Superfood Hot Chocolate (Vegan)

This superfood hot chocolate is my favourite afternoon pick-me-up or healthy dessert when I’m craving something warm and sweet and the end of the day. It’s packed with good for you ingredients like cocoa, reishi mushroom, cashew butter, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla, and is sweetened with a Medjool date. Reishi mushroom helps with relaxation and a healthy stress response, and I find that it helps me wind down in the evening. It’s also believed to benefit heart health.

Warm drinks like this one are a crucial part of my self care rituals. There’s something really meditative about sipping a warm drink, made with intention, in the peace of your own home. I enjoy going out to cafes, but I would take a homemade drink like this one any day.

I don’t have grand plans for the weekend- brunch with a good friend today, then working on a paper for the rest of the day and work tomorrow. I’m trying to find ways to incorporate little things that bring me joy into every day, and that seems to be helping to get out of the slump that I seem to have fallen into. In other news, I impulsively registered for the Ottawa Marathon earlier in the week, so I’ll be in training mode for that for the next seven weeks or so. I ran 25 km on Thursday, and it was a real wake-up call that I’m not where I want to be as far as stamina goes. I’m tempted to set a lofty time goal, but then again, I don’t feel that my fitness is where it was in October when I ran 3:25:54 at the Toronto Marathon. I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself, but I’m a competitive person and I REALLY want to run under 3:25 to get a guaranteed entry at Boston 2020. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a bit disappointed with myself for not pushing harder in October- I mean, what’s 54 seconds? Had I known how close I was going to be, I definitely would have gutted out a stronger finish. Run and learn, though!

Well, that’s all for today. I hope you love this healthy hot chocolate!

Superfood Hot Chocolate (VEGAN)

A healthy hot chocolate made with cashew butter, coconut oil, cocoa, cinnamon, reishi mushroom, and sweetened with Medjool date. The perfect cozy tonic for your body and soul. 
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time7 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Vegan
Servings: 1 mug of hot chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp Botanica Reishi Hot Cocoa (see note)
  • 1 tbsp cashew butter or other nut/seed butter
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pitted Medjool date
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp virgin coconut oil (makes it ultra frothy)

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 
  • Pour into a small saucepan and heat over medium, whisking occasionally, until hot. Pour into a mug and enjoy. 

Notes

I used Botanica Reishi Hot Cocoa in this recipe (not sponsored, just a product I really enjoy). If you are unable to find this product, simply use an additional 1/2 tbsp of cocoa powder instead! 

Did you make this recipe? Take a photo and post it to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with #holisticallie and @holisticallie!

Vegan Banh Mi Sandwiches

Vegan Banh Mi Sandwiches make the perfect lunch or dinner! They are ultra flavourful thanks to the addictive baked tofu and sriracha mayo, and they are ridiculously easy to prepare.

Well, I ran my farthest all winter on Saturday. Eighteen kilometres of slip sliding, sun shining fun along the rivers. It wasn’t fast or pretty, but I did it and it can only get better from here. Running is an interesting beast. In all my years of running, I have yet to figure out how, in a matter of a few months, I can go from being in excellent cardiovascular shape, capable of running a sub-3:30 marathon, to a mediocre runner who struggles to run half that distance at that pace. On the plus side, this very issue continues to teach me the value of patience and putting in the effort required to reach my goals.

I know that in a few more short months, with consistent effort, I will reach that sweet spot once again where running feels effortless and my goals will once again be within my reach.

Speaking of goals, I’m now one step closer to reaching a life goal that I haven’t yet shared on the blog. I can’t say anything about it yet, but stay tuned as I will be revealing it in the next few weeks. I can’t wait!

What does all of this have to do with the recipe at hand? Well, to be honest, not a whole lot. But I did enjoy this Banh Mi after a long run, so there’s that. I always try to include a hearty, macronutrient-balanced meal following any intense workout. Anecdotal evidence has proven that doing so reduces hanger and makes runners much nicer people to be around.

Banh who? Banh Mi!

Have you ever eaten Banh Mi? I hadn’t, until I created this recipe. I’d always wanted to, but I’d never come across a joint that serves it in my city. And then I thought, Why not just make my own?

Banh Mi is a French-influenced Vietnamese sandwich typically served on a baguette and stuffed with savoury ingredients. Non-vegan versions usually use pork as the protein, but I opt for the decidedly more ethical, nutritious, and delicious baked tofu in my version. I also add quick pickled carrots, avocado, a delightfully spicy sriracha mayo, and as many vegetables as you can fit your mouth around for one satisfying sammie! You could serve yours on the traditional baguette, but I actually prefer a more typical sandwich presentation using slices of sourdough bread. You can even use pitas.

You’ll notice that I’ve included beverage pairings in my recipe notes! I’m going to start doing this regularly, because as some of you know, it is my firm belief that a meal is only as good as the drinks that accompany it. I’ll include a beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drink recommendation!

With all that being said, let’s get our Banh Mi on!

Step 1: Slice and marinate the tofu in an addictive mix of tamari, lime juice, garlic, ginger, maple syrup, hot sauce, and sesame oil. Then, bake it.

Step 2: Pickle your carrots.

Step 3: Whip up some sriracha mayo.

