Dark Chocolate Avocado Cookies

img_9253Before you call me crazy for putting an avocado in a cookie recipe, hear me out. It is actually delicious! I thought a cookie couldn’t possibly taste good with an avocado in it, but since I put avocados in everything I thought I would give it a shot. Surprisingly, the results were better than expected. I didn’t even hesitate to scrape the cookie mix from the bottom of the bowl and lick the spoon clean.

Chocolate is my guilty pleasure, and with Halloween around the corner, I wanted to make something that was at least semi-healthy to indulge my sweet tooth. Avocados are extremely healthy and beneficial for athletes; and dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, is actually quite nutritious. Before getting to the cookie recipe, I am going explain why you should eat more avocados and why you should give up the milk chocolate and switch to dark.

Avocados are an athlete’s best friend, which is why I am going to try to incorporate avocados into every recipe on SunSandVolley. To start off, avocados are an excellent source of saturated fat. (I talked about the importance of adding healthy fats to your diet in my post, Bacon & Guacamole Fat Bombs.) One avocado packs an extremely concentrated amount of energy and nutrients. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in avocados help to lower poor cholesterol, promote lean muscle growth and keep you feeling full longer. Here are some more reasons why you should love avocados:

  • They are loaded with vitamins. One avocado contains up to 15 grams of fiber, more than any other fruit, and nearly 20 different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including beta-carotene and vitamins C, E and B6.
  • Avocados are full of critical electrolytes including potassium and magnesium, which contribute to proper cell and muscle function (in other words if you sweat a lot in competition, you need all the electrolytes you can get).
    • Side note: Avocados contain up to 3 times more potassium than a banana.
  • Avocados are an anti-inflammatory food. This is particularly beneficial for athletes because it will reduce inflammation (swelling) in the joints and help your muscles recover faster by healing tissue damage.
    • Side note: Since avocados are an anti-inflammatory, they also reduce inflammation in your gut, which in return will make your belly less bloated.
  • Avocados make your skin glow. The healthy fats in avocados will give your skin a better appearance, especially if you have not had enough healthy fat in your diet for a long time.
  • Promotes healthy weight loss. Avocados will make you feel satiated longer and if you eat them regularly, you will naturally consume less calories during the day because you won’t be as hungry. This is due to the healthy fats and high amounts of fiber in the fruit, but keep in mind that one avocado is about 240 calories.

Dark chocolate with 70-85% of cocoa has been found to:

  • Rich with antioxidants. Dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than some fruits, including acai berries and blueberries
  • img_9250Lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Contains flavonols, which help to protect your skin against the sun (so particularly beneficial for beach volleyball players since we are always in the sun).
  • Improves blood flow on a short term basis, which improves cognitive function.
  • Packed with vitamins. Dark chocolate contains fiber, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, selenium, RDA for iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and many more.

However, dark chocolate does contain moderate amounts of sugar. For this reason, it is best consumed in moderation.

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup dark cocoa powder
  • 50 g. dark chocolate chunks
  • ½ tsp. baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Using a food processor or a hand mixer blend together avocado and coconut sugar until smooth. Then add in the egg.
  3. Mix in the cocoa powder and baking soda.
  4. Stir in chocolate chunks
  5. Using two spoons place dollops of cookie dough on a baking pan with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. If you are unsure if they are cooked enough, check to see if the cookies still stick to the parchment paper, if they don’t they are ready.

These next steps are optional and are definitely NOT healthy. I had originally planned to make this avocado icing http://www.giverecipe.com/avocado-buttercream-frosting#mpprecipe-container, but I wanted to make it a bit more “halloweeny” (plus I have a major sweet-tooth).

  1. Put ½ cup of white chocolate chips in two separate bowls.
  2. Microwave chocolate for 1-2 mins.
  3. Add 4-8 drops of desired food coloring in each bowl. Use a fork to whisk chocolate and food coloring until smooth.
  4. Drizzle chocolate over cooled cookies.
  5. Eat cookies like a little kid on Halloween.

Song: Don’t Wanna Know by Maroon 5

Simple Exercises to Increase your Vertical

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Sam Crisanti sprinting up the stadium stairs. Pc: Taylor Wilson

Exercising in the gym everyday can get boring, which is why I like to switch it up and exercise in different environments. Running stadiums is one of my favorite ways to get some work in, you are not only outside, but the atmosphere makes you feel inspired to push harder (but maybe that’s just me).

Another reason to consider taking your workout to a stadium is because it is a great exercise for beach volleyball players. Beach volleyball-specific training focuses on exercising your fast-twitch muscles. So for example, running sprints for 20 minutes will benefit your game more than if you were to run three miles in 30 minutes. Think about it. In beach, you have to give every play your all because it is only you and your partner out there. Then after each play, you have about 20 to 30 seconds of rest before the next play starts again. So we want to focus on the intensity of a workout rather than duration of it.

Thus, running stadiums is a great way to train. Now if you want to ramp it up a notch, jumping your way through the workout will benefit not only your game endurance but your vertical as well. Plyometric training, also known as jump training or plyos, are “exercises that exert maximum force in short intervals of time.” Plyos help to improve your explosiveness and increase your speed and power. Here are some benefits of plyometric training:

  • img_9162

    Sam Crisanti performing a box jump. Pc: Taylor Wilson

    Strengthens fast-twitch muscle fibers

  • Increases strength of tendons, which helps to prevent injuries
  • Boosts the efficiency of the neuromuscular system (improves your reaction time)
  • Weight loss and muscle toning
  • Develops your abilities in other exercises and sports

However, if you do not have a strong muscular foundation or previous jump training, you run a risk of getting injured. It is important these exercises are executed with proper form.


Plyometric Stadium Circuit

Warm up for at least five minutes before performing this workout. Consider incorporating some light jogging, stretching and lunges or squats into your warm up.

Sprint – 30+ stairs
Box Jumps – 10
Stadium Hops (two-footed hops) – 20+ stairs
2 – 1 Footed Box Jumps – 12 (6 each leg)
Single-Leg Stadium Hops – 20 stairs (10 each leg)
Scissor Lunge Jumps – 20 (10 each leg)
Rotating Stadium Squats – 20 (10 each leg)
Repeat Circuit 2 more times (3 sets total)
Finisher: Bear Crawl till failure – Bonus points for making it to the top!

Song: Boom by Major Lazer

Bacon & Guacamole Fat Bombs

You may be wondering why you should eat something called a fat bomb, but trust me they taste good and are good for you. Before I get to the recipe, I am going to explain why you should consider adding more fat to your diet.

It has been proven that the ketogenic diet, which includes high amounts of saturated fat, benefits athletic performance. I have felt the benefits in my own health and athletic performance within six weeks of following a ketogenic diet two years ago.  I experienced the following:

  • Healthy weight-loss with INCREASE in muscle mass
  • Higher energy levels throughout the day with increased focus in school and volleyball
  • Improved stamina in activities with high intensities for longer periods of time
  • Vertical jump increased by 4 inches
  • No sweet or salty cravings because I felt fuller longer
  • Clearer skin
  • Daily allergy symptoms went away

So what is a ketogenic diet?

A ketogenic diet usually refers to a low carb, high fat diet, in which the body produces ketones from the liver to be converted to energy. On the contrary, consuming carbohydrates will make your body to produce glucose and insulin to be used as fuel. By lowering your intake of carbs your body will enter a state of ketosis, which in turn will make your body a fat-burning machine. As in you can actually burn fat without even exercising! Who doesn’t want that?

Now to the bacon and guacamole fat bombs and what they can be used for.

  • Pre- and post-workout snacks
  • A great way to add more fat into your daily diet
  • Awesome party snacks

Ingredients

  • 1-2 avocadoes, approximately 2 cups when mashed
  • ¼ cup of unsalted grass-fed butter
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic crushed
  • 1 small chili pepper finely chopped (optional, I didn’t use one)
  • 1-2 limes, freshly squeezed, at least 4 tablespoons of lime juice
  • ½ a small white onion, grated
  • A dash of freshly ground black or cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt (I used pink Himalayan)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of freshly chopped cilantro
  • 4-6 large slices of bacon
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon grease, cooled, not HOT

Instructions:

Start to finish: 45 minutes (20 minutes active)   

img_9023-11. Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Line tray with baking sheet paper and lay slices of bacon on tray with out overlapping them. Place tray in oven and cook 10-15 minutes until crispy (time will depend on thickness). When done, remove tray from oven and set aside to cool. Reserve bacon grease.

img_9029-12. Cut the avocados in half and take the seeds out. Use a spoon to scoop the avocado from its skin. Place avocados, butter, chili pepper, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl.

3. Mix together using a potato masher or a fork.

img_9031-14. Pour lime juice and bacon grease into bowl for taste (be careful not to use too much bacon grease) and mix well.

5. Set mixture into the fridge to cool for 20-30 minutes.

 

img_9033-16. Crumble bacon into separate bowl or plate.

7. Remove mixture from fridge and start creating balls, should make about 6-8 depending on size. Use an ice-cream scooper or a spoon to make the balls.

8. Roll each ball into bacon crumbles then place on a plate or tray.

9. Eat immediately or store in air-tight container in fridge for up to five days. Enjoy!

Let me know in the comments box below how you and your friends liked this recipe!

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