Mason Jars – Convenient Meal Vessels For Busy Athletes

Jannine Myers

P1060914

A few weekends ago, on Mother’s Day, my daughters gave me two mason jars, which I really love! I personally like using them as drinking glasses, but mason jars can also be useful for people who want to take easy-to-make, healthy meals to work. Breakfast and lunch can both be made the night before, stored in mason jars, and easily carried to work the next day. Here’s three recipe examples that show how versatile mason jars are:

1. Green Smoothie

P1060957

Any smoothie recipe will do, but for the one above, I simply threw all of the following into a blender:

  • A small handful of Japanese salad greens
  • 1 kiwifruit
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 single serve packet of Green Smoothie powder (Japanese product)

P1070034

 

2. Cherry Chia Breakfast Oatmeal

P1070032

This was more like two and a half, or three, servings for me, but the nice thing about this recipe is that the chia seeds bind everything together so as long as you keep the jar in the refrigerator (with a sealed lid), you can eat it over a couple of days. Here’s how I made this fresh cherry oatmeal:

  1. Mix together 3/4 cup of oats, 1 cup almond milk, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and a dash of cinnamon to an airtight container. Gently whisk and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  2. Add about 1 1/2 cups fresh cherries and 1 tbsp maple syrup to a high-powered blender. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes or until completely smooth. Pour into an airtight container and stir in 2 tbsps chia seeds. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  3. In 3 small mason jars, layer the oats and cherry chia mixture. Garnish with chopped cherries (or other berries) and almonds, if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.

 

3. Chickpea, Brown Rice, and Green Salad

P1070028The thing you want to remember with mason jar salads, is that the dressing should be at the bottom of the jar, then beans and hearty vegetables should be added next, followed by grains and pastas, then protein, and finally greens, nuts, and seeds. You can either eat your salad right out of the jar (after giving it a good shake), or you can transfer it to a salad bowl. Here’s how I made this chickpea, brown rice, and green salad:

  1. In a rice cooker, I added about 1/2 cup of brown rice, and a single packet of mixed beans (you can find various types of mixed bean combinations – for use in the rice cooker – at any Japanese store). Once the brown rice and bean mixture is cooked, let it cool slightly and give it some flavor by adding a little olive oil, salt, and a couple of pressed garlic cloves. Mix together and put aside.
  2. Make a quick dressing by mixing together a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a tsp stone ground mustard, salt and pepper, a sprinkle of Italian herbs (optional), and a tsp of honey.
  3. Drain and rinse 1 can of chickpeas, and mix together with some sliced green onions. Add enough of the dressing to give it a good coating.
  4. Now you can start layering your salad; start with the chickpeas (stir a little more dressing in if needed), then layer with the rice and bean mixture, followed by a handful of freshly diced tomato, your favorite greens, and a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese.

[What’s your favorite Mason Jar recipe?]

If You Like Salmon And Sweet Potato, You’ll Love This!

Jannine Myers

This meal is probably one of my current favorites; it doesn’t take long to make, it requires relatively few ingredients, and the flavors seem to blend together really well. It’s a salmon and sweet potato pattie, and I added bulgur as a binder and for taste. Bulgur, by the way, is one of the lesser-known whole grains, but it’s full of fiber and B vitamins so it makes for a good addition to any meal. But getting back to the recipe, here’s what you will need:

Ingredients

300g (or 2 small) skinless salmon fillets

1 Japanese sweet potato (Satsuma-imo) – the yellow kind, not purple

[Tip: I buy the sweet potato from San A in the cooked food section; it saves time when preparing the meal]

4 spring onions, chopped

Small piece of freshly chopped ginger (about 4cm)

1 lime

1/2 cup cooked bulgur

 

P1060946

First, to cook the bulgur, bring about 1/4 cup uncooked bulgur to a boil with 1/2 cup water. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, and let it cook for about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

Next, sear the salmon fillets in a little olive oil – a couple of minutes on each side will do (I season the fillets with salt and pepper before adding to the frying pan).

Remove the fillets and lay aside to slightly cool. Add the chopped spring onions and ginger to the pan and saute for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the pan.

Transfer the salmon to a mixing bowl, and shred the salmon. Add both the juice and grated zest of the lime and mix well with the salmon. Add the sweet potato (I add the skin too), and mash and mix with the salmon. Finally, add the bulgur, spring onions and ginger, and use your hands to mix all the ingredients throughly. The mixture should be enough to form 4 patties.

Heat your grill, and cook the patties until lightly browned on both sides. Serve on top of your favorite greens.

[Note: I make a quick orange dressing to drizzle over the patties. For 4 patties, I use 2 tbsps olive oil, 4 tbsps orange juice, a few red pepper flakes, and a little paprika]

20-Minute Ab Challenge

Jannine Myers

Here’s a 20-minute ab challenge for you ladies. Why? Three reasons:

1. I took this challenge in another Facebook group I belong to, and since I know WOOT members are always up for a challenge, I figured you’d enjoy this too. The original workout is a little longer and slightly harder, but you should still feel a good burn with this modified version.

2. I have a couple of give-aways for the first two ladies who successfully complete this challenge and post a comment below. 

P1060926

A WOOT tumbler and WOOT headband

This is the last WOOT tumbler and headband I have left, so if you want them you know what to do!

A Hammer drink flask and sample Hammer products

A Hammer drink flask and sample Hammer products

This may sound like a shameless plug to get you to try Hammer products, but if you haven’t yet tried them, they really are a great product for endurance athletes. You can read more about Hammer Nutrition here.

3. Abdominal strength contributes to a strong core, enabling us to resist fatigue and run longer with good form, hence the overall result is improved performance. And be honest, how often do you devote time to abdominal/overall strength training? It should warrant some of your time and attention each week.

This challenge should take you just 20 minutes; it’s one set of 4 exercises, and each set is done 4 times. Each exercise is demonstrated below, and if you are careful not to race through the exercises, you’ll find that each set should take you approximately 5 minutes and that’s including a short 30 to 60 second rest at the end of each set.

Are you ready? You’ll need a light set of weights, a swiss ball, and something steady to hold on to (I used a chair and had my 11 year old daughter sit in it to weight it down).

Do the exercises in the following order:

1. Plank Side Rotation – 10 each side

 

2. Swiss Ball Leg Raises – x 10

 

3.  Swiss Ball Knees to Chest x 10

 

4. One leg weighted lower ab crunch x 15

Now go again, 3 more times!

LSA Chicken Tenderloins With Fresh Strawberry Dressing

Jannine Myers

I decided not to delay any longer in posting the recipe for this meal because we won’t be seeing fresh strawberries in the local supermarkets too much longer, and this recipe calls for fresh strawberries. It’s a fast, fresh, and easy meal consisting of chicken tenderloins coated in an LSA mix (I’ll explain the LSA in a minute), served over fresh greens, and drizzled with an amazing strawberry dressing.

P1060887

Getting back to LSA (Linseed, Sunflower, and Almond Meal), it’s a blend that was initially created by Dr. Sandra Cabot, for the purpose of detoxifying and cleansing the liver. The reason it packs a punch when it comes to superior nutritional quality, is because it contains all of these nutrients:

  • Omega-3, Omega 6 and 9 essential fatty acids, fiber, amino acids,, Vitamin A, E, D, B1, B2, B5, magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, copper and zinc.

I used a store-bought blend of LSA, but you can certainly make your own.

P1060921

Ingredients

6 chicken tenderloins

1 egg

2 cloves garlic

2 tbsps parmesan cheese

LSA, enough to generously coat the chicken

Salad greens

Asparagus, 4 to 6

Green beans, a handful

 

For the strawberry dressing:

1 cup of strawberries

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsps of Olive/Grapeseed oil (or canola oil)

1/2 tsp sugar

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Directions

Soak the chicken tenderloins in egg and garlic for at least one hour (this is the only “lengthy” part of preparing the meal, but if you plan in advance the rest is easy).

P1060886

Preheat oven to 400 F. Remove chicken from the egg mixture and coat with parmesan/LSA mixture. Place crumbed tenderloins on baking tray, and bake for about 10 minutes, turning over after 5 minutes.

While the chicken is in the oven, blanch the beans for 2 minutes, then add the asparagus and blanch for a further minute or so. Let the chicken, asparagus, and beans cool a little, then dress them all over a bed of green salad leaves.

To make the dressing, simply blend all the ingredients together in a blender, then drizzle over the tenderloins.

[Strawberry Dressing recipe from webmd.com]

The Ultimate Acai Berry Breakfast Bowl

Jannine Myers

Last weekend, on Mother’s Day, I came home from my morning run to find my girls preparing the most amazing breakfast for me. I’m not kidding – this acai berry bowl was so refreshing and delicious that it’s probably going to be one of my favorite post-run breakfasts from now on. Let me show you what you will need, and what prior preparations must be done before you assemble it all together.

First up, you’ll need to buy Acai juice; we bought ours from Kaldi Coffee Farm (there are two locations that I know of: San A Convention Building in Ginowan, and the new Aeon Mall).

P1060915

Pour the juice into ice cubes and freeze.

Additionally, peel and cut in half a couple of bananas, and freeze those too.

That’s all you need to do (besides making sure you have all the other ingredients), prior to assembling your acai bowls. So here’s your ingredient list (for two bowls):

For the frozen Acai mixture, you’ll need:

  • Unsweetened Almond Milk (approx. 4 oz.)
  • Frozen Acai juice (approx. 4 frozen cubes)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

For the toppings, pretty much anything you like but we used:

  • sliced bananas
  • sliced strawberries
  • sliced kiwi
  • blueberries
  • granola
  • shredded (unsweetened) coconut

It’s pretty straightforward from here; simply pour all of your frozen ingredients into a blender and pulse until you have a nice smooth consistency (you may need to experiment with the quantity of frozen acai cubes and almond milk). Pour into serving bowls, and then add your toppings.

By the way, acai berries, according to Dr. David Jockers, “are extraordinarily rich in antioxidants and have a very high ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity) that is far superior to any other form of fruit that has been officially tested and categorized. It is also rich in key B vitamins, electrolytes and trace minerals that are necessary for reducing inflammation and improving energy levels.”

11208733_728580837274822_2124370374_n

11257652_728580840608155_1196170987_n

11208691_728580827274823_2017870317_n

18244_728584140607825_3582679615942072012_n

Camp Hansen Mud Run – Tips For First Timers

Jannine Myers

A couple of weeks ago I participated for the first time in the annual Camp Hansen Mud Run, and I have to admit, I was quite nervous and tense going into the race. The stories I had heard about runners having trouble getting over concrete walls and mud hills were a little intimidating, especially since I had never before done any type of obstacle course. Fortunately, despite the course being every bit as challenging as I expected it to be, it was also every bit as fun.

Here’s what I learned along the way, and what I hope will provide a little insight for future first-time mud-runners:

1. Choose the distance and division (5k vs. 10k, competitive vs. non-competitive) that is right for you.

Keep in mind that this is a run with lots of mud and obstacles, over varied terrain. You will not be able to run at your usual pace, and if you are not conditioned to run over and through muddy trails, you are going to be very slow. Some sections will also be so narrow that single-file running will be necessary; be prepared to give way to faster runners. Choose the distance and division that’s right for you, and you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience.

[Note: I heard that some of the 5k runners were disappointed with the lack of mud/obstacles, so if you’re more of a 5k runner who wants a good challenge, consider training for the 10k distance].

11157344_815653795149234_8836244153814253536_o

2. Sort out the shoe dilemma before race day

  • “Should I wrap my shoes in duct tape, like everyone seems to be doing?” While it sounds like a plausible idea, you might want to give it some extra thought. I ran past a couple of frustrated runners who had stopped to try and tear off duct tape that had become unraveled.
  • “Should I go barefoot?” Um, NO! Okay, so I only saw one runner out on the course who tried to go barefoot. Let’s just say that it was pretty obvious by his facial expressions (as he attempted to avoid the rocks and stones), that he probably regretted his decision.
  • “Should I run in my minimalist shoes?” I actually saw several runners start and finish the mud run with their minimalist shoes still intact, but I also saw one runner struggling on the course because the sole of one of his minimalist shoes had completely torn apart. Your shoes may or may not survive the course, but common sense says that if you have a favorite pair of shoes that you’re not willing to risk parting with, leave them at home.

11046405_816809478366999_1347339939400987705_o

3. If possible, warm up before the race.

This piece of advice is probably best directed towards those of you in my age group (the over-40s), although warm-ups are beneficial for runners of all ages. Regarding older runners however, aging results in:

  • the reduction of muscle fibers, in both size and number
  • slower recovery of muscle tissue
  • the replacement of old muscle tissue with a tough and fibrous tissue
  • a significant stiffening of the joints

In other words, joints and muscles in older runners are not like joints and muscles in younger runners! After standing still at the start line for an extended period of time, the first thing I noticed as I took off (uphill), was tightness and discomfort in my glutes and hamstrings; it took a good ten minutes or so for my muscles to get over the shock!

4. Consider taking a sports drink with you.

Although the mud run is held in April, the average temperatures in Okinawa at that time of year can still reach the mid to high 70s. Furthermore, the mud run starts relatively late compared to some other races in Okinawa; the majority of participants did not start running until 9am or later. This year it was nice and cool in the earlier part of the morning, but by the time the race started the sun was beating down. In hindsight, I should have taken an electrolyte drink to sip on while waiting, as although I accepted water at the aid stations, I finished the race feeling slightly dehydrated. I also heard that a local national had to receive medical attention for heat exhaustion.

11174970_10155422961520562_5833314336532906871_n

5. Include some strength and stability work in your training.

The obstacles in the mud run are challenging; you will need to use your leg strength and stability to pull your legs up and stay balanced through the deeper pools of mud, and you’ll need good leg and upper body strength to pull yourself up the steeper hills and over some of the obstacles (a strong core will also assist you). If you make time for some additional overall body conditioning during the weeks preceding the race, you’ll definitely have an advantage.

10827969_815653351815945_4782379814799836008_o

I hope these tips are helpful, and if you have more to add please comment below. One more thing I should add, is that if you are an athlete who is competitive and motivated by awards, then this is the race for you. I was lucky enough to place second in the female 10k competitive division, and luckier still to learn that my prize was an overnight stay for two (with breakfast), at the beautiful Kaafu Resort Hotel. The prizes for 1st and 3rd place were also hotel stays, and the top three 5k winners also received some great prizes. If I have the opportunity to do this race again, I most definitely will!

2759193_189_z

Kaafu Resort Hotel

[Photo credit: MCCS Semper Fit]

What To Do With An Abundance Of Tomatoes

Jannine Myers

It’s not really the season for hot soups, but there’s a reason I decided to make a fresh tomato and basil soup last week. My oldest daughter went to the local farmers market and came home with a large bag of fresh produce, including a bag of 10 to 12 tomatoes.

P1060881

Since I already had basil, garlic, and onion in the refrigerator, it made sense to make a fresh tomato soup. The nice thing about soups is that besides the vegetable preparation, the rest is relatively quick and easy. As long as you have a few staple ingredients in your kitchen, you can get creative and make soups using the spices and flavors you like; I decided to use cumin and coriander in this tomato soup and rather than use full cream as most cream of tomato soups do, I substituted with coconut milk instead.

Ingredients

 3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion, sliced

10 to 12 fresh tomatoes, halved

1 – 14 oz. can of whole tomatoes, in jucie

2 cups of chicken broth

1 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup coconut milk

handful of fresh basil leaves

 

Directions

In a saucepan, saute garlic in olive oil on medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the salt, pepper, sugar, spices, and also the canned tomatoes. Add the fresh tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then simmer for approximately 10 minutes minutes. Finally, add the coconut milk and basil leaves and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

 

P1060883

Using a spoon, carefully remove the fresh tomatoes and allow to cool a little. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skins and add to the soup once more. Pour the soup into a blender or food processor and pulse until it reaches a smooth consistency. Reheat on the stove if necessary.

[I served the soup with a small grilled cheese bun, and raw vegetables and hummus]

 

P1060885

Do You Know What’s In The Supplements You’re Taking?

Jannine Myers

supplements

I belong to several Facebook groups, one of which is a “health and wellbeing” group. A few weeks ago, one of the members of this particular group reached out for some advice regarding her 19-year old daughter, who was considering supplementing her diet with a product called Thermovex.

The daughter had gone with her boyfriend to a GNC store, and while there she stood on one of those bioelectrical impedance machines that estimate body composition, and in particular body fat. Her results told her that her 116lb, 5 foot 5 inch frame, was carrying 29lbs of fat. One of the sales representatives explained that while her weight is within the “normal” range, her ideal body composition would be one with less fat; he suggested that she kickstart her metabolism and lose excess body fat by adding Thermovex to her daily dietary intake. The mother was concerned, and rightly so, because she felt that her daughter was too willing to take a supplement that she knew nothing about.

I have a few comments to say about this situation, and they come from both a protective motherly perspective, as well as that of an athlete who tries to stay informed on various aspects of sports nutrition.

1. My initial response to the mother of this child was that I didn’t blame her for feeling concerned; our daughters, including ourselves, are exposed to so much garbage these days about what the ideal women’s body should look like. Most of what we see are images of sickly thin women; we’re sold an enormous lie about what is beautiful and what is not, and because of it, we’re vulnerable to retailers and manufacturers telling us that we need their weight loss and beauty products.

2. A lot of people don’t know this, but GNC is just one of several supplement manufacturers that was mentioned in a Consumer Reports article because one of their protein drinks contained low to moderate levels of lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. Three other protein drinks contained the same contaminants, and had levels high enough that if consumers were to drink up to three servings a day, they would exceed the maximum limit for one or two of the contaminants.

The test results, while not relevant to the product Thermovex, show that GNC is willing to sell products that contain contaminants. Some might argue that you would need to consume a ton of these drinks to ever experience adverse effects, but is it worth taking the risk to see what the cumulative effect might be after years of consuming multiple toxic ingredients?

3. I decided to take a quick look at Thermovex’s ingredient list, and there are a couple of things (probably more), that I think consumers should be aware of:

  • The amount of Vitamin B12 in one serving size (1 scoop – 13.3g), is 3,333% of the Daily Recommended Value. While there is no UL (tolerable Upper Limit) for Vitamin B12, some research has shown that high doses of B12 can cause diarrhea, allergic reactions, itching, and blood clots (additionally, too much Pantotheic Acid can also cause diarrhea, and Thermovex contains up to 500% of the Daily Value).
  • Second, Thermovex is made up of a Proprietary Blend of multiple ingredients (MIPS), and any time a supplement includes MIPS, the manufacturer does not have to state on the label the exact amounts of each ingredient – which means the consumer basically has to trust that the dosages are safe. The FDA does not screen these products.

4. Lastly, and not related to the product, the daughter mentioned above has a height and weight ratio that gives her a BMI of approximately 19.3. According to the BMI chart, she is in the “normal weight” category. If the machine results are correct, and her overall body mass includes 29lbs of fat, that means that the amount of fat on her body, relative to all the other body elements, is approximately 25%. You’ll see in the ACE Body Fat Percentage chart below, that 25% body fat for a female is considered “Average.”

Ideal-Body-Fat-Percentage-Chart1

The GNC sales representative may have been justified in suggesting that she could afford to lose a little body fat, but if she were my daughter or a client, I would not encourage her to take a metabolism-boosting supplement that she can only assume is safe. A safer option would be to increase her lean muscle mass and lower her body fat by doing a combination of regular resistance and cardiovascular workouts, and of course, by simply eating clean.

Bottom line: If you don’t know what’s in the supplement/s you’re taking, ask yourself why you’re so willing to trust that they’re safe and effective.

Fight Stress and Illness By Adding Berries To Your Diet

Jannine Myers

I’m always looking for different ways to eat and enjoy berries, and this week I saw a recipe that utilized not only berries, but lots of other nutritionally-dense ingredients. I encourage you to give this recipe a try if you enjoy the combination of oats, berries, coconut, nuts, and seeds.

P1060876

Ingredients

2 cups mixed berries (+ 2tbsps coconut sugar)

2 tbsps lemon juice

1/2 cup chia seeds

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup mixed seeds (sunflower and pepita)

1/4 cup agave syrup

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsps butter

2 tsps sugar and 2 tsps cinnamon

 

Directions

Place berries, juice, and coconut sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, occasionally, for 3 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat and stir through chia seeds. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 285 F. Grease and line base and sides of a 20cm square cake pan.

Combine oats, coconut, chopped walnuts, and seeds in a large bowl. Place coconut oil, butter, and agave syrup in a microwaveable dish, and heat through until liquified. Add to oat mixture and stir until well coated. Spoon half into prepared pan. With wet hands, press down evenly. Spread over the berry mixture evenly with a spatula. Spoon over remaining oat mixture. With wet hands, press down evenly. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 50 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack. Chill for 1 hour before cutting into 16 squares.

[Modified version of this recipe]

Seared Scallops And Quinoa Kabocha Salad

Jannine Myers

This week’s fast, fresh, and easy dinner is one of those all-in-one throw-together type meals. I had some quinoa in the pantry that needed to be used, and some frozen Japanese kabocha (a winter squash that is sweeter than pumpkin) on hand, so I decided to pick up a few complimentary ingredients and make a warm quinoa and kabocha salad, topped with seared scallops.

P1060869

Ingredients

Bag of frozen Japanese kabocha (from San A)

3/4 cup quinoa, uncooked

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup water

Mixture of green leaves – whatever you like

1/2 red onion, diced (optional)

Approximately 2 tbsps lemon juice / 2 tbsps olive oil

Cilantro, chopped

Spices: about an 1/8 tsp of each – nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cayenne / about 1/2 tsp cinnamon / about 1 tsp of cumin and 1 tsp ground coriander

Fresh scallops (I bought mine from San A – 2 small packets)

Additional tbsp of olive oil for the scallops

1 tbsp butter

Salt and pepper

Directions

Rinse and drain the quinoa, then bring to boil in the broth and water. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, and set aside to cool. Cook the kabocha according to the packet directions (I semi-thawed the kabocha, then microwaved for just a few minutes); set aside to cool. In a salad bowl, add the salad leaves (and red onion if you’re using it). Add the quinoa to the salad bowl. In a small cup, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, and spices until well combined, then pour over the quinoa and stir it through. Add the kabocha and cilantro leaves, and gently stir the salad mixture so that all the ingredients soak up the flavors of the dressing.

Next, rinse the scallops and season with salt and pepper. In a frying pan, heat the butter and olive oil, then add the scallops for a quick sear (a couple of minutes each side). Top the salad with the scallops once they have cooled a little. Finally, garnish with a few lemon wedges.