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October 2020
October 23, 2020 | Issue #128
Halloween From Home: Don't Get Spooked By This Year
This year’s Halloween might look a little different from previous years. Instead of going out with your kids trick or treating or to a Halloween parade or party with friends and family, we will celebrate differently at home or from six feet apart. Halloween might feel different, but that doesn’t mean it’s cancelled! Let’s use this holiday as a great excuse to have some fun both outdoors and in the kitchen!
We are trying to make the most of what we can do in 2020, and are creating new holiday traditions as we go. In our August issue, we discussed getting family members and specifically kiddos involved in the kitchen. Halloween is a perfect holiday to put those tips into practice and to try some new foods/recipes ourselves.
Most years we have to wait until evening for Halloween fun to start, but this year Halloween is on a Saturday -so we plan to enjoy the spooky fun all day long. If you are a morning person who wakes up feeling ambitious (and hungry), we have a great pumpkin pancake recipe below to get you started. After whatever breakfast you choose to enjoy, we encourage you to head outside for a fun and virtually interactive activity (Do not fear, those of you currently confined indoors you can still participate!). Finally we will entice you with a dinner to make you and your family smile; Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Stuffed Peppers. 
Rise and Shine Pumpkin Pancakes:
Pumpkin spice is all the rage during the fall season, and we like to embrace that in as many recipes as possible. One to try: Pumpkin Pancakes!
Makes 4 large pancakes or 6 medium pancakes
    1 cup white or whole-wheat flour (can also substitute GF flours such as almond flour or oat flour)
    1 tbsp granulated sugar or maple syrup
    1 tbsp brown sugar
    1 tablespoon ground flax (we tested it, and chia seeds work too!)
    2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, ⅛ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp cloves, ½ tsp ginger)
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    ½ teaspoon baking powder
    ½ cup milk (dairy or non-dairy works fine!)
    2 eggs
    1 pinch salt
    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    ½ cup pumpkin puree
    2 tablespoons melted butter
-      Combine all wet ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine, be sure to let the butter cool slightly so it doesn’t cook the eggs.. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined (still a bit lumpy). If too thick, add more milk until desired consistency.
-      Heat up a griddle or large pan and grease with oil or butter on medium low heat . Using about ⅓ cup scoop, scoop pancakes on a skillet/griddle (spread if necessarily) and let cook about 2-3 minutes per side (flip when edges start to crisp, and bubbles form on surface)
-      Continue with the rest of the batter. Serve immediately with your favorite toppings (we love almond butter!) or cut into fun pumpkin shapes!

Fun Fact: Pumpkin contains various essential nutrients that have antioxidant properties such as Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C. Antioxidants help your body recover from exercise-induced and chronic inflammation.

After enjoying and digesting your yummy breakfast, we again encourage you to go outside and enjoy the weather if possible.
We came up with a few fun and easy Halloween themed activities to entice you to get moving.
  • Halloween Scavenger Hunt: Your hunt can be completed indoors or outdoors and can be tailored to include friends and family of any age, and from all around the world! Think of someone who can use some “company” and/or a good laugh and get them involved. Head out for a walk, run, or bike ride and get hunting for Halloween items! You can partake in person with friends or family (socially distanced and wearing Halloween themed masks as appropriate), or virtually by texting photos to friends near and far!
We suggest selecting 3-5 items to search for as a starting point, but feel free to edit as you desire. Before you start, decide whether you are counting the total number of each you find, or sharing a photo of your favorite, spookiest, or silliest in each category!
    Cobwebs (real and fake!)
    Hay Bales
    Orange decor
    Witch or broomstick decoration
    Black cat (again, real or fake!)
    Bonus points for short video of Fav. Decoration that makes noise! (Double bonus points for each item you share with us on social media @NutritionEnergy using hashtag #nutritionenergyhalloweenhunt !!)
  • Outdoor Halloween Parade: Adults and kids alike can give themselves permission to embrace Halloween as an excuse to dress up and test out an alter ego (ideas we are throwing around include Baby Yoda and channeling our inner RBG). We encourage you to host a socially distant parade outside. Show off your costumes while completing the scavenger hunt, during your outdoor workout, or as a stand alone activity. Again, you can certainly share the fun with family and friends in other locations via texts and videos.
  • Virtual Pumpkin Carving Contest: Contact friends and family in advance to grab some snacks, pick (or buy) a pumpkin, get out a carving set or paring knife, and host a virtual pumpkin carving contest. You can carve your pumpkins secretly in advance or on camera, then vote for categories including most original pumpkin, funniest pumpkin design, scariest pumpkin design... Use this year’s limitations as a great time to catch up with friends and family you might not normally see on Halloween!

