Flexible Dieting and Foods that are Truly High in Protein – Bret Contreras



Below is a great article written by Bret Contreras called Flexible Dieting and Foods that are Truly High in Protein. I’ll also link it here in case anyone would like to view his site and read the commentary.


Seventeen years ago, I had an undergrad professor who constantly extolled the virtues of adequate protein intake for “brain-based learning” – a popular educational paradigm at that time. In order to help her students get their protein requirements in, she would pass out Keebler cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers to each of her students every single class to support brain function, learning, and retention.

I can recall sitting there being like, “WTF?!” I would glance around the room at all of the students, waiting for one…just one of them to read the nutritional label and discover that these snacks weren’t in fact packed with protein. But it never happened; everyone just naively accepted that they were helping their brains function better due to delicious protein filled treats.


For twenty years as a personal trainer, this phenomenon has been bothering me. I can’t tell you how many times I overhear my clients saying something like, “Quinoa is a great source of protein.” Or, “I had some peanut butter because I needed to get some protein in me.” Or, “Almonds are packed with protein.” Or, “I made sure to have a Yoplait yogurt for breakfast since it’s important to have protein in the morning.” If you’re a personal trainer, I’m sure you can relate. And in case you’re wondering why it’s bothersome, it’s because none of these food sources are in fact high in protein.

Check out the nutritional info pertaining to the cheese and peanut butter crackers. You’ll notice that they contain 250 calories, 13 grams of fat, 30 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of protein. Less than 10% of the calories come from protein (46% is fat and 46% is carb). The mere fact that the food has the words “cheese” and “peanuts” in the title fools ignorant people who are unskilled in the art of reading nutritional labels into thinking that the snacks are high in protein when in actuality they are not.

Hypothetical Scenarios

I’m a big fan of flexible dieting (I created a flexible diet guideline for my 2 x 4: Maximum Strength product) – with this system you can work whatever foods you want into your nutrition as long as it fits your macros. You want some Keebler cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers? Have at it, just make sure you nail your numbers for the day. You have taste buds that don’t enjoy sweets? I hate you, you lucky son of a bitch, but in this case you wouldn’t use up any of your macros with sweets, you simply work the foods that you prefer into your day.

One problem is, many individuals don’t have as much wiggle room as they think they do with their diets. They realize this as soon as they start tracking and stop guessing with regards to their food intake. After finally downloading an app and actually tracking their macros, many of my clients realize that they’re taking in way more calories than they think or they have a few days per week where they go way over what they claim, which sabotages their progress.


Ideally we could all have sky high metabolisms, all men could wolf down 5,000+ calories per day and all women could scarf down 3,000+ calories per day and not gain any weight. But the reality is that many of us are pretty sedentary and only exercise when we hit the gym several days per week for around an hour, and we can’t handle that many calories (maybe we could when we were younger, but not anymore). This is especially true when people get down to the weight they prefer, they find that they can’t eat as much as their brain would like. Bottom line, we all have to exhibit some discipline and monitor our eating habits.

Let’s say you’re a 200 pound male who maintains an ideal physique by consuming 3,000 calories and 200 grams of protein per day. And let’s go back to the example of the Keebler cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers. If you ate 12 of these crackers, you’d get 3,000 calories – your entire daily allotment, but only 72 grams of protein, thereby falling fall short of your protein goals. You’d also get 360 grams of carbs and 117 grams of fat per day, which is too much for a 3,000 calorie diet that contains optimal levels of protein. Obviously you can see that this snack isn’t really high in protein, and you’re going to need foods that are truly high in protein in order to hit your targets.

I have a 5’4″ female client right now that maintains her ideal current weight of 120 lbs by consuming 1,500 calories per day. She doesn’t do cardio and sticks to weights 3 times per week. I have her aiming for 120 grams of protein per day, 155 grams of carbs per day, and 45 grams of fat per day. She prefers to eat 4 meals per day, therefore she needs to average 30 grams of protein per meal. Getting this 30 grams of protein 4 times per day isn’t easy for many women, at least at first.

In my experience, many women will assume that they’re getting sufficient protein intake because they eat two eggs in the morning (12 grams of protein) and a piece of chicken at night (30 grams of protein). Assuming they get 12 more grams of protein from a can of Greek yogurt and 20 more grams from veggies and other things, this comes to 74 grams of protein per day.

Many men do the same thing, so it’s not just women. In fact, many of my guy friends who don’t lift take in tons of protein but they do so through such fatty meats that they go way over on calories, and their physiques suffer greatly as a result.

Check out the chart I made below.


You will clearly see which common foods are indeed high in protein, which foods are moderate in protein, and which foods are low in protein.

Sure, having things like lentils, refried beans, tofu, and even various veggies not included in the chart such as spinach are useful in helping people hit their protein requirements. However, an entire can of spinach only yields 14 grams of protein, so you’re not going to meet your protein requirements for the day with spinach and other veggies alone. The increased popularity of Greek yogurt over the past decade is great since it is in fact a high protein snack. But at the end of the day, you’re going to need to eat some meat or guzzle down a protein shake here and there. Yes, I realize that there are plenty of vegans out there who have incredible physiques, and many even figure out ways to get adequate protein intake. But the majority of people are not vegan, so for those who are trying to improve their physique, most meals should be centered around a portion of meat (or a shake, which I’ll explain below).

I don’t usually track my macros. Most of the time I just make sure I get my protein each day, and get on the scale in the morning and at night. I then modify my diet accordingly so I stay roughly the same weight. However, I have tracked my macros before and it worked beautifully, plus I have my clients track their macros.

Here’s a strategy I employed when I did track macros (keep in mind that this isn’t necessary – you can fit your macros any way you prefer) that helped keep me on track. Last year, I was consuming around 230 grams of protein, 230 grams of carbs, and 120 grams of fat each day, for around 2,900 calories. I was leaning out at the time and dropping weight. I have an affinity for fatty foods, hence the lower carbs and higher fats. I have most of my clients stick to higher percentages of carbs and lesser percentages of fat. Anyway, I liked to eat 6 times per day. If I divided my daily macros by 6, I needed around 40 grams of protein per meal, 40 grams of carbs per meal, and 20 grams of fat per meal. Getting 35-40 grams of protein per meal 6 times per day isn’t easy for me. It is for people that love to cook and prepare their meals ahead of time, but that’s not me.


This is why I’m such a fan of whey protein shakes. I put two scoops in milk and it yields over 50 grams of protein. If I did this twice per day, this equated to over 100 grams of protein, which went a long way in helping me get to the 230 grams I desired. If you don’t like the taste of shakes, then you definitely don’t need to drink them. But in my situation, whey protein shakes helped me fit my macros.

This is especially important considering that I, like most people, tend to crave fatty and sugary foods. I could enjoy daily servings of my macadamia nuts, my almonds, my cashews, my sunflower seeds, my yogurts, my orange juice, my dried cherries, my Craisins, and my dark chocolate (I wish I liked my veggies but I don’t), because two of my meals per day were mostly protein (2 scoops of whey in skim milk).












Now let’s incorporate this into my averaging scheme. With 2 of my 6 daily meals consisting of the shakes, this left 4 meals per day and took off 110 grams of protein from my total (and also 20 grams of carbs). Now my macros were at 120 grams of protein, 210 grams of carbs, and 120 grams of fat for the rest of the day, which is much more enticing. I should mention that I had a few fish oil caps per day so this took off around 6 grams of fat from the total. Focusing on protein, if I ate 4 cans of Greek yogurt, this took off 40 grams from the total, which left me with 70 grams. If I consumed 2 pieces of meat, or 2 cans of tuna, or 1 piece of meat and 6 eggs, I met my target protein goal for the day (I just needed to make sure I hit the carb and fat targets).

You definitely don’t need to copy my system, the point of flexible dieting is to figure out your own that suits you best. Work the foods you enjoy into the mix, consume the ideal number of meals you prefer, but just make sure you hit your macros consistently. You’ll likely find that the protein target is the hardest to achieve, as carbs and fats are more fun to eat. This practice leads to an incredible physique over time as long as you know how to train properly and manipulate your macros according to your goals.


To conclude this article, please focus on the larger picture. Absorb what’s useful to you and disregard what isn’t – no need to nitpick my info to death, unless you feel I’m highly off base of course. We can all dig up different articles showing different numbers for protein requirements. We can all dig up nutritional labels of brands that differ from the data I showed in my chart. We can argue about clean eating versus IIFYM to death. This article isn’t written for vegans, so if you’re vegan please don’t take it personal. My goals in writing this article was to show people how much protein they’re actually getting from various foods and to provide people with some example scenarios, which is beneficial from a knowledge standpoint. Scientia potentia est (knowledge is power) my friends!











-Read more articles from Bret Contreras here.

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Spartan Race MEMORIAL DAY PROMO – Discount Code goes live TOMORROW, 5/20!


You heard it on Crazy Healthy Fit first 😉

I have just been informed that Spartan Race is releasing a limited discount code, MEMORIAL, that will give up to $40 off of race registration. This discount code, MEMORIAL, goes live this Wednesday, 5/20!

OFFER ENDS 5/27, so lock in your spot in the race ASAP!

…and, there’s more: ALL CURRENT NUTRITION CLIENTS (AS OF 5/27) WILL BE IN THE RUNNING FOR A FREE RACE CODE – YES, that means you could participate in ANY spartan race for free! –> Sign up for your nutrition package today!! *the winner will be contacted via email on Wednesday, May 27th.





**Continental US Only, excludes Hawaii. Cannot be retroactively applied or combined with any other offers including GovX. Not valid for Elite, Kid’s Race, or Spectator tickets. Expires 05/29/15 11:59 pm ET.

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The Lost Art of Self-Monitoring – Mike Samuels – Dr. Layne Norton

The below article, written by Mike Samuels – an English personal trainer, nutrition coach, and writer – focuses on the importance of self-monitoring as an important tool to successfully reaching your health and fitness goals. This article was written as a guest post on Dr. Layne Norton’s website. Dr. Norton or ‘BioLayne’ is a very well renowned advocate of flexible dieting, but you don’t have to term yourself an ‘IIFYM’er’ or ‘Flexible Dieter’ to learn the art of self-monitoring. So, give this article a good read and post your comments below!


Guest Blog by Mike Samuels: The Lost Art of Self-Monitoring

Posted In: Nutrition

The following is a guest post from Mike Samuels of Healthy Living Heavy Lifting

“You just gotta eat clean bro.”

“Counting calories doesn’t work – it’s all about what you eat.”

“I don’t track my intake, but I KNOW I don’t over-eat.”

These are pretty commonly heard throughout the fitness industry; People thinking you just need to eat healthily to get in shape.

You get folks who disregard calorie counting and thermodynamics, convinced that just eating from a set list of foods will make them lean.

Likewise, you have others (more the general public) who are so sure that they eat well, and don’t over-consume calories, that they’re convinced their lack of fat loss is due to their slow metabolism, their genetics, or some form of minutia, such as eating at the wrong times, eating carbs, consuming grains or drinking alcohol.

Slow Metabolism Meme

Both these groups have something seriously wrong with their approach –

They are not monitoring or tracking anything.

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

To get anywhere close to the physique most of us desire takes a fairly high degree of self-monitoring and tracking.  The obese guy or girl who’s carrying an extra 50 to 100 pounds – they can absolutely make some pretty incredible progress simply by cleaning up their diet, and getting rid of some junk.  I’d even go as far to say that an off-season, slightly out-of-shape bodybuilder could make decent progress into the start of a contest prep by making small cuts to their weekly junk food intake, taking some carbs out of a meal here and there, or dropping out liquid calories for instance. But everyone else – a more rigorous and consistent form of monitoring is vital.

Why You Suck at Guessing Your Food

Any seasoned IIFYM-er, or long-term flexible dieter gets pretty damn good at guesstimating serving sizes, and it’s perfectly okay to go out to eat, have a meal at a friend’s house, or grab some food on the go, and make a rough guess of the macros from time to time. Generally though, people are terrible at gauging exactly how much food they’re eating. One study, published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” (1) is, in my opinion, the don of all fat loss studies, and is one that I show to all my clients to combat the look of indignation when I ask if there’s any possibility they might not be tracking their food intake that accurately.

In the study, Lichtman and colleagues asked participants about their dietary habits and estimated intakes via a food recall analysis, then actually monitored participants’ food intake and exercise levels.  What they found was quite shocking.  Participants under-reported their calorie intake by an average of 47% and over-reported their exercise by an average of 51%.  What does this mean?  Well, if someone thought they were eating 2,000 calories per day, and burning 500 through exercise, then going by these numbers, they’d actually be eating 2,940 calories, and burning only 330.  That’s a discrepancy of 1,270 per day.  8,890 calories per week.  Or, to put it another way, if you thought you were eating at maintenance, that extra 8,890 calories extra in a week would be enough for over 2 ½ pounds of fat gain.

