4 Pomegranate Perks for Athletes + Healthy New Year Cocktail

4 Pomegranate Perks for AthletesFall and winter are prime time for pomegranates, a delicious superfood with juice and arils (fleshy seeds) that appear in everything from seasonal salads and smoothies to holiday cocktails and desserts. But there is much more to a pomegranate than festive flavor and ruby-red good looks, the prized fruit offers an abundant supply of vitamins, essential minerals, and a rich assortment of antioxidants – it’s also a good source of dietary fiber. It addition helping optimize health and wellness for the general population, pomegranate has several distinctive benefits for runners, ultra runners, cyclists, triathletes, obstacle course racers and other endurance and strength athletes.

Reduces DOMS: A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that the polyphenols found in pomegranate juice may help reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in previously resistance-trained individuals.  Study participants who drank pomegranate juice, rather than the placebo, reported less incidence of discomfort in the exercises administered to provoke arm and leg soreness. Take away:  Drinking pomegranate juice before exercise may lessen soreness and quicken recovery so that you can train again sooner.

Increases Exercise Efficiency:  A 2014 study reported in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, sports scientists at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say that the nitrates in pomegranate extract enhance exercise efficiency by decreasing oxygen consumption during exercise without limiting performance, increasing blood lactate or increasing energy contribution from glycolysis or the phosphagen system. It’s the same sort of benefit that has also been attributed to consuming beet juice before endurance exercise. Take away: Pomegranate juice or extract supplements may enhance exercise efficiently and increase the amount of time it takes to get to reach exhaustion.

Reduce Inflammation and Bolster Immunity: Pomegranate seeds are rich in specific polyphenols, such as tannins, quercetin and anthocyanins — all of which may offer both heart health and anti-cancer benefits. Studies have shown that quercetin can help lower LDL cholesterol, reduce inflammation and serves as a natural antihistamine to fight seasonal allergies.  Additionally, studies specifically on athletes have suggest this phytochemical bolsters health during the 3 to 72 hour window of impaired immunity following heavy training and also may help increase endurance. Take away: Recover faster and keep from getting sick during intense training cycles with pomegranate.

Quick Source of Energy: A glass of pomegranate juice diluted with a bit of water makes a healthy “sports drink” that will fuel your brain and body with quickly-sourced, natural sugars.  Take away: Ditch sugary, store-bought sports drinks and power up with the healthy carbohydrates and antioxidants found in pomegranate juice.

Smart Tart Pomegranate Meyer Lemon Spritzer makes a healthy cocktail for New Years Eve or other celebrations.A mocktail featuring pomegranate is the perfect way to ring in 2106 – it’s a tasty toast to your health with no worries about driving home or feeling bad the next day. Shake up your holiday libations with my Smart Tart Pomegranate Meyer Lemon Spritzer, the recipe is simple, has no added sugar and features less acidic Meyer lemons (a hybrid orange-lemon) and the previously mentioned benefits of pomegranate arils and juice — it’s also no coincidence that both these fruits are in peak season as we speak!

Smart Tart Pomegranate Meyer Lemon Spritzer makes a healthy cocktail for New Years Eve or other celebrations.Directions: In large pitcher, pour 2 liters sparkling water and mix in 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice, 4 packets Stevia (more or less to taste), and 4 ounces pomegranate arils (along with any juice in bottom of carton). Serve with thinly sliced Meyer lemon. Serves 8. 

What are you drinking for New Year’s Eve? Do you seed your own pomegranates or buy the packaged arils? 

 

 

Not-So-Scary Pumpkin Spice Latte (with Protein)

Scary Pumpkin Spice LatteSince 2013, Starbucks has peddled hundreds of millions of their Pumpkin Spice Lattes making it the unofficial drink of the Fall season. I’ve served up . . .errr, dozens and dozens of my “not so scary” version, but drinking one gets you membership in a much more exclusive club – a club where members care about what their dumping down their bodies.

Did you know that a typical 16-ounce (“grande”) Pumpkin Spiced Latte has more than 50 grams of sugar coming mostly from sweetened condensed milk and 14 grams of fat.  Oh, and another surprise, the original coffee shop drink doesn’t even have real pumpkin in it! You can google all the other unhealthy benefits, but these are some that bother me the most!Not So Scary Pumpkin Spice Latte

You can still enjoy a steamy, sweet mug of creamy cinnamon-nutmeg-clove goodness without popping the buttons off your jeans with this pop-culture addiction. My Not-So-Scary Pumpkin Spice Latte can be made two ways – either with your milk of choice . . . or I often like to use a Vanilla Core Power to get a little more protein in the morning.

