Random Thoughts: Training Maxes and Snacks

How was every one’s Valentine’s Day/Weekend? Will and I spent a wonderful Valentine’s Day at home, with a delicious dinner and plenty of wine. Honestly, it couldn’t have been any better! The rest of the weekend was spent…well.. working, so that’s kind of a bummer, but that’s just the way things go sometimes, huh?

Training Maxes

Last week I hit two new training maxes! Woo hoo! On Monday, I went for a new deadlift PR, and was just barely (and I mean barely!) able to pull a new PR of 235, up 5 lb from my previous PR a couple of months ago. Baby steps, but that’s ok with me. I didn’t wake up feeling great that day, so I wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to pull 230, let alone get a new max.

Later on in the week, I also maxed out my back squat, and hit a new PR there as well! This is a big deal only because I haven’t maxed out my squat since before my bike accident, which was about a year and a half ago. Due to reduced ankle range of motion, pain, and then another injury to my other ankle last summer, heavy squatting has just not been in the cards for me. A few months ago, I finally started putting some moderate weight back on the bar, and to be honest, I just got the plates back on the bar 2 weeks ago, hitting a couple doubles at 145 lb. So this week, when I was maxing, I really had no expectations above 150 lb… until I hit 150 and it felt relatively easy! I kept going and maxed out at 175 lb, which, considering my previous max was 165, is not too shabby! Maybe I should take a year off of heavy squatting more often. Heh.

I also have to mention here that if you’ll remember, my goal for this year was to squat 180 lb. Looks like it’s time to make a new goal, as at this point, I might just hit 180 before spring!

Chocolate. So much chocolate.

Remember how I went 30 days without chocolate? Well, I more than made up for it this weekend. I had a little bit of chocolate at work on Friday for Valentine’s day, and then that night, Will brought home some amazingly delicious chocolate cookies from our favorite bakery, as well as some Godiva chocolate truffles that were to die for. So, anyway, the days without chocolate are behind me, although if every weekend were like this one, I’d probably bust out of my wedding gown come July. Ah well, that’s what Valentine’s day is for, right? Flowers, shmowers, I’ll take the good stuff. 

Interestingly though, the for the past few nights I have not slept well at all. I’ve been going to bed exhausted, but then waking up feeling totally unrested the next morning, despite getting 8-9 hours of sleep each night. My only explanation is all of the sugar I was eating this weekend. Oh sugar, I love you, but you do not belong in my life in large quantities.

New Snacks!

Along with mass amounts of chocolate, I’ve tried some great new snacks lately! I’m always looking for new snacks, just so that I don’t get bored eating the same exact thing every single day. Most of my snacks involve either almonds or cashews these days, but I’ve also tried some great new bars and some other grab-and-go snacks that I’d like to share with you. And they all just happen to be gluten (and added sugar) free, if that matters to you!

  • Cliff Kit’s Organic ‘fruit and seed’ Bars

Kits organic

I eat the Clif Kit’s Organic Fruit and Nut bars almost every day — I find them better than Lara bars. But I recently found their new (or new to me, at least) fruit and seed bars at our local grocery store, and decided to give them a try! There are a few different flavors, of which I’ve tried the Cherry Pumpkin Seed and Apricot Sesame Seed. I loved the cherry, but found the apricot a tiny bit strange. I still have a Coconut Sesame Seed one left to try, so I’m hoping that one’s just as good as the cherry!

I love these bars because just like Lara bars, they are made with very few ingredients, without any added sugars.  Also, even though they’re quite small, I find that they generally keep me satisfied for a while, and make the perfect mid morning snack to hold me over until lunch.

  • Trader Joe’s Plantain Chips

Ummm… I’m in love. My wonderful friend Lori had these at her house when I was there for her birthday, and I seriously had to hold myself back from eating all of them. They are a perfect crunchy, salty snack, which is saying a lot coming from a chip lover like myself! I would have a picture because I bought them for myself the other day, but I destroyed the bag upon opening. Oh well, these things happen! I’m sure you can imagine what plantain chips look like anyway. These will definitely be a permanent fixture in our apartment for a while.

