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Finding the balance of physical and mental health through adventures and fitness

Recipe: Smoothie bowl

I won’t lie, whenever I see smoothie bowls online I am always envious because they also look delicious and perfectly put together. I don’t know about you, but fruit doesn’t keep me very full so it’s something I typically pair with something else. I may have berries in my oats or a banana with my protein shake. I top yogurt with fruit and nuts sometimes. But on it’s own I could eat a ton of fruit and not be full for long.

However, since  March we’ve been consuming a ridiculous amount of fruit that has led to the purchase of large bags of frozen mixed fruit. It lasts longer than fresh fruit and it’s perfect for in yogurt and smoothies. I do buy fresh, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE crisp fruit, but honestly guys, read the labels. Frozen fruit is just as nutritionally dense as fresh and you can find bags that have NO additives, which makes it a pretty economic choice when some fruits aren’t in season.

What brought me to this recipe is the search for a snack while lunch was cooking. For me this was an appetizer to baked chicken. I was running low on veggies and was trying to figure out a carb to have with lunch. I then realized that I could just have lunch in parts and call it a meal.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 cup of frozen fruit
  • 1/4 cup of milk or milk alternative
  • 1-2 tablespoons of protein powder
  • Optional toppings: nuts, seeds, granola, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, more fruit

Directions

1. In a food processor, grind/chop 1 cup of frozen fruit for a few minutes. You’re going to want to pulse the fruit as it start to chop. I used mixed fruit from Dole that I got a sale a few weeks ago.

*Using a few fruits gives a good base of flavor and textured. You could combine bananas, strawberries, blueberries, etc. if you don’t have a pre-bought bag.

2. Add a 1/4 cup of milk or milk alternative to the chopped fruit. I used almond milk. After blending in milk, consistency should be thick like frozen yogurt.

3. Add 1-2 tablespoons of whey casein protein powder. I added 1 tablespoon, which is about 1/4 scoop of protein powder. The more protein you add, the thicker it’ll be and you may need to add a little more milk. If you’re using whey isolate it may not be as thick as whey casein blend. If you’re using a vegan or plant based protein, I’m unsure how thickness will be impacted.

4. Transfer fruit base to a bowl and level out.

5. Optional: Top with your favorite toppings. The fruit base will have a lot of flavor so you can eat it on its own or you can jazz it up with toppings.

* Be mindful of you’re toppings and what they add nutritionally and calorically. This base is a moderate carbohydrates base with 5-12g of protein depending on how much protein and brand (1 or 2 tablespoons) you added. Nuts/seeds/nut butter will add fat and some protein; fruit will add more carbs; coconut will add fat and carbs, etc.

Estimate nutrition for my specific base: 1f | 18c | 7p

With toppings: 9f | 30c | 9p

 

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Wellness Refocused Education: Steel Cut Oats v. Rolled Oats

One of my clients and I were talking about oats the other day. She said she had to eat steel cut oats, and I asked, “why do they HAVE to be steel cut?”

She said well they’re healthier for you.

I told her that wasn’t necessarily true.

So, let’s talk oats – what’s the difference between them?

Steel-cut oats are minimally processed, meaning they have only been cut a few times from their original form of oat groats. They can take up to a half hour to cook.

Rolled or old-fashioned oats are oat groats that been steamed and rolled – this makes for faster cooking.

Quick-oats are rolled oats that have been chopped – even faster cooking.

Nutritionally, these are all made from oat groats, so they should contain the same number of calories, protein and fiber. However, the biggest nutritional differences will occur when you compare brands. Oats made from Quaker may differ from oats that are store brand.

Oats are a great source of vitamin E (a fat soluble vitamin) and B-1 and B-2 (both water soluble vitamins).

The biggest difference is how your body digests steel cut versus rolled oats.

The steaming and rolling process that the rolled oat goes through make them easier on digestion in comparison to steel cut oats. This is because the outer layers of the steel cut oats have insoluble fiber, which is harder for digestive enzymes to breakdown (Rasane, Jha, Sabikhi, Kumar, & Unnikrishnan, 2015). While steel cut may help with satiety, they may also result in bloating (Rebello, O’Neil, & Greenway, 2016). To further help with oat digestion you can soak your oats overnight or slow cook them. Here’s how I make mine overnight.

So why does it seem like there are more differences nutritionally?

Serving size matters. I’ve seen some brands list the serving size as a ½ cup of dry oats where I’ve seen other’s list it as 1/3 cup. The serving size dictates the caloric and nutritional value.

Add-ins and topping make a difference. I buy plain rolled oats because sometimes I actually enjoy plain oat meal, but mostly because I enjoy the chance to experience with different toppings and flavors. I love using protein powder in my oats – it adds protein and flavor, which allows me to add minimal toppings. I also love berries and peanut butter in my oats.

If you look at some of the instant oatmeal’s available in the store you’ll see packets that include high sugar flavors like maple brown sugar, apple cinnamon, etc.

