Tag Archives: food

How the Trainers Eat, vol. 5

15 May

Sometimes you just feel like a little Indian food, right?  Well that was the case for me this past Sunday.  While nothing beats a good dahl, I like to keep my Indian food free of grains and legumes as well.  Instead, you get something like this:

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Curried Chicken with Kale and Broccoli with Indian Spiced Beets

Curried Chicken with Kale and Broccoli

Serves 3-4

1-2 T. virgin coconut oil

4 large chicken thighs, chopped

1/2 large yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

Hot Madras curry powder (I used McCormick brand)

2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped

2 stalks broccoli, chopped

1/2 can coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large pan, warm the coconut oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped chicken pieces until starting to brown.  Sprinkle liberally with the curry powder to taste.

Once the chicken has turned white, add the onions and garlic, and continue to cook, 5 minutes.  Add the vegetables and stir to coat.  Turn heat down to medium and place a lid on the pan to steam the vegetables.  Occasionally stir.  After about 5 minutes, add the coconut milk and stir to mix.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Once the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are soft, dish is ready.  If you want a less “wet” dish, take the lid off, turn the heat to high, and boil off some of the liquid.

Indian Style (Yellow) Beets

Courtesy of Catalyst Athletics

 

Total cooking time for this fantastic Sunday night feast?  About 45 minutes.  What are your favorite ethnic dishes?

We’ve got you covered for Lunch!!

25 Apr

In case you missed it, we have great new food options to help get you through those busy days.  Not only does the food taste great, but it’s individually packed and frozen to give you a quick and easy way to get the right amount of food, and do it quickly!

I wanted to give you just a couple of ideas about what we have available for you in the freezers at FIT:

Chicken Roja with Sweet Potato Salad

Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs with Stir Fry Vegetables

Brasato Sauce (Braised Beef with Rosemary, Shallots and White Wine) over Spaghetti Squash

Beef Bourguignon Stew with Mashed Cauliflower

Turkey Sausage Breakfast Hash

The meals come in 5 oz. ($13.30) or 8 oz. ($19.75) protein portions with a great tasty 7 oz. side of vegetables.

Don’t forget to pick one up on your way out the door for breakfast or lunch!

 

What Clients are saying:

“I never thought I would like cauliflower, but with the beef stew, it’s great!”

“Those meals were delicious; my daughter loved it!”

“Really easy way for me to get a quick healthy lunch in”

 

Talk to the front desk or Matt to find out more information and take home a delicious pre-made meal.

 

Almost Done with the Whole30(60)!

26 Mar

So we are almost done with our challenge now, and I haven’t heard from too many of you lately.

How are things going?!

What has been the biggest challenge for you to date?  Have you figured out any good ways to get past this challenge?

What has been your biggest insight so far?

For myself, my first time through the Whole30 it was that I wasn’t as “tolerant” of dairy as I thought I was.  I generally stay away from the stuff, but sometimes like a little feta mixed into salads for saltiness and texture.  

Any new favorite foods?

After trying the Whole30, I discovered that I actually really liked zucchini and beets.

Any big Whole30-approved attempts for Passover or Easter?

If only there was an easy way to make gluten-free Matzo right?

What have you been cooking?

Here are my latest attempts in the kitchen:

Spaghettin Squash Bolognese

Spaghettin Squash Bolognese

New York Strip and Carmelized Mushrooms with Braised Greens and Pureed Yams

New York Strip and Carmelized Mushrooms with Braised Greens and Pureed Yams

We’d love to hear from all of you as we wind down to the end of the challenge.  And stay tuned for a post this weekend on how to navigate the post-Whole30 landscape and get back to the “real world”.

Hint: it doesn’t involve adding back in MOST of those foods

This food stuff is great!

19 Feb

We had a nice turnout on Sunday at the Mountain View Farmer’s Market (and apparently a couple near misses – sorry to those we didn’t get to chat with).  Kendra and I were there handing out recipes and answering questions, as well as getting awesome insights from other challengers.  While the morning started out kind of cold and foggy, we were blessed with nice sunny morning to walk around and pick up delicious produce other well-sourced foods.  For those that were present, what did you pick up?  Any new and exciting ingredients that you are looking forward to trying?  If so, please share those in the comments!  I bought two new foods that I am very excited to try – ground goat meat and yucca – stay tuned for pictures and recipe for how I prepared these.

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Additionally, we have had some great looking food pictures from clients near and far (we have a couple correspondent challengers from at least as far as Chicago!)  Without further delay, here are those great photos.  Hopefully they will get you thinking about other foods and combinations you can try.

How are we doing otherwise, everybody?  We are now a full 2 weeks into the challenge.  What has been the hardest part/easiest part?  Any foods you thought you “didn’t like” that you now can’t get enough of?  Any new favorite cooking methods?  Are we remembering to spice our dishes so that they are exciting and tasty?

