Avenger Fitness Healthy Tip of the Week – July 20th, 2017

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Our Hero:  The Good Ole’ Crock Pot

At Avenger Fitness, we regularly hear clients lament regarding the time-consuming nature of healthy cooking and food prep.  In fact, I’ve personally been asked (many times more than once, I might add) if “I live in the kitchen…” 

Crock Pot to the rescue...I cannot think of an easier and more trouble-free way of food cooking that makes it almost impossible to mess up a meal…particularly with cooking proteins which tend to take the longest time when meal prepping!

In the summer months when we are less apt to crank up the oven or even walk outside in the blazing heat to the BBQ grill, the crock pot allows for the cooking of proteins in a slow, lower-temperature environment that can tenderize even the toughest cuts of meat.   And think “big batch cooking” when it comes to the slow cooker.  Before headed to bed in the evening or before leaving for the office, simply drop in a protein of choice, add some seasoning, and select the “low” setting on the cooker.  In 8 or so hours, you’ll have amazing tasting chicken, pork, or beef!

Here are some simple Crock Pot protein cooking ideas:

*Purchase an economy-sized pack of either organic boneless chicken breasts from Costco or pork tenderloin (roughly 2-3 lbs worth). Toss all the chicken or pork into the Crock Pot with 2 cups of Organic chicken broth, salt, pepper, and some herbs.  Feel free to add some cut up citrus for enhanced flavor — a few orange or lemon slices.  Fire her up on “low” and cook for around 6-8 hours.  Before pulling out the protein, take a pair of cooking tongs and a large fork.  Pull/shred the chicken or pork and stir with all the juices and broth.  Let this cook another hour in the pulled form.  Cool safely, portion accordingly in Tupperware and store in the refrigerator.  According to ServeSafe and Maricopa County Environmental Services Department, cooked/prepared food is safe to consume for 6 days plus the day it was prepared so mark the Tupperware container(s) according with the “use by” date. 

*Follow the same recipe as above with beef cubes or beef tenderloin.  Substitute organic beef broth for the chicken stock.  Season with salt, pepper, and your herbs of choice.

*When serving the chicken or pork, try a splash of good-quality balsamic vinegar or cane-sugar-based BBQ sauce for a spectacular flavor boost!  Just don’t forget the count the added Macros!

Enjoy!

 

 

Avenger Fitness Healthy Tip of the Week – July 13th, 2017

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“Not Your Grandma’s Boiled Beets…”  — How To Prepare Amazing-Tasting, Macros-Friendly Roasted Beets!

Beets, Brussels sprouts, perhaps broccoli…you mention these wonderfully healthy and nutrient-packed veggies to many folks and they just cringe at the thought of eating them…or even trying your “so called great recipe.”  We at Avenger Fitness assure you, just like with the cauliflower rice recipe last week, IT’S ALL IN THE PREPARATION AND COOKING!  Truly!

It’s beet season so finding some beautiful multi-colored organic beets at your local Fry’s Marketplace, Sprouts, or WholeFoods is an easy task.   And don’t just select the traditional red ones…be adventurous and add color.  Pick a variety of red, yellow, orange.  According to the renown Mayo Clinic, “deeper colors usually mean that fruits and vegetables are richer in phytonutrients including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Phytonutrients have been shown to help fight chronic illness, prevent cancer and strengthen the immune system.”  (click here for reference and full article from the Mayo Clinic)

Preparation & Cooking:

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees on convection bake…

1.) First remove the stems from the beets and discard.  (if you juice, you may actually use the beet greens for juicing as they are nutrient dense as well).  Use a sharp knife to cut off the very tops of each beet where the stem attaches along with the beet tail.

2.) Next, using veggie wash or simply lemon juice and a vegetable scrub brush, thoroughly clean, scrub and rinse each beet and set aside in a bowl once cleaned.

3.) Using that same sharp utility knife, carefully cut each beet into quarters then eights or sixteenths.  Ideally, for consistent cooking and enjoyment, each beet piece should be about 1/4 inch cubed.  (see pic above)

4.) Place all the cut/cubed beets into an oven-safe cooking dish (make sure to lightly coat the dish with cooking spray first) and then generously apply cooking spray over the beets (this is in place of using copious amounts of coconut or avocado oil which will run up your fat macros!).

5.) Generously apply salt, pepper, and any other favorite herbs or spices.  Using your clean hands, give the beet cubes a good mixing to ensure the cooking spray, salt, pepper and any other seasonings evenly coat the vegetables.

6.) Place the dish of beets into the oven and bake for a solid 30-45 minutes using tongs or spatula to stir the vegetables every so often to ensure even cooking.

The end product will amaze you — a sweet roasted flavor, pleasant texture, and macros-friendly nutrition!  A summer delight!

Avenger Fitness Healthy Tip of the Week – July 5th, 2017

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How To (make) Amazing-Tasting & Super-Macros-Friendly Cauliflower Rice!

Ever try cauliflower rice before?  Ever been wildly disappointed in the taste and texture?  You’re not alone…in fact we couldn’t even get through the check out line at our local Costco without hearing: “You really like that stuff?  How do you cook it because it was mushy and nasty when I prepared it…” 

Truly…it’s ALL in the preparation and cooking!

Cauliflower rice is simply chopped up cauliflower florets in a rather fine grain that takes on the appearance of white rice.  We assure you, however, it’s just pure cauliflower.  And, unlike white rice, it’s VERY low in carbs yet nutritious and quite filling (volumizing) as well.  We would not advise making your own as it’s quite the sloppy and time-consuming endeavor even with a high quality food processor.   Rather, hit your local Costco for a bag of organic pre-washed and ready to cook cauliflower rice as shown in the picture below.

Now for the super simple preparation and cooking instructions for achieving amazing taste, texture, and flavor:

1.) Pre-heat your oven BROILER to 400 degrees and make sure the top oven rack is down at least one level from the top coils.

2.) Begin by weighing out a portion or two (we’d recommend a minimum of two portions as the cauliflower shrinks/dehydrates by over 50% of its weight and volume through cooking).

3.) Place the cauliflower rice in an oven-safe glass Pyrex or like dish that has enough surface area to spread the rice out rather thinly.  This will ensure proper crisping and texture.   We’d recommend giving the dish a light coating with cooking spray first to ensure the rice doesn’t stick.

4.) Next give a few squirts of the cooking spray over the top of the cauliflower rice and season generously with some salt and pepper.  Feel free to experiment with some of your other favorite herbs and spices as well including granulated garlic!

5.)  Place the oven-safe dish under the broiler and set the timer for about 10 minutes.  Watch it closely to ensure it doesn’t over cook or burn.  About 5 minutes in, give the cauliflower a good stir in the dish to ensure even cooking and browning.  The high heat of the broiler will cause the cauliflower rice to turn a golden brown and slightly crisp up unlocking a great flavor and much-enhanced texture.

6.) Pull out of the oven when it appears adequately crispy and golden then ENJOY!

Cauliflower rice makes an amazing side dish addition to any meal!  Also, try using the cooked cauliflower rice as a bed and place over it some sauteed spinach and a protein such as shredded chicken, ground turkey, or ground bison!  For another volumizing meal option (particularly when cutting or for our clients with lower carbohydrate Macros numbers), try mixing two servings of cauliflower rice with 1/2 a serving of regular white rice as a side dish or as a bed for proteins and vegetables.  This will fill you up with 1/2 the carbs!

We guarantee if you’ve tried cauliflower rice before and haven’t prepared it and cooked it using this method, you MUST try it once again!  You WON’T be disappointed…

 

Avenger Fitness Healthy Tip of the Week – June 27th, 2017

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The Importance of Myofacial Release Therapy in Your Training Regimen

Most of us hit it hard inside and outside the gym with our regular workout regimen, but how many of us apply the same level of discipline and consistency to soft tissue work…that includes stretching, foam rolling, lacrosse ball rolling, and other forms of (what is know clinically as) Myofacial Release Therapy? Numerous studies have illuminated the importance and benefits of such therapies in aiding performance and facilitating recovery.

One new and innovative device in the world of sports performance is the Theragun. This device is used now by countless professional sports teams, physical therapists, and the top trainers in the industry.

What is the TheraGun you ask? It is a handheld, battery-operated muscle treatment device that holistically heals through vibration therapy. Ideal for use before and after physical activity, it relieves muscle pain and accelerates recovery. The TheraGun treats muscle fatigue, nerve damage, atrophy, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and a range of other ailments.

  • Decreases muscle stiffness
  • Increases blood and lymphatic flow
  • Releases muscle spasms
  • Breaks up scar tissue
  • Reduces lactic acid

Avenger Fitness just purchased a TheraGun for use with our valued clients. And they’re raving already about the experience…

So, whether you have access to a TheraGun or simply a lacrosse ball or foam roller, carve out time for soft tissue work!  Remember, training time does not create gains, it’s merely the stimulus.  Mindful rest and recovery, integrating stretching and myofacial release, is what facilitates progress. Your body will thank you.

Avenger Fitness Healthy Tip of the Week – June 21st, 2017

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Macros-Friendly Bread Pudding!

bread pudding

This week’s “tip of the week” is a contribution by Avenger Fitness client and avid macros client Tray (follow Tray in Instagram).  In wanting to “have his cake and eat it too,” Tray cleverly modified a traditional bread pudding recipe from The Pioneer Woman to create a tasty AND healthy recipe with a fraction of the macros!

Tray's.bread.pudding

The directions are super simple:
1. Cube bread and set aside.
2. Beat together eggs, butter, vanilla, and milk.
3. Add sugar and mix until fully dissolved.
4. Layer bread cubes in baking dish and top with liquid mixture. Make sure all bread pieces are fully saturated.
5. Bake at 325 degrees for 55-70 minutes until the top layer of the bread is golden brown. Let it fully cool in the refrigerator for several hours so it thickens a bit.

Below are the macros per serving (serving size = 100 grams)

Bread.pudding.macros

ENJOY!

Avenger Fitness Healthy Tip of the Week – June 14th, 2017

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Post-Workout Juicing and Maximizing MICRO-Nutrient Uptake

juicing

It is quite widely known and accepted (in both health/nutrition as well as medical circles) the amazing benefits of fresh vegetable juicing.  Even the esteemed Mayo clinic discusses the power of whole foods with patients as part of its integrative medicine approach, particularly with patients battling cancer.  (click here for some good basic info on juicing from the Mayo Clinic)

Juicing provides an additional vehicle for getting a blast of MICRO-nutrients (essential vitamins and minerals) into your system without potentially bloating levels of fiber, particularly from those vegetables likely not consumed regularly.  And its liquid state gets these nutrients into the body quickly with maximal absorption.  An ideal time for this boost is post-workout!  Try this tasty, macros-friendly green juice option called “Mean Green.”  Recipe and Macros Tracking info below…

Consuming a serving (around 30 oz) of this along-side a protein source is a phenomenal post-workout and recovery meal option.  We slug one of these very juices daily.  Try it every day for a month…you’ll be surprised how much better your feel and you’ll likely notice a difference in energy and even skin tone!

mean green

Avenger Fitness Healthy Tip of the Week – June 7th, 2017

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We recently discovered a great new and nutritious carb source to help fill one’s carbohydrate Macros bucket: organic purple SWEET potatoes!  These suckers are tasty, nutrient dense, and offer some carb variety and may be purchased at your local Sprouts or Whole Foods markets…

purple potatoes

Here’s a quick and easy preparation guide:

1.) Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2.) Clean potatoes with a food brush under hot water.  Give a spray of veggie wash (or lemon juice) to clean any bacteria off the skins.

3.) With a sharp knife, poke 6-8 small insertions in the potato.

4.) Wrap each potato in aluminum foil and place in the heated oven.

5.) Cook for 90-120 min then enjoy with some Brummel & Brown Greek Yogurt Butter and cinnamon. Both are Macros friendly!

Note: The cooked potatoes may be made up in advance, cooled, and placed in the refrigerator for enjoyment up to 6 days from a food-safety standpoint.  Re-heat either in the microwave or, better yet, slice up the cooled potato, place on an oven-safe plate, and place under the oven broiler for a few minutes to warm and crisp up! Enjoy again!

IMG_2583

Why is tracking MACROS imperative to body composition change?

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my fitness pal

“Abs are made in the kitchen.” “You cannot outrun a bad diet.” Do these phrases sound familiar? Hopefully they do, because they are one hundred percent correct!  Exercise and physical activity are definitely necessary to maintain good health. It is your nutrition though, that trumps all when it comes to your body composition and how well you function. You can probably understand why we know that flexible dieting/nutrition (i.e. “tracking macros”) is essential for sustained weight loss and the increase of lean muscle mass. In order to decrease body fat you must create a calorie deficit. Simply put, you have to burn more calories than you eat. Well then, I can just do tons of cardio and move around a lot and I will lose weight, right? Wrong! It has been shown that marathon runners burn 2,600 calories during their 26-mile endeavor. Good luck trying to do that every single day when a pound of fat comprised of 3,500 calories! Tracking your macros and setting proper macro-nutrient ranges so that you are eating just the right amount of food is absolutely essential. The goal is not to eat so little that you slow down your metabolism and create even more health issues. The trick is to eat just the right amount!  And enjoy what your eating; thus the benefits of flexible nutrition!

What is Macros Dieting and WHY should I care?

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Macros diet, also known as Flexible Dieting, or Flexible Nutrition, is all about balancing the right amounts of your three main food-energy sources: Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats.

Whereas traditional “diets” are restrictive, meaning they tell you what NOT to eat (their language is “You CAN’T have”), Flexible Nutrition allows you to enjoy All kinds of foods, yes… including all your favorites, as long as it fits into your Macro Nutrient daily needs.

So, rather than telling you “don’t have that Oreo cookie! That’s bad, you can’t have that.” Flexible Nutrition says: “Yes, you CAN have that Oreo, because you’ve accounted in your daily Macros for 3 Oreos, so eat ‘em, baby!”

how-to-have-your-cake-big

As with everything in life, balance is key. We recommend a 90/10 approach, where 90% of your food intake is from whole foods (solid protein sources, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc.), and 10% may come from “fun” foods such as the Oreo example.

The beauty of Flexible Nutrition (following Macros) is that it offers a realistic plan that conforms to your food interests, versus a fad diet that is unrealistic to adhere to over the long haul. Consequently, individuals that follow Macros and Flexible Nutrition tend to get much better body composition results that are sustainable, compared with those who “diet” or count calories.