Below is a comparison of steel cut oats, rolled oats and apple cinnamon from Quaker Oats.

oats photo 1oats photo 2

You’ll notice that steel cut and rolled oats are pretty much the same, except steel cut has 2g of insoluble fiber, which comes from the lack of rolling the oat groats (soluble v. insoluble fiber). Comparing these two to the Quaker Instant: Apples and Cinnamon flavor, you may noticed that the serving size is the same weight, but as you scroll through the table you’ll also see an additional 6g of carbohydrates, but 12g of sugar – this is because a portion of oats have been replaced with sugar, spices and apple pieces, all of which add weight and sugar.

Really what this comes down to is asking yourself 1. What texture do you prefer? 2. How much time do you have?

If you like oats in general, they have a lot of benefits like the vitamins listed above but can also help with maintaining a healthy cholesterol level as well as satiety throughout the day, which can assist with dietary adherence.

Remember, there’s a lot of marketing tactics used to make us as consumers believe something is much healthier than it truly is. Don’t get fooled. Read labels, ask questions and do a little digging on your own.

Lastly, how do you take your oats?

❤ Cristina

 

References:

Rasane, P., Jha, A., Sabikhi, L., Kumar, A., & Unnikrishnan, V. S. (2015). Nutritional advantages of oats and opportunities for its processing as value added foods – a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 662-675.

Rebello, C. J., O’Neil, C. E., & Greenway, F. L. (2016). Dietary fiber and satiety: the effects of oats on satiety. Nutrition Reviews, 131-147.

 

 

 

Day 159, Quote 14: “Brave does not mean…”

We’re shifting. I’ve been running on movie quotes this year and JP and I have been watching A LOT of movies. The spring was tough and there were more date night’s in,s o we revisited some of our favorites and found some new ones. Some inspired me and struck something that made me want to write.

But I’ve been working on writing more in a different way. Not just blogging or the workbook, but journaling and writing just to write. My friend Kara started a writing group for about a dozen of us using a writing challenge that prompts us daily. The prompts may be quotes, it may be a photo, but regardless you’re encouraged to write what comes to mind that day.

There have been some where I knew exactly what I wanted to get out of my head on paper and others that frustrated me and left me pondering for most of the day.

This was Day 8.

day 8 bravery

Bravery.

My first thought was self-demeaning.

I am not brave.

I then thought of all the times that I’ve been told I’m brave.

I reached out to Kara and said in not as many words, this post was something I wanted to expand on outside of the group. I asked her to co-write a blog post with our view points of bravery.

As you read through our perspectives, I want you to ask yourself what brave means to you now. Has it ever changed it’s meaning? Do you think it can continue to evolve for you?

I also want you to consider its Google definition – you know, when you search Google like this: def:bravery.

brave.JPG


Here’s Kara’s point-of-view.

Moments of bravery go unnoticed every day, while moments of pride and vanity are heralded as heroism.  Because bravery means something different to each individual, because we all have our own fears – both acknowledged and hidden – bravery takes many forms.

The definition of bravery that resonates the most with me is from Merriam-Webster’s latest edition, “Having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty”.

Is it brave to commit yourself to defending your country? 

Absolutely.

Is it brave to put your life in danger to save the life of another?

Most definitely.

It’s also brave to get out of bed in the morning when every part of you hurts, and you just don’t think you can do it.

It’s brave to try something new that takes you out of your comfort zone, knowing failure is the likely outcome.

It’s brave to find the lesson in the failure and try again, over and over.

It’s brave to speak up and share your truth when you know your perspective is different.

It is brave to form your own path, often walking away from what is comfortable, expected, and accepted.

In the last year, I have been called brave more than perhaps any other time in my life.  Due to a series of localized tragedies that the CDC has deemed a “suicide contagion,” I decided to share my story.

I spoke to my high school classes, and eventually to the entire student body, about being a survivor of multiple suicide attempts.

I have always been open about my experiences with mental illness, both in person and on social media.  Hiding who I am and how I am struggling is something that I decided long ago that I would not do. Pretending that they don’t affect me every minute of every day isn’t helping anyone.

During moments of openness about mental illness, I have often been told how brave I am to share my struggles. To me, this isn’t brave. This is just being who I am and not being ashamed.

I share my experiences because I hope to find connection with others, along with understanding. I do not want pity, but I do want others who may be fighting their own battles silently to know that they are not alone.

Ironically, the moments in my life when I have felt the most brave probably wouldn’t be what most consider brave actions. It was the moment that I stepped away from a relationship that on the surface looked perfect, but underneath was damaging.  Or the first time that I put myself first, rather than fulfilling my lifelong role as a people pleaser. It was finding genuine happiness for a friend at her baby shower, days after I had miscarried. It was willingly putting myself into a situation that I knew would induce panic, because I know it’s part of the process of healing.

Each of these moments were terrifying and overwhelming for me. In every instance, I convinced myself that catastrophic repercussions and failure were imminent. However, these moments of self-doubt ultimately became moments of self-discovery.

The grandiose and the quiet moments of bravery should be equally celebrated and appreciated.  Growth, both individual and societal, can only come from moments of bravery.


Here’s Cristina’s point-of-view.

I hate the word brave.

