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Disclosure: I attended Natural Products Expo West on a Press pass. This post is not sponsored, endorsed, written, paid-for, etc. by Expo West (or any related entity) or any of the companies and products discussed below. The giveaway prize consists of samples I picked up at the Expo or purchased. Per usual, the topic was my idea and the opinions are all mine. Happy reading!

Chickpeas are everywhere this year. (Beets too, but that’s another post.) At Expo West I saw chickpeas in soups, ready-to-eat meals, baked goods, flour, chips, puffed snack foods, frozen snacks and entrees, and pretty much every category (other than beverages–maybe next year?). I’m not sure if I’m obsessed with chickpeas because I never ate them as a kid, so as an adult they are still a novelty, or because I know they are packed with protein and fiber, making them a great addition to my eating plan.

These are my favorites:

Vana Green Chickpea Superfood Bowls

Vegan, certified gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO

There are so many good things to say about these that I don’t want to forget the most important: they are yummy! Vana Life Foods makes four varieties, each featuring green chickpeas: chipotle, black beans, and sweet corn; chimichurri, coconut, and butternut squash; kale, potato, rosemary, tomato; coconut, lime, cilantro, bell pepper, sweet potato. I’m not going to lie, I took lousy notes as I tasted my way across the expo, so I can’t remember which one was my favorite. The kale/potato/rosemary/tomato was sort of Italian-food inspired, not too zesty, with the kale sufficiently hidden that I didn’t feel like I was chewing on the lawn. The coconut/lime/cilantro/bell pepper/sweet potato also has lemongrass in it, and the flavor reminded me a little bit of Thai food. The chipotle/black bean/sweet corn has a vaguely Cuban flavor about it, zippy but not so spicy that it puts your mouth on fire. Finally, the chimichurri/coconut/butternut squash has to be South-American-inspired (as google tells me chimichurri sauce comes from Argentina).

If you open the package at the notches and microwave it, the bottom part of the package serves as a bowl.

Don’t fear the green chickpea. If you’ve never eaten one, pretend it’s like the first time you ate green pasta, or colored frosting. Why are they green? As Vana’s website explains:

A green chickpea is a garbanzo bean harvested from the vine in its optimal nutritional state that is immediately blanched and flash frozen to preserve all its inherent goodness. That’s because when it’s green, the flavorful young legume is packed with protein, fiber, A, B, and C vitamins, and minerals—while being low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Basically, it’s a superfood at its best.

Seattle-based Vana won the Expo West NEXTY (sort of like an Oscar for natural food) for Best New Packaged Food. The shelf-stable pouch has two places you can tear across the top to open (little notches help you tear it properly). Tear at the top line to pour out into a bowl, pan, etc. Tear at the bottom line if you want to keep the food in the package and microwave it–it turns into a bowl! (This is really a pretty cool trick.) There is no BPA in the packaging, and it is recyclable.)

When I left the booth, I told the great folks at Vana that there were only two things wrong with their product: (1) there are only four flavors (for now–looking forward to next year!), and (2) there aren’t any in my office desk drawer. The website has a store locator. You can also buy these green chickpea pouches through the Vana website, or via various other online vendors (e.g. Jet, Amazon). The price varies, but is generally $4-5; on the Vana website, a single pouch is $4.99 while a six pack of the same flavor is $26.94 (cheap compared to eating lunch out, even if you factor in the additional cost of a piece of fruit or side and a drink).

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Banza: Pasta Made From Chickpeas

Gluten-free, kosher, soy-free, allergy-friendly, produced in a nut-free facility, vegan (except for the mac n cheese varieties)

Technically this one is “cheating” since I first met Banza at IDEA last summer, but they were at Expo West this year.  (In 2015 Banza won the “People’s Choice” NEXTY at Natural Products Expo East.) You know how when you make traditional pasta you can eat a bowl the size of your butt, and then you still want seconds? So you love pasta, but maybe think you shouldn’t eat it so often? Banza is your dream, baby. Over 90% of the pasta is chickpeas, and the protein and fiber ensure that not only do you have to eat a smaller portion, you aren’t going to be starving and go back for seconds (or thirds). Banza cooks like regular pasta, though the water might foam up a tiny bit more (because hey, chickpeas). Just like regular pasta, you have to keep an eye on it towards the end to make sure it comes out al dente and not all mushy.

My personal favorite is the rotini shape, which I douse in warm italian spaghetti sauce mixed with Beyond Beef crumbles and then top with grated parmesean or mozarella shreds. (The ridges on the rotini help hold the saucey goodness.) Banza also make macaroni/elbows, spaghetti, penne, and shell shapes, and offers four varieties of mac and cheese. My favorite thing about Banza is that unlike several other non-wheat pastas I have tried, this one has the right toothiness to it, so when you chew it is just like chewing regular pasta.

Banza started in Detroit in 2013 with a non-cook 23-year-old kid messing with his food (or so the legend goes). I love a scrappy start-up with a great product, but I’m not sure you can call Banza a start-up anymore, since you can buy their pasta in Target and they are part of the inaugural class of the Chobani Food Incubator. At any rate, you can find Banza in 2,700+ stores in the US and Canada, including Shop Rite, meijer, HEB, Wegmans, Sprouts, Fairway, Marianos, Whole Foods (select regions–but if you bug the manager at your local store you can probably get it too), and Eataly. You can also buy from various online sellers such as Thrive Market ($2.95/box), where prices are $3-5, or buy directly from the Banza website (6 boxes for $30 though if you choose the subscription option, you also save 20%).

Hippeas: the vegan improvement on cheese puffs

Certified gluten-free, vegan, corn-free, and have no added MSG, trans-fats, or artificial preservatives

Clear, clean, consistent messaging from Hippeas

If you were at Expo West, it was really hard to miss the cute Hippeas swag themed to match their packaging. The Hippeas booth was strategically located at the corner of the room closest to the door, so a ton of people hit it up immediately when the Expo opened for the day, meaning tons of bright yellow bags with smiles on them (the eye is a chickpea, of course). If you weren’t at Expo West, you may have seen Hippeas at Starbucks and wondered what’s inside those yellow bags. The best I can put it, it’s a crunchy snack with the texture of those cheap cheesy puffs but with unusual flavors and a MUCH better nutrition profile.

Hippeas flavors include far out fajita, sriracha sunshine, vegan white cheddar, maple haze, pepper power, and happenin’ hickory. Far out fajita–the flavor I’m putting in the prize pack–is described as “A fiery stash of chilli, paprika and cumin puffs to take on your journey to self-discovery” on the website. They are definitely flavorful, so you might want to watch out what you pair them with! A single serving has 4g protein and 3g dietary fiber. It’s not the same as eating the chickpea, but it’s a definite snack improvement.

Hippeas also gives back. You can head to their website and read about current initiatives, including their support for Farm Africa. Oh, and they are hiring.

Chickpeatos: a crunchable munchable

Organic, kosher, gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO

When I tasted these in the fresh ideas pavilion, I was trying to describe the new Popped Chickpeatos to the guy working the booth. “They are like a Cheeto but made of chickpeas!” Um, duh, that’s why they are called ch-ickpea-tos. I immediately felt stupid and stuffed some more chickpeatos into my mouth so I had to stop talking.

Popped Chickpeatos

The non-popped Chickpeatos are roasted–NOT deep fried–in olive oil (except for the cinnamon toast flavor, which is roasted in coconut oil). Right now you can buy rosemary, spicy cayenne, and tomato basil (and cinnamon toast). They don’t have a lot of fussy ingredients; for example, here’s what’s on the ingredients list for rosemary chickpeatos: chickpeas, olive oil, rosemary, salt, garlic powder. Most of the ingredients are organic.

the not-popped Chickpeatos

Chickpeatos are great by themselves (I know, I tried them all!) but the company that makes them, Watusee, also has great recipes on the blog. How about chickpeatos instead of croutons? How about a recipe to use up the spices and crumbs that remain in the bag when you’re done? Check the blog. They have you covered. Watusee also makes a one-ingredient bread crumb substitute: chickpea crumbs! Anything you would use bread crumbs or panko on, you can use chickpea crumbs. It’s a sneaky way to add a wee bit of protein and fiber to any dish. Watusee also works to fight food insecurity–a huge problem in the United States–by donating products and supporting the Capitol Area Food Bank and D.C. Central Kitchen.

Chickpeatos have some nutritional punch that makes them better than your average chip. One serving has 6g protein and 5g fiber. A case of 12 bags (5 oz, 5 servings per container) purchased directly from Watusee is currently $45. They charge a flat $5 to ship.

 

 

But Wait! There’s More!

Chef Soraya can make my lunch any day–great to stash at work!

I could literally go on for another two blog posts on all the ways I saw chickpeas at Expo West. For example, I haven’t even mentioned hummus yet! Truitt Family Foods is a brand I knew before Expo West, as they were a BlogFest sponsor. I am a huge fan of the Fiesta Chili Lime hummus in go-cups (which I eat completely, then rinse the container to recycle it). Technically that flavor isn’t a chickpea product (the base is white beans and Greek yogurt, but the go-cups don’t require refrigeration), but I love it so much I had to mention it. I also visited Hope Foods, who I first met at Expo West last year and have subsequently seen at various race expos. If you haven’t tried the coconut curry hummus (or the frozen dessert hummus–yes! it’s a think!), try them at your first opportunity. Their booth always has so much energy, and they make all sorts of unusual flavors (lemon peppercorn, kale pesto, spicy avocado, to name a few).

Lilly’s hummus to go packs

This year I tried Lilly’s Hummus for the first time. Super smooth, based in Oregon, what’s not to love? My favorite is the roasted red pepper, and I just learned Lilly used hazelnut briquets (not the nuts, just the shells) to do the roasting. Great re-use of what is otherwise a “waste” product.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hummus Pods are a brilliant way to enjoy hummus warm (and with tidy fingers)

But instead of going on and on, how about a giveaway?

Crunchy chickpeas! (Not in the prize pack, but I had a picture…)

Chickpeas Prize Pack! The prize pack includes a full-sized box of Banza penne, Hippeas swag (tote and buttons), Hippeas 4oz bag in far out fajita, Maya Kaimal chickpea chips in lightly salted flavor, Biena foods chickpeas in sea salt, information on Watuse Chickpeatos and Vana Life Foods, and misc. other Expo West goodies (to fill the box, because partially empty boxes are sad). Again, this prize is NOT sponsored, endorsed, whatever by any of the companies included. There is one Chickpeas Prize Pack. Open to mailing addresses in the United States and Canada only (sorry everyone else, but postage…)

Runner-up Prize Pack! This prize pack will consist of a selection of snacks and goodies from the Expo West show. It’s a pot-luck assortment, and will likely include some exotic chips, nuts, and fruit snacks. Again, there is one Runner-up Prize Pack. Again, open to mailing addresses in the United States and Canada only.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: this is NOT a sponsored post (no compensation, product, or freebies were offered to entice me to write it), and is neither written nor endorsed by Good Farms. Per usual, the choice of subject matter and all of the opinions here are mine. This is the first of my posts inspired by #ExpoWest 

This weekend was the industry meeting, trade show, and adult trick-or-treating extravaganza known as Natural Products Expo West: a gathering of more than 100,000 people with exhibits/booths for more than 3,000 companies. For 2017, I can’t think of a better find to spotlight than Good Farms. Remember my last post about food waste? I had a lot of conversations around food waste at Expo West (which itself produces quite a bit of waste, but that’s a subject for another time). One of the most promising trends in the natural foods space is using “waste” products instead of putting them in the trash. (All that fancy coconut water people are sipping? Did you ever think about where the rest of the coconut goes?)

Enticed by strawberry juice! Friday morning I made my way to the Arena section, an entire room I missed last year, when I came upon a booth decked out in strawberries with a video slide show. If you know me, you know I’m a total strawberry junkie: I have fond memories of spending a day each summer picking strawberries with my family at Blessed’s Strawberry Farm (“one for the basket, two for me”) and filling the “way back” of the station wagon with berries; when I lived in Oregon I anxiously awaited the annual Burgerville strawberry milkshake season; most recently I wait for the spring farmer’s markets to open so I can buy directly from the farmers. When I saw strawberries, I was drawn like a bee to a blossom and let me tell you–SO worthwhile!

Right,back to the juicy goodness. Good Farms’ cold-pressed, organic strawberry juice is simply wonderful. You can smell the strawberries as the cup nears your face (since the juice is not heated, the volatile organic compounds that create the strawberry’s aroma remain mostly intact). The juice tastes just like biting into a strawberry, minus the pulp and seeds. It is very flavorful–I could see using a few splashes in my fizzy water to make a refreshing mocktail. While I didn’t check the nutrition label, I know it is fruit juice…so I’m glad it comes in 14.5 ounce bottles instead of gallons (as otherwise I’d drain the whole jug much too quickly). If you’d like to get your hands on some, try Costco, Whole Foods, Chick-fil-A, Panera, and meijer. (Note those are the Good Farms partners, not necessarily all of them will have the strawberry juice, which is currently in limited production.)

Boxed berries with a glass of the juice

Ugly reject strawberries make great juice. That’s because there are nothing wrong with the strawberries, which come from organic strawberry farms in Mexico; they simply don’t meet the beauty standards supermarkets set for strawberries. Using these berries instead of treating them like garbage not only results in delicious juice, it also makes sure farmers get paid for their crop, farmworkers can earn a better wage (more sold produce = higher profit = more money to pay wages), and it is a responsible use of the resources that went into farming the berries in the first place (including water, soil/dirt/land, and labor). Finally, it prevents the berries from ending up in a landfill, where they would either remain intact for centuries (as in a standard landfill, where the ever-increasing materials on top deprive those on the lower levels of the air necessary to rot), or decay and produce gases and contribute to climate change (if put onto a dump-style trash pile).

