Whatcha think of this time of year people?
I’m excited. I love love love running in the cool fall air. I love the beauty of all the colorful leaves falling. I love the pumpkin-everything (have you checked out THIS pumpkin spice latte recipe yet?). And I LOVE THAT THE HOLIDAYS ARE UPON US!
Do you guys run a race on Thanksgiving? I usually do– but I can’t find any this year near my hometown! Instead, some friends and I are going to race the Friday after Turkey Day…nothing like a little high intensity workout to burn all those wretched holiday cals.
My approach to the holidays is that it should be enjoyed. Pick a few special occasions and indulge! Me? I say a big, humongo “YES PLEASE” to anything offered to me on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, NYE anddd the Zakreski Holiday Christmas party (basically, just a big party I attend every year home in Jersey).
Its important to pick a few special dates ahead of time so you don’t hear yourself saying yes to every single sweet, decadent temptation in sight between Halloween and New Years, ya know what I mean?
Anyway, my favorite way to enjoy yummy, delish food without having to worry about calorie counting is to choose nonstarchy veggie packed dishes– nonstarchy veggies are naturally low in calories, high in nutrition and super yummmm! Ain’t nobody got time for calorie countin’ when there’s Turkey Day football on the television and mistletoe hanging.
I don’t know what made me think of football– I flippin’ hate watching football (I know, I know, I’m a travesty to American society).
So here’s a little quick-to-whip-up, veggie loaded app you can serve at your next soiree this holiday season. Enjoy!
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Lemon juice from half a lemon
- 1 cup kale/spinach, finely chopped
- 2 red peppers, roasted (from a jar) and chopped
- 18 artichoke hearts (from a jar-- read the ingredients! Make sure its packaged in olive oil)
- 18 thinly cut slices of brie or low fat cheddar
- Preheat your oven to broiler setting.
- On a tray, lay the 18 artichoke hearts with the inside of the artichoke heart facing up.
- In a small bowl, combine spices, lemon juice, kale/spinach and red peppers. Mix.
- Top each artichoke heart with a small amount of the mixture, trying to add some pepper & greens to each heart.
- Top with a small slice of cheese.
- Broil in the oven until cheese melts, about 3-4 minutes.
- Stab with a toothpick and serve! Voila!
I had a ton of fun talking to Kari at The Running Lifestyle Show this week. The best part of her show is how real it is. Like, this week, we discussed a total running faux-pas: How to fuel for a marathon when you haven’t really had the chance to practice fueling. Because, at The Running Lifestyle Show, its all about real life situations that us runners get our badselves into now & then, ya know what I’m sayin’?
In a perfect world, practicing fueling during a run is just as important as practicing the mileage. Your body is a dynamic and unique being. The way I fuel will be different than what your body can tolerate, especially in the stress of later miles of a marathon. The way you fuel for a 5k, a 10 k, a half marathon– they all differ from the strategies you may need to implement during the marathon. Think about it, the extreme stress of a marathon means your body is not prioritizing blood flow to your digestive system but instead to your legs which are important during the “flight or fight” activation of your sympathetic nervous system. For that reason, many runners find they cannot tolerate their usual fare without experiencing digestive distress. Fibrous veggies, wheat/whole grain products, fibrous fruits, large quantities of dietary fat, or dairy are common culprits in digestive distress pre-run.
What’s the perfect mid-marathon fuel? Well, that depends on you as a unique individual, and why I encourage always practicing your fueling technique pre-race. If you usually eat large quantities of starch throughout the day (>50% of calories from carb), you probably will do best fueling your race with carb-ier sources such as Honey Stinger gels, dried blueberries, or grapes. If you usually consume 30-40% of calories from dietary fat, and rely on nonstarchy veggies mostly for carbohydrate, then you may be more of a “fat burner” and benefit from using olives, coconut oil, or nuts/nut butter packets to fuel your race. Coconut is particularly awesome for fat burners because coconut is comprised of a special type of saturated fat called “medium chain triglyceride.” This fatty acid bypasses the lymph system and is instead absorbed directly into the blood stream, meaning it can immediately be used as energy (sort of like sugar!). Pretty coolio.
Kari, however, has been playing around with using both fat & sugar as fuel source during her marathon training, and seems to be tolerating it well (she has chosen honey roasted macadamia nuts for fuel). Since her body is using up the sugar very quickly, but is probably able to efficiently use the fat for fuel as well, Kari seems to be doing A-Okay on this marathon training blend.
The other facet of training fuel which I have told all ya’ll before about are EnergyBits. These little gems are REAL FOOD tablets of spirulina algae. Since algae is super duper high in protein, it helps stabilize blood sugar, and has really helped me mitigate symptoms of hypoglycemia while running. Their antioxidant content protects against free radical production which is naturally generated during running, and their amazing nitric oxide content has been associated with improved oxygen delivery to your tired muscles. Pretty much: runner heaven. I take 15-30 bits before a <13 mile run totally fasted and feel great (but I am also pretty fat adapted, and do this when I am more concerned about endurance and fat loss than for performance). When doing distances >13 miles, I’ll add 15 bits at a time with a Honey Stinger Gel. For me, in later mileage, I need sugar to perform best. That’s just me, and it doesn’t make a lotta sense, but hey- that’s why practice is key. And I learned that through lots of experimentation.
Want your own EnergyBits? Use the code “RDFUEL” at checkout for 25% off (you’re welcome).
Kari is bein’ a little wild child and running her marathon without practicing a fueling strategy… so we will all have to wait with bated breath and see what happens. Since she’s an incredibly powerful & positive runner, I bet she’ll do amazing– also, she’s doing this race for the EXPERIENCE, not for the PR, so she’s got that on her side. :)
Can the bacteria in your gut influence what you crave?
Turns out, probably yes.
Did you know there are more cells of itty bitty bacteria living in your colon than there are human cells in the human body? In fact, microbial genes outnumber human genes 100 to 1. Woah. So it makes sense that these little fellas can exercise a whole lotta power over their “host bodies” (so creepy to think about!).
For those of you who find themselves perpetually craving sugar and fat from processed sources, you may want to ask yourself, “What kind of bacteria reside in my low intestine?” … And don’t fib and tell me you’ve already asked yourself that question before. I know you haven’t.
Because bacteria are picky little buggers, and their fussy eating habits may impact your cravings. For instance, Bifido bacteria lurveee dietary fiber, while Bacteroidetes lurvee dietary fat, and good ole’ Prevotella nosh carbos like no body’s business. And guess what, each species has the ability to impact what food you crave depending on their preference.
The best way to control your gut from overtaking your willpower is to host a diverse flora of species in your colon. The more species in your gut, the more resources and power they will have to spend competing with each other, rather than with their host (you!.).
Foods which are jam packed with probiotic species include high quality sauerkraut (I once heard there are more than 60,000 different species in sauerkraut alone!), kimchi, fermented veggies, kefir, kombucha, cultured salsa, and high quality yogurt. Its important to vary your source of probiotic rich foods, as to culture a diverse gut flora. So, if you rely on the same ole’ brand of yogurt every. single. day. to get your dose of probiotics, you may want to switch up your routine!
Alcock J, Maley C, Aktipis C. Is Eating Behavior Manipulated by the Gastrointestinal Microbiota? Evolutionary Pressures and Poential Mechanisms. Bioessays. 2014 Oct; 36(10):940-9.doi:10.1002/bies.201400071. Epub 2014 Aug 8.
Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. However, I only recommend products or services I personally use, endorse & believe in whole-heartedly. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Affiliate links help compensate us “poor” bloggers for our obsession with typing our lives away for free! :) :)
Most photos are compliments of PaleoParents.com
Anyways, this lovely Wednesday I am in the middle of a lotta thangs that are influencin’ my nutrition. I’m training for a marathon…anddd I’m in the middle of Diane Sanfilippo’s Twenty One Day Sugar Detox (21DSD) program. For those of you seasoned 21DSD-ers, you know that marathon training and 21DSDing aren’t supposed to mix, but I promise you I’m being careful to increase carbs on long run days! My training is always really really weird versus other individuals’, because I do a lot of easy/rest days mixed in with hard training, so there’s a lot of days where my energy expenditure (and need for carbs) really is not that high!
Obvi, marathon training & hard runs calls for lots of anti-oxidizing, fuel efficiency machines for power! AKA.. ENERGYBITS!
I love my little on-the-go algae tablets. I pop a few before, during, and after runs to optimize performance, keep my blood sugar from tanking (read more about that here!), and to help recovery.
So, enough about running.
Let’s talk foodzzzz!!!!
(By the way, if you love talking about/listening to/obsessing over all things healthy food, you should check out The Running Lifestyle Show‘s weekly Friday podcasts where the host, Kari, and I feature a healthy food and delve into why this food is sooo brilliantly healthy, and then we talk about healthy recipes featuring the #foodoftheweek)
Ok, seriously, let’s talk food now :)
Breakfast… well. It looks gross. Because, I burnt these little buggers. And since I made twelve of them (I eat two every morning, so this was six days worth!)– I shall be eating burnt 21DSD’s buffalo chicken egg muffins (made with free range eggs) for the next six days. Stuffed with hot sauce, chicken, spinach & onions.
Ahh c’est la vie (of a cheapo).
Honestly, despite being “slightly” overdone, these are still really delicious. However, I’m not too happy about starting my day with the carcinogenic components of burnt protein. (But I’m still too cheap to throw them away!)
Do you guys love Instagram? My new fave hashtag is Stacy Toth’s #MoreVegetablesThanAVegetarian. Because its SO TRUE. Guys, I can seriously pound some crazy amounts of food. I know I live in America, and I’m a female, so society tries to make this an embarrassing fact about mahself. But ya know what? I’m crazy healthy, have more energy than some children, and I’m a damn good runner; so whatevs.
Anyway, my lunchtime salads are always humongous. Like, the cashier always teases me for buying the heaviest salads she’s seen all day.
This one is dandelion greens, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella and salmon. This was a really bizarre mishmosh of stuff, but all the ingredients were so delicious that it worked. Pumpkin seeds are super high in zinc, by the way, so they’re an awesome food to start eating now to be prepared for winter colds and flus, since zinc plays a role in boosting immune function!
For a snack, I noshed on a few cherry tomatoes, and a few bites of the 21DSD no grain banola.
So dinner tonight was pistachio crusted salmon, green beans topped with Kerrygold butter. The salad was kale and slaw topped with Bragg’s sesame and ginger dressing.
Thanks for stopping by! Click the What I Ate Wednesday link up above to read other awesome WIAW stories!
I am allll about hemp hearts lately.
Maybe its the summer heat and the influx of salads I’ve been consuming, but sprinkling crunchy crushed hemp hearts has been one of my fave foods this season.
You’ve heard me blab about flax & chia seeds before, but I had never tried hemp until recently. After all… hemp makes me think of illegal drugs and rope: not exactly appetizing.
However, when researching vegetarian sources of protein for a client a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon hemp seeds. While these seeds boast the omega-3 goodness of flax & chia; they have nearly DOUBLE the protein! A mere 3 tablespoons of crushed hemp seeds provides a whopping 10 grams of protein… that’s more protein than a darn egg.
Not to say I’d ever choose hemp hearts over eggs (AND THEIR YOLKS) ever, ever, ever; but that’s just how I roll.
Anyways, hemp hearts are nutty flavah’d; definitely more so than the pretty flavorless flax or chia (in my opinion), but I adore them on kale salads, sneaked into smoothies, or added into broccoli slaw.
So, okay, we covered that they’ve got a pretty darn impressive amount of protein in them (SO COOL!), but I also love their fat content. There’s nothing more filling than dietary protein PLUS dietary fat… (#RealFoodForTheWin)
Hemp’s dietary fat comes mostly from polyunsaturated fats, including omega 3 fatty acids. While the vegetarian forms of omega 3 come no where as close to being as bioavailable as the omega 3s from fatty fish, I’m not gona complain because I see this mostly as an awesome way to sneak in some extra protein. (Especially for my vegetarian clients!)
So far, I’ve only devoured Manitoba Harvest’s* brand of hemp hearts, but I’m guessing they all taste the same.
Have you tried hemp hearts yet? Are you afraid of hemp because of their association with marijuana and rope?! Any recipe inspiration to share?
* This endorsement is entirely of my own fruition. I did not receive any free product or compensation for this recommendation.
Kari over at The Running Lifestyle Show & I frequently discuss nutrient dense sources of carbohydrate for runners. On episode 15, we talked corn, since its in-season over in this part of the world, and I have to admit that a fresh piece of local sweet corn is seriously one of the most delicious indulgences of summer.
While I know corn has a bad reputation because its a starchy veggie and its one of the most commonly genetically modified crops in the United States; the seasonal corn delivered in a CSA box by a local farmer is a whole different animal. In those who are not experiencing digestive issues & are not “metabolically broken,” corn provides awesome vitamin E, B-vitamins & antioxidant phytonutrients to the consumer. Soooo… for a busy runner looking for some extra carbs; non-GMO corn from your local farmer can be a great choice!
While corn on the cob drenched in grass-fed Kerrygold butter is simply divine, it is difficult for the body to digest corn kernals in their whole form, so pulverizing the corn is best to absorb the nutrition. My version of grits is loaded with low calorie, low starch, uber-nutritious cauliflower, but still satisfies the starchy, salty & fatty combination that grits so delightfully entices!
Serve along side braised, grass-fed short ribs, poached pastured eggs or some buffalo chicken. Nom. Who said eating your veggies has to be boring?!
A few weeks ago, I wrote a simple post on some real food ideas for busy folks who want to reap health without living in the kitchen cooking twenty four hours a day for my favorite site, Girl Gone Sporty!
Because, yes, its possible. I know because I am surriously busy, and even though I wish I could spend every living moment cookin’ in the kitchen, I simply cannot.
I’m insane & I signed up for a marathon (AGAIN). I really thought after how freakin’ awful I felt after the Philly Marathon last year I was never, ever going to run a marathon ever again. But… I don’t know. I have felt seriously strong & wonderful during runs lately. It helps that I am now living in a new city, & so I am obsessed with exploring & running everywhere!
ANYWAY– back to the Google Hangout. It was really fun to discuss with Laura Williams, a fellow health enthusiast, about her favorite recipes to use when she’s short on time. She has inspired me to keep canned tomatoes lying around. Curious why? Check out the Google Hangout recording here.
So, during the hangout, Laura & I discussed one of my all time most favorite quick fixes– an Italian flava-flave salad. I’m not a big salad lovah. They’re kinda boring. BUT! This salad is really incredibly flavorful, as well as simple. Its a total win when you’re in a time crunch & want something really filling.