Thursday, August 1, 2013

Overnight Oats

I've had a rocky relationship with oatmeal over the past 6 months. In January I started eating more of it, as a healthy breakfast with some fruit, maybe a little almond butter etc. Then in February when I started the HIIT challenge, I decided to cut out refined grains (but secretly almost all grain-based carbs), as well as oatmeal. I got sucked into the paleo realm of hatin' on grains. Recently, since trying out veganism, I've realized I need the grains to make sure I'm getting enough calories in my diet, so I've re-introduced a lot more whole grains, including oatmeal. Here's a recipe that I tried last night (and this morning) in my quest for delicious breakfast foods.

This recipe is incredibly versatile: Put in it whatever you want, and it will be delicious.

-1/2 cup oats (I use old fashioned, not quick oats)
- 1 cup of liquid (I used unsweetened almond milk)
- 1 small mashed banana
- 1 small diced peach
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- cinnamon
- ginger powder
- allspice

Mash up the banana, add the spices and mix around, then add everything else and give it a good mix. Put a cap on whatever container you're using (a re-used jar works great) and place in the fridge overnight.

This was delicious. SO delicious, I didn't take a picture until after it was gone...

Some ideas for easy substitutions or additions of the fruit:

Diced apple
Pumpkin Puree
Par or pre-cooked Quinoa
Mashed Chickpeas

Of the liquid:

Green Tea
Rice Milk
Soy Milk
Chocolate Almond Milk
Coconut Water

Of the spices:

Cocoa powder
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Add some Stevia
Add a little Turmeric 

Seriously....anything goes.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Low Impact Tabata II

Another low-impact (no plyo) but still very hard Tabata-style workout. Complete for a total of four rounds.

How to Get Rid of Shin Splints

I've been getting bouts of shin splints every two weeks or so. It's a cycle- workout really hard doing high intensity moves, get shin splints, avoid high intensity moves, heal, go back to high intensity moves etc. etc.

I started to see the pattern and I thought "well I'm obviously doing something wrong, because it's only my right shin that hurts". I found this exercise that supposedly helps shin splints because it strengthens the front supporting muscle tissue around your tibia, and I started doing them. Not very often or consistently, but I did them at least once a day, and guess what? My shins are perfectly fine now! In only three days of sorta kinda doing it! Compare that to the usual week of healing needed to combat the shin splints. I can tell this is going to be a process that I need to continue with, because it's obviously an imbalance of muscle development within my lower limb.

Anyways, it really helped me,and I hope it helps you too!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Another Cleanse...This Time Smoothies!

She wouldn't even look at me. The shame.

I embarked this morning on the Dr. Oz 3-Day Cleanse with my boyfriend by my side. He recently returned home from a week-long tour of east coast breweries, and he was feeling a little "off". Most likely due to the copious amounts of free beer consumed. We had been thinking about doing a smoothie cleanse for a few months, but we didn't have a good strong blender to work with. Low and behold, my mother had her Vitamix out and waiting to be borrowed when I arrived to Deep Creek on Thursday. I told Tom about our good fortune, and we commenced plans for a detox.

Day one: It is 3 pm and I'm a little bit hungry. I'm also really out of it, but it is my first day back at work after a 5 day vacation, so I'm not attributing it all to the cleanse. Also, I frequently eat green smoothies for breakfast, so the only difference for me today is the lunch shake.

I went home at lunch to meet Tom, and we made both the lunch and the snack smoothie (which I have stored in a thermos in the fridge for 4 pm). I'm going to try to go to the gym straight from work, so I don't have too much time before or after the dinner shake to think about food. I realized about a half hour ago that I forgot to add the celery to the lunch shake...probably why it wasn't as terrible as everyone says it is.

Note: I'm also allowing myself coffee during this cleanse (with soy or coconut milk creamer). We're going to modify the drinks as needed, since raspberries are very expensive right now, and I have some frozen blackberries, frozen blueberries, and fresh black cherries ready to use. I personally don't feel I need a cleanse for weight loss purposes, so it's more about testing my strength and stuffing my mouthhole with the healthiest things possible. At least that's my take on it all.

Day 2: Well yesterday I had the snack smoothie with a spoon, and it seriously tasted and felt like I was eating pancake mix. MMMMmmMMMm. It was the breakfast smoothie again, but it was a completely different color. Strange. Last night we had the dinner smoothie...we only added the amount of cayenne for one smoothie although we were making two at once, and we were glad that we made that decision. It was strangely sweet and then SPICY. In an unsettling way. It took at least an hour to choke it all down, double-fisting a glass of water in the other hand. 

This morning we made the breakfast shake subbing fresh black cherries for one cup of raspberries, and frozen strawberries and blackberries for the other cup (since we're doubling the recipe for the two of us we needed 2 cups of raspberries total). I also added a tiny nub of fresh ginger root, some cinnamon, and a little allspice. It was good this morning. I felt pretty full after about 3/4 of it, and drank the rest in the car on the way to work. It's 9:45 and I'm starting to feel some hunger pains (I usually eat a mid morning snack around 10 so my body is programmed to get hungry now). This morning when we woke up we were both ravenous. 

Note: Neither of us are doing the detox tea or baths. Also, Tom didn't up his water intake extraordinarily yesterday, and so he said he's down two lbs since Monday. Probably due to water loss, but still encouraging for him! Yesterday my parents were over to see my roommates, and they made homemade quiches, melon and ham as an appetizer, as well as these little spinach pastries. I wouldn't eat most of that even if I wasn't doing a cleanse, but it all looked SO GOOD. Needless to say, we weren't very social--we made the dinner smoothie, cleaned up, and took it with us downstairs to finish Gasland and to watch Ted to pass the time until bed. 

This was lunch, done the correct way with celery added. It was the weirdest texture ever. As I typed that (with the smoothie sitting on my desk) a co-worker walking by just stopped in her tracks and stared at it. "That really doesn't look very good". I agreed. 

Good luck with this one, stomach.

Day 3: We caved. I have a work dinner tonight, so we were planning on ending today after breakfast shake, but it didn't work out. The celery in the lunch drink yesterday was just too much. We both felt sick and malnourished (which is obviously ridiculous because it was only one day) and all it took was one suggestion from Tom of stopping this "nonsense" and we were planning a Chipotle dinner. How quickly we crumbled in the face of adversity.

Ah, well, you can't win 'em all. 

In conclusion: I have done juice cleanses before, and found them to be very healthy and helpful, if not for actually resetting your system and eliminating toxins, then for testing your willpower and cutting out caffeine for a few days. I think the main issue with the Dr Oz cleanse, for us, was that we were just so hungry. There weren't enough calories (about 1100 a day) to satiate us while still exercising and working full days. We probably also didn't give it enough time: my hormones to signal hunger were still going off at 10 am when I normally eat a snack, and the plan doesn't allow for food at that time. I'm sure I would have adjusted with a few more days of the schedule, but I just wasn't willing to see it through. I failed.

One last note: I think that if I genuinely believed that I needed to make a dietary change, had written out my reasons for the diet, and used the diet to start a new, more healthful dietary lifestyle, things might have been different. I can see how using a radical switch to make modest changes afterwards seem like a bargain could really work for some, and I'm interested to see if and how my professors will approach the subject of cleansing in relation to clinical recommendations. I just personally didn't feel I needed much tweaking of my diet, save the last few days before the cleanse eating lots of desserts since my family-in-law was in town. I also didn't see any ahem *results* from the smoothie cleanse like I saw from the juice cleanse, which is (weirdly) a motivating factor for me. 

Anywhoo...if you decide to do the cleanse, let me know how it goes! I hope you have more strength and determination than my puny will!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Confused About Soy? Me too.

Recently I've started getting pretty intense with my interest in nutrition. I've been reading different books on it for the past few months, and I'm starting a master's in September. I've always been interested in it, but, until recently, I never actively sought to learn about the peer-reviewed research and actual biochemical processes that occur after each bite of broccoli.

Now that I've finished a few books, I look back at my food diary from even just three months ago and scoff at the choices I made. Seriously? Frosted Mini-wheats? Just no.

I started devoting more of my income to food, and less of it to online shopping. [Amazon, it's okay if we still see each other for things I need, but gourmet chocolate-covered goji berries just aren't happening anymore. It's a toxic relationship.] Right now I'm spending about 1/4 of my income on groceries. I try and vary the produce I buy, and keep processed ingredients to a bare minimum.

Now that my food-habit background is laid, here's something I'm really still confused about: where does soy fit into a healthful life? Let me start by telling you my past relationship with soy.

1. Soy milk makes my mouth and throat itchy when I drink it.

2. I was a vegetarian for 6 years during my youth, and I never really ate soy except in processed "meat" products.

3. Soy is in every processed packaged product sold in an American grocery store.

That's about it. So I really just avoided it when I stopped being a vegetarian because I knew it made me uncomfortable (similar to the feeling I get when I eat foods farmed using certain pesticides).

