Bringing Back the Plant Based Diet

We are now well into the post holiday season.  I have a ton of bone broth stored in my fridge and deep freeze, and now I’m on to my next adventure…bring back the plants!!!!🌱

As a diary free family we have a lot to work around during the holidays and I feel like I’m cooking and baking in all of my spare time, just to keep up with the demands of school, family and sports celebrations.  So I tend to let some of our healthier habits slide, simply because I’m too tired (i.e.:lazy) to keep them up.  One of the things I have let slide is the variety of plant based foods and meals.  Typically we try some new vegetable each month, my kids get to help pick it out and help me find recipes.  Some things we like and add into our regular meals and others, well lets just say my family is opinionated and leave it at that!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‰

During the holidays, I let that tradition go and resort back to frozen peas, corn and standard mixed veggies and keep carrots and cucumbers in stock, but that’s about it.  So, we still get some serving of veggies, but I’m definitely over it by the end of January.  I star counting the hours until I can plant my garden, spend extra time digging through produce to find the freshest one, and even start pulling out my spring time recipes to kill off some of the cabin fever.

You know me, I love me some research!  I scoured my library for a new take on plant based foods and I’m only 2 chapters in but I’m loving The Plant-Powered Diet by Sharon Palmer RD.

She has a great take on adding in plants to a standard American diet, achieving a “plant based omnivore” diet and how to transition on the “Plant-Powered Diet Spectrum.”  I love that she covers all facets of food consumption, allowing it to be okay that you consume meat and animal products, go completely vegan, or find a comfortable place inbetween.  She give healthy alternatives to the processed foods that we have become accustomed to.  I have flipped through the recipes in the back and have 3 on my list for this upcoming week!

She also has a great pantry resource. This was, by far, my favorite thing in the book.  Many people assume that to eat a plant based Diet you have to go to the store multiple time each week to get the freshest ingredients, and who has time for that?!?!  Most of the things on her list are things I make at home or I can buy with my Amazon Pantry account and have them delivered, SCORE!

There is even a 14-Day meal plan for newbies!!

Just to be clear, I’m not an affiliate for this book or author, I just love sharing great resources that I find work well for myself and my family. But I do give credit where is due!  Here’s Sharon’s blog check her out!

  I have always noticed a huge shift in personality with both of my kids when we eat better, and I have found that I can handle their drama better when I have a better diet. Simple things like being a regular bathroom userπŸ’© can actually have an affect on how your brain works!😱. When your body is a toxic waste dump and it can’t get rid of the waste your body begins to reabsorb the toxins! And that’s just one benefit of simply adding more whole plants into your diet, imagine what else will start to fix itself when your body is working properly!!! 

That’s all I have for now!  See you on the other side!

I Love A Good Exercise Article!😍

So, my end of the year program includes catching up on all of the reading I “meant” to do this last quarter.

I’m a sucker for a workout article regardless of the source. I love seeing good scientific research proving or disproving the latest fads and trends.

In my pile I came across an article in Time Magazine

This article focuses on the work and research of Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, who is a genetic metobolic neurologist who “treats kids with severe genetic diseases like muscular distrophy.”

Dr. Tarnopolsky states that the “trouble is only 20% of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of strength and cardiovascular physical activity per week, more than half of all baby boomers report doing NO exercise whatsoever, and 80.2 million Americans over the age of 6 are entirely inactive.” 😱

Researchers have found many positive changes immediately after a workout during a study where blood was drawn directly following exercise.

Exercise has the obvious and highly spoken of benefit to the heart, muscles, lungs, and bones; but scientists are also finding that exercise is beneficial to the brain, lowering depression, improving memory and quickening learning.

His article does a great job in showing why people of all types, super athlete to very ill, will benefit from some form of exercise. I definitely recommend the read if you need a kick in the butt to get you New Years resolution going!

Turkey Bone Broth!

Alright!  It has begun!  My first Bone Broth recipe from the Bare Bones Broth Cookbook by Katherine and Ryan Harvey.

I am rocking the turkey bones left over from Thanksgiving.  I am extremely excited because my kitchen smells amazing and I don’t even have all of the ingredients in yet.

This broth will get immediate use. We are in the midst of holiday productions in my home, including school and dance shows all falling in the same week, beginning this weekend.  We are experiencing longer nights and earlier mornings just keeping up with the schedule. I am excited to have the immune boosting power at my fingertips to keep us all healthy, and frankly to stave off hangriness during our long days!

The first hour has me skimming fat and “scum” off the top!   Yummy!

As this is a time intensive process I will add a new blog post during each phase.  This is (almost) real time people!!!

See you on the other side!!!

Back in Action with Bone Broth!!

I’ve been MIA from the blog taking care of some family priorities!πŸ˜‰

Now I’m back at it and really diving into Bone Broth this round.

Many people think of Broth or stock as the meat flavored liquid that comes in a box and you make soup with.  The truth is it (kind of) is and can be So. Much. More!

It is one of THE simplest things to make from scratch too.  You throw your ingredients in a pot add some good, clean, filtered water and let it simmer!! Done!

Just to give a shout out I am referencing The Bare Bones Broth Cookbook by Katherine and Ryan Harvey.

Yes! that is a chicken foot you see on the cover!

I make Bone broths a few time a year in big batches and then freeze them for when I need them.  I try to reference a new and updated book when I do. I am a nerd and love the science behind things, and  food science is HUGE and ever changing right now. So this is my book of choice fresh from the library! πŸ“š

Bone broth can help support very common health conditions like digestion, asthma, diabetes, joint injuries, colic, osteoarthritis, RA, inflammation, and the list goes on. Bonus!

It is also a sustainable way to consume food.  By using local suppliers and also using parts of the animal that are typically discarded we are supporting responsible and sustainable food pathways. Double Bonus!

This book goes through the many health benefits in more detail and it also has a chapter on Broth 101 to help you get the basics down if you are new to this adventure!

I am very excited too because this book explains how to use a crock pot to make the Broth over a longer period of time.  To get the most nutrient value out of Bone Broth it should simmer it for at least 24 hours. This is one thing I have never done out of fear of leaving my stove on over night or while I’m away.  The longest I have gone is 8-10 hours (if I was prepared enough to start early!πŸ˜‰). I can’t wait to try the slow cooker method!😍

Another great benefit of making Bone Broth at home is that you know what’s in it!! Many commercial broths/stocks have preservatives and MSG in them. Neither is something you want to consume.

As you know I have kids with food allergies and my own body does NOT appreciate it when I consume certain things. We eat as clean as possible while still living in a kids-go-to-school-with-a-birthday-party-every-other-day world 🌎 

I do my best, as many other parents who work with food allergies and sensitivities, to keep my kids as included as possible when it comes to food.  I love the idea that I have another tool in my belt to help prepare (or recover) their digestive system from something that doesn’t agree with their system.  They are both becoming very active in sports and this same tool can help them train, improve and recover better than any sports pill/powder/drink out there.

The nutrition we can get just from consuming Bone Broth is crazy!

  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Glucosamine
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Chondroiton Sulfate
  • Electrolytes
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Silicon
  • Collagen
  • Gelatin
  • Amino Acids

It is definitely with the effort!!

I am getting my shopping list ready and I’ll let you know how my first ever batch of crockpot Bone Broth turns out!!

Cleaning out the System…

We’ll Fall is upon us and I feel like crap!!!πŸ˜†. 

I know myself well enough to know when (and, frankly, why) I get off track.  For me it’s summer vacation. And I’m not talking about the week you spend at the beach with the family, I’m talking the whole freaking vacation!  

My kids are super active and therefore I keep them very busy, so our sports and activities usually take us into early July.  With the dairy allergies in the family we are mostly on point with nutrition (cut me some slack for the dairy free ice cream!😍) but once that practice/performance/game routine is broken my personal routine goes right out the window too! And once I stop working out, those little cheats and treats start adding up.

I have noticed in the last couple of weeks I’m craving more sugar filled and processed carb-rich foods 🍞.  I need more than one cup of coffee β˜•οΈin the morning.  The last straw for me was waking up yesterday with my head feeling completely puffed up and swollen and sniffling all day. I made myself have allergies by not taking care of my body!!😑

So back on track I go!  I think this is the hardest part for everyone, getting started!

“What do I do first?” Is a question everyone has. For some it’s getting a movement program going and creating that habit, others it’s cleaning the crap out of the cupboards.  For me however, it’s a digestive reset. I don’t do any major restrictive cleanse or detox, cause frankly I’m a scary person when I’m hangry πŸ˜–. So I, instead try to heal my digestive tract for a few days (while cleaning non-essentials from my kitchen).


This is the product(s) I use. Yes, this is an affiliate linkπŸ˜‰!  But I love it, so I promote it. It’s quick, painless, and easy to use. I typically do it over a weekend and my third day is Monday. 

The biggest thing is finding what works for you and getting a system down BEFORE the holidays get here!  Set yourself up right this fall and winter ❄️ so you aren’t fighting next spring for your swimsuit figure. Work now and develop habits that will have you shedding your winter gear with pride!!

Till next time!πŸ˜‰

Hay Bale Garden – Post Vacation

So I started out this gardening season with an experiment using hay bales instead of pots or a raised bed.  After some research I found that the idea behind using the hay bales was because they hold water well and will keep the plants hydrated even on extremely hot days. I also read that the root system would be stronger due to the ease of growth for the roots through the hay.

It has been an interesting adventure for sure. We had a cold front come through late May that was unexpected and I lost all my seedlings. Then round 2 seedlings were planted into June, well after frost, only to be taken by a cute little rabbit that has taken residence in a field behind our house.πŸ™„πŸ°

Third time was a charm for me!  All my seedlings went in just fine, and I was able to use my dogs’ hair around the bales to prevent the rabbits from getting to the plants again.

As my plants took root and grew I was excited to see if they would make it through my next challenge…family vacation.

We were gone for two weeks total and I didn’t ask anyone to check on the plants or water them.  I wanted to see if the theory that the bales would hold water well and allow the plants to grow even in a drought situation.

I was pleasantly surprised at the results I came home to…

With the exception of two plants, all of my plants survived and I even had a couple surprises too!

Broccoli plants growing well even with some caterpillar munching

Corn is looking a little droppy, but still growing

cucmbers are ready to go even if a little light. They were shaded by the zucchini leaves.

Speaking of zucchini, these got huge! I clearly missed a couple before we left

our biggest zucchini is as long as my son’s leg!

The only this I am working on bringing back is my tomato plant. It was in a pot that had a well in the bottom to give it continuous water. The pot blew over and  the well drained. I’m not giving up on it yet though. There is still plenty of green to give me hope, and this plant has been a strong one. It is actually a clipping from our plant last year. It broke off an my 5 year old asked if we coule put it in a vase of water. Little did I know that over the winter it would develop an amazing root system and then take to being replanted in the spring!πŸ… Tomatoes are the best!

I can’t wait for the recovery of this guy!
Til next time!

Teen Athlete Nutrition – Topic 3 – Food Obsessions

So, our perception of food has been skewed for a long time.  It’s been that way since we began making processed foods.

We’ve gone through the Great Depression, where people would eat whatever came their way. We’ve gone through war times when women had to leave the home and begin joining the full time workforce. The 80’s  and 90’s no-fat, low-fat, fake-fat, any-fat-is-bad craze. There’s been Atkins and paleo, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, (insert allergy) free diets. 

It’s hard to figure out what is best for us and for our kids. Every “diet” that is out there, is there because it worked for somebody. For busy people there isn’t a lot of time to trial and error different eating styles to figure out what the best one is. And I can’t help you!  WHAT?!?!  It takes trial and error to figure out what your body needs and each person is different.  There is no cookie cutter one-size-fits-most option.  The best thing that I can steal you towards is clean eating.

What the hell does that mean?  Again, there are many definitions out there, here is mine.  Eat foods that come from the earth with as little processing and chemicals as possible.  If you eat meat, eat an animal that was allowed to do the same.  We are living in a world of plenty, there are snacks and treats and things we know not to eat, but Just. Can’t. Resist! That is OK, food shouldn’t be a battle, but it is also not your lovey blanket either!  I’ve said it in past posts, you eat to live not live to eat.

That brings me to the obsessions that surround food and food consumption (or lack there-of). Being an athlete and working with athletes, certain ideas are seemingly hard-wired into us.  Some are sports specific and others are general.  I would like to clarify that I am not a dietitian, nutritionist, nurse, counselor, or mediator.  I am a coach, which, by default, means I get to take on these roles whether I want to or not.  My athletes have to be healthy enough to perform at their best in practice and performance, so yes, I pay attention.

Eating disorders are a real thing and can cause serious damage.  From Anorexia to Bulimea, Binging, speed weight loss, comfort eating, and even calorie counting/food measuring OCD. There are many different ways to abuse food.  I know good coaches do their best to prevent any of these, but athletes sometimes take matters into their own hands.  With sports like dance, gymnastics, and wrestling depending on specific physical size, weight and uniform look; athletes in these sports should have constant and consistent nutrition training as a part of their regime.  This not only teaches them healthy practices, but allows us as coaches to stay on top of current research and information on foods that will most help or harm our athletes.

We will unfortunately never get away from “skinny” being thought of as healthy and a goal look for teenage girls.  Media has, however, gotten better about the image of healthy, I don’t think the thought process will change, just ebb and flow with the fashion trends of the time.  Keeping this in mind and understanding that many kids do not get to choose what/when they eat; helping parents understand how to keep their athlete healthy has become a priority.  

As a society we are busy, and most households have all adults working to support the family.  We have gotten away from preparing meals from scratch at home.  So, the best bet is to find a compromise and balance. Get the whole family involved with meal planning, preparing and cooking.  Even if you have one night out of the week where you cook several meals for a few dinners and snacks for the week.  This gets everyone involved and delegates the tasks to all people in the house, making the “burden” of cooking more bearable for all.  I’m a full believer that kids should be in the kitchen helping, not sitting around waiting for the meal to be made.  Sometimes easier said than done, but the earlier you start the better.

I mentioned several eating disorders above, and as I said I’m not an expert, just someone who has been in the dance and gymnastics world long enough, so “mention” is all I will do.  If you do suspect someone is abusing food or harming themselves or others in anyway, talk to someone.  A coach, counselor school nurse, parent or teacher can help.  There is a lot of resources online, get help as quickly as you can.

Teen Athlete Nutrition – Topic 2 – Food Timing

Food timing has been a hot topic for as long as I can remember.  Most people think of “game day” when they consider food timing, which is important, but timing your food on a daily basis can actually help your body prepare for your game day.  I actually found very little research available for basic food needs for teens/teen athletes. So here’s an average from a couple different sources as to what kids should be getting in on a daily basis.

So here’s my opinion; eating clean on a regular basis is the most important way to train your body to use the nutrients you give it.  Your body will learn to anticipate when you are going to feed it and your hunger mechanism will begin to function properly. 

Unfortunately, we  now have food available all the time and everywhere.  Food is packaged to last outside of a fridge, in our gym bags and backpacks. This has been a lifesaver for many a busy person, but we have come to rely on these products as food replacements so we don’t have to cook or because we are convinced we don’t have time to prepare food.  These products are loaded with preservatives (i.e.: sugar, sodium, and other unpronounceable ingredients) and many of the ingredients have been processed down so much we don’t actually get any nutritional value, causing us to reach for more food. We have, as a society, stopped listening to our internal “hunger clock.”  The problem with this is our body only begins digesting when we stop chewing food.  Our digestive system does not multitask, when the stomach is working the intestines are not, and it takes anywhere from 2-4 hours to digest a meal completely (everyone is different). So, if you start eating before the previous meal is done digesting, your body stops focusing on the intestines and moves back to the stomach, leaving the undigested food rotting on its own in your gutπŸ˜– that’s a pleasant picture isn’t it?!  

With this in mind, make sure that your regular snacks/meals are no closer together than about 2 hours.  If you feel hungry before that time try drinking water. When your body is dehydrated, it will do whatever it takes to get you to consume something with fluids to rehydrate.

Bottom line, get good food in every day! Train your body to crave good nutrient rich foods that will help with performance on and off the field.

As for game day, this includes days when you will be practicing or training for 2+ hours, you can load your body with energy that will give you your best performance and keep you from getting hangry after the game or practice.

4-5 hours before the event: heavy meal

  • Get in  whole grains, vegetables, a small amount of protein and good fats
  • Ex: whole grain pasta with roasted squash and sweet potato and 4 ounces of grilled chicken

2-4 hours before event: light meal

  • Small amount of whole grain carbs and raw veggies, protein and fruit
  • Ex: PBJ or turkey sandwich or a leafy green salad with kidney beans and tons of veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper

1/2 – 1 hour before event: light snack

  • Green and cruciferous  veggies (broccoli, cauliflower) and ranch dip ( DO NOT use low fat, there’s a ton of chemicals and sugar😑)

Post Event (within two hours): Recovery

  • Plant based proteins, these are easier to digest and help the muscles recover faster. Fruit to replace natural sugar stores and if the event lasted 2+ hours a sports drink or coconut water to replenish electrolytes.

It should go without saying that you should be getting water in with all of these meals.  A good rule of thumb is to get half your body weight in ounces everyday, just for basic life functions. Once you start adding in additional exercise you want to increase you water intake. I usually do about 12 ounces per hour of intense exercise.  Just remember to listen to your body and drink water when you are thirsty.  And to keep from feeling like you are drowning and peeing every five minutes😰 drink a couple sips of water every 10 minutes or so.

