The Oh She Glows Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

I’ve built up quite the collection of cookbooks over the years. I started with an old Vegetarian Times cookbook that I stole from my mom, and then it’s progressed rapidly from there. My parents were visiting this weekend and my mom saw my three (!) shelves of cookbooks and asked, “are those really ALL cookbooks?”

My collection, however, didn’t stop me from eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Oh She Glows Cookbook. I received the pre-order as a Christmas gift, and when it came a few weeks ago I was so excited.

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The cookbook all vegan, and all awesome. The photography is lovely, as to be expected if you read Oh She Glows. There are a ton of recipes, plus helpful reference chapters on building up a pantry, cooking tools, and staples like cashew cream, mushroom gravy, and lots of other basics. Angela’s friendly and funny voice comes through the book the entire time, which made me want to read it even when I wasn’t cooking from it!

I’ve made four of the recipes from the book, and my favorite thing about them is that they are nourishing but very simple to make. The soups were quick and easy to make; the tomato and mushroom sauce (which I served over lentils) was hearty and full of flavor.

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My favorite recipe has to be the Miso Power Bowl which I’ve made three times! Having it for lunch keeps me filled up to power through my afternoon classes. My only addition to it was avocado, because avocado makes everything better. I haven’t tackled the dessert section, but I honestly can’t wait to try it. So many of the recipes look decadent and delicious.

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The food is filling and not fussy. The book is made up nutritious meals that will work for real people who are flying around trying to do a million things at once. There aren’t a bunch of imitation products – everything is based on whole grains, legumes, nuts, and vegetables. I really appreciate this way of eating, and this cookbook is definitely going to be one I return to again and again.

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My photos aren’t the best, but I highly recommend checking out Oh She Glows to get an idea of what the recipes are like.

Because I love the book so much, I’ve decided to share the love and give one to a reader!  Please leave a comment telling me what your favorite cookbook is (I always need new ideas!) and I’ll choose someone at random to receive a copy of The Oh She Glows cookbook. I’ll choose a winner on Monday, April 7!

My Thoughts on SELF Magazine and Tutu-gate

If you’re a runner, no doubt you’ve heard about the SELF magazine tutu debacle. The summary is that SELF magazine contacted a runner, Monika Allen, to request a photo of her running in a tutu. She supplied it, not realizing it was going to be published as part of SELF’s “BS Meter” – calling runners out for wearing tutus. Well, it turns out that the tutu-wearing runner is a brain cancer survivor and sells tutus from her website Glam Runner, in part to support Girls on the Run. People found out about Monika’s back story and SELF’s Facebook page blew up with people outraged and canceling their subscriptions.

SELF issued a sort-of apology, followed by a more genuine apology and interview with Monika. They have also decided to discontinue the “BS Meter” feature. Several people commented, “too little, too late,” and claimed that if SELF really supported women, they never would have run the piece to begin with. I think, though, that we can stand and say “this wasn’t okay” AND “thank you for trying to make it right.” I don’t think it has to be an either/or situation. 

I’ve been following this story and thinking about it a lot; I’m always fascinated by anything that involves women’s media. Not that long ago, I wrote a post about women’s magazines and how terrible they are, and I feel like this fits right into that narrative.

Many people commented about how SELF should be building women up and not tearing them down, regardless of whether they are cancer survivors or doing charity work. I’m glad to see that sentiment being promoted, because I agree with it. My biggest problem with SELF’s feature is that it tears down women who are doing something active and healthy. Someone wearing a tutu affects me not at all, so why the hell do I care if they wear one? 

But I wonder how much of this sentiment would have been expressed if Monika hadn’t been battling cancer. Perhaps this is cynical, but I can’t help but think that without the backdrop, most women would have maybe rolled their eyes at the feature and flipped the page. Maybe they would’ve written a letter to the editor to complain, but I doubt that SELF would have seen 9,000+ comments on their Facebook page. 

I say this not to defend SELF’s actions, but because I think they fit in to a larger paradigm where magazines tear women down so we strive to find a way to build ourselves up “thinner, leaner, faster, meaner” than ever before. Several commenters said, “this makes you no better than a gossip rag.” “Best and worst dressed lists” are often popular and we flip through them without a second thought; I’m not sure how I see this being different. Why do we tolerate it in some media but not others? 

Also, even magazines like SELF that are supposedly supposed to support and empower women are filled with articles on how to become our sexiest selves, get thinner, beauty tricks, landing Mr. Right, etc. It’s a typical narrative about striving to be something better/different in order to be happy/successful, and for women, a lot of the emphasis is how we look and whose arm we’re on. It’s also a tremendously white, cis-gendered narrative that’s not representative of the real world at all. (To give SELF some credit, their site also has stories on “Thinking Like an Athlete” and Barbell Training, so that’s pretty cool.)

