Trying New Foods!

In my 30 Before 30 post, I said that I wanted to try three new foods this year. If you’ve read some of my posts about eating, you know that I was quite the picky eater growing up and am now trying a lot harder to try new things and eat healthier foods. Earlier this year I tried cauliflower for the first time and have used it in several meals since then. This month I tried shrimp for the first time. Yes, it’s true, I’ve never eaten shrimp.

I’ve become a huge fan of the SkinnyTaste website and have found some awesome recipes. Ian really likes seafood but we don’t eat it often because I’m a little afraid of it, so when I found a simple recipe for angel hair with shrimp and tomato sauce I knew we had to try it. Neither of us like chunky tomato sauce so we substituted smooth tomato sauce for the diced tomatoes, but otherwise followed the recipe.

Recipe Prep

Recipe Prep


It turned out great! I even had shrimp again later that week in some jambalaya we made. I wouldn’t say I love it, but it’s not half bad and something I’ll definitely try and eat more of.

Shrimp with angel hair pasta and tomato sauce

Shrimp with angel hair pasta and tomato sauce

What foods did you try later in life that you found out you actually really like?

Endurance Nutrition Tips

Last month I went to a clinic on Endurance Nutrition Tips featuring sports nutritionist Rebecca Mohning, MS, RD, LD, put on by Team Z at Fast Track Physical Therapy. I’m always amazed how no matter how many of these things I go to or how much I read on the subject, there’s always something new to learn.

Rebecca talked about nutrition pre, during and post workout or race. She highlighted the usual important tips including eating the proper amount of calories, fat, carbs and protein for training; staying hydrated; not trying anything new on race day and choosing the appropriate calorie level for weight loss so it doesn’t impact training and performance.

Some new things I learned and interesting stats…

  • Be careful of sugar alcohols in bars or energy drinks. They can cause GI distress.
  • If you lose more than 3 percent of your body weight in a training workout, it’ll hurt your performance.
  • Just 4-6 ounces of OJ or 1/2 a banana will give you 30 percent more energy for a short morning workout. (The 1/2 banana thing actually drives me crazy. Does anyone ever actually just eat 1/2 a banana?!)
  • Women have an exaggerated increase in appetite hormones after exercise leading many to eat more calories than they’ve burned. (So not fair!)
  •  Your weight in kg. times 1.2 is equal to the number of grams per day of protein you should eat.
  • Always take vitamins with food and not with teas, colas or coffees.
  • Women need 350 mg. of magnesium per day. Nuts and seeds are the best source, but need to supplement it as well.
  • Many people are Vitamin D deficient and should get a blood test to determine further supplementation needs.

I’ve tried over the years to take vitamins, or at the very least a daily vitamin, but never stick with it. What do you all think about taking vitamins or supplements? Any new nutrition tips you’ve learned recently?


Healthy Eats From A Picky-Eating Athlete

I was recently contacted by FitKit to write a guest post for their blog. FitKit is a site where nutrition is made personal for everyone through an interactive lifestyle quiz. After answering questions about your lifestyle in the quiz designed by doctors, you’ll be given a list of suggested vitamins/supplements that you should take. I don’t take anything more than a daily vitamin and I’m never really sure what vitamins are actually necessary, so I think this is a pretty cool concept to help people better understand their needs.

Along with their online quiz, FitKit has a blog with a mission is to build a community around making health and fitness transparent. They asked for me to contribute a post on nutrition and I was more than happy to do so. I’m by no means an expert or a registered dietician/nutrionist, but I have done a lot of research on the topic over the years and was excited to offer my insight about trying to eat healthy as a picky-eating athlete.

You can check out my post on their site here: Healthy Eats From A Picking-Eating Athlete

Resolution Check-In

April is here and hopefully spring-like weather will be here to stay soon too. At the start of each month I like to look back at my New Year’s Resolutions and see how I’m doing. I also pick what I’m going to focus on for the next month.

Getting healthy and staying healthy was an important goal for me this year. So far things are going well with this and I’ve made smart decisions about when it might not be healthy to do a workout just because it’s on the schedule. I did miss a couple strength workouts and missed a few too many days of stretching in March, so I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen again in April.

Building up my core is another part of staying healthy and making me a stronger, faster athlete. This continues to go really well. My streak of consecutive days completing my version of the P90X ab ripper core workout that I began on December 29 is still going strong. I had to laugh on my 90th straight day as I found myself getting it in during TV timeouts of the Syracuse – Indiana game to calm my nerves, and remembered that this whole streak started during SU football’s appearance in the Pin Stripe Bowl. I’m probably going to have to come up with a way to make this workout harder in April so I don’t get too used to doing the same thing everyday.

Drinking less soda is going to be my key focus for April. I actually didn’t have a soda during all of Lent (mid-February through March 31), but not having something when I’ve made a commitment to give it up is easy for me. Not overdoing it as I reintroduce it to my diet will be more difficult.

March’s focus was on nutrition and I felt like I made some really good strides. Ian and I started eating salads with dinner a couple nights a week. I’m eating a ton of fruit every day, and thanks to my Mom for sharing the skinnytaste website with me, I’ve been finding more ways to eat veggies with my meals. We tried out several recipes from the site and all were great – you couldn’t even really taste the veggies in some of them, which is a good way to make sure I eat them. I kind of have the palate of a five-year-old sometimes. (Or most of the time.)

New recipes that we tried in March included a baked broccoli mac and cheese, baked spinach and sausage pasta and stuffed buffalo chicken breasts. I loved the mac and cheese. We actually used a mixed bag of broccoli and cauliflower – this may’ve been the first time in my life I’ve eaten cauliflower – and it tasted great. I’d make this again in a heartbeat. The stuffed buffalo chicken breasts were also very tasty and a great game-day meal. I was skeptical about the spinach and sausage because it called for what I deem a gross amount of spinach. I really liked  it the first night we ate it though and and even the first and second times I reheated it. By the last time it was kind of gross. I would suggest halving this recipe if just making it for two.

In addition to focusing on regular nutrition I tried some new things out to fuel along the way on my long runs. I found two flavors of Gu that I actually like and my stomach tolerates really well. I also tested out the Honey Stinger pomegranate flavored gummies and they were great.

Even though it won’t be my main focus going into April, I’m hoping to keep making strides with my nutrition and finding even more ways to get those veggies into my diet!

How are you doing on your resolutions this year? Anyone have any big goals they’re working on?

Broccoli Mac N Cheese Leftovers - forgot to snap a pic when we were eating

Broccoli Mac N Cheese Leftovers – forgot to snap a pic when we were eating

So much spinach!!

So much spinach!!

Baked sausage and spinach pasta

Baked sausage and spinach pasta

Stuffed Buffalo Chicken Breasts w/ a side of rice

Stuffed Buffalo Chicken Breasts w/ a side of rice


Last week I said that nutrition was going to be my big focus for March and a major part of that would be making an effort to eat more fruits and veggies. So far I’m off to a pretty decent start. I’ve been drinking a banana-berry smoothie every day that’s super easy to make, especially in my magic bullet blender that doubles as the drinking glass!

Banana-Berry Smoothie

Banana-Berry Smoothie

I’ve made smoothies like this one before and the biggest things that have kept me from making them more regularly is the cost of fruit and the frustration when the fruit goes bad too quickly. Well I found a great solution to that  this week – frozen fruit! I’m sure it’s not as healthy as the fresh stuff, but it’s better than nothing and it’s also a lot cheaper. I bought a couple bags each of mixed berries and strawberries at Trader Joes and it’s been working out great. I really should venture out and try other kinds of smoothies, but being the picky eater that I am, I’m hesitant to try something new. Let me know if you have any good suggestions I should try. Here’s the recipe for mine:

Banana-Berry Smoothie

  • 1 cup plain, nonfat yogurt (usually ends up being 3/4 cup because of the size of my blender)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries (I usually go with raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)
  • 1 small frozen banana (I pre-slice a bunch at the beginning of the week and put them in baggies in the freezer)

I also usually eat a banana with breakfast and an apple as a midday snack, so the fruit is going pretty well. The veggies are a bit harder for me. I had corn a couple time this week, which is the one veggie I really like and of course not the healthiest, but still, it’s something, right? I also did something this week I don’t know if I’ve ever done before in my life. I had a salad at home with dinner. I’ll eat salads (or eat bits of them and then push it around on my plate to make it look like I ate more) when served at weddings or conferences or at other people’s homes for dinner, but I’ve never actually made one at home to go with dinner. Ian and I went the easy route to start things off and bought a bag of pre-mixed salad at Wegmans and some light Italian dressing. It wasn’t great, but I didn’t hate it either. It’s a work in progress.

Salad - yes I know it's small - I'm trying!

Salad – yes I know it’s small – I’m trying!

On the not so healthy side, Ian and I put together a delicious creation this week: buffalo chicken deep dish pizza. I made a deep dish cornmeal pizza dough in my bread machine and spread it around and up the sides of a 9-inch round baking tin. Ian added a layer of cheese to the bottom, then we topped with the chicken and buffalo sauce and finally another smaller layer of mozzarella cheese plus a sprinkling of shredded parmesan. Simply amazing!

Deep Dish Delicious Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Deep Dish Delicious Buffalo Chicken Pizza


Seminar: Running Your Best Race

On Saturday, the DC Capital Striders hosted a seminar  at Lululemon in Georgetown called Successful Race Execution – Preparation, Fueling, and Pacing Strategy to Run your Best Race featuring RRCA certified running coaches Lisa Reichmann and Julie Sapper. Lisa and Julie are both experienced runners themselves and are also co-founders of local running company, Run Farther & Faster, coaching everyone from those doing their first 5k to runners looking to PR in a marathon.

They covered the right way to taper, nutrition both while your training and racing and pacing strategies. Some of it was new and some was info I’ve heard before, but it’s always great to be reminded. They highlighted the importance of the taper, which is good for me to keep hearing because like most runners I go a little stir crazy during that time and have trouble trusting that I won’t lose all my fitness in the week and a half or so before the race.

Their info on fueling was great. They talked about avoiding sugary foods so you don’t crash, embracing carbs and making sure to eat a protein/carb snack or meal within 20 minutes of finishing a run. They also gave some good advice on in-race nutrition including the invaluable – don’t ever mix Gu with Gatorade!

Gatorade and Gu - Do not mix!!

Gatorade and Gu – Do not mix!!

The top takeaway for me came when I asked Julie about her long runs. I have a tough time doing them one to two minutes slower than race pace as most training plans recommend. I always worry that there is no way I’ll be able to run the pace I want to come race day if I do that despite what a lot of the science says on the subject.

She said she used to have similar concerns at a point where she was about a 3:45 or so marathoner before hooking up with a coach and a running group and following the long-slow distance method. (You can run the last few miles of some of these slower runs at race pace as a confidence booster too.) That helped bring her down into the 3:20s. Since I’m just under the 3:40 mark now and the 3:20s is where I want to be, this was exactly what I needed to hear. Granted the same things don’t work for everyone, but hearing it form someone that it worked for as opposed to reading it in a book makes a big difference for me.

I’d love to hear about your training – what plans do you follow? How do you fuel along the way? Does the taper drive you crazy? Let me know in the comments!