Live Happy, Live Healthy, Live Now + NOW Foods #Giveaway

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of NOW Foods.

 I think my new “Live Happy, Live Healthy, Live NOW” shirt sums it all up to a T! When a company whose products you already love, loves you back with double-puffy-hearted hospitality, it’s a win-win-win – for me, for them, for YOU! Recently, I was invited to visit Now Foods at their Midwest Operations Facility and Corporate Headquarters in Bloomingdale, IL (a suburb of Chicago) to learn more about their products lines, core values and mission to “enable people to live healthier lives.” NOW Foods Blogger Immersion 2016 It was a fun and fact-filled two days with a group of other health and fitness influencers.  Of course, we naturally had fit a group workout into the festivities and headed over to Lifetime Fitness for a specially developed HIIT workout that targeted 9 body parts to promote Target’s awesome athletic line called “C9.” That serious sweat session was followed by a bit of relaxing yoga and a delicious post-workout smoothie made with nourishing NOW products. NOW Foods Blogger Immersion 2016 My excitement is bubbling over from seeing with my own eyes how NOW products are made from start to finish and meeting with company executives including Jim Emme (CEO) and Dan Richard (son of founder). Oh, and by the way, please feel free to take a virtual tour of the Midwest Operations Facility yourself! NOW Foods Midwest Operations Facility Not only did I get a chance to tour the facilities, but also got to participate in some fun and educational sessions including a presentation by the lovely Dr. Wendy Bazilian on Food Tribes (more about this in an upcoming post) and impact these different diet choices (like Gluten-free, Paleo, Vegan, etc) have on athletic performance. It was also fun to partake in a DIY session where we made our own Aromatherapy Bath Soak and also Exercise Equipment Cleaning Spray using very versatile and pesticide/herbicide free Now Essential Oils. So, to recap my amazing experience, I want to share with you three awesome things I learned about this honest, totally-transparent and quality-focused company that started out way-back-when in 1968 as a simple health food store.  Also, make sure to read through to the end, they are generously sponsoring an enormous giveaway of products for one lucky reader to win! 1) NOW Foods makes and sells nearly everything on my shopping list! Seriously, I think this company makes almost everything I need to support my healthy living . . . except fresh fruit and vegetables. Not only does Now Foods make a vast array of vitamins, supplements and sports nutrition products (how I first found them), but they also have an impressive selection of personal care and wellness items, essential oils, healthy foods and even natural pet care products! Even though this large company produces so many different items, each individual product is very thoughtfully and carefully made — it’s as if each came from a single-focus boutique operation. There is just that much passion among the employees at this company that has been recognized as one of the “101Best & Brightest” to work in the nation!

Now Sports Plant Protein Complex and Sprouted Brown Rice Protein  Over here to the left, a couple of the protein powders that started my love affair with NOW Foods. Oh, and their food lines is amazing and so many of their products, from BetterStevia™ (it really is better) to gourmet, small-batch Ellyndale Foods™ to  , are the foundation for many of my healthy recipes on the blog including my Kiwi, Apricot and Feta Salad with Hemp Honey Dressing   (I used their organic hemp seeds and avocado oil for this yummy summer dish). Gold Kiwi Apricot & Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing is an easy, elegant and amazingly nutritious addition to your dinner party. Also, the Living Now™  line up is has a nice variety of tasty, junk-free products that make it easier and more convenient to keep a gluten-free diet. Ellyndale Gourmet Oils by Now FoodsWe also had an interesting and informative “oil tasting” led by the adorable and talented Executive Chef in their corporate test kitchen. Apparently, there is a proper way to appreciate the flavor of oils (think wine tasting) and I slurped in little bits of various oils one at a time, from pumpkin seed and almond to olive and sesame, and let them slowly wash over my tongue!  At the end of this taste-test, I have very moist lips as a whipped up a homemade berry salad dressing using the macadamia nut oil.  We also made to-go salads for our travel home that day and packed our jars from a rainbow array of produce, nuts and healthy grains – of course, I went straight to the Organic Tri-Colored Quinoa from  NOW Real Food™ , one of my favorites ( because, when meat isn’t on the menu, this near-celebrity-status seed offers a complete amino acid chain). Jar Salad with Now Foods Tri Colored Quinoa 2) NOW products are a blessing for my body and budget Now Foods products are both affordable AND high-quality — gasp, I know!  These two factors are important to so many of us trying to live, role model and share our passion for the “fit life.” It’s such a common assumption in the natural health food and supplement industry that the more expensive, the better   — not so! In fact, many times (not always), an expensive product is actually quite cheap in quality and just jacked up with a big marketing budget. But NOW Foods never tries to trick you into thinking that you’re getting something you’re not. They don’t waste money (which is ultimately your $) on overkill advertising because they are confident that their products always stand up to the test – literally!

