Packing that Fall feeling into a lighter, gluten-free meal can be tricky, but Amy Leedham AKA “Amy the Punisher” has just the solution.

The Bay Area is known for getting its summertime weather in September and October when most of our friends and family in other parts of the country are preparing for Fall and trading their favorite autumn recipes. Packing that seasonal feeling into a lighter, gluten-free meal can be tricky, but Amy Leedham AKA “Amy the Punisher” has just the solution. Amy is a runner on both trail and road, races for BayBirds Racing Team, is a November Project member and loves adventuring in the mountains. Her active lifestyle and athletic training schedule demands that her meals be gluten-free, packed with lots of good sources of energy, without sacrificing delicious taste. Amy’s recipe for success comes in the form of a nod to autumn flavors perfect for late summer in the Bay Area.

Read her recipe and story below:

September Salad by Amy the Punisher

“I am from the East Coast so one of my favorite things to do is curl up with a hot bowl of seasonal butternut squash soup when it’s cold and rainy. In the Bay Area, September brings summertime sunshine and warm temps and so I had to adapt my approach to seasonal eating when I moved out here 5 years ago. Being an athlete means I need my meals to pack a nutritional punch and this salad is great for when I want a hearty taste of fall flavors that is appropriate for the Bay Area’s September summer.

This salad features sweet potato for fall flavor and staying power, beets and tart cherry for enhanced recovery, pumpkin seeds for more seasonal flavor and protein and goat cheese because it’s just so tasty! It is gluten-free and if you skip the cheese, it’s vegan as well.”

The extra kick of Sufferfest’s Taper IPA stands up to the bold flavors of the salad, bringing autumn to the Bay, Sufferfest style.”

Serves 3-4

For the Salad:

  • 4 ounces baby arugula
  • 2 ounces baby spinach or kale
  • 3 oz goat cheese ( I like Purple Haze by Cypress Grove Chèvre), crumbled
  • 2 small to medium beets, raw, peeled, grated
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and Spiralized or cut into thin strips with a julienne peeler
  • 2 tablespoons avocado (or other high heat) oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

For the Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons tart cherry juice concentrate (I like Stanton Orchards)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Pinch of salt & pinch of pepper


1) Heat the avocado oil in a large pan on medium-high heat.

2) Toss the spiralized sweet potato with the salt and pepper so it is evenly distributed

3) Once the oil is hot add enough sweet potato to cover the pan without much overlap. Fry the sweet potato without flipping it for about 5-7 minutes, until it starts to brown on the bottom. Once it is brown, flip the all the sweet potato to cook the other side. Cook another 4-5 minutes until crispy. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to absorb extra oil. Repeat until all the sweet potato is cooked.

4) Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until mixed. Add more of any ingredient to taste.

5) Assemble the salad: Combine the greens, beets and dressing and toss until they are mixed. Crumble, the goat cheese on top. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds on top. Top with crispy sweet potato spirals.

You can add chicken or salmon to turn this into a hearty dinner.

Enjoy with a Sufferfest Taper IPA and a weekend trail run.

[If there was an opportunity to suffer during a race this Spring, it was probably at Way Too Cool 50K. An ultra that starts like a cross country race contained multiple river and stream crossings that were abnormally high from the recent storms, and ended with middle of the pack racers finishing in 30 mph winds and sideways rain. PHOTO CREDIT: Mario Fraioli]

Amy Leedham is a competitive runner from Oakland, CA and tries to eat meals that will help her sustain a demanding training schedule which often includes foods that are nutrient-dense, unprocessed and gluten-free. You can find her at a local November Project sunrise workout or digging into the pain cave at a weekend cross-country meet. Her next big race is North Face 50-miler in the Headlands of Marin County, CA. You can follow all of Amy’s training and adventures @amy_the_punisher on Instagram and her blog can be found here.