Six Things Your Personal Trainer Expects You to Know about Nutrition

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So you want to get fit? Feel overwhelmed? I’ll let you in on six things that you should know (nutritionally speaking) before you pick up your weights or do your first half mile dash. Above pic is from my second Crossfit competition…believe me, I needed my nutrition!!

I’m in the food business for a number of reasons. Pretty much the biggest one (in the beginning) was my love of cooking for friends and family in my late teens/early twenties. I decided that I should just go ahead and make a living from it. The problem that arose from this were the pounds I started to accumulate from taste testing my creations at all hours of the evening.

AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

I get booty, but honestly….it just didn’t suit me, or my health for that matter.

I needed to make a change. And I did.

Enter second phase of food love: Food and Nutrition.

Yes they can go hand in hand, and your trainer knows that! The following are six nutritional kick-starters to get you up and on your feet – so you can shine when you train!!

1.) Be honest with where you are. When you are asked how often you exercise or what your eating habits are like, the only person that pays the price good or bad is you. Be honest with yourself (first) and your trainer. This way you are both set up for success!

2.) I don’t care what you tell me. Increase your water intake. Generally speaking men should consume approximately 13cups (3 litres) and women should drink 9 cups (2.2 litres).  Below is a link to the Mayo Clinic recommendations:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

Note: I know some of you are itching to flavour your water with your favourite sugar substitute. Don’t Do It! This leads to more sugar cravings and will ultimately backfire on your health goals! Not to mention the chemicals seeping into your system to later wreak havoc on your body….

3.) Starving yourself does not equal healthy. Eating to fuel your body is the way to set a great foundation to perform well during your training sessions. There are many informative websites and nutritionists that provide information on how to take your eating to the next level.

4.) Eat Whole Foods. If you shop on the outsides of the grocery stores, chances are you are doing a great job at purchasing and preparing whole foods. “Whole foods” are items that have not been processed, broken down or packaged. Most of the “inside isles” in the grocery store are filled with processed foods that are high in sodium, sugar and preservatives. Yes they might be a time saver, but those food choices aren’t helping you fit into your summer clothes. Ditch the middle isles, pick up a cookbook (or blog post) and create the healthy whole food that will reward you for life.

5.) Buy a high quality multi-vitamin and use them. We are a society that is on the go with never enough time (or so we tell ourselves). A good multi-vitamin is insurance that you are getting essential vitamins and minerals that are not always available with our daily eating.

6.) There is no ideal diet! What works for you may not work for another. We are all individuals and for that reason, certain foods work better for some than for others. Start with one methodology. Stick with it and then make modifications as necessary. The key here is to FOLLOW THROUGH. You have no way of knowing if a program or eating style is working or not if you haven’t followed it. It’s that simple.

Wow. Ok that was a lot of information to absorb even before a trainer is involved! But the good news is that all you have to do is start! Try things out, make mistakes, just stick with it!

Save Your Marriage Using Only Chicken Curry

Yes, it’s true. You can save your marriage using just this chicken curry recipe. But you better follow the recipe exactly….no pressure right?

Ok, ok. I might be exaggerating a tad. But there is no faster way to your loved one’s heart that an expertly prepared flavourful dish. I see it every time I make a meal for my partner. His eyes light up, like I’ve presented him with a piece of gold, or season’s tickets to his fav hockey team. Making him food is my get out of jail card and I use it a lot! Wow! I didn’t intend on a confession here, but none the less there it is!

This curry is unique with the addition of bananas, apples and raisins which adds a nice sweetness and is reminiscent of the Caribbean. I cook the chicken separately and use the bones to make stock for another use.

Coconut Chicken Curry:

1 whole chicken, roasted  and diced in 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons Olive oil or Coconut Oil

1 tablespoon Cinnamon

1 tablespoon Turmeric

1 tablespoon Curry powder

1 stalk lemongrass (bruise with the back of a knife in 3 spots and put in whole for flavour!)

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled,finely chopped

2 onions, medium dice

1 cup butternut squash, 1 inch dice

4 stalks celery, cut on bias 1 inch

2 carrots, peeled, cut on bias 1 inch

1 banana, peeled and diced 1 inch

1 Granny smith apple, diced 1 inch (peel can stay on)

1/2 cup Thompson raisins (any type will do, these are my favourite!)

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

2 cans Coconut milk

To taste salt and pepper

Roast the chicken in a 350F oven for approximately 50 minutes or until the juices run clear. Set aside to let cool. Remove meat from bone and cut into about 1 inch cubes. (You can use any type of chicken for this – thighs, leg or breast meat – I like to use whole chickens for more flavour and to utilize the bones after).  Set aside.

In a large pot heat oil and put in spices, stir for a minute until you can smell the spices from the pot. Add your onions, ginger, lemon grass and celery. Stir for another 2 minutes. Now add the rest of your ingredients except the chicken and cilantro. Add coconut milk. Simmer gently until vegetables are tender – about 15 to 20 minutes.

Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Now add the chicken and heat through.

Most important point here: Always do a final taste!!!

Just before serving, remove the lemongrass stalk and throw away. Add chopped cilantro and serve.

Let me know how you make out in the comments! I’d love to hear from you and what your favorite “get out of jail free” recipe is!

Happy cooking!

6 Reasons You Should be Talking about Heirloom Tomatoes

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You SHOULD be talking about Heirloom Tomatoes.

Because they rock.

And they look super cool. But don’t just take it from me. There are many families that have known this for much longer than I’ve been touting how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Heirloom tomato seeds are viewed as a valuable family legacy that is passed from generation to generation. For an heirloom tomato to qualify for heirloom status it has to have been around for at least 50 years. Newer genetic variations are classified as hybrids.

Here’s the scoop:

1. Heirloom tomatoes store vitamin K, which is necessary for strong healthy bones. Back this up with consistent weight training 3 -5 times/week and you are on your way to preventing osteoporosis as you get older.

2. These great tasting unique looking tomatoes pack Vitamin C which lends to boosting our immune system and are rich in potassium – this aids in protecting our cardiovascular health.

3. Organically grown have higher levels of lycopene – this is a type of carotenoid that has been shown to protect against a multitude of cancers such as bladder, breast, cervical and skin to mention a few.

4. They are rich in potassium, which is known to lower blood pressure.

5. Heirloom tomatoes add a ton of  flavour to recipes while low in calories. At about 30 calories per cup, you can enjoy these flavourful gems anytime you like, adding them to many dishes for extra flavour and colour.

6. You’ll be the coolest kid on the block when you take this salad to your next family event.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

2 pints assorted Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced

1 bunch green onions, sliced thin (use greens and white part)

1 bunch Basil, cut Chiffonade (thinly sliced)

2 cups Baby Arugula

1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

to taste Himalayan Salt and  Fresh Ground Pepper

In a bowl gently mix together tomatoes, green onion, basil and half of the balsamic and olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Let sit for 20 minutes for flavours to blend. Combine remaining oil and vinegar and set aside.

When you are ready to serve, plate 1/4 cup of baby arugula and top with tomato mixture. Dress with remaining vinaigrette as desired. Top with more fresh ground pepper.

Super yummy and refreshing! The varied colours of the Heirloom or “Heritage” tomatoes make this an easy dish to wow guests….and it’s so good for them too!!!! That’s a double win for sure.

Happy eating!

Vibrant Carrot Coriander Soup

Vibrant carrot soup

Thanks to some fabulous ladies last Thursday night, we had a chance to talk, eat and learn a bit about Paleo cooking and healthy eating in general. This pic was the first course during the cooking process. A light, fragrant vegan dish that has a hint of ginger and is highlighted with coriander spice. A puree that holds its own with sweet carrots, we finished it off with a little coconut milk and fresh chopped cilantro to lighten the flavours.

Here’s the scoop on how it was made:

Vibrant Carrot Coriander Soup

2 lbs smaller carrots, peeled and chopped (no particular shape since it will end up a puree) *the smaller the pieces, the quicker it will cook!

2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly same size as the carrots

2 cooking onions, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil (you choose!)

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp  ground turmeric

to taste salt and pepper

8 cups vegetable stock or water

1 can coconut milk (use regular, not “light”)

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (clean well, this herb can carry a lot of dirt!)

Heat your oil in a large pot and add your dry spices. Adding them to the heat will bring out the flavours of your spices (not too hot or they will burn). Now add onions, cook for 3-5 minutes. Add carrots, sweet potato and stock. Hold back 1/3 of the stock and add more as necessary to adjust consistency.

Let soup simmer for 35-45 minutes until the vegetables are REALLY tender. At this point, use an immersion blender to blend soup. This will make for a smooth puree. Don’t worry! If you do not own an immersion blender, a food processor works too!

Adjust seasonings, add more stock if needed along with coconut milk and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8 portions.