[caption id="attachment_7556" align="alignright" width="176"]stress - cortisol - weight gain - healthy living - diet Source: LaHoriMela.com[/caption] Stress can be a key contributor to weight gain or unhealthy weight loss.  The question is why? I started asking this question recently because of stress burdens that have impacted me recently and one day I got on the scale and saw that my weight had gone up nearly 2 pounds even though I had just finished a 4 hour bike ride and 30 minute run.  What would cause that weight gain?  I was scratching my head trying to think about it and realized that I have been under quite a bit of stress in just a few days.  Throw the stress in with the fact that I was eating quite a bit during this supported ride and it made sense but I still asked why. Before I dug into the cortisol levels I wanted to pinpoint the stress markers so I could understand them better.  Here is what has happened since March 1st:
  • Karen and I put our house on the market.
  • We had a pre-inspection done and found out we have hail damage and other items that needs to be addressed before the house could conceivably sell.
  • We received a rather large tax-bill that was unexpected and working with our accountant to make sure we didn't miss any deductions.
  • Sick wife and kid and when I say sick I mean practically immobile wife and kid with no appetite or desire/ability to do anything.
  • Ironman training with a race coming up in 10 days at San Juan.
  • Thinking of packing and traveling to San Juan.
So those are just a few of the items that peaked in the past few days and thus gave me a heightened sense of stress.  When I did some digging around because I knew that the stress not only caused the angst and worry but also a body change and I wanted to know more about it. I researched cortisol to find the following: It is released in response to stress and a low-level of blood glucocorticoids. Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; suppress the immune system; and aid in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.  It also decreases bone formation. Source:WikiPedia [caption id="attachment_7560" align="alignright" width="269"]stress - cortisol - peanut butter - jelly - whole wheat - apple Homemade Jam with Homemade Nut Butter In An Apple Stack[/caption] Seeing that cortisol increases blood sugar it made a little more sense to me that my weight would go up and thus a direct correlation between stress and cortisol started making more sense.  I thought back to what I had eaten on the ride and I realized I consumed a number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread which my body is not used to and most likely stored these items since it didn't know what to do with them.  Before you say:  But Jason you eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches let me clarify.  I do consume these items but the jelly and nut butter is homemade.  I have not had a slice of whole wheat bread in as long as I can remember and my PB&Js are now on top of apple slices or a Suzy's Thin Cake. My stress has been lessened a little bit because I have had the insurance adjuster out to our house to start that process, we have had showings of the house and will have an open house this weekend, both the wife and the kid are feeling better and I am looking forward to racing to help relieve all of this stress.  For 5 hours it will be me, my goggles, my bike and my shoes and the only concern I will have is maintaining my performance based on Maria's strategy.

Are Stress, Cortisol And Weight Gain Related?

[caption id="attachment_7557" align="alignright" width="271"]stress - cortisol - weight gain - exercise - diet Not Sure Why All The Pictures Were Of Women With Food.
Source: Senior Voice America[/caption] Further research led me to uncover the following:
  • Epel et al. demonstrated that premenopausal women who secreted more cortisol during and after novel laboratory stressors chose to consume more foods high in sugar and fat. It has been thought that cortisol directly influences food consumption by binding to receptors in the brain (specifically, the hypothalamus). This can stimulate an individual to eat food that is high in fat and/or sugar. Cortisol also indirectly influences appetite by regulating other chemicals that are released during stress such as CRH (corticotrophin releasing hormone), leptin, and neuropeptide Y (NPY) (12-13).
    • 12 Epel, E., R. Lapidus, B. McEwen, et al. Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior.Psychoneuroendocrinology 26: 37-49, 2001.
    • 13 Cavagnini, F., M. Croci, P. Putignano, et al. Glucocorticoids and neuroendocrine function. International Journal of Obesity 24: S77-S79, 2000.
After reading this I knew that the stress had been the direct factor of that weight gain spike.  Realizing that was the case I not only acknowledged the stressors but started to take care of them so that I can go into the race and life, in general, feeling better.  Tomorrow I will go to yoga and focus inward and that will help relieve some of the stress I have been having as I find that when I am done I am thinking more clearly. Of course, continuing to exercise will help to decrease the stress as well as mediation.  I am going to start incorporating 10 minutes of silence into the middle of my day to allow for my body to come down from the stress of work and life and give me an opportunity to focus without being bombarded by all the distractions one has going on. Recognizing the stress factors has played a huge role in allowing me to de-stress and I suggest that if you are stressed that you focus more on your food consumption and don't just eat whatever you want because you are having a bad day.  Since that 2 pound weight gain in one day I have lost it all and I credit it to addressing the stress, focusing my eating habits and staying on my game when it comes to working out.

How Do You Deal With Stress?

Do You Turn To Food When The Stress Hits?

Published in Train
Monday, 25 February 2013 13:05

Body Fat - My Story Of Losing It

Body Fat Percentage has been on the tips of other blog writers finger tips for a couple of weeks now and I wanted to take some time to tell my story about body fat percentage.  I could take you back to when I weighed 175 pounds and was not in any shape other than round but for the purpose of this post my body fat percentage story will start on November 19, 2012. [caption id="attachment_6749" align="alignright" width="300"]about me - ironman arizona - triathlon - recovery meal - body fat percentage Recovery Breakfast The Day After Ironman Arizona 2012 Not pictured: hard-boiled eggs.[/caption] Why did I chose November 19, 2012 to start the story of my body fat percentage?  That was the day after Ironman Arizona and I had just spent my morning with Susan Lacke eating anything and everything.  After all I had just completed racing and I was heading into the off-season so why not.  That morning while scarfing down waffles, pancakes with Reese's pieces, hard-boiled eggs, coffee and toast I didn't realize that my 'fit' body was really not 'fit'. When I got home and I started seeing pictures of me I noticed one thing.  What was that one thing?  Well, that would be my skinny fat stomach.  As you can see from the picture below I looked like I was in shape and an 11:53 finishing time at IMAZ would say that I was, but in reality I wasn't.  I stepped on the scale and my weight was 155 pounds and my body fat percentage was 12%.  For most people, that would be ok but I had a gut and I was devastated by the pictures.  How could I talk about living a healthy lifestyle when I was running around with this pouch? [caption id="attachment_7438" align="aligncenter" width="300"]body fat percentage - ironman arizona - losing weight This picture set off a fire alarm in my head that it was time to get in the best shape of my life for Ironman Texas[/caption] I began exchanging text messages and emails with Jeff Irvin who pointed me to the book Wheat Belly.  I would say that this book was the kick-start to not only dropping weight but also body fat percentage.  Along the road I discovered that just by dropping wheat that the weight was dropping off and my body fat percentage was going in that same direction.  Simultaneously I joined Instagram and my food inspiration and time in the kitchen went in the other direction. I was making dishes that were fantastic tasting but I was keeping track of my calories, carbs, fat and protein intake.  What I noticed was not so much the calories but the carbs.  If I exceeded 300 carbs in a day I would notice little to no difference or a gain in body fat percentage regardless of the amount of training I was doing.  At that point I had a conversation with Maria about nutrient timing. Nutrient timing was the second leg of the stool that had to be installed in order to have my weight and body fat percentage drop in a healthy manner.  Since I do all of my training in the morning it was imperative that I get the majority of my daily carbohydrates in before, during and after these workouts.  I began by having a 90 or 180 calorie Endurance Sport 24 shake 1 hour prior to the training.  Depending on the intensity of the workout I would have either water or an electrolyte based drink and then that would be followed up with waffles for breakfast as recovery (side bar:  I am on Day 14 of #wafflestreak.)  The rest of the day would be filled with healthy fats (avocado, coconut) and lean protein (vegetables, eggs.) Now that my stool had two legs I needed a third to keep it balanced otherwise this 'diet' would not work.  What was that third stool?  The goal of racing Ironman Texas at 11:15 or less.  Having this goal has me keeping my diet very clean and the corresponding weight and body fat percentage reflect this.  I have had this goal for sometime but now that all three pieces of my body fat percentage stool have come together this goal is now becoming more of a reality.  My performance in the water, on the bike and on the road have shown that this formula is working and I am not about to throw a monkey wrench into it.  We are less than 90 days away and I will be disciplined to make sure that this train keeps moving forward.

Weight And Body Fat Percentage Progress:

  • Nov 29, 2012: Weight: 149.2 lbs; Body Fat Percentage: 10.1%; Water%: 60.4%; Muscle Mass: 128.4 lbs
  • Dec 30, 2012: Weight: 148.0 lbs; Body Fat Percentage: 9.3%; Water%: 60.9%; Muscle Mass: 127.6 lbs
  • Jan 30, 2012: Weight: 143.4 lbs; Body Fat Percentage: 8.7%; Water%: 61.2%; Muscle Mass: 125.0 lbs
  • Feb 24, 2012: Weight: 140.4 lbs; Body Fat Percentage: 6.0%; Water%: 63.8%; Muscle Mass: 125.2 lbs
Nearly 9 lbs lost in 3 months with a body fat percentage drop of 4.1% and maintaining a muscle mass that is fairly constant. If you think I am doing this by starving myself just take a look at my Instagram account as I have been documenting the meals that I create and eat on a daily basis.  You will notice that there is a wide variety in the meals and also in the colors of the meals which means that I am not only getting all of my macro-nutrient needs met but also my micro-nutrient needs are being met. This process is just that, a learning process.  I have seen what works and doesn't work for my body but I am also focused on my hunger queues which means I eat when hungry and not what the hands on the clock say.  This is not magic but instead science and hard work.

Have You Ever Focused On Body Fat Percentage?

 
Published in Train

Chocolate Pistachio Waffles has been on my meal plan menu for nearly one week now and I wanted desperately to move it up into the week but I also knew that I was going to be riding for three hours and running for 30 minutes and needed something to look forward to.  Then again there was a good chance that waffles were going to be on my menu so I could have scarfed down the chocolate pistachio waffles earlier this week.  Good things come to those who wait……

As I was going through the week I came across the idea of ice cream.  What kind of ice cream would go with chocolate pistachio waffles?  Vanilla?  Boring….. Chocolate?  …..Hmmm, maybe too much chocolate?  Mint? …..the green mint with green pistachio?  Nope, I decided to make strawberry ice cream.  Why?  Because I had just put 2 pints of strawberries into the freezer and knew I could get ice cream from them with little to no effort.When I put together my meal plan I try to create waffles that I have not had in a long time or create a new flavor for myself.  When I was at Sprout’s the idea of chocolate pistachio waffles popped into my head and I knew I had not had that flavor ever even though I knew that I had chocolate hazelnut (Nutella flavor) waffles on the plan for the day prior.  This kind of thing happens to me when I go grocery shopping and I think I have my meals planned out then I walk by the bulk area and can pick up a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Throw chocolate into the mix andchocolate pistachio waffles and chocolate hazelnut waffles are born.

I know, less talk and more recipe so I will not waste any more of your time.  Here is the recipe for the waffles:

Chocolate Pistachio Waffles And Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream

Ingredients: 1/2c garbanzo flour, 1 egg, 1 oz pistachios, 100g frozen strawberries, 1 Tbsp Goji Berries, 1/2c + 1 Tbsp Coconut Milk (unsweetened and split into 1/4c), 4 sections Ghirardelli 72% cacao chocolate

Servings: 1

Nutritional Information: 712 calories, 72g Carbohydrates, 43g Fat, 28g Protein, 20g Fiber

Directions:

  1. In your blender add frozen strawberries and 1/4c coconut milk.  Blend until a smooth mixture forms.
  2. Place strawberry ice cream into a metal bowl and into your freezer to set up.
  3. Place pistachios into a storage bag and seal it.  Place towel over top and smash with rolling-pin or meat tenderizer or a can.  Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl add flour, egg and 1/4c coconut milk.  Whisk to combine well.  Set aside.
  5. In a microwave safe bowl add broken pieces of chocolate and 1 Tbsp of coconut milk and microwave for 30 seconds.
  6. Stir chocolate and coconut milk until a thick ganache like mixture forms then add to your batter.
  7. Whisk chocolate and 80% of the pistachio pieces into batter until well combined.
  8. Heat up waffle iron to your manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Add batter and allow waffles to cook.
  10. While waffles are cooking remove strawberry ice cream from freezer and make a quenelle and place into a bowl.
  11. Plate the chocolate pistachio waffles and the strawberry ice cream.
  12. Garnish with the remaining pistachio pieces and goji berries then serve.

Notes:

  • The batter will be thick but when cooked properly will have a crunchy outside and soft interior.
  • If you cannot get the Ghirardelli chocolate you can replace with ~ 1 Tbsp of cocoa powder.
  • The chocolate is dark and thus not sweet so if you want sweet add 1 tsp of turbinado.  I’ve never used stevia but that could be an addition as well.
  • This recipe could easily be an ice cream sandwich as well.  Let your imagination take over.
Published in Breakfast Recipes
Saturday, 16 February 2013 14:44

Nachos, Nachos, Nachos.....

Nachos are everybody's favorite eats when they are at Mexican restaurants.  Nachos are probably everybody's favorite eats even at home especially during sporting events like the recent Super Bowl or the upcoming March Madness and Opening Day of Baseball. You know those nachos that are dripping with cheese and jalapeños with those salty tortilla chips.  Wait, come back don't run out to buy nachos just yet.  Stay and finish reading and then head over to your kitchen to make homemade nachos because these will blow your mind.  The best part is that they are much lower in calories, fat and contain healthy carbs unlike those that you get at your local Mexican restaurant. When I chose to drop dairy from my diet one of the first things to go was the cheese dip that Karen use to make and with that nachos essentially became a thing of the past for me.  Not only was I not able to dip the chips into the cheese but there was always a huge dollop of sour cream on top of the chips.  Not being able to remember the last time I had nachos I finally had a huge craving for them and decided to meander my way to my kitchen to make a healthy version of nachos. Here is the recipe:

