Category Archives: Meal Prep

Meal of the Week – Alison’s Edamame Noodles

Say hello to my newest obsession: Edamame Noodles. 

 

I stumbled upon these bad boys at Aldi this weekend while my kids were searching for the perfect noodle. (Unbeknownst to me, I might have found mine too!) They settled upon linguine and I popped these organic, gluten free & vegan noodles in the cart too.  A good gluten free noodle is hard to come by, so naturally I was a little wary.  I’m happy to report that they got a gold star from me!

 

  • Tastes good
  • Fast cook time
  • Cheap
  • Healthy
  • Versatile

 

I’m always excited to find a noodle that has a hefty amount of protein and just one serving (about 2 oz dry) packs a massive 24g of protein, only 20g of carbs and 3.5g of fat.  Wins all around!

 

For lunches this week, I tossed the noodles in about ½ teaspoon of pesto sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, paired with BBQ grilled chicken and fresh from the farm green beans.

Meal of the Week – Lindsey’s Berry Protein Smoothie

Lindsey’s Berry Protein Smoothie

 

I’ve been training hard and frequently this summer, and with my fall goals, that’s not going to change anytime soon. With increased activity comes a need for increased calories, and over the last few weeks, I’ve been falling short.

 

Normally lots of running increases a person’s appetite, but for me it seems to have the opposite effect. There are probably some other factors, but when it comes down to it, I really just need to eat more. 

 

On really intense training days (aka when my appetite is lowest but caloric need highest), I add in a smoothie with some protein in it. If you’re having a hard time getting food in, drinking it is a great hack. It doesn’t register as “filling” in the same way as a meal you need to chew. 

 

My normal smoothie is full of greens, pineapple, mango, and banana (it tastes like a pina colada) but this morning I was fresh out of tropical frozen fruit. Instead, I went with a childhood favorite – a triple berry smoothie.

 

Here’s what we’re working with: 

 

 

I really just estimate amounts, but I have been tracking my food intake for the past few weeks as I adjust to eating more, so today, I measured roughly:

 

Ingredients:

1 Scoop Vega Vanilla Protein + Greens (I’d use whey protein if I could, it doesn’t sit well)

3-5 big frozen strawberries

1 small handful frozen blueberries

1 tablespoon Almond Butter (for healthy fats and deliciousness)

Dash of cinnamon

Sprinkle in some chia seeds (more on this later)

Teaspoon of Acai powder (for my third berry type, for extra antioxidants, but mostly for color)

4 oz unsweetened nut milk (cashew here)

8 oz cold water

 

 

 

How to:

 

Seriously, just throw it all in a blender and gooooo.

 

The macros:

 

350 calories

26g of protein

37g of carbohydrate

12g of fat

 

Some tips:

 

  • I use a relatively small amount of nut milk because the protein powder already lends a pretty milky, creamy flavor. Overdoing the milk makes it taste too “heavy.”
  • If you can, let it sit for a little while. That way, the chia seeds soak up some of the liquid and reach their cool, chewy texture. Otherwise, they’re just a little crunchy.
  • The Acai powder is super extra (I went through an antioxidant powder hoarding phase). Regular blueberries are plenty. I really just like the color it lends.

 

I’ll slurp this up right after finishing up some interval training tonight (and I can’t wait). My body will need the protein and carbs the most at that point!

Casey’s Late Left-Over Dinner

It’s been a long week- I asked a coworker what day it was expecting Thursday or Friday for an answer. Now, don’t take that the wrong way.  I wish my week’s were longer and I love coming to the gym every day. The last couple weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind though.

 

May 31 I had shoulder surgery.

 

June 1 and 2 we hosted the USPA Iron City Open.

 

July 1-3 I ended up in the hospital with some type of virus – fever at 102 for 4-5 days.

 

Trying to transition Curtis (you’ll meet him later) into Ryan’s position while updating a lot of our systems at Union Fitness.

 

Testing to determine what caused my hospitalization- blood work, CT scans, PETCT scans, etc.

 

July 23- yesterday- woke up with a fever again.

 

Typically I’m pretty stoic regarding these things. It is what it is, but there are some potential serious hurdles I have in front of me. So I’ll take them as they come. In the meantime, I threw together a pretty good dinner after getting home from the gym around 9pm.

 

Mixed greens and spinach – 50/50 mix

Pickling Cucumbers (just little guys)

Yellow Pepper

Garlic and Basil salad dressing

The left overs- I heated up the following in a pan with a little bit of avocado oil on high for 3 minute for so.

