With Nutrinic in full swing, we have some great events lined up for the new year! These can compliment Veganuary or the PCRM 21-day challenge nicely, if you choose to do one of them or know someone who is.
Grocery Store Tours
Ever want to see the grocery store through the eyes of a nutrition expert? Join me for our upcoming grocery store tours in Pasadena! These one-hour tours will show you how to shop for healthy food without spending a fortune (yes, even at Whole Foods!) and how to incorporate time-saving foods when you can’t cook from scratch. I really enjoy doing these and I think you’ll have fun and learn something new. Pick a date and a store here. Sign-up soon because we are keeping these to only a few people.
Most of my talks in 2016 were about sports nutrition or how you don’t have to eat exotic or expensive food to be healthy or vegan. But with Nutrinic our goal is cardiovascular disease (CVD) therapy and prevention. What does that entail? Come to one of my talks in January! I’ll cover the evidence showing plant foods are excellent for CVD, how to incorporate them, and we’ll even have a light plant-based, vegan meal. Join us and bring a friend!
Why cacao? Last year the No Meat Athlete book publisher asked if I was interested in writing a book in their series, Superfoods for Life. Super foods? Not necessarily my cup of tea. But when they said cacao, I said maybe. Then I spoke with DIY chef and friend Joshua Ploeg– who absolutely loves using ingredients in unique ways- and it was set. We’d do it. Yeah, I can’t believe it either!
There’s a lot of research on cacao, chocolate and the phytochemicals they contain. I used over 60 peer-reviewed studies to write this book and discuss the role these compounds have on everything from type-2 diabetes and heart disease to dementia and athletic performance. This paper in the journal Nutrients is an example of what’s out there. It’s a very exciting direction of research.
Yes, I’ve seen the video about superfoods and science. I agree! In the book I write about the beneficial components of everyday plant foods; you don’t need to eat exotic berries, mushroom extracts or antioxidant pills to be healthy. Cacao does have especially high amounts of phytochemicals, but one ingredient, no matter what it is, doesn’t determine your health.
If you want to support me and the book here’s how you can help:
Share this post or information about the book with your friends and social media contacts. If you know me- you know I don’t do a lot of self-promotion. But I’m very proud of this work and I want more people to be exposed to solid science and fun recipes. I’m all about expanding people’s experiences through food and this book definitely does that.
Come to an event! Keep your eye on my website and social media for announcements about book signings, talks and other events around the country. I’m currently planning events in Oakland, Santa Rosa, Boulder, Ashville, Atlanta, Chicago and Bethlehem; to name a few for 2014.
If you have a website and discuss food, veganism, cacao or any related topics please get in touch if you’d like to write about the book, share a recipe, do an interview with Joshua or I, etc. I’m happy to supply you with what you need.
Check out the work of the Food Empowerment Project. There are issues around the production of cacao and if you are buying chocolate, you should make yourself familiar with them. I write about this in the appendix of the book and I’m also donating 10% of my royalties to them because I love what they do.
As always, I appreciate my readers and everyone who has supported my endeavors. Thanks for reading!
Bike racing is a tough, unforgiving discipline that requires focus, strength and endurance. But do you think all cyclists are super thin or scrawny? Then you haven’t met any track cyclists. Track cycling is over 100 years old and takes place on a velodrome at speeds nearing 60 miles per hour. There are a variety of track races but they all require one thing: being able to pedal a single speed fixed gear brakeless bicycle at incredibly high speeds. And like sprinters in track and field, this requires a tremendous amount of leg strength for power and output.
So for our next installment in the Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes Series, I’d like you to meet 3 track cyclists who know that eating vegan doesn’t compromise strength and speed on the track. I mean, how many people do you know that require special pants to fit their quad muscles into?
Next we meet Jack Lindquist, formerly of Los Angeles, who now resides in Portland, OR where he manages the one-of-a-kind bikeshop/coffeebar/bar Velo Cult. Jack is a long-time friend of mine and whenever anyone mentions vegans being weak I mention that he can deadlift over 500 pounds. That’s a quarter ton he can pick up off the ground!
