Category Archives: Nutrition

A Healthy Addiction to Sweet Potatoes

Hi, my name is Sally and I’m a new sweet potato addict.

I’ve never disliked the root vegetable, but I also didn’t buy it that much (except at restaurants in the form of French fries!). Between working with Miss Rachel of Miss Rachel’s Pantry (who seems to be a sweet potato addict herself) and hearing from several weight-lifting friends about sweet potatoes being a healthy carb choice, I’ve fully bought in to the hype.

Tonight, I microwaved a large sweet potato, steamed a broccoli crown, and topped the two with olive oil and spices. Delicious! With Rachel, I have been making a lot of pureed veggie soups that include sweet potatoes by boiling all of the veggies until they are soft and then blending them to a smooth consistency.

I am ready to go further. So tell me, what’s your favorite way to nosh on these tubers that are rich in good carbs; fiber; vitamins A, B6 and C, and so much more?

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Sports Drink + Run = No Good

Today I learned a lesson the hard way. I cannot drink sports drinks before working out.

An hour before running, I drank a pre-workout formula drink. The first few thousand meters of speed work at track practice were okay. But soon I got dizzy, nauseous, and headachy. And, worst of all, slow.

After practice, a teammate asked what was up today. I told her my symptoms and she immediately asked if I drank a sports drink before running.

And now I know: even if it’s labeled “pre-workout”, my stomach is not interested in running with it in my belly.

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Protein Hierarchy: Tofu, Seitan, Beans … Which Is Best?

Paleo dieters tell me not to eat beans. Gluten free fanatics say “no” to seitan. Clean eaters suggest staying away from processed foods, such as imitation meat products. Others are saying soy, and thus tofu and tempeh, are not good.

But I’m a vegan. I won’t eat meat or dairy so these other, plant-based proteins are my main options for creating a protein-heavy diet to support my athletic lifestyle.

I know that everything has protein in it — spinach has 5 grams per cup and pasta can have 12 — but which veg source is best? Here are my thoughts on what to eat and what to avoid of several different vegan protein-dense foods. The numbers included are their average ratio of calories to grams of protein:

Quinoa

27:1

Eat lots because: Contains all of the essential amino acids.

Beans

15:1

Eat lots because: On top of being easy to find, they are protein dense and full of fiber. Prepare dried beans for the best option. If you go for cans, rinse them to get rid of excess sodium and lower your risks of gas.

Lentils

12.5: 1

Eat lots because: They aren’t just cheap, they are also fast and easy to prepare and a good veggie source of iron.

Tofu

9:1

Eat some because: Soy is controversial, with adamant defenders on both sides, but it’s high protein content is a great source for vegans, especially athletes looking to eat a high-protein diet.

Tempeh

11:1

Eat some because: It’s also a soy product, but because it is fermented it is easier to digest. And because it’s closer to whole bean form, it has higher fiber and vitamin levels.

Almonds (and other nuts)

27:1

Eat some because: They are quick, easy, readily available, very nutritious … but also very high in fat.

Seitan

5:1

Eat some because: It’s the most protein-dense food on my list here and is lower in fat than the rest as well. Sodium content, however, is higher than the rest.

Processed “Fake Meats”

Various

Eat as a special treat only: They aren’t the devil, but they are definitely no angel either … and I think you know why. Enjoy occasionally as a splurge.


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Filed under Nutrition, Veganism

No Whey Protein Powders

Since my mom asked (by means of a comment on my post about what I eat throughout the day), here are my favorite protein powders …

 

In the last 20 years, protein powders have soared in popularity among athletes, especially weight lifters, body builders and those trying to build muscle. Whey protein, a dairy derivative, has become one of the most common forms of protein supplement. It is available in powders, beverages and bars, and is added to many processed foods to give an added boost of protein.

Many people, however, have reason to avoid whey. As a dairy product it can trigger existing or new allergies. Vegans don’t consume it as it is an animal product and the production of it does cause animal suffering.

If you have allergy concern, are vegan, or just want to try something different, work protein powder into your workout diet without relying on whey with any of these great options.

Raw Power! Protein Superfood Blend

www.RawPower.com, $29.95 for 16 oz, 16 servings

Raw Power’s protein and superfood powder doesn’t just claim to be all natural; it is certified organic, vegan and 100% raw. Flavor choices are original, chocolate, vanilla or green, and all combine natural protein sources such as brazil nut and hemp with other strength and endurance boosting powders including maca, goji berry and mesquite. Raw Power proudly boasts that their protein powder is safe for everyone – children and elders, men and women, athletes and less active people.

Rainbow Light Protein Energizer

www.RainbowLight.com, $21.99 for 14.6-17 oz, 16-18 servings

Pulling its protein from rice, Rainbow Light’s protein powders are gluten-free, easy-to-digest, low-fat, low-carb, vegan and contain a complete amino acid profile. Rainbow Light also contains 5 grams of fiber per serving and a wide range of plant enzymes that aid in digestion. These powders are a great choice for people that have gas or other digestive issues from other protein powders. The acai berry flavor provides an added antioxidant bonus. The chocolate and vanilla flavors include spirulina, a blue-green algae that contains protein, essential fatty acids, a range of B vitamins and many other nutritious minerals.

TwinLab Vege Fuel 100% Soy Protein

www.TwinLab.com, $21.99 for 18.88 oz, 15 servings

For fitness buffs that don’t want anything but protein, Vege Fuel is a perfect option. While it does contain other nutrients such as calcium and folate, there are no energy, flavor or endurance boosters added to the formula. It is pure and simple protein to promote muscle growth and improve nitrogen retention.

NutriBiotic Rice Protein

www.NutriBiotic.com, $19.95 for 21 oz., 40 servings

For athletes that desire pure protein powders, but want to avoid controversial sources such as soy, NutriBiotic has a powder with one ingredient: enzymatically processed whole grain brown rice. If you like this product, but want to add a little something it also comes in organic; plus flax seed or antioxidants; and chocolate, vanilla or mixed berry flavors.

Vega Shake & Go Smoothie

www.MyVega.com, $23.95 for 10.6 oz, 10 servings

Created by vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier, Vega is a favorite among vegan athletes. The Vega Sport protein powder combines a variety of plant-based protein source including sprouted brown rice, green pea, hemp, alfalfa and spirulina. In addition to improving muscle growth and performance, Vega Sport also helps to reduce post-workout inflammation and enhances recovery. I, however, cannot acquire the taste for this product. Instead, I prefer Vega’s Shake & Go Smoothies. I love all the flavors, but vanilla almond (shown here) is phenomenal. The protein is still soy and other allergen free and is blended with greens, Omegas, probiotics and more.

 

This was originally published in Philly Fit Magazine. All of these can still be found regularly in my pantry. Right now, I even have every flavor of Vega Shake and Go Smoothies!

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Filed under Nutrition, Veganism

A Day on My Plate: What I Ate from Breakfast to Dessert

Since I talked about breakfast yesterday morning, let’s talk about the rest of the day in food, too.

Did you get hungry before lunch? I did. I made myself a smoothie with a blend of fruits, spinach, flax seeds, water and a little protein powder.

You should be hungry for a good lunch about 4 hours after breakfast. As a runner, I need lots of carbs and try to get them in earlier in the day so that I’m not going to sleep with a belly full of pasta. For lunch, I had whole wheat pasta with sauteed veggies, topped with a little olive oil and spices, including the must-taste, very good for you nutritional yeast.

Afternoon snack comes right before or after my afternoon workout and is always a Clif Bar.

Dinner for me comes after a good workout, so I refuel with more protein. I try to avoid frozen, processed “fake meats” so usually this means beans or high-protein veggies like broccoli. Yesterday I made tofu scramble for dinner, crumbling and sauteing tofu with peppers, spinach, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and some other spices.

I needed a little more before going to bed so I had peanut butter, banana, dark chocolate chips and a little almond milk. Usually I’d blend these ingredients with ice for dessert, but since it was so cold, I ate them like cereal.

Eat up! Remember that eating too little can be just as bad as eating too much, and it’s all about quality over quantity. When you fill up on vegetables and fruits, you can eat more than if you waste calories on pastries and cheese.

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Wake Up to a Good Breakfast

Quick: what have you eaten so far today? Have you had a good breakfast to kick start your morning and your metabolism, or for one of the many other reasons that eating breakfast is healthy?

I had my regular breakfast mix: oats, a healthy store-bought cereal for some crunch, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chia seeds, fresh fruit with a little agave and a non-dairy milk … and a few cups of coffee because it’s my one weakness.

 

 

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The Week That Was

Taking a note from fellow blogger and runner, The Motivated Runner, I am going to wrap up my week with a few “of the week” selections.

Article of the week: “Vegans Muscle Their Way Into Bodybuilding” in the New York Times!

Personal training moment of the week: One of my new clients brought his out-of-town guests to the gym and treated them to a half hour workout with me as a gift.

My fitness moment of the week: Being told by my lawyer (from when I was hit by a car on my bike) that he would consider me a professional athlete.

My non-fitness moment of the week: In my free time, I rescue and re-home small animals. This week I placed an over-the-top amazing bunny into the most perfect home for her. It was very bittersweet.

Motivation pic of the week: I couldn’t choose between these two. So how about one fitness motivator and one nutritional one? Both came to me from one of my favorite pages on Facebook, MotivateHopeStrength.

My pic of the week: This pic shows off a lot of my favorite things: PopBooth, my fave new iPhone app; my fave new workout jacket from lululemon; and a puppy. And who wouldn’t love a puppy?

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Filed under Equipment and Gear, General Fitness, Highlights of the Week, Nutrition, Veganism