Tag Archives: nutrition

Tin Foil Chicken and Vegetables

Tin foil chicken and vegetables is a fantastic week night meal.  This recipe is quick, simple, good for you and delicious.  It’s easy to mix up the dish’s flavors by simply switching out one or two ingredients.  Using the ingredients below, each serving is home to less than 300 calories, packed with muscle building protein and very filling.

Tin Foil Chicken and Vegetables
Servings – 2-4
Prep Time – 10 minutes
Cook Time – 30 minutes
Difficulty – 1

Ingredients
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (to lower cook time, divide into sections)
1 cup frozen corn (thawed)
2/3 cup black beans drained and rinsed
2/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2-4 Tablespoons taco seasoning
2-4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2-4 large squares of tin foil

Instructions
Pre-heat oven to 375.
Add olive oil, peppers and onion to sautee pan and cook until onions start to become clear.
Place each chicken breast in center of one tin foil sheet.
Season chicken with taco and cayenne powders.
Top each chicken breast with tomatoes, corn, black beans, green pepper and onion.
Fold tin foil into packet around chicken with small opening to vent.
Place in oven for 25-20 minutes or until juice runs clear.
Serve by carefully opening foil packets and pouring chicken, vegetables and juice onto a plate.chicken and vegetablesThis simple chicken and vegetables recipe can be switched up for winter by adding squash and carrots or swapping out taco flavors for basil and thyme.  You can see how the calorie count would change when plug in your choice of ingredients in here.  Use fresh vegetables for a colorful and delicious meal that’s great all year long, very easy to cleanup and won’t take away from family time.  Give this tin foil chicken and vegetables recipe a try.
I love it and know you will too!

Coach Meredith

4 Corners of a Healthy Diet

We all know maintaining a healthy diet can be hard.  Fad diets might look great but they’re almost always a bad idea.  More important than jumping on the latest bandwagon are getting plenty of the right ingredients, enough sleep and lots of exercise.  Luckily, there are four simple changes you can make to your meal plan to help you perform better, feel better and recover faster.

Cut calories by up to 40%.  A healthy diet isn’t one that stuffs you at every meal.  Eating until you’re full and saving the rest for later might mean eating a little more slowly so you can feel when you’re full before over indulging.  Decreasing caloric intake has benefits such as extending life, delaying onset of numerous diseases, enhancing performance and allowing your body to reach its optimal weight.  Read your food healthy dietlabels, stick with lots of fresh fruits and veggies, dine on lean cuts of meat and get plenty of fiber to help you fill up without racking up the calories.

Get lots of antioxidants.  Antioxidants are the human body’s cleaning lady.  Free radicals create all kinds of mayhem by attacking healthy cells in your body and can cause premature aging, diabetes, and cancer.  Antioxidants work to counteract and neutralize these free radicals, so having plenty of them in your body helps keep you looking young and disease free.  Even better news is that all of these antioxidants come from the brightly colored vegetables that are a big part of your healthy diet.  Five servings a day of foods like almonds, broccoli, tomatoes, pinto beans, berries, carrots and pineapple will keep your snacking, and free radical fighting antioxidant, supply fresh.

Eat foods that have a low glycemic response.  The glycemic index (GI) measures how the carbohydrates in a given food change blood sugar levels.  High GI foods are quickly digested and cause spikes in blood sugar levels while low GI foods digest slowly.  Slowly digested carbohydrates help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss by controlling hunger.  A healthy diet leaves out high GI foods like white bread, white rice, and sugary drinks, includes a few medium GI foodshealthy diet include whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes and corn tortillas and loads up on low GI fruits, vegetables, intact nuts and legumes.

Eat healthy fats.  A healthy diet is home to good-for-you fats and kicks the bad, saturated and trans-fats to the curb.  Eating lots of bad fats, which are usually solid at room temperature, has been proven to increase levels of bad cholesterol and your risk of disease.  Healthy omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and protect the heart while benefiting overall health.  Bad fats are found in butter, cheese, fatty cuts of meat, commercially packaged cakes and pizza doughs, candy bars and margarine.  Healthy fats are in olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, peanut oil, and avocados.  Omega-3s are a special type of fat best gotten from fish that have been proven to benefit heart and brain health, reduce symptoms of depression, support healthy pregnancies, ease joint pain, decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer and protect against memory loss.

