Chocolate #9 Review

If you’re a runner than you’ve already heard of energy gels. If you have no idea what I am talking about, let me fill you in. Energy gels are created as a way to give long distance runners the fuel they need to keep going. Our body burns energy through a combination of protein, carbs, and fats. Gels are just complex carbs. Normally, food would provide the much needed energy, but when the going gets rough who wants to attempt chewing up an energy bar while running?

Gels are a smooth way to absorb the energy without the crunch factor.  They are easier to digest than solids, and are able to provide more needed calories per ounce than the average sports drink.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “A gel? that doesn’t sound to appetizing”. Even though they are titles “gels”, their consistency is more like pudding. Sounding better to you?

If you’re vegan, these gels are hard to find in a cruelty-free version-until now. I recently discovered Chocolate #9, and I’ve gotta say, “OH-MY-YUM!” Now, I haven’t tried any other gels before, simply due to their ingredients. However, Chocolate #9 is not only vegan, but natural too. Made with Organic Agave and breakfast cocoa processed with alkali. Yay for organic!

Here are some key points that make Chocolate #9 unique:

  • Only 70 calories! That’s right, it’s significantly less than the average energy gel which ranges from 100-110 calories.
  • It’s vegan!
  • it has a certified low-glycemic-index. What does this mean? Diabetics can use it too!
  • Low fat
  • made with 100% agave, no refined sugar here!
  • it tastes amazing, like chocolate syrup, YUM!!!
  • it’s gluten-free, yes you read that right, GLUTEN-FREE!
  • contains NO artificial ingredients such as food colorings or preservatives.
  • it’s chocolate, need I say more? Oh yes I do, it’s Belgian style dark chocolate.\
  • use for multi-sports
These bad boys are well priced too. Check out the order page of the Chocolate #9 website. Also available at R.E.I.
Now for the fun part…..I am having a contest for a free sample of Chocolate #9 Energy Gel. Here’s how it works: Do three of the following and then leave a comment below with which three you have chosen. Bonus: If you participate in more than three, please add a separate comment for additional contest entries.
  1. Like the vegwritingmomma new facebook page.
  2. Follow vegwritingmomma on twitter.
  3. Tweet this article.
  4. Subscribe to the vegwritingmomma blog.
  5. Post this article to your facebook wall and share.
  6. Send me a link to a tweet or comment regarding this article.
It is recommended to use a get 15 minutes prior to a run and then 30-45 minutes into your run time.
Happy Gel-ing!
(It should be noted that no payments we given in exchange for this review. Samples were provided by Cocolate9)

Juice/Smoothie 24 Cleanse

Recently I completed a 24-hour juice cleanse. Lately I’ve had some pain in the ball of my left foot, so much so that I don’t bear my weight on it when I walk. I’ve also been experiencing some pain and inflammation in my other joints. I know that my health issues are diet related and although switching to a vegan lifestyle has helped drastically, I still haven’t pin pointed the actual cause of my symptoms.

I was due to run a half marathon this weekend, but my doctor suggested that I have an x-ray of my foot. She worries I could have a stress fracture which would cause me to be out of running for 6 weeks! While the thought of not running for that long concerns me, I almost rather the pain be a running related injury as opposed to arthritis related.

With all the pain I have been enduring recently, I decided it was time for a cleanse and a juice detox is a great one for ridding the body of toxins.

Here is the menu of my 24 hour detox:

Breakfast

Mixed Berry Smoothie

  • 2 bananas
  • roughly 3/4 cups of frozen mixed berries
  • about 1/2 cup of water (this is based on your preference of consistency)
  • 6 ice cubes
  • protein powder of your choosing, I use Vega

combine ingredients in a blender.This is a recipe I use post work out. It’s a great way to get in some protein to help build muscles.

Snack

                             Carrot Cake Snack-A-Roo (from the Cool Smoothies Book)

  • 1 cup orange juice- I made my own with a juicer to cut out the sugar content
  • 1 6 ounce vanilla yogurt-I used whole soy
  • 3/4 cup baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut-I used unsweetened while the recipe calls for sweetened.
  • 1-2 tablespoons of honey, I used 1 tablespoon of agave
  • recipe calls for 1 whole graham cracker, I didn’t have any but I am sure it would make this recipe even better!
  • optional-1/4 cup slivered almonds for garnish
Blend ingredients together and add 1/2 cup of ice and blend.