I know we all have our own definition, but I feel like people confused bravery with doing the right thing or doing what it takes to be successful or doing what is necessary to live your life fully.
I’ve been brave for putting on heels and a bikini.
I’ve been brave for talking about my PTSD.
I’ve been brave for calling out online bullies.
I’ve been brave for telling people about my bad days.
I’ve been brave for wearing stripes.
I’ve been brave for having skin removal surgery.
I’ve been brave wearing “that color” or “that style”.
Why are these things brave?

I think that many people view behaviors that they wouldn’t exemplify as brave. They wouldn’t wear stripes or talk about mental health – so it must be brave. For me, I know it has nothing to do with things I wouldn’t do.

I think it has to do with things that leave me in awe.

I saw brave in my older sister who stepped between me and mom when I was in third grade. It was the first time my mom hit me, and it was the first time I realized that if my big sister was around I would be safe.

I saw brave when a friend told me she went back to therapy. She’s capable of problem-solving and she’s capable of making connections and then making a plan, but I also believe that this assistance will guide her to peak greatness. I believe that she will be able to grow more fully and asking for help and putting trust in someone else is brave.

I saw brave when a client told me she was leaving her corporate job to be a stay-at-home mom and teach her sons herself. This was a powerful declaration of “I can” from this client and my heart clapped and cheered for her because while I knew she was terrified inside, she was still taking this step.

I have felt brave when getting out of the shower on days I thought I couldn’t get out of bed. Sometimes I stay in the shower longer because I’m thinking and when I’ve come to my conclusion I’ll feel ready to step and out go into the world. But on days when it’s bad, getting in to begin with is a project and the feeling of readiness to take on the world (as it feels) seems like a burden.

I have felt brave when I trust myself to be capable in the gym, as a coach, as a partner. I have more doubt than I want to admit, but writing it out makes me face it and makes me think about where it comes from.

I feel brave when being myself. Growing up, if I was bullied my dad always asked what I did wrong or what I did to draw the bully’s attention. It was never about the wrongness in their behavior but identifying that there must be something wrong with mine. I am not wrong and it took a long time to see that and to feel that.

When I was a kid, I think I just wanted to be happy. As an adult there has never been a point in my life where I have thought, I want to martyr for the cause.

I don’t want to be brave.

I just want people to look at me and see normal people can do extraordinary things when they work hard. That normal people change the world. That we can live our lives to the fullest without labels of our accomplishments.

❤ Cristina and Kara

Wellness Refocused Education: Vitamins Part 2

In part 1 we discussed how there are two categories of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble. We dove into fat soluble vitamins in part 1. We talked about what they are, where they come from and what can happen if you get too much or don’t get enough.

This post is about water soluble vitamins: Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and B vitamins such as:

  • Thiamin (B1)
  • Riboflavin (B2)
  • Niacin/nicotinamide/nicotinic acid
  • Pyridoxine/pyridoxal/pyridoxamine (B6)
  • Folate (folic acid)
  • Cobalamin (B12)
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Biotin

Like we talked about in the last post, solubility is about transportation through the body. Water soluble vitamins are easily absorbed in the intestinal tract and go into the blood stream. They aren’t stored, so toxicity is less likely than with fat soluble vitamins.

This isn’t to say that toxicity can’t occur, it’s just less likely with a healthy functioning body.

To see more about toxicity and deficiency symptoms, check out the last post here.

Vitamin C is commonly associated with oranges and “curing a cold”, however, it’s a bit more complicated than that and it has a lot more functions than just immunity.

Vitamin C is required for a few specific functions like creating collagen, L-cartnitine, some neurotransmitters, hormones and DNA (protein)(Office of Dietary Supplements, 2018). That’s a bit more than what we typically think about when we think Vitamin C or a glass of juice. These functions are a part of our immune system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system and our nervous system.

Collagen is a kind of connective tissue (fibrous protein) in the body and it plays a big role in healing, which is why Vitamin C is important (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016). As an antioxidant, ongoing research has shown that Vitamin C helps with oxidative stress (an imbalance of free radicals and the body’s ability to detoxify itself) limit damaging effects of free radicals, which may prevent or delay disease and illness.

Other immune functions are include improving nonheme iron transport. Nonheme iron can be found in plants and as you imagine is recognized by the body differently than meat-based sources. This also means that it’s transported through body differently. Decreased oxidative stress by Vitamin C helps with allow for transport.

So does Vitamin C cure sickness?

Vitamin C plays a role in keeping the body healthy, however, once immunity is weakened, Vitamin C consumption may not do a lot for you other than give you peace of mind (Thomspon & Manore, 2015). There has been research conducted looking at how Vitamin C prevents disease and illness like types of cancers. “Epidemiologic evidence suggests that higher consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower risk of most types of cancer, perhaps, in part, due to their high vitamin C content” (Office of Dietary Supplements, 2018). This is in connection to the decrease of free radicals in the body. Other research has shown the taking vitamin C may not prevent a cold, but may decrease their duration. A varied diet with “excellent sources of vitamin C will also help you maintain a strong immune system” (Thompson & Manore, 2015).

So how much should you consume? The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for men is 90 mg/day and for women it’s 75 mg/day. If you’re a smoker, it’s recommended to consume about 35 mg/day more than the RDA and the upper limit is 2,000 mg/day.

B complex vitamins are the other water soluble vitamins.  They help with a number of functions and are most known for helping the body regulate energy metabolism. They act as a coenzyme, “which is a molecule that combines with an enzyme to activate it and help it do its job  (Thompson & Manore, 2015).” The cellular functions they assist with are interconnected across organ systems and also include various aspects of brain function (Kennedy, 2016).

Thiamin (B1) assists  with breaking down glucose for energy as well as the creation of amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine – which are branched-chain amino acids that I briefly mentioned in the post about protein and amino acids. These amino acids are used in muscle and help produce glucose when needed (Thompson & Manore, 2015). Humans store very small amounts of thiamin in the liver, and since the vitamin has “a short half-life…continuous supply of it from the diet” is necessary (Office of Dietary Supplements, 2018).

Riboflavin (B2) assists with carbohydrate and fat metabolism and occur in chemical reactions to produce energy.

Niacin (B3) is acutally two compounds – nicotinamide and nictinic acid, which work to activate enzymes to metabolize carbohydrates and fat. Niacin plays a role in DNA replication and differentiation as well as repair. Without niacin, the digestive system, nervous system and integumentary system (skin) can be disrupted.

Pyridoxine/pyridoxal/pyridoxamine (B6) similarly to thiamin, helps with carbohydrate and protein metabolism. In coenzyme form, B6 engages in over a 100 enzyme reactions that deal primarily with protein metabolism. It’s involved in hemogloblin (the component that transports oxygen in the blood) formation, helps synthesize neurotransmitters for cognitive function and normal brain activity.

B6 vitamin is sensitive to both heat and light, so it can be degraded during cooking, however, it can be found in many foods that are consumed regularly in a normal diet such meats, fish, poultry, many vegetables and fruits.

Folate (folic acid) is required for some of the body’s most basic cellular functions such as DNA synthesis, which is why it’s so important for women who are newly pregnant to have adequate intake during the first few weeks. Folate combined with the sperm-egg cell quickly develops tissues and structures of the human body. It’s not just in these developing stages that folate is necessary, throughout life, it helps with tissue maintenance and repair. Folate also contributes to the development of amino acids serine, glycine, histidine and methionine as well red blood cells. Without folate or B12, which we will get to in a minute, RBC have the opportunity to become enlarged from their inability to divide and mature. This can result in macrocytic anemia.

Cobalamin (B12) assists with DNA synthesis, which helps with proper red blood cell formation (Thompson & Manore, 2015).  Like we’ve talked about before, red blood cells transport oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. B12 along with adequate levels of B6 help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The conversion of folate to its active form is dependent on adequate amounts of B12. If the conversion process is unable to occur, then folate is unable to be utilized properly even if  adequate amounts are consumed regularly through diet (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2018). Individuals who have malabsroption disorders such as celiac disease may have a higher chance of deficiency because of decreased intrinsic factor – a protein that helps with absorption that occurs in the small intestine.

Pantothenic acid  is an important in the breakdown and synthesis of fatty acids (Thompson & Manore, 2015). It’s role allows for foods in our diet to be utilized for energy, but also assists with excess fat storage for later.  It can be found in a many foods, which is where it got it’s name – pan meaning every where. This vitamin isn’t typically measured in a healthy person since it is abundantly consumed and adequate intake is so small.

Biotin is a coenzyme for five different enzymes that breakdown all macronutrients providing energy for the body to function properly (Office of Dietary Supplements, 2017). Like Folate, it’s important during pregnancy because of it’s role in cellular development of hair, skin and nails, but recommended amount are in micrograms, which is a very small measure. Biotin is found in a number of foods, and while rare, if deficiency does occur it can lead to brittle nail, skin infections and hair loss or thinning.

How much should you consume for B-complex vitamins?

Below is a chart with the RDA for a general healthy individual. Many personal variables will change the necessary intakes such as if disease and illness like autoimmune disorders, age, activity level, current or desire to become pregnant.

water solube

Currently, no research shows concerns with toxicity in relation to water soluble vitamins consumed through dietary means since they are not stored in the body, however, you shouldn’t take a vitamin just to take one.

Be thoughtful and talk with your doctor about what a vitamin can do for you and if it’s necessary. Examine the variety in your diet and make sure that you’re getting enough real food with your fun foods.

Again, potency is important to be mindful of and with supplementation there’s an increase risk of toxicity.

❤ Cristina

References:

Kennedy, D. O. (2016). B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy – A Review. Nutrients, 8(2), 68. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu8020068

Marieb, E. N., & Hoehn, K. (2016). Chemistry Comes Alive. In E. N. Marieb, & K. Hoehn, Human Anatomy and Physiology (pp. 23-59). New York: Pearson Learning Solutions.

National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2018, June 4). PubChem Compound Database; CID = 6438156. Retrieved from National Center for Biotechnology Information: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/6438156#section=Top

Office of Dietary Supplements. (2018, March 2). Strengthening Knowledge and Understanding of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

Office of Dietary Supplements. (2017, December 8). Strengthening our Knowledge of Supplements: Biotin. Retrieved from National Institute of Health: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-Consumer/

Thompson, J., & Manore, M. (2015). Nutrition: An Applied Approach. San Francisco: Pearson Education.

 

Recipe: Grilled Chicken Shawarma Skewers

Guys, it’s hot outside, which means it’s hot inside. It’s not just hot, it’s humid and muggy. If I had allergies like JP I would also bitch about the pollen count, but I don’t so I won’t.

Last year when we moved into our apartment, aside from the fitness center, one of the outdoor amenities that really excited us, was the grilling. We have access to both charcoal and gas grills. While charcoal is perfect for s’mores, gas is perfect for everything else.

We’ve grilled more this year than last year and that’s because we have more time and our jobs allow us to be home at roughly the same time. While grilling is easy and the dinner prep is minimal, it may require more hands than two.

This recipe is something that I made last week so that we had something quick to eat after work, but didn’t have to put too much energy into it – the heat kills our motivation for cooking and the last thing I want is a hot kitchen.

Aside from Pinterest, I have way too many cookbooks for someone my age and a subscription to Food Network Magazine. I get ideas and then roll with them. This one is a combination of three recipes – from the spices to the ratios.

What You’ll Need

  • Chicken breast of tenders
  • Ground Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Minced garlic
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Skewers (wood or metal)
  • Plastic bag

Directions

1. Trim excess fat and cartilage off of your chicken, then cube into small bite-sized pieces. I used 8 ounces of chicken, so my ratios are for 8 ounces, which is about two servings.

2. In an empty, plastic bag add a teaspoon of each: ground cumin, curry powder and minced garlic. As far as brands, I don’t use a specific brand – I buy what’s affordable/on sale at the time I need it. The store brand is fine and if you’re brand loyal, that’s also fine.

3. Add to the bag, juice from half a lemon. I opened the bag and squeezed it directly in.

4. Add a tablespoon of olive oil (not pictured) to the bag.

5. Add chicken to the spice bag, seal and shake. When sealing the bag, don’t remove all the air out so that the chicken has freedom to move around and get coated.

*After bagging my chicken, I put it in the fridge for the day while I went to the office. To prevent potential contamination, I placed the bag in a glass bowl on the bottom shelf.

6. Divide chicken in half and skewer.

7. Pre-heat grill for a few minutes so the grate can get up to temperature, this may take 3 to 5 minutes. Place skewers on hot grill cooking each side for about 3 to 5 minutes. The duration may change depending on how big the chicken has been cut and how much chicken is on each skewer.

How we plated:

9. Slice a red onion and tomato into small pieces. I cut red onion rings in half. I also did the same to the tomatoes.

10. On a pita, spread a tablespoon of hummus (plain, garlic or roasted red pepper would pair well with the spices) and a tablespoon of tzatziki.

10. Place red onion and tomatoes on the pita and sprinkle some feta.

11. De-skewer chicken and place on top of pita.

If you’re not interested in plating like we did, this would be great with rice and veggies – we had broccoli and salad on the side of ours. You could also use it on top of salad.

Do you enjoy grilling in the summer?

❤ Cristina

Day 153 :Movie Quote 13: “Almost There”

It’s officially June and I honestly don’t know how we got here so fast.

Five months have never escaped my grasp so quickly. Are you feeling that way at all? As I think about where the time went, I’m trying harder to look forward and think about all the time left. We can’t control how fasts time goes, but we can control what we do with the time given.

This week was really good.

1. It was a shorter week so I felt like I had a chance to relax over the weekend and then use Monday to get ready for the week. 2. It was just a good week.

I’ve switched from going to fieldwork I need to for course credit to volunteering because I like the mission, I like the networking and it’s a good use of time to give back. This week we shifted gears from executing a conference to full-blown gala planning. I’m revisiting my roots of fundraising, which is nice because that’s a skill I have. However, I’m being pulled into more strategic planning and timeline initiatives for sponsorship conversations, which is slightly new. I had worked with individual donors, not organizations, but the principles are similar. There’s still one individual we’re speaking with on behalf of the organizations and companies we’re soliciting, but there’s a few more steps to close an ask.

I’m working on examining community data and correlating socioeconomic status and school district with obesity rates and wellness programs and prevention plans. It sounds more complicated than it is. I’m looking through census data and state data to see what school districts have the ability to implement proper programming and what schools should we reach out to so we can lend a hand with some programs we’re designing. Not everyone has resources and our goal is to help those who need the extra assistance first.

I love what I’m getting involved in.

On the side, I’m also working on strategic marketing and health communication to engage with their target audiences. It’s making me think differently about how we talk with different populations and approach different health issues. It’s a good challenge and I feel like I’m considering multiple perspectives that weren’t being considered before. Not only is this good for this organization, but as I consider my own coaching business and how I talk to my clients.

People need to be met where they are and then brought up.

Outside of the work stuff, I was pretty pumped about my first go at donuts this week and how my lifts are feeling during the fifth week of programming.

Here’s the recipe I used for the batter. The ONLY change I made was the substitution of almond milk + 1 teaspoon vinegar instead of buttermilk. I didn’t use their glaze, but instead made my own after looking at other recipes.

I decided to make donuts for National Donut Day because I didn’t want a standard chain donut and I couldn’t get out to Kane’s for my beloved turtle donut. I guess I’m a bit picky and I have a preference on taste. I’ve also been wanting to make my own for a while and this was as good of an excuse as any. For baking, I’d like to try a few other batter recipes before making modifications or trying to make my own flavors. Baking is a different monster in comparison to cooking – the chemistry is much more important, but I think it’ll be fun to try some new recipes and check off a few from my Pinterest boards.

It’s weird having the time to plan to bake, but I could get used it that’s for sure.

So this week donuts, next week – we’ll see.

I finished the fifth week and started the sixth week of PH3 and my lifting feels good. Most days it feels right where it should be. There have been a few days where things feel heavy and I have a few more pep talks. Getting to the gym feels routine and feels good. I’m glad I restarted the program when I did. I’m glad I recognized that openness and shift in my schedule and pushed myself to adapt to it.

That’s one of the most important ideas I push to my clients – we need to be flexible enough to adapt and shift how we appropriate our goals. I know in the very beginning of my journey I didn’t think that way. I know some people don’t think that way years into their journey. I certainly know competitors who don’t think that way. But if you want this to be a lifestyle, if you want to engage with your environment in a healthy way – you need to be able to adapt. If you can’t adapt or try to adapt, you will find every excuse to encourage your failure and lack of progress.

I feel I’m almost where I want to be. Strength is building and I’m seeing lower body progress like I was hoping. I feel leaner and tighter. Nutrition has stayed the same since I reset my macros a couple of months ago because I increased and changed the style of my activity. It’s really is an art to figure out the balance.

Five weeks of consistent workouts, mostly consistent eating. Better sleeping routine. Lower level of stress. Attempting to say yes a bit more often, but we’ll get into the soon, just not quite yet. This is my path for success.

Well, it’s post-workout. Post-weekend-pancakes. Post-homework.

Soon, we’ll be getting ready for JP’s grandfather’s 90th birthday party. It’s kind of crazy to think about what 90 years of life would be like. His mom has put together a book of stories and memories – she let me contribute too. Even though these kind of gatherings give me anxiety, I know it’ll be fun to hear the stories, sing Happy Birthday and lay poolside for the afternoon.

While our bodies don’t run on the same clock and most think of Monday as a new week – Sunday is a new week for me and day two of the sixth week of my program. I’m ready for the new week. I’m ready for June.

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Banana Bread Protein Pancakes for 2

One of the most popular posts on this blog is my protein pancakes using Kodiak Cakes pancake mix. Their protein mix (Powercakes) released in 2013, well before I created my recipe in 2015, but it was before I could find the mix anywhere near me. My recipe is one of the simplest recipes I have on this blog.

Their mixes have gone through some changes over the past few years, allowing them to continue to be balanced and provide more volume.

Kodiak Cakes Powercakes are a staple in our house because of how easy they are and with their recipe changes to their mix, I don’t find myself often needing to use my higher protein recipe.

However, there are times when we run out of mix or we’re not home, like this weekend, but we want pancakes.

As I mentioned the other day, there were a few things we were bringing from our fridge to JP’s parents fridge because we didn’t want to come home to throwing out food. A banana is one of those items I put in our food bag for the weekend.

This morning we woke up at 6:30 am without an alarm. This is sleeping in for us. We went to bed early last night after pizza date night. We had content bellies then, but this morning I could hear JP’s growling.

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He asked what was for breakfast and my first response was “I don’t know, eggs? What are you in the mood for?” His response was usual – “I don’t care.” It doesn’t really answer the question, but it doesn’t ignore it either.

So as always, I looked at my Pinterest boards to see if there was anything I had pinned that I’ve wanted to try and then I searched for something new when I didn’t see anything I wanted to make.

I knew I had a banana and that’s about all I knew. Here’s the recipe that inspired mine.

And here’s the journey of my banana.

What You’ll Need

  • a medium sized banana (mine weighed 126g)
  • 1 egg
  • ~1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of milk (I used 2% because that was what was in the fridge)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 10g of protein powder (I used chocolate cupcake protein from PEScience)

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine a medium-sized banana and whole egg using. I used a whisk because the batter won’t be super thick, but may have banana chunks.

2. Add all-purpose flour leveled in measuring cup. I had started with a 1/4 cup and then went back to add an additional tablespoon. Using a full 1/3 cup would be completely appropriate.

3. Add a splash of vanilla. This is really about taste. You could also add some cinnamon if you wanted to as well.

4.  Add 1/4 tsp of baking powder.

5. While the banana is sweet, the pancake batter is really plain without a sweetener of some kind. I used a teaspoon of brown sugar, but you could use honey, maple syrup or an alternative like Splenda/Truvia. Just be mindful different kinds of sugar have different levels of sweetness so you may not need as much.

6. This step really is optional, but if it’s left out then these aren’t really protein-y pancakes. Protein powder. I used 10g, which is about 1/3 of a scoop of protein for PEScience. This adds about 4g of protein per serving, so 8g for all of the batter.

