Vacation Journal - Mango Madness

Summer brings the sweetest fruits, and if you know me, you know that the mango is the Holy Grail. The sweet and tangy fruits are just as good of a dessert as they are an athletic recovery food. For many years in the sport of swimming, a favorite after practice recovery snack was dried mangos. The natural sugars boost your glycogen stores, giving you fast acting recovery to the most readily used energy source in the body. What I had never done, until last week, was pick mangos straight from the tree. Luckily a much-needed vacation gave me the opportunity I was waiting for.

After a grueling year of school, I was ready for a reprieve. My wife and joined our families down in the Virgin Islands for a week of R&R. Upon arrival to the house we booked on the little island of Jost Van Dyke, we had freshly picked bananas waiting for us, that had been picked from a tree ten feet away from the kitchen. The bananas literally tasted like banana pudding, I had never had a banana so sweet, or so fresh. When I walked outside I noticed the two huge mango trees that sat right under our house.

As you might imagine, I went ape for the mangoes. Every day I picked fresh fruits straight from the tree. About 50 feet down from the two big mango trees were several smaller trees that held mangos about the size of a tennis ball, which were much more tart and acidic, but still a delightful treat. I kept thinking to myself, “why don’t I have a grove of fruit trees at my house?!” There is truly no comparison or substitute for foods that you pick immediately from the source.

Speaking of eating from the source, we ate fish straight from the sea! The Island of Jost Van Dyke is tiny. 192 people populate the speck of land, and the fishing we did was nothing like you’d see in movies. Out we went on a tiny little boat with makeshift equipment. A few hours later we approached the dock with Kingfish, Mackerel, and Barracuda, in hand. We fished in 90 to 120 feet of water, with live baitfish called Spack. Our fisherman, Dave, cleaned the fish right on the wooden dock, and sent us on our way to cook a feast. Upon catching the Barracuda we asked him, “do people eat Barracuda?” He looked at us like we were crazy and said, “of course, it’s great!” He was right, albeit the Barracuda was a bit tougher; the flavor was still sweet and a little briny. What took the tough consistency away was when my Dad decided to cut the large filets into smaller medallions of about two inches by two inches.

We ate those fish for three meals. On the second day I was thinking, “this is a day old and it’s still more fresh than anything I could ever buy in Austin!

The brilliance we experienced eating straight from the land and sea makes me miss the islands already. The flavor was of no comparison; the nutrients were packed to the brim, literally seeping out of the mangoes as we picked them. Looks like I’ll just have to start a fruit grove in Austin!

Carbs & Gluten Explained

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Carbohydrates are a very important part of an athletes’ diet, but many athletes who are following a gluten free diet may find it difficult to know where to get their carbohydrates.   Cutting out gluten does not mean having to avoid all carbohydrates, contrary to popular belief.  Gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, is a major component of most breads, pastas, crackers, cookies, and other starchy snack foods.  In recent years, however, with the increase in diagnosis of Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease where a person cannot digest gluten, and an increase in those with gluten sensitivity, there are many more products to choose from for those following a gluten free diet.  There are also many naturally gluten free options for athletes following this diet. 

Carbohydrates are important both pre- and post-workout for all athletes.  Those who are on a gluten free diet may find the following gluten free carbohydrate options to be easy to work into their sports nutrition regimen.

Naturally gluten free options:

  • Brown rice
  • Air popped popcorn
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Potatoes
  • Gluten free oats
  • Nonfat/lowfat milk and yogurt

Gluten free products:

  •  Brown rice crackers
  • Gluten free bread
  • Gluten free granola bars/nutrigrain type bars
  • Gluten free English muffins/bagels
  • Gluten free pasta
  • Gluten free granola
  • Chex cereals

It is common to see many gluten free products in your usual grocery stores now, rather than having to shop at a specialty food store.  There are also many websites, blogs, and recipe books dedicated to the gluten free diet. 

For more information on gluten sensitivity as an athlete, reference these fact sheets from SCAN:

http://www.scandpg.org/local/resources/files/2010/SD-USA-Fact-Sheet_May-2010_Gluten-Sensitivity_aa.pdf

http://www.scandpg.org/local/resources/files/2009/SD-USA_Fact_Sheet_Gluten_Sensitivity_In_Athletes_Oct%2009.pdf

 

Today's News - Sound Advice for Living Well

image sourced from nytimes.com

image sourced from nytimes.com

Our regular reads always include looking over the Health & Wellness section of The New York Times. The famed paper is an excellent source of innovative and healthy recipes from cuisines home and abroad, and is always on the cutting edge of exercise, health, and science reporting. 

Today happens to have been a banner day for exactly the kind of informative reading we expect from the publication, and we want to share two of our favorite morning reads with all of you. 

First, a quick essay from our favorite, Mark Bittman. Tirelessly forging ahead in his crusade to change public opinion and help Americans eat cleaner, more natural diets, he's written about the misconceptions surrounding the big three - salt, fat, and sugar. Bittman explains how each effects our bodies and what changes really need to be made in order to stop and reverse weight gain. An important read for all of us. 

Second, the reporting and analysis of an eye-opening study on how we perceive our own efforts in fitness. Spoiler alert, we're not working nearly as hard as we think we are. While that may seem initially discouraging, we'd like to challenge you instead to look at it as empowering. We're capable of more than we give ourselves credit for, and stronger than we think we are. Now it's time to really push ourselves and achieve greater results. 

So take a few minutes to read these two important articles, and maybe even explore what else this great resource has to offer. Keep moving, keep cooking, and never stop dreaming. We're here to arm you with the knowledge and confidence to put your best foot forward on the path to achieving your dreams. Healthy = Happy.

WHAT CAUSES WEIGHT GAIN - BY MARK BITTMAN

OVERESTIMATING HOW HARD WE EXERCISE - BY GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

OUR FAVORITE HEALTH & WELLNESS SECTIONS AT THE TIMES - BOOKMARK THESE!

WELL - PHYS ED

WELL - RECIPES FOR HEALTH

WELL - HOME

Mango Madness - Recipe Post

Mangos. Garrett LOVES them. They're a well know favorite that plays a recurring role in his tasty approach to healthy eating. So, it was no surprise when Garrett was invited by the National Mango Board to contribute a recipe to their brand new all mango cookbook. Including delicious recipes from breakfast, to sides, to delectable desserts, the collection really showcases the diversity of this amazing superfood fruit. 

To ease into the heat of summer and hot weather cooking techniques, we blended up a creamy mango Gazpacho, offering a new twist on the traditionally tomato based cold soup. Served with a topping of grilled shrimp and homemade mango salsa, we guarantee a refreshing and inventive crowd-pleaser. 

Check out the cookbook snapshots below to learn more about what makes a mango such a powerful superfood, download your own copy of the cookbook here, and enjoy the sweet, natural goodness.

Happy eating!

CREAMY MANGO GAZPACHO WITH LEMONGRASS CHILI SHRIMP

Gazpacho

Makes 4 servings

  • 5 small ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped
  •  1 ½ cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1 Serrano pepper, seeded and minced
  •  2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs creamy peanut butter
  • fresh cilantro

Purée all ingredients except cilantro in blender. Chill at least 2 hours.

Shrimp

  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp (roughly 12) shelled and deveined
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  •  1 Serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp puréed lemongrass (chop before pureeing)
  • pinch salt

Whisk together all ingredients then brush onto shrimp until well coated.

Arrange shrimp in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook, turning once, about 3-4 minutes until cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside.

To Serve

Ladle chilled soup into four bowls. Top with fresh cilantro & grilled shrimp. A small scoop of chopped mango mixed with ginger and chili can also be added with the shrimp and cilantro for garnish.

The Summer Advantage

Summer is the best season for easy, healthy eating. The bounty of fresh produce available at every grocery and farmer's market is incredible and we absolutely LOVE the variety of fresh, delicious flavors. To celebrate the season we've pulled two of our most popular posts from summers past, brought to you by some of our resident nutrition experts. Get out and enjoy all the healthy goodness summer has to offer!

Summertime – Fresh, Nutrient Packed, & Tasty – Emily Ng, RD

I probably don’t even need to say it—but summer is the perfect season to take advantage of maximizing your fruit and vegetable intake. Doesn’t a cool, crisp, leafy salad and/or fruit assortment sound refreshing on a scorching summer day? Minimal preparation, maximal nutrients, delicious flavor…that actually sounds really good right about now. In a previous blog post, I mentioned the benefits of picking seasonal produce over produce that isn’t in season. Depending on where you live geographically, not all produce can be grown locally due to climate differences. If your grocery store does carry out of season items, they must be transported from an area where it can be grown. Fruits and vegetables grown locally when in season can be picked closest to their ripest stages. Studies have shown that foods are highest in vitamin content when picked during their prime season. Produce that must be transported from another area must be picked prior to ripening, meaning lower nutrient content. (This drives up the price too!)

To get the most health benefits from your food, and to look up seasonal produce according to the area you live in click here.

Now, with that being said, any fruit and vegetable consumption, regardless of seasonality, is going to be much more beneficial to you and your family’s health than a diet devoid of these foods. Fresh foods contain phytonutrients and antioxidants, which are helpful compounds aiding in immunity and protecting against chronic disease. Unfortunately the same can be said for very few processed foods.

Summer’s Sweet Bounty – Elaine Phipps

There are so many things to love about summer.  Some of my favorite things about this time of year include long, warm, lazy days filled with fun activities, and juicy, fresh produce are.  I live in central Texas, and this time of year, the peaches and watermelon are a must when I visit the farmer’s market or grocery store.  You have not lived until you taste a peach from Fredericksburg, TX!   Summer’s bounty of fresh fruit is a true gift of nature that I encourage you to indulge in! Purchasing fruit in season is beneficial for many reasons:

  • Less expensive
  • Lots of flavor, especially when buying local produce
  • High nutrient value

I was taking clients on a grocery tour recently, and one asked me about the nutritional value of packaged “fruit snacks.”  I pointed out the fresh watermelon, cantaloupe, berries, oranges, nectarines, and mangoes in the grocery cart as “nature’s fruit snack.”  My client thought it was funny, but really, it’s true!  Fruit provides sweetness from the natural sugar (carbohydrate) that it contains.  But, fruit also contains many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  In addition, many fruits have a high water content, so they help you to stay hydrated on those long, hot summer days.

Fresh fruit is a great part of recovery nutrition after a workout in the summer heat, since it helps to rehydrate, provides carbohydrate to refuel muscles, and antioxidants to help to decrease inflammation after exercise.

One last thing to mention is that I often get asked if fruit should be avoided because it contains “lots of sugar.”  My answer to that is, definitely not!  The carbohydrate (aka sugar) this is naturally occurring in fruit is also paired with fiber, which helps to slow digestion/absorption of the carbohydrate.  Also, when fruit is paired with protein at meals or snacks, this also slows the absorption of the natural sugar.  Here are some examples of how to enjoy the fresh, sweet summer bounty of fruit as a balanced snack:

  • Apple with a smear of nut butter
  • Watermelon chunks and a string cheese
  • Cantaloupe with a couple slices of ham or turkey
  • Peach and a small handful of nuts
  • Fresh berries mixed in a cup of yogurt