Cooking is my thaaaaang! I’ve been going hard in the kitchen since 4rd grade, teaching myself how to make everything from buttery cinnamon muffins to tater tot casserole. Flash forward four decades and I’m still in full meal-making beast mode nearly every day. Although, this time as it all goes down a little “healthier” thanks to my role as a clean-eating cooking coach, corporate recipe developer and personal chef (haha) to my family with three teenage boys.
But sometimes this hardworking mama needs a break and that’s where Snap Kitchen saves the day for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time. I can count on this convenient healthy meal shop to cure my hangries while keeping me on track with nutritious foods to fuel my running, workouts and active lifestyle. Read on to find out how you can make eating clean at every meal easy thanks to Snap Kitchen. Plus, I’m sharing some of my favorite tips for eating clean and having a giveaway for a $25 Visa Card so you can get your mouth on some of these meals yourself.
This post is sponsored by National Watermelon Promotion Board, and the content, opinions and enthusiasm expressed here are all my own.
I love all the fruits, but have BIG love for watermelon – that’s no secret! I’ve tried to name the one single reason why I love this mega melon, but I can’t. There are just so many reasons I love watermelon — it brings back great childhood memories and has played a role in creating new ones with my kids, it’s insanely yummy enjoyed straight off the rind or used as a healthy ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes! But, other motives for my watermelon munching madness are the bumper crop of benefits for health, wellness and fitness.
For example, when it comes to fitness, the watermelon may be the only piece of workout equipment that can be eaten afterward. While working out with a watermelon may sound crazy, it makes perfect sense – melons are available in a range of weights (from 2 pound personal-sized melon to seeded varieties tipping the scales at 30 pounds and beyond. Watermelon isn’t expensive in a price-per-pound sense; I mean have you seen the price of a kettlebell?! And, this “two-fer” fitness fruit is really more of an amazing deal knowing you’ll slice open a melon to enjoy afterward (or even just drink the juice on the go). Since I like to #KeepFitFun and put the “FUN” in FUNctional fitness – check out my video above that I hope inspires you to get after a watermelon workout and then refuel with the fruit for recovery!
Yes, watermelon is delicious and natural, so much better than a sugary goo when needed as a carb source for quickly sourced. The melons come by their name honestly, comprised of 92% water and loaded with potassium and other electrolytes that will help keep fluid levels in check and hopefully keep muscle cramps away. It’s also high in other vitamins and antioxidents that are beneficial for wellness and the L-citrulline in watermelon has been studied for its ability to quicken muscle recovery. Get more details on these benefits of Watermelon for Health at Watermelon.org.
See how eating watermelon is a win-win? Discover more fitness-focused watermelon facts that can help you up your game! Make watermelon your workout buddy today and win fabulous watermelon prizes. All you need to do is enter this easy-peasy contest from Watermelon.org. Here are the juicy details:
Tag a workout buddy (or someone you’d like to inspire to be your workout buddy!) in the comments section of our National Watermelon Promotion Board’s (NWPB) weekly video post on Instagram and Facebook. (note, this week, it will be my video that you see above)
Win weekly watermelon prizes. NWPB will choose one lucky workout pair each week from October 3rd through October 28th.
Have you ever had watermelon specifically for workout fuel / recovery? Better yet, have you ever worked out with a watermelon?! Give me your best exercise idea, I might use it my next video – XOXO, Jennifer
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!
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.
So, 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.
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!
Now 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!
The 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?!
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.
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
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!
School’s out, sun’s out and guns are out and the skies the limit on all the fun and fit stuff that’s coming up in the next few months!
Not much could be sweeter about summer, except maybe a top-crop snack of strawberries. Strawberries balanced with a bit of protein are the perfect healthy snack to fuel the body for one warm-weather activity to the next.
On their own, strawberries are quite the super food, providing a quality source of simple carbohydrates that the body can turn into quick energy for runs, workouts and even power-thinking! The high fiber and water content found in this fruit creates a feeling of welcomed fullness, while keeping the calorie count low – a single medium strawberry only has 4 calories! Plus, a powerful wallop of vitamin C is packed in strawberries, an antioxidant that can help keep muscles, skin and tissues in tip-top shape – just eight strawberries match the vitamin C in a medium orange.
But often, especially for athletes and those with an active lifestyle, merely munching on a handful of berries alone won’t suffice. Pair up strawberries up with a lean protein source for added nutrients and a few extra calories to feel fuller and more fueled for the most vigorous daily routine. Also, eating a snack of carbohydrates with protein (in a 4:1 to 3:1 ratio) 30 minutes after an intense exercise session will help tired and sore muscles recover more quickly.
