Nutrition Blog

Overcoming Snacking In The Late Afternoon & Evening

Denver Sports Recovery - Nutrition BlogSnacking! One of my favorite things, and I think so many other people’s favorite thing to do! It’s pleasurable, it’s delicious and it’s accessible! I keep hearing from clients that it’s their nemesis, and I got to thinking I better help ya’ll with getting a hold on it!

First and foremost, before I can hammer out some strategies for ya, I want to mention that it really doesn’t matter what hot new program you’re doing, what 30 day challenge you’re doing or even the tools I am providing here. Unless your mindset has dealt with WHY you have continuously struggled with your weight, or have been a yo-yo dieter, none of this is going to stick for the long term. So address the mindset first (which we can explore together) and then start to utilize some of these strategies if you struggle with late afternoon and evening snacking.

The challenge when it comes to snacking is when it becomes something we do even when we are not hungry, but for so many other reasons! Over the past 10 years I have seen so many clients struggle with late afternoon and evening snacking, and it is the # 1 thing that gets in the way of their health and wellness goals. This week my client Meg said to me “Julia, this is the first time in years I haven’t eaten after dinner, and if I do need something, I grab some fruit and a dollop of whipped cream. No longer do I grab one thing, then another, then another.” WOW. I thought to myself, I really need to help others struggling with this, and that’s’ why I am writing this blog!

This past week @ Verve 360 Nutrition on social media we have been talking all about this challenge: late afternoon and night time eating. Whether it be from being bored, lonely, grief, or food by association (watching a movie so I need popcorn) we dove in to some strategies that could help put those cravings to rest, and in turn, move you in the direction of your goals. These are the exact 5 solutions I take my clients through to get to the root cause of why it is happening, and how to start solving this challenge.

  1. Identify the cause: Why is this happening? Habit? Boredom? Grief? Loneliness? You must get to the deep-rooted cause of WHY.
  2. Identify your triggers: Once you are aware of the cause, you must identify the triggers. Often you will find that eating at night or in the afternoons is you trying to fill a void that is not hunger. Identifying what sets it off is super important. Is it a fight with a loved one, is it watching a sad movie, or maybe it’s because those cookies are in eye sight on your counter which triggers your brain to crave them? I encourage clients to keep a “food and mood” diary. What they ate, when, what they were feeling at the time, and what set it off. This helps us to identify patterns and trends.
  3. Change your routine: If your nightly routine is sitting in front of the TV and having snacks? (I USED TO BE GUILTY OF THIS!) it may be time to change that up. Is there another activity you can do to relax in the evening? Your brain now associates food with whatever habit you’re currently doing at night, so we must change it up and make a new habit where food isn’t involved!
  4. Look at your daily eating patterns: Are you restricting your intake during the day? Are you eating mostly carbs and sugar? Do you prioritize protein? Do you go hours without eating?
  5. Finally, are you prioritizing YOU time and fun? Meg told me when we first started that food was the main thing that brought joy to her life. Look at your “Circle of Life” and see what is missing. Where else could you find joy?

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Keys for Permanent Fat Loss

Read our Nutritionist Julia’s take on the keys to losing weight, and keeping it off.

Denver Sports Recovery - Nutrition

Over the last 10 years of working in the nutrition industry, I have narrowed it down to 4 key things that I want you to be looking at to make sure you not only lose fat, but keep it off permanently, and I wanted to share those with you! If all of these things are in check, and you are still not losing fat, then we will need to dig deeper, and that’s what Verve is here for! Ok, here we go….

-Get your calories in check! This is only part of the equation, but it is an important one. Get tested to figure out how many calories you burn on the daily, and then make sure you are eating less then that to lose fat. You must be in a caloric deficit to lose fat. To maintain, you want to eat approx the amount you burn…once youve lost the fat!

-Quality of your nutrients. If you are eating low quality food, your gut is gonna get hit with a ton of toxins, which will hinder fat loss. Choose high quality organic produce when possible, (or at least check out the bottom of this page to find out what is most important to buy organic and start there) grass-fed beef, organic chicken and wild fish.

-Balance: We now know that saturated fat does not cause heart disease, but rather it is the processed carbohydrates and sugar that make up the standard american diet that does. So we need to keep those in check. For example…if you know you will have a sandwich for lunch, and rice at dinner, then make sure your breakfast does not contain starches. We need to keep our blood sugar and insulin low in order to lose fat, and we do that by eating lots of lean proteins, veggies, healthy fats, and moderate amounts of good carbs.

-Doing it long term!! I cannot stress this one enough!! Yes, we all have done 2 week jump start detox’ to get us going, and that is totally fine. Unless you transition to a way of eating that you can sustain, it sets you up for failure. Have patience to do it this way, and your success will last.

