They Eat WHAT During An Ironman

Five food products used in endurance racing: Metasalt tablets, Nuun electrolyte hydration, Powerbar, Honey Stinger gel, Gu gel
You need food to complete an Ironman. But what food? Well, that depends. Read about how the Sensible Celiac is preparing for the longest race of her life next year.

In August 2012, I had the privilege of watching my boyfriend (now husband) compete in his fourth Ironman race at Mont-Tremblant. With all the excitement in the air that day, I didn’t fail to notice the small details: the light fog on the lake, the lengthy run from the lake exit point back to transition on a red carpet; the wetsuit ‘strippers’ and the cowbells; the many, many hills of that 112 mile bike course, and the rain and dimming sunlight as the competitors panted as they ran through the chute of their second lap for the marathon course.

As one runner shuffled by, his nutrition baggie dropped out of his running belt that had been left unzipped, and several of us fans called out to him, “Hey! You dropped your food!” He looked about himself,  trotted back to his baggie on the ground, and carefully stuffed it back into the belt, returning a word of thanks, and knowing that he had just dodged a nutrition gaffe, big time. Imagine running another 21 km without any food after a long day of swimming and biking!

As I think back to that moment, I am struck with what it was that he had so carefully selected for his race-day nutrition.  My brain took a snapshot of it, so I remember what was there.

Want to know what was in this Ironman’s food baggie?

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Sweet and Tangy Boneless Leg of Lamb

Leg of lamb cooked and sliced onto a wood plate, with a pomegranate opened, one large Yukon gold potato, a half lemon, and two stalks of Rosemary laid across the sliced lamb.
Lamb is a nutrient dense meat that usually gets overlooked at holiday time. Yet it’s ease for preparation and roasting could change your mind!

Thanksgiving Day is under a week away. I imagine most people living in the U.S. and abroad who celebrate this holiday have already made their holiday travel plans, Menus have been set. The turkey (or the Tofurkey) has been purchased, and the side dishes planned for a festive table of delightful foods.

Or not.

Until recently, the intensity of this food-centered holiday has been absolutely lost on the Sensible Celiac. My brain has stored far too many eating scenes that end up in the bathroom with a grumpy, upset tummy for up to several days. Partaking in food celebrations for the holiday table have involved flipping through magazines filled with photo spreads of flakey, baked goods, or examining the tiny flecks of vanilla bean in a dollop of ice cream as it melts on piece of apple pie. Yes, yes, yes, I know: food magazines and cooking shows have become a sort of pornography, of which there is a moment of exhilaration, followed by a sense of loss mixed with anger — all the things I can’t have, that are never quite as good, no matter how many magic gluten-free, allergen-free tweaks you make to it. If you beg to differ, just watch an episode of The Great British Baking Show, click on the episode where they make Baked Alaska, and attempt to bend your mind around making THAT gluten free, dairy free, soy free, corn free, nut free, and low sugar.

Uh, no. No no no no no no.

Yet with my focus on using naturally gluten-free foods and adding flavor instead of just subtracting ingredients, I find myself making food food again, flavor-filled again, simple and nutrient dense again. And best yet, no grumpy tummy.

When thinking about cooking a feature dish for a Thanksgiving Day meal, I found myself wandering away from the traditional turkey. Honestly, I am not fond of turkey for much more than an occasional homemade turkey and cranberry chutney sammich without the bread (President Obama’s sandwich of choice when he came to visit the Grand Central Bakery in 2010, which is located in my private practice office building), and typically I may only have turkey one time a year, if someone else has prepared it without stuffing inside the bird. People baste the bird, season it, slow roast it, and meticulously watch their turkey in the oven more carefully than a brand new baby — and, it just doesn’t ever wow me.

And so, I return to my spiel: eat nutrient dense food = do fun stuff again (I have a much more spiffy way of saying this, but you’ll have to wait until January 2016 to get the full deal, tee hee).

So, now I present to you the Leg of Lamb. Or rather, I present to you Sweet and Tangy Boneless Leg of Lamb, compliments of The American Lamb Board through IFBC and the Curriculamb 101 seminar.

Sweet and Tangy Boneless Leg of Lamb

Serves 6 people

Since I have never cooked a boneless leg of lamb, I swept the Internets for recipes comparing the average temperature and cook time for rare to medium rare lamb, and found a base recipe to gather some guidelines about marinades and flavor balances. The majority of recipes for lamb centered around rosemary and garlic. However, I wanted to a balance and sweet and tangy, such as Dijon mustard and honey, and I am unable to eat alliums at this time.

Borrowing from a lamb recipe on (author listed as JMASS), I’ve adapted it to be allergen free by removing the garlic. I also radically changed the cook time and roasting temperature, going for a more slow roast method for the most tender meat.

For the overnight marinade:

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard (I like Maille brand)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

5-pound boneless leg of lamb

1 cup of water for the marinade.

2 cups of water for the roasting pan

Optional: 1 tablespoon Apple Cider vinegar if you like more tangy flavor

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Use a blender to combine the above ingredients. You will need to add enough water so the meat is fully saturated when it’s placed in the bag.

Pour the marinade in plastic bag, and place the leg of lamb in the bag. I like using a mid-sized glass bowl to place the firmly sealed bag in the refrigerator overnight; the bowl helps keep the meat in contact with the marinade. Squish the marinade through the meat by kneading gently. The meat will hold together if you leave the string on the leg of lamb; it usually comes tied up for easy placement and removal from the pan.

Roasting instructions:

Preheat the oven to 450F. Using a roast pan, place 2 cups of water in the bottom of the two-piece roasting pan, and place the roasting sheet on top. Place the lamb on the roasting sheet, and using aluminum foil, make a tent with foil to prevent the top from burning.

Roast at 450F for 20 minutes with the lamb on the oven’s middle rack.

Roasting a leg of lamb is easy, and surprisingly fast.
Roasting a leg of lamb is easy, and surprisingly fast.

Turn down heat to 350F for 2 hours, using a meat thermometer to check the center temperature. The internal temperature should be at least 145 degrees, and the meat will be pink.

While it is slow roasting, you can roast vegetables on the top rack; they will cook longer, so you may want to thoroughly coat the vegetables in some melted coconut oil.

Don't forget to use aluminum foil and make a little tent for the lamb meat.
Don’t forget to use aluminum foil and make a little tent for the lamb meat.

Consider serving this lamb with some root vegetables, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and cranberry sauce. It just so happened that I had all these fixings ready in my refrigerator from a batch-cooking session the day before.


When the internal temperature is at least 145F, transfer the lamb to a cutting board. You’ll notice that most if not all the water in the roasting pan will have evaporated, and you won’t have any meat juices for gravy. Trust me, the meat will be tender, and you won’t need any gravy to make this taste better!

Slice the meat into even serving sizes. Remove the string by using cooking shears or a utility tool with a knife. Using a knife with a serrated edge and a cooking fork, cut and transfer the slices onto a serving tray.

You can decorate the tray with other foods, such as lemons, pomegranates, rosemary stalks, or roasted potatoes. I served the lamb with fresh cranberry sauce on the side.

Slice the meat immediately, and cover with foil if not serving to the plate.
Slice the meat immediately, and cover with foil if not serving to the plate.


If you try out this recipe, let me know how you liked it!





Seven-Day Eat At Home Challenge

Three sets of feet and legs in bright colored trail shoes, standing on dirt and leaves. Photo by Imei.
The Sensible Celiac loves to trail run, but hates a Grumpy Tummy. Join MAA’s 7-Day Cook At Home/Eat In Challenge, and see if it puts you on the trail towards better health. Photo courtesy of Imei.

Are you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired?

Do you suspect that the way you eat affects how you feel on a daily basis?

Do you have food allergies or intolerances, or have you recently learned you have a medical condition requiring a change in nutrition and eating habits?

Are you ready to try a food challenge that can help you change the way you think about food forever?

Imei the Sensible Celiac just finished a 3.5 hour trail running race and guess what? My Grumpy Tummy of the past was nowhere to be seen! Wahoo! Wanna see if you can ban the grumpy tummy days and weird fatigue stuff and the sick and tireds?

*drum roll

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Why I Don’t Feel Sorry For Myself

Author of this article, a Chinese woman, with head against a pillow, with a vexed expression on her brow and face, index finger pointing to her mouth, lips in a slight pout
Food allergies and intolerances got you down? Read here about why I don’t feel sorry for myself, and why you don’t need to either.

“Oh my gawd! You have so many food allergies! What on earth do you eat? I feel so sorry for you.”

For the last two years, this is what I hear from the servers and chefs of restaurants as they write down my prohibitory list of food allergies and intolerances. About two weeks ago, a different response to those words flowed from my tongue.

Why do you feel sorry for me? I don’t.

It fell out of my mouth so quickly, I even surprised myself.

And here is why I don’t feel sorry for myself.

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Adventures in Batch Cooking

In the summer of 1990, I traveled to Beijing and spent two months studying Chinese language as an ABC (American Born Chinese), and traveling around a country I had never visited before, except through the stories of my mother as a little girl in Shanghai.

While many things were not strange and new, such as the sound of Mandarin language, and the smells of Chinese food as it hits a heavily-oiled wok, one experience that stands out to me is how the Chinese prepared for meals on a day-to-day basis.

Most families in the city are composed of a mother, father, and one child, with grandparents also living in a small apartment. Even smaller is the cooking area, as families tended to eat at their local neighborhood’s shared kitchen, an cantina of sorts. Each person received a ration of food for these common meals, and anything you wanted that was extra had to be cooked fresh and eaten immediately. Families with either more wealth, or foreigners, had a refrigerator and freezer, but most did not.

Additionally, the Chinese have a long-standing tradition of accessing local open-air markets open at all hours of the day and night for people to buy food. We don’t even call them farmer’s markets, although that’s what you would call them in America. They are just markets that aren’t in a building and air-conditioned. We value fresh produce, fresh fish and meats, and hot food over items that you store in a larder or put away in a plastic tub. Even in Taiwan, people still value eating freshly prepared meals daily and deep into the evening. It’s not unheard of to see families eating dinner after 9 pm.

You can imagine what this kind of set up does to the Sensitive Celiac.

Oh boy.

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