Happy “plant-based” month here at Champagne Nutrition. While I enjoy working with people on ALL diets, the foundation of my practice is plant-based. To celebrate, I’ve got 50 BEST Plant-based Recipes gathered for you.
You may wonder why I’m calling it plant-based rather than vegetarian or vegan….and there’s some controversy there. The reason why is because there is no true definition. And as much as I support my vegetarian and vegan friends and community, I still want to be inclusive of all diets and I think that any way you eat, if plants are the foundation of the diet, you’re on the right track.
I developed a working definition of plant-based that I use for a couple different organizations I’m in and to help settle people who are uncomfortable with the lack of definition. I actually like that it’s a bit open to interpretation because that’s the benefit of it. You can eat meat and be plant-based….but the focus is on plant-foods and I strongly believe that even reducing meat intake has benefits to human health as well as the environment.
noun a living organism of the kind exemplified by trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, ferns, and mosses
verb past tense: based
have as the foundation for (something); use as a point from which (something) can develop
So to me, a plant-based diet is one founded in plant-foods and there’s some wiggle room there to either be 100% plants (vegan) or more flexitarian and include small amounts of meat as you continue to move towards more and more plants. As a registered dietitian, I’m here to help! As are so many of my friends. Dietitians are pretty amazing at making food taste great so here are 50 BEST Plant-based Recipes from nutrition experts around the country.
I think you all know by now that I have a personal vendetta against electric yellow store-bought margarita mix. I just don’t believe that we should be drinking artificially colored and flavored corn syrup – you deserve better! I set off to create a frozen marg for you all this month because I already have my wonderful Healthier Margarita on the rocks post which was featured in a great article you should check out about alcohol in the Seattle Times. I’ve also got a Blackberry Margarita served up on the blog as well. But now for those of you who love a frozen drink, I created my new Frozen RumRita Sunset and guess what? It’s got RUM instead of TEQUILA in it.
Margaritas that you get in some restaurants or stores can be packed with calories, tons of added sugar and devoid of any nutrients or antioxidants. Everyone deserves to enjoy a beverage without guilt but why settle for something mediocre when you can whip up a simple, delicious version of your own at home? These would be so perfect for a party because they’re full of frozen fruit which is affordable and easy to use. Also, frozen fruit creates a naturally frosty beverage so it will stay cold for a long time and be thicker than if you had just used ice for the “frozen” part.
Pacific Coast Producers sent me these incredible Bordeaux Maraschino cherries and I LOVE them. Regular Maraschino’s have some scary ingredients and are full of red food dye but these ones are a beautifully, natural dark color that go so well with the flavors in the fruit in the Frozen RumRita Sunset. Also, I cut one in half and used it to wet the rim of the glass to make the salt stick – perfection!
I used rum here because I thought it would match the flavors of the ingredients. But you can use tequila if you want – or vodka. Use whatever you enjoy the most. They are all equal in calories but differ slightly in flavor.
This Frozen RumRita Sunset tastes kind of a like a delicious fruit smoothie but with a bit of a kick so use caution and don’t go too fast with it because it definitely has as much alcohol as a typical margarita. It’s just incredibly slushy and yummy. Let me know if you try it!
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Run a lime slice along the rim of a large rocks glass then dip the glass in salt (do just 1/2 the rim if desired). Fill glasses with 1-inch of space between liquid and rim. Garnish with Maraschino cherries and enjoy.
I’m chatting all things coconut this month on the blog because it’s such a misunderstood food! There are some fun health benefits to it – and some negatives – but mostly it’s awesome in the kitchen. Versatile and delicious, I cook with coconut products pretty often. In honor of all things coconut, I made these Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Kale that you really need to try.
When I knew that I wanted to make a stuffed sweet potato recipe, I was looking at a variety of recipes and there was one thing missing over and over – the protein! Sweet potatoes are such a healthy food – fiber, vitamin A (that’s the orange color), vitamin C, b-vitamins – they’re flavorful, nutritious and versatile. Kale sautéed in coconut and lime is just: delicious and a nice way to enjoy this dark leafy green if it’s a bit too intense raw in a salad.
My magic ingredient in Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Kale is definitely the chickpeas. I almost always use canned because it’s so much faster. Just drain them, roast them and use them. They’re so hands-off and a quick, easy protein source you can use in many ways – even just as a snack.
I will warn you that it’s kind of hard to make these look beautiful. Scooping out the insides while maintaining the shell intact requires gentle attention. This one turned out better than another one I made because the sides of the skin ripped and it wasn’t as pretty. But it was still delicious. I took this one on a flight! Non-stinky, balanced, nutritious and flavorful, this is exactly the type of meal that will take you across the country and keep you feeling full and energized.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub potatoes with 1 Tablespoon olive oil; pierce liberally with a fork then bake for 1 hour or until tender. Set aside to cool. Split potatoes in half lengthwise gently.
Place chickpeas on a baking sheet; pat dry with paper towels. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and toss. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and ground ginger. Bake with sweet potatoes for the final 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add kale and jalapeno, stirring often, until kale is slightly wilted and soft (about 3 minutes). Add in coconut milk then bring to a boil. Reduce to low and cook for 5-6 minutes until kale is very tender. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice, and curry powder.
Cut sweet potatoes in half-lengthwise then scoop soft flesh into a large bowl. Mash the sweet potato, grapefruit juice, vegan butter and remaining salt and pepper. Spoon mixture back into potato skins then top with kale mixture and garnish with toasted coconut.
Whew! Last month on Champagne Nutrition, we chatted ketogenic diet all.month.long. Now onto the next hot topic that continues to rage on: coconut oil. Is it a topic best covered in February because February is also American Heart month. You’ll see a lot of talk about heart healthy foods, supplements and activities. – and a lot of talk about coconut “Heart Health” is a big subject. The actual heart muscle and all it’s valves and chambers, blood pressure and what that does to the kidneys and blood vessels, blood flow to the brain, the feet and essential organs, cholesterol – good and bad, triglycerides, homocyseine, exercise – type and intensity, smoking, alcohol, butter and coconut – saturated fat…the list of topics goes on and on. So: Is Coconut Healthy or Not?
The American Heart Association recommends saturated fat in the diet is limited to 5-6% of total calories. On a 2000 calorie diet, that’s 11-13 grams per day. In one tablespoon of coconut oil, there’s 12 grams of saturated fat so yeah…it adds up. I never recommend my clients drink it in smoothies or add it to every recipe throughout the day. I think that the American Heart Association’s recommendations to include saturated fat but limit it to 5-6% makes sense and there are many other types of fats to include that aren’t saturated that should be in the diet as well: olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, avocado oil – fun foods! It really depends on your personal health history, family history, labs and goals so, like so many nutrition recs, it’s hard to tell you for sure yes or no if you should or should not eat coconut without meeting with you 1:1 to discuss.
Whenever I talk to people about being aware of the fat in their diet, I often get push-back about what happened in the 1990’s when we replaced fat with sugar and refined carbohydrates. I don’t think any health care provider would state that went well – it didn’t. Sugar shouldn’t be replacing anything generally. What I see sometimes now is people including more saturated fat in the diet and there are some benefits there – feeling full and satisfied for one. Sometimes as people liberalize fat in the diet and start eating more, they either maintain their current sugar/refined carbohydrate status or even add in more (remember – many saturated fat sources are rich in sugar, too – baked goods or chocolate for example). I’ve never heard anyone say that eating more saturated fat and more sugar combined is a good thing for health.
Is Coconut Healthy or Not?
If you need some coconut-related reading, here are some pieces I’ve written or am featured in for some balanced, evidence-based info on both coconut and MCT:
One thing you might notice people exploring in these pieces is this all-or-nothing, black-or-white, healthy-or-not approach. Will coconut oil kill you or cure you? What about MCT oil? These are the kind of questions I get and as a registered dietitian nutritionist, I’m afraid it’s more complicated than that. It’s hard to study what people eat. How much coconut oil or MCT are they consuming? What else are they eating all day every day? Do they exercise? Smoke? Drink? Sleep? What’s their metabolism like? What are their genes doing?
When you hear “coconut”, think actual coconut meat, coconut oil, coconut flakes, those kinds of foods. Those contain high levels of saturated fat. But they taste great and have many uses in recipes and cooking. MCT stands for ‘medium chain triglyceride’ and it’s more like a supplement. You’ll find it in health food stores or supplement aisles. It’s a clear, odorless liquid that people add to shakes or coffee (it can’t be heated or cooked with). I’ve mostly used that in the clinical hospital setting because it’s useful for some injuries. It’s quite high in calories. It also can give you diarrhea so use caution.
What about Bulletproof Coffee?
Touted to boost energy in the morning to fuel your brain for the day, what you’re supposed to do is to brew coffee (preferably “Bulletproof coffee beans”) and then add 1-2 tablespoons of “Brain Octane Oil” which is in fact MCT oil and 1-2 tablespoons of butter or ghee. Blend this into a latte and enjoy. They recommend enjoying this beverage which has 12-24+ grams of saturated fat as well as caffeine to provide energy in the morning rather than eating the typical carbohydrate-rich breakfast – think oats, toast, cereal, etc. Oil is packed with calories so a Bulletproof coffee can have 400-500 calories. Since it IS a meal replacement, that’s not bad but it just really depends on if this gets you through your morning or not. Each person will be different, as always. I see Bulletproof as a facet of intermittent fasting and also of the desire to put the body in ketosis. See my whole blog on that subject.
I love coffee. If you love coffee and especially if you enjoy rich coffee that has butter and oil in it, more power to you. Just know that you’re getting a LOT of saturated fat in this product and depending on your unique needs, that may or may not be a good thing. By eliminating carbs at breakfast, you’re also cutting out a lot of vitamins, minerals antioxidants and fiber so consider what the rest of your day looks like. And I hope it looks like: tofu, beans, lentils, veggies, fruits and whole grains.
Bottom Line on Coconut
Just like with the ketogenic diet, I want to tell you here exactly what I think of it, as a nutrition expert. I think coconut oil is delicious! I use it in cooking. I have a jar of it and it lasts me about a year. I use it to grease pans or for stir-fries maybe 2-3 times per month. I use shredded coconut in recipes a couple times per month. It’s a beautiful garnish and adds a nice complexity of texture and flavor. I use coconut oil moderately and I feel great about it because I use a variety of other fats, too.
I do not use MCT however – it can cause stomach upset, it’s very rich in calories and I don’t see a reason to use it for my needs. I have suggested it clinically, for very ill people in the hospital for a variety of reasons so my suggestion is generally to use it if it’s medically necessary for you but otherwise, stick to whole food sources of coconut products. I also don’t do Bulletproof coffee – I drink coffee with a slash of soy or oat milk and that works for me. I feel energized in the mornings.
If you want some of my favorite coconut recipes, I’ve got them here for you. Enjoy!
Ok all – let’s talk Keto. It’s keto month at Champagne Nutrition and if you’re following along on twitter or facebook, I’m posting every few days on keto subjects. I’ve never seen a hotter diet trend and I’ve also never seen so much confusion and misinformation on one subject. This is all about the ketogenic diet…what you need to know.
I talk about keto a lot. I’ve given over 20 interviews on the subject and written articles about the science there, too. The most important thing is that you know what it is as we get started. I hear a lot of people say that they’re following a ketogenic diet but they’re actually far from it. There are a couple articles you should read to better understand the basics including this one I wrote for Food&Nutrition Magazine and also this one in Huffington Post.
If you need a snapshot of what the ketogenic diet is as well as how it’s different than low carb Paleo or Whole 30, here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:
High in fat: 80%+ total calories
Moderate in protein: 1 gram/kilogram of body weight
Low in carbohydrates: 40-60 grams per day from low glycemic index foods (<50)
This is a very high fat, low carb diet. Eliminated foods include all fruit except a small amount of berries on occasion for some people, all grains and starchy veggies, beans, most soy products, some dairy, limits on portions of nuts/seeds. Artificial sweeteners can be used.
Compare this to the general acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) which is: 45-65 percent of calories from carbs; 10-35 percent from protein; and 20-35 percent from fat. Keto is very different than how many people normally eat.
It was used originally to treat people with epilepsy who weren’t responding well to medications. It’s quite effective for a variety of medical needs but it should be monitored by a medical team.
There is some evidence now in humans that it’s effective for weight loss which is why I see most people using it.
Less about macronutrient breakdown and more about overall food choices.
Based on what people in the Paleolithic Era (earliest humans until 40,000 BC – 8000 BC) ate; a take on the “traditional” human diet. Though, this is a large span of time and humans inhabited many parts of the earth. They ate a varied diet and there isn’t one true “Paleo” diet, historically speaking.
No grains, beans, soy, corn, dairy, alcohol. It is based on meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, all veggies (even starchy), fat (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, ghee), raw sugar/honey/stevia.
For many, is part of a “Paleo” philosophy based on physical movement and exercise.
Simply put, the ketogenic diet is very high fat and very low carb. Take one wrong step and you’re not in ketosis any longer. Here’s my piece on “cheat days” on keto if you’re interested. If you’re eating barbecue sauce, you’re not keto. If you drink a margarita, you’re not keto. If you eat an apple, you may not be keto. It’s a very restrictive diet. And once you’re not in ketosis, it will take you a period of time to get back into it. To know if you’re actually in ketosis, you’ll need to test blood or urine.
One thing that’s critical to understand is the pros and cons of keto. Before you start it, you really should be consulting with your doctor and get a dietitian on board. We’re talking serious potential consequences of this altered metabolism including kidney damage, severe constipation, micronutrient deficiencies (and need for targeted supplementation) including magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and sometimes electrolytes. The first 4-10 days on this diet can be tough as metabolism, electrolytes and fluids shift causing the “keto flu” including lethargy, muscle cramps and body aches, headache and gastrointestinal upset.
The Ketogenic Diet: What You Need to Know. Learn what it is, how it's used, if it works, side effects, and more Click To Tweet
Understand that there isn’t one specific keto diet. Everyone is different and people can enter ketosis with varying levels of dietary carbohydrates though most are going to need fewer than 50 grams per day. This also happens at varying amounts of time on the diet ranging from 33 to 58 hours. Some people – especially children – will be admitted to the hospital when starting the keto diet for monitoring and safety. Foods and beverages must be closely monitored, calculated, measured and weighed for many people who need this for medical reasons. This is really serious business.
There is SO much to talk about regarding the ketogenic diet. I’ve discussed a variety of topics with publications including:
Finally, many people want to know if I’m keto and I’ll tell you honestly that I’m not. The reason is because I’m a vegetarian so I’m not willing to cut out foods like beans, soy, fruit and some veggies in my diet. There are many huge, well done studies that show that vegetarian and vegan diets are among the healthiest diets out there and that they’re linked to decreased rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and even some forms of cancer. That’s what works best for me.
As a registered dietitian, I work with people on a huge range of diets – keto, Paleo, low carb, low fodmap, Mediterranean, DASH, vegan, macronutrient – you name it. My bottom line is making sure that whatever you choose to do is right for you and helping your health and happiness rather than hurting it.
Now I need to know what YOU think about keto. Have you tried it? What are your pros and cons? What other questions do you have? Let me know and we’ll continue the conversation together.
I’ve been wanting to make a cider punch for the holidays but I didn’t want an entire punch at my house. There’s over 3 cups of bourbon in this one! I found the perfect opportunity to try it out at a white elephant party that was scheduled for December 2nd. I toted my heavy punch bowl over to the party, all the ingredients in sealed containers and a bundt-pan ice ring on the side. As soon as I assembled this Spiced Apple Cider Bourbon Punch, people were swarming it. I overheard folks saying, “did you get any of that awesome punch?” and they kept going back for seconds.
This time of year is always insane. Each year I try to figure out how to make December more enjoyable despite the chaos. One thing that works well is batching all tasks. Like shopping early; I have my list and I try to knock it out all in one day. Then I wrap all at once. I do Christmas cards all at once. I bake all at once. That kind of thing. I schedule in workouts for the whole month so I have that commitment. I plan my menus ahead weekly so I’ve got food – aside from the cookies and candy that seem to be everywhere I turn. I also try to pick recipes that are quick and easy – make-ahead capability is a huge bonus. For my Spiced Apple Cider Bourbon Punch, you actually have to make it ahead. Even the day before is great. You boil the cider, cinnamon, nutmeg and apples which creates a balanced, flavorful base but after you add the honey, you set it aside in the fridge for at least 3 hours. That gives you time to batch a couple other tasks and still look like a pro at making holiday punch!
Pour hot water into a bundt pan and add apple rings (cut in half if needed to make them fit). Place in the freezer for 3-5 hours until completely frozen. If you don't use the entire apple, save some of the rings.
Place apple wedges, cider, cinnamon sticks and nutmeg in a saucepan and bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes. Pour mixture into a large bowl and stir in honey until dissolved. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Overnight is fine, too.
Strain cider into a punch-bowl. Save cinnamon sticks for garnish. Add bourbon and lemon juice and stir to combine. Pour in soda water then place ice ring in bowl and garnish with additional apple rings and left over cinnamon sticks.
It’s pumpkin season again and I’m spending a lot of my time pondering what types of recipes I can add my favorite orange squash to. The Recipe Redux wants all food bloggers to share their very best pumpkin-inspired recipes this month – great timing! Pumpkin is awesome for you. It’s really high in fiber and potassium – both good for the cardiovascular systems. Whenever you see an orange-colored food, you can know that it’s high in vitamin A as well to support healthy vision and a strong immune system. You all know that everything I make has to be quick and easy so I made these amazing little No-Bake Mason Jar Vegan Pumpkin Pie Parfaits for you.
Pumpkin pie is my favorite…FAVORITE part of the fall holidays. It’s such an amazing dessert and whipped cream makes the whole thing pop. The problem is, good pie crust is hard to find. So many varieties contain lard or hydrogenated oils. One slice of pie typically contains over 300 calories because there’s a lot of added sugar and fat in the recipe. Anytime you have a custard-based filling, you know there’s cream and eggs involved. I want you to enjoy every single slice of pumpkin pie you choose to this season but know that, if you want, there’s also a way to enjoy the same flavors but just lightened up a bit.
This recipe features pumpkin blended with banana for natural sweetness – and all the pumpkin pie spices of courses. The whip is made from coconut cream; that’s a high calorie option just like whipped cream is but sans dairy if that’s a need or desire you have. Finally, the crust is really simple and uses vegan butter with whole oats and graham crackers. All of it is quick to whip up and doesn’t require any baking. This could be ideal to make on Thanksgiving or for a big dinner party when you want to free up your cooking space.
In a food processor or blender, pulse graham crackers, oats, butter, 3 Tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt until combined and crumbly. Set aside in a medium mixing bowl.
In the same food processor or blender, blend pumpkin, banana, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and allspice until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and set aside in the refrigerator to chill.
In a mixing bowl, blend coconut cream, powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla together on high until mixture starts to become frothy and thick. If after 2-3 minutes the cream is still thin, add tapioca or corn starch 1 teaspoon at a time. Place mixture in the refrigerator for ~30 minutes because it will firm up further.
Assemble 10 mini mason jars and spoon 1-2 Tablespoon of crust into the bottom of each. Pack down with the bottom of a whisk handle or shot glass. Spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of pumpkin mixture on top (stopping when jar is 2/3 full). Top with 1 additional Tablespoon of crust and then top with 1-2 Tablespoons of whipped topping. Close jars to transport safely and sprinkle with additional cinnamon before serving. Parfaits will stay in the refrigerator well for 2-3 days.
It’s comfort food season in the Pacific Northwest, there’s no doubt about that. We plunged from the upper 90’s right down into the 40’s and we’ll be here for the next several months. When I look outside, I just see cloud…I live in a cloud. It’s pretty much what you think it would be like – drizzly. Moist. Hard to see when you drive because you live inside a cloud. So I’m seeking all the comfort food and I made you a No Noodle Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna with Quinoa and Spinach.
I’m kind of obsessed with lasagna – I have some awesome lasagna rolls up on the blog – but this one is interesting because of the quinoa and eggplant. The flavors blend so well together and it has a really nice texture. We devoured it for dinner and then also had leftovers for work that I think will keep very well.
Whenever I use marinara sauce it reminds me of my friends over at tomato wellness because they’re obsessed with all things cooked tomato because of the versatility and health benefits. Marinara sauce is particularly high in lycopene – an antioxidant that has unique anti-cancer effects, especially for prostate cancer. It also contains vitamins A, E, K and b-vitamins, and minerals like potassium and copper. Quinoa is a wonderful high-protein grain that I also often like to make for breakfast. Eggplants have some unique nutrients; whenever you see that blue/purple color you know that you’re getting the antioxidant anthocyanins. Eggplant also contains fiber, potassium and magnesium – as does spinach. I use lots of herbs in this dish, too for flavoring. You can definitely use fresh, too if you prefer. You know me, I’m all about easy and quick with my recipes. This No Noodle Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna with Quinoa and Spinach saved me all week with leftovers that were perfect for busy work days.
I hope you’re enjoying your fall and that you get to try this awesome No Noodle Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna with Quinoa and Spinach recipe!
No Noodle Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna with Quinoa and Spinach
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Slice off top and bottom bits of eggplant and cut into 1/4-rounds. Arrange on baking sheet then brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper then roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
Bring quinoa and 1 3/4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and add spinach. Blend together, cover and let rest for an additional 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk eggs and add oregano, basil and parsley. Add egg mixture to quinoa spinach mixture and blend well. Blend 1/2 the mozzarella and 1/2 the Parmesan into the ricotta.
In a 13x9 glass baking pan, spread 1 cup of marinara sauce evenly. Layer half the eggplant slices in the bottom of the pan (about 6 large pieces). Spread quinoa mixture evenly on top. Dollop ricotta mixture on top of the quinoa mixture so it is spaced evenly around the casserole. Add another layer of eggplant on top. Cover with remaining marinara sauce then remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Serve hot. Also makes great leftovers.
I recently wrote about my year doing CrossFit and since that year was followed up with a year of Orangetheory I thought you may be interested in that experience as well. You see, I live in a gym-desert. There are no options near my house – a residential area of south Seattle – and there are few options near where I work in Pioneer Square. There’s one old, run-down YMCA but I just need energy in my workouts. So when Orangetheory opened up downtown, though it was over a mile away, I signed up as a founder at their location. I did Orangetheory for a year and this is what happened.
Orangetheory Fitness is a fitness franchise that was started in Florida in 2010 by fitness guru Ellen Latham. The foundation of the workout is a group training setting based on ~25 minutes high intensity interval training (HIIT) on treadmills and row machines blended with ~25 minutes of strength training. There are now locations in most states as well as many countries around the world. It is hugely popular and can fit a lot of people in each class (around 30). Even though there are many classes at each location, I constantly had a hard time getting a spot at a time I wanted. It’s a very trendy workout.
I can see why; what I like about it is that it got me running when normally I wouldn’t. They mix each workout up so much – going up hills, going “all out” (at fastest speed), taking a walking break – every day is different. It can get even a non-runner running. And you can always power walk if needed. In the weight room, the moves are pretty standard: lunges, squats, deadlifts, push-ups, bicep curls, tricep extensions, plank and other abs, TRX straps, bench presses with free weights – that kind of thing. Orangetheory utilizes heart rate monitors that pop up on a screen and the idea is that when you’re training in the “orange” zone, you’re going to maximize the after-burn, dipping into energy stores well after you walk out of the gym door. When I got tired of Crossfit, I needed new fitness motivation so I did Orangetheory for a year and this is what happened.
Nothing much! I ran, I lifted weights, I was friendly with the other OT goers, I got kind of bored and I moved on again. I didn’t lose or gain weight and I didn’t feel better or worse that I did previously when I was doing more of a tabata style- workout or Crossfit. Here’s a list of the pros and cons of OT as I see it:
Pros of Orangetheory
It got me running! I worked out way harder than I ever would on my own and because you sign up in advance and there’s fees for no-showing, you go even if you’re not feeling like it.
The trainers were generally good – very peppy, played good music, and were professional.
It’s relatively affordable and they have unlimited and 8x per month packages. Honestly with my schedule, 8x per month is about right. They allow you to pause a couple times per year and they treated me well when I was doing that and when I was canceling my membership. No hard sell.