  • Super Seedz Seasoned Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds

I picked these up when I was out running errands one day, only because I didn’t have a snack with me, and it was the only thing by the register that didn’t have a ton of sugar. I had no idea what to expect, but they are absolutely delicious! Another crunchy snack, the seasoning is perfect, not overwhelming. The only problem with these, as well as the plantain chips above, is that I could most certainly eat a whole bag at a time — they’re that good.

Readers: Have you hit any PRs lately? Brag in the comments below! Share some great new snacks you’ve found lately — have you tried any of the things I listed above?

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Roasted chick peas

Anyone who has spent an appreciable amount of time with me knows that I love to eat.

More specifically, I love to eat salty, crunchy things.

This can be a problem when one is also trying to be a healthy member of society. Potato chips and health don’t really fit too well together, do they? While I do enjoy chips and chip-type things occasionally, I try to stay away from them for the most part simply because I am very well aware of my inability to say “no” when they’re in my face.  I’ve loved chips since I was a kid — Friday nights growing up were always Pizza night, and you know what often accompanied said pizza? Potato chips with french onion dip. Yup. When I got into college, in an attempt to be more healthy, I stuffed my face with Baked Lays and Baked Cheetos.

Healthy? What in the heck was I thinking?

Anyway, habits are hard to break, and I still love salty, crunchy snacks. Popcorn? YUM. Especially homemade. Sweet potato chips? Love. SnapPea Crisps? Uhh Yes please.  I’ve also gotten pretty good at homemade pita chips, if I do say so myself.

But this past weekend I found a new salty, crunchy snack. Roasted Chick Peas. I may be way behind the times on this one, because a search on the internet pulled up about ten thousand recipes, but it’s my first time making them, so I figured maybe some of you out there hadn’t discovered these yet yourselves.

chickpeas1

I didn’t really follow a recipe for mine, but they did come out pretty good for my first try. Here’s what I did:

Mixed the following in medium sized bowl: 2 tbs EVOO, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, and a few shakes of Herbamare (herbed seasoned salt).

I then tossed the chick peas (which I had previously drained, rinsed, and let dry) in the EVOO mixture until coated evenly. Spread the coated chick peas in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet, and then sprinkle with a little bit more of each of the seasonings mentioned above. I then baked this at 350 for 45 minutes, but they were still a little bit mushy at that time. To crisp them up, I turned the oven up and baked them for an additional 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

chickpeas2

Ta Da! Crispy, salty, slightly spicy perfection.

*Please note: My oven is ancient. Baking times will probably vary, so if you follow the same method I used, keep an eye on them during the last 10 minutes or so at 400. I imagine that you could also cook them for the entire time at 400, and adjust the time accordingly. Maybe 25-30 minutes?

I think next time I’ll use a little bit more cayenne pepper, because I wish these had a little bit more kick to them. But overall they are delicious! I also want to try a batch with garlic and rosemary seasoning, because I think that would be excellent. Maybe even some parmesan in there? The seasoning options are basically endless.

chickpeas4

Now I’m off to eat these bad boys like it’s my job.  Go ahead, try it yourself, and enjoy!

Have you tried roasted chick peas? What seasonings do you enjoy with these? Are you more of a salty or sweet person? 

The GoodOnYa Bar and A Giveaway!

I want to first start off by saying WOW. I am completely overwhelmed by the response my last post has gotten, and I am so happy that I have been able to reach so many in the athletic training world though this little blog. Welcome to all of my new followers, and a I want to give a huge THANK YOU to the crazy number of people who have shared my last post on Facebook and Twitter over the past few days. You all are the best, and I hope everyone continues to enjoy visiting this site! There have been some incredibly thoughtful responses since Monday, and I truly appreciate each and every comment/tweet/email that comes in.

But since not everyone who reads this blog is an AT, moving on to today’s post:

This, my friends, is a product review.

I wrote a review of another product a while back, but after I posted it I realized that I wasn’t really that kind of blogger. I realized that I would rather write about my ideas and experiences than review foods and products, unless the item I’m reviewing is truly something I believe in, whether it be a company, product, or type of food.

And we have a winner. The GoodOnYa Bar.

GoodOnYa1

This is a product and a company that I can believe in. This is a small company from Encinitas, California, with ideas and philosophies much like my own. When I first heard of these bars, I decided to peruse their website to learn more about them, and what I found compelled me to reach out to them to give these bars a try. To quote the website:

“We are part of the movement and want to take food back from the multi-national corporations that feed us. It’s time to understand what we are eating, find local sources and tap back into decisions that benefit the earth. Because we are of the earth, every single thing we do here matters, it is a closed loop. When you drink a sports drink with a coloring that is petroleum based, you are supporting the companies that think it’s ok to put gas in your body! Those companies don’t care about anything except profits. And the health of the earth as well as the health of your body doesn’t cross their mind.”

This is a company that was started by an Olympic athlete, in a quest to create healthy food with the best ingredients, little processing, and nutrients that can help not only our bodies, but our environment as well. To read about a company that doesn’t just care about the bottom line, but that also cares about health of us and future generations; now that is something I can support 100%.

GoodOnYa4

To quote again:

“We bought a variety of bars over the years, the same ones I ate when I was an athlete, but we found ourselves bored and at times shocked at the nutritional content. We didn’t even know what soy protein isolate was and that was in almost every bar we tried. We don’t like ingredients that aren’t directly from nature. We just don’t think you should be eating things you can’t make yourself.  So we decided to make our own, and here we are.”

To find out a little bit more about this company and what they are about, check out this short video here:

Again, a company and product that falls right in line with my own nutritional philosophy. I had to try them, and try them I did! And this, my friends, is what I found:

I was sent a sample box of their three flavors of GoodOnYa Bars: Breakfast, Peanut Butter Honey, and Peanut Butter Chocolate.

As soon as I got them, I couldn’t wait to dig in.

goodonyabar_breakfast_wrapper

The first one I tried was the Organic Gluten Free Breakfast bar. Nutty, hearty, and slightly sweet, it was absolutely perfect for breakfast on the go. Instead of tasting like something that had been processed and was sitting on a shelf in a warehouse for months, it honestly tasted like something I could have just whipped up in the kitchen moments before. Besides the awesome flavor, it was satisfying too, taking care of my hunger for the next 2-3 hours (which for me, Ms. Eats-All-Day-Long, is saying something).

goodonyabar_pbh_wrapper

The next bar I tried was the Organic Gluten Free Peanut Butter Honey. I grabbed this one after a morning stadium run, eating half of it as part of my post-workout breakfast, and the other half of it later to keep my energy levels up during a marathon study session. The flavor was less peanut-butter than I originally expected, but it was still a delicious and satisfying snack. Again, I felt great about the ingredients that were going into my body, especially as a direct-post-workout snack, and was happy that it tasted like real food, not like artificial flavorings and preservatives. This one was less sweet than the breakfast bar, making it an equally good choice for a breakfast on the go.

goodonyabar_pbc_wrapper

Of course, I saved the Organic Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter for last, as history tells me that that would be my favorite flavor. Like the Peanut Butter Honey, it did have less of a peanut butter flavor than I was expecting, but the chocolate chips sprinkled in added a nice bit of sweetness to the bar. Although not an overwhelming peanut butter flavor, it was extremely tasty and seemed like a perfect post-workout snack. Overall, this one was an excellent, filling snack, and like the others was not too sweet.

If I had to rank them, I would definitely say the Breakfast bar was my favorite, followed by the Chocolate Peanut Butter and Peanut Butter Honey. They are all delicious though, and would suit many different tastes, especially those of you who don’t like bars that are packed with a ton of sugar and other sweeteners. And I can’t say it enough that this is a company I can stand behind 100%. The GoodOnYa Bar is real food made from real ingredients, not some chemicals created in a lab. It’s made by people who care about you and the environment, using ingredients that will nourish your body the way you deserve.

And to make things even better, for those of you with intolerances, allergies, or aversions to certain foods, these are not only gluten free bars, but they are grain free, non-GMO, non-soy, and non-dairy as well. BOOM.

If you’re someone like me who is always on the go, bars can be a great snack choice. However, as noted in the quotes above, so many other bars are packed with ingredients that you can’t even pronounce, additives, and tons of sugar/sweeteners. These bars have none of that, and they’re delicious. What more can you ask for?

To learn more about this awesome company, you can check out the GoodOnYa Bar website here, and you can also follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook.

And as a very special offer, I’m doing my very first giveaway for this product! The winner will receive a sample box with one of each flavor (Breakfast, Peanut Butter Honey, and Peanut Butter Chocolate). To enter, please leave a comment below and tell me which one you’re most excited about trying and why. 

To gain additional entries, you may also do one or all of the following: 

1. Follow me and The GoodOnYa Bar on Twitter

2. Like The GoodOnYa Bar on Facebook

Please add an additional comment here for each of these actions to be counted.

*Important Note: The giveaway will close at 9:00 PM EST on Tuesday January 22. One winner will be chosen at random and announced on Wednesday January 23; they will then have 48 hours to contact me or another winner will be selected. Good luck! 

**EDIT: This giveaway is now closed.

ALSO: Even if you don’t win the giveaway, you can still get a little deal anyway (because I love you all that much). GoodOnYa Bar has been generous enough to offer free shipping to all of my readers. All you have to do is enter the coupon code TrainHard at checkout, and you’ll be all set! If you’re someone who loves real food made with real ingredients, without all that processed nonsense, give these a try. You won’t regret it!

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: All ideas and opinions herein are my own. Besides the 3 complimentary bars that I tried, I was not compensated in any way for the ideas and opinions stated here. 

Casual Friday

Guess What?

IT’S FRIDAY!!!!!

Baah!

Ok, Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

The other day I made the best snack ever.

It started out when I ate the new Peanut Honey Pretzel Luna Bar.

(Love at first bite)

Which inspired me to do this!

Peanut-Honey-Pretzel Bowl

Y-U-M

Plain Greek Yogurt, 1 Tbs Peanut Butter, 1 Tsp Honey, and Pretzels added at the last minute for some salty crunch!

(I also cheated and added in some raisins and a few chocolate chips, because I just can’t help myself)

I actually used this as my “first lunch” for the past few days. First lunch, you ask? Yes. On a normal day, I eat breakfast at about 6:30 am, so those of you who think I’m going to eat lunch at 12:30ish and then not eat again until dinner are cray cray. For a while I was eating lunch around 12:30, and then would be ravenous for endless snacks around 3 or 4, so I figured, why not just split it up into 2 small lunches? That way I know exactly what I’m eating, and I’m not reaching blindly for what ever’s available when I turn into a hungry Velociraptor around 3:30.

Add in the fact that I often don’t get to eat dinner until about 8, and that second lunch comes in quite handy (and essential for my own sanity and the safety of those around me).

So with that wacko schedule, what does a normal day of food look like for me? My breakfast and lunch are pretty standard; I am a creature of habit, after all. My dinner varies, but for a general idea, here goes:

Breakfast 6:30 am: Oatmeal cooked in Almond Milk, with a few additions.

Snack 10:30am: Clif Z Bar – preferably Peanut Butter flavor (You’ve probably noticed at this point, I have a mild obsession with peanut butter)

1st Lunch 12:30pm: (Amazing) Yogurt Creation above

2nd Lunch 3:30 or 4:30: Spinach Salad topped with grilled chicken, bell peppers, and black bean salad

(And although this was taken at home, this meal is not always this pretty and is usually scarfed down 1 bite at a time between patients at work… Just saying.)

Dinner: Usually a veggie, some sort of starch, and meat. The meat source varies between chicken, steak, pork, and salmon for the most part.

Here we have some grilled chicken, red potatoes, and roasted brussels sprouts and green beans. Pretty standard.

And then of course I’ve got to have my chocolate fix.

A small handful of chocolate chips tends to satisfy my sweet tooth quite well 🙂

So there you have it. Long story short, I eat a whole lot of peanut butter, bars, veggies, and meat.  And OF COURSE there are days when I eat more than this, or less than this, but the important thing is that I listen to myself and really try to eat when I’m hungry, which just so happens to be every few hours on most days.  Some of you may look at this and wonder why I have to eat so often (I’ll just remind you to refer back to the velociraptor picture above), but that’s just what I have found is best for me. If you feel better eating 3 square meals a day, or 6 small ones, or even 2 big ones, than that’s ok too. There’s no proof that we all have to be eating every few hours, or that you HAVE to eat breakfast, or yada yada yada. Do what fits your life best.

Now go enjoy your weekend!

Do any of you eat the same things over and over? Do any of you eat two lunches instead of one? Does a hectic schedule mess with your eating habits?