Sun Butter Banana Overnight Oats

sunbutter banana overnight oats

Overnight Oats, prepped pretty and ready to go! #pictureperfect

Overnight Oats, prepped pretty and ready to go!

#pictureperfect

Hi friends!  Hope your 2018 is off to a wonderful start.  This month, I have kicked things off by experimenting with new breakfast possibilities.  As I mentioned in a previous IG post, I have always been a breakfast eater but sometimes, when pressed for time, it's not always the most substantial breakfast I could have.  So this month I have been making it more of a priority to get a substantial (yet still quick and simple) breakfast - one that really tides me over until lunch.  After the first week of these more substantial breakfasts, just as I suspected, I have been much more productive during those morning hours (which is great, because mornings are my favorite).  Not only that, but I am not ravenous for lunch so can make the best choices that I know will fill me up and give me energy through the rest of my workday  (v.s. feeling lethargic and worn out at 2 p.m.).  It even makes those afternoon workouts better!

Overnight Oats, messy and mixed and ready to eat! #reality

Overnight Oats, messy and mixed and ready to eat!

#reality

You may be asking, "What do you mean by 'substantial'"?  Well, by "substantial" I mean a breakfast that contains at least10 - 20 grams of protein, some quality carbohydrate, whether that comes from fruit, yogurt or whole grains, and / or some healthy fat.  My breakfasts this last week consisted of scrambled eggs and fruit, high protein yogurts with my current favorite Purely Elizabeth blueberry granola and some fruit, and several overnight oat varieties, including this new discovery, my Sun Butter Banana Overnight Oats.  I know, I know, overnight oats are old news.  I'm well aware.  However, as popular as they have been, I'm just now jumping on board.  I've played with different flavors, including a blueberry variety and a cherry one that is packed with flavor, not to mention the nutritious benefits!  I'll certainly give you details on these other satisfying varieties but today it is all about this Sun Butter Banana variety that has earned a spot for itself on my "breakfast go-to" list.

This bowl is full of quality carbohydrates from the milk, oats and banana, packed with protein from the oats, milk and SunButter, full of fiber from the banana and oats, and offers some healthy fats from the SunButter.  This one bowl breakfast keeps me full and energized until lunch and all I have to do in the mornings is take it out of the refrigerator and stir all of the layers together.  Perfection!

So, here you go - my recipe for this Sun Butter Banana Overnight Oats.  I hope it simplifies and fuels your morning and, for those non-breakfast eaters out there, gets you on the breakfast eating bandwagon. 

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

SUNBUTTER BANANA OVERNIGHT OATS: 

A SIMPLE, FUELING & FEEL-GOOD START TO Life's crazy MORNINGS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats*
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1 small (6" - 7" long) banana, cut into to halves.
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons 1% milk
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seed butter (I used SunButter here) or other seed or nut butter

* I recommend the regular rolled oats.  Steel cut may not soften enough over night and be touch and the quick cooking oats may get too mushy.

DIRECTIONS:

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  1. In a small bowl or on a cutting board, mash half of your banana.
  2. To a medium size container or mason jar add 1/4 cup dry oats.
  3. Add the 1/4 cup milk.
  4. Add the mashed half of the banana.
  5. Add 1 tbsp seed, peanut or nut butter, spreading as evenly over the mashed banana layer as you can.
  6. Sprinkle cinnamon over the seed/peanut/nut butter layer.
  7. Top cinnamon with 3 more tablespoons of dry rolled oats.
  8. Add 2 tablespoons of milk.
  9. Place in the refrigerator over night.
  10. In the morning, top the oats with sliced bananas from the remaining half of banana.
  11. Serve and enjoy!

 

what's in this?

