This week on the show we'll talk about veganism for athletes, Mongolian soy curls, mac and cheese, and eat Fiery Hot Peatos.
We talked about veganism for athletes!
A few weeks ago, we received this letter:
Hi Becky and David,
What advice do you have for athletes, especially young athletes, who are interested in a vegan lifestyle? What is the best way to gain and maintain muscle mass on a plant-based diet?
Thank you for the letter, Chris!
We talked briefly about vegan protein on that episode, but I also said I'd get a nutritionist on to answer the letter properly. And this was that episode!
Mary Ellen Valverde is a Licensed Nutritionist who empowers vegans to feel confident creating healthy habits that align with their values and health goals. She was kind enough to be a guest on today's episode to answer Chris's question!
Mary Ellen says to make sure that you're incorporating a lot of plant based whole foods into your diet. Protein is important, she said, but you shouldn't need to stress about it.
She broke her advice down into two parts, and then she talked about protein specifically. Let's get into it!
1. Pre- and post-workout snacks
Fueling your body before exercising and to help with recovery afterwards is important, Mary Ellen says.
Before a workout, she suggests lower-glycemic carbs that are easy to digest. Not too much fiber, because that can make it hard to digest. She suggests fresh fruit or a fruit smoothie or bar, since fructose digests so easily.
Post-workout, she recommends a snack that contains both protein and carbs within an hour of finishing. Sooner is fine, but some people have a hard time eating immediately after strenuous exercise, which is why she offers a time range.
"Carbs replace the glycogen that you used up while you were working out," she explains, "and then protein helps us repair our muscles."
Her ideas for post-workout were:
- smoothies with plant based protein powder
- protein bar
- soy yogurt
- peanut butter on whole grain bread
Later on in the day, she says it's important to have a balanced meal with all of your macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fat. She loves bowls for that:
- a whole grain
- bean or tofu
- avocado for fat
- colorful veggies for vitamins and nutrients.
2. Gaining and maintaining muscle mass on a plant based diet
"Make sure that you're getting enough calories and nutrients," Mary Ellen says, "Especially when you're younger, because you're still growing and developing."
When she works with her clients, she calculates her basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the number of calories your body needs to do basic, day-to-day functions, including your activity level.
For kids, she recommends this BMR calculator.
That calculator will give you your calorie needs to maintain your weight. If you want to gain, you'll need to add more calories to your diet.
About that protein...
While you don't need to worry too much about getting enough protein on a plant based diet, it is worth talking about.
She says that current research recommends 1.3-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for athletes.
"Protein isn't hard to get as a vegan," she explains. She recommends getting your protein from:
- beans and legumes
- nuts and seeds
- grains, especially quinoa
- plant based protein powders
- vegan meats
- certain vegetables
The other interesting thing she mentioned was that a serving of food changes as you grow up. A kid-size serving is smaller than an adult-sized serving.
For nuts and seeds, Mary Ellen recommends "a handful" of nuts or seeds for snacking, because as you grow, your handful size grows with you.
Friend of the show Cadry Nelson also came up in this conversation! She shared a Facebook post showing how you can use a pistachio shell as a "key" to open other stubborn pistachios from the bag. Gamechanger.
We talked about vegan TikTok!
VegNews reports that videos with #vegan have been viewed over 8 billion times on TikTok. Popular videos include Tabitha Brown's carrot bacon and Lizzo's Just Egg hangover scramble.
We ate Mongolian soy curls!
Since Mary Ellen is a food blogger like I am, we each made a recipe from the other's site to try this week! Dave and I had her Mongolian soy curls.
If you're new to soy curls, they're dehydrated strips that have an incredibly meaty texture when you prepare them.
To make this dish, Mary Ellen has you bake the soy curls first, then toss them in the sauce. This is a new prep method to me, and I loved the results! I felt like it gave you an even meatier texture with crispy edges.
The sauce is just a quick stovetop situation that's packed with ginger and garlic.
Dave and I both loved this dish. 10/10 will make again.
And oat milk mac and cheese!
The recipe Mary Ellen made is actually one that isn't coming out on my site until April 18th. It's a new mac and cheese recipe that uses homemade oat milk.
When we were coordinating this episode, she asked me for a mac and cheese recipe, so I offered her this recipe to try, which I had just finished testing.
She made this dish for herself and her husband, Matt, and they loved it! Mary Ellen says the sauce was silky and smooth. She used gluten-free shells for the pasta and said they worked well.
Matt said they tasted even better reheated the next day. As a leftover lover, that is high praise, y'all.
This recipe starts with a quick, seasoned homemade oat milk that you make in your blender. No straining needed!
Then, you thicken it on the stove, stir in vegan cheese shreds, and toss with cooked pasta and broccoli. Bake and eat!
Easy peasy; so, so cheesy!
She served this with my nutritional yeast tofu for a very cheesy bowl.
We tried Fiery Hot Peatos!
This week's new food was Fiery Hot Peatos. These are advertised basically as a healthier Cheeto. They're baked snacks made with pea flour. The Fiery Hot variety are the only vegan ones they make, which is why we didn't try more flavors.
In a shocking turn of events, all three of us felt similarly about these, so I'm going to smoosh our thoughts into a single review here.
The first impression we all had was that these did not taste like Cheetos at all. We assumed that they were going for a Flamin' Hot Cheeto experience, and these were neither very cheesy nor very spicy.
They did pack some heat, just not the levels we expected.
Their shape and texture, though, was incredibly Cheeto-like. They seriously nailed it, and we all wondered whether other varieties come closer to that Cheeto flavor.
All of that said, we all enjoyed these! They had a pleasant vinegar flavor, a warming kick, and a mild cheesy flavor. I'd definitely get them again with those adjusted taste expectations!
Dave likened the flavor to Andy Capp fries, a snack that I do not remember.
Where to listen
Thank you so much for listening (or reading!). We record these episodes for you, and we'd love to hear from you.
Got a favorite vegan treat that you think we should cover on the podcast? Send your suggestions to [email protected]!
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