February 21 2018
Why vitamin D is essential for runners and how you can add more to your diet.
The arrival of October ushers in a finale of colors as trees shed their leaves and the air grows cool. But that’s not all that autumn brings. As we unbox our running tights and bravely venture out into the cold, we are faced with another change: an onslaught, to be more precise. We, along with other American consumers, are face with pumpkin spice.
I’d say I’m more of a passive pumpkin spice fan. I don’t search it out—I’ve yet to try a pumpkin spice latte—but I certainly am tempted by the exciting “SEASONAL” label on many of my favorite products. I usually find myself stocking up on pumpkin-flavored foods, if just to say that I bought them before they were gone. But in the end, I’ve come to enjoy the flavor. However, I was unsure how deep my affinity for pumpkin was. That’s why I decided to embark on a challenge: 24 hours of eating only pumpkin-flavored foods. Simple, right?
I started the day with my usual bowl of oats, swapping peanut butter for pumpkin puree and trying not to gag at the orange blob of mush that I delightfully termed “October oats.” The good news: it tasted better than it looked. Just to be safe, I added chocolate protein powder and a handful of chocolate chips, because chocolate makes everything better. I don’t know if it was the bright orange hue or the swirls of chocolate, but the oatmeal was fantastic. Pumpkin challenge or not, I’ll absolutely eat this again.
Still riding my October oats high, I polished off breakfast with a cup of pumpkin spice tea. The strong spice was, pardon my pun, not my cup of tea. But it wasn’t too bad. Besides, the runner in me compared the drink to a tough workout: “In order reap the reward of a race, I must push myself in practice.” That spiced pumpkin tea was a tempo workout, and I refused to back down.
Speaking of workouts, I had an afternoon workout planned on the day of the Great Pumpkin Challenge. For that reason, I chose something simple for lunch: a pumpkin spice bagel with peanut butter. Just like chocolate, I believe peanut butter makes everything better. However, this bagel was delectable all on its own. The pumpkin flavor was strong enough to remind me that, yes, I was only eating pumpkin foods for an entire day. But it wasn’t strong enough that I was resenting that bold decision. Two thumbs up for Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice Bagels.
After 4 miles of 800-meter repeats, I’d burned through the bagel and was hungry for fuel. I’d packed a snack for just that purpose, and I was more than thrilled to pull out Clif Bar’s Spiced Pumpkin Pie bar out of my bag.
You must understand: I know Clif bars. I’ve been on the Clif Bar train long before they came to the mass market. I’m something of a connoisseur, at this point. In all my years of Clif bar consumption, I’ve only tasted two flavors better than pumpkin spice–it’s that good.
Around late afternoon, I got hungry, as one usually does. But my choices were severely limited and I was suddenly sick of pumpkin. But I had a challenge to complete and an article to write, so I sucked it up and poured myself a bowl of pumpkin cereal and milk, topped with a banana. “Ah, this is the life,” I told myself.
The cereal would’ve been more pleasant if I hadn’t already tasted the mecca of pumpkin spice packaged goods (the Clif bar). As it was, I was underwhelmed.
My enthusiasm peaked again in time for dinner. I’d scoured Pinterest to find my pumpkin spice dinner recipe, only to craft one of my own: pumpkin pizza. I topped pita bread with pumpkin puree, feta, chicken and spinach. When I took the first bite, I was shocked. It was actually good! So good that I gobbled it up (and ate some pumpkin popcorn for dessert). All hail the versatile almighty pumpkin!
The day ended with pumpkin spice Greek yogurt and granola. Neither tasted very good–then again, I hadn’t really expected them to. By that point, something had shifted within me. It’s possible my stomach was super confused at what I’d just consumed, but mostly, my mind had shut down. I had hit my pumpkin limit. I was ready to be done.
Now that I’ve had a pumpkin-free week, I’m feeling ready to try some pumpkin again. I had an excellent workout that day, and the recipes I made turned out great. Pumpkin is, without a doubt, worthy of a month-long obsession. I understand it now. Just take it in stride, friends; and, when in doubt: add chocolate.