When I wake up, the first two words you’ll usually hear me grumble are “sore” and “hungry”! I’m almost always in a state of recovery from the previous day’s workout, running low on fuel in my body’s tank and, honestly, a bit foggy because coffee isn’t ready. I need a hearty, healthy, healing breakfast that’s ready to go STAT. A favorite “stumble to the fridge” morning meal is Toasted Coconut, Turmeric & Ginger Overnight Oats.
Yes, overnight oats. Before hitting the hay, I dump all the wholesome ingredients in a mason jar, give it a shake, and stick in the fridge. Sometimes I meal prep enough for three days to even cut out that night-time obligation At the crack of dawn, I’ll I have to do is unscrew the lid and spoon into my mouth right out of the jar. Read on to find out just how easy this make-ahead recipe is and how the turmeric and ginger will help you feel fabulous. Continue reading →
Training for spring season obstacle course racing and the 5-week long Crossfit Games Open competition makes me hungry. Really, really hungry. After 25+ years as a competitive athlete, I’ve learned (and sometimes the hard way), what does and doesn’t work for me when it comes to fueling my fitness. Lots of junk food and candy, not so good. Salty, over-sugared or fat-laden drive-thru and take-out meals, also not optimal. Restrictive dieting or skipping meals, even worse.
But, you know what’s good? Healthy, homemade recipes like my Paleo Kung “Power” Chicken, an easy-to-make meal that gives me the energy I need to accomplish my daily fitness goals, make workout gains and recover optimally for the next sweat sesh! There is lots of lean protein for muscle-making, this take-out inspired dinner also features a surprise ingredient that is great for athletes – MEDJOOL DATES! Read on to find out all the deliciously savory-sweet-sticky details and get the recipe! Continue reading →
The best thing about slurping up a big bowl full of my Fast and Fit Steak Pho with Zucchini Noodlesis the overload of delicious meat and veggie goodness sans the traditional noodles (we be low carb-ing it over here). The second-best thing is cracking Pho jokes, puns and innuendos with the family while eating this fast and fit meal. Kids: “Mom, dinner tonight is pho-nomenal, it’s un-pho-gettable! You should take a picture of it, it would be good pho-tography.”Me:“Only the best pho you guys, that’s pho-sure.”
But, no joke, this quick soup is not only “good pho you” it’s weeknight dinner winner when you just don’t have hour after hour to simmer down oxtails, beef knuckles and leg bones and exotic charred spices into the traditional Vietnamese broth. So, I might have broken a few ancient tenets of pho-making here and there – but, then again, I used zoodles (gasp) instead of the thin white rice noodle that my neighbor’s grandmother would more approve of. I’m a rebel who, with my zucchini, is squashing all rules!
Feedback is in from friends, family and those of y’all around the Internets . . . . this hearty, healthy Banana Quinoa, Oats ‘n More Breakfast Bake is a winner! Other nutritious ingredients I’ve snuck inside this make-ahead breakfast meal — hemp seeds, chia seeds and cacoa nibs!
Noodle night has been a “thing” at my house ever since my boys were toddlers who dared venture only as far as plain buttered pasta. Now all three are teens (one’s nearly 20) with taste buds much more adventurous and welcoming to new ingredients at our noodle nights. Since this mama is a healthy foodie, my family has come to expect my pasta recipes to be packed with as much nutrition and flavor as possible to optimize our active lifestyle. Food is fuel, but it should taste good too!
My healthy pasta recipe today is Butternut-Carrot-Coconut Cream Noodle Bowls with Molasses Steak. For most of us, pasta equates “comfort” and eating it out of a big bowl packed with fresh, flavorful and fit-focused ingredients is not only an edible hug of happiness, but also one of health! I’ve been one to cut carbs here and there, but I always come back to pasta when I need to fuel my long runs, intense workouts or even just jump out of a brain fog. La Moderna Golden Harvest is a brand I’ve been going back to time and time again for my pasta creations. Not only is the consistency, texture and flavor of this 100% Durum Wheat product on point, it’s also a good source of protein (8 grams per serving) thanks to the special selection of high protein wheat that is harvested from desert valleys on Mexico bordering California.
The main protein source for my pasta bowl is sirloin steak that has been soaked in a mollassas marinade, grilled indoors or out, and sliced thinly into bite-sized pieces. While I’ve used lean top sirloin, you could also use any other steak cut that you prefer (such as strip or flat iron) or even heat up leftover roast or brisket. Spinach beefs up this recipe with even more iron in addition to my steak, it’s a must-have mineral this runner girl always needs to cure her fatiuge!