* For rough estimate, I divided the batter in half and called it good enough.

7. Heat a medium or large skillet to medium or medium/high heat. I used a little cooking spray on the pan, you don’t need a lot and depending on the pan you may not need to spray in between cakes. Pour batter to pre-heated skillet and cook on each side for just over a minute. This is relative to your pan and how it contains heat.

8. (optional) Top with chopped pecans or walnuts.

Nutrition for just the pancakes: 3.7F/35.3C/11.2P

 

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Egg Stuffed Red Onion

Eggs and egg whites are a staple in our house. We eat them a ton of different ways, although it’s fair to say scrambles and omelettes are the easiest and most often form they’re consumed in.

AS we packed up to head to JP’s parents house for the weekend…and decided to bring a few things with us that we didn’t want to have to throw out when we returned, I found myself with two bowl-like pieces of red onion. The first thing I thought was “I could cook an egg in there.”

I’m pretty sure not many would think of that, but I did.

A few years ago, I shared a recipe for egg stuffed tomatoes – something I still make, but not as often. While that recipe is easy and a favorite of mine, it leaves you with soft almost fully cooked yolks. It also involved a bit more time and an oven.

What You’ll Need

  • red onion bowls or thick red onion rings
  • eggs – 1:1 egg per onion piece
  • cooking spray
  • shredded cheese (optional)

Directions

1. If you have a whole onion, cut thick slices about half an inch to an inch thick. Separate the rings and utilize the largest rings. If you have an end piece of an onion like I did, cut the bottom of the onion out like pictured below.

2. Using cooking spray, lightly coat a skillet and place onion rings or bowls in the pan. Cover with a lid for a minute or two so that steam can help soften the onions. Flip onions and recover for another minute.

3. Crack a whole egg in the middle of the onion bowl or ring. Allow for the bottom to cook before recovering pan with lid. You shouldn’t need any more cooking spray than the initial amount used in the beginning when the onion was added to the pan.

4. Uncover the pan after a minute to determine doneness. If you like your yolks runny, cooking may only take a minute or two. If you prefer a more cooked or soft yolk, allow egg to cook covered for about 3 or 4 minutes.

5. Garnish with shredded cheese. I choose mozzarella and used about half a serving per egg. This step is optional and so is the amount. If you like cheese or have more room for higher fat in your diet then go to town!

6. Plate a serve. We had our with fresh heirloom tomatoes and toast.

Notes: I wish I had Everything but the Bagel seasoning with me because I think those flavors would’ve been great with onion and the yolk. I choose red onions because I prefer the spicy flavor they have after cooking, but you could use any onion type. Just be mindful of cooking. I find that yellow onion cook down faster.

Nutrition for just the egg stuffed red onion: ~7F/4C/9P

 

❤ Cristina

Day 145, Movie Quote 12: “I didn’t know pizza places made motors.”

 
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It’s been feeling like vacation all week even though it’s not vacation at all.

I guess that’s the magic of going from a busy schedule to a less busy schedule.

This week I’ve gone to work and fieldwork – which is more like volunteering now since I’m not required to finish out the initial hours. I’ve gone to the gym and I’ve run twice. Granted the runs were only a mile each, but I had time to get dressed and lace up.

I’ve been in bed around 9 each night, which really makes a difference in my day.

While I have a summer class, I enjoy the reading and it’s all writing assignments. I love torture, I love writing assignments.

This three day weekend is actually going to feel like a vacation even though I’m bringing some reading along with me. I can’t remember the last time a weekend felt like a vacation.

While JP’s parents are out at the Cape we’re taking over the house.

He’s going to work on building the motorcyle and some other car projects. I’m going to work on two assignments I have for class.

We’re bringing some fancy clothes because we may go out for date night near the water, but we may also grill.

The only food decisions we’ve committed to so far are:

  • Bringing the rest of the raw broccoli that’s in our fridge so it doesn’t go bad
  • Bringing some protein bars because we plan on going to the gym and running over the weekend and his parents don’t eat snacks like we do
  • Go out to a new cafe of some kind

I know it sounds silly to say that you’re planning to be spontaneous, but I’ve planned a few things so that I can be spontaneous and feel good about those choices. Honestly, having a plan of some kind even if it’s not perfect makes me feel better.

Like, I’m planning to get my homework assignments done on Saturday mid-morning while he works on the cars so that we can do whatever we want in the afternoon together without me feeling like I should be stuck in front of my computer. I’m planning on finishing my writing so that I don’t think about initial submission next week – I can just work on finalization.

Saturday also starts the fifth week of my lifting program and since I’ve been trying to be more consistent I do plan on working out over the weekend when I have some time to myself. I.e. while JP is playing with the cars.

A few weeks ago I mentioned on Facebook that I restarted PH3. I’ve done the program before and I like the structure, however, I have changed up some of the hypertrophy. I’ve made sure to continue to target the muscle groups and have similar movements, but sometimes I want to do good mornings and stiff leg deadlifts over leg curls – so I’m letting myself that flexibility.

The program is divided into four segments. The first segment is four weeks long and I finished that yesterday with AMRAP to determine new maxes.

I feel really good about what I accomplished in the past four weeks. It was different than what the past eight or nine months have been like so it was like a reintroduction to routine and structured lifting.

I was appropriately sore at times and feeling like I could do more other times.

My old 1RM for my back squat was at 205, but since I haven’t lifted in this way in a long time, I decreased the number to 190 so I could work within percentages of it. I knew that 190 would be very difficult to hit, but I also knew if I tried to just restart completely and go to 100 I would do myself a disservice by not pushing hard enough. The heaviest percentage lifted so far has been 87.5% which was 165 pounds. That day it felt good. It didn’t feel heavy. But when I did testing yesterday 160 pounds felt slightly heavy and I could feel myself leaning forward too much.

Each day is unique and there are so many factors that impact your workout. I got six reps for 160 pounds which calculated a 1RM of 185 – so close to the guesstimate that I made of 190.

My bench sucked, but my bench isn’t something I’m concerned about. I’m more concerned with the mobility and flexibility in my shoulders. My range of motion isn’t very good in my left shoulder and that’s something I’m working on.

My deadlift improved the most. I’ve been focusing on a flatter back, pulling up without overextending my lower back. I’ve played with tempo a little bit too, but nothing crazy. My old 1RM was 155 and after yesterday’s lift it was calculated at 165.

I’m excited to work within that.

Maybe it feels like vacation because everything feels calm. Everything feels like it’s finding its place. When timing is right, it feels right.

To fill some of extra free time, we started watching the Fast and Furious series again… a movie each night. We actually have two copies of the series because we each own the movies.

JP has also been walking around quoting Paul Walker as Brian O’Connor. I’ve been asking a million car questions. 

Our talks have shifted from chemistry to political science and the U.S. constitution – I think we’re both going to learn a lot these next six weeks while I take U.S. Government.

We’ve talked about houses. We’ve talked about cars. We’ve talked about vacations and parties and the next 5K.

This is magic.

The balance of being busy with work – inside and outside of the house, being active and having some time to make last minute decisions is the kind of balance I’ve been striving for.

I don’t feel defeated or like the list is never going to get done.

I feel good about eating frozen pizza on a Thursday at 8 pm after a run. #thingsIneverthoughtIwouldsay

I’m ready for everything else. I’m ready for what’s next.

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Shredded Steak Tostadas

As warmer weather is approaching, we’re shifting how often we use the oven. It doesn’t matter if you have air conditioning, the oven turned on in the late spring and summer makes for a really warm kitchen. We cook a lot of things stove top, use our George Foreman or go outside and grill.

For this recipe, all you need is pots and pans and some tongs.

As we’re getting back into our routine of having dinner together again since the semester is over, I’ve been trying to incorporate meals that take a little longer or utilize entrees that may have a little assembly. I don’t need to rush dinner or have it in a Tupperware anymore, so this is a perfect opportunity to use corn tortillas.

I’ve made BBQ chicken tostadas before and since I had shaved steak I looked to see if there was a recipe that would be similar that I could check out.

Here’s what my Pinterest search looked like.

Pinterest steak tostada

So I skimmed through a few recipes and then decided to throw my own thing together.

What You’ll Need

  • Vegetables to saute (whatever you like, onions and peppers are perfect with this)
    • Red onion
    • White onion
    • Tomatoes
    • Bell Pepper
    • Mushrooms
  • 8 ounces shaved steak (I used Trader Joe’s because it’s lean and reasonably priced)
  • Jerk seasoning
  • 4 corn tortillas (I used Goya)
  • ~1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • ~2T Mozzarella cheese
  • Cooking spray

Directions

1. Wash and chop vegetables into small pieces. They don’t need to be minced, but should be close to bite size.

2. Spray a medium sized pot with cooking spray and add vegetables. Put on medium heat. Stir occasionally as vegetables sweat.

3. In a separate pan, add shaved steak and seasoning blend. I used Jerk seasoning, but you could use something smokey or spicy for this recipe. Put on medium heat so you don’t burn the meat.

4. In a small pan, spray cooking spray or use a little bit of olive oil (with a paper towel) to lightly coat the bottom. Put on high heat to get pan to temperature, then decrease heat to medium/medium-high. Place a corn tortilla until you see air pockets form and the bottom side of the tortilla is browned. This should take a few minutes if the pan isn’t warmed up yet, then flip and let second side to brown. Repeat this for all corn tortillas. You may need to spray or wipe olive oil in between tortillas.

5. For plating, place a corn tortilla on a plate and spread plain Greek yogurt, I used a spoonful. Since this recipe makes two, I used half the steak for both tortillas, then added vegetables followed by shredded mozzarella cheese. Many recipes called for mozzarella, but you could use cheddar or a blend – whatever you prefer.

Nutritional estimates: ~350 calories, 11F/36C/32P

As always, nutrition will change based on brands and cuts of meat. If you use a different cut of meat, it may has more fat and therefore more calories. If you use more or less vegetables, etc.

If you want to check out the recipe that had inspired my BBQ chicken tostadas a while back, here it is!

❤ Cristina