Posted in diet

Why I Love Purple Carrot’s Performance Meals

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Purple Carrot, and I’m definitely not affiliated with Tom Brady. I’m just a customer and now fan of Purple Carrot’s TB12 Performance Meals, and I buy them with my own money. I just want to talk about them because, quite honestly, I love them, and I think that maybe you would, too.

I saw the TB12 meal service advertised online a few months ago, so I thought I would check it out. I had recently been talking to my husband about reducing the amount of meat we prepare our meals with, I just feel like we are consuming too much and also wasting too much. I don’t think it is necessary anymore to eat meat at every meal, and for several reasons think it would be helpful to reduce animal-based protein by even one day a week. I feel like if we are going to consume animal flesh then we should make sure we are purchasing it by the happiest animals that ever lived, who are respected in life and in death, and how can we guarantee that if we’re not doing it ourselves?

You might have thought I was blaspheming the Almighty God in heaven above for suggesting we do not NEED meat all day all the time, and that I should just take up residence in the crunchy city of Northampton and start my totally unnecessary vegetable commune all by myself. You know you’re on to something when the children start getting upset by your crazy Earth-mother ideas, because you have my son. My son who told the

turnip cakes and quinoa tabbouleh

Subway sandwich artist to load up his sandwich with bacon when she asked him what he wanted for veggies. The son who at 5 years old started crying when I informed him I would no longer be purchasing chicken nuggets for him anymore after reading the book Skinny Bitch and I could no longer fathom preparing animal flesh. We definitely eat vegetables at our house, and somehow my bacon-loving son prefers vegetables to anything else he is plated and will finish them first like they are some kind of green deciduous dessert. We also definitely prepare meat. We are also aware of the CAFO Industry, and if you’re not, please educate yourself on it. I started to become aware when reading Skinny Bitch which quite frankly disturbed me and changed my life. I recommend The Omnivore’s Dilemma as great starting point.

So back to plant-based stuff. Another disclaimer — as you might have guessed, I’m not a food photographer, I’m barely even an adequate food describer. All my pictures were taken with my iPhone in available lighting, and sent through an Instagram filter because did you really eat it if you didn’t show everyone on Insta? I don’t usually take pictures of my food, either, but I took pictures of *this* food because it’s like, Tom Brady’s food and also I wanted to show comparison between my plate and the recommended image on the recipe card.

ramen bowl with broccolini and amaranth greens

So this TB12 meal service. The menu is pre-planned and is shipped out on Monday. I’ve been getting my delivery on Tuesday. It comes in a nice box with two great big ice packs, like the one you stole from the school nurse if that ice pack was a baby and the Purple Carrot ice pack was Vin Diesel. x2. You can opt-out of any week completely hassle-free by logging in and checking a box. Super easy, no guilt. (But after tasting this food–why would you want to?)

So I’ve got to say, Tom Brady knows what’s going on in the kitchen. Or his people do. Every meal I have cooked up so far–and that is every meal delivered to me from week one–has been fabulous. My favorites so far have been the turnip cake meal (pictured above), and tonight’s stuffed sweet potatoes. I love that everything is pre-portioned, I don’t need to rummage through my cupboards for seasonings. At most–olive oil, salt, and pepper. Seriously. Everything I have received has been super-fresh. The past couple of weeks, these ingredients have sat in my fridge until the weekend before I could do anything with them. Like Sunday. It’s been crazy over here, don’t ask. But everything has seemed as fresh as the day it was delivered–a  testament to the quality of these ingredients. No produce, none, that I buy from the grocery store lasts 3 days never mind the 5, 6, 7 days it’s taking me to pull this stuff out of the crisper. And the grocery claims to source local. I have worried about the time it takes me to start cooking up, but it’s been for no reason. All ingredients have been pristine.

mung bean dal with tamarind, popped sorghum, and gluten-free naan

The flavors in these recipes have been such a pleasure. I have tried food I didn’t know existed, and with the exception of the radishes — have loved everything.

Some of the reviews of the TB12 performance meals call these meals a pain to make. I guess that’s true if you’re used to preparing boxed food. I am not a stranger to preparing meals from scratch, and am also not intimidated by cooking, either. I guess if you don’t consider yourself a cook or are unable to follow recipes, then this might not be the service for you. You will have to prepare everything. That naan over there? I had to mix it WITH MY BARE HANDS! That was probably the most challenging thing I have made so far. Also I scorched the sorghum a little but it tasted FINE and who knew what sorghum was or that it popped like popcorn and you can put it on your mung beans? I never even knew about the mung  bean until yesterday. I like the mung bean with tamarind paste. I was afraid of the chili peppers, but for no reason because there wasn’t too much heat, in fact, I didn’t detect any heat.

My husband finds it to be a hassle, but I don’t mind. I have actually enjoyed it, as I have found the whole thing an experience, really. Maybe I’ve been dazzled by the intriguing new recipes. Whatever the case, it’s been worth the work! And look at Tom and Giselle. Those bodies are WORK, people! Yes, work that they hire other people to help them do, but work nonetheless!

IMG_6671Another thing I have liked it that they tell you it is 2 servings, but in most cases–it’s more than what 2 people can eat. And I don’t eat like a normal person, and even I can’t eat half of what is prepared. I discovered that you don’t have to eat meat to fill your belly. Seriously. You know on those diets how people are always lying to you, saying “there’s so much food–I’m never hungry!” That is shit. They’re starving and 2 seconds away from inhaling a box of oatmeal creme pies.

You know it. I know it.

I’ve always wondered how the heck I would stay full if I went plant-based. All I could imagine was endless, sad passes at the Stop N’ Shop salad bar, scooping the same old lettuce leaves and sunflower seeds into my crappy plastic container. It was a sad, sad thing to imagine. But Tom Brady fixed me. I just didn’t know how to put these things together into meals and make them taste good. You really can get filled up on plants. I seriously had no idea before now.

Stuffed Sweet Potato

These meals are high in calories, I have noticed. Not sure why, other than maybe the olive oil? I know there’s some diet doctrine that says a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Look at the dude who lost weight eating twinkies every day. But there’s other doctrine that tells us the type of calories you consume are important. 1,000 twinkie calories are not going to be processed in the body the same way 1,000 vegetable calories will be. Know what I’m saying? Insulin is a really important factor in why bodies store fat, which begins with diet and the type of sugars you consume, and the body’s reaction to those sugars. There is a difference.

I never feel bad stuffing myself full of this food because I know everything in the meal is good for me. The meals are vegan and gluten-free, yes high in calorie, but super low in guilt. You know how they say the Americans are an over-fed but under-nourished population? It’s important to your health to understand that paradox. You can feel good putting these meals into your body knowing you’re fueling yourself with wholesome nutrition… And if it helps me to look anything like Giselle, just take my money!!

Posted in fitness

Rucking Rabulous

So here we are, twenty of us in class 1508, learning the rules of the ruck. We met in Bushnell Park, Hartford, CT. We received our ruck inspection and safety briefing before starting the “Welcome Party.” That was fun.18118664_703436243234_6362588101747274796_n
This is before I knew my new-ish, kind of expensive, running shoes which were totally inappropriate for this event, would be garbage in a few hours. That’s me, center, in the grey. One of my friends is to my left in orange, and if you’re wondering what her expression is, it is her wondering what the ruck she signed up for and also quietly cussing me out.

I have completed several road races of varying difficulty, but have never completed a race with “challenges” such as a mud run. I feel comfortable with not climbing wall after wall and splashing around in sweat and god-knows-what-filled pools of watery mud. But this isn’t like that. First of all, it isn’t a race. It isn’t brought in on trucks. There aren’t any water stops and there aren’t any swag bags or massage tables at the end. This challenge uses what’s available in the city, and you bring your own water with you, on your back and shoulders, and on your friend’s shoulders.

Why did I sign up for this? In a word–jealousy. Another word–determination.

My husband signed up for a ToughRuck, not associated with GoRuck. It’s a marathon-length ruck event with military and civilian divisions, associated with the Boston Marathon. He assumed I would not be interested, so he didn’t tell me about it. By the time I resolved to register, the registration had sold out, so I was pissed. Count me out of a ruck march, will you? Well I’ll just find my own!
That’s when I started e-mailing and researching and that’s how I found GoRuck. It’s a company that makes rucking gear, and created challenges as a way to test out their product’s durability. They have several types of challenges, the Light, Tough, Heavy, and other special challenges. I signed up for the Light. Then I got three of my friends to sign up with me. I started doing the workouts listed on the website. I thought I would whip myself into shape!

Then I stopped the workouts, which may or may not be obvious from these photographs.