My reaction at the hotel to my bags full of NOW products! High quality and affordable, whoohoo!

My reaction at the hotel to my bags full of NOW products! High quality AND affordable, whoohoo!

Just one example, I can get NOW Whey Protein Isolate for double the amount for half the price (okay, that’s a generalization, but the point is it’s a very good deal) as many other brands I’ve tried – plus the macros are spot on in my opinion, as opposed to many of the other protein powder options out there. Same goes for product after product in their collection of hundreds (if not thousands) of different items. NOW also maintains a highly efficient, low-error operations facility that helps keep costs down.  And, because NOW is privately-owned, they don’t have to jack up prices to please profit-margin focused shareholders – actually, NOW wants to please YOU, even if that means a little less moola in their own pockets 3) NOW Tests to be the Best

NOW Foods labratory

Learning some of the high-tech testing that goes on at the $40M lab at NOW.

So what did I just mean when I just said in #2 that “products always stand up to the test”?  I mean that NOW is highly committed to quality and bringing you the cleanest, safest products. Their 263,000 square foot facility is widely regarded as one of the most scientifically-advanced in the natural products industry. The $40+ million lab of this privately-owned company is simply amazing and is nearly unmatched both nationally and world-wide. I could tell from the giddy grins on the otherwise serious chemists, bio-scientists and other laboratory professionals’ faces that the NOW lab was THE place to be. jennifer now foods facilityNot only does NOW test the quality of their finished products, but they also monitor and maintain quality all through the entire manufacturing process which starts with product development and receiving raw ingredients from vendors and ends with storing in appropriate thermostatically-controlled environments and shipping out from a precision-inspired, highly-streamlined warehouse.  They also keep samples from each batch of products for a lengthy six years to ensure that if there ever is a problem, they can identify and correct immediately. I really appreciate that NOW is very transparent about the make-up of their natural products, ingredient lists and macros for nearly everything on their website. Plus, with all this testing I’ve described – I am 100% confident I’m getting what’s sold. Plus, they stand by their products if there ever is a rare, rare, rare exception.  The overwhelming majority of NOW products certified organic and non-GMO, those few that aren’t are always in the pipeline to meet those standards as soon as viable in the ingredient sourcing process. Feel free to read more about the Must Use Ingredients and Must NEVER Use Ingredients. Join the twitter chat on June 16th (9PM EST) to learn get into the conversation — follow @NOWfoodsand #NOWgetfit Gigantic giveaway of NOW products Enter my giveaway for a huge haul of NOW products, the same two huge bags of items they sent me home with!  It’s so much stuff, I can’t even describe it all – but it’s a bit of everything (probably $200+ at least) and you won’t be disappointed! USA only! Thank you FitFulFocus.com for the photo of loot, because I was so excited to try everything that I forgot to snap a pic! Don’t miss #NOWGetFit Twitter Party 6/16 9pm EST w/ me @NowFoods and @Fitfluential #ad a Rafflecopter giveaway

Almond Eaters Make Better Athletes + Almond Apricot Bar Recipe

Eating almonds may boost athletic endurance, or so says a recent study published the Journal of International Sports Nutrition.  Professional cyclists in the study snacked on either almonds or cookies over the course of four weeks. At the conclusion, almond eaters made the most improvements on bike time trials and researchers concluded that eating almonds helped mobilize more previously reserved carbohydrates rather than breaking down fat as an energy source during intense exercise. Just hanging out with the superheroes at Hood to Coast Relay.To put it simply, almonds are a food for superheros on the course — you may not BONK or HIT THE WALL (as quickly) is you’ve noshed on some almonds leading up to and during intense exercise like long runs, Spartan races, triathlons, ultra marathons and more. Almonds are also a great source of energy-boosting manganese and copper, minerals which minimize the damage free radicals can do to the mitochondria that power our cells and also help keep electrolyte levels in check. Salty almonds, yum!

A handful of almonds (about 23) makes a hunger-curbing, healthy snack.Whether you are a hard-core athlete or not, the nutrient profile of almonds is a natural fit for fueling healthy, active lifestyles.

