Friday, January 16, 2015

Flax Seed Energy Ball Things

So I'm back with an all new recipe, and this one is actually healthy, unlike my last one. If you have already read my most recent post about what to eat while you're exercising, you've heard about these magical delicious-I-don't-know-what-they're-called ball things. When the nutritionist was at my dance studio (again, refer to my last post for more information), she showed us a recipe that is super easy and fast for these energy balls to eat before you exercise , that give you the right kind of energy. At first, I was suspicious because she put coconut in them, and I'm a strong opposer to coconut. But, I decided to give it a try, and it changed my life. Now, these mysterious spheres of excellence are all I eat- it's probably not safe. Now I am here to share this excellence with you- here we go!

Look it's them! Courtesy of Gimme Some Oven


  • I cup uncooked quick oats -Make sure you use the right kind of oats- one time I used steel cut oats and they were the weirdest flax seed ball things I've ever tasted. You can also use gluten free oats. 
  • 1/2 cup peanut, almond, or cashew butter -I always use almond butter. Whole foods has a lot of really good brands. You can also use any other kind of "butter," except regular butter. 
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup -I usually use honey because it's healthier and less sugary-tasting. Also, if you don't have honey or maple syrup, you can use agave. I tried it once, and it tastes pretty good-it's just sweeter.
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ, flaxseed, or flax meal -I've always use flaxseed, and I think it tastes really good. But, my dad has mentioned that you could also try chia seeds. My only concern with using chia seeds is that when they touch liquid, they get really goey and weird.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract -You could always use almond extract instead.
  • 1/2 cup Craisins, dried blueberries or sour cherries, shredded coconut (unsweetened), or chocolate chips -You can pretty much put anything you want here, but make sure not to add to many things- this can amp up the calories. My favorite is the shredded coconut. 
All you have to do after mixing all of the ingredients in a bowl is put it in the fridge for half an hour. Then, you can either roll them into balls, or just smush it all into a tubberware container and eat it with a fork, which I may or may not do.

Since this recipe is designed to be eaten to boost your energy while you're working out, it's kinda higher in calories than some other foods (like celery). Not so much that you'll have to go to fat camp, but enough that you can't just eat it whenever. The best time to eat this is right before a workout, or during one when your energy is low. You also don't want to eat a huge quantity at once, because if you do some math that means you eat even more calories. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Eating for Maximum Energy Utilization

Over the summer my dance studio brought in a real-life-its-her-actual-job-nutritionist. They had her come so that she could teach us about how you're supposed to eat when you're constantly exercising.  She showed us a delicious recipe for these energy balls that have flax seed and honey and coconut and a bunch of other stuff - maybe I'll show you it sometime. She also gave us three pages of information - eating before exercise, during exercise, and after. Those three pieces of paper have been so helpful to me and are my lifeblood when I'm dancing for five hours straight.

Like honestly though? Courtesy of Apples and Arteries

Eating Before Exercise

  • Eat a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal before exercise - but avoid simple sugars cuz those usually just make you fat.
  • A little bit of protein before you exercise, because this can help reduce muscle soreness after your workout.
  • Choose a meal that is low in fat and fiber so that you can digest it, and hopefully not throw up when you are doing jumping jacks. 
Some good foods that you can eat a few hours before you exercise are:
    • Peanut butter & honey on whole-grain toast 
    • Fruit & yogurt smoothie + low fat granola
    • Turkey & cheese sandwich and some fruit               
About an hour before you workout, you would want to eat something small like some fruit or a sports bar. Another thing that I find helpful before I exercise is not eating a lot of food. If I just have a small snack and make sure I'm not super full when I go to dance, then I feel like I can actually dance.

Eating During Exercise

  • Drink the right amount of fluids. You need a good mix of water and a drink with electrolytes. A good general rule is for the first hour of exercising, drink water. After that, you want to start ingesting something that has electrolytes but not too much sugar. 
  • Make sure you drink enough water to make up for the sweat that you're losing. Dehydration is not fun when you are exercising.  
  • Experiment with different foods and drinks to see what keeps your energy up the longest. Everyone is different and unique, like a snowflake.
While you're exercising, here are some foods and fluids that you should try:
  • Coconut water - this is the best thing you can drink because it has a ton of electrolytes and other amazing things, but not as much sugar as something like gatorade. Gatorade is the worst thing you could drink while exercising. 
  • A banana, bread with jam or honey, low-fat sports or granola bars

When you are eating during a workout, the goal is to boost your energy up for a short period of time. So it's also good to eat some fruit, or even something like fruit snacks to boost your blood sugar levels for a little bit. 

Eating for Recovery

  • Restore fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat(a.k.a drink water and coconut water).
  • Replace muscle fuel utilized during practice(a.k.a eat complex carbohydrates)
  • Eat protein to repair damaged muscle tissue
  • Eat a snack or meal within 15-60 minutes after your workout
Fun Fact - Did you know that when you do a hard workout your muscle tissue actually tears apart a little bit? Amino acids rush there to fix the broken muscle, and thats why you get sore muscles. When the muscle knits back together, it gets stronger. If you are strength training, you should pay attention to how long you're sore. If your muscles hurt for more than two or three days from the same workout, chances are you're going too hard on yourself and could injure yourself. Take it down a notch!

Some good recovery foods are:
    • Chocolate milk- this is perfect 15 minutes after your workout because chocolate milk is one of the few drinks with a perfect protein to carb ratio to mend your ripped-up muscles.
    • A home made smoothie- try to put in extra blueberries, because those are the best fruit for recovery. you can also add some peanut butter or almond butter to your smoothie. 
    • Banana and peanut butter
Now that you know all of the ins and outs of eating food when you're working out, you can be the buffest person around. 


