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Recovery Day – Brown Rice Salad

Salad doesn’t have to be boring . . . we’ve talked about that before. But your carbs (potatoes, rice, etc.) doesn’t have to be boring either. 

Today we’re putting your carbs and leafy veggies together to make a scrumptious “salad” recipe, which you can substitute for your previously boring carbs.  

Here’s a yummy recipe to re-integrate into your diet. There’s a perfect balance between sweet and salty with the rice salad, making it an easy pairing to any meat for any of your meals.

Brown Rice Salad | Yields 4 servings | 310 calories
2 cups water
1 cup brown rice
½ cup diced red pepper
½ cup diced celery
¼ cup dried cranberries
3 cups spinach 
½ cup balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
Salt
Pepper
Lemon juice

  1. On a medium-to-high heat pot, let 2 cups of water boil. Add in 1 cup of brown rice and cook for 45-50 minutes or until tender.
  2. While the rice is cooking, put dried cranberries in a cup of hot water. Let sit or until cranberries have expanded. Drain and set to the side.  
  3. Dice celery and red pepper. Put on medium-to-high heat pan with ½ cup water. Let the water soften the vegetables. 
  4. Once the rice is cooked, put red pepper, celery, cranberries, and spinach in the pot. Let the heat from the rice wilt the spinach. 
  5. Once the spinach is wilted, add in the balsamic vinaigrette, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to your liking. 
  6. Serve hot or cold. Enjoy! 

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – Why You Should Eat More Fish

Red meat, chicken, and turkey are three main protein sources you probably hear about on the daily. However, one protein source many people stray away from is fish.

While fish shouldn’t be meal-prepped due to its potent smell, eating fish has some astounding health benefits. For example, it lowers your risk of heart attack and strokes, improves your recovery time due to Omega 3 fatty acids, protects you from age-deterioration, and overall improves body and brain health. Furthermore, people who eat fish 2-3 times a week are proven to live longer than those who do not (NIH.gov).

Let’s give fish another shot. Below is an easy lemon & thyme fish recipe that is great for on-the go. 

Lemon & Thyme Fish | Yields 1 
1 uncooked fish fillet (cod, tilapia, salmon, etc.)
1 lemon
Fresh thyme
Salt 
Pepper 
Olive oil 

  1. Preheat oven to 425.  
  2. Cut the lemon in half. Squeeze the juice out of one half of the lemon and place the other half of the lemon to the side. 
  3. Place fish fillet in center of aluminum foil. Put olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice on the fish. Place fresh thyme and the other half of the lemon in the aluminum foil. 
  4. Seal the fish in foil. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes, or until fish is tender. 
  5. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with a side of green vegetables and either potatoes or rice. Enjoy!

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – Caving into Your Cravings

It’s that time of year where all we want to do is sit down and eat sweets at every opportunity given–and with this holiday season in full swing, it’s hard not to.

Last week, I suggested that if you’re hungry you should load up on more vegetables and fruits if you’re still hungry after a plate of food. However, sometimes we want something a little sweeter and *need* to cave into our cravings. Below is a gooey, satisfying cookie that is sugar-free for your indulgence. Although it is still a dessert, it’s less sugary that a slice of pecan pie and a good substitute for other caloric-dense desserts. 

Banana Chocolate Cookies | Yields 12-16

2 medium bananas mashed
2 eggs
1.5 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp flax seeds
3 Tbsp (naturally sweetened) chocolate chips

1. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees. Mix eggs, banana, and oats.
2. Add in cinnamon, chia seeds, and flax seeds. Add in chocolate chips last until just mixed.
3. Roll dough into cookies and place on baking sheet. Bake until golden-brown on the edges.
4. Let rest on a baking sheet until soft. Enjoy!

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – Progress During the Holidays

Thanksgiving came and went, and we all are moving a little slower that usual at the current moment.

Right about now, you might be tempted to jump off your health and fitness wagon and leave it in the dust until New Years comes around. Besides, Christmas is just around the corner…

However, I will urge you to fight that impulse. Think about how hard you worked this year to get to this point of your fitness journey. From now until Christmas, you would have about five weeks to either continue that journey, or completely toss away all your hard work.

