 20g
Carbs: 22.6g


Soy Yogurt and Strawberries

Soy Yogurt Snack

50g of plain Sojade soy yogurt with two strawberries and a cup of rooibos tea with soy milk.

Calories: 88
Protein: 7g
Fat: 3.7g
Carbs: 6.8g


Falafel Wrap and Salad

Falafel Fixins

Makings of a Falafel Wrap

Two homemade falafels in a pita wrap with tahini sauce, hot tomato sauce, lots of salad, plus extra salad and tahini on the side.

Calories: 324
Protein: 11g
Fat: 15g
Carbs: 36g


Banana and Rooibos Tea with Soymilk

Calories: 148
Protein: 4.6g
Fat: 1.5g
Carbs: 32g

SmarterFitter in the Countryside

Clattinger Farm and Surrounds

After three years of living in London, we’ve decided to up and move to the countryside. It’s a huge life change and I can’t wait for it to begin. I love London, but it’s time to do something completely different. I’ve always dreamed of living in the middle of nowhere, and I’m actually at a point in my life where I can do that. So why not? We found what seems like the perfect place for us: a converted barn on land owned by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (you can read more about the move on my personal blog).

Our New Home (I Hope)

One of the reasons I’m moving to the country is to get a lot of work done on my personal projects. One of these projects is SmarterFitter, and I hope to have a lot more time to spend on the blog once I’m free of London’s distractions. I plan to continue writing about food as I always have, but I’d also like to write more about the fitness side of SmarterFitter. After all, staying fit in the country is going to be a challenge. The country may mean quiet nights and greener pastures, but the country also means

  • No client meetings to cycle to
  • No gyms or pools within walking distance of my house
  • No fit people to admire as they run around the park for the umpteenth time
  • No one to remind me that working from home all day in front of a computer is the number one bestest most ultimate way to expand the waistline

But the country also means miles and miles of public footpaths to explore, sustrans cycle routes to ride, Cotswold hills to scale, country pubs to walk to, and the neighboring Cotswold Water Park with kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, and other water-related sports. PLUS, the new places has a huge, partially paved garden for skipping, sprinting, and playing frisbee.

Staying true to the SmarterFitter tradition, there will be no treadmills, no elliptical machines, no weight machines, and no gyms. Just getting fit and staying healthy the natural way. That’s what this website has always been about, and in many ways, that’s also what moving to the country is about. I’m hoping to find an environment that helps me be the best person I can be, both in food, fitness, “work” and life on the whole. Let’s just hope I don’t go stir crazy, Jack Torrance style.

When There Is No Vegan Substitute

This is one in a series of food photo diary posts in which I track my food in pictures. I’m also counting my calories. Read all about it in this post or click here to view a detailed breakdown of my calorie intake in a nifty spreadsheet.

Vegan Experiment Gone Amiss

Last Sunday Tim and I tried to make vegan “tortilla de patatas”, aka a spanish omelet, spurred on by this photo and recipe at The recipe makes use of chickpea flour to bind the potatoes into an omelet-shaped food object.

The result? Nothing like a spanish omelet, and a sad waste of some really yummy fried potato and onion.

The lesson: vegan food shouldn’t attempt to imitate non-vegan foods. The result will invariably be less delicious than the original version. This especially goes for foods such as eggs, bacon, cheese and, well, anything that is inherently non-vegan.

Of course, I have a little dilemma here. Take veggie burgers, for example. I love veggie burgers, especially black bean burgers. I also love spaghetti and tofu “neatballs”, vegan crepes, and most recently, fruit with tofu- or cashew-based “cream”. Are these foods faking it? Or are these foods a completely different thing? All I know is I like them – isn’t that enough?

Food and Exercise Log

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Calories In: 1,448
Calories Out: 2,200
Deficit: 752

I definitely needed to eat more on Sunday given all the exercise (lots of walking and swimming). It’s no wonder I had a major snack attack in the middle of the day.

Bircher Muesli Mini Breakfast

Bircher Muesli Mini Breakfast

When I awoke in the morning, I was struck by two opposing forces: hunger and the desire to swim. I compromised by having a little bite to eat, but not enough to cause my stomach to go wonky at the pool: about 1/4 serving of Bircher Muesli with banana, plus a cup of black tea with soy milk.

Calories: 180
Protein: 6.6g
Fat: 4.4g
Carbs: 31.5g


50 mins / 1750 meters

Calories burned: ~300


Vegan Buckwheat Crepes with Marmalade, Fruit and Cashew “Cream”

Marmalade Crepes with Fruit and Cashew Cream

Two vegan buckwheat crepes filled with orange marmalade, topped with fresh fruit and cashew cream. Enjoyed with a cuppa decaf coffee with soy milk.

