Recipe: Tuscan Kale Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bake

Recipe: Tuscan Kale Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bake

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Tuscan Kale Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bake

INGREDIENTS:
Serves 6

– 2 x 3-4 pound spaghetti squash
– 1-2 tablespoons sunflower oil, divided
– 1/4 cup minced shallot
– 4 teaspoons minced garlic
– 2 x 15oz cans cannellini beans, drained + rinsed
– 1 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes, not oil-packed
– 10 cups ribboned Tuscan/dino/lacinato kale, stems removed ~2 med. bunches
– 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh oregano,
– 1 large egg
– 15oz full-fat ricotta cheese
– 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
– sea salt + pepper

 

Breadcrumb Topping:

– 3 slices gluten-free bread, I used Udi’s
– 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
– 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly chopped oregano

INSTRUCTIONS:

– Preheat your oven to 400° F.

– Slice spaghetti squash lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Drizzle with oil, a sprinkle of salt + pepper and then rub in. Line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place squash cut side down. Bake for about 35-40 minutes until just tender enough that you can scrape the squash into strands. You don’t want it fully cooked since it will be baked again.

– While cooking, place bread in a blender or food processor and grind into breadcrumbs. Toast on a pan in the oven [top rack is fine] for about 6-8 minutes. Remove and let cool fully, then toss with oregano and parmesan.

– Flip the cooked squash halves over and let cool for 15 minutes [longer is fine].

– While cooling, heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add 2 teaspoons of oil. Once hot, add the shallot and let cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic with 1 teaspoon of oil and stir frequently for about 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Preheat oven to 350° F.

– Raise the pan heat to medium. Add white beans and a hefty sprinkle of salt + pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and let cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in kale and oregano. Let cook for 1-2 minutes until just starting to wilt. Remove mixture from the heat.

– Scrape about 90% of the spaghetti squash into a large mixing bowl, leaving some attached to each shell. Empty the kale mixture over the squash and combine. Add salt and pepper until seasoned to your liking.

– Whisk the egg in a small mixing bowl. Mix in the ricotta, parmesan, a pinch of salt, and about 1/4 teaspoon black pepper until. Empty over the squash mixture and toss with your hands to evenly distribute. Scoop 1/4 of the mixture into each squash shell. Do not pack in. Bake for 25 minutes, until the top layer is a lightly crisped and brown.

– Sprinkle with toasted breadcrumb mixture and bake for another 5-8 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly, then serve.

[Credit: EdiablePerspective.com]

Monday Challenge – Spice it Up

Monday Challenge – Spice it Up

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 12.36.41 PMSPICE IT UP!

During the Middle Ages, spices like pepper and nutmeg were so valuable that they were worth more than gold!

Even though their monetary value is a lot lower these days, they are still equally incredibly beneficial for our bodies and your waistline. Why? Because spices can enhance both the nutritional value and taste of healthy meals without having to add sugar, sodium or fat. This meals fewer calories per serving without sacrificing taste!

Just be careful to avoid spice mixes that contain the words “natural flavors.” (no one ever knows what that means- and it’s not well regulated.)

Your challenge this week is to add 3 extra spices into your food this week. Here are a few great options that are incredibly good for you:

  1. Turmeric is a yellow-orange colored spice commonly used in Indian dishes. Its active ingredient – Tumeric is known to reduce inflammation in the body, improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy in cancer patients, and is suggested as a treatment for patients with depressive disorders – it can boost production of feel-good hormones such as serotonin, which helps ease depression and stress.
  2. Cinnamon is a uniquely aromatic spice with a sweet, woody flavor. It’s rich with natural antioxidants such as polyphenols and can actually help lower blood sugar levels. Cinnamon even outranks some of “Superfoods” in antioxidant activity.
  3. Garlic is praised for its potent smell and strong flavor, and is amazing for more than just keeping the vampires away. Garlic has been used to fight cancer, infections, and even a common cold!

When used long-term, garlic has been shown to reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which helped many people who were at risk for cardiovascular illnesses.

Do you accept this SPICY challenge? If yes, confirm by telling us in the comments below!