Once you’ve completed your outdoor (or indoor) Halloween fun you will have worked up an appetite for a warm, tasty, and slightly spooky dinner! We don’t know about you, but we’re planning on milking the Halloween spirit all day long. Here’s a recipe for delicious stuffed peppers that you can cut to look like jack-o’-lanterns!  
Jack-o’-Lantern Stuffed Peppers:
We’ve adapted this recipe to meet a wide range of needs. Nutrition Energy Director, Lauren Antonucci, taste tested this recipe with her family of 5 last weekend and you can see the results below. Lauren made the quinoa and beans and spiced them as suggested below, then let each family member stuff their own “pumpkin” with fillings of their choice before baking. She also put out corn, cheese and avocado as additional toppings/mix-ins. Two of the Antonucci kiddos chose to leave their spooky peppers raw and eat the fillings on the side, two topped with cheese, and Lauren added avocado on top after baking was complete. Everyone had fun and ate their dinner creations their own way. Bonus: this style of meal is great for promoting choice and freedom for kids in food self-selection, allows everyone to choose however much of each ingredient they want, and Lauren considered it a huge win for all.

    4 large orange bell peppers
    1 15 oz. can of beans (black, pinto, and kidney all work!)
    1 teaspoons cumin powder
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1 cup dry quinoa or rice
    2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
    ½ cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
    1 can of corn, rinsed
-      Cook quinoa according to package directions with vegetable stock.
-      Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a baking dish with cooking oil. Cut tops off of bell peppers and scoop out seeds. Using a paring or small knife cut out eyes and mouth to resemble a jack-o’-lantern.
-      Once quinoa is finished, add additional ingredients to a bowl and combine with quinoa. (You can also add more ingredients to your liking such as chopped onion, cheese, or hot sauce).
-      Assemble peppers in the pan and stuff generously with the filling. Bake for ~25 minutes covered with foil. Remove from the oven and add cheese if desired and bake for additional 10-15 minutes uncovered until peppers are soft and cheese is melted.
-      Serve warm with desired toppings such as avocado, cilantro, etc.
*Adapted from minimalist baker’s Mexican quinoa stuffed peppers

Fun Fact: Bell peppers are one of the vegetables with the highest amount of Vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts the immune system and is a potent antioxidant that aids in the prevention of many chronic conditions.

Need more inspiration to keep the ghoulish spirit alive? If stuffed peppers aren’t your thing, there are still many ways to keep the spirit of the season alive at dinner. Have leftover fresh pumpkin from carving or canned pumpkin after making breakfast? Both can be used in your favorite chili recipe for a fun fall twist. For a chili recipe that yields about 6 servings, add 1 x 14 oz can of pumpkin puree (or whatever you have leftover) or 1 cup of fresh pumpkin (peeled and chopped) to your favorite chili recipe.

We look forward to seeing your creations! Share with us through email, Facebook, or Instagram! 
Fueling Properly When Training:
Understanding and Avoiding Low Energy Availability
and RED-S
Fall is traditionally a time for many to be preparing for the final race of their season. Marathons, triathlons, and half-marathons are generally abundant at this time of year. In 2020, we might instead be participating in a virtual race or perhaps we are taking the season off from racing completely. Either way, adequate fueling is always essential, and can be particularly tricky for athletes who are now running, cycling, lifting or partaking in virtual fitness classes without their usual periodized training and racing season.
While athletes are often aware of their increased needs for fueling to support training demands (in addition to the need for normal life!), unfortunately it can still be a struggle for many. Low energy availability results when the body does not have enough fuel to support both activity and normal body functions. Activity includes both purposeful exercise and normal daily activities (walking the dog, cleaning, etc). The cause might be due to increased training without realizing your increased fueling demands, or purposefully reducing intake to control weight or achieve weight loss. Low energy availability is not uncommon, and can result in RED-S, which is an all-encompassing term for many of the effects that stem from low energy availability.

What is RED-S?
RED-S stands for Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport, and is a term that was introduced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2014. You can think of RED-S as a way to explain the array of adverse outcomes that results from chronic underfueling. If you are already familiar with the term Female Athlete Triad, RED-S has evolved from that term to encompass all genders and widen the array of symptoms one might experience as a result of low energy availability (LEA).

So what’s the big deal about RED-S?

Over time, low energy availability and RED-S will not only negatively impact your performance but will also increase your rate of injury and illness. Inadequate nutritional intake can negatively affect every system in your body leading to a wide range of symptoms including constipation, low quality sleep, mood changes, heightened anxiety, and more. Low ferritin and iron levels are also common and negatively affect energy and oxygenation of your blood cells. In addition, chronic underfueling can even lead to infertility and osteoporosis. Low energy availability is common across many sports and genders, but is more likely to go unnoticed in men.

Warning Signs of RED-S:
-      Frequent stress fractures
-      Disturbance or complete loss of menstrual cycle (amenorrhea)
-      Impaired judgement and/or decreased concentration
-      Decreased performance and quality of training
-      Feeling cold, even on warmer days
-      Disordered eating patterns
-      Extreme weight loss or frequent dehydration

Remember you do not need to have all of these above signs or to fully understand what RED-S means to experience the negative outcomes that result from underfueling. Another important note is that weight and body-fat % are not the only indicators of under-fueling. We have seen many athletes who maintain a steady body weight but still experience adverse outcomes of low energy availability. To this point, athletes generally have higher metabolic rates and higher energy needs than less active individuals. If we suspect low energy availability, Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) testing -which measures oxygen consumption, is able to determine the rate at which your body consumes energy at rest. A low RMR might indicate poor fueling and system dysfunction. We do offer RMR testing at Nutrition Energy, however testing is on hold currently due to COVID-19. We hope to get this up and running again soon.
What is disordered eating exactly?
Many of us are familiar with the term disordered eating, but it bears mentioning that disordered eating patterns can take on many forms and vary widely between and among individuals.
Disordered Eating Patterns May Include Any/All of the Following:
-      Fasting or skipping meals to lower your overall caloric intake or “manage” your weight
-      Using exercise to compensate when you believe you have “overeaten” or over exercising/obsessive exercising
-      Not taking adequate rest days due to fear of weight gain
-      Feeling tired, dizzy, and/or weak frequently after a workout or training session
-      Anxiety around food or obsession with healthy foods (orthorexia)
-      Reducing the amount you eat drastically on recovery or non-training days
-      Frequent negative self-talk involving food and body image
-      Examples:
-      “I can only eat a cookie if I run an extra mile today”
-      “If I lost a few pounds I would be able to run faster”
Final Thoughts
    Much of the “athlete mentality” is centered around the struggles and pain that are associated with achieving our goals. This mentality of hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, focus, and drive is part of what allows us to be at the top of our game. But, this mentality should not be tied to food, hunger, and nutritional intake. We can and should enjoy eating a wide variety of nourishing and delicious foods while training hard and adequately fueling our bodies; the food itself shouldn’t be hard work!
    Optimal weight and fueling for overall health and performance looks different on everyone, try not to compare yourself to others. Only you, (possibly with the guidance of a dietitian), can adequately determine the amount of fuel that is required for your activity and daily life.
    Educating athletes, parents, coaches, and ourselves on how to recognize these warning signs and patterns will help us maintain our health, wellness, and performance long-term.
    Both low energy availability and disordered eating patterns are treatable and require the desire to get better as well as a strong support system including a physician, therapist and dietitian all well versed in treating eating disorders + coaches, friends, family as able.
Looking for more resources on low energy availability, RED-S, and disordered eating?
Nutrition Energy strives to be a safe and educational environment for all; including individuals looking for help in treating their eating disorder and those looking to support loved ones in their recovery. We have recently created a space focusing on proper fueling techniques and building healthier relationships with our bodies. Come join in on the conversation on our new Instagram, @nutritionenergy_fuels. We are excited to begin this journey with you! 
A Note From Lauren
Just because this fall looks a little different, doesn't mean it shouldn't be any less fun! Yes, Halloween won't be the same as it has been the past years, but you can still decorate, incorporate some fun activities for the kids (ideas above!), and indulge in some treats (trick-or-treating not required!).

For those of you preparing for fall virtual events, don't forget fueling pre- and post race (and while training!) can greatly impact not only your performance, but your everyday life. If you notice signs of RED-S, feel more fatigued than usual, or just feel 'off', do not hesitate to reach out to us at Nutrition Energy. NE's dietitians are part of your overall performance team, which can include your coaches and physical therapists, amongst other providers. Underfueling can lead to serious outcomes other than a poor race - and we want you at your best at ALL times!

What does Halloween look like in your house? Have any fun ideas to share to keep the spirits high? Tag us in your social media updates or let us know on Twitter @NutritionEnergyInstagram, or Facebook!

Lauren Antonucci
Nutrition Energy