Monthly Archives: October 2013

Vegan Walnut Taco Filling

Walnut Taco Filling

I read a bunch of different recipes for this and adapted them to this version. It works surprisingly well as a base for tacos topped with salsa, guacamole and cashew crema. This would also be good on nachos or maybe in enchiladas?


  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • Salt to taste


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until well combined and pieces are evenly sized, being careful not to over process. You don't want to make a paste, you want small pieces, like ground beef.
  2. Use as is to keep it 100% raw or heat through in a small saucepan and serve warm.

Day Forty Four

Monday, October 21, 2013

Woke up this morning with a sore left foot…but different.  Further back, Further up on the foot with a little swelling for the first time and a super tight calf muscle. So walking 5 miles in cycling shoes yesterday wasn’t the stroke of genius I first imagined?   A typical Monday today: morning workout, commuting on the single speed, body weight workout before dinner.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green Smoothie – Spinach, Kale, strawberries, raspberries
  • Dinner:
    • Heirloom carrots with hummus
    • Vegetarian Reuben Sandwiches
    • Baked potato fries
    • Salad with Balsamic Hemp Oil dressing
    • Glass of Cabernet
    • Dark Chocolate

Another hit tonight with the Reubens!  That’s two in a row.  Swiss cheese on these makes them decidedly un-vegan and I used butter, too because it was handy, but I’ve decided to lighten up on that just a bit for now to help Annette cope a little better.  This is a 90 day vegetarian challenge after all and a couple of months ago I couldn’t even quite imagine completely giving up meat so slow down John ( don’t hurt yourself… )

I think these sandwiches were better than the turkey reubens I used to make. The heirloom tomatoes really made a difference.  So good they sparked a dinner table discussion about how much more flavorful those tomatoes were compared to the standard, mass produced 3 varieties available at Ralphs and the environmental and health impact of monoculture farming in pursuit of maximum efficiency (profit).

More on that later.

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Vegetarian Rueben Sandwich

Vegetarian Rueben Sandwich


  • 6 slices good rye bread
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup sour kraut, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup thousand island dressing
  • 6 thin slices swiss cheese


  1. Spread some of the dressing on 3 slices of bread
  2. Layer with tomatoes and avocados
  3. Divide sour kraut among sandwiches
  4. Top with remaining dressing and cheese
  5. Spread half the butter on the remaining slices of bread and place on sandwiches, butter side up
  6. Head a saute pan or griddle over medium high heat
  7. Invert sandwiches onto pan
  8. Spread remaining butter on bottoms of sandwiches
  9. Cook for a few minutes, until bread is golden brown and cheese is melting
  10. Use a spatula to flip sandwiches and cook on the other side until golden
  11. Cool sandwiches for a few minutes on a wire rack before cutting in half diagonally and serving

Day Forty Three

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Another unexpected ‘rest’ day today.  Headed out 10 minutes earlier than usual this morning thinking I would go with the club riders up Mt. Hollywood to Griffith Park.  Flatted halfway there, pulled a big piece of glass out of the tire, thought OK, that happens.  New tube, some CO2 and still enough time to catch them.  2 miles later, POW! 2nd flat, sounded like a pinch flat, but I know I was careful about fixing the first one, I have a hard time believing it was a pinch.  I couldn’t find anything else that would have caused it, but there were lots of other bits of things embedded in the tire and it was all cut up.  Low end Kenda tires are not made for riding in the San Fernando Valley.  So I used my last tube & CO2 and figured I better head home, but I was close to where the route would be going so I decided to swing down to the south end of the valley on my way home and if I caught the group maybe I’d go with them – in the unlikely event of a 3rd flat, someone in the club would help me out.  5 miles from home and before I saw the group, POW!  So I walked it home from there.  The club did roll by, but I waved them on.  No use ruining someone else’s tube to get a couple more miles down the road.

5 miles of walking today, not the workout I had anticipated, but the foot is actually staring to feel better – I am able to walk around with out looking obviously injured so that’s an improvement.  I did get a circuit of body weight stuff in this afternoon.  My immediate goal is to do the headstand without scuffing up the wall!  A few more days, maybe 2 weeks and I should have it.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, pecans, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Banana
  • Lunch:
    • Brown Rice with curried lentils
    • Dinner:
      • Appetizer: Hummus w / carrots, broccoli & bell pepper.  Mixed olives
      • Anchor Steam (2)
      • Rosemary Foccacia from “Veganomicon”
      • Braised Eggplant and Tomatoes from “The Mediterranean Diet”
      • Barley
      • Glass of Cabernet
      • Dark Chocolate


Very good Foccacia recipe and the Eggplant was also excellent.  Jake said it was ‘amazing’ and Annette ate it, too. With the Barley and the bread to soak up the juices, it was pretty amazing.  And amazingly simple.  A reassuringly good meal.  I have a few brown rice and black bean burritos in the ‘fridge for lunches and some good ideas for dinners this week so here we go…


Day Forty Two

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A very rare day off today. Spent the day at USC attending an event with Jake that could be a post to an entirely different blog, but as a result I stayed off the bike, I didn’t run, I didn’t do my morning workout or any body weight work.  I did a fair amount of walking though, which may not have been the best thing for my foot, we’ll see.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green Smoothie – Spinach, Kale, melon, banana
  • Snack
    • Apple mini muffin, danish
  • Lunch:
    • Trail Mix
  • Dinner:
    • Flat Breads & Spinach Artichoke Dip
    • Grilled Portabello Mushrooms w/ Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Crispy Garbanzos and Grilled Red Onion
    • Glass of Cabernet
    • Dark Chocolate

Lunch was from the campus bookstore.  Dinner at “The Lab Gastropub” across the street on Figuroa.  We were there last year, too.  The food was really quite good again and I had a nice glass of Dreaming Tree, but Annette was trying something unknown to her and it turned out they were out of it anyway.  Pretty good out of the house, off day food in spite of the small indulgence in breakfast pastries at registration this morning.

Saw a couple of books at the bookstore that I was interested in, but didn’t buy.  Not yet.  I do  have a trip to the East Coast coming up next week, so I’ll need some airplane reading. “Nutritionism” by Gyorgy Scrinis and “Meatanomic$” by David Robinson Simon are two I saw that I have heard of and am interested to read.

On another totally unrelated topic, we saw Endeavour today at the Science Center.  If you are in Southern California and you haven’t been there yet, It’s worth checking out.


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Day Forty One

Friday, October 18, 2013

Stats for Week 6:

Weight: 132.0 lbs
Body Fat%: 10.7
Body Water%: 63.3
Resting Heart Rate: 38

So, on the surface it would appear that I am going backwards, but I don’t buy it.  If the numbers are to be trusted ( and it’s just bathroom scale… ),  by body fat continues to come down and that makes sense with what I see and feel.  At the same time, my water % has gone up and that also jives with what I see and feel.  I’ve got some injuries that I’m recovering from so my body is working on that and it just makes sense that  some extra fluid is being retained as part of that process.  It’s one of those times that you just have to remind yourself that it’s not all about a number on the scale, remain calm and stay the course, don’t do anything radical.  Besides, I’m working on the last few pounds, the last couple of % body fat – the hardest part, right?  I can say without a doubt that the first 45 pounds I lost were by far the easiest and it’s taken progressively more effort and focus to get each of the next 20.

The psychology of weight loss never ceases to amaze, either.  I spent months wanting to get my weight down to 138, perpetually stuck at 145.  Now I’m bummed because I’ve been stuck at 132 for a couple of weeks.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blackberries, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green smoothie: Spinach, kale, strawberries, banana
  • Dinner:
    • Bruschetta, Hummus w / flat bread ( shared appetizers )
    • “Pasta Fresca” (Penne w/ broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, carrots, red onions, red & green peppers & pine nuts tossed in olive oil, garlic, & fresh herbs)
    • Pumpkin Hefeweizen (2)


Dinner with friends at a local Brew Pub tonight worked out pretty well and Annette got some bacon…happy Friday.


Day Forty

Thursday, October 17, 2013

An easy ride at lunch around the Dam today.  The foot is starting to feel better and I’m doing my best to take it easy until Sunday – then go hard on the Renegade ride and run again on Tuesday.