Check out these Six Strawberry Protein Snacks that can be made in a snap and will fuel you up for running, workouts, climbing and reaching for the sky!
Those Mediterranean people have right, stuffing a pita with hummus and as many vegges as it will hold — of course, you know I had to boost up the protein a bit more with with some beef — a very thinly sliced, lean cut called “sirloin tip” steak. Ask your butcher if you can’t find it or feel free to swap for top sirloin, strip steak or whatever you got!
This international inspired “sandwich” is such a quick and easy recipe that will satisfy the whole family — kids and grown-ups can fill the bread pockets with the fillings they like best (feel free to set out a larger variety than just what is listed in the recipe). Can’t you see this being a hunger-busting hit a a pool party or picnic — as people get hungry, they can just swing over to the pita bar and prepare their own meal with a selection of hummus flavors, array of veggies and assortment of toppings like feta cheese, olive slices or tatziki sauce.
This 20 minutes recipe (or less) is done so quickly thanks to stir-frying — a method not usually associated with beef and anything other that Asian food. I love how it keeps the kitchen cool and doesn’t require any added oil in the wok or skillet. Oh, and it’s also a well-balanced but higher-protein meal solution that fits beautifully into the 30 Day Protein Challenge with just 367 calories and 27 grams of protein. And if you’re keeping a gluten-free, lower-carb or Paleo diet, just feel free to ditch the pita and pile the yummy stir-fry beef atop salad greens!
Last week, it was fun making the Mediterranean Beef Pita recipe on FOX Good Day Austin on behalf of the Texas Beef Counciland BeefLovingTexans.com— all the stars must have been in alignment that rainy day, because I didn’t even have one single (and usually inevitable) live television SNAFU. Awesome things happen when you are fueled by beef!
Stack beef steaks. Cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1" wide strips. Combine beef, lemon pepper and salt in medium bowl.
Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-hight heat. When hot, add 1/2 of beef, stir-fry 1 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove with surface of beef is no longer pink, do not over cook. Repeat with remaining beef.
Spread hummus inside pita pockets and fill with vegetables and beef. Top with feta cheese.
Burpees. People love to hate them, although I personally don’t think they’re all that bad. Except maybe I don’t love them so much the middle of an obstacle race when my arms and legs are already wobbly, stickers are piercing my palms and I’m coming face to face with cow patties.
But, in a pristine situation, burpees have been a pretty good fitness friend to me, they are a simple, no-equipment needed way to get a full-body workout plus a little cardio (okay, mabye a lot of cardio).
But in the Spartan Race, they don’t want to see the variations. And that’s good, because who has any bounce left for fancy stuff?! In fact, I’ve been revisiting the rules on Spartan Race burpees (30 burpees required as a punishment for failing an obstacle) because, at my last race, I (gasp) received a 3-minute penalty added to my finish line time. Now, if you’re running in the open, you don’t have anyone judging your burpees, it’s honor system. But, the elite heat is suffering under the scrutiny of video cameras and clipboard bearing field officials.
Obstacles may have a “Burpee Zone or Burpee Area”. Athletes are required to complete their penalty burpees within the designated zone or area, as burpees are monitored by Course Officials and/ or video cameras. Course officials will review video to ensure proper form is used and the athlete has completed the burpee penalty. . . .Camera review can change the outcome of the race, and results are not final until camera review and field officials have approved the results and assessed penalties
Penalty for Obstacle Failure: – 30 Burpees (chest must hit the ground, feet must leave the ground)
So, I do remember a few times when I though “hmmm, this manual says nowherehands must be thrown in the air when feet leave the ground.” But, at one burpee zone, I decided to omit the overhead hand throw to conserve energy. This omission caused a field official to reprimand me . . . who argues in a situation like this, so I just started back to throwing hands overhead and doing the hokey-pokey from hell.
If I’d had anything left to give, I’da busted out “Put Your Hands Up, Put Your Mother Effin’ Hands Up” covered by a gazillion different rappers.
So, when the initial finish line results and final results were exactly 3 minutes apart, I knew something was up. It was too late to challenge, I was already home . . . plus, I want to be completely legit, flawless and clean, if I messed up, then I deserved the penalty. I know I did ENOUGH burpees, I can count. I just wish I would have known EXACTLY what was expected so this would have never happened in the first place. When you know better, you do better. I did burpees as described in the obstacle manual (which is Chest to Ground – Feet Leave Ground). Search the web, so much controversy on the topic, even on the Spartan Race site (see the Great Burpee Debate)!
I should have watched this video which shows the hands going in the air, although he doesn’t mention this step as every other is noted.
Chest to deck. When you drop to the ground, you must execute a full push up with your chest touching the ground.