Core Strength Training for Golfers

Core Strength Training for Golfers

If you’ve been following along with many of my posts, you have probably noticed that I have a specific way of teaching golf fitness (and regular fitness for that matter!).  I use what I call “the bullet point teaching method” to help people understand which areas they need to focus on and why.  Once I share the bullet point with you, I like to reinforce the lesson in many different ways so it sinks in.  In today’s post, our topic of focus is core strength for golfers.  We have already covered the importance and value of the core to the golf swing in the past, but today I thought I would add some reinforcing educational material for you…not to mention I thought you might enjoy some additional information on core strength.

 

Even though the terms “core” and “core strength training” are popular buzz words, the true definition of “core” remains somewhat ambiguous.  The term is used quite loosely in the fitness industry because the definition often varies based on the area of focus and background of the fitness professional or enthusiast you are talking with.  Athletes and coaches tend to look at core exercises as a method of improving athletic performance while general fitness enthusiasts often refer to it as the “mid-section” and body building oriented people tend to think of the core as a means to develop the look of six pack abs.

While these definitions are all somewhat correct, none of them is specific and the general nature of these overlapping definitions can cause confusion when it comes to choosing the right exercises to strengthen your core for golf.

To say the general fitness enthusiast is “wrong” isn’t totally accurate because the core is located in the “mid section” of the body; and for the bodybuilder…the core does include rectus abdominus (six pack ab area) so ‘working the abs’ is a part of core strength training.  As we dive further into what core strength training means to the athlete and for golfers, you will learn what it means to utilize the core during athletic movement and see these definitions from a different perspective.


Core Strength for the Golfer

When training your core for improved athletic performance in golf, your goal is to choose exercises that activate the core muscles similar to those used during the swing.  As we have learned in previous emails this includes muscles used to stabilize the spine, hips, and pelvis and those used to rotate the trunk.  Training your core to stabilize the spine and hold it in the neutral position during rotation is the crucial part for golfers.  Having this type core training and strength provides a strong link in the kinetic chain and allows the power created by moving the lower body to be transferred to the upper body.


Core Musculature

Abdominals: Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Internal and External Oblique’s
Spine: Erector Spinae, Quadratus Lumborum, Iliopsoas, Psoas Major, Trapezius

Similar to the various definitions of “the core”, if you have done any reading on the subject of core strength, you will likely find each author lists slightly different muscles as being important to the core.  The muscles I’ve listed above are not the “only” muscles referred to in core strength training but they are the main muscles that work together to stabilize the spine.  For those of you not so anatomically inclined, another even more general reference I’ve seen used is to consider the core: “anything below the ribs and above the hips”.


General Benefits of Core Strength Training

  • Effective transfer of power between the lower and upper body
  • Improved proprioception (body awareness)
  • Improved balance & stability
  • Increased total power output
  • Reduced risk of injury

Benefits of Core Strength for Golfers

During the golf swing, the whole body works as one unit to complete its intended task of contacting the ball with speed and power.  Golf specific core strength trains the muscles to hold their position and utilize the core to maintain a neutral spine during rotation.  A golf specific routine will differ from traditional weight training routines because it emphases functional, rotational and stability oriented movements that teach the lower back, abdominals, and spinal stabilizers to work in proper combination during strength movements of the upper and/or lower body instead of focusing on moving heavier and heavier weight.The benefits of a solid core strength program include:
  • Hold posture during the swing
  • Transfer power from the lower to upper body
  • Protect the lower back from injury
  • Increase rotational power

Core Strength Training Exercises for Golfers

40500_420767941555_1082896_nIf you would like to use core strength training to improve your performance for golf, I recommend the following:
  • Golf Requires:
    • Rotational power
    • Maintaining neutral spine
    • Transfer of power from lower to upper body
  • Exercises recommended:
    • Plank
    • Hip rotations
    • Side Plank
    • Cable wood chop
    • Push ups and squats on the BOSU ball (moderate difficulty)
    • Rotational med ball throw (advanced)

Productive core strength training begins by first teaching your nervous system to properly engage the muscles during movement.  Once the nervous system understands which muscles to activate to maintain position throughout the swing, you can focus on the progressive strengthening of these muscle groups through core focused exercises and coordinated movements.  By replicating rotational movements in the gym, the athlete trains his/her nervous system and musculature to fire the appropriate muscles in the appropriate sequence, with more strength and power than before.
To learn more about core strength training, stay in touch with me by becoming a Facebook fan.
 