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Breakfast- The Hardest Meal of the Day

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Can you count on your fingers how many times you've heard that phrase? Personally, I despise hearing it. It's ridiculously overused, and is it even true? No one ever tells you why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, despite the annoying phrase, it actually is. In the morning, when you feed yourself, you are letting your body know that you're awake, and it's time for another day. Then, your body jump-starts your metabolism. Keeping your metabolism stable is the key to staying healthy, and not gaining weight. And, as you get older, your metabolism naturally slows down. So, to keep your metabolism stable, you do need to eat breakfast. 

Ooh, Yum! If only I could actually Make this. Credits to Johnsonville

The hard part in all of this is what to eat for breakfast. I personally have so many issues with finding something I like to eat in the morning that's easy and quick. I don't have time to make a three course meal with some fresh squeezed orange juice. And, at six in the morning I'm not really up for making myself food either. I've experimented with many breakfast dishes, and have finally picked my favorite. But, before I reveal the winner, I will show you a timeline of breakfast foods past- some good, some bad. Who knows, maybe I'll give you some ideas for your early mornings. 

I used to eat cereal for breakfast, like lots of people do. But sadly, that is one of the bad breakfasts. It has no protein to keep you full until your next meal, and it is almost pure sugar. Those are reason enough not to eat it. 

Then, I went to instant oatmeal. You know, the ones in the brown packets? I would always have the brown sugar flavor, because if you add your own sugar, you'll probably put way to much in, and thats not good. Honestly, I just got sick of eating this every morning. But, it is a relatively okay choice to eat, if you don't mind the sugar and extra chemicals. Its quick and easy.  

After that I think it was a cut up banana and peanut butter. This is a very good option, because you get a beautifully vitamin rich banana, and some protein in the peanut butter. If you can choke down the sugar free peanut butter or almond butter, that would make it even better. I stopped eating this for breakfast because, again, I got sick of it (I get sick of foods easily).

And finally, the winner! Right now when I get up at, like, practically four in the morning, I drink a protein drink. Not an Odwalla bottle of chemicals or anything, though. I have two different powders that I put into water every morning, shake up, and chug. It takes maybe two minutes, and doesn't taste that bad. The two powders that I use are Nano-pro and Nano-green. These both come from the company, but I buy them off of Amazon. The Nano-pro is a protein powder (don't worry, you wont look like a muscle-builder), and the Nano-green is like eating a plate of kale, but without having to eat kale. You all know how much I hate kale. I put two scoops of Nano-pro, then one scoop on Nano-green in some water, then chug it. This is a really good option if you have a weird stomach, and eating solid foods in the morning makes you feel sick. I don't know if that's an actual thing, but I've hear people say that. And, I've been drinking it for a whole four months and I still haven't gotten sick of it, which is actually kind of rare. The only bad thing about this drink is that the powder in pretty expensive, and it runs out fast if you use it everyday. My family decided to buy an entire case of it at a time, and that way it's also cheaper. But, if you can't afford the powder there are always other alternatives that you can have for breakfast. Like, say, a fruit smoothie. 


Thursday, January 1, 2015

What is Clean Eating?

As I've been roaming the internet in the past couple of days, I've seen the term "clean eating" more times than I can count. I honestly had no idea what this meant. Do you have to put your food in the dishwasher before eating it? Or take a shower before eating your food? It was kind of driving me crazy, so I looked it up. Clean eating is just another one of those many diets, like vegans and paleo eaters. I have never payed attention to these diets because they are always so extreme, and I believe in moderation. Clean eating, however, is much more reasonable.

Courtesy of

Essentially, the idea of clean eating is to eat foods as close to their true form as possible. So, no ultra-processed foods, or refined grains, or sugar. Wait, what is ultra-processed? This word is good to know if you want to be food-savvy. I'm sure you all hear about "processed foods," and how they are all bad for you, and thats true in a general sense. But, If you want to get really knit picky, processed food is anything not in its 100% completely natural state. For example, steaming your broccoli and mashing your potatoes makes them technically "processed" foods. It's nearly impossible to avoid all processed foods, because almost everything we eat is processed- we cook it, we mash it, we juice it, and we grill it. So, ultra-processed foods are what we usually called processed foods- the Marie Callender's Frozen Pot Pie, the jelly Donut that you had for desert, and the Big Mac you had on your way home from work. So, no, clean eating isn't cutting out everything that is cooked, or altered from its original state. It's cutting out ultra-processed foods as much as possible.

Another thing to know is how to tell if something you're eating is ultra-processed. The key is to look at the ingredients list. If there is anything that you can't pronounce, or don't know what it is, or sounds like some sort of awful chemical (like thiamin mononitrate), it's most likely ultra-processed. So don't eat it. Another useful tip is when you go grocery shopping, stay on the edges of the grocery store- where the meat, the fruit, the dairy, and the vegetables are. Unless you have a really weird grocery store, it'll probably be laid out like that.

A few other points of clean eating are to eat five to six times a day, and drink a lot of water. If you look at my post on water, you will know exactly how to do that. Now for the eating five or six times a day, this is just the best way to have energy all day long. If you eat six small meals a day, you will burn calories all day, and your body wont ever think that you are starving- because then it stores more fat. So, just eating six small meals a day can help you lose weight. Another part of clean eating is to try to eat local foods, and organic foods. This is just generally better for your body and better for the environment.

Now you have the whole lowdown on clean eating, and you can show off to your friends. Have fun.