Shredded Chicken Taco Bake

To my surprise I finally made a dinner that lasted more than one day. My creation lasted 3 days. I could not be more excited. When I make dinner that lasts more than one night then, I am not rushed throwing something together right after evening practice.  I was able to come home from working with Maria and just heat up dinner.

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I absolutely love Mexican food. Maybe because I grew up in Texas, but a go to meal is usually inspired with spices such as cumin and chili powder topped with jalapeno. One of my all time favorite foods are fajitas. However, I do love to stuff them full of all the good stuff which makes it impossible to actually consume in a neat fashion. So I decided to put some of my favorite ingredients in a pan and turn it into more of a casserole. This way I get more of the good stuffing which goes into tacos and fajitas!!!

In order to make your own version of a taco bake, you can pick ingredients which you enjoy most. Since I have to eat foods which are gluten-free I started off by lining the baking dish with torn up pieces of corn tortillas. Next I made a mixture on the stove combining black beans, pinto beans, shredded chicken (leftovers from the night before), onion, and a packet of taco seasoning. Usually I create my own taco seasoning, but I found a gluten-free alternative at the store the other day so for convenience I used the packet. After all the stuffing was mixed and heated thoroughly I poured half of it on to the tortillas.

I love to add greens in my foods in any shape or form. So, I made a layer of Kale and mushrooms topped with another layer of the chicken stuffing. Topped with sliced avocado,more tortillas, a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies and cheese.

I baked the dish for about 25 to 30 minutes. Everything was already cooked I just wanted to make sure it was heated well all throughout and the cheese was nice and melted.

Next time I will add peppers to my chicken mixture, I bought them to add, I just forgot when I was making the dish. I love having dinners that last more than one day. This means more time to run!!

 

Ingredients:

1 can tomatoes with green chilies

1 can black beans

1 can pinto beans

1 chicken breast, shredded

1 8oz packet of cheese

8 corn tortillas

1 pkg of taco seasoning

1 onion sliced

1 sliced avocado

1 handful of kale

6 sliced mushrooms

Keep in mind you can add and subtract many ingredients. Make it to your own liking and get lots of use out of it!

ENJOY!!

Foods to Fuel

My most memorable food mishap happened during the 2003 Texas State track championships.  I was still young and learning how to properly fuel myself for races. Long story short, I learned my lesson when it came to preparing for a race. To this day I remember how horrible and unprepared I felt for the 1600 meter race. The entire race I kept telling myself, “if I only had fueled myself properly!”DSCF1626

I could go on and on with stories where I learned valuable lessons when it comes to fueling myself correctly. You live and learn through trials and tribulations. What works for one person my not work for another. In my case I have learned over the years what my body can and can not handle. For example, I can not eat peanuts before running. I would not recommend it either. High fat foods typically do not sit well when consumed within an hour of intense exercise. Right before I run I have found the most success with plain bland foods. Something easy to digest with not much flavor. Before I was diagnosed with Celiac in the mornings prior to heading out the door I would eat half of a cliff bar or a slice of bread with a dab of peanut butter and honey. I generally stick to roughly 100-200 calories in the mornings before heading out for a run. Don’t forget to drink some water too!!! As soon as I finish my workout I indulge in a more satisfying breakfast such as oatmeal and yogurt or an egg dish or some variety.

DSCF1625This may sound silly or even a little obsessive, but when it comes time for racing I would really buckle down. The day before a race, even to this day I follow the same eating habits. First I stay away from dairy products the day before the race. I do this because I tend to produce a lot of mucus (hope that does not scare you away.) Second, I always have the same foods for dinner. Typically dinner consists of some sort of pasta. I have switched from whole grain to a quinoa/brown rice blend pasta in the past year due to Celiac.

It is important to stick to comfortable foods. The day before and morning prior to racing is not the time to try sushi or some new spicy restaurant.  If you want to race well, you need to be fueled properly. Find what works for you and stick to it. My top recommendation is to find a food that is easy on your stomach. This means avoid high fatty foods the day before and day of your race. Go and enjoy the steak after your race! 🙂

What is your go to pre race dinner?DSCF1627

What’s for Lunch?

salad and fish What did you have for lunch today?  For me, I had a cilantro Spiced Tilapia Fillet, Rice Chips and a Salad. My secret ingredient … Dried Cherries … I have been topping most of my salads with either dried cherries or blueberries.  I must say it makes all the difference.

I want to talk about the importance of lunch time. Breakfast is typically viewed as the most important meal of the day, don’t get me wrong, it is very important. However, many people tend to overlook lunch. People believe that if they had a great breakfast that they can use lunch as free ticket to eat whatever is readily available. For some running into McDonald’s for a double cheese burger is on the menu. Others may prefer a 6 inch subway sandwich with chips and a drink. Whatever is in your brown bag special, remember to make it a healthy option. Lunch is not a free ticket to eat candy bars out of the vending machine or to engorged yourself with a plate full of fries. You still have to eat a well-rounded meal.  With practice just 3 hours away, you do not want to feel bloated or nauseous due to a greasy unsatisfying lunch. WIth this being said, I have provided a view pointers when it comes to LUNCH TIME.

LUCKY 7 LUNCHES

1. Pack left overs. Most people consume fairly healthy dinners. Chicken, brocoli, and rice make a nice lunch. I like to call lunches like these, mini dinners.

2. People are afraid to bring their lunches to school and work because they have no place to store them. Buy an insulate lunch box. Problem solved.

3. Healthy Lunchables.  Typically Lunchables are not very healthy. However, I do love the convenience of them, So we have 2 choices here. Make your own lunchable. Pack your own cheese, crackers, and lunch meat, or  check out these new healthy lunchables, gopicnic.

4. Sandwiches can get very boring. Try spicing up the sandwich. Use variations of breads. Make wraps using lettuce, pita bread, or tortillas. Do not stick to turkey and swiss. Spice it up … ham, tuna, salmon, humus and veggie. The possibilites are endless.

5. Couscous or quinoa salads. These are my favorite. Mix diced chicken, feta cheese, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, olives, and a splash of dressing with the quinoa or couscous and you’ve got a nice filling salad full of protein and whole grains.

6. SOUP. I love vegetable based soups. Typically low in fat, and high in vitamins and minerals. Add a slice of whole grain bread or crackers and you have a nice lunch.

7. If you are in a pickle and the only option is to go out to eat, try to choose a healthy option. My all time favorite fast food meal is Wendy’s Chili, just skip the frosty.

To eat or Not to eat? … That is the question.

When you wake up in the morning what is the first thing you do?
Just about every morning I wake up, eat ½ a Larabar, drink a bottle of water, and head out the door for my run. After my run I will start cooking my breakfast which usually consists of either a bowl of gluten free oatmeal topped with cinnamon and honey or a plate of eggs and Udi’s toast paired with my favorite cup of tea. Once my morning routine has been accomplished I am ready to tackle the day.
Over the years I have tried a variety of morning rituals. There have been mornings I take off running without even a sip of water. I have also tried eating a full breakfast then waiting around a couple of hours before hitting the trails. It was all trial and error trying to find what worked best for me. While I was in college learning about nutrition and exercise, all of my professors encouraged us to eat before and after exercise. Most studies even say there is a 30 minute window immediately following a workout where one should consume a ratio of 4:1 carbohydrates to protein in order to restore glycogen and aid in muscle recovery. Based upon my own experiences I believe those scientists are correct. It is very important to fuel our bodies before and after a workout. You will have less muscle soreness and will not feel as sluggish the following day.
People joke about how we should treat our bodies like vehicles fueling them with high grade oile/ fuel for optimal. The question is why do we take better care of material things instead of ourselves? We are running more miles at a time than most people even drive to work. So why is it so difficult for us to treat your body better?
Take it or leave it, but from my own experiences I suggest making it a priority to fuel your body efficiently. According to the Mayo Clinic it is very important to eat prior to exercise. In my case, I wake up first thing and run.  When I wae up all off the food I ate for dinner has been metabolized over the 8+ hours. If I head out the door without replenishing my stores I will have a sluggish performance. It doesn’t take much. I typically stick to between 80-100 calories to get my metabolism started. A tiny bit of food is all it takes for a more satisfying workout. Once you have finished your run, you have only a 30 minute window to optimally absorb nutrients. “The Verdict“, you ask…that’s easy, EAT. Do not be afraid of food causing cramps or inhibiting your workout. You are more likely to have an unproductive workout if you do not fuel your body properly.  It may just be trial and error for yourself, trying to find what works for you.

Remember your goals and what is important. Remember how you HAVE to do the LITTLE things in order to get BIG payoffs. BE SMART!!!

Top 5 pre run foods:
1. A nutrition bar of any sort; Cliff bars, Lara bars, Kind Bars, ect..
2. 6oz container of yogurt
3. 1 piece of toast with peanut butter and a drizzle of honey
4. Applesauce sprinkled with cinnamon
5.  8 oz. of Gatorade.
*PS. don’t forget to drink some water.
Top 5 Post run foods:
1. Oatmeal
2. Omelet packed with vegetables
3. High fiber cereal
4. Smoothie
5. String cheese with a piece of fruit
***BONUS… Homemade Hot chocolate is my winter time favorite post run drink.
1 TBS. Raw Sugar
1TBS Cocoa Powder
1 cup Fat Free Milk
1tsp. vanilla………YUMMY!!!downsized_0110131015

Top 10 Nutrition Suggestions

Everybody is different. No two people are the same. We all have different nutritional needs and requirements. In my case I have Celiac Disease, therefore my diet is much different from the average person. However what we eat is very important. Our fuel will dictate how well we run. Some think I am overly cautious with food choices due to my bachelors degree in Nutrition. But really, why would you want to put “bad” food in your body.  It is funny how we will put sunscreen on our skin to prevent skin cancer but we do not treat our insides with the same respect. We consume countless amounts of sodas and processed foods not really taking into account what it is doing to our insides.

As runners we have to be cautious about what we eat. Not only will your choices affect your running ability but it will also affect your life in a positive way. So now you are probably thinking, What do I need to eat?

That is easy. My advice is to consume about 75% of the food you eat in its most natural form. Meaning lots of fruits, veggies, lean meats, and whole grains. Try to stay away from overly processed foods as much as possible. I do realize we can not avoid processed food. I understand we are not cavemen. What I mean by natural is instead of buying prepackaged spaghetti from the frozen section. Try making your food from scratch. Boil water and cook your own pasta. Also try making fresh tomato sauce and freezing the leftovers for future uses. There will be less preservatives this way. You will be fueling yourself with the best possible option.

I also realize we may not have time to put in that much effort into your meals. That is fine. Just try to think about what you are consuming before you eat a fried Oreo.

My Top 10 suggestions:

1. Use your crock pot. All you have to do is let the crock pot do the work for you.

2. Nuts and seeds make great snacks. They are full of protein and heart healthy fats.

3. Eat your Sweet Potatoes. They are full of energizing carbohydrates and loaded with potassium to help you get through your workouts.

4. Veggie Smoothies. If you are not getting in enough veggies buy a bag of Kale and add it to your smoothies.

5. Eat your Beans. They are easy and cheap. And can be added to pretty much any dish to increase not only the protein but fiber content.

6. Add Berries to your cereals in the morning. This way you get a serving of fruit!

7. Use olive oil based dressing and sauces.

8. Read the first 5 ingredients on packages. Those ingredients tell you what your food is made up of.  If you can not pronounce those first few ingredients but it back and look for something else.

9. Drink WATER!!!!

10. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TRY SOMETHING NEW

There are many aspects to being a great runner, athlete, and individual. Nutrition is just one of them. What are some of your nutrition suggestions?