Eat the Rainbow: Sweet Potato, Avocado, Feta Scramble

Ever have one of those days where you crave breakfast at dinner? Whether it be a stack of flapjacks, some fresh scrambled eggs or french toast, there’s nothing like ending your day with the foods that help you start your day. The thing about breakfast for dinner (or brinner as I call it) is that it’s quick, easy and can offer a nutritious and filling meal option.

My day started off with an early morning swim, followed by a quick shower and dash to work. I signed up for an immediate post-work hot yoga class to end the day with some stretching, realignment and a little mental decompression. This means by the time I get home to make a meal, I’m hungry and ready for something tasty that offers a full array of nutrients. Brinner it is.

As I prepared my brinner meal, the array of lovely colors became apparent in this recipe I had chosen to make. I’m sure many of you have heard the phrase ‘Eat the rainbow’.  This is not just to cater to the visual appeal of a colorful plate, but more so to provide a wide array of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals through a varied selection of nutrient-dense foods. Phytochemicals or the pigments that give many plant foods their color, act as antioxidants in our bodies and play a role in reducing risk for certain common diseases. A colorful plate also helps to limit the amount of processed, ‘brown’ or ‘beige’ foods  that don’t give as much bang for their buck on the nutrition end.

Not only does this ‘brinner’ pick offer quite the colorful plate, it also provides perfectly complemented taste profiles. The sweet potatoes in this recipe provide cartonenoids, a pigment found in orange plant foods important in eye health, immune health and prevention of certain cancers, in addition to healthy carbohydrates and fiber. Avocados add a nice savory touch as well as antioxidant lutein, heart-healthy omega-3s and other vitamins and minerals including B-vitamins, vitamin C, E, and K, magnesium, and potassium. Tomatoes are a great source of the red pigment lycopene, which may help to reduce risk for certain cancers and heart disease. Last but certainly not least, eggs as many of us know, offer a sundry list of benefits, check out this post for more detail. Consisting of healthy carbohydrates, fiber-containing fruits and vegetables and protein-packed eggs, this recipe is a fine choice for ‘brinner’, breakfast or as a reheated leftovers for lunch.

Sweet Potato, Avocado and Feta Scramble IMG_0015

  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into cubes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced or diced as desired
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 sliced green onion
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese for topping
  • salt and pepper as desired
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place diced sweet potato in a greased shallow baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Roast in oven for 15 minutes. Flip potatoes then roast in oven for an additional 10 minutes or until lightly browned on all sides. Set potatoes aside. IMG_0017
  3. Heat a non-stick or greased skillet on medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Add yellow bell pepper and cook an additional 3 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5-7 minutes over medium heat.
  5. Stir in tomatoes, and cook until skin begins to soften. Add sweet potatoes and cook until just heated through.IMG_0019
  6. Remove from heat, sprinkle with paprika and top with avocado, feta cheese and green onions.
  7. Plate it up and enjoy!

Recipe makes 2 servings.

Nutrition Information per serving: 325 calories, 19g fat, 7g saturated fat, 25g carbohydrates, 8g sugar, 19g protein.

Recipe adapted from Nutritionist in the Kitch.

Surviving July: Tips to ensure you stay hydrated

I’m a weather person. I have multiple weather apps on my iPhone and find myself checking the weekly and hourly forecasts in addition to the doppler radar at regular intervals throughout the day. Being July, most days tend to look something like this. IMG_0023 There’s no denying it, we are in the beef of summer and here in the Florida Panhandle it is hot. Not only is it hot, the humidity on most days resembles that of a steam room. Even at the earliest hour you’ll rarely find temperatures that dip as low as the mid 70s and a walk down the driveway leaves you dripping and contemplating whether the smell of your shirt is still acceptable.

On top of this, the heat makes getting out for your daily run a little harder. Heat like this can be quite daunting and discouraging as you find your normal easy run pace seems to be a lot harder than it was two months ago. It’s not only harder mentally to get through a run in this weather but it’s also harder on your body. At this time of year, we not only have to think ahead about wearing extra deodorant but also staying on top of hydration.

When we start exercising, our core body temperature begins to increase. In order for the body to maintain a stable core temperature and prevent the body from overheating, this heat must be released. By shunting blood flow to the skin, heat can be released through movement of fluid from the bloodstream to the surface of the skin in the form of sweat. When this fluid evaporates, it has a cooling effect on the body. Overtime, the loss of fluid from the bloodstream causes the blood to lose volume and become more viscous. This means that the heart has to work harder to ensure blood is being pumped adequately to the working muscles to deliver oxygen. In order to prevent overworking of the heart, consumption of fluid is necessary to prevent the volume of blood from declining significantly.

Hence why hydration is important, especially in the level of heat and humidity (which makes evaporation of liquids that much more difficult) we experience here in the Panhandle. All this being said, here’s the catch with hydration, it’s very much differentiated by the individual. Different people have different fluid absorption rates and there are multiple factors that can affect this even within one individual. So moral of the story is, know your body and make a plan to stay on top of your fluid consumption. Here are a few guidelines to help you in determining your hydration plan.

1. Use you body’s communication system

Check the toilet. The color of your urine is a good indication of what’s going on inside. If your urine is pale-yellow or straw colored, that’s a good indication that your body is hydrated.

2. Weigh In and Weigh Out

Knowing how much weight you lose during a workout can be very helpful in determining your hydration plan. Use a sweat loss rate calculator to determine how much fluid you lose during an hour of activity. Fluid loss beyond 2-3% of one’s body weight can translate into performance decline and negative health effects. Plan accordingly to attenuate excessive loss through consumption of fluids at regular intervals during your workout. Granted, this amount will vary in different environments, so it’s useful to know your sweat rates in several conditions. If your training for a race or other event, determine your sweat rate in conditions similar to those on race day. For after your workout, use the rule of thumb  for every 1 lb weight lost during exercise, drink 20-24 oz of fluids to replenish that loss  and encourage rehydration.

3. Add a dash of salt

Consumption of fluids containing sodium during longer-duration exercise can help to improve water retention and encourage thirst. Classic sports drinks or hydration powders available are great options (My personal favorite is the delicious, fruit-based hydration powder by Skratch Labs).  If you find that after a workout, you have white residue on darker clothing you probably fall into the classification of salty sweater. Especially during hot times of the year like now, you may need to up your sodium intake slightly during your workout and potentially throughout the day during meals to encourage sodium and fluid balance*.

4. Start in fueled up

I would hope this is common sense but don’t head out into the heat if you haven’t been drinking enough fluids. Starting your workout dehydrated is just a bad idea. Especially if you are exercising later in the day, make sure that you have been consuming enough fluids. Consume fluids regularly throughout the day and try to consume 1-2 cups of fluids 4 hours before and again 2 hours before your workout. If you run first thing in the morning, top yourself off with 1-2 cups of water before you head out.

*If you have been told that you have high blood pressure or heart disease, consult with your doctor and dietitian about what your daily sodium intake should be.

20-Minute Meal: Shrimp and Zucchini Stir-Fry

Last week was one of those weeks where time seems to melt away like an ice cube in a parking lot midday during the Florida summer. For many of us in this situation, complete meals are out of the question much less an organized trip to the grocery store. Well I feel ya, having been out of town all last week for a conference then heading straight back to work as soon as I returned, the grocery store just didn’t happen. Hence my reasoning for this quick, easy and delicious shrimp and zucchini stir fry. Believe or not, you can make a complete, nutritious meal when you’re short on time using simple ingredients that you have on hand.

Even though a trip to the supermarket did not happen, I had some shrimp in my freezer for this recipe. I like to keep a few protein options on hand that I can turn to for times like this. I’ll usually stock a meal’s worth of frozen shrimp, chicken breast and/or some sort of fish that I can easily transfer to the fridge morning-of to ensure I have a good protein source at dinner that night. Side note: One trick to quickly thaw meat (especially for chicken breasts) is to put the meat in a freezer bag, place in a bowl and cover with water. Put this in your fridge while you’re at work for the day. By the time you get home your meat should be thawed.

However, this time around, I didn’t even think ahead enough to put my shrimp in the fridge. I ended up just popping them in the skillet frozen, cooked them until pink, drained the water and set them aside until they ready to be incorporated into the recipe. Feel free to do the same.

The remaining ingredients were items I usually keep in my pantry or fridge. If you find that there are things on the list you do not have, there are creative ways to make it work for you. My mom had picked up the zucchini I used from a friend who home-grows a selection of summer vegetables. Selecting fresh, in-season vegetables ensures that you the most bang for your buck nutrient-wise from your produce. Because they grow in their preferred environment and can ripen as needed, the nutrient profile of produce in season far out weighs that of out-of-season. This being said frozen vegetables are a great substitute, because they are often harvested when ripe before frozen and therefore retain their nutrient profile very well. So no worries if you don’t have fresh, in-season zucchini, try substituting a vegetable of your choice; thawing frozen broccoli or stir fry blend vegetables are easy options that would taste great in this recipe.

Shrimp and Zucchini Stir-FryIMG_2767

  • 1-8 oz package noodles (I used brown rice Pad Thai noodles, you can find these in the international section)
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1-2 medium zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half-moon shape
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or ~ 2 tsp cilantro paste
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and set aside.
  2. While waiting on water for noodles to boil, make the stir-fry sauce. Stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha sauce, ginger and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat. Add red pepper flakes and toast for one minute. Than add eggs. Stirring gently, cook for about 3 minutes or until done. Set eggs aside on a small plate.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high and add a dash more olive oil to the skillet or wok. Toss in shrimp and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until shrimp are pink. Once done, set shrimp aside on a separate plate.
  5.  Increase heat to high, add more olive oil if needed and char sliced zucchini for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 additional minute. IMG_2772
  6. Turn heat down to medium-low and add noodles, shrimp, eggs, and stir-fry sauce to skillet. Stir until all ingredients are coated in sauce. Top with green onions and cilantro just before serving. Enjoy!

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. AAside from being delicious, mustard -xis qsuch a versatile ingredient and adds such a wonderful flavor in many dishes. I enjoy exploring new ways to c. I haveincorporate 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 sunshiney 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. IMG_2702

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)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fareinheit. Grease a roasting pan or large baking pan.
  2. 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 brussels 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.IMG_2696 2
  6. 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.IMG_2692
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!

IMG_2705 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.

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.

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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. IMG_2672 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!

IMG_2674 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!

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.

IMG_2638

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.

IMG_2639

Serves 6. Nutrition information per serving: 326 calories, 38g carbohydrates, 16g sugar, 11g fat, 20g protein

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.

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.

IMG_2411

  1. 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

1. 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.

IMG_2413

Nutrition information per serving w/ 1/4 recipe Avocado Yogurt Sauce: 521 calories, 23g fat, 37g carbohydrates, 2g sugar, 43g protein.

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.

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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • higher calorie, should be used appopriately for those trying to reduce or watch their weight

Nutrition Profile:

Almond-ButterHoney-600x441

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.

Cookies & Cream

Protein Bar: 240-270 calories, 25-34g carbohydrates, 3-5g fiber, 13-15g protein

  • 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.

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.

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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