Calories: 263
Protein: 10.7g
Fat: 8g
Carbs: 40g


Three park walk with Tim, ~ 4 miles.

Calories burned: ~300


Vegan Spanish “Omelet” and a Big Salad

Vegan Experiment Gone Amiss

Calories: 271
Protein: 10.5g
Fat: 1.9g
Carbs: 57g


Random Snackage

Black beans, satsuma, black tea with soy milk. Consumed at various points between lunch and dinner. No photos!

Calories: 180
Protein: 11g
Fat: 1.8g
Carbs: 32g


Black Beans and Rice with Sauteed Greens

Black Beans and Rice

Nothing better than a simple meal of beans and mexican rice. Served this with some cabbage sauteed with onion and garlic, then topped the lot with avocado, tomato and pickled jalapeno.

Calories: 405
Protein: 13.7g
Fat: 15g
Carbs: 55.7g


Grapefruit and Rooibos Tea with Soymilk


Calories: 148
Protein: 4.6g
Fat: 1.5g
Carbs: 32g

Boot Camp for Beginners

This is a guest post from my friend, Xandros. Xandros has been attending a fitness “boot camp” in recent weeks and I asked him to write a little something about his experience. I’m so grateful that he did! Boot camps were a bit of a mystery to me, but now I’m curious to check one out. They’re a great way to bust out of a plateau, and despite the name, boot camps can actually be FUN. Thanks to X for this eXcellent post!

I started attending a boot camp sometime ago, and have been asked by Monica to contribute something based on my experiences. It’s probably best to talk about aspects that are likely to be shared by most well-run boot camps and could be good reasons for deciding to give one a go.

Boot camps can really help to keep you motivated

Boot camps provide motivation through friendly competition and group support, much like you might get within a sports team. Not only is this a morale-booster for most of us, it also provides distraction and helps the sessions pass quickly. Another aid to motivation is, of course, the instructor. If you’re flagging and your technique is getting sloppy, the instructor is there to give you a friendly verbal prod, advice or encouragement so that you regain focus and form.

You are using all or large parts of your body most of the time

At a boot camp, you’re running, lifting, pushing, pulling and all kinds of other stuff in an environment full of uneven surfaces, changing gradients, obstacles and all the other things that you run into outdoors. Doing lots of different exercises, which are of varying degrees of complexity, outdoors generally requires you to use lots of different muscles in concert and challenges your co-ordination, balance and awareness. Working-out in this way has a depth and completeness to it that is really satisfying and provides great benefits.

Each workout is a surprise

Is that the last set of push ups? What’s next, squats? Sprints? Ah… more push ups. You never really know what the instructor is going to hit you with next. This keeps things interesting and adds to the mental and physical challenge as you often find yourself needing to adapt to changes quickly or dig in to finish off that last unexpected set. And you often end up pushing yourself harder than you might have otherwise.

If you’ve plateaued, are looking for something different, or just looking to get fit, it’s worth taking a serious look at doing a boot camp or two. Most camps run for around 5 weeks at a time and they should be able to accommodate most fitness levels. Be warned, however, that some boot camps are run military style and they will have you crawling through the mud and what have you, while others have a much more civilian mindset. So please talk to the people running the boot camp and make sure that their format and philosophy are right for you.

P.S. If you live in Auckland, check out FasterFitness. They run a great boot camp and will help you achieve your goals.

Photo credit: robgraphics

Not Getting Things Done

This is one in a series of food photo diary posts in which I track my food in pictures. I’m also counting my calories. Read all about it in this post or click here to view a detailed breakdown of my calorie intake in a nifty spreadsheet.

Today, Tim and I were talking about our goals, past and present, and it prompted me to pull out some old journals to see where I was in 2005.

On one of the pages I listed my goals for that week. One of them read “figure out a resistance training routine.” I had to laugh out loud because this is almost word-for-word one of the items on my current to-do list. Since 2005, I’ve been sitting on this “goal” and although I’ve made small strides here and there, I can’t seem to get my head around “resistance training.”

Tim’s suggestions: do pushups, sit-ups and squat thrusts. That’s a good start, but I have no idea how to structure these workouts. How often should I do them? How many reps / sets? Does it matter?

I’m starting (ok, re-starting) with the 100 pushups challenge and I’ll see where that takes me. I like that I get a plan with the pushup challenge. What I need is a more well-rounded plan that works my whole body. Until then, that pesky task in my to-do list will remain unchecked.

Food and Exercise Log

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Calories In: 1,569
Calories Out: 1,900
Deficit: 331


Vegan Buckwheat Crepes with a Cuppa Decaf

Vegan Buckwheat Crepes

The crepes are filled with banana and apple cooked in a bit of grapeseed oil with cinnamon, then topped with fresh strawberries and toasted sliced almonds.

Calories: 312
Protein: 10g
Fat: 11g
Carbs: 48g


Took a long walk with Tim around Clissold Park, ~4 miles.

Dog Walkers on Mass Plus Basset

Calories burned: ~300


Not Managoey Enough Mango Smoothie

Mango Smoothie

I got my ratio of mango to ice and tofu wrong. I added a banana and a bit of honey to make up for it.

Calories: 285
Protein: 12.3g
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 53.5g


Portobello Mushroom Sandwich on Fresh Home-Baked Baguette with a Simple Salad

Portabello Mushroom Sandwich

Calories: 296
Protein: 10.8g
Fat: 5.7g
Carbs: 55g


Two PB on French Bread Mini-Bites with a Cuppa Assam Tea with Soymilk and a Satsuma

(Tea and second mini-bite not shown.)

PB Mini-Bite on a Homemade Baguette


Calories: 183
Protein: 7.4g
Fat: 4g
Carbs: 31.5g


Week 3, Day 2 of the one hundred pushup challenge

one hundred push ups.jpg

Set 1: 14
Set 2: 19
Set 3: 14
Set 4: 14
Set 5: max (25)


Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran

Red Lentil Dal with Greens, Carrots, Peas and Basmati Rice

Carrots and Peas with Ginger and Green Coriander

Served with steamed spinach, basmati rice and Madhur Jaffrey’s Carrots and Peas with Ginger and Green Coriander

Calories: 357
Protein: 18.7g
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 60g


Grapefruit and a Brazil Nut

(Nut not shown.)


Calories: 135
Protein: 2.6g
Fat: 3.6g
Carbs: 26.8g

Fresh Herbs in Smoothies

This is one in a series of food photo diary posts in which I track my food in pictures. I’m also counting my calories. Read all about it in this post or click here to view a detailed breakdown of my calorie intake in a nifty spreadsheet.

Strawberry Mint SmoothieToday’s food lesson: use fresh herbs to kick up your fruit smoothies.

Today I tried mint in my strawberry and banana smoothie – superb! It got me thinking about other herbs I could add to my smoothies. Here are some ideas:

Diary for Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Calories In: 1,699
Calories Out: 2,125
Deficit: 426


Vegan Crepes with Fruit and Yogurt

Breakfast Crepes

Two vegan buckwheat crepes filled with banana slices sprinkled with cocoa then warmed up on a low heat on the stove. I love this. I also had some berries on the side with some natural yogurt seasoned with lemon zest. Yum.

Calories: 224
Protein: 8.5g
Fat: 4.6g
Carbs: 39.2g


Strawberry Mint Smoothie with Peanut Butter on Pita

Strawberry Mint Smoothie

PB on Pita Snack

Breakfast was light so it wasn’t long before I was ready for breakfast #2. I had a smoothie breakthrough today: mint! Yes, three leaves of mint in my banana and strawberry smoothie totally kicked things up a notch. The mint was so refreshing and brought out the taste of the strawberry so well that I didn’t need as much honey as I normally put in.

Calories: 347
Protein: 17.2g
Fat: 10.5g
Carbs: 50.9g


Three park walk, about 4 miles. Just me and This American Life.

Calories burned: ~300


Leftover Braised Lentils and a Mini Portobello Sandwich



Lots of leftovers for lunch today. And the requisite big salad.

Calories: 377g
Protein: 17.6g
Fat: 5.9g
Carbs: 69g


12mi round trip to a client meeting and back.

Calories burned: ~225


Apple, carrot, and a cuppa tea

Consumed at the client’s office, so no photo alas.

Calories: 97
Protein: 1g
Fat: .3g
Carbs: 25g


Vegan Pizza with Baked Broccoli

Vegan Pizza with Baked Broccoli

The mushrooms came out a bit shriveled but overall this was a really good pizza! I topped it with: tomato sauce, red onion, crumbled tofu ricotta, spinach, garlic and mushrooms. This was the first time I tried tofu in this way and I loved it. It’s not cheese; it’s a whole different thing. But very nice! And surprisingly light – more room for dessert!

