Monthly Archives: August 2014

pizza, please.

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let’s be honest – there aren’t too many things in this world that are much better than pizza. Warm, cold, deep dish, thin crust, in whatever form you may choose, there’s really no disputing that pizza is an all-time favorite. So, what if pizza somehow magically became healthy? Or, at the very least, mostly healthy? Boom. Done. 

A combination of a couple different recipes that were floating around the world wide web, plus the contents of a very weirdly-stocked refrigerator, led me to this wonderful, somewhat Mediterranean, pizza. Gluten free, extremely light and pure on the ingredients list, and also, you know, absolutely delicious. The ideal meal for these beautiful end-of-summer evenings.

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ingredients

for the crust:

 a head of cauliflower

1 cup of almond flour 

2 eggs

1 tbsp thyme

a sprinkling of freshly ground salt and pepper

for the toppings: 

1/2 of a large eggplant

1 can of chickpeas

2 fresh tomatoes (or canned tomato paste)

a large handful of kale

2 cloves of garlic

 

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directions

in a food processor, mix together the cauliflower, eggs, and almond flour. When fully processed, spread the mixture evenly over a pizza pan lightly coated in olive oil. Top with a tiny bit of salt, pepper, and a smattering of thyme. Heat the oven to 400 degrees, and let the crust bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. While the crust is baking, wash the tomatoes thoroughly and blend them in a blender or food processor with a pinch of sea salt and olive oil, and then prepare the rest of the toppings (chop the eggplant, grate the garlic, and wash the chickpeas). Once the crust is finished, take it out of the oven, spread the sauce out evenly with a spoon, and start tossin’ on toppings, sprinkling the garlic on last. Put it back in the oven, and let it bake for 5-10 more minutes, or until your kitchen smells like absolute heaven. Let cool, and then devour. In the rare event that a small bit remains, it stores really well in the fridge for at least a day (it hasn’t lasted in mine any longer than that, but I assume it would be okay for a couple!)

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sunday inspiration

calm, cozy sunday afternoons are the absolute best time to enjoy family, friends, or the peace of an empty house, and a good, warm meal… and maybe playing catch up with some of your favorite blogs? Sounds like a dream to me. Here are a few beautiful things, to give your spirits an extra lift on this day of rest and reflection.

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training necessity: take a break

one of the best and most fulfilling feelings in the world is pushing, as hard as you can, to crush a physical goal – race training, competition preparation, whatever it may be. There’s just something so nice about seeing a very concrete goal, and working day-by-day towards it. That being said, one of the most important parts of training is knowing when to slow it down and take a break. Coming to you as the biggest former skeptic of the “rest day,” I’m here now to say that it is, without a doubt, one of the most crucial elements to your training, and even just to your living. I used to do literally everything I could think of to avoid complete and total rest, opting for “light training” days when my body felt fatigued… or even just not, and pushing through what I now see as my body’s desperate cry for a break. The idea of going a full 24 hours without doing something intensely physical seemed to simply not be an option. Little did I realize that, in addition to severely setting back my training with this mindset, I was also putting my body and mind at serious risk.

To understand the importance of rest days, it’s crucial to first understand what exactly is happening when we are working out. What we’re doing during a really hard workout is actually applying a stimulus to our bodies that is elevating our heart rate, breaking down our muscle fibers, and causing our adrenal gland to secrete adrenaline and cortisol – essentially, we’re telling out body that it’s going to need to get stronger to survive. The “getting fitter” part of working out actually comes after the work – while you’re eating (!) and resting post-workout, your body is working to repair tissue damage, strengthen the heart and muscles, restore all of the fuel you just used, and better circulate oxygen through your body. Post-workout recovery is when your body starts to become all-around stronger and more efficient. By engaging in this cycle regularly, little by little, you’re getting more muscular and more fit.

However, the problem comes when we keep stacking up these little changes consistently, without ever truly giving our bodies a chance to completely catch up to all of the work that we’ve been doing. Since post-workout recovery isn’t really true recovery as much as it is just giving our bodies the time and space to implement the changes that we just made, it doesn’t actually count as resting. As important as it is to maintain a regular schedule of activities and workouts, it is equally important to allow your body regular rest, so that it can keep up (healthily) with everything that you’re wanting it to do. The frequency and duration of your rest days is entirely dependent on what activities you’re regularly doing, but for people who engage in fairly intense physical training pretty frequently, maybe consider taking one day a week where you do nothing – actually nothing – intensely physical. Take a full 24 hours to get ample sleep, eat plenty of vegetables and lean proteins, and allow your body to completely recover.

Rest days might look a little different during training for a race – it’s recommended on almost every training plan that you should absolutely take one day off per week, to recover from the build-up and intensity of training. Optimal performance in an event, say a race, is actually achieved by allowing your training to peak a few weeks before your race, and then allowing the next two weeks for your body to shed any signs of the fatigue, so that you’re ready to perform at your absolute best when it counts. It takes a little bit of time for your body to completely get rid of all of the built up tension and fatigue that comes from training, which is a necessary process when you’re going to be asking it to perform maximally. During these slightly longer rest periods that proceed (and definitely follow) a race, you have an awesome opportunity to do a lot of yoga and pilates, which will supplement all of the strength and endurance work you’ve been putting in, and allow your body to strengthen and develop those tiny, crucial stabilizer muscles that usually get ignored in higher impact strength work. AND you also have a great chance to shake up your sweat – maybe you don’t want to be running max distance right before your big race, and you definitely won’t want to be right afterwards, so instead take the time to go hiking or paddleboarding, getting creative and unconventional with the way that you’re getting your endorphins.

However you want to tailor it to fit your lifestyle and sweat schedule, it’s so, so unbelievably crucial to be very mindful of scheduling in some days of savasana.

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chocolate ice cream… for breakfast!

the greatest day of my life was probably the day that I realized that it was not only completely acceptable, but also actually healthy, to eat chocolate ice cream for breakfast. Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration – but still. The discovery of the smoothie bowl was a pretty serious game changer. So, for those of you who aren’t currently eating chocolate ice cream first thing in the morning, hold tight, because your morning routine is about to get rocked. There are a million different types of “smoothie bowls” you can make – the idea behind it is essentially just a slightly less liquid smoothie that is served in a bowl instead of a glass. Surely there’s some impressive psychological reason for why eating something with a spoon out of a bowl makes it much more filling than drinking it from a glass, but I just know that where regular morning smoothies never seem to fill me up, a thick and delicious smoothie bowl is always enough to get me through the morning. So why a smoothie bowl, instead of just a regular plate of fresh fruit? One of the reasons is that you can sneak all sorts of healthy additions into a smoothie bowl, things that would be a litttle bit more noticable when added to a plate of fruit – like greens, for example. There aren’t too many people out there who would be stoked to see a massive pile of kale on top of their chopped strawberries and blueberries, but in a smoothie bowl, you can dump all kinds of kale, spinach, and even chard if you’re feeling saucy, and you won’t be able to taste it at all (just be careful about coloring… sometimes too much green can leave you with a really weird looking bowl. That’s why I love the chocolate ones – it makes sense for them to be a slightly questionable brown shade!) Also, you can add some really nutritious and wonderful toppings to your blended bowl that would be a little less easy to get onto a regular plate – bee pollen, hemp seeds, goji berries, even some maca powder or chia seeds. Literally limitless options here, and you can tailor it to exactly what your morning holds: feeling a little sleepy? Add in a spoonful of maca powder. Have a super-intense workout planned? Sprinkle on some hemp seeds. Need a little extra sustainable energy? Toss in some raisins. The list goes on and on. Or just sprinkle cacao nibs on top of it, because who doesn’t need a little extra chocolate? The main point is that you have so many more options to play around with a smoothie bowl, and it offers a wonderful way to fuel and nourish your body in the mornings, while still making for a really delicious breakfast.

My favorite smoothie bowl recipe is the one pictured below, which is just a simple chocolate-banana bowl, but there are hundreds of different recipes and mixtures you can throw together. There is usually a base of frozen bananas, but after that, the possibilities are absolutely endless. This one consists of:

1 1/2 frozen banana

2 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 tbsp maca powder

1/2 cup hemp milk

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 handful of kale (frozen optional)

1 handful of spinach

1 dried, pitted Medjool date

to make it, simply toss all of these things into a blender, and let it blend until smooth. Then pour it into a bowl and add toppings! I put in walnuts, bee pollen, chia seeds, hemp seeds, raisins, and goji berries, and sprinkled it all with a little bit of cinnamon. Happy breakfasting!

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