Lunch

Chocolate Super Food (recipe from Baltimore Health Coach)

  • 1 heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder or cocoa nibs or both! I use cocoa powder
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 cup almond milk or water- I used soy milk by accident, I meant to grab the almond. I choose milk over water because I wanted something heavy enough to keep me full.
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds
optional superfoods
  • 1 tablespoon of goji berries
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina
  • 1/2 teaspoon maca root
  • 1/2 teaspoon bee pollen for those that are not vegan. Flower pollen may be used as a substitute.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Blend ingredients together.
I was curious about the outcome of this recipe as I have tried similar recipes before and wasn’t too impressed with them. I must say, this was delicious. A healthy and tasty smoothie. I had to throw a few ice cubes in my drink to chill it so I recommend adding 4 or 5 cubes to your blender.

Snack
A mix of tea from Teavana I just love their tea, it’s so flavorful and offers a ton of health benefits. The two teas I mixed together were Blueberry Bliss, a rooibos tea and Pineapple Kona Pop, an herbal tea.

Dinner
Spiced Apple and Butternut Squash Juice (from the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Juicing)
Ingredients
  • 4 apples
  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 apple wedges for garnish
Clean apples and cut into sixths. Peel squash and cut into 2-inch cubes. Scrub carrot, cut off top and cut into 2-inch lengths.
Push apples, squash, and carrots through the juicer. Mix the juice and divide into two classes. Add 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and cinnamon to each class. Serve immediately and garnish with apples if so desired.
By the end of the day, the pain I have been experiencing in my foot for the past few weeks was nearly gone. The next day I ate some food with gluten in it and my pain returned. 
I am beginning to believe I have an gluten intolerance and will begin to eliminate it from my diet.
My experience through this 24-hour detox is proof that foods heal!
Try it out and Happy Juicing!

A few simple recipes


I’ve been eating salads for lunch a lot lately and have come up with a combination that I just love.

You will need greens of your choice. In these photos I used baby spinach, but I also like the baby spinach/spring green mix as well. I put a few handfuls into my bowl.

Add guacamole. You can make your own but I prefer Wholly Guacamole. They have 100 calorie snack packs available which provides the perfect portion. I use this in lieu of salad dressing which can add hidden calories and fat that people are often unaware of.

I also use about a tablespoon of sun-dried tomato pesto.

Add veggies of your choosing. I often use baby carrots and a pepper, lately I’ve enjoyed purple peppers. If you haven’t had them before, check them out!

I always add this firm tofu which comes in many flavors and has already been pressed. Sliced in cubes, it makes a perfect addition to any salad. My preferred flavor is the Smoked, but they were out last time so I bought the Italian.  I top off my salad with Sunflower seeds. Other options include pumpkin seeds or almonds. These seeds provide vitamin E, anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits.

I also like to add some raisins to add a little sweetness. Not too many though, raisins are high in sugar!

Lastly, I add a Salad Booster by Living Intentions. The flavor I use is called Vegan Cheesy. It is raw, sprouted, gluten-free, and considered a super food. It contains spirulina, chlorella, & sea veggies, among other healthy ingredients. If you haven’t heard of spirulina or chlorella, check out their health benefits here.

You can also use many of these ingredients to make a yummy sandwich!

Next up is something new I’ve been working with, spaghetti squash. With the fall season upon us, now is a great time to experiment with the season vegetables. I am working on incorporating more raw foods into my diet (although this recipe isn’t raw).

I want to go healthier than I have been. I started substituting spaghetti squash for pasta and have two very simple recipes here for you to try.

The squash can be cooked two ways. The first is as a whole. Poke some holes into the squash with a fork and put it in the oven on a baking pan. It will take much longer to cook this way but is a bit easier than the other option. That is to cut the squash in half and scoop the seeds out. If you haven’t done this before, then you will soon learn that it takes a bit of  muscle to cut through that bad boy. Make sure to scoop the seeds out, otherwise it could take longer to cook.

Brush a little olive oil on the insides of both halves an place upside down on the baking sheet. Cook at 375 for 30 minutes. It if finished when the skin is soft enough to push a fork through.

Let it cool and then start scraping the insides with a fork. This will create a spaghetti effect.

For an easy recipe, add it to a bowl with tomato sauce. This takes just a bit longer to make than the average spaghetti dish, but is much healthier.

My son loves it! A great way to incorporate veggies for the little ones!

You can add some vegan sausage or vegan “chicken” as well.

                                        Here I have added the vegan chicken

         In this dish I added some soy butter, crushed red peppers, and old bay.

Try out these simple recipes and get creative. Add a few ingredients of your own. Feel free to leave ideas in the comment section below!

Happy Eating!

 

 

10K training accomplished, moving on……

Once again, I have let far too much time go by since my last entry. It’s been weeks since I have completed my 10K training and I decided to skip running the 10K race and jump right into 1/2 marathon training. I did run the distance of a 10K, which is 6.2 miles and then started my 1/2 marathon training-13.1 miles. I picked up on week 6 of training which is the week that follows a 6 mile run.

When it was time to run a 10K in my half marathon training (at the end of week 9), I decided to run a 5K instead. The date- September 11th, 2011-the ten year anniversary of 9/11. I thought running this race would be a great way to honor this day and all of the people affected by 9/11.

The race started in front of Baltimore Police headquarters, wrapped around the Baltimore Inner Harbor, past Federal Hill, throughout the streets of Baltimore, and ended on the top of Federal Hill-which is–a hill. There were a few hills on this course and I expected there to be. I tried to slow my pace a bit in an effort to reserve energy for the big climb I knew was to come at the end of my run. Since I have been training for a half marathon, I have slowed my pace to about 11:30 minute miles in order to run comfortably and complete the longer distances. It is recommened to slow your pace by about a minute when running longer distances.

I was running well, much better than my last race and had hope to break a new PR(personal record) this time. My best run time has been 30:13, if I could just shave off 14 seconds. I so badly wanted to get in under 3o minutes and have done so on the treadmill already. I was hopping this would be the race to set my new record. I didn’t push as hard as I could have, I wanted to finish the race comfortably-after all, I have run twice as far as this during my half marathon training.

It was an inspiring race that started with the national anthem, and a tribute to the men and women that serve our country, not only in the military, but the police and fire departments as well. It was an honor to run alongside the individuals that have commited to protecting the citizens of the United States. It was truely a site to see as I ran by two firefighters in full gear, head to toe. They were running in over 80 degree weather and carrying a flag too! Talk about motivation! If anyone had any self doubt during this race, all they needed to do was take a look at the firemen running and the moment of doubt would quickly pass.

I finished at 31:21, much to my disappointment. This was my worst time yet. I have since learned that because I am training for my half, that it is natural for my running to slow down a bit. That gives me a little relief. Oh well, I ran for a good cause and enjoyed it. About ten minutes after I finished, I saw the three firemen in full gear coming across the finish line together with their flags. The crowd cheered and clapped for them as they made it up the last hill, it was an emotional moment to take part in.

All in all, I really enjoyed this race and will partake in this event again next year. They even give you a free beer after you finish! How is that for a perk?

Now I am in the middle of week eleven in my half marathon training. A few days ago I ran 9 miles on a trail called the NCR trail. This is a 41 mile trail running from Maryland to Pennsylvania. For those that are local (and even if you aren’t) check it out! I absolutely loved the trail and my run. I ran nine miles non stop in beautiful weather! It was so nice, I barely broke a sweat. I felt so accomplished after this run that within the past few days I have made the decision to start marathon training once I run my half! I’m so excited, I can’t believe I didn’t start running ten years ago.

Currently I am searching through races to find my next challenge. More updates to follow.

Until next time, happy running!

Amazing foods in South Florida

I had been long overdue for a vacation and although I previously lived in Florida for a duration of about three years, I never managed to make it to the Southern parts of the sunshine state.

My mom and I have birthdays just six days apart, and this year instead of exchanging gifts, we decided to take a trip. Since it was my 30th, we wanted to do something special, and with all of the great deals you can find online these days, we managed to find a trip to Miami for a great price! If you aren’t a member of Living Social, what are you waiting for? Join their mailing list and receive great deals via email!

We stayed at Sunny Isle Beach, just minutes away from Miami beach and South Beach. Our trip was amazing and we found plenty of vegan food to enjoy.

The first restaurant we visited was Sublime. I found this place when voting for VegNews Magazines Veggie Awards. I was voting a week before my trip and under the “best vegan restaurants” I saw Sublime in the Miami area and knew I had to check it out!

This place was amazing! A beautiful restaurant, with great food and a wonderful atmosphere. Just past the entrance is a serene waterfall flowing from large windows of the restaurant. The theme of “green” is noticeable throughout the place, and the feeling of clean fresh food comes to mind instantly.

We loved Sublime!

My mother was just as excited as I was to see such an elaborate menu of vegan options. We started a meal with an appetizer called “Frito Misto”, fresh cauliflower in a crispy coating covered with a sweet chili sauce and sesame seeds.