The “Before” Photo

So after we finished the Welcome Party, we headed on our way to our first destination in a double-column. We were on the city streets, twenty-one of us total, led by a flag-bearer, so I imagine we looked a bit out of the ordinary. We had to carry weight as a team of various shapes and loads. We had to work together, comply, and get it done. We completed exercises as a team, we carried a huge log as a team (well they did, I was a team lead for that leg of the journey), and at one point, we even carried each other.  We carried on like this for hours and miles.

We received a reminder from our cadre during one of the challenges that it might feel sucky getting down on the ground and back up over and over with our 15-25lb ruck on our back in the plush grass… Just remember all the men and women who have to do that because of a real and deadly threat, with an average of 70 lbs on their backs, in much different terrain.

Hello. Yeah, what we were doing really wasn’t that bad.

The “After” Photo where we are all obviously feeling a little more bad-ass than when we started


At the end, we were all kind of tired, but no worse for the wear. Maybe it was because I didn’t carry the log, but I could have probably kept going if it had been a longer challenge.

We finished with some more team exercise before receiving our GoRuck Light Patches. If you’re looking for something different and you’re up for some real physical activity, teamwork, and getting dirty then definitely sign up for a GoRuck Light. Today, I feel pretty well with only some mild discomfort and stiffness but I have felt worse after running a distance road race with no weight and no other physical challenges.

What we came here for


But don’t forget the right shoes. Make sure they fit well, are comfortable, can get dirty, and that you’ll be OK with never being able to wear them again. And also dry socks.

Posted in fitness

Follow Me to Thirteen

I was looking forward to lacing up yesterday. It was my first day of a 33-day military order which allows me 3 hours of fitness time per week during the duty day. The weather was nice, a bit windy, but nice, coming off a stressful holiday weekend. Turning on my rusty RunKeeper app, I was prompted to run for 26.2 minutes for the Boston Marathon. Don’t mind if I do!

I have missed being able to run around within the safety of the base’s gates without having to run into my family time in the evening. Shortly after moving to where we live now, I would go for early morning runs before my husband went to work, but was quickly discouraged when I was harassed every time I went out. I had never experienced this harassment in our previous neighborhood no matter what time I went out. I appreciate running on base because there is very little traffic to navigate, there aren’t any hills to tromp up or down, and everyone around supports physical health and fitness—I’ve never experienced harassment while running here.

It has been difficult since having my daughter who is almost three now, to consistently make time for physical fitness, be it running or going to the gym or whatever. She literally attaches herself to me, and with my husband now working overnight, time is extremely limited. Knowing I was coming on a month-long order, I signed myself up for a few races to motivate me to train. Maybe I am setting my expectations a bit high, but I have signed up for the 2017 Boston Run to Remember, which is a tribute to fallen law enforcement officers and first responders. I ran in the 2013 five-mile race with my friend, while my husband ran the half. I remember it being a really crappy day, but a really nice course. The previous year, I “ran” the Manchester half marathon in New Hampshire on virtually no training, it was a terribly trying route, I experienced debilitating Morton’s Neuroma (MN) pain where I had to stop, take my shoe off, rub my foot before carrying  on. Terrible experience. That was the only half I’ve ever “run,” if you can even call it running. More like crawling.

Finishing the Holyoke Road Race (in blue)

Last month, I participated in the annual Holyoke St Patrick’s Road Race which is a hilly 10k. This month—this weekend, actually—I am participating in a GoRuck Light, which is an appx 7 mile ruck. This past weekend, my husband completed a Tough Ruck affiliated with the Boston Marathon. I missed registration and despite my attempts to acquire a bib, the organization would not sell me one, so I signed up for a GoRuck instead to quiet my jealousy. Next year, I will be registering for the Tough Ruck.

So here I am, gearing up for a half marathon, and yesterday I began training and I hated every step. I made it a mile before I started feeling the MN in my foot. My lungs felt tight. It was just an uncomfortable-feeling run in general, which was pretty disappointing given how much I was looking forward to it. I committed to running 26.2 minutes, and I know I can do it if I just stick with it, so I just did it. I was hoping I would feel good afterwards, but honestly, I didn’t. Maybe I was still feeling heavy from my big Easter dinner. 

But if I’m going to meet my goal, I must keep going. Keep trying. Keep lacing up. Keep fighting. I keep remembering “where I used to be,” and keep wanting to get back to that place. Where I could just run and run until time ran out. Where people knew me as “a good runner.” Where two miles was a warm-up. step