The Athlete Mindset

Think you're not an athlete? Think again.

By: Jeremiah Rowe, CSCS, CPPS

The fitness industry is inundated with poor advice for lifters of all demographics. You see it when you go to your big box gym; that guy with 5 plates on each side of the bar, quarter-squatting his way to imminent lumbar disk herniations. You see it with the Instagram “influencers” spouting off their supplement recommendations and their promotion for fit teas and Botox. You see it in high school (and COLLEGE) athletics programs where the football coach hands his entire team the same workout plan to be followed, with next to zero oversight, for the next 3 months. The workout will have 12 exercises, each for 3 sets of 8-10 reps, except for bench press, of course. They’ll be maxing out on that every Monday. Perfect.

To paraphrase the great Michael Jordan, “”I take that personally.” That is why, when I was offered the position as head strength coach of Case Specific Wellness Center, I started visualizing what my future days would look like at this dream facility. I could hear the metal weights on the bench press clanging like church bells, calling everyone in earshot to give their attention to this sacred altar. 

I saw the hard-nosed, blue collar, western Pennsylvania football stars pushing a few hundred pounds of steel across the turf, their legs feeling like they’re disintegrating from their bodies, but still somehow finding that inner drive to push their knee to their chest and take another step, one after another. Over here an unassuming freshman girls’ soccer player is about to hit 135 lbs on her trap bar deadlift for the first time, and the rag-tag group of kids from various other teams and sports are encircling her, yelling and clapping as she grinds through her set and lifts two 45lb plates off the floor for the first time.

Yes. These athletes are working hard, but they’re working SMART, too. This idea is what turned my vision from Case Specific Wellness into Case Specific Athletics. I want to provide intelligent strength and conditioning coaching to athletes and general populations who want to work hard, but in a way that is going to train them for performance in life as well as on the field/court/rink/track, you name it. 

I’ve spent years working closely with general populations and their healthcare professionals trying to coach them intelligently in a way that allows them to feel better as much as look better. I love having people come to me with knee pain, unsure that they will even be able to train at all, only to realize 4 months later that they’ve got 100lbs on their back and they are squatting with no pain at all!

Now, the injury and movement impairment rehabilitative side of what I do is one thing, and I feel I’ve proven myself to (most of) my clients to be more than just a meathead gym bro. The issue, though, became this: Would the name Case Specific ATHLETICS turn away those populations who I am able to help move and feel better than ever?

I had one client who, when we were ordering new Case Specific Athletics hoodies with the new logo (see below), was hesitant to buy one because “There’s a weightlifter on it and I’d be embarrassed to wear it because I’m not fit.” This was the same client who, when she first came to our facility, was unsure if she should even bother with a nutrition appointment because “This is a place for elite athletes.” The same client who, a year later, is one of our hardest workers. She is in our gym 2-3 times per week in our B.A.S.I.C. (Building A System of Integral Components) Training classes, kicking the crap out of herself to get into the best shape she can, and pushing the pace of the whole class as she does it.

As adults, many of us lose touch with that youthful athletic drive that we possess through high school and maybe college. Our bodies age, we gain a bit of weight, we start to feel a bit more sluggish in our day-to-day grind. Sure, these are factors of life that everyone has to deal with at some point. I would argue, however, against the easily adopted mindset of “I’m not an athlete.” Do you think a non-athlete could go out and ride a bike through the whole neighborhood with his eight year old after a 10 hour workday? Do you think a non-athlete could be 70 years (young!) and accidentally trip over a crack in the sidewalk and manage to bring a foot through to catch his or herself before hitting the ground and possibly risking serious injury? Do you think a non-athlete could chase a wild toddler around the house all day, making sure the kid doesn’t jump off the couch or try to eat the Yankee Candle off the dining room table. I have a 19 month-old niece and, let me tell you, that girl needs a whole freaking team of people watching her to keep her from mischief.

