Day 3. Holiday Break for Dancers
Your Body: Seeds of Strength

By Nancy Wozny

These tiny nutritional powerhouses give a big energy boost. 

What’s the secret of Houston Ballet soloist Lauren Strongin’s stamina when she dances Trey McIntyre’s Peter Pan?  Seeds. “I add ground flaxseeds, chia, and hemp seeds to my steel-cut oatmeal, which keeps my energy high,” she says. She’s not alone. Many dancers turn to seeds for a nutritional boost. Even the celebrated Sylvie Guillem has added seeds to her vegetarian diet. “They’re a good source of protein and also of healthy fats,” says Emily Cook Harrison, a registered dietitian and nutritionist with the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Nutrition. 

Seeds travel well, don’t need to be refrigerated, and have a pleasant nutty flavor and high fiber content. They are best—and healthiest—plain. (Be mindful of salted or sugarcoated varieties.) 

Harrison recommends approximately a quarter cup of seeds a day for most dancers. That won’t tip the calorie counter. Sunflower seeds add up to just 47 calories per tablespoon, while a tablespoon of chia seeds, rich in antioxidants, has 65 calories. Keep in mind that each type of seed delivers different nutritional benefits. So which should you tuck in your dance bag for a snack? Here are four to consider.

Oldies but Goodies

Flaxseeds were cultivated in Babylon back in 3000 BC. “Flax reduces the body’s inflammatory response, and this is good for cardiovascular health or for people with autoimmune conditions,” says Harrison. One tablespoon provides 1.8 grams of omega-3 essential fatty acids, also know as the “good” fat. Flaxseeds contain soluble and insoluble fiber (you need both), zinc, iron, calcium, and vitamin E. Because the seeds must be chewed thoroughly to get their benefits, it’s best to use them ground. With numerous flax-infused products available, from breads to waffles, there are lots of options. 

Anti-Inflammatory Boost

You may remember Chia Pets as a gag gift: The seeds were stashed in an animal-shaped planter and, when watered, sprouted into a living “pet.” That was then; now they are considered the new seed on the block. With 5 grams of fiber per tablespoon, and three times the antioxidants of blueberries, as well as a surprising amount of calcium, chia seeds deliver a variety of nutritional benefits. Popular with elite athletes, they also have hydrating properties. The seeds can absorb more than their own weight in water, which helps prolong hydration and retain the body’s electrolyte balance.

Sweet Seed Dreams

Pumpkin seeds provide an excellent source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is a sleep aid, along with magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and iron. They also can be a good source of copper and vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant which protects your skin. With 56 calories and 3 grams of protein per tablespoon, they earn their keep in your dance bag. You can roast for added flavor, but go lightly on the salt.

Here Comes the Sun

Sunflower seeds are vitamin powerhouses and they are a good source of B6 and folate. A quarter cup contains half the daily requirement of copper, magnesium, selenium, and phosphorous. They also pack a protein punch, and provide a great source of iron. Like other seeds, they are rich in the healthy fats, which protect the heart and increase HDL, the good cholesterol. But avoid preparations that add oil, butter, or salt. 

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The time has come.

I am proud and honored to announce that has launched today. There you can find my selected works and online pop-up shop,
where I will be selling a limited first run of the Strongin brand sweatshirts printed in LA and featuring the work of Christian Watson of @1924us. They will be sold at a reduced holiday rate, along with two Strongin brand buttons designed by Ryan Neal Cordwell (@ryannealcordwell).
A special thanks to all those I have collaborated with and who have helped make this possible. — More items and photo sets will roll out at the beginning of the new year.
(Dedicated to my first customer @mccord1000) (at Strongin Atelier)

Strongin: A wolf in wolf’s clothing

I am so happy to unveil the first photograph of the Strongin Brand sweatshirt featuring the full logo designed by the unparalleled Christian Watson (@1924us) and modeled by the stunning Britni Sumida (@britni_nicolee) — the first of more exciting products to come.

Online pop-up store will launch 12.15.14 (at Strongin Atelier)