Lastly we meet Zak Kovalcik of Portland, OR. Like Jack, Zak is a former bike messenger. He also realized he can go really fast on a bike and decided to ‘pursue’ it. And as you’ll see he has the big wins to prove it. I also want to mention that he rides for the Sizzle Pie Team, mostly because they have kick-ass vegan pizza and a great ‘slice and salad’ special that I always hit up when I’m in Portland!
Here it is, episode number 11:
How great is that? To read more about Zak winning TWO national championships in 2012 check out this article. And isn’t Kevin the nicest guy ever? It’s hard to imagine that someone so incredibly nice could be so competitive. I love that we met him for the first time and he was making this lasagna, and now you can too!
Kevin Selker’s Homemade Chickpea Cheez Vegan Lasagna
Adapted version of an adapted version of the lasagna from Passionate Vegetarian cookbook.
Makes one very large or two normal-sized lasagnas.
1-2 cups homemade breadcrumbs (when you don’t finish a loaf of bread in time, leave the leftover slices out–I leave them on top of my fridge–to dry out, then process them and store. The best bread makes the best breadcrumbs. Store bought breadcrumbs are usually awful.)
Couple cloves of garlic
More parsley or carrot tops or fresh italian herb of your choice
2 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Process the breadcrumbs with the garlic, adding the oil while the blade is spinning. Then add herbs and salt and pulse once more. Set aside.
1 quart (32oz) Prepared chickpeas (If you cook these at home add a teaspoon of baking soda when they’re boiling–it speeds cooking and helps them get extra soft!) Reserve some cooking water from the chickpeas
3 cloves garlic
2 TBSP cornstarch
Handful of flat leaf parsley or carrot tops
Puree the chickpeas in a blender or food-processor. (NOTE: To save time you don’t have to clean it after making the bread crumbs) Add the garlic and starch and puree until smooth, adding the reserved cooking water if needed. The consistency should be like a very soft hummus. Add the parsley or carrot-tops and puree to combine. If the beans were unsalted, add a bit of salt, otherwise probably don’t–it’s OK if this sauce is not very salty.
1 large onion, chopped
Several cups vegetables of your choice. Favorites include:
1 cup roasted bell peppers, chopped
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
Large handful of dried tomatoes, chopped
Large handful of olives, pitted and sliced
Sauté the onion for a few minutes, and add the vegetables in order that they need to be cooked. Do not overcook, as the lasagna will bake also. Some (most) vegetables won’t need to be cooked much or at all, so just add these at the end and kill the heat. Add half of the tomato sauce.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 TBSP flour (whole wheat or white)
1 TBSP chopped garlic
1 TBSP tomato paste
1.5 cups vegetable broth or water (you can use bouillon also)
1/2 cup white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon (pro-tip: you can use the same lemon!)
Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the flour, and mix, being careful not to burn the flour. Next, add the garlic and tomato paste and mix well. Incrementally mix in the vegetable broth and continue to stir, smoothing out lumps. Bring to a simmer for a minute, then lower the heat and add the lemon juice, zest, and wine. Done!
1 quart (32oz) Tomato sauce (homemade or store-bought marinara)
About 12 ounces of lasagna noodles, either prepared or no-boil
Preheat oven to 350. Cook the lasagna noodles as desired. On the bottom of the pan, put about 1/4 cup of the lemon sauce: enough to coat the bottom. Then put a layer of noodles. On top of the noodles put half of the vegetables, then another layer of noodles. Spread all of the bean filling evenly and top with remaining vegetables. Top with a final layer of noodles. Pour the lemon sauce over the top and remaining tomato sauce (if there is room). Wrap tightly in foil and bake for 45 minutes. Then turn oven up to 450-500 and take the lasagna out. Remove the foil, topping the lasagna evenly with the breadcrumbs. Bake until the breadcrumbs are slightly browned. Let the cooked lasagna rest for a bit before cutting, serve warm.
Enjoy and let me know how it turns out for you! And if you are ever in Portland, Oregon there is more to do than eat so you should stop by Velo Cult and say hi to Jack!
