20-Min Kickboxing Workout to Punch Monday in Face

Jennifer thefitfork handstand in kickboxing class Sometimes it can be a real fight to get daily exercise accomplished. No joke. Ready to get it done and get on with the day? This 20 minute, high-intensity (HIIT-style) workout gives you heart-pounding cardio combined with working every muscle in the body. It’s a real calorie-torcher and productive way to relieve stress before your day begins or as it ends.  There are NO handstands as the above picture implies, I’m just flipping out and having fun after finishing my workout! 20 Minute Full Body Kickboxing Workout engages every muscle in the body and kicks up the cardio too! What you need: In addition to 20 minutes, you’ll need a visible clock with a second hand to keep track of the intervals / rounds. Also, you’ll need access to a free-standing punching bag or one that hangs low enough that you can throw punches from a seated, sit-up position.  Don’t forget to gear up with a pair of kickboxing, sparring or boxing gloves. Explanation of Rounds

  • Jab & Cross Punch:  Throw straight punch from front hand followed quickly by straight punch from back hand.
  • Round House Kick: Step forward with front leg and foot rotated outward as far as possible. Rotate hips and kick leg to shoulder height while lowering torso.
  • Upper Cut Punch: Throw a rising punch that moves upward with palms facing chest, alternate arms.
  • Sit Up with Hook Punch:  Sit with legs wrapped around bag base, lean back into prone position and then sit up quickly delivering a rounded punch to the bag with an arching motion with one arm, quickly followed by the other arm.

I hate wearing the sweaty, stinky kickboxing gloves from the gym . . . so I just got these!

Do you like to kickbox? What is your alternative cardio workout on days you don’t want to run? Did you have a race or run this weekend, please share in comments – XOXO, Jennifer 

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Wholly Cannoli Protein Mug Cake #NextLevelNaked

Cannoli Protein Mug Cake with Naked WheyMaybe I don’t do desserts as decadently as the Italians, but after digging into one of my Cannoli Protein Mug Cakes, your taste buds will be exclaiming, “Batta Bing, Batta Boom! And, with 20 grams of protein per serving of cake (yay, the entire cake), so will your biceps – BOOM! Cannoli Protein Mug Cake takes only about 1 1/2 minutes to cook and is a healthy dessert option, post-workout snack, or even breakfast!

I keep the signature chocolate and pistachio garnish of cannoli, but ditch the custard-filed fried shells for a light and tender “cake” made with protein power, a bit of gluten –free baking mix, an egg, and skosh of coconut oil. It’s a healthy option for dessert, post-workout, or even breakfast – and, did I mention it takes less than 90 seconds to cook?

Vanilla Protein Mug CakeAfter “baking” in the microwave, your mug cake is going to look pretty “plain vanilla,” but that’s okay. It is vanilla, after all, made with Less Naked Vanilla Whey Protein from Naked Nutrition. The Cannoli Protein Mug Cake recipe at the bottom of the post, without the garnishes, makes a versatile basic mug cake base that other ingredients (like fruit or peanut butter) can be stirred into before cooking or sprinkled on afterward. But, today we are going healthy CANNOLI all the way, and you’ll soon forget about any diet-busting cravings you may be having – FUHGEDDABOUTIT!

Naked Whey protein powder over Cannoli Mug Cake

So, as I just name-dropped, this recipe uses protein powder from Naked Nutrition. It’s definitely “nutrition with nothing to hide.” Naked Nutrition has a variety of products, but I’m focusing on the whey protein today, because that is what I use in my daily routine. This quality whey protein comes from grass-fed cows’ milk sourced from small dairy farms and state-of-the-art manufacturing process that ensures that the product has what it needs, and doesn’t have what it shouldn’t – it’s clean, lean protein with no artificial anything! For example, the Less Naked Vanilla Whey Protein is made with just three ingredients -grass fed whey protein, vanilla, and organic coconut sugar and each serving has 25 grams protein and 5.9 grams BCAAs. And, of course, it’s non-GMO, soy free, growth hormone free, and gluten-free.