Anyone think they might now start actually tracking their intake properly!?


The Evidence Increases

A more recent study from the “Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics” concluded that completing food journals was associated with a greater percentage weight loss, (2) while a 2012 meta analysis from the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” noted that “a significant association between self-monitoring and weight loss was consistently found”. (3) But Mike – Most of these guys were obese. Of course they were bad at estimating.  I hear you.  And I’ll admit – if you’re in good shape already, you probably have a pretty solid handle on your nutrition, regardless of whether or not you monitor it.  So here’s what might make the difference – quantitative versus qualitative data.  Macronutrient-based diets are quantitative – you have a set amount or number of each macronutrient to hit. You can’t screw up or go “off-plan” if you’re hitting your numbers.  And this makes it very, very easy to implement adjustments when you hit a plateau.

Qualitative diets however (i.e. clean eating, low-carb, etc.) rely on some sort of magic code as to what foods you can and can’t eat.  Without tracking your intake, what you’re eating is anyone’s guess. You might be hitting a macro nutrient intake that’s favourable to reducing your body fat, you might not be. Who knows?

I’ll use myself as a case study.  I did Paleo for about 9 months. http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/how-clean-eating-made-me-fat-but-ice-cream-and-subway-got-me-lean/

I ate clean, and I mean CLEAN.  But when I hit a wall with weight loss, I didn’t know what to do.  I was convinced I wasn’t eating too many calories – my protein was high, my carbs were low and unprocessed, and all the fats I was getting were from healthy sources. I was at a loss.  Turns out, once I’d seen the light, and starting self-monitoring and tracking, my clean diet had been coming in at around 3,000 calories per day.

I see the same with many of my clients too.  Folk come to me eating low-carb, and can’t believe they’re not losing fat, even when they’re keeping their carbs below 30 to 50 grams per day.  The truth of the matter is – calories.  Eating a high-calorie diet while eating “clean” is incredibly easy.

4 oz nuts = 650 calories
1 tablespoon olive/ coconut oil = 120 calories
8 oz sweet potato = 204 calories
6 oz wild salmon = 241 calories
6 oz grass-fed beef = 324 calories

“Clean” foods? – Yes.HEALTHY FATS  Calorie-dense? You betcha!  Low-carb folk and clean eaters are often shocked that their fat intake racks up at well over 100 grams per day, and protein can be as high as 1.5 to 2 grams per pound, both of which raises calorie intake through the roof.

Breaking the Plateaus

Referring back to that inevitable fat loss plateau, what do you do?  If you’re a tracker, you simply manipulate your calories to reinstate your deficit.  As you diet, it’s almost certain that you’ll have to lower your calories over time, due to a drop in bodyweight, and potentially in thermogenesis.  This is no biggie for the tracking flexible dieter – you just knock off a few calories from your daily intake. Slashing 50 to 100 calories through a combination of carbs and fats should be ample to get you over that hump. A non-tracker though? Do you eat cleaner?  Do Paleo guys and girls just paleo harder?  And what about those low-carb folk? Do they look in vain for foods that have negative carbs?paleoyoda1

All you can do in this situation is find some way to lower your calorie intake, which usually results in completely getting rid of a food, such as taking all the oats out of your morning meal, switching from beef to chicken or white fish, or taking out starches and replacing them with green vegetables.  This might work, but again, it’s guesswork, and leaves you in the cycle of restrictive dieting.

Removing Food Restrictions

Without getting into the whole debate of IIFYM vs. clean eating, tracking and monitoring does give you license to actually eat whatever you like, provided it’s in a sensible quantity, and fits in with your nutrition plan as a whole.  By not restricting certain types of food, you massively reduce urges to binge, and create a much more sustainable, sociable, practical – and even enjoyable – diet.

The Guessing Game

Think you can get by with guessing serving sizes?  Think again.  According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the environment we’re in, along with our emotions, can greatly affect what we determine to be a “serving” of food. Psychological cues also tend to override all else when it comes to being sensible with your portion sizes. (4)  While there’s no need to track and weigh every single last gram of everything you eat (unless you’re contest prepping,) there is certainly a lot of merit in breaking out your weighing scale, especially in a fat loss phase, and tracking every meal where possible.

Coming Over to the Tracking Side

Fortunately, in today’s modern world of super-speed Internet, and technology on the go, tracking and monitoring your intake has never been easier.  You’d have to have been living under a rock for the last couple of years if you’re in the fitness industry and haven’t heard of MyFitnessPal – http://www.myfitnesspal.com/  That, along with apps such as My Macros+ http://www.getmymacros.com/ are fantastic, easily-accessible ways to get started with the monitoring process.myfitnesspal1

In fact, a study from a 2014 edition of the “Journal of Nutrition and Education Behavior” even found that subjects who used smartphone apps to track their food had better dietary success rates and higher adherence than those using paper and pen. (5)

The Wrap Up: No Excuses

One of the big reasons I hear from people who refuse to track food is that it takes too much time.  This comes down to two things –

1. Realising that it’s actually extremely quick and easy to track and monitor.
2. Weighing up how important your goals are to you.

If you manage to find the time to play Angry Birds, spend hours debating squat biomechanics on Facebook, or update your Twitter feed every 20 minutes with how “hardcore” your workouts are, you have time to track. End of story.  Your physique and your sanity will thank you for it.



1. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199212313272701
2. http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(12)00634-X/abstract
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3268700/
4. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/nutrition/pdf/portion_size_research.pdf
5. http://www.jneb.org/article/S1499-4046(14)00469-2/abstract

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Sugar – The Sweet Truth – Bret Contreras

Surprise, surprise. The answer to the question ‘Is Sugar bad for you?’ is IT DEPENDS…You have to look at the overall diet, not just sugar.

Many clients come to me seeking yes or no answers to their questions, but nutritional science isn’t that simple. I will never give you a list of foods to eat and a list of foods to avoid, because that’s just not realistic nor sustainable or healthy for anyone.

Great article from guest writer, Menno Henselmans, on Bret Contreras’ site.


*I have posted the article below, but would suggest following this link to Bret’s website to read the comments/answers if you still have questions. Feel free to share your thoughts on here as well!

Sugar – The Sweet Truth [written by Menno Henselmans]

There are only 2 things that every nutritionist in the world seems to agree on (and we know everyone is a nutritionist these days). Vegetables are good and sugar is bad.

But things aren’t so black and white if we let the light of science shine on sugar. Will sugar make you fat? It depends on your diet.

Specifically, sugar’s effect on your body composition depends on if your diet has a predefined set of macros that you stick to every day or if you just eat until you’re full.

All-you-can-eat sugar

If you eat until you’re full (ad libitum, as researchers call it), and you start adding sugar to your coffee, your oatmeal and your protein shakes, you are most likely going to gain weight (or lose less weight, if you’re in an energy deficit).

The reason is simple. Sugar scores very low on the satiety index. This means it doesn’t fill you up much relative to how much energy you consume. So if you add sugar to a meal, you won’t eat much less of it. In fact, you may eat more of it because it’s tastier (higher palatability, as labcoats say). Adding sugar to your meals will thus generally increase your energy intake.

And since your body follows the laws of physics, specifically the laws of thermodynamics, what happens to your weight depends on your body’s energy balance. You gain weight in an energy surplus, because energy will be stored. You lose weight in an energy deficit, because your body will have to oxidize AKA burn bodily tissue to get enough energy.


Sugar tracking

Ok, so far so obvious. But what we really want to know is this. Is table sugar AKA sucrose (50% glucose, 50% fructose) more fattening than starches like rice or oatmeal when you consume the same amount of calories?

Many studies have compared groups eating a diet with the same macronutrient composition (% protein, % fat, % carbs) that differed only in which carb sources were consumed. The groups eating lots of sugar lose just as much fat without losing more muscle mass than the groups consuming little or no sugar [2-3]. In studies where complex carbs like whole-wheat bread are replaced with sugar but the total caloric intake is kept constant, no body composition changes take place [4].

So as long as you track your macros, having sugar in your diet is in itself not bad for your physique. And it gets even better.

Not so simple

A 6 month study of 390 participants found that this is true for all simple carbs, like fructose (fruit sugar) and lactose (milk sugar): whether you consume simple or complex carbs does not affect your body composition [1]. Or, for that matter, your blood lipids, an important marker of your cardiovascular (heart) health.

While it is easy to classify simple carbs as bad and complex carbs as good, the distinction between simple and complex carbs is in fact completely arbitrary. It is merely a medical tradition that we call carbohydrates with 3 or more sugars ‘complex carbs’ and we call carbohydrates with 1 or 2 sugars ‘simple carbs’.

What about blood sugar?

It is a myth that sugar causes a massive blood sugar spike followed by a complete crash. The effect on a food’s blood sugar is measured by the glycaemic index (GI). Sugar, due to its 50% fructose content, has a GI of ~68, which is a ‘medium’ effect on blood sugar. Sugar even has a lower GI than whole-wheat bread, which has a GI of ~71 [7]. The same applies to the insulin index [6].

What about health?

There are many cultures in tropical climates thriving on diets of up to 90% carbohydrates [8-10]. And we’re not talking oatmeal and broccoli here. These cultures rely on sugary fruits. In fact, honey is the favorite food of the Hadza from Tanzania [9].

Evolution has made sure our bodies can deal with sugar, because it is found in many of the world’s most nutritious foods: fruits. Fruit is in fact one of the foods humans have consumed for the longest period of our genetic existence. It has been a staple in our diet ever since we were still monkeys living in the jungle [5, 11]. And glucose is literally in our blood.


Sugar isn’t bad. Nor is it good. Sugar has empty calories. It doesn’t satiate. But if your overall diet is very nutritious, you are healthy and physically active and you are tracking your macros, sugar won’t make your abs fade into a mountain of lard. You don’t have to live on rice and broccoli. And unless you have a food intolerance, you certainly shouldn’t avoid fruit or dairy because they contain sugar. That’s exactly the kind of broscience that drives bodybuilders into following obsessive and monotone diets that aren’t healthy in psychological or nutritional terms.

Interested in more articles like this and advancing your fitness education? Have a look at the Bayesian PT certification program, an evidence based course about the science of physique training.

About the Author


Online physique coach, fitness model and scientific author, Menno Henselmans helps serious trainees attain their ideal physique using his Bayesian Bodybuilding methods. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter and check out his website for more free articles.


  1. Randomized controlled trial of changes in dietary carbohydrate/fat ratio and simple vs complex carbohydrates on body weight and blood lipids: the CARMEN study. The Carbohydrate Ratio Management in European National diets. Saris WH, Astrup A, Prentice AM, Zunft HJ, Formiguera X, Verboeket-van de Venne WP, Raben A, Poppitt SD, Seppelt B, Johnston S, Vasilaras TH, Keogh GF. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Oct;24(10):1310-8.
  2. Weight loss in overweight subjects following low-sucrose or sucrose-containing diets. West JA, de Looy AE. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Aug;25(8):1122-8.
  3. Metabolic and behavioral effects of a high-sucrose diet during weight loss. Surwit RS, Feinglos MN, McCaskill CC, Clay SL, Babyak MA, Brownlow BS, Plaisted CS, Lin PH. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Apr;65(4):908-15.
  4. Extended use of foods modified in fat and sugar content: nutritional implications in a free-living female population. Gatenby SJ, Aaron JI, Jack VA, Mela DJ. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Jun;65(6):1867-73.
  5. The biology of the colonizing ape. Wells JC, Stock JT. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2007;Suppl 45:191-222.
  6. Effect of glucose, sucrose and fructose on plasma glucose and insulin responses in normal humans: comparison with white bread. Lee, B. M. ; Wolever, T. M. S. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec, 1998, Vol.52(12), p.924(5)
  7. Atkinson, F. S., Foster-Powell, K., & Brand-Miller, J. C. (2008). International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2008. Diabetes Care, 31(12), 2281-2283.
  8. Lindeberg, S. (2009). Food and western disease: health and nutrition from an evolutionary perspective. John Wiley & Sons.
  9. Tubers as fallback foods and their impact on Hadza hunter-gatherers. Marlowe FW, Berbesque JC. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2009 Dec;140(4):751-8.
  10. Hypertension, the Kuna, and the epidemiology of flavanols. McCullough ML, Chevaux K, Jackson L, Preston M, Martinez G, Schmitz HH, Coletti C, Campos H, Hollenberg NK. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2006;47 Suppl 2:S103-9; discussion 119-21.
  11. The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease. Lieberman, D. 2014.
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Questions, Answered. (2)

Questions, Answered. (2)

You can view my first Question & Answer here. Today, I’ll be answering 5 more questions. Feel free to email me at jenna.m.carelli@gmail.com or use the blog contact form to have your questions answered!



Question #6: Is it true that a high protein diet causes kidney stones? I went to a urologist recently and was told to stick to a low protein diet. I was very surprised to hear this, I’ve never heard of this before.

A: I am not a doctor or a registered dietitian, so I cannot give medical advice with regard to prevention or treatment of kidney stones. However, I generally start my clients off at 2x their bodyweight in kilograms. 

A kidney stone is a hard mass that forms from crystals in the urine. In most people, natural chemicals in the urine stop stones from forming. I found a few scholarly articles online that discussed the effects that protein have on risk of kidney stones. In 2002, researchers from the University of Chicago found that ‘diets heavy on foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates can increase the risk of kidney stones and reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium after just six weeks.’ More specifically, they found that ‘six weeks on a low carbohydrate, high protein diet increased the acid load to the kidneys, raising the risk of kidney stones.’ Researchers from the University of Chicago and the National Kidney Foundation both mention that reducing the amount of animal protein in the diet may help.  ‘Animal protein has been shown to boost urinary excretion of oxalate, a compound that combines with calcium and other compounds to form kidney stones.’ Sources of animal protein include beef, chicken, pork, fish and eggs. Again, I am not licensed to give medical advice, so please listen to your doctor’s advice because they know best!

Question #7: Caffeine… For energy and uses in fitness.

A: It helps me! I take 100mg caffeine in the morning before my workout. An article from the American Physiological Society discusses a study that has proven that ‘caffeine combined with carbohydrates following exercise can help refuel the muscle faster.’ ‘Glycogen, the muscle’s primary fuel source during exercise, is replenished more rapidly when athletes ingest both carbohydrate and caffeine following exhaustive exercise. Athletes who ingested caffeine with carbohydrate had 66% more glycogen in their muscles four hours after finishing intense, glycogen-depleting exercise, compared to when they consumed carbohydrate alone, according to the study.’ 

The researchers found the following:

  • one hour after exercise, muscle glycogen levels had replenished to the same extent whether or not the athlete had the drink containing carbohydrate and caffeine or carbohydrate only
  • four hours after exercise, the drink containing caffeine resulted in 66% higher glycogen levels compared to the carbohydrate-only drink
  • throughout the four-hour recovery period, the caffeinated drink resulted in higher levels of blood glucose and plasma insulin
  • several signaling proteins believed to play a role in glucose transport into the muscle were elevated to a greater extent after the athletes ingested the carbohydrate-plus-caffeine drink, compared to the carbohydrate-only drink

It is important to note, though, that we all have a gene in our livers that makes a specific enzyme necessary to break down caffeine. However, due to individual differences (genetic polymorphisms), some of us have the enzyme that breaks down caffeine quickly while others have the enzyme that breaks down caffeine slowly. Those with the FAST enzyme see an improvement in health when they drink 1-3 cups coffee per day. This is because caffeine is processed and removed from the body quickly while the antioxidants found in coffee can stick around and can help protect against free radicals. Those with the SLOW enzyme are more likely to experience health problems with the same 1-3 cups coffee per day. This is because caffeine, when allowed to stick around in the body for longer periods of time, can become unhealthy.

Question #8: What do we do about the constant barrage of posts and info about all the things we should NEVER eat or drink? I try to eat everything in moderation, and walk or bike ride every day. Knock on wood, at age 50, I am healthy, happy and energetic. But those posts are a downer

A: Ignore them! Don’t let others persuade what makes you feel good! Unless, of course, if you have doctor’s orders. Life is all about balance. Get rid of the negativity in your life. You said it yourself, you are happy, healthy, and energetic. Which tells me that you must be doing a-okay!

Question #9: What are your tactics for staying motivated when it seems like you can’t escape crap! I live with roommates, and we share kitchen space – I try to eat clean and don’t buy things that will tempt me, while their idea of groceries is processed everything so there is a constant supply of cookies, crackers, candy, chips and sugary cereals everywhere … Willpower is only so strong and lately I’m struggling "</p

A: Find something that helps you to relax, whether it be yoga, meditation, reading a book, working out, taking a long walk to reflect, or going out to a restaurant for a meal. There has to be something that really takes your mind off of the stress of life and makes you feel good. Find a good balance. No food should be off-limits. If you want a cookie, eat a cookie. Obviously, moderation is important here but studies have shown that if you tell yourself you cannot have something, chances are you will want that particular food SOOO much more. 


  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1169452/
  • https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/diet
  • http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701083456.htm
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How To: Bake a Spaghetti Squash Whole

I’ve been baking my spaghetti squash for years by slicing prior to cooking and it has become a battle between myself and the knife, and the knife usually wins. I almost always hand the knife off to my husband to cut, because I’m scared of taking off a finger in the process.

I have NO idea why I waited so long to bake the spaghetti squash whole and slice after its cooked, when the membrane is soft and very easy to cut.

How To Bake a Spaghetti Squash Whole

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Single-Serving Greek Yogurt Pancake Stack [Recipe]

Mmmmm Mmmmm, good.

Single-Serving Green Yogurt Pancake Stack

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Journal: Honeymoon in Italy – The Amalfi Coast

Since this week last year my husband and I were traveling the southern coast of Italy, I am sharing the journal I kept of our experience. I am so thankful for this journal and over 500 photo memories of this incredible trip.


The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline on the Southern coast of the Sorrentine Penninsula in the Province of Salerno in Southern Italy.



Where? Southern Italy: Capri Island, Anacapri, Positano, Montepertuso, Nocelle, Agerola, Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello, Sorrento

When? May 1, 2014 – May 10, 2014

How? Newark Airport – – United Airlines to Munich, Germany – – Lufthansa Airlines to Naples, Italy.

Why? Honeymoon

Weather Conditions? High 60’s, low 70’s with a few passing showers; generally pretty windy, but the breeze felt really nice.



Day 1 (5/1/14): travel day


John and I left for Newark Airport around 1:00 p.m., from Philadelphia, PA. We arrived at our gate around 3:30 p.m., leaving us 2 hours until takeoff. We were headed to Munich, Germany to catch our connecting flight to Naples, Italy. After about 8 hours in the air, trying our best to catch some Zzz’s, we landed in Munich.

Day 2 (5/2/14): arrival to Naples, Italy and first day on Capri Island

With about an hour layover in Munich, Germany, we had just enough time to find our gate, confirm our flight reservations, and grab a bite to eat. At this point, it was around 8:00 a.m. in Munich. We stopped at a cafe in the airport. I ordered an Americano and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon (delicious!). John had eggs and ham. The Munich Airport offers free coffee/espresso/etc. kiosks. Around 9:30 a.m., we were in the air for a short hour and 15 minute flight to Naples, Italy.

Even though we were both sleep deprived from our red-eye flight, we were wide awake and anxious to arrive at our final destination. We previewed our Rick Steves and Fodor travel guide books to decide what we were going to explore for our two-night stay in Capri.

Capri is an island located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Penninsula, on the South side of the Gulf of Naples in the Campania region of Italy.

Upon our arrival in Naples, the weather was overcast, but warm and comfortable. Things were hectic from the time we grabbed our luggage until we boarded the hydrofoil (ferry) to Capri. We flagged down a taxi driver at the Airport – a very nice man who spoke broken English, but he was helpful in getting us to the port and explaining how to purchase a ferry ticket prior to boarding. We had to carry all three of our bags up a flight of stairs onto the ferry. I would suggest packing light.

The ferry-ride was about 45 minutes to Capri. As soon as we walked off of the ferry, we gave our bags to Mr. Marco (pre-organized through Hotel Villa Brunella), who delivered them to our room for us. We stood in awe over the gorgeous views, took the funicular (cable car) up to the top of the mountain and walked about 15 minutes to Hotel Villa Brunella via V. Emanuele, Camerelle, and Tragara streets.


We familiarized ourselves with our hotel and room, then headed downtown for a bite to eat for lunch at Ristorante Da Alberto.


We then went hiking along the coast and saw the Arco Naturale and other beautiful rock formations.

The Arco Naturale is a natural arch on the east coast of the island of Capri. Dating from the Paleolithic age, it is the remains of a collapsed grotto (cave). The arch spans 12 meters at a height of 18 meters above ground and consists of limestone.

The views along our hike were breathtaking.


For dinner, we chose a local ristorante called Buca di beppo (not to be confused with the Buca di beppo in Positano – they are not related). We were the only tourists in the restaurant. We ordered sparkling water and the house wine. We ordered the sampler apertivo (appetizer) of smoked salmon, anchovies, squid, grilled veggies, and a fish patty. For our main course, we both chose the grilled fish of the day. The food was all very delicious. We learned that if you want sides with your meal, you must order them separately – our fish came out by itself. We finished the night with some gelato.

Day 3 (5/3/14): explored Capri Island and Anacapri

We woke up to a stunning view from our balcony. We headed up to the hotel restaurant for our continental breakfast of danish and pastries. Breakfast doesn’t really seem like a huge meal for the Italians. A cappuccino or espresso and a danish/pastry and they are on their way. With our bread, we were given jam and nutella. The cafe americano that I had was very smooth – it hit the spot. I stuck to just my americano for breakfast, but John paid extra for a cheese and vegetable omelet – it took the italian man a few minutes to understand what he was requesting. We had breakfast overlooking the terrace and mountains in the distance. We could see a storm approaching, so we decided to stay and watch. It was really cool to see the rain hit the water in the distance, and follow its path towards us. The clouds overcame Capri Island, it rained for a few minutes, and then the rain stopped and the clouds opened up.

The weather was cool, but comfortable, especially with all of the walking/hiking we did. We left the hotel after the storm had passed and walked into town. We bought bus tickets for Anacapri and off we went! The bus wound around the side of the steep cliffs, very close to the edge on a very narrow 2-way street. There is only a small barrier that stood between the bus and the edge of the cliff.

Once we got to Anacapri, we took the 13 minute single rider chair lift to Monte Solaro.


Monte Solero is a mountain on the island of Capri in Campania, Italy. With an elevation of 589 meters, its peak is the highest point of Capri.

At the top, a beautiful view of Naples, the Bay of Solerno, and the Faraglioni.


Faraglioni is the Italian term used to refer to stacks. The most famous faraglioni are the three stacks located off the island of Capri in the Bay of Naples. The stacks have been given their own names: Stella, Mezzo, and Scopolo.

Then, an unexpected storm came in and we were stranded at the top of the mountain for about an hour. Although, we did have gorgeous panoramic views from a cafe at the top while sipping on our americano’s. It wasn’t too bad, but we were cold and without umbrellas. Needless to say, the 13 minute chair lift ride was very relaxing on the way up the mountain and very cold and wet on the way down. Just our luck, the rain stopped nearly 20 minutes after we left the top. We stopped in a department store, found a bathroom, and dried off with the hand dryers :)

We ate in Anacapri at Ristorante La Giara, where we had more Americano’s, a chicken dish, and prosciutto mozzarella pizza. We then walked around Anacapri and eventually caught the bus back to Capri.

Our dinner spot was a recommendation from Fodor’s travel guide, called Ristoranto Al Grottino. I love all of the quaint restaurants. Between the two of us, we ordered the Antipasto della casa (assorted hors d’oeuvre’s), which was assorted cheese, olives, prosciutto, and salami. They added butter to this tray for some reason (this is the only restaurant on our trip that added a slab of butter to their antipasto tray). Obviously, I mistaken’ed the butter for cheese, which wasn’t too pleasant – I bet they got a kick out of that one. John ordered the Agnolotti Al Pomodorino Ciliegina (stuffed noodles with cherry tomato sauce) and I ordered the Pollo Arrosto (roast chicken). We also ordered Artichoke hearts and Peperoni (green/red peppers) as side dishes. We ordered the House Wine at every restaurant on our trip. For dessert, we ordered Tiramisu. Then, since Tiramisu isn’t enough for dessert when you are in Italy, we swung by a cafe on our way back to the room for limoncello and a limone, which tasted like a lemon donut.

Day 4 (5/4/14): explored Capri Island for our final day

We woke up from our final sleep at Hotel Villa Brunella and enjoyed a cafe americano. We packed up our suitcases for the Hotel to deliver to our ferry later in the day for our 3:10 p.m. departure time to Positano. We headed out, took the funicular down to the Marina Grande. While waiting for our 12:20 p.m. boat tour, we had another cafe americano along the water at Bar il Gabbiano. If you ever go here, ask for Carlos – very informative guy and we could understand his English! There aren’t too many people we could understand on Capri.

We then took a 1/2 island boat tour – a 1 hour guided tour from a company called Capri Whales. On the boat tour, we saw Tiberius cave, rock formations, the white grotto, the natural arc, the house of an old famous italian writer, a small green grotto, the faraglioni, the house of Sophia Loren, and the corral grotto.


We took the funicular back up to Capri, walked to our villa, checked out, and went back down the funicular to wait to board the hydrofoil (ferry) to Positano to begin the next portion of our travels along the Amalfi Coast.

I would recommend seeing the Blue Grotto if you get a chance to visit Capri. We missed our chance because of the weather.

The Blue Grotto is a sea cave on the coast of the island of Capri, Southern Italy. Sunlight, passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater, creates a blue reflection that illuminates the cavern.

Upon our arrival to Positano, we handed our bags off to an italian man, who, for 8 euro, delivered them to our Hotel – definitely worth it! We walked, enjoyed the views, and eventually arrived at Hotel Marincanto.


It was much easier to communicate with people in Positano, since the Italian’s knew a bit more English than they did on Capri.

Our Hotel (Hotel Marincanto) overlooked the coast. We got settled into the Hotel and went exploring. We took the steps down to the beach, walked along the water to the center square. Then, walked in and out of shops. We stopped at a local grocery store to create our own Antipasto. We chose an assortment of cheeses and meats, picked up a loaf of bread and a bottle of local red wine. We brought this all back to our room and had ourselves a little picnic on our balcony.


For dinner, we chose a restaurant called Lo’Guarracino. We walked along a very romantic path on the side of the cliff, beside the water, until we arrived at the restaurant which was located just before a second public beach. We sat outside, ordered the house red wine, sea bass, and a side mixed greens salad. The sea bass was to die for – very well prepared. After dinner, we walked our way back to the Hotel, but not without stopping at a bakery (La Zagara) for a treat!

Day 5 (5/5/14): exploring Montepertuso, Nocelle, the ‘path of the Gods’, and Agerola/Bomerano

We had continental breakfast on the terrace. This continental breakfast included coffee, pastries/danish, hard boiled eggs, assorted meats and cheese, fruit/vegetables, cereal, etc.

The front desk attendant (Enza) was our favorite. She was very helpful throughout our entire 6 night stay in Positano. Today, we explored the ‘Path of the Gods.’

The name, quite rhetorical, is due to some aerial exposed stretches (made much more comfortable thanks to recent layouts), the magnificent views of the sea and splendid hamlets of Vettica Maggiore and Furore located just below the path. From above you’ll admire, impending over the sea, the extremely steep and wild noses of “Sant’Angelo a Tre Pizzi”, the highest summit of the Sorrento Peninsula.

In spite of the name, the Path of Gods is an extraordinary monument to the work and exertion of the Man that, throughout the ages, has been able to colonize even the most impracticable places on the Amalfi Coast.

Today the path is still used by farmers, woodsmen and shepherds, as it touches old vineyards clung to the mountain: the species of grape cultivated in the area is called “ped’e palomma” (the most ancient vine in Campania)

Beside the path, you’ll find caves and terraces dropping from the cliffs to the sea and deep valleys. The caves host pens, folds, depots and other constructions. Of the vertical faces, with a dolomitic look, overlooking the path, you’ll admire their elegant glides, peregrine and kestrel falcons, coming out their aeries.

This was certainly an adventure! We took the 10:20 a.m. bus to Nocelle. Once we got off, we ran into a very nice Italian woman, who was carrying her laundry back to her house. There are no cars or scooters in Nocelle, only walking. We told the woman we were looking for the ‘path of the Gods.’ She said, ‘follow me, I live near the path of the Gods!’ This woman shared history with us along the walk, she took us to her bed & breakfast and invited us in. She told us that a French Actor stayed at her b&b the previous week. She also explained that her Grandfather owned the land and was the head Farmer in Nocelle. She showed us an old olive press, made in 1870 – horses would generate the press. She then sent us on our way and offered us coffee and limoncello on our way back.


The Path of the Gods is a 6.1 kilometer stretch, one way. We followed the path all the way to Bomerano/Agerola, where we stumbled upon an italian cafe. The owners name was Antonio. His food is organic and from his Family farm. He offered to fix us each up with a fresh Panini for 4 euro each. The Panini was delicious. It was sausage, lemon and what tasted like Arugula, but he called it something else. Very fresh. Antonio gave us a huge lemon to take home with us. We also ordered 2 cappuccino’s.


After lunch, we followed the path back to Nocelle. Instead of the taking the bus back down to Positano, we took the stairs – all 2300 of them. Holy Calves!

We ate dinner at Chez Black, which is a restaurant along the beach. Supposedly, Denzel Washington frequents this restaurant and was the best man in the restaurant owner’s wedding – we didn’t see him, unfortunately. We ordered one house white and one house red wine. For our appetizer, we ordered assorted meats. I had the grilled chicken for dinner and John had veal scallopini with mushrooms. John’s veal scallopini was the best thing I’ve ever tasted! We also ordered a side of brocollini, which was excellent as well. With the check, they served us complimentary lemon sorbet – very refreshing. After dinner, we stopped at Zagara bakery for caramello & vaniglia gelato and a cannoli.

Day 6 (5/6/14): explored Praiano

We started our day with another delicious continental breakfast on the terrace. We met a couple from Australia, who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

We took a bus to Praino and found a Palestra (gym!) – the ONLY gym along the coast. The owners name is Roberto. We were able to use dumbbells, exercise machines, kettlebells, the smith machine, and I even completed a really good tabata burpee workout. This was one of just 3 workouts we were able to get in during our 10-day trip. Besides our hiking/walking, that was the extent of our exercise.

After leaving the Palestra, we walked down to the beach to a restaurant along the water called Il Pirata, where we had our best lunch! This is a very beautiful spot along the side of a cliff. We watched people kayak and wind surf. We ordered cappuccino’s, eggplant parmesan (the best ever!), and red snapper. The red snapper was served with a little olive oil and lemon – a very good combination. At lunch, the wind was blowing and I was a bit cold. I didn’t say anything, but the waiter must have noticed my goosebumps because he brought me a blanket (how nice!).


Tonight, we experienced our favorite dinner of the entire trip! We went to La Tagliata, a restaurant at the top of the mountain. The restaurant sends a shuttle to pick you up – price included with dinner. We made reservations through our Hotel and the shuttle picked us up at 7:15 p.m. We had NO idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we are so glad that we went because this was by far the best meal and restaurant experience of our trip.

So, we get to the restaurant, sit down, and are told the restaurant is family run and there isn’t a menu – you eat whatever Mama and Papa want to serve that night. This was great! We were nervous about the bill, but found out that the total price for the shuttle and all the food I am about to list was only 70 euro total, for the two of us!

We were asked what we wanted to drink, and we both said House Red Wine. We were given an entire bottle of wine to share. See below for a list of everything we consumed this night. I still cannot believe we ate it all:

Apertivo: sausage, prosciutto, ricotta, mozzarella, pizza, eggplant parmesan, peas, spinach, broccoli, chickpeas, bread, tomato, beans

Primero: gnocchi, cavatelli with zucchini, ‘mama’s pasta’ with mozzarella, ravioli with mushrooms

Segundo: mixed salad, chicken, pork, beef, lamb, rabbit, shishcabob, sausage, french fries

Dolce: strawberries, melon, lemon cake, chocolate cake, a cream chocolate cake, and unlimited limoncello shots.

We were absolutely stuffed, but oh so very happy and satisfied. There was live entertainment and we really felt like we were in Mama’s kitchen. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this place if you are traveling to Positano.

Day 7 (5/7/14): explored Amalfi and Ravello

After enjoying yet another very filling breakfast on the terrace, we took the ferry to Amalfi. Amalfi is quite small, and it isn’t recommended that you spend much time there because Ravello is where the beautiful views are and Ravello, of course, is at the top of the mountain. Here are a few pictures I took of Amalfi…


From Amalfi, we hopped on a bus to Ravello. We walked around Ravello, taking in the views – especially the gardens. We grabbed a bite to eat for lunch before taking the bus back down to Amalfi and catching a ferry to Positano.


For dinner, we ate at Da Vincenzo. John ordered the mixed pasta seafood dish and I had a meat dish. For our Apertivo, we had an excellent stuffed pepper. We had great Gelato after dinner – caramello, cafe, tiramisu, and hazelnut flavors.

Day 8 (5/8/14): explored Sorrento

Breakfast on the terrace; bus to Sorrento; shopped around, went to the gym (12 euro each); lunch in the square; bus back to Postano.

Lounged out on the terrace with a recommended “spritzer,” with Prosecco and orange as the sun set behind the mountains.

We went back to Lo’ Guarracino for dinner. We really enjoyed it there because of the quiet and calming atmosphere, as well as the beautiful view. I ordered the grilled sea bass again. We had shrimp Antipasti and John ordered Pizza with tomato, ham, mozzarella, and mushroom. We also ordered a side of Zucchini and the house red wine.

John had the Tiramasu for dessert, and I stopped for Gelato on our way back to the Hotel.

Day 9 (5/9/14): day of relaxation in Positano; no travel plans.

Breakfast on the terrace; our last day/night in Italy :(

We stayed in Postiano for our final day. We walked along the cliff/beach area. We had lunch at Caporicci and ordered salad and a pizza. We then ventured over to Paradise lounge for Shakerado’s and an ice cream cookie sandwich for two. On our way back to the Hotel, we purchased lemon chocolates and candy. We also bought hand-made ceramics.

We witnessed a wedding on our hotel terrace.

Day 10 (5/10/14): travel day

This was about a 22 hour day for us.

We woke up around 6:00 a.m., left at 7:00 a.m. for the Naples, Airport – we ended up arriving at the airport much earlier than we needed to be there. We flew from Naples, Italy to Munich, Germany. Had about an hour layover, and then Munich, Germany to Newark, New Jersey. We then stopped for a bite to eat and drove home to Philadelphia, PA. It was 10:30 p.m. local time when we arrived at our house, but felt like 4:30 a.m. Italy time to us.

Great Trip. Miss the coast already.

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Dijon and Shallot Turkey Burger [Recipe]

Thanks to a very close friend of mine, I was able to whip up a delicious lunch in 10 minutes over the weekend. These Dijon and Shallot Turkey Burgers are delicious and very easy to make.

Dijon and Shallot Turkey Burgers

I added a slice of Mozzarella Cheese and a little extra Dijon Mustard on top and it was perfect!

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St. Luke’s Half Marathon: April 26, 2015

St. Luke’s Half Marathon : April 26, 2015

I always try and wait to post my race recap until after the photo’s from the event have been released, and it always ends up taking longer than I had anticipated so I get impatient. I’ll post all photos to my Facebook Page, Crazy Healthy Fit FB Page.

Race Recap

I went into this race unaware of what the outcome would be after a tendonitis flare-up just 3 weeks prior to race day. Ironically, after reviewing last year’s race recap it seems that I had the same problem going into that race. Luckily, extra strength Aleve medication was the cure-all for both of these races and I didn’t feel a thing in my knee throughout the entire course.

This year, I started the race with my sister-in-law, my aunt, and two other friends. We all had planned on running at our own paces. It’s always nice to have someone to start the race with and knowing there will be others waiting for you at the finish line. But, it’s very difficult to run an entire race with someone when you never know what kind of running day it will be until you get going. For that reason, I never promise anyone that I’ll stay with them for an entire race. If I am feeling good, then I need to keep going at a pace that works for me. Otherwise, things could go downhill very quickly. So, we said our ‘good lucks’ at the starting line and off we went.

Well, I immediately saw the 1:45:00 pacer guy holding up his sign about 5 seconds into the start of the race and felt good so I decided to stick with him for as long as I could. I ended up following this pacer-guy for the first 4 miles, which wasn’t exactly a good idea since the pace was much faster than I am used to. But, I do believe that this head start helped me in the end when my legs no longer wanted to move and I slowed down drastically. I fell off of the 1:45:00 pace somewhere after mile 4 and didn’t see the 1:50:00 pacer until around mile 8 or 9. By this point we were already in the Lehigh Parkway on the trails and this pacer passed me on a hill and was gone in a minute. So, at that point my goal was to finish the race without ever seeing the 1:55:00 pacer. I succeeded. My body completely shut down around mile 9 and even though I felt like I was running fast, I definitely wasn’t. I was able to hold on and fight through it until the end, though, and finished the race with a chip time of 1:54:06, averaging an 8:43 mile. I came in 37th out of 246 in my division, 237th out of 1789 women, and 718th place overall out of 2,450 half marathon runners. I averaged an 8:43 minute per mile pace.

The first 6 or 7 miles of the race are completely flat.  Once you enter the parkway, though, there are some pretty steep hills spread out for the remainder of the course. The last extremely large hill is around mile 11.5 as you exit the parkway and make your way back to cedar beach for the last leg of the race. The finish has always been my favorite – runners enter the J. Birney Crum Stadium via another hill and take a lap around the track before an exciting stadium finish!

Proceeds Support Area Youth Running

This year was the sixth year that St. Luke’s University Health Network has sponsored the event, which included a family fun walk on Sunday and the St. Luke’s Youth Run on Saturday, April 25. More than 700 children aged 3-14 participated in the free event on Saturday on Hamilton Street in downtown Allentown. Proceeds from the St. Luke’s Half Marathon and 5k benefit youth fitness, health and running programs across the greater Lehigh Valley.

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