I’ve got a new blog and website!

Head over to richelleludwig.com to check it out!

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Rustic Vanilla Bean Almond Butter

Since receiving a food processor from the girls at work for a going away present I have made hummus, a raw vegan chocolate torte, banana ice cream, and now almond butter. I don’t think I will be buying nut butters anymore when it’s this easy to make your own!


1 c raw almonds
1/4 c hemp seeds
1/4 c ground flax
1 tbsp Udo’s oil (you could use flax, hemp, or extra virgin olive oil)
1 vanilla bean
1 package of stevia
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon

1) Add your almonds to your food processor and process for about 10 minutes. You will have to stop and scrap the sides every minute or so. It takes a while but eventually the oils release and the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.
2) Take a knife and cut down the center of your vanilla bean. Scrape out al the seeds and put in food processor.

3) Add hemp seeds, ground flax, cinnamon, stevia and Udo’s oil to food processor and processor until smooth and creamy again. Yields about 1 cup.
*The Udo’s oil blend I use is the DHA 3-6-9 blend.
This almond butter has a bit of a rustic texture with the ground flax added to it. It’s creamy and slightly sweetened with hints and vanilla and cinnamon. I’m addicted already. You can eat this many ways.

Quinoa flakes made with almond milk, banana, chia seeds and cinnamon. Topped with Rustic Vanilla Bean Almond Butter, raw buckwheat groats, and blackberries

I though this bowl was beautiful so I took lot’s of pictures and experimented using natural light and my flash. Some day I would like to get a good camera but for now all I have is my little digital camera.

This Rustic Vanilla Bean Almond Butter is also good on fruit.

And of course by the spoon.

Well I need to quit procrastinating and to get to work on packing. Have a good day!

Posted in Food, Recipe | 2 Comments

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Muffins

Hey guys! It’s been a while, too long actually. I was in Calgary at my new place the past 5 days and had planned to blog while I was there but guess what? I brought my laptop but not my internet stick, so no blogging got done. Lot’s of cleaning and walking did though! I had my orientation on Saturday at CSNN and am even more pumped to begin classes. I am so happy to have found something I am this excited about! Anyways onto the food.

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Muffins

2 tbsp ground flax
6 tbsp water

1 c Buckwheat flour
1/3 c Chickpea flour
1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 c raisins

1/3 c agave nectar
2/3 c Greek yogurt
2 1/4 c grated sweet potato (I used 1 small sweet potato and 1 medium carrot)

1) Preheat oven to 325 C. Combine ground flax and water and set until to thicken.
2) In a medium bowl combine buckwheat flour, chickpea flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir well until blended. Mix in raisins and set aside.

3) In a large bowl whisk eggs, sugar, and plain yogurt. Stir in grated sweet potato.

4) Fold flour mixture into wet mixture until blended. Scoop batter into muffins cups. Bake 30 -35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
These muffins are hearty with all the texture from the raisins, sweet potato and buckwheat flour. They are slightly sweetened and moist.

I will be posting more gluten-free recipes as my Naturopathic Doctor wants me to stay off gluten. I had a follow-up appointment with him last Wednesday and again found it very interesting. He received all my lab results as well as my ultrasound. The ultrasound was perfectly normal so that was good. My ferritin (iron stores), iron levels in my blood, estrogen and progesterone were all very low. My ferritin is at a 3 and normal range is between 15-200. The ND told me I put on a good face because I look pretty healthy for how low my iron and hormones are. So first things first I need to increase my iron and ferritin before we even bother with the hormones. There’s no way my body’s going to want menstruate again until my iron and ferritin levels are higher. How do we do this? He wants me to get an iron shot. Apparently it goes in the butt and hurts, and can make you feel sick. But it’s the quickest most efficient way to increase my ferritin. My ND thinks the doctors wont want to give it to me because it’s invasive and I don’t look that bad, but I have to try. So I will. I have an appointment tomorrow with a different doctor because the original one I saw is on holidays. I also have to keep eating meat, which I have been, see.