What else I saw in those visions from earlier were the adults who have found their place among the young warriors. They’ve been intoxicated by this environment of sweat, loud music, and hard work, and they are out there on the floor, working just as hard as the kids. They’re grinding; not for sport, though. They’re fighting and battling this iron enemy for something greater; for life. It’s a life in which they feel comfortable that they can go out and play baseball with the neighborhood kids, keeping up and even “showing them how it’s done.” It’s a life that a dad working at the office isn’t coming home crippled up and sore from a long day of sitting. This is a life where a mom who hasn’t played a sport since high school is able to keep up and not become overwhelmed with the hustle-and-bustle of her three kids playing three different sports that she has to drive them to in between PTA meetings and making dinner. It’s a life where a husband can look at his wife of 15 years and two kids as she gets ready to shower and say “DAMN. I get to spend the rest of my life with THAT?!”

So maybe you don’t play a sport. Maybe you used to in high school and then college and life came at you quick and you lost touch of that athleticism that you used to have. Maybe you never played a sport because you didn’t have the confidence or just plain weren’t interested. That’s fine, but DON’T tell me you aren’t an athlete. You are as much an athlete as any one of those people you watch throw a ball around on TV. That vision that I had for Case Specific Athletics did include YOU. And if you are ready to find your inner athletic potential, reach out to us today and find out how you can get started with a FREE physical assessment or athlete movement screen! I hope that you’ll let me help you change your life forever.

Call 412-593-2048 (option 5)

or email info@casespecificathletics.com

oats

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

By: Devon Kroesche, intern & future dietitian

Pumpkin spice season is upon us, folks. Buckle up and get ready for pumpkin EVERYTHING. Are we mad about it? Not. One. Bit.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

  • Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is involved with immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication.
  • Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, which improves digestion and keeps you feeling satisfied for hours.
  • Pumpkin, like most other fruits and vegetables, is high in water. This provides you with extra fluid that is aborbed more slowly, keeping you hydrated throughout the day.

As if you needed another excuse to eat pumpkin everything, what better way to start your morning than with a taste of fall that is healthy and satisfying? Whip this up the night before and it will be ready to eat in the morning. Whether you need something quick to grab before you run out the door, or just want to make mornings at home a little more relaxed, you will be so glad you made this.

Click here to order Daily Whey vanilla protein: https://www.amazon.com/Vanilla-Daily-Whey-lbs-909/dp/B00G7HABUY

Whay You’ll Need

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 scoop Daily Whey vanilla protein
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • sprinkle pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 Tbsp dried cranberries (optional)

What to Do

  • Combine oats, protein, almond milk, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl or jar. Let sit overnight, or at least a few hours.
  • Sprinkle cranberries or other desired toppings and enjoy!

That’s it! Super easy, minimal clean up, and you get a few minutes back in your morning. Use them wisely (read: hit that snooze alarm).

Meet our Blogger-in-Chief

Devon is a 2nd year graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying to be a registered dietitian. She enjoys surfing, farmer’s markets, and will definitely ask if she can pet your dog. She runs Case Specific’s social media, blog, newsletter, and marketing.

Be sure to follow @casespecificnutrition on Instagram and Facebook for more fun nutrition & wellness content!

sheet pan pizza

Sheet Pan Pizza

By: Devon Kroesche, Media Intern and Future Dietitian

A pizza recipe? On a dietitian’s blog? You heard that right. How can pizza possibly be considered healthy? Let’s break this down.

Let’s start by establishing the idea that there are no good foods or bad foods. Pizza is a food commonly considered in the dieting world as a “bad or unhealthy food”, which is simply a misunderstanding about food and how it functions in our bodies.

All foods contain a certain ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Food contains calories, and calories are no more than a unit of measurement that describes the amount of energy contained in a certain food. Simply put, food is our source of energy. Pizza is a source of energy.

So why has pizza been so vilified by our health conscious friends? It is a food that is considered to be energy dense – meaning that it contains a large number of calories when compared to other foods of similar size and weight. That makes it an easy food to overeat when consumed by itself, rather than as part of a balanced meal.

So how do we make pizza part of a balanced meal? That is exactly what we did with this recipe. We added veggies as a topping, topped our slice with a handful of leafy greens, and ate it alongside some salmon (a lean source of protein, rich in nutrients). We also made some minor swaps to pack in more nutrients – we used whole wheat dough to provide more fiber, used a homemade sauce to limit added sugar and excess sodium, and used low-fat mozzarella cheese to cut down on saturated fat. The results were delicious and satisfying. We hope you think so, too.

sheet pan pizza
Face eats first with pizza this good 🙂

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 lb pizza dough (whole wheat if possible, homemade or store bought), chilled for at least 30 minutes
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes halved, plus more for topping
  • 8oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4oz tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Tablespoon oregano
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 cup part skim lowfat mozzarella shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 zucchini, sliced thinly into coins
  • 2 cups arugula or spinach for topping

What to Do:

  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a sauce pan, combine cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt & pepper, 1 tsp thyme and garlic cloves on high heat. Stir for 3 minutes, then add honey, peeled tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir until combined. Use a fork to smash tomatoes if necessary.
  • In a small bowl, mix together red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper and the last 1 tsp thyme.
  • Cover sheet pan with generous amount of olive oil. Spread chilled dough across sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil on dough.
  • Spread sauce on dough. Add zucchini coins. Spread cheese evenly and add herb mixture.
  • Bake in oven on top rack for 15 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  • Top with basil leaves, arugula, and halved cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil with desired. Enjoy!
Dessert was two Lily’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups

Mexican-Street-Corn-Pasta-Salad-canva

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Because plain ol’ pasta salad is for amateurs.

By: Devon L Kroesche, Social Media Intern

Confession: As a lifelong vegetarian, my favorites at any BBQ is always the SIDES. This Fourth of July, my plate was piled up with two of my go-to’s, pasta salad and corn on the cob. Of course, this inspired me to combine the two into a creative side dish that will impress all of your fellow BBQ goers.

For this dish, I used Banza cavatappi pasta, but feel free to switch it up. I’m a big fan of chickpea pasta for the slow digesting carbohydrates and higher protein content, but whole grain pasta is also a great option. And you don’t have to use cavatappi pasta either. Macaroni, elbow, and rigatoni all do very well in pasta salad.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 ears of corn, or 2.5 cans
  • one box of Banza cavatappi pasta, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cojita cheese (alternative option: queso fresco)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 green onions
  • 3 jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

What to Do:

  • If using ears of corn, boil for around 5 minutes in salty water. Allow to cool and then cut kernels off the cob.
  • Cook pasta al dente and set aside to cool.
  • In a medium sized bowl, combine mayonnaise and Greek yogurt until evenly mixed.
  • In a large bowl, combine corn, pasta, red onion, green onion and jalapenos.
  • Add mayonnaise-Greek yogurt mixture and mix until even.
  • Add lime juice, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and salt and black pepper.
  • Top with Cojita cheese and cilantro. Serve chilled.

Other optional add-on’s: black beans, diced cucumber or tomato, avocado. Get creative!

That CLOSE UP, though.
Mexican Street Corn image

Memorial Day BBQ Reinvented

By: Devon Kroesche, RD to Be

I don’t know about you, but with everything going on lately I almost forgot about the upcoming holiday weekend. That being said, there is a good chance your Memorial Day Weekend is going to look a little different than past years. We may not be able to crowd outside to enjoy a red white & blue parade, and maybe your beach vacation got cancelled or postponed. Luckily, pandemic or not, summertime is just around the corner.

Whether you’re having friends and family over for some backyard burgers and brews, or just relaxing with your immediate household, we’ve got some all-American recipes for you to enjoy. So fire up the grill and let’s get cookin’!