In the past four months I've had an extreme outbreak of acne: I was initially blaming it on estrogen dominance, although I'm now thinking it was the birth control I was taking. When researching a ton about estrogen dominance and how dietary estrogens can influence the body, I discovered that soy is high in natural estrogens. I decided to really be aware of soy in my diet as to minimize my interaction with excess foreign estrogens. Recently I've been looking into a vegan diet, and I have reconsidered the effects of soy. After researching a vegan diet and lifestyle, I came across evidence of toxicity in soy when not fermented. There are conflicting thoughts on this, too, and then I got into the reasons why ALL raw vegetables were unhealthy.

At this point I'm retreating back into my hole of security, eating everything in moderation (except any processed crapola).  Is soy as bad as everyone says it is? Do dietary estrogens really make any difference in your body's natural hormone balance? Are fermented sources of soy "better" for you and less "toxic"? Soy is a bean, so I would imagine it was eaten raw in the beginning of our food relationship with it. Have we evolved away from being able to consume it and certain other foods raw? Those theories sound like the lactase theories about digesting casein, which I've found to be confusing as well.

The book "The China Study", while informative (and repetitive...) has left me cold on the theories proposed in other nutrition books I've read. I feel like each time I read a book written by reputable scientists, I'm left with a different mindset for eating.

Don't even get me started on coconut oil.

So, basically, this is me reaching out to anyone else who has come across this same confusion, compiled sources, and made a decision on their view of consumption of different soy products. I'm going to do this (eventually), but this is just the statement of my intentions, and a call to any other who have resolved their feelings on the issue.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Kale-Walnut Pesto, Heirloom tomato, Mozzarella and Water Cress Pizza.

I know. It's a lot to take in. It's also possibly the best pizza I've ever made, and I'm about to share with you how you can stuff it in your mouth hole, too.

The first thing is, you gotta make the pesto.

This recipe makes about 1/3 extra (~ a cup total of pesto), but why don't you cry about it? Put it on everything else in your fridge after you're done eating the entire pizza in one sitting.


1 1/2 cups of chopped organic raw kale
2 cloves raw organic garlic
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh organic basil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 teas sea salt


Cook the kale by either submerging it in boiling water for 2 minutes and then putting into an ice bath, or do what I did, and put it in your microwave steamer for two minutes, then run cold water and ice over it. After it's nice and cold and dark green, squeeze it out in your fist until it's dry and pretty packed- about a half cup now.

Add all your ingredients into a processor of some sort with about a half cup of the olive oil. Start pulsing, and slowly pour in the rest of the olive oil. It should be a pretty thick consistency when you're done, so if you're using a nice processor you may need less olive oil than I did with my crappy blender. Bask in the basil-garlic glory of the pesto.

Okay now you're ready for making a pizza. Preheat your grill to as high as it goes for about 10 min. Use a tablespoon of the olive oil on a paper towl to grease the grill before you put the pizza on both times.


- 1/2 a Wegman's whole grain pizza dough, or any whole-grain pizza dough, this is a good recipe.
- 1/2 cup kale-walnut pesto
- 2 tblsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced thinly
- 3/4 cup part skim organic shredded mozzarella
- 3/4 cup water cress, roughly chopped and dried well
- salt, to taste


Make your dough round on a floured surface, and slide onto the grill once it's good and hot. Leave on for about 2 minutes, until you see grill marks on the bottom. You might get some nice puffy pockets, enjoy them.

Remove from the grill, and add toppings to the grilled side. Start with a little olive oil, add the pesto, mozz, tomatoes, a little more mozz, and the watercress.

Slide the whole thing back onto the grill, and decrease the heat slightly to about medium-high. It should take about 5 minutes to finish cooking, but make sure to check the bottom for any burning or flare-ups.

Remove from the grill, let rest for 2 minutes (it's reeaallly hard, but pretty important), drizzle a little more olive oil and salt if needed.

It's really quite good.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lake House Workout

Going to the lake or beach this summer? Don't have any equipment or gymspace? Use this simple, yet tough, bodyweight exercise to keep yourself in check on vacation.

I did this last time I was at my boyfriend's lakehouse on the was probably the most relaxing intense workout I've ever done! It also didn't hurt that the neighbors on their boat were staring at me--it kept my motivation up!

Make sure to maximize your surroundings and use it to your advantage during a long stretch session afterwards! Also make sure to use some (gentle, natural) bug spray if necessary!

Enjoy :) I know I will this weekend.