Vegetarian Leftover Pasta Frittata

Vegetarian Leftover Pasta FrittataFridge odds and ends, meet leftover pasta. Leftover pasta, meet frittata. And that’s how Vegetarian Leftover Pasta Frittata is born. This is a take on Just a Taste’s Leftover Pasta Frittata in which whatever leftover pasta you have from the night before is transformed into today’s heavenly breakfast packed with protein, veggies and carbohydrates. This dish is perfect after a long run or bike ride. In fact, my husband and I devoured the entire panful following our Tuesday morning calorie-crushing long run.

This recipe is a base to work from. So grab whatever veggies are on the brink of no return, whatever cheese is lingering in your cheese drawer (everyone has one of those, right?! A drawer that is so chalk full to the brim with cheese that a bag always catches when opening and closing it?!), and last night’s pasta and get ready to devour your own take on Kelly’s masterpiece!

ingredients for vegetarian leftover pasta frittata

Vegetarian Leftover Pasta Frittata
Here’s what you’ll need (Remember this is just a base to work from, get creative!):

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup orange bell pepper, diced
1 roma tomato, diced
2 large baby bella mushrooms, chopped
¼ cup green onion, diced
1 small handful spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup leftover pasta from last night (any pasta will do; we used angel hair)
2 eggs
¾ cup egg whites
¼ cup feta cheese
Italian seasoning (or whatever you typically season your eggs with)
sea salt
black pepper

Makes one medium skillet full; about 4 servings

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites until combined. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Add the extra virgin olive oil to a medium skillet and heat on medium-high. Once hot, add all of your veggies except the spinach. Season veggies with Italian seasoning to taste. Cook until just slightly tender. Now add the spinach and pasta and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Note: If using a stringy pasta like angel hair or spaghetti, “fluff” the pasta before adding to the skillet so it isn’t one big clump in the center of your frittata.
  3. Pour the eggs into the pan. As the eggs begin to set, slightly lift the mixture up at the edges to ensure any uncooked egg flows to the bottom. Cover and continue to cook until the eggs are well set and the bottom has slightly browned.
  4. Remove the frittata using a rubber spatula and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with feta cheese and cut into slices to devour!

Buon Appetito! 💜

Printable recipe

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Whole-wheat Raspberry (Oh-So-Good!) Scones and the Pre-workout Meal

If you haven’t guessed by now, I LOVE breakfast and I love baking, thus why most of the recipes I have shared with all of you so far have been breakfast ones. Soon I’ll incorporate other recipes and expand beyond the realm of delicious breakfasts, but before I do that, I have yet another superb one for you: Whole-wheat raspberry (oh-so-good!) scones! I’ve been eating variations of the overnight oatmeal recipe (Monday through Friday) for a few weeks now and feel that it is time for me to expand to something else. The other reason why I want to try a different breakfast is to see how my swimming is affected. I’m perfectly full and satisfied with my overnight oatmeal, but when I’m swimming I tend to burp a lot. Also, I’ve noticed that I’m completely exhausted after swimming, which makes for a hard workday (especially those 5:30a.m. to 10:30p.m. days). So I’m wondering if this has something to do with what I am eating pre-workout, or if this has more to do with my swimming and other workouts.

Before I share this awesome recipe with you though, I’d like to talk about pre-workout and what you should eat. I’ve discussed post-workout, so I wanted to explore the pre-workout meal, specifically before a morning workout or a race. Do you eat before or don’t you? What is the best thing to eat? How much should you eat? How long before the workout/race do you eat? These are the questions burning in my mind and I hope to answer for us.

(There is so much research on nutrition and different practices depending on distance/duration of exercise, that I will only discuss some basics in this post and delve deeper into Ironman specific nutrition at a later date).

Do you eat before a morning workout or if it’s race day, do you eat that morning?
First of all, we need to have some understanding of what happens to our body in terms of glycogen storage, depletion, and resupply. The reason why you eat in the morning is to replenish liver glycogen stores, which have been depleted throughout the night as you slept. Muscle glycogen, or the first fuel recruited when exercise begins, remains intact overnight. Refueling properly after your last workout will ensure that you’re muscle glycogen levels are primed, these stores constitute about 80% of your glycogen stores (see blog post Post-workout Recovery: What You Need to Know, for details on refueling post-workout: https://ironwomandiaries.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/post-workout-recovery/). Simply put, your stomach might be screaming, “I need food,” but your muscles are saying, “We’re ready for action!” Thus, some might argue that eating before a workout is not necessary, however the consensus seems to be that eating will allow you to perform better not only physically but mentally as well.

What is the best thing to eat before a workout or the morning of your race? And, how much, as in calories, should you eat?
The purpose of eating before a workout is to store enough carbohydrates to get you through the workout. According to Joe Friel author of “The Triathlete’s Training Bible”, eating enough carbohydrates pre-workout is “especially important for early-morning sessions.” Consuming between 200-400 calories, largely from a moderate-glycemic index (see list below), carbohydrate-rich food, is optimal for fueling your body pre-morning workout. Also keep in mind that this pre-workout morning meal should consist of roughly 70% carbohydrates. Foods that are high in fiber, simple sugars, and high fat should be avoided. (You don’t want the uncomfortable urge to have to use the bathroom part way through your swim, you’ve got enough to worry about, like breathing). Consuming high glycemic carbohydrates such as those simple sugars within three hours of exercise will cause you to experience negative effects on your performance. I won’t go into those now, just know that it will not only hinder your performance, but also, can be harmful to your health.

How long before the workout/race do you eat?
Surprisingly (at least to me) eating at least 2-3 hours before your workout/race is ideal, for exercising longer than 90 minutes. However, rest is just as important so getting up at 3a.m. for a 5:30a.m. swim is not the best idea. Instead, and for workouts lasting less than 90 minutes, Friel suggests taking a bottle of your favorite sports drink or two gel packs with 12 ounces of water to the workout and consume about 10 minutes before you begin. This will at least give you the fuel you need to power through your workout, keeping in mind this bit of advice is for your average workout 60-90 minutes in length, not brick or race day. So what about race day? Clearly your rituals are going to be different on race day, but your eating habits will be similar on brick days and should be rehearsed on these days. For a short course race the more time you have before the race begins the more you can eat. Generally, according to Friel, plan on consuming about 200 calories for every hour prior to race time.

Whew! With so much information to absorb let’s summarize the main points.

  • When exercising for durations lasting under 90 minutes, consuming between 200-400 calories, largely from a moderate glycemic index, carbohydrate rich food will power you through. Think your favorite sports drink or gel packs when in a time crunch, or unsweetened applesauce and a bagel 1-2 hours prior.
  • For brick days or when exercising will last longer than 90 minutes, eat 2-3 hours prior. (This will allow enough time for insulin and blood glucose to normalize. This way you won’t be at risk for increased glycogen depletion).
  • Always prior to working out or on race day, avoid foods that are high in fiber, simple sugars, and high fat.
  • Short course race day, if time allows, consume about 200 calories for every hour prior to race time.
  • The bottom line: Focus on eating complex carbohydrate-rich foods for your pre-race or pre-workout meal; you will perform better both mentally and physically during your workout.

Low glycemic index foods (30-50%):

Apples/juice/sauce                          Pasta (whole-wheat)
Beans, baked                                  Pears
Grapes                                            Tomato soup
Kiwifruit                                           Yogurt
Oranges

Moderate glycemic index foods (50-80%):

Bagels                                             Oatmeal
Bananas                                          Pineapple
Black bean soup                              Popcorn
Bread, pita/rye/wheat                      Potatoes, boiled/mashed/sweet
Corn                                                Pumpkin
Crackers                                         Raisins
Mango                                            Rice, brown
Muffins                                            Watermelon
Oat bran                                          Yams

Whole-wheat Raspberry (Oh-So-Good!) Scones Whole-wheat raspberry scone on plate.

2 cups whole-wheat flour
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup large old fashioned rolled oats (not quick or instant)
¼ cup natural applesauce
3 tbsp. cold butter, cut in cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup + 2 tbsp. light vanilla soy milk
1¼ cup raspberries (As always, I used frozen since raspberries are not yet in season. Do not thaw them if you decide to use frozen as well).

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. (I always forget that I don’t have parchment paper and wax paper smokes in our oven at the temperature. So wanting to be the crafty baker, instead of greasing my pans with olive oil, which you could also do, I lined my baking sheet with tin foil! It actually worked pretty well. I just had to be careful when peeling off the scones. The point: if you do not have parchment paper, no worries. You can either grease your pan or use my tin foil method).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and oats. Next, mix in applesauce the best you can. Take your butter cubes and either press with your fingers into the mixture (way more fun and one less dish!) or use a blender to cut butter in. The mixture will resemble coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk soy milk, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour this mixture over dry ingredients and stir or fold in until dough starts to come together (there will still be floury patches). Stir in raspberries. Dough may still be somewhat floury.
  4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured clean counter and gently knead about 6 times, until dough is cohesive (raspberries will start to break up; this is fine). Pat dough into a circle of about 1½” thick. Using a knife, divide the dough into three sections, and then make half of an “x” in each section to result in nine equal pieces.
  5. Transfer scones to prepared baking sheets and bake about 22 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating pans once during baking. Transfer to wire racks to cool. I like to eat mine slightly warm each morning with either a bit of almond butter, a small spoonful of Greek yogurt, or just plain.

