McVEGAN

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POSTED BY THE VEGAN HUSBAND

“Frisco Fritz” is one of the more loyal followers of this blog.  His name isn’t really Frisco Fritz, but I have chosen to protect his identity.  I’m not protecting his identity because he owes the government money or has ties to the Russians.  It’s just the times we live in.

So, anyway, Fritz tipped us off to a new meatless sandwich at McDonald’s called, The McVegan.  There is no need to protect the McVegan’s identity because I’m guessing it will be quickly forgotten.  The McVegan, a soy-based burger, was only available for about six weeks and only at a single McDonald’s restaurant.  In Finland.

Being 50% Finnish, I supposed I should take pride in the fact that one of the most iconic, powerful foodservice companies in the world chose my homeland to market a daring, new product.  But I’m not thinking that.

This is the marketing equivalent of Hershey’s rolling out a carrot candy bar at a Target store in Iceland or Ford introducing a car made out of recycled styrofoam at their dealership in Machu Picchu.

In the Food & Wine article that Fritz sent us (“McDonald’s is Testing a Vegan Burger” by Charlie Heller), there are no testimonials from satisfied patrons, no descriptions of lines out the door and down the block, no stories of Finnish police holding off crazed Finnish vegans.  All we know is that the sandwich comes with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, and mustard.

My question to McDonald’s is: What are you afraid of?

As of today, McDonald’s stock is up over 36% this year.  Not that long ago, the golden arches was stuck in neutral with too many unhealthy choices and too few healthy options beyond salads.  It was getting its butt kicked by Chipotle, a chain that it once owned.

But McDonald’s is in a groove right now and the world is ready for the McVegan. And don’t tell me that it won’t taste good.  First of all, if it’s nothing else, it’s still a McDonald’s burger.  They are not going to put out a sandwich that doesn’t taste good.  And secondly, it’s got lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mustard, and ketchup on it.  How could it not taste good?

Frisco Fritz and I have gone back and forth the last several months over the Impossible Burger, the vegan burger that looks and tastes like a real hamburger. Fritz would consistently send us propaganda about the Impossible Burger but, even though he had access to it in his own city, he had not tried one.

In August, to his credit, Fritz finally tried the Impossible Burger.  He said, “it was not unpleasant, but it was not as good as the flavor of beef.”  He concluded there was more work to be done.

And maybe the McVegan needs more work.  Maybe, to the Finns, it was not as good as (fill in a Finnish food delicacy here).  But, Mickey D, if you’re listening, I will make you this promise.  If you bring the McVegan to my hometown McDonald’s, I will most definitely try it.  I hope I am one of the first 50 people in my town to do so.  And, if for some reason I don’t like the first one, I will get a second and a third, and maybe more, to figure out what my problem is. Because, like the McRib before it, it will succeed.

And, then, once I’ve pushed away from the table and dabbed my mouth with a napkin,….then I will figure out just what Frisco Fritz has got going on with the Russians!

Would you try the McVegan burger?   Please leave a comment…

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Heartbroken and Other Links

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TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS

The Hubby and I were heartbroken to hear about the passing of Tom Petty. We feel fortunate to have been able to attend one of his concerts in Boston over the summer.  I took the video above with my phone and I will treasure it.

To date, it appears that his passing was due to cardiac arrest. What makes this particularly tragic is that, according to the 911 recording, no one present knew how to perform CPR.

Everyone should have familiarity with this lifesaving procedure. Click on the image below to watch a CPR & First Aid training video. If viewing this provides you with the knowledge to save the life of someone you love, then the 30 minutes of your time will have been well spent.

 

 

MEDITATION

Meditation is one of the tools I implement daily to maintain overall good health. Vipassana is the oldest method of meditation and was brought to my attention through another blogger. It was explained to me as a mindful and insightful form of meditation. Tricycle magazine, in part, describes it as “a state in which the mind is brought to rest, focused only on one item and not allowed to wander. When this is done, a deep calm pervades body and mind, a state of tranquility which must be experienced to be understood”.
Click on the image below to read more about Vipassana meditation:

Experience it for yourself here (for beginners):

 

RECIPE LINKS

I recently wrote about nightshades.  I’m still on the fence as to whether I will eliminate them from my diet. Regardless, I will continue to work on developing dishes that exclude these plants. Here are three recipes, from others, that I recently made that were quite delicious!

