Your diet is an important tool in maintaining good health as well as a necessary element in promoting peak performance. Proper nutrition and hydration for runners can make or break a workout or race. The food you eat greatly affects how you feel, work, and think. A balanced diet for healthy runners should include these essentials: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Be sure you communicate your health goals and consult your primary care physician or a licensed nutritionist or dietitian when making changes to your diet.
Here are some basic guidelines for a nutritious, healthy balance:
Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for athletes. They provide quick and long-lasting energy. Our bodies work more efficiently with carbs than they do with proteins or fats. Whole grain pasta, steamed or boiled rice, potatoes, fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grain breads are good carb sources.
Protein Protein is used for some energy and to repair tissue damaged during training. Protein keeps you feeling full longer. Try to concentrate on protein sources that are low in fat and cholesterol such as lean meats, fish, dairy products (lower fat), poultry, whole grains, and beans.
Fat A high fat diet can quickly pack on the pounds, so try to make sure that you stick to foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Foods such as nuts, oils, and cold-water fish provide essential fats called omega-3s, which are vital for good health.
Vitamins Runners don’t get energy from vitamins, but they are still an important part of their diet. Getting vitamins from whole foods is preferable to supplementation.
Calcium: A calcium-rich diet is essential for runners to prevent osteoporosis and stress fractures. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, calcium-fortified juices, dark leafy vegetables, beans, and eggs.
Iron: You need this nutrient to deliver oxygen to your cells. If you have an iron-poor diet, you’ll feel weak and fatigued, especially when you run. Good natural sources of iron include lean meats, leafy green vegetables, nuts, shrimp, and scallops.
Sodium and other electrolytes: Small amounts of sodium and other electrolytes are lost through sweat during exercise. Usually, electrolytes are replaced if you follow a balanced diet. But if you find yourself craving salty foods, it may be your body’s way of telling you to get more sodium. Try drinking a sports drink or eating some pretzels after exercise.
Here are some excellent resources which provide a comprehensive guidelines to nutrition for athletes:
Happy trails until we meet again!
Anna Louise Downing is a Customer Service Specialist at the Miller Branch. She is an avid reading and enjoys Disney, music and her passion of running. She has been a race ambassador for several local races, is a Sweat Pink Ambassador for promoting women’s health. Follow her journey towards being physically fit with running and healthy lifestyle here on Well & Wise.
It’s been a long cold lonely winter… or something like that. I know that February always bring those thoughts… but this year, even the snow lovers are weary of it all. The snow shovels don’t get put away anymore, they stand propped up against the house in an attitude of resignation.
Perhaps you brace yourself to withstand the final icy grasp of winter by looking through seed catalogs and planning gardens, by reading about new varieties of tomatoes and new methods of germinating seeds. Perhaps you even have a cold frame and will jump the season and nurture seedlings into edible lettuce plants early. Or, perhaps you’ll wait a little longer to start seedlings indoors or wait for the traditional days to plant outdoors. Did you know that planting potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day is a gardening tradition?
But what if you have never had a garden? Or don’t have a yard large enough for a garden plot? Or live in the shade? Can a novice start a growing tradition? Should they? Absolutely! There are resources for every gardening obstacle and plenty of help for the greenest of green thumb wannabes.
Is your yard too small? Too shady? Too rocky? Try a community garden. If you live in Howard County, check out Howard County community gardens and the garden at the Howard County Conservancy. Other jurisdictions offer the programs, as well. In addition to a right-sized plot, many of these gardens include deer fencing, compost heaps, water and even plantings to encourage pollinators. Equally important- they offer expert advice from fellow gardeners- just what the novice needs!
Do you need information about how to get started? Information about types of plants? Resources about pest management? Questions about fertilizers? The Howard County Library System has an extensive selection of books that can answer all of your questions about gardening. And, of course, there is always the Old Farmer’s Almanac – published continuously since 1792- it is wealth of information. If you learn better from attending classes in person, the University of Maryland Extension service offers a series of gardening classes in Howard County that will get you off on the right track.
Finally, do you need to have a reason to give gardening a go this year? Here are a few good reasons.
It’s good for the bottom line. Gardening can save you money. A $2 tomato plant can produce $60 worth of tomatoes during a single growing season. The drought in California will cause produce prices to rise, buying locally- and better yet, growing locally will save you money.
