Board Certified Sport Dietitian, Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, 25-year Vegetarian, Writer/Speaker, 11x Ironman finisher including 4x IM Kona finisher, Doggy-mommy, Wife to an amazing Czech cyclist turned Ironman Kona finisher, Triathlon Coach.
Food Freedom: Anytime pancakes
Not too long ago I overheard a conversation with a personal
trainer and his client at the gym. The trainer had been away on vacation and
the client asked her trainer where he went and if he went to any good
restaurants when he was away. As I was working my core on the captain chair, I
couldn’t help but listen to this conversation about food.
I remember when I was growing up in Lexington Kentucky, there was a place
downtown that had the biggest, most scrumptious cinnamon rolls that would put
any cinnabon to shame these days. A cinnamon roll the size of my head and a
belly that would get sick if you ate the whole thing (of course, speaking from
experience). But oh were those cinnamon rolls the best…when my mom and dad
would take me to get them for a treat once a year.
It wasn’t that the cinnamon rolls were off limit or “bad” food but instead, my
parents would reward me after my piano recitals/competitions with a walk downtown
to the cinnamon roll shop. I didn’t spend my entire year planning for the
cinnamon roll or saving calories for the cinnamon roll but instead, we
celebrated my piano recital (which was judged) with the cinnamon roll. Relief that the hard work with my piano
practicing was over and support from my parents as we all enjoyed the cinnamon
roll. If the cinnamon roll was consumed
every day or even once a month, I just don’t think it would receive the same
yum factor for it was extra special on a special day.
A few months ago, I took my first trip to Europe with Karel.
With a bag packed of Marni friendly travel food for me and Karel, once we
stepped foot in Czech Republic, the bag wasn’t opened until we flew home 10
days later. I welcomed my trip abroad with Karel to enjoy his country and we
100% lived like a local. Even as a vegetarian and Karel’s mom preparing some of
the most long-awaited not-so-vegetarian foods for Karel, I didn’t consume a
single food brought from the US the entire time when I was away…and I survived
just fine. And because I don’t know Czech, I couldn’t read any food labels...
and I survived just fine. All I needed was Karel’s “ok” that a food didn’t have
meat in it and it was complete food freedom to put all that hard work to
understanding how to eat mindfully to good use in another country and to be
able to maintain my active and healthy lifestyle abroad.
Riding our bikes to Retz Austria
Enjoying (real) coffee and pastries mid morning.
When it comes to creating a diet that works for you, we
shouldn’t forget that there is no diet “staple” that you have to follow but you
do have to figure out what works best for you. Yes, all diets should be plant
strong as the research strongly supports a real food, balanced, whole food,
plant strong diet to improve longevity and reduce risk for disease, but in
terms of figuring out your style of eating, that all relates back to your goals
in life and how food can enhance your lifestyle. And for the extra stuff like
treats, desserts, sweets, large portions, fattier options, etc. sometimes you
have trust your diet enough to know that even with an occasional treat you are
not going to become “unhealthy” or for many, “gain weight.”
Although Karel and I don’t have a working scale at home, we
left Czech feeling clean, light and healthy and I confirmed to myself that my
diet enhances my lifestyle. I love to train, travel and use my body to make
memories and for me, that means understanding what foods work for me and my
body. No time am I eating for calories or a body image….somehow it just all
works better that way.
Prague, Czech Republic
So if you are someone who is currently working on the diet, remind
yourself that food freedom is the ultimate goal. There will be a day when you
can 100% enjoy something occasional and feel absolutely great about it.
Hopefully that day is sooner than later. What you can also look forward to is
the day when you start eating for fuel, for health and for pleasure but in a
way that improves your quality of life. So right now, eating out with your
co-workers every day for lunch may not be ideal if you are trying to figure out
the best foods to help control your blood sugar, to fuel your workout routine
and to meet your nutritional needs. In other words, right now you may need to
be in control of your meals to figure everything out. But, what you don’t have
to worry about is being in control forever. As scary as it sounds, food freedom
means not having rules or a strict routine but instead, knowing what works and
being able to apply that “style” any day, no matter where you are in the world.
Eventually, there will be a time when you eat out, enjoy that meal of foods not
typical in the daily diet and feel absolutely great about. Although now I can
help others with learning how to eat for fuel, for health and for pleasure, I
spent a good 2-3 years learning how to have a healthy relationship with food
and my body and figuring out what works best for me as an active, health
conscious individual, who loves to race for 140.6 miles, is a 20 year vegetarian,
is married to a Czech cyclist turned triathlete who will eat anything and works
as a clinical RD..oh and is also a doggy mommy.
Oh, so what did I hear from the personal trainer that
inspired me to write this blog????
The trainer told his client that he didn’t eat out at all on his trip because
he didn’t want to get fat and gain 10 lbs so he hired a personal chef to
deliver 6 small meals a day of chicken and veggies to his hotel room and then
when his wife and kids were playing at the pool, he would go upstairs, eat in
the room and then head back outside to spend time with his family.
In honor of food freedom, how about we all enjoy pancakes
for breakfast, lunch or dinner, anytime during the week without “deserving” them after a 3 hour bike
ride, a 15 mile run, a hard spin class or because it is Sunday.
Happy eating in your happy kitchen!
Pear and carrot muffin-inspired
Makes 7 pancakes (1/3 cup serving) - So delicious, I wish this recipe made more!
½ cup rye flour (you can use any flour, I like the consistency of rye and
soy flour – a bit lighter than whole wheat)
½ cup skim milk
1/8 tsp iodized salt
1 tbsp honey
1 small pear shredded (about ½ cup packed) 1 large carrot (peeled first) shredded (about ½ cup packed) 1 tiny mini box of raisins (I keep these in the house for on-the-go snacks or
traveling) 4 large strawberries – sliced (if frozen due to season, defrost for 30 -60 sec
and then slice) 1 tbsp sunflower seeds 1 tbsp chia seeds Olive oil (1 capful per 3-4 pancakes)
1. On large skillet, heat to medium heat (just above low). Drizzle with olive
2. With all ingredients mixed in a bowl (I mixed with a fork), use 1/3 cup to
portion each pancake and press down with bottom of the measuring cup for a
3. Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side, flip when firm and cook additional 2-3
minutes on the other side.
4. Repeat until the batter is finished (I always make a mini pancake to taste
while cooking ;)
In the Trimarni kitchen, we don't ever speak about bad or off limit food, fast, diet or cleanse. I eat to reduce risk for disease. I fuel the body and I love the food that I put into my body. The Trimarni kitchen is a happy place filled with food freedom and creativity.