Eating Vegan in San Fran!

During our one-week trip to California, we only spent two beautiful, glorious days in the big city of San Francisco. San Fran has always been known for its activism, openness, and emphasis on love and equality, coupled with its stunning natural beauty and penchant for the unique. From block-to-block, there’s no city in the world quite like it.

We knew we’d be spending a few short days in the city, so Terry had been amping me up about the gourmet vegan food world captivated within many of San Fran’s distinctive districts. We walked around the gorgeously forested Golden Gate Park, dotted with wild buffalo, museums, ice cream stands and winding storybook creeks and rivers.

Our first food stop was La Méditeranée in the Fillmore District, a family-owned Mediterranean restaurant that served up old-school Turkish coffee, homemade Baklava, and a full vegan menu. Open since the 70’s, the place was small, quaint and warm, with a flurry of friendly waitresses guiding us through the menu and to our table.

The waitress steered me toward the veganized Mediterrean plate, a standard hodgepodge of plant-based mid-east dishes. It featured grape-leaf Dolmas, baba gounesh, hummus, olives, mixed greens, and homemade falafel. The food was just as incredible as the atmosphere and service – straight-up perfect.

The next day we drove around the bright, rainbow-adorned Castro Dstrict and stepped through an alley of wall art, one of my favorite things to discover in a new city. Gigantic faces boldly declaring equality, unity, peace and love decorated every wall as we wound our way down the street and stepped out into the Mission District.

My friend was ecstatic to take us to Gracias Madre, an artsy tavern serving up organic, locally-sourced vegan Mexican dishes (say whaaaaat!). I was stoked to discover that they served a HORCHATA LATTE, two of my favorite things combined in one.

I was so in love with my mole enchiladas stuffed with potato and zucchini, black beans and kale that I could barely contain myself in public. My boyfriend also got cashew cheese nachos, which we’re definitely made and fried in-house. It’s been a few days and I am still super obsessed with this place!

I also grabbed some vegan ginger snap cookies from Hot Cookies, a quaint little cookie shop in the Castro District. We stopped there after a few drinks and a lot of dancing, and sadly, I forgot to take a picture.

I ate a quick, healthy breakfast at the hotel. After adventuring around the city, we drove through the Pacheco Pass, a long and windy northern California road that cuts through the region’s abundant farmlands. We stopped at a fruit stand to grab avocados, oranges, pickled garlic, eggplant and asparagus to grill at T’s mom’s house in Merced, our final destination. The prices were rock-bottom, and the fresh fruit was top-notch.

We spent the night in the quaint town of Merced, and woke up to an impressive spread of fresh fruit and locally baked bread laid out by T’s mom. I filled up on freshness and grabbed some snacks for the road back to Santa Cruz.

The last meal of our adventure was on the plane to Hawaii, after a long day of traveling. We took a bus from Santa Cruz to San Jose, then the BART to San Fran, an air train to SFO Airport, sprinted to our gate to catch a flight to LAX, then sprinted from our arrival in LAX to our plane departing to Honolulu.

It broke all my traveling rules – we didn’t stock up on enough snacks, we didn’t eat before getting on the plane, we didn’t drink enough water. We were starving, grumpy and lethargic on the plane, and decided to cave in and purchase food. I was stoked to find an all-vegan, non-GMO Tapas box from Delta. It was packed with gluten-free seeded crackers, quinoa and red pepper dip, hummus, almonds, organic dark chocolate, a lemon fig bar, and more. It was surprisingly cheap, filling and satisfying, and I was happy to vote with my dollars to keep the option around.

All in all, it was a busy and fulfilling trip that totally re-stoked my love for vegan food and rekindled my dedication to living a life of kindness. Thanks much, San Fran!

Training While Injured


It’s been almost two weeks of non-soccer/non-running existence and let me tell you – the injured life is not a fun one. With lots of life changes like moving apartments & possible career shifts, it’s been a major struggle not being able to run through it all. Running is my mediation, my quiet, precious ‘me’ time, and I’m going a little bit crazy without it.

In a nutshell – resting ain’t easy.


To keep myself in shape for a busy marathon season, I’ve been supplementing as best as I can with bike riding, swimming, and lifting at the gym. The only good news is that I’m able to lift a lot heavier than usual because I’m not running. So, I’ve gotten to play around with compound movements like squats and snatches to keep myself strong.