The sauce is super creamy and rich, but surprisingly healthy made of wholesome ingredients including pureed butternut squash, carrots, coconut butter and coconut milk – there is no cheese or traditional milk, so this recipe remains dairy-free. It’s so creamy and rich tasting, it has the texture of an alfredo sauce, but my version it’s so much more sensible for an athlete’s diet. Plus, it’s seasoned with turmeric and ginger which have a host of health benefits to support optimal wellness.
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. Set in refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours, flipping bag occasionally.
Preheat gas, charcoal grill or indoor grill pan to 400 F degrees. Remove meat and discard marinade. Season with salt and more pepper to taste.
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
Transfer plates to platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing against the grain, and then cutting again into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, add chopped squash and carrots to microwave safe container and add ½ cup water. Loosely place lid on container or vent with plastic wrap and microwave on high for approximately 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables softened. Drain water and set aside.
In large skillet, add 2 tablespoons coconut oil and bring to medium high heat. Add diced onion and cook for several, stirring constantly, until onions translucent and turning golden brown on edges.
Transfer cooked squash, carrots, and onion with garlic to blender. Add ginger, salt, pepper, and turmeric.
Pour in 2 cups of coconut milk and pulse until finely pureed. If needed, add up to another ½ cup of coconut milk a splash at a time to achieve desired consistency.
Boil pasta according to manufacturer’s directions on box. Drain but do not rinse. Set aside.
Transfer pureed mixture back to skillet to reheat gently over medium-low heat. Stir in chopped spinach and cooked noodles, stirring until combined for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer to individual bowls or serve family style on a platter. Top with sliced beef. Garnish with chopped parsley and unsweetened, shredded coconut.
This post and giveaway was sponsored by Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q , however all opinions, comments and enthusiasm are my own.
This holiday season, I’ve made a vow to make all my meals with love, happiness and smiles. Not just the big celebration dinners, but also the crazy night meals when we’ve been out all day running errands, visiting with family or volunteering with our favorite charity (Brown Santa). Some times on these chaotic nights, I get grumbly about making supper, but shortcuts with Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Qproducts keep me grinning even after sitting in shopping mall traffic or spending hours trying to figure out which bulb in a string of lights has burned out.
For this slow cooker recipe, I’ve used Stubb’s Smokehouse Bourbon Cookin’ Sauce. This convienient product (which is gluten free) works in both the skillet and slow cooker. It contains a flavorful sauce pouch made with bourbon, garlic and rosemary along with a spice packet that can be used to prep the meat.
One little hint extra step I have for this quick and easy recipe is to brown the stew meat before putting in the crock pot. While this may seem unnecessary (and you can skip if absolutely pressed for time), it does create an amazing caramelization on the beef which helps to create a more complex flavor experience.
Don’t just think of Stubb’s ONLY as a way to fix traditional Texas BBQ. They have so many delicious Bar-B-Q sauces, marinades, rubs and Cookin’ Sauces that offer bold flavors to spur on your creativity in the kitchen this holiday season.
Of course, I love to create my own new holiday recipes as well as revisit family food traditions, but why recreate the wheel on every single side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other winter family gatherings when Stubb’s has complied a delicious collection of recipes for the season?!
Yes-sir-ee, the Stubb’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts will be a delicious compliment to my Slow Cooker Cranberry-Orange Beef Stew with Rosemary Garlic Grits. You need to try these, so amazing!
To help you get cooking with down-home but daring style, I’m hosting a giveaway for one reader to win a Stubb’s Prize Pack that includes a spatula, T-shirt, Stubb’s hat and coupons for free Stubb’s products (yeehaw)! Just enter via the Rafflecopter app below:
Sprinkle stew meat with spice packet from Stubb’s Slow Cooker Sauce (or simply season with salt and pepper for alternative preparation).
Heat large, heavy-duty skillet to medium-high heat and brown stew meat in single layer. Don’t overcrowd, work in batches if necessary, draining cooking liquid between.
Add browned stew meat to 6-quart slow cooker along with chopped onion, cranberry sauce, orange segments, orange zest, bourbon and Stubb’s Slow Cooker Sauce. Stir to combine.
Top slow cooker with lid and simmer on high heat for 4 to 6 hours, or until beef tender. If desired, add 1 cup fresh cranberries to last 1 hour of simmering.