Oats:  fiber, iron, vitamin D, thiamin, phosphorus, magnesium, protein

Milk:  protein, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus

Sun Butter:  mono & polyunsaturated fats, fiber, iron, niacin, protein, vitamin E, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese

Bananas:  potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese

Cinnamon:  manganese and a little calcium

 

nutrition info:

380 calories;  12 g protein;  58 g carb;  13 g total fat (2 g sat, 7 g mono, 3 g poly);  8 g fiber;  19 g sugar (0 g added);  5 mg cholesterol;  155 mg calcium;  743 mg potassium;  103 mg Na;  3 mg iron;  145 mg magnesium;  3 mg zing;  381 mg phosphorus;  1 ug vitamin D;  

 

Garlic Sage Garden Gnocchi

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I. love. gnocchi.  Not sure exactly what it is about it but I love it.  I think it has something to do with the delicate texture, the versatile taste (you can pair it with so many different flavors and sauces) and, of course, the ease of cooking and preparing it.  To me gnocchi is one of those foods that looks and sounds so fancy but that is actually SO SIMPLE to make!  All you do is drop the prepared gnocchi in boiling water and wait about 5 minutes or less until it starts to float to the top and voila - it's ready!  I know, I know, you're probably thinking, "she's not actually making gnocchi- she's just boiling it".  Kind of like when I was a little girl, around 6, and the kids got to contribute to our church cookbook.  I believe one of mine was lasagna, and it went something like "take the lasagna box out of the freezer, remove lasagna from box and bake in preheated oven until bubbling."  Don't get me wrong;  My mom and dad both made some excellent homemade dinners, but we did love a good Stouffer's frozen lasagna. One day I would love to make gnocchi from scratch.  However, in reality, I just flat out don't have the time for that.  So buying it prepared and ready to cook is the way to go for me!  

where to find it?

If you're curious where to find it, I usually get mine at Central Market, either in their shelf stable pasta aisle or in their freshly made pasta section over by the meats and the fresh spreads and olive bar.  I have also found it at Tom Thumb and am fairly certain it's at most groceries.  The gnocchi I purchased for this recipe was in the refrigerated fresh pasta section.  I had a Central Market helper assist me and she assured me this was better than the air-packed gnocchi you find in the pasta aisle.  I had my doubts but, after cooking it, confirmed that there absolutely is a difference!  It's much more tender with a softer bite than the air-packed variety.  Of course, either will do (I have used both) but this definitely feels a smidge more elegant.  And, always a bonus, it reheats for a quick dinner leftover the next night

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the inspiration

I got this idea while in Memphis for Christmas and New Years.  The guys were off hunting and I had the house and time to myself.  Usually when this happens, when I find myself alone with my thoughts and a little free time, my brain starts to run wild and new ideas start to take shape.  These ideas can be anything from how to add a new feature to my website to new flavors to pair together for a recipe to a new nutrition topic I want to talk about on my blog.  On this particular occasion ideas started churning when I was at the Memphis Whole Foods and passed by a refrigerated case of featured fresh pastas and two varieties of gnocchi - a sweet potato and a spinach variety.  I passed it up this trip because I had no real plan for these guys and I'm trying to keep my grocery bill somewhat under control (gulp).  But as I continued to wander through the store and check items off my list (I'm a perpetual list maker if you were unaware) my brain kept wandering back to the gnocchi.  And the wheels were still spinning long into the evening.  I knew I wanted to create a recipe with gnocchi and I wanted to try one with this sweet potato variety.  Since I knew the gnocchi would have a bit of a sweeter taste, I decided I wanted the sauce to be savory.  I recently saw a recipe with sage and remembered how much I love it and, yet, how little I use it.  From trial and error in previous gnocchi recipes, I decided I wanted a bit of a creamier sauce, something that would be light but would also really stick to the gnocchi.  So I spent the next evening whisking up this new creamy sage and garlic sauce, roasting broccolini, sauteeing mushrooms, and combining it all for a rewarding and  satisfying dinner.  The final product was very tasty; However, the two thoughts I had as I finished were:  (1) "I bet it would be better with a little more sauce" and (2) "the sweet potato gnocchi is good but I bet this dish would be on a whole separate level if I kept it simple with a classic white potato gnocchi". 

Now, fast-forward to this past week where I am back in Dallas and kicking of 2018.  With a much more concrete plan in mind I got home after work with my ingredients and began to quickly rinse and chop the broccolini, mushrooms, sage and garlic.  I roasted the broccoli, sauteed the mushrooms and then whisked up my sauce again - this time using a little bit more of my ingredients to yield more sauce.  While letting the sauce simmer and the flavors come together, I boiled a pot of water, added the gnocchi and about 3 or 4 minutes later, just as I could smell all of the flavors come together in my sauce, those gnocchi all popped to the top.  Perfect!  Using a slotted spoon, I gently spooned them from the water straight into the sauce.  I gently mixed it all together and could already see the sauce begin to thicken due to the starch from the potato in the gnocchi.  Then I added my broccolini and mushrooms, gently stirred again and topped it all with some grated Parmesan cheese.  Wow.  This is a dish that smells incredibly complicated while actually being incredibly fast and relatively easy to put together!  What allowed it to be so quick and simple to put together?  I say it's because I incorporated one of my main cooking principles that I cook by to keep things simple and balanced.  That principle is: use different cooking methods in a meal.


less stress teaching point:  "make sure your meals incorporate different cooking methods"

Try and use different methods of cooking for a meal so you can do multiple things at the same time.... I was roasting in the oven, sauteeing on the stove over one burner and boiling water in a pot over another pretty much at the same time.  Doing this, you don't have to wait for one thing to cook in order to cook another and, therefore, you don't have to figure out how to keep the already cooked item warm while it's the second item's turn to cook.


Now, enough talking.  I want to share with you the recipe.  I hope you enjoy it and serve it as much as I plan to!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

THE RECIPE!  

GARLIC SAGE GARDEN GNOCCHI

Serves 2 - 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bunch (about 2 - 3 cups raw) broccolini, stems removed
  • 8 oz. container baby bella mushrooms, quartered & stems removed
  • 3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 18 oz. container prepared gnocchi (should be about 3 cups uncooked)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, + more for serving

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 2.  In a large mixing bowl combine the broccolini with 2 teaspoons of canola oil and a pinch of salt (about 1/16th teaspoon). 3.  Spread broccolini out onto parchment - lined baking sheet and place in the oven.  Roast for 20 minutes, mixing with a rubber spatula halfway through for even cooking.  Once broccolini is done cooking, set aside.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a large mixing bowl combine the broccolini with 2 teaspoons of canola oil and a pinch of salt (about 1/16th teaspoon).

3.  Spread broccolini out onto parchment - lined baking sheet and place in the oven.  Roast for 20 minutes, mixing with a rubber spatula halfway through for even cooking.  Once broccolini is done cooking, set aside.

4.  While the broccolini cooks, heat remaining 1 teaspoon of canola oil in a large deep skillet on medium - low to medium heat.

5.  Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 6 - 10 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften and release their water.  Once cooked, transfer mushrooms to a small bowl and set aside.  You can leave some of the remaining juices from the mushrooms in the bowl.

6.  In the same skillet that you cooked the mushrooms in, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter at medium - low to medium heat. 7.  Once melted and the butter starts to brown (you will see the change in color and smell a deeper, richer smell from the butter) add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes (stirring frequently).  You want to cook until just fragrant and starting to brown - but be careful not to burn or you'll have to start over!

6.  In the same skillet that you cooked the mushrooms in, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter at medium - low to medium heat.

7.  Once melted and the butter starts to brown (you will see the change in color and smell a deeper, richer smell from the butter) add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes (stirring frequently).  You want to cook until just fragrant and starting to brown - but be careful not to burn or you'll have to start over!

8.  Next add the fresh sage and cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes.

8.  Next add the fresh sage and cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes.

9.  Turn the temperature down to low and add the 1% and whole milk, stirring consistently as you pour in the milk so that it doesn't scald (and form that film on the surface of the milk).  Once all the milk is in, turn up the heat to about medium and allow it to bubble, stirring occasionally and then turn back down to low, allowing all of the flavors to come together while you prepare the gnocchi.  The sauce will seem a little runny, but don't worry - it thickens once the gnocchi is combined due to the starch in the gnocchi that releases into the sauce.  

10.  As the sauce cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Once boiling add the gnocchi and cook until done.  You'll know they are done when the gnocchi pop to the surface of the water.

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11.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked gnocchi straight into the sauce (alternatively, you could drain the gnocchi in a large colander when cooked and then add to sauce when ready).  Stir gnocchi into sauce until all is well incorporated. 

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12.  Add the broccolini, mushrooms and grated Parmesan cheese and toss again to incorporate the sauce and veggies and get the cheese melted and incorporated throughout.

12.  Add the broccolini, mushrooms and grated Parmesan cheese and toss again to incorporate the sauce and veggies and get the cheese melted and incorporated throughout.

13.  Serve in individual bowls, sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired, and enjoy!

13.  Serve in individual bowls, sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired, and enjoy!

 

WHAT'S IN THIS?

Potato gnocchi:  fiber, protein (a little bit), some brands have a little calcium and iron but may not be significant per serving

Broccolini:  vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium

Mushrooms:  riboflavin & niacin (B vitamins), selenium, potassium, varying amounts of vitamin D, depending on sunlight exposure.

Parmesan Cheese:  protein, calcium, phosphorus

Milk:  calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, B12, vitamin D, riboflavin

Canola Oil:  monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, (also contains some saturated fat, but not as much as poly and mono), vitamin E, 

 

Nutrition info (per serving)

Serving 2:  620 calories;  18.7 g protein;  86 g carb;  23 g total fat (5 g sat, 11.5 g mono, 2 g poly);  10 g sugar (0 g added);  9 g fiber;  1354 mg sodium;  270.5 mg calcium;  2 mg iron

Serving 4:  310 calories;  9.35 g protein;  43 g carb;  11.6 g total fat (2.5 g sat, 5.75 g mono, 1.5 g poly);  5 g sugar (0 g added);  4.5 g fiber;  677 mg sodium;  135.25 mg calcium;  1 mg iron

 

 

Print a copy!

print recipe
Garlic Sage Garden Gnocchi
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch (about 2 - 3 cups) broccolini, stems removed
  • 8 oz. container baby bella mushrooms, quartered & stems removed
  • 3 teaspoons, divided canola oil
  • 18 oz. container (about 3 cups uncooked) prepared gnocchi
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons + more for serving grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.2. In a large mixing bowl combine the broccolini with 2 teaspoons of canola oil and a pinch of salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)3. Spread broccolini out onto parchment - lined baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes, mixing with a rubber spatula halfway through for even cooking. Once broccolini is done cooking, set aside.4. While the broccolini cooks, heat remaining 1 teaspoon of canola oil in a a large, deep skillet on medium - low to medium heat. 5. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften and release their water. Once cooked, transfer mushrooms to a small bowl and set aside. You can leave some of the remaining juices from the mushrooms in the bowl.6. In the same skillet that you cooked the mushrooms in, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter. 7. Once melted and the butter starts to brown (you will see the change in color and smell a deeper, richer smell from the butter) add the garlic and cook about 2 to 3 minutes (stirring frequently). You want to cook until just fragrant and starting to brown - but be careful not to burn or you’ll have to start over!8. Next add the fresh sage and cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 to 5 minutes.9. Turn the temperature down to low and add the 1% and whole milk, stirring consistently as you pour in the milk so that it doesn’t scald. Once all the milk is in, turn up the heat to about medium allowing it to bubble and stirring occasionally and then turn back down low, allowing all of the flavors to come together while you prepare the gnocchi. The sauce will seem a little runny, but don’t worry - it thickens once the gnocchi is combined due to the starch in the gnocchi.10. As the sauce cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling add the gnocchi and cook until done (about 4 to 5 minutes). You’ll know they are done when the gnocchi pop to the surface of the water.11. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked gnocchi straight into the sauce (alternatively, you could drain the gnocchi in a large colander when cooked and then add to sauce when ready).  Stir gnocchi into sauce until all is well incorporated.12. Add the broccolini, mushrooms and grated Parmesan cheese and toss again to incorporate the sauce and veggies and get the cheese melted and incorporated throughout. The sauce will begin to thicken from the starch being released from the gnocchi.13. Serve in individual bowls, sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired, and enjoy!
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 - 4

Warm Apple Cinnamon SunButter Waffle: a deliciously simple and satisfying way to start the day + A Few Facts on Fiber

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Recently I have been working on a couple of articles - one illustrating ways to increase protein at breakfast and one illustrating appetizing breakfast, lunch and dinner options with fiber.  While I have not yet finished the posts (stay tuned), I have come up with a super simple, warm and delicious way to start my day.  What I liked about this discovery was that not only did it provide me with a new quick and simple recipe but it also tied in with some common questions I get from clients, allowing me to provide a teaching point or two along with my recipe.   

So, before I share this recipe with you I want to talk a smidge on the topic that inspired today's recipe and that is the topic of FIBER.  I know, super thrilling.  Don't worry, the recipe is much more exciting :) Fiber - how much do we need and why do we need it?  Well, if you're a female between 18 and 50, you want 25 grams a day.  If you're a male between 18 and 50 you want 38 grams a day.  Men over 50 want 30 grams a day and women over 50 want 21 grams a day.  Fiber does all kinds of great things for us like promote a healthy gastrointestinal system, help lower our cholesterol, keep our blood sugars steady, and help us feel full.  Fiber can be SOLUBLE or INSOLUBLE and I have explained the differences below.  While some foods are higher in one type of fiber than the other, both forms are usually present to some degree.  As a general guideline, I wouldn't overthink it - just make sure you get a variety of these fiber-filled foods each day.

Soluble fiber attracts and absorbs water during digestion, which helps slow digestion and, therefore, keeps you fuller longer and keeps blood sugars steady (slower digestion means slower release of glucose into the blood stream).  This is also the fiber that has been found to help lower our blood cholesterol because it can bind to LDL, which is then removed from the body with the fiber. Soluble Fiber is found in foods such as: oat bran, oatmeal, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, apples, pears and blueberries. It is also found in psyllium, which is a popular fiber supplement.

Insoluble Fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps move everything through your stomach and intestines.  It also helps create a feeling of fullness, which can aid in weight management.  Insoluble fiber is found in foods such as: wheat bran, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.

Now that I've dazzled you with the sciencey stuff, I want to share with you the yummy breakfast creation that came from this.  I was trying to think of a recipe that I, and hopefully others, could get excited about and one that would also be a good source of a fiber.  That is where this Cinnamon Apple Sun Butter Waffle came about.  I played around in the kitchen trying to think of ways to mix textures as well as flavors and I was so pleasantly surprised after taking my first bite of this waffle.  You don't have to bake it at the end if you don't have time, but if you do have the time, I highly recommend it.  The first time I tested this I did not bake the assembled waffle in the oven and it was good, but baking it at the end is way better!  Throwing it in the oven at the end softens and sweetens the apples while getting the waffle a little bit crispier on the outside.  You basically get warm cinnamon apples on a waffle.  But not just a plain waffle, a crispy on the outside waffle spread with warm creamy Sun Butter (or peanut butter, almond butter, etc.).  All of this topped with crunchy granola, tart dried cranberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon makes it anything but ordinary. I can't wait to make another.  Mmmmmmmm. Hope you have the time to give this one a try! 

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

Warm Apple Cinnamon SunButter Waffle

Serves 1

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 whole grain waffle ( I used Kashi brand)
  • 2 tablespoons Sun Butter (or your favorite nut or seed butter)
  • 3 fresh apple slices (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon granola

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Toast waffle in the toaster to desired doneness.
  3. Once waffle is toasted, place on a baking sheet and spread the Sun Butter over the top.
  4. Layer apple slices flat across the Sun Butter.
  5. Sprinkle the cranberries, cinnamon and granola over the apples and Sun Butter.
  6. Place baking sheet in the preheated oven, baking waffle for 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Remove waffle from oven, serve and enjoy!

 

what's in this?

waffle... fiber, protein, iron

sun butter... protein, fat (majority poly and monounsaturated fat), magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin B6

apples... fiber, vitamin C

cinnamon... manganese, calcium

KIND granola.... protein, fiber, iron

 

Nutrition Facts, per serving:

Calories 340  |  Protein 9.5 g  |  Carbs 63 g  |  Fat  21.1 g total (5.3 g sat)  |  Sodium 158 mg  |  Fiber 10 g  |  Calcium 100 mg 

 

 

Want to Print a copy?  Here you go!

print recipe
Warm Apple Cinnamon Sun Butter Waffle
Ingredients
  • 1 whole grain waffle (I used Kashi)
  • 2 tablespoons creamy Sun Butter
  • 3 thin fresh apple slices
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon granola
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.2. Toast waffle in the toaster to desired doneness.3. Once waffle is toasted, place on a baking sheet and spread the Sun Butter over the top.4. Layer apple slices flat across the Sun Butter.5. Sprinkle the cranberries, cinnamon and granola over the apples and Sun Butter.6. Place baking sheet in the preheated oven, baking waffle for 10 to 15 minutes.7. Remove waffle from oven, serve and enjoy!
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 waffle

 

 

My Top 10 Food & Nutrition Tips for a Fun & Fueling Holiday

I know what you're probably thinking - "ugh, the unavoidable 'just eat in moderation' holiday dietitian post" (insert eye roll).  Well, this may be a little of that (sorry, can't help it), but I'm hoping it still also encourages fun and freedom in food this season.  I'm a full believer that the holidays should be enjoyed and traditions should be celebrated, both food and non-food traditions alike.  However, I've also worked with enough people who come to me after the holidays saying, "oh my goodness, what did I do?! "  So much of what they worked for during the entire year was "undone" in one season.  My thoughts are that there has to be a happy medium - a place where food (or some might say the guilt around food) doesn't consume our thoughts, a place that allows us to enjoy the season and all that it brings, and, yet, a place that doesn't majorly move the needle on our health and wellness.  This is the sweet spot where I aim to live during this season and that's where I try to help clients live as well.

In the spirit of finding and living in this sweet spot, I'm sharing my Top 10 Tips that I try to incorporate into my holiday lifestyle. Whether you follow them all or you choose to simply follow one, my hope is that they help you have a happy, healthy, and guilt-free holiday season.

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

[ANYTHING PARTICULAR YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE RECIPES I CREATE OR INFORMATION I SHARE THIS SEASON OR IN 2018??  PLEASE MESSAGE ME SO I CAN GET CREATIVE AND WORK THEM IN!]

TOP 10 FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS FOR A FUN & FUELING HOLDAY

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  1. LOCK AWAY THE GUILT.  Before you can move on to any of the other tips, make sure you get this tip down.  Enjoy those foods that only come around once a year.  Enjoy the Christmas or Hanukkah cookies that have become a family tradition, the stuffing that your aunt makes every Thanksgiving, and those little red and green m&m's that are suddenly in every glass bowl you pass.  If you decide to partake, please enjoy it and savor it - no looking back!  Well, unless, of course, it's to think about how deliciously wonderful it was :)
  2. UNLOCK YOUR TENNIS SHOES.  Same goes for your jacket, your gloves, and your warm hat.  Don't let the cold weather keep you from moving.  Stay active but don't hold yourself to a strict program like you may have done outside of this bustling holiday season.  In other words, give yourself a little break.  These weeks and months can be stressful and packed enough as they are without that added pressure of bumping up your workouts and logging all of the gym time!  Try planning active get-togethers with friends and other families as a way to stay active but still stay social.  Staying active is proven to help manage stress and improve mood, so try to keep it as a weekly priority as the calendar gets booked and stress levels start to rise.
  3. KEEP YOUR DAYS BALANCED.  If you know you're going to a party that night that will have lots of deliciously rich foods, get your veggies, fruits and lean proteins at your other meals that day.
  4. NO SKIPPING MEALS.  Don't skip meals during the day to "balance out" the party that night.  Most likely you will overeat at the party and may end up consuming more calories that day than if you had eaten breakfast and lunch!
  5. PLAN, THEN ACT.  Assess the spread and all that is offered.  Decide what you REALLY want and add that to your plate vs. the items you sort of want or know you can get at the next gathering.  Once you know what you want, then start making your selections.
  6. PLATE, DON'T GRAZE.  By putting food on a plate and then eating, you know how much you have had and you can keep portions in check.  Grazing at parties is sort of like eating out of the jumbo chip bag when you get home from work ravenous.  There is no "stop" signal in place...until you're at the very bottom of the bag.
  7. DON'T FORGET YOUR VEGGIES.  I say this because, yes, having veggies on your plate will help add fluid and fiber, which will help keep you full and help keep the calories in check, but I also say this because fall veggies (and fruits) are wonderful!  And there is this small window in which we can savor them.  Please don't forget these.  Try something new or try an old favorite in a new recipe.  Challenge yourself to include veggies in at least 2 of your meals a day this season.  Not sure what to pick in the fall and winter months?  Check out my FOODS OF FALL blog post from last year for ideas and inspiration.  
  8. LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT.  There are so many sweets and treats and rich foods during this season.  However, do you really really love all of them?  Pick what you love, or, if you are cooking, cook what you love, and leave the other decadent items to someone else. 
  9. BRING STRATEGICALLY.  Not sure what kind of options will be offered at the party?  Make your dish something you know you will eat.  Be in charge of a hearty salad, the veggie side dish, a crudite appetizer, or a charcuterie platter filled with fresh winter fruits and nuts along with unique cheeses and meats.
  10. GET CREATIVE WITH DESSERTS. Think outside the box when it comes to desserts.  The holidays can be filled with rich decadent desserts, but have you tried warm baked apples or spiced pears with ice cream, homemade whipped cream or chocolate drizzles and toasted hazelnuts?  These can still be delicious and feel decadent while keeping your waistline happier.

Always a Young Athlete at Heart

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What do you aspire to be?  What is your dream? Questions you get asked when you're 6, when you're 13, when you're 18, 22 and still, apparently, when you're 31 (I sat on a panel this week and had to answer this very question!).  For me, particularly, the answer at each of these ages has always seemed to and continues to sit in the same genre.  My world for so long revolved around figure skating and athletics and, what I began to realize and what has now become so apparent, is that that figure skater and athlete in me never fully left.  A world of athletics shaped me and has steered me in my decisions and actions way past high school.  Years without the competing and the training but with the same drive, determination, creative inclinations, and energy that the competing and training instilled in me have brought me to realize that I may always be a young athlete at heart.

 At six years old I started figure skating so, naturally, I wanted to be an Olympic figure skater - or a singer or a fashion designer or an architect or a writer, clearly, because I was six.  At 13 I was skating even more so figure skating was still in my future; although, now I saw a potential of coaching as well as being a competitor.  At 18, after our home rink closed and I began to grow weary of the vigorous training schedule and lack of ability to actually sleep over at sleepovers I realized that, in college, I wanted more time with friends and the ability to go to functions and take spontaneous trips.  With this realization, I traded my intense skating schedule for, what I thought would be, a normal college life.  However, I quickly started to realize that changing lifestyles was much easier said than done. I had made my decision.  "I am going to commit to school and to making friends and to being active in my sorority" I told myself.  Yet, despite my decision, I couldn't quite let go of the skater and certainly not the athlete inside of me.  Years of early mornings, and daily natural endorphins and adrenaline rushes, and that continuous sense of accomplishment you get after mastering something you have physically worked so hard on seemed to be behind me and life without them seemed a little strange.   So I tried to coach Saturday mornings, I got back on the ice periodically to see what I could still do, I jumped at the chance to go skating with friends, and I even arranged to practice with friends back home once another rink opened near our house.  I also kept up the running that I had picked up on the 7th grade cross country team, and, whether I wanted it or not, also continued waking up earlier than most other college students - right with the sun.

It was here in college where I started to realize that, if you've ever been serious about your sport - a serious athlete - that  particular piece of you may never actually leave.  That desire to move your body, to tire yourself out, to master a new technique, to train hard, give something your complete focus, and that feeling of winning - those desires and feelings don't simply vanish.  After training, competing, visualizing and focusing, for 12 years, those habits and passions and desires don't simply shut off because you say you're ready to move on. 

In fact, when it was time to declare my major, those habits and that passion actually directed me in my decision.  I had spent 12 years giving my time, heart, energy and attention to a sport with the goal of continuously improving and so along the way a part of my attention and focus, naturally, also fell on what I ate.  At my most competitive, most serious point, I was skating and running cross country in the same season.  I did a lot of experimenting with food and timing of food to get the best results in practices, meets and competitions.  I was tired of feeling lethargic from a lack of energy  or slowed down from stomach cramps from my last meal.  I wanted to BE strong, fast, graceful, and focused, which I knew meant I had to PRACTICE with strength, speed, grace and focus which I realized meant that I needed to fuel with food, eat with intention (for the most part), and get this food and nutrition thing right.

