In this initial episode we go on a run with all-around super athlete Brian Davidson and make a vegan cashew chicken salad.

I am so incredibly stoked about today’s post. This project is over a year in the making and today it finally goes live!  I’ve been working closely with friend and videographer Sasha Perry on a ‘Day in the Life’ video series: I spend the day with a vegan athlete training, cooking and learning the ins and outs of their veganism.  Athletes have the most demanding nutrition needs and if veganism can work for them, it can work for you. I’m in a unique position as a Registered Dietitian and an athlete to both professionally evaluate their meals and to attempt their workouts. And it’s fun!

The first athlete in our series is a good friend of mine, Brian Davidson. This guy is incredible.  He’s an airplane mechanic, who spends the day on his feet wrenching on airplanes, yet still finds time to bike commute and train.  He does everything from water polo to iron-distance triathlons and has finished the 500-mile Furnace Creek 508 bike race twice. His Stokedtivity Levels are not only off the charts, but contagious!  He was nice enough to share his training and eating with us while we figured out how to make this show work. Thanks Brian, you rule!

Are you stoked to eat and train? Here’s how you can eat like Brian:

Brian’s Super Breakfast Smoothie
5 bananas
½ cup peanut butter
1 ½ cups frozen blueberries

Add all ingredients to blender. Blend! Add water as needed. Drink.
Make sure your teeth aren’t purple before you go out.

Servings-2
Calories-740
Calorie breakdown- Carbohydrate 50%, Protein 10%, Fat 40%
Carbohydrate- 94g
Protein-20g
Fat- 34g
Fiber- 15g
Iron- 1.6g

Nutrition Analysis- The simplicity of this smoothie is gold. Easy, low-cost, nutrient and calorically dense ingredients. It is very high in fat at 40%, but for someone like Brian who requires 4,000-5,000 calories a day eating a higher fat diet makes sense. I also like the flexibility of the recipe- you can sub another nut butter- almond, sunflower seed, cashew, etc or any frozen or fresh berries or fruits. And it’s a great use of over-ripe bananas!

Vegan Cashew Chicken Salad
16 ounces romaine hearts and/or salad greens
¼ cup cashews
2 roma tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup sliced carrots (optional: saute)
4 ounces vegan chicken strips, sauteed in a small amount of oil
2 tablespoons ginger miso dressing (optional: homemade dressing, recipes below!)

I love a slightly warm salad. Toss all of the room temperature ingredients and then add the vegan chicken and carrots, if sauteed.

Servings-1 big ass salad
Calories-825
Calorie breakdown- Carbohydrate 33%, Protein 15%, Fat 52%
Carbohydrate- 63g
Protein-29g
Fat- 45g
Fiber- 25g
Iron- 10.2g, 57%, Calcium- 343g, 34%, Vitamin C- 80mg, 148%, Vitamin A- 500+%

Nutrition Analysis: This is a giant salad that’s packed with good nutrition. Twenty grams of protein! Take that, stupid naturopaths that say you can’t get enough protein from plant foods. Like his smoothie, this is very high in fat, a whopping 45 grams, mostly from the avocado and cashews. These are great polyunsaturated fats- heart healthy! Brian’s theme is adjustability- even though we asked him to have recipes and ingredients ready for the show, he actually did just make it up when we got there. And so can you, if you keep healthy ingredients on hand.

Brian ate mostly raw vegan for many years and he was cool enough pass on a few of his favorite raw dressings. Like Brian, these recipes are creative and flexible.

Raw Tahini Dressing
1/3 cup seseme seeds
1 clove garlic
1-2 fresh squeeze oranges (add or reduce for consistency)
(Sometimes I just use water and add until I get the right consistency)
Blend & enjoy!

Servings-1
Calories-395
Calorie breakdown- Carbohydrate 38%, Protein 10%, Fat 52%
Carbohydrate-  41g
Protein- 11g
Fat- 24g
Fiber-  10g
Iron 7.2g, 40% Calcium 566g, 57%, Zinc 3.9g, 26%

This dressing is not playing around- look at those numbers for iron, calcium and zinc! Sesame seeds are also a great source of B-vitamins. One note about the calcium is that this is for unhulled sesame seeds- most of the calcium is in the hull of the seed (see this note from a colleague).  They are sometimes labeled as ‘natural’ and raw ones are more likely to be unhulled. A benefit to making your own tahini dressing? Most tahini is made with hulled sesame seeds.

 

Raw Herb Dressing
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1 bunch cilantro (or parsley, mint, thyme, oregano)
1-2 fresh squeezed oranges (add or reduce for consistency)
Blend & enjoy!

Servings-1
Calories- 210
Calorie breakdown- Carbohydrate 56%, Protein 10%, Fat 34%
Carbohydrate- 32g
Protein- 6g
Fat-  9g
Fiber-  8g
Iron 1.3g, Calcium- 119g, 12%

While this recipe is not the banger that the tahini one is, it’s still solid. Also a good source of B-vitamins, like Folate and B6 and vitamin K. Also has significantly fewer calories.

Next week comes part two, where we join Brian in Death Valley to see how he fares in his 200-mile race. Without giving too much away, let’s just say he made veganism look good. Like really, really good!  We’ll also include more details of his training, including a plan for you to ride your first 100+ mile event.

Thanks for watching and please pass this on to anyone who says, ‘You can’t be vegan and an athlete!’ We’re here to prove them wrong. Also, do you know a vegan athlete we should profile? Or other suggestions for our series? Please leave your comments below and thanks for watching!

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