Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protien Oats + #Giveaway for Hot Cereal / Rice Cooker

This post and giveaway sponsored by Hamilton Beach, however all opinions, comments, content and enthusiasm are my own.

One morning this summer I made a family favorite recipe for Pumpkin Protein Muffins. When the kids woke up to the amazingly “autumn” smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin baking, they were disoriented. . .. but excited, nonetheless.! “Is it already Thanksgiving, mom? Did we sleep through the first day of school and Halloween and wake up in the middle of the fall holidays?” 

By the way, I’m giving away a really awesome Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker from Hamilton Beach this week – this counter top appliance will Change. Your. Life.  Hop to the bottom of the post to enter.

Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oats in Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker

That got me to thinking. Why DO we primarily limit cooking and baking with pumpkin to the months of September through December?  While fresh pumpkins may be seasonal, the canned puree is equally as nutritious and a heck of a lot more convenient. Pumpkin ( a fab source of fiber, vitamins Vitamin A, and healthy complex carbs) is a veggie I’d like to see more of in my life for the entire year!  And, so here I am in September, as cliché as it may be, sharing a pumpkin recipe – but, good gourd, this one is workable into anyone’s busy schedule, 365.

Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Protein Oats -- 288 calories, 26g protein, fiber and healthy carbs to fuel your day or workout. Plus, this recipe is made in a rice cooker in just 5 to 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oatmeal – why, hello creamy pie-and-coffee-shop inspired morning concoction that is actually as nourishing as delish. I’ve used a blend of old-fashioned oats mixed with my favorite seeds (hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin – you can tweak as you like) along with pumpkin puree, creamy almond milk, and vanilla protein powder to bring each serving into the approximate 25g protein range which is what I strive for at my morning meal

Now Foods Products used in Pumpkin Protein Oats from thefitfork.com

***Please note, the recipe nutrition will vary based on the protein powder you use (I used Vanilla Whey Isolate from Now Foods) and mix ins (I used the Triple Omega Seed Blend from Now Foods) . With just 288 calories per hearty serving, I’ve kept this sugar-free recipes under 300 calories buy using my preferred cup-for-cup measure sugarless sweetener (Sugarless Sugar Baking Blend from Now Foods).

In a rush? This recipe takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. If you’re in a super morning rush, set everything out in the rice cooker (except the perishables) the night before and finish off in the morning. Oh, and did I mention that there is caffeine built right into this recipe thanks to steeping chai into the liquid used to make oatmeal. It’s genius.  Of course, please use caffeine-free tea if you are sensitive.

hamilton-beach-rice-cooker-2Did you notice how I alluded to a Rice Cooker? The convenience factor here is that I’ve made this pumpkin oatmeal recipe in a Rice Cooker!  You heard me right – rice cookers aren’t just for cooking rice anymore, you can make some amazing recipes in a rice cooker like cheesy grits, steamed salmon with rice and veggies, chocolate cakes and more!  I’ve made my recipe in the 4-20 Cup Rice and Hot Cereal Maker from Hamilton Beach, it’s the best small kitchen appliance evahhhhh!  I’m giving one away, jump to bottom of post to enter!

hamilton-beach-rice

I resisted getting a rice cooker for a really long time, thinking it would just hog up space in my cabinets and rarely get used – not the case! It’s more of a “multi” cooker than a “rice” cooker and I it at least once a week to prepare a meal for the family – even my teens know how to make simple recipes for dinner in it. Plus, with a 20-cup capacity, it’s perfect for meal planning – I often double or triple my batches of rice, quinoa, oats or whatever I have going in in the cooker and then freeze portions for later in the month.  It’s a busy mom’s best friend!

Have you cooked anything unusual in a rice cooker? What is your favorite fall flavor? Should pumpkin be a year-round thing? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer

Enter Giveaway Here:

 

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Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oatmeal (Rice Cooker)
Print Recipe
Enjoy the delicious flavor of pumpkin in a warm and nourishing bowl of oatmeal that has been pumped up with protein powder and seeds. Whips up in 10 minutes in rice cooker!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oatmeal (Rice Cooker)
Print Recipe
Enjoy the delicious flavor of pumpkin in a warm and nourishing bowl of oatmeal that has been pumped up with protein powder and seeds. Whips up in 10 minutes in rice cooker!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Add almond milk, water and tea bags to large glass measuring cup and microwave until hot, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from microwave and let steep another 3 minutes. Discard tea bags and set liquid aside.
  2. In bowl of rice cooker, add oats, nutrition boosters (seeds, etc), protein powder, sugar substitute, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together until combined.
  3. Add pumpkin to bowl and pour in milk/tea mixture. Mix together until everything combined.
  4. Put lid down on rice cooker. Set timer for “heat/simmer” for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened to desired consistency. I prefer mine thicker!
  5. Serve warm in bowls with Greek yogurt and pecans or other garnishes. May store leftovers in refrigerator for days or in freezer for 6 months.
  6. To make in microwave, place all ingredients in 2 quart lidded casserole and microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring halfway.
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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

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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Happy, Healthy Watermelon Day Workout, Recipes & Giveaway

Many say the career advice to follow your passions is hogwash. “It’s not practical, ” they say, or “you can’t earn a decent living unless you’re extremely talented, really lucky – or, both.” “Do what you love . . . and you’ll probably starve.”  As a female Jack-of-All-Trades-Master-of-None, I’m here to say baloney to that! Well, maybe not baloney, but instead to say “WATERMELON, BEEF and SALAD DRESSING” to that!

Jennifer Fisher thefitfork. watermelon

Yup, I’m doing what I love and I’m not starving either figuratively or literally. These are just some beloved clients of mine who have supported me and given me experiences not just as a food and fitness blogger and healthy chef, but as a creative consulting professional in the health industry. Nothing makes me feel fuller as a contributing member of society than helping others on a health and fitness journey in my own special way – and that, my friends, is definitely NOT starving.

Happy National Watermelon Day from TheFitFork.comSo, in honor of National Watermelon Day (which is August 3rd), I wanted to spread a bit more watermelon love in my #LivingOnTheWedge way.  Over these several years, some might think I’ve exhausted my ideas to showcase watermelon. Oh, I always have a new recipe, workout or health tip – and today, I have all three (plus a giveaway of goodies).

First up, the watermelon recipe.  I actually posted it a couple weeks ago, but I want to make sure you don’t miss it because it’s just that good. Inspired by the funky fusion of the local food truck scene, my “Keep Austin Weird” Beef, Veggie & Watermelon Stir-fry features all my favorite ingredients from around the Central Texas area. Get the recipe HERE.Beef, Veggie & Watermelon Stir Fry

Not being one to brag or toot my own horn (hardly ever, haha), the National Watermelon Promotion Board has unofficially named me as the Inventor of the Watermelon Workout . . .it’s even better than being the creator of Prancersize or some other such thing! Well, golly, you can find a few of my watermelon workouts right there on the Watermelon for Health section of Watermelon.org and there are a few more over HERE!

Watermelon Challenge - Idea World - thefitfork.comNow onto the Watermelon Workout. Earlier in the month, I helped Watermelon.org  share the benefits of this fruit in a healthy lifestyle by hosting a Watermelon Workout Challenge at the largest fitness convention on the planet, IDEA World in Los Angeles. Competitors had to spin a wheel and then bust out as many reps of the selected exercise as possible in 20 seconds – there were squat jumps, alternating lunges, Russian Twists, partner passes and more. Oh, and did I mention you had to hold a watermelon the entire time!

 

 

watermelon workout ideaworld day 1 overhead tricepThe idea was created mainly in the name of wholesome good fun and to make people stop, smile and talk about watermelon (which it did)– but everyone also commented on how is was actually such a great workout concept. Uh, yeah – have you ever tried to jump squat with a 20 pound watermelon?!

Watermelon Blaster Workout a muscle-sculpting and calorie-torching workout with a personal-sized watermelon!

Today’s Watermelon Blaster Workout is designed to kick up your cardio and sculpt muscles simultaneously. There are four separate exercises in the set, each one is done as many times possible (with good form) in 90 seconds. After all four exercises are done, you get a one minute rest and then repeat everything over a few times for a total for four sets.  Go at your own pace and modify as necessary – over time you will find that you can do more reps per set. I used a 5.5 lb personal-sized watermelon, go light or heaver as needed.  You could also use a medicine ball, but then it wouldn’t be nearly as fun.

And here’s the video demo of the exercises. Enjoy and laugh if you will, I know I’m a watermelon dork.

Watermelon contains vitamin B-6 which may help the body process protein better -- this is great for muscle management!

 

And lastly, a Watermelon Health Tip from my friends at Watermelon.org.  Watermelon contains vitamin B6, which may help break down protein, another important source of workout fuel along with carbohydrates. #WatermelonForHealth

 

 

 

Watermelon Day Giveaway - thefitfork.com

Oh, yeah – and I’m having a Watermelon Day Giveaway, too!  The prize include an assortment of watermelon-themed swag including a pair of watermelon knee socks (not compression, but still awesome), watermelon ankle socks, a sweet little fold-up nylon shopping back, two single-serve packs of sprouted watermelon seeds and a $10 gift card to Fresh Market so you can get a watermelon or two! Enter in the Rafflecopter app below!

 

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Running and Jumping for Joy About Compression Socks + #Giveaway

Jennifer Fisher TheFitFork.com  Jump Rope

I am a huge fan of compression socks and am hosting a giveaway for a really fun pair (of winner’s choice) at the bottom of post.  I wear this type of knee sock for nearly every race and workout and also on those work days when I’m standing for lengthy periods of time at an event expo, teaching cooking classes or otherwise running around. In fact, I’ve found that on those days when I do have to stand up all day, I still have enough spring in my step later in the evening to fit my training in or going around with the jump rope in a pair of Polka Dot Compression Socks (as above).

I never go overboard - haha!I’ve written quite a few posts about compression socks in the past (like this one about compression and running-CrossFit-yoga, so I hesitate to rehash everything – but the basic ideas is that the compression in socks (which usually starts the strongest in the foot or ankle and then moves up the calf), keeps the blood flow from slowing and giving you that lethargic, swollen, dead-leg feeling.  I like to call this squeezing, “happy hugs for your feet” – it’s doesn’t really feel as much “tight” as it does “embraced.”   Anyway, this ‘hugging” encourages better circulation and, in turn, legs will feel more energized, less achy and heavy. Some doctors even suggest compression socks may help to prevent varicose and spider veins. Oh how I wish stylish compression socks were available during my pregnancies, as I had vein problems quite bad and was forced to wear thick, full-length compression hose in an awful “suntan” color” – I was quite the sight to behold.

bright life go logoBut, today there are so many fashionable choices in compression socks that don’t sacrifice any of the function. BrightLifeGo.com is a great online shop that features a wide range of compression sock brands that will help you put your best foot (and leg) forward! The carry lots of great brands like CEP, Zensah and Top & Derby — of course, my favorite brands is Vim & Vigr – I am a very enthusiastic (and official) ambassador for Vim & Vigr products. I am actually wearing a pair right now as I type this up (which reminds me, while I wear compression for my active pursuits, they also help keep things circulating when sitting all day at a desk or on a plane).

vim vigr compression sock collage

VIM & VIGR socks are definitely do not have that elderly vibe that compression socks of yore had – these beauties are designed with rich colors, timeless patterns, and just enough sass to satisfy my funky style. Look at some of my favorites in the collage above! Every time a wear a pair (and I never keep them hidden under pants!) I am always stopped with questions and compliments about my socks!

If you are a newbie to compression socks, you may have legitimate questions before you shell out what is a fairly substantial chunk of change for a pair of socks – which typically run $30 – $60 per pair(although so WORTH it).  BrightLifeGo.com has a easy to follow Guide for First Time Compression Sock Buyers that will walk you through the decision making process including identifying your primary need (from pregnancy or an on-your-feet job to maternity and travel) along with other concerns, like what grade of compression, what size and care instructions.

So, whohoo, I’m so excited that BrightLifeGo.com is letting me give away a pair of is Vim & Vigr compression socks (of winner’s choice) to one of my readers. They have GUY’S SOCKS also!  Check out the Vim & Vigr collection at Bright Life Go right HERE Then, see below for the entry instructions and Rafflecopter widget.

