fruit

Rattle Some Chains

"Then I heard the Lord asking, 'Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?' I said, 'Here I am. Send me.'" --Isaiah 6:8

We often pray for God to send us where He wants us to go. You've probably said, "Here I am Lord...send me."  Well, when Paul was put in prison, he kissed the walls. He figured he had a captive audience, and if this is where God wanted him, he was gonna rattle some chains.

So take a look around you. Survey your surroundings. Do you have a captive audience? Oh, you may not be in prison, but perhaps God has cleverly placed you right where He wants you. Any family members come to mind? What about your next door neighbor, or that handful of people you see each day at the gym. Would Paul consider them captive? Well, whoever it may be, perhaps it's time to kiss the walls and rattle some chains. Besides, you and I keep praying, "Here I am Lord, send me", but maybe He already has.

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT NUTRITION TIP: Fruits & Veggies by Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD

Let’s be honest...most Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. The federal government’s new Dietary Guidelines say that we should fill half of our plate with fruits and vegetables. Not only does this add a lot of nutrients and not a lot of calories, but it makes our meals colorful and more appealing. Here are some easy, thoughtful ways to bump up your fruit and veggie intake without simply picking up a cucumber and crunching away.

>> Add vegetables to omelets or scrambled eggs, pasta sauce, macaroni and cheese (try broccoli and tomatoes), soups, and sandwiches

>> Add fruit to smoothies, pancake and muffin mix, cereal and milk, yogurt, oatmeal, and salads

Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian and works at a Washington, DC-based independent, nonprofit science organization, where her work is currently focused on environmental and policy solutions to obesity prevention. She also speaks to groups about health and nutrition and provides nutrition education to patients at a free medical clinic that serves low-income, uninsured adults in the Washington, DC area. You can view more of Emily’s nutrition tips and updates by following her on Twitter, @EmilyAMillerRD.

Here I Am To Worship

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart." --Psalm 138:1

Read: Psalm 138

Here I am to worship. If it's been a while since you've been to the gym, whisper it to the Lord as you open that door. If you're starting to walk after work with your spouse, pray it together as you take that step. Maybe you're about to take a swim, go for a jog or start your at-home DVD. Whatever the case, say it: Here I am to worship.

And as you do, remember -- it's not about the mirror, or lower bodyfat, or the muscle. Those things may happen, they may not. If they do, consider them gifts of obedience and blessings of diligence. But we believe it warms God's heart when we take care of ours. So go ahead. Lift, run, walk, swim, stretch. Have church. After all, you are a temple.

--Jimmy Peña

MENU MAKEOVER: Bread Pudding By Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC

With the kiddos being back in school, those after school snacks are back in business. And soaked in sugar, eggs and half-and-half, bread pudding is decadent to say the least. Good news: it’s possible to cozy up with a tasty version of this comfort food for less calories.

Nutrition Facts Classic bread pudding recipes can have over 600 calories and 30 grams of fat per serving. If you’re using doughnuts and buttery croissants instead of bread, you’d be lucky to keep things under 1000 calories.

The basic recipe is simple, combine bread with custard and bake. To lighten things up, you can use smarter ingredients at each stage of the recipe and keep portions to about ½ cup per person.

Bread Dense or sweetened breads will undoubtedly have more calories and monster portions just aren’t necessary. Consider using whole-grain bread for tummy-filling fiber and figure on 4 to 5 cups of cubed bread for 8 servings.

Custard Replacing half-and-half with low fat milk saves 200 calories and 25 grams of fat per cup. Don’t worry about the thinner consistency of the milk -- eggs help thicken the mixture and allow it to bake without separating. For every 2 cups of liquid, add 2 eggs and ½ to ¾ cup of sugar.

Extras Boost flavor (sensibly) with any of these embellishments: • Add 2 cups of fresh fruit or ½ cup of dried fruit • Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar before baking • Mix in ¼ cup dark chocolate chips • Add 2 tablespoons of rum or orange liqueur to the custard

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

Don't Miss This Boat

“We worked hard all night and caught nothing.”  --Luke 5:5

Read: Luke 5

Tired, worn, done. In that order. All that work and nothing to show for it. Peter's hands were as raw as they were empty, and the last thing he wanted to do was try again. But Jesus wouldn't let him quit -- not on his watch. In fact, Jesus said, "Now go out to where it's deeper and let down your nets to catch some fish." (v.4)

You know how Peter feels. You're struggling with your health. You've been fishing all night for the right plan or diet but you can't catch a break; not even a nibble of hope. But Peter didn't catch boat loads because of fancy nets and the newest bait. He caught his catch because he trusted, tried again and went deeper. I say we draw a line in the sand. As a matter of fact, Peter's pushing away from the shore. They're calling for you. If you hurry, you can make it.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Peter's catch isn't point of the story; neither is your physique. So what is? And since Peter's successful catch wasn't required for heaven, why was it important to Jesus?

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Tangy Carrot Slaw

This makes for a quick, nutritious dish that is a combination of crunchy, soft, sweet, and tangy, and it’s easy to vary the ingredients based on personal preference. Shredded carrots are sold near the bagged salads. This recipe is also good with chopped apple.

Ingredients: 1 (10-oz.) bag shredded carrots 1 (14-oz.) can chickpeas ½ cup raisins or dried cranberries ¼ cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Drain and thoroughly rinse the chickpeas, then add to carrots, dried fruit, and sunflower seeds. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice and add salt and pepper, then toss with the other ingredients. Serves 6. Best if eaten within 1-2 days.

Approximate nutrition information per serving (not counting salt and pepper to taste): 210 calories, 8g fat (1g saturated), 120mg sodium*, 32g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 5g protein.

FOOD TIP: A recent study showed that thoroughly draining and rinsing canned beans in a colander can remove up to 40% of the sodium. This tactic should also work for many canned vegetables. Or, you can buy no-salt-added canned veggies and beans, which are becoming increasingly more available.

Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian and works at a Washington, DC-based independent, nonprofit science organization, where her work is currently focused on environmental and policy solutions to obesity prevention. She also speaks to groups about health and nutrition and provides nutrition education to patients at a free medical clinic that serves low-income, uninsured adults in the Washington, DC area. You can view more of Emily’s nutrition tips and updates by following her on Twitter, @EmilyAMillerRD.

AVENUE OF AFFLICTION

"In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider God has made the one as well as the other."— Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

On the treadmill to my right, walked a man maybe 80 years old; on the one to my left, a teenager with a disability. The three of us huffed and puffed, each with a window overlooking a busy intersection -- sort of a fitness fishbowl, if you will. Each stoplight ushered in a new array of commuters and though every once in a while we'd capture the attention of a driver or two, one vehicle in particular caught mine.

But first, isn't it interesting that you really don't know what motivates someone? Some things you just can't see. You can only see the result. Oh sure, while the dashboard on my treadmill might give me distance, it doesn't know what it took to get me that far. Pastor Chuck Swindoll wrote, "Although this journey along the avenue of affliction is unpleasant and unappealing, it is inevitable. Working through the hurt is essential if we hope to become effective for God."

To be effective for God. Isn't that the goal both physically and spiritually? And since we know that nothing hits us without Him allowing it, it's a compliment that He believes we can work through the hurt. Or better yet, we're never in pain alone. So as I stepped in between the two bookends of life on my left and right, it was a comfort to know the steps God took to see me through mine. (Lord only knows what was inside their hearts-the history, the pain, the drive,- but whatever it was, they walked).

And oh yes, I almost forgot. The car that got my attention? An Official Vehicle of the Department of Aging. Somehow, the three of us "vehicles" could easily relate. Wow. Can't you just hear the applause of Heaven? Listen closely, take courage and keep going. Because thankfully, the road we're on as believers? It's an incline.

--Jimmy Peña

CARBS: CHOOSE WISELY

While PrayFit isn't completely against low-carb dieting, we stress the importance of choosing the proper types of carbohydrates to fuel your training and other daily activities. Carbs are, after all, the body's preferred fuel source, so extended or extreme deprivation can backfire for dieters as well as the companies that stake their futures on no-carb schemes. Case in point...

"The low-carb diet craze reached its peak in 2004, with far fewer people following diets like Atkins and South Beach in subsequent years," according to John Robbins, author of Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples. "On August 1, 2005, Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., filed for bancruptcy court protection."

Remember, the key is to control refined sugar, not to overly restrict healthy complex carbohydrates. Refined sugars, such as those found in sugary drinks, white bread and candy, digest quickly and spike insulin levels, which can cause the body to store fat. Complex carbs, such as those found in whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables, digest more slowly and provide slower, steady streams of fuel to cells.

Source: Healthy at 100 by John Robbins

TRACKING NUMBERS

November 16, 2011 Read: Isaiah 43

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you." --Isaiah 43:1

Bib No. 18-164 wasn't tracking. Even though race officials, sponsors and loved ones knew bib No. 18-164 started the race, nobody knew where he was on the course. See, bib numbers have bar codes that tell everyone your pace, stage and whereabouts. Without a functioning bib, you might as well be invisible.

Can you relate? In the course of your day, have you ever felt as if nobody knows just exactly where you are? Oh sure, you're at your cubicle or at home with your kids. But is anyone really watching what you're going through, let alone loving you through it? Your hurt is real. Your pain is deep. And walking away would be much easier than running this rat race. But we're more than tracked, and our steps are better than traced. Hope isn't lost and neither are you. God finds us and loves us from start-to-finish.

And as far as bib No. 18-164, he officially finished in just over five hours. And while his time didn't warrant interviews or draw a crowd, he did receive his medal. But he wasn't alone in this achievement -- the prize went to anyone who accepted the invitation to finish the race. Friends, God invites us to accept Jesus into our hearts and lives. When we do, we join a race He's already won on our behalf. Our job is to trace His steps and help others do the same. See you at the finish.

--Jimmy Peña

NUTRITION TIP: Apples for Size

"I commonly advise people to eat an apple preworkout," says Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days." "Apples contain polyphenols that have been shown to increase muscle strength, endurance and fat loss."

A recent study affirms those benefits, showing that one of the polyphenols in apples, ursolic acid, also increases muscle growth and fat loss. For the scientific speak on the topic, click here.

>> PRAYFIT IN YOUR HOME: PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena, MS, CSCS, comes to your living room this December with the release of the "PrayFit: 33-Day Total Body Challenge" DVD. Learn more and reserve your copy today by clicking here.

 

RIPENED FRUIT

October 7, 2011Read: Galatians 5

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” --Galatians 5:22

There aren’t many things that make me as happy and content as perfectly ripened fresh fruit.  I love to walk into the market and smell the fresh peaches as I pass, see the bananas yellow to perfection. Perfectly ripened fruit doesn’t just “happen." It is a process that takes time, patience, and growth.  There are many factors that come into play when I ultimately choose the perfect Gala apple to put in my basket and take home.

I often wonder if God sees us as His ripened fruit. Sometimes we end up the best of the bunch and other times we are a more banged-up version of ourselves.  But, the awesome part is that even when we have bumps and bruises, He still picks us. To Him, we're keepers.  We don’t have to be perfectly ripened. We're in His basket and He proudly takes us home.

--Allison King Earnst

PrayFit's newest executive team member is a fitness expert, motivator, competitor and mother of three. She's been featured in numerous magazines including FitParent, Natural Muscle and Oxygen magazine. She has shared her fitness story on Good Morning America, Extra TV and Lifetime's "The Balancing Act."

PRAYFIT: WEEK IN REVIEW

Faith

>> NO HILL FOR A CLIMBER: Exhausted, He still climbed mountains to pray. When was the last time you were out of breath for Him?

>> SWING AWAY: Today's sunrise is the only sign you need to step up and swing away

>> AGREEMENT ISN'T ENOUGH: When you answer the call, it's the body that gets the soul where it needs to go

>> MISFITS SELDOM DO: Don't fit in with a world that disregards health as a means of praise?

Fitness

>> MASTERING THE PUSH-UP: Practicing variations of this fundamental move can improve your gains

>> THE DAIRY DEBATE: Is dairy beneficial or detrimental to your overall health?

>> NUTRITION Q&A: Should you be taking artificial sweeteners?

>> WORKOUT: Four moves for great abs

GEAR UP: Looking for PrayFit hats, shirts, wristbands and more? Visit the PrayFit store for the perfect gift today.

I'LL DRIVE

August 25, 2011Read: Psalm 139

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." --Psalm 139:14

"Jimmy, you drive." Those three innocent words used to cause me serious panic. Well, it wasn't so much what was said, but who said it. Growing up, whenever the family went anywhere, Dad drove. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times he didn't. But on the other hand, when I got old enough to drive, he'd surprise me and want to take my truck.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't so much the driving that worried me, but it was the condition of my truck. See, I wasn't a neat freak. Alright, that's putting it mildly. I was kinda messy. (My mom and Loretta are both nodding and shaking their heads right about now.) And whenever Dad caught me off guard, his disappointment in how I was taking care of the truck he gave me was like a dagger.

See, to Dad, that truck was more than something to get me from here to there. It was a gift that he practically built with his own hands. And my negligence might as well have been a blow to the gut. Speaking of, at PrayFit, we believe that our effort to be healthy, whether it be to lose weight or lower our blood pressure, is a way to show God just how thankful we are for the body He made to get us through life. Hypothetically speaking, if God asked us to take Him from here to there, in what condition would He find us? On second thought, since He lives inside our hearts, that's not all that hypothetical after all.

--J.P.

Q&A: FRUIT'S FINAL DESTINATION A healthy solution for overripe produce

Q: I often end up with a lot of fruit going bad around my house. It's not because I don't eat it -- it's because I don't eat it fast enough. Should I just buy less?

A: "A blender or food processor is a great destination for surplus fruit or fruit that is overripe but not yet spoiled," says PrayFit contributing nutritionist Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD. "Many people tell me that they hesitate to buy too much fresh produce because they cannot use it quickly enough before it goes bad, but you can make a delicious, healthy smoothie out of those surplus berries or those bananas that are getting soft."

Here's Miller's fix: "Combine one cup of plain, non-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt with 1-2 cups of fruit, a few ice cubes, and blend to the consistency you desire. You may freeze the fruit first and choose to omit the ice. Boost the nutrients in your drink by adding 1-2 tablespoons of toasted wheat germ or flaxseeds, or 1 tablespoon of nut butter. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves lend flavor as well."

Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian and works at a Washington, D.C.-based independent, nonprofit science organization, where her work is currently focused on environmental and policy solutions to obesity prevention. She also speaks to groups about health and nutrition and provides nutrition education to patients at a free medical clinic that serves low-income, uninsured adults in the D.C. area. You can view more of Emily’s nutrition tips and updates by following her on Twitter, @EmilyAMillerRD.

>> "PRAYER" FIT: Stop by the prayer requests forum to share issues that are heavy on your heart, or simply to read up and pray for others.

 

 

TEMP HOUSING

January 27, 2011Read: 2 Corinthians 4

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, and what is unseen is eternal." --2 Corinthians 4:18

During a recent book tour and business trip, I spent a couple weeks in a particular city helping an important client. He was gracious to put me up in a very nice condo while I was there. But, despite my short stay, anyone who knows me knows I don't travel well, and the more like home I can make things, the better. So Loretta sent me with my favorite movies, books, my pillow...basically, anything from home I could fit in my carry-on, I took.

But no matter how much I tried, that condo still felt foreign. Despite what I dressed it up with, it was nothing more than temp housing. Nonetheless, I kept it as clean as possible during my stay simply because of the client I represented.

You know, there's a reason why this world feels foreign, and these bodies like temp housing: they are. But because of Who we represent, best we can do is take care of them during our short stay. We'll be home soon enough.

--J.P.

LEMON DROPPED

What’s better than the tangy and sour pucker of a juicy lemon? I love them so much I’ve got my own lemon trees. There’s more to this fruit than just lemonade — learn why these citrus fruits are so good for you, and how to use them everywhere from appetizers to desserts.

What, Where & When Brought to North America by Christopher Columbus, lemons played a very important role for centuries, providing vitamin C and protecting sailors from the nutrient deficiency known as “scurvy.”

California and Florida are the leading producers in the U.S., with peak season running through the winter months.

Lemon trees can be identified by electric green and oval-shaped leaves (they make beautiful greenery for flower arrangements). When producing fruit, the tree’s tiny white flowers omit a citrus perfume as they bloom.

Common varieties include Eureka, Ponderosa and Lisbon. A slightly less well-known variety is the Meyer lemon, a crossbreed between a lemon and an orange. Native to China, the juice is sweeter and less acidic. They’re divine for salad dressings, sauces, drinks and desserts. You’ll typically find these lemons in your grocery store in the early spring.

Nutrition Facts The juice of one lemon packs in the flavor for only 12 little calories and more than 35 percent of your daily needs for vitamins C. Lemons also contain fiber, B-vitamins, magnesium, health-protecting flavonoids, and the antioxidant limonene. Limonene is believed to have anti-cancer properties, but more research is needed.

What To Do With Lemons Lemons are so extraordinary because they know no culinary boundaries. From sweet and savory, cakes and cookies to main courses and cocktails, the juice, pulp and peel add the perfect hint of brightness and acidity.  Use the juice to perk up sautéed or roasted veggies or melt down with sugar to make lemon simple syrup for drinks and desserts. Use the grated zest to liven up cream cheese, give flavor to marinades, or add flecks of flavor to cookies.

Shopping Tip Choose lemons that are bright yellow, firm, plump and heavy for their size. Store for up to a week at room temperature or in the refrigerator drawer for 2-3 weeks.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.