Our Day in the Life series has given us some great experiences with exceptional vegan athletes. But I have to say, none have been as unique as spending a weekend with raw vegan modern pentathlete Justin Torellas. Five seemingly unrelated disciplines combined to make the only sport created specifically for the Olympics! I’m somewhat familiar with raw veganism but Justin’s diet surprised even me! This is someone who casually said, “I want to go to the Olympics” and only then discovered modern pentathlon. A raw vegan attempting to qualify for the Olympics in an obscure sport he’s never done? Not as crazy as you’d think. Watch and be amazed! We were.
Justin: You make competing at an elite level seem like a walk in the park with your casual 5 minute mile running pace! And your honesty about your personal struggle with riding horses is very admirable. Unfortunately Justin didn’t qualify for the 2012 London Olympic Modern Pentathlon but his attempt is nothing short of courageous. And he did give us his salad recipe. I’ve included the nutrition analysis in case, like most people, you think iceberg lettuce is mostly water and doesn’t have any nutrients!
Justin’s Giant Salad
2 heads iceberg lettuce
1 pound cherry tomatoes
8 ounces bean sprouts
1 T tahini
Juice from 2 lemons
Directions: Chop lettuce, juice lemons, mix (don’t you love raw recipes?). And look at this nutrition profile. More than half of your day’s iron in only 455 calories! And 24% of the calories in this salad are from protein.
dietary fiber 29g
vitamin A- 227%
vitamin C- 215%
vitamin K 592%
You are probably wondering how Justin gets enough calories if he is eating this salad for dinner. He does it by eating often throughout the day. He was sipping (or gulping if it was post-workout!) a banana smoothie or munching on fruit constantly. Like he says, he loves to eat. If you are a raw vegan and training several hours a day you need to eat often. I recommend more variety in one’s diet, but he has been vegan a very long time and seems to have found a diet that works for him. Thanks for sharing your day with us Justin!
Our Day in the Life series continues with another Boulder-based athlete, Megan Hebbe. Megan takes us cross-country skiing, where I proceed to make a fool of myself! Megan does mega mileage and takes her training very seriously, but still manages to have fun with it. She even put up with me crashing all over the mountain. See for yourself in this fun episode:
Megan’s Tips for High Mileage Running
Wear the right shoes! Very important because you are spending A LOT of time on your feet! Work in recovery weeks. The “graph” should look like a mountain range, not just a straight linear progression. Increase for 2-3 weeks then take a recovery week. Focus on either increasing mileage OR increasing speed, not both at the same time. Ideally, the off-season is spent building up base and then you start adding speed work.
Make time. I am a morning person, so I like waking up at 5am or even 4am to get my run in. Second runs of the day can be done during lunch or after work. Thirty minutes is a great length for recovery, just enough to get circulation going, but not a significant time drain. Mentally it’s nice to do a chilled out pace. “Oh, 75-year-old dude is passing me? Whatevs, I’m on mile 12 of the day!”
Sleep and recover. I have my protein drink right after every run and because I get up early I go to bed early. If my body wants a nap, I work it in. Listening to one’s body is crucial. Rest is the most overlooked, crucial aspects of training. Epsom salt baths and ice baths are also great for recovery.
Speed work. Only really necessary immediately before and during race season. Once race season really gets into swing, most races are your speed work!
Self massage. Tennis ball, plantar fascia ball, softball, foam roller and massage stick all work wonders.
The major thing is loving it enough to be really dedicated! Like many coaches say, social life, career/school and training are a triad. One can either be okay at all three or do really well at two. The third thing suffers, which is often social life. You have to be okay with that.
Megan’s Gluten-Free Lavender Cookies
These gluten-free cookies are a fun way to get those extra calories for those extra miles.
1.5 cups rice flour
0.5 cup coconut oil or margarine
0.5 cups sweetener like coconut palm or other minimally processed sugars
1 tablespoon lavender flowers
Replace one egg with commercial egg replacer, ground flax seeds or chia gel
Optional: 1 tablespoon lavender flowers for decoration
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.
Cream together the margarine and sweetener. Blend egg replacer into the mixture. Stir in the lavender flowers and the rice flour. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls on to cookie sheet.
Bake till golden, about 15 minutes. Remove cookies and decorate with additional lavender flowers, if desired.