Watermelon Feta Salad

recipe adapted from Tasty. Serves 4

What You’ll Need

  • 3 cups watermelon cubed
  • 6-8 cups dark leafy greens
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

What to Do:

  • Make dressing: Whisk together lemon juice, honey, water, olive oil, and a pinch of salt
  • Toss together watermelon, greens, and feta. Drizzle dressing overtop.
  • Enjoy!

Grilled Portobello ShroomBurger

Serving suggestion. Serves 2

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • dash of black pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper

What to Do:

  • Remove stems from mushrooms and wipe down with a wet paper towel (do NOT run mushrooms under water)
  • Whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Brush mushrooms with mixture.
  • Grill for 2-3 minutes on both sides. Serve.
  • Pictured: grilled portobello mushrooms with spring greens, tomato, and avocado on whole grain Ezekiel bread. Also pairs well with Swiss cheese!

Kickin’ Street Corn

Serves 4

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 ears of corn, with silk removed but husks still on
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese
  • 2 limes
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • garlic salt to taste

What to Do:

  • Peel husks back and remove silks only. Let corn (with husks still on) sit in a saltwater bath for 10 minutes.
  • Place corn still in husks on the grill for 10-12 minutes or until husks are lightly charred
  • Melt butter and once husks are removed from corn, brush each ear with butter. Sprinkle with garlic salt.
  • Brush one side of ears of corn with light sour cream, and sprinkle cotija cheese and cayenne pepper. Add chopped cilantro and squeeze half one lime’s worth of juice over top.

Frozen Red White & Blue Fruit Kabobs

Serves 7

What You’ll Need:

  • carton strawberries, rinsed and sliced in half
  • 1/2 carton blueberries, rinsed
  • 2 bananas, peeled
  • metal or wooden skewers

What to Do:

  • Once fruit is rinsed and chopped, simply stick on skewers in desired pattern.
  • Freeze at least 1-2 hours and enjoy!
Mother's Day Quiche portrait

Veggie Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust

By: Devon L Kroesche, Media Intern and RDtoBe

Whether you are hosting Mother’s Day brunch or headed to a potluck with friends, this recipe is sure to impress. The best part? It is SO easy, and you probably already have most of the ingredients!

The key to keeping quiche simple is using what is already in your kitchen. Feel free to improvise with the add-ins and spices. If you still have leftovers from tacos on Cinco de Mayo, toss those in! Have some leftover veggies or sausage or ham or Parmesan cheese or feta from the night before, go for it! Just make sure any meat or fish is cooked to temperature before being added.

(recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

What You’ll Need:

  • pie pan
  • nonstick spray
  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • mandoline or food processor with a vegetable slicer attachment
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1/3 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

What to Do:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray pie pan with nonstick spray. Peel sweet potatoes and use mandoline or food processor to slice thinly. Cut a few slices in half for the edges and arrange on pan, making sure every inch is well covered.
  • Spray again with nonstick spray and bake for 20 minutes.
  • In a skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Add diced onions and peppers and cook for 5 minutes on medium high heat. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and egg whites, milk, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  • Once crust is done, remove from oven and turn temperature up to 375 F. Add veggies, then egg mixture, then top with cheese. Bake for 35 minutes.

Bring this to mom’s house today, and she will DEFINITELY claim credit for your exceptional cooking skills. Let her gloat. It is her day, after all. Happy Mother’s Day!

Shakshuka

Shakshuka: The Comfort Dish You’ve Never Heard Of

By: Devon Kroesche, Media Intern and RD to Be

Eggs for dinner? Count me in! Shakshuka is a Mediterranean dish, tracing its origins back to North Africa. A common savory breakfast in countries like Israel, shakshuka is a warmcomfort dish that can be eaten at any time of day.

There are many variations of this recipe, but the base consists of a tomato sauce flavored with garlic, onions, cumin, cayenne pepper and paprika, with eggs dropped in and poached in the sauce.

Grab a loaf of freshly baked bread and use it to scoop and soak up the delicious dish, and travel across the country from the comfort of your own kitchen! 

What You’ll Need

cast-iron skillet
loaf of fresh baked bread (not sliced, you’ll want to rip off pieces to scoop up the shakshuka)
28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 6oz can tomato paste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large eggs
1 onion, diced finely
1 bell pepper, diced
3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
optional: small bunch chopped fresh cilantro

What to Do:

  • Heat olive oil in cast iron skillet on low to medium heat. Add chopped onions, bell pepper, and jalapeño peppers. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic, cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Cook 1-2 minutes.
  • Add peeled tomatoes (including liquid) and tomato paste. Using a large spoon, slowly break apart peeled tomatoes until only small chunks remain. Bring to a simmer.
  • Form 4 wells in your sauce, adding one egg to each well. Cover your skillet and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until whites are cooked but yolk is still runny.
  • In a bowl, warm tahini until it is a runny liquid texture. Remove skillet from heat and drizzle tahini over your dish and top with feta. Add cilantro if desired.
  • Scoop eggs and some extra sauce into individual bowls, and eat by tearing pieces of bread and scooping it up (no utensils required). Serves 2.
Mediterranean-Salad

Mediterranean Salad

Dietitians have been long-time fans of the Mediterranean diet for its heart health benefits, but a recent study published by the British Medical Journal have found new benefits for gut health, specifically for the elderly.

We decided that is a good enough reason to share with you one of our favorite Mediterranean-inspired salad recipes. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 6 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium feta
  • 1/4 cup unsalted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 15 oz can chick peas, drained (optional)

Directions

  • Make dressing by whisking together olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (separation is normal, just mix/shake it up again before using).
  • Toss together the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  • drizzle dressing on top as desired, and it is ready to serve!

An Extra Tip

To add a little crunch to your salad, consider roasting the chick peas! I recommend drizzling them with 1 Tbsp olive oil, dusting them with paprika and garlic salt, and roasting them on 400 degrees F in the oven for 20-30 minutes, tossing them periodically.

This is a huge salad that can easily be eaten throughout the week. To keep your salad fresh longer, keep the dressing in a separate container and drizzle it on right before you eat it.

Happy eating!

Frozen-Chocolate-Banana-PB-Bites

Frozen Chocolate Covered PB Banana Bites

In need of a sweet, yet somewhat healthy treat to share with your ~lover~ this Valentine’s Day? Whether you’re enjoying a romantic evening with your soulmate or having a sappy rom-com and wine night, we’ve got you covered.

Image Credit: Not Enough Cinnamon Blog

Ingredients

  • 4 bananas (the riper, the sweeter!)
  • 1/3 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 12oz semisweet chocolate chips (carob chips to make it vegan!)
  • coarse sea salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Peel and slice bananas into “pennies”.
  2. Make cute lil’ peanut butter sandwiches with your banana pennies.
  3. Let ’em freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Heat chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 20-30 seconds until consistency is just melty, gooey goodness.
  5. Using two forks, dip the frozen PB banana bites into the chocolate and lay them out on a baking sheet with wax paper. Sprinkle with sea salt if you’re feeling wild & dangerous.
  6. Freeze them again for at least another 30 minutes.
  7. Turn on The Notebook, keep tissues close by, and dig into these delicious little babies. Happy V-Day 🙂 <3
IMG_1942

Pumpkin Muffin

IMG_1942

Ingredients:
3 cups old fashioned oats
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c. dark chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a non-stick muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients (oats–salt).
3. In another bowl whisk together all wet ingredients (egg–applesauce).
4. Add dry ingredients slowly into wet ingredients, whisking to combine. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Transfer batter into muffin tins (about 1/4 c. per slot).
6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until tops are slightly browned and toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition Facts (per muffin):
Yield- 9 muffins
Calories: 186 kcal
Carbohydrates: 33g
Protein: 3g
Fat: 6g