It’s good for the bottom line- the other bottom line. Growing your own vegetables is great exercise. Eating fresh veggies may keep you fit, but the physical exercise that it requires also contributes positively to your fitness level. Think of what all that weeding and hoeing will do for your glutes!
Fresh vegetables are nutritious and tasty because they have the chance to ripen on the vine. If you’ve never had the opportunity to go out just before dinner and pluck a red ripe tomato off the vine to add to your salad- you don’t know what you are missing. No supermarket tomato will ever compare.
It’s good for the environment. Locally sourcing your own vegetables reduces- the carbon resources need to transport veggies from far away.
Staying connected to the earth is good for your mental health and the extra sunshine vitamin D will give your mood- and immune system- a boost, as well.
Perhaps most importantly, though… planning a garden gives you something to look forward to in the lingering days of February. And if that isn’t encouragement enough, I leave you with a little music to get you going.
What makes a good breakfast? For me, the omnivore, that would have to be anything with bacon or sausage. For my vegan husband, he has his pancakes, home fries, fruit, toast, and tofu scramble. Tofu scramble will be a post for another day. I even tried to make one using orange juice, and that, as you can imagine, was not tasty. Not at all.
Finding a vegan friendly breakfast is challenging. A quick search for vegan breakfasts turned up Sticky Finger Bakery in D.C. We were both familiar with Sticky Fingers because we had purchased their baked goods at local natural food markets. But when we visited the actual location in Columbia Heights, we were pleasantly surprised that they not only served vegan French toast, but that it was actually quite tasty. That got us wondering: how can we make vegan French toast at home without eggs or milk?
I shared the following vegan French toast recipe with my husband, and it proved to be flavorful and filling when you add a side of fruit. The nutritional yeast is essential as it adds texture to the toast. Vegan French toast has become our breakfast of choice for weekend mornings. While my stubborn nature dictates that I prefer French toast made with eggs and milk, if vegan French toast tastes this good and does not come with all the added cholesterol, I can have the vegan version and still be satisfied and content with these!
Leave your bread slices on the counter to air out while you prepare your bread wash and get out your griddle or fry pan. Combine your wet and dry ingredients in a shallow container like one of those glass baking dishes. Once the ingredients are fully integrated, dip your bread slices into the wash so they’re coated evenly on both sides. Place your slices on a med-high heated griddle or pan for a couple of minutes until golden brown, and flip so the uncooked side gets some browning time too. If you’re not interested in using a pan or griddle, put the bread slices on a clean cookie sheet in a preheated 400°F oven for a few minutes until slightly toasted and then, flip and bake until all sides are golden brown.
Mio Higashimoto is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She has a background in history and spends much of her spare time knitting, reading, hiking, and watching Star Trek reruns.
As I write this it’s still deep winter here so we are not doing any shopping in the Farmers’ Markets. It’s a good season to hunker down and read recipes! Especially recipes from foreign lands – with lots of pictures! These were my criteria for choosing books to talk about this month. I wanted new books (less than a year old if possible), about cuisine from another culture, preferably with outstanding photography to take me away from the snow!
The Culinary Institute of America offers Mediterranean Cooking (2013) by Lynne Gigliotti. Her book includes the geographically and culturally diverse countries that border the Mediterranean. A short “history” of the region helps to explain regional differences and similarities as periods of free trade, war, and conquest have stirred the pot. The book is not arranged by region, but by type of food which lets us appreciate how each culture has adapted a dish to make it their own. Her section on grains, legumes, and pasta is especially rich in variety. The illustrations are exquisite—some showing the steps of preparation, but most showing the beautiful presentation of the final dish. I guarantee you will find some recipes here that you have never tried.
Let’s move on to Italy with Jeff Michaud’s Eating Italy: a Chef’s Culinary Adventure (2013). I don’t know whether to call this a “love story with recipes” or a “cookbook with love story.” Michaud is a young chef with an impressive array of experiences already when he goes to Italy to experience more. He falls in love with Italy and with a lovely Italian girl. His “culinary adventure” is told chronologically so the recipes seem quite random. He includes some very adventurous meals with varietal meats not familiar to most Americans. “Eating Italy” is proof that a recipe book does not have to be useful to be enjoyed.
And now to France for Stéphane Reynaud’s French Feasts: 299 Traditional Recipes for Family Meals & Gatherings (2009). Plenty of illustrated recipes. You didn’t lose the table of contents—it’s on the flyleaves, front and back. The chapter beginnings are written on chalkboard and often are followed by a seemingly unrelated short piece on a French restaurateur. Interspersed are a few cartoon drawings. I was not very impressed but perhaps one needs a Gallic sense of humor to appreciate this book. In 480 pages you will probably find something you like.
Now for something completely different and new to Howard County Library System– Authentic Recipes from Indonesia (2006) by Heinz von Holzen and Lothar Arsana. Be sure to read the six pages of introduction to the food and people of Indonesia. You will learn about the “endless islands, endless variety, endless generosity” of the Indonesian people. This is a book that teaches how real Indonesians cook and eat. The photographs, as promised, are beautiful.
In honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, let’s go to Ireland. The Country Cooking of Ireland(2009) is written by Colman Andrews and photographed by Christopher Hirsheimer, both co-founders of Saveur Magazine. I liked the structure and organization of this book. Each chapter is preceded by a photo of the Irish countryside and introduced with a photo of the subject of the chapter, a few quotes and a page of text about the food to be covered. More food shots are interspersed, as are short pieces on Irish culture and history. It feels thoroughly researched, with a paragraph at the head of every recipe. In all a very pleasant experience.
Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch. Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.
I can’t help but remember that popular jingle from the “Chia Pet” commercial whenever I reach for Chia seeds in my pantry! Up until a couple of months ago, I’d been a flax seed lover, but recently, learned I could eat those seeds used to grow “hair” on the popular planters from the 80’s! When I learned of the health benefits of the Chia seed, I became more intrigued by them.
Chia seeds come from the plant Salvia Hispanica, native to Mexico and Guatemala. They’ve become popular due to their ease of use and superior nutritional value. Chia seeds are often called a “superfood” because of their many health benefits and micronutrients. (I like to think of “superfoods” as the superheroes of nutrition!)
The Chia seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which we can only obtain from diet, and are essential for the body to function normally. They are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Plus, they are an excellent source of calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium, not to mention protein as well.
I like using them daily because they can be eaten whole without having to grind them. And I love how versatile they are! They can be sprinkled over any dish, or soaked to form a gelatinous texture to make puddings, for example. There are so many Chia seed recipes available now: from sauces and jams, to pizza crusts and baked goods. The possibilities seem endless and the health benefits are amazing!
Combine all the ingredients in a pint jar. Cover the jar with a lid and give it a vigorous shake.
Chill for about an hour, then return to the jar and shake it up. Let chill for at least 4 hours and overnight is even better.
Chia seeds will expand and turn into pudding the consistency of applesauce (it won’t get really thick).
Serve cold with sliced fruit or toasted nuts on top.
Wendy Camassar is an Instruction and Research Specialist at the Central Branch of the Howard County Library System. Prior to joining HCLS, she worked as a freelance makeup artist for several years. She enjoys hiking with her family, exercising, reading, and organic foods and skin care products.
Sipping tea with a balcony view on a nice day is probably one of the best things in the world. Fortunately, it is also incredibly healthy. It’s filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and just enough caffeine to wake you up without leaving you jittery. Green tea, in particular, is touted to be the healthiest of the bunch as it changes the least between stalk and cup, thus retaining the most catechins. Oolong tea is a close second.
What in the world are catechins, you ask? Catechins are a type of antioxidant. They help reduce the amount of free radicals in the body and promote benefits such as clearer skin and possibly cancer prevention. Catechins are a particularly potent form of antioxidant and also give tea its bitter taste.
Tea can be complicated, along with the culture surrounding it. Here are my two of my favorite books which explore the history, varieties and health benefits of tea.
The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook: A Guide to Enjoying the World’s Best Teasis, well, a guide to enjoying the world’s best teas. The book is small and compact, which makes it easy to carry along with you to your local tea shop in order to turn you into a complete tea snob. With incredibly detailed descriptions on brewing and quality, it’s less for those interested in health benefits and more for those looking to do some serious studying, but it’s a great book nonetheless.
The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guideacts almost as a textbook on all things tea-related. Here you will find the history, types, and even the human rights issues surrounding tea such as fair trade. There is also an entire chapter on the scientifically proven health benefits of tea in its various forms with definitions of things like “catechins” and those other things we hear are good for us but have no idea what they do.
Aryn is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch and has been with HCLS for over 3 years. She has many hobbies including, but not excluded to: exercising, vegetarian living, and eating cake. Perhaps cake is neither “well” nor “wise” but it’s certainly delicious!