I like that Naked Whey is sweetened with Organic Coconut Sugar, sometimes I need a bit of quality carb energy to fuel my workouts, but white table sugar is definitely out of the question for me and zero-calories substitutes don’t put any gas in the proverbial tank.  Coconut sugar is a great option as an energy-providing sweetener because it is lower on the glycemic-index (preventing dramatic rises and falls in blood sugar) – refined white sugar has a glycemic index of 99 and coconut sugar only 35. In addition, coconut sugar (also called palm sugar by some) is inherently loaded with nutritional benefits, notably a high level of inulin (a dietary fiber) that serves as a prebiotic to support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. Studies have shown that a healthy digestive tract can reduce the incidence of certain cancers and diabetes while increasing fat metabolism and encouraging a healthy body weight. Sign me up.

jennifer naked whey I find the unflavored and vanilla whey proteins to be a great base for my protein-based baking, like protein pancakes, power muffins, and mug cakes like the Cannoli Protein Mug Cake I am sharing today. Oooh, but this girl sure does love chocolate, and a massive 5-pound tub of Less Naked Chocolate Whey Protein makes my mind start spinning with smoothie and healthy dessert-like creations, like protein brownies, protein pops, protein truffles, and more. Thanks to my stash from Naked Protein, I’m sure you’ll be seeing more chocolate protein recipes from me soon.

Less Naked Chocolate Pudding

In the meantime, check out this Chocolate Protein Pudding recipe from the Naked Nutrition Instagram profile. Seriously simple and insanely delicious, just peel the lid off a 6-ounce Greek yogurt and stir in a scoop of powder.  I ALWAYS take a protein-rich snack at bedtime because 1) I’m hungry and 2) muscle most muscle growth and repair happens while we sleep!

In addition to Vanilla and Chocolate whey protein powder, Strawberry and Unflavored are also available. Naked Protein also makes so many other quality protein options to meet a variety of dietary, recipe and taste requirements including Grass-Fed Whey, Goat Whey, Casein Protein, Pea Protein, Egg White Protein, Organic Rice Powder Protein, Peanut Butter Powder and more. CHECK OUT ALL THE PROTEIN OPTIONS HERE.

When you need something sweet, what do you usually grab? To you make mug cakes or mug muffins, what is your favorite mix-in or topping? Racing this weekend? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

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Cannoli Protein Mug Cake
Print Recipe
Coconut oil cooking spray 2 tablespoons Vanilla Protein Powder 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking mix 4 teaspoons zero-calorie measure-for-measure sweetener 1/8 teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon cinnamon 1 large egg 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon coconut oil 2 teaspoons chopped pistachios ¼ cup “coco whip” or non-dairy whipped topping 1 teaspoon mini chocolate chips ½ teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 2 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 2 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Cannoli Protein Mug Cake
Print Recipe
Coconut oil cooking spray 2 tablespoons Vanilla Protein Powder 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking mix 4 teaspoons zero-calorie measure-for-measure sweetener 1/8 teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon cinnamon 1 large egg 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon coconut oil 2 teaspoons chopped pistachios ¼ cup “coco whip” or non-dairy whipped topping 1 teaspoon mini chocolate chips ½ teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 2 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 2 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Ingredients
Servings: serving
Instructions
  1. Spray a large microwave-safe coffee mug with cooking spray, set aside.
  2. In small bowl, combine protein powder, gluten-free baking mix, sugar substitute, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir together until combine well.
  3. Mix in egg, lemon juice, water, and coconut oil until combined.
  4. Pour into sprayed coffee mug and microwave 1 minute 15 seconds, or until cooked through. Microwave times may vary depending on your appliance.
  5. Remove mug and invert onto plate, gently slide out cake. Let cool for 2 minutes. Using serrated knife, carefully slice cake crosswise through center, remove top and set aside. Put ½ of whipped topping on one cake piece, sprinkle with a few of the pistachios and chocolate chips. Add top layer of cake and add remaining whipped topping, sprinkle with remaining toppings including lemon zest, if desired.
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Lemony Lamb Loin Chops with Gremolata #GoForTheBOLD

This post is sponsored by Mountain States, however all comments, opinions and enthusiasm are my own. Lemony Lamb Loin Chops with Gremolata -- a tangy sauce and grilled lemon slices will lift this lamb dish to the top of your favorites. Grills in less than 10 minutes and an excellent source of lean protein.

