Getting Sick AFTER Stress & How to Lessen “Let Down Effect”

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.” Physically and mentally stressful events may lessen immunity AFTER they happen.

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. Floristor is a probiotic supplement that helps support a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

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.

Floristor Probiotic SupplementSo, 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.

60 Second Beef & Veggie Mug Omlete makes getting a healthy breakfast one less thing to worry about!

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
Print Recipe
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.
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 60 seconds
Cook Time
60 seconds
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 60 seconds
Cook Time
60 seconds
60-Second 2-Egg & Beef Mug Omelet
Print Recipe
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.
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 60 seconds
Cook Time
60 seconds
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 60 seconds
Cook Time
60 seconds
Instructions
  1. Generously spray large coffee mug with cooking spray.
  2. Add eggs, water and salt/pepper and whisk together with fork. Stir in beef and vegetables.
  3. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, remove and stir to “scramble”
  4. Return to microwave and cook for an additional 30 seconds, or until cooked through.
  5. Top with green onions and grated cheese, if desired.
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BBQ Beef Bean & Sweet ‘Tater Taquitos #TexMexAndFlex

BBQ Beef, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Taquitos are baked and filled with wholesome ingredients. We are up to our chin guards in football season, so I’ve kicked up my family-friendly, meal-prepping madness into overtime. With just a little “overtime” work on Sunday, I can prepare a couple batches of my BBQ Beef, Black Bean and Sweet ‘Tater Taquitos and have enough for a couple quick-fix, weeknight dinners and leftovers for snacking on the big game day. By the way and sorry for the questionable rhyming (haha), I originally developed these onfleek-o taquitos for BeefLovingTexans.com, so check it out!

BBQ Beef, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Taquitos make a quick and easy dinner solution. Baked, not fried, and filled with wholesome ingredients to fuel an active lifestyle. Meal prep a couple batches for the freezer for busy weeknight meals or football game day snacks.

While my teenage boys and their always-hungry friends are munching what they assume to be merely crispy, crunchy, cheesy, beefy taquitos (rolled small tacos by any other name!), I snicker in silent satisfaction knowing I’ve snuck in some wholesome nutrition to fuel their busy, active bodies. Lean beef for muscle-making protein and iron, beans for even more protein plus fiber, and sweet potato in a whole grain tortillas for a double-whammy of healthy complex carbs for long-lasting giddy-up-and-go.  As Guy Fieri would say in his own punderful way, “You can’t beato these taquitos!”

These tasty taquitos can be devoured right out of the oven, or freeze a batch and then just toss in the oven (or toaster oven!) on those endless days that have gone into double overtime. This is an easy way to pass the proverbial ball over to the kids and let them do some quarterbacking in the kitchen.

mojo-citrus-guacamole-1Just add a simple side salad and your favorite Texas-style condiments like guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo and barbeque sauce.My Mojo Citrus Guacamole makes a tasty team up!

 

 

 

 

 

bbq-beef-black-bean-and-sweet-tater-taquitos-preppingOne the taquito innards are made, assemble by adding a spoonful in the middle of a whole grain tortilla, rolling up and baking (no frying here and they are still super crunchy). While corn tortillas are traditional for taquitos, I’ve found that the corn-flour “mix” tortillas are more pliable and less prone to crack. If needed, insert a toothpick to keep tortillas secure, but don’t forget to remove before serving!

beef-black-bean-sweet-tater-taquito-holding-singleEnjoy!