Press out of the push-up jumping your legs underneath your body so that you are in a squatted position.
Stand up, extending the hips, and jump off the ground with hands overhead.
Then after more searching around, I found additional information that elite racers may be penalized 30 seconds per incorrect burpee, up to 10. Then disqualification. It’s subjective still, in my opinion, and you have obviously are on someone’s radar if they are scrutinizing your burpees.
The face of a 120 burpee race. Damn.
So, my takeaway for the next race. Don’t fail an obstacle, don’t get stuck with burpees. And, if that’s not possible, do a bonus burpee on top of the 30 reps just to show trustworthy toughness! Aroo!
No sour grapes with Spartan Race in ANY WAY whatsoever. In fact, I love them for challenging me so significantly at this stage of my life. However, I just wanted to clarify some of this burpee stuff and keep any of you from suffering the wrath of not knowing.
Other timely Spartan Race stuff you need to know:
I also wanted to remind you about Spartan Race founder and best-selling author, Joe DeSena’s new book, Spartan Fit. It’s the go-to tome of training for newbies and veterans alike or just help on how to get super fit in 31 days, without a gym or weights. You also learn how to build your fitness from one race to the next, get nutrition advice and will be motivated by stories of inspiring Spartans. Pre-order now, it ships August 30, 2016.
Register for a Spartan Race, from Sprint, Super or Beast to one of the more team-worky endurance events like Hurricane Heat or Agog and save 10% at checkout with the code SPARTANBLOGGER.
Enter my giveaway for a FREE SPARTAN REGISTRATION. Winner will receive one-time use code good for any Open Heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Spartan Race in the Continental US. Just follow the Rafflecopter instructions below.
This post and giveaway were sponsored by Spartan Race, all opinions, advice and enthusiasm are all my own.
This post and giveaway are sponsored by Fitfluential on behalf of derma e, however all opinions and enthusiasm are my own!
Greasy, sweaty and covered in city grime. Eek, that sure sounds yucky as I type it out, but that’s pretty much describes the condition of my skin on a daily basis. Well, that is, until I started using the Purify line from derma e. One of my favorites is the 2-in-Charcoal Mask – more on that below!
I knew I had to do something to freshen up my skin and stat. Many days (okay, most days), I live in my fitness clothes from dawn until dusk — sometimes it’s because I’m knocking out two-a-day workouts, and sometimes it’s just because I don’t know exactly when I’m running or hitting the gym — and I want to be dressed ready! Anyhow, I was getting breakouts from not being able to jump in the shower right after exercise. Plus, my skin just looked dull and sallow from lack of attention, (ahem) middle age, pollution, and who knows what else. Obviously, had made a priority out of taking care of my body, but not so much my skin!
I couldn’t have discovered the products from derma e at a better time. I had booked for some fun jobs booked where I would be in the public eye in January and I hoped to put my best foot (and face) forward! The perfect time for a derma e New Year’s Detox!
There are so many fabulous products in the Purify line – Gel Cleanser, Daily Detox Scrub, Toner Mist, Oil-Free Moisturizer, Youth Serum and 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask. All are designed specifically for oily and active skin types and work to draw out toxins, replenish vital nutrients and help skin resist oxidative stress. Two thumbs up to the “Green Chemistry” what combines the best of modern science with eco-friendly, sustainable and plant-focused ingredients to create natural, planet-friendly products that really work! And, of course, the company is cruelty-free when it comes to testing their products.
One of my favorite products is the Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask – it makes me feel like I’m getting a special spa treatment! The dual-action formula purges pores of deeply rooted toxins and yucky stuff and exfoliates everything away until I’m glowing! Look for new derma e Purifying products at your local health food store as well as Whole Foods Markets (on sale at Whole Foods through end of January).
Don’t just take my word for it! Enter for a chance to win a derma e New Year’s Detox Kit! The lucky winner will win the entire @derma-e Purifying line (including the amazing 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask pictured above). It’s a $150+ value!
One winner will be chosen on Jan. 31, 2015. Contest is open to USA and must be 18 years or older to enter. Enter as many times as you like but spam and giveaway accounts will be disqualified. Thank you to @derma_e for sponsoring this great giveaway — I have personally been delighted with the detox!
Most Unexpected Race Win: In October, I was the first OVERALL winner of the Hill Country Half Marathon in Marble Falls, Texas. Granted, the field wasn’t Rock ‘n Roll marathon kind of huge, but that being said, I beat all the women and the MEN with my scrawny legs — the hills were some of the worst I’ve ever seen (not kidding, one went upward for at least half a mile).