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Habanero BBQ Almonds + Giveaway for #YogaLovers

buddhi box yogaI recently hinted at a delicious spicy-sweet almond snack I made with local products in my Active in Austin post. My recipe for 5-minute Habanero BBQ Almonds is a great hunger-squashing snack that you absolutely must make for all your on-the-go summer activities. And, if one of your summer activities is YOGA — then check out the bottom of my post for a Buddhi Box giveaway!

5 minute Habanero BBQ Almonds make a healthy snack  -- protein, fiber and other important nutrients.

Not only is this snack super easy to make in the skillet in about 5 minutes, it’s packed with flavor and the satiating nutrition from almonds. Almonds are such a great snack for athletes and everyone — the are definitely the superfood they are cracked up to be!  This nutrient-dense nut is packed with good monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins such as riboflaven and trace minerals such as magnesium.

04_Info

Get recipes and wellness tips to help you boost daily intake of protein!Almonds are also a great snack choice if you are on the #ProteinChallenge. If you’re not participating in this free challenge, sign up today here. It’s a great way to learn how to slightly readjust your eating patterns to include adequate protein spaced throughout the day. In turn, you should have more energy, a desire to snack less on unheathy carbed-out, processed foods and be better able to achieve or maintain a lean body mass.

Also, you’re going to laugh, but I think that this Habanero BBQ Almond recipe helps you stay hydrated. Say what? That’s because the spicy habanero pepper is one of the hottest peppers in town and it will encourage you to drink more water

buddi box logo

I also want to tell you about a new box I am loving right now — the Buddhi Box. It’s “The Monthly Subscription Box that will Kick Your Asana into Gear”. This ultimate yogi care package is filled with deluxe samples and full-sized products that will appeal and delight those just starting a yoga practice or that have been on the journey for some time. You can learn more about the products and the services HERE.

Buddi Box is a specially curated monthly subscription box for the yoga enthusiast.

My recent Buddhi Box included a full-sized book packed with every imaginable yoga pose (I’m still trying them all out), daring ballet sock with gripper feet (feet stay covered in class, but no slipping and sliding), a scented soy candle and sample of hemp seeds (ooh, love those).

One of you lucky readers will win your own Buddhi Box by entering the giveaway below. What’s in the winner’s yoga subscription box? I don’t know! That’s the fun element of surprise that comes with these specially-curated collections of products — even though I don’t know whats coming, I always LOVE everything!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5-minute Habanero BBQ Almonds
Print Recipe
This slightly smoky-sweet and definitely spicy almonds make a great protein-rich snack to fuel your active lifestyle. They are made in less than 5 minutes in a skillet -- low mess, low fuss!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 1 minute
Cook Time
4 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 1 minute
Cook Time
4 minutes
5-minute Habanero BBQ Almonds
Print Recipe
This slightly smoky-sweet and definitely spicy almonds make a great protein-rich snack to fuel your active lifestyle. They are made in less than 5 minutes in a skillet -- low mess, low fuss!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 1 minute
Cook Time
4 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 1 minute
Cook Time
4 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. To make, heat skillet to medium- high over stovetop.
  2. Stir in 1/4 cup BBQ sauce, 2 teaspoons habanero sauce, 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt. Cook over medium-low for 4 minutes to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce is carmalizing and sticking to almonds.
  3. Remove from skillet and let cool a few minutes. Eat warm or at room temperature. May be stored in an air-tight container.
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Protein Timing for Endurance Athletes + Thermos® Shaker Bottle

Thermos Brand Shaker Bottle
Before I get on my soapbox about protein, let me tell you this post is sponsored by Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle.  Of all the shaker bottles that have come and gone (quickly) my life, this one is a keeper and hands-down the best!  It’s made of safe materials, shatter-proof (important if you’ve seen some of my workouts), and resistant to leaks – the lid screws on tightly and there is actually a push-button release cap on the spigot!

Breaking up with these old shaker bottles wasn't hard to do!

Breaking up with these old shaker bottles wasn’t hard to do!

As one whom has spilled time and time again, over the front of my shirt, on the car upholstery and all inside my gym bag, this “leak proof” feature is a huge selling point with me. Anyway, Thermos®  is holding a giveaway for 10 of these very-impressive vessels – go here to enter! And read down to the bottom of the post where I have more deets on this must-have nutrition gear for the athlete. Now, onto the protein . .

PROTEIN TIMING FOR ENDURANCE ATHLETES — RUNNERS, TRIATHLETES, SWIMMERS, ULTRA MARATHONERS, OBSTACLE COURSE RACERS, MOUNTAIN BIKERS, ECO ADVENTURE TYPES, MUD RUNNERS, ROWERS, SKIERS — I’M TALKING TO YOU!

Timing IS everything, especially when it comes to protein and the endurance athlete. Not only does adequate protein consumption provide sustained energy for the day’s routine activities, it helps to rebuild muscle taxed by strenuous exercise, and makes it easier to maintain a lean body mass, even as we age.  I’m excited to share with you what I’ve learned over years of listening to and working with various experts on the topic and sharing the personal protein strategy I use to keep a low body fat percentage and fuel my performance as a runner and obstacle course athlete.

Jennifer Fisher - Beef Sirloin Steaks

What? Is this too much protein for one meal?

How much protein is enough or too much and how much do you eat? I get this question all the time. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound – that’s about 56 grams per day for the average non-active man or 46 grams per day for the average non-active woman. This RDA calculates out to about 10% of suggested daily caloric intake. You might be surprised to find out that the 45 to 56 g protein just mention is the equivalent of 6 to 8 ounces of a lean animal-based protein like chicken, fish or beef! However, the modest RDA was set a long time ago, during a time food rationing during war, and is widely considered by most nutritionists to be the minimum amount needed to keep from becoming malnourished and sick!  Today’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that we should be taking in from 10% to 35% of daily calories from various forms of protein, depending on our needs and activity levels.

Jennifer Fisher - Beef Team Elite Runner

Endurance athletes like marathon runners and triathletes need more protein than the average couch potato, and calories as well. Our busy bodies need protein to more efficiently process carbohydrates into quick fuel and to rebuild (and even grow) muscle. You can’t really eat too much protein, many dieters have had success on a high-fat, higher protein Keto diet. However, when it comes to protein, there is a point of diminishing returns for an athlete. Remember, the body can only process about 25 – 30 grams per meal or snack, regardless of your body size. Plus, when you up calorie intake from protein, proportionately speaking, calories from other areas have to give  — unless you want to gain weight. Plus, training high mileage with few carbs leaves you feeling sluggish and like you’ve got lead in your legs (trust me, I’ve tried). Even the author of fruit and grain-shaming The Paleo Diet broke down and admitted, in a the later-published The Paleo Diet for Athletes, that there is a need for certain carbohydrates in a training diet if optimal performance is the goal.

When should I eat my protein? I’ve seen some people talk about “front loading” protein in the morning to start of the day. Yes and no. Yes, you definitely should be eating protein right upon waking up. Muscles need to be fed; they’ve been in a complete fasting state for the last 8 hours or since the last meal. However, you don’t need more than 25 – 30 grams as previously mentioned; it won’t do you any good (unless you’re just eating it for taste or gains!).

Beef Egg Potato Bake Breakfast Casserole - TheFitFork.com

Start your day with 25 – 20 grams of protein!

Get my Barn-raiser Egg & Beef Bake recipe (above) which has been featured in Taste of Home magazine and on the Hallmark Channel “Home & Family Show”

The optimal plan for protein intake is to space it evenly throughout the day. Americans tend to “back load,” that is, eating it mostly at dinner!  A basic breakdown consists of protein at breakfast, lunch, dinner and possibly a post-workout snack and bedtime snack, depending on your needs. For super intense workouts, you may also consider protein intake with your carbs during actual exercise – protein helps to more quickly process carbs in the blood stream.

Most of us endurance athletes know by now that the optimal window for protein intake after a workout is within about 30 minutes, 60 minutes worst case scenario. Experts suggest that the carb to protein ratio of this recovery snack be 4g carb to 1g protein or 3 to 1.  So remember to bring along a protein bar, shake, nuts or some other protein-rich snack that can be consumed almost immediately after your sweat session.

A simple shake make with protein powder makes a great bed time snack. If you can tolerate milk, use it as your base -- dairy has special enzymes that help facilitate the job of protein while you sleep

Now, onto the bedtime snack. I eat from lights on to lights out! Eating before bed goes against the very rules of what your mother taught you. Curiously, I’ve always craved a protein snack about hour before my head hits the pillow – and was happy to find out I was actually doing my body a positive service. Much of our recover and muscle growth happens at night and it needs long-lasting fuel to do so. Experts say that dairy-based protein snacks are the best picks at night. Apparently, specific enzymes in dairy foods maximize the work load protein. That means my nightly Greek yogurt (or a protein shake made with milk) is a post-dinner winner!

jennifer fisher fit foodie run beef

 

A Fairly Common Protein Day for ME (Remember, it may vary for you):

  • Breakfast: 30g protein from eggs, mug muffin made with protein powder, or smoothie
  • Post-Workout Snack: 20g protein bar, peanut butter toast, protein powder and fruit shake
  • Lunch:  Salad with 30g protein from mixture of leftover meat, beans, etc.
  • Dinner: 25g protein from protein like sirloin steak, chicken breast, salmon with veggies on the side.
  • Bedtime Snack: 20g protein from plain Greek yogurt mixed with stevia and sprinkle of granola.
The Thermos Brand Shaker Bottle doesn't leak thanks to the push-button release cap!

The Thermos Brand Shaker Bottle doesn’t leak thanks to the push-button release cap!

So, back to the Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle, its ideal for those protein shakes I’ve been mentioning for breakfast or post-workout recovery. Again, I love the leak-proof design, but also another feature that’s awesome about this shaker bottle is that it features an integrated yet removable stationary mixer that helps evenly blend beverages – no one wants to gag on unexpected protein clumps!  Also, I really appreciate the capacity markings along the side of the bottle – it helps me make my protein drink recipes without having to haul out measuring cups. Plus, it also keeps me aware of how much I’m drinking or not drinking, as the case may be!  Many times I need to see those tick marks reveal to know I’m staying hydrated and getting enough calories/protein for recovery.

 Specs for Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle : It sells for about $14.99, holds 24 ounces, is clear with a gray/green lid, and measures 3.8” W x 3.4” D x 9.2” H  (and, yes, it fits in my car’s cup holder). Plastic is BPA-free, impact-resistant and impervious to absorbing odors of flavors from past beverages. And (yay), its dishwasher –safe!

shaker bottle thermos contest

Enter for chance to be one of ten randomly selected winners of in the Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle Giveaway! Head over to the Thermos® Facebook page for entry details.

And, don’t miss out on a thing – follow Thermos® on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for exclusive updates and product information.

whole foods gift cardAdditionally, I’m personally hosting a giveaway for a $25 gift card to Whole Foods so you can buy some yummy, nourishing ingredients to put in your ShakerBottle

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Mango Flat Iron Steaks + Fruity Jicama Slaw + Weber Grill #Giveaway

This post and giveaway is sponsored by Litehouse Foods and Weber. However, all comments, opinions and enthusiasm are my own.

Ladies . . . and gentlemen, it’s time to get your grill on! While I exercise my freedom to grill year ‘round, the entire month of July is specifically designated as National Grilling Month.  That means you need to be cooking outdoors at least on the weekends and, preferably, every chance Monday through Friday that you can.

Mango Marinated Steak with Fruity Jicama Ginger Slaw

My recipe for Mango Marinated Flat Iron Steaks with Fruity Jicama Ginger Slaw is a quick and easy recipe for the work week – it’s ready in just about 30 minutes and gives you an excuse to sit out on the patio for a little deserved rest and relaxation.  Sitting there next to the grill with your beverage of choice in hand (might I suggest a pina colada), smelling the delicious island-inspired aromas wafting from the grill will destress you almost as quickly as a tropical vacation.

Mango Marinated Steak is made with the flat iron cut, the second most tender cut of beef! A tropical inspired recipe for the grill that takes only 30 minutes to make.

This recipe, developed for Litehouse Foods & Weber (GRILL GIVEAWAY AT BOTTOM OF POST), uses one of my all-time favorite cuts of beef – a flat iron steak. If you’ve not yet thrown a flat iron steak before, you’re in for a real treat! While I’d like to keep this somewhat lesser known hush-hush, I’ve decided to share the “grate” news with y’all! This steak, cut by the butcher from a top blade roast,is second only in tenderness to tenderloin yet is so much more economical, typically a third the price per pound! It can be thrown on the grill “as is” or given a quick dry rub or 15 minute marinade for flavor, meaning dinner can be on the table chop-chop! Plus, the uniform shape and thickness and succulent taste are making this steak an up-and-coming grill season superstar. I’ve got to thank Beef Loving Texans for turning me on to this cut, which is one I now demonstrate time and time again in Grilling 101 classes.

Mango Jicama Ginger Slaw is a tropical take on a summer bbq side dish -- serve with grilled beef, chicken or seafood!

Y’all know I love bright and colorful side dishes made with seasonal produce just as much as my beef – the two go hand-in-hand (or, hand-in-mouth is more like it)!  I tossed together a quick slaw made from jicama (a Mexican root vegetable), mango, grated ginger and other fresh produce, finishing it with Litehouse Food’s traditional Coleslaw Dressing whisked up with some lively ingredients to add to the island-vibe.

flat irone mango slaw grill close upNow, the fun part! I get to giveaway the really cool little Weber grill I made these steaks on (well, it’s actually a brand new one, of course).  The Weber Q 1200 is so ready to ignite your grilling creativity in the backyard or on any number of off-site food adventures – I’ve used it for camping and food demos.  Smaller in size than my full-sized grill, yet not at all flimsy, this portable gas grill offers the same blazing badassery you’d expect from a Weber grill.  Things I love about it – 1) perfect for those nights when just grilling for two, and not the entire family; 2) no-fuss electric ignition and 14-oz. screw-on propane tank; 3)  two generous-sized, fold-down trays ready to accommodate all my serving trays, spatulas and other such grilling superfluities; and 4) it’s available in a rainbow array of seven color choices to match any outdoor décor (although, I’m giving away the BLUE to one of YOU).

win weber grill

Check out Weber Nation for tons of ideas and inspiration for grilling that will keep you busy (and full) all seasons.

weber grill 2

To enter, follow the Rafflecopter instructions below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mango Marinated Steak with Fruity Jicama Ginger Slaw
Mango Marinated Flat Iron Steaks with Fruity Jicama Ginger Slaw
Print Recipe
Make waves with this island-inspired grill recipe for tender flat iron steaks with a juicy sweat-heat slaw featuring jicama, ginger and mango! It's like a vacation for your taste buds! Also, enter to win a Weber Grill!
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
Mango Marinated Steak with Fruity Jicama Ginger Slaw
Mango Marinated Flat Iron Steaks with Fruity Jicama Ginger Slaw
Print Recipe
Make waves with this island-inspired grill recipe for tender flat iron steaks with a juicy sweat-heat slaw featuring jicama, ginger and mango! It's like a vacation for your taste buds! Also, enter to win a Weber Grill!
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
Marinade & Steaks:
Dressing:
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. For Marinade and Steaks: Combine mango juice, lime juice, lime zest and olive oil in bowl .Whisk in garlic, chili powder and red pepper flakes.. Pour mixture in zip-top plastic bag and add steak, turning to coat. Let marinate for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
  2. Heat grill to approximately 400 F degrees. Remove steak from marinade; discard marinade. Season steak on both sides with salt, to personal preference. Add steak to grill and grill approximately 5 to 6 minutes, before flipping once to cook another 4 to 5 minutes. For medium-rare, remove steak from grill when instant-read thermometer registers 135F degrees. Allow to rest 5 minutes.
  3. For Dressing and Slaw: In large bowl, toss together jicama, red onion, mangos, green onions (cross-wise sliced bulbs and length-wise sliced tops), cilantro and red pepper. Set aside.
  4. In small bowl, whisk together Coleslaw Dressing, mango juice, lime juice, lime zest, vinegar, ginger, green onion and sriracha. Pour over slaw and stir gently to evenly coat. Serve cold.
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Clean Fuel for Dirty Training + Vega Giveaway and Protein Cake Recipe

For most people, life winds down to a slower pace in the summer, but not me!  Both my work and workout schedules have been in beast mode with several back-to-back business trips and lots of Spartan Race training (dirty training!) to nail a big race goal next weekend.  These mental and physical stressors, along with the fact that my three teen boys are all home for the summer and their junk foods is laying around everywhere, should be tempting me to just chill out on the couch with a bag of chips – but I’m staying strong!

Slack Line Practice

But, thanks to Vega® Clean Protein and Vega® Clean Energy (sent for me to test out as part of a Vega campaign), I’ve been able to avoid these temptations and stay in tip-top shape to tackle the obstacles that have literally and figuratively been thrown in my path lately. I don’t always eat vegan, but it’s a nice option to rotate through my diet for variety – and both these new, premium plant-based products from Vega make it easy for me to fuel up and train clean.

Vega Clean Protein and Energy

In addition to being Vegan Certified, Vega® Clean Protein and Vega® Clean Energy are both Non-GMO Project verified, gluten-free, made without dairy or soy, and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.

To be honest, I’ve gagged on some other brands of plant-based protein – even hidden in blended smoothies. But the Vega® Clean Protein is delicious just shaken up with ice in a shaker bottle – that makes post-workout recovery a snap!  Both the Chocolate and Vanilla flavors are a blend of pea, hemp, alfalfa and pumpkin proteins that boasts 25 grams of protein with only 1 gram of sugar – plus it’s got the full chain of amino acids, 4BCAAs, glutamine and also takes care of 20% of your daily iron intake needs. All of this for just 130 calories.

Vegan Chocolate Orange Protein Cake

If also the Vega® Clean Protein used it to make this awesome single-serve Orange Chocolate Protein Cake for a clean dessert, bedtime snack or quick breakfast – it just takes 90 seconds! It’s vegan, non-dairy, gluten-free and lower carb!

Vega Chocolate Orange Protein Cake makes a great post-workout snack, quick breakfast or better bedtime snack.

Instructions: In large mug or small microwave-safe bowl, mix together 2/3 scoop Vega® Chocolate Clean Protein, 1 tablespoon gluten-free baking mix, 1 tablespoon gluten-free, oats, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons orange zest, and 1/3 cup almond milk. Microwave for 60 to 90 seconds until set. Remove and sprinkle with dairy-free chocolate chips, if desired.

Vega Clean Energy

On those days when I’m dragging and need a little sumptin-sumptin before a workout, Vega® Clean Energy comes to the rescue. Taken 20 minutes before a run or workout, it’ gears me up for great things thanks to electrolytes, naturally-occurring caffeine from black and green tea and quality carbs to rev the kick start the ole engine with some quick-sourced energy.  It comes in two flavors – Berry and citrus tea!

Aside from these certified vegan sports nutrition products, I’ve been getting lots of great virtual support from Vega on their FuelYourBetter.com page. You should check it out too, it’s loaded with training tips, nutritional articles, and fit-focused recipes that will help you attain all your fitness goals – be those in running, triathlon, Crossfit, weight-lifting, yoga, obstacle course racing, paddle boarding, parkour, rock climbing, team sports or attaining all-around general fitness and shaping up for summer! #FuelYourBetter

vega fueledBeing the Instagram junkie that I am (follow me @thefitfork) I also like to stalk Vega’s new @VegaFueled Instagram page.  You’ll easily agree that it’s an inspiring page featuring real world people that will make you want to get moving too! Follow @VegaFueled  and tag your own photos with #vegafueled and #FuelYourBetter and you may be featured within the Vega community!

In fact, you can  enter for a chance to win a Vega Clean Prize Pack that includes 1 tub Vega Clean Protein, 1 Tub of Vega Clean Energy and a Vega Shaker Cup.  All you need to do is follow me at @thefitfork and the @VegaFueled Instagram Account and post a workout / fitness photo hash tagged #VegaFueled, #FuelYourBetter and #thefitfork.  I’ll randomly pick one winner on 6/30/2016 — No PO #s US/CAN Only.

vega run

Try out Vega for yourself! Use discount code VegaFit at the Vega Store and save 20% off and free shipping – one use per customer and valid until 6/30/2016.  SHOP VEGA HERE!

What are you training for? How are you fueling? Have you ever tried a slack line? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of White Wave. The opinions and text are all mine.