Favorite football team? Any football players on the family roster this year? Favorite thing to roll in a tortilla? Please share in commets! XOXO , Jennifer 

 

BBQ Beef, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Taquitos are baked and filled with wholesome ingredients.
BBQ Beef, Black Bean & Sweet 'Tater Taquitos
Print Recipe
Roll up healthy dinner plans pronto with fit and fresh BBQ Beef, Bean &Sweet Potato Taquitos - a quick dinner or snack solution. Double batch for freezer!
Servings Prep Time
6 - 8 servings (20 taquitos total) 20 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 - 8 servings (20 taquitos total) 20 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
BBQ Beef, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Taquitos are baked and filled with wholesome ingredients.
BBQ Beef, Black Bean & Sweet 'Tater Taquitos
Print Recipe
Roll up healthy dinner plans pronto with fit and fresh BBQ Beef, Bean &Sweet Potato Taquitos - a quick dinner or snack solution. Double batch for freezer!
Servings Prep Time
6 - 8 servings (20 taquitos total) 20 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 - 8 servings (20 taquitos total) 20 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In large skillet, brown ground beef over medium-high heeat, add minced garlic in last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain fat and excess water. Mix in packet of taco seasoning and chili powder and 2 tablespoons of water (do not add amount of water taco season packet calls for). Stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer cooked beef mixture to large bowl.
  3. Add olive oil to same skillet (okay if beef residue stays in there). Bring to medium-high heat and saute diced sweet potatoes for 4 to 5 minutes or until softened and browning. Add sweet potatoes to bowl with beef mixture.
  4. Add rinsed and drained beans to beef bow. Make sure beans have drained well to prevent soggy taquitos. Let entire mixture cool down for 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Gently stir in BBQ sauces and 1 ½ cups of cheese.
  6. Working one at a time, transfer tortilla to a work surface; place scant 1/3 cup beef mixture into center of tortilla. Bring the bottom edge of the tortilla tightly over the filling, rolling from bottom to top until the top of the tortilla is reached. Secure with toothpick. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
  7. Place taquitos onto rimmed sheet sprayed with baking spray. Spray tops of taquitos with baking spray and bake until crisp and cheese has melted, about 12-15 minutes.
  8. To reheat from frozen, heat oven to 375 F degrees and place taquitos on rimmed sheet sprayed with baking spray. Lightly cover tops of taquitos with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spray tops of taquitos with baking spray, increase heat to 400 and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until crisp, cheese has melted and tops are brown.
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No-Fail 15-min Beef & Veggie Fried Rice – So Simple a Kid Could Cook it and Did

egglands-best-beef-hah-with-street-corn-salsa-jennifer-fisher-voteI have a proposition! I’ll share my 15-minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice recipe and with all the time you save on dinner, you’ll spend the 1 minute it takes to vote for me in the Eggland’s Best “America’s Best Recipe Contest”! My regional-inspired recipe is for Texas Egg and Steak Hash with Chipotle Street Corn Relish (copied the photo below so you know exactly what to vote for) — thank you, thank you!

 

15 minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice

Now, onto the 15-minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice recipe (originally developed for Beeflovingtexans,com)  — it’s a win on so many levels. Not only is it a lightening speed dinner solution, it can be kept simple enough that an older kid can make it. Honestly, realizing that my teenage boys were completely capable of cooking dinner every once in a while was a light bulb moment for me. What a relief to know I can call ahead and get them to start dinner on those crazy days when I’m stuck in traffic, sitting at another kid’s sports game or even trying to finish up my own workout.

15 minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice is a super-quick way to get a vibrant and very healthy meal on the table. Plus, its simple enough that younger kids can help and older kids can cook on their own!

One of the tricks to cooking the recipe so quickly is super-thinly cut sirloin steak — a method that also stretches my food budget as it makes the meat look like, well, a larger quantity than it actually is!  So, just firm up your steak in the freezer for 10 to 30 minutes or before getting after it with a super sharp knife across the grain in razor-thin slices (like 1/8″ or less if you can).  When the meat is this thin, it literally takes 3 minutes or less to cook with the stir-fry method — toss in the hot, hot skillet and stir around constantly and quickly just long enough to take the “red” of. Beef should still look pink when you take it off the skillet as it will continue to cook a tiny bit, trust me, it will always be juicy and tender this way! Do NOT leave it in the skillet or wok as you continue to cook the veggies, that will just cause a lot of undesirable toughness.

skillet-vegetables-for-fried-riceAnother WIN is my recipe also includes a scramble of eggs, an assortment chopped vegetables selected by the young chef (a good trick to get kids to eat more veggies), a simple sauce and pre-prepared rice.  Of course, you can cook your rice the old-fashioned way, but in a hurry and with the kids, I either keep those rice pouches from the frozen aisle on hand or meal prep my own and package into portions.

