Fast Chicken Spinach Parm Panini & 8 Back Stretches for Flexibility

Quick Chicken Parm Sandwich

I would say this recipe is a grilled cheese sandwich for grownups, except the kids love to have ‘em for a super-speedy weeknight meal too!  For added convenience, I’ve used a pre-breaded chicken tender from the freezer section at the market, but you can do this step the old-fashioned way if you have an extra hour –  and, if you such a surplus of time, can you please come over? I have a list of chores to share with you!

Making panini for the family is always a crowd pleaser — everyone can customize a sandwich to suit their tastes. No cheese, no problem. Extra sauce, add it on! One thing I do insist on though is the kids make their panini sandwiches with whole grain bread. I was shocked to find out that a mere 3 percent of children and teens and about 8 percent of adults are eating at least the recommended three servings per day. Whole grains provide an abundance of vitamins and fiber and have been linked to a reduced incidence of heart disease, diabetes and other health concerns. Even though I’m not a huge grain eater, I always make sure that I’m getting biggest benefit for my body when I do – and that’s by eating whole grains over white “enriched” grains.


I created this panini recipe for Litehouse Foods and you can check it out on their blog. It uses their Opadipity Greek Yogurt Spinach Parmesan Dip, a protein-packed, lower-calorie dip that works great in recipes and is just plain yummy to dip vegetables into.

vegetarian wrapsIf you’re looking for a packable lunch or quick dinner idea, my recipe for Roasted Veggie Wrap rolls up the power of plants into a delicious, nutritious meal.


If you roast a big batch of veggies, you can enjoy this recipe for lunch and then keep the leftovers in the fridge for a last-minute supper later in the week.





bridge yoga thefitfork

Enjoying some improvements with back flexibility!

Even though I’ve been super rushed, I’ve been making time in the morning to work on the flexibility in my back. As a kid, I used to be very bendy, but fast-forward several decades and several kids, the range of motion in my back had left and gone elsewhere – but, I’m happy to say that with some consistency in stretching (only a couple minutes per day), I’m getting my bendable back back!  Check out these 8 Back Stretches for Flexibility:

how to get a more flexible back with stretching

  1. Child’s Pose: Sitting back on heels, roll torso forward bringing forehead to floor and lowering chest to knees as much as possible. Keep arms extended forward.
  2. Cat-Camel Stretch: On hands and knees, alternate between slowly arching and rounding back.
  3. Upward Facing Pose: On back, pull knees up to chest, grab with arms. Rock slowly back and forth.
  4. Bridge: Lie on back with knees bent, feet hip-distance apart and flat on floor. Inhaling, press into feet, lifting hips toward ceiling. Hold as long as possible.
  5. Torso Twist: Sitting with one leg extended forward, the other bent up toward the chest. Turn torso toward bent knee, grasping to gently stretch back. Repeat on other side.
  6. Downward Facing Dog: With hands and knees on ground, press backward raising knees and lifting tailbone to ceiling. Keep weight on shoulders and then gently push heels toward floor to stretch hamstrings.
  7. Seal Pose: Laying on stomach with legs together, elevate head and upper torso using arms, keeping forearms off the floor and stretching spine.
  8. Scorpion Pose: From knees, rest forearms on ground shoulder-width apart. Kick up into a forearm stand, achieving balance and slowly bend at the knees, arching back and lifting head to look forward.

What do you like to throw together busy-night dinners? Do you have back tightness — what do you do to stay flexible?


Sexy Back Work-Out and Handful Bra Raves

I don’t know about you, but I’m planning on making an impressive “exit” at a couple New Year’s Eve parties. That’s because I’ve been working hard on sculpting a sexy back over the past few months and I’m ready to show it off in a cute little black (and white) dress.  So, imagine a fun little frock like the one to the left, but now pair with the new-and-improved back in the picture below!


I didn’t even know there were so many muscles in my back until my coach snapped this picture the other day at her CrossFit box. You’ll notice in the picture, I’m wearing an awesome bra top by Handful. I really can’t say enough great things about the bras made by this company, especially the Adjustable Handful Bra  which I’m sporting in purple in the pull-up picture above. First of all, the slogan at Handful is “Flatter Not Flatten” and what’s not to like about that? Even though I wear an XS in their product line (and less than an A-cup in a traditional bra), the removable pads slip discretely into inside pockets to create a shapely silhouette (and also to prevent embarrassing moments in a cold gym, if you catch my drift). You can even buy additional pads if you desire a more voluptuous look. Also, the stretchy fabric, made from a blend of  82% nylon and 18% spandex, is super comfortable and soft, much more so than other fitness tops I’ve worn.  Another perk, the straps are not just adjustable up-and-down, but also can be arranged criss-cross (as I’m wearing) to wear under t-back tanks — or even a formal dress!  This isn’t just a bunch of puff; I’m seriously loving this bra and am planning on replacing all my ill-fitting everyday bras with a wardrobe of Handful bras.

Anyway, back to the back! There are so many muscles in the back, all working together to support the spine and provide a wide rage of movement in perfect harmony. For example, the trapezius is a large triangle-shaped muscle that runs from the middle of the back up to the neck, also covering part of the shoulder blade.  When sculpted , the trapezius looks strong and sexy; but better yet, it also helps to prevent back fatigue and neck pain. Rhomboids, small muscles that run from the center of your back up to the lower neck, hold your shoulders back and help you keep great posture. External obliques, the lattisimus dorsi, and the scapula muscles are other back muscles that you can’t ignore.  When you think of a sexy back, it’s not just the “official” back muscles that you need to work out; the deltoids, a muscle group that that wraps around the top of the shoulders, are also a must-have for a show-off back.

Check out this 15-minute fitness routine targeted for the back that will have you looking like a softly chiseled goddess in just a few weeks. Challenge yourself by using weights that aren’t too heavy, not too light – but are a modest challenge. This set of back exercises focuses on strengthening your entire back while working out other muscles groups at the same time — functional and fun! Get after it two to three times per week!