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I have mentioned to you how I boost my morning smoothies adding a bunch of super powerful foods, like chia. But I must admit I usually just add the dry chia seeds right into the smoothie when I make it in the mornings. However, this method of adding chia seeds to my morning smoothie might not be the best way to work the goodness of chia into my daily routine.
My friend Cristina, who trains for marathons alongside me, lost a lot of weight training for the Chicago Marathon. I haven’t seen her in while and when I complimented her on her new figure she credited chia seeds. I told her I also had chia seeds in my smoothies, but I could not credit any weight loss to it.
Actually, one of my main complaints of adding chia seeds to my morning smoothies was that they got stuck on my teeth sometimes and if I didn’t brush my teeth right away, in a matter of hours I could feel little pieces of gelatinous seeds stuck to my teeth (thank goodness I mostly work from home!!!!!!). Not fun or pretty at all!!!!
She told me her secret was to soak chia seeds overnight in some water and then in the morning, add the juice of ¼ lemon and eat those chia seeds on an empty stomach. Really???
I have been doing it for a few weeks now and I must say that I really like it… before I go to bed I place 1 tbs of chia seeds in a small bowl with some water. I never measure the water… but I swirl it a bit to make sure all the seeds are wet. I leave the bowl on the kitchen counter until the morning, when I just squirt the juice of ¼ lemon and I eat the gelatinized chia seeds with a spoon. I do this especially before I run in the mornings. I then, after I return from running, have a full breakfast and I add other stuff to my morning smoothie – like maca, goji powder, ground flaxseeds, etc.
I have not noticed that much weight loss… but in other trainings for ½ marathons I have gained some weight, and this time around I haven’t and my skinny jeans fit the same way. Before, when I was training, my skinny jeans would not go over my hips, for some reason… so something is indeed working.
Have you been also eating chia the wrong way?
Since last year, I’ve been training for ½ marathons… This weekend I will run my 4th half-marathon – the Run Like a Diva Half Marathon in San Juan, PR.
Training for a running event is exciting… and might seem kinda challenging for a vegetarian. People talk soooooo much about the importance of proteins when you’re training for a sporting event. And always, people concentrate on animal-based proteins. That’s all they know!!! I already mentioned a few ideas on the snacks I usually have when I am training to make sure I have the energy, stamina and recover as quickly as possible to continue my training successfully.
Something I have learned is to add certain boosters to my morning fruit smoothies… mix-ins that will provide me with protein, energy, strengthen my immune system and keep me injury-free. Some have become fads, some not so much, but I want to share them with all of you and a little of what they can provide:
- Maca – Maca is a plant that grows in the Peruvian Andes Mountains. It has been cultivated as a vegetable for the last 3,000 years and most Peruvians consume the root as a boiled or roasted vegetable in soups, just like we eat potatoes or taro root. I use maca in powder form.
Maca is used for anemia, to increase stamina and athletic performance, to improve memory and fertility. When I learned about this fertility fact I was not too excited, but… oh well, the other benefits outweigh that minor detail. It’s also used for osteoporosis, depression, leukemia, HIV/ AIDS, tuberculosis, erectile dysfunction, to arouse sexual desire and to boost the immune system. When used in conjunction with a good workout regime you will notice an increase in muscle mass.
Maca is rich in Vitamins B, C and E. It provides calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and many fatty and amino acids. If you are pregnant or lactating you should avoid taking maca. There are no known side effects of maca but like any other supplement it should not be taken in large amounts. I usually add a tablespoon of maca powder to my morning smoothie. It has a peculiar taste… kinda like butterscotch, but mixed in with your favorite smoothie the flavor blends very well.
- Chia Seeds – Yep… these are the same ones… Chi-chi-chi-chia!!! If you were around in the 80s, you might recognize and even be hearing the jingle in your head right now. They became infamous via the Chia Pets of the past, but nowadays chia is becoming better known as a great health supplement and food.
Chia seeds are relatives to the mint plant and they’re native to Mexico and Guatemala, suggesting they were a very important food crop for the Aztecs. Chia seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorous, and protein. They are known to help with controlling Type-2 diabetes, fight belly fat, making teeth and bones stronger, improving blood pressure and increasing levels of healthy cholesterol.
