Tag Archives: SOLE

Meet Mallory

17 May

Today I thought I’d switch it up and talk about someone else for a change.  I’ve been following a friend’s weight loss, fitness, and life transformation via Facebook for the last few years.  Mallory’s journey has been really inspiration for me and I was especially curious to know what its like to be a low carb athlete.  Enjoy!

Q1:  Are you carb-free or low-carb?

A1:  I’m low carb. I always have less than 50g of carbs per day, usually I’m under 30g.

Q2:  When did you make your decision to eliminate/cut carbs and why?

A2:   About a year ago, Charlie (her husband) decided he wanted to try low-carb based off of some conversations with a friend that he met while working at a sandwich shop. We had both lost some weight by cutting calories and running a few years back before our wedding, but we both gained weight back so we decided to try it. I struggled with it for a while and I had cheat days sometimes, but as of now, I haven’t had over 50g of carbs in a day since Easter.

Q3:  Were you a runner prior to eliminating/cutting carbs?

A3:    I started running before I started dieting. Running was something that I never, ever wanted to do or even thought about.  But living in Pittsburgh made me realize how awesome it is for both physical and mental health. I started running when I weighed 210 pounds. I decided that i needed to make drastic changes in my life, and couldn’t think of anything more drastic than that!

MalloryBefore Q4:  How have your running/training/fitness experiences been affected since you changed your diet?  (For example, do you notice that you have more or less energy?  Do you notice that it’s easier for you to lose weight?)

A4:   At first, I was really concerned with running while eating low-carb. I was still in the mindset of needing to “carb load” before long runs. I eventually just stopped wanting to eat carbs for the most part.  Before I run, I really don’t eat carbs.  Instead, I’ll have eggs, cheese and bacon.  Carbs are important for recovering, though, so on days that I run I eat a little more. The carbs that I do eat are usually from beans and vegetables (Wendy’s chili and Baja Salads, for example).  As far as energy -I have way more of it!  I sleep better, I wake up more easily, I feel like I recover from long runs and hard workouts better than I ever have, and losing weight is definitely easier.

Q5:  Have you dealt with any fitness-related challenges since making such a big change in your diet?

A5:   The only challenge I have at this point, is finding time for runs. I work a lot of hours in varying shifts, so it’s hard to schedule my runs. Physically, though, I haven’t had problems since I’ve changed my diet.

Q6:  What foods do you depend on to fuel and recover from your workouts now? 

A6:   After a run, I make sure to only drink water until my thirst is quenched. Over hydrating is just as bad as being dehydrated, so I’m very careful with that. I normally try to run right before it’s time to eat a meal, so when I’m done I just eat whatever I would normally: meat, cheese and vegetables and/or beans depending on the intensity of my workout or run.

Q7:  Does your nutritional plan change when you aren’t training for a race?

A7:   I really try not to change my nutritional plan. At this point, I’m not on a diet.  I’ve just changed my eating lifestyle. When I am training for a race, I will eat closer to 50g of carbs on longer run days, but otherwise, I stay around 30g.  I have recently been seeing a fertility specialist and during her testing, we found out that I’m pre- diabetic. I have a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and it’s closely related to Type 2 Diabetes.  I started eating low-carb because I wanted to lose weight, but now I enjoy eating low-carb.  It helps me keep my sugar low by not ingesting unnecessary sugar via carbs.

MalloryB&AQ8:  What upcoming fitness goals are you excited to share with us?

A8:   I decided that while I really enjoy seeing lower numbers on the scale, I no longer have a specific weight loss goal.  I decided to make a goal of being able to wear a bikini. I know that sounds kind of weird and super girly, but I never felt like that was something that I could do.  I feel like anything is possible now! Also, I am going to be running some races coming up. I’ll be doing the Montour Trail Half Marathon in September in Robinson Twp. (right outside of Pittsburgh), and I’m giving a full marathon another shot in October at the Wineglass Marathon in New York. Today is actually exactly 2 years since I ran in the Pittsburgh Marathon, but didn’t finish. That moment really made me fall out of love with running for a while, but I’m really back in love again and look forward to earning the title of marathoner!

