Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dinner in a Snap: Recipes For the Health-Conscious Athletes Short on Time

I love to experiment with recipes in the kitchen. Whether it's adjusting a bakery item's recipe to make it more heart healthy or improvising to see if a recipe with 20 ingredients can be just as good with 10, I enjoy a good challenge. However, the best feeling is when I come across recipes that are not only delicious, but are fast and don't require a trip to the grocery store for an ingredient I would never think to stock in my kitchen.

Since we're getting into the time when the allure of New Year's Eve Resolutions are wearing off, I thought it was time to re-start your food and fitness goals with three delicious dinners that require minimal prep and attention and include ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. These are all tested by myself and my husband. Four thumbs up. And when it comes to nutrition, they are spot on.

Turkey & Broccoli Stir-Fry
Woe! Before you scroll past this, I guarantee this is likely the easiest stir fry recipe you will ever encounter. Don't like turkey? Swap out with lean beef, chicken, or shrimp.

Ingredients - Serves 4
1 lb turkey, sliced into thin strips
4 tsp. canola oil, divided (don't use olive oil for this one)
6 Tbsp slivered almonds (could be optional, but oh so tasty)
*1 lg onion, peeled, thinly sliced
2 gloves garlic, minced or pressed (from jar okay too)
1 c. low-sodium turkey broth, fat removed (chicken broth okay too)
*1 lb broccoli
1 c dry white wine or additional broth (wine provides better flavor)
*1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. cornstarch
4 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce (Worcestershire sauce + water at 3:1 works too)

*If you want, simplify by getting a 16 oz. bag of store-brand frozen stir-fry veggies instead - just as good for you and saves on time! Don't thaw first.

1. Heat wok or large pan over high heat. Add 2 tsp oil and almonds. Stir 2 minutes; set aside (= toasted almonds!).
2. Add remaining oil and turkey; stir until brown; set aside
3. Combine onion, garlic and 1/2 c broth in wok (garlic and broth only if using frozen veggies). Stir until onions soften - about 4 minutes.
4. Add broccoli, wine, and remaining broth (or all veggies if using frozen mix). Stir over medium heat 4 minutes.
5. Add mushrooms; cook until broccoli tender.
6. Mix cornstarch and soy sauce; stir into liquid to thicken; add turkey; stir 3 minutes.

Garnish with almonds. Serve with brown rice.

Tex-Mex Turkey Soup
Want to go vegetarian? Just leave out the turkey and add an extra can of your favorite beans.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced (from jar okay)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
4 cups water
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup salsa
4 cups shredded cooked turkey (optional)
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 (14 ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained)
2 cups frozen corn (optional)
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro (if you've got it)

Corn tortilla chips, chopped green onion, shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend, cilantro, low-fat plain yogurt (amount  of each depends on how many are eating that night - you choose!)

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add minced onions and cook until onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2. Stir in water, diced tomatoes, salsa, shredded turkey and parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add black beans, corn, sour cream and cilantro. Simmer 20-30 minutes.

3. Serve with desired toppings. Cornbread is also a great addition.

Caribbean Sweet Potato & Bean Stew
This one is for all you slow-cooker lovers. Warning: The ingredients - in my opinion - make the dish sound less than appetizing, but take my word for it and give it a try. I think you'll be surprised.

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups frozen cut green beans
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 ounces) vegetable broth (low-sodium if possible)
1 small onion, sliced
2 tsp Caribbean jerk seasoning (or whatever seasoning you have that is most similar to this)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
2. Cover; cook on Low 5-6 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Serve with brown rice.
*This recipe modified from one in Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Best-Loved Recipes book.

Happy cooking and let me know what you think!

Be Extraordinary,


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Swimming Your Way to States

Swimmers  - particularly long-distance swimmers - have a specific roadblock with respect to fueling: water. Sure, you can't swim without water, but you can't swim and DRINK water either. Since for most swimmers, stopping for a quick gulp isn't exactly an option, here are some tips to make sure you remain fueled and hydrated throughout the race.

1. Start early
It's important to sip fluids frequently not only during the day of the race, but also in the two days prior to race day. And don't make these fluids only water. Choosing low-fat milk, 100% juice, or even a sports drink will make sure that you're also taking in energy, vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes in preparation for your heat.

2. Be choosy
The key to being a good swimmer is efficiency and speed. In order to avoid feeling sluggish in the water, stick to low-fiber food the day of the race. Not sure what foods are low in fiber? Try these options: white rice/bread/crackers & canned/cooked fruit; avoid beans and fresh fruits/veggies. Why? While fiber is GREAT for you, it adds bulk and takes quite some time to make it through your GI system, which can be quite uncomfortable in the pool. So just for the day of (and I do mean that - ONLY the day of) competition, go low-fiber so that you get the energy you need from your foods and then get rid of the extra waste quickly.
3. Don't give up too soon
Just because you're only two hours pre-race doesn't mean you can abandon all nutritional concerns. Because you can't stop mid-race (or sometimes even between events) to re-fuel/re-hydrate, it is imperative that you continue to fuel as close to the race as possible without causing GI distress.
Here is a sample fueling plan starting at two hours pre-race (assuming you ate a meal at 3 hrs pre-race):
-Drink 2 cups fluid (water or sports drink) 2 hours prior
-Drink 1 cup fluid + 1 banana + 2 Tbsp smooth nut butter 1 hour prior
-Drink 4 oz sports drink (if you can tolerate) or fluid 30 minutes prior
This is just an example - there are many snacks that would fit in that 1 hour time-slot. Think carbs + protein (and more carb than protein).

Many high school athletes have States quickly approaching, while collegiate athletes are prepping for Nationals in March with qualifiers in February. It's not too late to implement the tips above because these are meant for race day. However, if possible be sure to try race day nutrition in practice first.

Good luck swimmers!

Be Extraordinary,

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Eating Disorder in Sport

I now have a second office located at The Awakening Center at 3523 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60657-1137. At this location, I will be seeing a greater proportion of clients struggling with eating disorders. Eating disorders (ED) are a very real problem in the United States. Approximately 11 million Americans suffer from an ED and nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an ED. In fact, anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents. Unfortunately, only 1 in 10 men and women with ED receive treatment (1).

Eating disorders are particularly prominent within the world of sports - especially in those sports which place an emphasis on appearance and weight, such as gymanstics, wrestling, figure skating, dancing and diving. One Norwegian study found that 20% of female elite athletes and 9% of male elite athletes fit criteria for an eating disorder (2). Increased prevelance of ED in athletes is not too surprising, considering the fact that athletes possess similar psychological traits as those with eating disorders, such as perfectionism, high self-expectations, competitiveness, compulsiveness, drive, and body image distortion (3).

Because of these facts, I thought it fitting that I share with you my personal philosphy and approach when working with those suffering from ED (athlete or not). Becoming a Mindful Eater was posted in The Awakening Center blog. Please click on the link to view the article.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder and you live in the Chicago area, I encourage you set up an appointment with myself and/or a therapist at The Awakening Center by calling (773) 929-6262. My extension is 24.

Be Extraordinary,


1. Eating Disorders Coalition. Facts About Eating Disorders: What the Research Shows
2. Sungot-Borgen, J. Torstveit, M.K. (2004) Prevalence of ED in Elite Athletes is Higher than in the General Population. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 14(1), 25-32.
3. Bachner-Melman, R., Zohar, A, Ebstein, R, 2006. How Anorexic-like are the Symptom and Personality Profiles of Aesthetic Athletes? Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 38 No 4. 628-636

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why Wait? Super Bowl Foods Ready in a Snap!

According to statistics from the National Restaurant Association, 48 million people will have dinner delivered this Sunday during the Super Bowl. Instead of waiting 2 hours for a greasy, cold pizza, why not give your culinary skills a try instead? Game-day foods are not as complicated as you may think. Here are a few quick, easy, and delicious options that your body will thank you for after the last touchdown is scored:

Hummus & Veggies
You couldn't find an easier appetizer if you tried. Just pull out your favorite blender or food processor and throw in the following: 1 can garbanzo beans with half of the liquid, 4 Tbsp lemon juice (fresh not necessary), 2 Tbsp Tahini (sold in a jar at any grocery store), and 2 cloves chopped garlic (can used garlic in a jar if you want). Blend for ~30 seconds. Put the hummus in a bowl and drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Serve with baby carrots, cut peppers, and any other veggies you enjoy. A great alternative to ranch dip and oh so easy!

Whole Grain Chips & Salsa
You can rejoice because chips & salsa are actually a great choice on game day. The key is to choose a chunky salsa full of veggies. If you can find low-sodium salsa - even better. When you pick your chips, look for chips that are whole-grain. That's the key to a better chip choice. For more nutritional punch - add some avocado to the mix: great tasting and full of fiber and healthy fats. The trick with chips & dip? Don't put them right in front of you during the game - it's too easy to eat an entire bag and jars-worth before the second quarter. Put these on the kitchen counter or on the dining room table and use an appetizer plate each time you take more to remind yourself to evaluate how much you really need to be satisfied.

Make-Your-Own Bagel Pizzas
Yes - you can have your pizza and eat it too. This is great for crowds - especially ones that include kids, who tend to be picky. You'll need whole wheat bagels (make sure the first ingredient on the food label is whole wheat vs. enriched wheat flour), pizza or pesto sauce, and low-fat/part-skim mozzarella cheese. You can either purchase the pizza toppings yourself or ask your guests to each bring a favorite topping. Guests can create their own bagel pizzas at any time during the game. Great topping choices are tomato, spinach, mushroom, peppers, broccoli, lean ground turkey, pineapple, and olives. If you love your pepperoni - try turkey pepperoni for less saturated fat (I guarantee you won't know the difference). Once the bagels are garnished, cook at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Toaster ovens do a great job with these as well.

What's a football game without a tasty bowl of chili?!? Chili is actually a great choice, as long as you follow some important steps. First, if it contains meat, find the most lean version you can (lean ground turkey or lean ground beef). No need to worry about the meat being dry because it will be covered in sauce. Second, add beans - lots of beans. Beans are full of fiber, which keeps you full for longer. Consider adding half the meat called for in the recipe and substituting with an extra can of beans. Third, add fresh tomatoes to the chili - whether or not the recipe calls for it. Tomatoes will add fiber, vitamins, minerals, and important cancer-fighting Lycopene. Fourth, choose health-friendly garnishes such as low-fat cheese, low-fat sour cream and fresh onions. Try substituting plain low-fat yogurt for the sour cream (again - you won't taste the difference). This will add protein and calcium, while keeping saturated fat intake low.

Most importantly - enjoy the game! Make the event more about spending time with friends and less about the food. Go [insert your team of choice]!

Be Extraordinary,