Love to use crunchy nuts for the top, NOW Foods has a great selection of organic options — cashews may be my favorite!

wiliam-and-beef-sirloin-fried-rice

William, the 16-year old chef who picked out all the yummy veggies for this recipe and cooked them up for his mama! 

So, no need to call for Chinese take-out to solve dinner – make your own healthier version in less time than it would take the delivery guy to show up. What’s even better than this? Getting the kids in the kitchen while you kick your feet up!

Coconut Macadamia Nut Fried RiceLooking for a more exotic fried rice recipe? Try my Coconut Macadamia Nut Fried Rice, it is soooooo swoon-worthy!

So, do you get your kids in the kitchen to cook? What’s in their repertoire? If you could only have 3 veggies (or fruits) in a stir fry – gasp – what would they be? Please share in the comments below – XOXO , Jennifer 

 

15-minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice Recipe
Print Recipe
Get a vibrant and very healthy fried rice dinner on the table in less time that it would take to wait on delivery -- faster, fitter, fresher and easy enough for older kids to prepare!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minute
Cook Time
5 minute
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minute
Cook Time
5 minute
15-minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice Recipe
Print Recipe
Get a vibrant and very healthy fried rice dinner on the table in less time that it would take to wait on delivery -- faster, fitter, fresher and easy enough for older kids to prepare!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minute
Cook Time
5 minute
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minute
Cook Time
5 minute
Instructions
  1. Bring large skillet to high medium-heat. Add olive oil and add cut sirloin and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 4 minutes or until no longer red but pink n the middle with edges browning.  Remove from heat immediately and drain on paper towels.
  2. Spray same skillet (now empty) with cooking spray. Add eggs, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring vigorously, until scrambled. Scoop out of skillet to rest next to beef.
  3. Place bag of rice in microwave and cook on high for 4 minutes. Or, used 10 ounces of previously prepared rice. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add remaining olive oil to same skillet (now empty again) and stir fry vegetables on medium-high for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp tender. Exact time will depend on size and type of chopped vegetables.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and add cooked rice, cooked beef and cooked eggs back to skillet with vegetables. Stir to combine.
  6. Quickly mix together soy sauce and Sriracha. Evenly drizzle over top of mixture and stir well to combine, continue to cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes until heated through.
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Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steaks + Iron-Boosting Salad

Molasses Marinated Flat Iron Leftover steak from the grilling makes the BEST next day salad. Tossing a few extra steaks on the grill is my little secret to putting together a quick meal when life just starts getting too crazy to cook. Since we are now officially “Back to School,” my recipe for Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steak and the next-day “Super Iron Boosting” Steak Salad with Dates, Pistachios and Peppers will most likely be in my weekly lunch and dinner rotation until soup season hits (which is still months away in Texas).

pinners conference pic 1I’ll be showing these two recipes (along with a couple others) in my “Empowered Meal Prepping – Protein for Fitness” class line-up for the Pinner’s Conference in the Dallas area on Sept 9th.  Sign up for my class; I’ll also have beef swag and lots of tasty samples!  Use the discount code FITFORK at online registration to save 10% on the very reasonable cost that allows you access to 100+ classes on food, fitness, crafts, home décor and more! Or, if you just want General Admission to shop and see the sights (no classes), you can get a free pass ($7 at door) using FREESHOPPINGRESISTER HERE

So, let’s start with the steak . . . since you need steak leftovers to make the salad! The beef cut I’ve used is the very tender and quite economical Flat Iron steak, but Top Sirloin, Tenderloin or Strip steaks would all work equally well.   The natural sugars from the molasses in this recipe caramelize along with the pepper to make a deliciously crispy crust on the outside of a mouthwatering and juicy center.  I like to pair this steak with Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Quinoa Molasses and Pepper-Crusted Grilled Steak is a quick dinner to grill up and the leftovers can be used in salads, tacos, breakfast hashes and more.

