vegetables

What’s On The Menu – The Vegans Got This One Right

My dietary preferences are broad to say the least. Animals, plants, fungi and even bacteria are all menu options for yours truly. That means that all wholesome food options, whether they be paleo, keto or vegan, are literally on the table for this omnivore.

One such vegan item that I’ve been putting on pretty much everything as of late is this pesto from Trader Joe’s. It has a short list of whole ingredients and is high in that oh so important macronutrient, FAT.

If I could change anything in it I would substitute the cashew butter for walnuts & nutritional yeast. Shannon is a former vegan and we’ve made a lot of vegan pesto. I can say with the utmost confidence that adding nutritional yeast gives it a much more “cheesy” flavor.

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What’s on the Menu – These Veggies Could Save Your Life

Vegetables are a great source of vital nutrients. I know that’s not exactly a news flash but eating a variety of veggies is necessary to obtain a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other beneficial organic compounds.

One such group of veggies that Shannon and I try to each multiple times a week are cruciferous vegetables. The member of this veggie family, including the brussels sprouts pictured below, contain organic compounds known as glucosinolates that have been found to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects (source).

I love roasting them in the oven, but when I’m crunched for time, I simply boil them up, cover them in spices & butter and chow down. I want to point out that eating them with a fat source, like butter, helps you absorb the tremendous amount to of Vitamin K contained in these mini cabbages.

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What’s On The Menu – Frozen Dinners Aren’t Always Bad

When I provide nutrition counseling to clients, I always stress the importance of cooking the majority of your meals at home. Unfortunately, many people (including myself) don’t have the time during the week necessary to make a meal from scratch.

That’s why Shannon and I love wholesome frozen items like the frozen stir fry mix featured below. This skillet full of veggies take about 10 minutes to prepare and contains no additional seasonings, sauces or preservatives. I added shrimp for protein and we had dinner ready in less than 15 minutes.

Oh, by the way, studies show that frozen vegetables have just as many, if not more nutrients than fresh vegetables. As long as the ingredient list contains ONLY vegetables, than they are viable option for you to make a quick & nutritious meal.

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What’s On the Menu – Too Good To Let Go To Waste

Let’s be honest. Guacamole is the best “dip” there is. Don’t bring your hummus, spinach & artichoke or salsa in my kitchen. NOT UP IN HERE!

Between the taste, nutrition and ease associated with preparing it, every thing else is playing for second place. Which is why I had to act fast when I had several ripe avocados at the house last week.

Instead of letting them go bad, I decided to make guacamole with whatever ingredients I had available. I ended up using 2 avocados, cherry tomatoes, shallots, fresh lime juice and salt. The heart healthy monounsaturated fat contained in the avocados was too good to let go to waste. ⠀

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What’s on the Menu – Cooking in batches is good for your health

Shannon and I really try our best to make one wholesome “Big Batch” dish every week. Having one dish that is ready to go whenever we get home from work prevents us from ordering out or picking up dinner. We’ve found that the less takeout and delivery we get, the better we feel. It’s also much easier on our finances.

One such big batch we make frequently is a Tuscan Chicken Skillet. I’ve shared the recipe with several of my clients and they all love it. It’s not exactly a quick meal, but it’s definitely worth the time. It’s also one of those dishes that I believe taste better the next day.

Below is the recipe and a few pics. If you end making it please send us and email (elementaltampa@gmail.com) or share a pic of it on our social channels (FacebookInstagram or Twitter).

Tuscan Chicken Skillet

  • Cook 1-1.5 lbs of chicken tenderloins in olive oil for 4-5 mins on each side, or until cooked thru⠀
  • Remove chicken from skillet, add more olive oil & 8 oz of chopped mushrooms, cook till soft⠀
  • Remove mushrooms and add an entire onion, sliced & cook till soft⠀
  • Add a can of diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, garlic, spices (salt, pepper, oregano & thyme) and 1/4-1/2 cup of chicken stock⠀
  • Simmer till liquid reduces slightly then add chicken and mushrooms back in⠀
  • Remove from heat and add several handfuls of greens and season to taste⠀

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Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – How Juicing and Alcohol Consumption Could Help & Hinder Your Fitness

This week’s show notes brought to you by Shannon.

Nick and I are chatting about popular beverages on this week’s show!

Not so much recipes, but rather the health benefits of oh-so-trendy juicing and the often debated alcohol. Before we get into that though, a little recap of training.

I was in recovery mode after a yoga immersion weekend – which is almost a full three days of yoga – it takes a toll, especially being fairly pregnant at this point. With only a couple months of yoga training left though, the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight. Still learning some important lessons though, including the importance of self-care, especially as a teacher or trainer.

