Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chicken? Again??

Chicken remains by far the most versatile and available protein sources around. That being said, why do we keep complaining about how boring it is? We've probably been stuck inside our comfy little squares, with little inspiration or motivation to dream up something new.
Well here ya go- motivation, inspiration, and creativity. Oh yea, and they're healthy too. Pretty amazing, I know.

Chicken and Mushroom Tacos
Cooking spray

1 3/4 cups thinly vertically sliced onion
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 cups presliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1/4 cup Madeira wine or dry sherry
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add jalapeño; sauté 2 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over onion mixture; sauté 1 minute. Remove onion mixture from pan.Yield: 4 servings
2. Return pan to heat; recoat with cooking spray. Add mushrooms and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add Madeira to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Uncover; cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently. Stir in onion mixture and chicken; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
3. Warm tortillas according to package instructions. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture onto each tortilla.

CALORIES 310 (10% from fat); FAT 5g (sat 5.6g,mono 2.8g,poly 1.3g); IRON 1.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 40mg; CALCIUM 200mg; CARBOHYDRATE 36.3g; SODIUM 389mg; PROTEIN 25g; FIBER 4g
Balsamic Roast Chicken
1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold running water. Pat it dry with paper towels.
In a small bowl, mince together the rosemary and garlic. Loosen the chicken skin from the flesh, and rub the flesh with olive oil and then the herb mixture. Sprinkle with black pepper. Put 2 rosemary sprigs into the cavity of the chicken. Truss the chicken.
Place the chicken into a roasting pan and roast for 20 to 25 minutes per pound, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Whole chicken should cook to an internal temperature of 180 F. Baste frequently with pan juices. When browned and juices run clear, transfer the chicken to a serving platter.
In a small saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Heat until warmed but don't boil.
Carve the chicken and remove the skin. Top the pieces with the vinegar mixture. Garnish with the remaining rosemary sprigs and serve immediately.
Yields 4 servings
CALORIES 290; PROTEIN 44g; CARBOHYDRATE 4g; FAT 11g (3g saturated); SODIUM 108mg; CHOLESTEROL 127mg

Mom's Spicy Chicken Soup
Water, enough to cover chicken & provide quantity of liquid you want.

(seasoning qty listed for appx 2 qts water; adj spices to your quantity)
1-1/2 pound chicken breast, skin removed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cup chicken broth (brand with 430 sodium per serving)
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed in bite size pieces
3 medium carrots, sliced (don’t peel)
3 stalks celery, chopped (1/4” or larger)
2 fresh whole hot peppers (your favorite – mine is Serrano), cut lengthwise thinly and then finely chopped. BEWARE – 2 peppers will make this dish VERY HOT, just the way I like it – adjust as you wish.

In a large pot over high heat combine water, chicken, onion, garlic, garlic salt, black pepper, basil, oregano, chicken broth, and hot peppers. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.
Add celery and carrots to the pot.
Add sweet potato to the pot 5 minutes after.
Cook over medium heat until meat is tender & vegetables are done.
Let cool. Enjoy!
*Note: I advise to add the sweet potatoes after the celery and carrots because it cooks a little faster. Many people think sweet potatoes and yams are the same, but they are not. If you use yams (the darker version) they take longer to cook so switch steps 2 and 3.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Nutritional Information:

A serving is 1 cup. Makes 10 Servings.
Nutritional Value Per Serving: Calories: 149; Total Fat: 6.16g; Cholesterol: 54mg; Carbohydrates: 8.9g; Protein: 14.6g; Sodium 236mg

Sunday, May 16, 2010


After completing my 3rd race this Spring, I feel compelled to write about an observation noted throughout each race. There is some seriously ugly runners out there! Now wait wait wait, I'm not that rude- most runners are svelt, toned, and have faces fine enough to grace websites and newspapers. We're talking running form, people. It ain't pretty.
At this point in my life, my racing experience could probably go from "novice" to "intermediate". This experience gives my opinion a bit more weight than before, right? Well let me tell ya, in all my people watching experiences, I'm not sure if I have worn a more "ouch, how can that not give you horrible foot and back pain" look on my face than I have during my most recent jaunts.
So here it is, misguided people. Pay attention to your running form! It may be the simplest fix to chronic pain, lack of speed, and an overall goofy look. You can thank me later for this free advice.
1. Inventory your body parts
Sounds silly, huh? Did you think running was all about lower body? Think again, my friend.
- Shoulders & Arms: Keep them comfy and relaxed. They move according to your stride. Let them. They aid in balance and assist your body from over-rotating. Make sure your shoulders are over your hips in order to maxmize your center of gravity. No hunching or over-arching allowed.
- Hands: No tight fists here. My strategy is to keep the tip of my thumb and my index finger touching. This way, I ensure that my circulation isn't constricted and that there is no stress held in my hands.
- Head: Just as I explained in the shoulders and hips, keep the head directly over this imaginary line in your spine.
- Feet: Where your toes are pointing is where your body will follow. Keep them straight. No pigeon toes or duck feet, it'll throw off your alignment and land you at the chiropractor or worse.
- Ankle: Work on ankle flexibility by flexing and extending the joint while stretching out. This way, the heel won't feel stress when striking the ground during a run.
- Knee: Now here's the trick. If you're running a sprint, work on running with "high knees". If you're running long distances, work on running with lower knees in order to divert motion forward.
- Hips: Believe it or not, this is where all the action's at. The hips hold the major muscle group in the lower body together. Your pelvis is what decides your stride, knee height, joint flexibility, etc. So make sure to keep your hips straight forward and level while running. No awkward thrusting forward or tucking under becuase this could cause painful tightening of the TFL (hip flexor muscles). Not good.
2. Stride
Your stride includes the length at which your feet extend from your body and the frequency of your step. By paying close attention to how your foot is striking and leaving the ground, you'll gain a better understanding of how to utilize what you have.
- Stride length: If your stride length is short, your energy is diverted to more of a bouncing action rather than a forward motion. Push forward more and you'll find it doesn't take much more energy to do so.
- Frequency: Normally, around 92 footsteps per minute is what most runners aim for. Go for a run and start counting. Adjust accordingly and you'll find a much happier balance of foot strike and stride length. You may even improve your time!
3. Loosen Up!! (geez!)
Ever watched professional marathon runners? Do they appear to be completing calculous in their heads without a calculator? No!! And neither should you! Acheiving the right amount of looseness in your form will leave you with less soreness in your muscles as well as those nasty frown lines on your forehead.
Think of your body like a spring. Springs work because they have just the right amount of tension to keep a mechanism from collapsing but just enough flexibility to get the job done. By keeping your head, shoulders, and hips in a straight line, you're maximizing the efficiency of this spring to propel you forward. (Technically, springs transform "potential" energy into "kinetic" energy. If you'd like the full meal deal on this, click here.)

So there you have it. Keep your head held high (eyes forward), feet in line, and form good and loose. But not too loose! This way I won't feel sympathy pain for your horrible form when I pass you in my next race.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Let's Talk about "It"

It starts as a little tingle. You try to ignore it, convince yourself that it's no big deal. Whether you're two minutes from the starting gun or already on your way and in "the zone", cramps, bloating, potty urges, need I say more?
Yep, I'm giving "It" a voice. Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Lactose Intolerance hits about 50% of runners at the most inopportune times. sheds some light on the issue, cited below:
 "If you have intestinal problems when you run you're not alone; 30- 50% of distance runners experience exercise related intestinal problems..... The vast majority (83%) of 471 marathoners who completed a survey reported they suffered GI problems occasionally or frequently during or after running: 53% experienced the urge to have a bowel movement and 38% reported diarrhea. Women were more likely than men to experience these problems."
Little did I know, the more seasoned runners have a name for it: "Runner's Trots" (Seriously people, I'm totally not joking on this one!)
Causes: I'll keep this short. There is no theory that's completely hands-down on the money. However, the research I reviewed for this article pretty much suggested the same thing. And it even makes sense!
When participating in rigorous, tiresome activity, the body diverts blood flow to your skin (cooling) and muscles involved in running. The reduced blood flow to the intestines can cause dehydration and, thus, and "irritable bowel."
- Warm up with a jog before your next big race. Perhaps this will "move things along" prior to the run.
- In the days leading up to the run, try to limit "sugar free" foods or foods containing aspartame, xylitol, etc. These can irritate the intestine and cause cramping.
- Reduce high fiber foods. This can be counter-inuitive to the carb loading but just think about the fiber content in the carbohydrate dense food choices.
- Consume LOTS of water, specifically 7 days prior to your run. Water works miracles, 'nuff said.
- Other food culprits that have been known to overstimulate your intestine are listed below.
Juice, coffee, fresh fruit, dried fruit, beans, lentils, dairy, high-fiber breads or cereals.
- Consult your doctor if you ever have painful cramps, diarrhea lasting more than 12 hours, or additional concerns outside of those listed above.

The nice thing about "It" is that you're not alone. There's a ton of research available online pertaining to this topic. And you don't have to just live with it, there's even prescriptions approved by the FDA that may help fix this terribly annoying problem.
"Causes and Solutions for Runners' Intestinal Concerns" Nancy Clark, MS, RD
"Runners' Digest" Kristin Bjornsen