Please add your thoughts and reflections to the comments below.

Clearing up a few questions regarding the Whole30 (60) Challenge

7 Feb

We’ve had great participation from many of you on the challenge so far; as well as some awesome success!

  • 4 pounds lost in the first 3 days
  • 7 pounds lost in the first 2 days
  • More awareness about food choices
  • Being more vigilant about reading food labels

There has also been some really good conversations that have led to questions that might help all of you:

Can I cook with wine, beer, etc?

When you cook with alcohol, the ethanol (what makes it boozy, and what we are avoiding) is burned off, so not present anymore.  With that said, beer and most spirits DO contain grains, so they should still be excluded.  For flavor, it is OK to cook with wine and grain-free spirits (tequila)

What if I don’t want to eat eggs every day for breakfast?

Eggs are a great option for breakfast – they are packed with protein, are quick, can be cooked in a number of different ways, and lend themselves to a vast number of different flavors.  With that said, though, they do not HAVE to be your food of choice for breakfast.  I often find myself eating leftover chili for breakfast, or sausages that I have grilled up the night before.  In essences, it is important to get away from the constructs of what “breakfast foods” should be.  They can be anything!  Play around with how you season your foods, and you might just find that your ideal breakfast is actually seared chicken thighs rubbed with cinnamon and coriander along with sauerkraut and avocado.

Maybe a little Salmon Hash instead of eggs for breakfast?

Maybe a little Salmon Hash instead of eggs for breakfast?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m really hungry.  Why isn’t this working?  You said I would be full.

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Often times when eliminating grains and legumes from our plates, we forget to refill that space with more vegetables, and possibly larger portions of protein.  Make sure that you are getting in AT LEAST 2 different vegetables at each meal (even breakfast).  What I always say is, “set your protein, and then FILL your plate with vegetables.”  This will add satisfying protein and fat to your meal, and physical bulk in the form of fibrous veggies to keep you full.

Why is my thirst “off”?

Since we have eliminated ALL processed foods, your sodium intake has probably dropped immensely.  Because of this, you might not be as thirsty as you were previously (salt craves water in the body).  What you CAN do, is salt your foods a little bit, as you’ll need a little anyways.  You are also taking in more vegetation, which also has a good amount of water inherently in its composition, possibly keeping your thirst down.  

You might also be MORE thirsty.  As the grains and starches have been removed from our plates, our bodies will naturally release water (partly responsible for the great early weight loss).  This will make us more thirsty as we try to recreate that internal hydration status that we have become accustomed to.

Keep the questions coming, and keep hammering those tasty Whole30 meals!  The pictures have been looking great, as well as all of the enthusiasm.  Please let us know if you have any questions along the journey.

We have some great cooks!

6 Feb

Way to go all!  We’re only at day 3, and already there are some great looking dishes from many of you.  Here is just a sampling of all of the delicious food so far.

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Tri-tip with Sweet Potato Hash

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Shrimp Fried (cauliflower) Rice

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Bratwursts with Broccoli Slaw

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Chicken Casserole

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Roasted Chicken, Cabbage Slaw, Broccoli, and Sweet Potato Coins

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Roasted Chicken, Asparagus, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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Seared Hanger Steak with Roasted Crisphy Brussels Sprouts and Fennel

 

Introducing the Whole 30 (and 60) Day Challenges

31 Jan

There has been some chatter in the gym recently about a new version of the Whole30, and the cryptic post on our facebook page last week.  I am here to tell you that it is indeed upon us!  WE WILL BE STARTING MONDAY FEBRUARY 4TH.  This challenge will be more involved, as well as more life-changing than the last couple challenges that we have run.  Additionally, this one will be a true challenge, with winners awarded prizes at the 4 and 8 week marks!

As you can tell from the title, it will not only consist of a 30 day challenge, but also a 60 day challenge (4 weeks and 8 weeks).  Why are we adding a second 4 weeks you ask?  At FIT we preach not only healthy eating and lifestyle changes, but also making those changes sustainable and long-term.  This is your chance to take our encouragement and put it into practice.

While the general template for the eating strategy will follow the Whole30 of challenges past, this time around the goal is to see not just who can make the most improvements to their health, but also who can get the most aesthetic and physique change.  We are challenging all of you to commit to 2 months of clean eating, smart exercise, and healthy lifestyle changes and see who comes out on the other side looking better.

And now for the rules:

Eliminate the following foods:

Grains and grain like foods (including quinoa, couscous, etc)

Legumes (including soy and peanuts – shell beans like snap peas and green beans are ok)

Sugar and artificial sweeteners (Fruit juice is an acceptable sweetener, but nothing else)

Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, butter [ghee is ok])

Alcohol

 

What we are asking from all of you:

Pre, 4-week, and post-challenge progress photos.