You don’t have to be in amazing shape to try it. I find it much less intimidating than Crossfit and there is a wide range of fitness levels and ages attending.
I found the heart rate monitor on the board very motivating. You can secretly compete with people you don’t know and I know that I worked out harder because of it.
The weight routines are well designed. They’re always different and I found them relatively challenging. They work major muscle groups and keep the participants engaged.
Cons of Orangetheory
Ew! The heart rate band is hard to keep clean and it also kept cutting my chest where it was rubbing as I worked out. I tried an arm band but they’re more expensive and they didn’t read well on me. I ended up not using a monitor at all for the last few months and it really wasn’t as motivating when you’re not up on the screen.
I never got hurt, but you could. I’m a huge stickler for proper form and the trainers did a pretty good job supporting that for people the but the classes are so huge and there are so many beginners that I saw some horrifying lifts – lots of swinging weights and hyper-extension.
This might just be Seattle but on the OT site, it talks about the “community” and there was none of that at this gym. “High fives” felt forced and awkward and no one ever talked to each other. It was just in and out, that’s it. I wonder if perhaps, since this gym is so close to Amazon if people are just heads down.
Sometimes instructors (and some of the quotes around the class) talk about “earning food” or splurges through working out. I really didn’t care for some of the nutrition advice some trainers would spout…not that they should ever BE giving nutrition advice.
They seem to have a lot of turnover, at least at the gym I belonged to. Instructors and front desk folks don’t stick around long which makes it hard to develop a relationship with them.
I enjoyed my time in OT and it kept me engaged for awhile. I like that it got me running, too – that was a fun challenge. It’s not something that I chose to stick with long-term but I’d recommend trying it if you’re interested. Definitely take the time to go early and meet with a trainer who can get you oriented. On your first class, just take it slow and don’t ever try to lift weights above your comfort level. Stay hydrated and fuel yourself properly. Meeting with a Registered Dietitian can really help you understand how best to eat pre- and post-workout when starting a program like OT. Let me know when you try it!
My schedule is even more packed than ever this autumn…I’m traveling to conferences, giving talks (gulp!), headed out to weddings and even exploring China for the first time. But I still want to savor my favorite season and enjoy the parties and celebrations that come along with it. You can’t make pumpkin-everything all the time so I went in search of a more savory comfort food. I made these incredible Healthy Vegetarian Sheet Pan Nachos for you and I’ve been enjoying them often because they’re the fastest, most delicious recipe around.
Fall means football season. In Seattle we’re all about the Seahawks and UW Huskies – games all the time! We have Sounders soccer going, too so the stadiums seem full every single weekend. I’m not the biggest sports fan, admittedly, but I am a big fan of fall recipes and partying with my friends. The problem with tailgating and watching games together is that the food is soooo unhealthy sometimes. Cheese dips, meaty chili, sweets, candy, chips, soda, beer, pizza, fries and chicken wings seem to dominate every menu. Loaded with that much salt and fat, you may end up feeling terrible after your event. Eating this way can be really hard on some people’s blood pressure or cholesterol levels and it can lead to unwanted weight gain as we head into colder months. I’m thrilled that I found a way to lighten up nachos but retain their amazing texture and flavor. Plus (most important to me) they only take about 10 minutes to whip up and have hardly any clean up. Here’s my new favorite Healthy Vegetarian Sheet Pan Nachos recipe for you this autumn…or anytime you want a decadent snack, appetizer or dinner.
Heat oil in a saucepan then add garlic and cook until fragrant and slightly browned. Add beans, 2 Tablespoons of lime juice, salt, chili powder, and cumin. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes then set aside.
Line a large baking pan with parchment paper. Spread chips evenly across the entire pan in a thin layer.
Preheat broiler to high.
Spoon bean mixture evenly over tortilla wedges on baking sheet. If you want to make separate sections, feel free to spread it just over 1/2 or alternate sections of chips. Sprinkle cheese over the top of all chips.
Broil 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Spoon pico de gallo and green salsa alternately in sections over melted cheese. Place avocado slices evenly across nachos. Sprinkle the entire pan with cilantro and serve immediately.