Nick meanwhile, has been shooting a lot of exercise videos for the Tampa Strength YouTube channel (link). If you’re interested in remotely training with ETT, you don’t have to move to Florida. Give Nick a shout, elementaltampa@gmail.com, and he can build an online workout for you.

On a sad note, one of Nick’s and my favorite Peloton instructor, Steve Little (who focused on heart rate training), is moving onto another career, so we say goodbye (with a couple water eyes). We’ll miss you Steve Little! And if you’re curious about learning more about Peloton, check out our past podcast that features an on-bike review by Nick.

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We’ll miss you Steve Little! (Image courtesy of Peloton blog)

Pros & Cons of Juicing

We used to be pretty hardcore juicers a while back. Our juicer of choice is the Bella NutriPro juicer (sadly discontinued so we can’t link to it) and we used to juice every day with it. Green juice was our preferred recipe, though we grew to love beets as well.

We even learned a few lessons. Lessons like drinking juice straight away, which provides the optimum delivery of nutrients. Some of the lessons, we got from the Juice Generation book, which includes some great recipes and info.

To help highlight some of the pros and cons of juicing, we gathered together a nice little list for you!

Pros:

  1. Great way to provide a large amount of your daily nutrient requirement
  2. Make nutrients in produce easily absorbable
  3. Great way to eliminate food waste

Cons:

  1. Depending on the ingredients, can deliver a large sugar spike
  2. Can be expensive
  3. Lose out on the fiber

Different types of juicers could minimize the amount of fiber loss.

While I am more of a fan of juice than smoothies, Nick is the opposite. What camp are you? If you are a juice fan, let us know what your favorite type is.

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Yes you need all this, and more, to make green juice for two

Now onto an epic debate. Is it possible to call alcohol healthy?

More specifically, does MODERATE alcohol consumption provide health benefits? Moderate meaning 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.

(1 drink is defined as 12oz beer, 5oz of wine & 1.5 oz of spirits)

In our personal experience, one health benefit (which might be rather obvious) is the relaxation and social lubrication provided by moderate alcohol consumption.

In addition, red wine contains resveratol, which certain studies suggest helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces LDL cholesterol and prevents blood clots.

Certain studies have linked moderate alcohol consumption, other than just red wine, to improved heart health. One 12+ year Norwegian study stated that moderate alcohol consumption lowered heart failure risk by 33%. However, other studies claim that even one drink could cause irregular and possibly harmful heart arrhythmias.

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Red wine is healthy……..or is it?

Our final verdict is that the studies/information is inconclusive on whether or not alcohol is healthy. Even the studies that found beneficial results associated with moderate alcohol consumption state that their findings do not prove causation, meaning they could not determine whether or not the improvement in items like heart health were actually due to alcohol consumption.

We do know that excess alcohol consumption can lead to plenty of negative health issues like liver and pancreas diseases, heart failure, hypertension, cancer, stroke, behavioral issues and obesity. According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010 (link).

So no magic bullets on the alcohol front.

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As we wrap up, we have a couple friendly reminders for all our awesome listeners.

First off, keep checking cltampabay.com to see if you can vote for ATF for the “best local podcast” in the Best of the Bay contest.

Secondly, take advantage of Nick’s current free fitness consultation by emailing him at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

Stay tuned for more episodes and give us a shout on social media (FacebookInstagram or Twitter).

Links to this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/how-juicing-alcohol-consumption-could-help-hinder-your/id1121420986?i=1000390234743&mt=2

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/nick-burch-702220833/how-juicing-and-alcohol

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/liquid-calories-how-juicing-and-alcohol-consumption-can-help-hinder-your-fitness

 

 

What’s on the Menu – Should we believe the hype?

Kale seems like another one of those foods that has gained a ton of popularity in recent years. I was exposed to it at a young age because my Dad grew it in our garden, but I don’t recall seeing it on restaurant menus or in grocery stores like I do today. After doing a little research, it looks like my assumption isn’t totally unfounded.

Statistics from the Department of Agriculture show that the number of farms that produced kale between 2007 and 2012 increased by 60% (source). Farm to table restaurants, veganism and “food porn” (definition) are just a few trends that surely contributed to kale’s recent popularity, but the cruciferous veggie’s superfood status is what keeps its hype train a rolling.