I’ve also been stuck with the very boring task of ankle PT. I can’t explain why I hate it so much, but I totally do. I hate every second of it. I know it helps, but it’s so boring it’s like watching paint dry, except you have to be an active participant. Ugh.


Anyways, I just go cleared to ‘lightly jog’ for a few minutes and come back next week to get the final go ahead. I’m still benched from soccer, which starts this weekend, and banned from my Old Pali Road race this Sunday. So, for the next week, I’ll still be grumpy and difficult but hopefully will get my happy time back soon. 🙂

Happy Healing!

Nicole

Coconut Chase 8K & Injured Struggles


I had an awesome time at the Coconut Chase 8K last weekend, where I breezed through two easy, beautiful loops along Sand Island’s beautiful coast. Locals tend to think of Sand Island as the greasy, industrial peninsula that is is, for the most part. Unbeknownst to me, there’s a picturesque recreation area that runs along the southern tip that’s a runner’s idyllic dream.


I felt very on pace that day and watched the revived few miles fly by. Since the race was so short, I never had the deep sense of panic that surfaces during the early miles of half and full marathons. This was my first 8K and I felt strong, sexy and fast.

After I got my results, I was ecstatic to learn I placed 11th in my age/gender group and hit between an 8:30-8:57 mile pace the whole time. For me, that’s huge. I’m a naturally slower paced runner, clocking in 9:30-10 minute miles with pride and effort. So, I’m definitely doing my happy dance over this one 🙂


However, said happy dance is difficult given the injury that occurred very shortly after crossing the finish line. In typical all-or-nothing fashion, I went to play soccer and totally rolled my ankle. So much that I missed work and found it warm, buzzing, and swollen since that fateful wrong step.

I’ve spent the last few days going crazy not being able to run. I have another short but sweet 4.4-miler on Old Pali Road coming up on September 10th, followed quickly by my favorite race on the island – the XTerra Gunstock Ranch Trail Half Marathon in October. SO, I have a lot of healing and training to figure out in the very limited meantime.

My plan is to replace my runs with swimming and stationary bike workouts, coupled with physical therapy and weight lifting. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have more happy finish line moments in the next few months!

Happy Healing,
Nicole

Finding My Path & Purpose

 

Life has been a blur these days. If you haven’t noticed, my posts have been few and far between, yet so much life has happened between the cracks. I’ve quit my dream job as a Development Coordinator at a non-profit, and started my own business with my boyfriend. I went to Germany with my family, embarked on my first faith-based mission trip to Nepal, and have gone vegan. I’ve changed up my life, and every step has been for the better.

Going to Nepal absolutely deserves its own post – if not several – but I will say this: it was incredibly humbling and healing. My faith and relationship with God have deepened and strengthened, and I felt my head clear and my heart open to the path and purpose God intends for me. Part of that includes having confidence in my business endeavors and the abilities I’ve been gifted, and cultivated in the professional sphere.


Another part of my deepened faith is a recommitment to veganism. In working to make a positive impact in Nepal, I had a difficult time coming back to normal life in Hawaii and working for myself. I wanted to keep working for good and for God, and reducing the harm I contribute to is one way to do so.


My goal in this life is to do as much good and as little harm as a I can, to people, the planet, and other creatures alike. That includes treating others with kindness and patience, and understating where their hurt comes from. This love for other people – even strangers, far away, and very different from myself – is what’s continued to drive me to recommit to a plant-based diet. For the animals, yes, but also for the people living in communities polluted by animal agriculture, those working under harsh conditions in factory farms, etc. We all spend our time and thoughts searching for our purpose. While mine isn’t completely crystal clear, I know I’m meant to do good in any way I can. Right now, and through the rest of my days.

To more posts and positivity,

Nicole ❤

The Small Kine Vegan


As you all probably know, I’ve been a vegetarian on & off for over five years now. I love it, I dig it, I do it, and have totally found my groove and established the habits to keep it that way. However, being a vegetarian – and not a vegan – has it’s benefits. Mostly that I can eat cheese, which means that friends can make mac n cheese when I come over, I can share pizza with my boyfriend, and have a breadth of options when I eat out.

But here’s the thing – morally, I don’t think my convenience to myself and others is worth the suffering of other beings. I don’t think it’s fair that animals have to suffer and die so I can eat a slice of pizza or order an omelet at brunch. Plus, there’s the health issues I have always had digesting dairy. I’ve gone vegan a couple dozen times in the past five years, for these exact reasons. And given all the major life changes I’ve made lately to boldy craft the life I want – quitting my job, starting a business, and completely changing up my life – this is the last piece of the old me i’d like to kick to the curb.

I decided to do a 30 day vegan challenge, just to ease myself into this new lifestyle and make it fun and exciting. I’m proud to fall asleep each night feeling light, healthy, and cruelty-free. I’m on a culinary adventure to try new things and swaps, and have found everything hauntingly simple and easy. Since I’ve done it before, it’s territory I know well.

So far, I’m incredibly healthy and happy – as if I’ve taken a large moral weight off my shoulders, because, well, I have. I feel that I’m living truly, honestly, and according to my values, embodying more of the person I’m truly meant to be.

Here’s a typical day for me (with a work shift in between, to keep it reals) of well-rounded, plant-based, super-yummy delicious vegan meals. I’m going small kine vegan, one day at a time 🙂

Belated Cinco de Mayo Vegan Enchiladas!


Guys, I totally failed on making and posting this recipe for Cinco de Mayo. In fact, I haven’t exactly done a great job of posting regularly, either. What can I say? Life’s hard. Life’s busy. And for me, life has been a whole onslaught of major life changes, big risks and bold gambles. My poor little blog has simply got lost in the shuffle.

Moving on, I whipped up these gorgeous enchiladas in a belated celebration of the blessed, tequila-and-food-infused holiday that is Cinco de Mayo.  These babies are a healthier, non-fried and dairy-free recipe jam-packed with potatoes, black beans, bell peppers, onions, soyrizo, jalepenos and green chiles. The green sauce is complemented by Daiya jalepeno-havarti cheese and lots of lime, time and love. They’re also quite easy to make, although I can’t promise much on the mess factor.


Here’s what you’ll need:

12 corn tortillas

5 russet potatoes

2 4oz can diced green chilies (don’t drain them – we gon’ use that juice!)

1 large bell pepper

1 large onion

1 can black beans

Soyrizo (found at most grocery & health food stores)

Diaya vegan jalapeno & Havarti cheese block

Coconut oil

1 lime

1 28oz can green Chile enchilada sauce

1 jalapeño, seeds removed

Chili powder, salt, pepper, & garlic to taste

Directions:

First, rough chop the bell pepper, onion, & potatoes. I boiled my potatoes for about 20minutes so they’d cook well with the rest of the filling.


Next, fire up a pan with some coconut oil and start with the onions. Cook until they almost carmelize, throw in a little more oil, and toss in the bell peppers and potatoes. If you like, add some beer! (I always do)


As the veggies cook, add in the can of black beans and the green chiles – they chile juice will help flavor the filling. Also add salt, chile powder, pepper, & garlic to taste and judge by the aroma.


Next, add in the can of black beans, potatoes, and a quarter cup of Soyrizo and mix thoroughly; keep adding more (if need) to taste. Keep cooking until the filling looks fully cooked and limp.

Next, stack your corn tortillas on a plate with a damp paper towel in between each tortilla, and toss them in the microwave for 30 seconds or until they’re limp and malleable. The paper towels help ‘steam’ the toritllas so they are easy to roll.


Next, dump your giant can of enchilada sauce into an even bigger bowl. Set up your ‘station’ with the tortillas first, sauce second, and filling last. Also line a baking sheet with foil & oil and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To move through your station, take each tortilla and do as follows:

  1. submerge tortilla completely in the giant bowl of enchilada sauce and let sit for a few seconds.
  2. Retreive tortilla and place on foil-lined baking sheet
  3. Add filling and roll up!

Do this for all tortillas, and then cover the entire baking sheet with the remaining sauce, ensuring you don’t get too crazy and spill.


Take your Daiya cheese block and grate the cheese ALL over the place.

Cook for 20 minutes and enjoy!

Honolulu Marathon 2016!

This past Sunday I woke up bright & early to take on the Honolulu Marathon. The start line was a quick ten minute drive from my apartment, I didn’t have to hop on a plane, and I know the course all too well. The Chinatown – Waikiki – Kapiolani Park – Kahala Loop is the favored long run course for anyone and everyone on the island training for any and every marathon. I know the hills, the heat, the downhills and ebb and flow of the concrete jungle the course winds through. However, I still didn’t exactly feel ready – or all that enthused – the night before.


I trained hard and heavy for the first three months in preparation for my Marine Corps Marathon I did in October. Since then, I’ve barely even hit the pavement aside from a ten mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and a few easy paced five and seven milers here and there. And because I didn’t really care, and figured I’d struggle anyways, I decided that going wine tasting with some friends in Kailua and then downing a few beers at my boyfriend’s office Christmas party was a great idea, because f*ck it – why not?!


Well, surprisingly, it all worked out fine. The race was totally ok, albeit a bit painful. I’ve been extremely lucky in that my other marathons just flew by in a blur. Miles blended together and I felt like I flew through them in batches of five relatively unscathed.


This marathon was different. For the first time, I felt each and every mile. I felt like I actually did run a full 26.2, exactly, to the step and second. For the most part, I hated it. I never bonked or hit a wall, but I never soared through a single stretch of the race either. It was slow, grueling, and packed with people. It was hot and muggy without even a semblance of a breeze. I spent the majority of the race bobbing and weaving through a thick crowd since the Honolulu Marathon apparently doesn’t believe in corrals. I spent quite a bit of it biting my tounge as well, and keeping my temper in check as I was cut off, stepped on, and physically pushed by cute little old ladies and their sharp, bony elbows.


Regardless of all of these facts, I had a fantastic time. I realize it makes no sense, but blame it on the runner’s high – no matter how miserable the race, we always want more. It’s the feeling at the end of the marathon that runners remember most vividly, even though it’s a teeny fraction of the time we spent suffering to get there.

The Honolulu Marathon will never be my favorite race, and I really wouldn’t recommend it. However, it’s in my city and on my turf and it’s impossible not to do it each year I’m still on the island. So, most likely, I’ll do it next  year with the same lackluster attitude and general ambivalence and inability to simply stay away.


Plus, the medals are pretty cool 🙂

Happy racing!

Nikki

Bob’s Red Mill Review Giveaway!


Aloha all! Apologies for my absence lately – life has been crazy-full of adventures, injuries, soccer games and marathon training. Between training and work, it’s hard for me to carve out time for my blog, which is a bummer because I absolutely adore writing and seriously miss meeting and engaging with badass women bloggers around the world.

I officially promise to make this blogging stuff more of a regular thing 🙂

Anyways, I just got done doing a super fun Instagram challenge for Bob’s Red Mill with my #sweatpink sisters! I’ve been using BRM products for ages, from their flaxseed meal to almond flour to gluten-free baking products. When they came out with a plant-based, chia-seed-and-probiotic-infused protein powder, I kinda nearly lost my damn mind. So much radness, right?!
Oh, and they also sent it in a gigantic, loud red box that was lovingly waiting at my doorstep after work one day. It was so big, in fact, that my roommate silently came over from the couch for moral support as I cautiously opened this beauty and surveyed its glorious contents.


Let me just say – Bob’s Red Mill, you the real MVP. Y’all hooked it UP. I got four full-size flavors – Chocolate, Protein & Fiber, Vanilla, and, my very favorite, Chai – along with some recipes, sample/travel packs, and a super cute shaker bottle.


THANKS Y’ALL!

While I liked all the flavors, my one true love was the chai. I blended it with coconut milk, bananas and dates for a milk-shake-like smoothie of vegan goodness. Aside from taste, the nutrient content on these totally make the geek in me freak the f out. A vegan powder that has amino acids, probiotics, and chia seeds? Yes, please. Gluten free and sweetened with monk fruit, these babies are some freaking gems in the very rough world of plant-based powders.
I’m so excited, in fact, that I’m gonna host a giveaway for the Protein & Fiber flavor! Check out the link below and follow instructions to enter – the winner will be announced next Monday 🙂

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7402e5bb5/?