I had a wonderful weekend with my family cooking up new memories – well, grilling them up, to be exact! Sitting down together to a simple yet super flavorful lamb dinner was the perfect exclamation point to the end of our summer together (as school started back up Monday and our oldest left the nest again for 2nd year in college). Until recently, my three teen boys didn’t have many memories centered on lamb, but I sure had some recollections – and they mostly involved around stuffy Sunday dinners of yore at a relative’s home wearing uncomfortable clothes, shoes that pinched and being forced to “politely” clean my plate of mushy vegetables and an old-school prepared lamb roast.

Grilling lamb for our last summer weekend together!

Grilling lamb for our last summer weekend together!

After hearing various friends, from Paleo diet devotees and flavor-centric foodies, rave about the virtues of this red meat that’s been enjoyed across various cultures for century upon century, I penciled lamb onto my “things to grill sometime” list – oh, you how I like to grill everything! When Mountain States (producers of Shepherd’s Pride and Cedar Springs lamb, raised right here in the U.S.) sent some delicious looking lamb loin chops my way, they were bumped to the top of the to-do list – it was time to give ‘em my modern, fit foodie spin. If the speed at which my guys devoured dinner is any indication, you are going to LOVE my recipe for Grilled Lemony Lamb Loin Chops with Spinach Gremolata Sauce. #GoForTheBOLD

Grilled Lemony Lamb Loin Chops are a quick and healthy meal solution, only 8 minutes to grill and packed with lean protein and other important nutrients.

Lemony Lamb Loin Chops

After marinating for 1 hour, lamb loin chops are ready for the grill!

The loin chops couldn’t have been any easier to prepare with a simple marinade, less than 10 minutes on the grill, and an easy no-cook sauce. When meal-making is a no-brainer, there is more precious time to spend with family and friends – mine will be seeing this lamb recipe again soon at my backyard Labor Day cookout.

Wow, my lamb chops and lemons grilled up in 7 to 8 minutes!

Wow, my lamb chops and lemons grilled up in 7 to 8 minutes!

If the weather turns too cool this fall season to barbeque al fresco, these lamb chops easily translate to an indoor grill or stove top grill pan. And, the bright lift of lemon will remind you of a beautiful, never-ending summer! You can see them here served with grilled Shishito Peppers (that recipe posted tomorrow).  Lemony Lamb Loin Chops with Shishito peppers

While these lamb chops are delicious served unadorned, I prefer to drizzle them with a gremolata sauce prepared with olive oil, lemons and spinach (another twist on tradition).  I get so excited when this tangy, flavorful gremolata runs off my chops and into my grilled veggies, potatoes or pasta– it’s a versatile sauce to dress nearly every main dish, side dish, pasta and salad.

Protein-lovers, let me tell you a little more why lamb should make it onto your menu weekly rotation.  First of all, a 3.5 ounce serving contains approximately 25g protein, the optimal amount for your body to process at any one “eating experience.”  How many times have you heard me stand on my soapbox and tell y’all to eat 25g to 30g of protein at every meal – you need this amount for sustained energy, muscle management, healthy aging and more! Mountain States lambs roam pastures, grazing on grass, herbs and alfalfa, making it a great source of omega 3s (especial alpha-linolenic acid) and is also rich in iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin B-12 and niacin. If you want to try cuts other than lamb loin, every choice (which the exception of ground) is classified as “Lean” or “Extra Lean” by the USDA. Get more lamb nutrition information here. Mountain States Lamb Loin Chops - a lean, grass-fed protein choice

Shepherd's Pride Lamb - Raised without antibiotics or hormonesBecause I love feeling connected directly to the ranchers, I will keep getting my lamb from Mountain States. Mountain States (sold as the brands “Shepherd’s Pride” or “Cedar Springs American”) is a co-op owned by more than 150 hardworking families across the US who have been ranching for generations. These Shepherd’s Pride ranchers are committed to producing a clean, complete protein given no hormones or antibiotics, raised just the way nature intended. Additionally, it is the only lamb that carries the third-party Where Food Comes From ® source-verified label.  This means, with a scan of the label, I know exactly where my food comes from, where it was raised, and who handled it. Now THAT is some detailed data that will satisfy even the cleanest of clean eaters! Wondering where to buy lamb from Mountain States? When I used their Store Locator, I discovered (yay) my neighborhood H.E.B. grocery store carries it – or, you can ask your butcher!

