Pushing Up Pansies

June 29th, 2010 | Posted by Alison Spath in Morning Craziness - (10 Comments)

Well, it’s that time of year. The time when I start hemming and hawing about what I’m going to train for this summer: the half marathon or the full marathon. Last year I considered running the full marathon again but then bailed mid summer. I instead opted for the half with the excuse that I’d never run a half marathon before, conveniently weaseling my way out of a summer of 20 mile long runs.

This year though? My decision process is being strongly influenced by Born to Run – the book I’m currently reading about these super human athletes who run 100 mile ultramarathons and make it all sound so easy. I have to admit it’s left me feeling a bit like a pansy for quibbling over a measly 26.2 miles in comparison. It’s like sitting on the couch watching figuring skating as these beautiful skaters do perfect triple axels with ease. You’re sitting there thinking “Pssshhh I can do that!” as you promptly plop over and drool into your throw pillow whilst falling asleep during a Burger King commercial.

Except no drooling for me dammit! But no triple axles either, just 26.2 miles. Sure, it’s no 100 miles in Leadville – the highest, coldest city in North America – but at least I feel 83.8% less pansy than I would otherwise while reading this book.

So yes, at this very moment I am feeling very full marathon-y and have decided to try out this Less Is More Marathon training program which touts running your best marathon ever. Your best marathon ever? Well! Sign me up for that! This plan entails running three days a week: one day of speed work, one tempo run and one long run every week.

And today my friends was a speed work day. This means dragging my butt out of bed at the crack of dawn, running the 3/4 mile to the track with camera in hand, a nice helping of self inflicted torture and then running home again.

Track Morning

Hmmmm… Authorized Use Only? Well, what if I authorize me? Does that count? OK so shhh… Just look like you belong here and no one will raise an eyebrow.


Given there are 10 weeks to go until the marathon, I am technically on Week 6 of this 16 week training plan. Never mind please that I didn’t get started until last week and therefore missed the first four weeks of speed work and long runs. Details, details!

On today’s docket was 5 sets of 1200 meter repeats, which is track talk for running hard 3 times around the track and try your best not to puke. Then do it again, 4 more times.

And once again, never mind please that I didn’t double check the schedule before I left this morning. I thought I was only supposed to do 3 x 1200. Oops. I didn’t even realize this mistake until just now when I fetched the link for you all. Boy I am on a roll.

So where was I? Oh yes. Sneaking onto the track for some speed work. Me and my awesome memory did our 3 sets of 1200 meters with a 400 meter recovery lap between each set and I didn’t even puke! I ran the last repeat barefoot, figuring if I was gonna raise any eyebrows and get kicked out, best to do it on my last set.

So yup, speed work sucks, but it works, so you do it. Say that three times fast. Or better yet, say it five times fast.


Little do you know there were two other people running on the track when I took this pictures, both surely wondering what the hell I was doing. And little do you know I photo shopped a booger out of this picture too.

Speed and photo shoot insanity over, I left my shoes off and ran the 3/4 mile home barefoot, eyebrow raising be damned. Although one look at the clinger in my nose and any security guard would have surely ran the other way anyway.

Home for a Breakfast of Champions Forgetfulness: Strawberry Banana Museli.

Strawberry Banana Museli

1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 container of 2% Fage
1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
Diced strawberries and bananas on top

Let the oats soak for a couple minutes to soften up. Enjoy after a hard, illegal work out before you realize you were actually supposed to run even longer than you did, thus concluding you are two-fifths pansy. Continue enjoying before you download the pictures off your camera and realize there’s a booger in your nose too.

Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.

Dear Scale,

I would like to take this time to thank you for having so much in common with a well known antagonist.


You have taunted me, pointed fingers at me, cackled at me and threatened to steal away my little dog. (OK maybe not that last one. But then again I don’t have a dog.)

But now, thanks to some splashy children and your inability to bear so much water weight due poor placement at our new house, you are dead.

So here we are Scale. You are refusing to turn on even though I didn’t drop a house on you. But lucky for me, I have a brain. I know when I’m eating healthy. Daily physical activity is second nature to me and my heart now. I can tell by the way my clothes fit and look if there’s a steady imbalance between the calories in and calories out equation. In fact, most mornings I could wake up and predict precisely what you were going to tell me. Any increase or decrease in your numbers never came as a surprise. I knew you that well scale!

Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I’ve come to know my body that well.

Scale, you were an incredible tool when I was learning how to nourish and fuel my body properly. You were a huge factor in learning the caloric mathematical formula that is weight loss. But now? I don’t need you. And you certainly never needed me. Now Scale, my munchkins will be forced to use the real stool when they stand at the bathroom sink to brush their teeth and make a huge mess.

I think I’m going to do me and the other math equation in my life (Checkbook) a big favor and not replace you. I’m no coward! I can live without your numbers! I’ve still got that giant, public, for-the-whole-world-to-see scale at Wegmans if I get really curious after all.

