I know, I know, you don’t like kale.  It just so happens that you’re in luck…this kale salad is for those who can’t stand the stuff.

This week, I finally figured out how to serve Kale, in its wonderful, super-nutrient, raw form.  For months, I’ve been forcing my family to grin and bear it as I “snuck” raw kale into the greens of our dinner salads.  Even the three-year-old wasn’t fooled.  Sure, he grumbles, but he’ll eat raw spinach and broccoli, both obviously green.  Kale, not so much.  And, sure, I’ve made Kale chips and put kale in our smoothies.  But, I wanted it in our salads.  I’ve been called stubborn.  This week, by “stubborn” I mean “genius.”

Recipes of the Week: Absolutely Delish Massaged Kale Salad

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale, stalks removed and discarded, leaves sliced thinly

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

Sea salt

2 teaspoons honey

Freshly ground black pepper

1 mango or peach (diced small), or 1 cup raspberries diced small

¼ cup pine nuts, sunflower seeds, or chopped toasted walnuts

Instructions:

In large serving bowl, place sliced kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a dash salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and even wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile make the dressing.  In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice, honey, and lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Pour in 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms.  If  you’d like, double this simple dressing recipe and pour over sautéed chicken strips for a complete meal.

Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango and seeds/nuts. Toss and serve.

Comments:

It might sound like much, but this salad is that good.  And if you haven’t heard, kale, especially in the raw form, is that good for you.  It is uniquely packed with detoxifying super-nutrients, and it really ought to be part of your vegetable rotation.  Really.  Here are some specifics:

First, here are five reasons: Kale’s loaded with vitamins and minerals, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant, and cholesterol lowering nutrients. This is great, and will help you recovery well and stay healthy, but not necessarily unique.  Many vegetables rank high with these.

Well, like I said, kale’s special and it’s your lucky day. It actually supports our cells’ complete detoxifying process. Our cells are bombarded with toxins each day. When they are overloaded and need to detox, they undergo a 2-step process: Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification (I’m thinking the same thing…these phase names are a bit of a let-down). Kale is unique in that its glucosinolates, antioxidants that contain sulfur and nitrogen, make compounds that support both phases of detoxification.  Yes, please.  Who couldn’t use a bit of green detox from time to time?

Bonus Recipes: Want More Greens ?

I know you do.  Check out Spicy Broccoli SoupSavory Basil OR Spinach Pesto, and Kale Chips.

Hopefully, your luck is looking up.  And as always, this week, may the road rise to meet you.

Eat Clean.

Each year in November, as the temperature drops, the days get shorter and the Holidays begin, many people fear they will sabotage everything they’ve worked for during the year in terms of health and any weight loss.  They are afraid they’ll gain back 3-5 pounds and have to work again to get it off again in the New Year.

It happens.

But, it doesn’t have to.  This year, you can enjoy the Holidays and still maintain a lean weight.  You can take a bit of a break from a heavy training load to allow mental and physical recovery, and stay lean without losing ground. Here’s how.

5 Stay-Lean Holiday Tips:

1)      Find ways to incorporate lots of vegetables rather than going for winter “Comfort Foods.” Although vegetables and salads may seem like the stuff of summer, a great way to stay lean in the winter is to continue to load up your dinner plate with them year-round.  It’s easy to gravitate toward warmer foods in the winter – and although a variety of cooked and fresh vegetables is great, it’s okay to depend on warmer cooked vegetables if needed in the winter.  Why keep the veggies? There are many reasons to keep them as the stars of your dinner:

  • Vegetables fill you up and help you control portions of the other foods.  Vegetables add volume to your meal.  Most people will eat a similar volume at meals, whether it’s of lower-calorie vegetables, high-carbohydrate foods, or calorie-laden, rich foods.  So, if you’re trying to say lean, use this to your advantage and eat your veggies at dinner.  Of course, this is not all you’ll eat.  I recommend healthy protein sources, healthy fats, and vegetables at dinner for a balanced, satisfying meal while minimizing refined carbohydrates and grains.
  • If cooked right, they are delicious. This recipe is a great example.  If you don’t enjoy vegetables, you’re probably not preparing them or dressing them right…keep trying!

If you’re looking for a great cold-weather vegetable recipe, try this easy Delicious Spicy Broccoli Soup.

2)      Eat like it’s a Holiday, only on the Holidays.  Here’s your free pass: Eat whatever you’d like, without worry, on the actual Holidays you celebrate.  Then, in terms of eating, treat all the days in between the Holidays as business as usual. This means healthy meals and snacks throughout the day, and a Light at Night” at dinner.  To eat “Light at Night,” pile vegetables onto at least 50% of your dinner plate, add lean protein to the vegetables, skip the carbohydrates or grains, and be careful not to “drink” tons of extra calories in the form rich hot drinks, alcohol, or sugary drinks. In addition, it means choosing between dessert and alcohol, and then keeping this portion moderate.  Again, on Holidays, eat like it’s a party.  During the rest of the “Holiday Season,” enjoy the festivities without all the extra foods.

3)    If you’re an athlete and usually add in extra foods for “training,” keep Training Nutrition and Daily Nutrition Separate especially if training decreases in the Winter. What do you get when you eat like you’re summer-training even when you’re not? You’ve guessed it; most athletes get unwanted pounds. At the heart of the issue is the idea that athletes can, and should, eat a certain way and non-athletes should eat another.  I disagree.

