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Recipe: Coconut-Ginger Chicken

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT 

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (1-1/2 lb.)

1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 lime, juiced

2 Tbsp. ginger, minced

1 can lite coconut milk

2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

3-4 mini-colored bell peppers, cut into rings.

½ medium onion, chopped

½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup chicken broth

1 Tbsp. corn starch

1 Tbsp. water

Directions:

1. Heat coconut oil in a non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.

2. Place chicken in hot oil and cook for 6-7 minutes per side, chicken will not be cooked all the way through. Take out and place on plate, set aside.

3. Put onion and ginger into the skillet and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add lime juice, 1 cup of coconut milk, bell peppers, and chicken broth, cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes and cilantro, cook for 1 more minute.

4. Mix water with corn starch in small bowl, slowly whisk into the chicken broth mixture and cook until mixture become thick, add chicken back into the skillet. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.

5. Serve over rice or noodles and enjoy.

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT – Positive Nutrition of Omaha
Nutrition Consultant for Athletes’ Training Center Sports Performance & Physical Therapy

Protein vs. Weight Loss – Debunking the Myths

You can only imagine how many times a day I hear people say “it’s healthy, it has protein in it”.  So, how exactly do our bodies process protein and what role does it play in weight loss?

As with carbohydrates, protein provides four calories per one gram you consume.  Wouldn’t that make it pretty much equal to carbs in the weight loss world? The answer is both yes and no. 

If you remember back in the late 80’s and early 90’s everyone went “fat free” and we thought “if we eat less fat then we will be less fat”.

Unfortunately, we forgot that calories matter and that still applies today. 

Calorie management is the most crucial nutrition change for promoting weight loss; however, protein can help you stay satisfied on smaller amounts of calories. 

This is one of the biggest barriers to weight loss – if we are not satisfied with our foods then we tend to over eat.

We have learned that protein offers other benefits to weight loss besides satiety or feeling full after eating.  It also helps keep muscle mass during weight loss.

  • Research supports eating 72 grams per day can help retain muscle mass during a weight loss diet. We also know that carbohydrates digest quickly which can lead to early hunger and over eating.

The Benefits of High-Protein Foods

High-protein foods take more work to digest, metabolize, and use, which means you burn more calories processing them.

In a study published in Nutrition Metabolism, dieters who increased their protein intake to 30 percent of their diet ate nearly 450 fewer calories a day and lost about 11 pounds over the 12-week study without employing any other dietary measures.

As with most dieters, you probably like burning calories as well as eating calories.

 

Your body uses the amino acids in protein to build lean muscle, which not only makes you stronger and more toned but also helps you to burn calories even when you’re not active.

This helps keep your metabolic rate revving high even while you are at rest! This is unlike fat which is an inactive tissue that does not burn calories at rest.

oatmeal, strawberries

How Much Protein Should I Consume?

The USDA set the recommended daily allowance for protein at 0.8 grams per kg of body weight.  For a 140 lb. person that is 50 grams per day. However, the RDA does not account for any physical activity. 

This will only provide the minimum for essential amino acids for the body.

  • As a Dietitian I advise consuming between 0.5-0.75 grams of protein per pound of your body weight. That’s 70 to 105 grams a day for a 140-pound person. Shoot for the high end if you’re very active.
  • According to Dr. Layman, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Nutrition at the University of Illinois, breaking this up into 30 gram feedings of protein is the way to go. His recent research reveals that if you consume high quality protein in 30 gram increments during the day you will activate Muscle Protein Synthesis by the amount of Leucine in the food. 

What is Leucine?

  • Leucine is an essential amino acid found in high quality protein and it provides a dietary signal to the muscle. The threshold is around 2.5 grams of Leucine per feeding. Muscle Protein Synthesis is beneficial for athletes for recovery but also for the lay person trying to lose weight without losing muscle mass.

Now you are probably wondering what the answer is. Is protein important for weight loss?

Protein vs. Weight Loss

Yes, protein is important for weight loss but more importantly is how and what you are consuming. It is not just cramming 60-80 grams of protein in a protein shake at the end of your day to meet your total protein needs per day.

There does not seem to be added benefit for eating larger than 30 gram doses per feeding.

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT – Positive Nutrition of Omaha
Nutrition Consultant for Athletes’ Training Center Sports Performance & Physical Therapy

Recipe: Avocado Egg Salad

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT 

Avocado Egg Salad

Ingredients:

6 hardboiled eggs, chopped

1 avocado, chopped

3-4 Tbsp. Greek yogurt, sour cream or miracle whip

½ lime, juiced

2-3 Tbsp. red onion, chopped

1-2 tsp garlic, minced

1-2 tsp cilantro, chopped

2 green onion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

 

 Directions:

  1. Combine Eggs, miracle whip, lime juice, onions, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper and mix well. Add more miracle whip to the your preferred texture.
  2. Add chopped avocado and gently stir to avoid mashing the avocado.
  3. Serve on bread, tortillas, or with whole grain crackers.

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT – Positive Nutrition of Omaha
Nutrition Consultant for Athletes’ Training Center Sports Performance & Physical Therapy

Recipe: Perfectly Moist Chicken…Every Time!

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT 

Ingredients:

12-inch non-stick, oven safe sauté 20 inch skillet

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (choose as many that you want and will fit your sauté skillet pan)

1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil or Canola oil

 Seasoning of choice i.e. Greek, barbeque, Chicago, Italian, Asian, etc…


 
Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F degrees.
  2. Heat oil in the skillet on medium-high heat
  3. Season both sides of the chicken breast, place in hot oil. Turn temperature down to medium and cook 3-4 minutes on each side.
  4. Transfer to the oven and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until juices run clear. May take longer if the chicken is thicker. Slice and serve or add to your favorite soups, stews, wraps, salads, pizzas, etc… Enjoy!

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT – Positive Nutrition of Omaha
Nutrition Consultant for Athletes’ Training Center Sports Performance & Physical Therapy

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Recipe: Pistachio Almond Butter Sesame Energy Bites

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT 
Makes approximately 25 1-inch balls.

Ingredients: 

2 cups old-fashioned oats

½ cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pistachios

1-2 tbsp. roasted black sesame seeds

½ cup honey

½ cup almond butter

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.

2. Use a cookie scoop to portion and drop onto parchment-lined cookie sheet.

3. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before serving. Store in an air-tight container.

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT – Positive Nutrition of Omaha
Nutrition Consultant for Athletes’ Training Center Sports Performance & Physical Therapy

5 Tips for Avoiding Back Pain While Shoveling Snow

As we are well into the wonderful winter season, I want to take a moment to share some tips on snow shoveling that I hope will come in useful and maybe keep you from having to visit your favorite physical therapist. 

As anyone who has ever picked up a snow shovel knows, it is WORK.  In 1996, the Surgeon General noted that shoveling snow for 15 minutes was considered moderate physical activity equivalent to speed walking at 5 mph for 15 minutes on a treadmill.  As with any other physical activity, a warm up is always important. 

When completing a warm up, I encourage an active motion that is similar to the movement that you will be doing.  In this case I suggest a lunge with arm reach toward the opposite knee (see above picture). 

Perform 10 lunges on both sides.  This will help emphasize the need to bend with your legs, increase muscle activity, and provide a nice warm up before you ask your legs to lift a load.   

After the lunges, I also encourage some light stretching of the shoulders, neck and low back.  Good stretches to complete include pulling your arm across your chest, looking over your shoulder and seated rotational stretches for your low back.  Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.  Now let us get to the most important thing.  

5 Tips – how to position yourself when shoveling: shoveling

  • Bend your knees like you are going to lunge. 
  • DO NOT reach your arms forward when shoveling, LUNGE forward.  This reduces strain on your back. 
  • Move forward into the lunge as you lift the snow and bring your arms back in to your abdomen.  This will force you to use your legs more and reduce strain on your back bringing the weight shoveling_2
    closer to your body. 
  • When throwing the snow off to the side, move your feet and DO NOT simply twist at the waist.  Avoiding twisting will reduce the possibility of straining your back.
  • Push opposed to lifting: If you can push the snow forward opposed to lifting this will reduce the strain on your back.  

Other things to consider:  

  • Stay hydrated.  Just because it is winter doesn’t mean you don’t get dehydrated. 
  • Choose an appropriate shovel size and DO NOT overload it!  
  • Take a break when needed.  If we get 10 inches, shovel in sections and not all at once. 

If all else fails, my last recommendation is a good snow blower. Happy shoveling!

Written By: Nick Wegener, PT, ATC, OCS, CSCS

Homemade Individual Chicken Potpies

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT 
Makes 8 servings

Photo Credit: backtothecuttingboard.com

Ingredients: 

3-4 Tbsp. butter
¼ cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp sage

1-2 cups chicken broth

1 cup 1% milk

1 cup frozen peas and carrots

4 oz. can sliced mushrooms drained

½ cup onions

1 ½ -2 cups cooked and diced chicken breast

1 can Pillsbury, light and flaky large biscuits                            

 Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F oven.
  2. Heat a medium size non-stick sauté pan on medium-high heat. Melt butter and add flour to make a paste, once at a paste consistency add hot chicken broth, salt, pepper and sage to make a thick soup like consistency. Add 1 cup of milk, frozen peas, carrots, and onions. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes until veggies are tender. Depending on your preference you can make thick or thinner with more or less chicken broth or milk.
  3. Add cooked chicken and mushrooms, simmer for 2 more minutes.
  4. Spray 8, 1 cup ramekins with cooking spray. Fill will ¾ cup of chicken pot pie mixture. (you can also use a large baking dish and cover the whole top with the biscuits vs doing individual cups)
  5. Remove biscuits from can, pull biscuit to make wide enough to cover the top of the pot pie mixture but still fit inside the ramekin. Top each ramekin with a biscuit.
  6. Bake for 12-17 minutes or until the biscuit is fully cooked. Place on bottom rack to prevent excess browning of the biscuits.

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT – Positive Nutrition of Omaha
Nutrition Consultant for Athletes’ Training Center Sports Performance & Physical Therapy

Spaghetti-O Soup (aka Minestrone Soup)

Positive Nutrition of Omaha – Jessica Wegener

Ingredients:

1 cup circle shaped pasta uncooked

2 Tbsp. olive oilspeghettio-soup2

1 lb. lean ground turkey, Italian seasoned

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup sweet onion, diced

3 carrots peeled, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

3 cups chicken brothspeghettio-soup

1 (16 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 sprig of fresh thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed


Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil; add the ground turkey and brown. Set aside and drain excess fat.
  2. In the same pot, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil; add onion, garlic, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Whisk in Chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme sprig, ground turkey, and 1.5 cups water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add pasta and beans; continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes until pasta is cooked through.
  5. Remove sprig of thyme, and then serve immediately.

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT – Positive Nutrition of Omaha
Nutrition Consultant for Athletes’ Training Center Sports Performance & Physical Therapy

Recipe – Grilled Salmon with Roasted Asparagus

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT 
Makes 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

3 Salmon filets, skin on, 4-5 oz. each and approximately 1 inch thick

Lawry’s seasoning

Non-stick cooking spray

1 lb. Asparagus

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

 Directions:

  1. Pre-heat grill to high heat and Pre-heat oven to 400° F oven.
  2. Spray both sides of the fish with cooking spray and sprinkle the non-skin side with Lawry’s seasoning salt and set aside..

Click here to download the full cooking directions and your own copy of this recipe here.

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT – Positive Nutrition of Omaha  Nutrition Consultant for Athletes’ Training Center Sports Performance & Physical Therapy

Recipe – Quinoa Avocado Spinach Power Salad

Positive Nutrition of Omaha – Jessica Wegener

Ingredients:

1 cup dry quinoa

1­ or 2 avocados 

3 oz. baby spinach

8 oz. cherry tomatoes

3 green onions

 

For the dressing:

1-­2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/8 tsp. salt

Jessica Wegener RD, CSSD, LMNT – Positive Nutrition of Omaha
Nutrition Consultant for Athletes’ Training Center Sports Performance & Physical Therapy

Jennie A., Collegiate Track & Field Athlete

Athletes’ Training Center has worked to specialize workouts to fit my athletic needs. The strength coaches have a one on one personal connection to fix minor details that have had a major impact on my athletic performance.