These pictures should be taken in as LITTLE CLOTHING AS YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE.  This is important.  How else will you tell if you have made progress?

This is what I’m talking about

Take the picture without your head, so that we can judge them impartially

The pictures should be submitted to “challenge@focusedtrainers.com”.  The pictures will stay private and be used to judge the winners.

Contribute weekly to the FIT facebook page and/or blog at: blog.focusedtrainers.com

This can be in the form of pictures, recipes, reflections about how the challenge is going for you, or just simply questions.  Tracey and I will do our best to answer all questions the day they are asked.

You can also email your contributions to your trainer, and he or she can get it up on the blog for you.

The goal here is to get as much interaction between all of YOU so that you all get the most out of the challenge.

While you have to enter a name and email address to comment on the blog, the email address will not be public, and the name can simply be a first name (or middle name?) if you are concerned about posting anonymously.

Attend in-person meetings/meals throughout the challenge

We will be hosting events in and out of the gym with sample food throughout the 8 weeks.  This will be an opportunity for all of you to share – in person – recipes, trials and successes, as well as ask us questions directly and see how WE eat with recipes to try.

These meetings will be occurring every OTHER week, sometime during the weeks of:

2/11, 2/25, 3/11, and 3/25

We will be announcing the exact date, location, and format, at least a week in advance so people have time to add it into their schedules.

Submit $30 to the front desk at FIT

This small fee will be used to reward the winners.  We have set up a line item so we can bill you directly for it, or you can bring in cash or check for us.  Prizes will be announced once we know how many challengers we have.

 

OK I think I hit all of the major bullets.  Again, we are starting this coming Monday, February 4th, so get all of your off-limits foods out of the way while rooting for the 49ers.  We are excited to have you join us for this exciting new nutrition challenge.  As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask – either here on the blog, or directly to me at “matt@focusedtrainers.com”

 

Good luck to all of you!  I’m looking forward to hearing about all of your great progress!

Let’s Get Cookin’!

7 Jan

Many of you have heard from me that the easiest way to be successful at this “no grains thing” is to prepare your menus and meals in advance so there are always options available for you in the refrigerator.  This will prevent you from eating “whatever” is around, or worse: eating out and making even worse choices.

In the new year, I am reinvigorating my efforts to cook A LOT on Sundays in anticipation of the week.  And yesterday, I did just that.  After heading to 2 different grocery stores, in the pictures below you will see my haul.  And here’s what was either made, prepped for, or purchased to make later in the week:

Nothing like a stoveful of cooking magic

Nothing like a stoveful of cooking magic

Bryan Voltaggio’s Beef Stew with Ale (recipe)

Slow-Cooked Cinnamon Pork Loin with Parsnips

Fermented Brassicas (cauliflower, romanesco, red cabbage)

Roasted Beet, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad

Below all from Diane Sanfilippo’s Book Practical Paleo (for sale at FIT)

Mustard Glazed Chicken Thighs

Lemony Lamb Dolmas

Swirly Crustless Quiche

B.E.A.T Salad from Mark’s Daily Apple

 

Yes, that’s a lot of food, but it will be for two people, for the week.  Additionally, some of it might get frozen for eating later on.

A kitchen full of fresh veggies? A beautiful thing

A kitchen full of fresh veggies? A beautiful thing

A full fridge is a happy fridge!

A full fridge is a happy fridge!

So now that you’ve seen what my week’s worth of food looks like, how does yours compare?

Share your pictures with us; either here, or on the FIT facebook page.

How the Trainers Eat, vol. 4

31 Dec

While long overdue, I wanted to share a little dish that is sure to warm the soul and give you the fuel to power through those first few workouts of 2013.  This soup will make a great post-workout dish, as well as something to keep you warm on these cool and damp northern California nights.


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Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash

3.5 lb. sweet potatoes

3 c. chicken or vegetable stock (I used my own homemade pork stock)

1/2 c. half-and-half

1/2 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 T. coriander

1.5 T. curry powder

1 T. chili powder

Panchetta for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Soft goat cheese for garnish

Chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut squash in half and clean out seeds.  Place face down on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Place whole sweet potatoes on the same sheet.  Roast until squash and potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.  Once cool to the touch, remove skin and place the flesh in a large soup pot.  Add stock and half-and-half.  Stir until incorporated.

Add onion, garlic, coriander, curry, and chili powder; bring to a simmer, and maintain for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

In a small saute pan, cook panchetta over medium-high heat until done, approximately 5 minutes.

Using an immersion or traditional blender, puree soup until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with soft goat cheese, chives, and cooked panchetta.

Serves 6

 

Cooking note: goes great with grilled meat.

 

Egg Yolk Consumption: Article Review

3 Sep

Spending several years in a medical setting, I have become acquainted with reading research studies and identifying the conclusions and ramifications – even if they are not completely the same as those published by the authors in the paper.  There has been a study discussed in the news recently that has piqued just this interest in me – perhaps you have heard of it: “Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque.”

