I have a thaaaaaaaaaang for pears, eating right out of hand and using them as the star ingredient in healthy desserts. If I was a partridge, I’d never fly out of my pear tree –the fruit is just so dang delicious and nutritious. Pomegranate Roasted Pears with Pine Nuts & Blue Cheese is a super simple yet sorta fancy-schmancy dessert or side dish that can be made in 30 minutes!
Guzzle before Goodies: Drink a big glass of water and, if the meal or party is going to start after a scheduled meal time, eat a protein bar or other small protein-rich snack (around 200 cal) to tide you over. Time after time, I’ve read “eat a meal before heading out” as this will fill you up so that will not be tempted to overindulge on drinks and goodies at a holiday party. Um, unless you have willpower of steel, this doesn’t work – at least not for me. I always end up giving in with the “what the heck, it’s only once a year mindset” and, while it’s okay to splurge every now and then, but having consumed a full dinner (even if deemed “healthy”) just means you’ve gotten a head start on over-eating.
The Gift of Protein: Make sure you are not just using your entire calorie budget on all the wonderful baked treats of the season at the expense of eating enough protein. While pancakes, homemade breads, cookies, pies and more deserve a little attention this time of year, you can’t fuel a healthy lifestyle without adequate protein. Aim to get at 25 to 30 grams at EVERY meal, starting with breakfast, and also a couple 10 gram-ish protein snacks if you’ve been active during the day. Research has shown that consuming adequately timed and spaced protein not only helps with muscle management, but can moderate hunger and help you avoid over-snacking later in the day or evening.
By the way, you have to check out my new Sheet Pan Maple Beef Sausage recipe — it’s a less mess, less stress way to make a batch of protein for a holiday crowd. It tastes yummy and sure beats slinging bacon or links all morning.
Moderate your Mixology: Drink in moderation or, even better, don’t drink alcoholic beverages, heavy eggnogs or sugary punches at all. Wine, beer and other adult beverages are very high in carbs and calories, partying all night will take its toll in so many ways . . . I won’t preach. If and when I decide to have a drink, I limit myself to one and then turn to sparkling waters with a splash of juice or infused with fruit. I have also turned ONE drink, into two by halving the liquor or wine portion and topping off with a low-cal liquid.
Exercise Anywhere: Regardless whether stuck in a car travelling or in your mother-in-law’s lair, find a way to move about and sneak in a little exercise – even if just in 5 minute increments. We always pull over every hour on the road (for potty stops) and to bust out some roadside jumping jacks and burpees – I’m not kidding. When visiting relatives and out of your normal fitness routine, suggest that the group head out for a walk to see holiday lights or start up a friendly game of flag football. There are also lots of home workouts that need little or no equipment when snowed it. Also, check out my 40 Fitness Hacks for the Holidays or my Wrapping Paper Tube Workout – a graphic below, but also a video (seriously)!
Let Go of the Guilt: Despite the tips, the biggest tip is to enjoy the season and the quality time with family and friends. Many of us striving to live in the healthiest way we know how, often forever deny some of our past pleasures. If you want a slice of chocolate cake, have it! If you want a steaming mug of strawberry honey white hot chocolate, have it! If you’ve missed a few days or even a week of your normal workouts, fuggetabout it! We all deserve a break and time to recharge – a short time of splurging and relaxing over the holiday season isn’t going to set you significantly back (if at all).
What are your holiday plans?! What are you doing to stay active? What is your favorite splurge (mine is banana bread with absolutely no healthy modifications 😉 Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
The care and feeding of house guests over the holidays can be stressful. As a clutter bug and mama of three messy boys, I can almost guarantee that you’ll never see the disaster that lies outside the frames of my blog and Instagram photos. But my in-person family and friends will, err, notice, so I’ll usually cancel a run or trip to the gym to get the house tidy — and that can feel like quite a workout in itself! And, while I love to cook, I’m used to feeding 4 or 5 at a time– not 15 people plus! Cooking bacon or sausage for an army in the morning is one of my pet peeves. It’s messy, time-consuming and I’m usually stuck in the kitchen and missing out on all the Christmas morning fun around the tree! To solve this breakfast prep problem, I came up with Sheet Pan Maple Beef Sausage – I was super excited to share it with my breakfast-obsessed friends at BeefLovingTexan.com It’s basically one HUGE sausage patty cooked all at once in the oven – no flipping, splattering or batch cooking. Plus, my always-starving teen boys and teen nephews can’t come by to “sample” it all away before serving time! When ready to serve, simply slice into bars or wedges, it couldn’t be any easier!