Salmon and millet with fresh dill and sautéed red chard and mushrooms

turkey tacos using local, organic ground turkey on organic sprouted corn tortillas with organic tomatoes, avocado and greek yogurt

Of course I’m going to try to eat better sources of meat, like local and organic.
Once my iron levels are restored I am going to go on cyclic natural progesterone therapy to get my hormones working again and see what happens from there. I still have to keep my runs short and can’t even do hot yoga. To be honest I think I’m going to quit running for a while at least and let my body heal. The less I stress it the quicker my iron levels should increase. I’ll just walk Jewel and do yoga. I found a studio close by to where I’m going to live in Calgary that focuses on Ashtanga yoga. Honestly I’m not even stressed out about stopping running and intense exercise. I’ve realized that exercise and diet aren’t the only factors in health and that there’s much more. I’ve also realized that you can do too much and I’m looking forward to slowing down and connecting with myself.

I’ll see you soon with a yummy almond butter recipe!

Posted in Amenorrea, Exercise, Food, Naturopathic Doctor, Recipe, Running, Yoga | 1 Comment

My Visit With A Naturopathic Doctor

Hey guys, the long weekend is here! I hope everyone has fun plans. I am heading to my parents place tomorrow. So in my last post I mentioned that I may be quitting long distance running. Let me explain why, guys you may not want to read on as this deals with girly matters such as my period.

Last August I stopped taking birth control pills as I was no longer in a relationship and had also been reading about the negative health effects of taking the pill. Since going off the pill I have not had my period in the last 11 months. Last month I decided to see a doctor about this. I waited 10 months because I had heard it could take up to a year after going off the pill to get your regular period back. I also wanted to get my iron and B12 levels checked since going completely vegetarian in April this year.

I had some blood tests and the doctor phoned me the next day and left a message to tell me I was severely iron deficient. She wanted me to pick up some ferrous gluconate right away and start taking it 3x/day. I did this and had a follow-up with my regular doctor about the results a week later. I wasn’t expecting much more information but the doctor told me my estrogen was low and I was probably in early menopause. As you can imagine this is quite an upsetting thing for a 26 year old woman who wants children in the future to hear. I started to cry and asked her if it was common, if I could still have kids. She told me it wasn’t common but can happen. She said I could probably still have kids but would need help and would need to go on estrogen therapy. She sent me for another blood test to test my progesterone, booked an ultrasound, and an appointment with another doctor whom I believe is a specialist. I was in shock and didn’t ask her who or why and she didn’t offer anymore information.

I phoned my mom during my lunch break that day and after a good talk decided to get a second opinion. I slacked off at work that afternoon and searched the internet for a naturopathic doctor in Calgary. I found one with a great website in the area of the city I was planning on moving to. I phoned The Calgary Centre for Naturopathic Medicine and got an appointment with the doctor that owns the clinic the following week a few days after Sinister7. I had to drive all the way back to Calgary on a Wednesday and a visit with an ND isn’t cheap, but I was committed to finding another answer. I was not going to accept that I was in early menopause. I had to fill out an intake form with a lot of questions. On the intake form I was feeling so committed that I even put down that if I had to stop running I would and if I had to eat meat I would.

The past while I could feel that I wasn’t balanced and mentioned it here about a month ago. I had been prepping myself before my appointment with the ND that maybe I should stop the long distance running. Even though I love it, I could sense something was off. I have been feeling a pull towards yoga and figured it would be a good substitute if I did have to quit running.