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Kale belongs to the Brassica genus, which includes other nutritious veggies like collard greens, cabbage and turnips. The macronutrient breakdown for kale is pretty unique as far as veggies go. One cup of raw kale contains 7 grams (g) of carbs, 3 g of protein and almost 1 g of fat. May not seem like much but kale’s 3 g of protein is three times more than spinach and 30 times more than iceberg lettuce. Also, the nearly 1 g of fat contains 121 mg of the omega 3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid, which certainly contributes to kale’s ability to improve cardiovascular health (source).

Kale’s effect on cholesterol is extremely interesting to someone like myself who has high LDL cholesterol, which is currently thought of as “bad” cholesterol¹. A 2008 study demonstrated that the daily consumption of kale juice could raise HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering LDL cholesterol. Kale also contains bile acid sequestrants which help lower the amount of total cholesterol in our bodies (source). However, the way you prepare kale can have a major effect on which of its nutrients you end up absorbing.

¹ – Recent research suggest that LDL particle number is more important to predicting heart disease than LDL cholesterol (source)

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Both raw and cooked kale contain a significant amount of micro & macronutrients, but the latter appears to allow for better absorption of those nutrients. Not only does steaming kale enhance its cholesterol lowering abilities, it also greatly reduces the oxalic acid contained in the plant. Oxalic acid can bind to important nutrients like calcium and iron rendering them useless to us and lead to kidney stones in certain individuals (source). However, I want to be clear that after researching the potential detrimental effects of eating raw kale, its beneficial aspects still out-weight any possible hazards.

You can see above that one of Shannon and I’s preferred kale preparation methods is a casserole that combines kale with sausage, butternut squash and liberal amount of shredded parmesan. If you’d like the recipe to this mouth-watering dish, feel free to email me at elementaltampa@gmail.com. We could also setup your first FREE fitness consultation. Let ETTampa help you optimize your life by improving your fitness.

What’s on the Menu – Get’em while their fresh

Today’s menu spotlight is asparagus, which is why I want to address the stinky elephant in the room right off the bat. Yes, most people experience some unpleasant odors when they visit the restroom after eating asparagus. The reason why is a chemical contained exclusively in asparagus known as asparagusic acid.

Clever name right?

When digested, this chemical produces foul-smelling sulfur-containing compounds. As unpleasant as this olfactory side effect may be, it pales in comparison to the health benefits eating asparagus can provide (source).

Asparagus is full of healthy micronutrients but the one that is most prominent is vitamin K. One cup of asparagus contains over 100% of our daily value (DV) for vitamin K. This vitamin is essentially necessary for blood clotting. Studies have also found that the vitamin K in asparagus could help increase bone density, while decrease fracture rates among individuals with osteoporosis (source). The health benefits of vitamin K are extremely important, but asparagus contains a large amount of a another nutrient that I’m much more interested in, especially at this point in my life.

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The day this blog is posted, my wife Shannon will be 27 weeks pregnant. Anyone that has gone through this process knows that proper nutrition is a HUGE part of a healthy pregnancy. One component of pregnancy nutrition is making sure the woman receives an adequate amount of certain nutrients. Folate happens to be one of those nutrients and asparagus contains over 60% of our DV per cup. Folate aids in several functions critical to a developing fetus like preventing neural-tube defects, red blood cell formation and DNA construction (source).

Which is why it’s safe to assume that I’ve been essentially force feeding Shannon anything high in folate over the last six months. We’ll have to cross asparagus off that list soon because its peak growing season has nearly ended and freshness definitely affects the plant’s nutrient density.

Asparagus is a spring time crop. Yes you can buy canned and frozen asparagus year round, but the plant’s biology drastically reduces its available nutrients once it’s harvested. You may not know this but plants don’t instantly “die” once they’re picked. Metabolic functions continue to occur and in asparagus, these functions occur at a very rapid rate. In fact, asparagus’ post harvest “metabolism” is approximately 5 times greater than onions and potatoes stored at room temperature. This fact is why the George Mateljan Foundation recommends eating asparagus within 48 hours of purchasing (source).

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Hopefully this post inspires you to grab some fresh asparagus if you see it at the grocery store or farmer’s market this weekend. It may be your last opportunity! If you do grab an asparagus bunch during your next shopping trip, please let us know. Feel free to snap a pic and tweet it to us or post it on our Facebook page (FacebookInstagram or Twitter). We want to know if you were able to enjoy fresh asparagus before the season ends this year.

In addition to your asparagus pics, you can also contact us at elementaltampa@gmail.com to take advantage of the complimentary fitness consultations we’re currently offering. Whether you need advice on nutrition or just want workout tips, I’d be happy to set up an appointment with you to discuss how you can improve your fitness.