Everyone who eats my sheet pan sausage always raves and mentions how much better homemade sausage tastes – they are always pleasantly surprise to discover it’s made with lean beef – not fattier pork. The secret to making lean ground beef taste like breakfast sausage is all in the spices and flavorings. This beef sausage uses ingredients like paprika, cayenne and real maple syrup for a mildly spicy-sweet flavor.
So, should you feel guilty about indulging in this sausage for a holiday brunch or even “brinner”? NO! There are 24 servings per batch, with each piece containing approximately 100 calories and 12 grams of protein. In addition to protein, lean beef is also a great source of iron, zinc and other essential nutrients. For optimal protein intake (25 – 30 grams per meal) have a couple slices, or pair a slice with an egg scramble.
Prefer a breakfast sandwich? After sausage is cooked, use a biscuit cutter to make a round shape and use a halved buttermilk biscuit to bookend! The leftover bits from cutting circles can be crumbled up to use in soups, quesadillas, salads and more.
Do you have a traditional dish for breakfast or brunch? Are you a sausage or bacon person? Are you tidy or messy, a hoarder or minimalist when it comes to keeping house? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
Brighten up any winter snack situation with these Vibrant Greek Yogurt Dips colorized with some of Mother Nature’s most vivid ingredients including beet powder, turmeric powder and matcha tea. No need to go all fake and freaky to create edible rainbow colors for your holiday appetizers and other fun recipes throughout the year. These natural ingredients are superfoods (typically found on the health food, spice and tea aisles) and not only pump up the pigment, but boost nutrition as well!
While there are lots of additional benefits, beet root powder boosts nitric oxide in your blood (helping circulation, blood pressure and stamina), ground turmeric is a spice that can help to reduce inflammation and lessen the perception of pain, and matcha tea is known to boost the metabolism, calm the mind and help protect against certain cancers.
The other beauty of these three Vibrant Greek Yogurt Dips is how easy they are to make – I originally created the recipes for Litehouse Foods using first their Homestyle Ranch Dip, then later the OPAdipity Greek Yogurt Dips and finally with Greek yogurt from scratch. Using prepared dips (found in the refrigerated section of your produce department) is an “almost homemade” shortcut perfect when you need to pull together a party ASAP or at the 11th hour realize you didn’t bring a dish for the office shindig. I feel more than comfortable using the Litehouse Foods brand because they are VERY mindful to keep their products as fresh and preservative as possible.
But, knowing these dips aren’t easy for some of you to find (and that many prefer scratch recipes), I’ve written out the full preparation of the recipes (and then noted how to swap in the prepared dressings if that’s the route you choose). The base recipe is the same for all three dips, simply mix in 2 tablespoons of the chosen “superfood” ingredient and add extra garnish on top as desired!
These dips also take sandwiches, wraps, side dishes and steamed veggies to the next level with just a drizzle or dollop! Enjoy and Happy Holidays to Hue!
If you need a visual on the beet powder, ground turmeric and matcha — here are the products I used:
Even though summer season has long gone, the watermelon lover on your holiday list is sure to love any of these gifts inspired by the planet’s favorite jumbo-sized fruit – and, I’m not talking jackfruit.
I’ve got 20 things on my list, there’s a little something for everyone here, from a designer coin bag to a ‘lil ukulele for plucking. While Santa would sure like to deliver real watermelons to all the good boys and girls, it’s bound to break his back — so do him a favor and “live on the wedge” with one of these fun novelty gifts.
Watermelon Keds – These fun classic canvas tennies show how watermelon satisfies the “sole”! $20
Watermelon Ukulele – Pluck out your favorite, fruity tunes on this fun musical instrument. $22
The Watermelon Seed – This picture book by Greg Pizzoli is a must-read for watermelon lovers of all ages. Find out how the crocodile overcomes his fear of swallowing seeds! $12
Sprout ‘n Go Greenhouse Baby Watermelon Kit – Perfect for the future farmer or budding botanist, this kit has everything needed (except patience and sunshine) to grow a Sugar Baby mini watermelon in less than three months! $9
Crochet Watermelon Bra – Bet your knitting granny never made a top quite like this bikini halter top that would be so amazing to show off at a summer music festival! $6
Watermelon Gumballs by Double Bubble – fill up the gumball machine with these adorable pieces of round gum – the 3lb bag should last all year ‘round. $17
Salted Watermelon GUs – Optimize performance in an endurance event with these salty watermelon energy gels — yassss, I just ordered some! $29 / for 24
Watermelon Knife by Kuhn Rikon – Not is the blade painted up pretty, it makes an easy task of a tedious job. $20
Watermelon Coin Purse by Kate Spade – Save your nickels and dime to get this awesome leather coin purse by one of America’s favorite bag designers. $48
Watermelon Socks by Socksmith – I get a zillion compliments every time I step out in these fun knee-highs. $11
“Watermelon Crawl” by Sweaty Headbands – This hair accessory holds hair back off face and stays in place for running, CrossFit, yoga or pretty much any fitness activity.
