24 Sep 2014
It is only the third week of September, and yet so far I have seen the Pumpkin Spice Latte return early, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin beer… you get the idea. And don’t get me wrong, I like pumpkin thinks – pumpkin pie is a classic Thanksgiving staple, pumpkin beer is one of my favorite parts of fall (although if you guys could wait until it was actually a little cool, that would be great -I do not want to drink pumpkin beer in a sundress. End rant), and pumpkin seeds toasted with a little bit of salt and cinnamon are the best fall snack. And pumpkin is pretty good for you, as it is:
- High in key vitamins like vitamin A, C, and B complex
- Low in calories and fat but high in fiber and antioxidants
- Rich in minerals the body needs like copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorous
- Seeds are a good source of heart healthy fats
- Seeds are also high in zinc (important for wound healing and immune system strength) and iron
Pumpkin Spice V. Pumpkin
The thing about pumpkin is, it’s not all that delicious raw. It usually needs some salt, sage, or other herb, or on the flip side some cinnamon, sugar, and/or pumpkin pie spice, which is made of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice to make all the delicious pumpkin-y things we love. Which is totally fine – I have no problem with pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, or roasted pumpkin because they actually CONTAIN PUMPKIN.
My philosophical beef is with the pumpkin posers – most importantly the Starbucks “pumpkin spice latte”. The PSL contains espresso, steamed milk, whipped cream, pumpkin pie spices atop that whipped cream, and pumpkin coffee syrup, which contains pure cane sugar, water, natural flavors, citric acid, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate (to preserve freshness), and caramel color. Of course I don’t know what these “natural flavors” are, other than that natural flavors are generally any product of or derived from spices, herbs, vegetables and other things found in nature. So, the only pumpkin thing about the PSL is the pumpkin pie spice on top of the whipped cream, and maybe some derivative of pumpkin or pumpkin pie spices hiding under that “natural flavors” moniker. The PSL is also 380 calories and 49 grams of sugar for a 16 ounce serving. Ouch.
As for pumpkin beer, that’s somewhat in the gray area. According to Beer Advocate, some brewers hand cut pumpkin and drop it in the mash, or use pureed pumpkin, and most brewers use the pumpkin pie spices. It seems other brewers may opt for flavorings instead of real pumpkin.
Get Your Pumpkin On The Right Way
There are lots of delicious and healthy things to make with pumpkin. I have a pumpkin soup recipe that I love making every year. There is a whole Pinterest thread dedicated to paleo/primal things one can make with pumpkin, and as a bonus, roasting the seeds after you’ve used the rest of the pumpkin makes a very tasty snack (there are too many great recipe variations to link to just one, so Google it yourself). Just remember:
- Make it with a real pumpkin
- Avoid adding too much sugar
What pumpkin-y things do you like to make?
13 Aug 2014
I’ve heard a couple of people over the past few years talk about cutting out carbs and sugar to such an extent that even the usually neutral fruit was eliminated. I’ve heard people reference bananas and grapes as “very high in sugar”, and something to be avoided. Now we all know sugar is the opposite of awesome for you and that cutting back on carbs and sugar can produce weight loss. But do you really need to cut the bananas to achieve or keep a healthy body?
Fruit vs. The Rest Of ‘Em
There is a fundamental difference between the sugar in fruit from the sugar in grains, baked goods, and sweetened beverages: FIBER. Yep, that fiber – the “gluten free” of the 1990’s. The thing is, fiber (along with protein and fat) modulates the rise in blood sugar following the consumption of sugar. (If you don’t recall the glycemic index, this should refresh your memory). Basically ,eating sugar alongside fiber slows the uptake of sugar by the body, thus lessening the insulin required to deal with it all at once. That burst of insulin needed to deal with the flood of sugar is what leads to insulin resistance.
There is also the point that the sugar in fruit is 100% natural and not added in or processed in any way.
The bottom line is, human beings still need carbohydrates to survive (yes, I know some people can function in ketosis. But that’s a lot of work and sounds pretty miserable to me. Right now I am talking to the 99% of people at the gym who want to be healthy without going bananas – pun intended). And whole foods like fruit, starchy vegetables, and the occasional unprocessed whole grain or plain dairy product can be a great source of those needed carbohydrates. Bananas make a pre WOD breakfast, grapes and watermelon are deliciously hydrating after a workout, and I find apple (with a little PB added) to make a satisfying snack. (Side note: I have warned about eating too much fiber before a workout in the past. The beauty of fruit is that while it has some fiber, it doesn’t have as much as green vegetables or fortified cereals or bars, so most people can generally eat some within 30 minutes of a workout and not experience any discomfort). Although, obviously, I wouldn’t recommend eating 10 bananas at the same time.
So basically – keep eating fruit guilt free. It’s almost peach season.
What are your thoughts on fruit?
First things First! Congratulations to all competitors at the 2014 CRASH-B Indoor World Rowing Championships last Sunday. CrossFit Boston and Renegade Rowing had a total of seven athletes compete for their personal best performance over 2,000m on the Concept2 Indoor Rowing Machine. All of our athletes either met or achieved a new Personal Record (PR). I got a chance to cox many of them, basically sit behind them and motivate them to push harder, and everyone executed their race plan just as we had practiced all winter long. Overall the experience of racing hundreds of the best rowers from around the world was awesome. I’d say they definitely achieved 7 or 8 minutes of Glory!
Here are the results:
David Porter 7:35.6
Jodie O’Malley 8:29.3
Terese Holm 8:14.1
Bob Ezzell 7:50.4
Nick Anderson 6:35.8
Andrew Morrissey 7:03.3
Have you ever used a Partner for Mobility?
The CrossFit Boston Renegades will be hosting a Partner Mobility Seminar run by our very own Kapil Khimdas at the end of March!
Here are the Details:
Saturday, March 29th,
11:15am – 12:00pm Partner Mobility Seminar
12:00pm – 12:45pm Paleo Potluck
If you would like to join in the fun,
sign up here: CFB Renegades March Event
Have you ever dreamed of Running Up Mt. Washington?
Well now you can! A group of runners from CrossFit Boston will be teaming up to conquer Mt. Washington this Spring. If you decide to register and join them, sign up under the team name “CFB United”. Sign up at – mountwashingtonroadrace.com
Comment with what you plan on doing!
Howdy CrossFit Boston!
How’s the transformation challenge going? Have you been able to keep all of your nutrition points? One thing that has helped me keep all of my points throughout the week has been prepping enough food and snacks for the whole week on Sunday afternoon. Below are a few meal options I put together for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner this week. I also make sure to have bananas, apples, cashews, figs, grapes, and plantain chips ready for when I need a little snack or pick me up in between meals and post training. If you’d like step by step directions and pictures for these recipes I’ve passed them on to Alex Black of Wicked Good Nutrition to include in her recipe and nutrition plan package. There’s lots of awesome stuff in there, so if you need some new ideas to keep things fresh be sure to check it out. Just shoot her an email or drop in to her sessions on Saturdays at 12pm.
Looking forward to seeing how everyone has transformed in a few more weeks.
Keep up the great work!