Tag Archives: vegan

Broke da Mouth Matcha Shake

No joke, brah.

Here be the super simple list of ingredients in perhaps my favorite shake of all time:

  • Soy milk (or, if you prefer, hemp, quinoa, almond, cashew, or some other nutty milk)
  • A few handfuls of spinach (mmhmm, I said spinach, baby)
  • ½ teaspoon (or more – vroom vroom!) of matcha, powdered green tea
  • Hemp seeds (or hemp protein powder)
  • Cashew butter (basically, just ground up raw cashews)
  • ¼ (ish) of a banana
  • ¼ (ish) of an avocado
  • Agave (or honey, maple syrup, etc. Click on the links to check out the mineral content and glycemic index for each natural sweetener. Note the agave numbers are for just 28g, while the honey and maple syrup figures are for over 300g.)
  • Vanilla or almond extract

If you’re a fan of creaminess and matcha (together, at long last!), this is a pretty killer combo, especially in the morning. The matcha is chock full of antioxidants and caffeine to get your day started off bright (sans the acidity and nervousness coffee can create), and there’s a whole lotta protein to kick start your metabolism, thanks to the soy, cashews, hemp, and avocado.

If you’re concerned about how fatty avocados and nuts are, rest assured, the kind of fats contained in these foods are your friends – they actually help to improve your cholesterol levels (and are much easier to digest than animal fats).

If you dig on sweet . . .

All ingredients at the end of the ingredients list in this shake of joy are really just a matter of taste. The suggested proportions should definitely be fiddled around with, and you might have some other sweetener, spice, or herb you could throw into the mix. I’m a big fan of caramely vanilla tones, so I tend to use almond, vanilla, agave, honey, and maple syrup on solid rotation. Maple syrup is the most nutritionally valuable sweetener, thanks to its manganese and zinc reserves, but the agave has an extremely low glycemic index. Honey’s biggest selling points are probably the anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties so effective in soothing respiratory and digestive discomfort. At the end of the day, I tend to choose a natural sweetener that tastes best for the brew!

Deja vu?

If you’re following the blog, you know I have a special place in my heart for matcha (and taro … mmm … taro…), and, technically, I’ve written about matcha shakes before. This week’s version, however, is new and improved, with lots of spinach and hemp to make it uber nutritious.

So here’s to honoring your body with the freshness and tasty love a divine temple deserves … kampai!


Vegan Bodybuilding – Say What?!

At least four times a year I explore the ins and outs of specialty diets. The Raw Revolution, Juicing for Health, French Slow Cooking. You can read all about it, but you’ll never know how your body chemistry will react until you try it yourself.

The only source of knowledge is experience. ~ Einstein

So I was reading this article in the Times the other day and thought I had to share it. If you’re inspired, there’s also a coupon for a 30-day trial membership at Green Polka Dot Box, courtesy my former marketing client, NaturalNews.com (they do such good stuff over there!)

Sculptured by Weights and a Strict Vegan Diet


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Jimi Sitko gets up at 4 most mornings, works out two to four hours a day and can bench-press nearly twice his weight. He has a shaved head and a brightly colored tattoo on his left arm, and he can easily be mistaken for a Marine separated from his platoon.

His apartment is filled with medals and trophies from bodybuilding competitions, snapshots of his tanned, rippled physique in full flex. His uniform is an assortment of sweat pants and hoodies, which he occasionally lifts when his abs look particularly fierce.

But most surprising is what is inside Sitko’s stomach: tofu, fresh greens and plant-based protein powder.

Sitko is among a niche community of vegan bodybuilders.

As the popularity of veganism has spread in recent years — fueled in part by a flurry of food-focused documentaries like “Super Size Me,” “Food, Inc.” and “Forks Over Knives” — its imprint can be seen in industries like publishing (VegNews) and fashion (hemp tote bags).

It has even entered bodybuilding, perceived by many as a population of vein-popping men and women thriving off meat and artificial enhancements. Competitors like Sitko are forging a distinctive subculture of antibeef beefcakes who hope to change more of their competitors’ eating habits.

As a vegan, Sitko, 29, does not eat meat, dairy or, he said, “anything else that comes from an animal.” As a bodybuilder, he spends hours at the gym lifting barbells, running on a treadmill and sculpturing his 5-foot-11, 180-pound body. Then he spray-tans and parades before a panel of judges in a posing suit, known in the sport as a mankini. He is preparing for a competition in March.

There is little official data on competitive bodybuilders who are vegan, though the Web site veganbodybuilding.com has more than 5,000 registered users.

Denny Kakos, the president of the International Natural Bodybuilding Association, said he had no vegan bodybuilders entering his competitions in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Today, vegans make up a sliver of the approximately 6,000 people who compete through the group each year, but they have been a steady, small presence since the 2000s, Kakos said.

“I think it’s great that there are people who are vegan and compete,” he said. “But it’s hard for bodybuilding.”

For some vegan bodybuilders, like Sitko, veganism was an attempt to improve diet and health. Others said that a vegan lifestyle reflected their personal beliefs about animal or environmental preservation. Still others regarded it as a form of rebellion against steroid culture.

“I laugh at the drug tests,” said Billy Simmonds, a vegan bodybuilder in Las Vegas. “I don’t even eat meat.”

Bodybuilders have long been known for maintaining highly restrictive diets, often low in carbohydrates and high in protein and calories, meticulously timed with arduous workout schedules. They aim to have big muscles and little fat, which may require cycles of adding weight, then chiseling away fat to make muscles pop like He-Man’s.

Nutritionists remain divided on the implications of adding vegan requirements to the already arduous bodybuilder diet, and caution that any extreme diet be undertaken with heavy research.

“Is it possible to be a good bodybuilder and be a vegan? Yes,” said Jose Antonio, the chief executive of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. “But is it ideal? No.”

Vegan bodybuilders may face challenges getting sufficient amino acids, found in meats, Antonio said, adding that although protein can be found in vegetables and nuts, they must be consumed in greater quantities to get the same amount as their counterparts in meat. “The amount of rice and beans you need to eat would fill up a Mexican restaurant,” he said.

Other nutritionists and bodybuilders have argued that a disciplined vegan diet, consisting of things like hemp-based protein supplements, peanut butter, nuts, vegetables and legumes, can yield similar, if not better, results than a meat- or dairy-filled diet. Carefully monitored, vegans can get the same amount of protein with less fat or toxins, they argue. (For a midafternoon snack, Sitko sometimes eats 10 bananas.)

The need for specific, vegan-friendly bodybuilding advice helped create the career of 31-year-old Robert Cheeke of Corvallis, Ore. He gives motivational lectures, sells vegan-themed T-shirts and gym bags and wrote a book about vegan bodybuilding that discusses how he went from 120 pounds as a teenage vegan to 195 pounds today.

“In those days, that meant a dozen tofu dogs a day, six Clif Bars, refried beans, whatever I could eat was calories,” he said. “It worked, but it was tough on my stomach. It wasn’t healthy.”

Cheeke said he was now focused on plant-based eating, including kale, avocados, beans and spinach, much of it organically grown in his garden.

In 2003, Cheeke founded veganbodybuilding.com. The site hosts forums for vegan recipes (“Hemp-fu pudding”), strength training (“Barbell vs. Dumbbell? Pain?”) and vegan dating (closed to nonmembers).

Giacomo Marchese met Dani Taylor, a bodybuilder living near him in Massachusetts, through a “Vegan Vacation” organized through the site in July 2008. Marchese proposed last August and the two, both still vegan and still bodybuilding, are planning their wedding.

“The Web site and community of vegan bodybuilders changed my life,” Marchese said.

The site is also a place for getting advice. Before strutting before judges, some bodybuilders recommend quickly chugging an alcoholic drink or eating something sugary to make their veins — and therefore their muscles — pop.

Kenneth G. Williams, a 44-year-old bodybuilder in Oakland, Calif., is a vegan who has taken on traditional bodybuilders and won. But first, there was the stigma.

“I had buddies at the gym, they just thought I was crazy,” Williams said. “I had a great physique and they said, ‘You’re going to get skinny, sick and frail, and die.’ I wasn’t encouraged.”

In 2003, Williams became vegan. In 2004, he won his first competition.

“When they announced me as the winner, people were very happy,” Williams said. “But once the announcer mentioned I was a vegan, the claps stopped and it got so quiet in that auditorium. Right on stage, it hit me: nobody knows about this.”

Williams is now a raw vegan; he said he never heated his food above 112 degrees Fahrenheit.

“I’m no longer an athlete,” he said. “I’m a warrior now. There’s a big difference. The athletes are just out to get paid. Warriors stand for something.”

photo: Robert Rausch for The New York Times


Recipe: Raw Vegan Banana Almond Crunch

Turning limitation into inspiration, this is the first in a series of recipes born of a 14-day cleanse.  Living in a hotel, with no kitchen appliances save a kettle and a knife, in the middle of the Western Region deserts in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, where grocery shopping leaves much to be desired.  And yet, we’ve come up with some pretty tasty treats!

Mmmmm . . . divine taste, divine health.  This is the perfect compliment to all these yummy salads, soups and steamed veggie plates we’ve been munching on.  Because after a few days, crunching down on veggies loses some of its charm – and I was jonzin’ for a sweet sumpin’ sumpin’!


  • 2 cups raw soaked almonds
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 avocado
  • ginger to taste
  • cinnamon to taste
  • agave nectar, honey, or date syrup to taste
  • optional: vanilla extract, nutmeg, coconut oil, flaxseed oil.  You could also add sea salt or soy milk if you’re not on a cleanse and turn the custard into a kick-booty shake!


There are so few steps necessary for this dessert, it almost seems silly to list them.  But for the sake of consistency, here we go!

  1. Soak the almonds over night in cool drinkable water.  Make sure the top is covered enough so no unwanted visitors can get inside.
  2. Using a food processor, if it’s available, puree the almonds with a little bit of water.
  3. Chop up the ginger nice and fine.  Start out adding just a marble-sized portion or less.
  4. Add all the ingredients to a blender and . . . voila!  You have a scrumptious and healthy addition to your diet.  Even if you’re cleansing!

FYI: Cleansing Food Guidelines