2018 Dirty Dozen Strawberries Spinach Nectarines Apples Grapes Peaches Cherries Pears Tomatoes Celery Potatoes Sweet Bell Peppers

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Best Drinks For Weight Loss

Denver Sportas Recovery - Nutrition

Alcohol, sweet alcohol!!! Can you guys relate to this? Friday night and you’re super pumped for the weekend because it means fun time! Friends, mountains, drinks, laughs, you name it! Every Friday I get texts from clients asking about what cocktails they can have and how much alcohol is ok while they’re trying to lose weight.” Calm down people!! I promise I’m not going to take your precious alcohol away!

Let’s talk alcohol: how does it affect the body? Simply put, alcohol is absorbed into your body through the stomach and small intestines. Alcohol will then flow through the bloodstream throughout the body, reaching all muscles and tissues.

Your body cannot store alcohol, so it is broken down and metabolized in your liver. The rest through blood, sweat, and urine. Guess what peeps? Fat is also metabolized and broken down in your liver!

So I know after reading that sentence you may be like Julia, hurry up…what the heck does that mean for me and my happy hours! Right? When you drink alcohol, it postpones the process of fat burning. Why? Your liver cannot focus on metabolizing alcohol and fat at the same time. As soon as the alcohol goes in, our body burns that for fuel first before anything else. As soon as the alcohol is out of your system, you’re back to burnin that fat baby!

So, go ahead and enjoy a few drinks! We need to be able to live a social life and still lose weight at the same time, because if not, the “diet” is too strict and we get annoyed and eventually give up! The weight loss journey is just that, a journey. It’s not a 30 day fix. Once you understand that and make the mindset shift, you will feel so much better!

Denver Sportas Recovery - Nutrition

So the next question I know you’re bursting with is how much and what kinds of drinks are the best for weight loss. The answer to the “how much” is specific to each client. However, what I can tell you is this: look at it like a budget. If you decide you’re going to allow yourself 4 drinks a week….and you know you have plans on Friday and Saturday, and will want to drink at both events, then abstain from the alcohol Monday-Thursday. Make sense?

What drinks are best for weight loss? Well obviously avoiding alcohol is the best option. However, we all know that’s not sustainable for most people. I mean, ya’ll know I like me some drinks! When I was losing weight, I was in college. I hate to admit I drank Thursday-Sunday, ahh!! Here is what worked best: red wine, liquor (vodka, tequila, whiskey, scotch etc), neat or on the rocks, or mixed with club soda and lemon/lime/orange slices. You can even throw in some herbs like the photo! No juice or sugary mixers. Some fun substitutes: I love tequila with soda water, a ton of lime, a wedge of grapefruit squeezed in, and salt! Oh and you’ll probably love blueberry vodka, soda water and orange slices, AMAZING! There ya have it! Now, I am going to go have me some red wine! Catch ya soon!

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Top 10 Fall Produce Picks

IMG_7435_2Autumn is here (yay!) so here are my top 10 picks for seasonal produce during this beautiful time of year. Buying seasonal (and ideally local) ensures that you’re getting the freshest fruits and veggies at the peak of ripeness!

1. Winter Squash

Nutrient-dense, fiber-rich, and filling, squash is just the best in autumn. There are so many varieties! My faves are butternut, red kuri, delicata, acorn and spaghetti. They’re easy to peel, chop, and roast for a meal or side.

2. Brussels Sprouts

Full of cancer-fighting compounds, these baby cabbages top my list for the cruciferous veg category. Brussels sprouts have cholesterol-lowering benefits while being chock full of vitamins C and K. I love roasting until caramelized and drizzling tahini over them.

3. Celery Root

Celery root, or celeriac, is a knobby ole thing but don’t let its appearance put you off. It’s delicious, versatile and brimming with vitamin K and antioxidants. It’s also an aphrodesiac – yew! Celery root is great mashed and in soups, stews, and casseroles.

4. Kohlrabi

Low in cals, high in antioxidants, fiber, potassium and iron, kohlrabi is not a veggie which should be overlooked. It’s hard to explain the taste of kohlrabi, but I guess I would liken it to a mild radish. Great shredded into salad or roasted.

5. Parsnip

Not sure what a parsnip looks like? Look for “white” carrots. They are packed full of nutrients, including fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C. You can make parsnip mash by cooking them until soft and then mashing with coconut milk and salt. They’re also delicious cut into rounds and roasted.

6. Sweet Potato

Everyone’s favorite tuber is rich in beta-carotene which gives your skin and eyes a healthy glow. They are high in potassium which can help regulate muscle cramps and headaches. Another good one to mash! Try mashing SPs with coconut oil and cinnamon to make a satisfying snack to curb sugar cravings.

7. Turnips

Turnips are kind of a daggy vegetable. Not many people get super excited about turnips, but they’re actually quite delicious and a great addition to any Fall meal. They are part of the cruciferous fam so they’ve got all the anti-cancer awesomeness of their cousins (kale, broccoli, etc.). I throw chopped turnips in soups and stews, hide them in casseroles, or roast them with carrots and onions.

8. Apple

Fall and apples are basically synonymous in my mind. Apples are great for maintaining a healthy heart as they’re super high in polyphenols. They contain fiber and pectin which helps escort toxins and other waste out of your body!

9. Persimmon

A.k.a. the “Food of the Gods” in Latin, persimmons are one of a few foods associated with killing breast cancer cells without harming normal breast cells. Full of healthy vitamin A and C, eat these bad boys when they are ripe and sweet like a tomato.

10. Pomegranate

Poms are a yummy and beautiful superfood. High in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, they are excellent for heart health and joint health. They’re a great flavor addition to winter salads, or just pop ’em on their own!

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Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Spiced Millet

IMG_20151006_192134913_HDRThis dish has Fall written all over it. Eating a stew that’s been simmering all day in the crock pot on a chilly night – that’s what I look forward to as the days get shorter and the nights get colder. To make this dish, you don’t have to have a tagine. In case you’re wondering, a tagine is a conical shaped pot with a wide, shallow base and a tall lid fitting snugly inside. As the food cooks, steam rises into the cone, condenses, and then trickles down the sides back into the dish. Ideal for stews and, of course, tagines. It’s cool to have if you want to wow your dinner guests, but realistically I don’t have enough room in my kitchen cupboards. So a dutch oven, or a crock pot, will serve the same purpose and you probably already have at least one of those. I’ve outlined two different ways you can make this dish depending on time constraints and equipment you own. You can serve the lamb with spiced millet (recipe below) or, for a Paleo-friendly version, serve with cauliflower rice.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine – Two Ways

Serves 10-12Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 white onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground ginger or 1 Tbsp fresh grated
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • sea salt, as needed
  • 3 lb. lamb shoulder or leg, boneless, trimmed of fat, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 4 carrots, bias cut
  • 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes with juice
  • 29 oz. can of chickpeas (*can omit for Paleo)
  • 1 cup dried apricots, quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 6 oz. Mediterranean-type olives, such as kalamata, pitted and halved
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 Tbsp zest

If you’re short on time….

Use a Pressure Cooker and Braising Pan:

Pressure Cooker: 
  1. Salt the lamb pieces.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp oil to the pressure cooker and seal the lamb pieces until browned.
  3. Add 1 cup of stock or water.
  4. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and bring up to pressure. Turn down to low heat and allow to cook for 1 and 1/2 hours.
Braising Pan: While the lamb is cooking…. 
  1. Heat braising pan on medium heat.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp oil and toss in onions. Saute until shiny.
  3. Add carrots and saute until they soften.
  4. Add turmeric, ginger, and fresh garlic and let cook for about 1 minute.
  5. Add 1 cup of stock and the can of diced tomatoes with juice.
  6. Salt to fit.
  7. Turn down the heat to low. Cover the pan and let simmer for 1 hour.
Combine: Once lamb is done, add the lamb and juice to the braising pan. Let cook all together on low for 20-30 minutes. Add chickpeas, dried apricots, and olives and cook for about 10 more minutes until they soften. When you’re ready to serve, stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh cilantro and a grind of black pepper.

If you’ve got all day…

Using a Crock Pot:

  1. Add onion, carrots, ginger, garlic, turmeric, lamb, stock, tomatoes and salt to the crock pot.
  2. Let simmer on low for all day, or 8 hours.
  3. About 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat, add the chickpeas, apricots and olives.
  4. When you’re ready to serve, stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh cilantro and a grind of black pepper.

Spiced Millet

  • 1 cup millet
  • 3 cups of water or broth
  • big pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon, curry powder and all spice
Directions:Add all the ingredients to a saucepan. Bring up on high heat to a boil and then down to low. Simmer for about 35 – 40 minutes until all the liquid has absorbed.Serve it up! Enjoy!
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10 Kid-Friendly Snacks

IMG_6674Most kids are picky eaters and I know a lot of moms struggle with getting their little ones to eat healthy. One tip is getting them involved in preparing and cooking snacks and meals. If they are part of the process, it’s likely they will want to taste the end result. Also, exposing them to as much variety as possible, especially when it comes to veggies, is key. Try putting a small serving of several different veggies on their plate. Every little bit they do eat helps them acquire a taste for healthy foods.We know one thing is for sure – kids love snacks. Generally they like those of the refined carb variety (Goldfish, anyone?). Here are 10 healthy and yummy snacks that are sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike!

