The cat that got the canary

I am sitting here quite pleased with myself, smiling deviously, kinda smug and at the same time feeling very humbled and silly. I love paradox! I just returned home from a really good 8.5 mile run in the pissing rain, which puts me at 69 miles already this week. And feeling good, finally! Finally... I will explain, later, but first word from our sponsors, literally.

2008 Sponsors
I wanted to announce and promote my fabulous sponsors for 2008. I am very thankful to have been invited to be a part of Team Inov-8, Team Nuun, as well as Petzl. I am extremely humbled to be a part of such great teams of amazing ultrarunners! It is nice that I am able to be sponsored by products that I really believe in. Inov-8 shoes fit me perfectly and are suited to my needs as a runner. Nuun is an absolute wonder of an electrolyte drink. And Petzl keeps me from stumbling around in the dark. In fact, that said on my great run tonight I could have used one of my Tikka lights. It might have helped stop me from tripping over a curb and skidding knee and hands first along the ground, ripping the skin off both.

I am still hoping for a clothing sponsorship as well as a nutrition sponsorship, but that remains to be seen!

Trifecta of answers aka Who Nu(un)?
As most people who are close to me know (and are throughly annoyed by my musings, answer posturings and general disgruntlement) my stomach/digestion has been not right/well for about a month. I had come up with a bunch of very logical reasons and answers, but the symptoms failed to subside and my frustration grew. I'm not sure digestion is as interesting to anyone else as it is to me, but it was in fact one of my favorite sections in my holistic natural chef program, digestive wellness that is. As someone who has suffered lifelong (imagine me as a child writhing on the floor with the most painful stomach aches you can imagine....oh yeah that would be from the long undiagnosed gluten intolerance as well as the acid reflux I use to suffer from) from digestive issues, I took keen interest. So for the past month, I have been very aware and frustrated by something not being right. I went to the doctor and she pretty much brushed it off, telling me "you're not bloated" Really? I think I know my own body better than you Dr. I've never been your patient before.... and then saying, well we'll do some blood work (since I was also discussing my protein issues, so we were checking all my nutrient levels). I think she decided that if it was anything, it was that I was pregnant. She kept coming back to that. And while I am sure that would be a great explanation of the symptoms, there is a very vital happening that must occur for said pregnancy to occur...and that hasn't happened! But today, finally, finally I got answers! And there are in fact three things going on, which really have nothing to do with each other directly, but when the symptoms overlap, it is quite baffling!

Solution Part 1: I have long suspected that I had a soy intolerance (in my program we learned how to test and recognize food intolerances). I got bad symptoms like a gluten reaction when drinking soy milk and over the past month, my symptoms including the bloating and pain have been worse after soy products. I did an elimination of soy for 10 days and then last night made a devastatingly good Tempeh Shepherdess Pie (recipe below!) and the reaction was swift and ruthless. When I look back to the past month, I can see a correlation of symptoms to when I had soy. As I mentioned in another blog of my suspecting the soy intolerance, it turns out that Tempeh is not in fact ok. I am planning on doing some indepth food allergy/intolerance testing to make sure I have it all covered.

Solution Part 2: My skeptical Dr.'s assistant (the doc is only a stand in for my real doc who is out for a few months) called me back with my blood test results. She happily reported that I don't have Celiac Disease, which is really good and that most things were normal. Except that is for my Iron, which is low, again and my Vitamin D. The low iron, which doesn't surprise me that much with the increase of training and having not taken the ferrous sulfate for a few months. But it does explain why I have felt increasingly tired no matter how much I sleep. The low Vitamin D first and foremost makes me a typical Seattlite but also explains some of the melancholy (doesn't change it, but at least gives me an alternative answer than somedays I am just a big baby who can't take it....). Both of those things are solveable. I went and got some more ferrous sulfate and am hoping my tired blood, tired body problem will be solved in due course (should be a week or two before feeling tip top again). Even though this is my third diagnosis and treatment of low iron I still have a hard time recognizing the symptoms, though I have caught it sooner and sooner each occasion.

Solution Part 3: I went to a natural digestive specialist today who came up with the final piece of the puzzle. My, um, movements and digestion have not in fact been reacting negatively to an herb in my fiber. The problem was a combination of the bulking agent and an electrolyte imbalance. Meaning, when I was taking my fiber and drinking water to get it moving through my system, because I was dehydrated (which explains why this started after Bridal Trails when I drank about 3 sips of liquid for the race) and had low electrolytes, the water simply passes through my body and bobs and weaves around the fiber. Thus the fiber instead of moving thing through becomes the blocker itself. I am kind of a chronic under-hydrator, but this experience has really really made me learn my lesson. Not only do I need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, I need to be taking care of my electrolytes. Enter Nuun! My hero. I noticed without making the connection that I was feeling better and moving/digesting better when I was drinking bottles with Nuun in them. Things got better about 2 weeks ago for a minute when I bought a container of Nuun, but then I ran out! Thank goodness I got a shipment this week and started noticing the change. Fiber will keep you moving, but you have to stay on top of your electrolyte levels. Thus, I procured a bottle of electrolyte fluid that actually serves as a way to check my levels of electrolytes. The digestion expert fixed me right up and my tummy is much much happier. He also reminded me that eating slower and chewing more thoroughly is helpful (which I knew but I tend to be not heed) Hence setting out in the rain for a run that felt so great. For the first time in a while I felt that I was running the road to recovery from all these factors.

Speaking of food
It has been another great week for food. As I blogged about yesterday, the Vegan Posole was a hit and is one of my personal favorites. I took the leftovers to my mom yesterday and she raved about them. Then there is the Tempeh Shepherdess Pie and a side of Sauteed Spinach and Tomatoes (no recipe included because sauteeing spinach with tomatoes, onion, garlic and ginger should be straight forward, use Peanut Oil). And the final there are the Pumpkin Corn Muffins, which I baked up for the weekend journey to Orcas with Alison, James and John to do some trail work for next weeks race. I know there is one girl who mentioned craving these after a discussion about this recipe.Here is the recipes so you can rave about them too!

Vegan Posole with Ancho Chili Paste

1 cup dried pinto beans, sorted and soaked overnight
4 cups vegetable broth
4 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
1 large onion, diced small
1 large carrot, diced small
1 large celery rib, diced small
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 can 14oz, diced tomatoes with juice
2 tsp freshly ground cumin seed
2 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
2 tsp oregano (preferably mexican oregano)
1 can hominy, 28oz can, rinsed
12 large crimini mushrooms, stems removed
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 package dried ancho chilis

Drain and rinse the pintos and place them in a sauce pan with the stock. Bring to a boil and then simmer until cooked.

Preparethe ancho chili paste. Place dried anchos under the broiler until they start to puff and become fragrant. Meanwhile, bring enough water to cover the pepper to a boil. When the peppers are puffed, removed from broiler and submerge under the boiling water, removing from heat. Once the anchos are rehydrated, place them in the blender with a bit of water and puree to a paste. Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 TBSP of the coconut oil. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes, then stir in the carrot, celery, bell pepper, tomatoes, cumin, coriander and oregano. Add 1/2 tsp salt, cover and reduce to low and cook for about 15 minutes.

Add the beans, along with their cooking liquid, plus the hominy to the vegetable mixture. Bring all of this to a boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Add a few tablespoons of the ancho chili paste (if you have a weak palette don't put in much, but do put some because it adds a level of flavor that supports the dish). Simmer, uncovered until the vegetables are tender and the stew has thickened about 20 to 30 minutes.

While the stew is simmering, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the mushrooms, stem side down in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the mushrooms with the remaining 2 TBSP of oil and roast for 15 minutes (do more mushrooms than 12 if you like mushrooms!). Transfer the mushrooms to a plate to cool, cut them in half and add to the stew. Season with salt and pepper and serve!
(recipe from Bauman College)

Tempeh Shepherdess Pie
adapted from Veganomicon

2 (8oz) packages tempeh
1/3 cup tamari/ soy sauce
2 cups water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground coriander
fresh ground pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1/3 cup plain unsweetened almond, rice or soy milk
2 tbsp Earth Balance (or butter if you swing that way)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, crumble the tempeh into small, bite size pieces. Add the water, tamari, and 1 tsp of oil. Cover and let boil for about 10 minutes. Start boiling the potatoes in the meantime.

Remove the lid from the tempeh and continue to boil until the most of the water has evaporated about 5 more minutes. Drain the tempeh in a colander and return the pan to the stove top over medium-high heat.

Saute the onions in the remaining olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Stir in the tempeh, along with the sliced mushrooms and the spices. Cook for about 10 minutes more over medium heat until the mushrooms are juicy and the tempeh is slightly browned. While this cooks, your potatoes should be ready for mashing and incorporating the milk/earth balance/spices in their pan, and you can go ahead and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the corn and peas, and cook until heated through. You may need to add a little extra oil here.

Mix together the vegetable broth and the flour until pretty much dissolved ( a few lumps is okay). Add to the tempeh, along with the parsley and stir. Let thicken about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will thicken when it bakes.

Place the tempeh filling in a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Spoon the potatoes over the filing. Pleace in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. The potatoes should be slightly golden, if they aren't turn on the broiler for a few minutes. Remove from the oven, garnish with extra parsley. Using a spatula cut into eight squares and serve.

Before they head to the oven

a delicious slice of tempeh pie

Pumpkin Corn Muffins:
Instead of typing it up, I am going to direct you to my source for these delicious muffins! They can easily be made Vegan by using egg replacer. I used Pamela's Bread Mix instead of Baking Mix, which contains buttermilk. The source for these is Katrina's Gluten Free Blog! Just now when I was getting the link I saw she has posted a vegan Pumpkin Berry Muffin that is next on my to do list!

So why am I the cat that got the canary... good food, healthy tummy, strong running, great sponsors and looking forward to a fun weekend, how am I not!