Calories: 261
Protein: 16.4g
Fat: 11.3g
Carbs: 28.6g


Vegan Dessert Crepe

Vegan Dessert Crepe

I was in the mood for dessert, and used the opportunity to experiment with tofu “cream”. (I hate using the word “cream” because this isn’t trying to be “cream”, but it’s creamy, so what else should I call it?) I wizzed up some silken tofu, lemon zest, lemon juice, coconut milk, honey and a little salt in the food processor, then drizzled it over the fruit and crepe. It was so good!

Calories: 326
Protein: 9.1
Fat: 9.6
Carbs: 34

A Day In The Life (of Easy Vegan Recipes)

This is one in a series of food photo diary posts in which I track my food in pictures. I’m also counting my calories. Read all about it in this post or click here to view a detailed breakdown of my calorie intake in a nifty spreadsheet.

It was a day of trying new things and expanding my lexicon of fast and tasty vegan meals. From fruit and muesli to lentils and swiss chard, there’s are lots of recipes in today’s post. Read on…

Diary for Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Calories In: 2,225
Calories Out: 1,615
Deficit: 610


I went for an early morning swim before breakfast, and thus caught the working crowd. I still managed a very nice one-mile swim, and having other people in my lane encouraged me to push myself to swim faster and focus on my stroke (rather than on breakfast)

Calories burned: ~325


Bircher Muesli with Carrots and Cinnamon

Bircher Muesli with Carrots and Toasted Almonds

Inspired by Maya’s carrot cake oats, I decided to branch out from my usual Bircher Muesli recipe and tried a few new things. First, I soaked the oats in soy milk instead of water and I skipped the whole almonds. In the morning, I added a grated carrot along with the usual grated apple, plus some extra cinnamon. Finally, I topped the lot with toasted sliced almonds. I wouldn’t call it “carrot cake”, for lack of cream cheese frosting, but I loved it, especially the crunchy texture of the carrot. Highly recommended.

80g rolled oats
20g raisins
10g flax seeds
1 cup soy milk (or more as needed)
1 apple, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 wedge of lemon, juiced
20g slivered almonds, toasted

Soak the oats, raisins, flax seeds and cinnamon in the soy milk overnight (add enough soymilk to cover the oats). In the morning, mix in the apple, carrot and lemon juice. Top with slivered almonds and serve. Serves 2.

Calories: 396
Protein: 14g
Fat: 16g
Carbs: 62g


Strawberry and Banana Tofu Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Tofu Smoothie

I’ve been taking some of your suggestions and mixing up my smoothies with other fruit besides banana. I really like the strawberry and banana combo. Tomorrow I might try adding some mint.

80g silken tofu
1/2 cup soy milk
4 strawberries
1/2 banana
1 tsp of honey

Whizz it all up in a blender. Pour into a glass and enjoy. Serves 1.

Calories: 203
Protein: 12g
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 31g


Took a long walk with Tim around Clissold Park, ~4 miles.

Calories burned: ~300


Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Salad

Grilled Veggie Sandwich

I’ve been craving a grilled portabella mushroom sandwich, so on the way back from our walk, I picked up a baguette from The Spence then headed home for some hot grillin’ action. First I put some portabella mushrooms, sliced red onions and sliced red pepper into a big ziplock bag. Then I added a little bit of balsamic vinaigrette, fresh parsley, salt and pepper to the bag and mixed it all around. Then I grilled the veggies in the oven and stuffed them into the baguette along with some avo and tomato. It was perfect!

Calories: 296
Protein: 11g
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 55g


Leftover Stir Fry Salad

Leftover Stir Fry Salad

Ever wonder what to do with cold leftover stir fry? (Besides heat it up and eat it as it was intended?) I like to pile it all on a bunch of lettuce. The stir fry and sauce acts as its own dressing. Plus it takes <1 minute to throw together (if the salad leaves are washed and ready to go). Calories: 288
Protein: 12g
Fat: 14g
Carbs: 34g


Braised Lentils with Rainbow Chard, Rice and Bread

Braised Lentils, Spanish Style

Another hit from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Bittman’s Braised Lentils, Spanish Style are delicious and easy (that is, if you happen to have red wine, smoked paprika, and saffron around). I also tried a new recipe for Swiss Chard from the New York Times: Swiss Chard with Currants and Pine Nuts. I used walnuts and sultanas instead of pine nuts and currants, and it turned out great. It’s amazing how the addition of just a small amount of rich nuts and sweet sultanans can turn boring greens into something exciting. To me, this is the heart of vegan cooking: learning how to make vegetables taste good (rather than learning how to make vegetables taste like meat!).

Recipe: Braised Lentils, Spanish Style
Recipe: Swiss Chard with Currants and Pine

Calories: 432
Protein: 18g
Fat: 13g
Carbs: 59g