Craziest Conditions in a Race: The Spartan Beast Dallas was not what I was planning for, it was crazy! With a half marathon being in my wheelhouse, I expected to nail this race — but unforeseen Texas flooding delayed the start for hours and created a running situation in ankle deep mud the entire distance. I was sore the next day in some pretty weird places! Although hoping to do better, I managed to pull off a 2nd place podium finish in the Elite Master division (and it was only my 2nd Spartan, and first “beast”).
Most Unusual Prize Won in a 2015 Race: A $250 gift card for a tattoo! I am no saying if, when and where I used it!
Best Pre and Post Race Festivities at a Race: Hosted by Health and Cooking Light magazines, The Fit Foodie Run in Austin (but also in Fairfax, Chicago and San Diego) proves that a healthy lifestyle can mesh with culinary enthusiasm! The weekend is packed with celebrity chef tasting, food and fitness interactive demos, yoga sessions, and yoga boot camps – there is so much food! Plus, the goodies and samples you get to take home from the after run are some serious healthy nom-noms – bring a big bag!
Best Running & Fitness Moments on Instagram: Of course, I blew up my @thefitfork profile with photos of my favorite yoga poses and running with friends!
Favorite Women-centric Race: I’ve been an ambassador for Zooma Race Series for 4 or 5 years now and have run that hilly Austin-area half marathon and said – “never again” at the finish line. But, after I catch my breath a few minutes later, I’m like “awesome, that was the best race ever despite the course challenges.” The Austin race is now defunct, but the other fabulous locations across the country beckon for a mini-vacation! Created and run by women, this race focuses on females supporting each other, no matter age, ability or life situation – and the weekends make great girlfriend getaways! My mom and I have made a tradition of it! Even though I’ve been in a role to mentor and support the runners, I can’t tell you how much more energy and inspiration I’ve received from them – always so happy to see those smiles and high-fives at the half-marathon turnaround.
Favorite Yoga Pose: Always the Crow or some variation! Hopefully this time next year, my hamstrings and back will be more bendy and stretchy so my Instagram profile can be more well-rounded!
Running / Workout Injuries: Thankfully, nothing serious this year – eg. no stitches, concussions or pulled rib muscles like last year! Only falling off a box doing the Murph CrossFit WOD and spraining ankle, numerous palm tears, one lost toenail . . . looking for some wood to knock on! Despite the healthy year for me, I did write a helpful post on 4 Ways Sports Injuries Build Better Athletes that will keep all of us focused on end goals.
Weirdest Workout Moment: It would have to be working out with watermelons for the second summer in a row on my #LivingOnTheWedge blog series! I CrossFitted with watermelon, ran with watermelon, and even worked out in the swimming pool with a watermelon! Oh, you don’t want to miss that watermelon pool workout video – please make sure you are wearing Depends. On behalf of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, I will be taking the show on the road at IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo in L.A. in July 2016.
Best Blooper(s): Oh, there are a lot of bloopers and outakes, my phone is filled with them! Practicing on the parallettes is cause for crashing on my face or rear, but still it’s fun. There are also some awkward moments coming out of a handstand in a walkover when my old back decides “no” midway through!
More Bloopers: Because research shows you live longer if you laugh.
Favorite Running and Workout Gear / Fuel:Vim & Vigr Compression Socks (super functional , fashionable and fun in a variety of stripes, polka dots and fun patterns), Altra Running Shoes (I love the super lightweight, zero-drop “The Ones” ) and Nuun for my hydration needs — I’m digging their fairly new product called PLUS for Nunn. Unlike regular Nuun that is virtually calorie free (there are a few, but under 10), PLUS provides a boost with fast absorbing performance carbohydrates that keep me hydrated and provide quickly sourced energy for demanding endurance events. Also, I still love my bottle of Core Power High Protein Shake in Chocolate Lite Flavor for 20g of quality protein to help my muscles recover right after a long run or intense workout.
I’m also really appreciating mobility gear from ACUMOBILITY – a great company that I connected with this year at The Running Event that not only makes rollers and other mobility products, but also assesses, corrects and unifies movement to reduce injuries and unlock improved performance. Stay tuned because I will be having an awesome giveaway at the beginning of January! And, for “on the go” rolling, I really love The Original Worm (based right here in Austin).
Most Used Mantra: When times get tough in a race, I break out the “If you can take it, you can make it”line from Unbroken. Or, when I try to get too controlling about stuff – “Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now. What are you? This moment.” – from Dan Millman’s book , “The Way of the Peaceable Warrior” Both books are so inspirational — read them!
Favorite Kettle Bell Workout:
My Best Way to Stay Motivated: When I start to feel burned out, I take an active fun day! And, always more crazy with my friend Valerie (by the way, she’s an internationally known running coach, not kidding — check her out at @runrx )