Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Honey Mustard Quail with Roasted Brussels and Potatoes

There is not a condiment on this earth that I love as much as I love mustard. Whether it’s on a sandwich, salad, fresh veggies or sweet potato fries (my personal favorite), I absolutely love it. Aside from being delicious, mustard is such a versatile ingredient and adds such a wonderful flavor in many dishes. I enjoy exploring new ways to incorporate it into new recipes. I happened to have some quail in my freezer given to me by a family member and thought that a honey mustard sauce would complement the dark, sweet flavor of quail. That being said, this recipe also works really well with chicken thighs so I highly encourage you to try it, even if you’re not into wild bird or do not have access to so.

With the extra sunshiny weather and longer days over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself out and moving a lot more than I have been over the previous months. My body has definitely recognized this and a nutrient-dense meal was much needed to keep me going. After an morning swim and run after work, this meal not only hit the spot but left me feeling wonderfully replenished and ready to take on the next day. Providing wholesome carbohydrates, vitamin A and fiber in the sweet potatoes, vitamin C, vitamin K and cruciferous quality fiber in the brussel sprouts and some lean protein, iron, copper, selenium, zinc and B vitamins in the quail, this combination is a perfect example of a complete, wholesome, nutritious meal.

Honey Mustard Quail with Bacon-Drizzled Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts
Recipe makes 4 servings.

For Vegetables:
  • 3/4 lb fresh Brussel sprouts, cut in half length-wise
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 lb blue potatoes or red potatoes
  • ~2 Tbsp olive oil 
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 slices bacon
  • Salt and Pepper
 For Quail (or chicken) and sauce:
  • 3 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
For mustard rub:
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
  • Coarse ground salt and Cracked Pepper, to taste
  • 4 quail breasts w/ legs (or 4-6 chicken thighs)

    Preparing the Vegetables:
    1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a roasting pan or large baking pan.

    IMG_2696 22.  Make mustard rub by combining olive oil with whole grain mustard as well as salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub mixture over surface of quail breasts or chicken thighs.

    3.  Whisk together dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, honey and chicken stock in a separate bowl. To reach desired consistency, add more chicken stock (I ended up adding closer to 1/4 cup total).

    4.  To prepare vegetables, combine sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I usually just douse it a good bit). Sprinkle mixture with thyme, a dash of salt and several grinds of pepper.

    5.  Transfer vegetables to baking pan and disperse evenly. Drizzle with a tad more olive oil.

    Preparing the Quail: 
    1. Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Once heated sear quail in skillet until lightly browned on all sides (flip after about 2-3 minutes). Pour mustard mixture into skillet and sprinkle with rosemary sprigs.
    2. Transfer vegetables and quail skillet to oven. Cook vegetables for about 25-35 minutes or until potatoes are tender and quail for about 20 minutes (chicken may take closer to 25-30 minutes). Stir veggies about halfway through cooking time.
    3. In the meantime, cook bacon either in a frying pan or by baking in the oven while vegetables are cooking. Once done, transfer to plate covered in paper towels to absorb the grease and cool. After the bacon has cooled, break into crumbles.
    4. Once vegetables are done, sprinkle bacon over the top. I also drizzled a bit of balsamic reduction over the vegetables for visual appeal and a little extra tang. Plate it up with the quail and enjoy!

    Nutrition Info per serving for Vegetables: 221 calories, 33g carbs, 5g sugar, 10g fat, 7g protein

    Nutrition Info per serving for Quail: 216 calories, 12g carbs, 12g sugar, 7g fat, 13g protein

    Quail Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious.

    Vegetable recipe adapted from Cinnamon-Spice & Everything Nice.

    Thursday, April 30, 2015

    Yay for Bacteria!

    When the word bacteria is mentioned, I would imagine that for many of us, things like Clorox wipes, Soft Soap and trash bags come to mind. Although the word may have a generally negative connotation, bacteria can go both ways, just like people. Meet your intestinal microbiota. This term microbiota refers to the good bacteria or probiotics that live inside the body and help to keep you healthy. When we eat foods that contain these probiotics, they inhabit our digestive tract and perform many functions to help with digestion, processing of nutrients and the body’s immune defense against pathogens.

    What exactly do these ‘good’ bacteria do?
    Our bodies are exposed to pathogens countless times throughout the day; one major source for these potentially harmful microorganisms is in the substances that we ingest. Sometimes the food we eat contains potentially harmful bacteria, fungus or other pathogenic substances. As a part of the mucosal barrier in the intestines, the microbiota functions in the first level of immune defense against these substances. They recognize and signal the immune system to initiate an inflammatory response in order to defend and rid the body of the pathogenic cell. In turn the microbiota also initiates an anti-inflammatory response once the pathogenic material has been rid of in order to restore the gut environment back to normal. Failure of this anti-inflammatory action to occur could play a role in development of certain conditions like IBD or IBS.

    The microbiota also helps the body to digest the foods we eat, absorb some of the nutrients from those foods as well as promote digestive regularity.  Some gut bacteria help to produce essential B vitamins such as vitamin B12, folate, vitamin B6, biotin, niacin, and thiamin which are needed for proper carbohydrate metabolism. These bacteria also help to synthesize vitamin K which is important in proper coagulation and clotting of the blood. The fiber in certain cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli is digested and fermented as a fuel source for the gut bacteria. When the bacteria digest the fiber from these foods, it leads to an end product of short-chain fatty acids, which also help to regulate inflammation in the gut. These short chain fatty acids help to regulate intestinal acid-base balance, fat, carbohydrate and cholesterol metabolism . This is one of the many reasons why consuming vegetables is such a crucial component to a healthy diet and a happy digestive system.

    How does this affect your health?
    Probiotics are especially noted for their role in gut health, this can be especially beneficial in those experiencing consistent symptoms of constipation or digestive discomfort or those who battle certain digestive diseases and may help to reduce symptoms of gas and bloating as well. For those who participate in regular, intense and/or long-duration exercise, the gastrointestinal lining can get irritated and thus lead to non-desirable symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, cramping and pain. Consuming probiotics can help to significantly reduce the amount of symptoms experienced, especially for those who are prone to these issues.

    In addition to a happier digestive system, probiotics are a key player in a healthy immune system. A flourishing microbiota could help to reduce the duration or number of occurrences of certain illnesses. This immune-enhancing effect could be particularly useful for athletes and highly active folks under rigorous training. The effect of a high training load can damper the effectiveness of the immune system and leave one more vulnerable to upper respiratory illness. Supplementation with probiotics or regular consumption of food sources of probiotics could help to reduce the incidence and duration of upper respiratory illness symptoms, especially if you are one who has a tendency to experience illness when under training.

    So where do you get them?
    Note the live and active cultures listed in the ingredients list
    Note the live and active cultures listed in the ingredients.
    Two ways. Either by consuming a probiotic supplement (usually in capsule or powder form) or certain foods. Yogurt is the most recognizable source for most of us, but you can get some probiotics from other dairy products as well.  Another source is Kefir, or fermented milk. This is usually found in multiple flavors with the other dairy products and is a slightly more acidic, thicker substance than milk. Pickled, fermented vegetables, such as Kimchi, a Korean spicy blend of vegetables and spices, or Sauerkraut, can provide another source for gut healthy bacteria. Fermented soy products like tempeh, miso and natto are sources as well. Both tempeh and natto also offer the benefit of being good vegetarian protein sources. Double whammy with these foods. Lastly, beverages and tea blends made from kombucha mushrooms can be another good source of probiotics. I’ve grown fond of several varieties of these which are found in the refrigerated juice section of many grocery stores and health food stores.  Tangy and effervescent in taste they are quite a refreshing treat on a hot afternoon or not a bad replacement for a soda craving! You can also find some tea blends containing kombucha in the tea section of your local market.

    A few natural sources of probiotics
    A few natural sources of probiotics
    Like all nutrients, whole foods are best when trying to increase your probiotic consumption. However, if supplementation is more sensible or is of interest to you, work with your doctor and local dietitian to determine if probiotic supplementation would be appropriate and if so what variety would work best for you.

    Aureli, P., Capurso, L., Castekkazzi, A. M., Clerici, M., Giovannini, M., Morelli, L., et al. (2011). Probiotics and Health: an evidence-based review. Pharmacol Res , 63, 366-376.

    Besten, G., Eunen, K., Groen, A. K., Venema, K., Reijngoud, D., & Bakker, B. M. (2013). The role of short-chain fetty acids in the interplay between diet, gut microbiota, and host energy metabolism. J Lipid Res , 54 (9), 2325-2340.

    Getz, L. (2011, October). A Healthful Dose of Bacteria–Yogurt is the Best Probiotic Source, but Clients Do Have Other Options. Today’s Dietitian , 13 (10), p. 46.

    Pyne, D. B., West, N. P., Cox, A. J., & Cripps, A. W. (2014). Probiotics supplementation for athletes-Clinical and physiological effects. Eur J Sport Sci , 15 (1), 63-72.

    Vandenplas, Y., Huys, G., & Daube, G. (2014). Probiotics: an update. J Pediatr , 91 (1), 6-21.

    Vitetta, L., Briskey, D., Alford, H., Hall, S., & Coulson, S. (2014). Probiotics, prebiotics and the gastrointestinal tract in health and disease. Inflammopharmacol , 22, 135-154.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

    Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

    For the past several days I’ve been craving something sweet. Specifically something involving a key ingredient to a happy life, chocolate. While sometimes, a bowl of fresh strawberries will somewhat subdue the craving, there are other times where something else is warranted. So I bought a bundle of bananas last week and have been patiently awaiting them to reach peak ripeness so I could make this recipe.


    Healthy and Wholesome Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
    • 2 large eggs, beaten
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or other flour of choice i.e. oat, rice etc)
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 3/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp ginger
    • 1 1/2 cup mashed banana (I used 3 large ripe, speckled bananas)
    • 1/2-3/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
    • other add-ins as desired, chopped pecans or walnuts, cranberries, raisins
    1. Grease one large bread pan or 2 small ones. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Mix together in a large bowl eggs, honey, applesauce and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices.
    3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until blended then add mashed bananas to mixture. Add chocolate chips and any other desired mix-ins.
    4. Pour mixture into bread pan(s) and bake for 45-55 minutes until when a toothpick is inserted, it comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, cut into slices and enjoy!


     12 servings per recipe. 
    Nutrition info per serving: 217 calories, 42g carbs, 25g sugar, 5g fat, 5g protein.

    Recipe adapted from Yammie’s Gluten Freedom.

    More cake like than bread-like this recipe is a perfect, healthy go-to to satisfy those chocolate, sweet cravings. And you don’t have to feel guilty about having a slice because with whole food ingredients like banana, applesauce, honey and eggs and whole wheat flour as the base, this is actually quite the healthy sweet treat. I ended my day today with a steaming slice of this delicious treat and a cold glass of milk. Tomorrow morning I’ll probably treat myself again to a toasted slice as a post-workout treat with a hot cup of coffee. An active body loves nothing more than whole grains and whole foods!

    Friday, April 10, 2015

    Slow Cooker Red Curry And Rice

    Another twofer in the books. Cross-training is a big part of my routine these days so this morning my ever-so-early alarm sounded just after 5am. Sweat Therapy‘s Group Row started promptly at 6am so I had to get up early and get going. After work I hit the weight room for a strength session, so between that, an appointment and my usual daily work duties, my time for the day was spread a bit thin. I’m sure many of you have found yourself in such a time predicament as well. This could only mean one thing, if I was going to eat a decent dinner, I’d have to turn to my handy friend, the ever-faithful slow cooker.

    After row, I had about an hour to shower, get ready for work and prepare my slow-cooker meal before my morning appointment; I quickly chopped up a few vegetables and tossed my to-be dinner into old faithful. Quick push of a button and call it a day. Here’s what the good ol’ crock-pot and I served up last night.

    Slow Cooker Red Curry and Rice
    • 1 red onion, diced
    • 1 cup peeled and diced carrots
    • 1 cup celery, diced
    • 2 Tbsp lemongrass, thinly sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
    • 4 cups eggplant cut into 1/2″ pieces
    • 2 Tbsp red curry paste, or to taste
    • 1 red bell pepper, diced
    • 2 cup canned bamboo shoots, drained
    • 1 cup vegetable stock
    • 8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, torn
    • 2 Tbsp cane sugar
    • 2 cans coconut milk
    • 2 cups fat-free plain greek yogurt
    • 1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2″ pieces
    • 1 cup whole grain brown rice, cooked
    • 1 cup bean sprouts
    • Sesame seeds, pea shoots and Lime wedges for garnish
    1. Grease slow cooker pot and place the onion, carrots, celery, lemongrass, red bell pepper, garlic, eggplant and bamboo shoots on the bottom. In a separate bowl, mix the vegetable broth, red curry paste, ginger, basil and coconut milk until blended. Pour mixture over vegetables. Should look something like this.


    2. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours. If cooking on high reduce slow cooker to low and stir in the cane sugar and greek yogurt until blended. Toss in chopped tofu and stir. Allow to cook for about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile mix together cooked brown rice and beans sprouts.

    3. Serve vegetable curry mixture over brown rice. Top with a dash of sesame seeds, a squeeze of lime juice and a small handful of pea shoots if desired.


    Recipe adapted from the Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier.

    There are so many vegetables in this recipe, I love it! The variety of colors presented in this recipe represents an array of different phytochemicals and antioxidants provided. This is great for promoting body recovery and repair after a hard day at work but especially a hard day at working out.  Just a few vitamins well represented by the vegetables in this dish include, vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate. While the vegetables provide all sorts of vitamins they also provide a dose of heart-healthy fiber. Brown rice offers a dash of protein, heart-healthy soluble fiber and provides a good portion of manganese, magnesium, selenium and several B vitamins.

    One of the key ingredients to a good curry dish, as present in this recipe, is coconut milk. Although coconut milk is higher in saturated fat, over half of the fat in coconut is classified as medium-chain fatty acids. The body processes medium-chain fatty acids differently from other fatty acids by absorbing them directly into the bloodstream to be used for energy, therefore bypassing processing in the liver. This effect may help to aid weight loss, decrease inflammatory markers in the body, be helpful in certain heart and neurological conditions and be a healthful fat choice in certain digestive disorders. All this being said, coconut milk is still high calorie and should be used in moderation so for this reason I chose to include greek yogurt for half of the coconut milk in the recipe in order to maintain creaminess but keep the caloric content in check. The greek yogurt also provides a boost of protein and calcium. Overall, the combination creates a taste balance in this creamy dish.

    I went with tofu in this recipe because not only does it go well with curry dishes, but it also soaks up anything it is marinaded in to give it a great blast of flavor. In this dish, allowing it to soak in the curry mixture for a while really helps it to absorb the rich, curry flavors present. Tofu is a great lean protein source, especially if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. All this being said, if you’re not a big tofu fan, you could easily substitute chopped chicken in this recipe, just cut up the chicken, add to slow cooker with the vegetables and allow to cook for the entire duration of the cooking time. Whether it’s tofu or chicken or something else, having that protein source in this dish really rounds this recipe out as a complete meal.

    Friday, March 27, 2015

    Going Mediterranean

    I’m sure we’ve all heard things here and there abut how the Mediterranean style diet is healthier than that of the typical American. And indeed recent research has shown that adopting a Mediterranean style diet may indeed reduce the risk of certain diseases, especially heart disease. The Mediterranean style diet incorporates lots of vegetables, heart healthy fats, nuts, lean meats and fish and flavorful spices to jazz up a dish and make it extra tasty. As a long-time lover of tomatoes and one who constantly looks for new ways to blend spices to make dishes extra flavorful, I much enjoy preparing meals that incorporate the Mediterranean principles. Recently I came across this recipe that fully embodies the characteristics of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet and decided to give it a try.

    Mediterranean Chicken with Tomatoes, Beans and Avocado Yogurt Sauce
    • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp coriander
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp curry powder
    • 1 tsp sriracha chili sauce
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 medium lemon, thinly sliced
    • 4 chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs, deboned
    • 2- 15 oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    • 2 pints fresh cherry tomatoes
    • 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl mix olive oil, garlic, paprika, coriander, oregano, cumin, curry powder, sriracha and salt until well blended.
    2. Heat a dash of oil in pan of medium-high heat. Rub each piece of chicken with approximately 2 tsp of the olive oil/spice mixture. Place chicken in pan and sauté for several minutes.Once lightly browned, place in large baking dish.
    3. Combine remaining oil/spice mixture in a large pan with beans, tomatoes, lemon slices and cilantro. Stir until evenly coated. Pour around chicken in baking dish and surround the chicken without covering. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast in over for about 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

       4.  While chicken is cooking, prepare the Avocado Yogurt Sauce.

    Avocado Yogurt Sauce
    • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 medium avocado, ripe, smoothly mashed
    • juice from 1 lemon
    • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp salt
        5. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Once the chicken is finished cooking, sprinkle with the fresh cilantro and allow to cool. Serve portions onto plates and top chicken/bean/tomato mixture with yogurt sauce.

    Recipe Source: the Cafe Sucre Farine

    Not only is this recipe delicious, it’s nutrition profile is so awesome it makes me want to giggle.
    • Olive oil is highly present in this recipe, providing lots of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Post-workout, olive oil can help control inflammation and promote recovery.
    • Tomatoes are a rich source of the antioxidant lycopene, which helps protect the body against damaging free-radicals and may also play a role in reducing the risk for certain cancers
    • The chicken breast is a great lean protein source providing the building blocks for muscle repair after a workout
    • Cannellini beans are a great protein and complex carbohydrate source that provides approximately 12g of fiber per cup which nearly half of the amount of fiber one needs in a day. These beans also provide about a third of your daily needs of iron, folate, magnesium, manganese, copper and potassium.
    In my opinion, the cherry on top of this meal that pushes it to a whole new level of deliciousness is the yogurt sauce. I love the contrast of the spices in the chicken mixture with the cool citrus taste of the yogurt sauce. On top of it’s fantastic taste, this sauce provides even more healthy fats from the olive oil and avocado as well as gut-health-promoting probiotics and protein in the yogurt.

    This is a great dish to have on long run day or a delicious conclusion to a day with an especially hard workout. It provides a full profile of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to promote full body health and recovery as well as complex carbohydrates for glycogen replenishment and plenty of protein for muscle building and repair. Satisfying and completely nutritious, you can’t beat that. But even on a regular day, I guarantee your guests will be praising you with complements if you serve them this recipe; it’s absolutely delicious, the spices and the yogurt sauce perfect complement each other with the chicken. You’ll find it satisfying, warming and refreshing all at the same time. Best of all it will leave you feeling complete because it’s a well-rounded, healthy meal.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2015

    Nutrition Bar Review: Bonk Breaker Bars

    March is here and that means lurking warmer weather (at least here in north Florida), college basketball play offs and of course, National Nutrition Month! This being said, I decided to ramp up my contributions to the nutrition spirit starting with a few nutrition product reviews. The variety of nutrition products out on the market is mind blowing and for many very confusing. What does this do? When should I eat this? Is this even good for me? Especially for those performance-oriented folks, it’s easy to be bombarded by the differing options available to optimize recovery, energize you for a ‘perfect’ workout or improve performance during your workout. Well, hopefully starting with this review, I can help to make things slightly less confusing.

    First up, Bonk Breaker Bars. As the official bar of the Ironman Triathlon Series, this bar has a strong presence in the endurance nutrition market. Bonk Breaker strives to provide a product made from whole foods, with easily recognizable ingredients. Offering both energy bars and a protein bars in variety of flavors, these bars are rather dynamic.

    • whole food ingredients, no artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, GMOs or unnatural dyes
    • most are gluten and/or dairy free, good options for those with intolerances
    • higher protein and lower protein options for different workout settings
    • higher calorie, should be used appopriately for those trying to reduce or watch their weight
    Nutrition Profile:

    Energy Bar: 220-280 calories, 2-4g fiber, 7-8g protein, 34-41g carbohydrates
    • Carbohydrate Base: Brown Rice Syrup, Gluten Free Oats
    • Ideal for: Pre-workout fuel or fuel during your workout. This bar provides a great source of carbs, and is relatively low in protein and fat making it a great choice to top of your fuel stores before a long or hard workout or to keep you going during a long bike or run. (May not be suitable for some during running depending on personal tolerance and tendency for GI issues).
    • Flavors: Coconut Cashew, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Almond Butter & Honey, Peanut Butter & Banana, Espresso Chip, Blueberry Oat, Apple Pie, and Fig.

    Protein Bar: 240-270 calories, 25-34g carbohydrates, 3-5g fiber, 13-15g protein
    Cookies & Cream
    • Protein Source: Rice Protein Isolate
    • Carbohydrate Base: Brown Rice Syrup, Gluten Free Oats
    • Ideal For: Post-workout or meal replacement. This higher protein option is a great option to get you back into the building and repair state and to promote muscle recovery and glycogen replenishment after a you finish your workout. No time for a meal? This option works well for meal replacement when you don’t have time to sit down for a complete meal.
    • Flavors: Cookies & Cream, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and Almond Cherry Chunk.
    Overall, the Bonk Breaker bars are a great choice for the professional or recreational athlete. This whole-food based option is a great alternative to some of the other protein and energy bars out there that can be loaded with chemicals, dyes, artificial sweeteners and a slew of unrecognizable ingredients. By offering options appropriate for both pre- and post-workout nutrition timing and a wide array of flavors, this choice suits many as a part of their performance nutrition regimen.

    *No compensation was received for writing this blog post.

    Monday, March 2, 2015

    Sure As Eggs

    In the hustle and bustle of our busy daily routines, many of us have a tendency to make food choices that meet one or most of the following qualities: quick and easy to prepare, inexpensive and satiating. Sometimes, this causes you to resort to the snack machine at the office, the candy bar aisle at Walgreens or the leftover birthday cake in the office kitchen. While these things often taste good, they tend to present the following issues:
    1. They may fill you up temporarily but after a quick sugar high and crash, you find yourself energy deprived and hungry before long
    2. They provide minimal to no nutritional benefit
    3. They often leave you feeling guilty and derail you from your healthy eating goals
    Worry no more my friends. Nature itself has provided a fantastic, inexpensive, satiating food choice that can easily be adapted to meet the needs of your palate. I present to you, the Egg. When the Caveman inside of you begins to creep out in your episode of Hanger, the Egg is your friend.


    The potential benefits the Egg can provide to your nutrition routine are numerous. For one, eggs are a great, complete source of protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. In addition to this, eggs are relatively low calorie and low fat. One large egg provides 7g of protein and approximately 5g of fat. As a higher quality protein source, eggs have been found to promote fullness and curb cravings later in the day, making a great choice for breakfast or to hold you over as a snack. Eggs are highly nutritious as well providing several B-vitamins, needed for proper metabolism function, selenium, an important vitamin antioxidant in reducing free radicals, and zinc, necessary component to many enzymes in the body needed for cell growth, the body’s immune system health, regulation of hormone production and bone health as well as metabolism of protein. Eggs are also a great source of carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, important for eye and brain health.

    When it comes to the athletic population, eggs are an egggscellent pick. As a complete protein, they help promote muscle protein synthesis and faster recovery after a hard workout. In order for your body to adapt and get faster/stronger, muscle repair is absolutely necessary. Compared to many other sources of protein, eggs are rated very high in quality and absorption rate of the protein they contain. In other words, the human body is very efficient at digesting and utilizing the protein from eggs, even more than other protein sources like soy, wheat or beef. Eggs give you more bang for your buck.

    Many people have concerns with eating eggs due to the thought that consuming eggs can cause high blood lipid levels and therefore increase one’s risk for cardiovascular disease and other related conditions. In a recent meeting of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, it was listed in the draft for to-be-released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that dietary cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern as it has been previously. For those of you with concern for heart disease, diabetes or high blood lipid levels, monitoring your intake of saturated and trans fats can be more effective in controlling or reducing your risk than dietary cholesterol intake. So despite their previous bad reputation for cholesterol levels, more recent research has led us to believe that eating eggs regularly and in moderation is okay even if you have concerns for these conditions.
    Moral of the story is, eggs are a nutrient-dense, satisfying choice to add to your diet. Here are a few ways you can incorporate them into your routine.
    • Boil several at the beginning of the week and stash in the fridge for a quick, on-the-go snack or breakfast
    • Chop boiled eggs and mix with plain Greek yogurt, mayo, chopped onions & celery, and spices for a delicious egg salad
    • Toss eggs in a pan to fry, throw on top of toast or English muffin for a quick egg sandwich
    • Add chopped boiled eggs on top of your salad for lunch
    • Want a low maintenance, quick & easy meal at the end of the day? Whisk several eggs together with salsa or chopped veggies, low-fat cheese and spices, scramble in a pan for several minutes for a yummy omelet

    Friday, February 20, 2015

    Breakfast on the Go: Egg Muffins

    February 19, 2015 - Anna Busby
    It’s Hump Day, I’m running a little behind after snoozing the alarm a time or two. I managed to squeeze in a run and a quick shower but had little time to prepare much of anything and still make it to work on time. Luckily the day before, I whipped up these little bites of fun and stowed them in the fridge for a quick on-the-go breakfast. Two of these muffins, some apple slices and a glass of milk had me satisfied and ready to take on the day. 
    Eggs are a fantastic breakfast choice to start off your day, especially for anyone who participates in regular physical activity. Not only are they typically quick and easy to prepare, they also happen to be a complete source of protein and help to keep you satisfied until the next meal. The addition of salsa and onions in this recipe adds a little fiber and heart healthy antioxidants making this a great quick breakfast or snack when you’re short on time.

    Quick and Easy Egg Muffins
    • 6 eggs
    • 1/4 cup salsa
    • 1/4 chopped green onions
    • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • sprinkle of sharp cheddar cheese
    • salt and pepper to taste

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins well.
    2. Whisk eggs in bowl. Add other ingredients and stir until blended.
    3. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup as a scoop, scoop egg mixture into muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes until eggs are mostly firm in the center.

    3 servings (~2 muffins/serving)

    Nutrition Info per serving: 186 calories, 3g Carbohydrates, 12g fat, 14g protein, 4g sugar

    This is an easy recipe to make your own. Just like an omelet, you can change up the mix-ins and seasonings to appeal to your palate. Here are some other ideas:
    • Greek Style: chopped fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, sautéed spinach
    • Veggie Style: chopped bell peppers, broccoli florets, mushrooms and onions
    • Bacon and Cheese: crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese, chopped mushrooms and onions
    • Ham and Swiss: chopped deli ham, shredded swiss cheese, sautéed spinach
    • Pesto: chopped sautéed mushrooms, pesto sauce, chopped onions, mozzarella cheese
    If you are using this as a part of post-run meal or snack, make sure to include a source of healthy carbohydrates to promote replenishment of glycogen (your body’s carbohydrate stores). One or two pieces of whole-wheat toast, a glass of milk or a banana are quick and easy options you can add to make this a complete post-workout meal.

    Recipe adapted from Everyday Paleo.

    Friday, January 30, 2015

    Comfort Food: Sweet Potato, Beef and Bean Chili

    January 29, 2015
    written by Anna Busby
    origianally posted on https://therunningbuzz.wordpress.com/

    After a long day nothing tastes better than a hearty and delicious meal. And on a cold evening, as many are this time of year, chili is a wonderful go-to dinner to cap off your day. Chili can be very versatile and easy to adapt to your tastes, schedule, and dietary needs. Whether your vegan, a meat-lover, short on time or have all day you can make chili fit to your needs. My personal favorite is classic beef and bean chili, but I like to mix up the spices and flavors as well as play with unique ingredients to keep things interesting.

    For tonight’s meal, I adapted a recipe from the Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier. The original recipe is vegan in nature, and I imagine would be delicious sans the meat. Given the craving for a little meat, I added a few extra things to make this recipe my own. Here’s what I ended up with this time.
    Sweet Potato, Corn and Bean Chili
    https://therunningbuzz.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/img_2356.jpg2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
    2 lbs lean ground beef
    1 yellow onion, diced
    4 Tbsp minced garlic
    1/4 cup chili powder
    3 Tbsp cumin
    1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
    1 can diced tomatoes, drained
    1 can sweet corn, drained
    1 can pinto beans, drained
    1 can red kidney beans, drained
    ~3 cups veggie broth or beef broth (I used approximately 2/3 of a carton)
    1 small can tomato paste
    Lime Juice

    Sharp cheddar cheese, Fat Free Plain Greek yogurt and Avocado for topping
    Cilantro Leaves, for garnish

    Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan, add salted water until potatoes are just covered. Bring to a boil and boil until potatoes are slightly done but not completely cooked, approximately 8-10 minutes.
    While potatoes are cooking, brown ground beef over medium heat until near fully cooked. Drain and set aside.

    Drain potatoes, cover in ice water to stop cooking. Drain again and set aside.

    In a large saucepan, sauté the onions and garlic in some olive oil over medium heat until onions start to turn translucent. Add chili powder and cumin, stir until onions and garlic are well coated and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, coffee, canned tomatoes, corn, beans, cilantro and broth. Simmer for 30 minutes. If the chili is too thick for your liking, add some more broth.

    Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt (high-protein, fat-free substitute for sour cream), a squeeze of lime juice, some cilantro leaves shredded cheese and sliced avocado on top. Yum!

    Recipe makes 6 servings

    Nutrition Info: 577 calories, 22g fat, 55g Carbohydrates, 13g Fiber, 42g Protein
    Recipe adapted from The Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier.

    This hearty chili really hits the spot on a cold evening. In addition to satisfying the ‘comfort food’ craving, this recipe is a great recovery promoter post-workout, or can work as a nutrient-dense pre-workout meal, if given enough time to digest. Lean ground beef provides lean protein needed for muscle building and recovery. The beef and the beans provide a hefty portion of your daily iron needs, which is important in the delivery of oxygen to cells. It’s relatively common for runners to become iron-depleted, especially females or those under strenuous, high-mileage training so good sources of iron are an important staple in the runner’s diet.

    Beans and sweet potatoes are chock full of fiber and slow-digesting carbohydrates to aid in the stocking and replenishment of the body’s carbohydrate stores. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of vitamin A. Tomatoes and tomato paste provide lycopene, a cancer and heart disease preventing antioxidant that may also help in preventing oxidative cell damage associated with exercise. The vitamin C in tomatoes also helps your body to more efficiently absorb iron from the beans. Overall, this chili is a complete and healthy meal perfect for post-run recovery or a heart-warmer at the end of a long day.

    Note: This recipe also works great in a slow cooker. Brown beef, then add beef and remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours.

    Kitch Basics Veggie StockAlso, for broth, try to choose one that has no salt added to help reduce sodium content. Many broths are loaded with sodium that most of us do not need. My favorite is Kitchen Basics Unsalted Vegetable Stock. Not only is it low in sodium, it has a rich vegetable flavor which adds tremendous depth to the dishes it is used in.

    Friday, January 23, 2015

    Monday Morning Motivation

    Monday Morning Motivation:

    Vanilla Almond Mocha Smoothie

    I like to cook, mainly because I like the ability to create something that tastes delicious, makes you feel good and provides health benefits. I’m constantly on the prowl for recipes I can alter to make healthier or already written healthy recipes to try. While my general resource for these is the world-wide web, as a Christmas gift this year, I received two delightful cookbooks, both oriented for the athletically minded person. I must say I have found myself using them more than I thought.

    One in particular, the Thrive Energy Cookbook, is written by a Vegan athlete, Brendan Brazier, who fully embodies the whole food approach and has found great success both in his health initiatives and athletic endeavors in this nutrition structure. While I’m not Vegan, I have tried quite a few of his recipes, one of which I will feature today.

    IMG_2351 Today the schedule consisted of a morning run, work, then late afternoon TRX strength session. For a two-a-day like this, the importance of refueling and promoting an anabolic, positive building state after the morning workout is crucial not only to keep my energy up but also to promote positive adaptations from the workout itself.

    So the ideal post-run choice this morning was a smoothie. I often reach for the blender in times like these for three reasons: it’s quick, it’s healthy and it’s easy to get down within 30 minutes after finishing the workout. Today’s special….
    Vanilla Almond Mocha Motivator 

    Vanilla-Almond-Mocha Motivator
    • 2 large Medjool dates, pitted
    • 4 coffee beans or 1/2 oz espresso shot (I used ~1/8 cup strong coffee leftover from my pre-run coffee batch)
    • 1 Tbsp cacao nibs
    • 1 Tbsp vegan dark chocolate chips
    • 1 Tbsp vanilla powder or extract
    • 1 Tbsp almond butter
    • 1 tsp cacao butter (I substituted 1 Tbsp cocoa powder here)
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
    • 1/4 cup coconut water
    • ~2 cups ice cubes
    • I added 1 scoop vanilla flavored whey protein for a protein boost, for a Vegan shake, omit this or use Vegan protein powder
    Pop all the ingredients, excluding the ice cubes, in the blender first, then add the ice cubes and blend it up!

    This recipe offers a slew of nutrients and health benefits that make it a superb post-workout choice. Dates offer carbohydrates necessary for replenishment of glycogen, your body’s carbohydrate stores, and fiber to encourage satiation and promote gut health. Coffee provides an antioxidants and flavonoids as well as an energy boost to get your day started. Cacao and dark chocolate are rich in healthy fats and antioxidants. Coconut water is naturally stocked with electrolytes to promote rehydration. Lastly, the addition of the whey protein provides all the essential amino acids, especially muscle-building leucine, to promote muscle recovery and rebuilding post-workout. While this smoothie served as my post-workout choice this morning, it also works well as a quick breakfast to get you up and going before you start your day or as pre-workout energizer an hour or so before you head out the door (if using as a pre-workout choice, you may want to skip the protein powder).  Aside from the numerous nutritionally positive attributes this recipe offers, it also happens to be delicious.

    Recipe makes 1 serving.

    Nutrition info: 423 calories, 18g Fat, 42g Carbs, 13g fiber, 29g Protein

    Recipe Credit: The Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier