Pomegranate Beet Smoothie and Hill Country Half Marathon Win

Pomegranat - thefitfork.comFirst, let’s fruit chat, because food always comes first — even before winning races! Anyway, it’s that time of year – pomegranates are on parade at the grocery store now through early winter!  This big red fruit is a precious member of my produce bin, those little arils inside look like ruby-red jewels and razzle dazzle with sparkling flavor. In addition to big flavor, pomegranates are a superfood offering an abundant supply of antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C – and are also a good source of dietary fiber.

Pomegranate at Fresh Summit and TheFitForkThis past weekend at Fresh Summit (Produce Marketing Association) I got to see all the pomegranates in every imaginable way – from whole fruit and pre-packaged arils for convenience to a variety of juices and sweet snacks. The pomegranates I see in my market are about the size of a softball, but some of the beauties being shown off at this produce convention were almost the size of bowling balls.

Pomegranates are picked and delivered ripe, so pomegranates can be purchased and enjoyed right away.  A tip to take home the best in the bushel is to look for a pomegranate that feels heavier than it looks – a good indicator that the inside is loaded with juicy flesh. You can keep whole pomegranates on the counter for a week or so and in the product bin of your fridge for up to three months! However, once the arils are removed, it’s best to enjoy them within three days. In addition to the smoothie recipe I’m sharing below, pomegranate arils are also excellent sprinkled on salads, yogurt and mixed into sauces.

Pomegranate Beet Smoothie Pomegranates are juicy good news for everyone, and maybe even more so for individuals with an active lifestyle.   Some research suggests the polyphenols in the juice of pomegranates can help offset delayed-onset muscle fatigue in trained athletes. Beets (also in the featured smoothie recipe) are high in nitrates which can help reduce the oxygen cost of exercise and enhance efficiency. This is why I’ve always loved a beet juice smoothie — check out my Sweet Beet Smoothie.  Plus, with the quality protein found whatever protein powder you use (or the Core Power I like), perfect for pre-workout fueling and post-exercise recovery, this Pomegranate, Blueberry, Beet Protein Smoothie is a winner in every way!

Edit: I recently came across Beet Juice Powder — I love it! It’s more economical than buying pre-made juice and waaaaaaay less messing than juice beets at home.  

Pomegranate Beet Smoothie Pomegranate, Blueberry, Beet Protein Smoothie: In a blender, add 12 ounces vanilla almond milk, one scoop protein powder (or sub one bottle of Core Power Vanilla for milk and protein powder), ½ cup pomegranate juice, ¼ cup pomegranate arils, ½ frozen blueberries, and ½ cup shredded fresh beet. Blend until smooth, adding ice as needed to achieve desired consistency. 

Jennifer Fisher winner 2015 Hill Country Half MarathonI also want to give you the quick recap on the Hill Country Trivium on October 18, 2015 – there was a 10k, a half marathon and full marathon. I ran the half marathon and the recap — It. Was. Hilly. I am no stranger to hills, we have plenty in my neighborhood and I’ve been an ambassador for the hilly Zooma Women’s Race Series in the Texas “Hill Country.”  This race I would say was comparable in hills to Zooma, but with an extra bad boy that started at mile 4 and pretty much lasted through mile 5 – or so it seems. It was rough, it was tough, but I got up – I wish I would have looked back over my shoulder to see the challenge of the climb (which reduced me to walking more than once). I used the mantra from the Unbroken story more than once — “If you can take it, you can make it”!

Jennifer Fisher Hill Country Half Marathon Course REcord in AltraSo, I endured the hills and the suffering and the story ended well – I WON the half marathon as the first female finisher and also the FIRST finisher male or female. Yup, I chicked the guys – knowing I was probably going to pull it off was all that kept my lactic-acid, jello’d out legs going in the final two miles — that and my awesome The Ones from Altra Running (light for speed yet just enough cushion in the roomy toe box to keep feet happy coming down the steep hills).   Also a fun touch at the race – everyone got a slice of pie at the finish!

Check out my friend Jill Conner’s blog for great fitness and life inspiration —
like Tips for a Productive To-Do List! I so need that!

 

Do you like running in hills? What’s the hilliest race you’d finished? Pomegranates — do you buy the whole fruit or the pre-packaged arils? Please share in the comments, XOXO – Jennifer

Super Red Watermelon Quinoa Salad + #LivingOnTheWedge Questions Answered

Super Red Watermelon Quinoa Salad with Sprouted Watermelon Seeds has a secret ingredient -- beets!School may be starting, but that summer weather will be around these parts for a while  — and that means I can count on good watermelons through October here in Texas. Yeehaw!  When chopping up fresh watermelon for my kids’ lunchboxes, I always hide set aside a bowlful in the fridge to use as the superstar ingredient in in one of my salad creations.  This weekend, “Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad was inspired by a dish I could both serve outdoors for al fresco dining (squeezing out the last few drops of summer pleasure before vacation ends) and also to package up during the week to take to school and work.

“Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad with Sprouted Watermelon Seeds  is perfect for outdoor summer entertaining and packs well in lunch boxes

“Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad lives up to its name – it’s super beautiful in shades of red made with ripe watermelon, shredded fresh beets and red onion. In addition to all the gorgeous nutrition these super food veggies offer, this quick and easy salad recipe offers enough protein to make it a meal thanks to hearty red quinoa and sprouted pumpkin seeds. Yes, you CAN eat watermelon seeds contrary to the old wives’ tale that eating them might make the fruit grow in your belly!

Raw Sprouted Watermelon SeedsI buy sprouted watermelon seeds to put on this salad and eat as a snack right out of the bag. Why “sprouted” seeds?  Not only does the sprouting process make them easier to eat and digest than the big black seeds, they are high in protein and a good source of iron and heart-healthy fats.  Sprouting seeds “wakes up” dormant seeds and kick starts the germination process that unlocks all their nutritional benefits.  You could make sprouted watermelon seeds at home, but busy-me prefers to buy – you could also substitute sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds in the recipe if you can’t find them.

Watermelon Q & A

Over the course of #LivingOnTheWedge this summer, I’ve received lots of reader comments and questions about watermelon. I’m sharing what I know with you inquiring minds of melon – another great resource for all things watermelon (including nutrition, recipes, and fun facts) is Watermelon.org.

What’s the best way to store a watermelon and for how long can you keep it?Storing watermelons at 55° F is ideal, according to Watermelon.org.  However, whole melons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature – any longer and they’ll start they’ll lose flavor and texture. After cutting, store watermelon in refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. After cut, wrap watermelon in plastic or keep in an airtight container at 36° – 39°F. Also, I’ve noticed if you let watermelon sit in the juice that collects at the bottom of the container for too long, it loses the signature crisp texture – so I always drain off (and drink or save) the juice every time I get into my stash. Another strategy to maintain freshness is to keep melon stored in big chunks or slices as opposed to little bites. This cuts down on the amount of juice that drains out in the bottom of the container.

Do you know why watermelon helps alleviate morning sickness while pregnant?  The high water content in watermelon (92 percent) along with magnesium and potassium helps keep pregnant women from getting dehydrated, a dangerous condition that can also make nausea worse.  Additionally, the cool, mild, lightly sweet flavor of watermelon is easy to tolerate when queasy, especially when paired with other known upset tummy tamers like ginger, lemons or limes. Check out my recipe for Watermelon Ginger Limeade  — take a few sips every 10 minutes until you feel better!

Is it safe to eat a watermelon that was accidentally left in the car overnight in the summer?  My first reaction to this question was – “yes, don’t watermelons grown in the hot sun anyway?” But experts say to abide by the “when in doubt, throw it out” rule.  So, I would say if the outdoor temp was close to “room temp” then eat, if hotter,  throw it away (as horrifying as that is).

Is it okay to swallow watermelon seeds?  One reader said she remembered swallowing her share of seeds during watermelon eating contests as a kid, and was worried about the consequences. Unlike the fear that our mothers instilled in us as young-uns, watermelon seeds are 100 percent safe for consumption. There is nothing at all harmful about them and a watermelon won’t even sprout in your belly! Today’s recipe for “Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad even uses easier to digest “sprouted” watermelon seeds (which can be grown or, easier, bought at a health food store) – they are actually good source of protein and alternative for people with nut allergies.

How many kinds of watermelon are there and which is the best? There are more than 300 varieties of watermelons grown around the world, although not that many are readily available in your local market. The Crimson Sweet is a popular choice that is reliably sweet –check out this link that sums up some of the best from Saveur. And, if looking to pick the BEST watermelon out of the bin, check out these Tips for Picking Watermelon.

What’s the most unusual watermelon recipe you’ve made? Okay, this was a fun question to answer because I got to reminisce about all my watermelon creations and give them superlative awards! Winning “Most Beautiful” is my Chocolate Cherry Watermelon “Cake” and taking the title of “Most Dramatic” is  my Sesame Salmon on Spicy Seared Watermelon, a recipe that caught the unsolicited attention of casting agents for the Food Network (apparently I’m not as exciting as my food although I beg to differ).   “Most Athletic” goes to My Creamy Watermelon Chia Seed Smoothie for its L-citrulline and protein perks that are good for pre and post workout while and “Most Cool” award goes to the Watermelon Coconut Cherry Chiller . Oh, and I can’t forget to mention my go-getter recipe,  Brisket Tacos with Watermelon BBQ Sauce – it’s definitely “Most Likely to Succeed” at your next backyard cookout or family Taco Tuesday night.

Winning Watermelon Recipes

Watermelon, Quinoa, Beet SaladWhat are you packing in lunchboxes this week? Aside from “don’t swallow watermelon seeds,” what other superstitious advice has your mother given you?  Do you have any unanswered watermelon questions? Please share and/or ask in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

BTW, this post was sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board — however, unless otherwise noted, all recipes, editorial content, and enthusiasm for watermelon are all my own.  

Watermelon, Quinoa, Beet Salad
Super Red Watermelon Quinoa Salad
Print Recipe
This delicious Watermelon Quinoa Salad is packed with nutritious benefits and is great f or Labor Day entertaining, summer parties and lunch boxes!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Watermelon, Quinoa, Beet Salad
Super Red Watermelon Quinoa Salad
Print Recipe
This delicious Watermelon Quinoa Salad is packed with nutritious benefits and is great f or Labor Day entertaining, summer parties and lunch boxes!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Place watermelon in blender and blend for about 1 minute, or until flesh is broken down. Pour watermelon through fine mesh strainer, collecting juice in a glass measuring cup. Collect 1 ½ cups of watermelon juice, reserving 1 cup for quinoa and ½ cup for dressing.
  2. Rise uncooked quinoa in fine mesh strainer and place in saucepan with 1 cup of watermelon juice. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until juice is absorbed. Pour cooked quinoa in bow and let cool in fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. While quinoa is chilling, make dressing by adding ½ cup of reserved watermelon juice to bowl. Wisk in jalapeno, salt, pepper, stevia, olive oil and cilantro. Set aside.
  4. Pull quinoa out of fridge. Add beets, red onion, green onion and spouted watermelon seeds to quinoa and toss with watermelon vinaigrette.
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Zing in the New Year – Juicing Machine #Giveaway

This giveaway is sponsored by Hamilton Beach. 

After a season of sugary, salty, greasy, and not-so-good-for-you good eats, many of us are looking for a nutrition reboot for the New Year. Healthy fruit and vegetable juices are a quick and easy way to top off your tank with all those vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other vital nutrients that makes us all feel so good. Yes, I drink juice a couple times a week, but I’m not an advocate of juicing “diets” or “cleanses” because drinking only the liquid from produce is done so at the expense of proper daily fiber intake and food group balance – where’s the beef protein?

Golden Beet Zinger Juice - TheFitFork.com

However, I think juicing is a FANTASTIC way for people to get an on-demand dose of wholesome fuel – especially those who don’t like fruits and vegetables or are too busy to prepare a home-cooked meal.  As for the fiber deficit, you can add the pulp from a juice machine (and there will be a lot of it) into the batter for pancakes, muffins and other baked goods – or even mix it into a soup or stir-fry. Add the pulp to whole grains and your system will be fiber-fortified and super (ahem) functional.

hamilton beach juice ad

I’ve never owned a juicing machine before, so I was super excited when Hamilton Beach sent me a Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor to test out. With a stainless-steel look exterior, this juicer is both BEAUTY and BEAST – and I’m saying that from the admiration of a CrossFitting, gym-going, functional strength-loving sort girl who still likes a streamlined look and attractive aesthetic.  This extractor ripped through the sturdy produce I slid through the super-sized chute – whole beets, carrots and big hunks of ginger root were reduced to liquid and pulp in three seconds – no peeling, coring or seeding required.  It was so powerful that it startled me at first – and then I became addicted to the high-speed, pulverizing power. If you love the zing of ginger, it’s worth it to own a juice extractor just to get ginger juice – you literally just put the washed-off gnarly root in the feed chute (no peeling), push a button and, voila – liquid ginger gold to use as a digestion, anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory aid.Benefits of Ginger - TheFitFork.com

Head over to Hamilton Beach’s blog at EveryDayGoodThinking.com and find out what else I thought about the juice extractor machine in my guest post.  And, you’ll definitely want to try out my recipe for Golden Beet Carrot Zinger (pictured at top of post)– there is so much goodness in just one little shot of this delicious detox juice.

Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor -- Win at TheFitFork.comAlso, enter below (through the Rafflecopter App)for your chance to WIN a Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor! Whoohoo!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BEETMODE | Why Athletes Need Beets & Recipes

Updated: I recently came across Beet Powder and I love it! So much more economical than buying bottled juice and waaaaay less messy than trying to use the juicer at home. 

If you want to perform to your highest abilities in a sport, you have to train right and eat right. While your diet can’t replace putting in the miles, the weight-training, or the drills, it can help support your ability to achieve peak performance. In addition to many other nutrients, our bodies require ample lean protein to aid in muscle growth and recovery, proper hydration to replace fluids lost during exercise, and quality carbohydrates to give us some get-up-and-go. When it comes to carbohydrates, the best choices are unprocessed, complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

beetsOne carb that has amazing health benefits is the beet. If you love this root vegetable, good for you! If you are not such a beet fan, there are easy ways to sneak some beet into your diet that you’ll hardly notice – see my recipes later in the post!   You can also drink beet juice;  Runner’s World explains the beet juice boost athletes can get in pretty good detail and can tell you how much and when to drink beet juice – basically about 500ml of beet juice a couple hours before a race. It’s the nitrates in the beet juice that do powerful stuff to your blood’s ability to transport oxygen; the more efficient you are at this, the better (in theory) you should perform.  Hmmm, can we call this “beet doping?”

Here are some other interesting facts from various research studies:

  • According to a 2010 study by researchers at the University of Exeter, drinking beet juice helped athletes achieve higher intensity exercise by allowing their muscles to perform the same work with less oxygen.
  • The International Journal of Sport, Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, reported in the February 2012 issue, that highly-trained cyclists were able to shave more than 10 seconds off their 10-kilometer race times after drinking beet juice in a study.
  • A 2102 study reported in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics reported that whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance.

beet eliteAnother great way to go BeetMode” is by taking the BeetElite Neoshot – I picked up samples of this very interesting product at The Running Event back in December. What’s cool about BeetElite is that it is concentrated, so you don’t have to glug a lot of beet juice – even if you (ahem) like beet juice, you don’t want a sloshy stomach when the start gun goes off. This stuff actually tastes pretty good and each little serving has the nitrate power of 6 beets and delivers nitric oxide 3 times faster, according to the manufacturer Neogenis Sport.

Feel free to check all this out! But, in the meantime, here are some other pretty compelling facts on why you need to go “BeetMode!” – and don’t miss my recipes at the bottom of the post!

  • Beets can help your cardiovascular system. Research shows eating beets reduces the amount of homocysteine, a substance which can contribute to peripheral vascular disease, stroke and heart disease
  • Beets are a great source of natural complex carbohydrates, making them fabulous fuel for endurance athletes.
  • Beets are high in important minerals including sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron and phosperous. Athletes need plenty of these nutrients to replace those lost through sweat, muscle use and other byproducts of exercise.
  • Beets are full of fiber and rich in vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin C, and niacin!
  • Beets have been shown to guard against cancer thanks to the pigment molecule, Betacyanin, which give beets that signature red color.

beet berry smoothie

Sweet Beet Smoothie Recipe

  • 12 ounces almond milk*
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder*
  • 4 ounces beet juice blend
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries
  • ½ cup frozen cherries
  • 1 Tbs freeze-dried acai powder

Mix all ingredients in the blender until smooth; add ice, if needed, and blend for desired consistency.  *Instead of almond milk and protein powder, you can substitute a 11 – 12 ounce bottle of ready-to-drink protein shake, like Core Power.

Can’t Be Beet Salad — I made this recipe several years back for Taste of Home magazine. Drizzled with balsamic dressing, the roasted potatoes and roasted beets make a healthy side for athletes . . . and everyone!

can't be beet salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Root Veggie Fries featuring Beets – A trio of root veggies, including beets, are sliced up, sprinkled with panko and herbs, and baked in the oven to crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside perfection.

carrot beet parsnip fires

 

Rah-Rah! Baked Root Veggie Fries Recipe

With basketball season in full swing and the upcoming football finale (I think it’s called the Super Bowl), I’ve been focused on making healthier snacks to go along with our “sit-on-our-rears-and-cheer” spectator status.  Sure, three teen boys and a hungry husband can pack the food away like ravenous linebackers, but WE aren’t the ones out on the court or gridiron burning off the calories! No fake cheese queso or corndogs sullying up the scene at my house; everyone’s eating nutritious yet nom-nom delicious Super Bowl snacks at our party. Why, because I’m the chef AND the ref of this house and what I say goes! I’m sure (heehee) this is just one of the reasons I was recently named one of the Six Healthy Living Bloggers We Love by AllParenting.com!