I add a tablespoon of chia seeds in my morning smoothies. But I prefer to plan a little in advance… I add the chia seeds to my Magic Bullet mug with a splash of juice. Wait about 15 minutes for the seeds to bloom and form a gelatinous coating. Afterwards, add the rest of your smoothie ingredients. The seeds will bloom… and they’ll either bloom in the mug or around your teeth if you get some of them stuck when you drink your smoothie. So I prefer to bloom before I blend.
- Goji Berries – Berries are good for you… they’re considered like the “fountain of youth” by many. Blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, , cherries, açai berries… they’re all filled with powerful antioxidants. But what’s so special about the goji berry?
Goji Berries are a bright orange-red and come from China, where they’ve been eaten for generations in the hopes of living longer. People have enjoyed goji berries raw, cooked or dried to treat many common health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and age-related eye problems. It’s also known to benefit mental well-being, promote calmness, athletic performance, happiness, and improve quality of sleep and feelings of good health. Goji berries are rich in Vitamin A.
I also add a tablespoon of Goji berry powder to my morning smoothies.
- Hemp – You’re thinking it… so let’s address the pink elephant in the middle of the room. Hemp seeds come from the same hemp plant renowned for its durable fiber and also it’s a variety of Cannabis, the plant grown for marijuana. This particular variety contains extremely low levels, or none at all, of THC, which is what’s considered a drug in most countries and what give people that “high”. Something very similar to the amount of opium found in poppy seeds. It is not possible to use industrial hemp as a drug.
Hemp is considered one of the world’s most nutritious plants. Hemp contains all of the essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, magnesium, iron, potassium and fiber. It also contains Vitamin E and antioxidants.
Hemp can be consumed in many packaged products nowadays – hemp milk, ground hemp flour, hemp oil, hemp ice cream and hemp protein powder. I add these hemp hearts in my smoothies too.
I hope that you can appreciate you can supplement your training diet by simply adding a few scoops of these add-ons to your morning smoothies. No need to depend on the eggs or other animal-based protein sources to build muscle and to strengthen physically. I have noticed how I perform better during training and even recover better afterwards when I add these powerful add-ons to my diet.
What has been your experience?? Do you like any of these supplements?? Tell me your story…
Do you keep track of your New Year’s Resolutions? I do… or at least I try to.
I had as a New Year’s Resolution to race 3 half marathons and so far I have achieved 2/3 of those goals, racing the Miami ½ marathon in January and the Puerto Rico ½ Marathon at the beginning of May. In both, I have finished with my best times so far. I have a lot to thank to my coach, Chewi Candelario. He is strict and fun at the same time. I fully recommend him if you’re looking into training for a running event or a triathlon.
This running business is a newfound love for me… I have always been active, but never considered myself an athlete. I’ve always leaned more towards the artistic side. I’ve always been a dancer and later on, a yogi… but never an “athlete”. Now I train 4 times a week, I try to never miss a long run on Saturday mornings to the point of not going out with my friends on Friday nights to be able to get up at 3AM to be ready for our 5AM calls. I even have a running/training group when I am in FL visiting my sister and nephews, which is quite often lately. I now know the beauty of ice water baths and Epsom salts. It’s a sacrifice… but I’ve gained so much from it – the social aspect of running is the best part of it all. I’ve made so many friends who are all into health and fitness… it’s a real joy.
Part of all this training is how to fuel your body… before training, after training and leading to a race. Being a vegetarian, you just need to choose adequately those foods that will fit into your training regime and your veggie lifestyle. So many people stress the importance of proteins when working out and I was hesitant I would not be able to feed my body as the nutritionists were “educating me”. One of the funny things was a list of snacks given to us as examples of what to eat before training and after training. The list was 95% all vegetarian things… this was comforting and relieved me of the usual burden of figuring out what could be applicable for me as a vegetarian.
I want to share with you what has worked for me and maybe it can take a little pressure off you if you’re training or considering starting training for an athletic event. I want to make full disclosure that I am basing all these recommendations on my own personal experience. I am not a nutritionist or a dietician nor a certified trainer. I have applied the knowledge acquired from several sources, including listening to my very own body how it reacts when I eat something in particular.
I’ve noticed over the years that I can’t have 3 full meals a day. I have breakfast, as I always get up hungry. But I can’t have lunch and dinner too. This is too much for me… I can have breakfast, a snack, a late lunch at around 2-3PM and another snack at night or after training. When I have dinner, I find it just takes longer to digest and I won’t have a restful sleep and will wake up with a queasy stomach, especially at 4AM before a long run. So that’s what works for me… 2 full meals and 2 snacks. There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s what works for me most of the time.
