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Celebrate Mardi Gras and Lent With These Recipes!

This week kicks off Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday, the start of the Christian Lenten season. Mardi Gras is a Christian holiday dating back thousands of years to pagan times. Around the world, Mardi Gras is also known as Carnival and is largely celebrated by Roman Catholic populations on the day before Lent begins. But let’s break it down…

Fat Tuesday

Today many celebrate Mardi Gras, which is French for “Fat Tuesday”. “Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the rich, fatty foods—meat, eggs, milk, lard, cheese—that remained in their homes, in anticipation of several weeks of eating only fish and different types of fasting.”
Source: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mardi-gras

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday kicks off the Lenten season which consists of the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Did you know the ashes used in the Christian celebration are palm leaves burned up from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebration? For many, this is a day of an abstinence from all meat and foods made with meat, along with each Friday during lent.

Meatless Days

Wednesday started the Lenten season and so we’re talking fish and meatless meals! Many meals that are complete and tasty that don’t include meat! From a non-religious standpoint, many people choose to practice Meatless Mondays, or just choose one day a week to abstain from meat consumption for health or environmental reasons.

Fish Fry Alternative

Keep your fitness goals in check by skipping the fried fish and opting for the terms grilled, baked, poached, steamed or broiled when searching for recipes or eating out.

Want to try something new? Try grilling your fish on different types of planks for a new flavor! https://www.allrecipes.com/article/plank-grilling/

Meatless Chili

Meatless doesn’t have to mean you are confined to fish, if you don’t want to. Quinoa, lentils and sweet potatoes offer great meat alternatives without sacrificing taste. It’s still cold outside, so warm up with a Quinoa Chili recipe that combines your basics of various beans plus corn and quinoa for a nutrient packed dish.

Tacos!

Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos with Cream Chipotle Sauce combines roasted cauliflower with familiar taco seasonings and lentils for a nutrient and protein packed dish! Want to skip the tortilla? Serve warm over lettuce greens!
https://cookieandkate.com/roasted-cauliflower-and-lentil-tacos/

Different Fish

Try a simple Tuna Burger! Combine a can of drained tuna, 2 T chopped onions, 2 egg whites, ½ C panko and ½ t pepper. Form 2 patties and pan fry for about 4 minutes per side. Eat as is or serve on sprouted grain bun. Looking for something even lighter? Have you tried Smart Baking Company Smart Buns? Smart buns are gluten-free, 63 calories, high in fiber and have 10 grams of protein! Check them out here!

Post-Workout Nutrition 101

CONGRATULATIONS! You worked out! If you haven’t, click the “Categories” drop-down list and select “Workouts” and you’ll find some great at-home workouts!

But now it’s time to replenish your energy stores and start repairing/rebuilding your muscles. So let’s get the basics!

Window of Opportunity

There is a “window of opportunity” that you’ll hear varying durations for, but most will agree somewhere between 30-90 minutes post-workout is ideal. This will maximize digestion/absorption of key nutrients to help your body make the most of your workout!

What are My Priorities?

A post workout meal of some carbs and protein will help refill your glycogen stores (from the carbs) and help build muscle (from the protein). Try to get in the habit of approaching your post-workout nutrition as a MEAL – as opposed to a snack. At mealtime we are more likely to make better choices, and avoid “snacky”, high-fat foods that don’t serve out body as well post-workout.

It could be said that your post-workout meal is the most important meal of the day. Your body needs help to replenish its energy stores, increase our muscle quality/size and repair damaged muscle tissue. We want to break down muscle tissue DURING the workout so it rebuilds stronger, but we need to help it recover too.

In the end, although other factors do come into play, calories out still needs match or to exceed calories in to assist in weight maintenance and loss. Make sure your post workout meal matches your goals.

Recipes    

Oatmeal: Are you an early morning fitness fan? Your post workout meal could be oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder, berries, and sliced almonds. Easy peasy!

Tuna and Veggies: Do you work out over the lunch hour and need a fast go-to post workout lunch? Toss a packet of flavored tuna in a cooked steamer bag of vegetables! Have an apple to round out the carbs and replenish the glycogen stores.

Salad: Try salad with chickpeas (the chickpeas have protein and carbs) topped with an oil and vinegar dressing for something quick and light. Or… Have you tried Mason Jar Salads?

Power Shake: In a hurry? Bring a shake with you. Try this Precision Nutrition Tropical Power Shake: Blend 6 ounces of water, scoop of vanilla protein powder, ½ banana, ¼ c pineapple, 1-2 TBSP of flax seed, 1-2 TBSP. unsweetened coconut, ¼ c plain Greek yogurt. Add a fist of fresh spinach and blend until smooth. Add ice as desired.

Salmon and Veggies: Salmon is a “fatty fish” that has the added bonus of omega-3s to help with inflammation and heart health. Serve up your favorite salmon recipe with some veggies and sweet potato for that perfect post workout meal.

Tilapia with Cilantro Lime Quinoa: Although not a source of omega-3s, tilapia will serve up good quality protein too. Try this: cook up some quinoa and toss with corn, lime juice, garlic/onion powder and cilantro. Pan fry tilapia with smoked paprika and serve over the quinoa mixture. Get the full recipe here!

Excellent Recipes Celebrating Mardi Gras and Lent!

It is NEVER the wrong time of year to try some new things in the kitchen! Boredom is absolutely one of the number one reasons people fail to stick with healthy habits, so mix things up with some new recipes and take in the spirit of the season!

Mardi Gras

Fat Tuesday is well known as a holiday for binging on heavy foods in preparation for the fast of Lent, but we have some delicious recipes for you to try out that will delight your taste buds AND protect you from regret!

Gumbo

This fantastic Gumbo Recipe combines Shrimp and Chicken with a bunch of veggies and BIG flavor to create a dish you won’t forget!

Jambalaya

What’s the difference between Jambalaya and Gumbo you might ask? While Gumbo is more of a stew, Jambalaya is more of a rice-based dish essentially.

This Jambalaya Recipe may just become a year-round staple as it is light and filling at the same time, packs big cajun flavor and that Andouille Sausage is just the icing on the cake so-to-speak!

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the 40 days before Easter Sunday. For many, this is a day of an abstinence from all meat and foods made with meat, along with each Friday during lent.

There are many meals that are complete and tasty that don’t include meat! From a non-religious standpoint, many people choose to practice Meatless Mondays, or just choose one day a week to abstain from meat consumption for health or environmental reasons.

Whatever the reason, we’ve got a Whole-30 Approved, Veggie Power Bowl for you! And best of all, it’s simple:

Roast a pan of vegetables, make a simple sauce (whisk lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, small amount of water and salt), and serve with hard boiled eggs or beans like garbanzo or black beans. Check the recipe here!

Lenten Fridays

Lent has begun for many, and some have a tradition of fish on Friday’s! Another great many of us just need an excuse to incorporate more fish in our diet.

Fish is a great part of a balanced diet with high protein and low fat. Even fatty-fish (like salmon) have huge amounts of beneficial omega-3 fat that helps offset our often high omega-6’s that can come with overconsumption with red-meat. Never tried fish tacos? You’re missing out!

Check out these Mahi-Mahi Blackened Fish Tacos! Going low carb? Skip the tortilla and make it into a bowl with extra cabbage!

While EVERY day may not be a holiday, that doesn’t mean you can’t be grateful for every new day and new beginning!

According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research, finding happiness and gratefulness in each day literally changes our brain and makes us healthier and happier!

Let’s be grateful for the impending return of Spring, and don’t forget Sunday, March 10th begins Daylight Savings Time! Set your clocks ahead when you go to bed!

It’s time to leap ahead into spring cleaning our mindset, simplifying our lives and homes, and start planning your spring garden!

Pets and Health: Bigger Than You Thought!

According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey (yes that is a real thing!), 68% of US households – about 85 million families – own a pet.

Studies have shown that dog owners particularly decrease their risk of death in general by 33 percent compared with those without a pet!!

This week we’ll talk about how pets can have a positive impact on your health from stress to fitness! Don’t have a pet? Go check out the local humane society and/or pet sanctuaries!

Pets and Stress Response:

Now this may depend on the person – and on the pet – but numerous studies have shown that pets can help lower blood pressure and regulate the heart rate during stressful conditions. Even when they are not with you at the time! Pretty amazing. Outside of casual health benefits, therapy animals can be used for more extensive needs, such as equine therapy for conditions from depression, to anxiety and post-traumatic stress!
Check out this link for info on therapy dogs!

Pets and Staying Active:

Pets can help you stay active, particularly if you have a pet that requires outside time. Walking the dog for instance is an activity that will force you to get outside in even the harsh winter conditions instead of loafing around when the weather is poor! Going for a short walk can have tremendous health benefits when compared with hours of sitting uninterrupted.

Pets and Mental Health:

On the same idea as licensed therapy pets, pets love you for who you are without judgement, which can lead to feelings of acceptance that one may not always get from family or society! Dog parks can be a great way to get active with your pet as well as have a social outlet with others that share a common interest.

Find local parks, and establishments, where you can bring your dog along at www.bringfido.com. Check out the activities area for local dog parks and outdoor options.

Pets and Allergies:

The National Institute of Health has suggested “children exposed to high indoor levels of pet or pest allergens during infancy have a lower risk of developing asthma by 7 years old.” (Source) A similar earlier study found homes with cats had a protective effect, having made allergy-related antibodies, against asthma symptoms in young children. Some scientists believe pets carry microbes that stimulate the immune system so that children don’t become allergic. (Source)

A Pet a Day Keeps the Doctor Away:

Two studies involving the same participants 5 years apart showed that people who had a pet both at the first and second touchpoint had the fewest doctors visits of the group, followed by the group who had no pet the first round and had then acquired one within the 5 years preceding the next.

Take a moment to think about that!

Dog, Cat, Horse, Fish, Bird – any pet counts!

More Resources:
http://www.center4research.org/benefits-pets-human-health/
https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/6-ways-pets-improve-your-health#2

Plant-Based Eating Tips and Recipes!

It’s no longer a secret that shifting towards plant-based/whole foods eating, which minimizes processed foods, is best for your overall health.

Plant-based eating limits, or eliminates, animal products and focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds/nuts, and whole grains which provides higher amounts of many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Many think of vegetarian’s when they think of plant-based eating, but there are numerous varieties of eating plant-based. This week we’ll look at the differences among them and maybe find a plant-based style that works for you!

But FIRST: To kick off your New Year, today’s mission for you is to go through your cupboards and toss, donate, or give away all those foods that do not fit your health and fitness goals – and start anew! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some healthy recipes too!

Which Plant-Based Diet is Right For You?

No matter who you are, we believe the majority of your diet should be plant-based. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy eating animal products, just that we should strive to allow plants to make up the majority of our calories and nutrition. Let’s discuss some varieties of primarily plant-based diets:

Vegetarian

Even within this meat-less category there are numerous forms:

Lacto-Vegetarian – Including dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.

Ovo-Vegetarian – Including eggs only

Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian – As you may have guessed, lacto-ovo-vegetarians exclude meat but allows for dairy and eggs.

Pescatarian

Essentially, vegetarians that exclude dairy and eggs but do include fish. Fatty-fish, like salmon area great way to get your omega-3’s in. For the most benefit, look for wild caught salmon vs farmed.

Not a big fish fan? Try Sea Cuisine which offers sustainably caught seafood with a variety of tasty flares like Mediterranean crusted salmon, tortilla crusted tilapia, and summer herb crusted cod. They also offer non-crusted fish like blacked Cajun salmon. Available in most grocery stores in the frozen fish area.

Flexitarian

Flexitarians are “casual” vegetarians that occasionally eat meat, fish, dairy and/or eggs. For many it is hard to make the switch altogether away from animal products and still adequately meet nutritional needs – at least until they figure out strategies and recipes that allow them to do so. Not everything has to be a clean break!

Vegan

While veganism and vegetarianism crossover much of the same territory – veganism tends to take things to another level by even excluding products from insects – like honey for instance – and in some cases branching beyond what goes in your mouth and abstaining from using non-dietary animal products like wool.

To cover all ends of the spectrum, on this extreme we have Raw Veganism, which also do not cook their foods above 104-118 degrees F, instead relying primarily on preparation methods of blending, dehydrating, soaking, and sprouting.

Recipes

Plant-based eating doesn’t mean you have to eat exotic flavors and try crazy new dishes if you don’t wish!

Try this “Burger” In A Bowl from our friends at Precision Nutrition! Squeeze a dollop of ketchup and mustard over a cup of warm, cooked, lentils and top with a chopped pickle and dash of hemp seeds. This 300 calorie dish serves up 25 grams of protein!

Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing:
This lacto-vegetarian dish includes some chickpeas with a healthy dose of cabbage, tomatoes, and cucumber along with some healthy fat to keep you full and satisfied!

The dressing blends an avocado with a small amount of plain Greek yogurt, and is a great dressing to keep on hand for any kind of salad!

Get the full recipe here!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos:

Interested in becoming plant-based but don’t know where to start? Try increasing the number of meatless meals you serve. Find ways to include more greens daily. Try substituting a more vegetarian take on already favorite dish like chili or Mexican dishes (sweet potato and black beans versus ground beef in this recipe).

Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad:

This vegan and vegetarian friendly dish includes a major dose of veggies – cabbage, carrots, green onion, snow or snap peas, and cilantro – plus quinoa for a protein boost! (Use maple syrup instead of honey to complete as a vegan dish).

Get it here!

Plant-based diets can tend to be deficient in specific micronutrients like vitamin B-12, calcium, omega-3’s, and vitamin D. You may want to consider getting tested for these nutrients and/or supplement for them if you become a plant-based eater or vegetarian/vegan. Good luck!