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Hydration!


So I've been wanting to post about this since our HEATWAVE earlier this month!  Hydrating the body is a constant necessity but especially in the summer months,  both in and out of the studio. Thankfully, the old-school idea of 'no water in class' is rapidly losing favor and dancers are encouraged to keep fluid levels up for better daily performance.

There is so much information out there about hydrating the body. Water, though the front-runner, is just one piece of the puzzle.....here we go!

WHY WATER?
  • Water aids in moving nutrients through the body
  • Water detoxifies the body as it moves through the kidneys
  • Water helps keep joints and tendons supple (think about a wilted, dry plant)

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

There are so many theories about adequate amounts of water, especially for athletes, and from what I have found, it depends on type of activity, duration of activity, how much the athlete perspires and conditions surrounding activity.....how's that for vague?!
So, that being said, there are some things to keep in mind
  • Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink, hydrate the body before, during and after physical activity
  • Yes, drinking water will make you have to pee! the color should be a 'pale straw' color, if it's darker, drink a little more
  • If sweating, that fluid should be actively replaced, some sources say about 2-3oz of water every 15 minutes

IS THERE SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH?
Yes, there is such thing as too much water, so figuring out what works best for you takes some experimenting.
Too much water can actually deplete the body of trace minerals (electrolytes) and overwork the kidneys.
Usually too much water is drank when you wait until that 'too thirsty' point and you chug like a frat-boy at a kegger! so pace yourself dancers!!

PARTNERS IN CRIME
As mentioned above, there is more that goes into the hydration equation.  Electrolyte Minerals travel along the water powered highway and aid in the electrical impulses from the brain to muscles and tissues.  
  • When in proper balance, energy is consistent and focussed. The body has a 'use it and lose it' approach to electrolyes  which,  have a pretty short life span and are often lost through sweating
  • A body that is depleted in these minerals is sluggish, achy, and off-balance.  This is the case when replacing with just water is NOT enough; potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium stores need to be replaced.
THE REBOUND
Sports drinks have been popular for sometime; making claims of super-stardom, increased energy and powerful performance.   Wicked! !What the neon-colored, phony fruitiness doesn't advertise is all the chemicals, sugar and additives in each gulp.  Are there any alternatives??You bet!
Give props to the people of tropical tempaurates who have had the knowledge of a natural hydrating source for years.
COCONUT WATER is the clear liquid inside a fresh, young coconut.
  • Chock full of electrolyte minerals, refreshing, subtly sweet with a low glycemic index and is also low in calories. 
  • Coconut water is widely available at most grocery stores in drinking box style packaging and does come in some tropical flavors but I think it's amazing as is - try it! It's a bit of a acquired taste, but addictive!
Other alternatives are fresh fruit and vegetables to replace electrolytes such as:
Bananas - it is said to be nature's perfect food! potassium, magnesium, great for after class, rehearsal or intermission
Grapes - good source of magnesium
Pears & Apples - juicy and sweet, apples & pears are full of potassium and fiber
Melon - Cantelope, Watermelon, Honeydew etc are high in magnesium and extremely hydrating
Cucumber - aids in cooling an over-heated body
Celery - (try with some Almond or Peanut Butter for a dose of protein while naturally replacing sodium levels)

In other research I was reading that eating fiber-rich foods like whole grains, nuts OR fruits early in the day helps the body stay hydrated and build electrolyte sources.














Recently, I took a trip home to Toronto, and while there, we paid a visit to my 'old stomping grounds', Canada's National Ballet School.  Two years ago, NBS moved from it's original home - a block of city Brownstone on Maitland St. to a gorgeous state-of-art facility on Jarvis St.  It is incredible!! I am still in awe! (and by 'awe' I mean that I get teary every time I speak about the building) Filled with natural light, sky-high ceilings and the sound of grand pianos floating through the halls,  it is every dancer's dream!

While there, I had the opportunity to catch up with Anuschka Roes, my Artistic Director who gave me a copy of 'A Dancer's Guide to Healthy Eating' by Rebecca Dietzel, (M.S) and NBS student, Alyson Yamada.  What a fantastic book - encouraging a natural foods diet, Dietzel explains how dancers need to provide their bodies with the nutrients to not only stay energized,  but to also prevent injury and promote muscle and tissue recovery.

I highly recommend this book, it is sensible and accessible to dancers of all ages.  There are delicious recipes, nutrient break-downs and a handful of myths that are defied through bio-chemical fact.....

To get your hands on a copy, visit the National Ballet School website at www.nationalballetschool.org then scroll to the 'Shoe Room' icon on the left-hand side.  A Dancer's Guide to Healthy Eating is available under 'Books'.

Tuna Lemon Parsley Pasta


Sorry for the delayed post - a family emergency needed some attention!

Thank you all for your feedback thus far and thank you for logging on! Hopefully soon food pics will be part of this budding operation.....and if there are any recipe requests, please let me know!

A little musing before the recipe post:

'The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia' by Rebecca Wood (which profiles the nutritional break down of every fruit, vegetable and grain in food-geek detail) had a great passage about implementing natural foods into your daily life. "With this whole foods dietary upgrade, consider the more realistic 'one-quarter' approach".  Wood goes on to explain that the approach of slowly decreasing old habits by 1/4, while at the same time creating new habits in the same fashion has more long-term staying power than a hard-core, cold-turkey, all-or-nothing or any other fad type style of eating that involves lots of dashes in between words......


OK, without any further adieu I present this week's recipe post......

Tuna Lemon Parsley Pasta
Start to Finish: 20 minutes (10 minutes faster than Rachael Ray, and I don't say 'yummo' or EVOO!)

Chock full of complex carbs, iron, vitamins A,C, E & F, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, calcium this dish is a terrific post-class dinner or night before performance meal....

This pasta is ideal for this time of year, when studio temperatures rise and more electrolytes are lost through sweating, the mineral content present helps replenish depleted electrolytes....so put down the sports drink and get those good guys back from a natural, filling source!

Feel free to replace Chopped, Cooked Chicken Breast (hint: the rotisserie chickens you can buy at the store are a great!) if tuna is not your thing......

Technical Requirements

  • Medium Sized Pot for boiling water
  • Cutting Board
  • Can Opener
  • Sharp Knife
Culinary Choreography

Whole Wheat Spaghetti, dry (serving size: about the diameter of Dollar Coin when gathered together)

1/2 can White Albacore Tuna (packed in water), drained and broken into chunks
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Lemon, cut in half
Handful of Baby Spinach
Handful of Fresh Parsley, coarsely chopped
A few slices of Red Onion, in thin rings
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

In a pot, bring to a boil more water than you think necessary and salt it well (pasta water should taste like the ocean)....Add pasta and cook according to instructions until the pasta is 'al dente' (there is still a bit of a 'bite' to it)...

Meanwhile, get your other ingredients ready so no cue is missed!.....Open, drain and get Tuna into desired chunk size then set aside....Next, slice Lemon in half and remove any visible seeds....Snap off some Fresh Parsley from the bunch and coarsely chop.....Remove the outer paper-y layers of onion thinly (read: patiently) slice a few rings....Set aside handful of baby spinach that has been rinsed and dried.....

By the time, the above is completed, the pasta should be about ready....

So now:
  • Drain Pasta, give it a shake and then return to the pot with NO HEAT on the stove
  • Drizzle over pasta: 1 TBSP Olive Oil, a squeeze of Lemon, half the amount of Parsley and some black pepper.  Then toss pasta gently to coat.  It should smell fresh and good!
  • Gently fold in Spinach and Red Onion
  • Plate Pasta and top with Tuna and remaining Fresh Parsley
  • Drizzle the remaining Olive Oil and give another good squeeze of Lemon on top
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Enjoy the quick masterpiece you just whipped up!

THE BIOS
When profiling this recipe, I was shocked at which ingredient deserves the standing ovation. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the often overlooked, pushed aside and picked off: PARSLEY!
Vitamin A - fat soluble meaning that it requires fats, minerals and enzymes for absorption. Develops strong bone cells, hair, skin and teeth. 
Vitamin C (three times the amount of oranges) - Major factor in immune health and strength. Aids in stress management and anxiety
Iron (twice as much as spinach)  - Carries Oxygen throughout body and is an important factor in wound healing (Marley floor burn anyone?!).  Prevents muscle fatigue and weakness. Vegetable sources need to be paired with Vitamin C in order to be absorbed.
Manganese - Nourishes Brain and Nerve Cells and aids in the metabolism of fats and sugars. Helps eliminate fatigue, nervousness and lower back pain.
Copper - Mineral that helps control inflammation and arthritis.  Helps with absorption of Iron, protein metabolism and bone formation
Sodium - Electrolyte mineral that regulates kidney and body fluid function.  Helps prevent dehydration.
Potassium- Electrolyte mineral in body fluids that transmits electrical signals between nerves and cells.  Enhances muscle performance.  Works with sodium to regulate the body's water balance.  Aids in clear thinking by oxygenating the brain.

TUNA

High in Protein - Primary source of building material for muscles, skin, brain, blood and organs.  Work at hormonal levels to control basic functions of the body, including tissue repair
Vitamin A - See above
Vitamin F - Also known as Lecithin regulates the body's use of fats and the rate at which hormones produce it's own fatty and oily secretions.......mmmmmmmm.......
Source of Omega 3 Fatty Acid - Important for brain function, reduces inflammation in joints, aids in effects of PMS, help oxygenate the blood stream, great for strengthening cardio-vascular system.  Omega 3's also increase metabolism and energy.
Phosphorus- Increases muscle performance while reducing fatigue, aids in brain oxygenation
Magnesium - Necessary for nerve and muscle function, athletic endurance, counteracts stress and helps with emotional instability

OLIVE OIL

Vitamin E - Immune stimulating vitamin that encourages healing by providing oxygen to effected area. Alleviates fatigue.
Omega 6 Fatty Acid - Improves immune and cell function, transport fat-soluble vitamins (like Vitamin A), helps protect fatty tissue surrounding organs

LEMON
Vitamin C - See above
Silica - Aids in absorption of calcium, maintains flexible arteries and promotes healthy bones
Potassium - See above
Improves absorption of minerals into the body
Aids digestion and has diuretic properties
Cleanses the blood and detoxifies organs

SPINACH
Calcium - See above
Sodium - See above
Iron  - See above
Silica - See above
Potassium - See above
Chlorine - Not the kind you swim in! - naturally occurring chlorine enhances smooth joint-tendon function
Phosphorus - See above

ONION

Anti-inflammatory
Antioxidant
Vitamins A & C - see above

Enjoy!







This is a great breakfast or snack any day of the week but especially good for those pre-performance/audition days when you think NOTHING will calm your nerves.  Packed full of useful easily digested nutrients; this simple, delicious and healthy recipe may become a favorite!


YOGURT with Apples,  Almonds, Honey and Cinnamon


Technical Requirements
  • Bowl
  • Box Grater (that you would grate cheese with)
  • Spoon

Culinary Choreography

1/2 cup Plain Yogurt (whole milk or low fat....non-fat plain is lame)
1 Apple, grated with skin on (choose an apple with firm, crisp, tangy-sweet flesh)
Handful of almonds, chopped (you could use pre-sliced or slivered almonds too)
A couple of swirls from a Liquid Honey bear
Pinch of cinnamon

In a bowl, add yogurt then top artistically with grated apple.  Chop and scatter nuts, swirl the honey in a lovely pattern and dust with cinnamon.  Admire it. Then, destroy it as you would a sandcastle and enjoy!




THE BREAKDOWN.........So what's in it for me????


YOGURT
  • rich in PRO-BIOTICS which aid in digestion and assimilation of enzymes.  Pro-biotics also inhibit growth of undesirable bacteria and replenish good bacteria in the intestinal tract (especially after a round of anti-biotics and/or other medications).  Pro-biotics help restore balance in the digestive system making food easier for the body to metabolize and turn into energy.
  • contains other friendly bacteria including lactobacillus acidophilus, bifdobacterius and lactobacillus bulgaricus which enhance the body's immune system, helps synthesize B vitamins and promotes intestinal health
  • great source of complete protein
  • Calcium (necessary to synthesize vitamin B12 and absorbed with Vitamin D.  Works with Phosphorus (see below) and Magnesium to strengthen skeletal and cardiovascular systems, lower blood pressure, prevent muscle cramping, control anxiety and insure quality rest & sleep)


NOTE: Not all yogurt is created equally so read the ingredient labels carefully.  Seek out brands containing 'live or active cultures'.  Many flavored brands contain added chemical additives such as: high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, modified corn starch and potassium sorbate to enhance shelf life, flavor and consistency in lower or non-fat products.  Incidentally,  some of the aforementioned additives can cancel-out the health benefits mentioned above.
Look for the most 'natural' product you can find.  Certified Organic products have a certain criteria that does not allow the use of artificial sweeteners and stabilizers; so if your palate doesn't care for 'plain' yogurt, look to organic brands for flavored options. 
Greek Yogurt is also a wonderful option, not only is the texture, rich and creamy with slightly less 'tang' it is a protein powerhouse!

APPLES

  • easier to digest than most other fruits
  • aid in hydrating and internally cleansing the body
  • low in calories and natural sugars
  • good source of fiber, especially the skin!
  • apples contain the mineral Boron (enhancing the use of calcium in bone structure and formation)
ALMONDS
  • high in B Vitamins (promoting feeling of well-being)
  • source of Unsaturated Fats (the good kind!)
  • source of protein, calcium & iron
  • Phosphorus (aids in brain oxygenation, cell reproduction and decreases muscle fatigue)
  • Potassium (a mineral enhancing muscle performance and electrical signals between cells and nerves, works with sodium to regulate body's water balance, promotes clear thinking by oxygenating brain)
  • Vitamin E (immune stimulating, alleviates fatigue, accelerates healing)
HONEY
  • contains vitamins and minerals that help metabolize glucose and other sugars
  • has antiseptic properties
CINNAMON
  • aids in absorption of nutrients
  • aroma steadies and calms nerves
  • aids in the metabolizing of sugars by slowing the absorption into the blood stream thus less chance of a 'sugar high'

HUMMMMMUS!


Recipe #1 is Nice and Easy,  the possibilities are endless so don't be afraid to experiment with other kinds of beans and fresh herbs!

Hummus
seems to be everywhere.....on many-a-menu, in grocery stores and even your corner deli....in the long run, it's more cost-effective to make it yourself, it takes about 2 minutes start to finish....
Garbanzo Beans
are rich in Iron (works with Protein to carry Oxygen through the body), Protein and Fiber.   Hummus travels well so it makes a great after-class snack! Once made, Hummus should be kept sealed in the fridge and lasts about 4-5 days.....Enjoy!

Technical Requirements:
  • A small-medium sized bowl
  • Blender/Food Processor
  • Can Opener
  • Knife
*if you don't have a blending device, you can mash the beans with a fork, resulting in a chunkier hummus

Culinary Choreography:

1 can Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1/2 clove garlic, roughly chopped (if you are using the above 'fork' method, mince the garlic)
1 heaping TBSP Tahini (see sources below)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all in blender/food processor and puree until smooth....if the mixture, is too stiff, add a little more olive oil and/or lemon juice....Empty contents into bowl or container and season to taste.

Artistic License (making it your own)
  • add a handful chopped fresh herbs like basil, mint, cilantro and/or parsley before blending
  • to make it spicy add a dash of chili flakes before blending
  • jarred roasted red peppers
  • try with other beans like: black, canellini, or mixed beans
Performance Quality (serving suggestions)
  • as a dip for fresh veggies
  • make a killer sandwich on whole or multi grain bread topped with hummus and such items as:
             cucumber
             sprouts
             tomato
             spinach
             lettuce
             red onion
             red pepper
             avacado
             feta cheese
             grated carrots
             grilled: eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms
  • serve with whole-grain crackers or pita chips

WHAT'S UP WITH TAHINI?
Tahini is a ground sesame paste extremely popular in Middle-Eastern and some Asian cuisines.  Some of it's nutritional benefits include: high in Vitamin E (immune stimulating and promotes healing),Phosphorus (a mineral for increasing muscle performance), Niacin (aka:vitamin B3 - promoting energy and joint function) and Thiamine (aka-vitamin B1 - known as the 'morale vitamin').
When shopping for Tahini, look in the nut butter aisle, if it's not there check the International Foods section of your grocery store.


                                  

Fill it with 'Premium' Please!


Welcome to fuelfordancers, a blog designed to provide information to the high-performance machines: Dancers.

As a working dancer in NYC, I truly understand the physical and emotional demands that need to be met on a daily basis.  Proper nourishment can help meet those needs, and though I am not a nutritionist (yet) it is my mission on this site to share my passion for good, wholesome, natural food to the dance community through recipes and product information/comparison.  Recipes will be designed around daily training and  pre/post performance.  They will be easy to put together, healthy and tasty. Questions, comments and feedback welcome!.....

So what's my deal?

About a year ago, my interest in the culinary arts turned toward Natural Nutrition and how it could help me achieve my goals as a dancer. I began eating minimally processed and whole foods noticing a change almost immediately. My energy was more sustained, muscles less achy, attention more focussed and balance more consistent. Was it all in my head or was my body thanking me?

The awareness of what went in my body became a focal point in my daily life - not in a calorie-counting, fat gram watching kind of way; rather a 'if I eat X now - will it give me the energy I need, or is Y the better choice?'...I started reading labels an eliminating foods with modified ingredients, high-fructose corn-syrup and artificial sweeteners (more about those bad-boys in the posts to come).

The reading and researching of why natural foods are good for the body became a way to pass the time on the subway; what's so special about vitamins A, C. E. K and omega-3's?! what foods have them occurring naturally??  will it really make me jump higher or pick up choreography faster??!What about food combining?? OK, so I got a little obsessed and my kitchen became a bit of a science lab with my friends and boyfriend as guinea pigs, BUT all for the greater good, I can assure you!

Bottom line: I love dance and food almost equally.  If someone were to say to me 'if you could dance for ANY company in the world for one season but the entire time you would have to eat REALLY bad food, would you do it?'.....I'd have to think twice....


Hopefully by the end of the day, I will have decided on Recipe #1......stay tuned! Thanks for reading!