For additional details on cooking and food safety information regarding lamb, please visit MountainStatesRosen.com.Go For the Bold US Lamb Giveaway

Check out this sweepstakes and enter for a chance to win US lamb and a patriotic dinner wear set perfect for your Labor Day party! #GoForTheBOLD

When is the last time you’ve tried lamb? Do you grill year-round? Any exciting Labor Day plans? Please share in the comments below! XOXO, Jennifer

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Lemony Lamb Loin Chops with Gremolata -- a tangy sauce and grilled lemon slices will lift this lamb dish to the top of your favorites. Grills in less than 10 minutes and an excellent source of lean protein.
Lemony Lamb Loin Chops with Gremolata
Print Recipe
1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 cup packed baby spinach leaves ½ teaspoon white pepper ½ teaspoon salt
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 40 minutes
Cook Time
8 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 40 minutes
Cook Time
8 minutes
Lemony Lamb Loin Chops with Gremolata -- a tangy sauce and grilled lemon slices will lift this lamb dish to the top of your favorites. Grills in less than 10 minutes and an excellent source of lean protein.
Lemony Lamb Loin Chops with Gremolata
Print Recipe
1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 cup packed baby spinach leaves ½ teaspoon white pepper ½ teaspoon salt
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 40 minutes
Cook Time
8 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 40 minutes
Cook Time
8 minutes
Instructions
  1. Add lamb chops, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper to heavy-duty plastic zip-top bag. Move the chops around in the bag until well-coated with marinade. Marinate for 1 hour to overnight in the refrigerator, no longer than 12 hours.
  2. After marinating, remove chops from marinade and discard remaining liquid. Season to preference with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat gas or charcoal grill to approximately 400F degrees. Grill chops with the lid up, flipping once, for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (medium-rare).
  4. While lamb is grilling, also grill lemons for several minutes per side, or until beginning to lightly char. Transfer chops and lemon slice to platter and rest for at least three minutes before serving or slicing.
  5. While lamb is resting, place all ingredients for gremolata in food processor or blender and pulse until partially smooth but with small spinach pieces.
  6. Serve chops with a grilled lemon sauce and drizzle of gremolata.
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Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steaks + Iron-Boosting Salad

Molasses Marinated Flat Iron Leftover steak from the grilling makes the BEST next day salad. Tossing a few extra steaks on the grill is my little secret to putting together a quick meal when life just starts getting too crazy to cook. Since we are now officially “Back to School,” my recipe for Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steak and the next-day “Super Iron Boosting” Steak Salad with Dates, Pistachios and Peppers will most likely be in my weekly lunch and dinner rotation until soup season hits (which is still months away in Texas).

pinners conference pic 1I’ll be showing these two recipes (along with a couple others) in my “Empowered Meal Prepping – Protein for Fitness” class line-up for the Pinner’s Conference in the Dallas area on Sept 9th.  Sign up for my class; I’ll also have beef swag and lots of tasty samples!  Use the discount code FITFORK at online registration to save 10% on the very reasonable cost that allows you access to 100+ classes on food, fitness, crafts, home décor and more! Or, if you just want General Admission to shop and see the sights (no classes), you can get a free pass ($7 at door) using FREESHOPPINGRESISTER HERE

So, let’s start with the steak . . . since you need steak leftovers to make the salad! The beef cut I’ve used is the very tender and quite economical Flat Iron steak, but Top Sirloin, Tenderloin or Strip steaks would all work equally well.   The natural sugars from the molasses in this recipe caramelize along with the pepper to make a deliciously crispy crust on the outside of a mouthwatering and juicy center.  I like to pair this steak with Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Quinoa Molasses and Pepper-Crusted Grilled Steak is a quick dinner to grill up and the leftovers can be used in salads, tacos, breakfast hashes and more.

Make sure to save some steak so you can use the leftovers to make my “Super Iron Boosting” Steak Salad with Dates, Pistachios and Peppers.  Almost everything about this salad is iron-boosting from the red meat and molasses, to the dates, pistachios (highest iron nut), and spinach.  All of us, especially athletes, need iron, a mineral that helps red blood cells get oxygen to the muscles, thusly improving energy, athletic performance and mental functioning.

uper Iron Boosting Steak Spinach Salad with Dates, Pistachios and Peppers is a quick and easy meal-solution made with leftover beef. Nearly every ingredients is an abundant source of iron, making it perfect for athletes or those with anemia.

Molasses Steak Salad with Dates Blue Cheese toesThe salad isn’t a “recipe” per se, just pile fresh baby spinach on a plate and add 3 ounces of leftover steak cut in bite-sized pieces. Top that with other veggies you love, like yellow pepper strips, and a couple tablespoons each of sliced dates, blue cheese and pistachios. I’ve served with my favorite store-purchased Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing from Litehouse Foods.

How to Layer a Jar Salad

Above are some useful tips for prepping your salad in a jar, if taking to school or work.

Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast BowlAnother recipe in my class, and so delicious with these steak leftovers is a Brazilian Beef & Plantain Breakfast Bowl (with Coconut and Honey).

 

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite cut of steak to grill? Do you like your salads savory, sweet or both? Do you go back and make recipes from pins you’ve saved? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

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Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steak
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steak
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Whisk together molasses, vinegar, oil, pepper, garlic, ginger, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and pour into plastic zip-top bag containing steaks. Seal tightly and flip a few times to evenly distribute marinade.
  2. Set in refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours, flipping bag occasionally.
  3. Preheat gas or charcoal grill to 400 F degrees. Remove meat and discard marinade. Season with salt and more pepper to taste.
  4. Place steaks on oiled grates and grill for approximately 7 to 9 minutes on one side, or until moisture starts to pool on the top and beef releases easily from grates with tongs. Flip once, grilling on the other side for 6 to 8 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 135 F degrees with instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of steak
  5. Transfer plates to platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.
  6. *Double recipe if you’d like to have leftovers to make steak salad and beef breakfast bowl.
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Join Me for “If Girls Ran The World” Virtual Running Event

if girls ran the world runner 2Today I am sharing a couple passions that are near and dear to my heart – 1) furthering the sport of women’s running for athletes of all abilities and 2) helping to give girls and women around the world the tools, skills and opportunities they need to live a safe, happy, healthy and abundant life. I’ve partnered with If Girls Ran the World, a non-profit running fundraising event to help put some wind (and hopefully a windfall of support) under the wings of these causes I so deeply care about.  It was truly an honor to be chosen as a Role Model for this program and work alongside so many talented and amazing women!

If Girls Ran the World Role Models

huger project girl eatingAs a fit foodie, the charity I’ve chosen to support is The Hunger Project, a strategic non-profit dedicated to the sustainable end of world hunger. Their vision is a world where every woman, man and child leads a healthy, fulfilling life of self-reliance and dignity. I love how this organization has used native WOMEN as key change agents in the more than 24,000 communities and rural villages they’ve worked in – women rock and they know how to get the job done!  I say, “Don’t stand in the way of a Mama Bear”!

During the entire month of October, members of my team (you can join) will commit to running as many miles as our hearts and legs lead us to. Please Register! You run on your time, at your pace, wherever and whenever it works for you. Whether you choose to walk 1 mile or run 10 miles or 1,000 miles, you set your own goal and pace. It’s easy and fun, you can use fitness tracking apps like Strava or MapMyFitness to track your miles or enter manually. Challenge yourself. Run often. Run happy. Run to feel good. Run to do good. This isn’t a competition, it’s a beautiful cause! This is important, EMPOWERING WOMEN AND GIRLS IS IMPORTANT. And, it’s also a nice side effect that we’re all out there exercising!

if girls ran the world jenniferlI hesitate “hit” y’all up for a donation, but you can still register (use BFF for 50% of the $25 fee) and join my team. Once you read through mission of If Girls Ran The World and The Hunger Project, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to chip in a bit. It doesn’t have to be a lot – even $5 or $10 would help me get to my goal.

