How to Age Proof Your Abs – Diet, Workouts, Wellness for 40+

The plain truth is, as we get a little older, it’s harder to make muscles and convince them to stick around, especially in the abdominal area. The potential for maximum muscle mass lasts until the 30s, after that it’s a small gradual decline in mass month by month, year by year. Gasp, experts say a sedentary lifestyle can result in a 3 to 5 percent decline per decade! This loss of muscle is often replaced by a little extra padding around the middle or “muffin top,” even if you are in good or reasonable shape overall. Plus, the hormonal changes brought on by peri-menopause or full-on menopause don’t help matters much.How to Age Proof Your Abs in 40s 50s and beyond

The quest for a flat mid-section or six-pack abs in middle age or older shouldn’t be about rocking a bikini or turning heads at the gym, although I guess these are nice side benefits – but, haven’t we moved past this ego feed?!  Instead, appreciate what a strong core through functional fitness can do for your daily living. Strong abs help improve balance, stability, back strength and posture, and, in my opinion, can make you feel and look 10 years younger.  A strong core also lessens the chance for injury from actual exercise or random stupid stuff, like twisting the wrong way while holding a bag of groceries, keeping up with your kids, or even playing with grand kids.  Read on to get the tips on How To Age Proof Your Abs Continue reading

How To Grill Nearly Every Vegetable from Avocado To Zucchini

Grilling season is here! It’s my favorite cooking method and I’m a lucky girl to live in a climate that permits it nearly all year. Most of us use the grill to fire up steaks, burgers, chicken and even seafood. But, don’t forget to grill your vegetables – flame-kissed, caramelized vegetables are magic! Adding grilled vegetables to your meal is the easiest way to win dinner, win compliment, and win the summer! Platter of Grilled Vegetables

There is no excuse to be stuck inside with a plate of steamed broccoli or sad salad when you can be outside kicking up the flavor. and your heels! You can grill just about any veggie, even lettuce and lemons! Read on to get vegetable grilling tips along with some great recipes.   Continue reading

Burger Tips, Hints & Hacks for Summer Grill Outs

When blessed with warm weather and three-day weekends, we grill burgers . . .I only wish there were more of the latter!  So, it’s no surprise that this Memorial Day, I will be rounding the family and some dear friends to partake in the worship of sunshine and flame-kissed, juicy burgers with all of the fixings.

Hamburger Party and Burger Bar Ideas

In honor of National Hamburger Month which occurs every May, I put together a tutorial on How to Make a Better Burger Bar for Beef Loving Texans (please check it out)!  I touch on the meat of that post here and add some new burger hacks and helpful hints here to take your burgerlicious summer cookout to the next level.

Continue reading

How To Grill Avocados (That Don’t Turn Brown for Meal Prepping)!

I have a “how to” today that might make even the most super freak avocado aficionado faint – GRILLED AVOCADOS! Grilled Avocado

AvocadOoooohemmmmgeee, you heard me right! It’s amazing simple and insanely appetizing to throw avocados on the grates. Grilling this creamy, savory fruit gives it delicious bits of flame-kissed char and smoky swag that you just won’t find eating it in the typical fashion. Read on to get all the directions to this game-changing  avocado hack and find out why they take days (instead of minutes) to turn brown using this method.  Continue reading

How to Roast, Grill, Microwave & Slow Cook a Sweet Potato + Recipes

When I found out that today (February 22nd) was National Cook a Sweet Potato Day, I got really excited. It’s about time this delicious, nutrient-packed tuber got some attention other than in November. Packed with healthy carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients, sweet potatoes are perfect for your plate year ‘round. With at least 16 varieties grown in the U.S., including one of my favorites, the Stokes Purple Sweet Potato, I can’t imagine ever get tired of this vibrant veggie.How to Cook a Sweet Potato

Bake, microwave, roast, saute, grill, fry and boil are just some of the ways to cook a sweet potato. Eat them “as-is” with simple seasons or mash flesh to use as an ingredient in soups, side dishes, smoothies, baked goods and more.  So, are you wondering just exactly how to COOK a SWEET POTATO? Read on the find out the basic methods and get some of my favorite recipes:  Continue reading

Let’s Lunch! Smart Meal Prep Tips & Recipes #ReynoldsHeatandEat

Lunch, you gotta eat it no matter where you are – home, work, school, errands, gym, airplane. The issues getting in the way of my healthy lunch life are meeting up with friends who don’t have the same concerns about eating “food for function” as I do, finishing a workout that went well past noon and being so hangry that I could eat the entire Shake Shack on my way home, or being stuck on travel and having the only option be airport food. Note – I have a $25 Gift Card Giveaway at bottom of post. 

Lunch Meal Prep

However, I’ve found that with a little bit of front in effort I can prep my lunches in nice little containers for the week on Sunday – the payoff is obviously a healthier meal with ingredients approved by me, less crazy mornings gathering my grub up, and saving money – yes, saving money is good! It means I can pay all the high dollar fees for getting to and entering the races I love doing.

