Healthy Pumpkin Pie Bars

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Bars

These pumpkin pie bars are the perfect healthy dessert for any fall occasion! The crust is made from almond flour, warm fall spices, and maple syrup. These dairy-free pumpkin pie bars are healthy dessert bars are perfect for a healthy Thanksgiving dessert or if you’re just looking for a little something sweet.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword bars, healthy pumpkin pie, Pumpkin pie, sweet treat
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 9

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups almond flour superfine
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • FILLING
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and lay parchment paper in the bottom of an 8×8-inch cake pan. Spray parchment paper with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the crust by mixing together all crust ingredients, forming a ball. Transfer dough into the greased pan and use your hands and/or a spatula to spread dough to the edges of the pan. The key is to make sure the crust is relatively the same thickness all around, so the spatula comes in handy especially for the edges.
  3. Place crust in the oven at 350ºF and bake for 10 minutes.
  4. While crust is baking, make the filling. Add coconut sugar and pumpkin puree to a large bowl. Mix until combined. Slowly add eggs to the pumpkin mixture. Then add the rest of the filling ingredients and mix well.
  5. Remove crust from the oven and carefully pour pumpkin mixture over the crust. Place pan back into the oven and bake at 350ºF for 24-28 minutes*.
  6. Let pumpkin bars cool for at least an hour. When you are ready to remove bars from the cake pan, simply lift the parchment paper up out of the pan. The bars should easily come out of the pan. Place bars on a cutting board and cut into 9 squares.
  7. For the whipped topping, add whipped cream ingredients to a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, whisk ingredients on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  8. Add a healthy dollop of whipped cream onto each bar when ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

Time varies by oven.
Nutrition information does not include whipped topping
NUTRITION
Serving Size: 1/9 Calories: 144 Sugar: 15 Sodium: 58 Fat: 7 Carbohydrates: 17 Fiber: 1 Protein: 3

Female Athletes; No you wont look “Bulky”

We seem to always talk about how women need to look instead of how well they performed; its why I think a lot of women are still scared to lift weights because they don’t want to bulk up. The ideal feminine body is thin and while ‘flab’ is not desired anywhere; toned muscles are desirable in legs as opposed to a ‘bulky’ upper body.  This pressure is unfortunately put into the minds of young female athletes that are already under pressure for many reasons (such as doing well academically, peer pressure to “fit in” and many pressures they put on themselves).

This is a problem because they need to do a specific training program that is designed to train them to be effective in their sport. A lot of people walking into our doors ask for programs for training speed and explosiveness. Often we find that the athlete first needs to work on muscular strength before we can ask their bodies to perform better in those explosive movements required in their sport. The reaction most women give is the looking bulky excuse.

We want our athlete’s attention on what their bodies are capable of doing, what they can accomplish rather than what their bodies look like. Aim to improve the function of overused muscles and joints by stretching and releasing them and strengthening the underused muscles this allows us to balance the different demands placed on an athlete’s body given their particular lifestyle. Not to mention, women (without the assistance of drugs) don’t have the hormone profile to look bulky.

Resistance training is not designed to change the looks of their bodies but to alleviate pain and improve mobility in whatever activity/sport they are interested in. This does not mean that we all will look the same—that is already predetermined by our genetic make-up. A young athlete that sits at a school desk during the day, might also be a competitive soccer player and thus, the bodily requirements for balancing both school life and training need to be considered. Many athletes also need considerable muscle strength and thus, should embrace visible musculature. We all need muscles to have enough strength to support our bones, but the amount of strength in specific muscles can vary greatly depending on each individual’s needs.

Instead of worrying about ‘bulking up,’ we could celebrate the muscles that enable us to do what we want to do. Be proud of the muscles that allow us to perform well in our sports and allow you to function in everyday life without pain and to move smoothly in a variety of situations. Muscles are necessary for poised movement, not for ‘the looks of body.’ They should, thus, be appreciated as important parts of anyone’s beautifully moving body!

Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to schedule a free demo session to find out how we make our athletes stronger!

Are You Explosive Enough In Your Sport?

One of the most important aspects of training an athlete is plyometrics. It is crucial in making an athlete more explosive. Here is the key piece with Plyo’s with young kids. They are great but an athlete needs to be assessed before to correct all of their deficiencies. If an athlete is not strong it is very hard to make them explosive. It’s a very simple equation, you must be strong before you can be explosives. Here are my three favorite plyometric exercises!

Box Jump:

Everyone does this! It’s a great way to train jumping! Here is my biggest tips with regards to box jumps. The landing is the most important part. The landing needs to be soft and you shouldn’t hear it. If you can hear the landing make the box smaller and land soft. One way to spice up box jumps is too jump out of a seated position! My personal favorite way to take this drill to the nest level is to make the athlete jump on que, that’s the way sport is played; very rarely do you get to pick and choose when you want to react!

Depth Jump:

This is an awesome one for young athletes but also older athletes. This is so important on training not only plyometric strength and isometric strength. This exercise allows you not only to learn how to land which is so important, but it teaches your body how to take a load through the ground which is important. One cool way to do a depth jump is to add a box jump too it. Have a player jump off a box take the load thru the ground, then jump up into the air!

4 Dot Drill:

My personal favorite! This drill is basically 4 dots on a mat, and the athletes will jump in different directions from dot to dot. The best way to do this drill is in short bursts, 5-10 seconds. You can make this drill harder by changing the way the athletes faces during the drill, flipping his hips during the drill. My biggest tip for this drill is to make sure the athletes keeps his or her eyes up. You can make them focus on some sort of visual cue!

Plyo’s are so important to creating an all around great athlete. But like I previously stated, young athletes need to be “strong” before we worry about Plyo’s!

Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to schedule a free demo session or to ask about out vertical jump program or our strength and conditioning programs.

Why Men Need To Strength Train As They Age!

Strength training is not just for the young guys and I would argue that as men age, strength training becomes more and more important to maintain muscle function and quality of life.

Due to the natural loss of testosterone with aging, it becomes more difficult to maintain and build muscle mass. Furthermore, in those who don’t strength train to combat this, we generally see a loss of muscle mass as we age, along with a loss of muscle function and decreased quality of life. Easy tasks of daily living such as getting up from a chair, playing with the grandkids at the park, or working on some of our favourite outdoors hobbies such as woodworking or playing in our recreational hockey league become difficult.

While some men tend to do endless amounts of cardio as exercise as they age, I would argue that strength training is just as important if not more important, as muscle mass helps to maintain and increase our slowing metabolism as we age that helps to combat fat mass gain. Furthermore, strength training also helps to maintain our cardiovascular health and can be as effective as pure cardiovascular exercise to prevent heart attack and stroke. 

When combined with a die that includes adequate dietary protein, resistance training in the older years can still promote muscle gain, so even if you are starting to resistance train later in life it still has tremendous benefits.

Here at SST we have a program designed specifically for men over the age of 44 (MAXFITT FOR MEN 44), come in for a free demo class to see how we train our guys to maximize the benefits of strength training as they age.

Using The Gym To Mentally Prepare For Competition.

One the biggest problems with young athletes today is that they don’t know how to completely focus all the time. You can also see it during their competitions. Athletes get out of place or don’t react fast enough because they didn’t see something or couldn’t see something because it was happening to fast for them. Here are three tips to use to increase an athlete’s focus!

Eliminate Technology In the Gym; Athletes and people are way too reliant on technology. When athletes lift, they should not be on their phones. It should not be used in between sets. They do not have cases to their phones during their competition, so don’t let them use a phone during training. When athletes are resting during sets, I teach them how to breath and give them a skill they can us on the field of competition. This is a learned skill set that can be practiced instead of being on a phone.

Quiz Them In States Of Exhaustion; This could be my favorite of all time. When I work with my Offensive Lineman, I often ask them question right when they finish working. They are tired and this is when their brains sometimes don’t want to work. I try and mimic this so that when they are tired they are used to thinking, and it’s not new to them. Something as simple as asking them what 8×7 is when they are huffing and puffing. It’s really simple yet so darn effective.

Simulate Game Situation In Group Training; Make your athletes work as a team when they train as a group. For example when doing the fictional training with hockey players I like to make one athlete of “off” and have one athlete run “on” to start and finish their set. This simulates a shift change. You can also do to with 5 players at a time if you are working as a big group. Something as simple as that will help them get used to stay mentally focused during their competition.

Come in to SST Burlington to put these and more training tips into your training routine!

BCAA’s – what, why and how?

One of the newer supplements on the market making claims to improve cognition, decrease muscle breakdown, promote muscle protein synthesis and improve exercise performance is branched-chain amino-acids (BCAAs).

But… what are they? BCAAs are essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine (ones we cannot synthesize ourselves and must consume) that can be oxidized within our muscles, especially during exercise. These amino acids are the most important amino acids for muscle protein synthesis, as leucine itself is a direct stimulator of muscle protein synthesis independent of exercise and it is important to make sure we are getting adequate amounts in our diet before considering supplementation.

While most of the research into BCAAs has been done in rodents, some interesting data has recently surfaced regarding their effect on exercise in humans. Mainly the ingestion of BCAAs before, during or after exercise has been shown to increase intracellular and arterial levels, and to prevent muscle protein breakdown, where some studies have even demonstrated less delayed-onset-muscle-soreness (DOMS) following exercise. BCAAs are also an important fuel for our muscle cells during exercise, and since levels decline with exercise, it makes sense to use them as a supplement during and/or after workouts.

When combined with a resistance training program and enough protein intake, BCAAs have been shown to help to increase lean muscle mass and lower body fat percentage. It should be noted that a lot of the research into BCAAs, is through one off studies and research is just starting to tease out the effectiveness of them but nevertheless there are some intriguing early results. Come into SST to find out how, when, and what BCAAs we use with our athletes and clients to help improve exercise performance and body composition!

References: All About BCAAs Precision Nutrition Andrews, Ryan (2018) Exercise Promotes BCAA Catabolism: Effects of BCAA Supplementation on Skeletal Muscle during Exercise Shimomura et al. (2004) The Journal of Nutrition

Email us at Bskinner@sstcanada.com to get email notifications on our upcoming nutrition and supplement clinics!

Make Dynamic Stretching A Part Of Your Routine.

The term dynamic stretching comes down to movement based stretching. In other words, the individual uses a swinging or bouncing movement to extend their range of motion (ROM) and flexibility. The force of the bounce or swing is gradually increased but should never become uncontrolled.

What is Dynamic Flexibility?

The term dynamic flexibility refers to an individual’s absolute range of motion that can be achieved with movement. In other words, how far you can reach, bend or turn by using velocity and momentum to achieve maximum range of motion. As all sport involves movement of some kind, a degree of dynamic flexibility is essential!

The difference between Dynamic Stretching and Static Stretching?

Although there are many different ways to stretch, they can all be grouped into one of two categories; static or dynamic.The main difference between dynamic stretching and static stretching is that static stretches are performed without movement. In other words, the individual gets into the stretch position and holds the stretch for a specific amount of time. While dynamic stretches are performed with movement. There isn’t one way, nor one type of stretching is better than another. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the key to getting the most out of stretching lies in being able to match the right type of stretching to the purpose, or goal you are trying to achieve. For example; For warming up, dynamic stretching is the most effective, while for cooling down, static and passive are best.

The best time to use Dynamic Stretching

One of the main purposes of dynamic stretching is to prepare the body for activity or sport, which is why dynamic stretching is so effective as part of a warm up routine. Please note though, that dynamic stretching is not THE warm up, is it only PART OF a warm up. A proper warm up has a number of very important key elements. These elements, or parts, should all work together to prepare the individual for physical activity and minimize the likelihood of sports injury.

Improve your Dynamic Flexibility.

It’s important not to rely on just one type of stretching all the time. You need to know which type of stretching is best for the goal you’re trying to achieve or the individual you’re working with. When you can match the right type of stretching to the individual and their goals, you’ll always get a better outcome.

Come into SST to learn a safe and beneficial dynamic warm up routine.

In Season Training Tips To Prevent Injury

In season training is so important to on field performance, we all know that. One of the most overlooked aspects of training hard during the season is it recoups the muscle fibers you break down during competition. Athletes who do not take in season training seriously are subject to an increase of one thing, injury!

There is a direct correlation between athletes who don’t train hard during the season and their increase risk of injury! Football being a collision sport, injuries are very common. Below are three ideas to keep you off the training table and on the field.

Split Squats ;The most important lift in the book. At SST this is a day one deal, we’ve been doing this with our athletes for over 20 years and for good reason. One of the most common injuries in football is a knee injury, most commonly an ACL tear. Doing split squats all year will improve your range of motion and will allow you to be strong in the knee over toe position. Performing the split squat is also a very effective way to train the VMO, which is a very important muscle to have a strong health knee.

