Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup, GF, DF and Vegan

When the weather starts to turn cold, or when it’s already cold and you’d like something to warm up the body, soup is an awesome option. And one of my favorites is split pea soup. I’m not the biggest fan of pork, so I make my split pea soup without. There are many delicious versions available with ham bones, or chopped ham, just not this one. But you can always add ham to this if you’d prefer.

Split peas give you a multitude of benefits. These include:

Fiber: 19g of fiber=cholesterol lowering benefits, better GI system and unfortunately for your spouse, gas

Protein: Split peas provide an awesome amount of protein- 22g per 1/2 cup split peas

B-vitamins: 45% RDI in 1/2 cup split peas

Molybednum: 30% of the RDI in 1/2 cup split peas

Copper: 40% RDI in 1/2 cup split peas

Also, they are available all year round, they are inexpensive and they help to stabilize blood sugar. Because of their high fiber content, they keep blood sugar regulated, even though they are high in carbohydrates. In addition to the split peas, this soup is chock full of veggies as well as the African grain millet. Millet is low in phytic acid (can block the absorption of some minerals) high in fiber, iron, calcium and B-vitamins.

When you don’t have time to cook a soup for 2-3 hours, throw it in a crockpot. This split pea soup cooks in 8-10 hours on low, or could be done in 4-6 hours on high. Serve with whole wheat bread if you need to up your carbohydrates.

Split Pea Soup:

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 cups onion, chopped
  • 1.5 cups celery, chopped
  • 1.5 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1.5 cups sweet potato, chopped
  • 2.5 cups/1lb dried split peas
  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 8 cups lower sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp crushed rosemary
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste
  1. Chop all veggies.
  2. Throw the veggies into the crockpot. Add the peas, millet, broth, water and spices. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours.

Nutrition: 12 cups, each serving 2 cups

  • 473kcal
  • 83g carbohydrate
  • 29g protein
  • 5g fat
  • 25g fiber
  • 310mg sodium



Exciting News!!!

There’s a lot of exciting things happening at Fueled and Focused, and I’m so excited to share them. I’ve been waiting to write this post for the past year and a half. So finally! As you know I try to bring you posts that are interesting, current, beneficial and pretty impartial. So even though I shoot for that the majority of the time, I also want to share about my life, because truly, I am Fueled and Focused. My business just isn’t a job, it’s a passion and what I love. So I hope you don’t mind hearing about my surgery, the long and painful recovery, how Brett wishes I don’t cook so many things with sweet potatoes (or other squash) or just about me. Since you get both the science and nutrition behind F&F, and me. So what’s the exciting news you say????

Well, tomorrow, when you go to (this current blog), you’ll get my brand new nutrition site. And what’s so great about that? Let me tell you a story… A year and a half ago, I was preparing for hamstring surgery, not understanding the magnitude of what was about to happen, and how long the recovery was. I was trying to give my nutrition athletes their last minute analysis, recipes, meal plans, etc. I got it all in, and went to surgery. Fast forward a few weeks later, and I was at my parents in NY. The surgery was so complicated that the post op was intense. I needed pretty much someone with me, or at my beck and call at all times. I couldn’t go to the bathroom, put on clothes, change my ice machine water, etc. Brett was in school and had to work, so he really couldn’t just drop those. My mom is retired, so she was my nurse. So there I was, lying in bed (since I couldn’t do much), and it hit me. A way to help more athletes achieve their nutrition goals.

So many athletes come to me and say “just write me a week or two nutrition meal plan, I’ll repeat it a few times to make a month. This way I’ll know exactly what I should be eating.” Or “I know what to eat, but I get stuck trying to come up with recipes.” Sound familiar to anyone? Normally, when I write a meal plan it takes several hours. First I have to analyze the athlete’s metrics-how much do they weigh, how much do they want to weigh, how much are they training, what is their sport, what are their goals, etc. Then, they fill out a food preferences questionnaire. Taking their metrics, their training schedule and their preferences, I would create a plan. I loved doing it, but it was time intensive. So, back to laying in bed. One day it came to me, I should come up with a way to make it a more automated process, and reach many more athletes. An athlete could put in all the info they normally give me, and it would provide their ideal calorie level and macornutrient amounts. Then, based on those, it would provide recipes that fit those requirements. And…that’s what I did.

Fueled and Focused is now a nutrition software/meal planning site. In addition to continuing to be an endurance coach and a 1:1 nutrition coach, I’ll also be providing 3 levels of guidance. #1, bronze-you’re good on your own, no guidance needed. #2 silver- you’re pretty much good, but you’d like the ability to send me some emails for questions to be answered and #3-Gold-You’d like to have a bit more nutrition coaching, and get to have a call or skype session with me every month.

Currently we have a 1 month trial for only $1!!! So, you can try F&F and see if you like the program, at literally no cost. If you like the program, it’s only $19/month. The silver and gold levels are a bit more, but not much more for everything you get. There are currently around 450 recipes on the site (yes Brett had to test them all), but there are only about 350 individual recipes. The reason for this is, I normally create two nutrient levels for each meal. So, someone might need 400kcal, while someone else needs 650kcal/meal. So you’ll see the same names, but they are different. There are a mixtures of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Each week more recipes will be added, so your choices will never get boring. There are three options to choose from-traditional (you eat everything), vegetarian (lacto-ovo) and gluten free-dairy free. In the future we might be changing things so you have even more options to choose from.

Pretty exciting right! Hopefully you can feel my excitement. I am so passionate about helping athletes to achieve their goals, and I love what I do. This will allow me to have even more 1:1 time with athletes, while being able to reach more athletes who just needed help with meal planning.

In addition to that exciting news, here are a few more:

  • Brett’s doing awesome at his new job in Dallas
  • We’re closing on our first house in Dallas in just a another week
  • The dogs and I will be joining Brett in a few weeks-can’t wait!
  • I just turned in my thesis and my final exam for the International Olympic Committee’s Sports Nutrition Diploma-graduation in the spring after 2 long and challenging years
  • I’ll start my final year of my masters in exercise physiology/sports nutrition next year
  • I’ve been able to increase my running and I’m up to 30min, almost pain free. I’m starting to feel like an athlete again!
  • I’ve been asked to work with several top Olympic Swimmers on their nutrition- WooHoo

So there are a lot of exciting things happening, and I’m ready to go.  Side note: this blog will still continue, it will just be on the new website. I’m still going to be posting nutrition info and news, but the recipes will now for the most part, be on the site. If you haven’t, please go to Facebook and like my company page, Fueled and Focused. I have a twitter account, but I’m not as active as I should be yet.

Thanks for reading this, supporting me and I hope you are excited to get Fueled and Focused! Kinda corny, sorry 🙂

I also want to thank Alex Tong for providing a lot of the pictures for the site, Sammy Elfatrany for the design, Jackie Boone for the content critique, Eagle Dream for converting my nutrition formulas to code, my beta testers, my friends for being great and of course my family for putting up with me through this new venture.


Sports Nutrition for Youth Ages 13&Up… Part 2

It’s time to tackle Part 2 of Sports Nutrition, Ages 13&up. I’ve been pretty busy with my nutrition site (almost done), working on my IOC thesis and getting ready for our move to Texas. So I apologize for the tardiness in posting this next section. Along these same lines, I just did a podcast with Dr. John Mullen of Cor Training in Santa Clara California. We spoke on nutrition specifically for swimmers. We started off on youth swimming, but he asked several questions pertaining to masters age swimming as well. And for those that don’t know, Masters is really anyone age 18 or older. Think college age and up. The Podcast is about 35min in length, and can be heard here. Because I don’t read from a script, I sometimes forget things I had meant to say. Thankfully Dr. Mullen added some of the thoughts that I had meant to say. They are also on the same page as the podcast.


Everyone seems to be on a protein kick. The media hears something, and it’s spread far and wide. Sometimes they get things right, and sometimes they are wrong. In protein’s case, they got it right. But they took it to the extreme. Protein is very important for athletes, and youth athletes need more protein than their same age non athlete counterparts. But, when speaking with parents, some seem to think that is all they need. In reality, it is no more important than carbohydrates. Where you want to focus on is you just want to make sure you are taking in protein at the right times.