Take these tips to the grocery store on your next trip and start working on a healthy diet today.  Your body will thank you by being healthier, happier and performing both mentally and physically at a higher level.

Coach Meredith

4 Reasons for a Chia Seed Breakfast

Chia seed is a great addition to your pre-run, race or workout nutrition plan.  The versatile chia seed is home to many benefits and a powerful addition to your morning meal.  In addition to their good-for-you value, the seeds are usually produced organically and without GMO, making them friendly to just about any diet.  Here are four more good reasons to add a serving of chia to your next meal:chia seed

1:  Chia seeds are full of nutritious goodness.  A 28 gram (1 ounce or 2 Tablespoon) serving of whole grain, gluten-free chia is home to only 137 calories and also contains:

11 grams of dietary fiber.
4 grams of protein.
9 grams of fat (over half of which are Omega-3 fatty acids).
18% recommended daily value (RDA) of calcium.
30% RDA magnesium.
30% RDA manganese.
27% RDA phosphorus.
Zinc, Vitamins B1, B2, B3 and Potassium.

2:  Fiber.  Of the 12 grams of carbohydrate in a 28 gram serving of chia, 11 are fiber.  Having only one gram of carbohydrate makes chia a welcome addition to any low-carb nutrition plan.  All that fiber also can also help you feel full, eating fewer calories over the course of your day, and maintain gut health.

3.  Chia seed can help you stay hydrated.  Capable of absorbing up to 12 times their weight in water, chia seed can help your body retain water during a long run, tough workout or hot summer session.  All that water holding power causes the seeds to expand in your stomach, slowing the absorption of food and decreasing hunger.

4.  Easy to add to your diet.  Chia seeds have more texture than flavor and it’s simple to add them to almost anything.  They can be eaten raw, added to cereal, yogurt, oatmeal and baked goods.  Athletes can even choose to turn the seeds into a gel by adding only water.  Be careful!  Because these tiny seeds can absorb not only lots of water, but fat, too they might unintentionally thicken sauces.

Do you eat chia seed?  Share one of your favorite recipes below!

Want to add chia seed to your diet?  Ask us how!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below:

Sweet or Mashed? Running on Potatoes

Potatoes are versatile, delicious and inexpensive.  You can get a great carb load from a potato without many of the ugly features of pasta, such as processed grains.  One cup of mashed, boiled or baked potato contains more run fueling complex carbohydrates than one cup of your favorite noodle as well as loads of vitamins and minerals.  With russet, red, yellow, sweet and purple all packing a nutritional punch pasta can’t deliver, potatoes are a great way to power your workouts.potatoes

Easy to digest, potatoes will keep you safe from stomach issues during a long run and save you time in the kitchen.  Mashing and freezing potatoes is a great way to have a healthy food quickly in hand.  The tubers also rank highly on the glycemic index which means the carbs get into your bloodstream quickly, giving you a boost right away.  Add protein or low fat cheese for a slower burn and steady source of energy.

More good news?  The rumors are false.  All of the nutrition isn’t in the skin.  You’ll miss out on about half of the available fiber by peeling it but most of the good stuff hides in the flesh.  Craving fluffy white mashed potato?  One big russet contains 63 grams of carbs, zero grams of fat (!), eight grams of protein, 64 percent of your daily vitamin C, 53 percent of vitamin B6 and potatoes1,600mg potassium.  A medium banana contains only 425mg potassium, making the potato a better way to help your muscles work and keep fluids balanced.  Want a baked sweet potato instead?  One cup will give you 700 percent Daily Value vitamin A, zero grams of fat and 65 percent of vitamin C.  Both varieties are rich in antioxidants, calcium and magnesium while lacking in cholesterol which makes them heart healthy snacks as well.

Unfortunately, you’ll still need to be careful about those fried potatoes.  The frying process wrecks the nutritional value and the huge volumes we consume is part of the reason spuds often get left out of dinner plans.

Want to add potatoes to your training nutrition plan?  Ask us how!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below.

Food Allergies in the Real World: Restaurants

Food allergies are a condition that can, if not taken seriously, result in severe reactions.  Tackling restaurant menus and navigating supermarket aisles can be difficult.  Even professional athletes can face this problem and Team FitNice is no exception.  In this educational series of posts we’ll cover some good ways to prevent coming in contact with allergens in restaurants, at school, in the grocery store and when you travel.

Food allergies don’t have to stop you from enjoying meals at restaurants with friends.  Here are 5 Tips for Avoiding Allergens in Restaurants:food allergies in restaurants

1)  Check out restaurants before you go.  Asian cuisine features peanuts and staffers in outlets with pre-made meals might not know what’s inside the package.  Buffets typically offer lots of choices for eats who have to be choosy.  Ask friends, family and doctors to recommend food allergy friendly establishments then research menus and read reviews.

2)  Call ahead.  Call during off-peak hours and ask if the restaurant is willing to take care of your needs.  If so, ask if the staff is trained to deal with a food allergen free diner and if any specialty meals are available.  Give them as much information as you can and make sure the person you spoke to will be there when you plan on visiting.

3)  Communicate with staff.  Your server might not know everything about how the food they serve is prepared.  Speak with a manager or, ideally, the chef to make your dietary needs and restrictions clear.

4)  Keep meals simple.  Restaurants can offer up complicated dishes with lots of ingredients.  Ordering simple, not plain or boring, plates can help ensure your food doesn’t come into contact with any unwanted allergens.  Avoid fried food, which is a hot bed for cross-contamination, and know that dessert is often a source of hidden allergens.

5)  Ask for your plate to be delivered separately.  If simply touching an allergen can induce a reaction, stacked plates can be trouble.  Make sure your servers knows that your food shouldn’t come in contact with any other food or china.  When your meal arrives at the table, double check your instructions were followed and the food was prepared properly.

Remember that the best medicine is prevention.  Always be ready to treat an allergic reaction should contact occur.  Having a bronchodilator or epinephrine pen (if prescribed) within reach at all times is a sure fire way to make sure you’re safe from a severe reaction.  Use these tips and be prepared to a great night out the next time you walk into a restaurant.

Have questions about managing your food allergies when you dine in a restaurant?  Ask your doctor or send us an email at Info@FitNicePT.com.

Kitchen Shortcuts for a Healthier You

Eating healthy can be hard.  Cooking can take a while and after a hard day at work, making dinner every night can be a drag.  These are five of Team FitNice‘s favorite kitchen shortcuts designed to help you spend less time in the kitchen while making healthy meals that keep your lifestyle on track.

Kitchen Shortcuts #1:  Use simple cooking methods.  Steaming, broiling and roasting are easy ways to prepare vegetables.  Healthier than frying and faster than baking, these methods make flavor filled food fast and are sure to satisfy every palate that takes a seat at your dinner table.kitchen shortcuts

Kitchen Shortcuts #2:  Stock up.  Be sure to always have plenty of brown rice, quinoa, whole-grain pasta, frozen veggies, low fat nuts, low-sodium canned beans, diced tomatoes and chicken and vegetable stocks on hand.  With so many ingredients close at hand, it’s easy to grab a few things out of the pantry and put together a quick, good-for-you dinner.

Kitchen Shortcuts #3:  Cookbooks.  Save the stress of figuring out what you need at the supermarket.  Have a stack of cookbooks that feature simple recipes without lots of fancy ingredients in the kitchen.  Pick a few favorites, plan the week’s menu and take a list when it’s time to go shopping.

Kitchen Shortcuts #4:  Buy quality meats when they’re on sale.  Divide them into the size you typically use for cooking, wrap and freeze.  Not only will you be saving money, you won’t need to butcher or thaw excess meat because your portions are already set up for you.  This works for cooking large volumes of rice, quinoa and legumes, too.

Kitchen Shortcuts #5:  The ultimate weeknight time saver is to do all of your cooking on one day each week.  By preparing freezable meals in advance, getting dinner on the table takes little more than opening the freezer and turning on a burner.  Another bonus to having ready-to-go meals?  Fewer dishes to wash each evening!

Use these Kitchen Shortcuts to make your weeknight dinners a breeze while avoiding fast food and sodium heavy boxed frozen dinners.  Have questions about your meal plan?  Ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below.

Why Water Matters

Water makes up an average of 75% of the human body, is vital for life and often, most people don’t get enough of it.  Many Americans exist in a constant state of dehydration, which is not only unhealthy, but can be dangerous, especially when exercising.

waterAs lots of people begin their 2014 fitness journeys, whether they want to lose weight, run their first 5K or break a three hour marathon, it will be undeniable how important getting enough water is.  Yes, water, and no, you can’t just drink something.  It has to be good, old fashioned H2O or water based, such as a sports drink or milk, which is close to 87% water.  But water’s boring.  It might not be exciting, but with all kinds of flavor enhancers available, there’s no good reason not to have enough.  Here are some very good reasons why.

Proper hydration can help you feel full.  Drinking a glass of water before a meal helps fill up your stomach and means you’re less likely to overeat.

Water transports oxygen and nutrients to the cells that need them.  If water isn’t taking them there, they aren’t going.  Cells aren’t able to do their jobs without these things, which means a slower metabolism and potential weight gain.

Joints are like belt in a car, they can dry out.  Staying active and maintaining hydration levels lubricates joints and can help relieve joint pain and stiffness.

The same way water moves oxygen and nutrients through the body, it also flushes out impurities.  Clean, hydrated skin cells are plump, look younger and have better circulation than those that are thirsty.water

Dehydration, and cells that don’t have the water they need to transport vital nutrients, leads to a slow down of enzyme activity and in turn creates feelings of tiredness and fatigue.

Blood cells need water more than any other.  They are 92% water and dehydration causes blood to thicken, resist flow and ultimately increases blood pressure.

Increased blood pressure, slowed down enzyme activity and cells that aren’t being cleaned out will frequently lead to constipation and gas.  Along with removing impurities from your body, water also helps you stay regular.

One final advantage of drinking the recommended 6-8 8oz glasses of water a day?  Ice cold water has to be warmed by your body before it can be digested.  Heating cold water up is hard work and burns calories, which is great for aiding weight loss.

Have questions?  Send us an email using the form right here!

Cut Carbs with Healthy Choices

Everyone wants to make healthy choices and knows processed carbohydrates like white bread and pasta are ‘bad’.  Whole grains are always preferable to refined grains, because the ‘whiter’ the grain, the more processed it is, and the higher in sugar and lower in fiber it will be.  Fiber is an integral part of our diets, helping slow the absorption of other nutrients, making us feel full longer and steadying blood sugar levels.  You can easily substitute the pasta, white rice or bread in your meal with some of these fiber-rich, better for you, ingredients.  Filling and nutritious, these three healthy choices will leave you with a satisfied tummy and healthy body.

QuinoaquinoaQuinoa is a grain-like plant that has edible seeds and humans have been harvesting this healthy plant product for thousands of years.  A great source of complete protein, it is also a good source of dietary fiber and calcium.  Prepared just like brown rice, quinoa is a quick and easy to addition to any meal.  You can find plenty of recipes for your next dish with quinoa here!

Amaranth – High in calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron, amaranth is a grain similar to quinoa in that it has been a part of the human diet for thousands of years.  With close to 15% more protein than other grains, amaranth is a naturally gluten-free, complete protein food with plenty of fiber.  Cooked like rice, it’s important to know that amaranth requires lots of extra water for the starch it releases while cooking.  One of our favorite recipes, amaranth banana walnut bread, is a great way to work this healthy grain into your diet.

Sweet Potatoes – One of Mother Nature’s healthiest foods, sweet potatosweet potatoes are good for you, and they taste pretty OK too.  A great way to get dietary fiber, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, iron and magnesium, sweet potatoes can be anything from orange to bright purple on the inside.  Unlike quinoa and amaranth, which are always prepared by boiling in water, sweet potatoes are versatile.  This carrot and sweet potato soup, delicious any time of year, is one of our favorites and we recommend giving it a try!  Roasted, mashed, boiled or grilled, these tubers are a healthy choice you don’t want to miss.

Want help cleaning up your diet and planning meals?  Register for our Pamper Your Pantry Program!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com for more information.

Gotta Have Breakfast

Everyone has heard the rumor that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Well, it’s true.  Not only are breakfast foods delicious, making the right breakfast choices can get your day going with a healthy and happy start, but the benefits don’t end there.  Eating within half an hour of waking up can increase resting metabolic rate, improve short-term memory and help control weight.

Skipping breakfast means your body hasn’t been fed in up to 15 hours and isn’t producing the enzymes needed to metabolize fat.  If you wait for lunchtime to eat, your body doesn’t start working, and burning calories, until you’re five hours into your day.  By eating breakfast you give your system something to work on all morning, causing it to produce those enzymes and use more energy from stored fat.  In fact, eating a healthy breakfast has been shown to increase resting metabolism by up to 10% for the remainder of your day.

Breakfast will also give you a burst of energy, increasing your ability to concentrate and your strength.  Numerous studies of kids who eat breakfast have shown that they perform better in school than those who don’t eat a morning meal, and a study of teens in the Journal of Adolescent Health found high-energy foods for breakfast improved short-term memory, proving that kids need healthy morning foods just as much as adults.

Missing breakfast doesn’t slow down your metabolism, but does delay turning it on.  The biggest issue with people who skip breakfast, and tend to weigh more than those who don’t, is that missing breakfast often leads to overeating later in the day.  Overcompensating for a missed meal by grabbing whatever is handy can lead to high calorie food intake, overeating and bad choices.  Another downside to this kind of eating is that lots of easy to eat foods contain fast burning refined carbs and sugars, the reason for those tired feelings after lunch.

The most important part of your morning meal is its content.  Doughnuts, sugary cereals or highly processed toaster snacks will negate most of breakfast’s benefits.  Be sure to pick healthy foods like whole grain cereal and bread products, eggs without yolks, fresh fruits, low-fat yogurt and other lean proteins.  High energy foods, like bagels, have lots of calories and they add up quickly.  Fiber rich foods like oatmeal, berries and walnuts allow you to eat more without all the calories.

For help planning your breakfast menu or to schedule your Kitchen Makeover, email Info@FitNicePT.com today.

Stay Properly Hydrated

Your nutrition needs are going to be based on your training goals and training program.  If you are trying to lose weight, you will need to take in fewer calories than you burn.  If you are trying to get stronger and perform faster, you will need carbohydrate intake to match or exceed what you blast through during the day.  Regardless of your training goals, hydration is the most important element of any nutrition plan.

Constant dehydration affects 80% of all Americans, and the effects of dehydration can wreak havoc on your body without adding any additional stress from exercise.  Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, nausea and dizziness.  Losing even a small amount of body water, one to 2 percent of body weight, through sweating can begin to lead to dehydration.  If you are exercising for more than 60 minutes or at a high intensity, you want to make sure you are hydrating while you are working out from roughly the 30 minute mark on.  If you are going at it for less than an hour at a medium intensity, you can probably get by without additional hydration.  Watch out for sugary and carb filled sports drinks, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.

An integral part of proper hydration is electrolytes.  Electrolytes are nutrients that aid in absorption of carbohydrates and water, as well as working to maintain fluid balances.  Every athlete has to make sure they get electrolytes and maintain proper hydration for the duration of each and every workout.  The most important electrolyte athletes need is sodium.  Getting enough sodium ensures you won’t become overhydrated and dilute the concentration of electrolytes in your system, which can lead to increased urination as your body tried to release excess fluid.

Once you’ve ensured you are, and will stay, properly hydrated, you need to fuel your workout.  If you’re heading out for less than 60 minutes, you won’t need any additional carbs, regardless of your training goals.  If you are working to lose weight, you’ll want to decrease your carbs in order to burn more fat during your gym session.  This doesn’t mean fat slip away because you may not perform as well without fuel or will make up for the carb deficiency by overeating later.  If you’re going to exercise longer than 60 minutes, your needs will differ based on your training goals.  Weight loss athletes want to add roughly 30 grams of carbs per hour over 90 minutes, while performance athletes want to 60 or more grams per hour over 90 minutes.  These additional carbs should come from bananas or sweet potatoes for weight loss athletes and sports drinks, gels or bars for performance based training.

Questions?  Want help determining your training needs?  Ask us!  Info@FitNicePT.com