Love, happiness, and plant-based protein,

Nikki ❤

Stay Fit While Sick

A few weeks ago, a brutal cold knocked me OUT. I mean sleep-for-three-days, don’t-leave-my-house and drink-nothing-but-green-tea sick. I was forced to rest because I didn’t have much of a choice, but the second I got better I went right back to working out. What can I say? Old habits die hard.
The first day I felt a little better I played a soccer game, woke up the next morning for a morning swim and played another game that night. Except I couldn’t play much, because my body completely gave up. My legs locked, my lungs ached and I couldn’t breathe. It was bad enough to that I finally gave in and went to the doctor.

I found out I had bronchitis, because I hadn’t rested properly and let my sinuses and lungs heal from the congestion. Now, I had to pay the price of taking a full week off. Which for me sounded like torture.

I was training hard for a half marathon before I got sick, and had built up strength, stamina & endurance I did not want to use. Even though I couldn’t work out per say, I used my free time to focus on these activities to stay as fit as possible while I was sick.


1. Stretch 

If you’re a runner, you know the plight of stiff muscles – such a buzzkill. To keep my legs and core strong & loose, I did a few gentle yoga routines every morning and stretched liberally before I slept each night.

I found this to be really good for my sanity, too. I woke up peacefully and drifted off to sleep with ease. This is one practice I’ll keep in my daily routine even after I’m back to 100%.


2. Walk

People tend to underestimate the power of walking, but our grandparents had it right. Walking is good exercise and a great way to keep legs strong & loose. It also provides some mental clarity and a spiritual boost, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Walking is also really easy to fit into your routine. I walked during my lunch break, to the store, on the beach, with my boyfriend’s dog…you name it.

3. Eat well

This one is super import if you’re sick, injured, of healing. I filled my meals with nutrient-rich fruits, nuts, veggies, seeds and herbs that offered a breadth of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins to boost healing. I cooked all my dishes with coconut oil, garlic, ginger and tumeric, threw spirulina & dark leafy greens in all my smoothies and covered my salads with nuts and seeds.


I also kept my food relatively bland and easy to digest, so my body could focus on healing. Eating this well made a huge difference in the recovery process; I actually could feel myself healing from the inside out. 

4. SLEEP


The best part about being sick was given myself free permission to nap. I went to bed at 8, took naps after work and on Saturday mornings. Sleep is a pivotal cornerstone of health, wellness and recovery in general – even more so if you’re active.

Happy healing everyone 🙂 hope you have a great week!

Training – the Vegan Way


My schedule is  a fitness junkie’s dream: I have two half marathons, two full marathons, a Spartan race and a long season on two different soccer teams crammed into my life before the end of December. While I’ve got lots of training and recovery plans in the works, it only makes sense for me to shift to the most wholesome, healthiest, and ethical diet possible. For me, that’s a vegan diet – whole foods, plant based, and focused on the unprocessed foods I already love. From fruits & veggies to legumes, beans, nuts and seeds, I’m stoked to fill my plate with a powerful array of macro and micronutrients that’ll put my exhausted body at optimal health and recovery speed.


Plus – sorry about it but veganism is pretty badass. From endurance athletes to mma fighters to pro soccer & basketball players, a plant-based diet is the way to go 🙂

I’ll be dutifully blogging my progress, training times and go-to meals as I get through this crazy next few months! I’m happy to share this beautiful way of living, especially when I’m blessed to live on a tropical island with gorgeous farmer’s markets all year long. I may not be an elite or professional athlete, but I am an athlete – and just like abs, endurance, speed and recovery are built in the kitchen.


I’ve gone vegan before, but always fell off the wagon for convenience reasons. I also was a poor, starving college student at the time, so my diet was more junk food vegan than exploring the endless, bountiful world of plants and whole-foods substitutes. Now, however, I’m a working professional that can afford the vast array of veggies, nuts, seeds, sprouts, legumes, beans, starches, and grains that comprise a healthful diet.

I’m proud to tackle this new lifestyle and incorporate it into my training & nutrition. It’s a peaceful, mindful, and of compassionate way of living – and I truly can’t wait to make it my own.

Here’s a few infographics on veganism & athleticism, and the potentials for getting strong & sexy the plant based way!