Snacking Tips from HOKA NJNY Track Club Nutritionist Amy Stephens

My name’s Amy Stephens, team nutritionist for the HOKA NJNY Track Club, and this is my first post! Our club is coached by legendary coach Frank Gagliano, Tommy Nohilly and John Trautman, and comprises an elite group of mid-distance runners. I’ve been practicing nutrition for over 20 years in NYC, specializing in diabetes and sports nutrition. When I’m not serving the team, I’m running marathons and ultra marathons. After having four children, time for exercise became more precious.

I’ve discovered how important the right food is to: help you run fast, facilitate recovery, and move on with your day. On-point fueling for short and long runs has become my specialty. As the field of nutrition continues to evolve, I’m excited to share the latest updates and find the best strategies that work. Fortunately, I work with a great group of athletes that enjoy hearing about it! Here’s an inside peek at how our HOKA track team keeps energy levels high with great snacks tailored for athletes or simply suited for one’s everyday diet.

Food

Snacks to up your energy levels
Whether you’re logging 60 miles a week or working long hours, the right snacks will keep your energy up and your ability to concentrate sharp. Snacks will prevent an energy crash and keep glycogen stores fully stocked. When working with the NJNY Track Club, we discuss snacks as an opportunity to eat more high quality nutrients.

Timing is key
The best time to eat snacks is in between meals when your blood sugar is dropping. Snacks give you the added boost of energy to get you through to the next meal. Our bodies are constantly using up energy even when we are sitting. Snacks are a great way to keep energy levels up.

Protein + carbs are best
The best way to keep energy levels stable is to eat foods that have a
combination of protein and carbohydrates. The best snacks are low-sugar, high in protein, with some healthy carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are digested and converted into usable energy at a fast rate. However, protein is the key to longer lasting energy because it’s digested more slowly, allowing the release of energy to be slow over a longer period. The pick-me-up-effect of combining carbs and protein will last longer than sugary foods alone. Sugary foods and caffeine will give you a quick burst of energy, followed by a crash. This is not ideal if you’re planning to work long
hours or hit the weights for a double workout.

Food-label

What’s in a label
There are many snacks to choose from; what separates them is on
the label. I look at labels for grams of sugar, fiber, and protein. Sugar content needs to be low (less than 10 grams is ideal). Too much sugar can cause energy peaks and crashes. Fiber is an overlooked nutrient, though very important. Fiber in food slows down the digestion process and keeps energy levels up for longer, which keeps you going longer. Look for snacks with >3 grams fiber per serving. Fiber is mostly found in fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. Protein will slow digestion of carbohydrates, so choose snacks with more than 5 grams of protein per serving. Fresh foods without labels are even better!

Energy boosting vitamins and minerals
Keep up your stamina: don’t let yourself get tired! Make sure you eat a variety of food that includes these vitamins. While all vitamins and minerals are important, I’ve highlighted a few that have a big impact on energy levels.

  • Iron is an element found mostly in animal proteins like beef, chicken, whole grains and fish. Low levels in your blood can leave you feeling tired all the time.
  • Vitamin D can easily be obtained from the sunlight, eggs and dairy products. Low levels can cause fatigue and low energy.
  • B vitamins (B-12, B-6 and folic acid) are involved in many energy producing reactions. If you’re running more than 50 miles per week, you need more! B vitamins are mostly found in fish, dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry and fortified cereals. Vegans/vegetarians can use nutritional yeast to obtain B-12.

Snacking tips before you dig in:
1. Keep snacks handy – prep snacks ahead of time.
2. Portion control – if you’re afraid to overdo it on the snacks, portion out pretzels, chips, and nuts in a bowl or small plate. Don’t eat out of the bag.
3. Plan ahead and add your favorite snacks to each week’s grocery list.

Snack like the Pros!
Here’s what our HOKA NJNY pro runners choose:

PC: Jay Benlin
PC: Jay Benlin

Katy Kunc looks for snacks that are easy to grab, offer high nutritional value, and are low in sugar. Her favorite go-to’s are: dried mangos (unsweetened), Larabars , Greek yogurt with granola, pretzels or bell pepper with hummus, mixed nuts / nut butters, and popcorn.

PC: Jay Benlin
PC: Jay Benlin

Cecilia Leeper rotates different flavors of hummus like everything bagel, roasted red pepper, garlic, chocolate and classic hummus. Some of her
favorite foods to dip are: carrots, snap peas, celery, peppers, pretzels or pita chips.

PC: Jay Benlin
PC: Jay Benlin

Rob Napolitano loves homemade energy bars in between workouts. They provide a big boost of energy without causing an upset stomach.

Here’s a full list of snacks to kick up your energy and keep you energized. Adjust portions based on your activity level that day. Portions are particularly important!

  • Celery with peanut butter (try sprinkling a few
    chocolate chips)
  • Apple slices + peanut butter
  • No-Bake Energy Bites – click here for the recipe
  • Tortilla chips with mashed avocado or salsa
  • Hummus with carrots or cucumbers
  • Saltines with peanut butter and jelly or tuna salad
  • Hard-boiled egg and multi-grain crackers
  • Banana with peanut butter
  • Cottage cheese with almond butter and sliced banana, sprinkle with chia seeds for added fiber
  • Yogurt with slivered almonds, berries + salted almonds
  • Roasted chickpeas – paprika or cayenne pepper, or Hippeas
  • Edamame
  • Sliced fruit + almonds
  • Frozen cherries + cashews
  • Toast with ricotta sliced peaches
  • Applesauce + handful almonds
  • Pistachios + handful blueberries
  • Pumpkin seeds with sea salt + sliced apple

Stay healthy and stay energized…Time to Fly!

Fast Food: HOKA Athlete’s Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

Turns out that even though brussel sprouts are collectively hated by 10 year olds around America, they are a Thanksgiving favorite for HOKA Athletes. Try Sage or Steph’s favorite brussel sprout recipes and see if your kids change their mind this year. If there’s no hope for brussel sprouts, try Cecelia’s fun take on asparagus wrapped in bacon and puff pastry. These Thanksgiving favorites are quick, delicious, and good enough to fuel our athletes.

Sage Canaday’s Cranberries and Brussel Sprouts Caramelized with Dates and Balsamic Vinegar

sage-sandy

4-5 cups Brussel sprouts (lightly steamed first so they’re not totally raw)…chopped into quarters

2 cups cranberries

1.5 cups chopped and pitted dates (we use Medjool dates)

1 small sliced sweet onion

1/2-1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons honey (optional) or a sprinkle of sugar (if one has a sweet tooth!)

Salt to taste 

Other options for more volume/veggies: add 2 cups of broccoli florets (or diced up pieces) as well.

Mix everything together in a bowl, making sure the veggies and fruit are coated in the vinegar. Spread out evenly on a non-stick baking tray and bake for 25-30min at 375 until golden brown.

Cecilia Barowski Bacon Asparagus Twists

(inspired by Buzzfeed)

cecilia

1 sheet puff pastry

6-8 slices bacon

12-15 asparagus spears

1 egg

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the puff pastry into thin strips. Slice the bacon in half lengthwise. Wrap a strip of bacon around an asparagus spear. Wrap a strip of puff pastry around the asparagus in between the bacon spiral. Repeat. Place the wrapped spears on a lined baking tray. Brush them with egg wash, then sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake for 18 minutes, until golden. Serve!

Steph Schappert’s Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash

steph-s

1 Butternut squash- peel, remove the core, and chop into cubes

Brussels sprouts- trim the ends and cut in half

Olive oil

Real maple syrup

Salt

Optional: pecans and dried cranberries (but I truly think these are a must!)

Line baking sheet with foil and preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts and butternut squash in olive oil and maple syrup and sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Spread onto baking sheet and bake for about 25 mins (halfway through I toss in the dried cranberries and pecans).

Fast Food: Breakfast Acorn Squash Two Ways

Grocery stores are filled with beautiful squash varieties this time of year, but it can be overwhelming figuring out how to actually use them. Here are two easy and unique ways to enjoy acorn squash for breakfast. A Roasted Acorn Squash with Yogurt and Walnuts for those of you with a morning sweet tooth, and a Sausage and Egg Roasted Acorn Squash for those in need of a hearty breakfast.

Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash with Yogurt and Walnuts

(serves 2)

sweet-squash

1 acorn squash

1/2 cup walnuts

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

pinch of salt

1 cup vanilla yogurt

ingredients-1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut acorn squash in half. Remove seeds and fibrous threads. Slice halves into wedges. Place wedges in a pan over aluminum foil. Prepare wedges by rubbing with coconut oil, and sprinkling on salt and cinnamon. Bake wedges for 30-40 minutes, or until they are soft. While wedges are baking, prepare filling by mixing walnuts, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Remove wedges from the oven, and spoon mixture onto squash. Return to oven for 20 minutes, or until edges are slightly crispy. Be careful not to burn the walnuts. Top with your favorite yogurt, and a drizzle extra maple syrup on top if desired.

nuts

Sausage and Egg Roasted Acorn Squash

(Serves 2)

savory

1 acorn squash

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper for seasoning

2 large sausages (Italian style vegetarian sausage also works well)

1 tomato

1 cup spinach

1/4 cup cheese

2 eggs

1/2 avocado

ingredients

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice acorn squash in half. Remove seeds and fibrous threads. Place halves in a pan over aluminum foil. Prepare squash by rubbing with olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Bake halves for 30-40 minutes, or until they are soft. While the squash is baking, prepare the filling by sautéing sliced sausage, spinach, and chopped tomato. Remove squash from the oven, and place filling in the halves. To create more room, you can scoop out some of the squash and mix it with the filling. Top with cheese, and crack one egg on top of each half. Return to the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the egg has cooked to desired consistency. For a more cooked egg, finish off cooking with your broiler. Remove from oven, and top with fresh avocado.

sausage

Fast Food: Halloween Stuffed Peppers

Halloween may be all about the candy, but here is an equally festive way to enjoy the holiday while sneaking some veggies in. These jack-o-lantern inspired stuffed bell peppers are half the mess of a traditional pumpkin, and simple enough for your kids to be involved in the preparation.

Our filling is an easy no prep involved burrito style. We know how busy Halloween on a Monday night will be. However, you can be as fancy as you want with your creation. Cooked ground meat with taco seasoning would be a great addition to up the protein. Salsa, sour cream, and avocado would also make delicious toppings.

peppers

Here is what you will need to make your own Jack-o-lantern stuffed peppers.

Ingredients:

3-4 orange bell peppers

1 small can black beans

1 small can enchilada sauce

1 package pre-cooked Spanish rice

peppers-before

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut tops off of peppers and remove seeds. Carve peppers with desired jack-o-lantern style faces. Layer spoonfuls of rice, enchilada sauce, black beans, and cheese in the peppers. There will likely be room for two layers. Finish with cheese as the top layer. Replace tops of peppers. Place in an aluminum foil lined tray, and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until peppers have softened and cheese has melted.

Fast Food: Healthy Chocolate Avocado Pie for National Chocolate Day

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Who doesn’t love avocados?

So why don’t we stick them together?

Alright, so we can admit that chocolate and avocado sounds like an odd combination. But trust us, this one really works.

When we were searching for healthy ways to indulge on National Chocolate Day, we found that avocado is just as good with chocolate as it is with guac…when you know what you’re doing. You’ll never guess that this green fruit (yes fruit) is hiding in your pie. It actually provides a lovely pudding like consistency.

Healthy? Check.

Easy? Just blend and refrigerate.

Vegan? Yup (when you are selective about your chocolate and graham crackers).

Gluten Free? Not quite. Substitute the graham crackers for a nut of your choice if you would like it to be gluten free.

Don’t take our word for it, try it! Here is what you’ll need.

pie

Crust:

One sleeve graham crackers

5 pitted Medjool dates

1/4 cup coconut oil

Filling:

2 large or 3 small avocados

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup coconut oil

5 pitted Medjool dates

Pinch of salt

Start by blending one sleeve of graham crackers in a food processor. Once finely crushed, add pitted dates and coconut oil. Pour crust filling into a round pie tin, and press into sides of the pan. Pack the crust tightly, then refrigerate while preparing the filling.

graham-crackers

Rinse food processor. Blend avocados until smooth. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring occasionally to avoid burning (Recommended: 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds). Add melted chocolate, cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt to the avocado. Blend until well combined. Add coconut oil and pitted dates to the mixture. Blend until mixture is smooth. Consistency should be thick. If it is not thick, add more dates and coconut oil.

crustPour chocolate mixture into crust and spread. Let set in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving.