Habanero BBQ Almonds + Giveaway for #YogaLovers

buddhi box yogaI recently hinted at a delicious spicy-sweet almond snack I made with local products in my Active in Austin post. My recipe for 5-minute Habanero BBQ Almonds is a great hunger-squashing snack that you absolutely must make for all your on-the-go summer activities. And, if one of your summer activities is YOGA — then check out the bottom of my post for a Buddhi Box giveaway!

5 minute Habanero BBQ Almonds make a healthy snack  -- protein, fiber and other important nutrients.

Not only is this snack super easy to make in the skillet in about 5 minutes, it’s packed with flavor and the satiating nutrition from almonds. Almonds are such a great snack for athletes and everyone — the are definitely the superfood they are cracked up to be!  This nutrient-dense nut is packed with good monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins such as riboflaven and trace minerals such as magnesium.

04_Info

Get recipes and wellness tips to help you boost daily intake of protein!Almonds are also a great snack choice if you are on the #ProteinChallenge. If you’re not participating in this free challenge, sign up today here. It’s a great way to learn how to slightly readjust your eating patterns to include adequate protein spaced throughout the day. In turn, you should have more energy, a desire to snack less on unheathy carbed-out, processed foods and be better able to achieve or maintain a lean body mass.

Also, you’re going to laugh, but I think that this Habanero BBQ Almond recipe helps you stay hydrated. Say what? That’s because the spicy habanero pepper is one of the hottest peppers in town and it will encourage you to drink more water

buddi box logo

I also want to tell you about a new box I am loving right now — the Buddhi Box. It’s “The Monthly Subscription Box that will Kick Your Asana into Gear”. This ultimate yogi care package is filled with deluxe samples and full-sized products that will appeal and delight those just starting a yoga practice or that have been on the journey for some time. You can learn more about the products and the services HERE.

Buddi Box is a specially curated monthly subscription box for the yoga enthusiast.

My recent Buddhi Box included a full-sized book packed with every imaginable yoga pose (I’m still trying them all out), daring ballet sock with gripper feet (feet stay covered in class, but no slipping and sliding), a scented soy candle and sample of hemp seeds (ooh, love those).

One of you lucky readers will win your own Buddhi Box by entering the giveaway below. What’s in the winner’s yoga subscription box? I don’t know! That’s the fun element of surprise that comes with these specially-curated collections of products — even though I don’t know whats coming, I always LOVE everything!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5-minute Habanero BBQ Almonds
Print Recipe
This slightly smoky-sweet and definitely spicy almonds make a great protein-rich snack to fuel your active lifestyle. They are made in less than 5 minutes in a skillet -- low mess, low fuss!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 1 minute
Cook Time
4 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 1 minute
Cook Time
4 minutes
5-minute Habanero BBQ Almonds
Print Recipe
This slightly smoky-sweet and definitely spicy almonds make a great protein-rich snack to fuel your active lifestyle. They are made in less than 5 minutes in a skillet -- low mess, low fuss!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 1 minute
Cook Time
4 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 1 minute
Cook Time
4 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. To make, heat skillet to medium- high over stovetop.
  2. Stir in 1/4 cup BBQ sauce, 2 teaspoons habanero sauce, 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt. Cook over medium-low for 4 minutes to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce is carmalizing and sticking to almonds.
  3. Remove from skillet and let cool a few minutes. Eat warm or at room temperature. May be stored in an air-tight container.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Protein Timing for Endurance Athletes + Thermos® Shaker Bottle

Thermos Brand Shaker Bottle
Before I get on my soapbox about protein, let me tell you this post is sponsored by Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle.  Of all the shaker bottles that have come and gone (quickly) my life, this one is a keeper and hands-down the best!  It’s made of safe materials, shatter-proof (important if you’ve seen some of my workouts), and resistant to leaks – the lid screws on tightly and there is actually a push-button release cap on the spigot!

Breaking up with these old shaker bottles wasn't hard to do!

Breaking up with these old shaker bottles wasn’t hard to do!

As one whom has spilled time and time again, over the front of my shirt, on the car upholstery and all inside my gym bag, this “leak proof” feature is a huge selling point with me. Anyway, Thermos®  is holding a giveaway for 10 of these very-impressive vessels – go here to enter! And read down to the bottom of the post where I have more deets on this must-have nutrition gear for the athlete. Now, onto the protein . .

PROTEIN TIMING FOR ENDURANCE ATHLETES — RUNNERS, TRIATHLETES, SWIMMERS, ULTRA MARATHONERS, OBSTACLE COURSE RACERS, MOUNTAIN BIKERS, ECO ADVENTURE TYPES, MUD RUNNERS, ROWERS, SKIERS — I’M TALKING TO YOU!

Timing IS everything, especially when it comes to protein and the endurance athlete. Not only does adequate protein consumption provide sustained energy for the day’s routine activities, it helps to rebuild muscle taxed by strenuous exercise, and makes it easier to maintain a lean body mass, even as we age.  I’m excited to share with you what I’ve learned over years of listening to and working with various experts on the topic and sharing the personal protein strategy I use to keep a low body fat percentage and fuel my performance as a runner and obstacle course athlete.

Jennifer Fisher - Beef Sirloin Steaks

What? Is this too much protein for one meal?

How much protein is enough or too much and how much do you eat? I get this question all the time. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound – that’s about 56 grams per day for the average non-active man or 46 grams per day for the average non-active woman. This RDA calculates out to about 10% of suggested daily caloric intake. You might be surprised to find out that the 45 to 56 g protein just mention is the equivalent of 6 to 8 ounces of a lean animal-based protein like chicken, fish or beef! However, the modest RDA was set a long time ago, during a time food rationing during war, and is widely considered by most nutritionists to be the minimum amount needed to keep from becoming malnourished and sick!  Today’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that we should be taking in from 10% to 35% of daily calories from various forms of protein, depending on our needs and activity levels.

Jennifer Fisher - Beef Team Elite Runner

Endurance athletes like marathon runners and triathletes need more protein than the average couch potato, and calories as well. Our busy bodies need protein to more efficiently process carbohydrates into quick fuel and to rebuild (and even grow) muscle. You can’t really eat too much protein, many dieters have had success on a high-fat, higher protein Keto diet. However, when it comes to protein, there is a point of diminishing returns for an athlete. Remember, the body can only process about 25 – 30 grams per meal or snack, regardless of your body size. Plus, when you up calorie intake from protein, proportionately speaking, calories from other areas have to give  — unless you want to gain weight. Plus, training high mileage with few carbs leaves you feeling sluggish and like you’ve got lead in your legs (trust me, I’ve tried). Even the author of fruit and grain-shaming The Paleo Diet broke down and admitted, in a the later-published The Paleo Diet for Athletes, that there is a need for certain carbohydrates in a training diet if optimal performance is the goal.

When should I eat my protein? I’ve seen some people talk about “front loading” protein in the morning to start of the day. Yes and no. Yes, you definitely should be eating protein right upon waking up. Muscles need to be fed; they’ve been in a complete fasting state for the last 8 hours or since the last meal. However, you don’t need more than 25 – 30 grams as previously mentioned; it won’t do you any good (unless you’re just eating it for taste or gains!).

Beef Egg Potato Bake Breakfast Casserole - TheFitFork.com

Start your day with 25 – 20 grams of protein!

Get my Barn-raiser Egg & Beef Bake recipe (above) which has been featured in Taste of Home magazine and on the Hallmark Channel “Home & Family Show”

The optimal plan for protein intake is to space it evenly throughout the day. Americans tend to “back load,” that is, eating it mostly at dinner!  A basic breakdown consists of protein at breakfast, lunch, dinner and possibly a post-workout snack and bedtime snack, depending on your needs. For super intense workouts, you may also consider protein intake with your carbs during actual exercise – protein helps to more quickly process carbs in the blood stream.

Most of us endurance athletes know by now that the optimal window for protein intake after a workout is within about 30 minutes, 60 minutes worst case scenario. Experts suggest that the carb to protein ratio of this recovery snack be 4g carb to 1g protein or 3 to 1.  So remember to bring along a protein bar, shake, nuts or some other protein-rich snack that can be consumed almost immediately after your sweat session.

A simple shake make with protein powder makes a great bed time snack. If you can tolerate milk, use it as your base -- dairy has special enzymes that help facilitate the job of protein while you sleep

Now, onto the bedtime snack. I eat from lights on to lights out! Eating before bed goes against the very rules of what your mother taught you. Curiously, I’ve always craved a protein snack about hour before my head hits the pillow – and was happy to find out I was actually doing my body a positive service. Much of our recover and muscle growth happens at night and it needs long-lasting fuel to do so. Experts say that dairy-based protein snacks are the best picks at night. Apparently, specific enzymes in dairy foods maximize the work load protein. That means my nightly Greek yogurt (or a protein shake made with milk) is a post-dinner winner!

jennifer fisher fit foodie run beef

 

A Fairly Common Protein Day for ME (Remember, it may vary for you):

  • Breakfast: 30g protein from eggs, mug muffin made with protein powder, or smoothie
  • Post-Workout Snack: 20g protein bar, peanut butter toast, protein powder and fruit shake
  • Lunch:  Salad with 30g protein from mixture of leftover meat, beans, etc.
  • Dinner: 25g protein from protein like sirloin steak, chicken breast, salmon with veggies on the side.
  • Bedtime Snack: 20g protein from plain Greek yogurt mixed with stevia and sprinkle of granola.
The Thermos Brand Shaker Bottle doesn't leak thanks to the push-button release cap!

The Thermos Brand Shaker Bottle doesn’t leak thanks to the push-button release cap!

So, back to the Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle, its ideal for those protein shakes I’ve been mentioning for breakfast or post-workout recovery. Again, I love the leak-proof design, but also another feature that’s awesome about this shaker bottle is that it features an integrated yet removable stationary mixer that helps evenly blend beverages – no one wants to gag on unexpected protein clumps!  Also, I really appreciate the capacity markings along the side of the bottle – it helps me make my protein drink recipes without having to haul out measuring cups. Plus, it also keeps me aware of how much I’m drinking or not drinking, as the case may be!  Many times I need to see those tick marks reveal to know I’m staying hydrated and getting enough calories/protein for recovery.

 Specs for Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle : It sells for about $14.99, holds 24 ounces, is clear with a gray/green lid, and measures 3.8” W x 3.4” D x 9.2” H  (and, yes, it fits in my car’s cup holder). Plastic is BPA-free, impact-resistant and impervious to absorbing odors of flavors from past beverages. And (yay), its dishwasher –safe!

shaker bottle thermos contest

Enter for chance to be one of ten randomly selected winners of in the Genuine Thermos® Brand Shaker Bottle Giveaway! Head over to the Thermos® Facebook page for entry details.

And, don’t miss out on a thing – follow Thermos® on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for exclusive updates and product information.

whole foods gift cardAdditionally, I’m personally hosting a giveaway for a $25 gift card to Whole Foods so you can buy some yummy, nourishing ingredients to put in your ShakerBottle

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Clean Fuel for Dirty Training + Vega Giveaway and Protein Cake Recipe

For most people, life winds down to a slower pace in the summer, but not me!  Both my work and workout schedules have been in beast mode with several back-to-back business trips and lots of Spartan Race training (dirty training!) to nail a big race goal next weekend.  These mental and physical stressors, along with the fact that my three teen boys are all home for the summer and their junk foods is laying around everywhere, should be tempting me to just chill out on the couch with a bag of chips – but I’m staying strong!

Slack Line Practice

But, thanks to Vega® Clean Protein and Vega® Clean Energy (sent for me to test out as part of a Vega campaign), I’ve been able to avoid these temptations and stay in tip-top shape to tackle the obstacles that have literally and figuratively been thrown in my path lately. I don’t always eat vegan, but it’s a nice option to rotate through my diet for variety – and both these new, premium plant-based products from Vega make it easy for me to fuel up and train clean.

Vega Clean Protein and Energy

In addition to being Vegan Certified, Vega® Clean Protein and Vega® Clean Energy are both Non-GMO Project verified, gluten-free, made without dairy or soy, and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.

