Nov 022010
 

There have been times in the past where I’ve turned part-time carnivore. Months I Veg-out, and stay meat-free for 31 days.  But this time was different; I noticed.  After logging my eats for over a week at the begging of October, I noticed that I was already eating a vegetarian diet.  I decided to run with it, and declared it the month of Vegtober.

5 Things I Noticed While Eating Vegetarian

 1. I noticed that Non-vegetarian bloggers make just as tasty vegetarian recipes as the vegan/vegetarian ones do.  I know where to go if I want to find a vegan/vegetarian substitution for just about any dish I can dream of, but I was especially happy to find my favorite vegetarian recipe I made this month on Rhodey Girl Tests.  I seriously cannot speak highly enough of Sabrina’s Mushroom Lentil Burgers, which I topped with hummus and greens on an Arnold’s thin.

2. I noticed that just about anything tastes better with a runny egg on top. I added sunny side up eggs to my Mac & Long Island Cheese Squash, to a bowl of roasted sweet potato, to a piece of veggie pizza, to a barbeque and cheddar toasted sandwich, and a mug of savory oats. 

3. After shifting my train of thought, I noticed that it wasn’t difficult to order when meeting friends for lunch or dinner.  I didn’t feel like I had to stick to the salads, and got creative in my ordering.  When the vegetarian options don’t sound appealing, it’s okay to customize another item on the menu by simply subbing the meat for something else.  This past weekend I had an amazing tomato, avocado, cheese and sundried tomato pesto sandwich by simply asking to hold the turkey.

4. Refusing to take no for an answer to my cravings, I noticed that it was fun to get extra creative in the kitchen.  When all I could think about was BBQ chicken tacos, I decided to give other ingredients a try, tossing some cubed orange zucchini and kidney beans in a skillet, bathing in a sweet honey sauce, and topping with broccoli slaw in tortilla shells.

5. Fitness wise, I noticed that not eating meat did not negatively affect my performance.  Vegtober 2010 was the first time I really paid attention to how my choice of food was fueling my workouts.  I did not track nutrients or protein or number of produce servings, but I did try to make sure I was getting some sort of protein at every meal, and occasionally counted my calories in and calories out to assure I was fueling enough as my distances increased in training for the 15K.  Throughout my October work outs, I never felt under fueled or craved meat.  I never felt like I needed MORE to perform BETTER, and in fact, I surprised myself throughout my training by how quickly I was running completing my PDRs, and “easy runs.”  I felt well energized, and didn’t have any muscle aches or shin splints. 

I’m not saying, or assuming, that my month of vegetarianism lent its hand to my strong training, but I’m also not saying it didn’t.  I think, for me at this point in my journey, it’s more important to me that leaving meat out of my diet didn’t negatively affect me.  I am reading No Meat Athlete’s The Vegetarian Endurance Advantage: The Essentials of Plant-Based Training (which you can sign up to receive for free on his blog) because I’m interested in learning more about the benefits of a no-meat diet.

Do you have any questions about my vegetarian month experience?  Do you eat meat in your diet?  If so, do you ever consider giving it up? Why/why not?  If you avoid meat products, what is your reasoning?

Learning about Calcium

 Posted by at 10:44 pm  Nutrition, SGIKS
Oct 052010
 

Earlier this fall, I was contacted by Cabot Creamery Cooperative, asking if I was interested in learning more about Cabot.  As it turns out, Cabot is one of the dairy companies I regularly purchase, as they are available at my local market.   I was thrilled to have an opportunity to ask talk with Registered Dietitian Regan Jones who works with the Cabot Creamery Cooperative.

See, there were some things that I knew, but I didn’t know why, or how, or simply more.

I knew that calcium is important throughout our lives, and especially to athletes.  I knew that a calcium rich diet helped to keep bones strong and help prevent osteoporosis.  And I knew that calcium through foods was better than calcium through a supplement, but I didn’t know WHY. This bugged me, so I took the opportunity to become a bit more informed and ask Regan some questions.  Here’s what I learned.

104_5153Why is getting calcium through foods, such as cheese, more beneficial to health than through a pill/powder/supplement?

It’s important to think “food, not pharmacy” when it comes to the benefits associated with certain nutrients. Foods aren’t just isolated vitamins and minerals. They’re complex packages of all types of nutrients that work together to provide benefit. In the case of calcium, specifically, research has shown a diet high in calcium THROUGH dairy foods provides benefits like strong bones, better blood pressure and maybe even a healthier weight. Studies on just the calcium supplements alone often don’t show the same benefit, or worse, sometimes show detrimental effects.

 

What are the healthiest sources of calcium, and what are some easy ways to work these into our diets?

Health experts agree that the simplest, healthy way to get calcium in our diet is through three servings of calcium-rich dairy foods [milk, yogurt and cheese]. Because these foods are all offered in delicious tasting reduced and low fat varieties it’s also easy to keep your calories in check while getting in plenty of bone-building. I recommend the SIP, SPOON and SPRINKLE method: sip a low-fat latte with milk in the morning, spoon some low-fat yogurt over fresh fruit for an afternoon snack and sprinkle a couple of ounces of reduced-fat cheddar over your baked potato at dinner. It’s that simple.

Can you please give some information on the importance of a calcium rich diet to an athlete?

Calcium is important at any age and physical activity level, but especially for active bodies since calcium aids in muscle movement.

One thing most people aren’t aware of is that actually low fat chocolate milk has been shown to be a better recovery beverage after exercise than even “sports drinks.” It’s more than just calcium, though… the protein helps with muscle repair and the minerals help replenish the body.

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Can you tell me more about the business practices of Cabot?

Cabot is a farm-family owned cooperative and 100% of our profits go back to our farmers. When you buy Cabot, you’re supporting the more than 1200 family farms of New England and upstate New York who make their living providing the high quality cheeses that have made us known as the World’s Best Cheddar. In turn, those same farmers believe that it’s their responsibility to give back to your communities, wherever Cabot is sold, through community efforts instead of jingles on the airwaves.  We invest our marketing dollars in projects to support the broader community and let our actions do the talking for us.  We have been involved in such key events as: Big Bones Bash, Put a Bad Beat on Hunger, Celebrity Cruise and in the coming week’s we’ll be setting the world’s record for the Largest Mac n Cheese, to benefit the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity

A big ‘Thank You!’ to Regan for taking time to answer my questions and to Cabot Creamery Cooperative for offering me this opportunity!  Stay tuned to THS for some fun recipes using Cabot cheese soon!

Sep 282010
 

One of my favorite things to order when I am working at the mall as of late is from the Ninety-Nine restaurant children’s menu – Build Your Own Chicken Tacos.  I decide to give my favorite take-out meal a bit of a Single Girl in the Kitchen Situation make-over.  My goal: Less bad stuff. More good stuff. In just 5 simple, super easy, single girl approved swaps. Here’s what happened:

 

Swap #1: Probably the most common, predictable swap around – I got rid of the fried chicken fingers and swapped in grilled chicken.  I cut one half of a small chicken breast into strips and cooked in a skillet, tossing with a tablespoon of barbeque sauce for a bit of flavor without too much sugar.

Swap #2: Instead of shredded iceberg lettuce, I used broccoli slaw on my tacos.  Shredded broccoli, cabbage and carrot pieces added a bit of otherwise void nutritional value to my dinner. 104_5055

Swap #3: To up my veggie content in this meal, I changed my ratio.  Usually, I top my chicken tacos with vegetables – but this time, I topped my vegetables with chicken.  My tortilla’s were filled with 75% broccoli slaw, and 25% grilled chicken. 104_5062

 

Swap #4: Instead of fatty queso, I mixed together two tablespoons of pineapple salsa and one tablespoon plain Chobani.  The yogurt added a tiny bit of protein to my side dish, and also cooled down the extra spicy salsa I had chosen from the market. 

Swap #5: Instead of tortilla chips to dip in my salsa mixture, I sliced up two bell peppers, one green and one red. These strips made great dippers and satisfied my desire to crunch with salsa!

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SGIKS Summary:
Healthy swaps don’t need to be difficult. [The entire prep, cooking, and plating time for this meal took no more than 15 minutes.]

Healthy swaps don’t need to create “taste bud sacrifice.”  [This meal was tasty, filling, and satisfying.]

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