Meal Prepping Tips & Recipes for Lunch!

These are some basic tips that I use every week when putting together my meals and packing them up in to-go containers . If you’re a pro meal prepper, these tips may sound simple. But, if you’re new to the game of big batch cooking and assembly line prep, these useful ideas will help you get started!

Prep your protein.  The slow cooker and grill are my two go-to ways to prepare large batches of beef, chicken and pork for lunches (and dinners) through the week.   On Sunday morning, it’s so easy to stick huge roast or brisket in the Crock Pot and then walk away to enjoy the day. I use darn-big slow cooker (8-qt) so that I can make the most meat possible and have even been known to have two going at the same time! For the grill, Costco-sized trays of chicken or steaks not only are more economical to buy, but will hook you up for the entire week or month – depending on your family size. For fish, fill a rimmed, oiled baking sheet with your favorite filets or one huge piece of salmon and bake in the oven ‘til done!

Get your whole grains, beans & legumes going.  Brown rice, quinoa, and ancient grains hold up really well to making ahead of time and reheating later. Often, I find that pasta gets mushy during its second showing- not always though, whole wheat pasta holds up pretty well.  Use a large stock pot or rice cooker to get the job done efficiently – mine has a 20 quart capacity!   Another benefit of cooking a week’s worth of grains at once, less mess to clean up.

Switch up the sauces & mix-ins.  Often eating meal-prepped lunches can seem monotonous, choking down the same bland thing day after day. However, adding a small serving of sauce or handful of mix-ins is an easy way to transform the same old lunchbox staples into a wider range of flavorful meals – try pestos, Asian-inspired sauces, marinaras, salsas and so on! Even some fresh, no preservative salad dressings make a good option on hot and cold dishes. As for mix-ins, the little “extras” I rotate through include nuts, seeds, cheeses and dried fruits.

Use the right container.  If taking a salad for work, a large mason jar can be layered with ingredients. Keep the dressing on the bottom and delicate ingredients up higher, leaving a little headroom at the top so that you can shake it up right before eating.  I also like to take my soup in a mason jar, placing a layer of plastic wrap over the opening and under the lid to both help prevent leaking during transport and to serve as a splatter guard when reheating in the microwave – you don’t want to put that metal lid in there!  Hot meals can be reheated in a variety of containers, but I am partial to the Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers  (more deets below)– they hold a generous portion, are a great alternative to plastic and can be tossed in the trash so no messy containers to take home.  Store small portions of dressings, nuts, and cheese in baby mason jars, cleaned baby food jars, small plastic containers or snack-sized zip-bags.

Know your food safety rules.  When meal prepping for a week of lunches, remember most pre-cooked proteins and grains will only stay fresh for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge—I prep for Monday through Thursday and then do actually treat myself to lunch out on Friday! You can also prep your “plated” meal, or bigger bags of “ingredients” for assembly later, cool and place into appropriate freezer-storage containers – in the freezer, you can keep the quality for about 6 months.   I refer to this handbook of food storage safety tips from Real Simple magazine often.  If you can’t keep your lunch in the fridge at work, make sure you’re using icepacks than keep your food chilled until chow time.

Reynolds Heat and EAt disposable containers

As I mentioned, I am digging these Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers (I purchased mine at Walmart on the food storage aisle where you find foil, plastic bag, wax paper, etc.).  Available in two sizes, these toss-away lunch tubs are a great alternative to plastic and are made with plant fibers.  The clear lids allow you to see what you’re grabbing from the fridge, but need to be set aside during the reheating process. Reynolds Heat & Eat disposable container at Walmart

Reynolds Heat & Eat disposable ContainersCheck these out for yourself by picking up a pack of new Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat Containers at your local Walmart – found on the food storage aisle. They are very reasonably priced and you can even save an additional $1.00 on one pack of Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers with this coupon.

Here are some recipes to get you going:

roasted-tomatoes-in-turmeric-sauce“Go for the Gold” Turmeric Hummus  can be tossed with pasta or zucchini noodles for a healthy option to a creamy sauce – another perk is that there is also added protein.

 

 

Beef Blue Cheese Date Jar Salad is full of protein and Iron Super Iron Boosting Beef, Blue Cheese and Date Salad relies on pre-prepped sliced steak from the freezer (or freshly cooked) and layers up nicely in a jar for on-the-go lunching. I’ve even eaten this one in the car!

 

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.comMaple Pecan Butternut Quinoa is a delicious fall-inspired salad that can be taken to work or school and eaten warm or cold.  Here’s a little tip, double up when cooking the quinoa for this recipe and bag the rest in the freezer for easy dinners later.

 

Shrimp & Sugar Snap Pea SAlad with Lemon Gremolata easily packs into a lunchbox served cold.Shrimp & Snap Pea Pasta with Lemon Gremolata – This is another dish that is just as good cold as hot. If meal prepping for lunch, I always leave the delicate veggies raw so that when I reheat, they don’t become mushy!