I recommend that everyone eats a whole-food, low-processed, nourishing, healthy diet day to day.  Athletes should not eat like they are at an all-you-can-eat-pasta-bar for carb loading when they are not, in fact, carb-loading.  And even when choosing healthy carbohydrates, there is plenty of evidence that supports that over-eating carbs simply taxes our bodies, from hormone response to fat storage to heart disease.

Instead, eat a healthy diet day to day with a balance of whole-food carbohydrates, fats, and proteins at meals, and only add in training fuel when training longer than 90 minutes.

4)      Stay as active as possible when you’re not training. Since there’s not as much need to recover between training sessions, stay lean by being more active overall.  On Holidays, enjoy time with family and friends by playing football or other games outside together, going for walks, skiing or snow shoeing, and being active.  Enjoy the foods, but also enjoy activities together.

5)      If you do get off track, get right back on as soon as possible. Don’t push off goals, don’t wait for the New Year, and don’t let one day of poor eating turn into a week, a month, or a “season” of poor eating.  How can you get back on track? Stop unhealthy eating in its tracks with an immediate day of extra “clean” eating. Focus on vegetables, and specifically celery, cucumber, and beets to help your body diurese extra fluids that are often retained after overeating salt and sugars.  By making a clean break from unhealthy eating, you’ll have a great starting point from which to continue healthy eating.  Try this Junk Food Overload Antidote Smoothie for a Clean Break if you overload on junk, or just simply overeat:

Place a 1 cup Spinach or Greens, 1 small apple (cored), 1 stalk celery, including leaves (1 stalk or rib, not entire bunch/head), ½ cucumber, ½ cup frozen or fresh berries, 6 ounces Greek yogurt or 1 scoop protein powder, and ½ cup water in a blender and process until smooth.  Add water and ice as needed for desired consistency.  Serve at once and enjoy.

The Holiday Season can be one of the best times of the year. And, you can keep it a healthy season, too.  Follow these tips to stay lean while still enjoying the fun and festivities.

Eat Clean. Train Mean. Get Lean. ~Fresh Fit Life~

You can have your own Fresh Fit Life Nutrition & Fitness Plan!  It’s everything you need to meet your weight, health, fitness, and wellness goals!  With our “Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean” downloadable program ($40), you’ll get your own detailed, fully-customizable meal plan and fitness plan.  What’s more, you’ll learn all you want to know from the basics to advanced topics and strategies regarding clean eating, fitness training, lean weights for life, and metabolism.  Or, choose a Custom Plan and Kelli (RD) & Erin (PT) will create your entire nutrition and fitness packet for you, including your own individualized meal plan and fitness program  (starting @ $120). Lastly, as a EC/TM/GL blog reader, you can claim a 15% discount on the downloadable program by using coupon code: ectmgl2014.  One click to begin meeting your goals! Start today!

 

arugulasaladWhen it comes to veggies, the question I’m asked most (beside, do I have to?) is should they be eaten raw rather than cooked? The simple answer in most cases is yes…most of the time.  I like to see vegetables eaten raw more than 50% of the time, and when cooked, I recommend following the specific guidelines below to preserve as many nutrients as possible.

However, cooking isn’t all bad.  In fact, it can make some nutrients more available for absorption, can reduce gastric distress in those who have a difficult time digesting them, and can add variety to your menu.  I know I look forward to weekly stir-fries with flavorful cooked vegetables.

As most of you know, I recommend a lot of vegetables.  Eating 1/2-plate of vibrantly colored vegetables, with healthy fats and protein on the side is the foundational principle of eating “light at night” for a lean weight.  I also often recommend vegetables in place of grains and pastas (zucchini and spaghetti squash pasta, cauliflower rice, etc.). This is in addition to other servings of vegetables throughout the day.

This week, you’ll find a wonderful Arugula Power Salad recipe, and my tips for tapping into RAW power:

Apex Healthy Fuel Recipe: Delicious Arugula Power Salad

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups young arugula leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta cheese
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 large avocado – peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 3-4 ounces cooked meat (grass-fed/organic if possible), 3-4 ounces cooked salmon or 1 can light tuna, 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1/2 cup beans, OR 2 ounces firm tofu
Instructions:
  1. Combine all ingredients from arugula through cheese in a large plastic bowl with a lid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, and shake to mix.
  2. Divide salad onto plates, and top with meat/protein and slices of avocado.

Comments:
As I stated above, I don’t require raw vegetables 100% of the time.  However, as long as you tolerate them without significant digestion issues, I do recommend raw more often than not.  Here are 5 Ways to increase raw vegetables in your diet:

  1. Add them into smoothies. Add raw kale, spinach, beets, eggplant, and more into any smoothie.  For a mild taste, start with just 1 cup spinach.
  2. Always include a simple raw veggie at lunch.  A carrot is the easiest option.  Don’t peel.  Just wash, pack, and eat.  Other options include delicious mini sweet bell pepper or cut up bell pepper strips, snap peas, and more.
  3. Make sauces that include raw vegetables at home rather than buying commercial varieties.  For example, try this delicious and easy salsa and pesto.  We’re talking raw garlic, onions, spinach, tomatoes, and more!
  4. Try juicing! If you’ve got a juicer, make good use of it by juicing vegetables.  This is different from adding whole vegetables to smoothies, because some of the vegetable will be lost, but you do increase the bioavailability (absorbability) of some nutrients WITHOUT cooking them.
  5. Make “Light at Night” a habit for dinner.  This means 1/2 a dinner plate of vegetables (raw salads at least 50% of the time) with protein on the side and healthy fats for flavor (olive oil, avocados, seeds, etc.).

