Health

How NASCAR star Danica Patrick stays in shape

Danica Patrick is known for her history-making career as a NASCAR driver. Now the 35-year-old is sharing the nutrition and fitness secrets that propelled her to the top of the sport.

Patrick, who will retire from NASCAR this year, has created a 90-day mind, body and food plan using the principles she uses in her own life.

The plan is explained in Patrick's new book, "Pretty Intense," released today, just in time for your New Year's resolutions. The book not only includes recipes and an exercise plan but also five chapters that focus on the mind, according to Patrick.

"What I’m hoping is that people really realize that this is a lifestyle," she said today on "Good Morning America." "I want them to develop a good relationship with food and exercise to not be a reward or punishment but a way of life and something that makes you feel good and something that makes you a better you every single day."

Read below for Patrick's tips on improving your health by cooking at home, as excerpted from "Pretty Intense."

Open your taste buds and cook at home.

When you cook at home you get to choose how things taste. You get to experiment with flavors and techniques, and create custom meals that satisfy your desires.

And this is my point: Eating healthy is not boring — it is quite the opposite. The range of colors, flavors, textures, and spices you will use will please not only your eyes, but your taste buds, too. Here are my top sources of inspiration:

Use cookbooks.

Recipe sites and apps are great if you know exactly what you want to make—it’s easy to Google “how to grill a chicken breast” or to find an inspiring chicken recipe on Pinterest. But nothing beats perusing a cookbook — especially one with great photos and fun side notes — to spark new thoughts, or to get you to try a food or a style of preparation you’ve never heard of before.

It is the only way you are going to learn new preparations, cook foods you never have, and season with spices that are new to you. This is how I learned. It takes some time and preparation, but the next time you make that recipe you will be able to put your own twist on it and do it a lot faster!

Watch cooking shows.

Lord knows I have watched a million hours of these. I remember back when I came home from England when I was 20 years old, I was eating a lot of chicken and veggies, and watching a lot of cooking shows. I have watched them since. My love for the show "Chopped" landed me a guest spot on the show, and I actually won the competition! (Proof that all those hours of watching paid off!)

Cooking shows explain exactly how the food is made, and that’s a very helpful tool. Sometimes you just don’t know what the heck to do with spaghetti squash or those boring Brussels sprouts. I’ve learned, and I will show you!

Take cooking classes.

One more fun way to learn how to cook is to take actual cooking classes. This can be a great thing to do with your girlfriends or another couple, topped off with some wine and of course a meal at the end! I planned a whole trip to Napa around a two-day cooking course at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena.

I learned how salts affect food and the basics of wine pairing. I learned how to cook with peppers and olive oils, and how to make fresh pizza on the grill. It’s probably the least likely way you will learn, but it’s a good time if you make a vacation out of it.

Reprinted from "Pretty Intense" by arrangement with Avery Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Rand.

Original Article

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