Register for the Virtual Running Event (you don’t even have to run) and then head over to align yourself with Team Jennifer – TheFitFork.Com . Don’t forget to use code BFF to save 50% — which makes the event only $12.50 – in addition to doing good, you get the opportunity to take part in weekly fitness and fundraising challenges with prizes such as an Oiselle prize pack, a Fitbit Blaze, a year supply of Kind Snacks, Hoka One One shoes, a $500 donation to your cause of choice, and more. Plus if you personally commit to raising $250, you get some cute swag!  Drop a comment or email me at jennifer@thefitfork.com if you have any questions (the sign up process is a little confusing since there are a couple steps).

Thank you so much for reading all the way through and for your consideration of this important cause!  If you have troubles signing up or joining my team, please send me a message. Love ya! XOXO – Jennifer

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“Almost Instant” Spicy Shrimp Spinach Soup, Just Add Hot Water

thefitfork jennifer fisher paddle boardLife is an adventure and many days, I’m so worn out from my adventuring that I just don’t want to make a meal – especially, if my husband and boys are gone doing their own thing, and it’s just me! But, a nourishing meal is a must to keep me fueled up for the next epic event – be that training for an obstacle race, stand up paddle boarding all day, or hurdling over parking lot puddles on my way into the store!

Spicy Shrimp and Spinach Soup with Marzetta Marinara

Today, I’m sharing a single-serve lunch or dinner solution that is, I must say, quite genius! It’s a “Just Add Hot Water” Spicy Shrimp Spinach Soup that is perfect for an almost instant fix when you’ve got the hangries.  The idea is to fill up a glass jar about halfway with fresh ingredients (like marinara, veggies, brown rice and cooked shrimp), stick in the fridge until ready to eat, and then add boiling hot water and shake, shake, shake before slurping up! When you have to work at your desk through lunch, this almost instant soup recipe is 100x better than peanut butter crackers out of the vending machine and can be made just as fast by nabbing hot water from the break room. picy Shrimp Spinach Soup - just add hot water!  The perfect meal for lunch at your desk on nights when kids have to make their own!

Mezzetta Spicy Shrimp Spinach Soup

Just pour in 1 1/2 cups of water heated in microwave, coffee pot or hot water spigot!

But, it’s not only for eating outside the home. If you fancy yourself a meal prepper, multiply this single-serve soup recipe and feed the family all week! Keep loaded in the fridge and your kids can make their own on those busy nights when no one is (unfortunately) sitting down for dinner at the same time. Spicy Shrimp Spinach Soup

I can always count on Mezzetta® Marinara to help me whip up a quick and easy meal, whether it simple zoodles with sauce or an egg poached in marinara (yum)!  I’m all about the #MarinaraSauce . . . every jar of Mezzetta® Marinara is packed with the world’s best tomatoes hailing from the rich soils of Italy’s San Marzano region. Mezzetta® believes in using the fewest, freshest and finest ingredients in their marina sauces (which also contain no added sugar, unlike many other brands).There are six delicious flavors of Mezzetta® Marinara including the Calabrian Chili & Garlic (used in my recipe), Italian Plum Tomato, Whole Garlic & Sweet Basil, Caramelized Onion & Butter, Truffle, Porcini & Cream, and Parmigiano Reggiano

Mezzetta Pizza SauceMezzetta® also makes a pizza sauce that is out of this world!

Use it on pizza or spread it on a panni!

 

Mezzetta Win 11 day trip to Italy

You know what would be a great break from all this business of life? A fabulous Italian adventure!!! I have always dreamed of this trip, it is on my bucket list!  Mezzetta® is giving away an 11-Day Italian Vacation to Italy, you need to ENTER NOW!  One winner (and one guest) will attend culinary experiences (including cooking class and farm tour) in the San Marzano region of Italy and explore other cities of Italy. The Grand Prize trip consists of the round trip coach air transportation between the major commercial airport nearest winner’s residence and Rome, Italy, the culinary experience and tour of Italy. CLICK HERE TO ENTER

What adventure is at the top of your bucket list? What are your everyday adventures? Have a creative use for marinara sauce? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer

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Spicy Shrimp Spinach Soup
"Almost Instant" Spicy Shrimp Spinach Soup, Just Add Hot Water
Print Recipe
Add boiling hot water to a jar full of fresh ingredients, shake, pull out a spoon and . .. viola, you've got a quick and healthy meal solution for lunch or dinner! Yay for portable instant soup!
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
Spicy Shrimp Spinach Soup
"Almost Instant" Spicy Shrimp Spinach Soup, Just Add Hot Water
Print Recipe
Add boiling hot water to a jar full of fresh ingredients, shake, pull out a spoon and . .. viola, you've got a quick and healthy meal solution for lunch or dinner! Yay for portable instant soup!
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
Ingredients
Servings: serving
Instructions
  1. Layer all ingredients in quart-sized jar with sealing lid. Keep chilled for up to four days until ready to eat. When ready to serve, add 1 ½ cups boiling water (from microwave, tea kettle or coffee pot) and pour into jar. Add lid and shake well to combine, open and enjoy! Serves !
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Good Morning! Plantain and Lentil Coffee Cake (gluten free)

Plantain Lentil Coffee Cake  Today I’m sharing a mouthwatering and marvelously moist (apologies haters of that word) cake that’s approved (by me) to eat along with your cuppa Joe at breakfast . . . or at lunch or dinner, for that matter. It’s a Plantain Lentil Coffee Cake! No, I’m not pulling your LEGume, but I did use legumes (that is, lentils from Farmer Direct Co-op) to keep my quick-to-fix cake tantalizing tender as well as boost up the nutrition.

Plantain and Lentil Coffee Cake is free of refined sugar and the lentils add extra protein and fiber!

This yummy, quick-to-fix cake is a healthy solution for those sweet breakfast or snack cravings. Free of high-gylcemic sugars and overly-refined flours and grains, this recipe relies on the wholesome goodness from plantains, lentils and a gluten-free baking mix. I used a one-to-one measure sugar replacement to keep the calories and carb count down – my go-to is Ellyndale Naturals™ Sugarless Sugar™ from NOW Foods. But, you can also swap in a different sweetener, like coconut sugar, if you prefer.

Farmer Direct Co-op Lentils

I use Farmer Direct Co-op as my source lentils, these little green gems are organic, non GMO and fair trade.  In the past, I had a hard time thinking of uses for lentils past soups or stews . . . or keeping a jar of cooked lentils in the fridge to sprinkle on my salads. But then I had a light bulb moment –why not use pureed lentils (or beans) in recipes for baked goods to add moistness with less oil – plus more fiber and protein!

slice plantain lentil cake toes

I knew my kids would be suspicious if I told them we were eating a cake made of plantains and lentils – so I didn’t say a word. When they gobbled it up and asked for more “banana bread,” I knew this recipe was a winner! While I have cooked it in a 10” pie dish, it also bakes up well in an 8” x 8” brownie pan or as 12 standard-sized muffins.

farmer direct logoWhen it comes to being organic, farmer-owned and fair-deal, Farmer Direct Co-op is 100-percent all of the above and more. Their mission is to promote their co-op farmer’s organic products while building and promoting a healthy environment and socially just food system. When you purchase from Farmer Direct Co-op, you’re buying more than a pea, a lentil or a bean . . you’re buying into part of an evolution of eating aimed at truly nourishing the mind, body and soul.

Head on over to Farmer Direct Co-op to learn more about their awesome company and products like 1lb. shelf bags of Pinto Beans, French Green Lentils, Split Green Peas, Regular Rolled Oats and Quick Rolled Oats. STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY!  They also have a nice collection of healthy recipes on their blog made with whole foods.

Have you ever used beans or lentils in a a baked recipe, how so?! Please share in the comments, XOXO — Jennifer 

This post is sponsored by Farmer Direct Co-Op, however all opinions, comments and enthusiasm are my own.

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Plantain Lentil Coffee Cake
Plantain and Lentil Coffee Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
9 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
9 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Plantain Lentil Coffee Cake
Plantain and Lentil Coffee Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
9 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
9 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Cook lentils in water according to package instructions, let cool to room temperature. Drain cooking liquid.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  3. Add cooked lentils to food processor along with chopped plantain and almond milk. Process until reasonably smooth. Pulse in one egg oil and coconut oil until combined.
  4. Remove work bowl from processor and add sugar substitute, stirring in to combine. Add baking mix and mix until just combined, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula, as needed.
  5. Pour batter into baking 10-inch round or 8" x 8" square baking dish coated with coconut oil spray. Sprinkle top of batter with shredded coconut and sliced almonds (or tiger nuts).
  6. Bake at 350 F degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center pulls clean. Let cook and cut into nine slices served with a drizzle of honey over the top.
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My Old Dog is Smarter than Your Pet (Just Sayin’)

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND. The opinions and text are all mine.


jen and lucy pranaWhile I have three of my own human babies (who are now all bigger than me!), my “furbaby” holds a special spot in my heart – she’s easy-going but very athletic, friendly but enjoys her alone time, wakes up early and is always ready for an adventure.lucy ears flyingHeck, I’d even go as far as to say she’s the canine version of me . . .but, then I’d be calling myself a dog (haha).  Another thing that Lucy, an 11-year old Brittany Spaniel, and I have in common is that although we are both well in to our middle years, neither one of us likes to slow down or be off our game due to fuzzy thinking.

bright mind chicken and riceI eat foods to help me feel, think, and recover better – so why shouldn’t she?! That’s why I was very excited about having her transition over to Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+dog food and having her participate in the Dognition program.

I’ve been feeding her the chicken and rice formula and she’s been gobbling it up — however, I transitioned her by adding a little to her regular kibble (giving her a little less of that) and gradually tinkering with the ratios until she’s was 100% on the new feed.

Brittany Spaniel

Lucy is totally focused when it comes to “hunting” in the backyard — she’s a pointer by nature!

I really don’t like to a accept that dogs (especially mine) are considered “senior” around age seven – but about this stage in life, the glucose metabolism in a dog’s brain starts to change, which can affect alertness and mental sharpness. As owners, we may start noticing little issues in our pet’s memory, learning speed, overall awareness and ability to make appropriate decisions, but we also may quickly dismiss them or even overlook them in the business of life.

lucy fishing 1All these little age-related changes can sneak up, it’s like finally coming to the realization that your child has grown 6 inches in the past year when an infrequent visitor exclaims  very loudly on their new height! It can be hard to see these small incremental changes in your dog when you live side-by-side, day-by-day – that’s why I really appreciated the giving my dog the Assessments at Dognition.com.

My 17 year-old son played games with Lucy that tested her Empathy, Communication, Cunning, Reasoning, and Memory.  Now I can use this data as a benchmark against other dogs of her age and breed and to also monitor her mental sharpness as she continues to get on up there in years. And side note, Lucy LOVED these games and stayed on task with the games for nearly 2 hours – it was impressive!

charmer dog badgeThese tests showed that Lucy is a “Charmer,” that means she is very smart and adept at problem-solving, but likes to use her exceptional social skills and ability to read our body language to recruit us as partners! She’s no dummy, every things more fun when you get the family involved! On the individual tests, she scored the very highest in Empathy and Memory, above average in Cunning and Communication and average in Trustworthiness (haha, she’s a little impulsive)!

purina infographicI’m so thrilled and grateful that Lucy’s as smart and focused as she is for her age – nearly 80 in dog years! I’m planning on keeping her on Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ formula dog food, a dry kibble introduced last year that contains enhanced botanical oils that have been show (after 30 days) to promote alertness and mental sharpness in older dogs. Lucy’s doing even better than she normally is and definitely wanting to play and interact more – I’d say 11 years old is the new 5 years old for her! I’m beginning to wonder what eating this dog food would do for my forgetful, fuzzy, stressed-out middle-age brain!

I found this infographic on canine cognition and the amazing things dogs can do very enlightening (and cute)!

Learn more about this great cognitive health dog food for senior dogs at BRIGHTMINDEFFECT.com.  You can also enter my giveaway to  Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ formula dog food

I’m also giving away a free code for a Dognition Assessment (a $19 value) on my Instagram Post – not only are these tests very eye-opening when it comes to the status of your pet’s cognitive health, they are a very fun and bonding activity for you and your older pooch! You might even find out you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! ENTER HERE through 11:59pm on 8/21/2016.

Do you have a senior dog? Are you noticing any changes with cognition or mental function? Or, just physically?  What is your dog’s favorite game to play? Please share in comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

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