Pulling Lifts; I’ve been around football so long and later in the season  athletes start to get banged up backs and shoulders, because of all the collisions that happen on a daily basis. This happens very easily because, young athletes that don’t have proper training knowledge think that they need to be benching and pressing to stay strong in the upper body. There is some merit to this being that football is a sport where a lot of “press action” happens but, to stay strong and healthy the posterior chain in the upper body needs to be taken care of. My favorite one would be a simple as a chin up or any type of row. This will keep your back strong and your spine protected!

Conditioning;  Football is a multi direction sport! Way to often we condition just going straight! IT IS MADNESS!!!! When conditioning athletes make sure that you are doing different things, such as shuffles, cross overs and change of direction. For example, a running back (RB) in football spend most of his time going forward in a game, rarely does he go back wards. During the season condition him going backwards so when it happens during a game, his body is used to it! BIGGEST CONDITIONING TIP! Make your guys back pedal, it’s way harder to pull something going backwards in a back pedal than it is going forwards!

Hopefully these three tips help you stay strong during the season, but more importantly help you stay on the field!

Email us at SST@SSTCANADA.COM to schedule your free demo today!

Woman In Rugby

On Sunday I attended a conference about coaching the female athlete. Hosted by the Burlington Centaurs Rugby Club.

Primarily the focus was on how to effectively coach female athletes and the different strategies that will keep them not only performing physically but also taking care of the athletes on a psychological level to maximize performance.

It was a very productive and positive experience from beginning to end. It was great to listen to representatives from:

… to name but a few.

Although I think the highlight for me was listening to Jane Kirby-Addeo talk about how representation matters. We need more female athletes, coaches and board members to usher us into the next era of women’s sports. Hearing her speak about her journey only makes me more hopeful that we are heading in the right direction.

Jane Addeo (nee Kirby)
President of the Fergus Highland Rugby Club

Another positive for me was seeing the male coaches both speakers and attendees that came to the event and to see how much passion and care each of them put into training their female athletes! We are all responsible for ensuring out female athletes are taken seriously and given an equitable chance in their sports as I believe this is key not only to their early lives and sporting careers but also to the confidence they develop off the field and will be taking with them into the real world. Although I fully believe we need more female representation, the men that stand with us are equally important.

Although I was approaching the conference as a strength and condition coach whereas most of the attendees are coaches of (mostly) female rugby teams, the information was very transferable to my needs as it was to everyone else. When we talk about injury prevention, psychology, coaching strategies and representation; each person was able to take away a new piece of valuable information. We are all learning and striving to be better each and every day; that is one of the core values here at SST and was so wonderful to see it in so many people over the course of the day!

The day was time well spent, THANKS CENTAURES RUGBY CLUB

Why Female Athletes Need To Strength Train – Part 2

In Part one of this blog, we spoke about early specialization, Preparation for the future and reducing risk of injury. Today we will go over the other more looked over benefits of strength training for female athletes!

3.       Increases in Strength                                                                                

Developing an athletes strength capacity can be significantly enhanced through a program that uses a variety of forms of resistance training. The ability to coordinate movement and to efficiently recruit muscles in synchronized action are two of the main reasons for the strength improvements. As children age, this is a natural pattern of development but using forms of strength and conditioning training can expedite the process. Individuals who train twice per week, on average, have 33% higher strength gains than their once session per week counterparts. Stronger athletes perform better.

4.  Enjoyment in movement and physical activity for a lifetime                 

Through research, we know that those individuals who enjoy movement and physical activity are those who are the most likely to continue a healthy exercise lifestyle through their lives. It is much easier to enjoy physical activity when you move well and with no pain during the process. Strength and conditioning is a way to learn how to positively impact movement quality through mobility and movement training. All movements in our lives have an optimal way to be performed and the better you are at performing those movements, the better chance you have of continuing those movements.

As a final note; Always keep in mind that social pressures are a large part of a female athlete’s psyche and anything you do to take care of the body you must take equal care of their mind. An example of this is something I hear far too often. Whenever there is a young girl in the gym, the parents passing through tend to make a comment along the lines of “aw, she is so cute” …. Well she is here to work hard not to look cute. By saying that, you teach her to prioritize looking cute in the gym over the hard work they are putting in and devaluing that work all at the same time. Value the work your girls are putting into the gym and not what they look like while doing so. These pressures are difficult enough to deal with outside the gym and I don’t want that pressure walking in with them to every session, practice or game they attend.

Come into SST and see the difference our athlete training programs can make to you or your daughter!

If you are interested in learning more about your preparation and reducing injury risk please email us at bskinner@sstcanada.com