Frito Misto

Next up was our entrees. I orderd a mushroom stuffed ravioli which really was just divine, and mom ordered the “Dynamite Sushi”. Mom has never been a fan of sushi, so this was a big step for her. The entree was made with veganaise (vegan mayo), zucchini, capers, cream cheese, red onion, and cucumber.

Mushroom Stuffed Ravioli made with in-house made pasta, cashew cream, slow roasted tomato sauce and basil
Dynamite Roll

I have a sweet tooth like nobody’s business, so of course I couldn’t resist dessert. In fact, I have a habit of trying the dessert from every new vegan restaurant I encounter. Since mom doesn’t like chocolate, we decided to go with something neutral that we could share (I still have to watch my girlish figure!). We decided on the coconut cake. A white cake with coconut cream and almond tuile, loved this!!

Coconut Cake
almond tuile

Sublime offers a cookbook with many of the recipes listed on their menu plus some seasonal recipes. 100% profit benefits animal welfare!

The next restaurant on our list was during a visit to Key West. We stopped by Bagatelle, not a vegan place, but they had some great options on their menu.

We both ordered salads this time, but they weren’t just any salads. I ordered the Heart of Palm-mixed greens, avocado fan, cucmbers, costa rican heart of palm, plum tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Heart of Palm Salad

Mom ordered the Tropical Fruit Salad, watercress, mango, papaya,  pineapple, and a passion fruit vinaigrette. Origionally this salad comes with goat cheese, so she just ordered it without.

Tropical Fruit Salad

The salads were great and this was a cozy place tucked into what appeared to be a renovated older home. A must see for veg-friendly folks AND their carnivore friends!

After our lunch at Bagatelle, we took a tour on a glass bottom boat and upon our return, we found our tummys rumbling. We traveled the streets of Key West in hopes of finding some great vegan food and we found just what we were looking for, Amigos! A mexican restaurant with a great latin vibe and a much healthier way to fulfill your taco cravings than taco bell!

AMIGOS

We both ordered vegan tacos, which had an amazing mix of veggies. We also shared a basket of chips and guacamole. I noticed this sign on the wall and was more than happy to have seen it….

Inside my vegan taco

The next day we ventured onto a hop-on-top bus tour. I’ve always wanted to jump on one of these buses and I am so happy to have had the chance to.

Hop on Top

We were able to tour Miami beach, South Beach, downtown Miami, Little Havana, and Coral Gables (my favorite). During the tour, visitors are able to hop off at any of the stops in each area offering plenty of options for food!

We stepped off the bus at Coral Gables and it was well worth the stop. A beautiful town, adorned with unique trees providing more twist and turns than a roller coaster.

The beauty of this town is what motivated us to get off the bus and we were so glad we did, we were in for a treat! In search of a place for some vegan eats, we popped into a few places before finding Seasons 52, an exquisite restaurant along Coral Gable’s “Miracle Mile“. We stopped in to take a peek at their menu and found out their bartender is vegan so we decided to have a chat with him. He recommended a local place with great food, so we said we would have a drink at Season’s 52 and then go check out the food at the cafe he suggested. After about fifteen minutes of banter with Dan (the bartender) and a very well made drink, we made the decision to order our food there. After all, we only had two hours before the next bus arrived. Bus schedule aside, we just loved talking to Dan and could have stayed there all day chatting with him.

A piano behind the bar! Dan said he bumps into it all the time on busy nights, can you imagine having to manuever around this thing?

The restaurant had a vegan menu, which I always love to see, check it out!

I ordered the Farmer’s Market Vegetable Plate made with seasonal vegetables, grilled ponzu-glazed tofu, and cranberry-almond tabbouleh.

Farmer's Market Vegetable Plate

This meal was my favorite of the trip. It was fresh, light, and made me feel vigorous.

Mom ordered the Ponzu-glazed tofu with a side of roasted baby carrots and penne pasta.

 Doesn’t it look amazing? A carnivore could mistake this for fish by the looks of it.

We even had room for dessert, and what else would you expect after such a fresh meal?

Oh yes, the perfect end to a perfect meal!

We finished just in time to catch the next bus and headed back to South Beach where we made a pit stop for pina coladas. Just a tip…..south beach pina coladas-not so good. I’m not even sure of the name of the place we stopped at. We had a half hour before the bus left and thought we could drink one of these bad boys in that time, but it didn’t happen. An hour later and we finally realized we could get out drinks to go! So we grabbed them and ran to our bus just as it was taking off. Luckily got them to stop and let us on AND it was the last running bus that day!