From Savvy Vegetarian:
Brown Lentil Quinoa Casserole
Crockpot Quinoa Red Lentil Stew

From Oh She Glows:
(omit the topping to keep it nightshade free)
Ultimate Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf

PLANT POWER IS GROWING!

Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Farina and Borough President Adams Announce 15 Brooklyn Schools to Participate in Meatless Mondays

NBA players explain why they are going vegan and vegetarian

PROTEIN MYTH

I’ve eaten plant-based for nine years and I still get (and welcome) the how do you get protein question.  Not that long ago I received a lecture by a doctor on combining certain plant foods as the way to insure that my body get all the essential amino-acids (organic compounds that combine to form proteins which  can’t be made by the body, they must come from food).  This PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) article addresses both issues and includes four plant-based protein-rich recipes.

Who is your favorite musical artist? Please leave a comment…

 

Walking The Walk

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POSTED BY THE VEGAN HUSBAND

In training for the 26.2 mile Jimmy Fund Boston Marathon walk, you may recall that I had a dream.  In my dream, the event ended up being easier than our physically demanding twenty mile training walk.  Let’s see if it came true.

We set our alarms so we could get to Hopkinton by 5:30, the earliest possible start time.  We allowed ourselves barely more than thirty minutes to dress, stretch, eat (just me), apply sunscreen and vaseline, and make sure we had everything.  I had a hard boiled egg and gazpacho, and it felt rushed.

We trained so much in hot, humid conditions, I was anticipating a Mother Nature curveball in the form of a 50-60 degree day.  We would have been freaking out about what to wear.  Long pants or shorts?  Long sleeves, short sleeves, or layers?

We did freak out, but not because it was cold.  The temperature was forecast to perhaps hit 85 degrees (it settled in at 79) with clear skies.  We would know what to wear: our lightest weight sweat wicking shirts and shorts.  As much as I wanted (needed) a hat, I opted for a bandana.  When we walked for five hours, even a hat became uncomfortable.  We could dress to keep cool, but would it be cool enough?

Two full buses of walkers pulled out of Hopkinton High School before we could catch a ride to the starting line.  We got away in semi-darkness at 5:45. Steps taken before sunrise almost felt like they didn’t count because you couldn’t make out landmarks, only vague shapes.  It was like being on a treadmill in a dark room.

The first problem we encountered was with our sackpacks, lightweight shoulder bags for snacks and things that we didn’t want in our pockets.  We wore them backpack-style, but between their lightness and the speed of our steps, they flew around like balloons.  I was cinching the straps of mine every ten minutes to try to limit the movement.  I tried to wear it hooked on one shoulder but that was even worse.

The vegan spouse came up with the sackpack solution.  I would wear mine on the left shoulder, but with the straps going across my chest and back, and the bag resting on my right hip.  Now I had more control of it and easier access to it.  And access would be key because water, sports drinks, and snacks were positioned roughly every three miles of the course.

Having walked the twelve mile distance so often, the first half of the walk was uneventful.  I enjoyed walking through parts of Ashland and Framingham that I had never seen.  With the temperature warming, we tried to resist the temptation to get water or Gatorade at every opportunity.  Ten miles in, we got the emotional boost of some family support.  The only question was where we would meet up with them.  A text came saying they were at Dunkin’ Donuts.  But which one?  The one two miles back or one of a handful still to come?  We found them and it was awesome.

At the eighteen mile mark, we reached the lunch tent.  The idea of stopping is both appealing and terrifying.  The hardest part of the course awaits, and the streets of Brookline and Boston will be packed with walkers.  Our feet were starting to really feel the pounding they were taking.  Sitting now for even a few minutes could cause our muscles to tighten up.  Last year, the vegan spouse blew right past this stop, because she just wanted to be done.  We elected to stop and survived it.

My biggest fear from here on was not that I wouldn’t finish, but that I would have a sunburn to add to my pain.  I didn’t bother to put sunscreen on much of my face because it would just sweat off or get in my eyes.  I didn’t bring sunscreen with me, because when would I apply it?  And the sunny parts were outnumbering the shady ones.

But, within a mile or two of Heartbreak Hill, a sunburn took a backseat to a strain in my right calf.  I couldn’t pinpoint when it happened.  I think it kind of came on over time and just got worse.  Occasionally, I would reach down and grab at the leg in mid-stride, almost as if scratching a mosquito bite.  It wasn’t helping.

Luckily, Heartbreak Hill is not so much steep as it is long and I was able to manage it.  We even passed a few people along the way.  The vegan spouse said it was less congested than last year.

When we got to familiar territory in Brookline, I was limping noticeably.  We dialed the speed back and went with the flow the rest of the way.  We crossed the finish line a few minutes shy of eight hours.  The Boston Marathon gods even smiled on me and kept me from getting sunburned.

Looking back, a couple of things stick out.  First, after buying expensive socks to fit into my sneakers, I ended up doing just fine wearing two pairs of much cheaper socks and sneakers that fit.  Second, there are parts of the body that chafe that you don’t expect to chafe.

I have found that a lot of people are surprised we would attempt a 26.2 mile walk to support a cancer charity.  When we told them why, a few still didn’t understand it.  I can only say to those people that I took inspiration from my Dad, my mother-in-law, and two people that I never even met.

And I also took inspiration from a woman who stood in her driveway early in the walk, as night was becoming day.  She held a simple sign that said, “Survivor, Thank You!”  As we walked past, she said in the tiniest of voices, “Good luck, guys.”

I think the dream came true.

Stability Chop Exercise

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Stannding Stability Anti-rotational Chop Exercise

 

Abdominal training should include three groups of exercises to maintain the muscles that make up the core. These exercises engage not only the abdominal muscles but the hip and low back muscles as well.   The three groups are:

  1. Flexion exercises (trunk/hip/side)
    ex: sit-ups/reverse crunch/swiss ball side crunch

2.  Rotational exercises – ex: russian twist

3.  Stability exercises – ex: plank

When I am short on time or lack the energy for a full ab workout (yup, we all have those days), I always choose the stability exercises over the other two.
Why?
The main job of the abdominals is to stabilize the spine to keep the body upright. Abdominal stabilization exercises engage all the muscles groups discussed above. Stabilization exercises promote a strong and healthy core and are considered by many to be the best way to train the core.

The stability chop exercise can be done standing or kneeling at the high and low pulley positions. These exercises should not be confused with the rotational woodchop exercises (I will have a post regarding rotational exercises soon).

Equipment: cable machine, rope, (dumbbell or medicine ball can be used if a cable machine is not available)

Major Muscles Used: Torso (rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, multifidus, quadratus lumborum)
Scapular (trapezius, rhomboids, pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, levator scapulae)

Click on Pictures for larger size

Position: (High Pulley)  Attach a rope at the highest pulley position. Grab rope in an overhand grip. Take a step away from the cable station. You should be about arm’s length away from the pulley.  Stand or kneel so that your right side is aligned with the weight stack.  If standing, place feet in staggered position with inside foot in front of outside foot. Hands should be placed about 1 ½ to 2 feet away from each other with the elbows slightly flexed.  Abs are engaged and face forward but do not move throughout the movement. Neck and spine are in neutral. Glutes are engaged.

Movement: While exhaling and without moving the torso, pull rope past left hip. Inhale and (in a slow and controlled manner) return to original position. Perform to failure and switch to opposite side.

Position: (Low Pulley)  Attach a rope at the lowest pulley position. Grab rope in an overhand grip. Take a step away from the cable station. You should be about arm’s length away from the pulley.  Stand or kneel so that your right side is aligned with the weight stack.  If standing, place feet in staggered position with outside foot in front of inside foot. Hands should be placed about 1 ½ to 2 feet away from each other with the elbows slightly flexed.  Abs are engaged and face forward but do not move throughout the movement.  Neck and spine are in neutral. Glutes are engaged.

Movement: While exhaling and without moving the torso, pull rope past left shoulder. Inhale and (in a slow and controlled manner) return to original position. Perform to failure and switch to opposite side.

Common Mistakes:
– moving/rotating torso
– flexing the back
– using too much weight (if you have too much weight, your torso will rotate)

 

Without a strong core, gravity begins to take over and your spine will begin to flex forward. How do you want to age?  Please leave a comment…