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What’s on the Menu – Expiration dates need not apply

I’m a huge Anthony Bourdain fan. I know I’ve said it before, but he is my man crush. He’s a badass chef, a killer writer and trains jiu-jitsu nonstop. Besides the decades of substance abuse, I’d definitely want to be him if I could switch bodies for a day. One of the main reason I want Bourdain’s life is he gets to travel the world and eat unique and sometimes unusual cuisine. One such trip, which was documented on this CNN show Parts Unknown, took him to Denmark and the “science bunker” of the often #1 rated restaurant in the world, Noma. There he got to taste numerous food items in various stages of fermentation. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to travel to Denmark to reap the benefits of fermented foods.

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Inside the Noma Science Bunker (pic courtesy of eater.com)

Fermented foods are all the rage nowadays. You can find them at grocery stores, farmers markets and juice bars. You can even find them at baseball stadiums. You may have several fermented foods in your fridge and not even know it. Common fermented foods include: yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, natto and kimchi, which is today’s menu spotlight.

The nutritional value of the vegetables used to make Kimchi are actually enhanced due to the fermentation process. The primary bacteria responsible for Kimchi’s fermentation, Lactobacillus plantarum, not only increases the numerous vitamins and minerals contained in the vegetables, it also increases important bioactive compounds like thiocyanate and glucosinolate. These compounds have been linked to possible treatments for various health conditions such as cancer, obesity and atherosclerosis just to name a few. Kimchi also happens to be a natural probiotic that promotes proper gut health (source). Sounds like a miracle food right? I think it is and what’s even more amazing is that you can make this miracle food at home for next to nothing.

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Making homemade kimchi is so ridiculously easy that I’m pissed at myself that I haven’t done it yet. The only supplies you’ll probably need to invest in are several glass mason jars with screw on lids. Other than that it’s just vegetables and spices. Check out the video below to see how easy it is to prepare (sorry for the commerical).

If you already make your own homemade kimchi, let us know about your recipe. We’d love to share a pic of your delicious fermented veggies on our social media channels. Feel free to send any and all feedback to elementaltampa@gmail.com or reach out to us on social media. We’re not afraid to “fanboy” over the greatness of kimchi in a public forum.

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Daily Fuel

A client of mine recently said I should post more pictures of my meals, so I figured why not start with a snapshot of what my fiancé and I bring to work every day. One of the keys things to remember about nutrition is that you want to eat food that’s nutrient dense. Nutrient dense foods contain higher levels of macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein) and micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) which minimizes the amount of “empty” calories. The more nutrient dense your food is, the more satiated you’ll feel after eating it. That’s why I always fill our lunches with veggies, fruit, nuts and protein sources containing healthy fats. We’re fortunate enough to be able to process dairy in the form of yogurt & cheese, but we make a conscious effort not to overdo it. We also try our best to limit our sugar sources to just fruit. What are you packing in your lunch? Do you bring enough food with you to be satiated throughout the day? Do you find yourself buying food while at work?

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Become An Egghead

Diverse would be a good word to use to describe my diet. My eating habits fall somewhere between a badger and a trash compactor. As non-discrimanatory as my palate may be, I strive to eat the most nutritious food available. Eggs are a constant staple of my diet, but the wide selection of eggs that exist at the grocery store makes it hard to choose which ones are the most nutritious. Unless you plan on building a chicken coop in your backyard (which isn’t that crazy of an idea), check out the article below and learn which eggs pack the most nutritious punch.

http://ecowatch.com/2014/11/14/organic-eggs-healthiest-to-eat/

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Sugar: Friend or Foe?

Before I started doing any research on how to eat healthy, I frequently heard that eating sugary foods would make you gain weight. At my house growing up, treats like donuts, ice cream, and my mom’s famous peanut butter cookies were reserved for special occasions. Luckily for me, grandma’s house did not have the same rules. As I got older, the fear of sugary foods began to extend to items like potatoes, bread and even fruit. Fortunately, my PT certification and subsequent research has educated me on the role sugar plays in our diet. I’ve discovered that sugary foods may not be as bad as some individuals have made them out to be. Please do not assume that the rest of this blog will justify the consumption of foods high in processed sugars (i.e. birthday cakes, cronuts, milkshakes, etc.). Instead, I will simply explain the different types of sugars and the role sugar plays in our body.

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Some people may not know that sugars are nutritionally classified as carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are broken down by the body to provide its preferred source of energy, glucose. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are a single sugar molecule (monosaccharide) or two sugar molecules (disaccharide) bonded together. These “simple” structures are easily broken down by the body and are quickly made available to fuel immediate cellular functions. A few examples of food sources that contain simple carbohydrates are:

  • Raisins (glucose)
  • Bananas (fructose)
  • Honey (galactose)
  • Pure maple sugar (sucrose)
  • Milk (lactose)
  • Barley (maltose)

The major source of simple carbohydrates in Americans’ diet is sucrose in the form of added sugar. Unfortunately, besides providing energy for immediate physical activity, this form of simple carbohydrate provides no other nutritional value. The lack of nutritional value is most likely the reason why organizations like the American Heart Association recommend complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates.

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Complex carbohydrates are made up of three or more sugar molecules known as polysaccharides, and are usually higher in vitamins and minerals than simple carbohydrates. It takes the body longer to break down complex carbohydrates which means they provide a more sustained source of fuel for metabolic activities. Complex carbs also contain fiber which helps control cholesterol and glucose levels and aids in digestion. Some examples of whole food items that contain complex carbs include:

  • sweet potatoes
  • kale
  • oatmeal
  • spinach
  • whole grain bread
  • pinto beans

Eating complex carbs in the form of whole food items helps you feel full quicker and longer, meaning you eat less over the duration of a day.

It appears that complex carbs are nutritionally superior to simple carbs, so why would a person ever eat simple carbs? As previously mentioned, simple carbs are a great source of quick energy a person can use to help get them through a short duration high intensity workout. Also, there are simple carb sources that can be ingested during long duration endurance activities that are designed to provide fuel while not causing stomach discomfort. If I’m running a marathon, I’d much rather have an energy gel than an apple during the race.

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I hope this blog did more to educate than confuse. I am certainly no nutritionist nor a dietitian, but I feel I can say with confidence that not all sugary foods are inherently fattening. Don’t get me wrong, I am a proponent of rewarding oneself with some “junk” food (unless you have a specific dietary restriction) every once in a blue moon. But I feel the recipe for maintaining a healthy body is ingesting the vast majority of your simple and complex carbs in the form of whole foods while leading a physically active lifestyle. Eat your PB&J on whole grain bread then get out there and get active, because your health is worth it. HIT IT!

The Inception of Elemental Training Tampa

fatfaceSimilar to many people my age, I grew up participating in organized sports and playing outside for fun. This trend of staying physically active continued into high school and college thanks to intramural and club sports that did not discriminate against someone with average athletic ability. Unfortunately, once I graduated from college and opportunities to stay physically active were not as readily available, my physical health and state of mind started to suffer. I was less active, eating poorly, and participating in other unhealthy vices. I was in the worst shape of my life.

Determined to change myself, I walked into a local martial arts school with the hope of regaining my physically active lifestyle. Not only did I regain my former lifestyle, but I learned something that I could never have learned simply lifting weights at a gym.

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Jeff Morris Photography

Studying different facets of various martial arts was both physically and mentally engaging, but the striking arts provided something that I had never experienced before. Punching focus mitts, kicking heavy bags, and knee-striking Thai pads not only improved my physical fitness, but also boosted my confidence, lowered my stress level, and gave me a sense of accomplishment like no other exercise regimen. The benefits that incorporating striking exercises into a complementary training program can provide ANYONE has led me to create Elemental Training Tampa (ETT). The purpose of ETT is to create training programs that combine basic striking techniques with a variety of plyometric, resistance, and core exercises to help individuals reach their fitness goals. This blog will provide ETT workouts that anyone can perform in the comfort of their home along with posts about nutrition, public fitness venues, and eventually information about weekly FREE group ETT classes. Even though striking is often referred to as a science, it’s my mission to help people master the essentials so they can take ownership of their fitness. HIT IT!