 

 

 

 

15 minute Beef & Veggie Fried RiceBeef & Veggie Fried Rice: I typically use sirloin or flat iron steads for this one, but prepping to eat several days in a row, I will swap up the meats with chicken, shrimp or just simply extra scrambled eggs for protein variety.

 

Don’t forget to GET YOUR $1 OFF COUPON for Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers!

walmart-25-giveawayEnter giveaway for a change to win a $25 Walmart Gift Card so you can try Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers yourself! Ends 10/20/2016 at Midnight CT.

Enter via Rafflecopter app below:

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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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6 Life-Changing Avocado Hacks + $25 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

Getting more avocados in your life is a good thing! Avocados are an excellent source of fiber and protein and pack an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – they are a super star in the world of super foods and are so beneficial in the diet of a runner, stand-up paddle boarder, CrossFitter, mountain climber, yogi, gymnast, obstacle course racer or other active person. Oh, hey, I just described myself!Avocado Pineapple Smoothie

This nutrient-dense fruit regularly stars as guacamole at my house, but also makes a rich and creamy addition to salads, soups, and even baked goods. Plus, have you ever had avocado in a smoothie?  It’s soooooo good!  I’m totally loving the new Veggie Avocado Pineapple Smoothie from Smoothie King, more about that in a second – let me tell you about these Avocado Hacks that will make dealing with the sometimes fragile, fussy and fake-out ripe avocado.

Six Amazing Avocado Hacks That Will Change Your Life.

1) Avocado Dicing for Dummies – Simply cut in half crosswise, remove seed and, key point, leave the skin on! Use a paring knife to make cuts across and down, without piecing the peel. If fairly firm, the avocado will “pop” out of the skin when pushed, or if riper, use a spoon to coax the dices out. This is sooooo much less messy than peeling and then cutting.How to Score Avocado

2) Use Avocados Instead of Butter: Swap out avocados for butter in your baking at a 1:1 ratio, you’ll save lots of calories and get all of the nutritional benefits of avocado. Of course, you can also spread on your toast too – apparently that’s a thang!

3) How to Freeze Guacamole – It’s a rare day that leftover guacamole is left at the bottom of the bowl, but it can happen. More likely, there’s a big sale on avocados and something need to be done with them before over ripening – make a huge batch of guacamole and freeze it! Yes, you can do that – just smash it up with a little lemon juice and freeze in a zip-top plastic bag. When ready to use, just thaw in the fridge! And, the same concept goes for avocado slices – find out How to Freeze Avocadosfreezing guacamole in zip-top bag

4) Prevent Avocado from Oxidizing Overnight – Coating with lemon juice is a popular method, but what if you don’t want that tart-puckery taste to linger around? Simply pour a layer of milk on top of your avocado slices or guacamole and then chill (literally and figuratively)! When ready to get your guac on, simply drain of the milk and stir or mash. Or, you can also set an avocado half cut-side down on a big slice of onion and keep airtight in plastic wrap! These methods will keep your avocado looking pretty good for a day, maybe a little longer.

5) How to Ripen an Avocado in 10 Minutes: Turn a rock hard avocado into creamy, edible goodness by slicing and tossing with lemon juice and baking at 300 F degrees for 10 minutes or until just softening.

6) How to Ripen an Avocado Overnight: If you don’t need to eat your avocado ASAP, then stick it in a brown paper bag with a banana or apple and leave on the countertop. Overnight, the fruit’s ethylene gases will soften your avocado to perfection.

Veggie Blend Smoothies at Smoothie King - thefitfork.comOkay, back to the avocado in smoothies? Have you ever tried it? It sounds weird, but blended beverages are blessed with a super creamy taste. In fact, nearly everything from the produce section is good in a smoothie – when I don’t have time to make my own, I swing by Smoothie King for one of their Veggie Blends – these veggie-packed smoothies are deliciously blended to help fuel my health and wellness goals and I love the fact they are so transparent with their nutrition details, so I can pick and choose which one is going to work the best to optimize my “fuel” needs for the day.

I’m not on a calorie-restricted diet. In fact, as an athlete, I’m often looking for ways to get filled up without scarfing down junk foods. The new Veggie Avocado Pineapple Smoothie has more calories and fat content than the other Veggie Blends (Carrot Kale Dream, Berry Carrot Dream, Apple Kiwi Kale) – but offers a long-lasting, satiating boost of nutrition is what I need to power me through an intense workout without making me feel bloated and filled up with a heavy meal. A 20-oz drink has 6 grams of fiber to fill me up and is naturally hydrating, providing me the electrolytes I need for a sweat session.

In fact, all the Veggie Blends at Smoothie King are hydrating and healthful – some even have a “Make it Skinny” option.  You can check out the nutrition info on all the green smoothies and other menu choices either on the Smoothie King web site or in the store.

Win a $25 Visa Gift Card at TheFitFork.comI’m hosting a $25 Visa Gift Card giveaway so one of you readers can load up on veggie smoothies or whatever your heart desires at Smoothie King or anywhere!

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