When you do want cooked vegetables, follow these 6 Rules for cooking vegetables from one of my favorite sites, www.whfoods.com.  In fact, you can find more on this subject and a chart for preserving nutrient power of specific vegetables here.

“Is it true that vegetables are particularly sensitive to cooking methods?”

Yes! The nutritional and healing properties of vegetables are in special need of your help when it comes to proper cooking technique! Here are our six cardinal rules for preserving the power of vegetables:

  1. Don’t pre-soak vegetables to make them tender. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water can be lost by pre-soaking.
  2. Cook vegetables in as little water as possible. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water are less likely to be lost.
  3. Leave vegetables in contact with water for as little time as possible. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water are less likely to be lost.
  4. Balance heat and water contact. If you use high heat, keep water contact at a minimum, either by steaming, or baking in a dry oven. If you use low heat, you can allow more water contact. For example, simmering is okay because you bring the water to a boil and then turn down the temperature. But never boil on high heat with direct water contact for more than a few minutes. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water are less likely to be lost.
  5. Use the Color Power test: when vegetables become more vivid in their colors, with brighter greens and yellows and reds, the power of the vegetables is being enhanced. When the colors begin to pale or become lost, the power is also being lost.
  6. Think tender, not soft. Tender is what your digestive system needs with several types of vegetables, especially those with tough stems and stalks. But soft almost always means less healing power.

When it comes to raw vs. cooked vegetables, I’m a both/and kind of gal.  Eat vegetables for the plethora of nutrients that have been shown to improve and protect health from the cellular level on up in study after study.  Eat more raw than cooked.  Eat them throughout the day, daily.  Eat a variety of colors.  Make them a staples of your diet.  Eat to be nourished and healthy, tapping into the RAW power of vegetables.  Stay well and keep overcoming!

Eat Clean. Train Mean. Get Lean. ~Fresh Fit Life~

You can have your own Fresh Fit Life Nutrition & Fitness Plan!  It’s everything you need to meet your weight, health, fitness, and wellness goals!  With our “Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean” downloadable program ($40), you’ll get your own detailed, fully-customizable meal plan and fitness plan.  What’s more, you’ll learn all you want to know from the basics to advanced topics and strategies regarding clean eating, fitness training, lean weights for life, and metabolism.  Or, choose a Custom Plan and Kelli (RD) & Erin (PT) will create your entire nutrition and fitness packet for you, including your own individualized meal plan and fitness program  (starting @ $120). Lastly, as a EC/TM/GL blog reader, you can claim a 15% discount on the downloadable program by using coupon code: ectmgl2014.  One click to begin meeting your goals! Start today!

 

image c/o: the-whole-picture.com

alcohol-300x186

Alcohol.  Love it, hate it, or abstain from it, it’s a confusing subject when it comes to health, fat loss, an

d metabolism.  To figure out if and how much alcohol can be included in your meal plan, you have to take a look at your overall goals.  Are you trying to lose fat?  What types of alcohol do you usually drink, and how much at once?  Are you in control when you drink and able to make good decisions regarding other foods and drinks, your health and safety?

While alcohol is not a bad choice healthwise, and it does provide some health benefits (it can raise good cholesterol, and some types, such as organic red wines, have antioxidants and health-promoting components), too much at once is an absolute drag to your metabolism.  Binge drinking must be avoided for anyone who’s seriously trying to lose fat.  And, while many might think binges only happen in frat-house parties, I’ve found that many adults unwind with 5, 6, or 8 drinks on a weekend night after a hard week.  Here

’s why it’s a metabolism and fat loss saboteur:

1) First, there’s the issue of the calories.  Hard liquor contains ~100 calories per shot.  Wine has ~150 calories per 6 oz.  And beer is variable depending on its alcohol content, but usually spans between 80  and 250 calo

ries per 12 oz. (many times, the darker the more caloric).  That’s just for the alcohol.  Then, add any flavoring or mixes with it (I talking to us margarita-lovers) and you can easily top 600 calories per drink.  During a real binge, 5+ of these drinks can completely wipe away any efforts at the calorie or carbohydrate deficit you’ve created over the week.

2) Next, it relaxes any inhibitions about overeating food.  Sure, if you’re eating broccoli while drinking beer, there’s little chance of a food calorie overload or issues (besides maybe a lot of gas:)).  But, most alcohol-food combos involve rich, high-calorie party foods, desserts, salty snacks, etc.  Not only is the calorie/carb deficit wiped out, there’s a good chance of being in the red and causing a gain in weight/fat post-binge.

3) Alcohol, once converted to acetate in your bloodstream, becomes your body’s fuel source.  Sounds great, right?  Surely, you’ll burn it off.  Well, the issue is that you’re not burning fat.  In fact, fat breakdown becomes completely halted as your body and your liver deal with burning through the acetate.  A big binge can affect fat oxidation (breakdown) for as many as 3 days.  Now, not only have you wiped out the calorie deficit for last week, you’ve annihilated any chance of fat breakdown for half of next week.

4) Then, binge drinking reduces testosterone. For both men and women, lower levels of testosterone means reduced muscle mass and higher fat mass.   It means less daily calorie/fat burn and more fat accumulation as hormones are imbalanced.  Testosterone is your metabolism’s friend.  We lose it slowly as we age – don’t expedite the process!

5) Lastly, while you may feel extra-relaxed after a binge, binge drinking can screw up your natural circadian rhythms, which messes up your blood sugars and glucose metabolism (with or without carb intake, this can increase fat storage and reduce oxidation), cortisol balance (this stress hormone leads to fat accumulation) and sleep patterns.  All of these spell trouble for metabolism and fat breakdown.

If you’re one of the many who looks forward to a drink with dinner every night, and it’s part of your calorie allotment or you’re at your goal weight, cheers!  Even if you’re actively trying to lose fat, a portion-controlled evening drink, or even a couple on the weekends in place of a nightly treat can still work.  You’ve got to enjoy life, right?  But, if you look forward to 10 drinks on the weekend and you’re frustrated because you’re not meeting your fat-loss goals, stop the party-bus.  Enjoy the company, the event, and the conversation rather than the drinks.  If you can handle keeping your drinks to only a couple, that’s a start.  If this ball rolls out of control the minute the first drip hits your lips, it’s time to set your goals and take a break from this habit.

I like alcohol, too.  And, when it’s consumed in a smart manner, it can be a small part of most anyone’s eating plan.  Enjoy life, but don’t spend your time being frustrated with fat loss while sabotaging yourself each weekend.  Make up your mind, determine your goals, and work on daily habits to meet them.  You can do it!

Eat Clean. Train Mean. Get Lean. ~Fresh Fit Life~

You can have your own Fresh Fit Life Nutrition & Fitness Plan!  It’s everything you need to me

et your weight, health, fitness, and wellness goals!  With our “Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean” downloadable program ($40), you’ll get your own detailed, fully-customizable meal plan and fitness plan.  What’s more, you’ll learn all you want to know from the basics to advanced topics and strategies regarding clean eating, fitness training, lean weights for life, and metabolism.  Or, choose a Custom Plan and Kelli (RD) & Erin (PT) will create your entire nutrition and fitness packet for you, including your own individualized meal plan and fitness program

 

 (starting @ $120). Lastly, as a EC/TM/GL blog reader, you can claim a 15% discount on the downloadable program by using coupon code: ectmgl2014.  One click to begin meeting your goals! Start today!

 

Plank is one of my favorite exercises. Not only is it one of the best exercises for your abs, but if you’re actively engaging all of the muscles that you should be in plank, then it also works your deltoids, pectoralis major , rectus abdominus, trapezius, glutes, obliques, quads, and your tibialis anterior. Now that’s a killer exercise! Today I have 3 plank variations for you that will help get you on your way to being a plank master.

Basic Forearm Plank– This is your go-to plank move. Position your body as you would for a pushup. Place your forearms are the ground so that your elbows are perfectly below your shoulders, palms flat on the ground as well. Pull those ab muscles in tight, don’t let your belly pooch out! Tighten up your quads and your glutes and keep those upper back muscles strong and engaged. Keep your head in line with your spine to protect your neck. Hold this position starting at 20 seconds at a time working your way up to being able to hold plank for 3 minutes straight.

Basic Plank– Another go-to plank move. This is a good variation if your shoulders start to bother you in Basic Forearm Plank.  Position your body as you would for a pushup. Palms flat on the ground, fingers spread wide and pressed into the ground to protect your wrists.  Pull those ab muscles in tight, don’t let your belly pooch out! Tighten up your quads and your glutes and keep those upper back muscles strong and engaged. Keep your head in line with your spine to protect your neck. Hold this position starting at 20 seconds at a time working your way up to being able to hold plank for 3 minutes straight.

Side Plank– This is your move if you want to work on targeting your obliques. In side plank, you can be up on your hand with your finger’s spread and pressed into the ground, or you can choose to be on your forearm with your finger’s spread and palm pressed into the ground. Being on your forearm is a good modification for anyone with wrist issues. From here, stack your feet one on top of the other and lift your body off the ground. Pull your abs in tight to help support your body. You should immediately feel your obliques engage. As with basic plank, you want to engage your quads, and your glutes to help support your body as well. Keep your head in line with your spine to protect your neck. Hold this position starting at 20 seconds at a time working your way up to being able to hold side plank on each side of your body for 3 minutes straight. Modification: if you are unable to keep your feet stacked one on top of the other due to lack of balance, you can put your top foot on the ground just behind your bottom foot. This positioning will help you keep your body nice and open while you hold your side plank.

There are quite a few more advanced variations of plank, but these 3 variations will help you get started with planking. Once you are able to master these versions of plank, you can move on to more advanced variations to further challenge your muscles and your balance.

 

 

You can have your own Fresh Fit Life Nutrition & Fitness Plan!  It’s everything you need to meet your weight, health, fitness, and wellness goals!  With our “Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean” downloadable program ($40), you’ll get your own detailed, fully-customizable meal plan and fitness plan.  What’s more, you’ll learn all you want to know from the basics to advanced topics and strategies regarding clean eating, fitness training, lean weights for life, and metabolism.  Or, choose a Custom Plan and Kelli (RD) & Erin (PT) will create your entire nutrition and fitness packet for you, including your own individualized meal plan and fitness program (starting @ $120). Lastly, as a EC/TM/GL blog reader, you can claim a 15% discount on the downloadable program by using coupon code: ectmgl2014.  One click to begin meeting your goals! Start today!

gingerdipWhether you consider yourself an athlete or not, your joints likely take a beating each day, and you may take them for granted.

No longer.  You can proactively promote joint health from your very own kitchen.

