Breakfast Matters

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IMG_20140710_083331_603 (1)                                    Do you ever skip breakfast or grab something from a fast food place, only to be left unsatisfied or feeling ready for a nap within a few hours? You have heard it before and probably more than you wanted to. Breakfast matters! The fact is that your body needs fuel to recover from the nights rest you had and to prepare you to start your day. A good plan is to have some form of breakfast within a minimum of two hours after waking and preferably within the first thirty minutes.

You don’t want your body to start going into a starvation mode and eating muscle. When you start skipping meals, your brain tells your body to store food as fat as part of a self preservation strategy. Breakfast need not be elaborate, a certain percentage of your daily intake, (depending on your activity level or timing for a workout), or standard breakfast menu fare. Leftovers are fine as long as you have a healthy blend of macro nutrients. Just a hard boiled egg, banana or handful of trail mix first thing will give you an edge before you finish your breakfast.

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I recently discovered refrigerator oatmeal, or summer porridge as it is called. I stumbled upon it through theyummylife.com and am glad I did. The fact that oatmeal helps keep cholesterol levels in check and keeps you feeling fuller longer due to a high satiety level are bonuses.

Using a one pint canning jar with a plastic screw on lid or similar container makes this portable as well. These can be packed to work for breakfast, midday snack or a lunch alternative. The variations are limited only to your taste.

The use of steel cut oatmeal instead of rolled oats is a texture preference for me.  I add chia seed to these recipes since discovering that they are an excellent source of fiber, protein and omega 3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seed. Another healthy addition is PB2. This is powdered peanut butter without all the extra fats and sugar. I also sprinkle in ground cinnamon to help regulate blood sugar. (Grapefruit and sweet potato are good breakfast choices for low sugar spikes as well)

The first recipe I tried uses 3/4 c almond milk, 1/4 c steel cut oats (quick cook), 2 Tbs chia seed, 2 Tbs PB2, 1/2 banana (quartered), 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, and 1 Tbs agave (or sweetener of your choice). Simply pour the milk into your jar, add the banana, oats, seeds, sweetener and shake. Put the lid on and refrigerate overnight. You can stir the fruit in after refrigeration if you prefer or even add more.

The other variation I have tried uses Qi’a seed, (chia, buckwheat, hemp), oatmeal, walnuts, pure maple syrup, almond milk and cinnamon. This one came out moister than I liked, but I think it was due to the lesser amount of chia seed. Chia expands to 16x it’s size. Next time I will cut the almond milk back 1/4 c.

For this recipe I mixed 3/4 c almond milk, 1/4 c steel cut oats, 2 Tbs chopped walnuts, 2 Tbs Qi’a seed mix, 2 Tbs pure maple syrup, and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon in the pint jar, shook and set in the fridge overnight. The flavor of this one was outstanding as a cold cereal. I like banana, however this one edged it out.

Try adding in some yogurt, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds or a couple tablespoons of your favorite protein powder to switch it up. The key point is to start your day off fueled up. Pair this up with just five minutes of exercise and see what a difference it makes in your day. You will think clearer and feel less stressed.

In fitness, Bob

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Sweet Potato Fries

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My family and friends thoroughly enjoy this blend of spices and the healthy benefit of using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Not only is this a fantastic side dish, but a wonderful,IMG_20140721_193255_164 fitness food that you can snack on raw.

1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes

1/4 cup olive or coconut oil (coconut gives this an amazing flavor)

1/2 Tbsp dried Rosemary (crushed fine)

1/4 tsp Sea salt

1/2 tsp Sage

1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper flakes (optional for spicy heat)

1/4 tsp Chipotle flakes (optional for smoky spiciness)  I use both when I make this.

Large mixing bowl, nonstick or lined cookie sheet, measuring cup

A ‘do ahead tip’ would be to mix all the spices into the oil and let sit for an hour.

Wash the sweet potatoes and pat dry. Trim the ends, but do not skin the potato. Cut into 1/4″ slices, then cut into strips. Place strips into mixing bowl.

Combine all spices with the oil, mix together and pour over the strips.

 

Using gloves to protect yourself from the peppers; use a spoon, spatula, or utensil of your choice to toss strips until thoroughly  coated with oil mixture. Place strips on cookie sheet.

{ It is at this point that I sample many of the strips }

Preheat oven to 350 and bake on middle rack for 30 minutes. Check for desired tenderness. I then place under broiler for about 5 minutes to brown the edges.

Don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients. Explore your taste buds! Enjoy!

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In fitness, Bob

Sweet Potato Hash Browns and Eggs; Spiced and Smoked

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IMG_20140710_083331_603 (1)This is a quick, simple and easy recipe to make. The sweet and smoky flavors mingle well together. Using sweet potato and coconut oil, add to the health benefits.

You will need 1 medium sweet potato, shredded (about 2 cups)    2 fresh eggs (You may substitute egg whites or low cholesterol egg substitute)    1 Tbs virgin coconut oil     Smoked paprika    Chipotle flakes or powder (optional if you like heat)   Sea salt (sprinkle sparingly to your preference)

Wash sweet potato, trim ends and pat dry, then shred. (I leave the skin on)  Heat oil in 9″ skillet over a medium low heat. Spread sweet potato across bottom of pan. When edges begin to brown, (about 5 minutes), turn hash browns.   Start your eggs in a separate pan. The hash browns and eggs should finish at about the same time.

Sprinkle the smoked paprika, chipotle and a dash of salt across the top, serve , and enjoy!

The smoked paprika has no heat or spice, yet lends a beautiful smoky flavor. The only spicy heat comes from the chipotle. This also adds to the smokiness.

I am a chili head and have to be cautious when making this. I like the burn!

In fitness, Bob