Monday, September 22, 2014

Dancer Chow

One of my great passions besides dance is food. I love food. Food is my favorite. I like meats, poultry, veggies, fish, breads, grains, fruits... I'll try anything once, and I'm probably inclined to like it. I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to research recipes, I love nutrition and food science... if I could have a cooking show right now, I would.

Here are some of my favorite tips to keeping your food healthy and delicious at the same time, to make sure you get the right nutrition to keep your dance engine humming along!

1)  Creamy recipe?  Use Greek Yogurt!

Replace cream, milk, sour cream, half-and-half, or anything similar with Greek Yogurt.  It's delicious, nutritious, and probiotic.

2)  Ditch the sugar, embrace the honey!

Honey comes in so many delightful varieties... orange honey is a great way to add Vitamin C when using it to replace sugar. Clover honey is like kissing an elf.  Sourwood honey is a great replacement for syrup and butter on pancakes. And just plain honey pairs well with anything... try it in your coffee. I'm serious.  Honey is also a natural antibiotic, so slather it freely on any of your dance blisters or sword-balancing stab wounds. It also has a better Glycemic Index rating than sugar, preventing the dreaded "sugar rush" and "sugar crash", and you tend to use less honey because it's sweeter than table sugar.

3)  Add your own salt!

I buy no- or low-sodium canned vegetables and stocks.  This isn't because Salt is Evil... it's necessary to support life! Also, it makes food delicious!  What I don't like is sneaky salt. I'd rather salt my own recipes to the appropriate level instead of dumping salt on top of more salt.

3)  Put down the frying pan!

Okay, I love fried, crispy, greasy anything. If it's fried, it's awesome. Especially if it's fried in butter... But there are many other ways to get delicious crispy texture while keeping fried food at a minimum.  Saute vegetables in cooking spray, or roll meat in breadcrumbs and bake it.  Roast your vegetables in the broiler or over an open flame, if you have it.

4)  Healthy does NOT mean bland!

Just because something is good for you doesn't mean it has to have a weak flavor.  Add spices, herbs, vinegar, even a dash of alcohol (red wine + literally anything = mmmmm...) to create a rich flavor. In my house, we go through garlic and lemon juice the same way some people go through bread and milk.

5)  Cook to WIN

Yes, you can win at cooking.  Make big batches of whatever you're making, so you have leftovers for another day, or just to bring to work for lunch.  Set yourself up for success so you can keep dancing.

6)  Weight, what?

Don't worry about the number on the scale! There are dancers of all shapes and sizes at all levels in all styles. Some of these tips might help you lose weight, if that's your goal, but the most important thing is to take care of and honor the body you're in. Dancers need fuel, and they need the best fuel they can get to keep it going during practices, drills, warm ups, and performances. The one and only Grace always tells us to dance in the body we are in, and that's wonderful advice... to work on improving, but not to kill yourself trying to imitate someone else. All of these food tips are merely to make the body you have, own, and move as efficient and well-fueled as it can be.

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