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Welcome to Kacie's Kitchen

Welcome to Kacie's Kitchen

By Kacie Ray // Los Angeles-based Dietitian

Recent Posts

Amazing Ahi Tuna Salad with Asian Vinaigrette

Amazing Ahi Tuna Salad with Asian Vinaigrette

Usually on Friday nights, Chris & I make pizza. It’s become a Friday-night ritual. Eventually, I’ll make a post about that because we have made so many awesome variations. However, all of the bread and cheese tends to send me straight into a food coma. […]

The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

And you’ll never guess what they’re made with… …Chickpeas!!! I promise that you would think these cookies are divine, even if you didn’t know that they are vegan or that they’re made with chickpeas. My friend who makes a lot of vegan/vegetarian recipes made these […]

Two New Tries for Me: Maca + Dates!

Two New Tries for Me: Maca + Dates!

A couple months ago, I was on the hunt for a really good plant-based protein powder and noticed that “maca root” was used in one of the powders I was interested in. Maca, also known as “Peruvian Ginseng,” is an adaptogen, said to balance the hormones (something my adrenals could certainly use!). Maca is a root vegetable and relative of the radish – but it is the root part of the plant that is commonly used for its health and nutritional benefits. I looked into it further to see if this is something I might like to add to my daily nutrition arsenal. 😉

So what’s an adaptogen? It is “a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.” Several studies indicate that adaptogens can not only help to normalize the body and enable energy to be used more productively in times of stress, but can also enhance general health and performance.

I read that “the warriors of the Incan Empire were prescribed maca in preparation for battles. Outside of wartime, however, warriors were banned from consuming maca due to its ability to increase libido, and the consumption of it was restricted to use by only those in the royal court. Not surprisingly, the Spaniards did not ban this food upon conquering the Incas… once they became aware of its value, they collected maca roots as tribute from the Incas for export to Spain.” I can’t possibly know if that’s true, but it’s interesting!

Benefits of maca may include the following:

  • It increases energy, stamina and strength
  • Enhances mental performance
  • Boosts libido
  • Balances hormones
    • This, in turn, may alleviate symptoms related to anxiety, stress and depression
  • Contains B vitamins, C and E + calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids

Scientific evidence on the effectiveness of maca is somewhat limited. There are a few randomized control studies showing some benefit, but – as with most things – researchers are still working on it. I like to try things and see what works best for me. I do what makes me feel good, and I encourage others to do the same. When you are consuming foods that are right for your body (and you are adequately hydrated), you should feel light, energized, and clear-minded – never heavy, tired, mentally foggy, or bloated.

I researched a few different maca products and purchased this organic maca powder from Viva Labs (it can be found on Amazon):

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I’ve been blending 1 tsp. a day into my smoothies.

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This one is 8 oz. unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 c. frozen organic blueberries, 1 tbsp. almond butter, 1 tsp. maca powder, and 1 date! I also had scrambled eggs with spinach, and that was my breakfast!

Speaking of dates… I am obsessed! I had heard of dates being used in various healthy recipes – they work as a natural sweetener – but had never purchased them because they are usually really expensive. We were just at Earth Fare yesterday, and they were $17 (that’s for 2 pounds). But I found them at Costco a few weeks ago for $9, so I decided to give them a try… and they are delicious!

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I expected that they would be sticky – I guess because I equated them with prunes – but they’re not at all. They are soft… chewy… almost kind of caramel-y. Just don’t eat the pit! I swear that you can eat one or two and it is a completely satisfying dessert, if you’re one with a sweet tooth.

Not only that, but they are nutritious. I just read a PubMed article titled, “The fruit of the date palm: its possible use as the best food for the future?” How cool is that!? It says that dates may be considered as an almost ideal food, providing a wide range of essential nutrients and potential health benefits.

  • Dates contain 14 types of fatty acids and at least 15 minerals, including potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc
  • Selenium, another element believed to help prevent cancer and important in immune function, is also found in dates
  • The protein in dates contains 23 types of amino acids, some of which are not present in the most popular fruits such as oranges, apples and bananas
  • They contain at least six vitamins including a small amount of vitamin C, and vitamins B(1) thiamine, B(2) riboflavin, nicotinic acid (niacin) and vitamin A
  • The dietary fiber of 14 varieties of dates has been shown to be as high as 6.4-11.5% depending on variety and degree of ripeness

So eat your dates! 😉

To trying new things,
Kacie

The Easiest Healthy Pancakes!

The Easiest Healthy Pancakes!

Ingredients: 1 banana 1 egg That’s it! Just mash the banana in a bowl, then add the egg and whisk together. If you’re feeling fancy, you can add a dash of cinnamon and a little vanilla extract. 😉 In a non-stick skillet (I like to […]

Snobby Joes!!!

Snobby Joes!!!

I had been holding onto this recipe for a while and thought it would be the perfect Memorial Day treat to try. I got the recipe from Andrea Tooley, an M.D. and blogger that I follow. She also does great YouTube videos on study tips, […]

Why You’re MORE Sore Two Days After You Exercise

Why You’re MORE Sore Two Days After You Exercise

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I wanted to share this article because I’m sitting here – still sore – from a leg workout I did three days ago. Granted, I hadn’t worked out this intensely in a couple of weeks. My family was visiting for one week to celebrate graduation, proceeded by a terrible cold I caught from my nephew—sore throat, cough, extremely fatigued… the works (not a coincidence since I was off of my usual healthy regimen!).

So I probably hit it a little too hard after my hiatus, but hey, I was excited. Plus I was trying out my new Polar heart rate watch! 😉 Anyhow, I am always more sore two days following tough workouts, and I wanted to know why. I knew about DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), but I still didn’t understand exactly why I feel more pain two days later (even more so than the day after).

In this article, Jordan Metzl, M.D., and Greg Justice explain why! Jordan is a sports medicine physician and author of The Exercise Cure, and Greg is an exercise physiologist and author of Mind Over Fatter. I found the article in Women’s Health.

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This common and super annoying occurrence is a result of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which generates inflammation in your muscles after a really tough workout—especially if you haven’t worked out in a while, says Metzl. Though your workout is to blame for the inflammation, a healing process called the inflammatory response cascade is what’s really causing your pain 48 hours after your sweat session, he says.

The response is a series of events that happens during a period of four to five days, says Metzl. On day one, your body responds to the injured area by releasing hormones called cytokines. These hormones direct cells to go heal your inflamed muscles. At the same time, prostaglandins, hormones that also affect how cells respond to injury, send blood to the area to heal it. This migration of cells to your tired muscles starts out slowly during the 24 hours after your workout—the healing process hasn’t kicked into high gear yet. However, on dreaded day two, the flood of cells to the area of inflammation, a.k.a. your muscles, reaches it’s peak and continues the healing response, he says. This means you’re going to struggle getting out of bed.

If you’ve heard that lactic acid might have something to do with soreness, here’s the deal on that: “We used to think that lactic acid was to blame for DOMS before we understood cellular biology as much,” says Metzl. Now it’s clear that lactic acid only affects short-term exercise tolerance—or how long you can endure a tough workout—and isn’t a factor in DOMS.

Although any type of tough workout can cause DOMS, eccentric muscle training—which is when you lengthen your muscles while contracting them, like during the downward part of a bicep curl—could create the most. That’s because your workout causes micro-trauma, or tiny tears in your muscle fibers, which your body needs to repair to build muscle, says Justice. Eccentric training causes more micro-tears in your muscles than other kinds of training, he says.

So here’s the good part of your I-can’t-move feeling: It means that you did “a lot of great work and are in the process of building stronger muscles,” says Metzl. To ease the pain and help your muscles recover, keep yourself moving by doing active recovery exercises like biking, yoga, and foam roller moves. Nixing movement altogether can lead to more soreness, he says.

The pain should start to get better after day two or three. If it’s not lessening or if you start to have discolored urine, you should talk to your doctor. It’s possible that you could have rhabdomyolysis, which is basically DOMS gone wild, says Metzl, and is a serious and dangerous condition.

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Oh, P.S. – I did a little myofascial release on myself last night and found out that Milano (our American Bulldog) likes it too. He just laid there and let me roll out his little leg muscles. Haha!

To strong muscles!
<3 Kacie

Update

Update

In December, I began the process of applying to dietetic internships/graduate school. (Really, it begins long before that, but December is when DICAS officially opens for applicants who are entering the “Spring match.”) I know, I know – those are a lot of words that […]

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pecan Boyfriend Bait Cupcakes

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pecan Boyfriend Bait Cupcakes

That’s a long name! I got this recipe years ago from author and blogger Melissa McLean Jory. While I love to cook, this is pretty much one of the only things that I bake. Baking takes precision, whereas with cooking, you can just kind of […]

Wrap It Up!

Wrap It Up!

Wraps are one of my favorite things to make for three reasons: they taste great, they require little preparation, and they’re healthy! Wraps are a satisfying way to get lots of healthy veggies in one meal, and it’s something other than your usual salad.

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Here, I have a variety of fresh fillings chopped and ready to go: spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumber, red onion, pickles and banana peppers (use these sparingly, as they’re high in sodium) and black olives.

Load up the veggies!
Load up the veggies!

You can use whatever you like! I love alfalfa sprouts as well, but I find that they go bad quickly.

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I like to wrap mine in wax paper and cut it this way with a large serrated knife. (Totally got this idea when I ordered a wrap at Publix!) 😉 It seems to make cutting so much easier and hold everything together.

Albacore Tuna Wrap

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When you’re finished, just store your ingredients in containers like these. This makes it so easy for when you want something quick and healthy later on in the week.

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Just another variation. This one’s made with a crumbled quinoa burger!

You can also do breakfast wraps! 😀

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Yum!

Tomorrow night at 8pm, my Nutrition Education class is having a Twitter chat on how to #MakeHealthyEasy, led by our instructor Mrs. Jenna Braddock (@JBraddockRD). I just created my Twitter handle, @kacieskitchen, and I have no idea what I’m doing. Haha! Should be interesting. My classmates are awesome (holla!), so join us on Twitter tomorrow night for lots of great tips and inspiration.

Happy Monday,
Kacie

Jack-‘O-Peppers!

Jack-‘O-Peppers!

I got this recipe from Registered Dietitian Ashley Harper Evans. I think they are the cutest. Not only is this recipe extremely healthy, but these peppers are seriously adorable for the fall season. Peppers are one of my favorite foods, so I had to give […]