Wednesday, May 13, 2015

THE DANCER'S BODY: EATING YOUR WAY TO SUPPLE MUSCLES, GLOWING SKIN AND SUPER STAMINA

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   A few days ago, a friend of mine posted  on my Facebook profile page, and it  caused quite a response from a lot of people, many of whom I don’t know. Maharet’s post said I was the healthiest person she knew, that I looked twenty years younger than my actual age (thanks doll… did I mention I love you madly?) that I was always full of energy, and she thought it was because of my diet. The post mentioned that I am sugar-free, which is true, and that I  basically live on green smoothies and Greek yogurt”, which isn’t entirely true… but I do consume insane amount of both those things. She said that the smoothies I made were better than any she’d ever had, and ended the post by asking, “I wonder what would happen if I ate exactly like you for ten days?” 

All this resulted in a happy uproar; there was a barrage of comments clamoring for information on my diet and the recipes for my smoothies.  So, I’m gonna give some outlines on my food habits, in case they might work for you, and of course I’ll and share my smoothie recipes with you. 

 My first major dietary change occurred at the beginning of my career. When I started dancing professionally twenty-five years ago, my food consumption habits changed almost by themself. Without even realizing I was doing it, I moved from eating three meals a day to eating five or six small meals, just because I found it uncomfortable to dance on a full stomach.  Three months later, much to my astonishment,  none of my costumes fit cause I’d dropped over twenty pounds.  I didn’t even realize that this was Eating To Fuel, Not To Fill.  Apparently, eating like this keeps your metabolism going, but when I began having multiple smaller meals, I didn't even know it was a concept! It just worked for me dance-wise, and the weight loss was a bonus. It may or may not work for you, but it’s worth a try.

  At that same point in my life as a new professional, I started waking up every morning ravenously hungry. That was weird to me- I’d always been one of those people who began the day with a ka-razy strong cuppa joe, and wouldn't even think of eating until three or four hours later.  But my dancing suddenly demanded that I needed breakfast, so I obeyed.  It was then that I discovered Eating Breakfast Is Really Important.  I still need my really strong coffee, but there’s no way in hell I can imagine skipping breakfast!

  The second big “food breakthrough” I had was in 2009, after a severe car accident. I was in a lot pain and all the physical therapy and drugs I was taking didn't seem to be helping all that much, so I started researching nutrition. There are tons of foods and spices that have anti-inflammatory properties, and I began eating them in ridiculous amounts, mostly out of desperation!  I ate tons of citrus fruits and tomatoes because of the healing properties of Vitamin C. I overdosed on berries and flax seed because they fight inflammation…as does cinnamon, turmeric, oregano, thyme, rosemary, cloves and ginger. I began using these spices as much as possible, preferably fresh, but dried will do. I ate as much raw food as possible, and went "krazy for kale".

  A confirmed sugar addict, before the accident I’d  actually  “shoot” a package of Sweet Tarts the way a kid tosses down tequila on Spring Break…until I found out that refined sugar is really bad for you in many ways, especially for your joints and for inflammation. So, it was  Bye-Bye Sugar !  Some people find it extremely difficult to quit sugar, but I was-pardon my French- feeling so shitty from my pain I was willing to try anything. I just started looking upon sugar as something that was poisoning me, and seriously, it wasn’t hard for me to quit. If you know something will have terrible consequences, you know it’s better not to ingest it, right?  So I didn’t, and it really wasn’t a problem.   That led to me becoming virtually Gluten Free.  The no sugar scenario really was making me feel better, so I tried deleting gluten, that wasn’t hard either, and soon I noticed my energy was off the charts.

An important caveat to all of this is- I made these changes willingly, and they worked for me. I also didn’t consider it a “diet”, or that I was depriving myself.  I simply found that I was making Healthier Choices…and I got to say, I’m not totally anal about them. Once in a great while, I’ll have a piece of someone’s birthday cake (especially my own!) and sometimes at a fancy restaurant, I’ll have a piece of bread…slathered in butter.

Also, if you are considering going sugar and/or gluten free, there are many things to consider. One of them is that artificial sweeteners are probably worse than sugar itself.  The other is that many gluten free foods are loaded with sugar!  Make your dietary changes slowly, see how you feel, and don’t beat yourself up if you backslide a little. Remember, for most of us, they are choices, not mandatory.

 And now on to my Smoothie Recipes:
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 For the recipes that call for yogurt, use only unsweetened, plain Greek Yogurt.  I prefer the brand Fage; I’m addicted to it!  I’m a FAGE HAGE!! It comes in 2 % fat, 0% fat or full fat- I’ve used any of these in my smoothies, and no matter what, they come out terrific. Obviously, the full fat version will make a more satisfying smoothie, but it’s your call.  Many brands pretend to be “real” Greek yogurt, but are full of  sugar or artificial sweeteners, and many also have some kind of gelatin in them to thicken it, so especially if you are a veggie, check the label carefully before you purchase!

 For all the following recipes, use only organic fruits and vegetables.  I buy fresh fruit, like bananas and pineapples, chop them up, pop them in baggies and freeze them, because it not only lasts longer, it makes the smoothie thicker, like a milkshake.  You can put any kind of berries in baggies and freeze them, and I often freeze greens like spinach, kale and chard specifically for adding to the smoothies.

Most of these smoothies have an odd color- usually bright green or brown, and that immediately puts some people off.  Also, if you are regularly eating sugar, these smoothies, though  not acidic, may not taste as sweet to you as they do to me. Feel free  to add more fruit  if they're  not sweet enough for you. But once you’ve tasted them, you’ll learn what you like, you can add or subrtract ingredients, and will also  not to trust the  scary color, because they’re all totally delish!

APPLE PIE SMOOTHIE
  
1 handful kale
2 Handfuls of spinach or chard, or one handful of each
1 Four-inch section of zucchini, chopped into “pennies”
 2 small broccoli florets
 1/ smallish apple or half of a large apple (any type of apple is fine, I like Honeycrisp or Fuji)
 4 Frozen pineapple segments
1 Frozen banana chunks
2 Generous dollops plain Greek yogurt – I prefer Fage, but use whatever you like as long as it’s unsweetened
A pinch of allspice
Cinnamon to taste (I like to use a lot- tastes good and it's an anti-inflammatory)

Pack the fruits and veggies into the blender tightly.
If you are using a Nutri Blend Magic Bullet, fill the blender cup with liquid to the “Fill” line. I use a mixture unsweetened coconut milk and water. If you are using a regular blender, use 2 cups of the coconut milk and water mixture. Blend until liquefied.

The smoothie will look bright green, but it tastes just like apple pie!



 THE GREEN LANTERN:  CUCUMBER AND MINT SMOOTHIE

1/2 Large hothouse cucumber (about five inches long, cut into chunks
1 Handful spinach or chard, or a mix of each
3 to 5 Leaves of mint, depending on how minty you ‘d like it to be
The juice from 1/2 a large lemon or 1 small one
The juice from a medium sized orange
5 or 6 medium to large strawberries, with the leaves cut off OR a few large chunks of fresh watermelon

 Pack the fruits and veggies into the blender tightly. If you don’t have a juicer for the orange and lemon, cut each fruit in half and squeeze the juice into your blender through a strainer.

 If you are using a Nutri Blend Magic Bullet, fill the blender cup with the juice of the lemon and the orange, and pour in water to the “Fill” line. If you’re using an ordinary blender, use about a cup and a half of water. If the mixture is too chunky, for your taste, just add a little more water.

This is a totally refreshing, invigorating and sweet smoothie; I make a huge batch of this and sip it all day.  In the summer, I’m all about the watermelon, and instead of using the orange juice; I just add more watermelon chunks.


“LIKE A VIRGIN” PINA COLADA SMOOTHIE

1 Large handful of frozen pineapple segments, or about 10-12 pieces
3 Frozen banana chunks
1 Handful kale, spinach or chard
1 three-inch section of zucchini, sliced into pieces
 The juice of 2 medium sized oranges
1 Tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil, put directly into the blender
Unsweetened coconut milk, or coconut water

Pack the fruits and veggies into the blender tightly.
If you are using a Nutri Blend Magic Bullet, fill the blender cup with liquid to the “Fill” line.
 I use a mixture unsweetened coconut milk and water, or you can use straight coconut water, either way is fine! If you are using a regular blender, use 2 cups of the coconut milk and water mixture. or the coconut water. Blend until liquefied.


 CARROT CAKE SMOOTHIE
 2 carrots cut into “pennies”
1 Handful spinach or chard
 Half of a medium sized apple cut into chunks
2-4 Chunks of frozen pineapple
2 Chunks frozen banana
2 Generous dollops plain Greek yogurt – I prefer Fage, but use whatever you like, as long as it’s unsweetened
1 Pinch Allspice
1 teaspoon  fresh ginger, finely grated
Cinnamon to taste
 Unsweetened almond milk or unsweetened soy milk

Pack the fruits and veggies into the blender tightly.
If you are using a Nutri Blend Magic Bullet, fill the blender cup with the almond milk to the “Fill” line. If you are using a regular blender, use 2 cups of the almond milk and water mixture. Blend until liquefied… regular blenders might yield a slightly chunkier version of this, cause the carrots don’t always puree up fine. If the smoothie is too chunky, add a little more almond milk, or some water.

The smoothie will look rusty brownish-orange, but it tastes yummy, just like carrot cake!


 BLUEBERRY MANGO SMOOTHIE
 1 Large handful or one cup of frozen blueberries
1 medium mango, pitted, skinned and sliced
2 handfuls spinach, kale or chard, or mixture of greens
2 broccoli florets
The Juice of one small lemon
The Juice of one small orange

Pack the fruits and veggies into the blender tightly. If you don’t have a juicer for the orange and lemon, cut each fruit in half and squeeze the juice into your blender through a strainer.

 If you are using a Nutri Blend Magic Bullet, fill the blender cup with the juice of the lemon and the orange, and pour in water to the “Fill” line. If you’re using an ordinary blender, use about a cup and a half of water. If the mixture is too chunky for your taste, just add a little more water.

Ok, this smoothie looks kind of disgusting, it’s a dark purple brown, but boy its it sweet and tangy!


CHERRY BERRY SMOOTHIE
1 large handful or 1 cup frozen raspberries

1 large handful or 1cup frozen unsweetened cherries
1-2 chunks frozen banana
2 generous dollops Greek Yogurt

2 teaspoon fresh ginger
, finely grated
1 Teaspoon ground flaxseed: buy it pre-ground or grind in blender before you make the smoothie
Juice of one large orange
Juice of one small lemon
 Unsweetened coconut, almond or soymilk


Fill the blender with the berries, cherries, spices and yogurt. If you are using a Nutri Blend Magic Bullet, fill the blender cup with the almond, soy or coconut milk to the “Fill” line. If you are using a regular blender, use 2 cups of whatever “milk” you’re using. Blend until liquefied. If the smoothie is too chunky, add a little more soy, coconut almond milk, or some water.

  

  TRY MY SMOOTHIES, THEY’RE DELISH!  And remember, you are what you eat! 
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4 comments:

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  3. Hi Princess!

    How big are your chunks of banana and pineapple in your recipes?

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