Core Power Pumpkin Spice Latte

My 16-ounce Core Power version Pumpkin Spice Latte is so much better with 252 calories, 27 grams sugar, 3.5 grams fat (with no whip) and 26 grams of protein. If you don’t use Core Power, the calories are likely to be a bit less . . .but, also less protein. You can stock up on Core Power High Protein Shake here. 

Sugar Free Pumpkin Protein Donuts with Cinnamon FrostingAlso, would you like a Sugar-Free Protein Pumpkin Muffin with Cinnamon Frosting to go with your muscle-making PSL?  I can hook you up with my recipe here!

Are you a pumpkin spice addict (anything), or sick of the trend? Do you make coffee at home, or hit a coffee shop daily? Have you ever been to a pumpkin chunkin’ or hurled your jack-o-lantern? Just wondering! Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Not So Scary Pumpkin Spice Latte
Not So Scary Pumpkin Spice Latte
Print Recipe
Optional: light whipped cream (just a dollop, it adds calories and fat) Directions: Pour prepared espresso and Core Power in tall microwave-safe mug and microwave on medium for approximately 1 ½ minutes (without overheating). Remove and stir in pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice until dissolved. Top with light whipped cream, if desired. Serves 1.
Servings Prep Time
1 2 minutes
Cook Time
2 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 2 minutes
Cook Time
2 minutes
Not So Scary Pumpkin Spice Latte
Not So Scary Pumpkin Spice Latte
Print Recipe
Optional: light whipped cream (just a dollop, it adds calories and fat) Directions: Pour prepared espresso and Core Power in tall microwave-safe mug and microwave on medium for approximately 1 ½ minutes (without overheating). Remove and stir in pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice until dissolved. Top with light whipped cream, if desired. Serves 1.
Servings Prep Time
1 2 minutes
Cook Time
2 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 2 minutes
Cook Time
2 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Pour prepared espresso and Core Power in tall microwave-safe mug and microwave on medium for approximately 1 ½ minutes (without overheating). Remove and stir in pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice until dissolved. Top with light whipped cream, if desired.
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Sharing my Stay Lean Secrets + #BowflexBody Giveaway

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Bowflex Body.

BowFlex Body Fitness Shakes after a run with Jennifer of TheFitFork.comI am totally in love with Bowflex Body, a collection of premium nutrition products that features a French Vanilla Fitness Shake powder with packets of “mix-ins” including fat-burning rich chocolate, protein-boosting peanut butter or antioxidant-packed mixed berry. Bowflex Body is one of my secrets to staying lean. The other tactics I used to keep my body weight and fat ratios where I want them include with eating adequate protein spaced through the day, monitoring my carb intake (but keeping some for quick energy) and continuity and variety in exercise — I like to mix it up with running, obstacle training, CrossFit, yoga, paddle boarding to keep my body and mind prepared and motivated. Anyway, I’ve shared about this great product earlier in the summer along with a Bodyweight Leg Workout – if you missed it, check it out!  Also, read to the bottom of the post, because I’m hosting a giveaway.

I really love the idea of the mix-ins to the base protein shake. It kind of reminds me of asking for a “booster” at that not-to-be-named smoothie chain I pass on the way home from the gym — but with hardly any of the sugar that those types of “healthy” blended beverages hold in disguise.  The raspberry smoothie in a 16-ounce small size packs 290 calories, just 2 grams of protein – and 54 grams of sugar! Compare that to 125 calories, 15 grams of high quality protein and only 5 grams of sugar for the Bowflex Body French Vanilla Protein Shake —  I’m sticking with the latter to stay lean!Abs are 30% gym and 70% diet You  can workout all you want, but you won’t get to that point of good muscle definition if you’re not lean. Yes, I stay at a low body fat through exercise, but also by making sure I’ve been eating enough protein spaced through the day.

TheFitFork.com Yoga Dancer Pose

Staying lean this summer with Bowflex Fitness Shakes

So, instead a smoothie shop stop, I’ve been sticking my blender bottle pre-filled with a scoop of the French Vanilla Fitness Shake and a couple of the boosters in my gym bag to refuel with after a hard workout or intense run – or often just to see me through a session, since I’m usually breaking sweat over the lunch hour. All I have to do is add cold water and shake, shake, shake!

Bowflex Body Fitness Shakes Giveaway at TheFitFork.com

One thing I’ll say about Bowflex Body products, they really do taste great straight from the blender bottle mixed with plain water. Other protein powders I’ve used have often had a chalky, hard to swallow texture if they weren’t combined with some sort of milk (alike almond or coconut) – or pureed up into a smoothie with banana for creaminess. But, really and truly, the French Vanilla Fitness Shake stands on its own merits for deliciousness. Plus, the exclusive blend of premium ingredients combined with powerful antioxidants, essential nutrients and immune enhancing ingredients help burn fat, build lean muscle, and protect my body.