But wait, there’s more! If you’re following along to this point, you may have the same question I had: “Wait, after the strawberries are juiced, what happens to the smushed-up berry parts?” That’s wasted, right? WRONG! At Expo West I had the opportunity to talk to some of the Good Farms project team. The great guys in the booth were kind and patient with all of my questions. They explained that the juice project is currently a small operation–two trucks of berries per week–because it is important to get the process, production, and finished product done well before scaling up. (That way you can scale as time and resources permit, staying true to your original vision.) They are working to connect the farms with secondary markets for the smashed berry parts, such as companies that make all-fruit frozen pops. I imagine those berries would also be useful to companies that make yogurt, smoothies, and dried fruit products.

It’s not just about the strawberries–it’s about the farmers. Every piece of produce has people behind it. In the US, we have typically treated farm workers poorly. While I haven’t studied the socio-economics of why, I imagine the shift from slave labor to poorly paid sharecropper labor (read: racism and the resulting racial and economic inequality) play a role. The framers of the US Constitution were landed, white gentry who definitely thought themselves more valuable and worthy than everyone else (e.g. the First Nations who already lived in the Americas, slaves, indentured servants, women). The Good Farms strawberry farms are in Mexico; in the US the workers who pick strawberries are almost always migrant farm workers, typically without access to education, social services, or medical care. Farm workers tend to move to follow the crops (where the work is), which means children who should be in school may be in multiple schools each school year, every year, making them more likely to fall behind academically and less likely to graduate from high school or pursue higher education. Female farm workers are subject to a high level of sexual harassment and assault, often at the hands of the bosses who are supposed to be protecting them. One report I heard on NPR (morning of 3/13/17) estimated that 45% of the farm workers in California are undocumented, which means they don’t enjoy many of the legal protections that US workers are entitled to, such as minimum wage, rest periods, and meal breaks. It also means that women who are sexually harassed or abused are less likely to seek help for fear of being deported and separated from their children. California only recently (since I moved here in 2008) passed laws mandating access to shade and clean drinking water for farm workers. We’ve got a LONG way to go here.

Good Farms is moving the needle. Good Farms is a stakeholder in the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI). You can read more about EFI on their website, but the basic gist is this: treating workers better (through fair wages and labor practices, access to education, sensible pesticide policies, proper protective equipment and safety protocols) is the right thing to do. EFI goes beyond third-party audits (like when OSHA shows up to spot-check your operation) by creating an on-farm team that is responsible for implementation and maintenance of their program. EFI partners include the United Farm Workers Union and Oxfam America. This is true of all of their farms, not just the strawberry farms. The Good Farms strawberry farms are also fair trade, certified by Fair Trade USA. You probably don’t even consider whether terrorists or slave-labor was involved in producing the food on your plate, but Good Farms does: C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) helps them keep terrorists and terrorism out of the food chain by working with companies to protect and secure cargo, and with CIERTO to create transparent, safe labor contracts and help eliminate slavery. (Maybe you’ve heard about child slave labor used to obtain cacao? Slavery isn’t just a chocolate problem.)

I couldn’t capture the entire slide show, but you get the idea

A few other notables. Good Farms works with Feeding America and other food banks to donate produce instead of wasting it (not just strawberries, of course), to the tune of 350,000 pounds in 2016. They have outside auditing for their organic standards (CCOF) and food safety (PrimusGFS). Good Farms helps their farmers in Mexico by partnering with Mexican social responsibility programs that educate workers on their rights and how to exercise them; they help undocumented Mexicans living in Mexico obtain birth certificates (because without them, you can’t fully participate or exercise your rights–yet many economically disadvantaged Mexicans have never had a birth certificate). Good Farms partnered with Costco to provide disaster relief. With IEEA they provide education to farmworkers, by giving children backpacks with school supplies they reduce barriers to childhood education, and by maintaining websites and consumer outreach they teach us how to eat more vegetables and enjoy them.

Food security is a privilege. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you are a lot like me: safe place to sleep tonight, not worried about where my next meal is coming from, enough income from my relatively-cushy job (where I do not perform manual labor in a hunched-over position like the farm workers in this video on the UFW facebook page) to make discretionary purchases, leisure time to pursue personal interests. I’ve never gone to bed hungry because I have always had access to plenty of food. My parents had access to education and paved the way for my life, where I had even better opportunities. Most of the world is not so lucky. I’m willing to pay a little more for a quality product that improves the lives of those whose work produces the food on my table, because I can.

How about you?

 

How much food do YOU waste?

Yes, I agree that “clean your plate” is a dated rule (better option: “watch how much you put on your plate in the first place”), but I’m betting that’s the first thing the term “food waste” brought to mind. Most Americans likely associate food waste with at-home table scraps, or restaurant leftovers that go from plate to trash. The problem is much, much bigger than that. In August 2012, the Natural Resources Defense Council published an issue paper titled Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40% of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill. You read that right, FORTY percent. What I found most shocking is that most of that 40% has nothing to do with throwing out leftovers or not doggy-bagging your restaurant leftovers!

Some of Hungry Harvest’s offerings

Why you care about food waste:

  • 80% of the fresh water used in the United States is used for agriculture (source) and roughly 25% of the entire fresh water supply is used to produce food that gets wasted (source)
  • roughly 50% all produce in the United States is thrown away—some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually (source) and up to 1/3 of all food produced world-wide (source)
  • about 1 billion unpeeled/unopened food items are discarded annually in American schools (source)
  • wasted food that goes to landfills–not all of us have access to composting–generates methane (source); food waste has a carbon footprint of 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases, making food wastage the third top GHG emitter after the U.S. and China (source)
  • the United States produces enough food to sustain roughly 860 million hungry people, more than twice the amount needed to feed the true population of the United States (source) yet in 2015 42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households [that means, roughly, they are not certain that food will be on the table for all upcoming meals] including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children (source)
  • Food Waste and Hunger Facts

But forget about the doggy-bagging and leftovers, as a whopping 38% (source) or more is wasted before it even has the opportunity to be eaten! Ever wonder why all the apples, in the grocery store are about the same shape and size? Or the carrots are all straight and about the same length? It’s because the nonconforming, weird-looking, too-big, too-small pieces are THROWN AWAY. It’s bad for farmers–they don’t get paid for the goods they grew–and it’s bad for the environment and the planet.

How can YOU reduce food waste?

Easy! Buy ugly produce! In California (SF Bay Area, now rolling out neighborhood by neighborhood in LA!), and UPDATE! Oregon too! check out Imperfect Produce (scroll down to score $10 in free goods!). In Baltimore, D.C., Virginia, Philadelphia, New Jersey and the surrounding areas check out Hungry Harvest (see below for a discount code!). Both are small businesses fighting food waste AND hunger. What do they sell? Hungry Harvest calls their produce “recovered” and explains it this way:

“Recovered” produce comprises fruits and vegetables that are perfectly fine to eat, but would have otherwise been thrown away. Recovered produce is often discarded because of aesthetic imperfections (think misshapen eggplants or off-color apples) or logistical inefficiencies (when grocery stores over-order produce, they can reject truckloads, and that usually gets thrown away).

Imperfect Produce calls their produce “ugly” but wants to assure you it tastes the same:

The produce we source is rejected purely for cosmetic reasons, meaning that taste and nutrition aren’t affected. Common reasons for produce being classified as “ugly” are: too small, wrong color, misshapen. We only source the most delicious fruits and vegetables, and we have strict quality-control measures in place to ensure that what ends up on your doorstep is fresh, delicious, and nutritious. If we wouldn’t eat it, we won’t sell it. We’re redefining BEAUTY in produce, not taste! And if for whatever reason you’re not satisfied with an item in your box, we will either replace it or refund the cost of the box that week.

It’s a win-win-win. Farmers get paid for produce that would otherwise become garbage. You get cheaper produce that may (or may not) look funny. Both companies donate produce to fight hunger, too! It works something like this:

My Imperfect (Perfect!) Experience

My neighborhood’s delivery day is Saturday, so I have until 3:00 Wednesday to customize my box. I get a small box of fruits and vegetables, since I travel a lot and live by myself. The basic cost (if I get whatever was assigned to the box that week) is $11-13 plus a small delivery charge ($2.99). On Monday or Tuesday I get a reminder email to check in and customize my box. (There is an option to not customize the box–surprise!–but since I’m picky I don’t often use that; you can also opt for just only fruit or only vegetables.) One of the things I like is that I can decide how much of something to get, and the Imperfect site tells me why it is “imperfect” as well as where it originated. Right now, Imperfect works mostly with larger family farms in California, but they are also working to source produce from Mexico and smaller family farms. I’m really excited to see what they can do!

Does anything in here look “imperfect” to you?? (My box this week)

My box this week had 1 pound of organic brussels sprouts, a blood orange, 2 pounds of carrots, 1 pound of creamer potatoes, a grapefruit, 1 pound of onions, a 1/2 pound of red bell peppers, romaine lettuce, 1 pound of mangoes (rejected for being too small, I can easily hold one in my hand), and 1 pound of organic lemons. I paid just $15.39, including the delivery charge. There were a ton of other choices, too. Each box also includes the “Weekly Beet,” a card that introduces a team member, gives a quick fact about one of the items offered that week (the asian pears offered the week of September 19th would have been rejected due to scarring and were grown in Kingsburg, CA), and a tasty recipe. Some of the recipes I have received are Blue Cheese and Asian Pear Tartines, Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps, Celery Root and Carrot Soup, Lebanese Pumpkin Hummus, and Fuyu Persimmon Salad. (You can find more recipes at imperfectproduce.com/recipes)

Some of the cards from my Imperfect Produce boxes

The pre-Thanksgiving box included a recipe booklet. Imperfect Produce does fun things, too. Once we got googly eyes in the box to decorate for a contest, and they recently sponsored a contest with Cape & Cowl, donating an additional five pounds of produce to the Alameda County Food Bank for every entry. I can easily set my box to “temporary stop” for vacation. I try to remember to set out my empty boxes Friday night, as Imperfect Produce can re-use them.

To score a $10 discount on Imperfect Produce: when you sign up for your first delivery, put my name (Elizabeth Bain) in the “referred by” box at checkout. (I hope you don’t mind that as an Imperfect Produce customer, this gets me $10 too.)

Hungry (for a) Harvest?

Clearly, I don’t live in Baltimore, D.C., Virginia, Philadelphia, New Jersey and the surrounding areas, so I’m not a Hungry Harvest customer–but if I lived there, I would be! I found Hungry Harvest on Twitter, and I’m thrilled to see there are other organizations doing the work Imperfect Produce does in other parts of the country. (I was extra excited to see they scored a deal on Shark Tank, which also helped fund some of my other favorite small businesses, including Wild Friends nut butters and Bombas socks.)

The Shark Tank set-up

So while I don’t have first-hand experience, it looks like Hungry Harvest shares pretty much all of the characteristics of Imperfect Produce. Delivery days are assigned by zip code, and there is a modest delivery charge. You can even have your produce delivered to your  office! Hungry Harvest also offers add-ons (Imperfect Produce has these on a variable basis). Add-ons include products from other food makers that could go to waste while still being perfectly good to consume: fresh baked bread, coffee, granola, peanut butter, jam, pesto, and produce staple add ons (lemons, limes, etc.).

Sample box from Hungry Harvest

Like Imperfect Produce, Hungry Harvest sources mostly local produce but is also reaching out to prevent food from going to waste, offers organic options, allows you to customize your box (and choose a size), has easy cancellation/temporary hold, and shares recipes to use your yummy produce. For every box they deliver to a paying customer like you, Hungry Harvest donates 1-2 pounds of produce to those in need. Hungry Harvest has a unique partnership called “Produce in a SNAP,” a partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools to bring fresh, affordable produce to food deserts to promote healthy eating and fight hunger. The program allows food-insecure families and individuals who could benefit from affordable produce, including those on government assistance programs such as SNAP/EBT, WIC, and SSDI, to stretch their food budgets and put nutritious produce on their dinner table. (I cribbed that from their website, because I couldn’t say it better.)

Hungry Harvest can’t reuse the boxes, but can pick them up for recycling if you don’t have access to recycling. (No recycling? Seriously, the 1970s called and they want their wasteful environmental policies back.)

To score a discount on Hungry Harvest: enter code TRAINWITHBAIN at checkout.

 

Beyond Eating?

You know you can also support your local farmers’ market, especially if you don’t have an Imperfect Produce or Hungry Harvest nearby. (Most don’t have beauty pageant standards for their produce, so the weirdos can show up there.)

You can commit to less food waste in your household: freeze small amounts of vegetables for use in soups and stews, chop and freeze that onion before it goes bad, share with a neighbor. Compost food scraps using a commercial service if available, or a backyard compost or under-sink worm bin.

Local and state laws have a HUGE impact on how much produce gets wasted. The NRDC report details a few items you might watch for and ideas to reduce food waste. These include tax breaks for farmers that donate produce instead of trashing it, laws that allow individuals to donate produce from their home gardens directly to food banks (this is huge in California, where one lemon tree can shower an entire block with lemons), and changes in food labels’ use of terms like “sell by,” “best by,” and “use by” (currently under discussion at the federal level in the United States).

How do you save the vegetables?

Welcome to #GivingTuesday 2016!

Know Where Your Money Goes

The most important advice I have to give is this: know where your money goes. The best charities minimize their administrative and overhead costs, while maximizing the amount of your dollar that goes to programs and services. (Yes, I understand that making change happen requires paying rent on offices, and I agree that those working for the greater good deserve a decent paycheck.) The best charities are financially transparent, and will show you where the money came from and where it goes—look for financial reports or summaries on the website—so you know you’re not funding the CEO’s Masarti. Basically, don’t get scammed. A few resources for vetting charities are:

http://www.CharityNavigator.org

http://www.CharityWatch.org

http://www.Give.org

How Do I Decide Where My Money Goes?

One way of deciding where to donate is to choose an area of concern or a cause, decide whether you want to give locally or nationally or globally, and then find a charity to match.

Animals: Animal welfare, rehabilitation, prevention of cruelty, low-cost spay and neuter services

The Arts: Music, dance, theatre, painting, writing, sculpting, museums, performances for kids, arts education

Children: Adoption, child welfare, education, medical treatment

Education: Where did you go to elementary school, high school, college? Local schools, special needs schools, scholarships

Environment: Preservation of wild places and species, pollution control, water protection

Food: Hunger, food insecurity, community gardens

Health: Public education, disease prevention, medical research, treatment

Health, specifically Mental Health: Public education, disease prevention, research, treatment, suicide prevention, counseling

Human Rights: Women’s issues, refugees, gender and equality

Veterans: Transition to civilian life, support for any arena in which a vet needs help

Suggestions from Bain & Her Ninja Posse

I put out a call on Facebook and Twitter, asking where my friends are donating their money on #GivingTuesday The list below is every suggestion I received (as of midnight Sunday) plus my favorites.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). https://www.aclu.org/ I’m a big fan of the Constitution. HUGE. In fact, I believe that all U.S. citizens should be able to fully enjoy the rights granted by the Constitution without undue limitations. I dislike voter suppression and miss the Voting Rights Act (this is not a political commentary—I encourage ALL to vote, regardless of their politics). As the ACLU puts it, “For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” You can help them make it to 200.

Alley Cat Allies. http://www.alleycat.org Nominated by a friend, but you know how I feel about cats (love me, love my cat). ACA works with the animal control system, provides education to combat myths about cats, works to change outdated laws that kill cats, and combats cruelty to cats. They provide disaster support (did you know you can’t take your cat with you to a Red Cross shelter?), pass anti-animal cruelty laws, support a nationwide feral cat care network (including support for trap-neuter-return programs), provide cat-specific education and resources for vets, and do a host of other things. (There wasn’t an executive summary on their page—likely because they do so many different things in their advocacy for cats—but the website has a ton of information). As winter approaches, even if you don’t donate to Alley Cat Allies, please take some precautions to help outdoor cats: clean up antifreeze spills and avoid using salt to melt ice (both can poison cats); if you care for outdoor cats, provide a straw-lined shelter and put water in deeper bowls to prevent freezing.

Austin Pets Alive. http://www.austinpetsalive.org/ Nominated by a friend. (Mr. Potter came from Austin, but didn’t come from APA.) From their website: “[mission statement] To promote and provide the resources, education and programs needed to eliminate the killing of companion animals. When Austin Pets Alive! started rescuing animals in 2008, Austin was somewhat rich in resources that prevented births. For almost ten years, more and more resources were put into spay and neuter programs, but the live outcome rate at our city shelter was stuck around 50%. Of course, the population of Austin was quickly growing, so it’s likely that the spay and neuter resources were helping our live outcome rate from getting worse. While several resources were going into prevention and reducing intake, there was no effort to increase live outcomes from the shelter. Austin Pets Alive! saw that gap and created programs to save the key demographics of pets that hadn’t been making it out of our municipal shelter alive. These key groups of animals included puppies with parvovirus, unweaned kittens, cats with ringworm, dogs and cats in need of additional behavioral support and/or additional medical attention. By developing comprehensive, innovative programs that targeted these key groups of animals and pulling directly from euthanasia lists, Austin Pets Alive! has saved more than 25,000 dogs and cats since 2008.”

Back on My Feet. http://www.backonmyfeet.org/ Last year I ran an event for the Los Angeles Chapter, and this year BOMF is expanding into San Francisco. As they describe it, “Back on My Feet, a national organization operating in 12 major cities coast to coast, combats homelessness through the power of running, community support and essential employment and housing resources.” The BOMF model is unique in that it is based on running, and the strategy is to first restore confidence and self-esteem so that individuals are better equipped to take on employment, housing, and a new life. I particularly like that instead of talking about program members as “homeless people” (which sounds impersonal and like a permanent brand to me), BOMF refers to members as individuals experiencing homelessness—emphasizing that homelessness is a temporary situation, not a defining characteristic. They need volunteers (as do many of the groups on this page) as well as dollars.

Batworld. https://batworld.org/ I have personally been a fan of bats ever since I found out they eat mosquitos. The Batworld website is a great educational resource on why bats are valuable and what to do if you find one in your house. From the website, “Bat World Sanctuary is on the front line to end the mistreatment of bats. Each year we rescue hundreds of bats who might otherwise die. Lifetime sanctuary is given to non-releasable bats, including those that are orphaned, injured, and retired from the exotic pet trade, zoos and research facilities. Bat World was founded in 1994 and is a 501c3 non-profit, accredited organization with both the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association. Donations allow us to continue our rescue efforts for bats.”

Breast Cancer Charities. There are multiple, state, local, nationwide, international. I’ve walked the 3 Day for the Cure supporting the Komen Foundation, and donated to the Faith Fancher  charity (California). The nominating friend is fundraising for the 26.2 with Donna; her link is here: http://donate.breastcancermarathon.com/2017-Marathon/cancersucks

California Pit Bull Rescue. http://www.californiapitbullrescue.org/ Nominated by a friend who fosters their dogs. My favorite pit bull is a tank of a dog named Rosie, who is very gentle, thinks she is a lap dog, and is beta-dog to the tiniest terrier I’ve ever seen be an alpha dog. From the website, “California Pit bull Rescue (CPR) is organized for the purpose of rescuing at risk “pit bull” type dogs and facilitating social change to abolish the abuse, over breeding and mis-education surrounding the breed. CPR will achieve these goals through a SF Bay Area fostering network, fundraising programs, educational initiatives and financial/physical support for needy guardians of pit bull type dogs. Established in August 2012, CPR is a 501(C)3 all-volunteer nonprofit rescue organization with headquarters in Richmond, CA. 100% of our proceeds go toward our mission goals including awareness initiatives and providing food, supplies, housing, training and medical care for the dogs we take into our rescue program. We strive to house our dogs in foster homes where they can decompress and learn how to be loved and secure family members. They remain under CPR’s wing until they find the most appropriate permanent guardian with whom they can happily and peacefully live out their lives.” Definitely check out their “surprising facts about pit bulls” page.

Center for Sex and Culture. http://www.sexandculture.org/about Nominated by a friend. From their website, “The Mission of the Center for Sex & Culture is to provide judgment-free education, cultural events, a library/media archive, and other resources to audiences across the sexual and gender spectrum; and to research and disseminate factual information, framing and informing issues of public policy and public health. The Center for Sex & Culture aims to provide a community center for education, advocacy, research, and support to the widest range of people. We offer classes that run the gamut from informational to experiential. We host classes and cultural events as well as offer our space to other organizations and teachers as scheduling allows. We serve a nationally (in fact, globally) significant function, adding to the few accessible resources for sex education available to the public, not just academics or specialists. We have acquired various collections of books, papers, art, erotic material, personal collections from notable people within the sex-positive community, and other media.”

City Slicker Farms. http://www.cityslickerfarms.org/ Nominated by a friend, this is right up my alley: food policy and boots-on-the-ground that provides food security. She wrote, “My money goes to local food-based organizations: the food bank, Richmond Mission, and my fave: City Slicker Farms. CSF grows veggies and West Oakland and sells them to neighbors on a sliding scale. They also negotiate with landlords, then build back yard gardens in the neighborhood and give new gardeners a mentor to teach them how to grow their own food.” I know there are other organizations that do similar things in other locations, so if you like the idea but want to give locally, search online.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium. http://www.seewinter.com/ Nominated by a friend. Their motto is rescue, rehab, release. From the website: “We believe in preserving our environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine life, environmental education, research and conservation. We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.” They provide education to humans, and have webcams too!

Crisis Nursery Kids. http://crisisnurserykids.org/ Suggested by a friend; from the website: “The SAINT LOUIS CRISIS NURSERY (SLCN) is an independent, not-for-profit agency funded by donations and committed to preventing child abuse and neglect by providing short-term, emergency shelter for children, birth through age 12, whose families are faced with emergencies or who are in crisis. Founded in 1986, the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery has become a cornerstone in the fight against child abuse and neglect. In addition to the direct care of the children, the Crisis Nursery gives ongoing support and follow-up care to families and serves as a child/family advocate within the social services system. Families may voluntarily bring their children to any of the Nursery sites for a variety of reasons, including: Overwhelming parental stress, Parental or sibling illness or death, Lack of utilities, food or shelter, Domestic violence, Other emergency situations which jeopardize the safety and well-being of the child and necessitate temporary parent-child separation. The average stay of a child is two to three days. During his or her stay at the Crisis Nursery, each child receives 24-hour care by trained staff, medical services, meals and snacks, developmental assessment, therapeutic activities appropriate to the child’s situation, art activities.”

Donors Choose. https://www.donorschoose.org/ Mom was a teacher, so I really love this one. Crowdfunding can build stuff, and that includes better education for children. Donors Choose has a unique model where teachers write proposals for specific projects, and donors choose the project(s) where they want their money to go. My favorite option is to choose the high priority projects in schools that have the highest poverty, but you can also choose by location or by subject. If you’ve ever known a teacher—especially one in public education—you know that teachers often spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to buy classroom supplies, even though they aren’t making a lot of money themselves. This is a way that anyone can help, even if you don’t have a kid. Most of these projects just need a few hundred dollars, and each of them can change a kid’s school experience.

Electronic Frontier Foundation. http://www.eff.org I have a deep love for the EFF that dates back to the days when you found something on the internet by typing in a word or company name and adding “.com” to the end in the hopes that you’d find what you wanted. EFF is defending your rights in the digital world. As the internet of things grows, that digital world is even bigger. As EFF explains, “The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.” The EFF website is also an excellent resource for anyone concerned about privacy, government access to personal information, electronic record-keeping, and commercialization of your data.

The Elephant Sanctuary. https://www.elephants.com/ Nominated by a friend, this non-profit runs a Tennessee sanctuary that provides long-term care for elephants. From the website, “The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee exists to provide captive elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being, and to raise public awareness of the complex needs of elephants in captivity, and the crisis facing elephants in the wild.” Elephants are intelligent creatures with complex needs. The Sanctuary itself is a true sanctuary, and is closed to the public. There are elephant cams though, so you can sneak a peek.

The Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County. http://epilepsysandiego.org.s163008.gridserver.com/ Nominated by a friend, who is fundraising and seeking donations in the name of Serena’s Crusaders. https://www.facebook.com/Serenascrusaders From their website, “The Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving the San Diego community since 1954, offering personal advocacy and counseling, seizure first aid training, Expressive Arts therapy, camp and a variety of supportive services. All these services are free and are available to anyone whose life is touched by epilepsy, regardless of the severity of the disability and without regard to race, creed, age, sex or nationality.”

Fix our Ferals. http://fixourferals.org/home/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “Fix Our Ferals (FOF) is a community-based, non-profit organization that promotes trap-neuter-return (TNR) to humanely reduce the cat population in the San Francisco East Bay. During our first eleven years from our founding in 1998 until 2011, FOF held 101 ‘mash-style’ clinics at borrowed facilities. Then in July 2012, to meet overwhelming demand for low-cost spay-neuter, FOF opened our own clinic facility, the Fix Our Ferals Spay-Neuter Center. Our mission is to help both people and cats in the San Francisco East Bay by: (1) Advocating TNR as the only humane and effective method of population control, to replace the cruel and failed practice of trap-and-kill; (2) Providing affordable sterilizations to community members and rescue organizations; (3) Educating community members, leaders, and decision-makers about TNR, in order to empower neighborhoods to control and monitor their own free-roaming neighborhood cats.

Food Banks. Everywhere. Hunger exists, right here at home, probably right in your backyard. Ordinary looking people you walk past every day can be struggling to put enough food on the table and still look like everything is fine—and that’s in part because food insecurity is embarrassing to many people. Poverty is only one of the factors associated with hunger; food insecurity increases when the economy isn’t doing well, when unemployment goes up, and when housing prices escalate. According to Feeding America, in 2015 there were 42.2 million Americans living in food insecure households. Find your local food bank and donate cash, which they can spend very efficiently. You can even be lazy on this one, as your local grocery story probably has a donation barrel or a pre-packed suggested donation bag this time of year. Hunger knows no season. Think about this every time you buy food. What would happen if we each donated one canned item for every grocery trip?

Friends of Berkeley Animal Care Services. http://friendsofbacs.org/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “Friends of Berkeley Animal Care Services raises much-needed funds to support programs and services that help provide a safe and happy environment for animals waiting for their forever homes at Berkeley’s municipal shelter.” The majority of municipal animal shelters are underfunded and tasked with doing much more than is actually possible on their meagre budgets. Many are subject to state and local laws, but not required to report or provide specific services. There’s probably one near you that could use your help!

Friends of the Oakland Animal Services. http://www.oaklandanimalservices.org/how-to-help/donate/friends-of-oakland-animal-services/ Nominated by a friend. From the website, “Friends of Oakland Animal Services (FOAS) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for shelter animals. Founded by Oakland Animal Services volunteers in December 2005, FOAS was created to support the municipal shelter’s efforts to better care for thousands of animals each year in the face of Oakland’s ongoing budgetary challenges. Our mission is to provide homes, health, and happiness for Oakland’s homeless animals. Some of our main funding areas include: Emergency and specialized medical care
Equipment needed to help veterinary staff better care for shelter animals on-site; Adoption outreach and foster program support; The creation of indoor/outdoor play areas and better animal housing, including general supplies and repairs; Transportation of animals to both local and out-of-state partner rescue groups; Tools to help with Oakland field services, including digital cameras for staff to document cruelty cases and laser thermometers to determine the temperature inside parked cars; Materials, training, and other supplies for the volunteer program that is integral to the quality of life for shelter animals.”

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. http://www.girlscouts.org/ As a Life Member and Gold Award recipient, this one is a no-brainer for my list. There are even programs for girls and their imprisoned mothers that From a friend who nominated them: “Girl Scouts of the USA have always been on my giving list. It’s not only the first organization that facilitated leadership and entrepreneurship opportunities for me, as a child. I know how dollars are stretched to serve the greatest number of girls (as a former Council staff member), and how GSUSA’S commitment to pluralism, from the organization’s inception has been at the forefront of ‘leveling the playing field’ for girls (marginalized, or not). Plus, it’s FUN! (And often overlooked).” You can give to the national organization, or find your local Girl Scout Council (which likely maintains camping facilities in addition to providing programs for girls).

Girls on the Run. https://www.girlsontherun.org/ Suggested by a friend who is also a runner, though this is a group I’m familiar with too; their running programs are free to participants, and are about WAY more than just running. Here’s a snippet from their website: “One girl put it this way, ‘I learned that I am the boss of my brain.’ Girls on the Run inspires girls to take charge of their lives and define the future on their terms. It’s a place where girls learn that they can. No limits. No constraints. Only opportunities to be remarkable.” There are local councils all over the country, you can find yours on the website or donate to the national organization. They also need volunteers to train to present the curriculum, and to help support their runs.

Give Kids the World Village. http://www.gktw.org/ Nominated by a friend who wrote, “one of the highest rated charities in the world. They work with organizations like Make a Wish to provide a place for kids with diseases and their families to stay while visiting Orlando.” According to the website, “Give Kids The World Village is a 79-acre, nonprofit ‘storybook’ resort in Central Florida. Here, children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations.”

Global Fund For Widows. http://globalfundforwidows.org Nominated by a friend. This organization focuses on widows because in the developing world, losing a husband can be devastating to a woman and to her children. Widow often lack favorable inheritance rights (in other words, the husband’s family might get all of the goods and money that used to support the family), lack a social and governmental support system, lack childcare options, and lack marketable skills and education. “The Global Fund for Widows assists its widows by creating employment opportunities where no other opportunity exists. The Global Fund for Widows seeks to align a widow’s skills, abilities, interests and financial needs, with employment options created by the program or through partnerships with other organizations and employers. With financial stability, widows are inspired to become self-reliant and self-accountable. And, in this way, they are able to extricate themselves from poverty.”

Heifer International. https://www.heifer.org/ Nominated by two friends, one of whom wrote, “I favor https://www.heifer.org (Heifer International) which donates living animals and plants, teaches husbandry, and requires gift recipients to pass the gift on to others in their community.” Yes, I am personally a vegetarian, but I don’t live in poverty either. Many of Heifer’s gifts allow women to start small businesses and become financially independent. Heifer supports sustainable agriculture, plants trees, and helps end hunger

Ian Clemens Foundation. http://ianclemensfoundation.org/ Nominated by my Dad’s lovely wife. Ian Clemens was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer at age 17 and died just a month after he was diagnosed. His family and friends have chosen to honor his memory by providing scholarships for engineering students who graduated from Livonia (MI) high schools, because that’s where Ian graduated, and he wanted to be an engineer. The foundation also helps families with children battling cancer by helping children’s cancer center emergency funds (available to help families with travel, lodging, loss of income, and medical expenses), and raises awareness of organ and tissue donation (because at age 17, Ian had chosen to become a donor prior to his death).

Immaculate Heart Radio. https://ihradio.com/ I’m super not-Catholic, as you know. A friend wrote that this cause is “near and dear to her heart,” however, and she supports their work. According to their website, “Immaculate Heart Radio is a non-profit lay apostolate that operates a growing network of Catholic radio stations in the West. We are dedicated to sharing the heart of the Christian faith and changing lives through radio airwaves.” IHR is an educational charity. There are a variety of religious and faith-based organizations doing all sorts of things in the world, so if this one isn’t for you, there is likely another one that is.

International Rescue Committee. https://www.rescue.org/ Nominated by a friend working with IRC to help Syrian refugee families start their new lives in Sacramento. From their website, “The International Rescue Committee helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and regain control of their future.” They focus on health, education (especially for girls and women, who may not even know what their rights are), and other essentials. They do three main things: (1) Ensure that people in crisis areas have what they need to survive—including food, water, shelter and basic household items—without falling into debt or resorting to desperate measures. (2) Ensure that people resettled in the United States have what they need to rebuild their lives and grow their assets. (3) Ensure that people can become self-sufficient by engaging in safe and decent work and by managing and saving their resources.

JDRF. http://www.jdrf.org/ Nominated by a friend. Type 1 diabetes used to be called “childhood diabetes” because it is a disease you are born with and have to live with for life, though it can also be diagnosed and develop later in life. In Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, the pancreas stops making insulin. JDRF funds research for treatment and eventually a cure for Type 1 diabetes. (Did you know there are different treatments for Type 1 than there are for Type 2?) JDRF research includes artificial pancreas, beta cell replacement, glucose control, prevention, and restoration. JDRF also provides support, information, education, and community for individuals and families affected by Type 1 diabetes.

Karam Foundation. http://www.karamfoundation.org/ Per my friend, “recommended by my friend who has lots of connections in Syria.” #Dares4Syria campaign this #GivingTuesday. This charity is focused on helping the children of Syria, both those that stay in Syria and those who leave. Inside Syria, Karam provides emergency support for schools inside Syria. Outside Syria, the focus is on refugee children: “Karam Foundation is providing long-term support in the form of smart aid for Syrian refugee families in need. We strive not to just place aid-bandaids but instead develop sustainable, future-building tools that: Stabilize families, educate children, prevent child labor, discourage early teen marriages, and keep refugees in host countries close to Syria.”

Libraries. Everywhere. You want to talk underfunded community resources? In many parts of the country, you just have to look at the library—if your town still has a library. The Dunning-Hough Library was my very favorite place in Plymouth, MI and I remember when it was housed almost entirely in a single room. (I’m thrilled to see where it has grown today!) Libraries need money to buy and repair books, subscribe to magazines, pay for utilities, maintain computer systems, pay librarians, provide programs for children, and expand their offerings into the digital world. My libraries in Portland, Austin, and Alameda have e-book lending in addition to DVDs, CDs, and more traditional media. Libraries often provide meeting space for community groups, basic literacy programs for adults, tutoring for children, and a safe place for students of all ages to study and learn.

Michigan Humane Society. http://www.michiganhumane.org/ Nominated by a friend, but also a favorite of Mom (Elaine Bain, in case you’d like to donate in her memory). MHS is the largest and oldest animal welfare organization in Michigan. MHS services include care for animals and placement in responsible permanent homes. They have affordable microchipping program and a low-cost spay/neuter program, a pet food bank, a pet behavior hotline, and more. The website is filled with all manner of information about pets, how to deal with pet behavior, adoption stories, lost pets, travel with pets, and end of life care for pets. You need pet info, MHS has you covered—and with the internet, that’s even if you don’t live in Michigan. Feel free to support your state’s MHS equivalent.

National Center for Lesbian Rights. http://www.nclrights.org/ I recently learned about NCLR and all the work they do (which benefits many people who are not lesbians too!). Their work fits in perfectly with my desire for every U.S. citizen to fully enjoy the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. NCLR is working to achieve LGBT equality through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education. They work on immigration, asylum, healthcare, housing, sports, prisoners’ rights, parenting, marriage, child custody, and so much more. They provide legal assistance to individual clients, and have a website with resources.

National Center for Transgender Equality. http://www.transequality.org In their own words, “The National Center for Transgender Equality is the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people. NCTE was founded in 2003 by transgender activists who recognized the urgent need for policy change to advance transgender equality. With a committed board of directors, a volunteer staff of one, and donated office space, we set out to accomplish what no one had yet done: provide a powerful transgender advocacy presence in Washington, D.C.”

Leslie Science & Nature Center. http://www.lesliesnc.org/support-us/donate Nominated by a friend. According to their website, “Leslie Science & Nature Center educates and inspires children and adults to discover, understand, and respect their natural environment.” They have nature camps, education programs, and host groups of school kids and Scouts. Their raptor center, critter house, and Black Pond Wood are open to visitors, too.

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. https://www.themmrf.org/ Nominated by a friend. I’ve learned myeloma is more common than I thought, since many of my friends seem to know someone who is affected. From their website, “The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) helps accelerate the development of next generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend patient’s lives, and lead to a cure. MMRF brings treatment to multiple myeloma patients 60% faster than the average through collaboration with best in class partners in the US and Internationally. In the process, we are changing the way cancer research is conducted. MMRF, a 501(c)(3), is the number one private funder of multiple myeloma research in the United States.”

The Nature Conservancy. http://www.nature.org/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. We address the most pressing conservation threats at the largest scale. Thanks to the support of our more than 1 million members, we’ve built a tremendous record of success since our founding in 1951: We’ve protected more than 119 million acres of land and thousands of miles of rivers worldwide — and we operate more than 100 marine conservation projects globally. We are impacting conservation in 69 countries — protecting habitats from grasslands to coral reefs, from Australia to Alaska to Zambia. We address threats to conservation involving climate change, fresh water, oceans, and conservation lands.”

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. https://www.ncsfreedom.org/ Nominated by a friend. “The NCSF is committed to creating a political, legal and social environment in the US that advances equal rights for consenting adults who engage in alternative sexual and relationship expressions.” Did you know that many states still have laws on the books criminalizing sex acts between consenting adults? Personally, I don’t want the government (or you!) deciding what I can and can’t do with my body in the privacy of my own bedroom.

Noah’s Light Foundation. https://www.noahslightfoundation.org/ I fundraised for Noah’s Light as a runner because they are awesome. Their goal is to find a cure for pediatric brain cancer. Amber Larkin was Noah’s mother; Noah died of pediatric brain cancer and she founded Noah’s Light in his honor. NLF has funded the NOAH Protocol, which in 2014 went into clinical trials as the first pediatric brand cancer trial in 30 years. Yes, 30 years. The NOAH protocol started with cells from Noah, and is aimed to reduce and eliminate several types of pediatric brain cancer, and with great results: “Throughout the previous year, The NOAH Protocol has been up and running. Children have been through various stages of treatments and to date, no toxicity has been attributed to immune cell infusion. Because of this success, the researchers have been cleared by the FDA to provide the next, higher dose level in the trial. In addition to moving to the next level for the protocol, a co-trial is underway that uses a specialized imaging technique to track the movement of NK cells as they enter the brain to fight cancer cells.” Worthy work, since so few dollars donated to cancer research go to pediatric cancer, and don’t children deserve a chance?

Northwest Children’s Theater. http://nwcts.org/ Nominated by a friend who wrote, “I work for Northwest Children’s Theater […] and I must confess they’re my favorite. They spend every donated dollar on programs for disadvantaged youth, including free sensory friendly performances, Interns NW (a free program for teenagers that want to pursue theater as a career), free outreach programming to Title 1 schools, free preview shows, and scholarships to camps and classes. For 24 years they’ve had a policy to never turn a child or family away for lack of funds, and they have stood by this commitment, even when the founders had to use their own money to make sure every kid could go. Because of this, it’s one of the only places I’ve ever worked for that is truly ethnically and economically diverse, and they work hard to remove damaging stereotypes from their plays (which also have talented, diverse casts). It’s quite a gem.”

Oregon Natural Desert Association. https://onda.org/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “Oregon’s desert is known for its stunning beauty, biological significance, recreational opportunities and cultural value. Much of Oregon’s high desert is publicly-owned land primarily managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). ONDA works with this agency and others every day to ensure that vast swaths of your lands remain wild, open spaces that will be there for future generations to enjoy. These lands are your lands! Over 8 million acres of these lands qualify as Wilderness but are yet to be protected as such. These lands as a whole provide important habitat for fish and wildlife such as pronghorn antelope, Greater sage-grouse, trout and salmon. Until permanent protections are gained, they are at risk.”

The Pajama Program. http://www.pajamaprogram.org/ Nominated by a friend. Bedtime is something I remember as comforting and homey—I always had nice jammies and plenty of books to read (or have read to me). It’s not the same for children in shelters, many of whom arrived with none of their own things and are facing bedtime in a scary and unfamiliar place. From the website, “By distributing new pajamas and new books to children in need, we are able to help provide children with a comforting, nurturing bedtime and literacy support. Our reading center helps to bridge the 30,000,000 word gap and gives these children the opportunity to read one on one with an adult, something they may not otherwise experience.”

Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/ Nominated by a friend who noted, “Planned Parenthood have had a special place in my heart. As a college student, who had no medical benefits, Planned Parenthood WAS my primary care provider (1988-1993) until I got my first ‘big girl’ job (with benefits). If it hadn’t been for PP, I would not have had a diagnosis or treatment for HPV.” This could have been written by at least 100 women I know personally—most of whom had a period with no health insurance or access to health insurance and would have gone without basic health care. From the website, “Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.” You can give nationally, or to your local/regional Planned Parenthood (which you can find via the link).

The Pongo Fund. http://www.thepongofund.org/ Nominated by a friend who explained, “The Pongo Fund are miracle workers. $1 donated becomes nearly $2 dollars spent towards providing food for not only animals, but their humans as well. They provide medical care that PAW Team (Portland Animal Welfare Team) can’t provide soon enough. They look at the animal and person as a unit/whole and do whatever they can to keep them together. Sometimes it’s getting a new collar and leash others it could be socks and shoes. They always exceed.” I’ve donated to pet food drives held for the Pongo Fund when running in Portland.

Public Radio. Everywhere. I’m a fan of KOPB (Oregon) and KQED (San Francisco), but there are local affiliates everywhere. One year I spent so much time in San Diego that I joined KPBS. You can join your local station at any time during the year, not just during the pledge drive time. You can also donate directly to NPR (National Public Radio) or PRI (Public Radio International), both of which produce news and entertainment.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). https://www.rainn.org/index.php Nominated by a friend, RAINN describes itself as “the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of ‘America’s 100 Best Charities’ by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org y rainn.org/es) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Save the Children. https://www.savethechildren.net/ Nominated by a friend. An overview, from the website: “Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. In 2015, we reached over 62 million children directly through our and our partners’ work.” Save the Children provides safe play areas in refugee camps, secures education for vulnerable children, improves access to food and healthcare, and provides other services and education.

Seedlings. http://www.seedlings.org/ Seedlings started in a basement, with the goal of increasing the availability and decreasing the cost of braille books for children. In their own words, “Seedlings braille materials have opened up new worlds for thousands of children. Seedlings Braille Books for Children is keeping visually impaired children in the mainstream of popular literature and is reaching braille readers in all 50 states and several foreign countries. Seedlings contributes to literacy by providing visually impaired children equal opportunity to develop the love of reading. At this time, less than 20% of the 50,000 blind children in the United States are proficient in braille. All too often, the written word has been inaccessible to them, and this is what we are hoping to change. Braille books are provided at each level of development, from toddler board books to classic literature for older children. Just as sighted children learn to “read” as they are exposed to the printed word, so do visually impaired children who are exposed to the tactile page at an early age. New titles are added every year as highly skilled volunteer braille transcribers spend countless donated hours translating print books into braille and preparing them for computer disk to await production. Once the original translation is complete, additional books can be printed as needed. Exposure to popular, high quality braille literature throughout childhood increases the likelihood of children developing into able braille readers.”

Sponsor a Sister, via Women for Women International. http://www.womenforwomen.org/sponsor-a-sister Nominated by a friend who wrote, “I’m on my fifth or sixth sponsored sister by now. They write heart-wrenching letters of thanks. ‘Dear friend who loved me before you knew me…’” Donations provide a range of services from job skills education and business training to access to food and clean water. As the website explains, “With more than 20 years of on-the-ground experience working with women in countries affected by conflict, Women for Women International understands that a comprehensive program addressing the social and economic empowerment of marginalized women is the most effective approach.”

Stop Abuse for Everyone (SAFE). http://www.safeaustin.org/ Nominated by a friend who works there. From their website, “The SAFE Alliance is a structured partnership between SafePlace and Austin Children’s Shelter, two organizations that serve the survivors of child abuse and neglect, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. Our Mission: To lead in ending sexual assault and exploitation, child abuse and domestic violence through prevention, intervention and advocacy for change.” They have a hotline, child education programs including a charter school for survivors, and more.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. https://www.stjude.org/give.html A charity that works with runners to raise money for a great cause: life-saving medical treatment for children with serious diseases. From their website, “The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.” The majority of St. Jude’s funding comes from individual donations, and families are not billed for medical services.

Toys for Tots. http://www.toysfortots.org/ If you don’t know where to donate a physical toy, you can look up your local toy drive online. You can also donate money. From the website, “The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.”

To Write Love on Her Arms. https://twloha.com/ Nominated by a friend. From the website, “To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.” So many of my friends have struggled—and do struggle—with these problems, and it’s time we stop stigmatizing them.

Team RWB. https://www.teamrwb.org/ In case you’ve been living under a rock, Team RWB has been out in force at all sorts of races, mud runs, workouts, and other team events. From the website, “Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.” You can donate to the national organization or find a local one. They always need volunteers, too.

Vortex. http://www.vortexrep.org Nominated by a friend. There is no way I can do their work justice by selecting a piece from their description of what they do—which includes presenting new works (plays, opera, ritual theatre), educational programming including a summer children’s program, and providing a “green” performance venue (recycling, composting) that includes a butterfly sanctuary. Their mission: “We conjure and navigate the storm of imagination
with urgent, unashamed art that dares to dream the world in which we want to live.
This magic emanates from our cultural harbor, embraces diverse communities, breaks down barriers, and opens channels for vital exchange.”

Water for People. https://www.waterforpeople.org/ Nominated by a friend who said, “Just having access to the most basic of needs can make a huge difference.” It’s true—have you ever had to live without unfettered access to clean water? Ever visited a place where you might have water for an hour, but it isn’t drinkable? According to Water for People, “1.8 billion people around the world don’t have access to safe water and 2.4 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. Women and children spend more than 4 hours walking for water each day, and more than 840,000 people die each year from water-related diseases. We’re here to change that. We want to see communities break free from the cycle of poverty and spend time growing, learning, and thriving, instead of walking for water and fighting off illness.”

Tell me?

Where are you sending resourcs this #GivingTuesday? Is your favorite not on my list? Leave a comment with a link and why you choose!

Update! Many of the sales, deals, discounts, and codes are good through Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday. I’ve made notes where I was able to verify the information; if there is no note about expiration, it might have just been a Friday thing.

Note: exactly ZERO of these are sponsored promotions, and exactly ZERO of the links below are affiliate links. (If that changes, I’ll make a note by the specific product or link.) Inclusion of a product/race/service on this list isn’t an endorsement, though I have reviewed many of these products. The information below comes from email sent to me, twitter, and instagram. Did I miss anything? Leave a comment and let me know!

APPAREL

2XU–verified still active Saturday
40% off site-wide
Selected products up to 70% off
www.2xu.com

Aaptiv (apparel and gear)
25% off with code BLACKFRIDAY
https://store.aaptiv.com

ABombApparel
45% off plus free swag with code blackfriday45
https://www.abomb-apparel.com/

Alo Yoga–verified still active Saturday
30% off full-price (up to 70% off sale) with code ALO30
www.aloyoga.com

Bombas–verified still live on Saturday
20% off site-wide with code HOLIDAY20
https://bombas.com

Brooks–verified still live on Saturday
30% off select styles
Spend $120 get a free holiday tech tee or holiday socks
www.brooksrunning.com

BUFF–valid through Monday
25% of everything with code CYBERSALE
www.buffusa.com

Chase This Skirt–verified still live on Saturday
30% off store-wide (no code needed)
www.chasethisskirt.com

Fellow Flowers–good through SUNDAY!
10% off when you spend $50  code Holiday10
15% off when you spend $100 code Holiday15
20% off when you spend $125 code Holiday20
http://fellow-flowers.myshopify.com/

Handful
Buy 2 regular-price bras, get a free scoop neck tank
$10 off a $50 purchase with code #ShopSmall (Saturday)
https://handful.com/

Inversion Junkies–good through TUESDAY!
BOGO leggings with code BLACKFRIDAY16
inversionjunkie.com/collections/leggings

Legend Compression–good through MONDAY!
20% off $50+
30% off $100+
40% off $150+
code CYBERWEEK16
http://www.legendcompressionwear.com

Mizuno
20% off with code WHYWAIT20
www.mizunousa.com

Nuu Muu (athletic dresses)–good through 11/29!
25% off with code THANKYOU16
https://nuu-muu.com/

Oiselle–valid through Sunday!
15% off orders of $100+
20% off orders of $200+
30% off orders of $300+
www.oiselle.com

PACT (organic cotton clothes)–valid through the weekend
30-70% off site-wide on Friday, no code needed
https://wearpact.com

Pavement Runner/WeRunSocial–ongoing!
Everything marked down to $16 or less
http://pavementrunner.com/shop/

Physiclo (compression with resistance!)
save 25% with code HOLIDAY25
https://physiclo.com

PopFlex Active–valid through 11/28!
25% off all clothes and mats with code blackfri
http://www.popflexactive.com

Pro Compression–valid through Saturday!
50% Black Styles with code BLK
Free shipping on orders over $20
http://procompression.com/black-to-the-basics/

Raw Threads–valid through 11/28
15% off site-wide with code BLACKFRIDAY
25% off orders $100+ with code BLACKFRIDAY25
Free shipping (no code needed)
www.rawthreads.com

Reebok–verified still active on Saturday
50% off the Black Friday Collection code BF50
http://www.reebok.com/us/black_friday_collection

Simply Workout
30% (more on sale items!) with code TURKEYDAY
25% off with code BIGDEAL25
www.simplyworkout.com

Skirt Sports–valid through MONDAY!
15% off everything code BLACKFRIDAY15
Free shipping with $40 minimum purchase
www.skirtsports.com

SLS3 (compression)–valid through 11/28
up to 80% off with code CYBER50
BF2016 for 50% off and free shipping (today only)
http://www.slstri.com/

Sparkle Skirts–MONDAY ONLY
Buy 3, Get 1 Free (limited to B3G1 collection, see link)
FREESHIP2016 (covers up to $15 shipping fees)
http://www.sparkleskirts.com/collections/b3g1

Spiritual Gangster–verified valid on Saturday
40% off with code NAMASTE40
https://www.spiritualgangster.com/

Thorlos–valid through 12/31
30% off select clearance
Buy 3, get the 4th free
Free shipping in the US
https://www.thorlo.com

Toe Sox–verified valid on Saturday
25% off everything with code BESTSALEEVER
www.toesox.com

BODY CARE

Bunny Butt Apothecary–to 11/28
(small business soap, body cream, and more–delicious!)
25% off with code BLACKBUNNY16
http://bunnybuttapothecary.com/

Out of Africa–through 12/2
(fair trade, sustainable, cruelty-free, and more!)
20% off with code THANKSGIVING20
http://outofafricashea.com

Sumbody–CYBER MONDAY ONLY
free shipping on orders $35+ and a gift with code CYBER16
www.sumbody.com

EVENTS

Coastal Trail Runs/Zoom
20% off races through midnight only code blkfriday20
www.coastaltrailruns.com

Divas Half Marathon & 5k Series–valid through 11/28
$5 off any race with code THANKS16
http://www.runlikeadiva.com/

FitFam’s Elfie Run (benefits Toys for Tots!)
20% off with code BLACKFRIDAY20
http://elfie.run/

Hospital Hill–MONDAY ONLY
20% off with code Cyber17 (not valid on the family pricing package)
www.hospitalhillrun.com

Livermore Half Marathon–valid through MONDAY
The Town’s Half Marathon
$10 off with code THANKFUL2016
(apologies for the ugly link below, but imathlete wasn’t doing me any favors)
https://www.imathlete.com/events/EventReg/EventReg_SelectType.aspx?fEID=37198&fNew=1&fsource=imAEOverview

Mad Marathon–SUNDAY AND MONDAY only
$60 for either the 2016 Mad Marathon or Mad Half
www.madmarathon.com

The Phoenix Marathon
$20 off with code BFRIDAY20 (full and half only) until 11/29
http://thephoenixmarathon.com

PIG RUN of Lake Nona–Lucky 7th!
$5 off with code TURKEYPIGGY
http://www.pigrunoflakenona.com/

Seasick Events: Coast to Crest and Carmel Valley Trail
The Coast to Crest race is set for May 6, 2017 while the Carmel Valley trail race is set for Sept 9th, 2017. Registration for 40% off, this weekend only. Register for both events at once and receive 25% off automatically, AND if you include the code “HOLIDAY” you will receive an additional 15% off…  A TOTAL OF 40% OFF*!! (Registering for one event saves 15% off that event.)
www.seasickevents.com

Spartan Races
25% off all races with code HOLIDAY
Sale on gear & apparel
www.spartan.com

Surf City–valid through MONDAY
$20 off the half or full marathon with code BLACKFRIDAYSCM
https://www.imathlete.com/events/EventReg/EventReg_SelectType.asp

Todos Santos Half Marathon–MONDAY ONLY
$45 half marathon with code GRATITUDE
http://www.runtodossantos.com

Willamantic Classic–MONDAY ONLY
$6 off any distance with code CYBER
Introducing the Hop TWO It Relay option for the Half Marathon!
Two person teams, with the handoff at the Jillson Square midpoint of the race, convenient one stop parking, running, AND cheering plus fun team finisher medals. $55 on Cyber Monday, price goes up to $60 after.
http://www.willimanticathleticclub.org/Willimantic_Classic.html

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FOOD & NUTRITION

Aloha
30% off site-wide wide code FRIDAY SATURDAY
aloha.com

Amazing Greens
50% off with code HOLIDAY2016 through Monday!
free shipping on orders $75+
https://www.amazinggrass.com/store

Amino Vital–valid through MONDAY
30% off with code HOLIDAY
www.amino-vital.com

Amrap Nutrition
30% off on Amazon.com with code AMRAP300

Banza (delicious chickpea pasta, made in Detroit!)
Buy one, send one to a friend! Select items, through Monday 11/28
Deal page is here

Bodybuilding.com
BOGO on select items
www.bodybuilding.com

BSN–cyber MONDAY!
15% off all BSN Edge products
http://www.gobsn.com/offer/cybermonday.html

Buff Bake
15% off site-wide
extra savings with code cybermonday
www.buffbake.com

Detour Bar–MONDAY ONLY
entire site 30% off (no code required)
http://www.detourbar.com

Direct Eats–new! Valid Saturday and Sunday!
save 10% (off $75), 15% ($150), or 20% ($200) with code BLACKFRIDAY
15% off selected products from small businesses
www.directeats.com

EAS
25% off select items
www.eas.com

EBOOST
40% off with code THANKS40; free shipping over $40
https://www.eboost.com

Energy Bits.–now through Monday
20% off with code BAIN
$5 shipping to the U.S. for up to five bags of bits
http://www.energybits.com

Enjoy Life Foods (great for those with allergies!)–to 11/28!
10% off site-wide, 20% off orders $50+, 30% off orders $65+ code THANKFUL
http://shop.enjoylifefoods.com/

Hammer Nutrition
Free ultra gel sampler kit with order, use code WS16E
15% off fuels
20% off supplements and accessories
30% off clothing
50% off clearance
http://www.hammernutrition.com/
(Not an affiliate link, but if you want to tell them I sent you, I would LOVE that.)

ieatprotein
30% off with code EAT30
www.ieatprotein.com

Inside Tracker— valid through MONDAY!
Best deal of the year on the Ultimate plan!
https://www.insidetracker.com/customer/onboarding/choose-plan/
25% off any other Inside Tracker plan with code BLRF25OFF
https://www.insidetracker.com/customer/store/create-account

Kuli Kuli (moringa super foods)
15% off with code GRATITUDE (ends Sunday)
https://www.kulikulifoods.com/products

MeStrength
25% off with code VeryMerryMestrength (case sensitive)
www.mestrength.com

No Meat Athlete (with friends!)
The Plant-Based Fitness, Meal Plan, Cookbook, and Habit Change Bundle for $95 (individually priced items total $1,000+)
https://go.nomeatathlete.com/nma-bundle-2016

NuGo Nutrition
25% off all NuGo bars, free shipping on orders over $50 with code THX4U (through 11/28/16)
http://store.nugonutrition.com/products

Nuun
20% off + free shipping with code OPTOUTSIDE2016
https://nuunlife.com/shop

Quest
Through MONDAY!
$5 OFF any orders $45 – $69.99
$15 OFF any orders $70 – $94.99
$30 OFF any orders $95 – $250
(limit $250 per household)
https://store.questnutrition.com/

Run Gum
25% off through Monday
$5 off an order of $50+
$10 off an order of $100+
$20 off an order of $200+
free standard shipping
https://getrungum.com/collections/2016-black-friday-cyber-monday

Penzey’s Spices
Love Boxes discounted (through 11/27)
$4 off Black Pepper ½ cup (through 11/30)
Vanilla discounted
www.penzeys.com

Seven Seas Teas
40% off with code GREENFRIDAY7
http://www.lovesevenseas.com/

Thrive Market
25% off everything
www.thrivemarket.com

Ultima Replenisher
All flavors and sizes discounted in their store on Amazon.com

Vega
All products discounted; spend $100 and get a limited edition Mizu bottle plus free shipping (limited number available, ends 11/27)
https://myvega.com/products/categories/all

Vegan Proteins–valid through MONDAY!
50% off all Plant Fusion proteins, code CYBER50
Free variety pack with any Protes purchase (no code)
2 Free Badass Cookies when you buy a box
Buy a $100 gift card, get $15 gift card free (good until 12/31)
http://www.veganproteins.com 

Youth H2O
60% off Bloomin’ Apple flavor (discount reflected in pricing)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QIVE4ES/?th=1

Yuve (vegan protein shakes)
25% off with code bf2016
https://www.getyuve.com/

GEAR

6 Pack Fitness
40% off site-wide, 20% off elite bags (no code needed)
20% off sauces and accessories (no code needed)
http://www.sixpackbags.com/

Believe training journals
30% off with code BELIEVERS
www.believeiam.com

FitBook
$49 BlackFriday Bundle
Spend $30+ get a free blender bottle with code BLACKFRIDAY
www.getfitbook.com

FitMark Bags
10% off $50+ with code BF10
15% off $100+ with code BF15
20% off $150+ with code BF20
25% off $200+ with code BF25
Plus a free gift with each order
http://fitmarkbags.com/

The Hollywood Trainer/Jeanette Jenkins
DVDs priced at 50% off!
http://www.thehollywoodtrainer.com/shop/

Kurgo (gear for your four-legged buddy!)
40% off everything with code CYBERSALE through 11/29
www.kurgo.com

Orange Mud–new codes valid through SUNDAY
15% off everything
Free headwrap with purchase
Free shipping (USA) or $10 shipping
Code: BKFDY
10% off $100+ with code SB10
15% off $150+ with code SB15
20% off $250+ with  code SB20
25% off $350+ with code SB25
30% off $500+ with code SB30
www.orangemud.com

Run Ink–through Sunday!
20% off the USA Race Chart with code INSTATURKEY
www.runink.net

SPIbelt–valid through MONDAY!
20% off with code HOLIDAY20
http://spibelt.com

The Color Run
50-60% off everything in the Color Run store
Free shipping for orders over $25
http://store.thecolorrun.com/

Trigger Point
30% off everything on the site with code NOEXCEPTIONS (through Monday, 11/28)
https://www.tptherapy.com/shop

TRX (suspension trainers and more!)
20% off all; 25% off $100+; 30% off $200+ with code BEST16
https://offers.trxtraining.com/black-friday-sale

TRAINING & COACHING & EDUCATION

Barre3–valid through 11/29
50% off barre3 online subscriptions and prop kits
http://shop.barre3.com/

Brett Hoebel
30% off the 20 Minute Body trilogy
http://20minutebody.com/discounts/fitfriend

IDEA 
40% off everything in the store with code FRIDAY40
www.ideafit.com

MobilityWOD
20% off Movement and Mobility 101 with code blackfriday2016
mobilitywod.myshopify.com/products/the-starrett-system-movement-mobility-101
Nathalia Melo-Wilson (trainer)
Monthly membership $5.99 with code melo1
Six month membership $29.94 with code melo2
Year membership $47.88 with code melo3
www.melomafia.com

Run Lean, Run Strong from RunningShoesGuru
save 65% until Monday
http://www.runningshoesguru.com/runlean-65off/

RunSmart Online–valid through 11/27
50% off downloads
Up to $200 off on run form analysis
Runsmartonline.com

Tracy Anderson Method
Spend $200, save 15%
Spend $500, save 20%
Buy 6 months streaming, get 1 free
www.tracyanderson.com

Vi by LifeBeam
Pre-order $199 today only (that’s $80 off)
https://www.getvi.com

Yoga Is… (online conference recordings)
25% off with code BLACKFRIDAY
https://by203.infusionsoft.com/app/orderForms/YOGA-IS-Online-Festival

YogaFit
15% off all 2017 yoga teacher trainings with code GIVETHANKS17
http://www.yogafit.com/

Xen Strength Yoga
30% off everything in the shop code holidayxen
http://xenstrength.com

Disclosure: Earlier this year, I received complimentary Luvo entrees because I am a BibRave Pro. (Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro, and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews. It’s a great way to help race directors see what is working and what needs improvement, and to help other runners find out what a race is really like.) You can read my original review HEREPlease note that while Luvo generously provided the free entree coupons for the giveaway, Luvo had exactly zero input on the content or timing of this post. All opinions are my own.

I’ve been a Luvo fan since I first tried their steam-in-the-bag entrees in February, so I’ve been gently stalking them since them to see what might happen next. If you saw my review (hint: go read it now) you might remember I ended on a hopeful note, looking forward to more vegetarian entree options.

Later in March I was lucky enough to chat with the team behind Luvo at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, the premier trade show for everything in the natural foods, body products, lifestyle, and ingredients space.

The Luvo kitchen at Natural Products Expo West
The Luvo kitchen at Natural Products Expo West

Luvo had a brightly colored, multi-space booth featuring a see-inside kitchen and orange-clad waiters passing samples on trays. You’d better believe I accepted every vegetarian option I was offered! It was cool to get to chat with some of the faces behind the meals.

Since then, a new round of BibRave Pro team members have tried Luvo. Jeremy over at Confessions of an Amateur Athlete liked that they don’t come in wasteful plastic trays, but instead in small steam pouches. He also liked that Luvo takes pride in NOT adding a ton of sugar (and having just read Salt, Sugar, Fat I now know what a big deal that is–the vast majority of packaged foods have added salt and sugar to enhance or disguise their flavors). SlackerRunner had some issues remembering how to work the microwave–not an issue I face, sadly–but liked the taste of the no-soy, no-dairy, no-nuts, no-fish entrees she tried. Arizona Sun Goddess, on the other hand, called the new flavors she tried, “steamazing.” Melinda over at 30 Something Therapy liked some of the ones she tried better than others, and she’s on a gluten-free diet from what I’ve read. Carolyn from Run Fierce, Live Fit was initially skeptical about prepared frozen foods (she doesn’t eat much processed food), but Luvo won her over.

The Swag Mama really liked the variety of choices available but honestly didn’t love EVERY flavor she tried. Which brings me to the thing I was so excited to learn today and can’t wait to try Planted Bowls from Luvo:

COMING SOON! New vegan, gluten-free options from Luvo!
COMING SOON! New vegan, gluten-free options from Luvo!

Okay, busted, I’m also gently stalking Luvo on social media. (Got a brand you love? I highly recommend this strategy for getting the scoop first.) I cannot wait to hunt these four–and their comrades–down and put them in my belly. Seriously, my schedule always has me on the hunt for healthier choices like Luvo, since I rarely have time to cook a whole meal for myself. Just as an example, I was only home for 30 hours for about 21 days of October.

Luvo's Expo West booth displayed the goodness inside on the outside!
Luvo’s Expo West booth displayed the goodness inside on the outside!

While I confirmed on Facebook that the new vegan bowls will be available at Expo West, I am hoping I can hunt them down much sooner. (I can never have enough fast and easy vegetarian lunch options that don’t involve the deep fryer in my building.) They are already on the Luvo website, so cross your fingers and think good thoughts that the Whole Foods in Oakland on Bay Street will start to carry them for me, okay? (That’s walking distance from my office.)

If you love your tweeps, click here so they can enter to win lunch/dinner from Luvo too.Click To Tweet

Want to try out Luvo for yourself? I have FIVE free entree coupons for you! These are manufacturer coupons that expire February 28, 2017 and it will be up to you to find your nearest Luvo dealer, I mean retailer, and redeem them before they expire. (Hint: check out Luvo’s “where to find” page to see if there is a grocery near you.) If you win, I will pop them in the mail to you when the giveaway ends.

A few bullet points on the high points of Luvo
A few bullet points on the high points of Luvo

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: the prize for this giveaway will be provided by siggi’s (legally: The Icelandic Milk & Skyr Corp.). Everything in this post is my own creation unless otherwise indicated. The folks at siggi’s did not preview or edit this post, it’s all me, baby!

A few years ago I stumbled on siggi’s and fell in love. Since then, I’ve learned more about the siggi’s story, and even met Siggi himself! As I’m writing this from Oakland, California I’m just one week out from the third IDEA World/Sweat Pink BlogFest, which siggi’s has sponsored for the past two years. Actually I SHOULD be in Indianapolis at FitBloggin’ and FitSocial 2016–which siggi’s is also sponsoring this year–but as you may have heard, Southwest had a little computer issue, and that left me stranded. Oops. In any case, I am thankful and happy to have siggi’s sponsor these events for health and fitness bloggers. I’m even more thankful they make a protein-packed, yummy skyr.

But back to the story. A few years ago I fell in love with siggi’s. At that time, siggi’s had one product: Icelandic style skyr, a strained non-fat yogurt. I wish I could tell you the story, but I honestly do not remember how it happened! I do remember two things.

set up for tasting
Set up for a recent skyr tasting

First, I was very impressed by the ingredients list. Here is the ingredients list from the peach flavor in front of me:

pasteurized skim milk,

peaches,

cane sugar,

fruit pectin,

live active cultures

That’s it. Five ingredients, and I know what each one of them is and why it is there. (The package has a list of the live active cultures, in case your nerdy streak runs deep.) This was around the point that I started to get more picky about my food. While I still indulge in some items that are absolutely, inexcusably, 100% junk food, I’m trying to be more conscious of eating more whole foods. I really liked that siggi’s doesn’t have any artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or artificial anything else. I also really loved that there isn’t a ton of added sugar. The peach skyr sitting in front of me (150g serving size) has 11g of sugar, and 14g of protein, for example. Compare this to other yogurts and you’ll see how awesome this is.

No weird stuff in the ingredients means I'm happy to share
No weird stuff in the ingredients means I’m happy to share

Let’s compare strawberries to strawberries. A serving of siggi’s strawberry skyr is 150g, and contains 11g sugar, 16g protein, and 120 calories. (I picked those data points because they are important to me.) Data from the respective manufacturer’s websites:

  •  original Yoplait strawberry, serving size not listed on website (currently has 18g sugar, used to have 26g; 6g protein; 150 calories
  • thick ‘n’ creamy Yoplait strawberry, serving size not listed on website (28g sugar, 7g protein, 180 calories
  • Greek yogurt Yoplait strawberry, serving size 150g (18g sugar, 11g protein, 140 calories)
  • Dannon creamy strawberry, serving size 113g–note smaller serving size (12g sugar, 4g protein, 80 calories)
  • Dannon Oikos Greek strawberry, serving size 150g (18g sugar, 12g protein, 120 calories)
  • Chobani (fruit on the bottom style) strawberry, serving size 150g (15g sugar, 12g protein, 120 calories)

I’m not picking on these guys–they are no better or worse than any other brand, store brand, etc.–those are just brands that immediately popped to mind when I thought of yogurt. I didn’t even bother to compare other “fruit on the bottom” styles to siggi’s, or the dessert flavors (i.e. anything with “pie” in the name) as those are a hot mess of sugar…and let’s not mention the yogurt marketed to kids with cartoon characters on it. Seriously, you might as well hand your kid a Snickers. Now sometimes you WANT a dessert, and I’ve been known to pick a certain coconut cream pie flavor of yogurt instead of a pudding…you make your own choices 🙂

My very favorite, as I love all things pumpkin spice and fall!
My very favorite, as I love all things pumpkin spice and fall!

The “not a lot of sugar” brings me to the second thing I remember: the taste! One of the things I liked about the initial wave of Greek-style yogurts is that they are thicker than what I will call mainstream yogurt; I also liked that the initial offerings of those yogurts didn’t seem as sickly sweet as mainstream yogurt. My first taste of Skyr blew my mind! It’s thick and smooth and creamy. If you open a container and hold it upside down (don’t squeeze!) it is so thick that it will stay in the container. When I eat it, I feel like I am eating something of substance–and not just because of the 14g of protein–because it has a creamy mouth-feel. While you don’t have to chew it (it’s yogurt), it feels more satisfying to me than mainstream yogurt, more like a solid breakfast. I learned it takes four times as much milk to make a serving of siggi’s as it does to make a mainstream yogurt.

IMG_0821
As seen in my local grocery!

After I decided I loved the products–seriously, I said “goodbye!” to the rest of the yogurt world and haven’t looked back–I became a member of the inaugural siggi’s Culture Club. Each month we had a challenge to focus on, all about sharing the love of siggi’s. I took coupons for freebies to my yoga students and they universally loved siggi’s. My current favorites are seasonal flavors: pumpkin in the fall, and strawberry basil in the summer. Other flavors in the siggi’s family include peach, raspberry, strawberry, pomegranate & passion fruit, blueberry, orange & ginger, vanilla, mixed berries & açai, and (of course!) plain (with no added sugar). All of these come in single serving cups, and the vanilla and plain come in economical 24 oz. packages as well.

Whole-fat milk skyr is even thicker and creamier
Whole-fat milk skyr is even thicker and creamier

siggi’s now makes other products in addition to the Icelandic style skyr strained non-fat yogurt, including a low-fat mile skyr (2%milkfat), whole-milk skyr (4% milkfat), filmjölk (a drinkable yogurt), and tubes (a kid-friendly to-go product with 5g sugar and the same five basic ingredients). I haven’t tried anything but the skyr yet, though I’m stalking my local retailers for the others.

But enough about my experience, here’s a chance to win your own!

The fine print: There is ONE prize, which consists of coupons for free siggi’s. If you eat one a day, it’s a 30-day month’s worth. After I contact you, you’ll have seven days to claim it; at that time you must provide your mailing address so I can send it to siggi’s and they can send you the prize!
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As a kid, I thought coffee was disgusting. As an adult, I learned that drip coffee made from ground beans so old they’ve been in the metal can longer than most wine is aged, that’s disgusting. Good coffee? Mmmm, I love coffee.

This month, I’m giving a jolt of caffeine to the But First Coffee blogger linkup: every month, we start with coffee. No April foolin’, just posts about coffee. (If you’re a blogger and want to join, just reach out.)

53x11 direct to me!
53×11 direct to me!

Last year, while I was researching the impact of caffeine consumption on distance athletes, I learned that Hammer Nutrition has their own line of USDA certified organic and Fair Trade coffee, called 53×11. (Based on the graphics, I assume 53×11 is some super-secret cycling reference intended to taunt me into doing a triathlon. Nice try, but still NO.) According to Hammer, “Originally created by cyclists, for cyclists, 53×11 Coffee today is dedicated purely to delivering the best cup of organic, fair-trade coffee in the world. We utilize only sustainable organic, pesticide-free farms, and support trade wages and direct purchasing to give more to those growing the beans.” That, plus if you join the coffee club (2 bags/month on autoship) you get some freebies and perks (pun intended).

There are four blends in the Hammer coffee line-up: Chain Breaker, Big Ring, Early Break, and Downshift (which is decaff, so why would I bother??). All blends come in the standard 12 oz. bag–word to the wise, nobody seems to sell coffee by the pound anymore–and in whole bean or ground. Personally, I think the money I invested in my coffee grinder has paid dividends in better-tasting brews, and I recommend doing the same. (I bought mine at Target for about $15; Hammer sells a fancier model for just under $30.)  I ordered the obvious three and here are my thoughts.

IMG_3171Chain Breaker: Our signature espresso blend is the perfect choice for those who favor a darker roast. This rich, nutty blend is equally extraordinary for espresso or drip use. The Chain Breaker consists of beans from Africa, Indonesia, and the Americas which results in a complex, yet smooth cup. Available in 12 oz. bags of ground or whole bean.

Much to my surprise, this is the coffee I liked the least out of the three–and I expected it to be my favorite! I usually make dark roast coffee like an espresso blend, quite strong, and then add some form of milk and a little cocoa to it. (Exceptions for exceptionally smooth, low-acid coffee, like the Jamaican coffee I had while actually in Jamaica.) Generally speaking, the darker the better. This is definitely DARK coffee. It isn’t as acidic as most of the dark roasts I like, and I suspect that threw off the flavor profile at least as far as my taste buds were concerned. Don’t misinterpret that–this coffee was just fine. If you like strong coffee before a run (or ride or whatever) but the acidity messes with your stomach, this is a great choice.

IMG_3169

Big Ring: Our 100% organic Sumatra single origin coffee, medium roasted and shade grown under a canopy of diverse species of trees that provide a viable habitat for migratory birds. The Big Ring represents the classic Sumatran flavor profile with low acidity and full body. Available in 12 oz. bags of ground or whole bean.

This coffee is delicious! It is definitely my favorite of the three…so much so that when I switch to two bags a month, I might make them both The Big Ring. If I made this coffee at Midwestern strength, I could probably drink it without anything added. Life on the Left Coast has led me to prefer my coffee made just strong enough to start to dissolve the spoon (kidding!), so that’s unlikely.

What I liked most about The Big Ring is that it delivered exactly what it promised: a full-bodied flavor with low acidity. If you’re only going to try one of Hammer’s coffees, THIS is the one.

IMG_3170Early Break: A morning staple at the 53×11 office. This medium-roasted blend of Central, South American, and Sumatran beans represents a well-rounded, mildly acidic cup with a clean finish. The Early Break is a great “everyday” coffee. Available in 12 oz. bags of ground or whole bean.

Again, this one promised what it delivered: balanced body, rich flavor. (That’s on the label, but if you’re a Runner of a Certain Age like I am, you might not be able to read it.) It’s also low in acidity. When I brew this one I up the amount of coffee in the coffee-to-milk ratio. I like this one with some Califia almond milk and a small splash of quality vanilla extract. (Feeling daring? Try a dash of cinnamon too.) I like this one for the weekends, when I want to sit down and get to work while drinking more than one giant mug of coffee. (That would be a a BAD idea with the Chain Breaker, at least for me…I might get more done, but I’m pretty sure the typo level would increase dramatically!)

As I mentioned previously, I didn’t try the decaff blend. Seriously, what is the point of unleaded coffee? In case you’re curious, here’s how Hammer describes it: Down Shift: A decaffeinated version of our beloved Chain Breaker signature espresso blend. No shortcuts were taken here. This blend represents the four major coffee growing regions as well, resulting in a remarkable decaf. Available in 12 oz. bags of ground or whole bean. Based on the other three, I’m sure it is lovely, but I don’t see the point.

In addition to the four coffees, Hammer can also hook you up with an electric kettle (great for making drip coffee at the office), a refillable Keurig cup (because seriously K-cups are the most wasteful, non-recyclable, non-compostable thing on the planet), a french press pot, and pretty much anything else you might need to partake of the coffees. Join the coffee club for a free mug, coffee filters, and drip-into-that-mug maker, plus lower prices.

By the way, Hammer makes all manner of other nutrition products for athletes. I’m working my way through the ones that are appropriate for me–and they have actual, real, live people to talk on the phone or chat online if you need help deciding what is best for your personal goals. So far, customer service has been GREAT. Before every coffee club shipment, I get an email reminding me that it’s about to ship, and have the option to delay or modify the order. The Hammer website also has loads of information on nutrition and endurance sports. If you’re thinking about making your first order, might I suggest you use my referral code? If you do, you’ll get 15% off your first order and a special packet of goodies including samples of some of the most popular Hammer products. Just place your order, and in the “referred by” section: Elizabeth Bain, email address bananafishie AT gmail, and code 252426. Voila!

Want to try before you buy?

Enter to win a bag of Hammer 53×11 coffee from Train With Bain! Just follow along on the Rafflecopter widget below. Please note the following: (1) This giveaway is in no way sponsored by Hammer Nutrition (or any other company or person or animal or alien), it’s 100% Train With Bain, baby. (2) I will happily ship to you for free within the US and Canada. If you’re in another country, I’ll have to look at postage…if it is extreme, I might ask you to help pay for it (or donate to a charity in lieu of paying postage). (3) Winners have to contact me with their shipping details within a reasonable amount of time–if I haven’t heard from you in a week, I’ll assume you are not interested.

Prizes: one bag of Hammer 53×11 coffee (new, unopened, fresh). The first winner to get back to me gets first pick of the blends!

 
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Like coffee? Why not take a spin around the April But First Coffee loop? It’s a short one this month! Next in line is Endure, Run Conquer

#runalltheraces #earnalltghebling
#runalltheraces #earnalltghebling

This past weekend I rocked Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas for the second year in a row. While I wasn’t originally planning to return to Dallas–even though I loved the races, spring is really busy–but it quickly became a must when Rock ‘n’ Roll announced the Lone Star Legend. (Seriously, I like my running bling.) The medal prototype debuted at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio expo and, like the Desert Double-Down, is a cross-year challenge: first run San Antonio (typically December) and then run Dallas (typically March). The reward? A Texas-shaped, glittery medal, complete with a spinning Lone Star.

The only thing Texans love more than the shape of their state? The Texas flag.
The only thing Texans love more than the shape of their state? The Texas flag.

San Antonio 2015 was the capstone to my 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll season: Rock ‘n’ Roll #11! For my friend Briana, it was also her tenth race, earning her the Gold Record. Briana’s friend Maria and our mutual friend, and Rock ‘n’ Blogger, Andrew joined us again, and the three of us all had the luxury of the VIP experience for the half marathon. The weekend began on Friday, with a quick bib pickup at the Expo. Well, it SHOULD have been quick, but one of the brilliant runners accidentally neglected to register for San Antonio and didn’t figure that out until after arriving at the Expo. Oops. This is the one hazard of having a Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour Pass–it’s easy to plan out your race calendar and then forget to go actually sign up for the races. Fortunately the Rock ‘n’ Roll team was quick to help me out, get me registered, and issue some bibs and shirts. There is a special bonus bib for Gold Record, and Briana was excited to pick it up.

By the time I’d fixed my “I forgot to register” problem, we didn’t have much time to explore the Expo. There was just enough time to snap a few quick pics of some of my favorite gear before the Expo closed and the runners were ushered out.

Orange Mud gear on sale at the Rock n Roll San Antonio Expo
Orange Mud gear on sale at the Rock n Roll San Antonio Expo
Cute food tastes better.
Cute food tastes better.

We then headed out to dinner. San Antonio is a good place to eat. Briana had a recommendation for dinner, and everything we ate there was amazing. Naturally we celebrated with a drink (when in a Tex-Mex restaurant, a little celebration is in order). After dinner we wandered down to see the lights on the River Walk, and run a few errands. Maria has a tradition of drinking pickle juice prior to every race in order to ward off cramps. I think pickles are gross, and find this a little disgusting, but there is science behind it. Plus I needed to pick up a few things at the drugstore. Turns out it is impossible to find jars of pickles downtown. We ended up talking a local Subway out of a little cup of pickle juice, and headed back to the hotel. I’m pretty sure we crashed instantly.

Saturday morning was the San Antonio 10k. The Rock ‘n’ Roll series has been adding 10k and 5k races in some markets, both in response to demand for shorter races (not everyone wants to run a half marathon), and to create the Remix (two races, three medals–no brainer for most of us who were going to do the half already). The 10k is sort of  sweet spot for me–I hate the first 2 miles of every race, so the 5k isn’t as much fun as the 10k. We got gorgeous weather for the run, and after many races that were hot or cold or wet or windy in 2015 I felt pretty spectacular. The 10k finishes right in front of the Alamo, where there was live music for the beer garden. Since San Antonio is the last race in the Rock ‘n’ Roll season, general shenanigans ensued.

Jimbob demonstrating how to drink like a Hall of Famer
Jimbob demonstrating how to drink like a Hall of Famer

Turns out that gigantic Hall of Fame medal makes a lovely drinking cup/shot glass. At one point a line of Hall of Famers that drank their Michelob Ultras out of the backs of their medals, but I wasn’t fast enough on the draw with my iPhone. (For those who are not aware, Michelob Ultra is the official beer sponsor for the Rock ‘n’ Roll races in the United States, so that is the only beer available at the finish line. Other beers might be available in VIP at certain locations, but since I don’t like beer, I haven’t researched that for you. If you run in Vancouver, there are local microbrews instead.)

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, I toast with java!
Sometimes, I toast with java! (Coffee over breakfast tacos.)

Smart folks that we are, we then hustled off to get breakfast tacos (and coffeeyescoffee). Between the other runners with their medals, and a group of re-enactors in period garb, it was a colorful brunch. (Also a loud one–muskets don’t come with silencers, and we started before the re-enactment ended.) I’m not sure why the rest of the country has not caught on, but it seems like the only place to get a proper breakfast taco is the part of Texas encompassing Austin and San Antonio. I’ve come close, but never quite hit perfection.

After lunch there was just enough time to shower and change, and take a quick stroll through the rest of the Expo (replenish my Nuun stash, etc.) before I had to lay down and rest my legs a bit. I had every intention of going to the Hall of Fame ceremony, awarding a special framed gold record to the runner who did the most Rock ‘n’ Roll races during the year, but I was exhausted from the prior week and suddenly it was time for dinner. Initially we attempted to meet up with a group of fellow fly-to-runners, but we had a little car issue and by the time we arrived our seats had been given to people on the wait list. Regardless, it was pasta time! (Yes, I know, most of us non-professional, not-running-to-place runners don’t need to “carb load.” I respect the science, but I also like pasta.) Dinner was delicious, and more moreso by the company of Briana and Andrew, since we’d shared various Rock ‘n’ Roll adventures since the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona in January.

 

Pre-race vegetarian eats
Pre-race vegetarian eats

All three of us had VIP for the half marathon (for me, as one of the perks from Rock ‘n’ Blog). We took a Lyft or an Uber over to the stadium early enough to enjoy some of the brunch amenities: bagels, peanut butter, toast, bananas, fruit platters, and I think some other stuff….I eat vegetarian, which was fine for breakfast since I typically don’t eat much before a race (but explains why I might not remember some of the breakfast food). Most important, COFFEE. The corrals were not that far from the VIP tent, so we didn’t have to rush out too soon. I actually walked to the corrals, reconsidered my clothing layers, and went back to bag check before heading back to the corral. I loved the smaller VIP-only bag check, as well as the VIP porta-potties (no lines, hand-washing station, extra paper towels and feminine hygiene supplies).

Each race’s VIP comes with different perks, so it’s important to read what the VIP experience offers for each market. In San Jose, for example, VIP was held inside a nearby restaurant, while in Dallas and Virginia Beach the VIP area was in a hotel. San Antonio also had VIP parking (close-in, included with each VIP) and a post-race massage area. The VIP tent offered shade (which I appreciate as a white girl who burns just thinking about the sun), and had table-seating. I didn’t take advantage of the post-race massages (they are first-come, first-served and I came in pretty late, plus I didn’t have ).

San Antonio has both a full marathon and a half marathon. I was completely done with marathons by the time December rolled around, plus I had the Dopey Challenge in front of me, so I ran the half. You don’t usually think of San Antonio as hilly–at least if you don’t live there, or haven’t been in awhile–but trust me, they are there! Fortunately also there were the students and faculty from Trinity University, who served as excellent cheerleaders and had some of the best signs I’ve seen. I didn’t take many pictures along the course, but again the weather was lovely and the course support was great!

Did I mention Trinity is atop a BIG HILL?
Did I mention Trinity is atop a BIG HILL?

 

The department-specific signs were hilarious!
The department-specific signs were hilarious!

 

Trinity isn't a huge school, I think every student and staff member was out cheering
Trinity isn’t a huge school, I think every student and staff member was out cheering

After the race, I met up with Andrew and Briana in the VIP tent. I’m not much of a complainer in general, but I have one HUGE complaint about the VIP tent’s post-race food: none of it was vegetarian! Yes, I understand I was in Texas, and Texas is the home of Team Beef (this is really a thing), but I was a vegetarian when I lived in Texas, and I’ve never had a problem finding things to eat. My choices at the post-race VIP food were extremely limited. I remember wilted lettuce leaves that appear to have been the serving platter decoration for something else (as the platter was empty). There may have been brown banana pieces (brown from sitting out for 5+ hours between pre-breakfast and when I finished the race), but the rest of the breakfast food was gone. There weren’t even Power Bars or potato chips (though I did eat the ones handed to me when I crossed the finish line). I was very, very upset about this–and remember, I got my VIP as a Rock ‘n’ Blog perk, so just imagine how I’d feel if I’d paid full price! I even asked the servers if there was any food without meat. Seriously, there were chicken enchiladas and beef enchiladas, but they couldn’t make cheese ones? Or haul out any breakfast leftovers? But the servers said, Nope! NO FOOD FOR YOU. This is really bizarre since on average, 10% of the population eats vegetarian outside of the home (whether they are vegetarian, vegan, limiting meat intake, keeping kosher, keeping halal, or for other reasons). This was a gross oversight. I’ve done everything in my power to bring this to the attention of management–I’ve tweeted and repeated, slathered it all over facebook, put it on my race feedback form, put it out there to the Rock ‘n’ Blog wranglers–and expect them to correct it for this year. (If not, they can expect me to have pizza delivered AND send them the bill.)

What did the VIP tent have for me post-race at San Antonio? Champagne. Let’s just say it is a bad idea to refuse to feed me but then give me champagne.

One Hall of Fame plus Three Gold Records
One Hall of Fame plus Three Gold Records

Naturally there was also an obligatory Gold Record shot. I tried to wrangle more people for a Gold Record and Hall of Fame photo, but it turns out many of those folks are gluttons for punishment and were running the full marathon. Many of them met up at the Expo for the Hall of Fame ceremony, but I was trying to pick a time when those getting their Gold Record at San Antonio could also join the photo. So I only managed to snag one Hall of Famer.

In between champagne, Nuun-tinis, and orange juice, we got to meet the third place men’s overall finisher for the marathon, Jose Roberto Zavala Calderon. Race officials were trying to explain that they were going to go get his award, but they didn’t speak any Spanish and the message was getting mangled. By that time I’d had sufficient champagne to jump in with my espanola semi-gringa and fix the situation. Jose turned out to be a super nice guy who didn’t mind my mangled Spanglish.

Check out that overall award!
Check out that overall award!

 

Would I do San Antonio again? Well, if I play my calendar correctly, San Antonio could be half marathon #100 for me…stay tuned for more!

 

P.S. I’m definitely ordering a pizza sent to VIP post-race!

 

Imagine a building that is about the size of a medium-sized airport, with at least as many people as you’d find in a medium-sized airport. Spread out as far as you can see (and then some) inside are more than 6,000 exhibitors, some of whom have more than one booth space. The path to the front door is backed by a stage, flanked by sampling stands, and swarmed with perky teens and twenty-something offering samples–breakfast bars, gluten-free snacks, yogurt, ice cream, fizzy fruit drinks, and more. Everyone wants to hand you something!

If you can picture that, you might come somewhere near picturing Natural Products Expo West. It filled every big ballroom in the Anaheim convention center (including the lower level and third floor), plus two giant rooms in one of the adjoining hotels–and that’s just the product and ingredient exhibitors! There were also educational sessions, meet-ups, morning yoga, and various other activities filling the area. 2016 was my first year at ExpoWest, and it gave me enough food for thought (figuratively and literally) to blog about for weeks. Lucky for you, it also gave me more than enough snacks, samples, and coupons, so I’m going to share them with you! But first, a quick word on a very important topic:

What does “natural” mean?

Even gluten-free products can rock your taste buds these days
Even gluten-free products can rock your taste buds these days

First, “natural” does not mean “organic.” Organic has a very specific meaning, and there are loads of rules about what can be labeled organic, and who can certify that something is organic. (To read more about what organic means, check out Organic.org) Organic things are arguably natural, but things bearing the natural label are not necessarily organic.

Second, “natural” does not automatically mean “good for you to eat.” Many, many things that you and I would both agree are natural products are also things we would both agree we do NOT want to eat! Need a few examples? Here they are: arsenic, mercury, moose feces…oh wait? You want me to limit the list to plants and animals? How about hemlock, poison ivy leaves, cyanide, dart frogs, black widow spider venom…I could go on for quite a few pages. As several comics have noted, nature is always trying to kill you. (See also, lightning, earthquakes, sunburn, poisoning from naturally occurring radiation, and food allergies.)

Third, “natural” does not mean “unprocessed.” Let’s take a peanut butter made from only peanuts (zero other ingredients). Wouldn’t you agree that is natural? How about raspberries that are picked, washed, and frozen–aren’t those natural too? Is cider made from pressed apples (and nothing else) natural? What about flour made only from ground rice? ALL of these examples are processed food. Since the term “processed” has gotten a bad rap lately and many bloggers are quick to condemn anything that comes in a package (as all of my examples do), I’d be straying from my mission if I didn’t point this out.

So…wait, what does “natural” mean? As I write this, if you see the word “natural” on a package, it means anything the product manufacturer wants it to mean. You read that right. “Natural” currently has no legal definition. If I want to make a product using meat I grew in a petri dish seasoned with chemicals cooked up in the lab next door,and add some high-fructose corn syrup, I can legally label that product “natural.” (You might find this surprising, given the level of detail given to the Code of Federal Regulations–think of it as the federal food rules–gives to the definition of “cheese” versus “cheese product” versus “cheese food.” I am not making this up–go check out Part 133, Cheeses and Related Cheese Products.)

BUT WAIT! In response to confusion from the public, the FDA (federal Food and Drug Administration) is currently considering new rules to limit the use of the term “natural” on food. You can read more about the proposed definition and limits and–much more important–provide YOUR input to the FDA, by clicking over to the “Natural” on Food Labeling page of the FDA. Seriously, this is your chance to help shape food policy in this country. Please, let your voice be heard!

So, on to Expo West!

Next, a little overview of things to come… Expo West is a trade show for the natural products industry, and covered everything from sourcing ingredients, manufacturing, and packaging through finished products to eat, wear, and use. The ingredients-focused section is known as Engredea. Since I’m not in the market for organic cane sugar syrup or hypoallergenic pouches, I took a fairly brisk walk up and down the aisles of this section without doing more than looking. I think you might be shocked at the variety of ingredients available to use in natural products. Anyway, my goal was to check out the natural foods exhibitors, and seek out the top trends in the natural food industry. Here’s what I observed:

Snackification. Holy cow, everything is a snack. New Hope Network natural media had been documenting this trend prior to the show, but I had NO idea. Whether you’re on a six mini-meals per day plan or just get hungry between meals, it turns out that Americans now get a significant number of daily calories from snacks. Apples and celery are not always at the ready, right? Expo West contained more snack bars—paleo, protein, meat-based, vegan…so many options there!—than I had ever dreamed of, plus other ways to snack: Mamma Chia squeeze pouches, cooked fruit in pouches, Cracked nut butters, Hope hummus dips in individual servings, Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods heat and eat soups, chips made from fruit or veggies or both or beans…

Who doesn't love popcorn?
Who doesn’t love popcorn?

Popcorn. It’s everywhere. There are snacks based on popcorn, like PopCorners. There are bagged popcorn snacks, like Gaslamp Popcorn in flavors from white cheddar to birthday cake, and Beer Kissed popcorn; Boulder Canyon, POP! Gourmet, Kettle Foods, and Angie’s Boomchickapop. I was happy to see Halfpops, a snack for those of us that dig the not-quite-popped kernals from the bottom of the bag—I know them from many race expos. New to me was Black Jewell Popcorn, a popcorn with almost no hull (outer shell); if you shy away from popcorn because it gets stuck in your teeth, THIS is your solution. (I tasted it myself—no joke, there is almost nothing to stick in your teeth.) Popcorn is gluten-free, FODMAPS friendly, and one of my personal favorites. Several companies were also popping popcorn in coconut oil, which reminds me how the thought on this has come full circle: first we ate popcorn at the movies popped in a butter that was mostly solid at room temperature, then we decided those fats solid at room temperature were bad so all the cinemas switched to oil, and then we discovered that hm, maybe those medium-chain triglycerides were okay after all and here we are back at popping in coconut oil. It made the expo smell delicious, and the popcorn popped in coconut oil rich in MCT (medium chain triglycerides) tasted amazing with just a tiny bit of salt. I’ll be trying this at home…

This is my jam
This is my jam

Nut butters. As a kid I was a picky eater, so I ate A LOT of peanut butter and jelly. I thought I was in heaven when I discovered macadamia nut butter as an adult (at like $12/jar!) but I have since been blown away by the amazing, nutritious, tasty goodness in today’s nut butters. I finally got to meet two of my heroines (and Shark Tank favorites), the Wild Friends nut butter founders (try the cinnamon raisin peanut butter, and you’ll understand why jam is optional). My friends from Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter were there with their simple-ingredient, super tasty, family-owned peanut butters. Expo West gave me the opportunity to meet Bliss Nut-Butters (cinnamon chia seed peanut butter for the win!), and Cracked Nut Butter (the pouched chocolate chip cookie dough is SO going with me on my next run!) Peanut Butter & Co., Justin’s, and Once Again were also there with their tasty nut butters. Allergic to peanuts? How about a creation from San Diego-based Nuttzo, which has non-peanut options. Many of these delicious nut butters also come in individual-serving-sized pouches, perfect for hitting the trail or the road.

Tastes like butter!
Tastes like butter!

Vegan food that does not suck. If you’ve ever met me in person and talked food, you know I always say maybe I could be vegan, but I’d miss the butter and cheese. I can’t say that anymore! Expo West introduced me to Miyoko’s Kitchen, which is just up the peninsula from my home in Alameda. Miyoko’s makes a vegan butter that tastes buttery! I don’t mean “tastes like butter flavored margarine” I mean tastes just like butter! (What’s in it? Organic coconut oil, water, organic safflower oil or organic sunflower oil organic cashews, soy lechitin, sea salt, and cultures. Nothing weird.) I also tried Miyoko’s Fresh VeganMozz, Aged English Sharp Farmhouse, and a vegan pizza featuring their products. HEAVEN! I also tried some frozen pizza from Oh Yes! (vegan and non-vegan, gluten-free and non-gluten free varieties), which as a bonus also “hides” a serving of vegetables. Those were just two of the brands of vegan food you could easily slip to a meat-eater to change their opinion of vegan food.

Honestly, made from vegetables!
Honestly, made from vegetables!

Non-dairy milk. Speaking of vegan, the world of milk has gotten so much better since you first tried soy milk. While I was thrilled to meet the family behind Califia Farms—the almost milk I “discovered” at my corner grocery the week before Expo West—there are now so many more options than you imagined in the non-dairy milk section. Want a coffee creamer that tastes creamy? Califia makes that too—and a whole line of packaged coffee drinks. Milkadamia is made from macadamia nuts. Rebel Kitchen makes Mylk, a coconut milk with no refined sugar. My favorite discovery is, sadly, not-quite-yet available in the United States: Veggemo is a milk made from actual vegetables, yet it has the consistency and texture of 2% dairy milk. It even tastes milky, not vegetable-y. Trust me, you want this as soon as the nice folks in Canada let us have some!

Coffee, oh yes, please, coffee
Coffee, oh yes, please, coffee

Coffee. Oh #coffeeyescoffee and #butfirstcoffee because there were some amazing coffees at Expo West! I got to see and handle the recyclable k-cup style coffee pods by Marley Coffee (and more important, drink the coffee!). I met the folks behind Steamm, which I’ve stalked during its crowd-funding phase. Café Kreyol introduced me to the boots-on-the-ground work they are doing in Haiti and how coffee can be a force for economic growth in developing nations while still being amazing (I didn’t even put cream in that coffee). Intelligensia Coffee, another staple from my corner store, was there, along with innovative and amazing non-dairy creamers and milk-based creamers, and creamers with functional benefits. Trust me, I’m going to be writing about coffee…

But this is getting long.

So how about a giveaway? I was only able to hit Expo West for two days—the beloved day job expects me to attend—but I still want to share the love and the swag! On Saturday as I was driving to parking, a guy at the intersection gave me two sealed packs of Expo West-related goodness, and I’m giving one to you! This prize pack consists of Naturally Healthy, a special issue of Gourmet News issued just for Expo West, so you can read about innovations in the natural food space; Modern Oats 5 berry all natural oatmeal; Fig Bar in raspberry; Cosmos Creations Coconut Crunch premium puffed corn; fruit bliss organic Turkish mini figs; and a few surprises! You’ve got two weeks to enter, so don’t delay!

Some of the goodies in this giveaway
Some of the goodies in this giveaway

 

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