Your mental capacity and willpower is what will get you through the holiday season. Learning to eat in balance may be the foundation for healthy living, but working out will always be a close second.  

Coupling eating somewhat healthy with a little bit of exercise will not only keep you in shape, but it will keep you sane.

Here are a few at-home workouts that don’t need equipment and that you can do anywhere:

“Annie” – For time: 50-40-30-20-10 rep rounds of Double-unders and Sit-ups

Tabata Sprints: Sprint 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds (8 rounds)

“Susan” – 5 rounds for time:  Run 200m, 10 Squats, 10 Push-ups

20min AMRAP: 15 Sit-ups, 25 Push-ups, 35 Squats

7 Rounds for time: 7 Burpees, 7 Sit-ups, 7 Squats

These are only a few out of the hundreds, if not thousands, of no-equipment CrossFit workouts you can tackle. We’re limited by our own creativity in that sense. Remember, it’s important to take the time to do a little bit for yourself one day at a time. Be better than you were yesterday, even if it’s only by .01%. Move forward and reward yourself.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – Healthy burgers! Is there such a thing?

Everyone loves burgers. Duh. It’s a staple in a fast-food chain’s menu; they’re easy to eat and incredibly filling.

However, when you’re cleaning up your diet, you tend to have to stay away from them. This is because burgers tend to have a ton of fat and an obnoxious amount of carbs from the burger itself, as well as the fries.

While most burgers have a huge macronutrient imbalance, you can still enjoy a burger by changing a few things. Let’s break it down:

To lower fat intake, use a chicken patty instead of a beef patty. Remove the thick-cut cheese and add in thinly sliced cheese instead. This greatly reduces the amount of calories you’d normally eat from a restaurant burger.

To lower the amount of carbs you’d eat, remove the bun and add a lettuce wrap. Then, make some homemade sweet potato fries to add carbs to your newly healthy meal.

Chicken Burger | yeilds 1 burger

1 chicken breast, pre-cooked
Lettuce wrap
Spinach
Tomato
Thin-sliced cheese
Salt &pepper
Mustard
½ sweet potato

  1. Heat up chicken burger patty in pan. Add in seasoning of your choice. Put chicken burger patty aside to let rest.
  2. Slice up ½ sweet potato into thin strips. Add salt and pepper. Put in oven at 375 degree and cook until slightly brown.
  3. Put rested chicken burger patty in a lettuce wrap with thin-sliced cheese, tomato, spinach, and mustard.
  4. Take fries out of the oven and place on plate. Enjoy your healthy burger with fries!

This couldn’t be more simple and no we’re not anti-beef, but the take home points are basic: pay attention to the contents and portions of your burger [food] and you can save yourself a lot of heartache and still enjoy your food and your abs!

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Mindset is reality

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford

In large part, attitude determines outcome. Your reality is a manifestation of your thoughts and beliefs. You bring everything to yourself that the world has brought to you via your thoughts. 

Now, I understand that is not 100% truth. There are, of course, things that happen regardless of our mindset, what we believe or welcome to ourselves. I do not believe that hurricanes are a result of your thoughts. That would be unmistakably something recognizable as a natural disaster. Let’s spare ourselves the “keyboard warrioring” and recognize we’re talking about a spectrum here. 

That scope is of the things we consciously and/or subconsciously will into our lives via our minds. 

For instance, many of us over the course of time have positioned ourselves into a work environment we are unsatisfied with at one point or another. Whether it is the job itself (the activities or job description) or the environment (the place those things are executed in) something is awry; amiss. We’ve grown stagnant in our habits and have close to no sensation of meaningfulness associated with the work. 

In that reality we placed ourselves in that situation. It may have been a matter of necessity (i.e. I need this job because of X financial hardship, etc.) or of self convincing (i.e. no, no, it will get better, it’s not that bad, I should really take this job, etc.), nonetheless was a self-produced reality. 

Take a “bad” relationship as another example. No one is forcing a person to remain in relationship with another. You allow yourself to remain in company with said person. Sure there are realities like marital goings on where a spouse doesn’t have a choice because of extenuating circumstances. Still, this reality is not mandatory or forced, rather chosen. It may be a very ass-backwards choice and one we do not feel complete freedom in making, but a choice nonetheless. 

Take a sport as another easy example. Imagine an opponent so daunting and goliath-esk that he/she conquers most of their opponents before the match even begins. The challengers most often carry the mindset that the obstacle is unsurpassable, the problem insurmountable, the mountain so steep the peak can’t be reached. They’ve already lost before they take the field. Now on one hand, wishful thinking is no way to go about a goal worth pursuing. If you’re ill-suited and incapable of executing the plan needed to take down an opponent then that may be as simple as two plus two. But, in most cases, there is a way. That way begins with the mindset of the challenger and there is nothing before that is realized. 

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

“I have to take this job, I can’t pass it up.” You’re right. 

“I can’t take this job. It isn’t right for me. The pay may be worth it, but there is more than meets the eye. I can’t take it.” You’re right. 

“I can’t leave my relationship. No matter how dangerous it is for me to leave, I have to stay. I can’t make it on my own.” You’re right. 

“I need to be in a more productive relationship. This is not for me. I have to find an exit. I will find one.” You’re right. 

“This opponent is too advanced for me. They’re bigger, stronger, faster, and more talented. I don’t stand a chance.” You’re right. 

“I know there is a way I can beat this opponent. If I stick to my fundamentals and execute the plan my hard work outweighs their talent. It’s not guaranteed, but it is possible.” You’re right. 

Damn near 100% of this is projection of thought. Realization is reality. There is certainly some execution involved, but realization is the first step. 

Recognize, realize, execute. 

Recovery Day – Chili on Chilly Days

Some days we’re busier than others. Other days, we’re lazier than others. When this happens, we tend to neglect our health. We grab a sugary granola bar and call it a meal or opt for fast food.

Having leftovers in the fridge is always a good idea if you’re running short on time or too lazy to cook. However, re-heating week-old chicken day-in and day-out can get somewhat boring and we know that.

Throwing some ingredients into a slowcooker, walking away, and scooping the contents into containers a couple hours later is an easy way to solve this problem. Chili, for example, is hearty and a yummy leftover option for these colder months.

Recipe for Crock-Pot Chili* | Yields 4-5 serving

2 cups chopped bell peppers
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 small can of chopped tomato and mild green chili
2 cans pinto beans
1lb lean ground turkey/ ground beef
½lb spicy turkey sausage
4 garlic, cloves minced
1 tsp salt
1tsp pepper
1tsp red pepper flakes
1tsp ground chili powder

  1. Chop bell peppers and onion. Place in slow cooker at the bottom of the pot.
  2. In a medium-to-high-heat pan, cook off ground turkey / ground beef until dark in color. Scrape into slow cooker.
  3. Add in beans, tomatoes, garlic, and spices. Stir until mixed thoroughly.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.
  5. Let cool. Place in a large container and reheat and eat when ready!

*recipe based off allrecipes.com

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – Which one is more important? Nutrition or exercising?

Which one is more important? Nutrition or exercising?

Trick question. You need to focus on both. However, nutrition is the baseline for everything — so while both are important, having an A+ in nutrition is infinitely more significant.

We’ve all seen the CrossFit pyramid with nutrition at it’s base, and we know that we should prioritize our nutrition . . . but do we REALLY make what we eat our number one priority?

Webster says nutrition is “the process of nourishing or being nourished . . . by which a living organism assimilates food and uses it for growth and for replacement of tissues.”

That means that eating fast-food after you work out doesn’t constitute as a “nutritional meal” that your body can adequately use for muscle growth and nourishment. Constantly eating right demands discipline. Consistently exercising demands discipline. But if you work out once a day and incessantly eat poptarts and burgers, what you really did is you got your heart rate up for an hour and a half and then just raised your cholesterol significantly more than usual. That isn’t “#gymgoals.”

Although this pyramid is often associated with CrossFit, you can apply it to most things exercise-related. If you’re an avid gymnast, you will be sluggish and tired if you don’t fuel your body properly. If you’re a soccer player, you need to focus on eating well to make sure you have the endurance for the game. There’s a reason why olympic athletes publish their everyday meals (such as Michael Phelps’s 3,000 calorie breakfast), and it’s because how they fuel their bodies is the secret to their stamina and strength.  

In a game of would-you-rather, if asked would you rather eat healthy every day or workout every day, your answer should be that you’d rather focus on eating healthy. When it comes down to it, what is really being asked is “would you rather have a balanced meal 100% of the time, or have a hard workout four-to-five times a week for 4% of your day?”

However, perfection isn’t the game. It isn’t realistic. We know that. But if you eat well and exercise as much as you’re able, you’re already doing better than a majority of the population. Focus on transforming yourself into your best you inside and out, and your gains will soon follow.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – Perfecting Your Post-Workout

Last week we talked about pre-workout nutrition and timing. This week we’ll be hittin’ the post-workout goods.  

We’ve all heard the phrase “You must eat 30 minutes after working out,” but how true is that?

CrossFit Amity nutrition coach Sarah Young argues that while you should help your muscles recover as fast as possible with “protein and [good carbs],” eating anywhere between 20 minutes – 2 hours after a workout is ample time to re-feed your body.   

However, if you’re waiting anywhere between 45 minutes – 2 hours to eat, you should eat a meal instead of a snack. If you’re trying to lose weight or become a lean machine, mainly focus on large amounts of protein. But, if you’re working out two or more times a day, you need to focus on eating large meals full of both protein and carbohydrates.

If you’re focusing on protein this DOES NOT mean you get to neglect your complex carbohydrates (if you remember from last week, those can be your unprocessed rices and grains). It just means that you need to consume a larger amount of protein than typically recommended, and then add in some carbs and fats to balance out your snack or meal.

Many people stray away from fat after a workout because they feel like it “slows them down,” or “limits the absorption of food after a workout.” While this is partially true, you shouldn’t throw fats out of your macronutrient count after your workout. Just listen to how your body responds to the amount of fat you’re eating and alter it as needed.

Good post-workout meals are pretty easy to piece together, as it should be just as healthy and nutritious as your other meals. However, good post-workout snack examples are eggs and oatmeal, tuna and toast, chicken and sweet potato, greek yogurt and berries, or a protein shake with a banana. Note that even though this is a “snack,” there are hearty calories in each snack idea.

As proven time and time again, nutrition is always king. Eating right after a workout replenishes your body, allows your muscles to grow, restores your glucose levels, and decreases muscle protein breakdown. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were your #gains.

Keep at it.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – Pre Workout Gains

Even before you hit the gym, you ask yourself a million questions.

“Should I workout today? If so, what should I eat beforehand? Or should I take a pre-workout supplement? Actually, should I take anything at all?”

We’ve discussed this over and over — fueling your body is easier said than done.

Ideally, everything you eat should be balanced. This means that even if you eat a snack, there ought to be equal parts of proteins, carbs, and fats adjusted to your macronutrient needs.

Yes — that can be challenging. Peter Curcio, CrossFit coach and breakingmuscle.com writer, says that before you workout, you should eat a solid meal 60-120 minutes before hitting the gym of 0.4 grams per pound of body weight each of protein and carbohydrate.

Obviously there is no 100% correct, gold standard answer to how much an individual should scarf down at that time, but you see the point.

IF you are short on time or exercise in the early morning, it doesn’t make sense to wake up at 4:00am to eat a meal just so you can workout at 6:00am. Another good idea is to simply eat “good carbs” 15-30 minutes before you hit the gym.

“Good Carbs” are non-processed complex carbohydrates, thus have a chemical structure that makes it harder for our bodies to digest. It makes us feel fuller longer and allows us to have sustained energy when running around.

Oats, whole grains, and fruits are examples of good carbs you can eat before working out.

Personally, I used to never eat before working out. I then started to eat around 20-30g of carbs before working out and I was no longer shaky or sluggish during my session. Since I typically workout in the morning, I scarf down some oatmeal, half a banana, or 1/4 cup of dried fruit on the way to gym.

Note that supplements should always be your last resort. No product can substitute real food and hard work. Put your nose to the grindstone and get after it.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!