Essential Sports Nutrition


Chicken Taco Salad

Salads are an easy pick when trying to add more vitamins and minerals to your diet. You probably order fat-free dressing or dressing on the side in order to save calories. But some salads at fast-food and restaurants have the healthy ingredients in the inside but the killer calories come from the outside. Yes, I'm talking about the Taco Salad.
Before I turned "healthy" (circa 2000), I always struggled finding food when on the road. I traveled a lot for swim meets or my brothers gymnastics meets and I wasn't a big fan of salads. Now I don't like fast food salads because they are expensive and all I get are a few shredded carrots and tomatoes on a bed of browning ice burg lettuce. Then, however, I wanted cheese, cheese and more cheese and that wasn't found in salad. I've been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old and for the first 8 years of my "meat-free life" I ate a lot of pasta, cheese, pizza and well, more cheese. Luckily, my outside's looked ok because I swam around 8000-10,000 yards 5 days a week(competitive swimming in HS and college), however, I could only imagine what all those frozen bagel bites (remember those?) and extra cheese slices of Papa John's did to my insides. When I was younger I would always order taco salads because well, they were so filling. I got my yummy cheese in the inside and I loved the crunch of the outside. Now, I know better. Thank goodness for a self-desire at the age of 20 to become a healthy vegetarian athlete.
Think twice (or 3 times) next time you order a taco salad (fast food or restaurant) for a healthy lunch/dinner...
Hardee's Taco Salad:
Calories - 1090
Fat - 80g
Saturated fat - 19g
Sodium - 1950mg

Taco Bell Taco Salad:
Calories - 850
Fat - 52g
Sodium - 2250mg

Comparison at Dunkin donuts:
3 Chocolate Kreme filled - 930 calories
25 Cinnamon Cake Munchkins - 75 grams fat

So, if you are in the mood for a taco salad, I created one just for you!

Chicken Taco Salad
Chicken breast
1/2 can chickpeas (you can use any type of bean)
1 cup corn
1/3 cup purple onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
Romaine lettuce
1 tbsp olive oil
Cayenne/pepper/chili flakes
Shredded cheese (taco, mexican)

1. Cook chicken breast to your liking. I used olive oil and lemon pepper. After cooking, remove from pan. If you have a vegetarian in the house, cook meat on another pan than veggies.
2. On a non-stick skillet, heat to medium high. Pour olive oil on pan.
3. Cook chickpeas, onions, corn and garlic until golden brown. Season with cayenne/pepper/chili flakes.
4. On a bed of lettuce, scoop a few spoonfuls veggie mixture on top.
5. Top with chicken. You can either cut the chicken into pieces or use strips of chicken.
6. Take your favorite chip/cracker (ex. garlic wheat thins or baked chips) and crumble a small handful chips on top.
7. Finish with a few spoonfuls salsa and shredded cheese (not pictured in my picture).

Vegetarian version:
Substitute veggie burger and 2 egg whites for the chicken.

*Chips/crackers aren't part of our staple diet but because Karel brought them home the other day when Native Sun catered the WOW Trek Sale on sat, I decided to incorporate them in a meal. No sense wasting them. I love using new ingredients/foods in recipes!


Egg salad

For the past month, Karel and I have been making egg salad. Each time is different with a new ingredient in our recipe. Last night I made a delicious and spicy egg salad which went great on top of a bed of spinach. Unfortunately, I didn't make enough and we have no leftovers.
Egg salad can be so healthy but if you buy it pre-made in the store or follow the basic egg salad recipe, you are likely to consume a lot of fat and calories.
Here's a typical egg salad recipe....

* 8 eggs
1 egg = 78 calories, 5.4g fat, 212mg cholesterol, 6.3g protein
* 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tbsp = 90 calories, 10g fat
* 2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp = 5 calories, 120mg sodium
* 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1/2 red onion, minced

Here's my recipe....
*5 egg whites
1 egg white = 16 calories, 4g protein
*2 egg yokes
(Or 3 egg whites + 2 whole eggs)
*1/3 cup diced purple onion
*2 cloves garlic (diced)
*1/4 cup green peppers (diced)
*1/2 can of diced tomatoes and green chili's (you can use fresh but I happened to have a can in my pantry)
*1/2 tbsp olive oil Mayo (or fat-free mayo)
*2 tsp. spicy mustard
*1/8 cup fresh Parmesan cheese (you can use shredded or if you use it in a shaker, use 2 tbsp)
*Pepper and cayenne pepper

-To cook perfect hard boiled eggs, boil water in a pot. When the water is boiling, slowly add your eggs to the pot. I use a ladle (or any cooking spoon) to slowly drop the eggs into the water. When the eggs are added, turn down the heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes. After the eggs are finished cooking, empty out the water and fill the pot with cold water for 2-3 minutes. When you are peeling your eggs, peel them under cold water. I have cracked my eggs by adding them too quickly to the water so another easy tip is to cook your eggs for 20 min. Turn the heat on high with the eggs already in the water. When the water boils, reduce the heat to low and cook for the remainder of the 20 minutes.
-Egg salad is best chilled so try to make the egg salad ahead of time, before eating it.
-Always refrigerate your egg salad or keep chilled if taking it to work.
-Great ways to incorporate egg salad into your diet:
*Stuff pita bread with egg salad
*Use inside a wrap or on a bagel (or 1/2 bagel)
*Make a sandwich or an open face sandwich (even better, two open face sandwiches for double the egg salad!)
*Eat with pita chips (be sure to portion control!)
*Top your salad with egg salad
*Eat it all by itself
*In the mood for a high protein meal? Make an omelet and use my spicy egg salad recipe for the inside of the omelet (use only egg whites and skim milk when making the omelet. I recommend 2 egg whites and 2 tbsp skim milk)
*Change up your normal egg salad recipe. Add tofu, diced lean meat, veggie meat, different spices, fresh herbs, different cheeses (ex. goat cheese, blue cheese, mozzarella), different veggies (peas, corn, potatoes, zucchini, celery, cucumber, eggplant) or add seeds/nuts (sunflower seeds, soy nuts, chopped almonds).


A little R&R

My weekend away is almost done. Like always, I LOVE being with my parents. I wish Karel was here to make us laugh and to explain the tour to my parents but it was nice to get away from my normal routine.
As far as R&R, there was lots of bike riding (60 miles on sat and sun) and a 4000 solo swim with 4 sets of 5 x 100's on Fri. My leg is almost healed but nervous to run. Libby told me to try to run/walk today but I am too scared so I will wait until tomorrow. Wish me luck!
After my bike workouts, I jumped into the pool to do a little water jogging and stretching. I love having a pool all to myself.
One thing that didn't relax was my brain. Too much homework and projects. I have an exam tomorrow in Advanced Nutrition and I am overwhelmed with the all of the steps of glycolysis and the krebs cycle (which I have learned at least 10 times and there is always something new, and confusing, to learn each time), the steps for breaking down fiber in the digestive tract, the many kinds of fats and what they do in the body and how they are broken down and my favorite (and most confusing chapter)...PROTEIN! I am also working on a paper for my Adv. Nutrition course and because I can pick the topic, I think I went through 10 different topics that I wanted to learn more about. I wanted to stay along the lines of athletic performance because I enjoy reading new research that I can apply to myself and recommend to other athletes. As I started to read research about the branch chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine-which can be metabolized in the muscle and used for fuel, as oppose to other non essential amino acids that are usually broken down in the liver) I found a lot of research about supplemental Leucine and its ergogenic (performance enhancing) effects on performance. As I read more research, I will let everyone know what I find.

So, since I don't have proof that I did much relaxing (oh yeah, I also cleaned the inside of my car. Vacuumed, scrubbed, cleaned to the max!), someone did the relaxing for me...