1. Homemade Popsicles

Who doesn’t like a popsicle in the summer? You can make your own delicious popsicles without the added sugars and yucky preservatives. The flavor options are endless, but two of my favorite tried and true combos are Strawberry Ginger and Pina Colada. To make the Strawberry Ginger pops, blend fresh or frozen strawberries with coconut water, a splash of ginger juice (optional) and a few drops of stevia. For the Pina Colada pops, blend fresh or frozen pineapple chunks with coconut milk and a few stops of stevia. Pour into a popsicle mold and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

2. Watermelon Basil Slushy

Blend 2 cups of ripe watermelon cubes and a handful of ice (about 1/2 – 2/3 cup) and 1-2 tablespoons fresh basil. Healthy Slurpee!

3. Crackers and Guac

Most kids like avocado so guacamole is a delicious and nutritious way of getting in those amazing healthy fats. Serve with rice or gluten free crackers, or organic corn chips.

4. Sweet Potato Fries

For those carb-loving kids, baked sweet potato fries are an excellent alternative to regular (trans-fat fried!) french fries. Simply slice the sweet potato into wedges, toss with some olive or coconut oil, salt and pepper, then bake at 450ºF for 20 minutes.

5. Bliss Balls

For a sweet treat, whip up these chocolate-y, protein-rich bliss balls. Store them in the fridge or freezer and whip them out as an alternative to a sugary, processed snack or dessert.

6. Veggies and Hummus

Nutrient-dense, low-carb, high-protein, there is a reason this is a popular snack amongst health-foodies! Look for no-oil or olive oil-based hummus at the store or make your own.
  • 1-15oz. canned garbanzo beans, drained, reserve juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley (optional)
Place the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt, cayenne, cumin, olive oil and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add reserved juice from garbanzo beans if needed for smoothness. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley if desired. Serve with baby carrots, celery sticks, or sliced bell peppers.

7. Kale Chips

Kale chips – like a potato chip, but healthy! Buy some at the store or make your own. Wash and remove stems from the kale. Tear kale leaves into bite size pieces.  Dry kale leaves (a salad spinner works well). Toss leaves with olive oil, a splash of tamari, perhaps some nutritional yeast and spices and place kale on a parchment lined baking pan in a 200 degree oven until crisp.

8. “Peanut Butter Cup” Smoothie

Pass on the Reese’s and whiz up this smoothie for sweet, creamy and indulgent treat, free of refined sugar and other nasties.
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 banana
  • 2-3 Medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1-2 tablespoons high quality cocoa powder
Place all ingredients into a blender and process until combined and frothy.

9. Apple Slices with Seed/Nut Butter

Serving apple slices with a tablespoon or two of nut or seed butter is a wonderful and satisfying plant-based snack. You could do peanut butter, almond butter, or even chocolate hazelnut butter for a treat. If your kid can’t do nuts, try sunflower seed butter. Delicious with a drizzle of raw honey.

10. Homemade Fruit and Nut Bars

There are a million granola bars on the market, some with great ingredients, others with not-so-great ingredients. Be selective about which ones you buy (read labels with a fine tooth comb!) or make your own so you can control the ingredients and ensure there aren’t any preservatives. Here’s a recipe I love that makes 10 bars:
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a square 8×8 pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with some olive or coconut oil. Throw coconut, pecans, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds into a large frying pan. Place over medium-low heat and stir occasionally for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and place in a large mixing bowl with the ground flax seed, cranberries and sea salt. Add honey and sunflower seed butter into the mixing bowl and mix well until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Transfer mix into the pan and press down evenly. Take some time to really pack it in there. (If you don’t pack it down firmly enough, the bars will crumble.) Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Once cool, lift parchment paper out of the tin and slice into bars with a sharp knife.So there you have it! Ten healthy snacks you can have on hand when your kid gets a snack attack and starts heading for the Goldfish or candy stash. I know this requires a bit more planning on your part, but it’s totally worth it! Starting your kid early on healthy eating in childhood and adolescence is super important for proper growth and development and can prevent various health problems later in life. A simple rule is to include at least one fruit or vegetable every time your kids snack or eat a meal. Add a side of baby carrots to the peanut butter and jelly sandwich or broccoli to a bowl of pasta. By making vegetables part of the meal non-negotiable, your child will learn good food habits and behaviors for the long run!Good luck!
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