Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Tis the season - for over indulgence! Yep, the holidays are fast approaching. And I get it. Thanksgiving is such a great time to be with friends and family. It becomes pretty easy to have that extra glass of wine, and have seconds of your favorite dish. But it's simple to make some smart decisions on your food that day. So get yourself in the kitchen!

Whether you're hosting Thanksgiving, or attending a feast elsewhere, there are some great dishes you can make to ensure you're eating well and not feeling like you're depriving yourself.

We're providing you with three great recipes to get you started. All courtesy of JL Fields - my wife (and culinary instructor at UNM-Taos and cookbook author.) Want more recipes? Head on over to her site: JL Goes Vegan for tons of ideas.

Nutty quinoa and cherry salad

This is a great way to get a protein rich, flavorful and healthy meal. It can be a side dish, or a main course.

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1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
Pinch of salt
Dried cherries (I used 1 cup)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pecans, chopped (I used half a cup)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vegan caramel sauce

Cook quinoa and cherries with a pinch of salt using your preferred method (pressure cooker, rice cooker or stove top).

Chop pecans.

Mix the quinoa and cherries with chopped pecans, lemon juice and caramel sauce.

YIELD: Serves 8 to 10

Roasted Brussels sprouts

 This recipe will be a favorite of everyone. If you think you don't like Brussels Sprouts, this will change your mind.

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3 cups Brussels sprouts (halved)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons Bee-Free honee
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Course sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 425F

Cut the stem off of the Brussels sprouts and discard any outer leaves that come off naturally. Cut them in half and place in a large mixing bow.

In a small bowl, mix the coconut oil & bee-free honee. Pour over the Brussels sprouts. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Place a piece of foil on a baking sheet. Place the Brussels sprouts flat side down on the sheet. Drizzle a bit more Bee-free honee over them and roast for 45 minutes (stir at the halfway point).

Remove from oven after 45 minutes and sprinkle with the sea salt as they cool.

Warm squash and cranberry salad

Sweet and savory - all at the same time!

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2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Juice of one lime
1 tablespoon clear agave
1 acorn squash
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon avocado oil

Preheat over to 400F

In a large bowl, mix the cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts, with the lime juice and agave. Spread on a greased baking sheet (use a little avocado oil).

Wrap the whole squash in foil (shiny side on the inside) and place on a baking sheet. Put both the cranberries and the squash in the oven at the same time.

Bake cranberries for 15 minutes (they will be soft and some will have burst). Remove from the oven and transfer them to a large bowl and allow to cool on the counter.

Bake the squash for 60 minutes. Remove the squash from the foil and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds, peel, and dice the squash.

Add the diced squash to the bowl with the cranberries and toss. Add the avocado oil, cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve warm.

The Off-Season

It's almost upon us. The off-season. And unfortunately a lot of athletes don't know what they should be doing between their final "A" race of the season, and when they need to pick themselves up and start serious training again. 

I've written about the off-season before. You can read that blog post here. But I'll summarize, and add to it, today. So, what should you do when your season is over?

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The Challenges Of Being An Age-Group Triathlete

It's been a great season for our athletes. PR's, podium finishes, a trip to World Championships in Canada. I'm a proud of the effort and dedication my athletes have put forth.

Yet for some it's been an interesting season. Work and life are providing all the challenges they need. And that's the interesting part of being an age-group athlete. Best laid plans are often disrupted. And I'm not even talking about the potential for an injury.

One of our higher performing athletes is active duty in the Coast Guard. Just as our training was hitting a high note, and some key races were fast approaching, he'd receive orders to be away for two weeks. Okay, we adjusted. Then he was deployed to Houston to help deliver aid after the hurricane. You can't argue with that. But suddenly the training is on hold, and the season is completely upside down.

Another athlete had some new job responsibilities added to her plate. You know, a conference call with an east-Asian office on Thursday nights at a god-awful time. So Friday AM sessions are out. So we adjust the week around. But those new responsibilities sometimes mean longer days. Workouts are missed. Okay, we adjust again. But getting momentum and regularity was a challenge. Target races are rescheduled. 

And how about a new addition to the family? That will assuredly add to the stress of scheduling workouts while balancing life at home. Add to that some extra work thrown into the mix, and races have to be skipped as preparations just couldn't be accomplished. An Xterra Pan-Am qualifier last year had a heck of a time getting in one Xterra race this year.

Balancing life and work and training. That's part of being an age-group athlete. Dealing with conflicts and changes to schedules creates the need to be flexible on all fronts - for both athlete and coach alike. But it can be difficult to digest and process at the time.

It's easy to give up and say "well, this season is over", but it doesn't have to be that way. Keep your focus. Find alternatives. Change your "A" race (as annoying as that may be). Explore other racing options like targeting a mountain bike enduro instead of letting all the Xterra prep go by the wayside. Easier yet, choose a shorter distance target race. You can't get in the training hours necessary for an Ironman? Find a 70.3 instead. Or even an Olympic distance race. True it might be your ultimate goal, but move that target to next season. You have myriad options available to you.

It's not all or nothing, and that's important to keep in mind. Work with your coach to find alternatives and adjust training and racing schedules to accommodate changes as they arise. You can find a new goal to keep driving you through this season and into the next.

Equally as important: Utilize your coach during this process. That is part of our job after all. Being a coach requires not only understanding the training that's necessary for the athlete, but it requires that we be a sounding board. We're here to  listen to you, the the athlete, and help you navigate the options available to still have a successful season no matter what is thrown your way.

 

Performance Improvements and Success Stories

Recently I've written a couple of blog posts discussing the importance of improving athlete limiters and the proper development of energy systems. The goal being to ensure not only the improvement of said limiters of an athlete but to further develop their strengths as well. With that in mind I thought it was time that we highlighted a few of our athletes here at Podium Training Systems to show not only the scope of racing that happens amongst our athletes, but also the type of improvements and success they've had and how we achieved those gains.

I reached out to a small number of my athletes to see if they would be willing to share their experiences over the past season or two and provide me with what they felt were their biggest improvements.

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The Importance Of The Swim

I hear a lot of people (coaches and athletes alike) state: "You can't win a triathlon in the swim, but you can lose one in the swim". 

I've heard numerous athletes declare: "I just need to survive the swim".

I disagree with both statements. As a coach these are the first things, should an athlete of mine say such a thing, that we remove from the conversation. You can indeed win a triathlon by having a good swim. Just as you can win it by having a good bike, or run. But you have to be strong across all the disciplines to ensure that your good swim effort holds up at the end. 

Just surviving the swim? That's a great way to lose time, waste energy, and ensure you have a harder bike and run leg than is necessary.

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