Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tangy Chicken Thighs + Cardio Newsflash

Happy Hump Day!  I had a fantastic day off today--my mom is on school vacation this week so I took the day off to catch up on some quality mother-daughter time.  We spent the day walking around Saratoga, enjoying the beautiful 60 degree weather, eating a delicious meal, and shopping in lots of fun kitchen stores.  Does it get much better than that?  I scored some excellent deals to add some pops of color to my kitchen; I really could browse around specialty food shops and cooking gadget stores for hours on end.  It's my best endurance sport.

Workout

Soooo I didn't work out today.  Instead I slept in until the ripe old hour of 7AM, and slowly sipped my morning coffee while listening to the sweet sounds of birds chirping and Matt Lauer reporting.  Anyone out there jealous yet?  Well, you should be.  I could have stopped by the gym later this afternoon but I just decided to enjoy my down time.  But I did want to take the time to share this great article I spotted on Facebook this morning: Why Sprinting is Better for Weight Loss than Jogging, written by Ashley Williamson.  We've all seen (or been) those people, riding on the elliptical for an hour or jogging at a steady speed while watching a full 60 Minutes show.  This article does a great job summarizing why 1) this is not doing you any benefits, and 2) might be doing you some harm.  I really recommend you check out this article, but here's some brief points:

  1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves quick but intense bouts of exercise, either running at an all out sprint or doing some other exercise like squats or jumping rope for 15-60s with a rest in between the intervals.  Total exercise time is anywhere from 5-20 minutes.
  2. Studies show that between 2 groups of individuals performing conventional cardio (30 minutes steady state) versus HIIT, the latter showed improved metabolism after 6 weeks.
  3. HIIT is superior for fat loss for the following reasons: anaobolic effect (builds more lean muscle), improved aerobic capacity (results in more energy post-workout), better insulin sensitivity (your body absorbs glucose--carbs from veggies/fruit/grains--better so it is less likely to be stored as fat), afterburn effect (ramped up metabolism), and less post-workout hunger (long cardio causes your body to use your muscles' glucose stores as fuel as opposed to fat stores so your body sends signals to eat more to replace the glucose).
  4. "Fat burning zone" myth: conventional wisdom says that true low intensity cardio is better at burning fat since you're more likely to use stored fat as fuel; this is actually true.  However, this is still a relatively inefficient way to burn off excess pounds: multiple research studies show that HIIT results in more fat burn overall in less time.  By doing steady state cardio, you will be most efficient at releasing cortisol, a stress hormone that wreaks havoc on your body.
  5. To wrap up: add some HIIT training to your workouts if your goal is fat loss.
That felt like a book report.  But it's so important.  Our society is all about bang for your buck, so why not start with how we care for our bodies?  Work out harder.  For less time.  To look better naked.  OK?

Jumping off soapbox at this point.

Eats

I actually made this recipe a few months ago and never got around to blogging about it.  But it's good.  Really good.  This is not Whole30-approved (I mention this because I will be launching Debs 2.0 starting this Sunday, starting with a new 30-day detox), but for anyone reading this who doesn't mind a little Greek yogurt in their diet, this is for you.  As I can best recall, I threw this together like so:

Tangy chicken thighs
Ingredients:
8oz plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1t coriander
1t paprika
1/4t cayenne
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1t salt
1 lb skinless chicken thighs
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes (I used butternut squash)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
a few sprigs of thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the first 7 ingredients together in a dish, then add the chicken and veggies and stir it all up.  Arrange everything on a baking dish, and throw the springs of thyme on top (some leaves will fall off during the cooking process, and even if they don't they still perfume the whole dish).  Roast for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Picture
http://www.thefitcook.net/1/post/2012/03/tenderly-tangy-chicken-thighs.html

 This dish was unbelievably juicy and flavorful.  The yogurt really made the chicken moist, and the mix of spices (especially the lemon) made the whole dish taste bright and fresh.  The Coach and I loved this--any ideas on a Whole30-compliant alternative?  Bascially a non-dairy sub for the yogurt...I'm thinking coconut cream (the solid part of the coconut milk you get from a can).  I will keep you updated on the developments!

Back to the grind tomorrow.  I guess I can't complain after such a perfect day, I only wish it could have lasted a little bit longer!

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