Nachos:  Sweet And Purple Potatoes (Vegan) Style

Ingredients: 50g Sweet Potato, 100g Purple Potato, 100g Avocado, 1 Jalapeño Pepper, 1/8c Red Onion, 1/4c Dry Black Beans, 50g Cherry Tomatoes, 30g Red Bell Pepper, 30g Green Bell Pepper, 2 Tbsp Coconut Yogurt, Cilantro, Hot Sauce Servings: 1 Nutritional Information: 433 calories, 68g Carbs, 16g Fat, 9g Protein, 21g Fiber Directions:

  1. Soak beans overnight in water.
  2. Bring pot of water to a boil, add beans and then reduce to simmer and allow to cook for 1-2 hours until soft.
  3. Towards end of cooking of beans pre-heat oven to 450*
  4. Thinly slice sweet and purple potatoes.
  5. Arrange on baking dish and spray with olive or coconut oil cooking spray.  Cook 10 minutes and then flip.
  6. After flipping the potatoes begin assembling guacamole by dicing peppers, red onions and tomatoes and placing in bowl.
  7. De-Seed the avocado and scoop out flesh and place into separate bowl.  Mash avocado with fork and then add in veggies and beans then carefully combine.
  8. Add in hot sauce and chopped cilantro to the guacamole and set aside.  Place pit into center of guacamole to keep fresh while getting potatoes out of oven.
  9. To assemble the plate place guacamole in center and create a divot to place the coconut yogurt.
  10. Spread the sweet potato and purple potato nacho chips around the dip.
  11. Top with more chopped cilantro and serve.

These nachos are a great way to snack responsibly on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  They would also make for a great item to bring to a family/friend gathering for Cinco De Mayo.  Really these nachos can be eaten at anytime you want and are so easy to make you will find yourself making them over and over again. Switch up the nacho 'chips' by make kale chips or zucchini chips.  Eggplant chips would probably go very well too.  How about jicama for your nacho chips?  Need that meat texture?  Make tempeh chorizo to add to the top (lightbulb moment right there!)  The possibilities are endless.  Experiment and let me know what you think of these vegan nachos. 

What Is Your Favorite Nachos Topping?

 

Published in Lunch Recipes
Friday, 25 January 2013 12:20

Quinoa And Black Beans Patty Recipe

Quinoa and Black Beans are a match made in heaven like peanut butter and jelly or chocolate and peanut butter so as I was writing out my meal plan for the week I knew I wanted this combination at some point.  As a kid growing up in a Puerto Rican household rice and beans was always available so why not convert the rice to quinoa and keep the black beans right? Not wanting to have just quinoa and black beans I decided to throw in avocado and combine all those ingredients to form a patty.  It was then that I remembered being in Spain and the first time I had an egg on a hamburger (yes, I haven't always been a vegetarian.)  What could be greater than the creamy yolk of a fried farm fresh egg on top of a quinoa and black patty?  As my mind kept going to all these different areas I had to stop myself and just hope that what I had would fit into my meal plan in terms of carbs, fats and protein.  That being said doesn't mean that I would not have adjusted my meal plan somewhere else to include the quinoa and black beans. As I suspected the creamy avocado and egg yolk matched the flavor profile of the quinoa and black beans perfectly.  Throw in the crunch on the outside of the patties and you had flavor and texture. Throw some sriracha on top and you have the spiciness that all dishes should have. Enough of all this writing and here is the recipe for the quinoa and black beans patty.

Quinoa And Black Beans Patty

Ingredients: 1/4c dry quinoa (rinsed), 1/4c dry black beans, 100g Avocado (separated), 2 eggs, 1c spinach and arugula, 1 Tbsp flour,sriracha Servings: 1 Nutritional Information: 570 calories, 59g Carbohydrates, 28g Fat, 27g Protein, 16g Fiber Directions:

  1. Soak the black beans overnight or at least for 2-3 hours if you are short on time.*
  2. In a pot bring 3c of water to a boil with the beans in the water and then reduce to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 2-3 hours to soften
  3. Toward the end of the cooking process of the beans add 1/4c quinoa to a different pot and toast for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add 1 1/2c of water to the quinoa and bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer.**
  5. When the beans are soft enough remove from heat and drain then place them into a bowl.
  6. With a fork (or potato masher) combine 50g of avocado and the beans until well mixed leaving a few chunks of beans.
  7. After the quinoa is fully cooked (you will know its done when steam holes form) remove from heat and place into bowl with beans and avocado.  Combine.
  8. Set bowl into refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Remove from fridge and sprinkle flour into the mixture and begin forming the quinoa and black bean patty in your hands.***
  10. Place patty on a pre-heated griddle or frying pan.
  11. After a crust has formed on one side flip the quinoa and black bean patty over and allow another crust to form.
  12. While the patty is cooking on the second side begin to cook the eggs until your desired consistency.
  13. Plate the spinach and arugula then top with the quinoa and black bean patties.
  14. Top the patties with the fried eggs and the remaining avocado (in slices.)

* Using canned black beans is ok just rinse and drain well. ** I use more water than normal for this recipe because I want the quinoa to be somewhat sticky instead of fluffy. *** If the patty is still too wet just add more flour in small amounts so that you don't dry it out too much.  Bread crumbs will be a good substitute for flour as well. So there you have the recipe for quinoa and black bean patties that are great for dinner and when topped with the eggs are perfect for brunch. Don't want this recipe as patties?  No problem, make it exactly the same way and instead of pan frying scoop into a homemade corn tortilla.

How Do You Prefer To Use Quinoa and Black Beans? Together Or Separate?

 

Published in Lunch Recipes
Friday, 18 January 2013 18:15

Cream Of Broccoli Soup Recipe

Cream of broccoli soup was never something I ever wanted to eat growing up.  As a matter of fact I'm not sure I want to eat it now but after making this recipe I think it is something that can be a regular part of my diet in the winter or summer.  Before we get to that I want to point out that my only interaction with cream of broccoli soup was when it was poured out of a can as a kid.  That 'stuff' just looked wrong and there was no way it was touching my lips. I was at the grocery store a few days ago picking up some odds and ends and I saw a sale on broccoli and cauliflower.  I picked up the green stuff without any idea of how I was going to use it.  I passed over the cauliflower (big mistake) because I had not made the cauliflower pizza crust yet and wasn't sure how I would use it.  As I was walking out of the store my thoughts drifted to shredding it for tacos, or roasting it for a roasted vegetable salad or just eating it raw dipped into a sriracha-horseradish mustard dipping sauce. As I was watching the Food Network I began to think of the broccoli in my fridge and how I could use it besides those three applications.  If I steamed it would I be able to form a patty with it to make a veggie burger?  If I roasted it would the flavor work well in a cornmeal jalapeno waffle?  Then it hit me......yes steam it but then turn it into a soup.  I had just recently made a sweet potato and poblano pepper soup so why not a broccoli soup but what do I add.  I wanted it to be a very vibrant green so I recalled what was in my fridge and I knew that a cream of broccoli soup would be coming out of my kitchen. The only question I had was:  What am I going to use to make the cream part?  I could use water or vegetable stock but that isn't really cream now is it.  I had some leftover coconut whip from my Carrot Cake pancakes and could use that along with the liquid from the same can of coconut milk.  My only concern at this point was how green the soup would come out.  Cream of broccoli soup is typically closer to white than green but I wanted this to be a vibrant green which meant using less coconut whip than I normally would have but in the end I used just enough and probably could have used more since it turned out so green.

Cream Of Broccoli Soup Recipe
 
Recipe Type: Lunch Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Jason Bahamundi
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Cream of broccoli soup that has no cream and is vegan. This recipe can be consumed cold or hot.
Ingredients
  • 386g Broccoli (~1 large head of broccoli)
  • 2 Stalks of Celery
  • 50g Kale
  • Bunch Cilantro
  • 1 can Coconut milk
Instructions
  1. Steam broccoli until just tender but still vibrant green.
  2. Combine all the ingredients into a blender once the broccoli has steamed.
  3. Blend until well combined.
  4. Add to pot and bring up to temp and serve.
  5. Serve.
Calories: 211 Fat: 12 Carbohydrates: 20 Fiber: 7 Protein: 8
Notes
* I added 1/4c (dry) Lundberg Wild Rice to the soup. * Garnish is cilantro, sriracha and black sesame seeds. * If you want to serve cold do not pour into pot and bring up to temp.

Did You Like Cream Of Broccoli Soup As A Kid?

How About Cream Of Mushroom Soup?


Find us on Instagram and request recipes from the pictures.[/caption]

Published in Lunch Recipes
Monday, 14 January 2013 17:55

Baked Polenta And Eggs Recipe

This weekend I was watching Eat St on the Food Network when they featured a restaurant in NYC.  I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant of the chef but he made this polenta and egg dish that looked fabulous and it inspired me to created a baked polenta and eggs dish.  I was trying to figure out when I was going to be able to make this because I had already planned out my menu for the weekend but I was ready for some baked polenta and eggs.  Before I forget he also made a beet juice risotto that he deep-fried to form an arancini that looked remarkable. Later that night while tooling around on various social media sites I came across Pinch of Yum who had a resources page and one of her resources was for Easy Recipe, which is a plug-in for WordPress that allows you to enter your information and it will format the recipe and provide other data that you supply in a neat and concise manner.  This baked polenta and eggs recipe is the first time I am using this plug-in so please let me know, in the comments, what you think of the plug-in. I am not converting the blog to a foodie blog but you don't want to hear about my training which is why I am only doing a monthly update as I make my way to Ironman Texas.  There is only so much advice one can give on training through the winter so I have turned myself over to my kitchen and coming up with new recipes using ingredients that we all have or are easy to get.  The ingredients list for the baked polenta and eggs is short and one that you have the majority of the ingredients to already.  Oh, and before I forget my post tomorrow will be on setting up a transition area as I was asked about that on Saturday.....see it is not all about food. Now onto the recipe:

Baked Polenta And Eggs

Baked Polenta And Eggs Recipe
 
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American Italian
Author: Jason Bahamundi
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1-2
Baked Polenta And Eggs is great for a weekend breakfast or brunch as it is a fairly hearty meal and not something you'll be able to make before running to work unless you prepare it the night before.
Ingredients
  • 1/2c Polenta (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 1/2c Water
  • 1/2c Red Gravy (sauce) - I make my own but use your favorite
  • 2 Eggs
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 405*
  2. Bring water to a boil in a pot and then add polenta.
  3. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer while stirring the polenta.
  4. Sitr the polenta frequently to avoid sticking to the pot.
  5. As the polenta starts to set add italian seasonings and the salt. Continue stirring.
  6. After the polenta has absorbed all the water and is thick pour into a baking dish.
  7. Create well that is deep enough to hold the red gravy and egg but not so deep to touch the bottom of baking dish
  8. Pour approximately 1/2 the red gravy (with a spoon) into the well.
  9. Make sure there is still a well and if not create one again.
  10. Crack egg into each well then add more gravy around the egg.
  11. Place in oven for 12-15 minutes until egg sets to your desire.
  12. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit before digging in.
Serving size: 1-2 Calories: 428 Fat: 9 Carbohydrates: 62 Protein: 19
Notes
If you are going to make your own red gravy then cook time is going to be longer than one hour.

Are You A Fan Of Polenta?  How Do You Prepare It?

 

Published in Breakfast Recipes
Friday, 11 January 2013 13:42

Carrot Cake Waffles

Carrot cake waffles are the second installment in my desire to convert desserts into waffles.  The first forays were the Black Forest Waffles and those were a success so building on that was going to be a challenge.  I started with Apple Pie Waffles that were good but left a little something out so I need to tweak my recipe before I post it.  The carrot cake waffles on the other hand hit the nail on the head. Originally I was going to post a cooking webisode on how to make corn tortillas, but then the carrot cake waffles were made and blew that recipe out of the water.  I can post that video tomorrow but I wanted to get this recipe up today so that you could make them this weekend.  These would be perfect on a lazy sunday morning or if you can swing it right after a race.  Imagine having carrot cake waffles after running your heart out.  Wait, I don't have to imagine as I'm racing tomorrow.  Looks like I will be making these waffles again tonight, freeze them and then when I get home from the race I will have a great recover meal. Enough about me and races you are saying so with that I will provide you with the recipe to the carrot cake waffles:

Carrot Cake Waffles

Ingredients:

  • Waffle: 1/2c garbanzo bean flour, 100g shredded carrot, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp all spice, 1 Tbsp Pecans (chopped), 1 Tbsp Vanilla, 3 Tbsp Egg Whites, 1/4c water
  • Coconut Whip: 1 can coconut milk, 1 Tbsp shredded coconut

Servings: 1 Nutritional Information:

  • Waffle: 330 calories, 45g Carbs, 8g Fat, 18g Protein, 12g Fiber
  • Coconut Whip: 57 calories, 2g Carbs, 5g Fat, 0g Protein, 1g Fiber

Directions:

  • Purchase a can of coconut milk the night before, turn it upside down and place in fridge.
  • In a bowl combine the flour, carrot, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, pecans.
  • Once dry ingredients are well combined add in the wet ingredients (vanilla, egg whites, water) and mix until a batter has been formed.
  • Heat up waffle iron and follow the instructions of your waffle iron.
  • While waffles are cooking take the can of coconut milk out and open the bottom.
  • Scoop out the thick coconut milk and add 1 Tbsp shredded coconut and mix well.
  • After waffles are done remove from waffle iron and plate
  • Top with coconut whip, honey and extra pecans.

Raisins are also a favorite to be added to carrot cake so add them to your carrot cake waffles is you so choose.  You can also top the waffles with walnuts if you do not have pecans as well as real maple syrup instead of honey.

 

Published in Breakfast Recipes
Thursday, 10 January 2013 13:44

Ironman Texas - The Monthly Progress Report

Ironman Texas is in 129 days and training has been going on since December 10th so I figured a monthly update on my progress was in order.  Last year I did weekly and bi-weekly YouTube videos which were fun to make but at this point I'm not sure I have the patience to shoot, edit, upload and post so I will be going with some simple breakdowns of what has changed in the month that has just passed. Last year I raced Ironman Texas as my first 140.6 and finished in 11:59:51 without knowing what I was doing in terms of racing.  There is a lot that you learn about yourself and ability with each race but especially the iron-distance race.  I took what I learned from Texas to Arizona and unfortunately experienced a bike accident that did not lead to the day I wanted but loved the day I had.  With that experience in the tank, a change of coach(s) and a new eating plan I am preparing myself to go faster at Ironman Texas 2013 than I could have imagined when I first put on a pair of tri shorts. Here is my monthly progress report and I hope John and Maria grade me here as well: Diet: Maria and John have been a huge help for me in this department.  With our goals it is important to know not just what to eat but more importantly when to eat, and thus was the basis for my previous post about changing my diet.  I know that since I started with them back on December 10 that I weighed 150 lbs and had a body fat percentage of 10.4% (thank you off-season.)  Since then I have lost 2.4 lbs and 1.7 percentage points in body fat while maintaining my muscle mass.  I will say that with the workouts prescribed and the attention to detail about my diet I feel great and will be losing the weight needed to race Ironman Texas at my optimal weight level without much trying or 'dieting'. [caption id="attachment_7049" align="alignright" width="300"]ironmantexas_progressreport_cooktraineatrace Certainly Has Been Bike And Swim Focused[/caption] Swim: As any follower of this blog knows my swim is by far my worst discipline and it seemed that the harder I worked at it the worse I got or stayed the same which is just like getting worse.  In the past month I have seen improvements in my swim and not just in time but in how I feel in the water.  I actually am feeling the water instead of fighting it.  I have recognized key failures in my technique like putting my head down too far into the water or not getting my elbow high enough that has led to a more efficient swim.  I am not competing with Phelps and Lochte just yet but I am certainly getting faster at the same RPE. Bike: Maria and John determined that for me to hit my goal times that getting faster in the water and faster on the bike were going to be imperative.  That being said my training has been swim and bike-centric.  That being said I have developed some awesome ass muscles from sitting on the bike.  In addition to that I have been chasing my friend Jeff around the area and I mean chase since Jeff is a Kona Qualifier and a beast on the bike.  He has helped me get stronger while the training 'assignments' are keeping me conscious of my form and getting me stronger at the same time.  My bike efficiency is improving and that will benefit me on the run. Run: This discipline was determined to be my best and after the 20 minute TT that was confirmed.  Running is my strong suit so there hasn't been a lot of emphasis on it with most of my runs being 2o - 30 minutes off the bike and in Z2.  What we did figure out is that my Z2 is higher up than I originally thought so I am able to run this zone at a faster pace than I had been.  Clearly my aerobic capacity is stronger than I thought it was.  Since there hasn't been a lot going on here and the only real tangible to come out of the first month of training is that I can push harder on the run. [caption id="attachment_7050" align="alignright" width="300"]ironmantexas_training_triathlon_cooktraineatrace Do You Like Pie? I Like The Look Of This Ironman Texas Training Pie![/caption] Mental Strength: I always thought I had the ability to push myself as hard if not harder than the next person.  I have come to the realization that theory was true for training but not on race day.  When race day came around I think I was hesitant because it was about finishing.  This year that changes and with the help of M&J I am going to be racing and no longer satisfied with finishing.  I would also say that experience plays a huge role in this and that is why I believe I am now ready to race the 140.6 distance instead of just being happy with crossing the finish line.  Maria and I have talked at length about goal times for Ironman Texas and I have those numbers plastered everywhere so that every training session has value.  Sharpening the mind is going to be as important as sharpening the body in this training cycle. Outside Triathlon: Last year my focus was Ironman Texas and nothing was going to get in the way.  I think anybody attacking their first 140.6 would say the same thing so I don't feel bad about it but I certainly have learned from it.  It cannot be all things triathlon all the time.  I have re-arranged training sessions to be later in the day if need be.  I have added Bikram Yoga to my training as an active recovery day.  I am being more of a husband than last year and being aware of when training goes to far.  I am also taking notice of when training isn't going right and calling it a day or pushing through.  This is probably the most important aspect of my training cycle so far.  Last year if it was a bad training day and I pushed through it I would be upset all day.  Now if it is to the point that it isn't what it needs to be then I will call the training off.  This means I am more in tune with my body and mind than in the past and this will serve my wife and Chico well.  I am not perfect at this but I am working at it. All in all it has been a very pleasurable month starting out with a new coach and a renewed focus.  Now in 129 days we shall see where we are in the progress report arena and hopefully it will be on full display as I cross the finish line of Ironman Texas.

Are You Racing Ironman Texas This Year?

What Are You Training For And What Grade Do You Give Your Progress To Date?

 
Published in Train
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 11:44

Polenta Tower Recipe

A Polenta Tower is not exactly the Ahi Tuna Tower but it certainly inspired it.  Back when eating fish was part of my diet I enjoyed eating the Ahi Tower with Karen on a regular basis.  There was something about the avocado, sushi rice, tuna and tomatoes.  All these ingredients worked well together and when I drove by the sushi restaurant in my neighborhood I got a bit inspired.  The polenta tower recipe requires a bit more work than the Ahi Tower but it has the same creaminess and spice that is a calling card of the one made with sushi. If you have never had polenta let me fill you in on a little secret.  It is creamy and delicious and nothing like cornmeal.  Cornmeal can be grainy but polenta when made correctly is creamy and smooth.  The polenta tower recipe is not only creamy and smooth it is vegan friendly because I do not add cheese to my polenta.  If you want to add cheese I would recommend Parmigiano-Reggiano because the salty quality to the cheese will lend itself perfectly to the sriracha and garlic in this recipe. How long will it take to make the polenta tower?  That is the beauty of this creation.  The polenta tower recipe is completed in about 25 minutes.  That's right from start to finish you will have this recipe done and consumed within 25 minutes.  There is no secret to this and it is all simple ingredients that you can find at your local grocery store.  I had this for lunch yesterday as part of my new diet regimen but can easily be had for dinner.  If you want to have this for brunch (which I would recommend) then add a fried egg to the polenta tower recipe and you will be in brunch heaven.

Polenta Tower Recipe

Ingredients: 1/2c Polenta (I use Bob's Red Mill), 1c Unsweetened Coconut Milk, 1/2c water, 1 Tbsp Olive Oil (split), 1 oz sun-dried tomatoes, 100g Kale, 50g Spinach, 50g Arugula, 2/3c Frozen Peas, Sriracha, Garlic Servings: 1 Nutritional Information: 563 calories, 79g Carbs, 29g Fat, 15g Protein Directions:

  1. In a pot bring the coconut milk and the water to a soft boil.  Once boiling add in the polenta and begin to stir.
  2. As the polenta is cooking heat a pan with 1/2 Tbsp and add garlic.
  3. After the aroma of the garlic has permeated the kitchen add the kale, spinach and arugula.
  4. Once the kale, spinach, arugula mixture has wilted remove from heat and put aside.
  5. After the polenta has come together put on a plate and place in freezer for 5 minutes to cool down.
  6. Just prior to removing the polenta heat up the remaining 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil and add 3 mold rings.
  7. Once the pan is hot place your polenta evenly into the rings and allow to pan fry until a crust is formed.
  8. While the polenta is setting place peas in a bowl with water and place in microwave for 1-2 minutes.
  9. Once the polenta is done begin the assembly by placing 1/2 of the kale, spinach, arugula mixture into a bowl.
  10. Top with polenta cake then greens mixture and repeat until all the polenta cakes and greens are plated.
  11. Top the last polenta cake/greens with the sun-dried tomatoes.
  12. Finally place the peas around the outer edge and garnish with sriracha.

If you don't have these greens use whatever you have available.  I would also recommend making this with red or green cabbage that has been chopped prior to wilting. If you don't have ring molds do not worry as you can skip the tower building and lay a base of the greens mixture, top with polenta and then more greens mixture, sun-dried tomatoes and circle with the peas. The polenta tower recipe is versatile, as I mentioned you can add an egg and serve for brunch, but also will take well to different greens.  If you don't have peas you can replace them with beans (garbanzo and black) but I would not recommend adding corn since you already have it in the polenta.  Maybe a garnish of roasted and diced sweet potatoes.

How Do You Prepare Polenta?

By the way you can find us on Instagram now as well.  There you will find pics of the food that I am making in my own kitchen.  If something sparks some inspiration and you want a recipe that isn't posted on this blog please Contact Me.

Published in Lunch Recipes
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