Gluten Free Fitness


Eating Healthfully and Flavorfully (is that a word?) Gluten Free

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There are many wonderful gluten free food and recipe blogs that you can take a look at for ideas, and I’m going to list a few for you at the end of this post. But barring a specific recipe-what if you just want to cook, not follow a recipe per se? Here are 6 tips (I wanted to do a top 5 list-but ended up with 6) to help make your meals flavorful, healthful, and keep them gluten free.

6 tips for flavorful, healthful, gluten free meals

1. Get the best ingredients possible.
Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby

Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby

If you have the ability to obtain locally grown food in season-use it! It will be fresher and hold more natural flavor than a food that has had to travel, or is being produced out of season. Generally it will be less expensive as well. If that’s not an option, frozen veggies are generally more flavorful than canned.

Keep an eye out for ingredients-believe it or not. I almost fell over the other day when “sugar” was the third ingredient on a box of frozen snap peas. Exceptions to the frozen general rule would be canned beans-which are way more convienent than dried beans, and personally I like canned artichokes.

2. Don’t be afraid to use spices.

How many of the spices in your rack have you actually used? Give them a shot! Take a look in the spice aisle at the grocery store-there are so many options out there. If you choose a spice blend, make sure to check the label for hidden gluten. I tend to use these quite a bit:

  • Lemon Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Grill Seasining
  • Lime Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Creole Seasoning
3. Citrus is your friend.


Lime and lemon juices and zests can add a ton of flavor with little to no caloric impact. You can use them in a marinade, a rub, a garnish, in a sauce-however you’d like.

My favorite marinade for flank steak is fresh squeezed lime juice, grill seasoning, chopped garlic, and a bit of olive oil. Easy and very good.

I made chicken breasts the other night-the go to food in my house.

  1. Some fresh lemon zest, some chopped garlic, sea salt, and some fresh rosemary went into the Magic Bullet.
  2. Process until reasonably chopped up.
  3. Press mixture into chicken breasts, add to preheated skillet or grill pan, and cook.
  4. Add in the juice from the lemons you zested.
  5. Viola. Very flavorful, lemon herbed chicken.

Easy. (This is why I don’t post a lot of specific recipes-I cook fairly simply like this all the time.)

4. Mustards are fabulous!

There are so many different varieties of mustard out there, and mustards are naturally very low in calories and sugar, and fat free. Some of the fancy mustards may have added ingredients, so always check labels for hidden gluten or sugars.

There is a mustard called Vivi’s Carnival Mustard that I love to straight up dip veggies in. It’s a bit spicy, but it’s very good. They also provide a bunch of recipes for the mustard and different uses.

Don’t give up on the grocery though-dijon mustard is great for kicking up flavor in homemade salad dressings without adding a lot of fat, and is great mixed with tuna. (I promise-give it a try!) Straight up yellow can be useful in making a BBQ sauce of sorts, and is really good when mixed with pork rub seasoning and rubbed onto a pork tenderloin. A lot a flavor for the calorie buck.

5. Fresh herbs are always a great bet.


I wish I could grow my own herbs. I have a black thumb. My fiance is a wonderful gardener, and all of our plants owe their lives to him. I couldn’t even grow the Chia Herb Garden. No lie.

I am fortunate though, that the food market I frequent has a fairly large selection of reasonably proced fresh herbs. I get cilantro for fresh salsa, rosemary and thyme for chicken and pork, basil for tomato, and mint for mojitos.

Make sure to add your fresh herbs toward the end of cooking, or use a quicker cooking method with them. In other words-they don’t hold up too well in a crockpot, and their great fresh flavor is lost.

6. Explore the world of vinegars.

There are way more varieties of vinegar than I was aware of a few years ago. Now, I always have on hand a balsamic vinegar (I use the most), a red wine vinegar, an apple cider vinegar, and a white wine vinegar. Usually rice vinegar.

You can make an awesome salad dressing very easily with dijon mustard, balsamic or red wine vinegar, a little EVOO/Enova oil and spice you like. Shake and serve. If you have fresh herbs, add in some basil and you can’t get any fresher, you know?

Apple cider vinegar mixed with Dijonnaise, nonfat greek yogurt and celery salt makes a great lower fat coleslaw.

Heidi over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom is going to do a balsamic reduction (which gets very sweet and awesome) over her brussel sprouts. They also make great marinades, and great sauces.

Experiment-I find that no sugar added preserves with a vinegar and some Dijon mustard make a lovely sauce, especially if you have a pan that needs deglazing.

For example-I sear a pork tenderloin in a cast iron skillet, which then goes into the oven to finish cooking. When it’s done, I remove the pork and let it rest, then add the no sugar added preserves (my favorites are cherry and apricot), deglaze the pan with vinegar (balsamic+cherry, apple cider+apricot), add dijon, let come to a bubble and keep stirring. A flavorful easy sauce.

Let me know how it goes!

I hope this helps! It’s my belief that is you have a few go-to techniques, you don’t always have to follow a recipe. But when you do want to follow a recipe, you can check out these lovely folks for ideas. These are only a few of the great gluten free food blogs that are out there.

Happy Eating!

Calorie Intake and You: Calories Do Count – Part 2

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In Part 1 I talked about how important movement, any movement, is in overally daily caloric expenditure. (Now everyone-get up, walk around the house, and come back. Seriously. Or prop up your computer and stand, that’ll work.)

(You guys are going to think I’m lying, but I seriously got up and took the dog for a 15 minute walk and came back.)

Another option-and this thing I totally love, can’t believe I didn’t come up with myself and get a lot of reading done on-is the SurfShelf. It rocks. And then today I found Hulu. I may never watch TV on the couch again. But now I’m WAY off topic, and it’s only the beginning of the article. Yeesh.)

Back on it…

Calorie intake and you

In this “episode”, we’re going to touch on the importance calories you take in the food (or franken-food, or whatever you like) that you eat. Something that people tend to forget is that EVERYTHING counts. The cream in your coffee, the scraps when you clean up dinner, the extra spoonful of rice-it all counts. And it can all add up. To the tune of several hundred calories or more.

There has been a good bit of scientific research on this, and the people that “eat hardly anything and still can’t lose weight.” I will preface this with saying there are some medical conditions, medications, and issues that can make it very difficult for some individuals to lose weight. But that is a TINY percentage of the overall. And frankly-this is one area where you really don’t want to be a unique snowflake. That’s a whole ‘nother medical can of worms.

More than likely, it is an issue of eating more than you think you are.


I am going to give you a bit of research that backs up what I am saying. I will tell you, don’t blindly trust what anyone has to say about research though, not even me. Go to the source, and read the paper. Research can and often is, skewed to meet whatever result is desired. So once again-get educated and make an informed decision. (My friend Leigh Peele has a section on deciphering research in her Body By Eats, and a nice overview is also presented by the Guttmacher Institute here.) And if you are really a science nerd like me, you might want to check out Alan Aragon’s Research Review.

The paper by Lichtman et al in N Engl J Med. 1992 Dec 31;327(27):1893-8, indicated in their conclusion that:

The failure of some obese subjects to lose weight while eating a diet they report as low in calories is due to an energy intake substantially higher than reported and an overestimation of physical activity, not to an abnormality in thermogenesis.

Underreported food intake at an average of 47%!! And they are not by any stretch implying that this underreporting was done intentionally. Physical activity was overreported at an average of 51%. That’s a huge, ginormous difference between perception and reality. Another study by Asbeck et al showed underreporting in normal weight subjects. It happens. The key is actually KNOWING what you are eating, not just guessing.

Measuring vs. weighing

Some people like to measure their food with cups and spoons. While that is totally fine, and works for some, if you are trying to lose fat and feel like you are stuck, or you don’t know why you’re not losing-you may be eating more than you think. Check out the video (put together by Leigh Peele)

You can see that weighing is much more accurate. And it’s really no more difficult than measuring, in fact I think it’s easier. Get a decent digital scale and you’re good to go, you don’t have to mess with different sizes of measuring devices. Set whatever you want to put the food in on the scale, tare it back to zero and off you go. Easy-peasy.

I can guarantee you will be surprised. There are countless stories of dieters who have been frustrated to tears or homicidal tendencies, and when they began weighing and calculating their food so they were actually eating the calories they THOUGHT they were-the weight came off. If there is a magic bullet at all to the fat loss game, it’s that. Know what you’re eating.

Putting it together

Then of course, put it together so you can see what your intake is on a daily basis. I’ve been using Fitday PC for years, I like it, I have all my custom foods there, it’s easy to repeat foods if you tend to eat something often with the favorites feature-it works well-it’s familiar. I’ve tried a few others, but didn’t like them as much.

It is important to be able to log your food in weight measures like grams and ounces, not just cups or servings. So look for that.

A few that people use are Sparkpeople, The Daily Plate, Calorie King, Diet Controller, Nutridiary, a personal Excel spreadsheet, or a notebook. Whatever. NutritionData is great for getting nutritional info as well, not a tracker. Some of these are paid, some free-so it’s up to you. Fitday PC (the download version) gets a lot of positive feedback from what I have read/heard-and obviously it’s what I use. I understand that Nutridiary allows you to track in weight, so that may be a good free option.

When you get a good handle of how much energy you are taking in, and how much you are putting out (see Part 1 for details) then you can begin to make adjustments if you want/need to.

Oversimplified-if you want to lose weight and you are not-eat less and move more. If you’re happy where you’re at keep doing it! If you want to gain, eat more.

Of course, quality of food does matter. Absolutely it does. However, you can’t beat thermodynamics.

Let me know how you make out! If you use a different method of tracking, or if you use one of the methods I mentioned above and you like or hate it-speak up. I love hearing from you all!

Calorie Intake and You: Calories Do Count – Part 1

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You may have heard various and sundry diet and nutrition gurus touting the benefits of a given “diet”-you can eat as much as you want and not gain fat, as long as it is under the full moon, the color red, and you eat standing up.

OK, so maybe not that extreme, but the idea that total calories don’t matter if you eat specific foods is around and pervasive. Well, calories do count.

There’s no way around the laws of thermodynamics, at least not yet. Quality of food is an important issue as well, don’t get me wrong. But from a strictly energy balance perspective-it’s calories that are king (or queen.) It’s not magic, it’s not difficult, but it does take a bit of attention-at least if you’re interested in improving your health and or the way you look.

Calorie Intake and You

We’ll be looking into the idea of energy balance ie:calories in versus calories out. Today we’ll take a look out the calories you expend-energy output. In Part 2 we’ll take a look at calories in, energy intake, and the ways to track that.

Calories out=energy expenditure=all activity, bodily function, energy required for digestion of food, exercise, cleaning the house, everything. Definition of terms that create your total calorie burn:

  • RMR=resting metabolic rate-the amount of calories you need to exist without any activity-ie:bedrest
  • TEA-thermic effect of activity-this, obviously, represents the caloric burn of activity, both exercise and non-exercise acitivty.
  • NEAT=non exercise activity thermogenesis=general activity like walking the dog, playing with the kids, cleaning the house, fidgeting, general moving around that is not “exercise.” (This can have a VERY large impact on your daily caloric burn. It’s the difference between sitting on your butt on the computer or watching TV and moving, just doing something, anything.)
  • TEF-thermic effect of food. Basically the energy expended to digest and assimilate food into usable energy.

Lyle McDonald, a very smart guy, has a great article that goes into more depth regarding all of these terms. You can find it here.

Calorie expenditure calculators

The RMR is the component that we don’t control very much. TEF and TEA we can make changes to. There are many calculators out there which can help you determine your energy expenditure. One that seems to be fairly accurate is the Mifflin equation, and you can find the calculator here. To get an idea of how many calories are burned for specific activities, you can use the calculator at Fitness Partner here. Keep in mind these are all estimates, but good starting points.

If you like to get even more specific, you can use the Bodybugg or GoWearFit devices. These are small devices you wear on your arm that measure motion, heat given off, skin response to stress, and temperature. You may have see the contestants on “The Biggest Loser” wearing them. They are cool little toys, and definitely make you more aware of how much you are, (or are not) burning in a given day. They also give you more individualized information than an equation.

I think the most useful application of these is that it truly makes you think about moving more and get the burn higher, and you are super aware of when you are just sitting (oh dang, I’m only burning a calorie a minute here.) Leigh Peele has done a comparison of the two devices which you can find here.

I’ve used the Bodybugg on several different occasions, and I am going to share a few of my observations. I hope this helps you see the impact of how moving, and kind of movement, can impact your calorie burn. Oh-any why does this matter? Because if you burn more, your calorie balance is altered. This can positively impact your weight and your health.

My observations

So here we go: I am 35 years old, female, and weighed 127. My RMR has been tested at 1500 calories which also was shown by the Bodybugg. Here’s some examples of calories burned.

  • 30 minutes moderate intensity steady state cardio-(treadmill walking on an incline)-200 calories
  • Sitting at a computer at work-80 calories per hour
  • Taking a 20 minute walk outside during my break at work-100 calories (see the difference between sitting an just walking-this was a casual walk, not a power-exercise walk)
  • 45 minutes of heavy weight training-220 calories

Calorie burn total for this day, which included 45 minutes of weight training and 30 minutes of cardio for structured exercise, was 2350 calories.

A day where I was mostly sedentary, sitting at work all day and then going to get my hair cut and colored in the evening (which was more sitting) I burned 1800 calories.

Had I just gone for a short walk I could have bumped that burn by a couple hundred calories WITHOUT GOING TO THE GYM! That’s a huge difference in calorie burn. 550 calories is a big difference day to day. Cleaning the house burns a ton of calories. Which reminds me I really need to clean the floor….

Get up and move!

Although the structured exercise had a positive impact on my net calorie burn, it wasn’t the main area. Many people are under the impression that an hour at the gym will counteract all the sitting. Guess what-it doesn’t. Getting up and moving during the day can have much bigger impact than we realize. You don’t HAVE to set aside many hours to dedicate to exercise to get in better shape.

I hope this helps shed some light on how you can burn calories, and the importance of general movement.

Please let me know what you think in the comments below, or share if you have used the Bodybugg or GoWearFit!

Now-go forth and burn!