And, if you are an athlete or workout (and of course we encourage it here at Fresh Fit Life!), you may be subjecting your joints to an average 80 revolutions per minute on the bike or an average 80-100 footstrikes per minute when running.  This equals knee flexion and extension 4800 times or more per hour.  That’s a lot of joint use! And, perhaps overuse.  In fact, it’s estimated that more than 50% of serious athletes experience knee joint pain as an overuse injury, in addition to other joint overuse pain in the back, hands, and shoulders.

But again, your joints don’t need to suffer.  You can nourish them, starting today with this fantastic recipe!

This week, we’re heading into the kitchen to whip up a wonderful dip for vegetables, meats, sandwiches, and more.  It’s loaded with foods that protect, heal, and reduce pain in joints.

Recipe of the Week: Delicious Spicy Ginger Dip

Ingredients:

Avocado Mayo:

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp water

Ginger Dip:

  • 1 Tbsp. liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp. fresh ginger (finely chopped) or 2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 dash habanero garlic hot pepper sauce

Instructions:

First, mix all ingredients of avocado mayo until smooth in food processor (or by hand if okay with more coarse mix).  Then, add in the remaining 5 ingredients to make ginger dip.  Use as a dip/sauce on chicken, beef, seafoods, vegetables or kale  chips.

***Ginger tip: If using fresh ginger, easily remove the skin of ginger by scraping it with the edge of a spoon.

Comments:

ginger

To an athlete, joints are supremely important.  They are what make the pedals go round and your body move up the trail.  And when they hurt, they put the ride, run, or climb to a halt fast.  Revolution after revolution, footstrike after footstrike, you need healthy, happy joints.  And, believe it or not, some foods are pro-healthy-joint.  This week, we’re reviewing the benefits and research on ginger and joints.

First, ginger is loaded with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, and phytochemicals (trust me, all good things!), and specifically it has benefits for joint pain and joint health.  Additionally, studies in the last few years show that it’s effective in reducing muscle soreness in athletes.  In fact, in one study, participants took either 2 grams ginger or placebo each day for several days before strenuous exercise, and the ginger participants had a 25% reduction in soreness indicators vs. those on placebo.

To use ginger to reduce soreness (along with rest days, l-glutamine, recovery snacks, hydration, and activities like foam rolling), aim to get 2 grams per day.  You can choose 4 ginger pill supplements per day (check out the label, but most are 500 mg each), 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger each day, or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.

Reduced muscle soreness is great, but what else do you get from ginger? You’ll get strong anti-inflammatory nutrients with (anti) inflammation score of +129, slightly better than garlic.  Since inflammation plays a role with almost every chronic disease, oxidative stress, obesity, and fatigue, it is very beneficial to include as many anti-inflammatory foods in our diets as possible. Ginger also promotes gut health, may be anti-cancerous, is immune boosting, and anti-inflammatory.

Bonus: Find additional ginger recipes here.

Bonus: More joint health with dark cherry juice here.

You can keep your joints feeling great, and rotating smoothly this season.  You can proactively nourish them.  Let your food, let your ginger, be your medicine.

Eat Clean. Train Mean. Get Lean. ~Fresh Fit Life~

You can have your own Fresh Fit Life Nutrition & Fitness Plan!  It’s everything you need to meet your weight, health, fitness, and wellness goals!  With our “Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean” downloadable program ($40), you’ll get your own detailed, fully-customizable meal plan and fitness plan.  What’s more, you’ll learn all you want to know from the basics to advanced topics and strategies regarding clean eating, fitness training, lean weights for life, and metabolism.  Or, choose a Custom Plan and Kelli (RD) & Erin (PT) will create your entire nutrition and fitness packet for you, including your own individualized meal plan and fitness program (starting @ $120). Lastly, as a EC/TM/GL blog reader, you can claim a 15% discount on the downloadable program by using coupon code: ectmgl2014.  One click to begin meeting your goals! Start today!

The Benefits of Early Morning ExerciseStudies have shown that people who exercise in the early mornings have an easier time sticking to their schedule and making exercise a habit. Getting your workout in before the rest of your day starts also helps ensure that nothing else will get in the way of your workout. If you wait to exercise until after work, you may end up having a bad day at work that leaves you too exhausted to want to work out. Or, friends may invite you out for dinner, which sounds much better than making it to the gym after a long day.  If you’ve already worked out, then it leaves minimal excuses to get in the way of your workout!

How to make early morning exercise part of your routine:

  1. Get in the habit of going to bed at a decent hour. You can’t expect to wake up at 5:00AM and want to work out if you’re going to bed too late.
  2. Build in some accountability. Find a workout partner. Choose an early morning class at the gym and make friends with the other class goers. You can even set your alarm across the room so when it goes off you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Whatever you do, adding some accountability to your workout routine will help ensure you get up and get moving!

Benefits of early morning exercise:

  1. As we mentioned earlier, research has found that people who exercise in the early mornings have an easier time sticking to their exercise routine and making exercise a habit.
  2. Exercising in the morning helps give you energy throughout the day. If you can set a goal of working out early for 2 weeks, you’ll start to feel the increase in your energy throughout the day. Once you start and are feeling more energized, you won’t want to stop!
  3. Many people find that working out in the morning helps them regulate their appetite for the rest of the day.  A regulated appetite means eating less throughout the day.
  4. Many people also find that if they exercise in the morning, they make healthier eating choices throughout the day. You already started your day off on the right foot, and you wouldn’t want to diminish that effort by eating that candy bar from the vending machine at work, right? Right!