There was no time for the body weight workout tonight, but today I played a little with step one in a progression towards “Pistol Squats”.  Sit on the edge of a chair, (or even better, a bench ) place one foot flat on the ground, extend the opposite leg out to the front and stretch our your arms for balance.  Tighten up your core, press your foot into the ground and stand up, then lower yourself back to the chair in a controlled fashion.  I can do this with my right leg, but not my left.  I knew there was an imbalance there, but did not realize quite how dramatic the strength difference was.  I can’t even budge off the chair with the left, so there’s something to work on for sure and this exercise will help. Fixing that imbalance should pay all kinds of dividends.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green Smoothie – Spinach, Kale, strawberry, banana
  • Dinner:
    • Heirloom carrots & hummus
    • Curried Lentil burrito
    • Green Smoothie- Spinach, Kale, melon, banana

There was an event at Jake’s school tonight so dinner was a rushed, every man for himself affair after work.  Jake stayed home and cooked for herself.

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Day Thirty Nine

Monday, October 16, 2013

Short lunch ride on the single speed today, trying to exercise restraint while the foot heals.  I did throw in a small hill at the end to see what a 13% grade felt like on that bike.  The answer is slow, but doable, feels good.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green smoothie: Spinach, kale, strawberries, blackberries
  • Lunch:
    • Banana before the lunch ride
    • Quinoa & Black Beans, 1/2 orange bell pepper, apple
    • Cashews & Raisins
  • Dinner:
    • Vegan Dumpling Soup
    • Green Salad with hemp oil balsamic vinaigrette
    • Glass of Cabernet
    • Dark Chocolate

The soup was a hit all around tonight.  Just in time.  Yesterday I was having some moments of doubt.  That maybe this was too hard on my family, not fair that they had little choice but to go along with what I brought home from the store and prepared for them.  But I’m also somewhat responsible for their well being and we can figure this out.  Tonight’s dinner was validation.  100% vegan and universally enjoyed.  I have some curried lentils on the stove for burritos right now – I only have 3 tortillas, so that’s 1 1/2 lunches for me & Jake, but that gets one of us through Friday!

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Day Thirty Eight – Simple Steps to Cleaner Eating

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Still nursing the foot.  It’s only Tuesday John, relax.  Rode the short commutes on the single speed and the foot doesn’t really bother me on the bike.  Cycling is easy, but I also want to know I can run.  I was fairly quick when I was young…

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green Smoothie – Spinach, Kale, melon, strawberry, blackberries
  • Lunch:
    • Quinoa & Black Beans, 1/2 yellow bell pepper, banana, apple, pecans & raisins
  • Dinner:
    • Appetizer: Heirloom carrots, broccoli & hummus
    • Tomato, pesto & avocado on toasted ciabatta bread
    • Yukon Gold baked fries
    • Green Salad with hemp oil balsamic vinaigrette
    • Glass of Cabernet
    • Dark Chocolate

Hey, it was a vegan day again – that feels good.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this dilemma that it’s sometimes hard to tell if vegetarians & vegans as a whole are generally healthier simply because of diet or because they are just generally more health conscious which has lead them to adopt a plant based approach to nutrition along with a tendency to be more physically active and to avoid highly processed and high calorie, low nutrient foods?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter.  The two go hand in hand, for the most part.  Yes, you can be an unhealthy vegetarian – Oreos technically qualify as vegan.  Is anyone arguing that Oreos are a health food?  Some things are obvious, some things are common sense, but so often it’s the case that you don’t see the common sense until you are hit over the head with it.

The vast majority of Americans, in particular, are in dire need of a nutritional overhaul. Many, many people who think they are eating “pretty healthy” are still consuming vast quantities of refined sugar and flour.  The link between animal products and coronary disease was proven decades ago, but we love to hear that maybe it’s not quite true.  Maybe Atkins was right?

The point is that most everyone could stand to clean up their diet and it doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to follow one strict diet dogma to do you lots of good.  You do however, need to pay attention to a few basic precepts.

If you do two simple things, you can dramatically improve the quality of your diet:

  1. Eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, in as close to their whole, natural state as possible.

  2. Avoid packaged, processed, canned, prepared and fast foods.

I didn’t say easy, just simple.