Pina colada to go next to water glass

Our next stop was on Miami Beach’s Lincoln Ave. Our waitress at Sublime recommended that we stop by Books and Books, a book store that had a vegan menu. We made this a must on our list of places to go. The cafe was really nice and the book store was just my style (I’m a book store junkie). We placed our entree orders and not long after did the waitress come out with an appetizer. Wait, we didn’t order this. It was a blackbean hummus with bagel crackers. When we asked about it the waitress informed us that it came on the house. I liked this place already.

Blackbean hummus with bagel crackers

I ordered the Grilled Tofu Fajita wrap made with carmelized onions, roasted red peppers and avocado salsa in a whole wheat wrap served with roasted corn salad and sweet mustard.

Mom ordered the Tropical Arroz con Frijoles-a blend of long-grain brown and wild rice cooked with coconut, served with Cuban black bean soup and topped off with fresh avocado.

Later that evening we stopped by Nexxt, also located on Lincoln Ave. We ordered chips and guacamole and mixed drinks. The guac was really bland and I made a salad using the lettuce and salsa that came with it. The drinks were terrible and since the seating was outside, people were able to smoke. Everyone around us was smoking and I was literally eating the smoke as I ate my food. It was awful, do NOT go to Nexxt!

Our last day of vacation we made sure to make time to stop by another recommendation from our waitress at Sublime. Green Wave Cafe located in Plantation, Fl is an all vegan, all raw cafe. This time we went straight for the desserts since they were highly recommended!

Brownies with vanilla ice cream
Cheesecake made from cashews with strawberry sauce

We also purchased two large batches of their raw onion bread which they will ship if you are interested. Check out Green Waves menu.

They also offer classes, contact them for more info.

I enjoyed so many wonderful foods on my trip and highly recommend a visit to some of these places.

If you know of any other restaurants in the area please comment and if you are going to the Miami area check some of these places out. Feel free to ask me any questions!

New Ravens running back went from dread head to veg head

I’m from Baltimore, I’m a Ravens fan. Please keep negative comments to yourself. With that said, woohoo!! Vegan running back Ricky Williams has just signed a two-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens.

Known for his dreadlocks, Williams started in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints later joining the Miami Dolphins. Forced into early retirement for failing a drug test, Williams  later stepped back onto the field and has scored 72 touchdowns.

Recently presented with the opportunity to join the Detroit Lions, Williams took up the offer to join the Baltimore Ravens. Having yet had a chance to make it to a Super Bowl, Williams states,

 “The opportunity in Detroit opened up, and it would have been a chance for me to  play a lot and be able to contribute a lot, but Baltimore is  an established organization with a lot of vets, and … I thought I would fit in  well in this situation and be able to enjoy myself and possibly win a Super  Bowl.”

Read more: Sports Illustrated

Williams says he has moved past his rebellious days and has presented a more conservative look having shaved off his dreads.

I have a feeling the veggies fueling number 38 will make him a fast player. Let’s go Ravens and like Williams said, get to the Super Bowl!

photo credit-Sports Illustrated

My favorite new smoothie

If you haven’t been to Border’s lately, then head on over. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that they are going out of business. Right now their sale ranges from 25-50% off. Most books are 25% off, blue rays are 50%! The already on sale section at the front of the store is an additionally 25% off! I was lucky enough to find one of these deeply discounted books laying randomly on a shelf in another section. It’s called “Cool Smoothies” and it was on sale for $3.99 + 25% off= $2.99, woohoo!!

I already tried out one of the smoothie recipes titled Peanut Butter-Banana Dana and it is very delicious. I don’t have a photo, but here is the recipe:

1 cup low-fat or soy milk, I used Almond

2 bananas, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup of peanut butter, I winged it here and probably used more than the recipe called for, but YUM!

Add 1/2 to 1 cup of ice cubes and blend until smooth.

A bonus? Each page of this book offers little tidbits of knowledge. Here is the info for this recipe…..

“Americans eat more than 700 million pounds of peanut butter per year. It takes about 850 peanuts to make an 18-ounce jar of peanut butter.”

Cool Smoothies

I also made a watermelon frosty today. Check it out……

I got this recipe from the Healthy Happy Life blog, she has tons of great recipes on there!

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups frozen watermelon cubes
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 large lemon, squeezed , or use 2 limes-I used lemon juice
1 banana

Blend and serve with watermelon slices as a garnish. You can spice it up by adding two shots of tequila, or vodka.