Remember to always check with your primary care doctor before making and major changes to your eating lifestyle!
Till next time!!

Teen Athlete Nutrition – Topic 1 – Food Categories

For teen athletes processed food has become the norm for go-to snacks and meals. The schedules are crazy and parents are doing their best to “just get something in them.”

Food choice is very important for teens in general. The amount of growth and development that happens in the ‘tween and teen years is astounding, and without the proper nutrients that growth can be very trying on all people involvedπŸ˜‰

Without proper nutrition good quality sleep is difficult to achieve, mood swings are more common, for girls the menstrual cycle can been more painful, focus and motivation can be lacking.  Many symptoms of ADD and ADHD can be helped with a consistent and whole foods based diet.

This is probably one of the best food pyramid/food plate info graphics I’ve seen to date! 

the best food catagorizing I’ve seen

Vegetables are the biggest group and very well should be. There is so much nutrition packed in. You get water, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Some even provide calcium and protein.  You should strive to get 2-3 varieties in at EACH meal. YES I SAID IT! Every meal should have vegetables involved and at least one should be in its raw form for you to get the most benefit.

Fruits are next. I use fruits in my home as desserts.  They are delicious, provide nutrients and (without extra sugar added) can tame your sweet tooth!  With that said they do contain sugar and even though it is good sugar, you can still get too much. I would also like to clarify that I am talking about whole fruits here, no juice or fruit-flavored things. I would even keep dried fruit to a minimum. Once the fruit has been processed, even with dehydration, it is now missing a component that makes it digest properly in your system giving you a sugar concentrate without any of the nutrients to help your body deal with and digest it. I would stick with 2 servings on non-workout days and no more than 4 servings on workout days.

Whole Grains are next on the list. Despite the no-carb fad. Whole grains can be good for you, especially as an athlete.  The key here is moderation and timing. The carbohydrates can provide a quick energy source for your body, but again, too much just causes issues for your body. if you don’t burn the carbs they get sfored as adipose tissue (the jiggly fat no one likes)😝

Fats are another good group that has had an unfortunate history. There are good fats and bad fats, but the good ones are imperative to brain development, organ function and fuel for the body.

Legumes and lean meats are the best protein source. Plant based proteins are easier for the body to digest and therefore great for immediately after a long workout or event. Lean meats such as chicken and fish are also great for muscle recovery and help with increasing muscle mass.

I will elaborate more next time!! ‘Til then happy healthy eating!!!

Teen Atheletes Require Good Nutritional Practices

The amount, structure and timing of food intake does have an affect on sports performance. Clean, healthy nutrition practices can help athletes train harder and recover more quickly as well as helping to prevent disease and injury.

Having the right food intake can help athletes:

  • Have higher energy for training
  • Increase stamina
  • Improve recovery time
  • Increase strength
  • Reduce chances of minor injuries
  • Reduce mood swings πŸ˜‰
  • While also helping with the excessive brain and body development that happens at this time of life!

During childhood and teen years, development and growth is quick and constant. This increases the demands for complete nutrition in young athletes due to high energy expense in addition to rapid growth. 

A teen athlete’s diet needs to provide Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and provide energy to fuel their rapid growth, training and recovery. (And, yes, I said carbs and fats! We’ll get to thatπŸ˜‰) But, according to Sports Nutrition for Young Atheletes by Anita Bean, there are no specific values for young athletes. Not enough in depth studies have been done on teen athletes, just adult athletes. My guess is that teen athletes are more difficult to study, and there are a lot of factors that need to be considered outside of food and training; like hormones! 

I will try to give some basic guidelines here, but, as always, consult your pediatrician before changing your child’s diet. Also, consult your CHILD before changing their diet.πŸ˜‰ Involving them in the planning and preparing of a clean diet is more likely to get them to eat it!

Because food is a complicated topic for most people, let alone kids. I’m going to cover some of the things I have found to be integral to a healthy athlete both as a coach and as a mom.  I will break these topic down into 3 topics:

  1. Food catagories – why they are needed.
  2. Food timing – what you eat when can make a difference in healing and recovery
  3. Food obsessions – there are many sports and activities that have an expected body image. This takes its biggest toll on teens who are at the height of body development.

My next post will cover the basic food categories and why your athletes need them.

Till next time!!