“But where do you get your protein?” – my least favorite question. Ever. It’s a little frustrating that many people trust the media for nutrition advice. The media has their own agenda. It’s been over two years since I’ve gone meatless.  I feel great, I’m still progressing in my sport, and I don’t miss it. However, I’m not going to try and preach vegetarianism at you. Let me give you a little backstory.

I started caring about nutrition and what I ate fairly young – middle school to be exact. I am the youngest of three active children and both my older siblings had an influence on my diet choices. At that time, I decided to give up red meat and pig. I tried to eat low-fat, whole-grain, and plenty of fruits and veggies. Chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, and dairy were my main sources of protein. I ate little refined sugars, but I do have a bit of a sweet tooth. Sometimes the smell of grilling steak would get to me, but I really didn’t have much of a problem giving it up. Fast forward 13 (ish) years and my husband decides he wanted to start working towards a more plant-based diet. He discovered the triathlete Brenden Brazier and his story of going vegan. At that point, I was like, “I’m not ready to give up my chocolate milk, but eh, let’s start vegetarian. No meat or fish.” This changed my focus to getting in more beans, legumes, and lentils, but I did some reading and realized it really isn’t that hard to get enough protein without meat. The realization that brought me to this conclusion is that we really don’t need as much as “they” say we do. The second realization came from reading and researching the protein we get from plants already (it’s more than “they” lead us to believe).

The key to making the switch is to take it slooow. I still eat eggs, and some dairy. I’m very slowly cutting down on dairy, but I’m no where close to cutting it out completely and I may never will. Your body does not like rapid diet and/or activity changes. And if you’re a real meat lover and try to go cold turkey, it’s bad for your psyche, too. Make it a lifestyle change, not a fad diet.

There is another factor to consider when looking at healthy diet for YOU – genetics. What did yo momma eat? Grandparents, great-grandparents? I believe it matters. This might even mean going totally meatless isn’t the best decision for you. If your ancestors survived on eating a lot of meat, your genes probably picked up on that. My family on both sides grew up kinda poor. Even my mother says she remembers when she was young eating just corn on the cob (that they grew) for dinner and that was the meal. Throughout my parents’ childhood, their families progressed economically and in the United States meat became less and less expensive as the farming industry boomed. But I think my genetics play a role in how well I do without meat.

I told you it’s not hard, but it’s not super easy either. You do have to try, and think about your meals, and make sure you’re getting good nutrition from what you eat. You can’t just eat pasta. Start with reading a book. The Thrive Diet by Brenden Brazier is a good one. The Plant-Based Power Diet by Leslie Beck is also a good one.

Whatever you do, my advice is to NOT believe everything the media tells you, read health and nutrition books, and just try things. See how you feel. Don’t get all “Type A” and try and get a 32-week diet plan that someone else made. The human body is so complicated and while there are groups, there aren’t identicals. So don’t get stuck on someone else’s diet plan. Learn objectively and apply subjectively.

Alright, so to answer the question (where do I get my protein), mostly from beans, legumes, lentils, peas, hemp, nuts, and seeds. I try to get variety, especially with beans, to get a good balance of the essential amino acids. I’m not vegan so I still have dairy and eggs. My body loves eggs. I use milk as a recovery food. I no longer use low-fat dairy unless I’m not eating it for nutritional benefit – like if I want to enjoy a latte or something. Although protein is not the bulk of what I eat, I’m certainly not on the “fat is fuel” train. Bring on the grains! I am not gluten sensitive individual, so sprouted whole wheat bread is on my grocery list (which, by the way has 5g of protein per slice). Brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, barely, corn, oats, I’m in love. Potatoes are a favorite, and of course I eat a lot of fruits and veggies. More than 60% of my daily calories come from carbohydrates.

Unfortunately, I have nutella and wine weaknesses. But I make sure I don’t consume these dangerous foods too often. And I’m a sucker for baked goods. Treats with refined sugar are terrible, but because sugar is a carbohydrate and I use a large amount of carbohydrates in training, I’m not as worried about “cheating” as much as you might think. For more on that, see Alcohol is another issue, and I rarely drink while I’m in a training cycle for a marathon.

My diet is pretty picky as I’ve become sensitive to what my body needs when. Timing is just as important as the food itself. How I train and recover depends heavily on how and when I eat. Another book to consider is Nutritional Timing by John Ivy. Sport specific nutrition books will give you better ideas concerning training needs. If you are an athlete, you are not the same! Sports Nutrtion for Endurance Athletes by Monique Ryan, The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition by Matt Fitzgerald, and Racing Weight also by Matt Fitzgerald are good resources.

I enjoy reading nutrition books and learning new things as we continue to find out more and more how the food we eat affects us. However, I don’t take much at face value – I have to take into account experience and feel. Nobody has it all figured out. I try to be open to change as my body adapts (or doesn’t!) and to being flat out wrong and learn from my mistakes.


Akron 8k and Provo 10k

Akron is where I’m from, so I was especially excited to be able to go “home” for this 2018 series (scored). The 8k was the first of three, followed by a half marathon in August and a full marathon in September.

Having six weeks off from racing, I was able to get some solid training in for this race and felt really prepared. Being an odd distance, I’d only ever raced it once before and it was on a tough cross-country course, so I figured a PR was “in the bag.” But really, I wanted to place well for the series scoring and match my pace from my fastest 5k – 5:55 per mile.

The weather was pretty terrible. An alert was sent out a few days earlier from the race director with an extreme heat advisory. Salt Lake had been pretty hot, even hotter than the weather in Akron and I had been training in the heat so I wasn’t worried, but the humidity would be another matter. I knew the competition would be tough, cranking out much faster times than I was currently ready for, but I planned on at least making her nervous and then nabbing second. Still, you never know who else is going to show up…

Legs felt great, shakeout run the day before felt good, I was confident in a new nutritional strategy I was testing out, and I was ready to feel the burn! I hung out with my dad (who was running the mile as his first race ever) before heading over to the starting area fueled and hydrated.

Eyeing the competition, I kept the nerves down and excitement up. We moved to the top of the starting line and were off. Immediately, I realized it was much harder to breathe than it should have been. I wasn’t starting off too fast, my legs felt like they could keep that pace, but I just couldn’t get any air in my lungs. After about 3/4 of a mile I slid into 5th female and kept my cool, thinking I had 4 miles to catch up to the pack of four leading ladies. However, after mile 2 I felt myself starting to slow dramatically. My legs still felt amazing, I couldn’t turn over fast enough to feel any sort of burn, it was just the air. The heat itself didn’t even bother me. I found myself alone, a few guys coming and going, but no female competitors around. The lead pack was now strung out as I got to see on an out and back, the one favored to win now in second. I pushed with what I could, but again I didn’t feel like I was running hard. It was frustrating. I stayed in 5th and finished well over my goal time, but at least shaved over a minute off my last 8k. After crossing the finish line I swear my legs screamed “Again, again!” My lungs though, were actually sore.

Going from 11% humidity to 85% made much more of a difference than I thought it would. You never really know and understand until you experience it (key in all of my training and racing). I love to travel and race, and weather/environment changes are just part of the game and out of your control. Looking over the top four females’ statistics, they faded in pace at the same rate I did. Take the humidity away, and I’m pretty sure I could have put up a good fight. The heat was a disadvantage for them, because it wasn’t normal, local weather. But I was fine with the heat and I had the elevation drop advantage (4200 ft. to 900 ft.).  I also feel confident that my goal time of 29:24 was legitimate – my legs were there. I didn’t run the tangents that well, and I ended up being a tenth over. My average heart rate was 126 and cadence 180. Those numbers should and would have been higher if I could breathe.

My nutrition was a “new” theory I was testing and I think it worked out well, but I’m waiting to check on a few more things before I delve into that bucket.

Final Stats

Time – 31:37

15th of 1781 overall

5th of 1023 females

3rd of 114 in age group

Four days later, I woke up in considerably drier air and got myself out the door for a forty-five minute drive to the start line. I didn’t feel amazing when I woke up, but I figured I’d get it worked out come the 7 a.m. gun time. I got a little turned around trying to park and had to run a mile and a half to the start line – that was my warm up. I felt as ready as I could be and knew that the competition would be tough. I recognized a few, but this race had prize money so that always brings in some others. I purposely did NOT use the nutritional theory from the 8k to continue to gather data.

I tried to stay relaxed, but my shoulders remained tense. I felt like I settled into a reasonable burn within the first few minutes to be able to endure for 6 miles, but it wasn’t good that I felt it so early. The course was relatively flat with a few inclines, but nothing major. The leading ladies began to pull further away as I tried to keep a steady effort. Just before the halfway point, we ran into the 5k walkers (they started at a different place). There were 2,400 of them, and it seemed like we had to weave through every last one. We got a half a mile break from an out and back, but then rejoined them, having to weave around for half the race in total. I was less than thrilled about that, knowing that it definitely slowed my time, possibly robbing me of a PR, but everyone had to do it.

Finishing the race with a headache and feeling sluggish, I headed back to the car thinking things through. From start to finish, I wouldn’t have raced any differently. I didn’t feel properly fueled, which is helpful for me to note. Next week I have a 5k that I will try what I did for the 8k and compare. And THEN maybe I’ll be able tell you more. Besides fueling, it felt like an off day for me. I may have been a little dehydrated, too.

At the end of the day, the results don’t lie. The effort was hard, and that’s what I needed. My time was slow, but part of why I race so often is that I like to test things out. That means having a lot of “less than ideal” racing outcomes.

Final Stats

Time – 38:40

39th of 741 overall

8th of 346 female

1st of 50 in age group



Split Pea Soup

One of my favorites, and not just because it’s probably the easiest, but it does take a little extra planning. You need to soak the split peas overnight.


  • 2 cups dry split peas
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • About 5 cups of liquid (I use water)


Soak the peas in water overnight. You will probably need about 1 inch of water on top. In the morning, the peas will have expanded. Drain any extra water and put them in a slow-cooker. Add 5 cups of water or broth along with the salt. Dice, chop, or puree the garlic and onion and toss them in as well. Set your cooker to low for 6 hours.

Peas are a complete protein so if you’re vegetarian, this is a good choice. It’s a great post-run meal to have before bed.


Hot German Potato Salad

I’m not sure why this is called a salad. It’s just potatoes with a dressing. But I love the tang!


1 cup water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 small onion

3 tablespoons parsley

4 medium red potatoes, sliced


  1. Combine all ingredients (except potatoes) in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Layer sliced potatoes in a baking dish (8×8 would do).
  3. Pour “sauce” over potatoes and bake in oven at 350 F for about an hour – until the potatoes are tender. The mixture you poured over them will thicken and become more sauce-like.

Sweet Potato Salad

This dish is simple, but flavorful. It’s a great one to take for a potluck and can be used as a side dish or a main meal.


5 medium sweet potatoes, diced

1 medium red onion

1/2 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup lime juice

1 cup fresh cilantro

2 cups cooked black beans

2 medium red bell peppers, diced


  1. Heat oven to 400 F. Spread out sweet potatoes and onion on a large baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven.
  2. Put olive oil, garlic, lime juice and cilantro into food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, dressing, black beans, and bell peppers. Serve warm.

Pumpkin Pie

What’s for breakfast? Pumpkin pie! Actually, second breakfast, post-run. This recipe is healthy and delicious, but not really a pre-workout sorta thing. I’m not going to sit here and list all the benefits of pumpkin, but besides that – think about it. You can have a good, whole-grain crust that may not taste as good as buttery, white flour dough, but still does the job. And the filling is super easy to cut out the crap and still taste like “real” pie. Add all these awesome ingredients, and you’ve got yourself a wholesome meal that tastes like desert.


1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup warm water

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl to form dough. You may have to warm the coconut oil first to make sure it mixes well. Transfer the dough ball to a 9-inch pie plate and press out evenly. The dough will not be sticky enough to roll out.


1 large egg

1 tablespoon buckwheat flour (okay, it doesn’t have to be buckwheat…it can be any kind, I just like to use something different because it’s such a little amount you can’t taste it anyway)

1/4 cup plain, whole-milk, greek yogurt

1/2 cup brown rice syrup (or whatever other sweetener you want, i.e. honey, maple syrup, agave, mix and match)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 16 oz. can of pure pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Whisk all this goodness together in a bowl and pour into pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes.

Take note, that if you don’t eat the whole pie after it’s been cooled, when you take it out of the fridge the next day, the crust will make it harder to cut (cold coconut oil). Also, another option I’ve done with this recipe is to make parfaits. Bake the crust by itself and crumble to pieces, dice up some green apples and bake on a cookie sheet, bake the filling by itself, and viola! Layer away. If you must use whip cream, make sure you whip it yourself. None of that canned crap.




Banana Bread

Banana bread doesn’t have to be on your “do not eat” list when you’re training hard for a race. If you make it with the right ingredients, it can actually be a runner’s superfood! Bananas, of course, have many health benefits, but some key nutrients are potassium, vitamin B6, managanese, magnesium, and yes, even a little vitamin C. Coconut oil is an immune booster, having antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid, and capryilc acid which have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Yogurt (cow’s milk) is a complete protein, with calcium and probiotics. Cinnamon works as an anti-inflammatory and is high in antioxidants. Below is a recipe that I use:


  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup whole milk greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup agave nector, honey, OR pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour (I use, 1 cup wheat flour, 1 cup coconut flour, and 1/4 cup sprouted rye flour, or some other random grain flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • If you want, you can add chocolate chips, cocoa nibs, sliced almonds, dried blueberries, etc. Use your own judgement on how much you want in there.


  1. Grease/spray baking dish(es) and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients except whatever additive you decide to use (if any).
  3. Make sure all ingredients are mixed thoroughly, then stir in additive.
  4. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Helpful tips

This recipe makes two loaves, but you can also use an 8×8 baking pan. If you do, try baking it at 325 degrees F for 35 minutes instead.

I use frozen bananas (thawed) because they are much easier to mush. But because they are cold, they tend to harden the coconut oil, making it impossible to mix. So what I do, is heat up the oil on low in a sauce pan with the bananas and get that mixture warm before stirring it into the rest of the batter.

The batter is kind of thick, so you’ll probably need to smooth out the top with a spatula before you put it in the oven.

This is a great post-run, second breakfast meal. It has the carbs to replenish your body and fuel to move on to the rest of your day. It’s calorie dense, but filled with very useful calories. You can also use it as an alternative to common baked goods, if you’re slowly trying to step away from the sweets. If you add chocolate chips, it definitely could pass as a dessert, and then all you have to feel guilty about is the chocolate. Ha! Enjoy.





Chocolate Covered Power Balls

These fueling bombs are my “go to” after a hard strength workout or in the middle of a busy workday. They are super easy to make and lunch tote friendly. I prefer using Vega Sport (in chocolate, duh) protein powder in them because of the beneficial nutrients (listed below), but you can use whatever protein powder you want. Or, you can add an extra ½ cup of each almond meal and flaxseed meal and forego the protein powder altogether – you do you. The nutrition numbers listed below, using my recipe, are for each ball:

Carbohydrates: 5 grams          Protein: 5.5 grams          Fat: 11 grams          Calories: 140(ish)

The good stuff:

½ cup almond meal – biotin, vitamin E, manganese

1 cup Vega Sport protein powder – turmeric, tart cherry, probiotics, glutamine

½ cup flaxseed meal – Omega-3s and fiber

½ cup shredded coconut – immunity booster

¼ teaspoon salt – don’t forget this

1 teaspoon vanilla – or almond or whatever

1 tablespoon honey – “liquid gold” (but that’s another topic) vitamin B6, niacin, thiamine

½ cup peanut butter – more protein, and magnesium and potassium

1/3 cup coconut oil – makes all your hopes and dreams come true! But also aids digestion and improves bone health

1 8 oz. box unsweetened baking chocolate (melted, to dip) – more than half of the saturated fat in cocoa butter is stearic acid, which aids in muscle repair and growth


Combine all ingredients (except chocolate) and roll into balls. Freeze for 15 minutes. Melt chocolate and dip frozen balls to cover. Put back in freezer for 15 more minutes, then store in the fridge.

Makes approximately 24 balls

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