A 1-ounce serving of almonds (about 23 almonds, a handful or ¼ cup) has 6g protein, 4g fiber, heart-healthy fats, and lots of vitamin E and other important nutrients – and 163 calories (much less than a candy bar).

unleash-the-crunch-power-of-almonds

Another thing I appreciate about almonds? Almonds are super portable and can go anywhere – toss a handful in a little container and stick in your purse, gym bag, backpack or race belt.

I also like to toss almonds in with fresh fruits for a carb-protein balanced pre or post workout snack.Fruit and almonds make the perfect snack

Sometimes I get “fancy” with almonds and use them in a recipe, here is one of my favorites that is perfect for on-the-go snacking!

Apricot Almond Chocolate Energy Bars

Almond Apricot Energy Bars are the perfect snack for lunch boxes or fueling runs, workouts and post-exercise recovery.

Oh, FYI, I just wanted to know that I’m now sharing my recipe on as a publisher on Yummly, visit my Yummly Page! Also, use the Yum button below (in the bar of share buttons) to save my recipes to your personal recipe box on Yummly. If you’re not familiar with Yummly, you should be — it’s a huge recipe database that not only features a digital recipe box for you to save your favorites but also recipe recommendations, shopping lists, and supporting Iphone and Android apps to help you with meal ideas on the go!

Are you an almond eater? What is your favorite nut? Who your favorite superhero? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Run Faster 800 Meter Workout + Protein Bar #FeelGooder

The start of the school year has always been the unofficial kick-off of my marathon training. Even though Austin is still in the dog days of summer, with temperatures over 100 degrees, I will start upping mileage and long speed intervals, be mindful of my hydration needs and stock up on one of my favorite protein bars as I ready up for the San Antonio Marathon on December 6th.

Perfectly Simple Protein Bars from ZonePerfect offer 10 - 11g protein to help me recover after a workout or run.

As I hinted, hydration is so important, but I also insist on eating a protein snack after a long run or intense effort workout, like running 800 meter or mile intervals.  Research study after research study has shown that consumeing a protein-rich snack after hard workouts is vital to protein syntheses, and a must-do if you want to repair taxed muscle tissue, increase strength and recover faster.

Perfectly Simple Protein Bars by ZonePerfect

Perfectly Simple protein bars by ZonePerfect are a great solution for me, each tasty on the go snack offers about 10 – 11 grams protein and around 200 calories or less, the perfect post-workout fuel  for me to #FeelGooder until I can follow up with a full-on clean meal. I love how these protein bars embrace the “less is more” approach to life – the company is super-picky about the ingredients they choose to ensure a simple yet tasty feel-good healthy snack.

ZonePerfect Perfectly Simple Bars are great fuel for running and workouts.

Even if you’re not working out, a protien-rich healthy snack, like a protein bar, helps you feel fuller, longer – which means you won’t be grabbing a handful of M&Ms every time you walk by the community candy jar (okay, I’m talking about myself here).

Roasted Cashew & Dark Chocolate protein bar from Perfectly Simple

Oh, Hello My Precious!

Right now, if you visit ZonePerfect Perfectly Simple, you can get a $1 off  coupon for a box of these nutrition bars. Right now, there are four delicious flavors (five protein bars per box) including Almond Toffee Crunch,  Bing Cherry & Almond ,  Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk, and Roasted Cashew & Dark Chocolate.

So, are you ready for the 800 meter workout – it’s a doozy. There is just no arguing that the muscle fatigue, lactic acid build up and special brand of pain that comes with knocking off a bunch of 800s sucks, but if you’re getting ready for a marathon, it’s time to embrace that suck. Am I right?  Plus, 800s can be used as a loose guideline to predicting your marathon time  — just google Bart Yasso’s Yasso 800s. Basically the gist is that you work your way up to 10 800s in a session, keeping them as close in time as possible (a second or two flux is okay). The resulting average 800 time can be extrapolated to be your marathon time – eg: average 3:00 minute 800s equals a 3 hour marathon,  3:30 minute 800s equals a 3:30 marathon, and so on. My workout is a little different, but still great for a marathon.

Try this 800 meter workout challenge to improve your speed and endurance for a maratho.

 

My 800 Meter Challenge workout won’t take you all the way up to the 10 full half-mile laps, but it will get you strong enough to eventually get there! Enjoy.

 

Zone Perfect Perfectly Simple Bars are Healthy SnacksDon’t forget to check out ZonePerfect Perfectly Simple Nutrition Bars to grab your $1 off  coupon for a box of these delicious protein bars.

Do you incorporate speed workouts into your trainjing? Do you have a go-to interval workout for marathon season? I like cashew and chocolate – what two flavors would make the best bar for you? Please share in the comments below – XOXO — Jennifer

Body Boosting Fitness Shake and Bodyweight Leg Workout

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

BowFlex Fitness ShakesAnytime someone says creamy, indulgent-tasting shakes are good for me, they have my rapt attention. That’s why I was ready to find out more about Bowflex Body, a line of premium nutrition products that inludes a vanilla fitness shake mix along with “boosters” (including chocolate) to mix in depending on my protein, energy, or fat-burning needs for the day.

Bowflex Body Fitness Shakes and Energy Products

As a meal replacement option, the Premium Vanilla Fitness Shake (with booster or not) is a convenient and safe way to ensure most of us are getting the optimal nutrition needed to power through until the next meal. I’ve swapped out a shake for a full meal at lunch or dinner a few times a week and had great results in leaning out. But, typically getting lean and dieting for weight loss is not an issue for me, often I’m trying to fill in the gaps in my day where I need extra quality calories (without the junk) – like after a workout or before bed.

Bowflex Body in Shaker

Easy to keep in a gym bag and shake, shake, shake after a workout.

These easy-to-make shakes have become a staple in my post-workout nutrition plan. It’s so important to take in a protein-rich mini-meal within 30 minute of an intense workout or long run. It’s also key that that the meal or shake have a bit of carbohydrates to help the body efficiently process the protein – Bowflex Body makes it so easy!  After finishing the “Murph” CrossFit WOD (1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 pushups 300 squats and a final 1 mile run) on Memorial Day, I knew my muscles were going to be screaming for some tasty TLC. I brought along my mixer filled with a scoop of the Premium Vanilla Fitness Shake along with the Rich Chocolate Booster AND the Peanut Butter Protein Booster. I’m greedy like that!  BowFlex Body Fitness Shake and Energy Products

Start Shaking It Up, Here’s How:

Premium 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 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk and 8 ounces of water and it still tastes great (and my mind thinks I’m getting more). You can also throw a scoop into morning or post-workout smoothie if you like frozen beverages. 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.

BowFlex Fitness Shake

 

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.

Two BowFlex Body Energy Products worth checking out:

bowflex energy

Berry Pomegranate Pre-Energy:  This tasty mix gets you revved up for your workout without the crash of sugar-loaded coffee or energy drinks. It works great for either aerobic or anaerobic activity and has just 80 mg of caffeine with theanine, an amino acid from green tea that helps prevent caffeine jitters and “crash.”

Passion Fruit Daily Energy: Designed to take every day, if needed, this formulation helps with focus, aerobic performance and sustained energy when you need a little extra oomph! Like the Pre-Energy formula this Daily Energy has jitter- and-crash free caffeine from the amino acid theanine found in green tea – just less at 50mg.

You really need to try Bowflex Body nutrition products yourself to discover the fat-burning, health-boosting benefits I’m raving about. Use the discount code BOWFLEXSHAKE to receive 20% off your order along with free shipping and handling. A sampler pack is also available.  Bowflex has a 30-day, 100% guarantee on their products, so you really don’t have anything to lose — except maybe that muffin top or a bad case of the “hangres”! Get more details on the ingredients used in these fitness products and check out the FAQ for answers to common questions. Also, visit BowFlex Body on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and connect — they also have a great blog.

Also, I am sharing a bodyweight “leg day” exercise that you can do anywhere, no gym required. Have fun!

Bodyweight Leg Exercise Workout

Kick up leg day with this no-equipment-needed workout of bodyweight exercises.

What “Booster” benefit are you most interested in — burning fat, increasting protein, or upping antioxidants? What is your favorite bodyweight leg exercise? Please share in the comments! xoxo Jennifer

 

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.

6 Ways Strawberries Aid Athletes + Best Berry Recipes

Someday I will have a strawberry patch in my garden  . . . I just need to work on getting that garden first!  In the meantime, I’ll continue to visit my favorite produce departments and farmers’ markets, greedily buying up all the plump and pretty berries in my quest for the sweetest and juiciest picks of spring.

Six Ways Strawberries Aid Athletes

Strawberries are not only sweet-tooth satisfying; they are a superfood that should be part of an athlete’s training diet.  I eat strawberries to keep my performance and recovery at a peak – here are the top six reasons why:

  1. An entire cup (about 12 medium berries) of strawberries has only 50 calories and serves as a source of quick energy thanks to healthy complex carbohydrates.
  2. A serving (one cup) of strawberries provides more than a day’s worth of vitamin C. This antioxidant offers a host of important benefits for athletes, including immune system protection and helping the body to recover and repair from intense workouts.
  3. The flesh and seeds of strawberries are a sensible source of dietary fiber, an important nutrient that keeps you from feeling hungry right away and also helps to keep digestion moving along.  Fiber also helps to reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, according to many studies.
  4. Strawberries are a great source of potassium and magnesium, essential minerals that are lost through sweat. Runners and other endurance athletes (one hour of consistent exercise or more) require more of these minerals to keep electrolyte balances in check. These minerals are also good for bone health.
  5. Strawberries contain a compound called nitrate that has positive effects on blood flow and oxygen around the body. Some studies have shown nitrates can increase the flow of blood & oxygen to the muscles by as much as 7 percent. This can help prevent muscle fatigue, making exercise easier.
  6.  Strawberries contain an antioxidant called quercetin . This plant pigment has been shown to play a role in heart health and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Some scientists studying exercise biochemistry suggest quercetin may enhance endurance and overall athletic performance by serving as an anti-inflammatory agent, improving mitochondrial (energy) function in cells, and boosting the central nervous system with a caffeine-like jolt.

So, enough about how strawberries can benefit runners and other athletes and on to the yummy stuff —  strawberry recipes!  I recently made a quick and easy recipe for Strawberry Blackberry Greek Yogurt Chia Pudding and Shooters for Litehouse Foods. This healthy recipes work as a sustaining breakfast, sensible dessert or nutritious post-workout snack – in addition to the goodness of strawberries, this “pudding” is packed with chia seeds and Greek yogurt for an extra punch of protein.

Berry Greek Yogurt Chia Pudding

For the Strawberry Blackberry Chia Shots, all you do is thin the recipe down with a little extra milk (2%, coconut, almond, soy, etc).  It’s a refreshing alternative to a smoothie!

Strawberry Blackberry Chia Shots

And, speaking of refreshing, how about a scoop of Roasted Strawberry Coconut Milk Sherbet on a warm spring day?

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - roasted strawberry coconut mile sherbet 1

My Strawberry Greek Yogurt Tart (with Paleo Chocolate Crust) has always been a big winner in the spring and is a gorgeous addition to an Easter dinner, graduation or other special celebration.

strawberry yogurt pie

What is your favorite way to eat strawberries?

Refuel & Recover – Easy Protein Snacks for Athletes

Yup, I’m a serious snacker. But, I try my best to stay away from the sugary, salty, highly-processed stuff. Instead, I recover from my workouts, give myself an afternoon energy boost, and treat my late-night sweet tooth with small, protein-rich meals. Compared to carb-only snacks, higher protein options offer longer-lasting energy, regulate blood sugar and moderate hunger. Protein snacks are also super important for athletes; a 4:1 to 3:1 ratio carbohydrate-to-protein snack is what most experts recommend consuming within a 30 minute window of intense exercise. That’s because the amino acids in protein help to rebuild damaged muscle tissue while encouraging the hormone activity needed to stimulate muscle growth. Aim for about 20 grams of protein at a time (or a little more depending on your size); anymore at one sitting and your body can’t really process it all.Jennifer Fisher thefitfork AFMI explain all this in more detail and share five portable protein-packed snacks in the March 2014 Issue of Austin Fit Magazine — pick it up on stands here in Austin or read it online.  As a preview, I’ll share one of these pumped-up protein snack that your mouth and your muscles will love.

greek yogurt with hemp and raspberries

Hemp Heart & Berry Greek Yogurt

This is a go-to snack for me, there is absolutely no cooking – just a little stirring! Take a 6-ounce cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt and stir in ¼ up of your favorite berries like blueberries, strawberries or raspberries. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of raw shelled hemp seeds on top for a nutty, crunch protein bonus. If you’ve never munched on hemp seeds, you should start now. Hemp seeds lend a nutty flavor and robust texture to foods and provide a plant-based, complete chain of amino acids. Each single serving of this yummy yogurt snack has 184 calories and 23 grams of protein.

Check out my other healthy snack recipes at AustinFitMagazine.com

  • Garlicky Chili Chickpeas
  • Chocolate Almond Java Truffles
  • Blueberry Flax Microwave Mug Muffin
  • Lucky Lime Black-Eyed Pea Hummus

So, seriously, I need a lot of protein to pull off stunts like this at my age. Every Thursday, my friends and I think of a new challenge for our weekly “fit, fearless and forty-something” photo.

yoga pyramid

What protein snacks have you munched on this week? What have you done this week to get outside your comfort zone (and yet still have fun) this week?