If you would like to:
  • Create your own core strength training program
  • Sign up for a golf fitness class
  • Set up a TPI screen
Email me at jesreynoldsfitness@gmail.com to see if any of our times work with your schedule.
 
Not in the local Ann Arbor area?  Check out the Get Golf Fit Video Subscription and The Golf Fitness Fundamentals manual to get started working on your own!
Understanding Your Metabolism – Part 1

Understanding Your Metabolism – Part 1

Mixed messages and information about metabolic rate and the calories and workouts it takes to burn fat make losing weight a daunting task.  In this post I briefly show the difference between weight loss and fat loss and then hope to get you started determining your own caloric needs by defining BMR and calculate your daily energy expenditure.  These pieces of data will help you find a good starting point for weight loss or body composition goals.

 

Body Weight vs Body Fat %

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 1.19.57 PM

The photo on the right is the cross section of three different thighs, all the same size.  The thigh in the middle is made up mostly of adipose tissue (fat) while the photos on top and bottom are made up mostly lean mass.  All these cross sections are of legs that look the same size and while the photos on top and bottom have more lean mass, they will weigh more on the scale.  The man with the very high percent body fat in the middle will weigh less on the scale.   Even though the scale indicates they are “smaller”, the individuals on top and bottom is the same size, is stronger, and has legs that are functionally sound.

 

The Basics of Losing Weight

When I work with clients who want to lose weight or lose body fat, I always start with BMR.  BMR stands for basal metabolic rate and is the amount of energy you need to maintain basic body function while resting.  An accurate measure of BMR is conducted under very restrictive conditions.  The subject must be completely rested (sympathetic nervous system is inactive) but awake, in a temperate environment, with the digestive system completely inactive. It is under these conditions that your energy will be used only to maintain your vital organs, which include the heart, lungs, kidneys, the nervous system, intestines, liver, lungs, sex organs, muscles, and skin.

Basal metabolism is usually the largest component of a person’s total caloric needs. The daily calorie needs is the BMR value multiplied by a factor with a value between 1.2 and 1.9, depending on the activity level.

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*BMR derived from the Mifflin St. Jeor Equation


BMR only represent resting energy expenditure, to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity level using the Harris-Benedict formula, as follows:

Activity Level Activity Factor
Sedentary
Light or no exercise and desk job
BMR x 1.2
Lightly Active
Light exercise or sports 1-3 days a week
BMR x 1.375
Moderately Active
Moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days a week
BMR x 1.55
Very Active
Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week
BMR x 1.725
Extremely Active
Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job plus training 2 x week
BMR x 1.9

This number shows approximately how many calories you should consume to maintain weight. If your goal is to lose weight, remember that basal metabolic rate varies between individuals. Studies have shown differences in BMR when comparing subjects with the same lean mass to be a whopping 28-32% higher than others.  What this means is that calculating your BMR is a starting point for weight loss but some variables are not accounted for in the equation.  

Estimating daily calorie requirements is challenging. While even the best calculators cannot determine an accurate metabolic rate for every individual, calculators based on research can be a very helpful starting point.  These calculators and equations give you a science-based platform to start with.  From there you must use trial, error and careful self-monitoring to achieve your goals.

5 Reasons Eating Salads Could Be Making You Fat

5 Reasons Eating Salads Could Be Making You Fat

iStock_000011394253XSmallHaving a salad is often a persons attempt at having a healthy meal.  I mean…the majority of ingredients are usually vegetables (unless you are eating a “salad fat” approach to dieting) so it’s hard not to assume it’s healthy.  I think having a salad is a great start to making healthy choices but you should know that salads are not always as healthy as their persona implies.  Below you will find five reasons why salads could be making you “salad fat”.

  1. Dressing
  2. Cheese
  3. Bacon bits, chopped up whole yolk eggs,
  4. Croutons and other crunchy things
  5. Iceberg lettuce

Need I say more?

You might be thinking…ok I get the dressing part, I get the cheese part, I get the bacon & egg part…but HOLD UP…I do not understand how croutons and iceberg lettuce translate into me being “salad fat”!  Looking at the nutritional value of iceberg lettuce and croutons and combining it with simple human psychology can give you a hint.  First, neither croutons or iceberg lettuce have much to offer in terms of nutritious value or fiber content so they don’t satiate you and they do very little to fuel your cells.  Second, and this is where the psychology comes in…if you assume what you’ve eaten earlier in the day was healthy you are more likely to “cheat” a little with meals later in the day.  Not to mention that since you are still hungry because of the low nutrient and fiber content in your iceberg lettuce salad, guess what types of food choices you are more likely to make later in the day?  You guessed it!  You are more likely to overeat and make unhealthy choices if you’ve had a “healthy salad” that barely supplied your stomach or your nutrient starved cells with what they need to feel satisfied.

 

Don’t believe me?  Check out this Caesar salad breakdown…

1. Iceberg lettuce

  • Upside: low cal
  • Downside: low nutrient value, low fiber content, not filling, no taste

2. Parmesan cheese

  • Upside: tasty
  • Downside: saturated fat & salt content

3. Croutons

  • Upside: crunchy
  • Downside: very little nutritional value as a carbohydrate, often disregarded as calories even when entire salad is covered with them

4. Anchovies (for those who eat them)

  • Upside: great source of omega-3, some protein
  • Downside: very salty and only semi-appetizing

5. Dressing

  • Upside: healthwise- none, but it does add taste to iceberg
  • Downside: high in saturated fat & usually made with trans fats which are very bad for you

As you can see, what seems like a healthy option – caesar salad, can be sort of a trick. With its low % of protein, low quality carbohydrates, and high salt and saturated fat content what seems like a delicious salad is more like a saturated fat delivery system!  This can also be true of other types of salads when generous amounts of cheese, dressing & things like bacon bits are used on them.

If iceberg lettuce and croutons are all that is available, try to improve the overall profile of the salad (caesar or any other) by adding a chicken breast, using 1/2 the dressing, using vinegar and oil or balsamic as a substitute for cream based dressing, and avoiding croutons. This doesn’t make it a perfect meal but it improves the overall profile tremendously.

What is HIIT?

What is HIIT?

bootcampWHAT IS HIIT?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a short duration (15-60 Mins) exercise regime characterized alternating intervals of intense work followed by rest intervals. It is not uncommon for work intervals to approach 80% to 95% of one’s maximum heart rate (MHR) combined with rest intervals at a much lower effort (eg, 40%-50% of MHR).


What are the benefits of HIIT?
HIIT training has been shown to improve:

  • aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • blood pressure
  • cardiovascular health
  • insulin sensitivity (which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy)
  • cholesterol profiles
  • abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass.


Why is HIIT Training so Popular?
HIIT workouts are becoming hugely popular, but why?

HIIT Workouts:

  • Save time by allowing you to achieve similar benefits to endurance training in shorter periods of time
  • Burn as many or more calories during workouts with the added benefit of continuing to burn calories during the post-exercise period (EPOC)
  • Can be modified for people of all fitness levels and special conditions
  • Can be used in older and at risk adult populations by adjusting intensity levels to stay within 50-70% MHR
  • Can be performed on all exercise modes, including cycling, walking, swimming, aqua training, elliptical cross-training, and in many group exercise classes.

Is HIIT Training Safe For Everyone?
Regardless of age, fitness level, risk factors, or special conditions, the key to safe participation of HIIT training is to modify the intensity of the work interval to an appropriate intensity. At risk populations can increase intensity levels under supervision of a medical professional, as safety in participation is a primary priority. The safety of HIIT is increased tremendously when individuals focus on finding their own optimal training intensities as opposed to keeping up with other persons or following a specific protocol that may push them beyond their own capacity.

 

Sources:

  1. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) HIIT Brochure: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/high-intensity-interval-training.pdf
  2. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: High-Intensity Interval Training –An Alternative for Older Adults; Michael Whitehurst, EdD, FACSM