Aside from being absolutely delicious, vanilla contains chemical compounds called vanilloids that help reduce inflammation in our bodies. Eating foods like vanilla can help remedy the damage of inflammation spawned by heavy training.

The basics:

10 minutes
Multiple servings
Vegan, gluten-free

The ingredients:

3.5 cups water

1 cup almonds (soaked for 8 hours)

3 dates, pitted

1.5 TSP pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Directions:

Place almonds in bowl and fill with enough water to cover, soaking for 8 hours, or overnight.

Discard the soak water from almonds and pour almonds into blender.

Soak pitted dates for 5 minutes in warm water to soften for blending.

Discard the soak water from dates and place dates in blender with almonds.

Add water, vanilla extract, and salt into blender and blend on high for 1 minute.

Pour blended contents through fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove pulp.

Pour yourself a delicious glass of homemade vanilla almond milk!


*Vanilla Almond Milk will keep for about a week if sealed and refrigerated.

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Sweet potatoes are not potatoes. And they aren’t yams either. The whole matter involves a series of bad translations starting back with Columbus’ expedition in 1492. But they sure are sweet! They’re always a savory and creamy carbohydrate to incorporate into your diet. In parts of the world the sweet potato is a staple food – and rightfully so, as they are a nutritionally dense vegetable.

Sweet potatoes are the tuberous roots of a plant called Ipomoea batatas. You can eat the leaves of the plant but they are nutritionally negligible compared to the roots. The sweet potato is only distantly related to potatoes. Potatoes are a nightshade and sweet potatoes aren’t. The sweet potato is actually more closely related to a morning glory.

The sweet potato originated in South America. Peruvian sweet potato remnants dating back to 8000 BC have been found. Around 700 AD the sweet potato made its way to Polynesia. These days, most sweet potatoes come from China. In the United States, North Carolina leads in sweet potato production and is the state vegetable. Of all the 1,000’s of species of sweet potatoes, only a few are grown in agriculture. Many kinds of sweet potatoes are actually poisonous.

So, is a sweet potato a yam?

Yes and no. Yes, if you are in North America and you want to get a sweet potato. No, if you are anywhere else in the world. Then a yam refers to Dioscorea, an African and Asian plant that has a root called a yam, which is completely different than a sweet potato.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other staple foods. Considering fiber content, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamin A and potassium, the sweet potato ranked highest in nutritional value.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C. While most people know that vitamin C is important to help ward off cold and flu viruses, few people are aware that vitamin C plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion, and blood cell formation.

Bake them!

When you bake sweet potatoes something happens on the micronutrient level that produces more vitamin C… 24% more in fact! Sweet potatoes have a boat load of vitamin C anyway, but why not get more?

Recipes!

 Baked Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato chips

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Always have lemons on hand. Lemon can be used in almost any kind of cooking – they are like ready-made vitamin C supplement that you can squeeze on or into most foods. Having a lemon water first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day.

Lemons are the fruit of an Asian evergreen tree that is thought to have originated in the Himalayan foothills of North-East India. You can make a bonsai lemon tree.

These trees are now abundant throughout the entire world. They were brought to the Americas by Christopher Columbus. Spanish conquest spread them throughout the continents. Today, the main producers of lemons are India, China, and Mexico.

The lemon tree produces fruit and a flower. Lemon is a fragrant an distinct smell, often used in aromatherapy. A study by The Ohio State University found that lemon oil aroma does not influence the human immune system, but may enhance mood. 

Also, in a jam, lemon makes a great cleaning agent. It can be used as a wood cleaner and polish, where its solvent property is employed to dissolve old wax, fingerprints, and grime.

Lemon rinds can be very high in pesticides, so always try to buy organic. Plus, you don’t know where your lemons have been as they’ve made their way to your kitchen. Give them a good wash before you roll them around your cutting board, or throw into your fresh filtered ice water. Also, lemons left unrefrigerated for long periods of time are susceptible to mold. And before you throw away that lemon peel, read this.

Nutritional data

The average lemon contains approximately 3-4 tablespoons (50 mL) of juice. Citric acid constitutes up to 8% of this juice. Citric acid is a natural preservative, aids digestion, and helps dissolve kidney stones.

Lemons, believe it or not, are an alkiline food. Yes, they are tremendously acid outside of your body (full of citric acid – to be precise), but once ingested your body converts it into a base that will help your regulate your PH levels.

Recipes

Spartan Lemonade

Lemon Apple pasta salad

Lemon glazed donuts

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Almonds 101

OK, time to have your mind blown…

An almond is not a nut. It’s a drupe – like a coconut. A drupe is a fruit that has an outer fleshy part that surrounds a pit (or stone), with a seed inside this pit. Typical drupes (also known as stone fruits) include olives, peaches, plums, cherries pistachios, coffee, and dates. True nuts are hard-shelled pods that have a plant’s seed and fruit within a single hard casing. Examples of nuts are chestnuts, hazelnuts, and acorns.

However, these distinctions are botanical, not culinary. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, we’ll refer to almonds as ‘nuts’ , as this is the typical custom in English. (The word ‘nut’ is tricky to translate into other languages for this reason).

Regardless of botanical distinctions, almonds are nutritiously awesome.

Nutritional Data

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Almonds are loaded with monounsaturated fats, the healthy fats found in olive oil and avocados. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders suggested that an almond-enriched low calorie diet can help overweight individuals shed pounds more effectively than a low calorie diet high in complex carbohydrates.

Here are three more reasons to eat almonds:

Be more alkaline - Almonds are the only nut and one of the few proteins that are alkaline forming when you digest them. Many studies have shown the benefits of diets focused on alkaline forming foods.

Boost your brain - Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine. These are nutrients that aid you in your brain activity.

Stabalize your blood sugar - Almonds lower the rise in blood sugar and insulin after meals.

 

How to Toast Almonds

 

Preheat oven to 350F.

Spread almonds in shallow pan.

Place pan in oven for 20-30 minutes

 

Make Your Own Almond Milk

Ingredients

1.5 cups almonds

4 cups water

Maple syrup (optional)

Honey (optional)

Vanilla (optional)

 

Gear

Blender

Cheese cloth

Big mason jar

Wood spoon

Strainer

 

Directions

Soak almonds for 4 hours. Overnight is best for them to blend easiest.

Blend with 1.5 cups water. Start with slow speed and work your way up. Stir occassionally with wood spoon. Go for 1-2 minutes.

Add any honey, maple syrup, or vanilla, if you are feeling like sweets. Add rest of water. Blend again.

Pour through the strainer.

Hold cheese cloth over top of big mason jar. Pour through cheese cloth.

Chill.

Enjoy.

 

Make Your Own Almond Butter

This is an endurance workout. You’ll deserve every dense calorie of goodness. Patience is rewarded.

Ingredients

3 cups almonds

Directions

Soak almonds for 4 hours. Overnight is best for them to blend easiest.

Put in food processor or blender.

Process for 20 minutes, using wooden spoon to stir often.

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picture credit: secretly healthy

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Spartan FOD Update

Spartan Race is proud to be a portion of your email diet. We’ve cooked up the Spartan Food of the Day emails for over a year, trying to highlight healthy raw foods, and giving you suggested ways to combine and prepare them.

Survey results are in, and we were glad to see that you echoed many of our own recent thoughts on elevating our nutritional and culinary game. We are bringing even more to the table.

Starting Sunday we will initiate a new weekly FOD format, delivering you even more content per serving. We will feature a specific Food of the Week, that you can stock up on during your weekly hunting and gathering sessions. This will help with Sunday night food preparations and planning.

In one place we’ll give you even more intel on the foods that you should select when working your way through the grocery store. We’ll even give you Sprint, Super, and Beast level recipes for when you get home, and for later in the week.

Our goal is to make you succeed at our races. Nutrition is a huge factor towards getting you to the finish line. During the week use this email as a reference point for daily food choices. You need to be ready for race day, and nutrition is a huge factor in race success.

Your workout is the product of the foods you eat. Your race is the product of our both your workouts and your nutrition. Up your game by upping the quality of the foods you consume. You have to work on your nutritional habits, just like your your training habits.

We’re here to help. Sign up for the FOD if you haven’t already. And sign up for the Spartan WOD (Workout of the Day), too, to best execute on those calories.

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Rice is great if you’re really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something.

– Mitch Hedberg

Wild rice is a truly American cuisine.  A nutritious seed of a water grass plant that can only be harvested once a year, this has been a staple of the athlete’s cuisine beginning with the Native Americans.

Wild rice contains twice as much protein as brown rice. It is very rich in antioxidants, containing up to 30 times more than white rice!

Empty calories are a waste, get the most health for your buck by eating wild rice.  When you are pushing yourself to extremes, you will want every last bit of nutrients in your food.  You’ll need it.

wild rice nutrition data

Sources: USDA, Wikipedia, Google

Wild-rice1

Wild rice is an excellent source of protein.

 

Earn Your Body

 

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Chia

Keeping balanced levels of blood sugar is important for both health and energy. Blood sugar may spike after meals, especially if you eat high-starchy foods or sweets. This can lead to ‘slumps’ in your day where you feel tired and out of energy. By balancing your blood sugar, you not only lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, but you also ensure steady, constant energy throughout your day.

How does the Chia Seed help with this? Both the gelling action of the seed, and it’s unique combination of soluble and insoluble fiber combine to slow down your body’s conversion of starches into sugars. If you eat chia with a meal, it will help you turn your food into constant, steady energy rather than a series of ups and downs that wear you out.

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Spinach

 

One of the benefits of spinach is that this green is readily available, nearly all over the world. Wherever you end up in life, you can most always count on spinach as a solid green to have in your diet.

Spinach is high in Vitamin K, specifically in the form of Phylloquinone, which is important for proper blood clotting.

 

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Cauliflower

 

If you thought that high concentrations of Vitamin C can only be found in oranges, and other citrus fruits, you thought wrong.  Check out this garden plant, Brassica oleracea, that is also a superb source of potassium.  So maybe skip the oranges and bananas post workout, and roast, boil, steam, or just eat raw, some of this rather nutritionally dense plant.

A cup of boiled cauliflower delivers about 3.35 g of dietary fiber, which helps clean your digestive system and gets rid of unnecessary substances. Additionally, a substance called glucoraphin present in cauliflower appears to have a protective effect on your stomach lining.

 

Sources: USDA, Wikipedia

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Eggplant

 

Eggplant (Solanum melongena) doesn’t pack a lot of caloric punch for its size. This species of nightshade is perfect for those looking forward to eating something meaty, without the excess calories. Lots of empty space in this vegetable – don’t pack it on long training expeditions.

Eggplant can provide many health benefits, including being important in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Eggplant has been found to be especially useful in the treatment of colon cancer due to the high amount of fiber found within eggplant. Fiber is important in the treatment of colon cancer because it is a relatively porous nutrient, and because of this, as it moves through the digestive tract, it has the tendency to absorb toxins and chemicals that can lead to the development of colon cancer. For best results, individuals who are interested in reducing their risk for the development of color cancer should be sure to include the skin of the eggplant during consumption. Research has found that the skin of eggplant may contain more fiber that the actual eggplant itself.

Want to cook with eggplant.  Check out this recipe of the day from Spartan Race.

 

 

source: USDA, Wikipedia, Google

 

 

Sign up for the Spartan WOD

 

 

 

 

 

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