Make sure to save some steak so you can use the leftovers to make my “Super Iron Boosting” Steak Salad with Dates, Pistachios and Peppers.  Almost everything about this salad is iron-boosting from the red meat and molasses, to the dates, pistachios (highest iron nut), and spinach.  All of us, especially athletes, need iron, a mineral that helps red blood cells get oxygen to the muscles, thusly improving energy, athletic performance and mental functioning.

uper Iron Boosting Steak Spinach Salad with Dates, Pistachios and Peppers is a quick and easy meal-solution made with leftover beef. Nearly every ingredients is an abundant source of iron, making it perfect for athletes or those with anemia.

Molasses Steak Salad with Dates Blue Cheese toesThe salad isn’t a “recipe” per se, just pile fresh baby spinach on a plate and add 3 ounces of leftover steak cut in bite-sized pieces. Top that with other veggies you love, like yellow pepper strips, and a couple tablespoons each of sliced dates, blue cheese and pistachios. I’ve served with my favorite store-purchased Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing from Litehouse Foods.

How to Layer a Jar Salad

Above are some useful tips for prepping your salad in a jar, if taking to school or work.

Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast BowlAnother recipe in my class, and so delicious with these steak leftovers is a Brazilian Beef & Plantain Breakfast Bowl (with Coconut and Honey).

 

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite cut of steak to grill? Do you like your salads savory, sweet or both? Do you go back and make recipes from pins you’ve saved? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steak
Print Recipe
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
Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steak
Print Recipe
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
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. Set in refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours, flipping bag occasionally.
  3. Preheat gas or charcoal grill to 400 F degrees. Remove meat and discard marinade. Season with salt and more pepper to taste.
  4. 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
  5. Transfer plates to platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.
  6. *Double recipe if you’d like to have leftovers to make steak salad and beef breakfast bowl.
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Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl

Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl

One bite of my Brazilian Beef & Plantain Bowl (with egg, honey and toasted coconut) and you’ll happily say “Tchau” to a tower of pancakes, waffles or buttered toast in the morning!  Loaded with protein, quality complex carbohydrates, iron, potassium and other essential nutrients, this easy breakfast made with leftover steak will fuel you for a full morning of demanding activities! The flavor combination may sound weird, but trust me, it’s so delicious! Pra caramba!

Brazilian Beef & Plantain Breakfast Bowl is a healthy way to start the day, packed with 28g protein and quality complex carbs for energy.

The protein in the recipes is a combination of 3-oz. left over lean steak (like top sirloin, strip, tenderloin, flat iron, etc.) and a single, sunny-side up egg. Along with a little bit from the plantain, you’re getting about 28 grams of protein with this meal – the ideal amount to consume in a single sitting.

Each Day is a New Start! It’s the perfect morning meal for a Protein Challenge!  Each day is a new start, so beat yourself up if your diet wan’t exactly “on point” yesterday — you get a new chance to eat well today!

I always feel best when I’m eating 25g – 30g protein evenly spaced at each meal. Plus, it helps prevent snacking!

 

 

If you’re not familiar with plantains, you can typically find them in most grocery stores in the “exotic produce” area. This “vegetable-banana” is a less sweet and a little more starchy tasting than a regular banana – but so yummy when baked, microwaved or sautéed! They are a common ingredient in the cuisine of Mexico and Central / South America and in Brazil go by their Portuguese name of “banana-da-terra.”

Oh, and now for something crazy beef & bananas that isn’t actually food! It’s me planking until failure the other day before teaching a Grilling 101 class at the Texas Beef Council. 

pinners conference pic 1I’ll teaching a class on “Empowered Meal Prep – Protein for Fitness”  at the Pinner’s Conference in Dallas on Sept 9 & 10th. I’ll be sharing this Brazilian Beef & Plantain Breakfast Bowl along with a delicious Molasses & Pepper Flat Iron Steak recipe and Super Iron-Boosting Steak Spinach Salad. Sign up for my class, I’ll also have beef swag and lots of tasty samples!  Use the discount code FITFORK at online registration to save 10% on the very reasonable cost that allows you access to 100+ classes on food, fitness, crafts, home décor and more! Or, if you just want General Admission to shop and see the sights (no classes), you can get a free pass ($7 at door) using FREESHOPPING. RESISTER HERE

Have you ever used plantains in a recipe? Do you have a planking hashtag for me?  Are you watching the Summer Olympics? What has your favorite moment been so far? Please share in comments, XOXO – Jennifer

 

Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl
Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl
Print Recipe
Power up your day in savory-sweet South American style with this hearty, protein-rich steak breakfast bowl featuring plantains, coconut, honey and an egg!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl
Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl
Print Recipe
Power up your day in savory-sweet South American style with this hearty, protein-rich steak breakfast bowl featuring plantains, coconut, honey and an egg!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Add coconut oil to medium skillet and bring to medium-high heat. Sauté chopped plantains and yellow peppers for approximately 6 to 7 minutes, or until plantains turning golden brown and peppers softening.
  2. In the last 90 seconds or so of cooking, stir in steak chunks to gently reheat without overcooking. Slide the steak mixture into 4 cereal-sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Immediately poach or fry eggs to your preferred level of yolk “doneness.” Slide a cooked egg on top of each bowl of beef mixture and season with salt, pepper, sprinkle of coconut and a drizzle of honey!
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Steak and Quinoa Squachos – NachOMG!

Steak and Quinoa Squachos are a healthy take on nachos and gluten-free, low-carb appetizer optionlYou may be thinking, “Ummmm, excuse me . . . but what the heck on God’s green Earth are SQUACHOS”? This quick and easy appetizer is a healthy swap for traditional nachos made with tortilla chips which are typically fried, overly salted and plentiful in carbs (if you’re counting).  Made on slices of summer’s finest squash, my Steak & Quinoa Squachos are, in two simple words, “life changing!”

Steak & Quinoa Squachos - gluten-free and low carb appetizer!

Zucchini and Summer SquashThe farmer’s markets (and personal gardens of you green-thumbers) are exploding with green zucchini and yellow summer squash this time of year — and this fun and fit finger food is a tasty way to take advantage of a bumper crop and squeeze a few extra veggies into the day.

 

Recipes similar to this use panko bread crumbs to create that familiar nacho crunch — but that defeats to purpose of my low-carb, higher protein mission. So, instead, I tossed together almond meal and cooked quinoa with a bit of cheese to create a tasty texture on top of each squash disc.

Steak and Quinoa Squachos -- a low carb, gluten free appetizer!

I used two of my go-to non-GMO, gluten-free and certified organic pantry staples from NowFoods.com Tri-Colored Quinoa  and Raw Almond Flour. This tri-color quinoa a blend of white, red and black seeds and is a great source of protein and iron — I typically serve it as a side dish or salad, but freeze leftovers for speedy recipes like this! Raw Almond Flour (or Almond Meal, as some people call it) is simply finely ground almonds and it makes a great low-carb swap for flour in many recipes. If you can’t find these products in your market, I’ve dropped the Amazon links below.
 

