Simple Chia Pudding

Being dairy free, I sometimes really miss yogurt. I can buy the coconut or almond milk yogurts, but they just do not satiate me the way a thick Greek yogurt used to. The best alternatives to me are thick smoothies and chia pudding. Today I am sharing with you my simple recipe that can be enjoyed with whatever toppings your heart desires. I have this as a breakfast or even a dessert when I am trying to behave. After the amount of candy I consumed this past weekend on Easter I would say I am trying to behave. So here is what you will need for the pudding itself. This recipe makes 4 servings.

1/2 cup chia seeds
2 cups coconut milk, almond milk or cashew milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp maple syrup, more or less to taste

Mix the above ingredients together and let them soak for at least an hour. I usually just leave them in the refrigerator overnight. You can add fruit, nuts, granola, nut butters, chocolate chips, the list goes on. Pictured I have topped my pudding with almonds, walnuts, dried fruit, banana slices and fresh mango slices.

I hope you enjoy!

Post Holiday Detox

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Well I don’t know about you but I feel like it is time to detox. The holidays are a time to indulge, but sometimes I find it hard to kick my cravings for sugar and red wine after the new year arrives. I know I am not alone, which is why I have decided to lead another 12 day liver detox.

This cleanse is not what you may think of when you hear “CLEANSE”. It is not about starving yourself, or overdosing on sugary juices. This is 12 days of clean eating paired with milk thistle supplements and dandelion root tea. The diet is centered around promoting healthy liver function. Our liver is what sifts all the toxins we consume in our diets and all the chemicals we breath in everyday. When our liver is working optimally, we feel more energized and hormonally balanced. This diet has been seen to decrease inflammation, bloating, headaches, help with arthritis, clear skin, improve mood and decrease sugar cravings. This cleanse requires you to move. In order to feel your best I recommend you exercise daily. Your overall daily movement should increase. You do not have to exercise vigorously. When practicing yoga focus on twists to help detoxify the body.  If you don’t usually exercise start walking and stretching each day. Go outside and feel the sunshine on your face. That is if you can find any.

The cleanse involves lots of vegetables, spices, healthy fats, pre and probiotic foods, sulfur and lemon water. To be successful you will have to cut out dairy, gluten and all processed foods.

I used the past week to prepare guidelines, sample grocery lists as well as tips to help all participants cleanse with ease! My cleanse is based off of Frances Murchison’s book “Heal Your Whole Body”. Click the below link to read an overview of the cleanse:

http://www.rodalenews.com/foods-your-liver

This is my second time leading the cleanse and I already have a great network of participants (newbies and veterans). You can join my support group on Facebook. Here you can find links to a sample grocery list, a quick guide to the cleanse as well as recipes for other cleansers and myself. I know I will be getting lots of questions via Facebook and I will do my best to answer as promptly as I can. I do want to point out that you will be most successful if you start making these changes today and slowly implementing the cleanse. This will create more of a lifestyle change and make it a little more sustainable. Just because you binge on a brownie does not mean you are done. You can always brush those crumbs off your lap and continue with the cleanse. This is not an all or nothing diet!

I made the start date for the cleanse January 19th. You can start before or after this date, it is all up to you! Scroll down for some helpful resources.

Join my Facebook group to stay updated: https://www.facebook.com/groups/874533072564308/

You can access a spreadsheet with a breakdown of cleanse worthy foods and food groups to avoid here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xWVGxHl1EePkBGyD88SLClU1mRqeZVnvsjMe2gg1wLM/edit?usp=docslist_api

I also made a daily checklist to help you keep track of your food intake:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NIoOCPt0SR1TS4ZMPvr5-R5dU-SzJ_GXD_KEz_XDr5I/edit?usp=docslist_api

Toasty Coconut and Banana Oat Muffins

Toasty Coconut and Banana Oat Muffins

These muffins are a like a clean bowl of oatmeal you can take on the go, did I mention they are a healthy pre-workout carbohydrate and freeze  well?  Saturday morning I was out of greek yogurt and was in a … Continue reading

Choco Whey: The World’s Premium Whey Chocolate

 

milk__18159.1390364143.328.245A candy bar that delivers 9-11 grams of whey protein with no added sugar, it sounded too good to be true.  So of course, I had to try it. Luckily Defense Nutrition was able to facilitate my taste test by sending a sample.  I should have specified my chocolate preference.  I am a dark chocoholic.  Not to worry, there are several different variations of Choco Whey.    I tried the Cacao Nib Milk Chocolate and Whey bar. See the nutrition facts below:

ChocoWhey-CacaoNibs-Milk-Bar-1.5ozBefore we even talk about the nutrition facts, lets take a look at the ingredients.  NO SUGAR ADDED, NO SUGAR ALCOHOL, NO FRUCTOSE, NOTHING ARTIFICIAL . Did I mention it is GMO FREE? You cannot really beat that in a candy bar.  I also think calling this bar candy is a stretch.  It is nutritious and a great serving of Whey protein (9 g per bar), but if you are looking for the taste and melt in your mouth texture of a Hershey’s bar you will not get it with Choco Whey.  It tastes, well, healthy.  I think this particular bar tastes just like their Chocolate Whey Protein Shake in solid form. It was pretty good with a smear of almond butter and a medjool date on top.  According to Defense Nutrition, it outperforms your everyday protein bar and is made without syrups (sugar, fructose, sugar alcohol, agave, rice, malt, etc.), which is always a plus!

chocowhey-table

If you have read my blog before, you know I do not look at calories or fat when assessing a natural product’s nutritional label.  I go straight to the sugar, fiber and protein.  This product passes in all three categories! For a chocolate bar, this bar is super low in the sugar department.  Compared to a Nut Delight Kind Bar, this particular flavor packs three more grams of protein and and three more grams of fiber all while containing three grams less sugar.

The bar is full of antioxidants , great for muscle recovery and I am honestly dying to try some of the other flavors! When you purchase Choco Whey you can choose from Milk or Dark chocolate.  They also have a ChocoVegan bar. Milk and dark chocolate have the following varieties:

  • Plain
  • Cacao Nibs
  • Almond
  • Coffee
  • Macadamia
  • Super Crunch
  • The vegan chocolate is not available in Macadamia or Super Crunch

The nutrition facts change slightly for each variety of milk and dark chocolate bars.  Overall, the dark chocolate has less sugar and a little more fiber.  It looks like the Super Crunch variety packs the most protein coming in at 11 grams per bar.  The ChocoVegan bars have less than half the protein overall, ranging from 3-4 grams per bar.  I would recommend sticking to the ChocoWhey bars unless you are a vegan.  Go here to compare nutrition facts across flavor variates.

I would recommenced this product to active chocoholics looking for a way to get their fix and up their protein.  I love that all the artificial sweeteners and mystery syrups are left out and only quality products are put in.  The taste is much more natural and not super sweet like traditional candy bars. The Milk Chocolate Cacao Nibs bar had a bit of a nutty flavor. It was not sinfully delicious, but it tasted like all natural milk chocolate.  The cost definitely reflects the quality. A box of 12 chocolate bars costs you $47.90 with shipping included for those in the U.S ($3.99 per bar).  If you decide to purchase the bar individually, it is going to cost you $4.95 per bar.  Protein bars are typically $1-3.  I usually get kind Bars 4/$5 or Lara Bars 3/$5.  Perhaps with a little popularity and increased demand, the price will go down.  I DO want to try the dark chocolate.  If you have tasted it before let me know your thoughts!

Click here to purchase this product!

 

Avoiding Muscle Cramps & My Potassium Packed Green Smoothie

Muscle Cramps: for the most part we know how to prevent them, but we don’t always make the time to take preventative action.  After multiple clients stopped to hold their cramping legs, feet and toes during our workouts in the past week, I figured this topic deserved a blog post.  I in particular get them in my toes while I am stretching after a hard workout or in the middle of the night, but this week I had clients cramping mid circuit.  So here we go:

  1. Are you hydrated? If you are not drinking enough water for you weight and activity level this could be your problem.  So start logging your water.  Try the app waterlogged to train yourself to make water consumption a priority.  Plus, being hydrated will make you feel better, look better and help curb hunger between meals.
  2. Are you stretching adequately?  If you are partaking in any distance running, HIIT Training, or cycling you need to stretch a lot! For example: the repetitive nature of running tightens up your hamstrings, hips and calves when you are logging miles.  So stretch after you run and invest in a foam roller.  Happy hamstrings make a happy athlete.  If you cramp up while you are sleeping, stretch before bed.
  3. Are you getting enough potassium? People always think bananas when they are reaching for potassium, but potassium can be found in so many everyday foods.  Try a baked potato (sweet if you are watching your sugar), avocado, raw kale, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, white beans, salmon, yogurt, the list goes on.  Click here to see the Top 10 Foods Highest in Potassium.
  4. Are your sodium levels depleted? If you are an endurance athlete or a heavy/salty sweater, you may be deficient in the electrolyte sodium.  This can easily be balanced by consuming sports drinks when you are working out for more than an hour or during extra sweaty sessions.  (I am one of those salty sweaters.  I always have a white film on my face and body after an endurance run, it’s a good look)
  5. Are you getting enough carbohydrates? You have to replenish your glycogen stores when you are working out for over an hour.  You also need to have adequate glycogen stores before you begin exercise.  If your muscles do not have fuel, they cannot perform optimally and you will cramp.  You can replenish with sports products like GU or sports drinks but for the most part, a small snack an hour before your session will do.  See my post on Pre Workout Snacks! Remember, fat burns in a carbohydrate flame.

Potassium

I was feeling inspired by the muscle cramp topic and decided to make a potassium packed smoothie after my Saturday workouts. Here is what it consisted of:

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 cup of kale
  • 1 cup of pineapple
  • 3-4 stalks of celery
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • splash of vanilla unsweetened almond milk (or coconut milk)

The majority of the potassium in this recipe comes from the first three ingredients (Banana, Avocado & Kale).  In addition, chia seeds are great for ridding your body of toxins.  The gelatinous nature of the seeds help pick up unwanted toxins that are often stuck in the small intestine and reabsorbed into the blood stream.  The key with chia seeds is to let them soak.  A great way to accomplish this is by allowing them to soak them in the almond milk (or coconut milk) you use for your recipes.   Fill a ball jar with almond milk and a 1/2 cup of chia so you have them handy in your refrigerator.  If you need to fill up and feel good, I recommend making this after a hard workout or a weekend of too much drinking and eating out (sodium detox).

 

What To Eat Pre-Workout

One of my clients recently asked me what and when she should been eating before our sessions to keep her from feeling exhausted and/or nauseous. So hear I am, singing the praise of carbs carbs and more carbs.  You cannot efficiently burn fat and build muscle without adequate carbohydrate intake.

One of my favorite quotes actually came from my NASM text book.  I memorized it when studying but find myself using it as a reminder in my own nutrition choices.  It goes like this: “Fat burns in a carbohydrate flame”

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Basically, maximal fat will not be utilized without enough carbohydrate.  Carbohydrates serve as our most vital source of energy for all bodily functions and muscular endurance.  This is because our bodies depend on muscle glycogen during exercise.  But enough with the scientific blabber, what you need to know is that without sufficient glycogen stores available, you may hit a wall during your workout, burn less fat and build less muscle.  As an athlete, you want to save your protein for building muscle, rather than use it for energy.

2-4 hours prior to working out, you want to consume a carbohydrate rich meal with some protein as well.  A common carbohydrate to protein ratio is 2:1 when exercising for an hour or less.  If you are an endurance athlete you can up your carbohydrates to a 3:1 ratio.  If you workout in the mornings, just get something in your system that will cause little distress on your belly and will digest easily.  Read this short article highlighting the importance of pre and post workout nutrition  from Equinox’s blog.

In order to recover and replenish those glycogen stores after a workout you need to eat at minimum a small snack within 30 minutes of completion.  If you are able to consume a full meal within 30 minutes of working out, you can do so with a carbohydrate and protein rich meal.

Now this does not mean you should eat pasta for every meal.  Sometimes we forget that fruits and vegetables are also carbohydrates.  Also stick to whole grains like quinoa, brown rice or oats.

Here is what I suggest my clients consume before a heart thumping session to avoid early exhaustion:

  • Banana or apple with nut butter ( I prefer Raw Unsalted Almond Butter)
  • Steel cut oats with half a banana, some blueberries or raisins (get creative and use what you have)
  • A hard boiled egg with a piece of fruit
  • Whole wheat crackers with hummus (I love Mary’s Gone Crackers)
  • Carrots and Hummus
  • A bowl of quinoa (Ideas here: I’m dying to try the “bagel bowl”)
  • Brown rice cake(s) with avocado (I need more than one, but I have a lot of body to fuel so keep your personal needs in mind)
  • Baked Potato with salsa and a sprinkle of black beans (so good and such a great endurance carbohydrate)
  • Baked Sweet Potato with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some ghee or coconut oil

Post Workout I usually grab a banana and a handful of nuts or make a protein shake if it is not meal time. If I am running around I also really like Zone’s Perfectly Simple line.  You can find them at most large grocers and target too. They are not as pricey as some other brands on the market, and they are gluten free!

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GF oatmeal with blueberries, half a banana and half a handful of almonds

Most days I time my workouts to come before a balanced meal.  If it’s breakfast time, try an egg and vegetable hash or a bowl of breakfast quinoa with Greek yogurt (which when combined is a complete protein). If you want some egg and vegetable ideas, check out my blog post Green Lunches.  When it’s dinner time, have nutrient dense veggies, whole grains and proteins.  I am not a big meat eater, so I combine foods to create whole proteins and incorporate eggs into meals.  For example, rice and beans when combined create a whole protein and provide you with adequate carbohydrate replenishment!  Above is my post workout breakfast from this morning, this is also a great pre-workout meal, especially for those long runs during spring training.

Just keep in mind I am not a nutritionist and everyone has slightly different needs depending on their body, exercise habits and dietary restrictions.