I was the new, “Florida” girl when I started 9th grade (2006). Moving cross-country, starting high school in an all-new place with all-new people. I remember getting ready for school that week – I didn’t have to wear a uniform (this was a big deal – I had been in private school all my life). It was an anxious-excitement that drove me to just dive in. As days past, I started to see familiar faces in my classes and began to make friends, who are still some of my very closest friends to this day.
There was Renee, who sat near me in Freshman Biology. Then there was Sam, who let me borrow her sweatshirt to tie around my waist when my shorts split (yes – that actually happened). Then, through Sam, I met her twin Jaclyn, Cassy and Aydee. I remember the day that I was invited to join them at lunch – I was thrilled. It was a glorious ~105 degrees and we found a shady place by our favorite teacher’s class, which became our spot for the rest of that year.
As highschoolers do, you kinda bounce around – I had my Cross-Country running friends, my “IB” class friends, and some others you meet along the way. Not everyone stuck around, but the ones that mattered have.
I consider myself really fortunate to have such amazing friendships that found me when I was in very formative, transitional time, that I know will always be there. Fast forward over a decade, here Sam and I are closer than ever. Along the way, we have:
Graduated college (Sam – Cal Poly SLO in Applied Nutrition; Breah – USC in Business and Public Health) and both became Alpha Chi Omega alumni
Traveled the world (I spent 6 months traveling with Up With People before college and another month in Europe after college; Sam spent 8 weeks as an Au Pair in Italy and has been back with her husband, Matt)
Both had distance relationships for ~year with each of our now husbands; also both been bridesmaids in each other’s weddings
I’ve seen Sam become super healthy (after finally being diagnosed with Celiac Disease mid-way through high school)
Moved up and down California, multiple times (I think at least 6-7 moves between the two of us, in 5 years)
I visited Sam’s precious baby Olivia at a week old & I will become her godmother this spring
Started (and re-started) a blog together, for the third time (you just have to roll with what life throws at you sometimes). Read more about our SU&G story here
In the spring of 2011, when my aunt Susan asked me if I
wanted to run a half-marathon with her in June, I thought she was crazy. I was just starting my first semester of
college at USC, trying to keep up with life in LA, balance my school schedule,
and feed myself decently healthy things I could find at the dining hall.
Before college, I had just completed 6-months traveling
around the world with Up With People, where running daily was definitely not
one of my main priorities. Although I grew up running Varsity cross-country in
high school, completing more 5Ks in a 3-year span than most people do in a
lifetime, at the time I was in no-shape for running more than 3 miles, let
alone 13 miles. But being a stubborn, strong willed person that I am, I decided
to do it anyways.
So the journey began, I had a little less than 3 months to
get through finals, my birthday, and get to the starting line for the Rock
& Roll Half Marathon in San Diego.
Susan suggested that I use the Novice training guide by Hal Higdon to start my training. Of course she and her running crew were already on week 3-4, so I was already playing catch up to “jump on in”. But, I committed to it – running 2 or 3 days per week – either around campus or on the treadmill, and a long run on the weekend, I started to build up the miles, just like I would do every summer with Coach Prahl training for the upcoming XC season. I knew how to do it, I just had to get my head in the game and my body would comply, even if initially unwilling.
I slowly built myself up to 8 miles pretty comfortably and
about two weeks before the race, I drove out to the desert to run 11 miles with
Susan & crew. I had no idea if I was going to be able to keep up and jump
up another 3 miles.
One thing about running with me – I don’t talk. I soon found
out that Susan & crew were the talking type. While I was huffing and
puffing, just trying to keep up, they were chatting about life, their kids, or
what trips they were taking with their families that summer. Every 3-4 miles
they would look over to me and make sure I was still there and still breathing.
I’d squeak out a few words and we’d carry on. I finished the full run, but I
wasn’t sure how I was going to add on a few more miles. But Susan said, as long
as you can run at least 10, you can do 13, no problem. I believed her, because
I didn’t have a choice not to and I trusted the endurance gods.
Race day – my parents came down to San Diego with me for
encouragement. I found my crew bright and early and we set out to do the race
together. My goal was just to finish and preferably not stop to walk. I
remember about 4 miles or so into the race, I was feeling pretty good and I
decided right then that I was going to stick with the group of ladies I was
with, for the whole race– so that became my new goal. By mile 6, I was still
with them. We passed Margaritaville, and pretended my electrolyte drink was a
tequila shot, and kept going. By mile 9,
my legs started to feel really heavy, and after furiously chewing down an
energy chew (which is really difficult while you are still running) and I was right
back with them. By mile 11, I looked down at my phone and very surprisingly, we
were trending under 2 hours. At that moment I decided there was nothing
stopping me to get across the finish line before the 2-hour mark – my third new
goal. With my legs feeling numb and every part of my tired, I did it– I
finished my first race in 1 hour and 49 minutes. I didn’t stop, I stuck with my
group, and I finished under 2 hours.
I truly amazed myself of what my body was capable of. Sure,
I have a history of endurance running (which was totally advantageous), but
running that race proved to me how mentally strong I was. Without setting goals
along the way, I never would have pushed myself to finish the way I did. I
would have finished of course, but maybe I would have walked or stopped several
times. I couldn’t have done it, if I didn’t trust that I (my heart, my legs and
my body) could do it. I am still really proud of it. In my books, it was a pretty big
accomplishment running under 9 miles per mile for 13 miles straight.
And then, I waited another 6 years to try it again. Why? I’m
not sure. I did sign up for another race with a friend in college, but it never
came to fruition – a combination of poor timing (during finals) and lack of
training. But maybe I think part of me was also scared that I wouldn’t do as
well, and I psyched myself out, like I sometimes do.
So around Christmas when my aunt Susan asked me to do one in
Encinitas in March 2017, I had no reason not to do it.
Less than a year prior, my aunt Susan had an unexpected
discovery of lung cancer. Although detected very early and it was resolved
rather quickly, it was very scary. The fact that she even wanted to run another
half marathon considering everything she had just went through blew my mind.
So, I definitely I wasn’t going to back out just because I was scared.
With Thanksgiving officially less than one week away, it’s time to finalize recipes and gather ingredients. My main responsibility this year is to bring the Pumpkin Pie. And let me tell you, that is not a responsibility I take lightly. I’ve already made two pies to make sure my recipe is perfected.
When you have food sensitivities and food allergies, Thanksgiving can be a bit challenging. However, with the right mindset, that challenge can be part of the fun.
Pies tend to be particularly challenging for me because I cannot have eggs, gluten or corn. So, I always get excited when I’m able to adapt a recipe to meet my dietary needs without compromising flavor or texture.
This pumpkin pie is so good, no one will know it’s gluten-free and vegan, I promise!
The original recipe called for corn starch. I hypothesized that the best starch substitution would be potato starch because it’s a 1:1 substitution but I went to Whole Foods and amazingly they don’t carry it. So, I decided to experiment with arrowroot flour. Let me save you some disappointment. DO NOT USE ARROWROOT FLOUR!! The pie came out looking cracked and the texture was a bit slimy. Not really what you want in a pie, am I right?!
So, I gave in and went to a different store to buy potato starch. Thankfully, the pie turned out perfectly using this starch so I would definitely recommend using it if you’re also sensitive to corn. In my research I also found some health benefits of potato starch which may make it a better option for individuals that need to watch their blood sugar.
Potato starch is a resistant starch, so it does not get digested in the stomach or small intestine. Resistant starch does not cause the spike in blood sugar or insulin that other starches cause. It also has significant amounts of vitamin B6 and various minerals.
This delicious pumpkin pie does not contain dairy, gluten or eggs.
Author: Adapted from Sam Turnbull
Serves: 8 servings
For the crust:
½ cup shortening (for vegan) or butter
1½ cups Pamela'a GF Flour
4 Tbsp. cold water
For the filling:
1¾ cup pumpkin (1-14oz. can)
¾ cup full-fat coconut milk (shake well before using)
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup potato starch
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
Cut the shortening or butter into flour until crumbly.
Add the water and then use your hands to work the dough until soft. Mixture will be crumbly at first, but will slowly come together.
Once your dough comes together, form it into a ball.
Next, place the dough into an 8 inch pie pan or tart pan and press it evenly into the bottom and sides using your hands or the back of a spoon.
Once the pie dough is spread evenly, take a fork and prick the bottom of the crust a few times. This allows the steam to escape as needed and helps to ensure that your pie will bake evenly and smoothly.
Place the pie crust into your pre-heated oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until edges of pie crust are golden brown.
While your crust is baking, make the filling.
Add the pumpkin, coconut milk, brown sugar, potato starch, maple syrup, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt to a large bowl. Mix well.
When the pie crust is done cooking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool. Adjust oven setting to 350 F.
Pour pie filling into pie crust and bake for 60 minutes.
Remove pie from oven and allow it to cool for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight before serving.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or coconut whipped cream and enjoy!
We hope you all get to enjoy time with family and friends this Thanksgiving. We are thankful for all of you!