More Protein, More PowerNow, if you’ve been following along on the blog or social media, you know I’ve been sharing my (numerous time) journey on the Protein Challenge and encouraging others to join. This free 30-day challenge sponsored by BeefLovingTexans.com (who I also originally developed the Squacho recipe for) shows you how to tweak your daily protein intake for optimal heath — to be very succinct, you should be getting about 25 – 30 grams of protein at each of your three meals — and also protein rich snacks throughout the day and possibly at bedtime, depending on your activity level. You can register for the Protein Challenge and get tips, support and recipes HERE.

Join the 30 day Protein Challenge

Steak & Quinoa SquachosSo, are you making these Squachos this weekend, or what?!

What are your other plans – a race, a vacation, just catching up on the to-do list? Let’s chat in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

 

Steak and Quinoa Squachos are a healthy take on nachos and gluten-free, low-carb appetizer optionl
Steak & Quinoa Squachos
Print Recipe
You'll exclaim "squash-OMG" when you taste these unique beef nachos that swap tortilla chips for discs of zucchini -- almond meal and quinoa create a crunch texture while keeping the appetizer gluten-free and low carb.
Servings
8 as appetizer
Servings
8 as appetizer
Steak and Quinoa Squachos are a healthy take on nachos and gluten-free, low-carb appetizer optionl
Steak & Quinoa Squachos
Print Recipe
You'll exclaim "squash-OMG" when you taste these unique beef nachos that swap tortilla chips for discs of zucchini -- almond meal and quinoa create a crunch texture while keeping the appetizer gluten-free and low carb.
Servings
8 as appetizer
Servings
8 as appetizer
Ingredients
Servings: as appetizer
Instructions
  1. Preheat broiler on high. 2. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil, coat with baking spray.
  2. lice squash into ¼” slices. Place squash, with edges touching each other, onto baking sheets.
  3. In bowl, toss together almond meal with dry fajita seasoning. Stir in cheese, cooked quinoa and almond meal until combined.
  4. Use a tablespoon to pile a big dollop of this cheese mixture on top of each squash slice. If leftover topping in bowl at end of dolloping, sprinkle evenly across tops.
  5. Cut leftover steak or fajita meat into bite-sized pieces. Place a piece of two of beef on top of each Squacho.
  6. Place oven rack on second to top position. Broil Squachos for 2 to 4 minutes, or until cheese mixture bubbling and turning golden brown on edges Watch carefully to prevent burning.
  7. Remove from oven and sprinkle with drained Pico de Gallo. Serve with other desired accompaniments such as guacamole, sour cream or salsa.
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Keep Austin Weird Beef, Veggie and Watermelon Stir-fry

Beef Veggie and Watermelon Stir FryI have been waiting all summer to share this recipe – Beef, Veggie & Watermelon Stir-Fry!  –It’s steak “meats” watermelon (and loads of fresh veggies) atop of a plate of slightly chewy, insanely satisfying udon noodles. Earlier this year, the Texas Beef Council asked me to come up with my personal take on a Texas food tradition. “Focus on pasta,” they said, and “make it your own.”

Most of us know by now what happens when I’ve been let off the proverbial leash like that – I can go a little wild. But, my creativity isn’t random; it makes sense – to me, anyway!  My jam is merging together seemingly unlikely ingredients to make a beautiful recipe that not only comes together easily but also optimizes nourishment to support an active lifestyle.

watermelon carrots beans peppersYou might be wondering how my Beef, Veggie & Watermelon Stir-Fry a Texas “thang” – there’s no BBQ sauce in sight!  The Texas spirit is found in the local lean beef and farmer’s market produce sourced from these here Central Texas parts. It also has that far-out, Far East fusion flavor going on that’s so popular with some of the food trucks found down in the hip and happening parts of Austin that do their best to Keep Austin Weird. Heck, I do my best to Keep Austin Weird!

jen vw bus

I’m especially excited how this fit and fresh dish pairs up BEEF with WATERMELON as these are two of my all-time favorite foods ever in the history of all time, period.

Beef Veggie and Watermelon Stir Fry

This 30 minute dinner recipe features Top Sirloin, a super-lean cut of beef that has only about 5g fat and 150 calories per 3-ounce serving (along with about 26g protein)! Eating a protein portion approximately this size (25 – 30g), three to five times a day, gives me the power to feel fuller longer, stay active longer, and maintain a leaner muscle-to-fat body ratio. Of course, my meals aren’t always beef (variety is the spice of life, ya know), but lean beef is an AWESOME, nutrient-dense (think ZIP: Zinc, Iron, Protein) go-to choice that works beautifully in my life several times per week (or more).

profile facebook beef protein challengeIf you want to join the free Protein Challenge to learn more about how tweaking the protein intake in our life can help you feel and look better, sign up here.

 

 

 

 

 

What about the watermelon? Well, first off – it just screams summer in Central Texas.  I can’t think of a picnic, river tubing trip or day at the lake spent without sharing a huge watermelon with family and friends. If you’ve not ever tried watermelon warm and spiced up a bit, get ready to live on the wedge! The sweet heat flavor is fantastic and the high water content of this juicy fruit (92% water) helps keep you hydrated on most blazing hot days. Plus, watermelon is low in calories and a great source of electrolytes and antioxidants that help support my lifestyle as an athlete. Oh, and you’re going to LOVE the sprouted watermelon seeds sprinkled on the to — despite what your mama may have said, you CAN eat watermelon seeds (they’re very nutritious)!

Summer Squat Challenge -- Do 100 squats per day from this mix an match list!Learn much more about Watermelon for Fitness (uhh and don’t miss my Watermelon Workout Videos) at Watermelon.org. Here’s a little Watermelon Squat Workout I dare ya to try!

Note on the noodles: You don’t necessarily have to use the Udon noodles, I like to incorporate them when I need a little more carb energy in my life for long runs and endurance events. A great gluten-free option would be Soba noodles (made of buckwheat which is gluten free) or rice noodles . . . or just rice. I’m also going to make this dish in the future and try it totally grain-free by using spiralized zucchini or summer squash!

What have you been stir-frying lately? Favorite Fruit? Favorite type of Squat? Noodles, rice or nothing?  Please share in the comments  – XOXO, Jennifer 

This post was sponsored by The Texas Beef Council and the Beef Check Off, however all opinions, comments, enthusiasm and weirdness are my own. 

 

Beef Veggie and Watermelon Stir Fry
Beef, Veggie and Watermelon Stir-fry
Print Recipe
This fit and fresh dish features top sirloin, my favorite cut of lean beef, paired with farmer’s market-fresh produce, flavors of the Far East, and some funky South Congress food truck fusion. Keep Austin weird!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Beef Veggie and Watermelon Stir Fry
Beef, Veggie and Watermelon Stir-fry
Print Recipe
This fit and fresh dish features top sirloin, my favorite cut of lean beef, paired with farmer’s market-fresh produce, flavors of the Far East, and some funky South Congress food truck fusion. Keep Austin weird!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Instructions
  1. Toss together beef with garlic, water, soy sauce and sesame oil. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, stir together hot water with cornstarch until dissolved. Stir in watermelon juice, lime juice, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 to 2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek according to personal preference for spicy heat.
  3. Drain and discard marinade from beef. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over high heat. Add one-half of beef to skillet and brown for 45 seconds without stirring. With tongs, quickly turn beef and cook additional 30 seconds or until barely browned. Take care not to overcook. Transfer to a warm plate immediately. Repeat browning with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and beef.
  4. Add final 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet and bring to medium-high heat. Add green beans and peppers and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add matchstick carrots and ginger and stir-fry an additional 1 minute. Add cooked beef and watermelon juice-chili sauce mixture and stir-fry another 1 minute, or until slightly thickened. Remove from skillet from heat and stir in watermelon.
  5. Garnish with chopped green onions and sprouted watermelon seeds. Serve immediately with prepared udon noodles.
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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.
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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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