If you really want to go for a clean diet, there are 5 steps I recommend following.  It’s a rare individual who can go all the way from Standard American Diet to nothing but healthy, whole foods in one step.  You have to work your way into it.  And it’s work, but it’s some of the most rewarding work I’ve done.

Each of these steps starts with the verb ‘Eliminate’ which may carry a negative connotation, but the best way to approach this is to think not of doing without, but of crowding out.  Adding lots of nutrient dense, whole foods to take the place of the highly processed, high calorie and low nutrient density foods and food like edible products that are not helping us function at our best.  To help with this idea there are examples in the right hand column of things to add as you reduce and remove the things in the left hand column.  These are just a few examples and as you work your way through these steps, you discover all kinds of new and wonderful things to eat that you never gave a second thought before.  You find what works for you and what you like and you quickly find yourself thinking “Wow, I can’t believe I used to eat that!”

5 Simple Steps to Cleaner Eating:

Eliminate Refined Sugar
Add Fruit, sweeter vegetables like bell peppers, use natural sweeteners like agave nectar, when necessary
Eliminate Refined Flour
Add high quality starches like sweet potatoes, whole grains and sprouted grains
Eliminate Alcohol
Drink lots of water. Replace beer and hard liquor with a glass of good red wine*
Eliminate Meat
Add alternative proteins – legumes, quinoa, flaxseed, hemp, hummus.  Also more dark leafy greens like Kale and even sea vegetables like Nori, Kelp, Kombu and Dulse.
Eliminate Dairy
Add more nuts – almond milk, cashew cream, nut butters and nut pates

*When you are thirsty, drink water.  Water is for hydration. Beer and wine are foods.  Soda is one of the ultimate examples of empty calories.

You don’t have to be perfect about this to reap enormous benefits. You don’t have to go 100% with all of these ideas if you are not ready or just don’t want to, but if you do these things you will be eating a very clean and very healthy diet that study after study has shown will reduce your risk for many serious diseases including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, will leave you leaner than you thought was possible, give you more energy and mental clarity than ever and expose you to a world of flavors and textures that you’ve never imagined.

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Day Thirty Seven

Monday, October 14, 2013

A recovery Monday, for sure.  Everything hurt a little bit this morning.  I haven’t felt like that for a long time.  Pushing the limits, right? You never know where the limits are if you don’t cross them now and then.  And sometimes it comes from an unexpected direction.  I haven’t ridden that many miles on the bike over the past couple of weeks – just a little less than 200 miles / week.  But I’ve been doing so much other stuff.   It’s new, it’s demanding.  I’ve been thinking if I’m going to keep this up, I should probably get some ace bandage…

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp hearts
  • Lunch:
    • Romaine with Ceaser dressing & Croutons, Rice, whole wheat baguette slices
  • Dinner:
    • Grilled vegetables
    • Bread w / sun dried tomato relish
    • Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli
    • Hazelnut Semifreddo
    • Italian Red Wine ( I didn’t check the vintage, but it was excellent )
    • Espresso


It was a busy day of business eating.  Meetings all day, lunch was announced as “BBQ Tri Tip and Chicken”.  Isn’t it interesting that Western meals are generally described by their meat component.  I had salad, rice & bread.  Not the ideal vegan or even vegetarian combination, but it worked OK. I had some backup fruit in my office if I needed it, but I was fine for the afternoon meeting block.

Tonight was dinner at Firenze, an Italian restaurant near the studios, but still in North Hollywood.  It was really quite good and while there were only a few vegetarian options and one or two vegan possibilities, I had an excellent meal which was solidly vegetarian – A tasty grilled vegetable appetizer, some kick ass butternut squash ravioli and I even went for some ‘Hazelnut Semifreddo’ dessert which was amazing with a cup of espresso.

Good conversation, too, some of which cannot be repeated, but a chance to talk with my bosses’ boss about running marathons (he’s done 3, in Chicago, San Diego and Orlando).

This is me.  I can’t even run right now because of an overuse injury, I haven’t even signed up for the LA marathon yet, but I’m psyched about running Boston in 2016.  Goals are good, right?


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