"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" - Hippocrates

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy National Oatmeal Day!

Happy National Oatmeal Day! So I am probably the most excited person about this. Oatmeal is a staple in my house and I eat it almost every day. Oatmeal is a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Specifically beta glucan,  a type of fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels.  Consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (an amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%. 
I love oatmeal because it is quick and easy to make. And it fills me up which is a big plus. Oatmeal is so versatile with an endless assortment of flavorings and add ins. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Vanilla Blueberry Oatmeal
1/2 cup of oatmeal (I like to mix 1/4 cup of quick oats and 1/4 cup of old fashioned oats)
1 cup of water
1/2 scoop of vanilla whey protein
Slivered almonds

Cook oatmeal in microwave for 2-3 minutes. Add protein, vanilla, cinnamon, flaxseed and almonds. Enjoy!

Today I had pumpkin oatmeal. In case some of you missed it, Wednesday was National Pumpkin Day. I added canned pumpkin (not the pie mix) to my oatmeal. Canned pumpkin is a great source of beta carotene which is essential to your vision and eye health. It also helps fight infection and strengthen skin, bone and mucous membranes.
Pumpkin Oatmeal
1/2 cup oatmeal (1/4 cup old fashioned, 1/4 cup quick oats)
About 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin (not pie mix)
1 tbsp. Golden raisins
1 tbsp. Dried cranberries
1 tbsp. Walnuts
Pumpkin spice
Cook oatmeal for 2-3 minutes in the microwave. Add pumpkin, raisins, cranberries, walnuts, flaxseed, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and vanilla. Enjoy.

One more recipe. Baked oatmeal which is common in Pennsylvania Amish country. I made this for a breakfast at work and it was yummy served with vanilla yogurt. You can mix this in the evening and refrigerate it overnight. Just pop it in the oven first thing when you get up.
Baked Oatmeal
    1 tablespoon canola oil 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce 1/3 cup brown sugar Egg substitute equivalent to 2 eggs, or 4 egg whites 3 cups uncooked rolled oats 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 cup skim milk


In a good-sized bowl, stir together oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients and milk. Mix well. Spray a 9-by-13 baking pan generously with cooking spray. Spoon oatmeal mixture into pan. Bake uncovered at 350 F for 30 minutes.

What is your favorite way to eat oatmeal?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Athlete's Plate

The USDA recently released the MyPlate icon replacing the Food Guide Pyramid. MyPlate illustrates the five food groups using a familiar mealtime visual, a place setting. MyPlate is beneficial for all people, especially athletes. As you might have noticed, half of the plate consists of fruits and vegetables. These foods might not be your first thought in terms of foods to fuel your body and your workouts, but they should be. Athletes are concerned with fueling before, during and after workouts or races. However, they don’t think about their daily nutritional needs. It would be like putting gas in your car, but not thinking about other maintenance needs such as changing your oil or rotating your tires. In order to have a long active life and improve your performance and enhance recovery, eat fruits and vegetables.These energy dense foods have many benefits, especially for athletes. 

First, fruits and vegetables are high satiety foods meaning that they will fill you up. These foods are great in terms of managing your appetite. Think about it this way, you can eat the same amount of food, but eat fewer calories. To enhance the appetite satisfying effect, eat fruits and vegetables as appetizers or at the beginning of meals. Then you will eat less of the higher calorie foods on your plate, provided that you are paying attention to your body and stop eating when you are comfortably full. For instance, have a broth based vegetable soup or a salad before your chicken or pasta. This is especially helpful for endurance athletes who struggle with achieving and maintaining their ideal race weight. 

Also, fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients which help minimize post exercise inflammation caused by free radicals.  Basically they help repair your muscles so that you recover faster, perform better in workouts and races, and avoid injury. Specifically vitamins C and E appear to be the most effective antioxidant defenders against free radical damage to muscle tissues. Citrus fruits, melon, and berries are good sources of vitamin C. Vegetable oils, nuts, dark green vegetables and whole grains are rich in vitamin E. In order to get the most benefit, eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

So what are some ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet?

Breakfast- As sports dietitian Nancy Clark says do your fruit duty at breakfast. Start off the day with 2 servings of fruit. Add fresh or dried fruit to your cereal or oatmeal. In a hurry? Grab easily portable fruits such as apples or bananas.

Snacks- Have these between meals to help you get in your servings of fruits and vegetables. Dip baby carrots or other vegetables in hummus. Spread peanut butter on apple slices. Spoon Greek yogurt over fresh berries.

Lunch- Add lettuce and tomato to your sandwich. If you are eating out, substitute a salad for fries.

Dinner- Order your pizza with veggies. Add a salad and eat it before your pizza. Or fire up the grill. Serve chicken and veggie kabobs with corn on the cob. 

Recovery starts today with good nutrition! For more information about MyPlate, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.