I know you’ll really enjoy these scones. They have such great texture and flavor, not to mention they just look like they taste good! Also, after my swim this morning I didn’t feel completely exhausted or starving—bonus! I hope you’re learning new things with me as I learn them. Fueling our bodies is so important to our performance. Bon Appétit!

Four whole-wheat raspberry scones on plate.Printable recipe

Sources: Friel, J. (2009). The triathlete’s training bible. (3rd ed.). Boulder: VeloPress.; http://www.hammernutrition.com/hnt/1279/;
http://www.askmen.com/top_10/fitness_top_ten/24_fitness_list.html;
http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/To-Eat-or-Not-to-Eat-Pre-Workout; http://www.foodess.com/2012/09/whole-wheat-oatmeal-raspberry-scones/

Post-Workout Recovery: What You Need to Know

Fueling your body, and what you fuel your body with, after your workout is essential for your body to recover and rebuild and will ultimately affect your next workout and training program. There is a 30-45 minute window for athletes to maximize recovery. Those athletes who properly recover soon after working out have a distinct advantage over those who do not. The key to post-workout recovery is to remember these 3 R’s: Rehydrate, Refuel, and Rebuild.

  1. Rehydrate: The best way to know how much to rehydrate your body post-workout is to weigh yourself before and after you exercise. The general rule of thumb is drink 24 oz. of fluid for each pound lost during exercise. If you weigh more than before your workout, you most likely are drinking too much water. Keep in mind that the goal is to stay properly hydrated while exercising, therefore maintaining the same weight. So, for each pound lost during activity, drink an additional 16 oz. of fluid the next time you exercise. For example, if you drank 8 oz. while exercising for 60 minutes and lost one pound, your goal is to drink an additional 16 oz. during your next workout, totaling 24 oz. of fluid intake while exercising. Ultimately post-workout, monitoring your urine to make sure it is clear (meaning hydrated) will determine if you are drinking enough fluids.
  2. Refuel: In order to refuel your body you need to eat carbohydrates to replace your muscle and liver glycogen to refuel your energy stores. You also need carbohydrates to produce insulin in order to drive muscle building.
  3. Rebuild: In order to help the growth of new muscle tissue, and repair existing tissue that may have been torn, it is important to also consume protein. Exercise drains critical amino acids, which are the building blocks for protein used to build and repair muscles. So how much protein should you eat post-workout? The recommendation for the proper ratio of carbohydrate to protein is 4:1 after endurance workouts (2:1 carbohydrate to protein following strength workouts). It is commonly recommended that athletes consume between 15-25 grams of protein post-workout. Also, according to Dr. Michael Colgan, author of “Optimum Sports Nutrition”, athletes typically need to consume more protein throughout the day. Colgan recommends consuming 1.4 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass as the optimal amount for endurance athletes to consume per day.

Many athletes may experience appetite loss post-workout as exercise can act as an appetite suppressant. Therefore, liquid meals are often more appealing as a post-workout recovery option. Liquids are also absorbed more quickly than solid foods resulting in better recovery. Choosing your fluid wisely is essential. The best options include: 100% fruit juice (“Antioxidant rich foods help reduce inflammation and decrease muscle soreness. One of the easiest ways to get an adequate amount of antioxidants and carbohydrates is by drinking tart cherry juice. Research shows that drinking tart cherry juice aids athletic performance and comes highly recommended for recovery foods. Following juice consumption with a form of protein would be recommended” http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Recovery-Foods-that-Ease-Muscle-Soreness), non-fat or 1% chocolate milk or soy milk, protein shakes with fruit mixed in, or sports drinks. Chocolate milk has actually been shown to provide some of the best post-workout recovery benefits as it not only provides carbohydrates, but also electrolytes, sodium, and potassium lost in sweat. Small snack options are also great in assisting recovery and include foods like: Greek yogurt, energy bars, crackers and peanut or almond butter, or cottage cheese and fruit with a small nutrient-rich muffin. I personally enjoy a protein shake made with chocolate soy milk with added fruit. I have included a few of my favorite shakes below.

Apple Almond Butter (Super Fabulous) Protein Shake

1 cup light vanilla soy milk
1/2 an apple of your choice (I use either Honey Crisp or Granny Smith as I like the tart, crisp taste)
Protein powder (I use 3 tablespoons vanilla protein powder. Use whatever protein powder you prefer and measure to equal between 15-25 grams of protein as is recommended; see above).
1 tbsp. almond butter
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. honey
2 tbsp. uncooked old fashioned oats
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients into blender and mix until smooth. Enjoy!
Printable recipe

Chocolate Banana Almond Butter (Shut your mouth good!) Protein Shake

1 cup light chocolate soy milk
1 banana
Protein powder (I use 3 tablespoons vanilla protein powder. Use whatever protein powder you prefer and measure to equal between 15-25 grams of protein as is recommended; see above).
1 tbsp. almond butter
2 tbsp. uncooked old fashioned oats
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients into blender and mix until smooth. Happy eating!
Printable recipe

Sources: http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/5-High-Protein-Foods-for-Optimal-Recovery.htm; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Recovery-Foods-that-Ease-Muscle-Soreness; http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewMiscArticle.aspx?TabId=1596&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en&mid=196&ItemId=2640; http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/hydrationandfluid/a/ProperHydration.htm; http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/healthandlifestyle/exercise-recovery/186#C6; http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hydrate.html; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/How-to-Hydrate-Before-During-and-After-a-Workout?page=2; http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/food-rebuild-muscle-after-exercise-3987.html; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Your-Post-Workout-Recovery-Ritual.htm

Carbohydrates and the Athlete

Nutrition is an important aspect in your performance not only on race day but also during your training. There are lots of opinions and diet fads that go against what every seasoned athlete should know: carbohydrates (the right ones) are good and necessary! It is especially essential for triathlon and marathon athletes to increase their carbohydrate intake while training. There are also misconceptions about the amount of protein an athlete should consume. This often causes athletes to consume too much protein and not enough carbs, which are what your body really needs to fuel itself. Try to use a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Working out seriously depletes your carbohydrate fuel (glycogen) stores. In order to train at your best, these reserves need to be replenished on a daily basis. According to Terry Zeigler, SportsMD.com “for athletes, carbohydrates need to be the highest nutrient source (carbohydrates, protein, and fats) and should make up approximately 65 percent of the athlete’s total dietary intake in a day.”

So, what types of carbohydrates should you eat to maximize effectiveness? Generally carbs with a low to moderate glycemic index are the best (see below), but keep in mind that there are times when an athlete should consume high glycemic index carbs, such as during and immediately post-workout. Let’s focus on the low glycemic rating for training purposes. (We’ll revisit this topic another day with focus on race day and post-workout eating ideas). Some of those foods include:

Here are just a select few examples of foods that fall within the low classification of the glycemic index rating (less than 55):
Cheese tortellini………………..50
Carrots…………………………..49
Oatmeal…………………………48
Grapes…………………………..46
Apple……………………………..38
Grapefruit………………………..25
Cherries…………………………..22

Some examples of foods that fall within the moderate classification of the glycemic index rating (55-70):
Wheat bread…………………..68
Wheat thins……………………67
Cream of Wheat………………66
Cantaloupe……………………..65
Raisins……………………………64
Power bars………………………58
Banana……………………………56

Examples of food classified as having a high glycemic index rating (greater than 70):
Baked potato…………………….85
Pretzels…………………………….83
Graham crackers………………….74
Saltine crackers…………………..74
Honey………………………………73
Bagel……………………………….72
Watermelon………………………72

It is extremely important for athletes to know how and what to fuel their bodies. Of course all of the essential nutrients are important for overall health, but carbohydrates are a must for us endurance athletes. Ultimately, matching your energy intake to your energy expenditure during training is the goal. Failing to meet this energy/calorie need of daily training will result in fatigue, weight loss, and undermine your training program.

Sources:
http://www.sportsmd.com/SportsMD_Articles/id/420/n/food_for_athletes_eating_to_optimize_performance.aspx
http://www.fitsugar.com/Ryan-Halls-Marathon-Race-Diet-20415189?slide=1
http://www.trinewbies.com/tno_wellness/tno_nutritionarticle_13.asp
http://www.powerbar.com/articles/326/improve-your-ironman-triathlon-performance.aspx