*** If you can’t find Stubb’s Cookin’ Smokehouse Bourbon Flavor, the use this substitute. To season stew meat before browning, sprinkle with mixture of 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground pepper and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. For liquid, add 1 cup beef broth, 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and add an additional 1 ounce of bourbon whiskey.
Add water to saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Slowly stir in grits, sage and salt and then reduce to medium-low for simmer.
Simmer for about 7 minutes stirring frequently. When thickened, stir in cheese until incorporated. Remove from heat.
To serve, place a mound of grits on a plate and use a slotted spoon to remove beef, onions and fruit from slow cooker. Top with optional garnishes of grated orange zest and chopped parsley.
When I’m looking to make a meat-free soup into an entire meal, I have couple non-negotiable. The soup needs to be hearty and thick (as opposed to thin and brothy), it needs to have tons of flavor, and also should have a decent showing of protein. My recipe for Vegan Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup with Cilantro Chimichurri meets all of these requirements and more — the “more” bonus is that it’s super easy to make and is loaded with healthy carbs to fuel my long runs and intense workouts. Slightly spicy while simultaneously smoky and just a tad sweet, a big hearty bowl of this meat-free, dairy-free, vegan soup will get you warmed up and keep you filled up until the next meal! My serving size is very generous and, sans the chimichurri, has 400 calories, 20 grams of protein, 80g healthy complex carb, 4g fat – plus is very high in potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
Pin this for later!
Nutrient-rich sweet potatoes blended into vegetable stock make up the bulk of this super simple soup recipe. Pureed white navy beans have been added for additional protein and fiber and help boost this soup into a full-fledged meal appropriate for vegans, vegetarians or anyone looking for a nutritious meatless option. As I mentioned, this is a great go-to soup when I’m carb-loading for winter marathons, Spartan races and other endurance events.
When making this simple soup, a step you don’t want to skip is to “bloom” the chipotle chile powder in the stock pot before adding any of the other soup ingredients. Blooming most spices helps to intensify their depth and complexity — the smoky flavor of ground chipotle pepper really opens up with this front-end method.
I originally developed this recipe for Litehouse Food’s Living Litehouse Blog using their Instantly Fresh Guacamole Blend as a quick fix in both the soup and the quick-fix Cilantro Chimichurri. I highly recommend this freeze-dried herb product, it’s one of my all-time favorites with multiple uses beyond just guacamole making – try it in soups, stews, casseroles, stir-frys, and skillet dinners. However, if you can’t find the product in your market, I’ve asterisked the recipe with substitutions.
The Cilantro Chimichurri blended up to dress the soup is a bright and vibrant contrast to the more scarf-and-sweater vibe of the hearty soup. Plus, it adds a drizzle of heart-healthy olive oil to a soup recipe that is nearly fat-free. You can also use this Cilantro Chimichurri on drizzled on steak and fish, as a salad dressing, or mixed into Greek yogurt as a dip.
Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Place potatoes, cut sides down, in an 11 x 7-inch microwave-safe baking dish. Add 1/3 cup water; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Cool slightly, discard potato skins.
Heat stock pot over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add chipotle chili powder and sauté 1 minute or until fragrant.
Place undrained beans in blender with approximately ½ cup of chicken broth, pulse until smooth. Add to stock pot.
Scoop sweet potatoes out of skin and add to blender with remaining chicken broth and ¼ cup Guacamole Blend herbs. Process until smooth, working in batches if necessary. Add mixture to stock pot. Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. If soup seems too thick add additional water or chicken broth to suit preferences.
To prepare Chimichurri, add olive oil, fresh cilantro, Guacamole Blend herbs, lime juice, vinegar and salt to blender. Pulse until mixture coarsely combined.
To serve, scoop soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of Chimichurri.
If you can't find Instantly Fresh Guacamole Blend, use this as substitute:
For Soup, instead of 1/4 cup Guacamole Blend, use 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons minced garlic
For Chimichurri, instead of 1/4 cup Instantly Fresh Guacamole Blend, use 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons minced garlic
Thank you Florastor® Daily Probiotics for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your bottle of Florastor®Daily Probiotics to complement your active lifestyle
!Have you ever become all-out sick, or at a minimum felt like crap on a crumby cracker, a few days after finishing a physically or mentally intense event like a marathon or Ironman, huge work deadline or even hosting a mother-in-law (not mine, of course)? Falling under the weather after the black cloud of stress has lifted isn’t a coincidence; it’s an all-to-real occurrence that is referred to as the “Let Down Effect.”
Various studies have correlated the dissipation or “let down” of real or perceived stress with an increase in common colds, illnesses, flare-ups of chronic conditions like asthma, migraines, tummy trouble and other medical ailments. By now, you’ve heard that chronic stress can make you sick and eventually even kill you, but many are surprised to learn that getting sick after a high-stress event (and while perhaps feeling quite relaxed about life) is all too common. This “Let Down Effect’ happens, in simple terms, due to the weakened state our bodies are left in left in after “things get better” – we use a lot of energy and resources to function in high alert mode without a break
When stressed, physically or mentally, increased levels of cortisol, adrenaline and other hormones put your body in fight-or-flight mode and mask the perception of pain. We are cleverly designed like this to safely and quickly extract ourselves during the threat of danger, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, the immune system can be compromised, especially after prolonged periods of stress, and latent or chronic conditions can flare up.
In addition to these tolls of physical stress, the let down from emotional stress can cause many of the same problems. For example, dopamine (the pleasure and reward hormone) levels can drop, initiating possibly addictive behaviors like over eating, drinking and substance abuse as a person tries to subconsciously find relief.
So, how do you prevent or at least lessen your chances of falling victim to the “Let Down Effect”?
Sleep Well: Sleep deprivation compromises the immune system, so don’t pull all-nighters thinking you’ll come out ahead. Instead, do the best you can to get 7 to 8 hours a night by staying away from large late evening meals (including alcohol and caffeine), avoiding the blue light emitted from screens several hours before bed, taking a warm bath and using a diffuser to mist essential oils like lavender and chamomile.
Exercise Regularly: Moderate-intensity exercise done on a regular basis can keep your body from downshifting too quickly after a high stress event. If you don’t have time for an official jog or workout, try to include at least some extra walking or other movements in your day.
Decompress Frequently: If life is throwing too much your way, schedule non-negotiable “breaks” to relax whether it’s a 10 minute morning meditation, an entire hour devoted to yoga or even just 1 of minute of positive visualization every couple hours.
Nourish Your Immune System: Try vitamin C rich foods like oranges and grapefruit, vitamin E rich foods like sunflower seeds or spinach, zinc rich foods like beef and egg yolks. Probiotics can also help strengthen your digestive balance and support a healthy immune system.
So, speaking of nourishing the body to help allay stress and prevent illness, I’m sharing a couple things I’ve been doing lately to stay as well as I can. You may have read my post last month about a Sleep and Stress test I took recently – it revealed that my cortisol and cortisone levels are highly elevated throughout the entire day without ever falling to normal as they should. This is likely a result of everyday work/family stress magnified by my running and obstacle course training, and chronic lack of sleep — I’m working hard to resolve it.
So, one of the things I started doing was taking Florastor® Daily Probiotics in the morning and evening with my meals – it’s the best-selling probiotic worldwide and backed by 60 years of use and research. So far, I’ve been really happy with how this easy-to-take capsule is bringing my digestion into balance and helping me better maintain my immune function. Florastor® is the only probiotic brand with Saccharomyces boulardii lyo CNCM I-745 which helps restore your natural flora. Florastor® helps my body break down carbs and fiber and naturally absorb water and nutrients from the foods I eat, these are good things for me as I fluctuate from being bloated to dehydrate when under stress. I also appreciate that this product is vegetarian, gluten-free, contains non-GMO ingredients and can be stored at room temperature. While, thankfully, I rarely have taken antibiotics, Florastor® Daily Probiotics can help those that need to be on this medication maintain a healthy flora balance.
I also wanted to share this quick and easy breakfast recipe that is high in zinc – 60 Second 2-Egg & Beef Omelet. Yay, beef and whole eggs are both great sources of zinc, an essential mineral that keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds, and supports normal growth. My recipe is also high in protein, and you know I’m a stickler for getting approximately 25g of protein at breakfast – the eggs and beef are very satisfying for only 220 calories and keep me from tanking mid-morning. Plus, this microwave mug recipe takes less than 1 minute to prepare and around 60 seconds to cook, so there’s absolutely no stress in making breakfast on even the most frantic mornings!
Have you ever become sick after a period of physical or emotional stress? What do you do to boost your immunity or bounce back from a “tough time” healthy? Please share your comments and tips below – XOXO, Jennifer
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
60-Second 2-Egg & Beef Mug Omelet
Got a minute? Then you've got a healthy, balanced breakfast packed with protein thanks to this super speedy egg recipe that cooks up in 60 seconds.