I was staying at a hotel, so my usual travel plans of cooking most of my meals was not going to happen this time. I decided to bring a small single serve blender for smoothies and packed a few snacks for the flight. My first stop was at Whole Foods to get some fruit, plant-based protein, chia seeds, hemp granola, almond milk and a few other necessities. This would cover me for breakfast on most mornings. I was so excited to be back in town, that I completely forgot to take pictures of my delicious food this day. I had a late breakfast at Marigold Kitchen - Tofu Scramble with red peppers, scallions, black beans, and toasted corn tortilla strips. The nice girl that took my order was vegan and told me about a Vegan Fest that was going on that weekend. It's pretty cool to see that type of event happening in America's Dairyland. My dinner was from Lucille. I ordered the Mediterranean Wood-Fired Pizza (hold the cheese) with Basil and Arugula, Artichoke Hearts, Cherry Tomato, Kalamata Olives, Spinach, and Red Onions. It was really tasty with lots of flavor and the crust was cooked to perfection.
Saturday morning began with a peaceful run along Lake Mendota and out to Picnic Point. This is one of my favorite spots to run in the city. Some of this trail is also part of the IMWI run course, so it brings back a lot of great memories.
After a quick trip around the Farmer's Market, I enjoyed a bite to eat at Field Table. The Roasted Potatoes and Avocado Toast with rainbow radish and fried leaks hit the spot. Yum!
Dinner was at the Great Dane downtown. I found the High Point Harvest Bowl on the menu. It had brown rice, red quinoa, broccoli, sweet potato, roasted beets, spiced cashews, edamame, dried apricot, and sesame crusted tofu. I also tried the Orecchiette Pasta (hold the sausage and cheese). It had fresh cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and arugula. Both dishes were great!
Race day was finally here. It felt really weird not to be racing. I certainly had moments during the day when I wished I was out there too, but spectating was tons of fun. It seems like the whole city comes together to join in the fun.
Now that the race was over, I had a some extra time on my hands, so I set out to find as many Bucky on Parade statues as I could. This was a highlight of my trip! Such an awesome way to see the city. Each Bucky statue was so unique and they were placed in such great locations. It's hard to say which one was my favorite. I loved them all:)
I worked up an appetite searching for Bucky. I stopped in Ancora for a bite to eat with a friend. We split the Veggie Benedict (hold the cheese and sub tofu for the eggs), Watermelon Basic Salad (hold the cheese) and Granola Bowl (sub Oat Milk instead of yogurt). The cauliflower steaks were delicious and the watermelon was so fresh. They had 3 choices of non-dairy milk - Almond, Oat and Soy.
Dinner was Ian's Vegan Veggie Pizza to go because I wanted to find more Buckys. The pizza was filled with mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, onions and spinach with a Pesto Sauce. My Bucky search took me to Middleton, WI so I had to make a quick stop at Bloom for a treat. I had a ginger turmeric latte and a vegan cookie. They have a great selection of vegan cookies.
My last night in Madison was spent watching the sunset with friends at the Union. I couldn't ask for a better way to end a great trip.
Oh, I almost forgot...I was searching for the last two statues right until I had to go to the airport. I had to make the tough decision to sit in construction traffic to go find Bucky or miss my flight.....tempting. I had to settle for 84 Bucky's. So close....
I've always heard good things about San Miguel so I was excited to go for a quick visit at the beginning of July. This small town is located in central Mexico with a thriving art scene and is filled with charm. The cobblestone streets are lined with shops and restaurants. Going out to eat in San Miguel is very affordable and there are plenty of local markets with fresh produce. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many organic, plant-based options here too.
I flew direct from LAX to BJX and took a shuttle to San Miguel. I was excited when I finally arrived and since I was only here for a few days, I was on a mission to find some of the some best local cuisine. I checked out the newly renovated Garambullo Fonda Gourmet. I chose the grilled vegetable plate and herbal tea. The flavor and texture of the mushrooms were incredible.
The next stop was Via Orgánica to get some local produce. They are a non-profit organization focused on promoting healthy eating and sustainable living. They provide educational information on the benefits of eating local organic food and avoiding GMOs. You can click here to learn more about the work that they are doing.
Day 2 began with a refreshing swim. I'm currently training for a 1/2 marathon so I'm using swimming as cross-training. The house I was staying in was at about 6000 feet above see level and I could definitely feel it.
I couldn't leave without trying the flavorful tacos. Tofu, avocados and mushrooms galore. Yum!