I can I tell if I’m at healthy weight without you Scale! I can see with my own two eyes that my children are robust and healthy – they don’t need you either. All you really are now is one more thing to pick up when I get out my broom. (Stop cackling Scale, you know I do sweep sometimes!)

In summary Scale, I have put you in the trash and will not be replacing you with another scale from the Wicked Target of the East. An offer of a free pair of sparkly red shoes with every scale purchase won’t convince me either, so don’t even try it.

It’s been real scale – thanks for everything. There’s no place for you in my home. See ya at the doctor’s office, or maybe at Wegmans if I ever get the courage.

Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.

Foot Notes

June 17th, 2010 | Posted by Alison Spath in Fitness - (11 Comments)

At the end of last year I saw this hippie barefoot runner dude in the November issue of Runner’s World in their “What it Takes…” column.

Runner's World Ken Bob Saxton

What it Takes to Run Barefoot

Zak and I had a conversation then about the fact that you don’t see a whole lot of barefoot running articles or barefoot runners in running magazines. Of course not! They make the majority of their profits from companies buying ad space to sell running shoes! These advertisers probably wouldn’t be too keen on a loads of pages glamorizing this crazy concept of running without shoes on – the way nature intended! (This is where it becomes obvious that I’m currently reading Born to Run.) And of course the guy featured in this snippet was a hippie with a long grey beard and dirty feet – not a young, hot running babe or hunk with a tight buns and bulging biceps donning a smokin’ running outfit and a pair brand new sneaks to match. We wouldn’t want anyone to think that anyone hip or cool runs barefoot, now would we?

You can hold your applause, cynicism is a gift.

ANYWAY. I was tipped off by a friend last week that this same hippie looking barefoot dude I stumbled across last year in Runner’s World is actually on tour this summer doing free barefoot running workshops – AND it just so happened that he was going to be in a city only an hour from here this week AND it was free! Well what are the freaking chances? It probably goes without saying that yours truly jumped at the chance to hear what a vegan runner who’s finished over 70 marathon’s wearing only the shoes he was born in had to say.

And did I mention it was free?

So last night I left my sneakers at home and ran off to attend Ken Bob Saxton’s barefoot running workshop.

Ken Bob and his dog Herman

Even his dog runs barefoot YO! Isn’t that whack? (This is where I confirm for you that no one hip or cool runs barefoot.)

I, along with 20 or so other barefoot intrigues, got to listen to Ken Bob talk about the fact that running barefoot is all about learning to run gently. It’s about learning to run and move in a way that our bodies are intended to run. He cleared up one misconception I had, which is that it is ok to put your heel down when you run (good, because I’ve come to realize that I do in fact set my heel down) so long as you don’t land on your heel. You want to land on the balls of your feet and then setting your heel down is ok and natural, provided you don’t pound it into the ground at the completion of every step.

He also stressed the importance of bending your knees, taking note of your posture and to be mindful that you’re keeping your torso vertical and not hunching over. It’s also important to note that you should not be pushing off with each step, but instead lifting the whole foot. When you run barefoot, you give your feet the opportunity to provide you with this incredible feedback that can tell you if your running form is right or wrong. Even minimalist shoes like Vibrams can keep you from receiving this crucial feedback.

We listened to him speak for about an hour, and then it was time to practice what he preached.

Ready to Run

He explained the importance of running barefoot on hard surfaces, and that running only on the grass or sand is a lot like running with sneakers on – because it still gives you a lot of cushioning that can keep you from feeling the effects of improper form or foot strike. He suggested treating grass and sand like barefoot dessert, and using hard surfaces as your barefoot nutrition. It’s the road, sidewalk, trails and pavement that are going to give you the best feedback. Grass and sand are a nice treat, but too many treats and you’ll never grace the pages of a running magazine – whether you’re cool and hip or nerdy and barefoot!

Watching Ken Bob run and observing his form was probably the most beneficial part of the workshop for me. He doesn’t bounce or bobble up and down when he runs – he keeps his knees bent and moves very smoothly and fluidly. We ran in a group to various spots around a paved parking lot and got to try out these new tips and techniques for ourselves. I was shocked at how easy it felt when I started lifting my feet and moving them forward with quick, short steps instead of pushing off and taking longer strides, focusing on keeping my feet lower to the ground instead of bringing them up higher like I do when I have shoes on. Basically modifying all the movements that would otherwise lead to landing hard instead of softly and gently.

This might be a good place for a quick homeblogschool physics lesson (feel free to disregard the fact that I never took physics) about the laws of gravity and acceleration. (More proof that no one cool runs barefoot.)

You see, it is known in the land of the physical sciences that any object falling through the air due to the force of gravity increases in downward acceleration by approximately 9.81 meters ever second. Something like that.

In short: the higher you lift your feet, the harder they are going to fall. Don’t lift your feet any higher than you need to and you will more easily be able to achieve this new concept of “running gently”.

Two hours from start to finish, I left my new barefoot friends feeling totally pumped and ready to run home and give everything I learned a shoeless whirl.


And whirl I did first thing this morning!

Up until now, 95% of any barefoot running I’ve done has been on the grass, mainly out of fear and also out of necessity due to skin pain! But this morning, armed with my new techniques I quite literally hit the road with no fear and no shoes. I planned to go out for about a mile and then come back and fetch my sneaks if needed. But lo and behold – the end off Mile 1 was upon me and I was feeling pretty incredible foot loose and sneaker free! I easily ran 4 miles around my neighborhood streets and sidewalks, barely running in the grass at all. Insanity! Lifting my feet with short, quick steps was key! Not only did it make running on the pavement easier, but it also felt like I was running more efficiently too. I absolutely felt like I was exerting less energy overall, especially compared to what would otherwise be a typical shod, foot poundy Thursday morning run.

Love it. Totally love it.

It wasn’t until the end of the workshop yesterday that I thought to take a little video – so if you’re curious, take a peek at the short clip of Ken Bob discussing the fact that once you learn proper form from barefoot running, it really doesn’t matter what you wear on your feet!

Interested in seeing Ken Bob saunter around shoelessly yourself? Maybe he’s coming to a town near you! And hey – it’s free! (OK, so I did donate the small contents of my pay pal account to my new friend Ken Bob, it was the least I could do. I mean, I would do the same for the library after all…)

Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.

Strawberry Shortcuts

June 13th, 2010 | Posted by Alison Spath in Healthy Habits - (14 Comments)

In my continual quest to show my brood that food doesn’t grow on grocery store shelves, in conjunction with my desire to save money on produce whilst flying under the child labor law radar, we went strawberry picking this week.

Strawberry Sign

I’m trying to get you to believe that I’m this do-awesome-stuff-feed-my-kids-right-awesomely-incredible homeschooling mom, but really it was about getting the hell out of the house for a few hours and finding something different to do that wasn’t going to end with me paying a bunch of late fees to the library.

Child Labor

Maxine, who will not eat a strawberry even if was hand picked by Barbie herself and served up on a My Little Pony platter, delighted in the task of picking red berries and hunting them down like Easter eggs.

So Proud

Who’s hiding these Easter eggs anyway? They are everywhere yo!


She did this exact thing after every strawberry she picked. Pull up a chair, we’re gonna be here a while.

Another One

OK gang, do you see how many green baskets I’ve filled? It’s time to pick up the pace here girls, my one armed grandmother picks strawberries faster than you! I want those fingers stained red! With strawberry juice! And blood! No rest for the weary! Is it any wonder they don’t pay kids very much?

Get Picking

After 40 minutes in the field I was now $20 poorer (could’ve just gone to the library) but one flat of strawberries richer!

Make a Dent

I fully admit that a large percentage of our hand picked berries were devoured during the prep process. When not playing one for you, one for me with the bowl, I busied myself with scalping strawberry heads and tried to figure out what I might do with these red beauties. Not wanting to go the well traveled Strawberry Shortcake route, I bypassed Strawberry Shortcake Lane and instead took the Strawberry Salsa Turnpike, picking up a couple of other tropical fruit hitch hikers along way.

Strawberry Salsa

Strawberry Mango Pineapple Salsa

2 c finely diced strawberries
3/4 c finely diced mango
3/4 c finely diced pinapple
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
Juice from one lime
2 Tbsp dried cilanto (fresh would have been better)
1/4 c rice vinegar
salt to taste

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.

The fruit proportions are pretty flexible here, use as much or as little you like or have on hand. I would have thrown in a diced jalapeno here too if I’d had one – but sadly, no jalapenos were to be found in my fridge on this day. After mourning the loss of a jalapeno, I rejoiced in the fact that I had a bag of Food Should Taste Good Jalapeno tortilla chips to use as the vehicle for which to travel down Strawberry Salsa Street.

Food Should Taste Good Jalapeno

That’ll work.

With Chips

I read a bunch of fruit salsa recipes before concocting mine, and I’ll say that I was really skeptical about fruit with red pepper and onion but it was pretty dang good. The flavors complimented each other well and the jalapeno chips pitched in nicely with a little gas money for our strawberry road trip.

Those spicy little buggers even did their part in keeping small strawberry blood stained hands from returning to the bag!

Nibble too_hot

In short, the moral of today’s story is: Having children does indeed pay off. Just another 2,000 or so flats of strawberries and these babies will have paid for themselves.

Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.

Barefoot Adventures

June 10th, 2010 | Posted by Alison Spath in Fitness - (6 Comments)

I’m not a professional barefoot runner (simply because no one has offered to pay me. yet.) but I got to thinking that I am sort of experienced at this barefoot running business. I ran barefoot on the beach in Florida once for about a mile. And I regularly run the recycling out to the curb barefoot, even in the winter. I also find that I’m often running in my dreams (and it feels like I’m running through molasses I might add) … and of course given that I am barefoot when I sleep, that surely counts for something in the barefoot running department, right?

So with the exception of the beach run, any barefoot running up until now has been unintentional. Well friends, times they are a changing. I set out for a couple of quite intentional barefoot runs this week – not on the beach, with the recycling bin nor in a horizontal position, but still barefoot nonetheless.

The first was in the midst of a normal run on a sunny, breezy afternoon. Instead of sailing through the park on this particular day though, I stopped to take off my shoes and socks and give it a barefoot whirl. I tried to resist feeling paranoid about leaving my not-exactly-cheap sneaks alone in a semi-sketchy park, but I figured I’d just be running big laps around the picnic tables where I’d be leaving them and would be able to shoe away any homeless peeps or pesky squirrels looking to snatch up a pair of hot pink Puma sneakers and black Asisc socks as needed.

I ran a little over a mile, through the grassy fields, alternating grass and pavement, wood chips and stones, moving back into the grass every time I was positive the bottoms of my feet had been ripped open by the macadam and I was surely leaving a trail of blood and skin in my wake.

It was quite the experience, and after I felt satisfied that I had given my arches and calves a sufficient beating I went back to the pavilion where I’d left my sneakers to get ready to run the mile back home – only to discover that one of my socks was missing! I knew it! Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you! But who would steal ONE sock? And why? Seriously? They’re nice socks homeless man! You’ll run like the wind in them! And if it was you squirrel, think of all the nuts you could haul back to your hole with TWO socks! I mean if you’re gonna take them, at least take them both. They’re a set for crying out loud.

Convinced that no one would steal just one sock, I was now positive someone was just playing a trick or simply messing with me. When I looked around to find the sock stealing prankster surely snickering and pointing at me as they watched the scene unfold from the bushes, I found my sock in the shadows of the pavilion, just a couple yards away. I was now sure that as soon as I bent down to pick up my sock a gang of teenage squirrels in the bushes would reel in the fishing line my sock was attached to and laugh hysterically at me as I chased after my sock in the park – but alas, that didn’t happen either. No pre-pubescent rodent perpetrators in the bushes. No homeless men scouting the local parks for women’s socks. Just me and the sneaky wind that somehow scooped my sock out of my sneakers and blew it out of plain site.

The next barefoot run was a bit less about paranoid delusions and more about multitasking.

Beautiful Sunday

The same park, but this time with the kids. “I’m taking the kids to the playground” is now code for “I’m going for a barefoot run”.

Children piled into the car, sneakers on but left untied, off we went to the playground for some running – big and little people alike.

This time though it was barefoot from the very beginning through the very end. I kept waiting for the people I ran past to notice that I was running without shoes on, but no one did. Or if they did, they didn’t say anything. Well fine then. Next time I’ll be sure to bring along my “Notice me! I’m running without shoes on!” sign. Or then again, maybe it’s not my shoes I should be taking off if what I want is to get noticed on a run.

I spent 40 minutes alternating running with some walking, on grass and on pavement, checking in on the two excuses I brought with me to the playground every once in a while. When my arches felt fatigued and I was sufficiently sweaty, I called it a barefoot wrap after about 3 miles.

Garmin 405

I did take advantage of the free foot strike evaluation sponsored by the local puddles before collecting my gang and packing it up though.

Professional Foot Strike Evaluation

When I retrieved my children from the plastic structures they played on while I ran laps around them, they too were without shoes on, but in stocking feet instead of completely barefoot.

Barefoot Max balance

At least someone noticed my shoeless run! But what am I gonna say to them? Get your shoes on? Doesn’t your mother teach you anything?

Filthy Feet

(This one is for the people who find my blog when they google “Filthy Female Feet“. You’re welcome.)

Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.

Raw Deals

June 8th, 2010 | Posted by Alison Spath in Vegetable Lovin' - (10 Comments)

Last year right around this time I found The Raw Foods Detox Diet by Natalia Rose.  I was so excited and convinced by all the rawesome stuff in her book that I did a bunch of things she said to do, as well as the one big thing she said not to do; that is, “don’t dive head first into the raw food deep end.”  Bah!  I’ve been eating raw food since I was a baby!  How hard can it be?



*smash head*


So OK yeah, you don’t become a high raw foodist overnight. Check.  After a couple weeks of attempting a largely raw diet I pretty much bailed completely and went back to eating cooked food again.  It did lead me to juicing though for which I am eternally grateful. I also came away with a new found respect for food that didn’t require quite so much damn chewing, so I appreciated that too.

With spring and summer produce raining down on us like, well – rain, I’ve been thinking about the Raw Food Detox Diet again and have been brushing up on my food combining skillz and raw recipes too.  As the case usually is with me, thoughts turn to action and suddenly I’ve found myself on a raw rampage.  The table and fridge have been filled with more raw meals than usual and for the time being, I’m treading water in the raw food deep end.

Raw Deal #1: Marinated Portobello Mushrooms

Pile O'Shrooms

Here lies four unsuspecting portobello mushroom caps, which I promptly scalped and sliced after snapping this picture.  I made up a quick and easy marinade of an unmeasured amount of olive oil (probably half a cup), balsamic vinegar (maybe 3/4 c), 1 clove of garlic (minced) and a dash of salt.  Shrooms into the bowl of marinade and then into fridge for a few hours, stirring (and sampling) occasionally when I thought of it.


Marinated mushrooms were then delicately plopped onto a bed of mixed greens and then drizzled with remaining marinade.

Marinated Mushrooms For Dinner

And then those perfectly marinated mushrooms met their maker.

Raw Deal #2: Curried Coleslaw

I originally stole got the idea for this recipe from my mother, but it can also be found here.

My version of this recipe went a little something like this (I doubled it):

Bagged Coleslaw

1 bag of shredded cabbage (have you ever tried to cut up a head of cabbage?  Yeah, once was enough for me too.)
1/4 c shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/3 c Braggs Amino Acid (soy sauce would work too)
1/3 c apple cider vingear
1/3 c olive oil
2 Tablespoons agave nectar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 or so inches of ginger, grated
Juice from 1 lemon
Curry powder, cumin, salt to taste

My favorite little ginger grater flounder doesn’t get nearly enough blog time. Please allow me to present you with your gratuitous porcelain nubbed flounder shot:

My Favorite Ginger Flounder

(Totally worth it.)

Curried Coleslaw for lunch anyone?

Raw Vegan Curried Coleslaw

Raw Deal #3, a deal that can’t be beet! (har har har)

Three Beets

Beet and Apple Slaw

3 smallish beets, trimmed and scrubbed and grated (in that order)
2 mediumish apples, grated
1 smallish red onion, diced
Juice from 1 lemon
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 clove garlic, minced
dash of salt, pepper

Grated Apple Beets and Apples All Stirred Up

Shred, mince, etc all fruits and vegetables, add other ingredients. Stir. Place on bed of greens. Eat.

Beet Slaw

I made this today and it’s already gone. No shame! Lunch and dinner, done and done. It was that good. Even the Potato Head macked on this beet slaw. Your purple lips don’t lie Monsieur P to the H! Let’s just say it’s a good thing raw potato isn’t that great, otherwise Raw Deal #4 would have been Raw Potato Salad.

Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.

All the Right Moves

June 5th, 2010 | Posted by Alison Spath in Motivation - (13 Comments)

Once upon a time in 2004, a small creature was cut out of my uterus.  Said creature then proceeded to wreak havoc on our lives in a variety of ways.  Exactly two years, six months and one week later another creature was sliced and diced out of me, eagerly adding to the chaos that we now call life.

It just so happens though that these small havoc wreaking creatures were the spring board to the life I now strive to live; that is – doing the exact opposite of what mainstream society might do.   Whenever I start to find myself on the side of the majority, I get to thinking it’s probably time to reconsider.  The world is consuming processed foods at an alarming rate?  Well then I’ll just stop cooking.  Everyone else returns their library books on time? Mine are always going to be late from now on.  Most people shower once a day?  Every other day if you’re lucky.

Hi, my name is Alison and Hyperbole is my middle name.  But you catch my drift.  If it’s what everyone else is doing, suddenly I start to wonder what’s wrong with it.

It all started with breastfeeding. Well, during pregnancy to be more precise.  A pregnant and eager first time mom planning to nurse for a year maybe, I started reading and reading and reading some more.  Thus began my journey to self-actualization and this crazy notion that you don’t always have to do things the same way everyone else does or even says you’re supposed to.  Of course there is a time and place to learn from the trials and errors and successes of other – but don’t be afraid to make some of your own mistakes too.  If you aren’t failing, then you aren’t trying.  And if you aren’t trying, what’s the point?

But back to breastfeeding neurosis for a second here – fast forward 9 months + 3 breastfeeding books + a couple of La Leche League meetings later and rather than having weaned at 6 weeks, 6 months or even a year, I found myself nursing a two and a half year old on an airplane, smirking as I flip through the aircraft safety card with a pair toddler legs dangling into the aisle, fully prepared to shoot squinty eyed glares at strangers or flight attendants that might raise an eyebrow.

Misadventures in human lactation aside, I really am getting somewhere with all this; and that would be my encouragement to both you and me to try crazy things and not fear being a little different.  I’m not suggesting being different simply for the sake of being different, but instead being different when some free thinking, knowledge, understanding and common sense dictate a move away from cultural norms and mainstream thinking.

This brings me to my latest experiment, and that would be running without any shoes on.

That’s right, barefoot running.  This concept first appeared on my horizon when I read a post by Matt of No Meat Athlete fame some time last year.  Since then, I’ve taken special note of barefoot runners.  I’ve found myself reading articles and blog posts on barefoot running and have even spent some time doubting the validity of everything I’ve read on the subject.  More recently though, I’ve been wondering what exactly it might entail to transition into something so seemingly radical and how long it might take to acclimate to this far from mainstream idea.

To be brief, the main idea here is that when you run with shoes on, you muck up your form.  Heavily cushioned sneakers keep you from feeling pain or discomfort you would otherwise feel if you didn’t have shoes on when you run all weird-like.  Sneakers keep us from finding the proper running form our bodies are designed to run in.  With sneakers on, you might land on your heel, which generates a sudden impact to your bones, muscles and joints.  It’s like hitting the brakes with every step.  We’re not supposed to run this way, and if you didn’t have sneakers on, you’d figure that out pretty quickly.

With shoes on though, you don’t necessarily feel the pain caused by your improper form immediately.  Instead, that pain rears its fugly head over the course of a few weeks or months and presents as shin splints, ITBS, knee or hip pain and you can’t figure out why it hurts.  You might go on to blame running itself, probably using everyone’s favorite “running is bad for your knees!” line or “I’m just not meant to be a runner…”   Both excuses that I used myself in my journey to actually enjoying running.

Alternatively though, if you run without shoes on, you automatically start running in a way that our bodies are best suited to run – that is, by landing on the ball of your foot and/or mid-foot.

I could go on for paragraphs (too late) with all that I’ve learned, but instead I’ll say that if you’re curious to know more, Google is your friend.  And rest assured that I’ll probably write more about it as my experience with it evolves anyway.

Now don’t get me wrong:  I still enjoy running in my sneakers and full well plan to run like the rest of the normal running world 90% of the time for now.  Fortunately in my case, as my mother, girlfriends, husband and large calf muscles can attest to – I walk on my toes when I’m barefoot.  I have no idea why – maybe I was a ballerina in a former life.  Whatever the case, I apparently run this way too, even with sneakers on.  I remember being fitted for shoes at a local running shoe store, where they video tape your feet from behind as you run on a treadmill.  They then play back the recording in slow motion to see what exactly it is you do with those feet of yours when you run.  When they played my blockbuster of foot movie back, the dude said “Your heels don’t even touch the ground!”  Oops.  Is that a bad thing?  Ummm, no, as I’ve come to find out, it’s not.

Still, I bet there’s room for improvement with my form.  I do notice that my knees start to hurt when my shoes are getting old.  This is why I’ve decided to eschew a summer of long runs and instead focus on increasing my barefoot mileage.  I plan to start by supplementing 10% of my weekly mileage with a couple of barefoot miles through grassy areas with a sprinkling of paved paths that are a part of my usual running routes.  I want to slowly get the skin on the bottoms of my feet accustomed to this off the wall idea while at the same time slowly strengthening the small stabilizing muscles in my feet that have atrophied thanks to their disuse from being swaddled in leather and shoe laces and served up on a foam cushioning platter for the past three decades.

In summary, breastfeeding leads to barefoot running. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  And when I slice my foot open on a piece of broken glass or contract HIV from jamming my big toe into a hypodermic needle, I won’t say you didn’t warn me.

When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.*

Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.

Loafing Around

June 1st, 2010 | Posted by Alison Spath in Dinner Time - (17 Comments)

From my omnivorous days of yore, I think I miss meatloaf the most.  I mean seriously now – how have I been getting by without eating a loaf of meat these past three and a half-ish years? It’s a meatless mystery for sure, and it’s time to do something about it!

That’s a joke in case you couldn’t tell. Actually I miss turkey subs the most. OK that’s a joke too. Who needs turkey when you’ve got lettuce, tomato, onion, red, green and banana peppers and (gasp!) mayo and provolone cheese on a sesame seed roll from Wegmans? I rest my case.

Wait, so what was I talking about? Oh yes. Meatloaf. Meat. Loaf. What does any sensible vegetarian use to substitute meat in meat dishes? Why beans of course. (Except in subs.) Time to grab your legumes and get a loaf on.


Bean Loaf:

2 cans Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 c ketchup
1 c rolled oats
2 eggs, beaten
1 c frozen corn
a dash of salt & pepper
a couple good shakes of dried oregano and dried basil

And don’t forget the most important ingredient:

1 sad three year old who is extremely disappointed that you are using the last two eggs to make your bean loaf instead of making her scrambled eggs for breakfast.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get mashing those beans with a potato masher. Stir in the rest of the ingredients as desired – the order doesn’t seem to matter a whole heck of a lot here – it’s all just going into the loaf pan as a bean and vegetable mash when you’re done!

Ketchup is probably my least favorite ingredient in this recipe – BUT! I must say, if I might jump ahead and spoil the ending, it really gave the bean loaf a great taste! At least it was organic ketchup and contained no high fructose corn fun. You could probably even substitute your favorite barbecue sauce or even salsa to mix it up.

Organic Ketchup

Grease a 9 inch loaf pan (I misto‘d mine with olive oil) and bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

Into the Oven

I just so happened to make this bean loaf in the morning. (Note the Strawberry Shortcake pajamas above, although admittedly that’s really no indication as to what time of day it might have been…) It was nice to have dinner crossed off my to-do list early on.

Cooked Loaf

In other exciting veggie news – this week marks the start of our CSA pick up! Earlier this year we purchased a share of vegetables from a local, organic farm. From now through mid fall we’ll head out weekly to the farm to pick up our share of vegetables.

First CSA Pick Up

And boy oh boy did it feel like we hit the green motherload this week! And to think this is only Week 1!

Spinach Galore Lettuce Bath

One Bunch

Turnips? OK, I have never prepared a turnip before, or even eaten a turnip for that matter… I smell a Turnip Loaf post in our future!


In addition to turnips we picked up radishes, garlic scapes, red and green leaf lettuce, bok choi and 1 1/2 pounds of mixed greens including arugula, mustard greens, broccoli raab, red mustard and orach (??)

Mustard Greens

With a produce drawer now positively overflowing with leafy vegetables, re-heated bean loaf was served with a side of steamed mixed greens.

Bean Loaf with Steamed Greens

Before you ask, no – sadly, my kids won’t eat one bite of this. I do have high hopes for the future though! Please let the record show that there was absolutely a time in my life – not even that long ago I might add – where I would have raised one corner of my upper lip like Elvis in his blue suede shoes at the thought of eating a big pile steamed greens like that instead of rice or potatoes.

Beans for meat, dinner for breakfast, greens for grains, that’s a wrap! Or better yet, a veggie sub.

Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.

Some where in the span of the last half year – give or take a couple weeks – life went from sickly sweet and seemingly picture perfect to oh-so-insanely soap opera-ish that even Susan Lucci would have to change the channel because she can’t keep up.

Yes, once upon a time I used to watch All My Children.  So sue me.

I had to stop blogging because when the going gets tough, the tough just makes a salad.  And the tough can only blog about green juice and breakfast cookies and crudites with hummus lunches for so long before her readers start yawning and drooling into their keyboards.  Then before I know it, I’ll have a stack of bills on my desk from bored readers invoicing me for their new typing apparatus’s (apparati?  what’s the plural of apparatus?) to replace the ones said readers ruined after they dribbled puddles of saliva while falling asleep from reading about my vegetable monotony and posts full of run on sentences.

Here’s where I stop being annoyingly cryptic and overly dramatic and get to the point of this post.

So, as the new saying goes… when the going gets tough, the tough makes a salad.  But the tough can also tie on her sneakers and go for a run if she likes as well.  A girl always has option.  And after all, what better way to take full advantage of the feel good hormones evolution afforded each of us than to rub the sleep out of your eyes, throw on some non-cotton clothes and your (still relatively new!) Garmin 405 and hit the road, Jack?  It’s all about figuring out how to give that pituitary gland a good hard squeeze and allow some endorphins to ooze out into your blood stream for a cheap and natural pick-me-up.  Personally, I prefer to squeeze my pituitary gland around 6am when most of the creatures in this urban jungle are still sleeping.  Or, while the creatures in my very own urban habitat are still sleeping at the very least.

Given the going is still going a bit tough these days, the first thing on today’s to do list?

Squeeze pituary gland.


Sneaks on, garmin buckled to my wrist, off I went for a few butt-crack-of-dawn miles around town on a pseudo drug run to turn any frowns at least temporarily upside down.  All I know is that it’s a good thing running feels a lot more like a habit these days rather than a chore ’cause otherwise I’d probably be watching old episodes of All My Children on Hulu whilst simultaneously shushing and barking orders at my kids to Be Quiet and Fetch Mama Some Bonbons.

Another happiness tip?  Find pleasure in the little things.  And what little things pray tell am I finding pleasure in these days?  Why a spinach bed overflowing with fresh, backyard and organically grown spinach – that’s what!

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Here’s a true story:

Ready for lunch one day last week, whole wheat tortillas in one hand, tub-o-Family Size Garlic Sabra in the other, visions of veggies wraps danced in my head – until I realized I was out of spinach, or greens of any kind for that matter.


Ummm, out of greens in the fridge maybe… “out of greens” with the exception of the very green spinach flowing from the raised bed in my back yard, ready and waiting to be harvested.  Ohhhh yeaaaaaahhhhh forgot about those greens!

Tortillas and hummus tubs quickly cast aside to be replaced with plastic bowls and purple handled scissors as I skipped and squealed gleefully down my back steps and into my back yard.  It’s time to snip snip snip until her Daddy takes the scissors away.

Fresh Spinach

Enter more skipping and squealing back up the steps, into the kitchen to get to work on a hummus wrap masterpiece magnificent enough to belong in a museum.

Garlic Sabra

The Museum of My Mouth, that is.  MoMM?  How quaint.  And oh yes, there is a layer of hummus under Mount St. Veggie, I promise.

Buried Hummus

So, the moral of today’s true stories?  Implement some healthy habits into your life NOW, before the shit hits the fan, so that when the fecal matter does inevitably fly into some speedily rotating blades one day, you can more easily avoid being completely splattered from head to toes covered by running sneakers.  Who needs daytime drama and chocolate covered ice cream balls to escape your own personal soap opera?  Instead, you’ll be all set up to get up and get out and feel good after a few easy miles on a muggy Thursday morning at 6:36 AM.  You too can be making chirping noises as you bound down your back steps into your yard to load up on fresh spinach for a museum worthy hummus and veggie wrap instead of watering your garden with tears.

And if the shit never hits the fan?  No harm, no foul. Consider those healthy habits the Real Life insurance policy that you never had to file a claim on.

Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.

Coop Dreams

May 9th, 2010 | Posted by Alison Spath in Life - (27 Comments)

Yes, yes, I know.  It’s been a while.  I’m still here though.  Still running.  Still riding.   Still drinking green juice.  Still eating salads as big as my head.  Still living in the cityStill blogging. Oh no, wait, not quite.  Blogging again?  Hmmm, maybe.  I don’t know for sure just yet.

What I do know though is that today I’m feeling motivated to write a little something about the newest thing I’m currently psyched about:

Raising our own backyard chickens.

My mother-in-law started raising chickens last year.  It seems as though every single one of our crunchy granola homeschooling friends is talking about their spring chicks.  The June/July issue of Organic Gardening magazine says “keeping a flock of hens has gone from being homey to being oh-so-stylishly vogue”.  For the last few months I’ve been seriously contemplating this cool, fun, educational, hippy, local foodie feat and this weekend I got serious about jumping on the backyard poultry bandwagon.

First things first, we have to fashion a chicken coop.

Chicken Coop Plans

The criteria?  It’s got be big enough to hold three chickens.  (As I currently understand it, three is the limit in the city.)  From what I’ve read, you need 2 – 3 square feet of floor space per chicken, and that means I’m looking to construct a little something that’s about 6 to 9 square feet big.  I’d prefer to build said coop on the cheap and therefore we will be using as much scrap material from around the house and around town as possible.  Hello 4 x 4 wooden pallets – thank you for making the construction of my future hen house that much easier!

Second things next, apparently we need a license to keep chickens in the city, thus, I’ll be schlepping me, my checkbook and two small children to city hall some day this week.  Get ready.

Last but not least, our new chickens are currently hanging with the flock at Zak’s mom’s house until their city digs are ready.


Observe: the small plot of land behind our garage where our coop and chicken run is currently set to be located.

Future Chicken Run

One of the oh-so-many reasons I’m intrigued by the idea of raising our own chickens would be my desire to show my children where our food comes from.  Eggs don’t just magically appear in cartons in the refrigerator case at Wegmans ya know.  Although I do always buy free range, organic eggs – I’d like to do it one step better.  My efforts in healthy eating has more recently evolved into paying serious attention to living sustainably and eating locally – and it just doesn’t get more local than your own backyard.

Aaaaand what a perfect segue to the vegetable garden I’ve been working on in our small city yard!  A few weeks ago I got a (late) start on sprouting my own seeds – something I’ve never done before.  Until this year I’ve always been a pay-too-much-for-vegetable-plants-in-the-late-spring kind of gal.


This year I started (too many) cherry tomatoes, (lots ‘o) cucumbers, peas (which I now know could have gone straight into the ground) along with a myriad of flowers like sun flowers, four o’clocks, impatiens and morning glories.

We started spinach about a month and a half ago and put in a pea bed just last week.


Spinach Bed Pea Bed

And I’ve got two pumpkins going from seeds that were recently transplanted to a small bed smack dab in the middle of the yard due to limited amounts of direct sun.


So in case you couldn’t tell, we’ve been busy outside getting the garden underway at the new house.  The girls have enjoyed being involved and observing the start of the life cycle as plants being to grow and the trees and flowers come alive before our very eyes.

What have I been eating these last few months you surely ask?  Well, I have to say that not a lot has changed during my blogging hiatus.  There’s been lots of juice, salads, vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, some spouted grains and the occasional bowl of overnight oats or breakfast cookie.  Oh yeah, there’s been some Green & Black 70% Dark chocolate and plenty of Sabra hummus and bulk almond butter that has made its way in and out of my fridge too.  We’ve been eating less dairy and less grains too, and eating more vegetables if that’s even possible.  If anything, it’s been a hell of a lot more boring  in recent months given my lack of food photography or writing about meals and snacks since no one is watching!

So stay tuned as I attempt to build a chicken coop, raise some backyard chickens, come up with recipes to use up the vegetables from our CSA this year and otherwise make an attempt to return to the blogosphere to write about food and running and motherhood and all things healthy living.  Here goes nothing.

Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.