No doubt SELF’s decision to run this feature was wrong, and I’m honestly happy to see the backlash of women saying, “this is not what we want to read about.” But I also want to acknowledge that SELF doesn’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in a media world that profits by telling women how they aren’t good enough and how to be better. I hope this incident changes the way SELF approaches their content, and in an ideal world, it would spread to all magazines. I’m not confident it’s going to have a lasting change on content across the board, but I’m thrilled to see people starting the conversation.

 

On Giving Up Expectations

After two weeks of this nasty cold, I finally returned to yoga today. I’m still not 100%, but I’m feeling good enough to start moving again. Ironically, the first passage the teacher read was about how illness changes our expectations about what we value and appreciate.

Being sick always somehow frees me up to let go of expectations, which ends up making me stronger. I told myself going into yoga today that it was okay if I had to take it easy and to take breaks whenever I needed to. The result was that I didn’t end up taking any breaks.

I felt strong throughout the class and even did every vinyasa and got up into full wheel, whereas I usually opt for the less intense bridge pose. The whole class felt effortless, which was a nice change from the last two weeks where even getting dinner made felt hard. And even if I had wanted to take a break, I would have been perfectly fine with it and I probably would have left the class feeling just as strong.

Running and lifting will probably require more ease in time and last night I was trying to figure out how I felt about it. On one hand, it’s always kind of annoying to go through a fitness setback. But instead of feeling annoyed, I find that I’m feeling energized to push myself – even if it’s only pushing myself to the level where I was before. Instead of being dejected that I’m not there right now, I’m excited that I get to re-experience the journey of getting there. This whole “enjoying the journey and not the destination” feeling is a new one for me, particularly around fitness. My parents have been telling me for years that the secret to happiness is letting go of expectations. It appears they may be right.

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I HAVE been annoyed that I haven’t been able to take advantage of the beautiful weather we’ve been having having to go for runs or long walks or anything. But this weekend, I managed to get outside a handful of times to enjoy the farmers’ market (strawberry season is starting!), coffee and donuts in a lovely outdoor courtyard, and a walk up to the top of Dolores Park to enjoy the view of the city and the city dwellers. I also got to see some friends and do some homework and get some cat snuggles in, so all in all, it was pretty awesome.

This combination of enjoying the process and paying closer attention to the little moments has me feeling pretty centered. Tomorrow it’s back to running, so I’ll be sure to report how that goes (I have a feeling it might throw off that centered feeling just a bit!)

A Long Post About Small Changes

I have this yoga teacher who is really great about giving us about 3 minutes of wisdom and then starting class with a “let’s dive into it, shall we?” While I sometimes love to listen to teachers talk a little more about the philosophy, I also appreciate the propensity to dive in and get moving.

In that vein, I acknowledge that I’ve been either actually absent from this blog lately or mentally absent, and I’m pretty sure that while I’ve gone through this a million times (and probably will again), I’m genuinely ready to recommit. Except, I still ended up writing a lot; so feel free to skip to the bottom for the TLDR (too long, didn’t read) version of this post.

My stress levels have been a bit high since the fall, and I lost a lot of good habits. Although that stress has somewhat dissipated over the last month, I haven’t really been able to get things back on track. I felt overwhelmed, like I had to tackle it all at once, and so in essence, I watched a lot of Parenthood instead.

This is real life, people, and it felt hard. I consider myself to be ultra motivated toward health, wellness, and balance. Well, that kind went all out the window. I’m pretty sure I already talked about it. But I thought it would come back easily, and um, it hasn’t. It turns out, my healthy habits were replaced with habits of mindless snacking, emotional eating, and halfhearted workouts.  I didn’t journal, I was sick of cooking, and my meditation practice died a swift death. Oops!

I’m not beating myself up about it because I figure I just needed a break so I could get some perspective and reconnect. So last week, I was all ready to recommit and get going.

Then last Sunday, I woke up with a megacough and congestion and nausea and basically a monster cold. The kind of sick where you take a four-hour nap and still sleep through the day. Thank goodness we don’t have kids. Sick moms and dads out there, you are the tops. Mad props to you.

Today, nine days later, I’m finally feeling human. You know what healthy habits happened last week? Um, none, but I did catch up to the current season of Parenthood, so there’s that.

All during that low time and the sick time, I still got my homework done and connected with friends, family, and Alex and made sure I bathed and kept the house from turning into a total disaster. So all in all, I was productive enough, but I knew and know that I am capable of more.