Overall, no workout is a bad workout. Fit in your exercise whenever you are able to throughout the day. But, if you’re able to make early morning exercise work in your schedule, we think you’ll find that the benefits far outweigh being able to push that snooze button one more time! So, Wake Up and Move!

 

You can have your own Fresh Fit Life Nutrition & Fitness Plan!  It’s everything you need to meet your weight, health, fitness, and wellness goals!  With our “Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean” downloadable program ($40), you’ll get your own detailed, fully-customizable meal plan and fitness plan.  What’s more, you’ll learn all you want to know from the basics to advanced topics and strategies regarding clean eating, fitness training, lean weights for life, and metabolism.  Or, choose a Custom Plan and Kelli (RD) & Erin (PT) will create your entire nutrition and fitness packet for you, including your own individualized meal plan and fitness program (starting @ $120). Lastly, as a EC/TM/GL blog reader, you can claim a 15% discount on the downloadable program by using coupon code: ectmgl2014.  One click to begin meeting your goals! Start today!

beercanchickenThis summer, our dinner themes have been grilling and keeping dinners “Light at Night.”

This week, for even more fun, we’ll throw in a beer.  If you’ve never heard of beer-can chicken, keep reading because this recipe, using beer, produces a wonderfully moist and flavorful whole chicken.  To keep it light at night, we’ll skip the grains and starches and use a fresh salad or grilled vegetables, and a healthy fat to round out a satisfying and fun meal.

This week, grab a beer (you can only drink 1/2 of it!), grab a whole chicken, and head outside to the grill.

Recipe of the Week: Grilled Beer-Can Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
  • 1  12 ounce can beer (room temperature)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed
  • Juice of 1 lemon

For Rub:

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Instructions:

  1. Prepare Grill with Medium-High Heat.
  2. Combine all rub ingredients and set aside.
  3. Prepare chicken by removing giblets & neck, if necessary.  Rub mix all over chicken, within cavity and under skin as much as possible.
  4. Open beer can and discard (or drink) half.  Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, lemon juice & pepper flakes to the beer.  Also, pierce 2 extra holds in the top of the can.
  5. Place chicken on top of can. Place chicken/beer on grill (either directly or within a roasting pan), balanced on the beer can.  To hold in moisture, you can also stuff a ball of aluminum foil into top neck cavity of the chicken.
  6. Grill over heat (indirect if placed directly on grill) 1.5 to 2 hours until internal temperature of thigh is 180 degrees.
  7. Remove chicken when finished cooking and let sit (with beer can still intact), for 10 minutes before carving.

Comments:beercanchickendone

It may sound crazy to use a beer to cook chicken, but after a bite or two you’ll understand and appreciate the sacrifice.  And, since it has quite a few ingredients, this one might seem like a difficult recipe – it’s not.  Many of the ingredients are repeated, and it’s actually quite quick to prepare.

As most readers know, I recommend a dinner meal sans starches and carbs most of the time.  I like to keep it to just protein, loads of vegetables, and healthy fats.  If you’ve already read a “Light at Night” post, this is just review and you can skip it and just focus on the recipe.  If you’re new to eating “Light at Night,” here’s why you should consider it, and how beer-can chicken fits in:

  • Proteins: Organic or other high-quality chicken is a great source of highly bioavailable (easily digested and absorbed) protein.  Protein at dinner can decrease any muscle wasting from chronic training, encourage muscle repair and rebuilding, and reducing spikes in blood sugar/insulin.  Especially if you’re training earlier in the day, make sure to include protein at dinner.
  • Healthy Fats: Make sure to use a olive oil based dressing or add a healthy fat such as avocado, nuts, or seeds to your vegetables. A healthy fat source promotes overall wellness and good hormone balance without increased blood sugars.
  • Vegetables: Round out this meal with a 1/2-a-plate-worth of vegetables.  Grilled, fresh, or sauteed, every dinner should be loaded with them.  Vegetables are a great source of antioxidants that supports cellular repair and decreases the oxidative stress that’s often elevated from training.
  • Carbohydrates: Why not grains and other carbohydrates?  While I think it’s fine to include these occasionally, if you’re actively trying to lose fat, keep it to just 2 dinners or so a week.  Carbohydrates are simply not needed by the body in the evening if you’re relaxing, and serve only as an extra calorie source.  They promote increased insulin levels, which promotes fat storage, especially when they are not readily used (as they would be immediately before, during, or after training).  They are often inflammatory in the body, especially if they are refined grains or sugars (refined grains act very similarly to sugars in the body). What’s more, the extra insulin output can interfere with hormones that are released at night and work to promote optimal muscle repair and recovery.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.  Proactively add carbs back in, around 30 grams or so, when it’s the evening before an extra strenuous or long training or any race, or if it’s immediately after an evening training.  Thirty grams of carbs is the equivalent of 2/3 cup cooked brown rice, quinoa, or beans, 1 large banana, 1 (5″) medium sweet potato, 1 cup whole-grain pasta, 1 1/2 cup fruit, 8 oz. chocolate milk, etc.

We’ll keep adding to our “light at night” options with delicious, flavorful dinners like Grilled Beer-Can Chicken.  Within the Apex Healthy Fuel recipes, you’ll also find Asian WrapsCurry Sauce LeftoversSpicy Tacos, and Grilled Caribbean Jerk Packets.  And remember, it’s not about minimizing foods or calories, but getting the right foods and nutrients, that your body can use, at the right time.

We’re trying to promote and maintain a healthy and lean weight, while still promoting the best performance and recovery possible.  The right foods at the right times:  Eat for wellness day to day.  Eat for performance before, during, and after your workout.

Eat Clean. Train Mean. Get Lean. ~Fresh Fit Life~

You can have your own Fresh Fit Life Nutrition & Fitness Plan!  It’s everything you need to meet your weight, health, fitness, and wellness goals!  With our “Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean” downloadable program ($40), you’ll get your own detailed, fully-customizable meal plan and fitness plan.  What’s more, you’ll learn all you want to know from the basics to advanced topics and strategies regarding clean eating, fitness training, lean weights for life, and metabolism.  Or, choose a Custom Plan and Kelli (RD) & Erin (PT) will create your entire nutrition and fitness packet for you, including your own individualized meal plan and fitness program (starting @ $120). Lastly, as a EC/TM/GL blog reader, you can claim a 15% discount on the downloadable program by using coupon code: ectmgl2014.  One click to begin meeting your goals! Start today!

 

I grew up, literally, on meat and potato steakonforks.  High in the mountains of Southern Colorado, there’s a beautiful valley called the San Luis Valley.  It’s surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks, has an old-school charm, and offers ample opportunities for outdoor sports like climbing, mountaineering, skiing, and biking.  At the floor of the valley, what’s most notable to me, though, are the acres after acres of potato farms and ranch land.

In the late 1800s, my family homesteaded in the San Luis Valley, and from there owned an

d operated a small Organic and Grass-fed Cattle Ranch for over a hundred years.  Today, I work with athletes that eat meat.  And, I work with those who eat all but red meat.  And, occasionally, I work with those who adhere to a vegan diet.  I’ve said it before…you can make many different diet philosophies work, but one thing must be in place, a “clean eating plan” – meaning whether vegetarian or omnivorous, it should come from high quality foods, little processing, whole-food carbs, good fats, adequate protein, and lots and lots of vegetables.  And when possible, local, organic foods.

If you’re a fellow meat eater, and looking forward to summer grilling of beef, venison, or elk, keep reading and find out why grass is a better diet than grains (or worse) for your dinner’s dinner.

Recipe of the Week: Marinated Steak

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound local or organic Grass-Fed Beef, Elk, or Venison boneless chuck steak
  • 1/4 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes or hot pepper sauce (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions:

Place all ingredients except steak in a large baggie or bowl (with lid) and mix well.  Add steak; cover, and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.

Cook steak as desired (great on the grill). Pair with a fresh salad such as myLucky Kale Salad (yum!)

Comments:

  •  

Have you ever really thought about the diet of your dinner? If you’re a meat eater, you should (if you’re a vegetarian, this question makes no sense whatsoever!).  Why?

When animals are fed grains instead of grazing on grass, even if it’s just to “finish” off their feeding to make them gain more weight, the fat make-up of their meat is altered.  With 100% grass-feeding/grazing, the meat has higher amount of healthy (anti-inflammatory) omega-3s.  With grain-feeding, the meat has a lower omega-3 composition and higher omega-6.  It’s this ratio of omega-3s vs. omega-6s that’s important for overall inflammation in our bodies.  This bodily inflammation doesn’t just affect things like

grazingcows-300x200

joints and arthritis…it has implications for most all chronic disease (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc).  And, while there is not a lot of omega-3s in red meat to start with, and even grass-feeding doesn’t increase it anywhere near high omega-3 foods like fish, a recent study suggested that grass-fed red meat eaters had a better omega-3:omega-6 ratio (http://cdn.marksdailyapple.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/McAfeeGrassfedbeefbettern3thanconventionalbeefBJN2011-2.pdf

What’s more, beef from grass-fed cows have other differences in fatty acids. Namely, they have twice as much conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain fed cows.  Cow’s digestive bacteria are able to convert the linoleic acid in grass to CLAs. and cows eat a lot of grass!  This is important because CLAs are thought to be disease preventing and health promoting in human nutrition.

Since I enjoy a good burger now and then (and my husband a good steak), I try to make the healthiest choice possible.  If I can, I always choose elk first.  If not, and I’m left with beef, I’m as choosey as possible.  But, I, too, have a grocery budget and I know it’s expensive to be choosey!  I do my best to save money in other ways, by eating more meat-less or egg-based dinners, cooking at home rather than going out, and absolutely minimizing over-priced processed foods so I can spend a bit more on organic/grass-fed animal products.  Another option in many areas is to buy it straight from the rancher…here’s one site that lists ranchers that grass-fed beef: http://www.eatwild.com/.

If you can’t find grass-fed and finished beef, but still want to eat red meat, choose organic when possible, and hormone and antibiotic free at the very least.

As athletes, we often have extra inflammation and oxidative stress in our bodies.  We also have high protein needs – much higher than has been historically taught and recommended (for daily nutrition, endurance athletes are often way high on carbs and way too low on protein).  It’s important to find healthy protein sources that provide beneficial nutrients for our bodies (whether vegetarian or meat-eating), rather than eating the least-expensive, cheaply fed, unhealthy ones that drag us down.  And, while I know those huge, family sized hormone-enlarged budget meat packs are tempting when you’re concentrating on the money, it never helps to save money on food only to spend it on sickness.

This week, when eating meat, take a minute to think about where it came from, if it was grazed or lived in a feedlot, and what it ate.  Just think, what your dinner ate may affect your training tomorrow.

Eat Clean. Train Mean. Get Lean. ~Fresh Fit Life~

You can have your own Fresh Fit Life Nutrition & Fitness Plan!  It’s everything you need to meet your weight, health, fitness, and wellness goals!  With our “Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean” downloadable program ($40), you’ll get your own detailed, fully-customizable meal plan and fitness plan.  What’s more, you’ll learn all you want to know from the basics to advanced topics and strategies regarding clean eating, fitness training, lean weights for life, and metabolism.  Or, choose a Custom Plan and Kelli (RD) & Erin (PT) will create your entire nutrition and fitness packet for you, including your own individualized meal plan and fitness program (starting @ $120). Lastly, as a EC/TM/GL blog reader, you can claim a 15% discount on the downloadable program by using coupon code: ectmgl2014.  One click to begin meeting your goals! Start today!

image c/o: www.101cookingfortwo.com

cedarsalmonIt’s officially grilling season, right? While I’m sure that many of you have been using your grill year round, I’m talking about the official season, when you don’t have to put on gloves and a beanie just to take a peek at your dinner. A few years ago, when my oven died, I (mostly by necessity) mastered the grill. Once only my husband’s domain, I can now long-tong flip things with the best of them. I’m ready. And, you know what they say, “Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish (or how to go to the grocery store, pick out a fish, and then grill it) and I eat for a lifetime.” Which leads me to:

Recipe of the week: Cedar-Planked Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 3 (12 inch) untreated cedar planks
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 (2 pound) salmon fillets, skin removed

Directions:

1. Soak the cedar planks for at least 1 hour in warm water. Soak longer if you have time.

2. In a shallow dish, stir together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Place the salmon fillets in the marinade and turn to coat. Cover and marinate for at least 15 minutes, or up to one hour.

3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat. Place the planks on the grate. The boards are ready when they start to smoke and crackle just a little.

4. Place the salmon fillets onto the planks and discard the marinade. Cover, and grill for about 20 minutes. Fish is done when you can flake it with a fork. It will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill.

Comments:

So, I chose an easy one this week. It’s easy to go on and on about the benefits of salmon. Except for the fact that our polluted planet has made this otherwise almost-perfect food slightly tainted with small amounts of mercury (it’s a low-mercury fish relative to others, but not completely mercury-free), it’s a no-brainer. Here’s why I love Salmon:

First, the omega-3s found in salmon, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are extremely heart healthy. They are well researched and have repeatedly been proven to reduce triglycerides (the type of fat found in your blood that has huge impact on plagues that form in arteries) and reduce risk of stroke. Next, these fats are anti-inflammatory. This means that they reduce risk of chronic diseases that are promoted by inflammation, such as heart disease and diabetes. Then, they help us maintain healthy blood sugars. How? They make our cells more sensitive to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that moves sugar from our blood stream into our cells. When our cells are resistant to insulin, the sugar stays in the blood, where it can do a lot of damage, such as making our arteries hard instead of elastic. And fourth, DHA is a type of fat that is stored in, and used by our brains. Most of the storage does in fact take place when babies are in the womb and up to 2 years after birth, but it never hurts to keep trying to pack it in, right?

But, I bet you already knew all of this.

On the other hand, you may not have realized that the DHA and EPA from salmon actually increases the amount of calories and fat your body burns while decreasing your fat storage!!! Sound like a fishy story too good to be true? It’s not. Recent studies show an increase in calorie output with approximately 2000 mg DHA/EPA per day (you’ll average 1000 mg per day by eating 12 oz. salmon per week, so consider supplementing another 1000 mg per day). Furthermore, since the fats make your cells more sensitive to insulin, they reduce fat storage. You see, the more your cells resist insulin, the more your body has to pump it out. The more insulin pumped out, the more fat stored. The more insulin sent out, the less fat metabolized and burned. The more insulin sent out over and over, the less sensitive cells become to insulin, so they begin to require more and more insulin sent out, and you’ve guessed it, more fat is stored. This is a vicious, ugly cycle.  But, thankfully, it’s no match for salmon.

As if that weren’t enough, salmon packs a lot of other nutrients beside healthy fats. The B-vitamins may have as much to do with the heart-healthy effects as the fats. And, the protein found in salmon, ~7 grams per ounce, helps you stay full longer, again burn more calories, and enjoy long-lasting steady energy.

I promised to feed you for a lifetime… So, when you go to the store, make sure to pick Wild-Caught salmon – this way it has less agriculture pesticide run-off and no artificial colorings. Then, make sure there is no fishy smell to it. It should be a bright orangy-pinkish color, no graying. Take it from someone who is land-locked in Colorado, you have to be picky when picking your fish.

Now you know everything needed for buying and enjoying salmon. Who couldn’t use a great dinner, more energy, and better fat burn?!?

Eat Clean. Train Mean. Get Lean. ~Fresh Fit Life~

 You can have your own Fresh Fit Life Nutrition & Fitness Plan!  It’s everything you need to meet your weight, health, fitness, and wellness goals!  With our “Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean” downloadable program ($40), you’ll get your own detailed, fully-customizable meal plan and fitness plan.  What’s more, you’ll learn all you want to know from the basics to advanced topics and strategies regarding clean eating, fitness training, lean weights for life, and metabolism.  Or, choose a Custom Plan and Kelli (RD) & Erin (PT) will create your entire nutrition and fitness packet for you, including your own individualized meal plan and fitness program (starting @ $120). Lastly, as a EC/TM/GL blog reader, you can claim a 15% discount on the downloadable program by using coupon code: ectmgl2014.  One click to begin meeting your goals! Start today!