My appointment with the ND was great. Everything made sense and fell into place. First of all the good news is I’m not in early menopause! Yay! My nervous system is out of whack though. The ND tested my sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is the one that initiates your fight or flight response. It increases your heart rate, dilates your pupils, dilates the bronchioles in the lungs and slows digestion. The parasympathetic does the opposite counteracting the fight or flight response. The ND showed me on a graph that normally your sympathetic nervous system is about halfway up and the parasympathetic is a quarter of the way up. Both of mine are all the way up on the graph, so it’s like I’m stepping on the gas and brakes at the same time. This is stressing my adrenal gland which is messing up my hormones. He thinks my estrogen probably isn’t even low and that my progesterone probably is. He said because I haven’t menstruated in so long it’s hard to tell where I am in my cycle and when they did my blood test I could have been at a point where estrogen dips.

Another side effect to my nervous system being over stimulated is disruption to my digestive system preventing me from absorbing nutrients properly hence why I’m iron deficient. I was honest with him about the binge eating I do at times and he thinks that it’s more biochemical than emotional, because it just happens and I don’t think about it or plan it ahead of time. He said because I’m not absorbing my nutrients and my body is in high gear it craves energy dense foods, which is why I can polish off half a jar of almond butter without thinking about it. This was amazing when he told me this. I have tried and tried to overcome this. I have bought books, talked to therapists, tried everything. I have all the tools to stop binge eating but haven’t been able to completely get rid of it. So to realize that it may not be an emotional issue made me feel so happy. And even if parts of it are emotional it will be much easier to overcome once I balance out the biochemical aspect.

How do I go about doing this? Well for starters I’m not allowed to run over 30 minutes, 3-4x/week. This just stimulates my already overly stimulated nervous system. He told me to focus on strength training. And surprise, surprise he wants me to eat meat for now. Eating vegetarian is just an extra stress on my body right now that it can’t handle. I am also to stay away from gluten and can’t eat raw veggies and nuts after 2pm as they’re harder to digest. This means no oatmeal, he told me to make smoothies for breakfast. I’m doing this for about 4 weeks until I see him again for a follow-up. He wants to see how my body responds. He mentioned doing a spit test for my hormones as it’s more accurate than blood to find out where I am in my cycle and then going on progesterone therapy. He also gave me some supplements, one being an enzyme to eat before each meal to help with digestion, and the other two are for adrenal support and stress. They are all natural of course. The ND even told me to stop taking my iron supplements along with the other vitamins I take (multi, B12 and B6) as my body’s not absorbing them anyways. He said on paper I look very healthy with the way I eat, but it’s just not working for my body right now. He also said he can probably get me back to eating vegetarian eventually too. I am supposed to do diaphragmatic breathing all day which helps slow the nervous system down. He told me to wear my heartrate monitor and everytime I see my heart rate go up to do deep breathing.

I am supposed to record my emotions, how I feel physically, sex drive, and when I binge over the 4 weeks until I see him again. This will help figure out where I am in my cycle as well. I’ve been grumpy and tired the last two days if that means anything! He told me in the next 4 weeks after our first visit I would have lot’s of extra energy that I will want to burn, but I can’t. He said my body needs this energy so to do something else other than running. He also said in the next three months are going to be hard because my emotions are going to be all over the place. I say I’ll try to embrace the emotions because it’s a sign that my body will be getting back in balance.

I am so glad I made this appointment and am excited to see where it takes me. My focus is to become as healthy as I can, which means different things to me now. Before health meant being very active and fit and eating a whole foods diet. It still does but now I see there is so much more to it and that being too active can cause too much stress on the body. The ND figures it links back to when I was anorexic 8 years ago and I never let my body recover from it with the long distance running and intense exercise classes. This is another reason I am excited to get to Calgary so I can get more into yoga. I have found two studios close by to where I will be living and am planning on going 4 days a week. Like I mentioned earlier I have been feeling a draw towards yoga and I think it will really help slow my nervous system down. I can’t wait! I just thought I would share this information in case there are other people having similar issues. My ND said he sees it all the time.

I know I haven’t been posting many recipes lately with pretty pictures of food. I promise my next post will involve food! Hope everyone has a great long weekend!

Posted in Amenorrea, Eating Disorder, Exercise, Naturopathic Doctor, Running, Yoga | Leave a comment

35km of grit!

Hi guys! I hope you had a good weekend. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. That’s because last weekend I ran in the Sinister7 relay. I made the road trip down to Crowsnest pass on Thursday, stopping in Calgary overnight. In the process my roommate and I found a place to live! That is such a relief and now I can start looking for a part-time job.

We lucked out and had great weather for the race. It was a bit windy, but I welcomed it during my leg as I started around 11:30am. I ran leg 3 called Willoughby ridge, which started in Blairmore and made a big loop coming back to where I started. My leg was the only leg that ended in the same spot it started in. It was rated a 7 out of 7 for difficulty and has an elevation gain and loss of 1327m.

While I was waiting for our leg 2 runner to come in I realized I needed to pee one last time, so I took a chance and ran to the porta potties. Of course she came in before I got back, murphy’s law. We had a little chip we had to carry on our leg that we passed on to the next runners. They put the chip in my camelbak for me, so it was ready to go when I got back.

The start of my run was totally deflating because I head to head straight up a dirt and grass hill then turn left and head up a windy gravel road. I didn’t even make it 10 minutes before I had to stop and walk. The two people ahead of me were doing the same thing so I didn’t feel so bad. I knew I had to conserve my energy for the 35km ahead. After a significant climb on the road we did more climbing on trail. Then we went back down. I remember thinking “why are we going down already, I know we have more climbing to do.” I also knew that I would have to climb back up this section at the end. Once down there was a bit of a flat section with some smaller rolling hills, then we were climbing again.

Shortly after I passed the first aid station I looked at my watch. It had taken me an hour to do 8km. Right then and there I knew there was no way I finish in 4 hours like predicted. The team had to predict our finishing times at the dinner the night before, I hadn’t been able to make it on time so the team predicted 4 hours for me. I was thinking 4 to 4 and 1/2 hours. Shortly after passing the first aid station I came a cross a runner lying on his stomach in the dirt with another guy crouched next to him holding a radio. The guy on the ground appeared to be hallucinating. He was yelling “There is no heaven or hell, yes there is a heaven and hell I saw the devil!” The night before one of the girls husbands asked why we run and we had been joking for the high and hallucinations. As I ran by this guys I told myself it had just been a joke and I wasn’t going to hallucinate. I told myself he was just undertrained or dehydrated.

I started to climb again and came through the remains of the lost creek fire in 2003. It was a totally different landscape and did make a person feel like their on a different planet. Once I made it to the top of this section we started to go down a bit again. By this point my legs were getting tired and I had to be careful of my footing. Soon we were climbing again. I ran into a guy running in vibram five finger shoes and talked with him for a stretch. He said he ran this leg last year and had a lot of IT band issues, but as soon as he ran in the vibram five fingers his pain disappeared. He did say his heel was getting a bit raw and he was going to stop at the second aid station to put some bodyglide on it.

Once we finished that climb we reached the aid station at the half-way point. I checked my watch and saw that I had done 17.5 km in 2 hours and 20 minutes. Definitely not making it in at 4 hours. This aid station I stopped at and refilled my camelbak as it was almost empty and had some electrolytes. I also pulled out my camera and asked one of the guys there to take my picture.

Once I had my camera back in my camelbak I was off again. Now we were on a road and guess what? We were climbing again. I just kept telling myself one foot in front of the other. There was no way you could run the hills, it was too much. So everytime it the trail flattened out or went downhill I forced myself to run, near the end it was more like a shuffle. Once we made it to the top of the road we entered a new section of trail they didn’t have last year. We started going down first and here my legs were really feeling tired. I stumbled a couple of times, but fortunately caught myself and didn’t fall. Then we were climbing again. I was passing a lot of people during this section, including one soloist that I noticed. Yes that’s right some people run the whole 148km themselves. During the race I was thinking to myself “Why the hell did I sign up for a marathon next month? I’m not running a marathon, that’s stupid. I’ll change it to the half.” Yeah it was that damn hard. A couple hours after I finished my leg I realized a marathon would be easier than what I’d just ran. So the marathon was back on, I was actually excited for it because it would feel like a piece of cake after what I’d just went through.

I got to a marshy section that had some smaller rolling hills again. If it hadn’t been so warm the couple weeks before the race I would have gotten my feet wet during this section. Once through the marshy section I was back to the starting section I recognized. I checked my watch and I was at 3 hours and 45 minutes. Hmmm, could I do this last part in 15 minutes? I wasn’t sure. Then I hit the hills again. It took everything I had to keep moving up those things. I was taking little steps at this point and just kept pushing forward. Finally, finally when I made it to the top and started to head back down ont he trail I willed myself to run again. This part was longer than I remembered and once I got onto the gravel road it was also longe rthan I remembered. Coming down that gravel road my quads felt pulverized, my toes were sore, and my calves were hurting. My worst nightmare was tripping on my way down that grass and dirt hill in front of everyone. Luckily my feet didn’t embarrass me and I made it down without wiping out. I ran across the field to where our leg 4 runner was and handed her the chip after sticking it in the sensor. I didn’t stop my watch right away, but I finished in about 4 hours and 18 minutes. I was happy with that. Still smiling! That’s my team minus our leg 4 runner. After I stretched and had something to eat I made my way to the outdoor swimming pool in Blairmore where Sin7 runners were allowed free showers. Then it was back to the campground to wait for our leg runner to come in and to send off our leg 5 runner. The leg 5 runner came in after it had gotten dark, so the girl doing legs 6 and 7 had to do them all in the dark. We met her at the finish around 2am. Our team finished in 19:17:36, putting us in 63 rd place out of about 114 teams.
The next day as we stiffly sat around camp, we were already planning whose running which leg for next year. My choice is either leg 1, leg 2, leg 1 and 2, or leg 5. I’m too scared to do leg 6 and 7 in the dark yet!

On another note I may not be running distance next year. I am 98% sure I won’t be running my marathon in August and 60% sure I won’t be running long distance anymore. I’ll explain why in another post.

Back to work tomorrow. I can’t believe I only have 3 weeks of work left and next week is the only full week!

Posted in Racing, Running | Leave a comment

Navy Bean and Veggies Burgers

I hope everyone’s week is going as quickly as mine is….because tomorrow is my friday! I leave for Sinister7 Thursday morning. The weather has been looking great down there, so I’m hopeing there won’t be much snow on my leg of the race.

I had a massage tonight so my muscles are all loosened up. Tomorrow morning I’m going to run a nice easy 5km and get a good stretch in. After work I need to do some serious packing. I did some baking and cooking ahead of time so I would have quick easy meals I won’t need to heat. When you’re camping you need burgers so I made Navy bean veggie burgers and just froze them. Here’s the recipe.


14oz can of navy beans
1 c mushrooms, diced
1/3 c onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp ground flax
1/3 c raw pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight
1 tbsp tamari
3/4 c chickpea flour

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
2) Mix all ingredients in a food bowl except seeds and flour.
3) Put about 2/3 to 3/4 of the mixture into the food processor or blender and blend until fairly smooth. Scoop back into bowl and mix with pumpkin seeds and flour.
4) Form into about 8 patties and place on greased baking sheet. Bake 25-28 minutes flipping halfway through.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a pretty picture of the one I ate on squirrely toast with all the fixins. Oh well you can use your imagination right! I loved how well these held their shape and they looked good too. I have made bean burgers before that looked pretty bland. Of course these tasted good too, I loved the pumpkin seeds in them.

Well wish me luck! I will be back with a race recap and m experience running the 35km’s of leg 3 of Sinister7.

Posted in Food, Racing, Recipe, Running, Vegetarianism | 1 Comment

Banana Maple Gluten Free Muffins

Hey guys! How’s your Canada day weekend going? I have been getting ready for Sin7. I will be camping so I made some granola bars, protein bars and Banana Maple Gluten Free muffins to take with me. I’m also going to whip up some bean burgers, a grain salad, and hummus!

I did some research on iron absorption as I don’t want to have to take supplements forever and would like to be able to get enough iron from my diet. I found out what inhibits iron absorption and what aids it.

Inhibits iron absorption:
-phytic acid
-oxalic acid
-enzyme inhibitors
-dairy (calcium)
-tannins (tea, coffee, chocolate, wine)
-liver health
-emotional state, stress state
-intestinal health

Aids in iron absorption:
-vitamin C
-vitamin B

I was shocked when I read grains inhibit iron absorption. I thought, “what am I supposed to eat?” With further research I discovered that by soaking, fermenting or sprouting grains you get rid of the acids and enzyme inhibitors making them easier to digest and essentially making the iron easier to absorb. Also doing this with your legumes, nuts and seeds will improve their iron absorption as well. So I have been soaking my grains before I cook them. I’m also soaking raw seeds and nuts before I eat them too.

I drink a lot of green tea all morning. I usually have 4 big mugs (2 cups each) starting first thing after my hot water and lemon juice and continuing until just before lunch. Now that I realize the tannins in green tea block iron absorption I am timing when I drink my green tea. I am trying to just have one or two mugs mid-morning at least an hour after breakfast and an hour before lunch. I also read that if you add a splash of milk to your tea the calcium and tannins bind together preventing either from binding with iron, therefore allowing the iron to be absorbed. So I have been adding a splash of almond milk to my green tea in the morning. I actually find it tastes quite good this way.

I also have not been taking my multi-vitamin during meals as it contains calcium. I have been forgetting it though so I need to take it mid-morning at work.

Essentially I just need to pay more attention to the timing and combinations of food I’m eating. Now when I make a green smoothie I use lightly steamed spinach as this makes the iron more absorbable and I don’t use almond/soy milk as the calcium will block the iron absorption. Instead I use water and/or some orange juice and I make sure I have some berries for vitamin C. I have also been adding molasses to my oatmeal as it’s rich in iron and making it without almond milk. I do like it better with almond milk, but the calcium blocks the absorption of iron in the molasses, grains, and nut butter.

Banana whipped oatmeal topped with chia seeds and molasses

The above bowl is Carob Gingerbread Steel-cut oats. It contains:

1/4 c steelcut oats
pinch of sea salt
1/2 ripe banana
1 tbsp carob powder
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tbsp chia seeds

raw almond butter, drizzled on top. To help absorb the iron I take my B and C vitamins after eating breakfast.

I got some chickpea flour and wanted to try making muffins with it. I also had two banana’s that were too ripe oatmeal. Yes there is such a thing.

Banana Maple Gluten Free Muffins
*Adapted from this recipe

2/3 c Maple syrup
1/2 c EVOO
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax + 6 tbsp water)
2 large bananas, mashed

1 3/4 c chickpea flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c pecans

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Combine ground flax and water in a bowl and set aside to gelatinize. Grease a muffin tin and set aside.
2) Add all the wet ingredients in a bowl including the flax eggs. Combine well.
3) Add dry ingredients except nut to bowl and stir just to combine. Fold in pecans then spoon into muffin tins.
4) Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

You could also make this in a loaf pan and bake for 35-45 minutes instead. These muffins are dense and sweet from the maple syrup and banana. The chickpea flour also lends them some extra nutty flava!

I have 3 days of work and then it’s off to Sinister7!! I can’t wait!

Posted in Food, Holistic Nutrition, Racing, Recipe, Running, Vegetarianism | 1 Comment