Vegetarian? Vege-curious? You Should be Eating This

By now, you know variety is the key to any successful fitness routine. We’re talking about your workouts, yes, but we’re also talking about how you recover, particularly when it comes to your diet. After all, there are only so many ways you can throw grilled fish or chicken on a salad and trick yourself into thinking it’s something new.

In recent years, poke has become a trendy way to get that variety. It started in Hawaii, then began popping up on at high-end restaurant menus, then made its way to specialty spots, until finally it seemed like every strip mall in America had a poke shop. (Which is fine, we’re just observing the trend.)

So when we noticed dosa popping up on a few trendy restaurant menus — including Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s all-vegetarian ABCV in New York City — we wondered: Is dosa the new poke?


First, let’s take a step back. Dosa is an Indian food, often described as a sort of pancake or crepe. But unlike a pancake or crepe, it’s actually … good for you. That’s because it’s made with fermented batter, based on rice and lentils — a real dynamic duo when it comes to healthy eating. As Sidney Fry, a James Beard Award-winning dietitian, points out, “Anything that is fermented tends to be very good for the gut. It allows some of the vitamins and minerals to be more bio-available and stimulates certain bacteria.” As Fry note, those lentils are, like their relative the chickpea, a great source of protein. “And along with that legume comes antioxidants,” Fry adds, “which are very good for energy, good for anti-inflammatory.”

All of which makes dosa an especially useful option for vegetarians, given the high amount of protein. But even carnivores can appreciate dosa’s other advantage: versatility. Like a healthier version of a tortilla, it can be filled with just about anything. That means you can add delicious, healthy things as you see fit, and mix it up from day to day or week to week.


If you need ideas, consider that at ABCV, dosa comes with yogurt, avocado and sprouts. More traditionally, spiced potatoes are stuffed inside to make masala dosa. (“A lot of Indian spices are good for you,” Fry says. Turmeric, for example, is often used to treat inflammation.) Or just throw in some cooked or raw vegetables. Top it off with a healthy chutney, and you’re good to go.


Now, there are some drawbacks to dosa. There are a lot of carbs, even if they are healthy carbs. Unlike a salad (or even poke), it can take a long time to prepare — because fermentation is involved, you’ll need to prep it overnight. (This is why seeking it out at a restaurant might be more attractive.) And it’s typically cooked in fat, which as Fry points out, can make it the kind of thing that’s easy to overeat.

That said, it’s delicious and, again, endlessly versatile. “It’s something you can make a large quantity of and store or freeze,” Fry says. “And it’s good any time of day — breakfast, lunch or dinner. With yogurt or with soups. Hot or cold. Plain or wrapped or filled.” So, we suspect we’ll be seeing more dosa — maybe even at your local strip mall.

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How Charlotte Finished Her First Half Ironman Triathlon

‘It’s not over until I win.’

This was the Les Brown quote Charlotte Kooima had written on her arm during her first Half Ironman triathlon. And for the 46-year-old, crossing the finish line was most certainly a personal victory.

Inspired by her sister’s 1998 marathon finish, Kooima embarked on her own marathon journey that same year. She knew training wouldn’t be as easy in her rural Iowa town of just 7,000 people with no running store, training groups or major support system.

“I’m crazy and nuts by nature and wired to be super independent,” she says with a laugh. “My husband married nuts!”

Since beginning her journey to 26.2 miles, Kooima completed 10 marathons before adopting the first of their two daughters in 2006. “When I became a mom, I willingly put my life on the back burner and did the mom thing,” she recalls. “I just told myself that I had a good run at all of the marathon stuff.”

The realities of motherhood and caregiving enveloped her life for the next eight years. During this time, both her mother and grandmother got sick, and she found herself taking care of her parents and her children.

Kooima knew she had plenty of good to give, but had lost herself and her athlete identity along the way. She gained a substantial amount of weight and generally felt pretty bad about herself. It was a walk with her kids in 2014 that proved to be the pivotal moment in her fitness journey.

“I’m not built like a runner or triathlete, but I’ve got guts and more grit than you will ever know.”

She remembers that day vividly when she admitted out loud, “I’m not happy, and I’m tired of slapping on a smile for everyone!” She missed the endorphin surge of running, along with the stiff muscles and sweating that came with it. Then and there, Kooima committed to bringing herself back to running and fitness.

