Sunday, 16 February 2014

WIAW- Winter Edition

Time for my 2nd edition of WIAW. If you find yourself in a food slump and need some meal inspirations for these cold nights, here are some recipes definitely worth trying, all our GF and a few are vegan as well.  Reminder, I am NOT a food blogger or food photographer, I realize my pictures are ugly and taken on my poor quality iphone camera, the purpose of this post is to inspire you to get your bum into the kitchen and start cooking, especially breakfast the MOST important meal of the day!!!

Breakfast- Technically I ate this on Tuesday, but it tastes so good I felt obligated to share this recipe. Tuesday morning we have a practical acupuncture class, which means unlike all my other classes, there isn’t a chance to chow down a quick snack during break. Normally by lunchtime I’ve eaten two breakfasts (pre and post workout) and at least one snack, so I find myself needing a really sustainable breakfast on Tuesday to make it till noon. Enter chia seeds, a nutrition power house and an easy mocha chia pudding you can make the night before. I adapted this recipe from several websites.

1/3 cup strong coffee, chilled
1/3 unsweetened chocolate almond milk
1 tbsp chocolate protein powder (I uses vega energizing smoothie)
dash of cinnamon and real vanilla extract
2 heaping tbsp chia seeds
optional: 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup or almond butter for extra richness

Combine coffee, almond milk, protein powder, cinnamon and vanilla in container, cover with lid and shake well. Whisk in chia seeds, cover and leave overnight in the fridge. In the morning, I topped it off with 3 chopped strawberries for a tasty breakfast. Feel free to sub coffee with all almond milk, or canned coconut milk for a richer pudding.

I’ve tried several DF version of Alfredo sauce from numerous websites and this RECIPE by Oh She Glows is by far the best one I’ve come across. I substituted Natura unsweetened organic soy milk for almond milk (because I only had chocolate almond milk open in my fridge), and left out the earth balance spread because I don’t own any and it still turned out very creamy and great tasting. I threw in some pan-seared scallops, sautéed onion and spinach and used kelp noodles to make a delicious seafood fettuccine Alfredo.  Kelp noodles are a delicious gluten free alternative to pasta; they are low carb and taste good cold on salads or in hot noodle dishes. A lot of gluten-free pastas contain white rice flour aka empty blood-sugar spiking carbohydrates, or corn, which is another common allergen especially for people who are gluten sensitive. I rounded out my lunch with some veggies sticks for crunch and added nutrition.

For an afternoon snack, I had a ton of frozen bananas in my freezer to use up. I’ve made a lot of versions of gluten free banana bread, and this RECIPE by Civilized Caveman is by far my favourite. Its moist, naturally sweetened with fruit, and easy to make. I added only 2 tbsp of coconut oil and used a combo of two eggs and two flax eggs and it held together fine. Can’t wait for some more brown bananas so I can make this again. 

Everybody loves chicken wings, but most people’s bodies don’t love them back. Even though a few frozen brands exist that are GF, I often find the rice flour coating way too thick, the sauce too sugary and very expensive for the portion you get. By comparison, 2 pounds of chicken wings from Sobeys were $8, whereas 1 pound at St. Louis Grill is 12.99. Instead, make your own oven baked chicken wings that taste equally delicious without any coating and much healthier. I served this alongside some broccoli rabe sautéed in olive oil and garlic for a comforting meal that’s perfect on a cold winter night.  I wish I had a recipe for the sauce I used but I really just threw together some ingredients from my fridge, a little ketchup, siracha, honey, paprika, garlic and apple cider vinegar. There are tons of healthy BBQ sauce recipes on the web you can search for. I cooked my wings at 425 degrees, turning after 30 minutes and cooking for an additional 15. They came out juicy, meaty and oh so delicious. (I didn't eat the entire tray in one night although it was tempting) 

BTW, if you missed the chance to check out Winterlicious in Toronto,, I suggest visiting Eat Fresh Be Healthy for an unreal prix fix meal all year round. Located at University and Dundas, they offer delicious three course meals with fresh ingredients and friendly service, a steal at $20 for lunch and $25 for dinner. If you have allergies, call ahead and request because the Cajun coat on the salmon contains gluten but can be ordered plain with fruit salsa and still tastes incredible.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Are you guilty of these rookie mistakes?

January is officially over and already I've seen a huge decrease in the number of people at the gym. Two weekends ago it was PACKED, I couldn’t even get on a cardio machine, last weekend I was the only (read single person) in the gym on a Sunday morning. Considering how many people live in the  condos that share our gym, this is pretty sad. This is exactly is why I’m not a fan of resolutions. They are unsustainable and it really angers me to see so many people give up within the first few week; you really need to find the motivation within to stick with it and find a plan that works for you, don’t give up! As people finally started trickling into the gym as I was cooling down, I noticed a couple who clearly fit the New Year’s resolutions stereotype with brand new runners and gym clothes, a beach towel each, two big bottles of Gatorade and enough sweatbands to last them a least 3 hot yoga classes. While I applaud them for making this commitment to a healthier lifestyle together, I couldn’t help but notice the several rookie gym mistakes they made. I have outlined these common mistakes below and I really encourage people who are new to working out to find a good personal trainer and learn to be more efficient, safe and be accountable in their workouts.

1. Static stretching before working out- this couple walked up to the treadmills and preceded to do the typical quad and back stretch before hopping on the treadmills. Numerous studies have shown that static (ie. Standing still) stretching makes exercise performance worse and reduces gains in muscle strength if performed before workouts. Instead, a light warm up of 5 minutes of cycling, walking and dynamic stretching performed properly is way more effective. Save static stretching and a proper cool down for after.

2.  Cardio before strength trainingI was first introduced to this topic in my strength and conditioning course in undergrad where the professor was adament that we perform strength before cardio training because cardio is the only thing that should be performed in the fatigued state. This allows for the biggest strength gains, and ensures precise, not floppy form due to tired muscles. I personally like to alternate strength days with cardio days, allowing my muscles to rest and alternate different muscle groups to avoid over training and injuries.

3.  Thinking you will burn more calories in the ‘fat-burning’ zone on the treadmill- the girl on the treadmill was clearly working out in the fat-burning zone, and was barely breaking a sweat at a brisk walking pace. At lower intensity aeoribc exercise, your body prefers to burn stored fat over carbohydrates because our fat stores are, in theory, virtually endless and we can sustain this pace for long periods of time. At higher intensities (sprinting, all out running) our body converts to using carbohydrates for a quicker release of energy. Even though you are burning more fat at lower intensities, the total amount of calories burned during the workout will still be way less. Therefore it’s better to do interval training on the treadmill for a greater caloric burn during and after the workout.

4.  Choosing Gatorade over plain water- CBC just put out a great documentary on this topic and I definitely recommend watching on the link below. Most people don’t workout hard or long enough to need the electrolytes and carbohydrates that sports drink supply in order to maintain their performance. Especialy if you goal is weight loss, these drinks can be extremely counter productive and you can end up drinking the same amount of calories you just burned. A lot of sports drinks are the same thing, a bunch of glucose-fructose (sugar sugar sugar) and some sodium and potassium. You’re way better eating potassium rich foods, ensuring adequate fluid intake of plain water before, during and after workouts and if you must, use a sugar free electrolyte like Ultima if training for over 60 minutes and in hot and humid environments.