Protein Benefits:

  • muscle growth
  • muscle rebuilding/repair
  • satiety (makes you feel full/satisfied)


  • 30-60min post hard workout or race, you should be taking in 20-25g of protein.
  • There is really an optimum window to see the most benefit (the 30-60min), however if you are unable to get in the protein in the window, there is new evidence that shows protein synthesis can and will continue at a high rate for several hours. Just do your best to get it in as close to the window as possible.
  • There is no need for youth athletes to take in protein during practice or competition. The only times I recommend for athletes to take in protein while training or racing is if they are going over 4-6 hours. I can’t think of any youth athletes going over this amount. If they were, I’d want to re-consider the approach that the coach is taking.

Protein Types:

  • Dairy is the best protein for athletes due to the amino acid leucine. Leucine is one of the branch chain amino acids. These can’t be made by the body, they must be eaten. Leucine has the highest rate of protein synthesis. So in other words, it will help your muscles to grow, repair and rebuild the fastest.
  • If an athlete is vegan or lactose intolerant, there are many other high quality proteins in the market. These include eggs, chicken, fish, beans, nuts, legumes, peas, and protein powders derived from these.

How Much:

examples: 4oz chicken breast: 30-40g protein, 1 egg: 6g protein, 1/2 cup peas: 5g protein

Boys: 15-25% of daily calories, 1-1.5g/kg/day= 115-180g/day.

Girls: 15-25% of daily calories, 1-1.5g/kg/day= 83-150g/day

Periodizing Nutrition around your Season:

*not all coaches and athletes train using periodization. In fact I know of several national coaches who don’t. I find merit in it, so I think it’s a good discussion at least.

What is periodization: Some of you might not even know that you’re training via periodization. What it means is, your season is broken down into macro and micro cycles, where each one of those cycles is designed to elicit a specific training adaptation. Let’s look at swimming.

You have 3 “A” races or championships. I’m going to make this up, but let’s say they are in April, August and December.

  1. January- coming off the holidays, swimming long, moderate practice-maybe strength focus
  2. February- long moderate efforts, strength focus, starting to bring in some speed
  3. March- race specific efforts, higher intensity, shorter practices-taper
  4. April- A race
  5. May- back to longer more moderate/hard practices
  6. June- combo of moderate and hard
  7. July- race specific efforts, more rest-into taper
  8. August- A race
  9. September- back to longer more moderate/hard efforts
  10. October- moderate hard efforts
  11. November- race specific effort into taper
  12. December- A Race

So, looking at the calendar like this, a coach might be training a swimmer to have macro cycles of base yardage, strength yardage, building up towards race, race specific targets, taper, then racing.

Here are some other examples of something I created for a swim team.

Prep/Base Training: High volume, low to moderate intensity-can last several months
-Large calorie amounts to support training (up to 3-5,000kcal/day)
-Large amounts of carbohydrates-some carb reduction if needed
-Periodize macronutrients to maximize body composition changes
High Intensity/Specific Training: Moderate volume, moderate to high intensity- can last several months
-Moderate caloric amounts (2500-4,000kcal/day)
-High carb availability-quality training needs quality nutrition

Taper and Competition Phase: Lowest volume of training, high intensity-2-3 weeks
Reduce caloric intake to 2000-3000kcal to match energy expenditure
Goal is to fuel working muscles, while not gaining weight
Carbohydrate intake should reduce, however keep the percentage of macronutrients high- 50-60% carb, or up to 8-10g/kg in the days before

Recovery/Offseason (those few weeks)
Nutrition recommendations similar to youth of similar age
Some minor weight gain, no more than 5%

In the same way an athlete uses their season to build, focus on different areas, prepare for racing, then taper, you want to treat your nutrition the same way. When you are training easier days/periods, your nutrition could reflect less calories, less focus on carbohydrates. As your training gets harder, the focus should be shifting to more of a carbohydrate focus. Then, during taper, it’s key to keep up the carbs, while scaling back on overall calories so that extra weight being put on is avoided.

It’s also important to note that trying to lose weight should only occur in the off season, or base training where efforts are easy, to moderate. Once you are doing race specific efforts, you do not want the focus to be trying to lose weight, or your performance might suffer.

Disordered Eating:

Disordered eating is a special topic of mine. It is such a huge topic, that I’ll want to spend more time on it in a separate post. But here are some things I want you to take away:

  • Please do not put a huge emphasis on weight. It is important for athletes to understand the importance of a healthy weight, but this is different from really emphasizing it. Especially parents who comment on their own body weight. This is not healthy for youth athletes to hear.
  • Don’t use terms such as “bad food” or “good food.” Use terms such as “this food will benefit your performance” And make sure as parents, you are practicing what you preach.
  • Some athletes might be still in puberty, and their body is still growing and changing. Take this into consideration.
  • Young female (and male) athletes can be very sensitive about their weight-aesthetic sports have the highest rate of eating disorders. Aesthetic sports are those classified as sports where physique is highly regarded. Ex. gymnastics, swimming, figure skating, running, and for older athletes, body building.
  • Please have a physician, dietician or sports nutritionist on board so you have someone to work with. It is important to seek more guidance if you feel like your youth athlete, or someone you might coach is having troubles with food or appearance.


Quality nutrition is always recommended as the first step to achieving athletic success. Of course good coaching, training and sleep also come into play. But this is a question I’m always asked about. Athletes always want to know what is going to make them faster, stronger, etc. Just as some look at diet pills as a quick fix (that don’t work), athletes look at supplements. And there are certainly supplements that will be beneficial for athletes.

Here’s my take.

  1. Put all your ducks in a row with training, coaching and sleep
  2. Each high quality foods
  3. Use functional foods
  4. Try supplements if your coach/parents are ok with them.

What are Functional Foods:

  • Foods that can be performance enhancing by either performance gains, recovery gains, immune system gains and overall health gains.

My top Functional Foods: (in no particular order)

  • Probiotics- examples: fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut- assist with GI health and the immune system- read more
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids: fatty fish like salmon, nuts- assist with inflammation- read more
  • Tart Cherry Juice- assists with fatigue, inflammation and soreness- read more
  • Beets- beet juice or whole beets-assists by providing nitrates, decreasing the amount of oxygen needed to do a specific exercise, making it easier-read more

So try those, then if you’d like, these supplements have a lot of good research behind them. I am still a fan of most youth athletes only experimenting with quality nutrition and functional foods. If parents, coaches and physicians are on board, here are 3 to try.


  • Creatine– creatine is found in meat, but is more commonly heard about in supplement form. I have done an entire blog post on this supplement. If you’re interested, read more
  • Caffeine– a very common supplement that has a lot of great info about it. Some youth athletes are already drinking coffee. When I was a youth athlete, this was not the norm. Most research finds that caffeine helps with performance taken in amounts up to 6mg/kg (usually 3-6mg/kg). So a 120lb athlete=55kg=327mg caffeine. This can equal 2-3 cups of coffee. Caffeine powder is deadly, so please don’t attempt to make your own caffeinated drinks with it. Stick to coffee or a tablet. Also, there is a max dose allowed for competition in college. NCAA  rules are 15mcg/ml, which is the equivalent to about 15 cups of coffee in one sitting. I’m not sure if anyone could survive that, although someone must have to be able to create that limit.
  • Beta Alanine-  one of the non essential amino acids. It has been determined to be the rate limiting step in the production of carnosine. Carnosine is beneficial to athletes as it is a intracellular buffer. So, as exercise intensity goes up, so does lactate production and the release of H+ ions. It is these hydrogen ions that cause the burning pain when exercising. If you can buffer the hydrogen ions, you’ll be able to exercise longer without slowing down or needing to stop. Beta alanine is a supplement that doesn’t work for everyone, so you’ll need to take it to be able to tell if it has a noticeable effect on yourself or the athlete.

*If an athlete takes a vitamin  or another supplement, please be sure it’s NSF certified- This will ensure that it has been tested and does not contain any banned substances.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 4 part series on sports nutrition for youth athletes, ages 12&under and 13&up. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them in the comment section below. Please pass this on to anyone that you think might benefit from it.