On my last day in San Miguel I explored Mercado Sano. It is a healthy market that has several stalls offering a variety of organic food, cafes, cooking classes, and more.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised that not only was I able to eat very well while in San Miguel, but the food tasted good too! It is really great to see how many markets and restaurants serve organic, non-GMO, plant-based options.
Over the past 7 months I have been living through a kitchen remodel. If you’ve ever done any remodeling in your home, you can sympathize with me. YES! It was worth it..and YES! I would do it all over again, but living without functioning kitchen was quite a challenge. It’s fair to say that I normally cook the majority of my meals at home because 1) I love to cook and 2) I want to use fresh, healthy ingredients. Since I didn’t have a place to cook, I took the opportunity to explore local, plant-based restaurants and be inspired by the many delicious options that are available. I was able to eat 100% plant-based the entire time and surprisingly my weight stayed exactly the same from when I started the kitchen remodel to when it was finally finished. I assumed by eating out all the time I would see an increase in my weight, but by simply making healthy choices my weight remained the same and I had enough energy to train for my upcoming races.
Now that I'm finally settled, I have some time to reflect on the past few months. I thought it would be fun to share my favorite Orange County spots (in alphabetical order) that offer delicious plant-based options and give you my usual go-to items on the menu. Hopefully this will help you out if you are in similar situation or you just want to try some tasty food. When I go out to eat, I try to look for places that serve local, organic and non-GMO products as much as possible. I've lived in several states over the years and this is the first place that has soooo many options for me. What's even more amazing, some of these places are entirely plant-based. If you live here or are ever in the area, I highly recommend trying them out…you won’t be disappointed:)
Cafe Gratitude is a 100% organic plant-based gourmet restaurant that supports local farmers and sustainable agriculture. The Thriving / Chef's Seasonal Soup is always a great choice. I also get the Devoted / Soul Bowl because I love the way they prepare the tempeh.
Mother’s Market has been around as long as I have:) They have local and organic produce. The juice bar is outstanding and they even have a restaurant inside. My favorite menu item is the Chickpea Scramble. It’s loaded with fresh veggies and you can have it served with potatoes, brown rice or quinoa. Yum! When I wanted a little extra fuel for a long run I would get the Gluten- Free Pancakes. They are vegan and I would skip the syrup and opt for some extras such as walnuts, bananas and blueberries.
Seabirds Kitchen is a plant-based restaurant that uses seasonal produce and locally grown fruits and vegetables. They feature small plates, salads, entrées and desserts. As you can image everything on the menu is tasty. I usually order a few small plates because I like the variety and I can't seem to pick just one thing. The Purple Taquitos, Tomato Soup, and Burnt Brussels Sprouts usually make the list for me.
SEJUICED is an organic, nutrient-dense superfood juice bar. They serve cold pressed juices, smoothies, bowls and raw snacks. Sometimes I would go there twice a day and the staff always remembered my name for the loyalty points. By far my favorite pressed juice is the Blue Mojo. It has pineapple, chia seeds and Phycocyanin. The juice is served in a glass jar that you can donate back for charity. Or you can keep the jar and repurpose it at home. Right now I have a bunch in my cabinet filled with seeds and nuts. If I wanted a smoothie I usually got the Coco Cure and added Bee Pollen and Hemp Seeds. I can't forget to mention my favorite snack..Raw Superfood Brownie.
Taco Mesa serves healthy and authentic Mexican food. They even have Meatless Monday! They offer plenty of healthy vegetarian options and can easily make a dish vegan. I always order the King Tostada (hold the cheese) because it's served with GMO-free corn chips.
The Stand is a staple in Laguna Beach. This one has been around longer than me! The 100% plant based vegan menu has something for everyone. So for this one, I can't pick a favorite because the menu is so long I haven't tried everything YET! But, a few things to note..they serve most food on the menu all day long and it's just a short walk to the beach. I usually get my dinner to go and watch the sunset while I eat.
True Food Kitchen is a health conscious restaurant that uses seasonal ingredients. Their menu rotates often so the food is always fresh. They have so many offerings that are vegan and vegetarian and will always accommodate any special requests. The Seasonal Ingredient Salad is always a good choice. I also enjoy the T.L.T. (smoked tempeh, butter lettuce, tomato) and Shiitake Lettuce Cups. Fun Fact - Dr. Andrew Weil, helped establish True Food Kitchen based on the principles of the Anti-Inflammatory diet.
Vibe Organic Kitchen & Juice is 100% organic, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free and vegan. They have a little bit of everything here from breakfast to dinner. The Buddha Burger on greens is pretty awesome. The Sunrise Scramble is so filling for breakfast. This should come as no surprise, the Ironman (hold the oats) is my favorite smoothie. It has cold-brew coffee, cordyceps and sunwarrior protein. This place is great and definitely has a good vibe;)
Vitality is a great place to enjoy dinner. This was another place where the staff knew my order without me even saying a thing. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't go there twice in one day:) They offer vegan soups such as their Antioxidant. I usually got a large Mixed Green Salad and a side of Roasted Potatoes too.
Well, I think that is a pretty complete list of what got me through my kitchen remodel. I can't forget about the countless trips to Whole Foods for their awesome salad bar. Hope you enjoyed reading about my plant-based favs. Let me know if I missed any places in Orange County. I'm always up for trying new things! Oh and a picture of my kitchen with my cooking buddy. Now back to cooking at home most of the time and hitting up these places as a special treat!
A 50 mile run has been on my list for a while now, but I could never figure out a good time to fit it into my training schedule. I decided this was going to be the year. I set my sights on the Avalon 50 Miler on Catalina Island. I spent most of my longer training runs in El Moro which helped me prepare for the 6,732 feet of elevation gain and the 6,798 feet of descending!
I knew my body would be up for the challenge of exercising all day but running more than 32 miles at one time was new territory for me. I put in some solid hours of training and felt confident going into it. I also worked with my nutrition coach Isabelle at inprove.me to dial in my race day plan (yes, I'm a coach, but I also like to be coached as an athlete). I did a Metabolic Efficiency Test a few weeks before my event to help me dial in a nutrition plan and know what my calorie needs would be. The plan worked like a charm. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face!
Over the past few years, I’ve decided to spend the Thanksgiving holiday traveling overseas. I find it’s a quiet time and slower pace that really helps me recharge from a busy year. Last year was cycling in Mallorca, Spain. This year was a culinary trip in Provence. It’s been quite a long time since I was in France and I was really looking forward to it. The first stop was Paris. I was training for a 50 miler at the time so I took in all of the sights while getting in my miles. Running is such a fun way to see a city.
I was really pleased with the plant-based food choices. I found organic fruit and vegetable stands and so many options at on the menu.
The pièce de résistance was dinner at Arpège. I ordered the vegetable tasting menu and enjoyed countless dishes made with local produce.
The second half of the trip was a relaxing escape to the south of France. I found a wonderful cottage nestled in a quiet town. My host was a vegetarian and had a delicious dinner waiting upon arrival. She knew all of the best places to shop for organic food. It was so great to be able to cook with fresh local ingredients.
The trip concluded with a Truffle Hunt! There was a small group of us and we got to see the dogs in action. Taste testing some fresh truffles was truly a highlight of the trip.
It was a success. I managed to relax, train for my race and eat amazing fresh food the entire time I was in France! I even got to check out the famous Mont Ventoux (from the car). I opted for some more leisurely cycling on a perfectly paved path with a picnic lunch. Can't wait to go back again some day. So much more to see and eat!
I've never been to Hawaii, but always wanted to go. Now that I live on the west coast it's just a quick plane ride away. I completed Ironman Wisconsin a few weeks before this trip, so the plan was to get in a little R&R, cook meals with lots of local veggies and and check out some trails for hiking and mountain biking. This island didn't disappoint.
I did a little research before I arrived and found out about some really great farmer's markets. The town of Waimea has a farmer's market mid week and on the weekends, so I was able to stock up on plenty of colorful food.
The house I was staying at had a stunning view, so most mornings were spent doing yoga on the front lawn and enjoying a fresh smoothie. The sunsets were pretty hard to beat too.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was a 40 mile mountain bike ride on Mana Road. Big Island Bike Tours provided the bikes and a ride to the start. The terrain was challenging but the views were stunning. It was cold and rainy at the start with 30 mph winds, but after a few hours the sun came out and I actually finished the ride with a tailwind...that never happens:) The picture below shows a beautiful old Koa tree covered in moss. The next picture gives you an snapshot of Mana Road. Sometimes the hills went on forever.
I was there about a 2 weeks before the Ironman World Championships and I have to tell you it was so inspiring to watch all of the athletes training out there in the lava fields. A goal of mine is to toe the line there one day. I've been working towards that goal for a long time now, but this trip gave me some extra motivation. I even got inspired to sign up for the 70.3 in June! See you soon Hawaii!