While we were visited by a dietitian one summer when I was younger, I would say I mostly learned my  nutrition strategy on my own - through a series of trial and error.  I learned from poor skating performances with a blood sugar far too low and legs that were certainly not in communication with my brain, and cross country practices where stomach cramps stopped me in my tracks.  It took time but I made mental notes and changed things up and my practices and performances improved as a result.  I realized going into college that if I could get the chance later in life, I wanted to work with young athletes.  I wanted to assist them in navigating and creating their own nutrition and training plan so they didn't have to start blindly by trial and error on their own like I did.  I knew, from what everyone told me, that actually getting into sports nutrition was a loooongggg shot, but I realized I had to go for it.  If I ever got the chance to work with athletes, I wanted a degree in nutrition to back me up.  I wanted to pair what I scientifically knew with what I experientially knew as a young athlete, and I wanted to pass all of this along to young athletes later in life.

So, I declared my major in Nutrition and struck my course forward.  And, as if I had not already discovered enough about myself, I then discovered that if you don't have a sport to channel that focus, drive, determination and adrenaline into, you find another place to channel it.  The young athlete inside me not only guided me in choosing my major, but it also steered me towards what I should do with that major.  Although by no means the same as skating (I describe skating as the closest feeling to flying while on the ground) I have found that I love presenting, teaching, creating,  public speaking, and taking on roles of leadership.  It allows me to take all of that focus, that drive, that creativity and that determination that I used in sports and channel it to build something new, and it provides a similar rise in adrenaline and sense of accomplishment as the presentations, lessons, meetings, and projects get finalized and come to a close. 

After putting away my skates (well, sort of),  these qualities not only stuck with me, but my outlook on food and curiosity around nutrition stuck with me as well.  Although no longer training, I still think about food in terms of what events I have and what I need to fuel that.  I still love to run and I run quite often.  I also walk, and do classes and I choose foods that will fuel those workouts and help me feel good while I'm doing them.  And if I have an intense resistance training session I try and follow it with foods that will help me recover quickly.  Now, don't get me wrong - I love a good cookie, bowl of ice cream and piece of cake as well. My philosophy is that there is a place for ice cream and brownies and my favorite double salted chocolate chunk cookies, just like there is a place for fruits and veggies and whole grains and dairy and pasta and fish.  It's not always about fruits and veggies and lean proteins, but it is much of the time.  Overall, it's about foods that make me feel good and energized. 

I don't quite know how I am where I am today, with the chance to work with young athletes and lead a wellness program.  I believe that it is a blend of hard work, determination, prayer, and following an unwavering passion for nutrition - whether it was pediatric nutrition, wellness nutrition or sports nutrition.  I love all of the wellness work that I get to do and those that I meet through that, and I am now so excited to have the chance to work with young athletes - probably because there is still a young athlete somewhere inside of me.  I am thrilled to finally be back so close to where this all started.  I'm excited to be back with the opportunity to talk with young athletes and parents, this time, with a degree to back me up.  I finally get the chance to pair what I scientifically know with what I experientially know in hopes of helping young athletes and sharing with them what I learned the hard way.  I hope I can make their journey a little easier and set them up to understand food and nutrition even after they retire their skates, cleats, jerseys, leos, ballet slippers, whatever it may be.

I'm years and years away from the young figure skater and cross country runner that I once was; yet, when I close my eyes, I can still feel the crisp air of the ice rink on my cheeks, the sting in my throat as I breathe in the piercingly cold air,  and the ripples and clinks of skaters' blades cutting into the ice as we all make our initial warm-up laps.  I can feel my focus set in as I drown out everything that isn't related to my next jump, spin or choreography piece.  All of this can come flooding back with one sound, one cold breeze, one memory.  It reminds me that, no matter what I am doing or in what field I am practicing, just as these memories are always there somewhere, so is the young athlete, pushing me to go a little further, determined to find the solution, antsy to create and inspire.  

I hope that I can use the young athlete in me to  create content and inspire you and those around you to learn, understand and feel what it means to use food to fuel.

Happy Fueling!

Taylor