Friday, October 19, 2007

Embrocation for the Vegan

It's cyclocross time and with the cool weather finally upon us in the Northeast, it's time for some embrocation to keep those legs feeling good in the cold and wet of cyclocross.

First up, Qoleum. This stuff goes out of its way to say it's vegan. That's pretty sweet. Qoleum comes in three flavors: low, medium, and hot. I'm enough of an embrocation fiend to have all three, but medium and hot would probably do you right.

Here's the sales pitch:
"Made from 100% natural vegan base for pre-sports levels of warming applications. Contains capsicum, menthol, eucalyptus and vitamin E.
100% organic, made with the finest ingredients in Belgium"

Vegan, organic, and Belgian, what more could you ask for? stocks it.

When I started racing 'cross more seriously, I bought myself some Sportsbalm embrocation. Three years later, I still have the same two tubes of Sportsbalm (The Dutch site). I like Sportsbalm. It lasts a while (both on your legs and in the tube). The medium is just right for cooler and damp days, while the XXX will get you through most cold and/or crappy rainy days. It lacks the feel good organic ingredients and explicit vegan tag, but it works well and the ingredients are vegan friendly.

Medium ingredients: Mineral Oil, Petrolatum, Tea Tree Oil, Wintergreen, Cayenne, Paprika Oil, Nutmeg Oil.

Hot ingredients:
Mineral Oil, Petrolatum, Cajeput Oil, Wintergreen, Cayenne, Paprika Oil, Nutmeg Oil.

So, not organic, but it's vegan and Dutch. That's two out of three. stocks it

Saturday, September 29, 2007

New Vegan FAQ Site

From the ass kicking Dino and the fine folks at the Vegan Freak Forums...

Vegan FAQ

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Organic Athlete Guide to Sports Nutrition

OA has their nutrition guide available online. Check it out!

Organic Athlete Guide to Sports Nutrition

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

More on Omega 3s

Apparently, Monique Ryan and I think alike (from today's VeloNews):

The Feedzone with Monique Ryan

Also, I forgot to mention Udo's Choice Oil Blend DHA supplement.

Udo's Choice

I haven't used the stuff but it seems pretty popular among the vegans.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Your Pal, Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Last year, I got all hot on Omega 3 fatty acids. I have to say that after 13 years of vegetarianism I hadn't given them much thought. I started adding in a little ground flax seed into my morning oatmeal, and it seemed like my recovery started getting a little better.

There's a good bit of evidence to suggest that Omega 3 fatty acids will aid in recovery. This piece in Today's Dietician does a nice job of summarizing various micronutrients and their potential role in recovery:

Speeding Recovery - Nutrition and Supplementation for Exercise

I've started using Nutru's Omega-Zen-3 DHA supplement daily alongside flax seed to get a boost of Omega Fatty acids. Maybe it's because my diet is generally better and I'm fitter, but my recovery day to day has become pretty amazing, and I think attending to my Omega 3 intake is a part of that.

Here's my recipe for a recovery smoothie featuring my friend flax seed:
8 oz soy mile (I'm fond of vanilla)
1 frozen banana
1/2 C frozen blueberries
1/4-1/2 C frozen strawberries or raspberries
2 Tbs ground flax seed meal

Throw this all in a blender and blend until smooth.

There's all sorts of other ways to use flax seed. You could blend flax seed oil into salad dressing (never heat flax seed oil!). You can bake with flax seed meal. Heck, sometimes I'll even sprinkle it on stuff.

If you buy whole flax seeds, use a coffee grinder to grind the seeds. Your body can't process the hard-shelled seed as is. Store ground seeds in the freezer.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Eating and Traveling

Long overdue, here's my take on eating vegan on the road...

In the Northeast, it's almost stage racin' time. The Fitchburg Longsjo Classic begins in two weeks, The Owasco Stage race is the second week in July, and the big'un The Tour de 'Toona is the last week/weekend in July.

For most of us, stage racin' means two things: traveling a lot and eating a lot.

If you are a bike racer, you spend a lot of time traveling. You also spend a lot of time eating. Oftentimes, one finds oneself traveling to far flung locations where vegan options aren't as plentiful or familiar as those closer to home.

So, what do you do when you are racing 3+ days in a row and are 8+ hours away from home and there's no tofu to be found anywhere?

It sounds like a crisis to me.

Generally, when I'm gearing up for a long race weekend, I pack all the race food I'll need and key staples for recovery and eating.

On the bike:
clif bars
some sort of gel (clif shot lately)
some sort of drink (right now, it's either Heed or Powerbar Endurance)

Aseptically packaged chocolate soy milk (Trader Joe's has reasonably priced 4 pack singles)
Bananas (often purchased once I arrive)
Bagels (again, usually available nearby)
peanut butter (I always try to keep a jar in my race food bag)

General eatin':
This is sort of the key part. Sometimes, it's a little tough to find delicious and nutritious vegan food in, say, Western PA (though, it is entirely possible). I can't do multiple days of pizza without cheese or spaghetti and marinara sauce.

Generally, find a vegan protein option is the toughest part of traveling. Here, vegan protein powders (soy, hemp, pea, rice) are all handy but not the most delicious. A little protein powder and OJ will do you right.

I like to bring my familiar breakfast foods. Usually this is a boxed cereal or instant oatmeal and soymilk. Neither require anything more to prepare than what is available in a cheapish hotel room. I like to mix in ground flax seed in my oatmeal, so I'll bring a bit of that too.

If you get free continental breakfast, hit the bagels, instant oatmeal, cereal, and fruit as much as you can. Just remember to bring soymilk!

For other meals, I like to have a back up plan if eating out is either too expensive or not exactly accommodating for vegans. Some folks bring hot pots. I like to bring a rice cooker. With a small rice cooker ($15 from K mart), you can cook stuff in the hotel room, living room floor, or wherever with very little fuss. A rice cooker will allow you to prepare rice, beans, and steam vegetables.

What should you put in your rice cooker? Dried lentils cook fast. They are a good option. I've been eating a lot of yellow split peas too. Also delicious and fast cooking. Brown rice? That's good too. Maybe some veggies to steam? Sure. Pack some of you favorite spices, and you are good to go for hotel room vegan deliciousness.

I find something like lentils and brown rice so much more satisfying post-race than the same pasta I often end up eating. It's also so cheap: a 16 oz bag of lentils is $.75, a 5 lb bag of brown rice is $3.49. That much lentils and rice will get you through several days.

So... my race food bag looks a little something like this:
a bunch of clif bars
a bunch of gels
a bunch of drink mix
aseptically packaged chocolate soymilk singles
either singles or cartons (depending if I have a fridge) of regular soy milk
soy protein powder
packets of instant oatmeal
whatever cereal I'm eating at the moment in a zip loc
a baggy of flax seed
a rice cooker
brown rice
lentils, or split peas, or some other fast cooking bean, alternately canned beans would be a good choice, though more expensive and heavier.
assorted spices (usually cumin, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, maybe some nutritional yeast)

Anything else (veggies, fruit, fresh bread) I'll try to find upon arrival.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Nutrition Articles from Adam Myerson

I've been meaning to post these for a while, but I think I assumed anyone interested had already read them. I don't think that's the case.

Rules of the Road for the Meat-Free Cyclist

The Vegetarian Athlete, Part II: Micronutrients

The Vegetarian Athlete, Part III: Eating on the Road

I'm hoping to write an addendum to "Eating on the Road" soon that adds my own tips and experiences with this (sometimes) difficult part of bike racing.