Southern Grocery Shopping

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It’s easy to throw healthy eating habits out the window when you’re away from home and your regular routine. Andrea D’Ambrosio, RD talks about ways to create a healthy winter routine while staying on a budget.

Plan ahead and stick to a list
Being prepared before you grab your grocery cart will help you avoid impulse purchases. It also gives you time to look at flyers, find sales and clip coupons. Try taking advantage of no-name products and avoiding shopping while you’re hungry.

Shop in season and avoid being wasteful
Buy in-season foods from local farmer’s markets, which is cheaper, and be resourceful with leftovers, using up excess food before it goes to waste, she says.

Consider vegetarian alternatives
If you study your grocery bill, meat products are often among the most expensive items. Consider planning meals with vegetarian alternatives like lentils, beans and soy. Check out vegetarian websites for heart- and budget-healthy meal ideas, she suggests.

Here are 5 friendly foods and the reasons you should add them to your grocery list:

  1. Fresh, seasonal fruit: A favorite snack to boost energy levels between meals if you feel a little hungry (power of carbs) and allows you to benefit from vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  1. Low-fat (1 percent) or non-fat milk: In order to maintain our bone density, we need to consume adequate dairy to receive calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and protein, which are all essential for bone growth and development.
  1. Whole grains: According to the Journal of Nutrition (2011), oats, barley, rice and quinoa all lower risk of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer, as well contribute to body-weight management and gastrointestinal health. Try buying whole-grain pasta and remember to look for the words “whole grain” on the label.
  1. Almonds: But just a handful a day, and make them unsalted! A portion-controlled (quarter cup) serving of almonds is excellent for lowering cholesterol because of the unsaturated fats, making them a heart-healthy choice. Almonds are high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and are naturally high in fiber and a good source of protein!
  1. Edamame: Green soybeans, made popular in Japanese cuisine but available in grocery stores, add a nice nutritional punch. These tasty soybeans can be added as a side dish, steamed in the pod or consumed as a snack or appetizer. Nutritionally speaking, they are another heart-healthy source of protein, fiber and vitamins.–fill-your-southern-grocery-cart-with-healthy-foods

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The Vegetarian Athlete. Is There Such A Thing?

The Plant-Based Athlete Diet

A vegetarian diet for endurance athletes is really not all that different from a normal and healthy diet, minus the meat of course. If you’re already eating lots of nutritious, whole foods as it is, there really aren’t all that many adjustments you need to make to go vegetarian. You can take it as far as you want, and some vegetarian and vegan athletes tend toward raw and gluten-free diets, citing even greater energy gains. There are different degrees of health in even vegetarian diets. is a great vegetarian and vegan athlete resource!

The Philosophy: Healthy but Accessible

There are some fantastic books out there that promote what I consider to be an “ideal” diet, from the standpoint of athletic performance. Vegan, high-raw, alkaline eating is great but, it’s tough. Lots of strange ingredients, low-temperature cooking, and very little starchy goodness for the pasta lovers among us, are included. For meat-eaters looking to make a change, the gap between this type of diet and their current one is huge.

I’d like to offer an alternative, a diet that is vegetarian, that’s substantial enough to support endurance training, and that’s delicious and accessible to new vegetarians. I’ll be the first to admit you can do better nutritionally, but I believe that it’s more important to have a diet you’ll stick to first. Once you’re used to eating vegetarian or vegan, that’s when it’s time to consider taking it to the next level.

Where to Get Protein?

Protein is in all types of different foods besides meat, but generally in lower quantities. It takes some effort to make sure you get some protein in every meal, but it’s not that hard. While it is possible to eat a high-protein vegetarian diet, if your goal is to get the amount of protein recommended by many traditional diets for athletes, you’ll have a tough time doing it.

Having heard that many endurance athletes thrive on diets with lower amounts of protein, than is traditionally recommended, many people take a chance on it, and have never felt better in their lives. If your vegetarian diet is pizza and potato chips, then you won’t get enough protein. But if you eat a wide variety of foods and make smart choices to include some protein at every meal and ensure that you’re getting a balanced amino acid profile, chances are you’ll feel better than ever.

Staple Foods

This list represents some common foods that will help you meet the needs of the vegetarian diet for endurance athletes. Certainly there are many more foods one could include; the idea here is to list those that can be found in common grocery stores and whose tastes aren’t too foreign. The key here is to have an open mind to new foods.

–          All kinds of veggies, cooked and raw

–          Vegetable sprouts

–          All kinds of fruits, usually raw

–          Beans and other legumes: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, adzuki beans

–          Starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes

–          Brown rice

–          Pasta (whole wheat)

–          Whole wheat bread, pitas, and bagels

–          Other grains and seeds: bulgur wheat, buckwheat, faro, millet, quinoa, flaxseed, hempseed, chia seeds

–          Hummus (now who doesn’t LOVE hummus? Seriously…)

–          Nuts, nut milks, nut butters: almonds, cashews, walnuts, almond milk, hazelnut milk, peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter (make sure you watch the fat content in some of these nut products)

–          Oils: grapeseed, olive, canola, coconut, flaxseed (unheated), hemp (unheated)

–           Agave nectar (as workout fuel, not an all-purpose sweetener)

–          Protein powder (hemp protein is a minimally-processed type)

–          Soy products (limited): tofu, tempeh

–          Tea and coffee (limited)

–          Cheese (limited, non-vegan)

–          Eggs (limited, non-vegan)

Who knew that an athlete could be healthy vegetarian too!

Caloric Breakdown

Take your favorite endurance diet numbers and adjust without meat. Endurance diets tend to be high in carbohydrate anyway, making a vegetarian or vegan approach especially well-suited. The book Food for Fitness, written by Lance Armstrong’s former coach Chris Carmichael, has recommendations that most vegetarian athletes adhere to:

–          65% carbohydrate

–          13% protein

–          22% fat

If you aim to hit these numbers with a vegetarian diet, you should do well. And you’ll find that it’s not all that hard to do.

How Much Should You Eat

About as much as it takes to feel comfortably full, but not stuffed. As endurance athletes, we have the luxury of eating more calories than more sedentary people. We need more calories, in fact. If your goal is weight loss, or if you train more or less than most people so, your needs will be different than most. Depending on your workout regimen, figure out what size meals work for you.

The Vegan Food Guide pyramid. Most vegetarian/vegan athletes will have higher energy needs compared to this. But, this shows the foundation for the lifestyle.

Eating Around Workouts

How you eat before, during, and after your workouts is especially important on any diet. Guidelines and recipes for unprocessed, vegetarians’ workout foods especially come in handy at this point.

Try and avoid these foods before a workout:

–          Spicy foods

–          High-fat foods

–          High-protein foods

Here are some smart post-workout snacks:

–          Protein shake with a banana

–          Peanut butter and banana on rice cakes

–          Hummus and pita

–          Yogurt and fresh berries

No more than 25% of your post-workout snack should come from protein, make sure you avoid too much fiber and high-fat foods as well.

So there you have it: A practical vegetarian diet for endurance athletes. Not that much to it, is there?