To be honest, I’ve gagged on some other brands of plant-based protein – even hidden in blended smoothies. But the Vega® Clean Protein is delicious just shaken up with ice in a shaker bottle – that makes post-workout recovery a snap!  Both the Chocolate and Vanilla flavors are a blend of pea, hemp, alfalfa and pumpkin proteins that boasts 25 grams of protein with only 1 gram of sugar – plus it’s got the full chain of amino acids, 4BCAAs, glutamine and also takes care of 20% of your daily iron intake needs. All of this for just 130 calories.

Vegan Chocolate Orange Protein Cake

If also the Vega® Clean Protein used it to make this awesome single-serve Orange Chocolate Protein Cake for a clean dessert, bedtime snack or quick breakfast – it just takes 90 seconds! It’s vegan, non-dairy, gluten-free and lower carb!

Vega Chocolate Orange Protein Cake makes a great post-workout snack, quick breakfast or better bedtime snack.

Instructions: In large mug or small microwave-safe bowl, mix together 2/3 scoop Vega® Chocolate Clean Protein, 1 tablespoon gluten-free baking mix, 1 tablespoon gluten-free, oats, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons orange zest, and 1/3 cup almond milk. Microwave for 60 to 90 seconds until set. Remove and sprinkle with dairy-free chocolate chips, if desired.

Vega Clean Energy

On those days when I’m dragging and need a little sumptin-sumptin before a workout, Vega® Clean Energy comes to the rescue. Taken 20 minutes before a run or workout, it’ gears me up for great things thanks to electrolytes, naturally-occurring caffeine from black and green tea and quality carbs to rev the kick start the ole engine with some quick-sourced energy.  It comes in two flavors – Berry and citrus tea!

Aside from these certified vegan sports nutrition products, I’ve been getting lots of great virtual support from Vega on their FuelYourBetter.com page. You should check it out too, it’s loaded with training tips, nutritional articles, and fit-focused recipes that will help you attain all your fitness goals – be those in running, triathlon, Crossfit, weight-lifting, yoga, obstacle course racing, paddle boarding, parkour, rock climbing, team sports or attaining all-around general fitness and shaping up for summer! #FuelYourBetter

vega fueledBeing the Instagram junkie that I am (follow me @thefitfork) I also like to stalk Vega’s new @VegaFueled Instagram page.  You’ll easily agree that it’s an inspiring page featuring real world people that will make you want to get moving too! Follow @VegaFueled  and tag your own photos with #vegafueled and #FuelYourBetter and you may be featured within the Vega community!

In fact, you can  enter for a chance to win a Vega Clean Prize Pack that includes 1 tub Vega Clean Protein, 1 Tub of Vega Clean Energy and a Vega Shaker Cup.  All you need to do is follow me at @thefitfork and the @VegaFueled Instagram Account and post a workout / fitness photo hash tagged #VegaFueled, #FuelYourBetter and #thefitfork.  I’ll randomly pick one winner on 6/30/2016 — No PO #s US/CAN Only.

vega run

Try out Vega for yourself! Use discount code VegaFit at the Vega Store and save 20% off and free shipping – one use per customer and valid until 6/30/2016.  SHOP VEGA HERE!

What are you training for? How are you fueling? Have you ever tried a slack line? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of White Wave. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Live Happy, Live Healthy, Live Now + NOW Foods #Giveaway

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of NOW Foods.

 I think my new “Live Happy, Live Healthy, Live NOW” shirt sums it all up to a T! When a company whose products you already love, loves you back with double-puffy-hearted hospitality, it’s a win-win-win – for me, for them, for YOU! Recently, I was invited to visit Now Foods at their Midwest Operations Facility and Corporate Headquarters in Bloomingdale, IL (a suburb of Chicago) to learn more about their products lines, core values and mission to “enable people to live healthier lives.” NOW Foods Blogger Immersion 2016 It was a fun and fact-filled two days with a group of other health and fitness influencers.  Of course, we naturally had fit a group workout into the festivities and headed over to Lifetime Fitness for a specially developed HIIT workout that targeted 9 body parts to promote Target’s awesome athletic line called “C9.” That serious sweat session was followed by a bit of relaxing yoga and a delicious post-workout smoothie made with nourishing NOW products. NOW Foods Blogger Immersion 2016 My excitement is bubbling over from seeing with my own eyes how NOW products are made from start to finish and meeting with company executives including Jim Emme (CEO) and Dan Richard (son of founder). Oh, and by the way, please feel free to take a virtual tour of the Midwest Operations Facility yourself! NOW Foods Midwest Operations Facility Not only did I get a chance to tour the facilities, but also got to participate in some fun and educational sessions including a presentation by the lovely Dr. Wendy Bazilian on Food Tribes (more about this in an upcoming post) and impact these different diet choices (like Gluten-free, Paleo, Vegan, etc) have on athletic performance. It was also fun to partake in a DIY session where we made our own Aromatherapy Bath Soak and also Exercise Equipment Cleaning Spray using very versatile and pesticide/herbicide free Now Essential Oils. So, to recap my amazing experience, I want to share with you three awesome things I learned about this honest, totally-transparent and quality-focused company that started out way-back-when in 1968 as a simple health food store.  Also, make sure to read through to the end, they are generously sponsoring an enormous giveaway of products for one lucky reader to win! 1) NOW Foods makes and sells nearly everything on my shopping list! Seriously, I think this company makes almost everything I need to support my healthy living . . . except fresh fruit and vegetables. Not only does Now Foods make a vast array of vitamins, supplements and sports nutrition products (how I first found them), but they also have an impressive selection of personal care and wellness items, essential oils, healthy foods and even natural pet care products! Even though this large company produces so many different items, each individual product is very thoughtfully and carefully made — it’s as if each came from a single-focus boutique operation. There is just that much passion among the employees at this company that has been recognized as one of the “101Best & Brightest” to work in the nation!

Now Sports Plant Protein Complex and Sprouted Brown Rice Protein  Over here to the left, a couple of the protein powders that started my love affair with NOW Foods. Oh, and their food lines is amazing and so many of their products, from BetterStevia™ (it really is better) to gourmet, small-batch Ellyndale Foods™ to  , are the foundation for many of my healthy recipes on the blog including my Kiwi, Apricot and Feta Salad with Hemp Honey Dressing   (I used their organic hemp seeds and avocado oil for this yummy summer dish). Gold Kiwi Apricot & Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing is an easy, elegant and amazingly nutritious addition to your dinner party. Also, the Living Now™  line up is has a nice variety of tasty, junk-free products that make it easier and more convenient to keep a gluten-free diet. Ellyndale Gourmet Oils by Now FoodsWe also had an interesting and informative “oil tasting” led by the adorable and talented Executive Chef in their corporate test kitchen. Apparently, there is a proper way to appreciate the flavor of oils (think wine tasting) and I slurped in little bits of various oils one at a time, from pumpkin seed and almond to olive and sesame, and let them slowly wash over my tongue!  At the end of this taste-test, I have very moist lips as a whipped up a homemade berry salad dressing using the macadamia nut oil.  We also made to-go salads for our travel home that day and packed our jars from a rainbow array of produce, nuts and healthy grains – of course, I went straight to the Organic Tri-Colored Quinoa from  NOW Real Food™ , one of my favorites ( because, when meat isn’t on the menu, this near-celebrity-status seed offers a complete amino acid chain). Jar Salad with Now Foods Tri Colored Quinoa 2) NOW products are a blessing for my body and budget Now Foods products are both affordable AND high-quality — gasp, I know!  These two factors are important to so many of us trying to live, role model and share our passion for the “fit life.” It’s such a common assumption in the natural health food and supplement industry that the more expensive, the better   — not so! In fact, many times (not always), an expensive product is actually quite cheap in quality and just jacked up with a big marketing budget. But NOW Foods never tries to trick you into thinking that you’re getting something you’re not. They don’t waste money (which is ultimately your $) on overkill advertising because they are confident that their products always stand up to the test – literally!

My reaction at the hotel to my bags full of NOW products! High quality and affordable, whoohoo!

My reaction at the hotel to my bags full of NOW products! High quality AND affordable, whoohoo!

Just one example, I can get NOW Whey Protein Isolate for double the amount for half the price (okay, that’s a generalization, but the point is it’s a very good deal) as many other brands I’ve tried – plus the macros are spot on in my opinion, as opposed to many of the other protein powder options out there. Same goes for product after product in their collection of hundreds (if not thousands) of different items. NOW also maintains a highly efficient, low-error operations facility that helps keep costs down.  And, because NOW is privately-owned, they don’t have to jack up prices to please profit-margin focused shareholders – actually, NOW wants to please YOU, even if that means a little less moola in their own pockets 3) NOW Tests to be the Best

NOW Foods labratory

Learning some of the high-tech testing that goes on at the $40M lab at NOW.