So today, on my first day actually being motivated I decided that instead of completely overhauling my life, I’d take a few little steps toward better habits:

  • I woke up early to put together a healthy lunch for Alex and I
    • I’ve been throwing things together during the day when I’m home, but today I got up early so that it would be done around lunchtime. Usually, I’m exercising in the morning but I’m taking it easy because of my cold so I used that time to cook instead. (It was a great recipe from the Oh She Glows cookbook – I’ll post a review next week!)
  • I chose to eat mindfully
    • Ever since I was a kid, I have loved to read and eat at the same time. I used to read the cereal box. But today, I made a conscious effort during both breakfast and lunch to just eat. It was legitimately uncomfortable, and I kept having the urge to reach for my phone or a book or magazine, but I did it.
  • I got active on my study breaks
    • During one study break I did 5 sun salutations and during another, I took a walk around the block. Bonus dose of Vitamin D for the day. Moving my body really helps me stay focused on my work when I am sitting down.
  • I set a timer for working/studying
    • Setting a timer for 50 – 60 minutes of work and then taking a 5-minute break really helps me stay on task. I don’t check my email or the news or Instagram in that time because I know I’ll have 5 minutes to do it at the end of the chunk.
  • I wrote this post
    • I want to write more. Leo from Zen Habits recently had a post on writing and his advice? Write every damn day. Know that some of it will suck. That’s scary, but here I am, doing it.

These small changes made a huge difference today, and I’m really confident that I’ll be able to continue carrying them forward and adding on to them to get back to a place where I feel like I’m rocking life. Because that’s what I want to do, as often as I can.

Here’s the TLDR version of this post:

In a slump? Don’t beat yourself up about it. That doesn’t help.Accept that for whatever reason, you needed a break and you took it. I wasted a lot of time being mad at myself.

  • Think of one small change you can make and make it today.
    • Walk around the block. Replace the chips in your lunch with fruit. Watch one episode of your favorite show instead of marathoning 5 (been there).
  • Once you have a good thing going with that small change, make another.
    • Build on your habits but go slow. Give yourself time to adjust.
  • Recognize yourself for making changes
    • It’s easy to dismiss small changes as not good enough. Don’t do it. It doesn’t help. They ARE good enough.

How Moving is Like Running

I’m really terrible at telling people news. When we got engaged, I was so awkward about it. People I hadn’t seen in a while would ask, “so how are things?” and I would say “Oh, they’re good, how are you?” and then 15 minutes into the conversation I would clumsily interject “oh and we got engaged!” Or someone would notice my ring and ask, which is somehow worse, like I was trying to keep it a secret! This happens when I make travel plans or when I’ve quit jobs or when I’ve found new jobs! I’m just bad at it because I’m always more interested in hearing what other folks are up to. For this, I am thankful for Facebook – now I’m just weird online.

Clearly, this is a quirk that goes along with my general awkward nature but this whole lead in is to say that I have big news – I got into graduate school! And we’re moving to Seattle! Whoa! (That was still pretty awkward).

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We’re not actually moving for another 6 months, so there’s enough time to say “see ya later” to my beloved family, friends, and beloved San Francisco. I’m already brainstorming a bucket list that includes a lot of visits to my favorite restaurants. I’ll share it here once its done so we can adventure together.  It’s a little weird to have so much time knowing that we’re moving, without actually moving, but I’m thankful for it.

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Wanting to make the most of every moment left in SF, I went on an 8 mile solo run this weekend and was able to glimpse both bridges and hit up the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market for a post run juice and a few things for lunch.IMG_3709

Actually getting out the door took considerable motivation, and the first few miles were rough. But I was finally able to settle into my rhythm. I guess that’s what moving will be like, too. It’ll be hard to get out the door of our home in San Francisco, and rough to transition to a new city and new school, but eventually we’ll settle in and find our rhythm, no doubt with the help of the awesome friends we have there. Plus, there’s so much good food and a chocolate factory. I don’t really think it can be bad.

Cheers to adventure and exploring new places!

Any Seattle-ites out there have tips for me? What would be on your Bay Area bucket list? 

The Perks of Taking Running Less Seriously

Although I’m not a particularly fast runner, I’ve always prided myself on being able to follow a training schedule and knockout a variety of workouts while training for a race. When not training for a race, I can be a sporadic runner, but usually with something on the calendar, I’m focused and dedicated.

But I’ve been struggling lately with my running mojo, and even having a race on the calendar in April isn’t really kicking me into gear. It’s really getting out the door that’s the tough part; once I’m running, I usually enjoy it just fine. But it’s been taking a lot of mental energy to get my shoes on lately, and I just didn’t have it in me this weekend. So instead of beating myself up about what it meant to be a real runner, we got on our bikes and rode to Sausalito.

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Now, my biking experience is pretty limited.  I bike at Burning Man, generally either in the blazing sun or white out dust storms. And I’ve gone on two epically long mountain bike rides with Alex’s Austrian family, neither of which I was prepared for – have you ever ridden fifty miles on a borrowed bike without bike shorts? I don’t recommend it, even if the view is beautiful. In the city, I biked two miles to the train station every day to commute to work for a year and a half, but that had been my only city biking experience.

While biking trails and biking in the desert have their own challenges, I decided this weekend that biking in San Francisco is a special kind of mindfulness meditation. Nowhere more so than on the Golden Gate Bridge, where you have a mix of tourists on rented bikes going slow and stopping to check out the view, and serious cyclists trying to speed by as fast as they can. It was slightly terrifying, but now I can say I’ve run, driven and biked the bridge!

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We got to Sausalito and the weather was beautiful and we got burgers and sweet potato fries and admired the homes on the waterfront and watched a dog play in the water. Eventually, we took the ferry back and got to watch Sausalito fade and enter the bustle of San Francisco once again.

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It was nice to take a break from my current mental gymnastics around running and move my body in a new and really fun way. I know a lot of people that run more than I do – I really can’t do more than three times a week – so it’s easy to get into the comparison game and feeling like my training isn’t good enough. And maybe it isn’t if I wanted to be super fast or do an ultramarathon or run something that’s crazy hilly. But today when I hopped on the treadmill, I felt strong and happy to be there, so I’m really happy I chose to take a break.

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On our bike ride over to Sausalito, we stopped at our favorite running store so I could pick up new kicks, which may be a motivating factor to hit the pavement more. Alex, awesome guy that he is, carried the shoes in the backpack for the rest of the ride! Here he is, lookin’ a little boxy: 

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I’ve been getting tons of blisters lately (I’ll spare you the photos), so I really wanted a wider shoe that would hopefully take care of the problem. Although I’ve gone to the same store for the last three years for running shoes, the sales guy sized me at a full size higher than my last pair, in wide width. I went from a 9.5 standard to a 10.5 wide, and when I ran today, it felt so much better! The only thing is, they’re REALLY pink…I like pink, but they’re just so….bright.

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I feel the same way about them as I feel about bright yellow running shirts which I’ve gotten at two races – why? Are they cheaper? That must be it. Anyway, I’m going to rock them because they are so comfortable that I didn’t want to wait and order another size! I ran in them today and loved them, so maybe I’ll post more thoughts in a few weeks when I’ve had time to break them in a bit. 

Have you ever blown off a long run for an adventure? What’s your favorite running shoe? 

Links Worth Sharing: Commonplace Books, Yoga and Relationships, and Procrastination

How and Why To Keep a “Commonplace Book”

I am SO into this idea. I really want to start one. “A commonplace book is a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do.”

A Side of Feminism with Your Food?

A friend asked me this week about the feminist implications of bringing baked goods to your coworkers, which I’d never considered. The intersectionality between food and feminism (and lots of other issues!) is huge. “No matter how progressive we think we are, we continue to be bogged down in gender roles. Women put daily food on the table. They make meals. Men, however, cook professionally. They make works of art.”

Yoga and the Garden of Relationships

I’m also really exploring how to bring yoga to my relationships – and how awesome and sometimes hard that can be. “I believe that yoga is a profound spiritual practice, one that I have devoted many years to and will continue to invest in for my entire life. However, I am realizing now that another spiritual practice is taking center stage as the most sacred path for my personal evolution. This is the practice of relationships…Relationships come in many forms: intimate connections, friendships, broken relationships, acquaintances, co-workers, and so on.”

When You Change

Truth. “Be aware, when you change, evolve or try something new you will make people very uncomfortable for 2 reasons.”

Procrastination is a Mindfulness Problem

This post totally resonated with me and it made me think of more effective ways to tackle my tendency to procrastinate. “You can’t step back to clarify what your Most Important Tasks are unless you realize you’re procrastinating in the first place. You can’t break a task into small steps unless you realize you’re dreading the task. You can’t clear away distractions unless you realize you’ve been following the urge to go to these distractions.”

Changing Plans

Man, I needed to read this. “Lately I’ve been thinking about the power of being flexible. Of living life in the moment, and being open to possibility, rather than having rigid expectations about how things will play out. How often are you able to surrender to the moment rather than freaking out when something unexpected comes along?”