My Marathon Menu – Why I’m Eating Heaping Helpings of Healthy Fats

jennifer kicking batmans butt

A modified “fat before carbs” diet has me blasting past Batman. But, will my extreme fat-loading work for the marathon?

Pick your jaw up off the ground, you read my headline correctly. I’m about to kick off the “fat-loading” phase of my two-week endurance sport nutrition plan. For the next 10 days, I will be purposefully eating foods rich in high-quality fats in preparation for optimal performance at the Dallas Marathon. I’ve blogged here and at several other sites, including the Tabata Times, about this new “fats before carbs” pre-race fueling practice that is being endorsed by many cutting-edge sports nutritionists. Please check out these posts, because I list some sample menu plans. Now, before you start clucking your tongue and waving your finger, know that I won’t be scarfing down pints of Haagen-Dazs and baskets of chili-cheese fries. I’m not planning on weight gain, moving into my yoga pants 24/7, or getting gunked up with harmful trans-fats. But,  65 percent (that’s not a typo!!!) of my daily caloric intake for the next 10 days will come from high-quality fat sources, including healthy oils, nuts, meats, avocados, whole milk, cheese, eggs, and fatty fish fats — in a greater ratio than I normally eat. I currently consume about 30 – 40 percent fat in my diet, so this will be a noticeable change. Based on my average, 2500 calorie a day diet, I estimate that I will be eating 16,250 calories from fat over the next 10 days (or 180 grams per day – is this even possible?) Not sure, but I’m ready to try!

An example diet that includes good fat-loading choices on left. Good carb-loading choices on right.

An example diet that includes good fat-loading choices on left. Good carb-loading choices on right.

So, why am I feasting on fat in order to run a faster marathon? During this fat-loading phase, I will be training my body to better tap fat stores as a more immediate source of fuel, which will hopefully spare my glycogen reserves to be called upon during the later miles of the race – in other words, it will hopefully prevent me from “bonking” or “hitting the wall” as early as I do (which is typically around 20 miles for me and most other people). With all this fat and comparatively so little carbohydrate, I admittedly might feel a little sluggish for the next week and a half of training. But, since I am in taper phase and my mileage and speed have been reduced, I don’t expect to suffer too greatly in the process.

There may be bacon involved, just sayin'.

There may be bacon involved, just sayin’.

The flip side of this somewhat extreme nutrition plan is that in the last three days prior to the marathon, I will switch from a high-fat diet to a high-carbohydrate diet. The high-carb phase of the plan is pretty similar to the traditional “carbo-loading” that endurance athletes have embraced for years! Seventy percent of my calories will come from high-quality carbohydrates (including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) to ensure that my glycogen tanks are as topped off as possibly on marathon morning. The expected outcome is that I’ll feel perky, peppy and ready to race — and have enough glycogen stored and held onto as a “reserve tank” to see me to the finish line.

guacamole 1Planning my menu for the next couple weeks will be like solving a culinary algebraic equation, but a fun challenge — I am a food nerd, after all! Before it’s all said and done, I’m sure that I’ll have downed a couple dozen eggs, a couple quarts of guacamole, some salmon and at least a couple of prime steaks with all that sought-after (and actually good-for-you) fat marbling. But, do I have to give up my daily salad? While a bunch of lettuce is definitely not high in fat, I’m going to keep on eating my beloved spring lettuce mix because it’s a healthy habit I crave and, in the scheme of things, a plate of lettuce makes virtually no dent in my daily calorie allowance. However, I’ll be dressing it with some extra olive oil to reach that 65% fat goal. So, please come back to TheFitFork.com  in the next few weeks, I’ll  be sharing some new recipes I have been pinning and tearing out of magazines for inspiration – of course, I’ll be tweaking them with my own personal spin.  Right now, these three recipes are on my immediate to-do list for healthy high-fat feasting:

This is my famous breakfast hash -- I'll make it without the sweet potatoes this week.

This is my famous breakfast hash — I’ll make it without the sweet potatoes this week.

From FitSugar.com - Baked Avocado Eggs

From FitSugar.com – Baked Avocado Eggs

From Cook's Illustrated: Vaca Frita, yeah -- that's right - Fried Cow!

From Cook’s Illustrated: Vaca Frita, yeah — that’s right – Fried Cow!