Categories
Food

Milk and Cereal

They say the most important meal of the day is breakfast.

I say the most important meal of the day is my office’s 3 p.m. champagne ration, but sure, breakfast is a close second.

(Just kidding. This is from that day we won a Pulitzer. Usually champagne’s at 4.)

I’ve been an advocate of breakfast for as long as I can remember, though it’s taken different forms with each passing decade. As a kid, breakfast meant the five of us squeezed around the kitchen table over Cap’n Crunch and the comics. As a college student, breakfast meant strawberry yogurt, Cracklin’ Oat Bran and the immediate dissipation of hangovers because 21-year-old bodies are resilient like that. When I moved to New York, breakfast meant bacon, egg & cheese sandwiches; homefries; bagels and – surprise surprise – what I like to refer to as the Manhattan 15.

Or the Manhattan 45. Semantics.

It was really only in January 2011 when I started to wise up to my unhealthy ways that I began to give some serious thought to my breakfast composition. I mean, I knew from body-conscious DJ Tanner I was supposed to eat breakfast every day, but I had never really stopped to think about whether a bowl of Fruit Loops was actually cutting it. As I began to learn more about energy, calories and the importance of nutrition, I swapped my kids cereals for what I was sure were more sensible varieties. You know, the brands with important things like fiber and fruits and whole grains and riboflavin. Mmm. Riboflavin.

I ate Special-K. I ate Kashi. I ate Bare Naked granola. I felt like a grown-up!

And then this winter, I decided to look at the nutrition label on my beloved granola.

granola

Adding a box of raisins and a cup of almond milk, and it brought me to a whopping 40 grams of sugar — or 74 percent of my daily intake — before 7 a.m. Eating granola every morning, I felt like a grown-up all right. One about to be diagnosed with diabetes.

With that realization, I decided this year to revamp my breakfast routine. After decades of carb-laden morning meals, I pledged at the ripe age of 29 to find creative ways to work more fruits, vegetables, legumes and protein into my a.m. routine., and I’ve (mostly) so far stuck with it. Don’t get me wrong: It’s not always easy to forgo free cereal at work, and I have been known to backslide into the delicious world of Basic 4 when the mood strikes. But planning ahead and packing my own nutrition-dense breakfast brings so many positives — from feeling fuller all morning long to giving my sore muscles the protein they need to recover — that I’ve mostly been able to justify the added prep work and planning it takes.

I’ve tried several morning combinations with a healthy make-up of protein, carbs and fat, and these are some of my favorites:

  • Half an avocado on whole wheat toast with two hard boiled eggs for 19 grams of protein and just 6 grams of sugar.

    photo 1 (71)
    Paas Easter egg dye optional.
  • A smoothie with peanut butter, banana, cashew milk and baby spinach for 7 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein and two servings of fruits/veggies before sun-up.
photo 2 (65)
Why cashew milk? Because the full-page ads in Runner’s World clearly worked for me.
  • Chia seed pudding (chia soaked in dark chocolate soy milk) with a sliced pear for 18 grams fiber, 13 grams protein and one delightful day of finding chia seeds hidden in your teeth for hours on end. I ate it before I remembered to take a picture, so here’s a photo of a wheaten terrier — not Keira — I dogsat last weekend instead. You’re welcome.
She prefers dining on duck.
She prefers dining on duck.

Are there still going to be days I choose the buttered bagel or bowl of French Toast Crunch over the healthier options? Absolutely. But if I can swap out my sugar-filled breakfasts for something more wholesome at least three days a week, I know I’m making strides toward health.

And that’s worth toasting with a bloody mary.

What’s your breakfast routine?

Categories
Food Recipes

Meat Free… Tuesdays.

Remember when I suggested everyone slowly up their protein intake with the calculated addition of more eggs, Greek yogurt, legumes and canned tuna into their daily diets?

Turns out, there’s a faster way to reach your targeted protein threshold: order a Double ShackBurger.

What's that? You didn't realize I was going to post this attractive photo all over the internet?

In addition to sporting a proprietary blend of premium beef and scientifically unparalleled deliciousness, a Double ShackBurger also comes complete with 52 whopping grams of protein, or more than three-fourths of my daily target. A Double ShackBurger is also calorie-free. (One of these statements is a lie, but I’m not telling you which one.)

But while inhaling two delicious Pat LaFrieda patties yesterday with one of my oldest friends was hands down the best decision of my adult life, I also recognize that a dish need not contain meat to be delectable. And so, without further ado, I present what may or may not become a recurring segment: Anne’s Favorite Fleshless Recipes. (The Focus Group did not approve that title.)

This fan favorite has already worked its way into my girl Sarah’s culinary repertoire, and I suggest you add it to yours.  I like to make two at a time and pop one in the freezer for a rainy day/a sunny day when I feel like eating lasagna.

For my vegetarian artichoke lasagna, you will need:

  • Cooking spray
  • 9 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 (14-ounce) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 1 (28-ounce) jar tomato pasta sauce
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 (4-ounce) package herb and garlic feta, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. (I use the thin, no boil noodles because I am lazy.) Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes, or until onion is tender-crisp. Stir in broth and rosemary; bring to a boil. Stir in artichoke hearts and spinach; reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in pasta sauce.

Spread 1/4 of the artichoke mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish; top with 3 cooked noodles. Sprinkle 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese over noodles. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with artichoke mixture and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle crumbled feta on top.

Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover, and bake 15 minutes more, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Eat in one sitting.

What’s your favorite animal-less meal?

Categories
Food Running

The Power of Protein

Let’s pretend this post is an honest appeal to see my readers introduce more protein into their diets and not a thinly veiled excuse to share photos from my Easter egg dyeing party last night. Agreed? Good.

When it comes to running nutrition, most athletes are all about the carbohydrates, and for a good reason: carbs are our muscles’ primary fuel source, and after logging mile after mile on our feet every day, our muscles get particularly hungry. From spaghetti to sweet potatoes to Cadbury Cream Eggs by the dozen (don’t judge me), carbohydrates are an indispensible part of a runner’s diet, and should make up the bulk – some 60 percent – of one’s daily caloric intake.

In fact, my guidebook for running a four-hour marathon goes so far as to suggest I start each day during marathon week with a breakfast of bagels. That’s right – not bagel, but bagels. I assume the author means two, but I’m planning to read that “S” a little more liberally. Sixteen doctor-authorized bagels, here I come!

But I digress. This post isn’t about chewy, delicious and utterly unparalleled New York bagels. It’s about another key nutritional building block in a runner’s dietary arsenal: protein.

Crucial for muscle growth and recovery, protein is an important part of any athlete’s diet, particularly during the vital hours of internal repair that follow a long run. According to runnersworld.com, which is hands-down my most visited website outside http://animalsdoingpeoplethings.tumblr.com/, runners who consume insufficient amounts of protein are at a higher risk of injury. Likewise, “military research studies show that Marines who ingested high amounts of protein had fewer medical visits than those with lower protein intake.” I don’t know any Marines, but that sounds like pretty sound advice to me.

Oh wait, I do know a Marine. Shout out to my baby brother!

According to the Runner’s World report, runners are advised to consume between 0.45 and 0.72 grams of protein per pound of body weight every day, giving this runner a target range of about 67 grams to 108 grams. Unless you’re throwing back a KFC double-down sandwich every day at 53 grams a pop, you’re probably going to have to make a conscious effort to elevate your protein intake to the levels your fatigue-strained muscles require. (And if you are throwing back a KFC double-down sandwich every day, kudos! With that breadless wonder also packing a reported 145 milligrams of cholesterol, you must have the world’s most resilient arteries.)

Here are some easy ways to introduce more protein into your daily diet:

  • Swap out your regular yogurt for a Greek yogurt. I love light & fit 100-calorie yogurts as much as the next calorie counter, but clocking in at just 3 to 5 grams of protein apiece, I prefer to swap in a 140-calorie Chiobani Greek yogurt – and its 15 to 18 grams of protein – instead.
  • Add a heaping spoonful of almond or peanut butter (6 to 8 grams) into your next bowl of oatmeal/smoothie/icecream. It also works straight off the spoon.
  • Pretend you’re still a kid and drink a glass of milk (7 to 8 grams) with dinner. Bonus points for chocolate milk.
  • Think beyond fresh veggies when you’re making your next salad. Add a protein source like canned tuna (about 40 grams a can!), kidney beans (about 15 grams a cup), hard boiled eggs (7 grams an egg) or quinoa (the internet can’t agree on how much protein quinoa has) to pump up your intake and keep yourself feeling full longer.
  • Throw an Easter egg dyeing party and eat multiple colored eggs for breakfast.

What’s that you say? You didn’t know I dyed Easter eggs with friends last night and you want to see photos? Well ok, I guess I can’t deny the people what they want.

Some attendees worked very diligently.

Some attendees are very photogenic.

Some attendees act like 14-year-old boys.

What’s your favorite way to sneak more protein into your daily routine?