Snacks are what I mostly eat after training. I try to include a combination of protein and complex carbs to help me repair muscle and not feel tired and achy the next morning. This is what I tend to eat most of the time:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich on Whole Wheat bread
Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese Sandwich on Whole Wheat bread
Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich on Whole Wheat bread
Hummus sandwich with tomatoes, baby spinach and mustard on whole wheat bread
Cottage Cheese and Fruits
Greek Yogurt with Fresh Fruits
Granola Bar with Peanut Butter with a glass of milk
Cold Cereal with a few slices of cheese and a banana or other fruit
Oatmeal made with Almond Milk with a banana on the side
Oatmeal-based Cold Cereal and a glass of milk
I recently learned the importance of adding lots of dark leafy greens to my diet when training to optimize my performance and avoid injuries. So I’ll be adding some spinach to my smoothies more often from now on. I have shared some ideas in the past that are just delicious:
Or just add spinach or kale or Swiss chard to your favorite fruit smoothie combination. I have drunk Swiss chard juice in the past and, believe me, you much rather have it in a fruit smoothie than a straight juice format. If you rather not see the green flecks in your beverage, I suggest you use dark berries, such as blueberries or blackberries. They will mask the green bits better than using just banana, strawberries or raspberries in your smoothie.
Before a race, we’re always recommended to bulk up on carbs the day before. Like I said, I usually have a pasta-based lunch the afternoon prior to a race. These are some of the pasta dishes that work best for me:
Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes mixed in with pieces of fresh mozzarella
Do you train for marathons and half-marathons?? What do you fuel yourself with??
Have I told you???? That I am training for my 1st ever half marathon???
Well, since June I have been training for the Run Like Diva Half Marathon to be celebrated next Sunday, November 11 here in San Juan, PR. This is the second time this is taking place. My friend Tania was eager for me to join her this year because she was encouraging me since last year to make it.
It’s been a super great experience… I have met so many new friends – Annette, Maritza, Tere, Lilliam, Nadya, Alice, Zuleyka, Ada, Vanessa, Nancy, Mariano, Diana, IsaMari, Lisandra, Kimberly and Tania and Mili who now I have one more thing in common. We belong to the training group Island Divas coached by Chewy Candelario.
Since the beginning of the training, I was opposed to drinking anything filled with artificial colorants or ingredients. You know already how I feel about that. However, for a while when we started training I always felt like my body ached all over. I thought it was just my body getting used to this kind of training. Until one day, my friend Annette told me to drink a Gatorade. WHAT?!?!??! I don’t like these… “agua d’piringas”. But I caved in and had one…
To be honest ever since I started drinking Gatorade after my trainings, I started feeling like myself again. By body might have been sore, but did not feel like before. I guess all that science and technology do count for something when you’re becoming an athlete. So I have made an exception and started drinking Gatorade as a recovery drink after my workouts. And have chosen to avoid reading the label each and every time I put one bottle to my mouth.
But when I traveled to Florida recently and had to continue on my training there, I went to the supermarket to buy my trusted and usual foods that help me prepare and recover after my trainings. And much to my surprise I found out that Gatorade comes in a NATURAL version – without artificial ingredients and colorants. And the website tells you all about how the natural ingredients work just the same as the regular Gatorade formulation. And the Orange Citrus flavor is AMAZING!!!!!
But when you search any Puerto Rico zip code to find a store near us that carries it, the closest store is…. The Whole Foods in Alton Road in South Miami Beach!!!!!!!!! Yeah!!!!! Which tells me, my dear friends in Pepsi are not distributing this amazing product in Puerto Rico. YET!!!
This is my plea… PEPSICO people, please bring Gatorade Natural to Puerto Rico. We also have athletes which appreciate the recovery qualities of the original formulation but prefer to have a more natural formulation. Just as much as I want a Whole Foods in Puerto Rico, we also have local natural supermarkets and sport stores that would love to carry your product. GRACIAS!!!
And let’s GO DIVAS!!!!! If you live in Puerto Rico, we would love for you to join our cheering section along the route of the course. Just look for our Island Divas shirts throughout the route. I’ll be the one with the I ❤ NY cap on… OK???