Watermelon PJs – by Carters This four-piece, toddler-sized pajama set is a sweet choice for the little watermelon lovers in your life. $22
Watermelon Charm by Pandora – enjoy a little slice of summer all year long with this sterling silver charm with sparkly crystals. $63
Watermelon Insulated Bottle by Tervis – Cold drinks stay cold, hot drinks stay hot in this sportym 24-ounce reusable water bottle. $20
Watermelon Bike Hoodie from Design by Humans – Artists from around the world submit artwork that you can then have made into everything from tanks to hoodies and more. There are so many watermelon designs (I’ve purchased quite a few) and this is bike one is next!
Watermelon Umbrella – Stand out from the crowd with this whimsical watermelon umbrella, sure to brighten up any gloomy day. $15
Watermelon Christmas Ornament – Deck the halls with this beautiful glass-blown holiday ornament. $7
Watermelon Scented SNIFTY Pens – the familiar fruity scent takes your mind off whatever boring task is at hand!
Reload Watermelon helps your muscles refuel, recover and rebuild after a hard run or intense workout with just whatcha need including branch chain amino acids. $22
FYI, this post contains affiliate links.
Do you eat watermelon in the winter? Do you have traditional fruit of the season (like my mom always put an orange in my stocking). What is the most fun or funniest gift you are giving this year? Lemme know — xoxo, Jennifer
Okay, this may seem like a random collection of Christmas and holiday gifts, but trust me the fitness-minded foodie on your list is sure to love one or all. I mean, is there anything else to life more than working out, running, eating, sleeping, and repeating?! Seriously, though!
Spartan Race Gear – Head to the Spartan Race Shop for some great holiday deals. Since my husband recently completed his first Trifecta, I nabbed him some Trifecta Tribe gear for Christmas – not only did I get the daily deal sale they had going on, but also got free shipping with the code FREESHIP – YAY!
Spartan Fit Book – An new book by Spartan Race founder, Joe De Sena, is a must-read for the obstacle course racer in your life. This essential training book includes a 30 fitness and diet plan to get you in shape for a Spartan Sprint or just a healthier, more fit life. No gym needed! Order HERE
The Original Worm– Looking for another holiday gift that will worm it’s way into the heart of the recipient? How about The Original Worm?! This “ahhhhhh” body roller is like a little foam roller, therapy ball hybrid.The four neoprene encased balls target and attack stiffness, pain and stress in all those over used muscles and joints. It’s also super portable, unlike a big foam roller, so you can stick in gym bag or even carry on bag for travel – I actually keep one in the care. Save 25% on your web order with discount code FITFORK25 at TheOriginalWorm.com
ECLIPSE ROLLER from ACUmobility will soon become your new best friend. This bad boy features all the benefits of the traditional foam roller but also has trigger point release mechanisms that target multiple muscle groups at the same time. Hey, since I really don’t like to slow down to stretch, roll and work on my mobility, I’m all about efficiency! Hit up their holiday sales and save 20% more on your order at Acumobility.com with my discount code ACUMOBFITFORK
Zayze – This company makes the cutest compression shorts and leggings – not only are there a zillion different cute styles, but they are super flattering.
This new pair of naked “muscle” leggings is crazy, and sure to turn heads at your next workout. The wide waistband is slimming and gives support running and lifting weights and I swear (my opinion only haha) that my but looks better wearing Zayze! Lots of holiday sales going on right now, use my discount code THEFITFORK at Zayze.com for an additional 10% off.
Must Have Box from POPSUGAR – The November box couldn’t have been more perfectly timed for a whirlwind of entertaining this holiday season – not only did I put on Thanksgiving for my family this year (we usually travel), but I also hosted a 50th anniversary party for my wonderful parents. Seriously, everything in the Must Have Box was used this weekend from the lovely table runner, festive star party picks and wire basket (I used these to hold my “Still Nuts for Each Other” party favors) to the treats for me personally, like the eyeshadow kit (yes, I wore eye shadow) and the gorgeous Kendra Scott bracelet.
If you are looking for a Christmas, holiday or hostess give that keeps on giving all year long, you need to check out the #MustHaveBox – it’s a specially curated assortment of fabulous full-sized, “elevated” brand products touching on categories like home décor, fashion, beauty, jewelry, gourmet edibles, wellness and more. Every month, when my subscription Must Have Box arrives, it’s like finding a treasure trove of gifts that 1) either I always wanted but didn’t want to splurge on OR 2) never knew I needed until it showed up and I fell in love. Seriously, how does the Must Have Box from POPSUGAR always know what I’m going to like?! Use the special coupon code SHOP5 to get $5 off your FIRST Must Have Box.
GripSling Raw Training Straps – These functional workout strap that promotes creativity through simplicity are really cool– you don’t need a ton of workout equipment to get the job done. Check out these videos of workout demonstrations on their site and then nse code thefitfork20 to save 20% on your order at GripSling.com.
Spiralizer Attachment for Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer – I received one for Chrismas last year, and simply put, it was life changing. Peel, core and slice fruit, veggies and other produce to make easy salads, zoodles, veggie noodles, healthy desserts and more – since it attaches to the stand mixer, all you do is flip the “on” button – super easy clean up too! I actually leave this spiral attachment on my machine nearly all the time, because I use it so much more than the actual mixer.
The Original Airfryer from Phillips Fry healthy food with 75% less fat. I was very skeptical to believe that it uses only 1 tablespoon to make delicious, crispy, crunch foods — but it works, it’s amazing, I’m declaring this counter top appliance a mini-miracle. There are three sizes available to suit your family-size needs, price range $100 – $300. But. So. Worth. It. Citrus Knife / Zester by Kuhn Rikon – The pair up of pairing knife and zester make this tool for tackling lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines and other citrus fruit practically child’s play.
The blade and zester fold into the cute sleeve for safe storage – perfect for the fit foodie who makes a lot of salads, dressings, baked goods, fish and other recipes featuring citrus (which is sooo in season right now, btw)
Isopure Coffee Protein with Colombian Coffee – Perfect way for your coffee-loving protein fiend to perk up a workout. With 50g pure whey protein and a kick of real coffee, this is the perfect way to start the day when you’re in a rush. The huge 3lb tub means that your giftee will be thinking of you and thanking you profusely for several months to come! If you order from Vitamin Shoppe, get 20% off this (and anything else sitewide) with code CM2016CM
And, here are a couple bonus gift ideas I couldn’t resist! CrossFit Dice? Now this is a game I want to play – haha! And, the Yog2Go container, I use mine almost every day – it’s the BEST!
What’s at the top of your holiday wish list?! What do YOU wish for? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
Please note, I received products in exchange for my consideration and review of some products in the post, however all opinions, comments and enthusiasm are my own. Post also contains affiliate advertising links.
Ready for a curiously crunchy treat? My recipe for Apple, Walnut & Quinoa Crunch will satisfy sweet crispy cravings while filling you up longer thanks to an unexpected punch of protein from the quinoa and black walnuts– it’s a balanced candy for your “healthy tooth”!
I almost hesitate to even call this easy-to-make recipe “candy,” although it is a take on old-fashioned “nut brittle.” However, the typical peanut brittle or nut brittle uses a boatload of butter, table sugar and corn syrup – gasp! Instead, my healthy candy recipe is packed with wholesome ingredients like 100 percent juice apple cider, ancient grains, dried fruit and nuts, and just a touch of coconut sugar.
I also choose to use Black Walnuts instead of standard english walnuts. Why? The black walnut has the most protien of any tree nut and imparts a more intense, earthy, nutty flavor to recipes. I discovered this news I can definitely use at the Produce Marketing Associations recent Fresh Summit in Orlando when, I auspiciouslly bumped into Hammon Black Walnuts on my way out the door to fly home.
As far as sugars go, coconut sugar (derived from Palm) is a much healthier sweetener in moderation as it doesn’t spike blood sugar as dramatically as traditional sugars. Also, if a concern for you are a loved one, this recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free.
I originally made this recipe for Litehouse Foods and used the Honey Crisp Apple Cider, you can find it in the produce section this time of year. This Cold Pressed, 100 percent pure apple juice has a unique tart taste that is wonderfully balanced with sweet. It’s perfect poured straight from the container, served hot or cold, and also makes a great ingredient in recipes where you would prefer natural sweetness.
Some things to note when making this recipe — you need to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, your oven temperature may vary affecting the overall cook time. Also, it will be soft when removed from oven — give it plenty of time to set up and harden, stick in the fridge to expidite. If it still doesn’t seem crispy, then you can put it back in the oven for several minutes at a time until done.
Another healthier “candy” I’m pulling from the archives to share with you today is my recipe for Sweet Date Chocolate Candy Bar Bites. These are so yummy and I love how the dates provide extra iron in my diet.
I also like to make a batch of my Hazlenut Fudge Protein Balls to stash in the freezer and thaw out one at a time to quell my dessert cravings. These no-bake energy bits are ideal for a healthy little dessert or as pre and post workout fuel.
In addition to the Honey Crisp Apple Cider from Litehouse Foods, which you can conveniently find in your market’s produce section this time of year, here are some other ingredients used in my Quinoa Crunch.a
Do you have a “healthy” candy recipe? What is your go-to when you are craving something sweet? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
‘Tis the season for eating well and enjoying the experience with family and friends. Serving a perfectly prepared beef roast is always a showstopper at holiday celebrations and dinner parties. It can be our little secret, but roasting beef actually requires very little time and effort! I learned everything I need to know from my dad (who does a tenderloin roast every Christmas) and my friends at the Texas Beef Council.
With my easy-to-follow tips that follow, you can transform a large hunk of beef into a delicious roast ready to be carved into succulent slices — there probably won’t be a leftover morsel in sight, so consider making two roasts! Also, if you’d like to test out your skills and don’t have a recipe, try the mouth-watering recipe for Garlic and Rosemary Rubbed Tenderloin Roast with Roasted Root Vegetables featured at the bottom of this post.
BTW, if you are on the Beef Team and are still in possession of your holiday Chateau Loin (which is center cut sirloin), it will easily substitute without modifications in this roast recipe.
Tips for the Perfect Roast Beef:
1) Choose the right cut. We’re demonstrating roasting tips with a beef tenderloin roast, but the same process will work with other cuts including ribeye and tri tip roasts and more economical cuts like sirloin and round roasts. The way to ensure perfect outcomes when preparing beef is to pair a cut with the appropriate cooking method – and also your budget. The Interactive Butcher Counter helps take the uncertainty out of selecting the right cut of beef to roast – check it out!
2) You can’t flub a rub. Dry rubs are an easy way to add flavor to a roast and can be as simple as salt and pepper or as complex and spicy as you want to get – chili powder, herbs, brown sugar and even ground coffee beans are all ingredients I’ve seen used in rubs. Really, the only must-do for a rub is to apply it generously – rub in the mixture thickly on the top, bottom and every side (including the ends) and your reward will be a crusty, caramelized exterior that adds flavor and helps to hold in juices. A variant of dry rubs is to massage olive oil, spices and even fresh aromatic herbs into the beef – that’s what we’re doing with the recipe below.
3) Use the proper roasting gear. Actually, very little gear is required for roasting beef in the oven. When it comes to cookware, choose a metal pan with an approximate 2 to 3-inch rim. Metal conducts heat better than other materials and yields a more evenly browned roast. You won’t need a lid, as oven roasting is a dry heat cooking method. Also, use a roasting rack to elevate the meat above the pan so that the heat can circulate underneath. If you don’t have a roasting rack or fancy silicon roasting laurel, simply substitute heavy-duty aluminum foil that has been scrunched up and twisted into a figure-8 shape. A reliable meat thermometer is also needed to ensure you cook your roast to perfect doneness – those inexpensive instant-read thermometers found at most grocery stores will do the job fine.
4) Learn how to tell when your roast is done. If you’re not following a recipe, get familiar with the suggested cooking times and oven temperatures for your selected cut of beef. I like to reference this useful chart on Beef Roast Table Times. Abiding by this chart will ensure you rule the roast every time; however, remember that temperatures vary from oven to oven making cooking times approximate. You’ll know when your roast is “done” for your taste preferences when the thermometer is stuck into the center, thickest part of the roast (but not near a bone) and reads 10 degrees LESS than the time indicated for medium-rare, medium, or well-done. When you take a roast out of the oven early like this, the temperature will continue to rise and cook the roast for a few more minutes out of the oven.For example, a medium-rare roast is finished at 145 F degrees, but should be removed at 135 F degrees. See the chart below for more details.
5) Give it a rest. As tempting as it is to cut into a roast or steak right as it comes off the heat, you must let it rest on the countertop for at least 10 minutes as just mentioned. This allows the juices time to redistribute between the relaxing muscle fibers and ultimately create a more tender and enjoyable eating experience. If you’re not sure if the roast has rested long enough, it should be ready to carve when the temperature drops to 120 F degrees or below.
Are you a roast-cooking newbie — or do you have well seasoned skills? Do you like the food pun? Feel free to share a “funny,” too! A steak pun is a rare medium well done — heehee, another pun! XOXO, Jennifer