Monday, December 17, 2007

Paint by Number, Eat by Color

Aside from a few holiday-related binges (think cranberry biscotti, chocolate-on-chocolate-on-chocolate pudding pie, corn-and-crab chowder, balsamic mushroom and potato pizza), I’ve been honing my nutrition skills and becoming the best pomegranate extractor of this generation. For readers looking for pomegranate seeding tips, this article offers some pictorial tips and tricks.

But it’s not all I’ve been up to while neglecting the blogosphere.

First, I finished my master’s degree coursework—an accomplishment for which I’ll stop feeling the need to pat myself on the back when it finally hits me—with a pretty nifty triathlon-related project. What good is obsession if it doesn’t spread to all branches of your life?

Eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies everyday.And the snacking to which I’m prone when working on writing or designing has really upped my need to use what’s left of my rec. center membership (it ends Jan. 1, which is when most people start hitting the rec. center and I’ll have to start looking for a new fitness home closer to the Cleveland area)! I’m not sure whether it’s the increased weight-training or dessert-eating that has lead to the extra four pounds I’m lugging around, but I’m hoping the end of school and beginning of real break time will get my nutrition and fitness routines back in check. It doesn’t help that we’re celebrating three family holidays in a row next week, but I guess I’ll have to sacrifice myself for crepes, dobos torte and maybe a little tiramisu. Sigh.

Not that I’ve been that bad: I’ve spent at least three visits a week at the rec. center cycling, racquetballing and elliptical-riding. In fact, I played a couple rounds of racquetball (I always lose) on Friday with Neil & co. before racing Neil on the stationary bikes (in a 7-minute ride, he out-pedaled me 2 miles to 1.97—there’s a big surprise!) and hoofing one mile around the track. At a moderate pace, I might add.

It pleased me to see that while I’ve done a good job going back on my no-run December, I’ve been able to “jog” at a pace that keeps me moving, as well as pain-free. After the still-cycling race, I couldn’t help but hop off the bike and run. What can I say? It’s a reflex now! Come January, I think I’ll be ready to get back to training (knock on wood)—slowly, of course. Slow progress, slow pace, continued recovery, eh?

Well, when I’m not making up for my training off-season with All Star Workouts, I’ve had the opportunity to catch up on some nutrition reading. A few months ago, I had a helpless inability to get enough protein and calcium to keep my body repairing itself, which didn’t aid my injuries and, hopefully, didn’t lead to any other problems I haven’t yet discovered.

No matter how many Think Think protein bars, Kashi protein shakes or glasses of Silk milk I downed, I still struggled to get enough protein into my diet (I’m a big fish-eater too, but I couldn’t have it every single day). Not digging much meat made protein a bit difficult, but adding some organic chicken/turkey sausages, turkey bacon and grilled chicken meals to the menu has helped me not be such a protein loser. And I’m still trying to strike a balance between my love of cheese, its high cholesterol risks and great protein/calcium benefits. Cheese really is good food.

But when I’m not freaking out about my two favorite nutrients to neglect, I’m always looking for some hints on how to balance my fruit/veggie eating. One warning: I’m a nut for raw fruits and vegetables. And I’ve had a tendency to obsess over one food or another until I eat it right out of season! Sticking to one set of fruits/veggies, however, is a great way to feel like you’re getting your vitamins and missing something entirely. So, I sought some good advice.

Pepitas, my favoriteWith respect to your plant diet, Runner’s World recommends eating by color. Five different colors of fruits and vegetables each day, in fact. While a fruit or vegetable’s color often reflects its dominant vitamins/goods, the pigment components in those foods need to interact with other colors to max their benefits to your body. So, a healthy blend (examples available is the RW article) makes for a tasty, healthy diet.

Another interesting note: nuts and tree seeds are tops. Despite my mild allergy to peanuts and distaste for cashews, I’m all about pine nuts, pistachios, pepitas, flax seeds and the like. But their protein hardly outweighs their fat content (often saturated). Even if they do make perfect snacks and even better pasta toppers. As it turns out they make even better diet toppers: “Seeds—including whole grains, many beans and tree nuts—contain the crucial mix of nutrients necessary to grow a new plant, which means they are packed with health-boosting compounds.”

One of my favorite buys from Trader Joe’s is pignolias, slivered almonds and pepitas. It’s a tasty mix of seeds/nuts that makes a unique pesto and taste great in oatmeal.

Don’t take it from me, read “The Healthy Runner’s Diet” from Runner’s World.


TrainingtoTri said...

Congrats on finishing up your coursework, how exciting! You should check out the JCC in Beachwood, awesome gym and close to the highway. They have a pool, 6 am spinning classes, a track and a raquetball court. If you ever want to check it out, let me know and I can take you. You get $50 off if you are referred (and so do I!).

Dan said...

If you would like to see what Pine nuts look like in the cone and how to harvest them I´ve just posted a series of images that show the whole process from tree to stomach.

Joe said...

Mmmmmmmn. Now I'm very hungry. Good thing it's almost lunchtime.

David Goldbeck said...

You may be interested in a new book, "The ABC's of Fruits & Vegetables and Beyond". Educators, parents (and grandparents for that matter) will be very interested in the book, as it helps mold kid's attitudes toward these important foods from the day they start learning the alphabet. Out only six months, it has already been bought in bulk by a number of educational organizations and recommended by leading nutritionists. From best selling food writer David Goldbeck and kid’s entertainer Steve Charney. More at