Thanks for sharing your story Mallory – and good luck at the Montour Half, girl!

Buffalo Cauliflower Poppers

14 Nov

Sundays in our house are football.

Alllllll dayyyyyy.

Sundays are family time, time to unwind, catch up with things we’ve been too busy to tackle during the week, spend some QT with our dogs, and watch some good old American football.

And eat!

This past Sunday, I was craving something spicy.

Buffalo Cauliflower Poppers

Prep:  Preheat oven to 450ºF

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
Hot Sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. water
1 T. butter

I created a simple batter using the flour, water, a few dashes of hot sauce, and salt. This batter doubles or even triples easily, depending on how many people you are serving.  Coat each piece of cauliflower and place on a greased baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the batter sets.

In the meantime, make your buffalo sauce by mixing together 1/4 c. Frank’s Red Hot & 1 T. butter.  Pop it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, then baste the sauce over the cauliflower.

Cook for 15 more minutes and then devour!

Pork Belly & Beets

31 Aug

Last night, the “when the cat’s away” theme continued.  K came over for dinner and brought some melt in your mouth Tamworth pork belly with him.

This is my favorite kind of food: SOLE.  This pig was from a family-owned farm in Clarion and then went to K’s to get butchered and then came straight to my kitchen!  Its got a honey-soy glaze with honey from Churchview Farm.  And since we basically cook by candle light in my demo-ed kitchen, I’d like to think we saved some electricity.  Ta-da! SOLE in my mouth.

Fun fact, the Tamworth is a rare breed of pig, considered “threatened” in the United States.  Wiki says there are less than 300 breeding females registered today!  They are ideal “bacon pigs” because they are able to achieve high body mass without an abundance of fat. 

What a delicious little heirloom piggle ♥ with:

Roasted Beets and Sauteed Greens:

3 large beets, with greens
1 clove garlic
salt, pepper
olive oil
1/4 c. chopped onion

Place beets (skins on) in a shallow baking dish and brush with olive oil.  Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly.  Bake at 400°F until fork tender, about 1 hour.  When you pull them out of the oven, sprinkle the vinegar of your choice over them.  (I usually use apple cider vinegar, but its not gluten free.  Last night I used red wine vinegar and it was just as good.)

About 15 minutes before you pull the beets out, sautee the garlic and onion in 1 T. olive oil.  When the garlic is golden brown and the onions are looking clear, add the beet greens. Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until the greens are wilted and become soft.

Profits From Poop?

22 May

So you want to talk sustainability?  I work in an industry that’s the shits.  Literally!  I own a cloth diaper service.  Which got me thinking how to turn waste into profits.  Central Vermont has developed a community-wide cooperative program which captures methane gas from cow manure and produces energy from it!  I know of some farms close to Indiana, PA which use Cow Power to provide electricity to the farm buildings, however the CVPS Cow Power Program actually creates enough energy to contribute to the energy grid.

Pretty neat stuff and I think it work well in Western Pennsylvania.  (PS – you can make fertilizer from human waste, called humanure, but we’ll save that for a different day!)

So, here’s my spiel..

Developing a strategy at the state-level to incentivize renewable energies is one political planning strategy which benefits individuals, the environment, and the greater public.  Using a case study on the Central Vermont Public Service Corporation’s Cow Power program, renewable energy production at the local level will be evaluated.  First, the organization of the CVPS Cow Power program are explained, followed by a discussion regarding the benefits of the program.  The results of a five-scenario analysis are examined and applied to public policy.  As the five-scenario analysis shows, there is potential for successful implementation of renewable energy at the state-level; it needs only to be invested in through federal incentives and grants.  Several lessons can be learned from the Cow Power case study, including the need for further research.  More importantly, it is clear that with properly focused funding, renewable energies can be produced at the micro-level scale; this type of investment strengthens local economies and has significant environmental benefits.  More specifically, the Cow Power program is a strategic way that state-funded programs can lower greenhouse gas emissions on a macro-level scale.

                How Cow Power Works

The Central Vermont Public Service Corporation developed an idea for renewable energy generation from cow manure.  The manure is collected at Vermont dairy farms by participating farmers and loaded into a methane digester; this digester holds the manure for twenty-one days at a constant 100° Fahrenheit1.  As the methane gas builds inside the digester, it creates pressure which pushes the gas into a combustion engine, where electricity is created and sold to the CVPS electrical grid system.

There are currently six dairy farms participating in the Cow Power Program, all of which have over 500 cows3.  Five hundred cows can produce up to 15,000 gallons of manure a day.  This manure is eventually translated into physical electricity, but eventually breaks down into a solid and liquid product.  The solid product is similar to sawdust and can be used for animal bedding, while the liquid product is used as an odorless, pathogen-free fertilizer that can be used to spray fields.  Energy that would normally be wasted during the generation process is captured, and used locally on the farm (perhaps heating water for the barns, or for electricity).  The monetary profits along with savings in the form of self-sufficiency are two primary benefits of this program.

A family farm that participates in the Cow Power program.
You can see the methane digester behind them.

The Cow Power Program is mutually beneficial for local dairy farmers and for the community in which the farm is located.  Cow Power systems have prevented 45,000 tons of farm methane3, which is a greenhouse gas twenty times more powerful than carbon dioxide,  from being released into the atmosphere.  The neighbors of each dairy farm are also rewarded by the decline of odors associated with farming and improvements of water quality in the region.  Methane-generated electricity is produced locally, creating a cycle where local energy is paid for by local residents, who consume the electricity locally.  This cycle strengthens and boosts the local economy, maintains diversity in the regional landscape, and prevents the creation of eyesores like wind turbines or solar farms.  The community, in turn, supports the Cow Power program by volunteering to pay for their electricity at a premium price (in Vermont, customers can opt into the program at 35%, 50% or 100%).  Consumers pay the market value for electricity in addition to a $0.04 surcharge per kilowatt-hour3.

The program has been so successful that in 3009, over 4,000 consumers demanded more Cow Power  than what the six functioning farms were able to produce (which was between 750,000-800,000)3.  In times where demand exceeds supply, the CVPS provides customers with renewable energy by using the excess money collected from the electricity premiums.

The Potential of Micro-Level Renewable Energy Programs

                The potential of micro-level energy programs is extremely valuable and as authors like Thomas Friedman propose, a catalyst.2  The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that programs like Cow Power could generate 1 quad (equivalent to 8 billion gallons of gasoline) of renewable energy every year3.  Another benefit is that farms can cut down on spending by capturing wasted energy from electricity producing and using it onsite; by creating animal bedding through the methane digester; by producing an odorless liquid fertilizer; by creating regional partnerships where other dairy farms can dispose of waste like whey.

For each year that the CVPS Cow Power Program remains successful and profitable, lenders become more likely to invest in farms.  In the CVPS example, the longevity of the program allows participants to better understand the life-cycle of the equipment and also to improve on the efficiency of the equipment.  Based on the cost-return analysis performed in the Cow Power case study, it would also appear that each year the demand for renewable energy increases.  Even if there are not even Cow Power participants to meet the renewable energy demand, the increased desire for renewable energy causes municipalities to rely more heavily on REC credits.

 Challenges of Renewable Energy Production

There are two challenges that the Cow Power program (and other programs that produce renewable energy) will have to overcome are the high capital-requirements and the dependence on government funding.  First, a common obstacle of programs like CVPS Cow Power is that they require high amounts of capital; many are literally dependent on state grants and other types of funding in order to survive.  While it is true that the Cow Power program is foremost a contract through the CVPS and local farmers, which benefits the local economy, but it is also true that the CVPS alone could not fund the Cow Power Program.  Government agencies are responsible for providing extensive funding in the form of grants.  Participants in the Cow Power program receive, on average, approximately $700,000 worth of grants3.  The program would not be economically feasible without those grants.

Another challenge for the Cow Power program has been fluctuation in market prices.  Electricity, just like any other commodity, is based on market pricing and thus in times where electricity is less expensive, farmers are unable to earn profits collected from the energy market.  In 2009, Vermont passed the Vermont Energy Act, which has guaranteed farmers a stable locational marginal price (or wholesale price) on energy that does not fluctuate with the market3.  The Vermont Public Service board later approved a feed-in tariff in 3010, which raises that locational marginal price further, so that farmers generating renewable energy are able to collect profits based on a price of $0.141/kWh in addition to the $0.04/kWh3.

Another challenge that the Cow Power program faces is that for investors or farmers seeking to join the program, there are no turn-key farms.  Each farm in operation went through a two to three year planning process, in which their existing dairy farms were formatted with methane digesters and generators.  To put this into perspective, the average cost it takes to retro-fit a farm to produce electricity in this manner is approximately $3,038,468.  For example, just to connect the farm to the electrical grid is on average $183,143.  The farmers in the program receive, on average, approximately $703,313 and use almost $1.5 million of their own capital.  The bulk of this capital is provided by private bank loans3.  The funding challenges that many of the Cow Power farms face are exacerbated further by the fact that until the program survives over an extended period of time, many lenders are hesitant to invest in a business venture with unknown risks.  If renewable energy programs like Cow Power are not provided with opportunities to overcome challenges like these, then producing renewable energy at the micro-level may never be achieved.

Lessons Learned from the Cow Power Program

It is clear that the Central Vermont Public Service Corporation needs to conduct more research regarding the Cow Power Program.  In instances where the case study researchers were unable to determine the life-cycle of specific equipment, it was estimated at approximately seven years.  However, a seven year life cycle for a generator is not very realistic.  The methane digester and the generators will probably far exceed the life-cycle estimate of seven years, which will also affect the cost-return analysis results.  The cost-return should be conducted with more appropriate data, if available.

Another lesson learned from the CVPS Cow Power Program is that stronger government subsidies are required to jump-start municipal renewable energy programs.  Funding provided through government agencies provides domestically-created energy at a reasonable price.  Where this funding is successful, municipalities will eventually be less dependence on centralized assistance programs.  By creating energy self-sufficiency, the United States will depend less on foreign energy sources like oil.

In areas where Cow Power is feasible based on industry, geography, and climate, state governments should provide funding.  By not investing in domestic, local energy sources, the United States government breeds negligence.  For every Cow Power program that fails or is never developed because there is no grant money available, millions of gallons of foreign-supplied oil must be supplemented.  A key perspective in Thomas Friedman’s, Hot, Flat & Crowded,is that the cycle of dependence that countries engage in where energy is provided by foreign source, this type of economic pattern requires federal investment into non-domestic markets, like China.  A redirection of investment will continue to develop foreign economies that are in direct competition with the United States; this cycle hurts the American economy.  The United States government along with specific states in which Cow Power is feasible are obligated to the citizens to create opportunities for local energy production.  This local energy strategy is an example of how governments can take measures to strengthen local economies, creating a mutually beneficial situation at the local, state, and federal levels instead of investing money abroad.

My final thoughts…

This report examined the structure, organization, and financing of energy produced using farm methane.  The CVPS Cow Power program illustrates that renewable energy production at the micro-scale can meet the triple bottom line, wean American states from dependence on foreign-produced energy, create stronger local economies, and develop regional partnerships.  Two analysis were conducted within the case study, both of which show that renewable energy programs rely heavily on grant money.  Despite that fact, the benefits of the Cow Power program vastly outweigh the challenges, which can be overcome with strong government subsidies and produce a spectrum of benefits ranging from the farmer to the federal government.


1.  Cvps cow power. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.cvps.com/cowpower/

2.  Friedman, Thomas.  Hot, flat, and crowded: Why we need a green revolution – and how it can renew america.  New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

3.  Wang, Q., Thompson, E., Parsons, R., Rogers, G., & Dunn, D. (2011). Economic feasibility of    converting cow manure to electricity: A case study of the cvps cow power program in vermont.  American Dairy Science Association, 94(10), 4937-4949.

**Some of my methodology has been omitted from this post, because well…its really boring. If you’re interested in reading/learning about the full case study I examined, please send me an email.**

A little inspiration, a little insanity

17 May

Hello, my name I Michelle and I have a cooking problem.

I know we all have little tendencies when we grocery shop or plan what we are going to eat.  (Hopefully you have a plan before you step foot in the grocery store or you are, in my opinion, doomed.)

I thought I would share with you guys my rules for cooking:

1) Nothing gets wasted.  If you have half a jalapeno pepper, you better find something to make to use it.

This rule came from me buying a bunch of fresh veggies, procrastinating, and throwing a ton of food away/into compost.  I put my foot down and it’s been working.  Not having the doors on my pantry has really helped me stick to this.  I remember ingredients that I might normally look past; those are the canned goods I buy that sit there for months.

2) Meal planning is essential before grocery shopping.

If I just show up at the grocery store I end up with random tubs of feta cheese, jicama and 3 boxes of graham crackers because they were on sale.  Wasteful.  Of food and money.

3) Only collect recipes you want and think you will realistically try.

So many people I know collect and hoard magazines/articles of recipes they want to try, but never do.  These collections pile up and you forget the whole reason why you kept the mag.  When you are trying to plan a grocery strip, going through tons of magazines just to find that one really good ravioli recipe you found isn’t realistic.

4) Constantly try to find ways to be inventive, but don’t forget the recipes that have been proven tried and true.

Its okay to try new recipes, but don’t lose the ones that you fell in love with.  The easy ones.  The ones that you know will impress your friends, family and in-laws.  The ones that you’re excited to share with someone.

Which brings us to something else I want to share:  my completely Type A system of recipe selection.

Disclaimer:  I am like this with everything.  My files have files and those sub-files are probably in order by color, alphabetical order, or chronological order.  Most of these systems don’t make sense to anyone but me.  That just means that those people aren’t on my level, yet.  Or something…

Since I’m a food magazine, tv-show, food blog junkie, I’m constantly pulling recipes to try.

They go in one of two books:

The green one is for recipes, the black one is for breads, baking, etc.

The green one is full of all kinds of treasures like magazine recipes:

Idea for holidays and seasonal treats:

Cooking Club instructional articles:

And some of my most dear possessions.

Ones that had been annotated by my grandmother in recipe exchanges with friends (many of whom I remember fondly):

Copies of my grandmother’s handwritten cookbook:

This is a recipe that the executive chef of the Halifax Club (a private club which we belonged to when I lived in New Smyrna Beach, Florida) gave my grandmother.  It looks like she wrote some notes and gave it an “A”!

These things are so special to me, a connection with her that is no longer a phone call away.  My grandmother raised me for much of my childhood, when my own mother wasn’t able to.  She loved to cook and even took a series of Asian cooking classes.  I even have her recipe assignments, which include her notes and that grades given by her instructor.

As a child, all I knew was that everything she cooked was amazing.  It wasn’t a common interest that we shared at the time, which is unfortunate.  She passed away my freshman year of college and my interest in food came years later as I moved out of my parents house and into my own apartment.  My own mother does not enjoy cooking.  When I visit her house, we eat the same foods that we ate when I was a child!

Anyway, the recipes that pass the picky eater test get put into a super secret cookbook that I’ve been compiling.

I taught myself to cook so that I have something to share with my children:  A love for healthy food.  A lesson that can only be taught by someone who has the experience.

Why do you love to cook?

%d bloggers like this: