Snowday on Mount Greylock

As a hiker and trail runner who has stood atop the four thousand footers of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and now Maine also, I get asked all the time when I am going to start hiking the high peaks of Massachusetts. “But Erik.. what about the 4000 footers of Massachusetts and Connecticut??“, folks ask of me more often than not!

Earlier this week Ciara and I both had Tuesday off, so we decided to finally make that trek to Massachusetts! The adventure we had been talking about for years, or maybe just months.. either way, Greylock had been on our radar for quite some time!

Mount Greylock is located in Northwestern Massachusetts along the borders of Adams and North Adams, Massachusetts. From a distance it (along with its commemorative tower perched atop) can be seen high above all other land masses and man-made structures; it is what is known as a Monadnock, or the geological term for an ‘isolated hill’.

Greylock stands tall at 3,487 feet above sea level, and is generally quite high when compared to its surroundings – nearly 2,600 feet above the nearest town at its base – Adams, Mass.

There are a plethora of trails one could take to ascend the mountain, for some Greylock also has a road for motor vehicles and parking lots dotting the upper reaches of the peak, which I am not crazy about when I want to hike to get away from all forms of traffic.. but I understand it is a wonderful opportunity for those who are not physically capable – to ascend, being able to stand at and visit the Veterans War memorial tower that adorns its summit.

A hiker could climb Mount Greylock from nearly any direction, finding beautiful trail systems to either hike, ski or snowshoe the mountain, but perhaps the most popular trail that bisects the peak is the 273 mile Long Trail that runs North to South (..or South to North!).

Ciara and I had been talking about hiking Mount Greylock for quite some time now, but had been holding off in anticipation of the coming winter months. We had a strong inclination that between the auto road, the Long Trail foot traffic, or simply a destination being the highest summit in the state of Massachusetts, that we would run into quite some crowds in the summer or autumn months.

We lucked out real hard on Tuesday!

Winter had arrived a bit early in the season this year, plenty of evidence of that all along the mountain – but what we did not find.. was one single person on the trails or summit until we arrived back at the base, near our parking lot!

We decided to shoot for hiking a loop, beginning at the Gould Trail parking lot. Happily the first and only car of the morning as we arrived just after sunrise on this weekday morning. The weather folks had been calling for a cloudy morning with moderate 35mph winds at the summit, we dressed ready for cold and wet conditions!

We had both brought our Hillsound spikes, each of which went along for the ride all day – while there were short sections that we may have benefited from some extra grip – my spiked Salomon Speedspikes and Ciara’s waterproof Salomon boots did the trick just fine!

The Gould Trail was absolutely such a blast!

Beginning in pine needles and packed dirt, we crossed Peeks Brook in the first several minutes and began a soft, gradual climb which more-or-less continued for the remaining miles to the summit.

Lots of fun things to see along the trail this morning! We had patches of snow – perhaps three inches in depth and minimal ice, the going sure was easy and we laughed together the entire journey!

Swatches of old growth trees adorned the trail on either side, turning back to glance at where we had come, we could not believe our eyes! An old hollowed out monster of a tree, wide enough to easily stand in! We had to grab some photos in that massive trunk! It was large enough for Ciara to coax the boys inside momentarily – they both glaced back to me as if to say “what is this wacky lady doing to us?!?!“, the cute-factor was completely off the charts!!

Once we climbed to about 2,500 feet, we began to see the glistening evidence of the freezing rain over prior 24 hours, we truly felt as if we had been dropped into a turn of the century painting of winter anywhere in the northeast, fluffy white snow complimented beautifully the sparkling tree branches – that is, until the sun broke through any bit of cloud and each tree began raining clumps of ice down upon us.. this did nothing to dampen our good times though!

Somewhere around mile 2.5 we had trekked through many lovely glens where, if I closed my eyes momentarily I could almost hear the deer munching away, picking fruit from the surrounding trees – quite picturesque indeed!

Climbing up and out of the forest, now walking along the roadway which (luckily for us..) was unplowed and gave evidence of other recent hikers passing through. We continued to follow the white emblazoned trees, signifying we were still on the Long Trail – the trail became super wet now, but we tip toed from log to log and rock to rock – happy to make use of our trekking poles for balance!

Reaching the summit around 10am, we were relieved to find still no other traffic – we had this popular summit all to ourselves, and for Boone and Crocketts sake – just what we had been hoping (and deferring until a winter weekday!) for!

Sadly, most of the photos that I had found while researching trails and the ‘what-to-expect’ features of Mount Greylock, I noticed that many of the photos other hikers had posted were in clouds (or worse.. rain!) or just taken a distance from the tower, almost as if the mountain top were so busy that they could not comfortably get any closer.. well this was definitely not the case with us – we had free roam of the summit!

We did find some ice on the backside of the monument, but still realistically not enough to make us want to put our hefty steel spikes on our feet, we had 3-4 inches of packed, crusty powder to walk around in atop Greylock – with no indication of a grassy lawn until I had found photos at the various informative stations placed around the summit.

Greylock in winter was absolutely stunning, just where we wanted to find ourselves today!

The tower door was locked, which was okay in my opinion as the previous reviews that I had found were filled with complaints – folks mentioning that the extra climb was not worth their time as the tower windows were so filthy they could not see out; had the door been open, I would have gladly climbed or at least poked my head through the door – just for the experience!

The tower is much more incredible than photos portray, it is massive! The lettering work across its flanks are simply a beautiful work of art, and the granite tower itself standing at 92-feet tall – appeared as if a giant had strolled by and dropped off a super-sized Chess piece onto the open summit lawn of Greylock!

We always prefer to hike loops instead of out-and-backs, so when I had suggested that we continue to follow the Long Trail for a bit and then skirt off toward the east along a ski trail, we were both ready to experience more new trails!

The stairs which depart the summit area and lead next to a winter warming hut (which was also locked with a sign indicating “closed for the season”), continuing along and finally getting off the snow-covered highway and back into the trees.

The blue signs with yellow lettering now appeared in the trees – we had reached the downhill ski slopes.

Upon reading about, and researching the trails of Greylock, I had learned that there are trails for downhill skiing, and separate parallel trails were designated for skinning-up, or simply ascending. Which makes sense because what skier in their right minds would want to contend with post-holes or boot tracks that could sink a ski tip into the snow!

We did not have enough snow for this to really become an issue – it would take a very brave sole on skis to want to ski these black diamond trails with under six inches of snow, rocks poked through the snow everywhere we looked! But to be somewhat thoughtful and courteous – we followed the descent along the outer trees and fencing as to not destroy any ski slopes!

I had Boone and Ciara had Crockett, and together we took turns glissading down the steep face of the mountain. For anyone hiking this trail in the winter – I would recommend a sled, but try keep to the outside of the ski lines!

During the entire hike, ascending via the south side of the mountain, and now descending a more northeasterly route, we talked back and forth about how this lovely forest reminded us of roaming through the Catskill mountains back in New York, truly a very nice place to be – and the shining sun with near 60 degree temps certain helped to boost our spirits. We felt as if we were getting a very early taste of spring.. but deep down, we knew winter would be welcoming us home to New Hampshire in several hours..

After romping around and having loads of fun up on the Thunderbolt ski slopes, we continued down via the Bellows Pipe Trail which had mildly worn down (reminiscent of trail-less herd paths) off-shoots in either direction with maps indicating destinations such as waterfalls, picnic areas, gazebos and designated snowmobile trails – we continued en route to the Gould Trail, to loop us back to our parking lot.

While hiking is the main attraction to the Mount Greylock State Reservation, there so clearly is much, much more to do here than just climb to the states high point!

We chose a most perfect day for our adventure to Mount Greylock, running into one gentleman meandering along with his doggie – not dissimilar to what we had set out to do with our two puppy dogs!

I would love to return to the summit some day to actually climb the tower, or have lunch on the lawn with Ciara and the boys – but for our enjoyment, I think it would have to be a non-holiday, weekday for us to enjoy the mountain to its fullest!

Plan it right, and this can be one of the finest, most enjoyable days found in any forest – get about half a mile into the woods and the racket of sirens and garbage trucks banging through the narrow streets of a Massachusetts city just begin to drift away and the forest hills are calm once again!

Honestly, we were a bit hesitant to hike Mount Greylock because of it having a highway to the top, and it is such a popular destination for many, also simply because any hiker traversing the Long Trail will be atop Mount Greylock at some point along their journey – we held off for so long, just plan it right and this tourist destination can be one of the most enjoyable ghost towns!

We had the freedom to stand above the upper edge of the Indian Head Slide and take in the vastness of all points East, while on a clear day from the tower, the info signs indicate that Albany, NY can even be seen!

May I recommend.. if you are also hesitant to get out and adventure somewhere, perhaps you feel what you find won’t live up to the hype, or maybe you feel inadequate for a certain trail albeit hiking or running.. just go out and do it, experience it, enjoy what you do and live in the moment! Not every moment can live up to what we expect going into a situation; and on the contrary – you will find that most instances, by simply tip-toeing outside of your comfort-zone, and by trying to do what you want to accomplish, you will find experiences you just never expected!

Experiences that become much more valuable than anything you could have imagined or drempt up!

We found this to be entirely true from the moment we stepped foot outside of the CR-V on Tuesday morning, all the way until we reached the cabin back in New Hampshire – we just did what we felt was right in the moment, and we were rewarded with memories up on that mountain that neither one of us could have been prepared for – moments of laughter that hearkened back to days of roaming the woods in three feet of fresh snow until one of us would step on the backs of our snowshoes and tumble face first into the white fluff!

Truly an incredible day was found up on Mount Greylock!

Happy climbing!!

– Erik & Ciara (Boone and Crockett too!)


 

Overall stats for the day:

Recorded with COROS Pace

  • 6.92 miles
  • 3hr 46 minutes
  • 2,635′ elevation gain
  • Mount Greylock – 3,487′

Favorite Food of the Day!

Ciara had recommended that we try out a place in Northampton for a quick post-hike bite to eat; seating about 28 folks, Bela has been serving up some of the areas finest all vegetarian (and a heck of a lot of vegan food too!) fare. The restaurant is cash only.. and you’ll surely want to be sure to pack enough in your wallet for a homemade slice of vegan coconut cream pie topped with lemon frosting, we were too stuffed from our homemade veggie burgers and bowls of soup – but it sounded like we were the only two who did not get a slice of the delectable pie to go!

Our soups were clearly made in house – I have never had a tomato soup nor a butternut squash soup that was less oily, the main drawback of most soups! The soups were incredible!

As for our veggie burgers? More of the same.. with no surprise there! Made in house with lentils, rolled oats, bulgar, sunflower seeds, onion, carrot, tofu, with garlic, salt and pepper, topped with green pea sprouts, on their homemade multi-grain bread – easily the best burger that I have ever had.. ever!

Oh.. and a side note to boot! I can honestly say that Bela has some of the finest brewed coffee that I may have ever gotten out at a restaurant, and I understand that Ciara’s iced latte was pretty bomb-tastic also!

Treat yourself whether you eat meat or not, you won’t find any served up at Bela.. only the freshest local produce, complimented with the finest rice, beans and grains! Truly works of culinary art.. on a plate (..or bowl!)

Refreshing Summer Sammies

Well summer is in full swing and what is the best thing to fuel yourself on in the warmer weather?

Watermelon – of course! But that would not result in a terribly exciting write up now would it? Let’s see… Step One: Cut watermelon in half, Step Two: Eat all of the watermelon, Step Three: Repeat – all day every day. The End.

Okay, well what about those days when you want something.. a little, perhaps.. more solid than watermelon? I have just the perfect summer treat to fuel your long runs, bike rides, frisbee golf, whatever your preferred warmer weather events may be!

Behold.. the Vegenaise and Tomato Sandwich!

While there are endless varieties of this sandwich – whatever you are in the mood for – just toss it right on that bread! Avocado works spectacularly well, cucumbers are cool, ever tried carrot bacon or sliced tempeh? Throw it on the sandwich too!

What makes up a Vegenaise and Tomato Sandwich anyway?

