Essential Sports Nutrition


Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pretzels - Creations

This recipe never gets old....Enjoy my previous Halloween post (and recipe)..

One word: YUM!
I made these on Fri for Laura's Halloween Party and then again on Sat for Shawn's party. Pics of our costumes will be posted tomorrow.

I couldn't decide what to make for Laura's party. I had a zillion ideas but pretzels came to mind while I was at swim practice at 6am Fri morning. I had heard of chocolate dipped pretzels for the winter holidays, but I decided to do my own Halloween/black and orange spin on this easy recipe.
Athletes are pretty familiar with pretzels and they seem to be a staple in the taper-diet of an Ironman athlete. Not sure if it is the salt or the carbs, but I must say that pretzels do make a yummy snack. Although pretzels do make a healthy snack compared to many chips which are high in fat or sodium, the calories in pretzels can add up as you reach in the bag and before you know it, you've been snacking for more than 10 minutes. Here's the nutrition facts for the pretzels I used in this recipe:
Snyder's of Hanover Old Tyme PretzelsServing Size: 3 pretzels
Calories: 120
Total fat: 1g
Sodium: 120mg
Carbohydrate: 24g
Fiber: 1g
Sugars: less than 1g
Protein: 3g
Ingredients: unbleached wheat flour, water, canola oil, salt, malt, yeast, soda.

It's been a while since I've been to a mall but isn't it hard to resistant the delicious smell of Auntie Anne's Pretzels? It doesn't matter where you are in the mall, the fresh dough and strong cinnamon flavor are overpowering. I'm sure it takes a lot of willpower to resist the temptation of that little kiosk right near the food court. You may as well plan for a meal if you consider choosing one of the Auntie Anne's pretzels for a snack.

Nutrition of Auntie Anne's Pretzels:
Cinnamon sugar pretzel: 470 calories, 12g fat, 7g saturated fat, 400mg sodium, 84g carb, 29g sugar, 8g protein
Garlic pretzel: 350 calories, 5g fat, 3g saturated fat, 990mg sodium, 65g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 10g sugar, 8g protein
Jumbo pretzel dog: 610 calories, 29g fat, 13g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 1150mg sodium, 67g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 10g sugars, 19g protein
Original pretzel: 340 calories, 5g fat, 3g saturated fat, 1060 mg sodium, 63g carbohydrate, 9g sugar, 8g protein
Party pretzels (12 pretzels): 2140 calories, 32g fat, 18g saturated fat, .5g trans fat, 6150mg sodium, 405g carbs, 61g sugar, 49g protein


Trick or TREAT!

I am not one to repeat articles or repeat blogs. However, I wrote this blog in 2009 and I would like to re-post it for my new readers. In anticipation for this upcoming holiday (and for the holidays in Nov and Dec), I'd like for you to please keep in mind my philosophy of having a healthy relationship with food as you read this article.

I'm not a parent (only a doggy parent) so it is unlikely that there will be Halloween candy in our place on October 31st. I do not work in an office so I am pretty sure that I will not be indulging in the office candy bowl at 10am and 3pm everyday. Lastly, I am not a big fan of the selection of candy at Halloween so there will be no tootsie rolls, lollipops or butterfingers in our place.
I am not anti-Halloween Candy. I am just not ok with people going with the all-or-nothing approach when it comes to sweet treats. You eat something you normally don't eat and you feel guilty. Then you say "who cares" and you overindulge. Or, on the other hand you say "no-that food will make me fat" and you stick to a super-strict diet until the day when you just can't continue eating only low calorie, fat-free foods. Even worse, you crash diet and compulsive exercise in order to get to x-weight by x-holiday in order to eat whatever and however much you want.
I think it good to be concerned about what you put in your body and how you take care of your body but this one body needs to be taken care of 365 days a year...forever long you want to live (yes-in many ways you are in control of your future health).
Speaking of health and unhealthy foods, isn't is amazing how many organic and "healthy" items are claimed to provide health benefits but the sugar and/or fat content is no better than a candy bar?
Ex. Greenwise Market Organic Cranberry Juice 8 oz. - 140 calories, 35 g sugar.
Ex. 37 Reese's Pieces - 140 calories, 16g sugar.
Some of my favorite memories are from Halloween. I have always been a big fan of dressing up and playing make-believe and most of all, being creative with costumes. It's been many years since I have dressed up for trick-or-treating and a few years since I have attended a Halloween party but as a young child, I would count down the days until Halloween night. I love this holiday!
I never want to take away the enjoyment of Halloween from my kids and I don't think you should either. If we all had a balanced and portioned controlled eating plan for most days of the year, what is one night of candy? Additionally, all that candy can be spread out for weeks and weeks and you never have to worry about not having a sweet treat one or two times per week.
However, it seems as though times have changed since I was young. I remember rushing home from my 2 hour swim practice in order to get ready for trick-or-treating. Now, many children get off the couch from playing on their Wii or computer and huff and puff when walking up and down hills or stairs. It is no shock that many American children are overweight and even obese. According to statistics from NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), the prevalence of obesity obesity has increased from 5% (1976-1980) to 12.4% (2003-2006) in children 2-5 years old. For children 6-11 years old, obesity has increased from 6.5% to 17%. For children 12-19, prevalence has increased from 5-17%. I always ask myself are children eating too much unhealthy food which encourages a sedentary lifestyle with lack of energy or are children living a sedentary lifestyle due to lack of motivation, enjoyment for in-home mindless "activities" (tv, video games, etc.) and a concurrent desire to eat unhealthy food because they are bored? Just something to think about since I am sure it is just as hard to motivate an overweight child to put down the video games and get more active as it is so encourage a child to eat healthy foods when his/her favorite dinner is pizza, chicken wings and coke.
On the topic of overweight children, rather than running or walking all over the neighborhood, children are now riding electronic scooters to cover more ground with minimal calorie burn. I saw this on the Today show this morning:
"Electric Razor Scooters, $150-$260 (or average eBay price $68)
Kids over eight can get around their neighborhood in style with these electric scooters. All you need to do is plug 'em in and let 'em rip."
I remember competing with my brother as to which one of us can get the most candy by covering as much as we could in our neighborhood. Thinking back, I would rush home from my 2 hour swim practice, my brother would barely make it home in time for trick-or-treating from his 2-3 hour gymnastics practice and we both still had the energy to run around the neighborhood with our friends. Maybe our sports trained us to be better trick-or-treaters :)
All kidding aside, I have one major point to this blog that we can all relate to;
1) If you live a healthy and balanced lifestyle of exercise and healthy eating, on most days of the week (5 at the minimum) you can enjoy a sweet treat every now and then, and not sabotage your body composition goals. 1 tootsie roll will not make you fat, so don't tell yourself you "feel fat" by eating one. However, 5 candy bars (even if they are bite sized) in one sitting (on an empty stomach because you wanted to "save" your calories) may encourage a shift in blood sugar, which may encourage an uncomfortable feeling the next morning when you attempt to wake up for a workout (but you missed because you were too stuffed from late night candy eating). However, waking up for the workout may be another topic. That overindulge of candy may cause you to change your perspective on healthy meal planning and snacking on the day after you "cheated" on your diet plan. For the next three days you may find yourself avoiding snacks, skiping breakfast, sticking to a 1000 calorie diet, exercising compulsively and not eating after 7pm. I'm sure this sounds extreme but just think of the last time when you felt you fell off your healthy eating plan. If your eating plan is reasonable, there is no reason to fall off anything. However, if your eating plan is strict, tasteless and too complicated it is likely that you will feel cheated on every day of the week. I really don't like that word "cheated" because it is such a harsh word to use when you are talking about your eating or your food choices.
Think of when a person would use the word cheated: "Hello Mr. Smith, your son was caught cheating on a test. I'm divorcing from my husband/wife because he/she is cheating. I was disqualified from a race because I cheated.
Always realize that your eating choices are lifelong eating choices. So, in addition to not using the word "cheated" when you choose to indulge on some sweet treats around the Halloween holiday (or any holiday), be sure to recognize the importance of being a good role model for your children and friends and for taking care of yourself by living a healthy and balanced life.
Enjoy a sweet treat (or two) this Halloween!
A little reference for all those trick-or-treaters and candy eaters:
(popular Halloween Candy - nutrition facts from
1. Tootsie Roll - 50 calories, 7g sugar
2. Hershey kisses - 1 oz. 153 calories, 8.7g fat, 5.8g sat. fat, 14.5g sugar
3. Nerds - 1 box (1.7oz). 188 calories, 43.9g sugar
4. Air head - 2 bars. 120 calories, 1g fat, 26g sugar
5. Candy - 1 serving (22 pieces). 140 calories, 28g sugar
6. Snickers Bar - 280 calories, 14g fat, 5g sat. fat, 30g sugar
7. Baby Ruth fun size - 100 calories, 4.5g fat, 2.5g sat. fat, 11g sugar
8. Reese peanut butter cup snack size - 90 calories, 5g fat, 2g sat. fat, 8g sugar
9. Reese's pieces - 1 serving (50 pieces). 190 calories, 9.1g fat, 7.3g sat. fat, 221.8g sugar.
10. Milky Way fun size - 75 calories, 3g fat, 2g sat.fat, 10g sugar.
11. M&M's - 1 package (1.7oz) - 240 calories, 10g fat, 6g sat. fat, 31g sugar
12. Dum Dum - 25.5 calories, 5g sugar
13. Blow Pop - 62 calories, 5.4g sugar
14. Twizzlers - 1 serving (4 pieces) - 150 calories, 1g fat, 18g sugar
15. Smarties - 25 calories, 6.2g sugar
16. Kit Kat snack - 73 calories, 3.7g fat, 2.3g sat. fat, 7.3g sugar
17. Twix fun size - 80 calories, 4g fat, 1.5g sat. fat, 8g sugar

Ideas for too much Halloween candy in the house:
1) Donate candy (ex. Ronald McDonald house or hospital) - a little candy for a person is a sweet treat. Too much candy is unhealthy. For everyone 1 piece of candy that your child wants to keep, they must donate 2-3 pieces.
2) Make a Halloween house out of candy and graham crackers (like a gingerbread house)
3) Give away candy as a present - I'm not a big fan of giving others food that you are avoiding (seems silly to me, as if you are avoiding the poison but offering it to others). However, making a gift bag for your child's teacher, piano teacher, sports instructor, mailman/woman, etc. would be a special treat. Here's what to do for a healthy twist, have your child put 3-4 candy bars/pieces in a baggie and for each baggie let your child pick out 1 piece of fruit to put with the candy (etc. banana, pear, apple, kiwi, orange, etc.) and put it in a brown bag and let him/her color the bag before giving it away.
4) Bake/cook with chocolate - if you have chocolate candy, freeze it and use it for a recipe. Get your children involved in the kitchen. Since the candy is likely loaded with sugar, find healthy and low calorie recipes (ex. to incorporate the candy into the recipe (ex. chocolate pieces in my muffin recipe or fruit salad w/ chocolate covered raisins or yogurt w/ Reese's pieces on top). Or, find ways to incorporate pieces of candy with healthy food (fruit, yogurt and a few pieces of candy corn)
5) Teach your children about ingredients in candy - children are our future and if you are concerned about your own health it is likely that you are concerned about your child's health. Look up the ingredients in a Milky Way Bar (google would be the easist) and teach your children about the importance of making healthy food choices. What is saturated fat? Why are there so many ingredients in an Air Head bar? Ex. Choose raisins over chocolate covered raisins. Dark chocolate over a snickers bar. Dum-Dum lollipop over a jawbreaker.


"wrap"ing up with exercise - Creations

I just L-O-V-E the off-season. I have so much fun exercising and mixing in lots of different activities into my routine.
Last week, Karel asked if I would run with him twice during the week. WHAT???!??! a run with my cycling hubby? How could I pass that up?
Without sounding too bitter...Karel's first run in 365 days blew me away. Not sure if I was more surprised that I could average 7:30 min/miles for the 3.12 mile run at 5pm on a sunday evening or that Karel could pace me for a sub 7 min mile for the last mile. Yes-Karel is athletically gifted and we can all be jealous of him...errrrr
A few days later we went for another run and average 8 min/miles. We were just chatting away around 7pm on a Tuesday evening. Such fun running with Karel but this week was a no-evening run week. Karel is gearing up for his last race of the season this weekend - the Florida Road Race State Championships. Karel's season ended about a month ago so this race will be for fun. I sure have missed the cycling races but I know there will be plenty more next season.

So while Karel is enjoying his off-season in the weight room, Mountain biking and fixed-gear riding (and occasionally running) I am enjoying my off-season riding with Karel on the weekends (we typically do around 3 - 3 1/2 hours sat and/or sun). Because we both train for different sports, we both really look forward to the off-season to spend some time together doing what we love....keeping our bodies moving and enjoying the outdoors.

Also on my off-season exercise plan (it isn't really a plan, it's more like a non-structured variation from my typical "training" schedule) is at least 2 days of strength training (I won't let myself do less since strength training is a priority for me during my off-season to work on my weaknesses and build on my strengths), stretching every day and rolling on the tennis ball and core exercise (almost every week day). I've fallen in love with the elliptical as well as water jogging. I like to run at least once a week and for 2-3 times a week, I love water jogging and using the elliptical. I love it all and don't miss the repetition of swim-bike-run which I stick with for almost 3/4ths of the year. Also on my off-season routine (which will carry through all winter) is LOTS of swimming. I try to swim 3 days a week (or 3 days a week every other week so that I still give myself an off day on Mon at least twice a month) which includes at least 30 min of continuous swimming for 1 workout, a speed workout of around 4000 yrds and a distance swim of around 5000 yrds (which I will continue to build on throughout the winter, until I get to around 7000-7500 yrds).

Although I love just exercising and keeping my body moving, I know that exercise in the off-season will ultimately translate to a healthy mind and body in the base and build part of my season. I really do love my body and I believe this is the time to take care of it and just have fun being an active individual. I have plenty of time next year to call myself a triathlete.


Tuna Burger and stir-fry salad w/ pears - Creations

Although most of my meals are vegetarian for both Karel and myself, I like to be a little creative with my non-vegetarian meals. Because Karel isn't a vegetarian, it's really important that I give him some type of fish-meal at least twice a week. Tuna is really simple for me since I don't have to do much cooking with a can of tuna packed in water.

Karel just loves it when I make him tuna salad. Although I didn't do it in this recipe, I often make a tofu/egg salad for myself and then add the tuna for Karel. I never feel as if I go out of my way to make vegetarian meals because the foundation of both Karel and my diet is plant-based. Therefore, by focusing on the wholesome ingredients first and foremost, I find it rather easy to add in other macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein) to balance out the meal depending on our workout intensity and duration for the day.

This recipe can be made hot or cold. I like to have a variety of flavors, textures and temperatures when I plan and prepare a dinner meal. I find that many athletes struggle with late night snacking due to late night cravings. Although I believe that late night snacking can be solved by eating more balanced meals/snacks throughout the day, as well as not going long hours between meals (2-3 hours), eating a small protein or fiber snack about 15-30 min prior to meals and eating a filling and balanced breakfast......I have noticed that with myself, I rarely crave food after dinner because of my variety of foods in my dinner meal. If you suffer from after-dinner snacking (there is nothing wrong with having a small snack after dinner however, it is important to get in tune with your body and to recognize the difference between real hunger and really bored) I recommend trying the tips I mentioned above and then trying to have a piece of fruit or glass of milk (in addition to a big glass of water) around 30-40 min after dinner. Because many people suffer from habitual snacking after dinner, it may be hard to go cold-turkey on your evening snack. Therefore, a piece of fruit is really helpful to start. If you do need a snack for the calories because you struggled properly fueling during the day and at dinner (ex. evening workout, big workout that morning, etc.) I recommend having a snack of protein and carbs such as fruit w/ cottage cheese, milk or yogurt w/ fruit or string cheese and fruit. If you find that fruit snack helps with your evening cravings, try to incorporate some of your favorite evening snacks into your dinner. Have you ever tried topping a salad with granola and having a glass of milk with dinner? Have you ever tried crumbling chips or crackers on your veggie stir-fry or on couscous?


Happy Anniversary!!

Life is worth sharing....and living to the fullest!

No Marriage is Perfect. Certainly, we have our ups and downs just like everyone else. But at the end of the day, I couldn't imagine spending forever with anyone else. I have truly married my best friend.
This morning Karel texted me as he was leaving the Y (strength training) and about to head to the beach to MTB. His text just made me smile...
"Congratulations, you just reached the 2 year marker in this mega ironman. There will be ups and downs but I know you will make it. I love you!"

Karel always know how to say the right the right time. As the most caring, thoughtful, smart and athletic person I know, my life has been filled with so many enjoyable experiences and I am so grateful that I have him in my life. He has challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and has supported me in all of my crazy adventures. He lets me be me and helps me work on my weaknesses as an individual. I just love him for that. I know we have an exciting life ahead of us and I look forward to every new day.

Happy 2 year anniversary Karel! Can't wait to spend forever with you!


Keeping it simple - Sweet potato and Tofu - Creations

Sometimes I like to keep my meals quick and simple. I like to rotate my vegetarian protein every few days so I typically do a few tofu meals, followed by a few quinoa or bean-based meals and then a few egg meals. Sometimes I will add cottage cheese to my salads or sometimes I will add vegetarian crumbles/meat to my stir-fry dishes. However, I never feel deprived, hungry or full when filling up my plate with delicious and wholesome foods with little to no ingredients. However, if I am feeling the need for a crunch, I like to top my salads w/ some type of cracker or chip. In my eyes there are no bad foods so long as you prioritize a plant-based diet. I think it is important that we all recognize that it is ok to have "food weakness's" and that we all have at least 1 trigger food. For me it is cereal so I don't buy cereals that I would have a tendency to indulge in. For Karel, it is ice cream....well, anything sweet (although I am not quite sure where it goes when he eats sugary treats??).
It is important that we recognize these trigger foods and allow ourselves to be "OK" with eating them. Nothing is going to happen to you if you eat an occasional bowl of cereal at 10pm at night or if you once in a while eat chips with your sandwich at lunch. However, by creating a habit of eating cereal at 10pm every night or justifying your meal or snack indulges by your exercise routine or emotions/stress levels, it is likely that you are going to see this habit as a bad thing...likely causing you to feel guilty when you try to let the habit become an occasional indulgence. This will likely be a hard cycle to break but overtime, increasing your intake of wholesome foods and finding a way to incorporate your favorite foods into your diet (on occasion) or in a meal is an excellent start. If you are struggling to change dietary habits, try finding a replacement rather than just eliminating your favorite foods. If you are a lover of cereal, start choosing a plain "cheerios" or a puff cereal. You know the cereal is there if you crave it but it is likely that you won't overindulge when eating out of boredom. If you love chips, try choosing a baked chip or whole wheat cracker. And when trying to incorporate your favorites into a meal..think about balance. Have a bowl of fruit with cereal on top. Have a big salad w/ a side of pizza. Have a veggie stir fry with a protein choice and a few chips/crackers on the side. Have a bowl of veggies and tofu topped with pasta.
Remember - we aim for progress, not perfection.

Although sweet potatoes are super heart-healthy and a perfect way to end the day after a tough morning workout, there are plenty of ways to indulge in your meal without feeling guilty about what you are eating.

The other day I was stumped what to make for dinner so Karel suggested that I make a sweet potato. As you all know, me and Outback Sweet Potatoes are a perfect pair on the day before a race. Every time I eat a sweet potato I just feel good inside. It is comfort to me on the day before a race and it is comfort to me without a race.

Nutrition facts for a sweet potato:
weet Potato Nutrition Facts
(for one medium size sweet potato)
Calories 130
Fat 0.39 g
Protein 2.15 g
Net Carbs 31.56 g
Dietary Fiber 3.9 g (about as much in a bowl of oatmeal!)
Calcium 28.6 mg
Sodium 16.9 mg
Potassium 265.2 mg
Folate 18.2 mcg
Vitamin C 29.51 mg (almost 1/3 the recommended amount)
Vitamin A 26081.9 IU (around 2x the recommended amount)

Source: US Department of Agriculture

There are so many ways to sweeten up a wholesome sweet potato. If you want a little butter and cinnamon, go ahead and enjoy it! In the scheme of things, a tbsp of butter, on top of a super-food like a sweet potato, is certainly nothing to worry about. I would rather you choose butter over spray butter and enjoy every bite of it!

More so-dress up your sweet potato! How about nuts, granola, raisins, cinnamon and/or yogurt?

Wanna make tofu a little more appetizing? After you cook the tofu in olive oil and add optional paprika (for browning) crumble a little feta cheese in the tofu after you finished cooking. It tastes just like pasta noodles!