by Harmony Heffron

Blueberries recently made the news when companies were discovered putting fake ‘blueberries’ in their products.  Though you now have to be careful to avoid purchasing counterfeit blueberry products, there are plenty of reasons to add this wonder food to your diet.

Rich in antioxidants, blueberries may even prevent some types of diseases, including cancer. A study by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center reports that blueberries may lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and reduce fat in the stomach area. High in vitamins A, B complex, C, and E, these berries can keep your body healthy and help your immune system to function well.

Since fresh berries are only available a few months a year, frozen blueberries are a great alternative. They make a fabulous, nutrient-rich addition to health shakes. Just throw them in the blender with everything else!

If you buy fresh berries, check the color. The more blue they are, the more antioxidants they have in them.

Check out our Food Of The Day for more help with eating.

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There is a reason why you see bananas at the end of marathons, triathlons, and obstacle races.  Simply put, you can’t go wrong with eating bananas.  Bananas are concentrated nutrition delivered direct from one raw food, fueling you up with approximate 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 422 mg of potassium.   Muscle cramping has long been documented as being related to low potassium levels.  Anyone who has had their legs lock up at the end of a long race can appreciate this, and should consider grabbing one whenever they are around.

Bananas are easy to eat and digest for the most part. They are easily chewed up and swallowed, even if one is running at 90% intensity.  While everyone manages solid food while exercising differently, the banana seems pretty universally accepted as easy to digest while exercising.

In fact, they are easy on your stomach.

Bananas have long been recognized for their antacid effects that protect against stomach ulcers and ulcer damage. In one study, a simple mixture of banana and milk significantly reduced acid secretion. In addition, bananas also help activate the cells that compose your stomach lining, producing a thicker protective mucus barrier against stomach acids.

So, when reaching for your coffee in the morning, reach for a banana, too.  When you are heading to workout, grab a banana to go with you for either before, during, or after your workout.  Simply put, you never know when you might need an extra dose of quality raw food calories and potassium.

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Asparagus: Spartan Food of the Day

Heavy in –  Vitamin K, fiber, vitamin B6

Light on – Calories, saturated fat

If weight management is your goal, think about scripting several pounds of asparagus into your plans.  This veggie is a low calorie source of folate, potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6. The stalks are heavy in antioxidants, so don’t just cook and eat the tips – just trim off the brown bottom pieces off. (I find these to be great dog treats.)

One cup of asparagus has almost 5 grams of dietary fiber, something important for your digestion.  Long story short, if you are training at peak performance, you will want your digestion system to keep up.  Fiber is your go-to for this.

This is one of those vegetables that seems to defy all the odds in terms of holding up in the fridge, the one item still edible when coming home after a long weekend of racing.

How to Cook Asparagus:

Asparagus can be eaten raw, but is most often steamed to make tenderer.  You can blanch, boil, bake, or grill – being such a hearty vegetable it’s hard to mess up.

Can’t go wrong with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Just add fire.

Sources:

Fight Back with Food: Use Nutrition to Heal What Ails You. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association, 2002. Print.

“U.S. Department of Agriculture.” U.S. Department of Agriculture. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.

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“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
- Samuel Johnson

After months of work and tireless time in the Spartan HQ lab, we’ve finally determined that eating a high sugar, high salt diet can be an effective way of losing weight!  Over time, the high sugar content brings about a metabolic change in the body and the weight just falls off!

This comes at a time when more and more Americans are looking for that quick fix and that immediate, work-free alternative to a healthier lifestyle!  So, indulge your sweet tooth and eat that seventh piece of cake.  It’s not going to hurt you!

April Fools! Come on, you knew we couldn’t possibly be advocating that! Let’s do some Spartan math.

Sugar is an enemy of the body. It causes tooth decay, leads to poor nutrition, increases insulin levels in the body and is a contributor to the onset of Type II diabetes, and can even be linked to cancer cases. We all know it contributes to obesity and heart disease and is one of the most addictive substances to the body.

