Guest Post: Hungry Games: Dabbling in Vegan—The Inspiration

I’m a person who really enjoys a rich, complete experience. This means that I generally don’t approach anything half-heartedly, and I like to immerse myself in the culture of whatever it is I’m doing. So, a couple months ago, when I signed up for my first marathon (Marine Corps, October 28!), I really thought about what it means to be a marathoner, so that I could channel all things running. Obviously, in order to be a real runner, I would have to start reading Runner’s World magazine.

In the first issue I picked up, there was an article about Scott Jurek, a leading ultrarunner (the athletes who compete in Crazy Town distance races—like 100 miles.) I had recently read the book, Born to Run, about the sport of ultrarunning, so I was drawn towards the article. (I loved the book, especially the idea that compared to other mammals, humans were built not for speed but for incredible endurance. Since a marathon is pretty intimidating, it’s comforting to know that my body is designed to run far.)

The article about Jurek informed me of something I found fascinating—that the world’s leading ultrarunner is also a vegan! So, although I’m not ready to give up meat and dairy, the article has inspired me to incorporate some vegan experiences into my life.

I started with Scott Jurek’s Chocolate Adzuki Bars. The recipe was printed in the June 2012 issue of Runner’s World. At first, I did not really like these bars. They look deceptively like brownies, but they do NOT taste like brownies. However, once I was able to get my brain to remember that I was not, in fact, eating a brownie, I started to really enjoy my super healthy, energy boosting, fueling runner treat. They have quite a lovely red bean, banana flavor. My friend K-Hon thinks they’re amazing too. I eat them now with breakfast before a long run, or as an afternoon snack. Here’s the recipe, so you, too, can dabble in vegan:

  • ½ teaspoon coconut oil (Coconut oil comes as a solid, usually in a jar.)
  • 1 15-ounce can adzuki beans, drained (I found these at Whole Foods, but the can was labeled “aduki” beans.)
  • 1 medium overripe banana (A banana that is just starting to brown is the best. If the banana is too overripe, the bars have a weird flavor.)
  • ½ cup almond or rice milk
  • ½ cup light coconut milk (I like the kind from Trader Joe’s better than the kind from Whole Foods.)
  • ½ cup barley flour (I found this at Whole Foods.)
  • ¼ cup rice flour (I also found this at Whole Foods.)
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (Use real maple syrup, not the fake kind.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup goji berries, currants, or raisins (I like raisins better than currants because they’re bigger, but both taste good. I’ve yet to experiment with goji berries because I haven’t seen them in the grocery store.)
  • ½ cup nondairy chocolate chips [optional] (I skipped this. I don’t like nondairy chocolate.)

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a 9-inch square pan with coconut oil. Blend beans and banana with almond and coconut milk until smooth and creamy. (Definitely use a blender or food processor. I used a hand-held mixer the first time I made these, and it doesn’t blend the beans enough.)

Add the flours, cocoa, syrup, vanilla, and salt, processing until thoroughly mixed.

Stir in dried fruit. Pour mixture into pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until firm. (I cooked mine longer. They were still really gooey after 45 minutes. They do harden more after they cool, though.) When cool, cut into squares. Makes 16 bars.

Calories per bar: 121 Carbs: 23g Fiber: 1g Protein: 2g Fat: 2g

(I decided that my pictures of food never look as appealing as they do in person, so I added some flowers to make this look prettier.)

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