Step 4: Gather additional toppings: I recommend thinly sliced cabbage, lettuce, and avocado.

Step 5: Toast some bread.

Step 6: Assemble your sandwiches.

Step 7: Om nom nom.

Vegan Banh Mi Sandwiches

Healthy, delicious vegan Banh Mi with baked tofu, ginger pickled carrots, lots of veggies, and sriracha mayo. 
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Marinating time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Vegan, Vietnamese
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Author: Allison

Ingredients

For the tofu:

  • 1 block (454 g) firm or extra-firm tofu, pressed if desired
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tbsp reduced-sodium tamari
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sriracha or hot sauce
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp finely minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

For the Ginger Pickled Carrots:

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ume plum vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar or pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger

For the Sriracha Mayonnaise:

  • 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise (such as Vegenaise)
  • 2 tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce

Everything else:

  • Lettuce
  • Thinly shredded purple cabbage
  • Sliced avocado
  • Vegan cheese
  • 8 slices sourdough bread, 1 large baguette, or 4 pitas

Instructions

  • Prepare the tofu: Slice the tofu into six equal rectangles (see photo), then slice each rectangle in half to create 12 equal triangles. Place tofu in a 9×13-inch baking dish. 
  • Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over top of the tofu. Marinate tofu for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours, flipping after 30 minutes or halfway through to ensure even marinating. 
  • Prepare the Ginger Pickled Carrots: Place the carrot matchsticks in a 500 mL jar. Combine vinegar, water, coconut sugar or maple syrup, red pepper flakes, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat and add ginger to the pot. Pour over the carrots, cover jar with lid, and allow them to ‘pickle’ for at least 30 minutes, or longer if you have time.
  • Bake tofu at 375 F for 20 minutes, or until most of the marinade has been absorbed/evaporated.  
  • While the tofu is baking, prepare the sriracha mayonnaise by whisking together the mayonnaise and sriracha in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to use. 
  • If using bread or baguette, toast it if desired (this step is unnecessary if you are using pitas). If using a baguette, slice it in half lengthwise and then cut it into 4 equal pieces. 
  • Gather up additional toppings: I used lettuce, shredded cabbage, and avocado. 
  • To assemble a sandwich: Spread 1 tablespoon of sriracha mayonnaise on a slice of bread. Top with 2-3 triangles of tofu. On a second slice of bread (or on the other half of the baguette section or the other half of the pita), layer lettuce, cabbage, avocado, and pickled carrots. Put the sandwich together and repeat until you have 4 sandwiches. Serve. 

Notes

As always, if you make these Banh Mi (why wouldn’t you?), post a photo on Instagram with #holisticallie and @holisticallie!

Lessons learned.

I raced a half-marathon the other weekend as a tune-up race for my upcoming marathon. I didn’t set any high expectations for myself- I really just wanted to treat it as a marathon-pace training run. That’s easier said than done! I tend to get caught up in the festive atmosphere and always end up pushing myself a little bit harder than I probably should. That being said, I really enjoyed the race, set a 2-minute 2018 PR of 1:35:00, and it taught me some lessons that I will take with me going into my first marathon later this month:

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  1. Don’t start too fast. Duh. I should know this by now. But it seems to happen every time that I race! I have so much pent-up adrenaline and energy that my first couple of kilometres always seem to be my fastest. In this race, I ended up passing the 1:35 pace bunny in the first 3 kilometres, only to be passed again in the final 2. Any seasoned distance runner knows that this is never a good idea- you end up using precious glycogen stores too early, leaving your legs feeling heavy in the final kilometres of the race. For the marathon, I plan to start very conservatively, gradually increasing the pace in the second half and (hopefully) running a negative split.
  2. Allow for ample recovery time. I was riding a post-race high in the days following the run, doing 8 km the day immediately following the race and 15 km the next day. I continued to push myself for the remainder of the week and ultimately came down with a flu virus this past weekend. Recovery is so easy to ignore, but it is so, so important- it’s something that I am becoming much more conscious of as I start running longer distances.
  3. Don’t get caught in the comparison trap. Social media makes it so easy for us to compare ourselves to other athletes. Remember that we are all on our own journeys in sport! We are all running for different reasons and each of us has varying amounts of time and energy to commit to it at this moment in time. The fact that we are healthy enough to run and race is something to celebrate in and of itself. I have been making a point of taking brief breaks from social media and I find that the lack of distraction helps me to focus more on my training. For some, social media is motivating and inspiring, but I recognize that I am prone to comparing myself to others. It’s been really refreshing to just run without that in the back of my mind. If you find yourself falling into the comparison trap, I encourage you to identify the things that are aggravating this and make an effort to cleanse yourself of them, even for a short period of time.

 

Let me know if you would like more running-themed posts, and stay tuned for a post-marathon update!

 

How to be proud of a slower race

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I recently ran my slowest half marathon, but I was actually quite proud of the result and it led me to reflect on why I feel that way and how you, too, might find ways to be proud of a slower race time.

I ran my first three half marathons progressively faster: 1:31 in 2011, 1:26 in 2013, and 1:25 in 2014. Unfortunately, a stress fracture forced me to take an extended break from running following my 2014 PR.

Continue reading “How to be proud of a slower race”