In this study, published in the journal Atherosclerosis, Spence and his colleagues wanted to examine the link between egg yolk consumption and atherosclerosis.  The authors point out that this has, for some time, been a controversial issue, with previous studies falling on both sides of the debate – some state that eating egg yolks raises serum cholesterol while other studies saw no change.  In an effort to identify whether or not eggs are, in fact, deleterious to cardiovascular health, Spence, Jenkins, and Davignon decided to look at a different marker in examining risk for cardiovascular disease: total plaque area.

That’s a lot of science to start out this article, so I’ll back track a little bit.  While we might debate its validity, cholesterol is still a leading indicator for risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.  Generally speaking, cholesterol values can be broken down into high-density lipoprotein (HDL – “good” cholesterol) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL – “bad” cholesterol).  As LDL increases as a proportion of total cholesterol (or often times as a ratio compared to HDL and/or triglycerides), the risk for disease increases.  Because the effects of egg yolk consumption on cholesterol have been equivocal up to this point, the authors must have wanted to use a different variable, hence measuring total plaque area.  

So why did this study get me worked up?  Firstly, it was the inflammatory headline that ran on CNN: “Egg yolks as fatal as cigarettes”.  Secondly, when I sat down to read the study, the authors made some pretty broad generalizations and gross over simplifications.  To start with, in order to identify egg yolk consumption over time, the authors culled information from “lifestyle questionnaires” from patients “at the time of referral” to a vascular prevention clinic after transient ischemic attacks or strokes.  Simply put, the authors asked patients how many eggs they had eaten through their lives on a questionnaire.  These were patients who had already had an transient ischemic attack or stroke (A transient ischemic attack – or TIA – is when blood flow to a part of the brain stops for a brief period of time. A person will have stroke-like symptoms for up to 24 hours, but in most cases for 1 – 2 hours.  A TIA is felt to be a warning sign that a true stroke may happen in the future if something is not done to prevent it.).  Inferring anything about lifestyle or dietary habits of healthy individuals based on the presentation of sick individuals is extremely confounding and usually not very accurate because of physiological changes brought on by the disease process.

The other problem with how Spence and his colleagues collected the data was with their dietary recall.  The average age of the subjects in the study was 62; how was someone expected to remember how many eggs they had eaten throughout their life, let alone even what they ate last week?  As fitness professionals, we are intimately tuned into our nutrition, but I for one, can’t even recall what (let alone how much) I ate last month.  Additionally, egg consumption was the only dietary variable that the authors examined.  I would highly doubt that most people eat eggs in isolation of other foods, and for that matter, wouldn’t these other foods possibly contribute to – OR – take away from accumulation of plaque in the arteries?

OK so those are the fatal flaws of the study on it’s surface.  What next?  The authors wanted to relate any atherosclerosis brought on by egg consumption to previously known plaque producers.  So what did they do?  They compared eating eggs to cigarette smoking!  How are these two habits AT ALL comparable?  One habit is a known carcinogen, destroyer of lung tissue, and HIGHLY addictive.  The other, however, is a complete food uniquely designed to sustain life.  Can you tell which one is which?

If you’re still keeping up, the authors showed that increasing egg consumption ran almost parallel to cigarette smoking with regard to accumulation of arterial plaque, with both showing a direct exponential relationship as consumption (or smoking frequency) increased.  WOW!  So maybe eggs are pretty bad for you huh?  The general consensus that we, as a staff, drew from this study was that it really only relates to those already at risk for coronary heart disease and/or strokes.  We make recommendations to clients with respect to their nutrition and eating habits for improving their health and fitness.  We do need to keep this study in mind when making those recommendations, but for the vast majority of our clients who have not experienced a cardiac episode or stroke, or are at risk for them, this study is not all that relevant.

What does this mean for all of you?  Keep eating those eggs!  Eggs contain a multitude of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that are hard to come by from other foods (choline anyone?).  Additionally, they are a great source of easily digestible protein needed for recovery from workouts and keeping the body health.  While eggs do contain cholesterol (about 200mg per egg) your body NEEDS cholesterol to function properly.  Everybody needs cholesterol to maintain a healthy balance of all number of hormones, including the sex hormones, which many researchers believe are important for maintaining vitality.  Do, however, make sure that these eggs are part of a healthy meal full of ripe brightly colored fruits and vegetables.  And be sure to peruse the archives of the blog, as there are several great tasty egg recipes throughout.

If this got you all worked up over egg consumption, check the following rebuttals to learn more about it from very well informed scientists, researchers and nutrition consultants:

Mark’s Daily Apple

Zoe Harcombe

Outside Magazine

Chris Masterjohn (Weston A Price)