Making You Hungry, Healthy, and Happy One Pirouette At A Time

Category: General

Importance of Nutrition for Dancers: Survey of Dancers Diet Regimens

In my last blog post, I discussed what I typically eat in a day during a rehearsal day, pre-COVID times. That being said, writing that post made me wonder what other dancers’ diet regimes were like in comparison and what better way to find out…

Importance of Nutrition for Dancers: What I Eat in A Day as a Professional Ballet Dancer

One of the main reasons why I got into nutrition is because I love how there is not a right or wrong answer on what is the “best diet” or what foods are the “healthiest.” I learned that this is because people have different body…

Importance of Nutrition for Dancers: Interview of Health Coach Jess Spinner

Back in 2018, I did an interview, via Facebook Live, with my friend Jess Spinner discussing nutrition, health, wellness, ballet, and more.

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Health Coach and founder of The Whole Dancer Blog. She supports dancers in reaching their body goals through one-on-one Elite Best Body Coaching and her online course, The Dancers’ Best Body Program.

Being that she focuses on helping dancers learn more about nutrition and health, I could not think of a better person to interview for my Leap Program senior project!

(Plus, it’s also fun to be the interviewer instead of the interviewee every now and then :P)


N: What kinds of foods are best for dancers if their goal is to improve their energy levels?

J: Most often what’s missing is a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Dancers often struggle to get in lots of dark leafy greens because it can feel a little overwhelming digestively to eat those things around classes or rehearsals. It helps to have greens blended in smoothies and loading up on veggies at night and even in the form of soups during the day.

Dancers also have to be very careful to not inadvertently undereat. Sometimes, just because of the busy-ness of a dancers’ schedule, there isn’t time to fit in all the food you need. Pack tons of snacks so there are always options even if it’s a small handful of almonds during a 5-minute break.

Can’t discount the benefits of water and sleep for energy.

And complex carbs are essential as well: brown rice, sweet potato, oatmeal, etc. And these are more easily digested than the dark leafy’s and can therefore work throughout the day.


N: What foods/drinks should dancers try to have in moderation/limit?

J: All athletes (and people for that matter) should limit processed foods, sugar, and excess caffeine. Moving those foods through your body and digesting them can rob your body of nutrients and energy. So it’s not just that they’re “empty calories” but that they’re taking away from your body’s needs and optimal health.


N: How can a dancer still enjoy foods they love while maintaining their physique?

J: The key is to EAT the foods you love without set rules or restrictions but to put a focus on creating nutrient-dense meals that are also super satisfying and enjoyed at the same level. This looks different for each dancer. Some will have a small dessert every day and that works best. Others will skip dessert (just using dessert as the example of a food that might at times be restricted) most days and have a piece of cake when they’re out at a restaurant or event.

The biggest mistake dancers make is to label foods as “bad” or “off-limits” and to avoid them 99% of the time and then to tell themselves that they can only eat something on this one day or this one time and that can lead to binge eating habits.


N: What are some good meal/snack ideas for dancers?

J: Dancers should prioritize whole foods, as close to their original form as possible most of the time. Some animal protein or small amounts of dairy could work. Raw, unpasteurized dairy is a better option than super processed, store-bought, factory-farmed options. Dancers should stay mindful of the sourcing and production of their food. I love a “buddha bowl” meal for dancers using grains, vegetables, and some protein (if it’s meat, think of it as a condiment) topped with a healthy fat-based sauce. Snacks – again focus on whole foods: hummus and veggies, fruits + nut butters, trail mix, a packaged bar here or there (reading ingredients and picking minimally processed low sugar options).


N: Do you think it is better to eat smaller, more frequent meals or fewer larger meals?

J: This often has to do with the person and the schedule. A lot of dancers end up eating several snacks over the course of a company class/rehearsal day. When that’s the case, I think it can help to start the day with a bigger breakfast and end the day with a lighter dinner. Again, this needs to be adjusted to each dancers’ schedule, personal preferences (some are not into a big breakfast) and needs.


N: Any other tips or pieces of information to help dancers wanting to improve their eating habits and develop a healthy relationship with food?

J: Keep it simple. We tend to overcomplicate food. Eat whole foods but spice them up with sauces and seasonings so you love eating them. Don’t cut back on macronutrients – listen to your body’s cues and you’ll crave what you need (protein, carbs, or fat). Allow indulgences but have super high standards for the sweets and treats you choose. The quality of ingredients makes a difference in satisfaction. Work on the mental piece and remind yourself that you can eat whatever you want, however, most of the time you’re choosing the healthiest food available because that’s what fuels your body for dance AND satisfies your needs. Finally, become an expert on your body. There’s lots of advice out there and some of it conflicts. It also doesn’t matter what works for any other dancer. The most important thing to pay attention to is how different foods or food recommendations work for you.

For more on Jess or The Whole Dancer visit thewholedancer.com

Importance of Nutrition for Dancers: Developing A Healthy Relationship with Food

While it’s true that taking care of your health is important for all individuals to avoid catching illnesses, developing health issues, and live a long happy life, I believe that dancers, in particular, should pay close attention to their health and nutrition since they use…

10 Ballet FAQs And Answers From TippyToeGirl

10 Ballet FAQs And Answers From TippyToeGirl

All through life we are constantly faced with many obstacles preventing us from getting to our next step in life. In my case, an obstacle like starting Saint Mary’s LEAP program (a college program for dancers) and being overwhelmed with a dance-heavy season at San…

Pumpkin Pie Fat Balls

Pumpkin Pie Fat Balls

Everyone knows Thanksgiving is a time for pause, to be thankful for family, friends, and most importantly – FOOD (just kidding, just kidding). Of course, family is and always will be my first when I am counting my blessings. I am very grateful that I am still able to live at home with my parents, my two younger sisters, and my dog while I get to do what I love for a living; because not many have that option. I’m also very thankful for all that life has offered me and all the amazing opportunities I have been given. I am also grateful to still keep in touch with my childhood friends and neighbors, the fact that it takes me four minutes to get to all my favorite stores from home, to live in such a beautiful surrounding etc., etc., . . . ok, ok, enough of the sappy lists. Let’s get down to the real deal: talking about food that is.

Pumpkin Pie Fat Balls bittenThanksgiving may be over but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still enjoy all the treats associated with it! I personally am not a fan of all the desserts (unless of course they are vegan and/or paleo), but I’m in LOVE with the spices used in many Holiday desserts, specifically — cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

And being that it’s Fall (or as the Brits refer to as “Autumn”) everything left-and-right is pumpkin flavored or pumpkin-spiced. It doesn’t help that I’m literally obsessed with all things pumpkin spice! I especially love adding Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice to pretty much everything from dairy-free yogurt, smoothies, pancakes, waffles, baked goods and even vegan ice cream because it’s a great way to flavor foods without adding sugar! However, this popular spice is stocked seasonally (wth TJ???) and the only way to ensure I have my year-long supply is to stock up in advance.

I want to mention that I did not have any non-dairy milk on-hand and was too lazy to go to the store, so I made some of my own! I decided to make coconut milk since it’s one of the easiest dairy-free milks to make and all you need is 1 cup of coconut shreds and 2 cups of filtered water. What’s nice about making coconut milk is that you don’t have to soak the coconut shreds overnight like you have to do with nuts/seeds when making nut or seed milk. Simply soak the coconut shreds with the water in the blender for 1-2 hours then let it sit, and blend for one minute more. It’s just that simple!

Thus, if you are a fan of anything with pumpkin or pumpkin spiced then you’ll truly fall in love with this recipe! Can there ever be too much pumpkin? (don’t answer that.) Regardless, it’s obvious these Pumpkin Pie Fat Balls are truly “Fall in a Ball.” In case you are wondering, “fat balls” get their name because they are full of healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, from nuts, seeds, coconuts; and because they taste just like pumpkin pie! Well, almost.

**This Pumpkin Pie Fat Ball recipe was supposed to go up BEFORE Thanksgiving Day, but as life happens… here it is. Better late than never!

Pumpkin Pie Fat Balls
Prep Time
30 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

If you are a fan of anything with pumpkin or pumpkin spiced then you’ll truly fall in love with this recipe! These Pumpkin Pie Fat Balls get their name because they are full of healthy fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, from nuts, seeds, and coconut and because they taste just like pumpkin pie! Well, almost.

Course: Snack
Cuisine: Healthfood
Servings: 20 balls
Author: Natasha Sheehan
Ingredients
  • Coconut Milk
  • 1 cup coconut shreds
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup sprouted almonds better for digestion
  • 1 cup leftover coconut milk pulp or coconut shreds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/3 cup homemade coconut milk store bought works as well
  • 1/2 tbs pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp Ashwaghanda optional
  • 1 tsp Rholdiola optional
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a couple chopped dates optional: but adds sweetness and acts as the glue
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, blend the nuts, seeds, and coconut together. Pulse a few times in the very beginning.
  2. Next add the dates, coconut butter, and coconut oil. Blitz again.
  3. Then the rest of the ingredients. Blitz for about 10 seconds.
  4. On a parchment-paper lined baking tray, roll ball mixture into golf/ping-pong sized balls.
  5. Place the tray with the fat balls in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  6. The fat balls can be enjoyed immediately or stored in the fridge for a couple weeks. But I doubt that they will last that long in there.

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Golden Milk Vegan & Paleo Banana Bread

Golden Milk Vegan & Paleo Banana Bread

Not only is this Golden Milk Vegan & Paleo Banana Bread bread vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, and not to mention guilt-free, but it’s also got an added twist. By using golden milk in this recipe you are able to reek all the benefits of turmeric including its amazing anti-inflammatory properties! Original recipe adapted from Sweet Simple Vegan’s banana bread with some substitutions and additions.

Food for Thought: My Pinnertest Food Intolerance Results

Food for Thought: My Pinnertest Food Intolerance Results

Food intolerances are different than food allergies. How my Pinnertest food intolerance test helped me identify foods I probably shouldn’t eat.

Coconut Fig Green Tea Smoothie

Coconut Fig Green Tea Smoothie

Ah, fig season! One of my favorite times of the year!

Figs are very high in fiber and a good source of several essential minerals, including magnesium, manganese, calcium (promotes bone density), copper, and potassium (helps lower blood pressure), as well as vitamins K and B6. Because figs supply healthy amounts of dietary fiber, they keep your digestive system regulated and may have a positive effect on weight management.

Furthermore, there are many different types of figs, but some popular kinds you might see at your local grocery store or farmer’s market are — Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Turkish Calimyrna, Adriatic, and (my personal favorite) Panache or “Tiger” figs.

FigBlack Mission figs have darkish-purple skin, a dark pink flesh, and are extremely sweet!

Brown Turkey figs have a brownish-dark purple skin, a milder flavor, and are noticeably less sweet than the similar-looking Black Mission figs.

Turkish Calimyrna figs have slightly golden skin and pinkish flesh with a distinctive nutty flavor.

Adriatic figs can have pale or green skin, very pink to red flesh, and an extra sweet flavor.

Panache/”Tiger” figs have blood-red flesh, almost a strawberry jam flavor, and get their name due to their yellow “tiger” stripes. I also find they are less sweet than other kinds of figs.

With that said, figs are a very delicate fruit and are quite perishable so they should be refrigerated if not eaten within a few days. They also contain a bit of fructose so consume in moderation, so when eating figs try to go for fresh over dried because they are lower in sugar. However, the sweetness of the figs can balance the slight bitterness of the adaptogens in a smoothie (like this one) and they have so many vitamins and nutrients! #NaturesCandy

Now, enough about these figgin’ figs… back to the goods in rest of this smoothie.Fig

When I saw that Trader Joe’s started selling frozen coconut meat chunks, all I could think about was how good my smoothies were going to be! The ingredients are as follows: frozen coconut meat. That’s right. Nothing else and no added fillers, preservatives, sugar, or oils — You bet I bought three bags! Adding frozen coconut to smoothies is a great way to make them creamier, thicker, and for the healthy fats! Plus, coconut is also easily digestible.

On a sad note, I didn’t have time to make any nut milk for my smoothie nor had a store bought one. But, I always have a bottle of green tea in my fridge because the green tea/matcha addiction is real. If you haven’t got a bottled green tea on hand, simply boil water, steep a green tea bag, and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes or longer. I’ve talked about the numerous benefits of green tea/matcha before but I’ll say it again. By having green tea in the morning, you’re jump-starting your metabolism and the fat burning process right from the get go. Green tea contains polyphenol which works to intensify levels of fat oxidation, the rate at which the food in your body are turned into calories, and can eventually lead to weight loss. Ah, green tea, nature’s anTEAoxidant powerhouse.

For more information about adaptogens, Blue Majik, and more, check out my previous smoothie post.

Coconut Fig Green Tea Smoothie top view

TTG’s Top Smoothie Tips:

  • Always include healthy fats (i.e. coconut, avocado, nuts, seeds, nut/seed butter, even homemade almond milk!)
  • For a protein boost, try adding a small handful of nuts like almonds or a tablespoon of seeds like chia, flax, or hemp.
  • When choosing a protein powder, opt for a plant based one with minimal, clean ingredients and no added sugar.
  • Add cinnamon to slow the absorption of fructose (fruit sugar) and boost metabolism.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices and adaptogens!
  • Add crunchy toppings on your smoothie to start digestive enzymes.
  • A little fruit goes a long way!
  • If you have fruit or veggies in your fridge that are about to go bad, pop those bad boys in the freezer to use instead of ice for thicker, creamier smoothies.

As Will Smith once said, Gettin’ figgy with it. Oh, wait, not exactly. But, you get the gist.

Coconut Fig Green Tea Smoothie
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
1 min
Total Time
6 mins
 

Start your morning on a sweet note with this Coconut Fig Green Tea Smoothie that's full of antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber, and more. Not to mention, it's fat-burning, easy on the digestive system, and perfect for you coconut fans!

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Healthfood
Servings: 1 person
Author: Natasha Sheehan
Ingredients
  • 2 frozen figs
  • 1/4 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup chilled green tea
  • 1/4 cup frozen coconut chunks
  • 1/2 tsp Ashwaganda
  • 1/2 tsp Rhodiola
  • 1 Foursigmatic Cordyceps Packet
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Spice
  • 1 Blue Majik Capsule
  • 1 tsp Organic Gemini Tigernut and Pea Protein Smoothie Mix
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender. (Put dry ingredients at the end so they don't get stuck to the bottom of the blender)
  2. Blend for about a minute, depending on how you like your smoothie consistency.
  3. Pour into a mason or weck jar or a glass.
  4. Serve & ENJOY!
A Roller Addict’s Dream: HyperIce Vyper 2.0 Vibrating Roller (Review)

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Rollers come in many shapes & sizes & offer a variety of benefits (help circulation, decrease soreness, prevent injuries). Review of HyperIce Vyper & tips!