I’ve been drinking these shakes all summer, and they’ve helped to curb my cravings and made me feel full longer – it’s been a great addition to my protein challenge when it’s not convenient to whip a steak or rotisserie chicken out of my purse. With only 125 calories per serving and 15 grams of the highest quality proteins, a shake makes a great meal replacement once a day to drop a few pounds quickly and safely (check out the success stories here). I suggest adding the Peanut Butter Protein booster (+10g) for sustained energy.

I’m happy where my weight is, and honestly I could stand to gain a little muscle in some places (uhhh, my booty), so at dinner time, I use the Vanilla Fitness Shake as my beverage of choice along with the light salads and grilled dishes I typically eat.  For the ladies who “wine,” you’ll find yourself in such a leaner place if you swap out your nightly “sip” with a protein shake – 5 ounces of wine has 123 calories and has no protein while 1 scoop of the French Vanilla Fitness Shake mixed with water has 125  calories and 15 grams protein!

 

Bowflex Body Fitness Shake Protein Powder and BoostersPremium French Vanilla Fitness Shake: Start with this powdered mix as your base and blend into water or your milk of choice. The instructions say use 8 ounces of liquid but I’ve used more and it still tastes great. Not only does it taste super creamy and delicious, but for just 125 calories, you get 15g high quality protein, 5 g prebiotic fiber, only 5g sugar and 16 potent antioxidants including acai, goji, pomegranate, mangosteen, spinach, kale and more.  It is also lactose free, soy free, low sodium and low fat.

Rich Chocolate Booster for Fat Burning: Toss in one of these 10-calorie packets to kick up your metabolism with Garcinia cambogia, green coffee bean, African mango and cocoa exacts.

 Peanut Butter Booster for Muscle Management: Add a packet of this booster to help grow, maintain and provide workout recovery benefits to your muscles. This advanced protein formula gives you an additional 10g on top of the 15g already in each serving of shake.

 Mixed Berry Booster for Extra Antioxidant Benefits: This refreshing mix-in gives the already vitamin and antioxidant-loaded vanilla shake an extra one-two punch of protection with blueberry, raspberry and strawberry extracts blended to help fight free radicals.

Use the discount code BOWFLEXSHAKE to get 20% off products along with free shipping and handling.  You can also enter the giveaway to win a Bowflex Body Sample Pack that includes the vanilla shake (3 packs) along one each of the boosters plus a pack of their Daily Energy and Pre-Workout Energy (Sample Pack is also available for sale at Bowflex with free shipping and handling). Enter for chance to win via the Rafflecopter app below:

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Memorial Day Cherry Vanilla Root Beer Float Smoothie

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

This Cherry Vanilla Root Beer Float only has 250 calories and serves up 22 grams of protein and 87% of your daily requirement for calcium! The sun is out for summer and my blender is back in action making smoothies nearly every day for a quick breakfast, healthy dessert or post-workout refueling. I have so made so many crazy, creative smoothies in my day along with all the tried-and-true classics,  I’m sure my family sometimes wonders if I can come up with a new flavor combo. But, fear not my friends of blended beverages, I can!  Today I’m serving up a Cherry Vanilla Root Beer Float Smoothie, so line up at the counter in an orderly fashion please.

Make this healthy Cherry Vanilla Root Beer Float with Almond Breeze Touch of Honey Flavor for just the right amount of natural sweetness.

I know that a Cherry Vanilla Root Beer Float Smoothie sounds sort of decadent, but this one is super healthy. It’s made with Almond Breeze Almondmilk  (Hint of Honey Vanilla flavor), frozen dark cherries, ice, root beer extract and protein powder.  The whole, huge serving has just 250 calories, 22 grams of protein, 87% daily value for calcium and loads of vitamins and minerals – especially vitamins D and E from the almondmilk and vitamin C from the cherries.

Use Almond Breeze Touch of Honey Almondmilk in your cereal as part of a balanced breakfast.

Use Almond Breeze Touch of Honey Almondmilk in your cereal.

Hint of Honey Vanilla Amondmilk from Almond Breeze is the perfect creamy foundation for any smoothie creation – it’s also ideal for drinking cold right in a glass or pairing up with your favorite cereal, oats or granola.  Made from real almonds and sweetened with honey, this alternative to diary milk contains medium chain fatty acids; is lactose, soy and gluten-free; is an excellent source of calcium; and works with vegan and kosher diets. I also love how it has no added processed sugar and only 60 calories per one-cup serving.  Another great thing – Hint of Honey Vanilla Amondmilk from Almond Breeze is available in a 32-ounce, shelf-stable version which means that I can keep my pantry stocked for impromptu smoothie making or take along for travel without worry of refridgeration.  Of course, you can also get the original in the dairy section.

Memorial Day collage thefitfork.com

What is your favorite smoothie combo? Are you remembering someone special this Memorial Day? Please share in the comments – xoxo Jennifer 

 

This Cherry Vanilla Root Beer Float only has 250 calories and serves up 22 grams of protein and 87% of your daily requirement for calcium!
Cherry Vanilla Root Beer Float Smoothie
Print Recipe
Slurp right into summer with my healthy, yummy smoothie made with almond milk, cherries, protein power and root beer extract. So refreshing for Memorial Day, Fourth of July or any hot summer day!
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
This Cherry Vanilla Root Beer Float only has 250 calories and serves up 22 grams of protein and 87% of your daily requirement for calcium!
Cherry Vanilla Root Beer Float Smoothie
Print Recipe
Slurp right into summer with my healthy, yummy smoothie made with almond milk, cherries, protein power and root beer extract. So refreshing for Memorial Day, Fourth of July or any hot summer day!
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: person
Instructions
  1. Add almondmilk, protein powder, frozen cherries, root beer extract and ice to blender, process until smooth. Pulse in ice until desired consistency is achieved. Garnish with fresh cherry if desired.
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Muscle-Making Orange Mango Protein Drink with Ginger #TryAboutTime

ProHydrate from About Time is a Stevia-sweetened  sports drink with 20g protein and 95 calories.I always refuel after longer runs and intense workouts with a protein-rich recovery snack or drink. However, in the oppressive Texas heat, I often feel a tiny bit nauseous and my brain signals tell my appetite to take a hike. But, I know I just have a 30 minute window to  get in some fluids, carbs and healthy protein to rehydrate and help repair/build muscle – what’s a girl to do?!

ProHydrate from About Time makes a great recovery drink after run.

No watch today, but I know it’s “About Time” fomr my ProHydrate!

Well, I have a new “go-to” strategy to gas up my tank! Prohydrate from About Time is the perfect solution – it’s ready-to-drink, loaded with whey protein isolate and has a light, refreshing taste – more like a crisp, cool sports drink than a heavy protein shake. In addition to the protein (the perfect amount for post-workout),  the 12-oz. beverages are sweetened with Stevia adding just 3g carbohydrates and 95 calories to your intake. To help my body process the protein, I also add a healthy complex carb alongside Prohydrate, usually a banana or other piece of fruit.  Two other things to love about this new product from AboutTime.com  – it’s gluten-free and has no artificial colors or flavors.

 

Benefits of Ginger - TheFitFork.com

Of course, Prohydrate tasty really great swigged straight from the bottle – Raspberry Lemonade and Orange Mango are flavorful and #onfleek !  But, another great idea is to add some pressed ginger juice for a whole host of additional preventative and restorative benefits.  Athletes will appreciate how ginger eases up inflammation and muscle pain for those days when you need a little extra TLC after working out. Ginger also helps combat nausea – like when that burpee cash-out on the WOD has you running to a bucket.  And, if that isn’t enough, ginger boosts the immune system, protects against many types of cancer and relieves migraines.

Adding ginger to your sports drink will help reduce inflammation and improve digestion after a workout.

Making the ginger juice is really simple. If you’ve got a juicer, just throw in a bunch of this gnarly-looking root and process – voila, spicy-strong ginger juice! If you don’t have a juicer, you can make “ginger water” by cutting up slivers of ginger root and place in a pot covered with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce and simmer for 30 minutes or until at least half of the water has evaporated. Pour through a strainer into glass jar to remove ginger pulp.  To add to your Prohydrate, I would suggest starting with 1 teaspoon of the pure ginger juice or 1 tablespoon of the “ginger water” – stir into the drink, taste, and then add more depending on your preference for the “pow” factor of ginger!

Orange Mango Ginger Sports Drink

About Time Protein Pancakes - TheFitFork.comAbout Time has so many other great products that fit in with my lifestyle – for example the AUX Pre-Workout Drink designed to increase metabolic performance and promote rapid recovery is great and so is are the protein pancake mixes – I made these eye-popping Tart Cherry Chocolate Chip Protein Pancakes from a big tub of the mix.

If you want to find out more, join in the Twitter chat on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 9 pm ET. Following the hastag –  #TryAboutTime and @_TryAboutTime 

 

What nutrition products do you use to recover from a workout? Please share in the comments!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of About Time.

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!

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