So what did I just mean when I just said in #2 that “products always stand up to the test”?  I mean that NOW is highly committed to quality and bringing you the cleanest, safest products. Their 263,000 square foot facility is widely regarded as one of the most scientifically-advanced in the natural products industry. The $40+ million lab of this privately-owned company is simply amazing and is nearly unmatched both nationally and world-wide. I could tell from the giddy grins on the otherwise serious chemists, bio-scientists and other laboratory professionals’ faces that the NOW lab was THE place to be. jennifer now foods facilityNot only does NOW test the quality of their finished products, but they also monitor and maintain quality all through the entire manufacturing process which starts with product development and receiving raw ingredients from vendors and ends with storing in appropriate thermostatically-controlled environments and shipping out from a precision-inspired, highly-streamlined warehouse.  They also keep samples from each batch of products for a lengthy six years to ensure that if there ever is a problem, they can identify and correct immediately. I really appreciate that NOW is very transparent about the make-up of their natural products, ingredient lists and macros for nearly everything on their website. Plus, with all this testing I’ve described – I am 100% confident I’m getting what’s sold. Plus, they stand by their products if there ever is a rare, rare, rare exception.  The overwhelming majority of NOW products certified organic and non-GMO, those few that aren’t are always in the pipeline to meet those standards as soon as viable in the ingredient sourcing process. Feel free to read more about the Must Use Ingredients and Must NEVER Use Ingredients. Join the twitter chat on June 16th (9PM EST) to learn get into the conversation — follow @NOWfoodsand #NOWgetfit Gigantic giveaway of NOW products Enter my giveaway for a huge haul of NOW products, the same two huge bags of items they sent me home with!  It’s so much stuff, I can’t even describe it all – but it’s a bit of everything (probably $200+ at least) and you won’t be disappointed! USA only! Thank you FitFulFocus.com for the photo of loot, because I was so excited to try everything that I forgot to snap a pic! Don’t miss #NOWGetFit Twitter Party 6/16 9pm EST w/ me @NowFoods and @Fitfluential #ad a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Treat Sports Turf Burns + #YourSecretWeapon for Prevention

Giveaway at Bottom of Post!

I have three teenage boys . . . and they have all played soccer. I have seen a LOT of soccer and treated plenty of turf burns. Actually, I hate to say this, but I’m the most turf-burn prone and actually I have had some really bad ones just running at high speed. I’ve learned how to suck up the pain and treat them quickly – if kept clean and moist with an antibiotic cream and sterile bandage (changed frequently), the turf burns actually clear up amazingly fast!

One thing I have learned over the years (after going in for a kid’s health checkup with horrific road burn on my shoulder, arm and side) is that it’s NOT good to use hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide can actually damage the tissue further and prevent healing – plus, it hurts like hell to pour it on there, am I right?!

How to Safely Treat Turf Burn on Soccer, Football and Lacrosse Players.

Check out my handy, printable reference on treating turf burn if you or your child to happen to get the big red raspberry of pain. Also, check out his Storelli blog post on Turf Burn Facts and Prevention

One way to prevent turf burn is to not get it at all. That sounds like a no-brainer, but when you’ve got the killer instinct and are completely focused on blocking a shot, kicking a goal or hauling down field to keep position, how rough and abrasive the turf can be isn’t really on the radar. Most players would easily take some nasty burn for the team . . or personal glory!

I’ve discovered BodyShield from Storelli. This Brooklyn, NY based company is one of the soccer industry’s most cutting-edge and exciting new brands. They use proprietary technologies (inspired by extreme sports gear) to create low-profile, high-performance protective gear that helps absorb impact, minimize and prevent abrasions, cuts and nasty bruises. When you have less fear of the game, you can be fearless! If found this to be especially true of one of my kids who isn’t as must as a risk-taker as the rest of the family.

Storelli Next Generation Soccer Injury Prevention GearMy 14 year old has been wearing BodyShield from Storelli for the last two seasons – he can be really fussy about what he wears and how it feels. He’s worn the protective undershirt and head wrap and filed sliders or on the way!

The report back from my sporty mini-me is that it’s easy to gear up in BodyShield, there’s no “weird rubbing” or “too tight” feeling, and  it doesn’t reduce mobility at all – in fact, he says that he usually forgets he’s even wearing the protective gear. And (so important to a middle schooler) it looks cool!

Where Turf Burns Happen Most on Body

The Field Player Sliders use 3mm thick foam technology to protect during tackles and slides without impeding movement. No more fear of abrasions or sudden impacts and no more turf burns on the side and hips (the most common place)!

Oscar Chelsea Soccer Player

Check out professional soccer player Oscar Chelsea sporting the BodyShield Sliders and Sleeveless Undershirt. Stare if you must.

TheFitFork.com SoccerStorelli can be #YourSecretWeapon against turf burns, too! Heck, I’m even thinking about suiting up head to toe for my next Spartan Race.

That’s why I ordered a pair of Women’s BodyShield Sliders designed specifically for female needs) and they finally arrived (see below0 If you use promo code, you can receive 15% off any of everything at Storelli.com – you’re going to want it all!

 

storelli shorts jennifer

Please check out Storelli’s BodyShield protective soccer gear and check out the informative articles on their blog – must-reads if you or a family member is an avid soccer player.50 visa gift card giveaway

Also, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a $50 Visa Gift Card that you can use for your own Storelli gear, other soccer equipment or whatever you like – just hopefully not on bandages to treat turf burn!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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

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

Six Amazing Avocado Hacks That Will Change Your Life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chocolate Speckled and Seeded Protein Cookie (Single Serve) + Toaster Oven Giveaway

This post and giveaway sponsored by Hamilton Beach, but all opinions and enthusiasm are my own!

I never thought I needed a toaster oven and, boy, was I soooo wrong. I changed my mind when recently developed a recipe for Hamilton Beach that would work in their fancy 4 Slice Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven with Roll-Top Door. Honestly, it was my first time using a countertop toaster since back in my childhood days when this is how I made my buttery, cinnamon toast for breakfast! I love the convenience and quick clean up so much, I’m giving away one of these amazing appliances to one of you (enter at bottom of post).

Single Serve Chocolate Speckled and Seeded Breakfast Cookie for Toaster Oven can be made in a conventional or toaster oven! It's also gluten-free and nut-free, plus sugar-free and dairy free without the chocolate chips.  268 calories and 16g protein for this jumbo, giant cookie!

Chocolate Speckled and Seeded Breakfast CookieThe recipe I made for Hamilton Beach was a single serve breakfast cookie Chocolate Speckled and Seeded Breakfast Cookie, a much healthier option than the sugar and butter on white bread treat I would cook up as a kid. Fresh baked from the toaster oven, this cookie is packed with flavor and nutrition thanks to whole grains, seeds, and just a smattering of chocolate to soothe a sweet tooth. The entire huge cookie has just 268 calories and 16g protein – plus it’s gluten-free and nut-free plus sugar free and dairy-free (if you don’t use the chocolate chips). Get the full recipe on Hamilton Beach Every Day Good Thinking blog

Chocolate Speckled and Seeded Breakfast Cookie - TheFitFork.com

So, what’s so awesome about a toaster oven?  Well, for one thing, it doesn’t heat the whole house up, and that’s a major concern here in Texas! But you still get that fresh-baked, crispy texture on foods that the microwave just can’t deliver – the little slide out tray will accommodate so many healthy food options – broil salmon, roast asparagus, bake eggs, make muffins and, yes, even make toast! It fits four slices of toast or even a 9” pizza! A smaller appliance is also so convenient when just preparing a meal for one or two people and works well in a dorm room, RV, cabin, office kitchen or other places where space is tight. Plus, the 4 Slice Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven with Roll-Top Door has several unique features including a removable roll-top door than makes it super easy to clean up!

Hamilton Beach 4 Slice Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven with Roll-Top DoorEnter my giveaway to win a handy-dandy 4 Slice Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven with Roll-Top Door , just follow the Rafflecopter instructions below:

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway