Nutrition tips I learned from using a meal service

Courtesy Fuel Foods

A few months ago I bought a house (#grownup) and switched jobs at the same time (#insane). Life was busier than usual and the hustle was on. The first few weeks of packing and rushing around for my new gig, I let my nutrition slide completely. My issue wasn’t eating junk or fast food, rather I simply wasn’t eating enough throughout the day. I felt like I didn’t have time to stop for meals and when I did they were things I could take on the go – protein bars or a shake and that’s if I was lucky. At the same time I was looking to take my fitness game to the next level but was feeling (understandably) low energy considering my lack of proper nutrition.

Finally, I decided to do something about it and called my friend Nick McNaught who owns one of Toronto-based meal service Fuel Foods. Despite the connection, until then, I had never considered doing a delivery service. I don’t know if it was a pride thing, a cheapness thing or a laziness thing, but suddenly it made so much sense: why not invest in a system that would help my energy, health and physique and make life easier during this transitional time? So I did. Turns out there was a lot to be both gained and discovered from having healthy meals delivered to my doorstep. Here’s what I learned from my time on a meal system.

Take a break

I’m a huge advocate for mindful eating, but the truth is, when life gets busy, the do-to list long and spare time at a minimum it’s hard to resist reaching for those quick fixes, even for me. Even though the on-the-go options can be healthful, like a meal replacement bar or shake, the way they’re consumed is usually completely mindless.

Having the perfectly packed meals stashed away in my gym bag made a huge difference. Taking a moment to eat my food with a fork and knife forced my mind to catch up with my stomach, allowing me to feel full, satisfied and re-energized. Also sitting down to a well-balanced plate with all different colours, textures and food groups causes the brain to feel more satiated than after a smoothie or a bar, even if the calorie and nutritional counts are the same. I noticed an immediate impact on my energy levels, especially at lunch.

Portion proportion

A common misconception about meal delivery is that it’s success works on restriction and deprivation. From my experience this is far from the truth. Firstly, every meal incorporates all food groups, including a healthy serving of – gasp – carbs! Sure, the portions are controlled to give the optimal amount of calories but they also works to deliver the proper nutrients and energy to meet the body’s needs. This actually amounts to quite a bit of food; think – steak, sweet potato fries and broccoli; turkey burger, quinoa and green beans; chicken, rice and asparagus. The only thing that is restricted is going back for seconds, which, let’s be honest – we could do without. The service reminded me of the importance of including all food groups at every meal, as well as the unnecessary nature of those extra helpings.

Spice of life

We are all guilty of falling into culinary ruts from time to time. Yes, most of us get in the habit of rotating through slight variations of the same half dozen recipes every week. Getting the meal delivery inspired me to expand my home chef horizons. The Fuel Foods meals were simple, yet flavourful. The trick? Not sauce, dip, or fancy garnish — their infusion of taste is all thanks to plain and simple spices. From cinnamon to cumin to cayenne – not only do the spices give each dish their own, uncomplicated and unique flavour but they also offer an extra boost of health benefits.

No waste zone

When we cook for ourselves inevitably there is a substantial amount of waste involved; whether it’s because we’re forced to buy more ingredients than the recipe calls for, waited too long to eat the left overs, or forgot about the produce hiding in the refrigerator drawers. With meal delivery, simply, there is no waste. We eat what is on the plate, nothing more, and nothing less. This vastly reduces the amount of food thrown out, consequently reducing the money that is thrown out with it! This is what makes meal delivery a financially viable option – the expense of the service is balanced out by the savings of not tossing away those pricey grocery items.

Runners Get a Longer-Lasting Kick From Caffeine

 

 

The caffeine in coffee, soda, or an energy drink, can help when you’re trying to wake up in the morning or beat an afternoon slump. If you’re a runner, it turns out that drinking coffee or using another substance with a caffeine fatigue beater can also help you train longer and harder. Recent studies have found that the compound boosts performance and endurance by up to 5 percent.

Does Caffeine Dehydrate Athletes?

You might recall a time when athletes were advised against using caffeine because of the worry of dehydration. As regular energy beverage drinkers know, java can make you visit the restroom more often. Caffeine is a diuretic, and it can make you urinate more frequently. However, studies have found that effect disappears when you’re active. Researchers aren’t sure why activity would suppress caffeine’s tendency to make you need to go to the bathroom, but it appears that as long as you’re running, caffeine won’t send you looking for the nearest bathroom any sooner than any other liquid.

Do Pro Athletes Really Use Caffeine?

Professional athletes have to be careful about the ingredients in their supplements. Many substances that boost performance are banned, and athletes are tested regularly to catch anyone who’s trying to get an unfair edge. However, while caffeine has been shown to boost a runner’s endurance, it’s completely legal in professional competitions (the NCAA has a cap on caffeine amounts). In fact, runner and Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah wrote in his autobiography that he drinks coffee about 20 minutes before a competition. He even says he goes into races feeling a “massive caffeine high.”

How Does Caffeine Improve Endurance?

Caffeine may fool your brain into thinking you’re not as tired as you are. The compound is a stimulant that works mainly by affecting your perceptions. It turns out that your brain always has your body’s back. When your body starts getting low on fuel, or begins to heat up from exercise, it starts sending SOS messages to your brain. After getting those signals, your brain tells your body to slow down and rest. But here’s the rub: Your brain tends to be over protective and urges your body to slow well in advance of any physical danger. Researchers theorize that caffeine suppresses your perceptions of fatigue and pain, allowing you to run harder for longer.

If you’re looking for a way to train or race harder, try using caffeine before or during a run. Using caffeinated gels, chews, or drinks will give you an energy boost and may even help you get a new personal best.

What Wine Should You Be Drinking This Summer?

 

Sitting outside in summer with a glass of wine is one of life’s great pastimes. It is a break from winter and worries and a chance to sit back and relax. But which wine to choose makes the matter that little bit more difficult which is why we have chosen our best of summer wines from both the Old and the New World wine producers so you needn’t worry about it.

Pinot Noir – Oregon

Oregon is well known for its Pinot Noir, the cooler climate, helped by the Pacific Mist helps to create a Pinot Noir that is so much different from its French counterpart. Oregon Pinot Noir is light enough to eat with fish for instance and has enough gentle fruit flavour to enjoy on its own. Oregon Pinot Noir is a little drier than other Pinot Noir but this adds to a crisp and delicate finish that is great in summer.

Marlborough –Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough is also a great choice for its ore deeper, fruitier Pinot Noir but if you are looking for a summer wine then Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is the ideal choice. Whenyou think of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc think deep tropical flavours like melon and pineapple which can be drunk with a wide range of summer salads and lighter meals or enjoyed chilled and on its own.

Vinho Verde – Portugal

Portuguese wines are often unheralded when compared to its Mediterranean neighbours Spain and Italy. However with Vinho Verde they have a fantastic wine for summer that is lighter and zestier than a white Rioja and has more body than a Pinot Grigio. For a great tasting, easy drinking summer wine Vinho Verde is your answer.

Shiraz- Australia

While summer is the ideal time to enjoy lighter wines it is also a time where we enjoy a lot of smoky flavours such as at a barbeque. An Australian Shiraz with its spicy tones is a little on the heavy side to enjoy too much of in summer but its ability to pair well with food like steak or ribs make it a good choice for a red wine for many a summer meal.

Bubbles

Summer and bubbly go extremely well together. The combination of chilled and delicate fizz and warm weather is well worth the wait through winter and spring. There are many varieties of fizz available but both Spain and Italy with Cava and Prosecco respectively offer great tasting fizz at good prices that are perfect for summer. For summer cocktails like a Kir Royale a Spanish Cava goes well or choose a Proseccofor a crisp and fragrant start to an evening or a treat to sit out in the garden with when you get home from work.

Of course we can’t discuss summer wines without mentioning Rosé. With so many different types it is difficult to pick one, with most of the wine producing countries also producing quality rosé wines with distinctive tastes and character. Possibly the best thing to do is pick up a couple of bottles, put them on ice and decide which is your favourite to enjoy over the summer

What are the benefits of eating different meats

Healthy eating is high on every agenda at the moment, which means that savvy catering and hospitality businesses are also thinking about it continually. Diners still appreciate quality food and inventive recipes, but they do want to know that what they are eating is good for them. That needn’t mean creating a completely vegetarian menu, though having some vegetarian choice broadens your appeal. In fact, there can be lots of great health benefits to eating meat.

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Chicken

Chicken is a low fart source of high density protein, and it also contains significant amounts of vitamins including E, B6 and B12, and also minerals such as zinc, selenium and niacin.

Although more expensive, if you can, sourcing free range chicken has even more healthy benefits, including having up o 20% less fat, 100% more omega-3 fatty acid, and 28% fewer calories, than meat from birds who are not allowed to roam. There is also much less chance of the meat having come into contact with synthetic pesticides or antibiotics.

The National Chicken Council has more detail on the health benefits of serving chicken to your diners.

Beef

Usually the first thing people think of when ‘red meat’ is mentioned, beef is a dense meat that is packed full of nutrients that are vital to developing and maintaining important functions of the human body. Iron is one of the most common of any nutritional deficiencies across the world, and beef is a great source of iron.

These days, with domestic budgets still recovering post-recession, beef is a treat and people might not prepare it at home so much, so having a choice of beef dishes on your menu will be popular.

Industry site, Beef, lists some further statistics that make interesting reading.

Pork

Pork is another popular option. It is low in salt, which is top of any health-conscious diner’s list of considerations. It is high in protein, and in thiamine, known to help healthy brain function, and like beef, is a good source of iron.

Variety in the choice of meat is important, but professional caterers, especially those who cater for large events, must also consider the theatre of how to cook and serve. Where pork is on the menu, a hog roast is a great option and specialist online retailers like thehoggboss.com are a great place to buy hog roast machines.

People are often misinformed by fat, believing it to be all the same, and very bad for you. Deeper research now believes that polyunsaturated fats are required by the body to maintain normal function, and might even produce more benefits to pregnant women. Chicken, beef and pork have ‘healthy’ fats.

As with most things variety is key, and being clear and upfront about what is on the menu and increasingly where it has come from will reassure your clientele that they will be served something that they want to eat, that is also healthy and tasty

HOW TO EAT OUT ON A GLUTEN FREE DIET

Although coeliac disease is a life changing condition, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy food and eating out in restaurants.  Many people believe that they need to start cooking everything from scratch and eating purely at home, but if you plan ahead this doesn’t have to be the case.  Gluten free restaurant meals have come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, and it’s now possible to enjoy anything from pasta to desserts on a gluten free diet.  However, if you’re newly diagnosed and wondering where to start, keep reading for some tips on how to eat out on a gluten free diet.

How to Eat Out on a Gluten Free Diet

BUILD UP YOUR KNOWLEDGE

First, it’s important to have a firm understanding of what you can and can’t eat.  Whilst there are some foods that are naturally gluten free, other foods such as sauces, may differ depending on how they are made.  Make sure you know what you can eat, and what you can’t, and that you explain this to your waiter when dining out.  Even if you are eating what you believe is a purely gluten free meal, unless it specifically says so on the menu, it is worth passing on your dietary info to avoid gluten cross contamination.

LOOK AT MENUS ONLINE

If you have access to the internet, and who doesn’t these days with smart phones (?), it’s always worth checking to see if the restaurant you are interested in visiting has a menu online.  Fast food chains, franchises, restaurants, and some takeaways will list their menus online, and this will give you the opportunity to browse through the dishes available.  If the menu doesn’t look like it will be gluten free, you can simply look for somewhere else to dine out.  Alternatively, you can phone the restaurant up for more information.

PLAN AHEAD

Before arriving at a restaurant it’s a good idea to phone ahead.  Let them know that you are interested in making a booking, but that you are a coeliac.  You should be able to gauge from the phone conversation whether they are aware of your dietary requirements, and they should also be able to tell you what gluten free meals they have available.  By ringing ahead, you will also give the restaurant the opportunity to prepare for your visit.

ASK FOR HELP WITH THE MENU

Most big restaurants and franchises will have allergy information clearly listed on their menus, and you should be able to find some in your area which list dishes that are gluten free.  However, in smaller restaurants you may want to ask the wait staff for help with the menu.  It may also be worth asking to speak to the chef directly, and asking if he could prepare something gluten free for you.  Luckily, some of the best desserts, such as meringue and crème brulee are usually gluten free, so you should have some options available to you.

Suffering from coeliac disease can be a bit disheartening at times, but there is no reason why you can no longer dine out.