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!

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How to Lessen Seasonal Allergies for a Sneeze-free Trail Run

This post was sponsored by MinuteClinic, however all opinions and enthusiasm are my own.The Maze Trail Run Jennifer Fisher solo

Even though I’m smiling, my seasonal allergies were in overdrive at my first trail race of the spring season. Really, it’s quite ironic. After persevering through the fickle winter weather in Texas, rescheduling and rerouting many runs while wishing for green trees and wildflower-lined trails to return, all I wanted to do during this trail run was run inside on a treadmill. Comfort for my watering eyes and sneezing was trumping the beauty of nature.  My eyes were watering so bad, I was having trouble seeing the nooks, crannies and tree roots on the trail – that’s dangerous!  

If you don’t know what seasonal allergies are, lucky you – you must not be suffering. Or, you’re sneezing, coughing and rubbing itchy eyes, but blaming it all on the common cold. However, a common cold should only last 3 – 14 days, while seasonal allergies go on as long as there is contact with the offending substance, typically February through September. Find out more on colds vs. allergies here. Ugh. So, what are these offending substances that torture us so? Well, seasonal allergies are caused by airborne proteins, molds and fungi that come from the onset of plant grow.

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • More tears than normal
  • Post nasal drip
  • Runny nose
  • Scratchy throat
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose

How to Lessen Seasonal Allergies for a Sneeze Free Trail Run

If you want to get outside and enjoy a trail run or walk through the park, there just seems no way to avoid these nasty little allergy creators that float around in the air – but there are some ways to lessen your reaction to them and make exercise more pleasant. Here are some things to consider:

Is it a bad day? Check the pollen and mold counts before you plan your run, or decided to skip. You can get this info from the local weather forecast or go to a website like the National Allergy Bureau and type in your zip code.  You may want to take your runs indoors on the days with super-high counts.

Is it a bad hour? Consider running later in the day when pollen counts are lower and molds have had a chance to dry up a bit. Also, a nice rain tends to wash away allergens temporarily – so, running in a light rain or after a gully washer is always optimal.

What about OTC medication?  Sometimes, there is no leeway to “plan” a run – especially if it’s at a race (typically at the highest-count time of day) or you have a busy work and family schedule.  Over-the-counter medications are a viable option when used according to direction. However, traditional antihistamine products like Benadryl can leave you feeling dried out and sleepy – groggy and dehydrated is no way to start a run! An article at Runner’s World says that the second generation of over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec are better for runners because they are non-sedating and non-drying. You can be assured, I’ve stockpiled for the season at my neighborhood CVS Pharmacy.

Is it time to visit a medical professional? If seasonal allergies are really interfering with quality of life, stop suffering. Head over to MinuteClinic (found inside your neighborhood CVS) and get checked out. You don’t need an appointment, and on-site nurse practitioners and physicians assistants are ready to recommend the right over-the-counter medications and write prescriptions when medically appropriate.

Are you cleaning up post-run?  Remember that trail running and being outdoors this time of year leaves everything on you exposed to allergens – your shoes, your clothes, your hair and skin. That’s why you should leave your running shoes in the garage and head to the bathroom to remove clothing and take a post-run shower ASAP – otherwise the allergens will be nagging at you all day. You might even want to consider bringing wipees if you are driving to and from your running location. Also, it’s a good idea to wash your sheets at least once a week during peak count times to get rid of any lingering pollen, mold and such that you may have picked up just walking back outside to check the mail.

Minute Clinic lobby

Find out more on how to #BeatSpringAllergies at @MinuteClinic and on their Facebook and Twitter feeds too. Check out their Clinic Locator to find the location nearest you! Happy (sneeze-free) running!

Are you bothered by seasonal allergies? Does it keep you from exercising outdoors? Do you trail run or hike? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

Yuck to Yes! 6 Clean Eating Mistakes to Avoid

YUCK to YES! Six kinda gross healthy eating issues and how to get past them!You’ve purged the fridge and pantry of processed foods, loaded up on organic foods and free-range proteins, and your produce bin is now a colorful rainbow of Mother Nature’s bounty. It’s a beautiful sight – and congratulations on your road to a healthier lifestyle! However, many of us unwittingly sabotage even the best-laid plans for a healthy diet because it’s either what we were taught to do because “it isn’t pretty,” . . . or, frankly, we’re just a little grossed out.  It’s time to just “get over it” and stop making these healthy eating mistakes!

Don’t scrape off brown stuff off bottom of salmon: Keep healthy fats in your diet by salmon gettyleaving on the brown-grey gunk found on the bottom of salmon.

I’m not talking about the skin (although that’s good for you too), but the soft, gelatinous layer found between the skin and flesh. This brown-grey stuff is the insulating fat for this cold water fish and also where the overwhelming majority of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids are found.

Don’t pour off liquid pooled on top of Greek yogurt: Despite looking like a cloudy mess that should be drained away, this liquid is actually the whey. Whey is comprised mostly of settled water from the yogurt, but it’s also where the protein, potassium, and calcium live! Stirring in the whey before eating your yogurt keeps the protein content in yogurt high, preserves important nutrients and promotes a creamy texture.

Don’t spit out fruit seeds: Despite your mother’s warnings, most fruit seeds are actually quite beneficial for your health (some companies are even selling packaged watermelon seeds to snack on – they’re good! ), containing a boost of important amino acids, vitamins and minerals. You can eat watermelon seeds!For example, watermelon seeds are an abundant source of zinc and the tropical papaya has an enzyme that helps fight parasitic infestation, a common health issue where the fruit is grown (isn’t Mother Nature clever?).  I’m not saying you need to go out of your way to eat every seed in sight, but it’s definitely does no harm to eat a few of them –and, a plant won’t sprout in your stomach!

Don’t peel vegetables:  Stop peeling your vegetables, especially if they are thoroughly scrubbed and washed. Purple Potato PeelNot only does it take a ridiculous amount of time to de-skin produce (like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, carrots, beets and others), peeling also robs your diet of important nutrients. A high concentration of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are lurking on the skin of your favorite vegetables – for example, the levels of iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C found on potato skins are much more highly concentrated ounce-for-ounce, than in the rest of the tuber.  However, if you decide to remove the outer layer of vegetables for aesthetic purposes, save the peels and boil  with water for a vegetable stock.

Don’t avoid egg yolks and those “stringy things”: Let’s crack the hype that egg yolks are bad – yes, they contain cholesterol, but recent studies show that eating eggs does not ramp up the risk for heart disease. In fact, the yolk is where the bulk of an eggs super powers reside, packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats that benefit the eyes, brain and remainder of our bodies. Egg ChalazaeAnd, if you’re grossed out by the white stringy things in eggs, don’t be. There is no harm in eating this ropey part of the egg, called chalazae. Chalazae are merely what anchor the yolk to the membrane and are not the beginning of little chick as many think. Egg experts say that the more chalazae you see, the fresher the egg.

Don’t chastise chia seeds over slime:  Chia seeds are rich in iron, potassium, calcium, omega fats, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants – and a good source of protein. However, the number one complaint of this super-food is the slimy texture the sand-sized seeds take on when wet.  Many don’t mind it, but others get the gag reflex. One way to reap the benefits of chia seeds, but avoid the gelatinous goo, is to incorporate a sprinkling of the seeds in smoothies or baked goods.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding - TheFitFork.comOh, and if you’re looking for a chia seed recipe this Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Chia Pudding is one of my favorite healthy treats.

 

 

 

Do you have any tips on healthy eating, maybe some gross stuff that is actually good?! Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer