Let’s Talk Nutrition – Blog Post #3

Katy over at her blog trikatykid reminded me I had a juicer as she was brave enough to juice for 9 days.  As with so many small appliances, I had forgotten about this long lost friend for some time.  So in the spirit of Spring, I brought it out again.  (I say “spirit” because as of this morning, we had a light dusting of snow)  While I have no intention of going on a juice fast for days on end,  I seriously love the benefits of fresh juice and I think it’s a great way to get in those essential vitamins and nutrients in one glass of goodness.  In a previous blog, I mentioned that eating healthy this winter has been less disciplined than I would like, so this is a great way to kick start a healthier eating plan for Spring, that will hopefully have a Domino effect throughout the season.

This past week, I went to my favourite organic shopping market, and loaded up on 3 kinds of apples, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, cucumber, celery, beets, wheatgrass, spinach, carrots, kale, parsley and ginger.  I don’t buy all organic, all the time, due to the expense, but for the purpose of kick starting healthy eating, I decided to treat myself.

Here’s a look at a handful of my purchased ingredients.

What I like about juicing is the fact that one can really pack in a ton of veggies and fruits in one small glass.  I could not imagine trying to eat all the fruits and veggies in one sitting. For example, just this morning, I crammed all this into one glass.

Quarter Lemon
1 medium orange
2 apples
Handful Kale
Handful Spinach
Handful Wheatgrass
3 carrots 


Juice

I don’t follow any recipes out there. I really just add what I like, and of course, some foods that are important get added as I know they have wonderful benefits for the body. Pictured above is what I made this morning.

The taste was definitely orangey, with a splash of lemon and extremely refreshing.

The other day, I made what I will refer to as a Lemon Zest :

1 Lemon
2 Apples
4 carrots
Handful of Wheatgrass
Handful of Kale

The taste was really lemony. If you aren’t a big fan of a really lemony drink, cut the lemon in half.

I’d like to emphasize, I try to put a mixture of veggies (especially green ones) in the drink as that is where a lot of nutrients lie, however, I don’t necessarily love the taste.  For instance, Kale, while I can tolerate it as I do try to mix some in my salads, I’m not a huge fan.  By juicing, I still get the kale, minus the flavour, as the flavour is cut or eliminated with the addition of apples, lemons, or other fruits and veggies.  Beet juice is another flavour I’m not particularly fond of, so I will cut the flavour with something like apples, and perhaps a bit of ginger.  No matter what you juice, you really just have to adjust the ingredients to your own taste buds.

If you happen to have a juicer, and it’s stuck way back in your cupboard, think about bringing it out.  Really, the only downside of juicing, is cleaning the machine.  But, hey, it’s a small price to pay for all the great benefits it can give.

Do you use a Juicer?  What are some of your favourite juicing potions?

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Let’s Talk Nutrition – Blog Post #2

The human body is a fabulous machine. We need to fuel that machine. Think of it like an expensive car. If one owns an expensive car, one would think, they would take care of it.  I know, if I owned a Farrari sports car, I’d be ensuring it was maintained on schedule in order for it to look shiny and new.  I think for the most part, we tend to do the same with our appearance.  We like to look our best, so we buy ourselves some nice clothes, or perhaps get our hair cut or highlighted to enhance our own features.  Many of us might buy some makeup or go to a spa for a facial. Why?  We want to look and feel good about ourselves. Food is an essential part of looking good, that perhaps is overlooked far too often.  What we eat inside our body, shows on the outside of our body. Not just with weight, but also shows in the quality of our skin, nails and hair, not to mention our overall wellness and feel good on the inside, demeanor.  As with any sports car, if I had one, I would ensure I put in the best possible fuel it requires to run.  There’s no question I would not try to put diesel fuel in a car that requires a high premium grade of gasoline.  Would you?

So why do we put below grade, substandard, or chemically made food in our machine?

When I thought about what to write in this blog about what’s in our cupboards, I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed.  There’s simply too much to talk to.  I decided to talk a few key ingredients that we would find in our everyday food.  There are many, many more, so if you have one, or two, or even three to add, please feel free to add them in the comments.

Fake blueberries

Do you buy cereals, bagels, muffins or other foods that imply there are blueberries inside?  You see the box or the packaging, showing a mouth watering display of blueberries, you must think there are blueberries inside, right? Wrong!  In fact, many products that imply there are blueberries in the product, are chemically made out of  things like high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, sugar, and artificial flavours and artificial colours called red#40 and blue#2.  Watch out for wording on product like “Blueberry FLAVOURED”, which is just a way of saying, “This food sucks!”

blueberries

“Colour” is a common ingredient.  What are these artificial colours you ask?  Check out this listing of some of the most common food dyes used in many foods we buy.  Here’s a little baddie that my spouse picked up at the grocery store.  (I guess he didn’t read the last blog!)  A closer look at the ingredients and it just says “Colour” followed by a word called “tartrazine”.  Tartrazine is just a fancy chemical name for Yellow #5.

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Sugar

sugar

Ahh sugar!  Both natural and processed sugars of all kinds are found in our foods.  I find it difficult to differentiate between some of them as well as many products we buy don’t list the kinds of sugars they use.  From my understanding, more processed foods are using sugars processed from corn, aka high fructose corn syrup which are found in many canned goods, sodas, condiments, dairy and baked goods.  I even noticed it was put in a vodka fruit drink I had in my home.  It’s much cheaper for manufacturers to do this as the cost is less than the real thing.  This low cost sweetener seems to be on the hit list of many health experts. One documentary I saw, had one individual call it’s equivalency, “Cocaine” due to it’s industrial process. Aside from concerns such as obesity and heart disease which HFCS has been linked to, apparently it is extremely harsh on one’s liver. For more information, read about HFCS here

It’s difficult to get away from sugar, even regular sugar.  While the body metabolizes it better than industrial made sugars such as HFCS, the quantity in which we are consuming sugar nowadays, goes beyond what the health boards recommends.  I like yogurt as part of my breakfast each morning.  As I look down at my yogurt ingredients, I see this little 142g container has 15 grams of sugar.  From what I have read, depending on the size of the sugar granules, this is equivalent to 3-4 teaspoons of sugar.  The WHO recommends eating 6 teaspoons of sugar per day or 5% of total daily calorie intake.  If you are a soda drinker, this already puts you over the limit at 10 teaspoons of sugar.  This guideline does not apply or include the sugar found in whole foods, such as fruits.

Salt

Salt is found in all kinds of food.  Salt can cause high blood pressure, heart issues, and lead to stroke or heart attacks.  As well as it being a preservative, it also makes things taste good.  I myself have really cut back on the salt intake however, I am sure I am still over the recommended limit.  Last year there was an episode on CBC Marketplace about salt consumption which I found extremely interesting.  They took a small sample of people from three different groups, many of which were active adults and thought they ate well and had a low sodium intakes.  After the tests results were shown, many were over the recommended limit of 1500mg of salt per day.  If you can view the episode, you can see it here

Non Fat-No Fat products

I stay away from non fat/low fat products.  When I want the real thing, I just go for it.  A non fat version just leaves me unsatisfied as the flavour is not the same.  More importantly, besides that, while a product may say it has no fat, it can also be loaded with sugar (sugar has no fat), starches, and other bad things like aspartame, and other artificial sweeteners. In fact, they may have more calories than the regular product.  The world of non fat or no fat products in my opinion, also make people believe they are eating healthy and perhaps buy more low fat/non fat crap.  Less fat = healthy right?  What some may fail to realize, is that there are some good fats out there too.  i.e. olive oil, avocado, and nuts to name a few. The body needs these good fats too!

Aspartame

If you haven’t heard it year, aspartame has been linked to a number of health problems such as headaches.  For a very explanatory video click here  Look for alternatives like Stevia.  There seems to be no stopping companies from producing products with aspartame and other sweeteners in their products.  It’s a billion dollar industry.  At what cost do we really pay?

There are a lot of other things in our food, I wish there was more transparency on the product ingredients.  While a product may actually be safe, listing ingredients as “natural flavours” doesn’t really tell me what it truly is.  It could be Castoreum!  While not widely used (so I’ve read), it’s basically a juice secreted from a beaver’s butt.  Yum, yum in the tum, tum, right?  Ha!  With all these big corporate companies putting out products that offer substandard ingredients, we have to protect ourselves by doing even more research. It’s daunting, I know.  I suppose a rule of thumb is, if you are looking for a certain caliber of ingredients in your products and can’t find them listed, don’t buy and look for an alternative.

Health experts are right.  Stick to whole foods as much as possible.  Get in your fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, healthy grains and the like.  For most people, it’s not realistic to be good all the time, but if we try to be good most of the time, hey, that counts too.

Obviously, I’ve just pointed out a mere few things that perhaps we should keep our eyes out for…there’s more.  I know this.  Feel free to add in the comments.  I’d love to have a growing list we can all share.

 

 

 

Birthday Blog!

I’ve been in a great mood lately.  January can be tough, and I’ll admit my mood can be affected by the weather.  However, last weekend the temperatures went up to 15 degrees!  It was just the pick me up I needed for my last training run before the Tinker Bell Half marathon this coming weekend.  I was able to wear a pair of running tights and a t-shirt on my long run last Saturday.  It was absolutely gorgeous outside.

Of course, Mother Nature hasn’t decided to change it’s winter season this soon.  The weather dipped down as of yesterday, and Toronto is back to -3 to +3 averages.  Which really isn’t that bad.  It certainly could be worse.  Today, I went out for my Birthday 6K run and it was quite pleasant at 1 degree.  The sun was nice and bright which took the edge off any dreary winter run.  Oh, by-the-way, Yes, it’s my birthday.  Today!  Yep!  No big celebrations though as I will have more than enough fun this weekend and into the following week.  However, I did have a slice of this….

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And THIS is delicious!  Our favourite cake shop called Dufflet calls it the Lemon Coconut cake and describes it as “Coconut cake filled with alternating layers of lemon and coconut buttercream; frosted with cream cheese icing and finished with snowy coconut”.

It’s absolutely worth the extra calories on anyone’s birthday!

Speaking of indulgences, I went a little kooky yesterday and had my nails done in the closest green I could find that matched Tink’s fairy dress.

What do you think? It’s O.P.I.‘s ‘Don’t Talk Bach To Me’ from the Germany collection.

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I plan on wearing a few items during the race to celebrate the Tinker Bell run.  Of course, I have my laces I used last year.  I love the little Tink metal attachment that came with the laces.  Not sure what else I will be wearing at the race.  Skirt? Tutu? Wings perhaps?

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If you happen to be on Urban Running Girl’s Facebook or Twitter feeds, stay tuned as I will try and post updates when I can about the weekend. 🙂

Until then….. Happy Running!

How to keep on track during the holiday season

The holiday season is upon us and there will be much to celebrate this holiday season.  For some of us, we planned, trained and ran our races with much success.  Congratulations to everyone.  Whether it was a PB, a first 5K or first marathon, or anything in-between; what matters is that you proved to yourself that you can challenge yourself, and ultimately, at the end of the day, you can say, “I did it”.  Insert applause here

Now that the running season is over, and the weather in some regions is getting colder, will you continue to run outside?  Perhaps you will take to a treadmill, or take up another activity.

I myself have just begun training for a half marathon in January.  In the past years I’ve continued to set a race in the winter season only because I know myself.  If I don’t, you’d most likely see me sitting on the couch, glued to my favourite TV programs, eating comfort food.  Yes, the hard truth is, I too can slack off, however, I know my weaknesses, and the colder months really do not appeal to me, so I plan ahead and ensure I don’t make excuses during the winter season, so I register for a race or two to keep the momentum going.

As well as training for my half, I usually spend the month of November ensuring I eat properly, and avoiding food temptations, to properly equip myself, like ‘foodie combat shields’ in preparing myself for Christmas and other holiday gatherings.  I’m finding the word ‘no’ is becoming a regular word being said to my spouse in the grocery store lately.  I think he’s getting used to me prying him away from the candy aisle, although I have found a couple of unwanted treats in the cart while standing in the cash line waiting to pay.  Sneaky, he is!

What works for me is to completely rid myself of any treats so that when those holiday parties do begin, I’m not tempted to go overboard.  Psychologically, this works for me.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve ridden my body of any sugars and/or sweets and the cravings for them are reduced as the December parties begin.  However, I’m also a foodie in regards to other indulgences such as hors d’oeuvres, cheeses, and other munchibles.  So how do I avoid stopping myself from overindulging during the Christmas season?

Here are some of my tips:

PLAN AHEAD

Parties are usually scheduled weeks in advance.  When the party day arrives, I ensure I’ve prepared myself.  If an early evening party, I ensure I eat a healthy lunch and depending at the time of the party, I sometimes will eat lunch a little later in the day to ensure I don’t arrive at the party famished and grabbing at any little niblet.  If I know I won’t have a lot of time during the day, I will prepare some healthy snacks to eat a couple of hours prior to the party.

DON’T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME

Unless my hands are tied behind my back, which hasn’t happened (yet) at any party I’ve been to, standing by the table of goodies and expecting me not to nibble is not beneficial.  Therefore, I try to make a point of standing away from the table and make conversation elsewhere in the room.

WATER

Water helps to fill you up.  Try drinking a glass or two during the night.  Add a little lime or lemon to taste.  As well, this also will cut back at any liquor content you may be drinking.  That too holds unwanted calories.

FILL ER’ UP

When you do decide to eat, fill a small (get a dessert plate if you can) plate up with the most healthful foods first.  Pile on those carrot sticks, celery sticks and fruit.  Of course, don’t deny yourself of a few goodies.  Just be choosy in what you do prefer, and eat the healthy food first.  You’ll find by the time you get to the goodies, you may not want them anymore.  Another alternative is to only take small quantities at a time.  Perhaps you won’t keep going back to the table as you’ll realize you are full by the time you get to the second go round.  If it’s a potluck party and you will be contributing a dish, make sure it’s something healthy for you to eat and enjoy.  One never knows what everyone else will be bringing to the buffet, but at least you will know, you will have one go-to dish that you can indulge on and enjoy without regret.

Enjoy the holiday season.  I do believe moderation is key, so enjoy a holiday treat here and there.  You most likely earned it.

As always, no matter what activity you are up to, I wish you continued success during the winter season.  Keep reaching to achieve your goals!

Are you still training during the winter season?  What are some of your tips for eating properly during the holidays? 

Dinner time with URG

I had a good workout today.  Pushed myself on some speed drills for 5K and then walked it out for another mile.  After I got home, I did some light weights, crunches, and planks.  I followed it up with a half hour of yoga and a few additional stretches.

Afterwards, I blended up my protein drink and I was back to work doing various other tasks.

My spouse is working today and won’t be home til much after the dinner hour, so tonight I’m on my own to cook.  I like to make quick meals, but also relatively healthy meals.  I was in a bit of a mexican mood, so I opted for my quick and easy burrito-esque sandwich with a side salad.  If you are ever in need of a quick meal, here’s the one.  It’s also extremely filling.  I won’t be hungry for the rest of the night!

Mix in a bowl :

  1. Cooked chicken breast (chopped small) 3 oz
  2. Cooked wild whole grain rice .5 cup (or substitute with your choice of rice in the same amount)
  3. Black beans .5 cup
  4. Shredded cheddar 1/3 cup
  5. Salsa 4-6 tbsp depending on your taste

Makes 2 large wraps

Here’s what it looks like when mixed :

After you have the filling mixed, lay out one large tortilla  (your choice) over a piece of tin foil.  Make sure the tin foil is big enough to wrap the burrito.  Here I have used a Spinach flavour tortilla.  Spoon the filling onto the tortilla.  I used about half the prepared filling :

I’ve tucked the bottom inward (which you can’t see) to make a bottom and then wrapped the tortilla around like this :

Then, wrap the tin foil around the entire tortilla like this :

Put the tortilla into a pre-heated oven at about 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes (depends how cool your ingredients were when being prepared)

When it’s ready, unwrap the package and have with a salad and a couple of blue tortilla chips.

I estimated each wrap to have around 455 calories.  The wrap itself was 190 so you could opt to go without it or find a better tortilla choice with less calories.  The filling itself would be good for a taco-esque salad.  (I’m all about the ‘esquing’ today-lol)  We’ve got fiber, carbs, protein and some iron in there too!  The only thing I don’t like is the high sodium, mainly due to the wrap.  I must find another brand.  I have extra filling!  Who wants one? 😉

What’s your favourite fast meal?