carrot beet parsnip fires

When I announced we were having “fries” last weekend, I scored big with the kids. But when I served them my healthy swap version (baked carrots, beets and parsnips), one rolled his eyes, one made a gagging gesture and the other gave me the silent treatment. Thank goodness for the delicious creamy dip from Litehouse Food; I was able to coax them into giving these healthy fries a try. And, judging on the fact that they actually cleared the platter clean, I’ll take that as a compliment – although “Sheeze, Whataburger fries would have been better, Mom.”   BUT NOT BETTER FOR YOU!

root vegetables

Carrots, parsnips and beets score big on taste and nutrition when baked into “fries.”

I’m pretty sure you hold your tastes and health to a higher standard than teen boys, so I KNOW you’re going to love this recipe for Rah-Rah! Root Veggie Fries I created for Litehouse Food.

healthy super bowl snacks

Rah-Rah! Baked Root Veggie Fries Recipe

Ingredients

  • Baking Spray
  • ½ lb. beets
  • ½ lb. carrots
  • ½ lb. parsnips
  • ¼ cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. Instantly Fresh Parsley
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • Vegetable Dip of choice

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

2. Trim stalks and ends of carrots, parsnips and beets. Use a clean scrub pad to thoroughly clean vegetables; no need to peel.

3. Use a sharp knife to slice vegetables into approximate 3-inch long, fry-sized strips.

4. Add egg whites to a shallow bowl, lightly whisk. Add panko Instantly Fresh Parsley, salt and pepper to another shallow bowl, toss together.

5. Dip vegetable strips into egg whites and then into panko mixture, a few at a time. If needed, lightly pat on panko so as much sticks as possible.

6. Spread out parchment paper on two rimmed baking sheets. Arrange vegetable strips in a single layer.

7. Bake in a 350 F degree oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until turned golden and crunchy.

8. Remove from oven and serve warm with your choice of dip.

Serves 8.

“Can’t Be Beet” Salad Recipe & Bounty of Beet Benefits

can't be beet salad

Do you fancy a beet? It seems like people either love this vegetable or despise it, often without even a fair taste. If you’re in the “yuck” camp, it’s time to give this purple-red root a second (or first) chance. Beets have amazing health advantages for athletes and all of us!  A tasty way to enjoy the benefits of beets is with my “Can’t Be Beet” Salad, a savory roasted potato salad dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. The recipe follows this laundry list of reasons to love beets.

By the way, if you cant get to fresh beets, I have been using Beet Powder in my smoothies and such to reap all the benefits below.

  • Beets have been shown to guard against cancer thanks to the pigment molecule, Betacyanin, which give beets that signature red color.
  • Beets can help your cardiovascular system. Research consuming beets reduces the amount of homocysteine, a substance which can contribute to peripheral vascular disease, stroke and heart disease
  • Beets are high in natural carbohydrates (not the processed kind), making them fabulous fuel for endurance sport enthusiasts.
  • Beets are high in important minerals including sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron and phosperous. Athletes need plenty of these nutrients to replace those lost through sweat, muscle use and other byproducts of exercise.
  • Beets are full of fiber and rich in vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin C, and niacin!
  • Beets (drum roll) may actually help improve athletic performance. According to a 2010 study by researchers at the University of Exeter, drinking beet juice helped athletes achieve higher intensity exercise by allowing their muscles to perform the same work with less oxygen. In the same vein, the International Journal of Sport, Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, reported in the February 2012 issue, that highly-trained cyclists were able to shave more than 10 seconds off their 10-kilometer race times after drinking beet juice in a study.

“Can’t Be Beet” Salad Recipe

  • 1-1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved
  • 2 medium red onions, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 pounds fresh beets, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Place potatoes and onions in two 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pans coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt; drizzle with oil and toss to coat.

Place beets in pans (do not stir). Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 35-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

For dressing, in a small saucepan, combine the broth, vinegar, brown sugar, thyme, pepper and remaining salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until reduced to 1/3 cup.

Transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle with parsley. Yield: 9 servings.

Nutritional Facts3/4 cup equals 135 calories, 3 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 244 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 3 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat.

Created by Jennifer Fisher and originally published as Can’t-Be-Beet Roasted Potato Salad in Light & Tasty October/November 2007, p41

beet