  • Let’s start with the base of it all: the bread. Ciara’s bread, simply put, is a culinary masterpiece – fluffiest and tastiest bread that I’ve ever sunk my chompers into – so obviously that would be my first choice! But when we aren’t in bread-making-mode, the next best option would have to be rye bread – we love the earthy, slightly sour, full-bodied spicy funk of rye bread. But of course if you have a longstanding personal fondness for pumpernickel or Ezekiel sprouted seed bread.. then by all means – use what you love (craving a whole wheat hot dog bun.. or gluten-free burrito wrap? ..use that, I suppose!)
  • The tomato will come next (kindly supplement ‘tomato’ with anything you are feeling more in the mood for at the time of making your sandwich.. ie cucumber, spinach, sprouts, tempeh, jackfruit, bell pepper, avocado.. get crazy with your cravings!). Roma tomatoes taste a little bland when compared to some cousin varieties, but retain their shape well once sliced, but still not my first choice (unless I am trying to dip the tomato.. then the Roma is first choice!). Golden tomatoes that I have tried have a very mellow to sweet hint – definitely a go to around here! Basically any tomato that has a good, crisp bit of flavor – give it a shot on the sammich.. it’s your funkadelic creation!
  • Vegenaise! Say.. Vege-what? This mayo substitute will absolutely make your summertime sammich! Produced by a growing company known as Follow Your Heart, Vegenaise is a tangy, mildly salty egg-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, vegan friendly – mayonnaise alternative. Follow Your Heart has been producing Vegenaise since the 1970s and is now made entirely with solar power! Sweet!

What can you do with Vegenaise?

This fluffy white stuff has been a staple in our pantry for quite a while now, why? Because it is so dang versatile! We have been known to add dollops of it into our blender to spice up aioli sauces, drop in a hint of hot sauce to make a fantastic dip for our homemade potato wedges, or spread it by itself onto bread for these wonderful mouth-watering summertime sammiches! I’ve heard of so many other uses for Vegenaise, such as adding into a plant powered brownie mix.. but I’m not much of a baker, so I cannot vouch for this.. yet!

The masterminds over at Follow Your Heart have come up with several varieties for anybody with a restrictive diet, or those who would simply like to try more amazing alternatives! The Original is by far my favorite, but has canola oil as it’s base. A second go-to would be the same recipe but swaps out the canola for grape-seed oil, it has been said around here that this version tastes more true to say.. a Hellmann’s mayo.

But is it more healthy than the authentic.. I mean, mayo is mayo.. right? Heck no! Just for starters.. one glimpse at the ingredient list sets my heart right at ease!

Straight off the back of the FYH Vegenaise label, you can find: Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Filtered Water, Brown Rice Syrup, Apple Cider Vinegar, Soy Protein, Sea Salt, Mustard Flour, Lemon Juice Concentrate – things that are easy to read and don’t tie your tongue all in a hot mess trying to pronounce!

When compared to a popular eggy “real deal” mayo we can also find the typical water, sugar, lemon juice, distilled vinegar, but then things start to get a bit outlandish.. “modified food starch”. I had to look into this one: it appears to be a combination of modified corn and potato starch.. more or less a thickener or ‘stabilizer’! “Natural flavor”.. could use a bit more lengthy description than this of course! And my favorite: Calcium disodium EDTA, or better known as the “white crystalline powder.. used as a preservative”. I’m not here to say what is good or bad for you, but when I see tests that indicate this ingredient is safe in ‘small amounts’, but has been known to cause liver damage when taken over a period of time, I’ll stick to my plant-friendly alternative, thank you!

Part of me wanted to include the fancy charts, graphs, slides, images – anything to show you how much more health-friendly the Vegenaise mayonnaise can be, when not eaten by the spoonful (which is how I would like to consume it some days after a long run or hike! ..don’t tell anyone though! 😉 ). I’ll compare it to the newer Vegan dressing put out by Hellmann’s.

First off, the serving size is recommended at 1 tablespoon – good place to start. Identical calories for this serving while FYH has less fat, less saturated fat, no polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat to compare to what Hellmanns stuffs into their variety. Less cholesterol, a considerable amount of less sodium and a trace amount of calcium can be found dancing on your taste buds from the folks at Follow Your Heart. So while I’m not saying this should be consumed at every meal, or eaten by the spoonful when you do indulge – but quite simply that it is the alternative I’ll be going for – even if Hellmann’s can stuff the V-word onto their packaging!

While plant-based mayonnaise is an awesome starter and can be used to perfectify just about any condiment, dipping or dressing addition, please don’t think for a second that the friendly folks over at Follow Your Heart won’t have you covered for your other plant based cravings, you can amp up your kitchen creations with: cream cheese, yogurt, sour cream, gluten-free tortillas, and what’s this now… introducing.. vegan eggs!!

Back to these delightful sammiches!

Is two pieces of bread too much? Sometimes I say yes, in which case we implement simple results to this common problem: introducing the open-faced sandwich; one slice of bread making up the base of your sammich – and that is all! This way you can pile those veggies a mile high over the cloud-like Vegenaise layer!

I hope this helped make your sandwiches and sammiches a bit healthier, happier and heartier!

What’s your favorite veggie to put on your sammich? Send me a photo or let me know in the comments below!

I’m always amped to try something new!

Are you traveling? Don’t forget to look around as you shop for local companies putting out their take on plant-based condiments, mayo, dressings, sauces.. it is a growing ‘backyard’ hobby all over, resulting in some truly epic creations!

 

Have an epic day and enjoy your sammich!

Erik!

 

 

 

Brew your own: Kombucha

Kombucha.

The name rings of a particular blend of ancient alchemy mingled with medieval mystery. Some folks who are in the know will just simply call it ‘booch’, giving the image of a secretive bathtub brewed beverage that you don’t tell others where you found. Others overwhelm me with bewilderment, preferring to call it ‘kAhm-boocha’, leaving me scratching my head as to where they found the elusive extra A at the outset of its name. Even fewer, it seems, just simply say the word as it appears: Kombucha.

Now that we have you saying Kombucha without adding extra vowels all over its name, can I ask you what it is? Oh.. you don’t know? I’m sure that’s why you are here reading this! I’m supposed explain this mystery stuff to you, got it! Essentially, Kombucha is fermented tea. “Say Whaaaat?” That’s probably what you just said to yourself as you choked on your morning coffee. How do I know? Because there was a time when I had a similar response.

It is a ‘controlled’ fermentation of tea; typically the brewing begins with black tea, but I have been successful using green tea (white tea soon to come!) – just not artificially flavored or any tea varieties with added oils, that would destroy all of our hard work and make our SCOBY very sick!

Wait.. all these terms that I have never heard of! What the dickens is a SCOBY??!

Okay, well I don’t want to jump in too fast and overwhelm you already, but SCOBY is quite simply just an acronym. It stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s a good thing, a friendly colony of allies all working together to create a delicious, super healthy, bubbly liquid for our taste buds! The SCOBY is something that I will break down a bit further and simplify real good for you in a bit – so hang on there..and put that tea on the back burner!

Like I said, this beverage is made with tea. Always, always, always tea, never coffee beans (unless you want to make coffee), never anything but tea – this is the base for kombucha (did I say always?). But how do they (as well as me and soon to be you..)get so many incredible flavors and varieties of this bubbly tea beverage? That all takes place in the second round of fermentation, once all of the creating as taken place. We get the base for the beverage, then we can get wild and wacky with fruits and other flavors. I say fruits because our friends in the yeast and bacteria department need sugar, they need a type of sugar to eat and they love real sugar (during the second fermentation, in the bottle!) that comes from fruits.

Have you ever homebrewed beer? If not then here is a quick background to show you I’m not crazy and not just getting my yeast all buzzed on added sugar for the fun of watching it: In beer making we boil water and grain, what is grain? Starch, carbs, sugars! The fermenting of the sugar extracted from the grain is consumed by the brewers yeast; the result? carbonation and alcohol. Similar here, Kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol – honestly not even noticeable, but if you wanted to get crazy with your kombucha down the line.. there are ways to amp up the alcohol production, (look to GTs Black Edition of kombucha.. must be 21 or older to even buy!) but I’m not going to get into that here – I like my Kombucha tea plain or with fruit!

Alright, so now you know more than I did the first time that I made my first batch of Kombucha! Great! So let’s recap: Kombucha is a bubbly beverage made with tea, boiled water, and sugar added in. The sugary tea slurry is left for a given amount of time (or forgotten about as has been the case with some of my batches) for the SCOBY, which is a big ol’ disc of GOOD and HEALTHY bacteria and yeast that eats the sugar we provide after the boil and in return produces byproducts of carbon-dioxide and probiotic filled yummy beverage.

Then once you think the first round has had enough, we transfer (minus the SCOBY, save that for future batches in your “SCOBY Hotel”!) the young Kombucha into some type of bottle, we prefer swing top bottles, but it is totally eco-friendly to reuse any glass with a good sealing lid! (we have even used pasta jars on occasion!) 

As soon as your early Kombucha enters the bottle, this is called F2 – or Fermentation #2. What does that mean? Basically by process of elimination the entire stage from boil to bottle was known as F1, or the ‘initial fermentation’. F1 was more-or-less an open top fermentation where the off-gasses are free to escape into the atmosphere, however.. in F2 since the liquid is contained in a sealed bottle, it is either going to explode or the gas will get trapped in the liquid.. creating that bubbly, tongue tingling carbonation we all love and associate with Kombucha!

So when do I enjoy Kombucha tea? Anytime is always my response!

Since homebrewing our own batches and saving literally thousands of dollars this year alone, I find that I actually enjoy starting my morning routine with a bottle. Sometimes chilled, sometimes not – depending on the time of the year and what I’m in the mood for! But for the record – once the batch has been put into F2 and bottled, if you start noticing too many bubbles or you become suspicious of your batch, putting the bottles into the refrigerator will halt the fermentation process. So, as you will notice: opening a room temperature bottle of Kombucha may get messy on you and bubble over, rarely will a bottle straight out of the fridge, although it hopefully will still contain all of the carbonation that we do want!

Want to brew your own Kombucha tea and watch your creation come to life?

First of all – you will need a SCOBY to begin with. Where do you get a chunk of bacteria and yeast to add to your tea? A friend, of course! If you know someone who is already homebrewing Kombucha, ask them for a sliver of their SCOBY and in return help them bottle or brew – or later on, give them a few bottles of your brew when its ready! It really does not take much for a teeny-tiny SCOBY to grow, and it will grow to be as large around as the fermentation vessel you provide it.

Don’t have friends who are into this crazy alchemy game? No Problem!

You can also shop online, many websites are packing and shipping their ‘starter’ SCOBYs by now. OR..in the case of what I did, I wanted to start my homebrew and at the same time (of course!) drink the Kombucha! But how? Pick up a bottle of raw kombucha (completely unflavored and NO added fruits) – GTs is actually the route that I went, I find they are always reliable!

I drank all of the GTs Kombucha aside from the flemmy looking chunker, brewed a small batch of starter (F1 style) tea (listed below!) and added it in after the brew cooled. Starting with a small batch, two 32oz Ball jars with cloth (not paper towel or anything that frays apart!). I started with two jars in case anything catastrophic happened to the first jar, then I’d have my back up! Luckily they both propagated just perfectly and now I have TWO batches always going in rotation!

So let’s make this tea!

Let’s assume that you have your SCOBY, either from a friend, just received it in the mail, or you did what I outlined above and let it rest for 3-4 weeks until it covered the surface of the liquid in your starter jar.

Collect what you need before you start!

  • 1-5 gallon pot to boil water
  • 6-8 Tbsp loose leaf black tea
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 re-usable tea bags
  • 4 1/2 gallons filtered water

First things first, that water needs to boil, but make sure it’s just water to start. And if you need to boil your tea in multiple batches – that is A-okay! Just split the sugar and water.. might take a bit of math, but I’m sure you can do it!

While you wait add your loose leaf black tea (we love the way darjeeling tea turns out!) to your reusable tea bags and cap them off, set aside.

Got bubbles in that boil already? Turn it off and add your tea bags and sugar. Give it a stir every minute or so until the sugar is incorporated – you don’t want sugar to crystallize on the bottom of your pan (I’m telling you.. you just don’t!), and be sure to use wooden utensils on any metal pans. It sounds much more pleasant, plus you wouldn’t want to scratch your pans, that just provides bad bacteria a place to call home until it gets you sick! Yuck!

Really all there is now is to let it cool, you cannot add your SCOBY to the sweet tea until the tea is room temperature, after all – the SCOBY is living and breathing.. please don’t scorch the poor fella!

Let’s pretend that this isn’t your first go around with Kombucha – this is a perfect time to rinse your bottles, get your caps ready (unless they are swing tops, in which case just dust them off!), grab your cutting board, a knife, and your older batch of F1 tea. Depending on your level of patience, you may want to use a funnel and measuring cup with a spout for the bottling phase!

This step is where all of the fruit and experimentation comes into play. You can get creative, wacky and wild with your brews – just be warned though, if you do, be sure to keep an eye on your bottles for bubbles and activity! You can quickly “burp” the bottles if you want to see how they are coming along.. just break the seal, listen, and close it back up quickly! If your carbonation is off the charts.. toss it gently in the fridge until you are ready to consume!

We have found that always adding ginger to our kombucha while in F2 gives our tea just enough of the necessary sugars and gives the brew just a bit of zing that we enjoy!

Some fruits that we use regularly in addition to our ginger slices:

  • apple
  • mango
  • pineapple
  • beet
  • sliced grape
  • spirulina
  • peach
  • lavender

You’ll learn over a few batches what your SCOBY wants to eat, but we add in 3-4 thin slivers (thin to make it easy to get in and out of the bottles..what goes in, must come out!) of whatever fruit, and small pieces of ginger without the outer ‘skin’. I’d start by adding the fruit/ginger to your bottles (or nothing if you want to go the simple route!), set them aside and bottle all at once.

Got your fruit in the bottles? Great!

Like mentioned above, I like to use a ladle, scoop, or measuring cup – something that will fit into your F1 brewing vessel and a funnel that will fit neatly into the mouth of your bottles, I just like to keep it clean, especially when dealing with sugary tea that sticks and stains!

With clean, clean, clean hands (clean but free of soap!), gently pick your SCOBY up out of the F1 vessel, don’t freak out, even though you probably will initially at the sensation of picking up a SCOBY: soft, squishy yet rigid enough to be handled.. it’s one heck of a thing you’ve created! Set the SCOBY aside, in a bowl with about a cup of the F1 batch that you just removed it from. Also, I’d recommend not keeping the SCOBY out in the open unless you want to risk fruit flies laying eggs all over it! (again.. from experience, don’t do this, it is very gross a week later..crawling with larvae.. super gross!)

Fill your bottles with F1 kombucha (some bottles are pre-marked with a fill-line) bottles to about an inch from the top, whatever you do – NOT to the absolute top of the bottle.. gotta let your tea breathe, man!

Think they’re filled and ready to go? Seal ’em up and set them in a closet, or on a shelf, anywhere out of direct sunlight and preferably somewhere in the 50-65 degree range, the hotter the batch is, the faster it will ferment and you really start running the risk of bottles exploding on you!

Fast forward and your F1 is all bottled, your tea on the stove is sweetened, mixed, tea bags have been taken out (check how long it says to steep your tea, I leave mine in 10 minutes, 15 or so if I walked away and forgot it.. oh well, it always works out one way or another!).

Gently pour your fresh batch of cooled down sweet tea back into the F1 brewing vessel, gently add your SCOBY and that cup of older F1 fermented tea back in – the bacteria helps kick start the fermentation and creation of more awesome bacteria to eat up the new sugars you just fed them!

Lastly you will want to cover your F1 batch with something breathable that fruit flies cannot permeate. I have tried tripled over cheesecloth, I thought I had those fruit flies out-smarted, yikes was I wrong! I have heard horror stories from paper towels being used, fraying into the brew and contaminating the tea from the bleaches used to process the towels.

What does that leave you with? How about a t-shirt material? I ordered cloth covers with elastic bands that fit snuggly over various side jar mouths from Kombucha Kamp, which have worked amazingly – as they should! I just give them a rinse as I think they need between batches and they are good to go!

Keep a good eye, (especially in the early life of your SCOBY!) on your batches, check it every couple of days for signs of bubbles. The top may form a new layer of white-ish haze which is great, new SCOBY layers – your SCOBY is always evolving and growing, but if you ever see blue or something out of the ordinary.. it could be mold, in which case you will need to toss your batch and start fresh, unfortunately! Of all my batches over 1 1/2 years of brewing, this has never happened to me, fruit fly larvae, but never any mold, your SCOBY is in a good environment, resilient to many maladies!

Much like the bottles, you will want to keep your F1 brew in a dark, cooler, well ventilated area.

Most importantly, keep an eye on your brew, and if you have a glass or metal straw at home, I would encourage weekly tastings of your F1 brew – your tea is much more palatable if you bottle it before it becomes vinegary and too tart. We have two 5 gallon batches constantly going, alternating bi-weekly with bottling and brewing, almost more than we can drink – in which case, once you get consistent (don’t worry if it’s not “perfect” and bubbly as store bought, it took us about 1 full year of brewing kombucha to feel that we really have an excellent product!) share your batch with friends and folks who may not know what this beverage is, really “wow” them with your carbonated craftiness!

Much like our kombucha batches, the process is always changing, our craft is evolving. New ingredients are being tried, so we can always provide updates, but I believe I covered the basics on how you can get started for mere dollars!

Got a question? Let me know!

Either on here below, on Instagram or my email!

Am I doing something inefficiently? Let me know!

We love what we do, and what we make – and it works, but I’m no expert!

Follow along for any updates as I come across them..

But for now, it’s time to pop a bottle of bubbly brew and relax.

Thanks for reading along and best of luck with your Kombucha endevours!

Warm regards,

– Erik

 


Factoids!

  • Batches brewed: 37
  • Roughly $$ saved per batch: $75.81
  • Roughly $$ saved in the past year by homebrewing: $2,274.30
  • Favorite flavor brewed: lavender

Today’s Featured Ingredient! (yes.. this is the tea we use!)

 

Make Your Own: Oat Milk

Growing up in the early 90s I used to enjoy playing kickball or riding my BMX bike through the trails behind our house after school before the sun would set for the day, riding until my lungs burned and the sweat beads would sting my 6 year old eyes. At that time of my youth there was not much I enjoyed more than going home, tossing my bike off in the driveway anywhere (it may have gotten hit as a result of this on more than one occasion!), running into the house a sweaty mess and pouring a tall glass of milk, and then another tall glass of milk – it felt so refreshing and cold as it tumbled all the way down to my belly.

Later I would find out from friends that this was just weird, my friends did not drink milk the way I did – they would drink their Pepsi (yes..at that age..yuck!) or their Hawaiian Punch and be left with matching red lips. I just didn’t like sticky, sweet beverages like this, water was a strong runner-up in my glass during the summer months. I suppose I got into this habit because I would see my father with his tall glass of milk nightly at the dinner table, I didn’t care to be like him at the time, I just knew it was cold and I could drink a lot of it!

Fast forward a decade or so and I was still quenching my thirst with water primarily, but my milk consumption plummeted, choosing it only for my bowl of granola in the morning. I just grew tired of milk over time, it may be that my parents decided to switch fat percentages in the milk, opting for the paper-thin 1% milk that one could just about see through. It was just gross to me, I remember it not tasting good anymore, it was not the refreshing beverage I grew up with during the warm months of summer vacation from school. I had to pour it on some type of cereal just so it would absorb the sweetness and other flavors to be able to drink it down.

It was around the time that I finally moved out, had a refrigerator of my own and could finally buy whatever I wanted that I picked up some of that “fake” milk stuff – it was almond milk at the time, and it was soooooo good!!! It was everything that I remembered from my youth: full-bodied without being ‘heavy’, super tasty without the bitter/sour milk taste (if you don’t notice how sour cows milk is, try nut milk and then go back to dairy milk… just give it a try!). Recently these nut and other varieties of ‘alternative’ milk have taken on the lingo of “mylk” because the industry does not want the consumer to be confused and think these other choices are actually dairy, well I’ve always called it ‘nut milk’, so that’s what I’ll be sticking with for the remainder of this fun write-up!

So, are nut milks the only type of non-dairy, dreamy, delicious alternative?

Heck no! While cashews by far make up my favorite kind of nut milk, folks have also been milking their almonds, walnuts, pistachios (which I haven’t tried yet, but it’s high atop my list of to-do!), pecan, macadamia, hazelnut – even peanut milk exists out there, which is not actually a nut at all (but I’d bet it’s still deee-lish!).

So.. now with all that, are nuts the only things that can be used to make this amazing dairy alternative??

Once again, heck no! A strong runner-up in my favorites has always been coconut milk, but of course there are so many options! Folks have dabbled with soy beans, rice, quinoa, oats, even a vast majority of seeds can be made into milk (pumpkin, hemp, sesame, flax seed, etc), and pea protein – which makes me want to point out the one word there that may catch your eye here: protein. Yes, while all of these varieties vary in how much protein they contain, they all have protein (some nearly double the amount of plant-based protein when compared with regular dairy – and a fraction of the sugar as dairy! Wahoo!)

While I want to have fun here making oat milk – I would also first like to raise a bit of attention to a long believed myth about milk: that it is needed for strong bones. Just one article that has been published discusses studies where patients who drink more dairy milk are actually linked to premature death and did not actually help protect the bones from fracturing, and in several studies actually increased the aging process while the higher milk sugar content promoted inflammation in the body. I first read of these studies years ago, and have been fascinated by the stories of athletes cutting dairy from their diets to successfully reduce swelling and inflammation in the joints post-exercise; I have since turned myself into my own study and have nothing but positivity to report since cutting all dairy from my consumption back in 2016. 😉

Come on Erik.. You want me to drink my oats?

I knew that I loved cashew milk and coconut milk (still do.. can’t lie about that!), I would see the oat milk there in the refrigerator section and think “some day, oat milk.. some day..” but today never seemed to be oat milk’s day. Well today is the day for oat milk to shine brightly in my tall glass! Like any other dairy-free milk, it is super creamy and is best suited for cereal and granola bowls, straight up drinking, or for those fancy latte’s that so many people post on their Instagram pages displaying the decorative fern leaf of froth adorned atop!

Traditionally ‘oat milk’ is made with regular rolled oats, but can also be made with barley, groats or whatever else you can find in your local bulk department! For my oat milk, I opted for good ol’ fashioned conventional rolled oats which were $0.79 per pound at my local co-op. I can hear you cringe right now as you read this thinking “conventional oats..what about organic everything??” I have immersed myself into the pro’s and con’s regarding this subject and the studies that I have come across have shown higher ‘toxic residues’ in organic oats, but the conventional oats which had tested positive for toxicity measured higher concentrations. So I am neither for nor against organic in this instance, for me conventional rolled oats are about $1 less per pound so that is what I decide to use.

Now, how in fact do I “milk my oats”..?

A quick search on the internet will give you dozens of recipes for oat milk, but for this I’ll be using our Optimum 600 juicer, primarily because I don’t have the patience for filtering with cheese cloth or t-shirt scraps that I have read nightmares about. This technique really is not much different overall from the traditional filter method, we’ll still be soaking our oats – the only real difference is that we press the ‘milk’ out of the oat slurry instead of letting gravity work its magic over time using a filter (less waste this way too!).

So let’s get milking! What do I actually need?

With a quick search on the internet you can find varying recipes and ratios of water/oat depending on the viscosity of milk that you crave! But here is what I have come up with and is my go to for our oat milk:

  • 1 cup – Conventional Rolled Oats
  • 3 cup – Filtered Water
  • 3-6 – Medjool Dates

*Optional if you want to spice up your oat milk!*

  • Carob Powder (chocolate oat milk!! Yes!)
  • Cinnamon/Nutmeg (pumpkin spice?)
  • Maca Powder (a great superfood that gives the oat milk a graham cracker sweetness!)

While I am using our Optimum 600 juicer for this recipe, I have my doubts as to how well dates will work with cheese cloth, unless they are blended real well, otherwise I may recommend using something more like the carob powder for a cloth filter and saving the sticky, sweet dates for date balls or snacking on the side, with the oat milk!

We soaked our rolled oats in the filtered water for about 4 hours while we ran morning errands and went for a nice long run, then came back and rinsed the oats – which was more or less pouring the liquid off the top, I was surprised how much of the cloudy particles had settled, and then let the oats bathe in 3 cups of fresh water for another 4 hours or so; but you may find it easiest to be a bit less ‘hands-on’ with your oat milk – just soak them overnight, rinse once and toss them in your juicer in the morning – like fresh juice for breakfast .. oat juice!

Of course with any juicer, there is a somewhat dry combination of oats and date pulp that gets spit out (not bone dry by any means though!), what to do with this? Well, well, well.. I have some ideas for you! My initial thought was to add it to make banana pancakes after a run, or rejuvenate it for some date balls to create a nice energy packed on-the-go snack for your hiking or running adventures! If all else fails, and you make your own dog food/treats – go ahead and toss it into their puppy mix! (I recommend in moderation however, as dates do aid in digestion.. we don’t want an unnecessary mess on our hands while we are trying to enjoy our fresh oat milk!!). I’m sure the uses for the spent oat/date combo is just about endless, so if you would care to share what you enjoy adding your oats to – let me know! I’d love to hear your fresh, new ideas!

So that is how I make my oat milk, and like I mentioned earlier – I plan on adding in some carob powder and making chocolate milk real soon! I used to love, love, love chocolate milk growing up – but it was always so full of unneeded sugars, but by adding carob powder there will be no milk fats or unwanted sugars! I’ll follow up and let you know how it turns out.. but if it is anything like adding carob powder into dairy-free nicecream (frozen bananas + other frozen fruit as desired), it will be just downright dee-lightfully scrumptious!!

Follow along as I take you to other milk alternatives in the near future, what’s it going to be – the hemp heart superfood milk? The richest nut milk you have ever tasted? Milk straight from the rice fields to your frappa-latte-mocha-chino?

Dairy-free alternatives have never tasted so delicious!!

 

Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message with tips, ideas or requests!

Thanks for reading and have some incredible Veggies, Vistas and Vert out there! 😉

– Erik

 

Salty, Syrupy, Coconutty Goodness!

How many types of sports hydration can you name? Jumping for joy over the coconut water

Probably something new for every day of the month, if that’s what you are in the market for! Sports drinks with electrolytes, or maybe just straight up soda like I’ve seen some long-distance runners do on occasion; Gel packets, salt sticks, energy beans, drink mixes, supplement capsules or perhaps those purple fizzy things? If forced to choose from this list – I would prefer something with ingredients that I can pronounce – or my old faithful: real water!

For as long as I’ve been running, I never let myself get overwhelmed with the surplus of colorful packages out there! Back when I began running, I used to carry a bottle of spring water – 16oz was typically my go-to because it fit in my hand just right and felt natural – without being too weighty or bulky. Back then I never needed to drink any of my water mid-run, but as soon as I finished and began my walking-cool down session, the water was all I wanted! Fast forward some years and for reasons that I am not sure of – I got out of the habit of carrying water, even while I was doing up to double the mileage!

When I got my current running vest – a Salomon S-Lab 12L (12 set as they dubbed it) featuring two 16oz soft shell bottles, Ciara and I were primarily running the White Mountains of NH; I had not really begun taking – or needing my vest on more local runs yet. But even when we did get vested up for the mountains, the first several months contained just plain water, which was super convenient for refilling at the many huts throughout the National Forest (I have also always carried aRocking the vest 2018 Sawyer mini-water filter in my vest, which I have used many times!).

Fast forward again to that time when I thought I would have my first go at a full marathon – I knew that I would need water for that one! While we both agreed there were some ‘reputable’ hydration/electrolyte replenishment options out there, we always prefer to be resourceful with what we have and we decided that making our own would be the way to go!

I knew using ingredients that my body already knew (being fully plant-based for over two years at the time) would definitely be the way to go. We did our research into what other folks had come up with – so it’s not as if we really invented the concoction ourselves, we just tweaked what other folks had previously done, and we found that it worked well..

so well in fact that for 26.2 miles, I did not crave any other food!

I desperately wanted to try our liquid creation on a long run, just to ‘experiment’, and see how my body would react (it’s either going to love it or I’d be in the woods with it coming out one end or the other!) to it, but time proved to not be on our side, once again!

The weekend of October 13th found us in a cabin on a chilly evening prior to my first full marathon, consuming all the home-Orange + Lemonmade plant based food (some in the crock pot, some raw desserts – which, of course, were amazing!).

We had everything we needed to re-create the recipe that we tweaked to our standards:

  • Coconut Water (4 cups/ 32oz)
  • Maple Syrup (0.25 cup/ 4 tablespoons)
  • Himalayan Pink Salt (1/4 teaspoon)

*Our original recipe also called for, but we did not add in on race day:

  • Fresh-squeezed Orange Juice (1 cup/ 8oz)
  • Fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice (0.5 cup/ 4oz)

I give both options because the first three ingredients worked completely fine for my race, powered me through just fine – but, if I have the luxury of running water and a place to wash knifes and clean up sticky citrus – I will totally be adding the fruit portion into the mix next time!

What I recommend, and actually what I did (and what I am incredibly thankful of..) was fill this coconut water hybrid into one of my 16oz water reservoirs, and the other 16oz bottle with just plain filtered water. I began my race by sipping on the blended coconut water, Himalayan Pink Salt -topnot sure how it would settle for me (and not wanting to spoil my race only 6mi in with cramps and other annoyances..) so I kept each sip in my mouth, almost ‘chewing’ (ever go to a beer tasting? think of this..) it for 30-60 seconds before slowly swallowing it – sounds waaaay to tedious for some, but I was determined to baby my stomach as I was coming from a habit of taking in no nutrients while I ran 20+ miles (for my fear of cramping).

Now I am sure, by now, you are probably asking yourself why would anyone go with some hippie-junk like this – salt? citrus? maple syrup? coconut water? what the heck is this trash?? Everything listed is here for a reason –

each ingredient is in there to replenish our bodies and help it to persevere!

First off here, coconut water? Come on, were not on Survivor here..why would we need coconut water? Coconut water is one of the best, all-natural ways of re-hydrating the body – containing many minerals and nutrients that we just don’t get from water alone (and I’d rather know that I am getting these nutrients from a plant instead of some rainbow colored powered shit Coconut Watermade in a lab!)

Coconut water is:

  • 95% water
  • 4% carbs (the good sugars that don’t give you diabetes!)
  • 0.1% fat
  • 0.5% iron
  • 0.02% calcium
  • 0.01% phosphorus

The best (for us) coconut water can be found coming from the young green coconuts; these little fella’s contain the most powerful anti-oxidants, higher levels of vitamin C and B (complex) and potassium. Also, containing trace amounts of sodium (great for when you are sweating!), magnesium, and phytochemicals (studied for its anti-aging/anti-cancer properties!). While coconut water alone has been found to help aid the liver and help return the blood volume back to normal levels post exercise – not much comes to us without a risk, or a ‘downside’, unfortunately!

I cannot suggest re-hydrating with coconut water without being ‘responsible’, and letting you know of the risks! Coconut water alone, while it contains somewhat higher levels of potassium is great for us banana-eaters, but should not be used as a cure-all on super hot days; it has been found (when consumed in stupidly high quantities!) to result in ‘hyperkalemia’, even with some medical knowledge, I had to look this one up! This is basically kidney disease; resulting in the breakdown of both red blood cells and the muscle itself, incredibly high volumes of coconut water (the study I read about involved 90oz of coconut water while exercising in the bright summer sun with no other liquids to Himalayan Pink Salt close-upspeak of: so be sure to drink water too!!) alone can produce an abnormal heart rate and result in a blood pressure that is just too low for the body to survive and will eventually, potentially, kill you – this is the main reason why I brought one water, one coconut water mixture on my marathon, turns out after the salt, maple syrup and coconut water, my body absolutely craved regular water, so listen to your body!!

 The next up into the recipe is Himalayan Pink Salt.

And if I know you correctly, you are probably asking to yourself “what the heck is ‘Himalayan salt’ and why do I need to get fancy, can’t I just use my table salt??” You may be able to reap the same benefits from regular table salt – but that junk is so much more processed, I just chose to avoid it! This Himalayan Pink Salt comes from the second largest salt mine – straight from Pakistan. It appears pink (while regular salt is obviously white) because of the trace amounts of iron oxide.

This is one of the easiest ways to escape the clutches of the electrolyte powder, tablet, stick craze; containing sodium and chlorine, salt is absolutely essential (in small quantities, this does not mean dip your greasy fries into heaping piles of salt..) in helping the brain send electrical impulses to nerves and fundamentally – the muscles. So without salt, long runs just don’t exist, your muscles  will lock up and you will be a hot mess on the side of the trail!

Himalayan Pink Salt is:

  • 0.16% calcium
  • 0.28% potassium
  • 0.1% magnesiumReal Maple Syrup
  • 0.0004% iron

And of course, my favorite ingredient: REAL Maple Syrup!!

Corn syrup and high fructose this and that has been cut from my diet for years – just don’t need that trash (is how I try to look at it!)! And going right alongside of that laboratory-made non-sense, is white table sugar – too bleached, too refined, too processed! I suppose one could make the argument that, yes, maple syrup is also processed to a degree (and I’m talking about the local maple syrup that someone’s family is making, NOT the store bought Auntie Jemima fake shit!) but it’s essentially just boiled down – a wee bit different in my eyes.

I’ve always loved the real deal maple syrup – my grandfather had a sugar shack and tapped his own trees, this was a treat of going to visit the grandparents from an early age, I would dream of home made blueberry pancakes on the farm with his cherished maple syrup! It was almost like “top shelf” – being only broken out of the pantry for special occasions (like when the grand-kids came to visit!!).

Anyone who has had the pleasure of going to a maple syrup tasting knows that there are varying grades and colors and densities of real maple syrup, but the majority of the amber sticky stuff out there comes from (but not limited to!) sugar, red, or black maple trees; the trees are tapped in late winter/early spring for the starchy sap, which has been converted to sugar by a combination of colder weather and the tree just doing what it does! The sap is collected (I’ve tried the sap, doesn’t taste like a whole lot at this point!) and boiled down to rid a majority of the water, leaving our beloved syrup.

The maple syrup

The primary ingredient of the sap collected is sucrose along with water, which is decreased from the boiling process to make a sweeter end product. According to the most trustworthy sources over at wikipedia.com, maple syrup provides 260 calories/100g.

Maple syrup is:

  • 67g carbs
  • 32.4g water
  • 0.06g fat
  • 0.04g protein
  • 106% riboflavin (daily recommended value)
  • 138% manganese (daily recommended value)
  • 10% calcium (daily recommended value)

Of course, being a natural plant-based food – there are also trace quantities of thiamine (B1), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc and a whole slew of volatile organic compounds.

If and when I get to try the citrus portion in our hydration creation, I’ll include that in here with findings and such; but for now this has worked wonderfully for us – like I said earlier, I was able to feel full on just minimal amounts of the coconut water, Stream crossing wack-jobspink salt and maple syrup combination, which is great for us folks who can’t feel weighted down by fuel jostling around in our guts mid-run!

If you end up trying this recipe – and it works (or even doesn’t work), I’d love to hear about it!

Am I missing something from my recipe that you swear by, that hadn’t occurred to us to include in our water – let us know down in the comments below!

And – as I said earlier, but as a friendly reminder.. don’t forget to drink real (filtered) water also, there’s not much better for a body in motion than just plain, regular h2o!

I hope this helps you run, hike, go longer and better than before you read it!

Cheers & Happy Trails

Erik

A Most Delicious Recovery: RecovHERB Plus+, by Runners High Herbals

Sometimes after a run, I like to treat myself.

RecovHerBanana Plus+

And sometimes after a really long run, I really like to treat myself! During certain times of the year, Ciara and I can be found splitting a whole juicy melon or four (watermelon is our go to when in season!!), or popping a colorful handful of grapes – this is our favorite way to rehydrate, while coconut water is of course – a very close runner-up!

While it might feel the most refreshing to gulp down 15 liters of cashew milk (I’m sure someone out there reading this is thinking to themselves “Whaaa? PshhhH!!! Give me all the colas!”), our bodies need more than just liquids after a hard run or hike, we crave fuel to help rebuild our torn, but ‘lovingly’ abused muscles.

Most folks know that shortly after ending a strenuous work out, we need to replenish our muscle reserves (with sweet potato, cucumber, melon, bananas, raw nuts & seeds), but also a “not-so-often-thought-of” powdered superfood supplement can help boost recovery rates post-exercise.

Once again, Runners High Herbals came through!

In a whirl-wind of their herbal wizardry, all of the finest superfood powders were exquisitely blended together into one shiny silver tin – mess-free and conveniently small to transport to your post-event celebration!

While the names of these all-natural ingredients may prove to be a mouthful, the benefits they have to offer the body are remarkable:turmeric

  • Turmeric Root Powder – used for over 4000 years to aid in digestion – perfect after pounding out miles on the trails (or perhaps on the anti-climactic treadmill, if that’s all the weather outside will permit!), this relative of ginger also crushes inflammation throughout the body, just what your achy muscles and joints crave after an afternoon of punishment on the pavement!
  • Ashwagandha Root Powder – also known as Indian Ginseng for the previous 3000 ashwagandhayears, has been known as an ‘Adaptogen’ by helping the body manage stress, reduce cortisol, fight symptoms of depression and anxiety, boost brain function, and also beat the heck out of inflammation (also being studied in breast, lung, colon, Maca Rootand brain cancer by promoting destruction of cancer cells!! Woohoo!).
  • Maca Powder – this cruciferous veggie root (yes.. related to broccoli, cabbage and kale) has been known for many years as the Peruvian Ginseng! Growing in ranges from 7000’ to 13,000’, the medicinal root works marvelously to improve mood, reduce blood pressure and fight those pesky free radicals, previous studies of the plant have shown suggestions of increased libido – helping to make your post-ultra-marathon an eventful one!!
  • Ceylon Cinnamon – the best dang cinnamon out there! Most folks don’t even know there is a cinnamon“true” cinnamon, as opposed to the commonly consumed, widely distributed Cassia Cinnamon. Both varieties of cinnamon come from strips of the dried inner bark, after the woody parts have been removed. This powerful anti-oxidant also protects the body from free radicals, reduces the risk of heart disease by reducing LDL cholesterol and stabilizing HDL cholesterol levels. This form of cinnamon has also been known to lower fasting blood sugar. While Ceylon is on the pricier side of the two cinnamon varieties, Ceylon is currently being studied for cancer prevention and Alzheimer’s by inhibiting protein build up in the brain. Everyone needs some Ceylon Cinnamon in their day!!Ginger Root
  • Ginger Root Powder (as gingerly mentioned above) is a relative of turmeric, also containing many astounding health benefits in fresh or powdered root (the RecovHerb Plus+ powder contains ginger in the powder form..)! Dating back to ancient Greeks, ginger has also been used to aid indigestion, reduce nausea and inflammation, and has been shown to inhibit the growth of pathogens in the mouth that cause inflammation of the gums! The lady runners out there can also benefit from gingers’ ability to act as effectively as Ibuprofen, reducing pain and cramping due to menstruation!
  • White Pepper – also has a slew of health benefits which can help any outdoor enthusiast – similar to black pepper as they White Pepperare both ‘fruit’ of the pepper plant, white pepper is yet another ingredient from Runners High Herbals that helps digestion (really important when taking in fuel during a long race, or trying to refuel after a big run!), promotes weight loss, this variety of pepper while being known as having a trace increase in “heat” Hemp Extractfrom black pepper, has also been administered to folks with weak eyesight and helping to prevent the advancement of cataracts.
  • 12.5mg Hemp Extract packed into each teaspoon – of which there are many in this little silver tin!

Having used standard Golden Milk concoctions, there is a clear difference to be noticed – best described as a calming, soothing effect on the muscles and joints – I have used after long runs, high elevation gain/loss hikes, crossfit and yoga days: it works wonders so you can continue moving your body when you want to!

I cannot simply list the limitless benefits of the meticulously chosen ingredients in RecovHerb Plus+, so if I left you with more questions than I actually answered, please feel free to comment below, let me know – or even do some research of your own – all of these ingredients are actively being researched, so known benefits are constantly expanding and coming to light. Also, like I have stated in the past – I am clearly not a professional nutritionist or dietitian – I just enjoy doing research on topics that pique my attention, leaving me searching for answers – and in return, I love sharing what I learn with you, to get you questioning everything also!Plant Based Recovery

Let’s get to making the deliciousness happen!

If you are like me, you may or may not have taken a spoonful of Runners High Herbals recovHerb Plus+ and turned your mouth into an ‘off-the-grid’ blender, mixing almond milk and the recommended 1-2 teaspoons of powder, free of all electrical appliances! I have tried other varieties of Golden Milk in similar fashions (just had to get the job done..), and I can honestly say that the RHH blend is the most satisfying – comparable to a home-made ginger snap cookie, soooo good!

But with minimal prep time, a super soothing, cookie-like hug for your taste buds can be made very, very easily (even I can do it!) – and if you have an insulated travel mug, this latte-inspired warm recoverage (recovery+beverage) can be brought anywhere – to the end of your run or the summit on your hike.

  • 8oz of cashew milk (if you are a dairy milk enthusiast, your taste buds – and body – will thank you by using a much healthier “milk” alternative!) I always have Almond, Oat, Cashew or Coconut milk on hand (in the fridge actually) simply because they are the most velvety liquid a glass or mug can hold!* *this may actually not be supported by any scientific evidence what-so-ever
  • 8oz French Press coffee (espresso beans from my local co-op is my daily go to, but Four Sigmatic is a wonderful substitute all day, any day!

(does your travel mug have room to spare? Add more coffee or milk to taste! You’ll be glad you topped it off later!)

What else can I do with my recovHerb Plus+?

Add it to a smoothie or dairy-free “nice cream” with frozen bananas, frozen fruit, and nut milk!

Sprinkle it on your recovery cookies/pastries!

Add it to some warm hot cocoa after doing some outdoorsing!

One epic suggestion that I just got from my girlfriend (she is the brains in the kitchen, I help make things awesome with her!) was using RecovHerb sprinkled into Chia Pudding, which is no-bake, easy to make and super protein-packed (did I mention that we make our Chia Pudding in the fridge – which makes it probably one of the most refreshing treats after a hot run!!).

The benefits of the ingredients Runners High Herbals chose to include in their version of the ancient Golden Milk should be enjoyed daily by everyone, not just mountain folks or ultra-runners! With benefits such as heart health, stabilizing blood sugars, reducing inflammation (naturally!), and overall support for your immune system –

everyone can gain from supplementing their day with a dash of recovHERB Plus+!

If you have any favorite ways of using RecovHerb (or Golden Milk powder – if you haven’t gotten around to trying the Runners High Herbals take on it..seriously, pick some up!!) please throw it in the comments below – I’d love to hear about some fresh, new ideas! And as always feel free to ask away if you have any questions about anything here!

You can also try the Runners High Herbals RecovHerb as well as any of their other epic balms, salves, recovery aids 10% off when you use my discount code at the check out! (Yaaaay!!) And that code would be… ehamilton10

Don’t forget (if you like what you see/read!) sign up on the right column over there –> to receive email updates for new food/nutrition/running/hiking anything kind of posts!

Thanks y’all, have an awesome day!!

Erik

 

Smooth Alchemy or Black Gold??

Black coffee & a latte at The Tuckerbox, VTI have minimal recollection of my introductory sip of this blackened beverage, but what I did learn from this “ah-ha” moment was: I would forever be adulting with my coffee in hand.

My mother would make green tea with honey when I was growing up (what seems like 40 years ago), but the first time that I tried coffee.. nope, can’t remember anything about it – good or bad! There is a very solid chance that it was loaded with white sugar and whatever flavor of creme was within arm’s reach.

This is how I knew coffee for more than a decade, so for many years I amped up this caffeinated beverage with tablespoon after tablespoon of white table sugar – because that’s what I saw people do, and creme because that was just the standard that I knew, that’s just how I assumed this black beverage was consumed back in the ’90s.

I thought that the black from the coffee is what brought about stomach issues, my uncle even developed issues – I truly believed that it was from the way he drank his coffee: black; and by the pot! With this in mind, I added more pumpkin spiced, or peppermint heavy creme and artificially sweetened, fake everything to my brew.

Around the time of my 18th Christmas, I was given my first coffee maker;

it was a combo brewer – coffee and espresso in one (not so compact) machine. I loved it! I made coffee all throughout the day just because I assumed that’s how the American public managed to tackle their hectic day.

I would brew my own coffee, go out and meet friends over a coffee, drink coffee for something cold, or for warmth. I traded in coffee for hot mulled cider and the occasional tea, but during my twenties I (as they say..) ran on coffee.

When Ciara and I decided to go cross-country (I had already been drinking my coffee black with no sugar for several years!), I managed to grab a morning cup of joe when we stopped to refuel the Honda, which conveniently was primarily morning time. But when we were in the desert, forest, anywhere that did not have the convenience of “already dripped” coffee, I had to rethink.

Unfortunately this rethinking brought me to the worst time period of coffee consumption of my life, “rock bottom”, as someWhole Bean and Ground might call it; I had opted for a jar of Folgers Instant, which never fully incorporated into the mediocrely warm water that was rushed to a boil on our Coleman travel stove. Point being: it tasted kinda nasty, looked kinda gnarly, and left my teeth all tinted brown from the silt left over from the lack of blending. This persisted several months too long while on the road.

When we got back to New York I vowed “Never again! Not going to do drink that nasty shit ever again!”

I still had my regular Mr Coffee for my early work schedule since it had a fancy timer feature. Luckily this 10pm – 7am logistics job did not last long (and come to think of it – I’m not sure if I ever drank coffee at this overnight job – 2 Red Bulls and I regretted both of those decisions with a stomach that felt as if I just fed it battery acid and artificial sweetener).

I had my actual coffee maker for no more than a few weeks in New Hampshire, taking up valuable space on the counter tops in our tiny kitchen. The coffee maker began spitting water and was all bothered by mineral deposits from years of hard water, toward the ends of my fraying frustration – I picked it up and threw it off the second floor patio, letting it shatter into 10,000 pieces on the concrete slab below – okay, that most definitely did not happen – but my mind envisioned someone overly dramatic, which I have been known to be from time to time.

Electric coffee maker out, in with the manual French Press style I had always adored but never knew how this fancy glass cylinder/spring/mesh on a stick combination worked – come on, I drink coffee, I’m not a sorcerer when it comes to brewing it!

Beans in the grinder

Over the next several months, I continued to develop quite the morning ritual:

1. wake up, 2. feed the cat, 3. boil teapot water, 4. four scoops of fresh ground coffee goes into the French Press, 5. wait for water to boil as I listen to my cat slurp up her meaty-breakfast, 6. water into the French Press, covering the grounds, 7. wait 2-3 minutes for nature to infuse that water with coffee-goodness!, 8. stir the water/coffee ground combination, 9. let it sit for 2-4 more minutes (or until I remember that I am not yet drinking my coffee..), 10. start plunging those grounds, 11. drink my dang coffee that I waited and worked so hard for .

Making morning coffee using the French Press method has forced me to slow down, take a deep breath, a long slow sip and think about what I’m tasting because this is the one time I allow myself to drink coffee (95% of my days: coffee once in the morning, occasionally a coffee after dinner if we go out to eat or if we go to visit Tuesday – who turned me on to the Art of French Pressing toward the end of About to press the cold brew2017). I prefer this as I don’t feel like I need coffee halfway through the day, I’d prefer coconut water or something to hydrate because typically: “Coffee First, Then Run” is how my mornings tend to unravel.

I had heard Ciara mention several times, and then saw several recipe advertisements for Cold Brewed Coffee; in fact, unknowingly to me, I had this “cold brew masterpiece” from the local Stewarts convenient shops (and loved the boldness of it!), but I did not understand at that time, there is a whole art to Cold Brewed Coffee – and more patience of course – I was all in to give this crazy foodie fad a whirl!

Ciara has always opted away from standard coffee because of its acidity, choosing healthier chicory/mushroom/herbal coffee blends or opting for tea altogether!

“So is this just regular coffee brewed using regular water in place of hot, or what?”

I have been confused on this for too long now, so let my try to answer some of those questions!

Iced Coffee is typically brewed with hot water and left to cool down, or can have ice cubes added after cooling, thus creating a potentially watered down beverage.

Cold Brewed Coffee is brewed using a coarse grind (part of the reason I grind all my own beans) and room temperature water, steeping for a longer time.

From all of my reading on the topic, I have gathered that it is the heat from the water used in standard coffee brewing processes which embolden the bitter flavors, and draw out the acidity of the bean. Naturally, not using hot water would not leech acids and bitter notes into the final brew. Make sense? Starting to!

Higher caffeine in cold brew or just more of a potent brew?

The votes are up in the air whether the process of cold brewing the coffee beans seeps more caffeine into the water or not, I have heard of several theories: typically cold brewing requires more ground coffee ({1cup = 8oz, 1/4cup = 4tbsp} 2.5tbsp/1cup water for regular coffee, 4tbsp/1cup water for cold brewed coffee) and left for a much longer time to steep. I have found recipes stating anything from “overnight in the fridge”, to a strict 12hr, all the way up to 20hr in the steeping (sleeping) phase. Equal Exchange Black Silk Espresso

Let’s make this fandangled mathematic coffee concoction, so just chill out and get everything ready to brew the cold:

  1. 64oz Ball Jar w/ lid (my jar technically holds 8 cups, I’ll just fill up to the 7 cup line to give space for coffee grounds, OR use two 32oz wide mouth ball jars and just split the grounds and water equally!)
  2. 2 cups of coffee beans (my local Co-op score is directly to the right.. Equal Exchange Organic Black Silk Espresso) – coarsely ground (anybody doing the math would note this should be 1 3/4cup coffee, I’ll be getting crazy with 2cups ground coffee/7cups water)
  3. 7 cups filtered room temperature water
  4. French Press to filter out coffee grounds (unless you opt to use the coffee filter and cheese cloth technique!)
  5. Your favorite cup to drink your new cold brew coffee out of
  6. 4-8oz of your favorite plant-based milk
  7. Cinnamon, nutmeg, any spices you might want to try!

“So, you mean I don’t microwave the water?”

We have a generic activated charcoal water filtering system that produces some fine drinking water (we remove some mineral content as we use the same water to brew our Kombucha!). So you’re going to need some good, regular ol’ water – and about 7 cups of it depending on what size brewing vessel you have. I have done both: 64oz with 2 cups of coffee grounds, or so it’s a bit easier to maneuver around in the fridge – 2x 32oz wide mouth jars with 1 cup of grounds in each (or maybe you don’t want 2 jars, no worries! Just make 1 jar – this is your cold brew in front of you after all,

make it how to like – but try it this way first to see if you want it stronger or weaker and tweak it from there!!

Two cups of coarsely ground coffee/espresso bean goes first into the dry 64oz jar, then the water starts to get added (water first will make the grounds clump initially (not the end of the world, you’ll just have to mix longer!), even worse with a damp to wet jar, the grounds won’t want to mingle with the water so you’ll be scraping the sides of your Ball jars as you mix..no fun!). Fresh press and beansWe have anything from wooden chop sticks (my go to!) all the way up to flat wooden mixing spoons, so hopefully you have something to get all your grounds incorporated (if you’re using 32oz jars, cap them and just shake it, like a salt shaker!).

Realistically all you have to do once you think the grounds are mixed up, cap it, or keep the cap on if you never took it off after the shake-session, and place it in the fridge (or on the kitchen counter if you have the luxury of more space than we currently have), go to sleep, go to work, go take your dog for a long walk, just forget it is there! Checking it constantly won’t help it along, and it’s doubtful that you will catch the brew color changing or anything (if you do, seriously, let me know, grab a photo.. that would be a new one!)

If I start it at night, I like to open the jars up and give it a little stir before going on with the rest of my day, just to make sure all of the grounds are in fact saturated and giving their best to my soon-to-be coffee water!

When it is convenient and nearing the 15-20 hour point is when I open them up for good, one last stir with the chop stick and carefully pour into my french press. Slowly and carefully send the meshy plunger down and pour your new cold brew right into a mug/glass to drink, or back into another ball jar to sit for up to another 2 weeks in the fridge – just be sure to get those coffee grounds out!

*On a quick side tangent*

Some folks either prefer to not use a french press, or just don’t have a french press – which is completely understandable – I believe I got mine for around $12, it’s made of glass with a plastic base – totally works for my needs! If you have cheese cloth and a coffee filter – it is possible to put your coffee grounds into the coffee filter, fold it up and wrap it in cheese cloth (essentially creating your own coffee “tea bag”. I just use a french press – but there’s another idea for all the problem solvers out there!

Depending on my mood and where I am, I can be found sipping on my fresh cold brew either straight up black – or with the addition of a bit of cashew milk (I find cashew milk by far the creamiest, but almond, oat, flax, coconut, hemp milk are all perfectly delicious!!). If I want something warm then I’ll heat up the nut milk – not the coffee (just personal preference, I really couldn’t say if heating cold brew re-activates the bitterness/acidity, why? Because I just have not tried it!). Cold brew by the fire!

If you are someone with a kitchen full of spices, feel free to add in some herbal goodies,

cinnamon/nutmeg are both excellent, even perhaps some maca powder or Runners High Herbal recovHerb Plus+ up in that mixture? Sounds great to me!

I hope this helped turn you on to another delicious method to enjoy your coffee beans. Heck – maybe it helped convert a coffee-intolerant reader into a cold brew enthusiast! At the time of writing this – I have only made a handful of batches, so if I find the most irresistible combination – I will surely post my findings here and let you know! And like-wise – if you tweak my recipe and find something that I should try, be sure to comment below and let me know! I’m in no way a cold brew expert – just a guy who found a better way (maybe even healthier? Heck yeah!) to enjoy the ordinary coffee and wanted to share!

Enjoy the cold brew, be sure to share often – and have an epic day!

Erik

How to run your first marathon, and love every mile of it!

There are half a million of those little oval stickers that I grew up envying on the back of hipster cars,

jacked up trucks, techy electric vehicles, perhaps even some motorcycles have scaled down versions. These would of course be those white oval Waiting for the big race to beginstickers with the plain block numbers – three numbers to be exact! The ovals which read “13.1” I knew were serious runners who had tackled a full half-marathon! But those elite few who had the big boy edition of “26.2” had really tackled some serious training! I was secretly super envious of these folks when I was growing up.

I had taken years of swimming lessons because I did not favor team sports; I began hiking the 4000 footers of New York State at the mere age of 6, but I was by no means a “runner”. In those days, I envied the youngsters who did the ‘track’ part – but I would never want to tackle the ‘field’ side of the equation; hurdles? Not for me. Sprinting? Oh, hell no. Pole vaulting my chubby ass over some stick that seemed to be touching the clouds? Get the hell out of here with that silly idea! But running just for the sake of covering lots of terrain and being alone in nature? YESSSS!! I would watch the other kids leave school with their bright running shoes and just go for hours, I remember hearing them complain about having to run, and I probably would have felt similarly as a teen if I were forced to do something just to say “I did a sport”.

I was shocked (and exhausted, thought I had actually hit ‘The Wall’) when I ran my first 13.1 miles.

Ciara and I had returned from our cross-country road trip and were staying together in NY. We were surprised to hear that we had all been signed up for our first 5K by her mother (who also joined us on the adventure!), just for fun and for something to do. I was getting out of work at the time around 7am, most days I would go home and lace up the running shoes for 6 miles or so, eventually I pushed to 10, then not long after – 13.1. In my mind I had just accomplished some serious mileage, something that comes with eating intentfully and training adamantly. What came next, naturally, was just for a fun morning run: Tuesday signed us up for our next race event! For me, she chose the half-marathon – which turned out to be an Stretching before the start of my first marathon MDI 2018absolutely stellar day, beautiful vistas along Lake Champlain, and most importantly – I felt unstoppable running the event, like I was sailing over those rolling grassy hills!

Several months passed by, Ciara and I moved to New Hampshire, I ran more trails and adventured more in the high peaks of the White Mountain National Forest. We had been eating a steady plant-based diet together since before our big road trip (she had been also with her mother – Tuesday, for several years before I made the official, complete switch away from chicken and all dairy products), and been running/hiking as much as I had time for, I felt good; I mean, not just ‘good’, but

I felt damn good – I was in the best shape of my life!

I was also hearing a lot of hullaballoo about these crazy 100 mile ultra runs where people would reach a place in their minds not dissimilar to a euphoric high. Ciara and I had watched several documentaries – one of the most interesting was Made To Be Broken, featuring Karl Meltzer and how he crushed the record on the Appalachian Trail Thru Hike (run? ☺). I wanted to run that far; I wanted to feel the overwhelming power exhaustion, completely whooped and see if I had what it took to muster on still, down the trail.

I set my sights to a full marathon, the part I had to stomach (and break the news to Ciara) was the price of longer (more organized than I was used to..) events like this. I had to make this decision count, not just simply sign up to run 26.2 miles. I had committed my mind to accepting that I could run that distance, it might hurt and there was a possibility I would tear my Somewhere around 15 miles, I finally saw my two friends for the first time.muscle from my bones – I still wanted to give it a go though!

I had never felt so powerful when I ran, I never felt as if my recovery from running mountains had been so quick, I never felt so ready to try this monster – I was only getting older, now was my chance to do it, perhaps this would be the only shot I would ever have, ever.

After days of silently researching and making notes and reading reviews from past runners and spectators – I had the Mount Desert Island Full Marathon located within Acadia National Park in Maine in my shopping cart! Taking place on October 14th, along the oceanside, this was sure to be the most lovely run I had ever toed the starting line for. If I only ran one marathon ever – this would be the one, I could hang my hat up content that I had given it my all. I asked Ciara what she thought of the idea, but had confirmed my payment before she ever had a chance to interject!

Honestly, I had not an ounce of thought put into the logistics of this event,

but I assumed that I would be hauling myself there with my gear, spend the night probably in my Subaru and then somehow use my arms to push my destroyed legs down onto my clutch to shift during my drive home!

Roti Canai - flat bread from the Green Elephant in Portland MEPanang Curry Vegetable & TempehWell it didn’t happen that way; Tuesday offered to drive and the three of us would make a fun little get away out of my selfish event. We ended up renting a cabin at the same campground we had tented in only several weeks ago – knowing the heat, electricity and a real bed would be a blessing for comfort and food before the race.

The weather really could not have been more in my favor – almost as if it knew my plans and did everything to help me crush these lofty dreams of mine. The foliage sightings began not long after we departed Plainfield, all commenting on the warm color of the vistas, primarily oranges and reds at this latitude. We made a pit stop into Portland, ME at about the halfway point in our trek to let the puppy dogs out to pee, and we refueled our bellies at one of our favorite east coast eateries: The Green Elephant. Anything vegan, and everything delicious – perfect for us three!

Back on the road and all enjoying ourselves, next stop: Race Packet Pick-up!

We were all watching the minutes tick by as we stopped to refuel the car, with a cut-off time of 5pm that Saturday afternoon, we all tried to gauge how long we had until the doors on my race bib pick-up closed and that would present an all new set of issues for us!

We pulled into the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Conference Center with 25 minutes to spare, I was dropped of chauffeur style – at the front door as I plowed up the stairs to the top floor and headed right over to grab my number and race packet. Luck was on our side this day once again. One glance around at the tables showed a flavorful rainbow of GU packets and Photobombed by the race director who shot off the starting cannon!any sock height imaginable for sale – I could not find anything that I needed – I took that as being very fortunate that I remembered to pack everything I would possibly need!

Then Tuesday found me roaming the tables, Ciara not far behind – we stopped to get a photo of the marathon man with his new green (Green bibs were saved for runners attempting their first full marathon) race bib, complete with my name actually spelled correctly at the top! The rough and rugged appearing bearded fellow in a kilt (no, not me this time!) jumped in to photobomb my shots – turns out he was person lighting the cannon off this year – just another reason I was feeling super hyped for this race, everyone seemed so positive and friendly!

We then went back to our cabin, set up our home furnishings for the evening and feasted on all home-made vegan delights. Tuesday made some incredible completely raw mini apple pies, Ciara (and I) brought the dehydrated carrot, ginger and seed crackers. Next morning for continuity’s sake, I fired up the MSR pocket rocket camp stove for my daily French Press of espresso bean coffee – no point in changing up my routine now, I needed everything to go as similarly to my daily runs back home as possible – including my routine bathroom session.

Once everything happened (bathroom session included! Yay!), I had become more relieved (literally..) and less anxious over-all, ready to get this run fired up! I didn’t do much stretching until we arrived at the starting line, after one last go at the urinal, I gave hugs and received my “good luck!” good byes, and took a few jogs around the park to keep my legs warmed up (it was mid-October and the sun was hardly lighting the sky for this 8am start). I really could not hear more than a murmur of the “opening ceremony” or whatever the DJ/speaker dude was saying at all. One moment I am stretching my quads as I leaned against a telephone pole,

the next I see the folks a little ways up starting to jog; “aww shit.. here we go with this!!” I remember thinking to myself.

We were not allowed to use headphones (one ear bud for pacing purposes only, but strictly no music!), so I did my best to listen to my body – I knew that I needed to begin this thing slow if I wanted to conserve any of my energy for when it would be needed the most – around the 21mi mark.

Only several miles covered until the morning sun already popped up and over Cadillac Mountain, piles of jackets, gloves and Two thumbs up to let them know I am 'okay' on my coconut water, feeling great at 18 mi in!hats littered the sidewalk. Not mine though – I had my running vest if I needed to stash anything, which I did for my gloves, but only for several minutes for a time – my sweaty hands chilled as they tried to dry off so I kept them shoved in my gloves for most of the race.

I managed to keep a steady pace – thinking that the closed marathon route would merge back up with Route 198 where my chances of seeing Ciara and Tuesday would increase. I passed all of the aid stations on the right side while the runners who stopped for refreshments or GU packets would ‘pull in’ on the left of the road to the aid stations. We passed from Bar Harbor to Otter Creek and Seal Harbor with minimal elevation gains and I was feeling on fire today! The fall foliage now ablaze with every fiery hue of yellow, orange and red, dotted with several green needle-y fir trees along the route.

I ended up packing several of my favorite Muir Energy packets to satisfy my hunger mid-run;

turns out I did not need to consume any nut butter en-route but what did keep me going for this longest run of my life so far: 16oz of regular water on my right side, and most importantly – 16oz of Ciara’s secret weapon!

We both did research into home-made hydration and electrolyte replacement and (no surprise to me!) came up with basically the same recipe. Coconut water, a teaspoon or so of Himalayan pink salt, and real deal Vermont maple syrup from a friend’s farm. The concoction that we had planned to create had all of this plus lemon and orange juice, which I did not want to cut up in a cabin with no Up the last ascent - then smooth sailing to the finish, right?running water (I’ll have to try this addition for a more local event!).

At the starting line of the half-marathon (13 miles into my race), I was still feeling phenomenal –

warmed up and just grooving right along at a decent pace.

Long after I had expected to see my friendly “support crews” faces, I came upon the mile 17 marker on the side of the course. And there was the second large crowd that I had encountered for the day approaching. Spectators lined both sides of the running course as the athletes zoomed by – this is where I learned why my name was on my bib number – from here to the end of the race people were cheering and calling out our names “way to go Erik!”, someone yelled; not knowing where this had come from – the only response that I could think of was a fist in the air and to let out a gigantic “WOOHOO!!” – I was feeling great. Then I saw dreadlocks poking out from behind the lens of a Nikon – there was Ciara after all this time!! I burst internally with love for life and wanted to hug everyone, some may call this a ‘runners high’, the best and most intense high that I had ever felt – I quickly became addicted. I continued down the path with what may be arguably the largest grin of my life plastered to my face, next I passed Tuesday and my day was beyond made, right there in those several seconds.

As I continued on, there was a large (almost containership-size) boat in the harbor with a party happening on the top deck, music and a throaty ship horn echoed through Somesville, this is the only place I wanted to be: present here, now.

Ciara and Tuesday drove by with the boys (Boone and Crockett of course) out the window with tongues in the air,

the girls hootin’ and hollerin’, cheering me on! Tuesday yelled something about coconut water – from all the excitement and yelling in my head, I couldn’t hear exactly what she had said. Next thing I see are brake lights and Ciara gets out, running over to my side of the road (right side was car only/left side was runner only) with a bottle of pure coconut water to offer me. I honestly was scared of it, I didn’t want to drink too fast and cramp – whatever I was doing to sustain my energy levels had worked up to this point and at 21 miles the last thing I wanted to do was anything different!

Mile 23 and I could see the final ascent before it was all downhill for the remainder of the race, smooth sailing into Southwest Harbor, where the crowds and party tents and (most importantly) bananas were all waiting for me! It had been about 4 hours since my last pee break, and with 32oz of coffee before the race, it was quickly becoming that time again – I saw the last set Coming into the finish gate at the MDI Marathonof porta-potties on the drive over earlier that morning, I ran right in to relieve myself – hoping that I would be able to concentrate on running if I emptied my bladder. I could not believe the feeling when I actually stopped running, almost like I was still moving – it actually felt as if the outhouse was tipping right over. Back out I went and down the road I ran.

That was probably the point in my race when the exhaustion hit me, my legs became lead. I knew how badly I wanted to finish this time running my own race, so down the road I went – walk a bit of uphill and then continue running, back and forth, off and on – I was going to get myself to that finish line one way or another if I had to crawl my tired bum over that finish line. That Lobster Claw finishers medal was as good as mine at this point.

At the height of the last ascent, the road didn’t appear to drop gradually like the tourist packet had raved about,

rather it My golden lobster claw finisher medallooked flat. Pot-holed, dogs and spectators lined the sidewalk, cars were even driving slowly, trying to find their destinations along the crowded street. Someone yelled my name again and said “You’re almost there – only a quarter mile further!”. “A quarter-of-a-freakin’-mile?” – I thought to myself and kept putting one foot in front of the other. Then around a bend – there it was, the finale of my day. I ran through the finishing gate a bit delusional, a very kind woman careful threw the blue ribbon-ed golden claw medal around my neck, it was heavy – and indeed it was mine at last!!

Ciara and Tuesday found me roaming after what seemed like minutes after I crossed the line (I think it was more like 20 seconds), Tuesday shot some candid photos of the two of us as I tried to splash a fresh bottle of water into my mouth – soaked more of my beard than tongue doing this!

The right side of the tent was beautiful, mounds of red apples, yellow bananas –

and white bottles of real maple water (they had A LOT more if I wanted to dabble with the cream cheese, yogurt or bagels).

I went to check my time, expecting a print out or some type of souvenir, the guy at the computer asked my last name, I looked at the board and he remarked “anything else?”. “uhh..I guess not” and we began the arduous and stiff walk to the car. 1 Juice + 1 Smoothie from The Juicery in Portsmouth NH

Sure they had a beer tent, massage tables, more or less a whole festival carnival type of scenario going on, but we all wanted to hit the road for our 6 hour drive.

Of course, we had to make a pit-stop to get out, walk around and stretch my legs (dogs needed to pee also!). We pulled off Interstate 95 at Portsmouth and made the short drive over to The Juicery, where I made the executive decision that I had worked hard enough today for one beet & apple juice AND one pumpkin spice smoothie.

The following several days I paid for the work that I put in that Sunday in Mount Desert Island, the reminder of accomplishment returning every time I feast my eyes upon my golden lobster claw – a reminder that the human body is incredible, we are strong and can overcome anything if we dig down and find the mental fuel within ourselves.

The Mount Desert Island Marathon will probably always be the most important run of my life, the best decision that I have ever made – if I wasn’t stuck on a path to fitness prior to clicking that “Sign Up” button, I sure as hell am now!

I ran my race, accomplished what I came to do, all while having the best crew – Ciara and Tuesday along for the journey and, if they got frustrated at my fanciful idea to run 26.2 miles that October day, I surely never knew about it.

Follow along my plant-fueled journey!

Any questions? Please feel free to ask away either here or on Instagram!

Thanks y’all!

Cheers, and all the happy miles ahead!

Erik


Mount Desert Island Marathon Profile

 

 

Overall stats for the day:

  • 26.2mi (USATF Sanctioned & Certified: ME12018JK)
  • Place 320/
  • 1st 13.1: 2hr 11min 29sec
  • 2nd 13.1: 2hr 8min 14sec
  • 26.2 total: 4hr 19min 43sec
  • Pace Average: 9min 53sec/mile

Portable Plant Based Nutrition: Muir Energy!

Have you ever been a few miles into a trail with a heavy pack on, maybe you found a way to strap your snowshoes onto your pack without them smacking your spine bones with every step, completely dreading the moment you have to stop and remove your pack just to get a snack? Or, perhaps you found yourself running through a zig-zag of mountainous single track, leaping like a gazelle over roots and My desk as I pack for my first full marathon Oct 2018rocks, dipping and dodging like a trained boxer to avoid those pesky tree limbs. When you finally come to a halt at the side of the cliff to take in some water, sustenance, and of course – those epic views, a friend offers up a pouch of birthday cake flavored energy to try, “thanks for the maltodextrin bro!”

I too, was consumed by the “energy-on-the-go” fad that over took the outdoor enthusiast world several years ago,

aimed at runners, hikers, bikers, anyone that moved their body and needed an extra jolt of energy. To me, it was frustrating shelling out so much money for such a little packet of sugary goo. While it is simple to argue that all of this added fructose, leucine and potassium citrate is essentially ‘plant derived’, all of these ingredients are so highly refined and processed that they don’t function the same as their friendly plant based cousins.

I never enjoyed reading what was actually stuffed into my gel packets, and honestly I consumed them extremely sparingly for this reason (I still had one of my original packets of GU in my hiking emergency first aid kit that I recently gave to a friend, sorry friend – but thanks for helping me not waste! 🙂 ). Initially I purchased these energy gels for hiking before the thought of running further than 15 miles had ever occurred to me – I actually don’t recall ever consuming a GU energy gel while on a long run for fear that the bright, artificially colored, highly processed,

sticky goo would immediately send me into the bushes, urgently needing to tear away my running shorts.

Taking a Muir Energy break on the ascent of Mount Adams 2018Every weekend as I repacked my gear, I remember discussing with Ciara how grand the day would be when we finally commit to making and packaging our own “all natural” source of energy, if even only for ourselves. We (she, with me trying to help in the kitchen) would make our date balls (dates, chia seeds, chopped cashews, maple syrup, coconut, etc.) but we always wanted something that we could keep in place of these gel packets for backup/“emergency situations”.

Thanks in part to the myriad of Instagram advertisements and my life-long desire to know all things outdoors, the purple packet displaying two-tone mountains and the bold, all caps word “Muir” caught my attention (ironically, I was reading The Life of John Muir by Donald Worster at the time!).

I had to discover why they named themselves after the same fine fellow that I envied so dearly.

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I navigated over to their flavors and saw what they use for ingredients, thinking all the while “hey man, this is exactly what I would use had I been making my own ‘on-the-go’ energy!!” We use Muir in all types of recipes, here are peanut butter balls with Red Raspberry Muir

Like most perishables out there (Muir claims 9mo shelf life), Muir Energy offers some excellent and unique seasonal flavors (until they enter their production lines full time!) with sustainable energy sourced from kale and sweet potato, combined with real nut butters made using almonds, hazelnuts, and the creamiest (if you can’t tell, also my favorite of nut butters!) of them all: cashews!!

The mad scientists tinkering away in the kitchens at Muir Energy use the most taste bud satisfying bananas and cacao, while other varieties feature the most mouth wateringly tart

(kind of like eating.. uhmm.. real fruit… because that’s what Muir specializes in!!)

red and black raspberries, pineapple and even a new addition to the year round Muir atop Hurricane Mountain in the NYS Adirondack Mountainsmenu: passion fruit! Even mixed in perfect harmony and delicacy are the essential oils of vanilla, peppermint, oregano and thyme (incredibly satiating when your mouth is dry and tasting like road dust at the 22mile mark of anything!!).

Every hand filled packet contains just the right amount of raw coconut nectar, which has a low glycemic index,

which is good news for us outdoorists and means that these ingredients will be absorbed and metabolized slower than other sugars out there, which may prevent that “shock” burst of energy we may be used to, also means that a crash later on may be avoided more easily! So not only does every packet make your taste buds tingle, performing a supercharged happy-dance, you can also sleep well (literally and figuratively!) knowing that you ate nothing but real ingredients while you busted out the best mileage yet!

With all these honest and raw ingredients in our hand, it is hard to say how our digestive tracts will react to such a delicious treat after being force-fed chemicals and being scolded to obey our commands with white-knuckled fists of ibuprofen. It is too easy to say “take one every hour and you will complete 100 miles, no worries”, I had to experiment with Muir before I trusted to take it on my first full marathon last October (I had never used anything while on a run in the past, swore for years that the only way I could run is in the morning, on an empty stomach after a bit of black coffee). My initial thought was “muscle it down and keep a slow, steady pace”, easier said than done; I was headed down a dirt road 10ish miles into my morning Taking a break in Acadia National Park - the location of my first ever full marathon, heck yeah I had some Muir in my vest!outing, so naturally my body wanted to jam out some effortless, free flowing miles! I had to slow way down, I wouldn’t say a full on cramp happened, but I felt the beginnings of doom brewing.

Next attempt was on the day I had trained for; race day.

Nervous for a repeat, I reminded myself to sip (literally a drop – increasing to a half mouthful) coconut water, priming my fuel tank slowly. Then, around mile 16 it became time for my first packet of Muir, I had stashed one of my savory favorites – Cacao Almond with Mate alongside one packet of Red Raspberry with Mate (more on this Mate deal soon!).

I had discovered during that first 26.2mi adventure just how to fuel myself with Muir, realizing all bodies are different, mine more accustomed to eating raw (<90% raw during the work week and more like 75% raw on weekends) and entirely plant based for quite some time now, I had to let the gooey Muir goodness dissolve in my mouth completely and consume it that way!! Muir helped fuel our long traverse along the Presidential's in July 2018Easy enough for me now that I found the magic sequence of events – my body craves routine!

So… yes yes! Like I mentioned previously, Muir Energy offers several of their recipes with the addition of a Yerba Mate boost, 90mg to each packet indeed! Some folks reading this might interject with “what’s with this hippy trash – give me all the Monster energy!” Well, good news! Not only does mate give you a boost of plant based caffeine, the tea supplement is also jam-packed with antioxidants which promotes a bad-ass immune system (needed when we are constantly suppressing our immune systems through the rigors of distance running!), mate has also been scientifically proven to improve mental focus (perfect for those monotonous miles we all encounter).

If you feel like I left anything out here, please let me know – questions, comments, or concerns!! But you’ll definitely want to scope out the real deal Muir Energy website.

But I am super stoked that Muir helped me run my best race during the Mount Desert Island full marathon and then two weeks later – I had Muir on deck again for the Nor’Witch (Vermont) 50K Ultra – no upset stomach, no crampy nonsense, no The crew, taken moments after I completed my first 33.5 mile ultra, fueled with the finest Muir Energy!regrets, nothing but real fuel in my belly!! I remember coming up to the course photographer at mile 33 (a 50K technically is 31.06 miles, but my GPS tracked me on this winding course at 33.5 miles) and yelling to me that the finish tent was just around the corner – to my delight, here I was thinking I had at least another 3 miles to go!

Muir Energy supplemented with coconut water in my hydration vest had given me more than enough sustainable energy to destroy my first 50K –

leaving me super stoked to run distance again soon (Runamuck 50K in Vermont with Ciara!!)

Muir Energy is a small nutrition company based out of California where their nutrient dense fuel is crafted and packaged all by hand, with love by a few rad folks!!

Keep your fuel tanks topped and keep doing what you love best!!

Much love and happy trails!

Erik

Then I decided, yes, I do want to eat all of the veggies.

Growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s, diet for a child seemed to be 90% experiment, I suppose not unlike the 40’s, 60’s or perhaps even more true – the 2000’s. My parents had grown up on TV dinners and canned everything, things that were designed to withstand an air raid. The home cooks wore polka dot aprons, fuzzy slippers, and were all on my mother’s side, whom lived on a large farm. They didn’t have any animals left on the farm by the late 80’s when I remember visiting, it was more or less a chicken farm with a boat load of apple trees, blueberry and pumpkin patches dotted the countryside in those times.
Microwaves (thankfully) did not exist in our kitchen until I was 12 or so, we were taught patience if we needed hot water for Apple cinnamon oatmeal with raisins and goji berriesour breakfast oatmeal or hot cocoa after a “sick day” of sledding the hills in the front yard. My sister seemed to live contently (and still does, in fact!) on potato chips and yellow mustard sandwiches with a single slice of pressed American cheese product. I went through a phase when I wanted every meal to be stuffed bell peppers with rice and tomato, or cucumbers – loved me some fresh, crunchy cucumber (thanks to the pizza hut salad bars that my parents would order alongside our cheese pizza), but typically if there was and green to be found our dinner table, a few shreds of iceberg lettuce could be found somewhere on my sisters plate. As I recall, I had a robust preference for carrots and peanut butter from an early age; thanks to “Bring-your-snacks-into-class” Day in Kindergarten. While most kids parents sent extra crackers and spray cheese to share with classmates, I don’t remember who – I only remember scarfing down celery and carrots smothered in peanut butter like it would soon be out of style, some folks even preferred raisins on their celery sticks – I never had the taste buds that could handle that extreme onslaught of flavors.

Home food fare growing up was fairly typical, or so I like to think.

While I recall most of my neighborhood friends having a nightly rotation of Pizza Hut, KFC buckets, or McDonalds happy meals

(again, many thanks to my parents for not being wealthy enough to waste money on fast food daily) it would appear that the Corn bread, tofu scramble and tempeh steak - with french pressed coffee!elders of the Hamilton household knew days in advance what would grace our plates each evening. As much as I loved fresh apples, peaches, plums and berries fresh from the many farms that we would pick at each fall, I definitely had a desire to quench my thirst with hot dogs, burgers, greasy anything and sugar on everything.

I think my parents strongly believed in the “just get the kid to eat anything” theory of parenting.

When we would hike – which was every weekend after the age of 6 until I was 10, we had PB&J sandwiches, powdered Gatorade (the days of Orange or Lime Gatorade, that’s all that existed back in my day!) and real deal Power Bars. I did mention that my father was a bodybuilder – so yes, if we wanted a milkshake, it was typically a protein shake; if we wanted a snack mid-hike, it was a protein bar.

I always thought I was an active kid growing up, my sister and I would race our bikes through trails behind our parents’ house, rollerblade even when that wasn’t “cool” (ooh boy.. we sure did look pretty darn rad in the flashback photos with our knee pads and matching helmets cruising the block..) We both took swim lessons for years at the local YMCA because neither of us wanted to do team sports, we climbed trees and stayed busy as kids. We didn’t have video games for at least the first 10 years of my youth, so we heard “read a book” or “go play with the neighbors”. Admittedly my father was very good about playing catch or basketball when he got home late from work, my mother always in the kitchen or taking care of the house – this was just our routine!
My diet remained absolute garbage (my honesty shining through now) until I suddenly quit my job working over night at Price Chopper stocking shelves just out of high school. I would wake up at 8pm, have a decent dinner of rice, frozen veggies and typically chicken (I was still living with my father at the time, who eats on a very regimented, rotating diet – which I also prefer on my own terms), I would bring a deli meat sandwich for my midnight “lunch”, but the part that I recall the worst (or best, I suppose, since this part I wanted to mend the most!) though, was the four pack of Starbucks double shots. Most of us would take a burn cruise on our lunch break, come back slow as molasses and guzzle Red Bulls and Double Shots until our shift was complete at 8am, go home and try to sleep for the following evening. It was a death sentence in the making. So as I was saying – I left that job the second I was offered a change – my pal from college was working at this new burrito shack in town and they needed help.

Man, I freaking loved this job! It didn’t take long for them to notice I operated stronger in the morning with my pot of coffee after the prior night drinking. I started opening the shop and soon after, cooking all of the warm food – I was the Head of the Warm Department – okay, I definitely just made that title up on the fly, but I did the caterings, opened the restaurant daily, and genuinely took pride in cooking my meats, rice and beans (all the hot items were under my supervision basically). I got to know the regular customers and they appreciated what I did, I eventually hated it, but couldn’t say much except to my buddy Nick who was still eating chicken but had progressed to preferring our tofu. Nick was the Tofu-Master-In-Charge before I also took over that area and he moved primarily to the catering side of business. I would let the customers try a piece of tofu (which I seasoned to my taste) which was enjoyed by many meat eaters, some couldn’t get over the texture which I completely understand but I saw a lot of my friends switch to tofu on their salads and in their wraps over those 5 years.

Silken strawberry tofu custardI was never a ‘steak’ eater when I worked there because when it came out of the package, typically a half pound nugget of solid white fat would roll onto the grill too. The chicken had its own set of disgusting moments – not only did I regularly have screws and metal shards embedded in the raw chicken (I went to corporate over this issue), but the day that I had a six square inch piece of chicken skin (complete with all of the holes where the feathers had been torn out), and several chicken toes with claws – that was my final straw, I ate that tofu religiously from that day on! By then I had naturally eliminated quite a bit of the processed food from my diet, opting for a whole lot of fresh veggies and brown rice while at work, I still ate turkey (burgers), chicken breasts and loved a juicy burger after a day of hiking. This was around the time I was several years into my day drinking, thinking nothing of it, substituting coffee for a 10am coffee porter while at work (I was able to justify it in my head that I was not harming anyone so it was okay, after all, I loved to brew beer so I was just trying new styles – “research”, as I would tell myself. Plus I would get out of work at 3pm and go run 5 miles, so no one could tell me what to do – I felt “healthy”)

The following years were just steady, eating and drinking to survive

and trying to feel that I was making healthy choices with my cucumbers and tomato’s dipped into hummus. I had a small “pallet planter” at one of my smaller Upstate NY apartments (second floor with cats so I couldn’t grow inside, a small balcony garden was the only option that I could think of!). We had an orchard farm stand on the village green where I could get all the produce (corn, peas, broccoli, tomato, cukes, eggplant, raspberries, peaches, melon – aww man, I was in heaven!) that I could carry. It was within walking distance from the apartment, but I was still understanding that it was acceptable to commence my daily hard cider consumption at 7am. I wanted to be as healthy as possible despite mentally feeling like trash daily, I often ran to escape, I had actually by then given up the warm whiskey pre-run mind lubrication.

Man, I was letting that apartment killing me, literally. I took a job running a large warehouse, ate salads daily, cucumbers and tomatoes by the truckload, but a co-worker who had been flown in from the next location around the holidays recognized the mess I called my life and invited me to rent with him. I still hiked on the weekends, ran when I wasn’t hiking and tried to eat Jasmine rice with bell pepper and Wicked Picklesbetter still. I got to the point I didn’t like the tired feeling that pizza or burgers made me feel, I grew a preference for raw veggies, roasting cauliflower with hot sauce and create my own ‘hot wings’ because the texture was better than chicken. This new apartment was really the first time that I remember feeling free to do anything, eat anything I wanted – there was no one around to criticize me for putting a block of tofu on a sandwich, or why I opted away from the pepperoni pizza in the freezer.

In fact, I think I made quite a delightful roommate during that period of my life, ate all fruits and veggies, went to work, didn’t complain to anyone but my cat, and sat on the floor of my bedroom and would read for hours (standing was still dangerous, several times I tipped into the wall, even fell into the closet several times when I was prescribed “anti-anxiety” medication, pills were not going to make me stop drinking, at least they never did in the past! This was a concoction that almost kept me from getting back to my own apartment one night after taking the trash out. I fell down the stairs, could see my destination, but the combination prevented my leg muscles from pushing back up the stairs, after what seemed like 30 minutes I crawled to my door, super thankful no one else wanted to walk those halls at the same time.

Here in my story is about the time I started hiking with Ciara, Boone and Crockett.

I stopped taking all medications the day that I resigned from that warehouse job. I drank, but I had managed to take a few days off to show myself that I was still in control.
It wasn’t until Ciara and I left in her Honda with the pups to go adventure in new places that I officially did not eat meat. I felt incredible – I only had a hand full of stomach issues (which was down from daily before we left), I had energy coming from places that made me want to hike and run, I felt more positive than I could remember. It felt incredible riding across the Chickpea slaw with mango & sprouted Ezekiel wrapscountry, each of us enjoying the same carrots and peanut butter (which grew very old by the final days on the road!) We ate all of our meals together, went to fruit stands and got excited for the same fruits (watermelon never failed to lighten our spirits.. and probably never will, ever.) We cooked rice, beans, made wraps, ate a lot of tempeh and drank our share of kombucha (when we found some, that was our treat.)

When we returned after 3 or so months, I knew I was not going to welcome myself home to a burger or some fibrous chicken meat junk. I just didn’t want it.

I proved to myself during that trip that I did not need meat protein. That was the proof that I had always looked for, it was not found in a cookbook or text book, experimenting in my day to day for months with no meat. The last piece of the puzzle though, and the hardest – I couldn’t keep up alcohol and a friendship at the same time – never expected that I would have to choose. When I tried to hide it, I had the guilt written all over my face, every day, every time I opened my mouth, all that came out was the guilt of not being able to be honest.
I had to make the decision myself, much like quitting cigarettes, no one can tell you “that’s it, you’re done now”, because it just makes the person want it more, in an effort to say “screw you, don’t you tell me what I can and can’t have!”. Trust me, I know on both accounts.

I ran every morning, before I started working in New Hampshire, I ran daily to keep my mind busy. I ran to tire my mind of nagging, I worked out and did yoga daily. When I get alone, that’s when things happen, that’s when I slip a drink – when no one is watching. So I decided to watch myself, putting more pressure on becoming a stronger, better me. The best thing I Quinoa oat 'burger'ever did was tell myself I will refuse to allow myself to drink. I’d love to say I don’t want it, but I do. And it’s a damn good thing I have a strong will when I want to. In 5 days it will be a year – the strongest year of my life. It is life  I never felt I was worthy of.

Oh wait… this is a blog about becoming a plant-based athlete.

Welp… there’s all that, as a side note about me.

So… why do I prefer this plant-based diet?

I mean, I’ve watched the documentaries.. so yes: it is better for the environment, it is better on my conscious (ever see into the depths of the meat industry? That will change your mind real fast…), I am happier being plant based. One of my original deciding factors was that “fake-meat”, or “veggy burgers”, or TVP (textured vegetable protein) has remarkably similar flavors and textures as its meaty alternatives without all the bone and grit and grizzly fatty bits that come standard with real animal flesh! YAY!

Hands down the most important fact that I have witnessed firsthand that will keep me from ever, ever, ever desiring real meat on my plate came right from my experience: I still have muscle, I grow muscle just as easily as I did when I ate meat – the difference? I heal 50 times (okay I guessed at a number, but I can assure you it is high..) faster on a plant-based diet, that to me is the most important (I probably sound like a self-centered prick right now), I used to feel like I could not stand after hiking 10 miles of moderate peaks in New York. I can easily hike 20+ miles with a heavier pack and more overall elevation. While you may argue the point that I can hike further, easier simply because I run further. I would agree with this, but also the point that I run and hike further because I don’t get tired like I used to, my muscles rebound and rebuild so much faster. I ran 33.5 miles straight last October, I couldn’t have shed the extra pounds on a meat/dairy-based diet which allowed my knees to tolerate the pounding.

As I write this, my food is quite simple day to day while trying to be ridiculously, meticulously planned out as to not miss anything that my body may need. I try to give it only what it needs to perform as I ask it to, while still treating my taste buds Thanksgiving quinoa stuffed into acorn squashlike it is their birthday every day. I am still learning daily about new ingredients, and researching just what our fruits and veggies contain (absolutely blown away every time I read how much calcium broccoli contains!).

I’ll do another write up in the coming days about what I eat and drink, now that you know all about what I no longer eat and drink! What works for me pre-run and post-run, during a backpacking trip or for lunch. Something about this whole eating plant based really has put a big ol’ smile on my face – and I want to share that with you!! Feel free to drop a line with any questions or comments for me.

As always, keep eating your plants and stay awesome!!
Much love and happy trails!

Erik!