Thanks to Megan for getting me on skis for the first time in my life! Lastly, if you want to know more about iron for vegetarians, check out this post I wrote for No Meat Athlete. Thanks for watching and let me know how these cookies turn out!
My good friend Lisa, whom I have mentioned regarding her Tract House project and Bike Night at the Hammer (2009, 2010, 2011) lives in a warehouse in downtown LA with a few other artists. I was heading over there the other day because Morgan and Mike Szerszunowicz‘s band was playing and Lisa asked if I wanted to come by earlier for dinner. Of course! She was making pasta with beans and kale, but I didn’t recognize the bean and when I asked she showed me this bag:
Now Morgan is no slouch in the kitchen either- like when he made curry after our mountain run– and even though his band was playing, he took the time to make relevant pesto. Yes, relevant pestos! Their band is Yersinia Pestis, named after the bacterium that caused the major plagues in early European times. So why not spicy pesto to accompany black metal?
I asked him about the recipe and sure enough the base is the Classic Pesto from Vegan with a Vengeance which we made regularly when we lived together. It’s super good! Here is a video of it being prepared (with recipe) and it is also very close to this Post Punk Kitchen version. Like Isa says, pesto is delicious, versatile, easy to prepare and a crowd-pleaser. I highly recommend making this recipe. Level of death spice up to you!
This post took a turn toward the macabre with all this talk of plague and bacteria, but don’t let that keep you from making great pesto or integrating fun food into your life!
Photo from my bike club’s tumblr of an early round of pizza making
Oh, pizza how I love you. I won’t pretend that pizza is a health food, but I do know that it has been an integral, yummy part of my diet since I was old enough to think about food. In my Italian-American household growing up pizza was a ritual. My father painstakingly searched out all the local pizzerias to find one that made pizza closest to what he grew up with in Brooklyn. He practically interviewed the owner and the pizza maker (often the same person). I remember this place opened by a family who had moved from Brooklyn gave my father a special gold discount card because they loved how much he loved pizza!
But then pizza became an issue when I first went vegetarian at age 13. I would pick the pepperoni off my slices and my father would yell at me that I was wasting money and we couldn’t afford to not eat toppings. When I went vegan a few years later my generally supportive mother was concerned that I was depriving myself unnecessarily by excluding cheese. “But, why cheese too? What will you eat, how will you survive?”
For years I ate cheeseless pizzas or made my own with pre-made dough and was generally happy with them. When vegan cheeses improved in the early aughts, I still wasn’t that impressed. I’d much rather have a tasty cheeseless pizza than have a mediocre cheese on there. But, and I hate to admit this, when Daiya came out it really was a game changer. All this time and I had never made my own dough. The rising and the kneading, it always seemed more science than art, and that’s not my cooking style. But then one day I wanted to make pizza with a friend and there were no pre-made doughs at any walkable stores. We had to resort to buying pre-made crust. It was expensive and incredibly meh. That did it!
So with new found excitement I called my good friend Dave Vandermaas (photo) who I knew would have a kick-ass dough recipe. Then I decided I wanted to make deep dish pizza in cast-iron skillets. It’s on another level! And it’s so much easier than I ever thought it would be. I’ve played with the recipe and made some small changes- maybe pizza making is more art than science!
Perfect Pizza Dough
1 package dry yeast
1 cup warm (not hot!) water
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 t salt
2 t sugar
1. Add dry yeast and 1 t sugar to warm water, let stand for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile combine flour, salt, remaining sugar and olive oil in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
3. After 10 minutes and yeast has grown significantly, add to mixing bowl.
4. Stir ingredients until well-combined. Dough should be slightly wet- it’ll stick to your fingers.
5. Cover with dish towel and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes- I turn my oven on at 100 degrees and then turn off immediately. Racks should be warm to touch but not too hot.
6. Dough should have risen to about double its size. Lightly flour a flat surface and your hands, pull dough out and kneed to shape. I flatten and double at least twice, but spend only about 2 minutes doing this. It’s way easier than I thought!
7. Flatten dough into cast-iron, add toppings. Traditional deep dish has sauce on top of cheese, but I still prefer my cheese in between the sauce and toppings.
8. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Note- I always double the recipe and use 1.5 doughs for my 12-inch cast-iron and 0.5 doughs for the 9-inch one.
Toppings for two pizzas
1 small head of broccoli finely diced
1 zucchini finely diced
4 cloves of diced garlic
1 bag Daiya mozzerella
1/2 package Field Roast sausage
15 ounce jar pizza sauce (slightly thicker than marinara)
Cost- These two pizzas cost me about $13- and I used organic flour, yeast, vegetables and pizza sauce. And half of that cost is the vegan cheese and sausage!! So you can make two organic cheeseless veggie pizzas for about $7 with pretty minimal effort. How amazing is that? And if you are like me and more of a cook than a baker, don’t let pizza dough intimidate you. It’s not a perfect science and if you are comfortable in the kitchen you too can make these fantastic pizzas.
Let me know if you try them! And please do share any pizza making tips and recipes in the comments. Thanks and enjoy!
No, no, don’t worry I’m not becoming raw! But I recently did 5 days of mostly raw and really learned a lot about raw food diets. Usually when I do a raw-ish few days it ends up very fruitarian-
Breakfast- bananas, apples, nut butter
Lunch- carrot/apple/ginger juice
Snacks- other fruits, kiwi are my favorite when I can find California-grown
Dinner- a gigantic salad with green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, avocado, carrots, walnuts, nutritional yeast and flax oil.
For a few days this is great, but I get bored pretty easily. Maybe it’s the equivalent of the pasta/marinara sauce vegan diet?
This time I wanted to expand my knowledge and experience with preparing raw foods and really challenge myself. It’s also healthy to get out of your own eating pattern to look at the habits you have developed. To anyone who says going vegan is easy, I challenge you to do 5 days raw! There was more than one occasion where I was standing in the local co-op, starving because I hadn’t prepared well, and the smell of vegan mac and cheese was killing me! After an internal debate about why in the world I was keeping myself from such deliciousness, which probably looked hilarious to on-lookers, I went with a seaweed salad and a raw garlic spread on collard greens. This is the dilemma that faces anyone making lifestyle changes and if you are someone who encourages behavior change you have to check yourself occasionally to remember what it’s like.
I’ve been getting asked about raw food diets a lot lately and I’ve never been content with what I’ve read and the knowledge I have ascertained until I read this book. The authors painstakingly reference any research they could find related to raw food diets and discuss it using their expertise as Registered Dietitians and long-time vegans. I think true objectivity is impossible, despite what anyone says, but Davis and Melina are as close as possible. They include a history of raw-food theory written by Rynn Berry and explain contemporary versions of the diet; which is very helpful for anyone working with raw food clients.
My own professional opinion on raw foodism has always been pretty simple. It is an adequate diet where one can get all the nutrients they need (If B-12 is supplemented) and all of those fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds provide phytochemicals and anti-oxidants in huge quantity, which is health-promoting and chronic disease fighting. But I don’t think there’s enough research to say that it is any better than a whole-foods based cooked vegan diet. I just don’t think foods like lentils and quinoa need to be eliminated. There are plenty of philosophical and environmental reasons to eat raw and I agree with them, which is why I include a plethora of raw food in my diet, but I’m just not convinced that being fully raw is different enough to justify limiting so many vegan options. Though I’ll continue to read the research and advise all of my clients to eat more raw food and to read Becoming Raw.
The authors were kind enough to let me post two recipes from their book. I made this Brilliant Broccoli salad on my first day raw and loved it so much I made it again the next day! The sum is greater than the parts where the tanginess of the lemon and cranberries are a perfect compliment to the strong taste of tahini- and broccoli florets are the perfect vehicle.
1 bunch broccoli
2 carrots, grated
1/2 small red onion, finely diced (I used about 1/4)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 sunflower seeds
3/4 cup Lemon-Tahini Dressing (recipe below)
Wash broccoli, remove stems. Peel and grate the stems and chop the broccoli tops into very small florets. Combine stems, florets, grated carrots, diced onion into bowl. Add dressing and stir well to coat the vegetables. Season with salt to taste. Add cranberries and sunflower seeds and toss briefly. Serve immediately!
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup flaxseed oil (I used a little less)
3 T nama shoyu or tamari
2 T nutritional yeast
2 T maple syrup or other sweetener
2 garlic cloves
Ground black pepper
Combine in blender and and process on high speed for a few seconds until well blended. Makes about two salads worth.
This recipe for raw walnut tacos is not from Becoming Raw, but it was another meal I really enjoyed. I first experienced it when Brian Davidson and his wife Jenny made it for me back when he was fully raw. There are a number of raw walnut taco recipes on the internet and they all are basically a variation of the one below. Now you aren’t going to fool a carne-asada loving omnivore, but the similarity to tacos is striking. I love these!
Raw Walnut Tacos
1 1/2 C walnuts (some suggest soaking them in water briefly beforehand)
1.5 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
2 t nama shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
cayenne to taste
Ground walnuts in a blender or food processor until you have very small pieces. Place walnuts in a bowl and mix in remaining ingredients. Serve with tomatoes and avocados in lettuce or kale leaves.
What are your favorite raw vegan recipes? Please share them with me! And I really do recommend that all vegans do a raw food challenge and learn more about preparing and eating raw foods. Have a great weekend!
The main goal of our Day in the Life series is to show the world that vegan athletes exist and thrive on their diet and lifestyle. But as we make more episodes a second goal is developing: what crazy situations can we can put Matt in?! Today we spend the day cyclocross training in the snow and cold with bad-ass cyclist Cat Johnson in Boulder, Colorado.
How great is Cat?? I love her comment, ‘I went vegan for the cause!’ Veganism and bike racing: There are many ways to do it and you have to look around and see what fits your personality. Don’t rely on any one way to do either. Cyclocross is the most inclusive form of competitive cycling and in my opinion the most fun!
Here are Cat’s tips and some links to get you started
-No one in cyclocross cares how well you are doing as long as you are having fun. Like when she says, ‘No one cares if you are last’ and there I am, in last place in our training ride!
-There are beginner categories that are truly are beginner and inclusive.
-The courses are loops which makes it very spectator friendly. Bring your friends and fam to cheer you on!
-It’s a mix of skills- speed, bike handling, running, jumping- and this evens out the field.
-You can use almost any type of bike that can run fat tires. And many races rent cyclocross bikes!
What’s great about smoothies is how flexible they are! Remember our meal-replacing, peanut butter and banana smoothie with Brian from episode one? Cat’s smoothie is similar in that you can easily adjust the calorie ratios. The protein content can be adjusted by switching non-dairy milks and how much protein powder you add, or don’t add! For example I use a higher protein milk and don’t use protein powders. And for Omega-3 I use straight flax oil.
Back in December when a crew of us ran the Ridgecrest 50k, Morgan ‘Goat‘ Beeby suggested a Run and Curry Day: a trail run in the San Gabriel mountains and post-run Balti at his place in Pasadena (recipe below!). This past Saturday opened up for a few of us and we decided to go for it. Stoked.
Ends up my friend Maria from Chicago, fresh off her win at the Rocky Raccoon 50-miler, would be in town hanging with the Moeben crew and free to join us. A friend of a friend who just moved here from Pittsburgh via Colorado met her and I at Union Station for the train ride to Pasadena. In true Morgan style and British politeness, he met us at the train on his bike, took our extra stuff and rode it to his house while we took a rapid bus to the base of the mountains. Minutes later he rolled up, locked his bike and we were ready to run.
I love the San Gabriel mountains (I was devastated when the fires hit them hard). So much adventure has been had there, but mostly by mountain or road bike. I’ve hiked there a few times, but, like many cyclists, hiking feels too slow. Could trail running be a ‘slower than riding but faster than walking’ mix of adrenaline and nature? We headed through Alta Dena on streets before hitting Eaton Canyon and heading up steep, exposed, Mt Wilson Toll Road. I hate the first climb of the day! Especially in the heat. I wanted to call the WHAAAmbulance, but I knew I’d settle in and we’d be out of the sun shortly. Poor Matthew had a stomach issue from the start and never recovered, but continued on.
At Henninger Flats we saw some ultra runners on their way down (I imagine they don’t start at 1pm! haha). They may have thought we were making fun of them, but our excitement is genuine! From here we climbed a dirt road for another mile before it turned left across a bridge onto Idlehour trail. Here we met Morgan’s friend Chris and the single track began. I had never been on this trail and it was super fun to run. Almost two miles of technical downhill. Morgan dropped the hammer in his boat shoes and I could barely hang on. Within 15 minutes we hit the beautiful Idlehour campground, located deep in the canyon, almost completely tree-covered. Morgan and I couldn’t resist the draw of the open water and took a very quick, very cold dunk in the stream.
A few miles uphill, doing a mix of running and fast hiking, and we were at Inspiration Point. From here we hit Upper Sam Merrill trail, which I have ridden before. Again Morgan set the down hill pace and it was exhilarating!
Morgan and I separated from the others and we were chatting away, jumping off and over rocks and railing the tight turns, when we heard someone yelling from a canyon deep in the mountains. We stop and notice someone waving their arms. Is someone hurt? Shit. Then we hear, ‘It’s Jeff!’ Crazy! He was going to come on our run, but had decided that morning to ride road to Mt Wilson instead. When he got home and it wasn’t dinner time yet he drove up to Pasadena and tried to run toward us. Ha! He was descending from Inspiration Point on another trail but had heard our voices. I guess being loud and talking a lot has its advantages? We all headed toward Echo Mountain and regrouped before the final 2.5 miles of trail down to the road.
Back at Morgan’s we all helped with the final steps of the Balti. It has been so long this I have eaten this dish! We grubbed hard and reflected on the beautiful 15-mile run. Friends, trail running, cold water, huge mountains, huge views and curry = awesome day.
This Balti is from an old-time LA bike activist named Oisin, who I believe moved from LA in 2006. He raced the very first Feel My Legs (photo here). I really had to dig to find this recipe! I kept the weird UK English for authenticity.
The Balti Sauce
Makes 1L (~1 3/4 pints)
3 Tbsp veg oil (olive preferable)
2cm cube (3/4 inch) grated fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove pressed or minced
5 onions chopped fine
4 tomatoes (plum/roma are best)
2 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp ground cumin seed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 bay leaves
4 brown cardamom pods (slightly broken open by crushing w/ knife blade)
1 1/2 tsp dried methi (the leaves of fenugreek)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1. Heat oil in large saucepan
2. stir in ginger and garlic
3. add onions, saute til translucent
4. add 250 mL water, bring to boil while stirring
5. add tomatoes, all spices
6. cover pan, turn heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes
7. remove bay leaves and cardamom pods
8. cool and liquidise
You can make a still very tasty version with just oil, onions, ginger,
garlic, tomato, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, chili, salt, fresh
coriander (1/4 cup)
Pepper, Potato, Mushroom Balti
1 lb potatoes peeled
1/2 – 3/4 lb mushrooms sliced
4 large green and/or red peppers sliced
8-10 Tbsp veg. oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 onions chopped
4 cm cube fresh ginger grated
6 garlic cloves crushed/pressed
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pt (600 mL) Balti sauce (see above)
1 heaped tsp garam masala
2-4 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1. boil potatoes in salted water until just tender. Drain. Cube.
2. heat 4 Tbsp veg oil add onions and saute until translucent. remove from pan.
3. heat remaining 6 Tbsp oil. add potatoes and lightly brown for circa 8 minutes
4. add garlic and ginger and cumin seeds
5. stir vigourously making sure to coat potatoes for about 30 seconds
6. add chili, salt, stirfry 1 minute
7. add mushrooms, green peppers, stirfry 2 minutes
8. add Balti sauce, stir
9. add garam masala, coriander
10. turn heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes stirring often
Note, the oil content can be reduced to make it healthier, but I figure I’d rather just eat less of it and have it taste good. I use olive oil because I think it makes it taste richer, but you can use any vegetable oil. If using olive oil then bear in mind that it burns at a lower temperature than canola/sunflower. I also add lots more red and green peppers and sometimes okra.