While the best-laid plans are always full of good intentions, a freak fall during a run and subsequent foot surgery in late 2014 stopped Kooima in her tracks shortly after she started training and racing again. She found her goals on the back burner once again.

“Thankfully, I am very stubborn and my goal was to return stronger than before,” she says. She even remembers telling the surgeon, “I don’t care what you have to do — get that foot back to the point of running!”

Samsung and Under Armour have collaborated to inspire you to push beyond your comfort zone and take on your own ‘Firsts.’ Join Under Armour’s Kyle Dietz, a former MMA-athlete-turned-trail-runner on a challenge that will celebrate individual running milestones.

To aid in her training efforts, Kooima started logging her workouts and keeping track of mileage and food intake, resulting in a 30-pound weight loss.

In 2015, Kooima embarked on her comeback 2.0 — with a vengeance. In addition to running seven half marathons in nine weeks, Kooima also completed her first sprint-distance triathlon. It was a small race with about 30 athletes and she admits she didn’t know what she was doing.

“I went with the flow,” she says. “I enjoy each component of the triathlon, but I just didn’t know if I could put them together.” Luckily, she was able to put them together and found a new passion — and challenge.


Kooima tore into triathlons in 2016, completing eight sprint-distance races. Her mind started to drift to the thought of eventually attempting a half Ironman distance triathlon (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run) but she feared telling people her goals and aspirations because of how she thought people viewed her.

“I’m not built like a runner or triathlete,” she says emphatically. “But I’ve got guts and more grit than you will ever know.”

The thought of doing an Ironman-branded race posed a new challenge, and once her brain took hold of the challenge, she knew she had to do it. She started her training mostly in private. She trained through the harsh Iowa winter — mostly on treadmills and bike trainers — in the early morning and daytime hours so that she could be present for her family in the evenings. Save for a handful of friends and family, she told no one of her plans to take on the 2017 Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 race. As much as she hates to admit it, she was afraid of failing and still had plenty of doubts.

Confident in the bike and run, the swim became Kooima’s biggest obstacle. During her first Olympic-distance triathlon, she had suffered a panic attack because it was her first time in a wetsuit, which can feel very constricting if you’re not used to the tightness.  

Knowing a wetsuit would be in her future and determined not to repeat that fearful moment, Kooima drove to Madison, Wisconsin, for an Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 training camp. She hoped the camp would allow her to experience the atmosphere and the course conditions as they might be on race day. Unfortunately, her practice swim triggered the same wetsuit panic she felt months prior and, for the first time, she was ready to throw in the towel. She even texted a friend, saying, “This is where I end.” His response? “Oh, no it’s not.”

“I had my pity party for a few minutes,” she recalls. “But my friend flipped that switch for me. It’s amazing what you can do when someone believes in you.”


Her moment of truth came on June 10, 2017: Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 race day. This was the culmination of regaining a sense of pride, identity and achieving a goal she never thought possible. Charlotte Kooima was toeing the line at her first half Ironman triathlon.

Given her recent swim experiences, she was most fearful of the swim, but she simply started off slow. A few breast strokes helped make her comfortable in the water and before she knew it, the swim leg was over — without so much as a second thought.

“I remember smiling so big in the water,” says Kooima. “I conquered the swim and could’ve cared less about how the rest of the race went!”

Unfortunately, the race didn’t go as smooth as she had hoped, but her spunky attitude and determination continued to propel her. At one point on the bike leg, she dropped her chain on a hill, but quickly got off the bike and fixed it, giving the hill a piece of her mind, shouting “Not today hills! You’ve got nothing on me! I’ve worked too hard and have come too far!”

“I don’t think we challenge ourselves enough or give ourselves enough credit. Never underestimate the inner self.”

After 56 miles on the bike, Kooima started the 13.1-mile run to the finish line. Her favorite sport was actually her toughest that day because she had underestimated her caloric needs and found herself completely bonking on the run.

“By mile 6, I wanted to throw up because I was drinking so much water and not enough electrolytes,” she says. “My stomach was sloshing around.”

It was a low point, but it never occurred to her to stop. “I just kept telling myself that I have to get around this lake to get back to my bike. I have no choice. I have to keep moving.”

As she approached the finish chute, she received the push she needed from one of the volunteers, who shouted “Now is the time for the guts!” Kooima felt like that was meant for her, and in that moment, she knew she had the guts to finish.

Kooima picked up the pace and ran across that finish line of her most difficult, but rewarding race. “It’s so special because I didn’t think I could,” she gushes. “I had to dig deeper than ever before. I don’t think we challenge ourselves enough or give ourselves enough credit. Never underestimate the inner self.”

Her advice to others who want to challenge themselves? “Find your inner strength. Everyone has it,” she says. “We all have endurance in something and you will surprise yourself. Don’t listen to the negativity that comes with the mind!”

Most important, though, Kooima gives her favorite tip: “Always finish with a smile.”

Written by Carrie Barrett, an IRONMAN Certified Coach, a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach and a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. She is a contributor to Austin Fit Magazine, and other running and triathlon-related outlets. She is also the author of two e-books on the sport of triathlon available on Amazon.

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10 Mood-Boosting Ingredients to Stock Up On

Coming off of the energy of summer — along with shorter days and cooler temperatures — it’s natural to feel zapped of energy come fall. But some foods build neurotransmitters which can help boost our mood and energy. While there are more than 70 different neurotransmitters that help control appetite, memory, mental function, energy and sleep, there are three specific hormones — serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine — that are especially important in mood and energy regulation.

Here are 10 foods high in these healthy hormones and other nutrients to keep you energized as the seasons change:

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5 Rules for a Quick Stretch Session

You know it’s good to stretch after your workout, but let’s be real: We’ve all been that person who “sneaks” out during the cool-down as if the instructor can’t see us. Or that person who lifts and leaves. Or that person who hops off the elliptical and right to the locker room. We’re just too busy, right?

Turns out, our muscles might disagree. Muscles are best stretched when they are warm, says Jessica Matthews, award-winning fitness instructor and senior advisor for health and fitness education for the American Council on Exercise. That’s why experts advise doing static stretching after, rather than before, exercise.

All you need is five minutes. “Flexibility is such a vital, yet often overlooked, health-related component of fitness,” says Matthews, author ofStretching to Stay Young.” “Devoting five minutes to stretching post-workout is better than skipping it all together.”

Simply follow these five tips, and you’ll get an effective, efficient stretch in practically no time (or, five minutes):


Our bodies have more than 600 muscles. The good news is you don’t need to stretch every one of them. Instead, use stretches that target multiple areas of the body at once to maximize your time. For example, a stretch like reverse tabletop (borrowed from yoga) stretches the muscles of the chest and the hip flexors, Matthews says.


“Keep in mind key areas of the body that are designed to be mobile,” Matthews says. This includes the ankles, hips, thoracic spine and glenohumeral/shoulder joint. If you aren’t familiar with all of those, simply remember the calves, hip flexors, hamstrings and chest, which not only tend to be tight but also are involved in producing movements at those four key joints. Stretch them, and you’ll move better during exercise and everyday activities.


To enhance muscle relaxation and improve overall range of motion, it is ideal to stretch muscles in various positions, Matthews says. “Stretching across the different planes of motion provides a more functional representation of how the body moves in everyday life,” she explains. So don’t just sit and reach — move your body in all three planes of motion: forward and backward, side-to-side and rotational.


It’s ideal to hold each stretch for 15–30 seconds, building up to a total of a minute if you can, Matthews says. “When you hold a stretch for at least 15 seconds, the muscle spindle gradually becomes accustomed to the new length, leading to the greatest improvements in flexibility,” she explains.



Not that you would forget, but breathing leads to a more beneficial stretch. “Studies have shown that when you consciously focus on relaxing the muscles that are specifically being stretched, it can lead to improved range of motion,” Matthews says. She recommends slow, rhythmic breathing when performing static stretches. If you don’t want to count seconds, count your breaths. Five to six slow, controlled breaths is at least 15 seconds, if not longer.

If you have a few extra minutes, by all means do more. “It is most optimal to accumulate 60 seconds per stretch and to perform stretches for all major muscle-tendon groups,” Matthews says. She likes at least 10 minutes of post-workout stretching, when you can convince yourself that you do, indeed, have the time.


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