Tag Archives: alkaline

My Super Duper Foods

There are a couple foods that I eat religiously to give me super powers.  Well, super powers as in energy and strength. I feel like Mario when he gets invincible powers from a starman.  So what are superfoods?  Superfood is really a marketing term used for describing foods that are high in nutrients to give you superior health benefits.  Here are a few super duper foods that help me stay classy and fit:

KALE – Remember when Popeye eats a can of spinach he gets ginormous arms that are too big for his body.  First off, you won’t get a lot of nutrients if your veggies are in a can.  Raw is the way to go. Secondly, Kale can give you as much or more benefits than spinach.  I eat about two servings of kale 2-3 times a week.  I incorporate kale in my meals, soups, and snacks.  Kale chips are delicious, so replace those bags of potato chips and Doritos with kale chips.  Kids love them!  I can tell you I eat a big bowl of raw kale a day before a race.  No pasta for me.  With kale, I feel 100 times lighter but it still gives me the stamina I need for a race.  If you’re looking to build calcium Kale can give you more per calorie than milk.  As for iron, it gives you more per calorie than beef.  Kale is the new beef.  It’s also an anti-inflammatory food that fights against inflammatory-related issues such as arthritis, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.  I can rave on and on about kale, but this infographic says it all.

GOJI BERRIES – Growing up, Mama Chiang used to make me a nice bowl of soup with goji berries.  Sometimes she’ll make desserts or drinks with goji berries.  As a child I was told this is good for your vision and it keeps you looking young.  Well, fast forward a couple years later, I found out that it does a lot more.  Goji berries are packed with vitamins, protein with 18 amino acids, and antioxidants.  I love sprinkling these berries over salads and oatmeal.  I especially love to eat these by itself as a snack.  You’ll find that it curbs your appetite, gives you energy, and keeps your mind sharp (definitely brain food).

QUINOA – I heard that this is “God’s gift to vegans” and I totally agree.  Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein with 8 essential amino acids and it’s gluten-free.  This is definitely the type of grain you want to incorporate in your diet.  I’m slowly getting my parents to replace white rice with quinoa.  It’s versatile, so you can make just about anything with quinoa.  You can make stuffed red peppers, quinoa crackers, breakfast quinoa porridge, or throw quinoa into your salads.  The possibilities are endless.

CHIA SEEDS – Chia Seeds are tiny black seeds that are grown from a flowering plant known as Salvia hispanica.  One tablespoon of these seeds punches in a good amount of Omega-3.  For vegetarians that don’t eat fish chia seeds will give you the Omega-3 oil that you need for your body.  Athletes – chia seeds can hydrate your body longer and provides the protein that you need for intense workouts.  Simply soak the chia seeds in water and it becomes a gel like the image below.  The gel allows your body to absorb carbohydrates to slowly covert them into simple sugars, so it controls your blood sugar.  They make you feel fuller because they absorb 10 times their weight of water.  It doesn’t have any flavor, so I love to sprinkle these over my salads and soups.  I particularly like to coat my bananas with chia seeds.  There are plenty of dessert recipes that incorporate chia seeds such as pudding or baked goods.

HEMP – There are three types of hemp that I like – hemp milk, hemp seeds, and hemp oil.  It works just like Chia Seeds providing you plenty of protein with essential amino acids, calcium, and Omega-3.  It curbs your appetite, it prevents inflammation, and it’s good for your skin.  It has a nutty taste, so I love sprinkling hemp seeds in fruit such as bananas and kiwis.  They are good in breakfast bars and oatmeal.  I found blending hemp milk with smoothies help me recover faster after intense workouts.  Instead of using too much olive oil I use hemp oil for cooking and salads.

KOMBUCHA – When I was younger, I found these odd-looking jars in the basement.  From time to time, my grandpa would drink these for breakfast.  I thought it was one of his strange Chinese medicinal drinks.  I found out it was Kombucha.  Kombucha is a fermentation of a sweetened tea with cultures such as good bacteria and yeast.  This is actually known to detoxify your body, increase your immunity, alkaline your PH, and increase your metabolism.  It’s full of probiotics to help you with digestion.  Vegans – since you’re not getting probiotics from yogurt you can sure get it from Kombucha.  I love the Synergy Drinks.  My favorite flavors are Strawberry Serenity and Multi-Green.  This is a great replacement for soda and coffee.  I have soda once in a blue moon, but if you are a heavy soda drinker this is 100 times better for you.  As for coffee, it gives you the pick-me-upper you need in the morning. Amazingly this also curbs my appetite, so I tend to have a swig of this closer to 4 pm when I get hungry.

These items are found in Whole Foods, your local organic market, and Amazon.  Try it out!  I hope you feel the super duper benefits I do with these superfoods.

The Vegan Athlete

Tuesday was a very exciting day because I met my idol, Brendan Brazier.  For those who don’t know him, he is a Ironman triathlete, a two-time Canadian 50k ultra-marathon champion, and **drum roll** practices 100% plant-based diet.  I signed up immediately once I found out he was hosting a seminar at the Whole Foods in Arlington.  As you can see in the picture, I was super stoked and of course I sat in the front with my googly eyes.

When I started a plant-based diet I discovered Brendan’s book, Thrive.  Although I felt better and had more energy, I struggled with my long runs.  I’m very adamant about this lifestyle, but I wanted to perform better and that’s when I found Brendan Brazier.  How can a professional triathlete be vegan and win championships?  He reveals his philosophy and secrets in Thrive.  Essentially, the seminar was a short summary of his book plus a lot of great tips not in the book.

Not to worry I took notes from the seminar, but I highly recommend his book to anyone – athlete or non-athlete, omnivore or herbivore, anyone who is interested in improving their sleep, energy, and overall lifestyle.

Stress – We all have different types of stress that effects the body.  Some are emotional, physical, and environmental.  These stress factors increases cortisol levels.  Cortisol is a hormone produced from your adrenal glands.  A small release of cortisol can be beneficial to increase your immunity and energy.  Your body is smart – it will trigger these hormones the moment it feels it needs to go in survival mode.  Too much of cortisol can decrease bone density and muscle.  It can eventually lower your immune system and cause blood sugar imbalances.  It can also led to abdominal fat and high blood pressure.  Wonder why there are people who workout everyday and don’t see results?  I use to over exercise with no breaks in the week.  I didn’t let my body heal or recover, so my body was freaking out and it created more cortisol hormones to protect myself.  Like Brendan’s experience, I started to feel weak and actually gained weight, so I did something really stupid – I lowered my calorie intake.  I damaged my body enough and now I’m depriving my body from nutrients.  I gained the weight even faster. The key is RECOVER.  My body was crying for this.  It’s so important to rest.  This will balance your stress levels, so you can perform better.

Balance – Remember in chemistry class when you had to test the pH (potential of hydrogen) with strips of paper – 1 being very acidic and 14 being very alkaline.  Our body is neutral with a pH around 7, so it’s important to maintain this balance.  I’m not saying to pull out a chemistry set to test everything you eat.  There are a few foods you should try to stay away from or take in moderation.  If the body is in a acidic state it prone to aliments.  Here’s a great diagram that summarizes acidic and alkaline foods.

Energy – Brendan talks about two types of energy – short term energy from stimulants and long term nourishment for your body.  Stimulants like coffee and sugars can give you a quick boost, but there’s a price to pay for this.  Your body works harder to digest stimulants, so it’s using a lot of energy and causing stress to your body.  Ever feel that afternoon crash?  This is what caused it.  Your body is working so hard it will result to fatigue, so you want more to get over that hump.  I like Brendan’s analogy – “think of it as a credit card”.  You can buy it now, but then .. you pay for it later.  This made me think about what I should put in my body.  Ever since I went on a plant-based diet I never get the afternoon crash.  If I feel hungry around 3 or 4, I eat a fruit and it gives me the energy I need because it is nourishing my body.

Brendan is my inspiration.  There was book signing after the seminar and I was able to speak to him for a couple minutes.  The cool thing about Brendan is that he doesn’t push you to buy his products.  He wants to help you.  Brendan is the creator of Vega products.  I will talk about Vega in another post because I actually use these before meeting Brendan.  I’m hoping to run a full marathon this year and need to know how I can improve my performance on a plant-based diet.  He gave me solid advice on what to eat and how to train.  Not once did he mention his products to me.   He is indeed a very classy and fit athlete.

I ended the night by picking up dinner from the Whole Foods salad bar, which by the way, is awesome.  I love the brown paper boxes you pack your salad in.  Here’s what I had:  chard, lettuce, wheat berries, corn, radish, balsamic tofu and mushrooms, red cabbage, chick peas, tomato, kidney beans.  I didn’t add any dressing because it’s already full of flavors.  There’s no need to hinder the freshness.  It was a delicious meal to end my evening.

Reference: Thrive by Brendan Brazier