Okay, so here we are, the Monday after many celebrated an Easter or Passover potentially filled with cake, cookies, candy, and other sweet or high fat foods in excess and it might hurt as much as a hangover.  The good news is, it’s a new day and new decisions can be made.  It’s another opportunity to get it right.  The bad news is, you will have to work for positive change.  You will have to exert effort for the healthy body you want.  It doesn’t come easy, but it’s worth the effort.

If you’ve finally decided to get off the sugar train once and for all, we’re here to help.  Sign up for our Food of the Day tip –  and better yet, SIGN UP to received our daily workouts as well.  With both FREE resources, you’ll begin to experience positive and healthy changes in your body.

Start now… your body will thank you.

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“I am basically the healthiest fat guy you have ever seen in your life”
-Governor Christie-

This past February while serving as a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, Governor Chris Christie stated, “I am basically the healthiest fat guy you have ever seen in your life.” In response to that, former White House Physician Dr. Connie Mariano stated, “I’m worried about this guy during in office.” Recognizing the brevity to which the governor devoted to the topic, the issue still begs for a solution.  Health begins on the inside and while Christie is obviously not a  picture of health, there is more to the story.

This past March, New York State courts halted Mayor Bloomberg’s policy of banning over-sized sugary drinks. Mayor Bloomberg stated, “If we are serious about fighting obesity, then we have to be honest about it and courageous about tackling it.”

Somewhere between these two politicians rests a very necessary campaign to improve the health of our country. On average, Americans are eating out a minimum of four to five times a week. The problem is that virtually no one knows what goes into your food. We don’t know if the restaurant used some dairy product as a binding agent, or if a gluten product was used as filler. We don’t know if the chicken’s feed was grown on a farm that violated EPA compliance for animal feeding operations. Short of having your own chicken coup, it is difficult to ensure a “healthy” chicken. However, we can take certain steps to improve what we put in our bodies.  It’s our responsibility.

Athletes who train for performance recognize the value of quality nutrition and how that improves the body’s output.  If a person wants to simply lose weight, caloric restriction can be an effective means but weight loss and a number on a scale are not necessarily reflective of a person’s overall health.  It is for these reasons that what you put into your mouth in terms of quality and quantity are critical to a person’s long-term health and well-being.

In short, you are what you eat.

Want to learn more?  Sign up to receive FREE recipes from Spartan HQ.  Click HERE.

 

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by Rose-Marie Jarry

Bean & potato nuggets

4 cup of raw potato                                                                                         Veggies side dish

1 ½ cups of mixed cooked beans        200 cal                                            1 red bell pepper

2 table spoons of virgin coconut oil     160 cal                                          1 yellow bell pepper

1/3 cup of light coconut milk                 20 cal                                           1 pound of fresh asparagus

60 g of basil and garlic pesto                 230 cal                                          Olive and feta Tapenade

Sea salt and pepper                                                                                       40 calorie 1 table spoon

(Make about 10 nuggets)

Batter mix

¼ cup of chick pea flour                       175 cal

1 tea spoon of ground cumin seeds        2 cal

Sea salt

Directions:

Steam your potatoes. When they are cooked mashed them then add the coconut oil, pesto and salt.

Cut the bell peppers into 4 pieces and grill them on the BBQ along with the whole asparagus.

Blend the cooked beans in a blender with the coconut milk, add the mix into the mashed potatoes. Mix well and mold some patties with your hand then roll them into the batter mix.

Pre heat a pan on high temperature, add 1 table spoon of coconut oil and immediately add the nuggets. Let them grill for about 4-5 minutes each side. Turn them gently, until they are cooked they may break apart easily.

When they are ready set one nugget in a plate, spread 2 tables spoons of tapenade on the nugget and stack 3 layers of grilled bell peppers and asparagus. Sprinkle with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

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by Dan Camp with contributions from Lorraine Fender-Chiarizzio

turkey-dinner-photo-270-jsub-5201281Okay so Thanksgiving is approaching and like you I am excited for all the yummy food.  BUT sometimes that excitement can lead to you feeling the stuff bird you just ate!   Do you savor the taste of all the great food, enjoy the company and appreciate the day for what it is?  Or do you just eat to the point where you wished you wore pants with an elastic band?  So here are a few tips to not feel like a stuffed turkey!

1.  Exercise first in the morning, even if it’s a brisk walk, bring the family.  Some say because it’s a holiday it needs to be a day off of exercise, if anything that is more reason to get a workout in!  We can probably assume you will be consuming a good amount of carbs (some not so good but that’s okay it’s Turkey Day!) so all the more reason to get that metabolism fired up and ready to burn!  Anyone running a Turkey Trot?

2.  DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST!!!!!   Many people do this…maybe you figured you didn’t need the extra calories…WRONG!  Breakfast gets the metabolism cooking…it means “break the fast”.  Have some protein like eggs/egg whites with some veggies.  The protein will keep you fuller longer so you aren’t starving when all the goodies hit the table.

3.  WATER, WATER, WATER!!!  You probably can figure this one out, it will help fill your belly so you eat a bit less and helps with all the extra sodium you are probably going to get with some of the food being served.

4.  Bring a veggie tray with you as an appetizer if you don’t think they have one.  Raw veggies are great for snacking and will prevent you from overeating.  Make your own veggie dip with a light sour cream or buy a healthier version and put in a unmarked container, I bet no one will even know they are eating a healthier version of dip!

5.  DECIDE…are you going to fill your plate once with everything you want or are you hitting it like it’s an all you can eat buffet?  Let’s think here, most of the time you go back for seconds within minutes of finishing plate #1, give yourself 15-20min, I bet you won’t feel like re-filling.  Plus if you DECIDED to not want to feel like a stuffed turkey then that’s it, DECISION made, one plate full of all you want and that’s it until dessert.  You will feel proud of yourself and physically feel better!

6.  Food choices…opt for white meat not dark.  Keep an eye on the starchy carbs and how much.  Throw extra white meat on your plate and less buttery mashed potatoes, candied sweet potato, stuffing, and rolls.  Oh and gravy…keep to a minimum, try having it on the side and dip your fork in it with each bite rather than pouring it on.

7. PAY ATTENTION…what I mean is take your time chewing, savor the flavors, appreciate what you’re eating, be grateful and enjoy your company and the day itself, don’t make it ALL about FOOD!

8.  Drink water with your wine or if you are having some other alcoholic beverage.  It helps slow down the buzz you might get which could lead to uncontrolled eating, can help avoid hangover headaches and it will keep you hydrated as alcohol is a diuretic.

9.  Okay, chow time is over, don’t head for the recliner!  See who is willing to take a stroll with you, get out and feel great about the day.  If it’s yucky out then help clean up, stay occupied and don’t pick, those picks ADD UP.  Just do something!

10. Ahhh leftovers…that doesn’t mean an entire Thanksgiving dinner all over again…enough said :-)

Hope that helps, Happy Thanksgiving!

[Editor’s Note:  Dan Camp is a certified STRIDE Instructor and a certified Sports Nutrition Consultant who has raced with Spartan in Staten Island.  Dan Camp’s posts from http://fitasylum.com/ will regularly be making an appearance on the Spartan Blog.]

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by Beth Connolly

image via blisstree.com

image via iloveseoul.wordpress.com

Happy Valentine’s Day!

And welcome to another day that Americans love to celebrate with food.  Specifically with that delicious, delightful, un-Spartan treat: chocolate!

Not all chocolate is created equal, though.  Why not treat your Valentine to a slew of health benefits today?

Cocoa solids, the basis for consumer chocolate, actually contain antioxidants, fiber, and some of the same nutrients found in dark leafy vegetables, according to WeightWatchers.com.

Of course, they also contain diet-sabotage fats and sugar, so to maximize the health benefits from your chocolate, choose dark, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate bars, which have the most good stuff and the least bad.