Filet – from Butcher Box, love their quality and cuts

Potatoes

And dumped those on top of the salad. Annnddd added some strawberries. You can see by the picture my girls approved…

 

 

Alexa’s Quiche Craving

A Quiche Dream

 

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Have you ever craved something sort of random? Maybe it’s something you eat once a year or once every seven years. Well that food for me is quiche. I have not had quiche in probably seven years. It is something I never crave nor did I ever have it as a child. However, I do love eggs, cheese, bacon, vegetables, yummy burnt crust…I love it all. So, last weekend I made it! I made it gluten free as well!

 

Ingredients for crust:

2 Cups of all-purpose gluten free flour

½ Cup of coconut oil

1 Egg

2/3 Cup of water

½ Tsp of salt

Quiche part:

4 Eggs

2/3 Cup of preferred milk (I used almond milk)

Lots of spinach

Portobello mushrooms

Feta cheese

Salt

 

The fun:

First, we make the crust. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and coconut oil. Press coconut oil firmly with a fork to break up into flour and mix as best as humanly possible. Next, add egg and salt. Mix. Last, slowly add water and stir until you get a doughy consistency. Knead dough with hands. Press dough into pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

 

Even more fun:

Add 4 eggs into a bowl and beat well. Then add preferred milk and salt. Load pie crust pan with spinach and mushrooms. Pour Eggs/milk batter into pan. Fill to top. Sprinkle feta all over that puppy. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove, let set. Eat.

Meal of the Week – Alexa’s Carb Potpourri

Alexa’s Meal of the Week

 

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Picture this…you just finished a grueling squat session followed by loads of accessory work and all you want to do is eat carbohydrates that not only replace the portion of glycogen that you may have lost BUT also provide nutrients that are necessary for survival, adequate blood flow, and digestion. Well, I will take the pressure out of you having to think (plus I am sure you have some brain fatigue from training so ferociously) and I will rescue your situation with this outstanding combination your aforementioned depletion PLUS the combination is kind of delightful.

 

What do you need?

 

BEETS, a great source of fiber, folate, potassium, vitamins C and it also has nitric oxide boosting effects for a good old pump. Next, we have HONEY GOLD POTATOES, a fast(er) acting carbohydrate and easy on the digestive system. FENNEL, the sometimes-forgotten species of flower, but nonetheless a wonderful digestive aid, anti-inflammatory, and it tastes incredible. Lastly JAPANESE SWEET POTATOES, traditionally grown in Japan and Okinawa, but found at your local Whole Foods. If you have not tried these then I think you should consider adding it to your weekly grocery haul. They are a combination of buttery and sweet and the consistency is like no other sweet potato I have tried before. Contains many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and happiness.

 

What to do with all of this?

 

Chop it up into desired size. Pour olive oil over and bake at 425 degrees for 45-50 minutes. After, I broil for 8-10 minutes and they are done! 

 

Alexa

Meal of the Week- Alison’s Breakfast

Alison’s Breakfast

 

Stuck in a breakfast rut, I decided to swap out the usual breakfast oats for a little egg cup action. Healthy and super easy to make = two birds, one cup!

What I love about these protein packed babies is that they are completely customizable for your changing needs or tastes. In the mood for savory? Do the classic ham & egg route. In the mood for sweet? Throw some sweet potatoes on the bottom. Need some extra greens? Spinach to the rescue. Cheese lover? Sprinkle on the dairy. Want a little Mexican twist? Throw some cilantro and chili lime seasoning on top. There are so many choices and with twelve spaces in your pan there’s plenty of room to mix it up.

 

What you’ll need:
Muffin tin
Meat of your choice
Eggs
Veggies of your choice
Spices of your choice
Cooking spray

 

What to do:
Spray the bottom of your pan (**Important step, do not skip!)
Line the cup with the meat of your choice. Sometimes I like to really load up on the protein so I do a double layer.
Add veggies.
Add egg. Cracked, of course.
Fish out egg shell pieces (You may be able to skip this step, depending on your egg cracking skills.)
Sprinkle on spices.

Bake at 350-ish degrees until done, around 20 or so minutes (I prefer my yolk a little runny, so I bake until the egg whites no longer jiggle)

And voila! Breakfast cups fueling fitness classes (and instructors).

Perks of Protein Powder

We all know how important protein is, but making sure our body has enough of it can often times be challenging. Of course, the best way to ensure protein in our bodies is through solid food, but finding the time to prep all of our meals is never easy. That’s why protein powder has become so popular over the past couple of years. It’s the perfect and quick substitution for solid food that ensures protein for our muscles. But is it safe?

There are risks, but if you consume protein powder correctly, you shouldn’t run in to any big problems. It is simply an easy way to take care of your muscles without stressing in the kitchen and the benefits are great!

Weight Control

Protein shakes are often times used as meal replacements when paired with the right ingredients like oats, peanut butter, fruits and vegetables. This helps you control your calorie intake and makes you feel full enough to not indulge in an big meal. When it comes to dieting and weight control, it’s all about portion control. Replacing a meal with a protein shake will give your body the nutrients it needs, in a good portion size.

Muscle Building

Every time you work out, your muscles tear. Protein shakes help rebuild them faster to make them stronger. And because your shake is in liquid form, it goes straight to your blood stream and works faster. Solid food is always great, but it takes longer to break down. Protein shakes get the job done at a faster rate.

Stress Relief

Protein powder has been proven to relieve stress. It’s no secret that taking care of your body makes you feel better all around. When your body feels good, your mind feels good too. We are all prone to stress, but eating the right foods and adding the right nutrients to our diets, can strongly and positively affect our stress levels.

Convenience

Protein shakes are easy and fast. Finding time to prep our meals in between school, work, and our workouts is very hard. Some of us really struggle with the balance between the gym and the kitchen because we simply do not have the time. That’s the beauty of a protein shake, you can make it in seconds and the long term effects are great!

So, what are the best kinds of protein powder?

Some of the best kinds are whey, casein, egg, pea, and hemp protein. All five of these different types of protein rebuild and maintain muscle fast. But It is important to understand what you are taking before you take it. Be sure to read all of the ingredients and ask around for second opinions. Protein powder isn’t for everyone. Since a lot of the powder does come from dairy, people are lactose intolerant may struggle more when consuming a protein shake. Understand your body and understand what you need to do to take care of it.

The Best Fitness Advice I’ve Ever Received

There’s a wealth of free fitness “advice” floating around out there.  Now distinguishing the good from the bad is a little bit trickier because there is no one size fits all approach to fitness.  All of our bodies are different with varying goals and plans in place. Unfortunately in the fitness world, a lot of ugly myths continually make their way into the minds of gym goers. As professionals, we see these myths play out on a daily basis. These include but certainly are not limited to myths like:

 

  • Exercise only works if it’s painful
  • Lifting weights will make you bulky
  • There’s only one way to (insert exercise here)
  • If you only had more (time, equipment, personal training sessions, etc) then you’d be more (fit, beautiful, healthy, etc)
  • It worked for me, so it’ll work for you too

 

There’s nothing worse than unsolicited advice except perhaps terrible advice. So when I was thinking about the best advice that I’ve ever received I couldn’t quite narrow it down to just one.  What works for me may or may not work for you because each and every person’s fitness journey is different.  Learning how to appreciate my own body and my own mind was perhaps my first lesson and the foundation on which I built my health and fitness journey. Some other helpful advice I’ve received include but are certainly not limited to things like:

 

  • Listen: Listen to your body. Listen to your coach. Read books and articles. Listen to podcasts. Keep your ears open and your mind discerning.

 

  • Train with a plan: Imagine trying to drive in an unfamiliar place without GPS? Yep, working out without a plan is pretty much exactly like that. You may eventually (if you’re lucky!!) get to where you want to be but with a lot of added time and frustrations.

 

  • Be patient: This one is so important! Expecting six pack abs after one core workout just isn’t realistic! Progress takes time. Don’t get discouraged when things are moving slower than you’d like. Remember to track your progress so you can see the whole picture.

 

  • Rest and recovery is just as important as training: I know it’s tempting to go into overdrive to accomplish your goals. But sleep and recovery is equally as (if not more!) important than the time you spend in the gym.

 

  • Find something you enjoy Don’t like boxing classes? Don’t take boxing classes! Hate mindlessly running on the treadmill? Don’t run on the treadmill! Take every single in Pittsburgh if that’s what it takes but find something that you actually enjoy doing and it’ll make your fitness journey that much easier!

 

  • Be consistent: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit! – Aristotle

 

What’s the best fitness advice you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments!

Facts and Myths About Protein and Protein Shakes

 

Myth– Protein shakes will make you lose weight. Proteins are broken down in the body through glycolysis the same way that carbohydrates are, so if you consume too many calories whether it’s from protein, carbohydrates, or fat, you will gain weight.

 

Myth– Protein shakes will make you “bulky” or “fat.” If you add whole milk and peanut butter, you might! If you’re trying to keep it lighter but jazz up your shake with something other than water you can add skim or almond milk, plain yogurt, fruit, or PB2 peanut butter powder.

