Saturday, February 28, 2015

Organic,Vegan Protein for Your Training Table - Easy Homemade Almond Milk and Almond Meal

Organic Almond and other nut milks are high in protein and delicious!
When we are cross training, we never want to miss an opportunity to add a little high quality protein to the table. What about getting an organic, raw and vegan source of protein that is loaded with antioxidants, omega fatty acids, calcium, vitamin E, B-12 and riboflavin as well? Look no further than Organic Almond Milk and Almond Meal which I will show you how to make at home. So easy!

Homemade Almond /Nut Milks
Actually, this method will work with other raw nuts such as cashews, Brazil nuts etc. however those nuts do not require pre-soaking. Raw, organic almonds do so here is the method from Raw/Living Food Chef and author, Brenda Hinton creator of

1 cup Raw Organic Almonds (Timbuktu Ranches of CA are amazingly fresh)
3 cups of cool filtered water
Yield: about 3 cups of almond milk

Soak almonds in a covered container for about 6 hours. After that, pour off the water and you are ready to process them into almond milk.
1 cup of organic almonds soaking in 3 cups filtered water
Processing Your Nut Milk
You will need a blender or food processor to grind the soaked almonds into a pulp you can "milk". The trick is not to over-process the almonds. Add the soaked almonds to your blender and fill with just enough water to cover them. You don't want the almonds floating and spinning above the blades. I've blended them on high for about 30 seconds but I used my VitaMix which has a 2 hp motor.

Soaked almonds ready for processing
Once the almonds get going, you can add more filtered water if you like. It makes the pulp easier to pour if it's more on the liquid side. You can use a kitchen sieve or mesh strainer but if you really want to do the job right, get a Nut Milk Bag.

Book by Chef Hinton and Pack of Three Nut Milk Bags

I used Rawsome Creation's More Than a Nut Milk Bag which is a high quality, reusable 10" x 12" white nylon sieve. As the name implies, you can use it for much more than making nut milks. Use it for sprouting, straining juices, making cheeses, teas and a lot more as shown in the Recipe Collection book above by Chef Hinton.

This nut milk bag is very well made and can even be boiled.
I chose my Pyrex mixing bowl with a lip which allows me to pour off the almond milk after straining.
The bag has a little drawstring and I simply loop it over the lip to keep it in place while I pour the almond pulp.

Almond milk draining from the nut milk bag
The next step is the knead or "milk" the bag so that you get out as much liquid as possible. Save the pulp because you can use it in other recipes like pancakes, muffins or added to Irish Oatmeal as a porridge. It is SO delicious!

Almond meal collected from the nut milk bag
My last step is to pour the collected almond milk into a container. Glass is preferable but I use my stainless steel thermal Klean Kanteen as it has an air-tight lid and is easy to pour. Refrigerate and use your almond milk and almond meal within 3 days of processing. You can also freeze these products for up to one month. I used Certified Raw Organic Almonds from Timbuktu Ranches in CA and the quality of their nuts is superior. They also sell them in bulk sizes of 5, 10, 20 and 30 lb bags. Check them out at

Delicious, creamy organic raw almond milk!
At only about 60 calories per cup, your unsweetened, raw almond milk is a nutritional powerhouse winner. I use it anywhere I would cow's milk and it is especially good in my Organic Plant Protein shakes from Garden of Life. Try their easy to mix Smooth Chocolate & Smooth Marley Coffee with a splash of almond milk for the ultimate morning protein bomb! 

These GOL Organic Plant Protein shakes mix well with almond milk
If you want to drink it straight, you can add a little vanilla extract for flavor. Use the almond meal in pancakes (just add it to the batter), muffins and quick breads as this almond product has the most protein ounce for ounce. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

NBC's TODAY Show Hosts More, Fitness, Shape Magazine Women's Half Marathon

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Not only will Natalie and Erica be hosting the half-marathon, they will be running in it. I've received my confirmation as invited press for this monumental women's fitness event so I don't think I'll be able to run and do interviews at the same time. Ah, but there's always next year! So I'll still be in training to keep up with the other runners.

More Magazine
I actually appeared in More Magazine for "The Gift I Gave Myself" and the CBS News segment  "Reaching for More" where I discussed the joys and challenges of learning a new athletic skill which at the time was Ice Skating.  More is VERY proactive in empowering women to strive and achieve so they are the perfect partner for this half-marathon event. If you want to sign up for this 13.1 mile women's-only race through Central Park, do so quickly. In my past experience with this event, the 10,000 cap fills up quickly. Details and links are below.

Here's the Official Press Release:

NEW YORK, N.Y., (February 20, 2015) – MOREFITNESS and SHAPE magazines announced today that Natalie MoralesTODAY show News Anchor and Third-Hour Co-Host, and Erica HillWeekend TODAY Co-Host, will host the 2015 MORE/FITNESS/SHAPE Women’s Half-Marathon, and kick off one of the largest women’s-only half-marathons in the country. This year’s race will be held on Sunday, April 19, 2015 in New York City’s Central Park, and 10,000 runners from around the world are expected to participate.

MORE, FITNESS and SHAPE magazines are co-hosting the event in conjunction with New York Road Runners (NYRR) and expect to welcome thousands of race participants and spectators to Central Park, including Natalie and Erica, who plan to run the 13.1-mile race.

NBC’s TODAY will also serve as the Media Partner. Healthfull® by Arnold/Brownberry/Oroweat®, Hoka One One, MorningStar Farms and Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co. are Product Sponsors. CARE, a leading humanitarian organization that empowers women and girls around the world, is the Charity Partner. The MORE/FITNESS/SHAPE Women’s Half-Marathon has also teamed up with Athletes for a Fit Planet to enhance our efforts to produce an environmentally responsible event by taking their Pledge of Sustainability.

“We’re so excited to have TODAY as the Media Partner for our 12th annual race,” says Lesley Jane Seymour, Editor-in-Chief of MORE. “Natalie and Erica are the perfect hosts, and, as runners as well, they will only add to the girl power of this fun and inspirational event.”

The race is open to women runners and walkers of all ages. Registration is accepted online at To enhance the race-day experience, the size of the event will be capped at 10,000 runners, so participants are encouraged to register early.

For more information about the race, please visit
(As of this post, race spots are still open and the entry fee is under $100.00)  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2015 Takes Focus on Athletes

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 23-28th 2015 and this year is including Athletes with the slogan "I had no idea that my passion had became my problem."
Take note as perhaps even you or a cross training buddy could well be at risk as this problem is far more prevalent than previously suspected. We often get so caught up in "performance" that we may skip whole food groups or meals and the important nutrients they offer in order to gain an "edge".

As a Certified Nutritional Consultant, I've seen my share of client/patients with eating disorders, most of them young women but a few men as well. Please understand that it is a complex psycho/physiological disorder that most family doctors are ill equipped to diagnose or treat. Not because they are inept but primarily because: 1.) medical doctors receive little or very basic nutritional training. 2.) They may simply not see all the signs especially when the patient is being deceitful. 
3.) This is a psychological disorder and may not be their primary discipline.

One thing I've seen as a common thread in many eating disorder patients is a need for iron grip control and an unrealistic quest for perfection.That pretty much defines many an athlete! So you can see how we can be set up mentally for similar problems.

Some things I've learned for both my patients and myself (nutritionist, heal thyself!) are helpful as I've also been a fashion model for a number of years, (see my Vanity Fair Looks Page) and pretty much seen it all. Here are some ideas, not treatments for keeping a healthy attitude when cross training. PLEASE see a mental health professional trained to deal with such issues if you feel that you have an eating disorder. Just to get started, you can anonymously take an online screening to see if you are at risk for disordered eating HERE.

Running on Empty?

It's Seldom All About the Food
You know the person I'm talking about. One week they make an announcement that they are vegan, next week they are a RAW vegan, then gluten free, lactose free, nut free....the list goes on and on. It's really not about the food but the attention they get when they engage in "food shaming" anyone who isn't on their current program. Don't fuel this need. This is more about excluding foods which is a hallmark of an eating disorder. If they want to sit there with a stalk of broccoli while you eat a steak (grass fed and lean I hope), let it go. Share how good and healthy you feel with your food choices and don't be quick to hop on the next food trend yourself. When we become rigid and inflexible about anything, compulsion isn't too far down the road.

Enjoying a grilled salmon pattie with a cheddar scone and organic white wine.

Track But Don't Obsess Over Performance
With all the FitBits, heart rate monitors and cadence meters, it's easy to get too focused on the minutia while losing sight of the big picture. That would be how you FEEL while on a run, walk or bike ride. Your time may vary but so do things you CAN'T control like: wind speed/direction, road conditions, heat index, humidity, hydration issues,etc. Expecting to perform or even best your last workout is setting yourself up for disappointment. Don't fall for that. You are headed in the RIGHT direction by showing up for your workout no matter what the power meter may say.

Outside variables will effect your performance from day to day.
Taking A Day (or Two) Off & Not Feeling Guilty 
I know the importance of this from lifting weights for many years. If you do not take a routine break in your schedule, you are simply increasing inflammation and scar tissue, not building new muscle. Same for any other fitness activity with perhaps the exception of ballet barre-work or stretching. The key is to switch it up so that you are NOT over-taxing the same muscles, tendons and joints day after day with no breaks. Besides. It's boring.

Take a break from your usual workout

Refuel With The Right Foods
You also have to make sure that your diet has enough amino acids, the building blocks of protein, to support optimal muscle growth. I have a protein shake nearly every morning before my workout and then some oatmeal and Quinoa afterwards for breakfast. Even on my off days I'm building and repairing muscle for proper recovery and to make improvements next time.

Foods to Include:
I also mix it up with lots of raw, colorful fruits and vegetables, dark berries, whole organic grains, nuts, fatty fish, whole eggs and a small amount of lean meat, yogurt & cheese. These will help keep your system alkaline and less prone to inflammation issues. Calcium is also important. Did you know that when your body has a sufficient amount of calcium, it will actually burn MORE fat for energy? A Danish study also showed participants who ate low fat yogurt each day excreted more fat from their intestinal tracts. So deficiencies can work against your fitness goals in a major way.

Quinoa topped with dried cranberries and walnuts.
Are You Getting Enough Essential Nutrients?
Not just protein but the lack of other key nutrients in a balanced training table diet can show up as:

  • Slow growing or easily broken nails
  • Slowed hair growth or hair is falling out in clumps
  • Skipped or completely absent menstrual cycles
  • Bruising easily (lack of enough Vitamin C)
  • Lethargy or chronic tiredness
  • Feeling cold even in warm conditions
  • Lanugo or soft, fuzzy-fine hair on your face and body can indicate malnutrition
  • Easily fractured/breaking bones

Here is the "Get in the Know" section for Athletes from the National Eating Disorders Awareness website which will give you more insight and statistics for this segment of the population. Visit the NEDA website HERE for more information:

Athletes and Eating Disorders

Body image problems, disordered eating and full-blown eating disorders are common among athletes. Though most athletes with eating disorders are female, male athletes are also at risk—especially those competing in sports such as wrestling, bodybuilding, gymnastics, and running, which tend to place an emphasis on the athlete’s diet, appearance, size, and weight requirements.
In a study of Division 1 NCAA athletes, over one-third of female athletes reported attitudes and symptoms placing them at risk for anorexia nervosa (Johnson, Powers, et al, 1999). In weight-class and aesthetic sports about 33% of males and up to 62% of females are affected by an eating disorder (Thompson, PhD. 2010). The good news is that with information and awareness, coaches, parents and teammates can all play an important role in confronting eating disorders and ensuring that athletics are a positive experience for everyone.

Suggested Resources: