Review: Vega One

Recently, my friends at Vega offered to send me a Vega One Pack to review in anticipation of the launch of the Vega One Change challenge . Vega One is a nutritional shake mix that’s perfect for runners on the go. Vega One is not only convenient, it’s plant-based, vegan, and completely dairy, gluten, and soy free. As an athlete who chooses to be dairy and soy free, I have a hard time finding a nutritional shake that meets my needs. Add in my distaste for all things peanut and chocolate, and I rule out most conventional shakes.

Enter Vega One. The Vega One nutritional shake meets my needs. It doesn’t have any dairy or dairy-derived product. It doesn’t have soy. It has 15 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and valuable omega fatty acids. With antioxidants and probiotics naturally occurring in the plants used to make the mix, it’s packed with healthy goodness. If that wasn’t enough, it comes in a vanilla flavor that actually tastes like vanilla. With no added sugar, the vanilla is vanilla-y without being sweet or overpowering.

I got my box of Vega One packets and made my first smoothie. I have to warn you – it didn’t look like much. Since Vega One is plant-based, the mix itself is slightly green. Don’t be alarmed. It mixes up with ingredients and disappears. My first effort with the mix was a simple one packet plus a glass of almond milk. It was surprisingly tasty. The vaguely brown color didn’t deter me since the taste was light and fresh. Vega One mixes up smoothly and doesn’t have a chalky feel. I liked it. The next day, I attempted a more challenging concoction – a Vega One fruit smoothie. I added one packet of the mix, almond milk, coconut water, and a bunch of frozen fruit I had on hand. The resulting smoothie was quite tasty. The vanilla mixed well with the fruit and created a milkshake like consistency. It was so good my husband stole it from me. He’s now taken custody of half of my box of mix. He loves it!

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Overall, I enjoyed Vega One and would recommend it to anyone looking for a vegan-friendly protein mix. Today, Vega launches their OneChallenge. This event challenges you to make one healthy change in your diet. Check it out here. As a runner, my biggest problem is snacking! I’m always hungry. For my one change, I’m substituting one late-night post run snack with a Vega One smoothie.

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Make your one change today! Join a great support group by linking up with Vega on social media and use hashtag #onechange

Fueled by Donuts

For those of you who know me in real life, it will come as no surprise that I’m blogging about donuts. I’ve struggled with a sensitive running stomach for years. I’ve visited the “facilities” in woods and behind trees across three states. No matter how much time I leave between eating and running, some things just make me sick. I generally run completely fasted first thing in the morning. If I plan an afternoon run, I have to be super careful about what I eat before running. This sensitivity has posed a problem because sometimes I just need to eat. I can’t always run fasted and I can’t always eat one of the very few things I know are safe (a certain type of granola bar, strawberries, applesauce – see, limited). So, over the past year or so I set out to test my stomach and find new foods and strategies so that I could actually eat and run.

There were a lot of disasters. I learned that I pretty much have to have about three hours after eating before running and there are some foods that are never safe (dairy), or only safe after a 24-hour waiting period (eggs – discovered in a very unfortunate testing effort). But, there are some odd exceptions. The most important exception is donuts.

Somewhere along the line, I thought that a donut hole might be a safe food and, worst case, wouldn’t be that much food sloshing around in my stomach. I ate my little donut hole and ran. I was totally fine. I tried two donut holes. Success. It was time to move on to a real donut. I ate a tasty Krispy Kreme in the middle of a race. That’s right – a whole donut, mid-race. I felt great! From then on, when in doubt, I’m fueled by donuts. I can eat donuts while running, before running, pretty much any time. Filled donuts are not as great at the regular old glazed donuts. I know it isn’t very cool, or even very healthy, but when I need fast fuel on the run, donuts are my pick.

Fueled by donuts

The Best (Races) of 2013

It’s been a while since I last blogged. What better way to get back into the swing of things than with a recap. Yay! It’s the last day of 2013 and that has me looking back on the past year. I’ve decided to capture the year with my top racing events of 2013.

Number 5: Ragnar Cape Cod

I love relay races and overnight relays are the best of those. Running my first Ragnar with a great group of people was the perfect start to what I’m sure will be a long relationship with Ragnar. We’re meant for each other. I loved the scenery of Cape Cod and the companionship of my team. And I also really loved the best ham and cheese croissant ever from a French bakery in Duxbury.

Done with Ragnar Best food ever

Number 4: Frankenfooter Half Marathon

This October, my mom completed her first ever half marathon. I couldn’t be more proud of her and her amazing accomplishment. She picked a great race, trained for weeks, and finished her first half. She even pushed through calf cramps to a strong finish – and I was right beside her every step. It was a wonderful experience to share.

Frankenfooter half marathon

Number 3: Disney Marathon

Early in 2013, I completed the Disney Marathon. It was a struggle. I had dislocated my fibula during training and came into the race undertrained and in pain. I knew that finishing would be a challenge, but I was determined. I had great friends to run with, the support of my family, and beautiful running weather in the Happiest Place on Earth. I had to walk, and went much more slowly than I had hoped, but I finished. Given my state of injury, I was delighted. The 2013 Disney Marathon showed me just how mentally strong I could be.

Disney Marathon Mile 20

Number 2: Rock N Roll Providence

I love the Rock N Roll Providence course and I’m sorry that they won’t be holding this race in 2014. It was my PR race in 2012 and I loved the course so much I made it a goal race for 2013. I planned my training schedule around the race and had a great training season. I felt strong and fit going into the race and all that work paid off. I crushed my goal time and got a 10-minute PR over the previous year. I even ran a few miles at my pre-surgery pace. I felt amazing and it confirmed that I’m on my way back to my pre-surgery fitness.

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…and…

Number 1: Gasparilla Distance Classic

This February, mom and I participated in the Gasparilla Distance Classic. I signed up for the Ultimate Challenge – a crazy lady combination of a 15k, 5k, half marathon, and 5 mile race across two days. Mom signed up for a challenge that included the 15k and 5 miler. The 15k was mom’s first real long distance race. I stuck with her and together we beat her goal time. She ran with me across the finish line. I turned around right away and took a picture of my mom, arms in the air, triumphant. It’s still one of my favorite race pictures of all time. It captures that moment that we all run for – the pure joy of doing what you didn’t know you could do.

Gasparilla half finish

2013 was a great year. And, today, as I set my goals for 2014, I can’t help but think that the best running is yet to come.

Product Review (and Giveaway!): Tasty Bite Foods

I love to run and I love food, so I was happy to have the opportunity to review a selection of Tasty Bite packaged foods. The nice people at Tasty Bite sent me a selection that included channa masala, pad thai, lemongrass ginger noodles, and a selection of rices.

Read on for your chance to win a great prize pack from the folks at Tasty Bite.

I tried the channa masala first. Channa masala is an Indian dish of slow roasted chick peas with spices. I tore the corner off the bag, popped it in the microwave, and microwaved it for one minute. In just a minute, I had a tasty meal.

Channa masala

The channa masala was delicious and honestly as good as what I can get from the Indian place near my work. The dish was vegan, gluten free, and Kosher, perfect for runners with dietary needs. It was also crazy easy to make. Just one minute in the microwave in the package it came in. It doesn’t get easier.

My husband loves pad thai and was eager to try a pad thai he could not only eat out of the bag, but could prepare in one minute. He claimed the pad thai packet and made it himself. It didn’t look like much…

Pad Thai

but it was very tasty. The spiciness level was just right for me – it had a hint of spice, but wasn’t overwhelming. My husband loved the pad thai so much he bought an entire case immediately and took it to work for meals on the go.

Next, we tried thai lime rice. It, too, was ready in a minute in the microwave and was fluffy, evenly cooked, and delicious. I honestly have no idea why I would make rice any other way. The rice was prefect. I couldn’t believe it came from a little packet.

Overall, I loved everything I tried from Tasty Bite. With dozens of choices that are vegan, gluten free, and Kosher, there’s something for everyone. Tasty Bite packets use no preservatives and stay fresh for 18 months in the packet without cooking or refrigeration. Tasty Bite packets are easy to make – most need just one minute in the microwave and come in microwave-safe packets – and a great choice for busy athletes. The packets don’t need refrigeration and are easy to transport. With prices ranging between $2 and $4 per packet, the meals are also a great bargain. I admit, I would love to be able to eat whole foods I prepare at home for every meal, but that isn’t always possible with my busy life. Tasty Bite is a great solution!

Tasty Bite is also a company whose mission and vision I can support. The company began in 1985 with a commitment to community and sustainability. Here’s a little description from their website:

As part of our commitment to our employees, we provide amongst the best health insurance available in both the US and India.  We have a scholarship fund for the education of the children of our factory workers.  Tasty Bite has a disaster relief program, where food is moved to provide relief in the case of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the Asian Tsunami and the earthquake in Haiti.  Tasty Bite also has unique programs in energy and agriculture.  Today, 80% of the energy used in the Tasty Bite factory comes from renewable sources such as sugarcane byproducts and food and crop waste.  Also, the Tasty Bite farm is used as a demonstration farm to educate community farmers on high yielding, sustainable agricultural methods.  As we work toward delivering great-tasting flavors of the world to you, we strive to make a difference in our own community as well.

I love it! I company with a conscience that makes great tasting food that’s easy to make. I’m sold. And you will be, too. If you would like to try Tasty Bite for yourself, enter below to win a free prize pack. The entry is open to US residents only, sorry international folks.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also enter the giveaway through the handy Facebook tab on the DrRachelRuns Facebook page.

Note: I was not compensated for this review. I was provided with free products to review and entered into an agreement in which my review could be independent. The opinions expressed in this review and my own.

Friday Favorite: Sweet Potato Chips

Loyal readers will know that I love Mexican food of all kinds. A while back, I was looking for an alternative to traditional tortilla chips. I tried all kinds of different chips and a number of different brands. When I took my first taste of Food Should Taste Good sweet potato chips, I knew I had found my new favorite chip.

 

The sweet potato chips are just one variety in their line of interesting chips, including kettle cooked sweet potato chips. I’ve tried several varieties, including the blue corn (yum!), lime, and multigrain, but the sweet potato chips are the best. I love these chips. The chips are all natural, light, crisp, and delicious. They have the slightly nutty flavor of sweet potatoes, but with just a hint of cane sugar and salt. Delicious!

The chips are sturdy, a great size for dipping, and delicious with nearly any topping. I love them with Mexican food and by themselves as a cracker. I love chips, and the Food Should Taste Good sweet potato chips have just enough nutritional value to make me feel completely justified eating chips every day. All Food Should Taste Good chip varieties are gluten free, cholesterol free, have zero grams trans fats, and are certified Kosher.  Plus, all varieties are enrolled in the non-GMO project and many varieties are certified vegan. What’s not to love?!

Looking for the perfect healthy black bean soup to eat with your chips? Try my favorite crock pot recipe (hint – no soaking the beans). Check it out on Fitness-Love.

Back on the Wagon – Day 1

All of your suggestions were just the motivation/kick in the pants I needed to get back on track. And, as one friend pointed out, I do have this very public forum to which I can hold myself accountable. I’m sure the shame of having to report on my junk food consumption or speed work slacking in a public way would be highly motivating.

So, I’m back on the wagon. It’s a taper week (bad timing to want to get back on the wagon, I know), so I went to the gym instead of running last night. Ah, the gym. I am not a huge fan of my gym. The best thing about it is that it’s cheap and has a decent selection of cardio equipment. The downside is that it’s cheap and has a decent selection of cardio equipment, so it tends to be the place that not-too-serious exercisers flock. I decided to do one of my usual workouts – 10 minutes on each of the five cardio options available to me (elliptical, treadmill, recumbent bike, spin bike, and regular bike). As I looked around at the people texting while walking on the treadmill at what could only be described as a leisurely pace, the scrawny guy sitting on the leg press watching TV, and the college girls laying on the ground pretending to be stretching, I had a realization. I’m not really off the wagon. I’m not really slacking on my workout regime. My running mileage has been high, I’ve been practicing yoga, I’ve been doing my strength training. Yes, sticking to my training plan and doing my speed work is important, but I have been running and working out. That’s pretty good.

Feeling a little bit better about my fitness, I decided on Subway for dinner. I got a nice, healthy sub, and some pickles. Yum. I had some of my most favorite, totally healthy, sweet potato chips from Food Should Taste Good. All of you must try these chips. They’re delicious, healthy, taste good alone or with dips, and are made of sweet potatoes.

A totally healthy day. Yay!

Friday Favorite: Chipotle Guacamole

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, one of the best holidays for me and my fellow Mexican food lovers, today’s Friday Favorite is a food – Chipotle’s guacamole. I know it’s only el cuatro de Mayo, but I’m celebrating early. I love Mexican food and I LOVE Chipotle’s guacamole. I think they make the best guacamole. Ever. I suppose I could tell you about how guacamole has healthy fats and minerals and all sorts of good for you stuff, but I don’t really care about any of that. It’s delicious. Yum.

Photo courtesy Chipotle

Want to make it yourself at home? Try one of these great recipes (which really do taste just about like the real thing).

YumSugar (note: has an instructional video)

Or, this version:

Chipotle’s Signature Guacamole Recipe

2 large ripe Hass avocado, peeled and pitted
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and chopped (I have heard serrano is better, but I suppose it’s personal preference)
1/2 tsp. salt (Chipotle uses Kosher)

Enjoy!