 

Myth– You will get “too muscular” from drinking protein shakes. Consuming protein doesn’t produce more protein, which means you won’t directly gain muscle from drinking a protein shake. It takes a lot of physical effort to gain muscle over a long period of time.

 

Myth– You need to consume a protein shake within the 20 minute post workout “anabolic window” to gain benefits. The body doesn’t work in this overly simplified way. Get your protein in post workout but don’t stress if it’s an 60 or 90 minutes after you’re done.

 

Myth– Protein is bad for your kidneys and you can only absorb 20-30 grams of protein per meal while the rest is excreted in urine. Again, an overly simplified view of how the body works. Consuming more protein is not “wasted”, it just takes longer to digest.

 

Myth– “If I’m not exercising, I don’t need to consume protein.” Whether or not you’re active, protein is an essential macronutrient. Athletes and non-athletes still need adequate protein intake. Athletes may require slightly higher amounts to support muscle repair and fill their caloric needs but the amount doesn’t necessarily need to be drastically higher than that of the average person. For any given individual, of the three macronutrients (protein, carbs, & fats), the amount of protein per day should remain consistent while the carb and fat amount can vary based on activity level.

 

Fact– Protein deficiencies are very common and an increased protein intake has powerful effects on increasing the rate of injury repair and reduce illness.

Fact– Protein shakes are supplements (as in they should supplement the diet) not replace whole, minimally processed food sources like vegetables, lentils, beans, and meat.

 

Fact– There are different kinds of protein powders that have different effects and purposes. Whey is fast absorbing so it is suggested to consume post or intra-workout. Casein is slow absorbing and suggested to consume midday or closer to bed-time. Neither is better or worse than the other.

 

Fact– Protein shakes are not for everyone. Whey and casein are derived from milk proteins, so if you’re lactose intolerant or have a sensitivity to dairy products (or tend to feel bloated or gassy), try a different brand or other protein powders such as pea, beef, hemp, soy, rice, or egg.

 

Fact– All protein is made by plants. Only plants can take nitrogen from the air, break the nitrogen molecules apart, and incorporate the nitrogen into amino acids to make proteins. Because plants are producers of protein from which all other proteins are derived, they have a much more beneficial effect on the body. Animals are consumers of plants or other animals, so their proteins are recycled in the food chain.

 

Fact– There’s nothing magical about consuming protein powder, it’s just a convenient protein source.

 

Check out Registered Dietician Andrew Wade’s Recipes (macros and calories included!!) to make protein smoothies, protein pancakes, protein oatmeal, protein yogurt, protein cupcakes, protein bars, AND protein waffles!

http://casespecificnutrition.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Daily-Whey-Recipes.pdf

 

Andrew will be speaking at our Free Nutrition Seminar on August 24th from 6-7pm at Union Fitness!

Are Your Eating Habits Affecting Your Training?

 

There are not too many times that an answer to a fitness related question is simple or straightforward. Most of the time there are multiple solutions to a problem, a million different ways to look at or treat the same thing and even sometimes the exact same exercise/movement is called something different depending on whom you ask. So when we start to look at something quite complex, like eating habits, nutrition and if it affects your training, you can expect a complicated answer, right?

I’m going to make this VERY simple. YES. Yes, your eating habits are absolutely affecting your training!

 

Ok great, but how? Now isn’t that the million-dollar question! In fact, there’s a multi-billion dollar industry out there trying to answer that question. “Try this protein shake”, they say, “it’ll make your muscles HUGE without even lifting a weight!” They want to sell your pre-workout powders, post-workout powders, during workout powders and ten weeks before working out powders (ok, I’m exaggerating a little bit here but you get the idea). There are so many different philosophies on eating & training: intermittent fasting, eating before bedtime, carb cycling, large meals vs. small frequent meals, gluten free diets, dairy free diets, vegan diets, the list goes on & on. One-day fats are the enemy then the very next day a professional tells you that no, actually carbs are the enemy and to avoid them at all costs. There are scores of literature about every single nutrition & training theory out there. So how DO you navigate how your eating habits are affecting your training?

 

Go old school and keep a journal. Begin to track your food and your workouts. Write down how you felt before/during/after your training and throughout the day. Then begin to piece together the puzzle. If you need help figuring it all out, get a professional to take a second look to find out what works best for you, your training and your lifestyle.

 

Try not to get too caught up in the all gimmicks. Eat when you’re hungry. Make smart choices. Drink tons of water. Be consistent. But most importantly, do what works for you— and just YOU. It’s great that Sally across the street lost 20lbs in one month by drinking blue algae shakes that she harvested in her aquarium. Will that work for you? Maybe, maybe not. Ultimately the best guide to figuring out how your eating affects your training is YOU.