How to Push Past a Running Plateau

How to kick through a running plateau. Whether you are fairly fresh into running or well-seasoned in the sport, you have may have experienced a plateau stage where athletic performance seems staler than, well, a week-old donut. Who wouldn’t want to be on a permanent upward trajectory, setting PRs at every race and nailing mileage on every single run? But, that’s just not humanly possible. All runners, even professionals, find themselves stuck in a rut on occasion. Instead of dismay, disappointment and threats to “throw in the towel,” look at a running plateau as an opportunity to analyze and overcome any issues that may be holding you back.

Use strength training as a tool to prevent injury and break through a running plateau.

Supplement with Strength Training: Contrary to what many runners believe, strength training doesn’t make you bulky or heavy on your feet. Stick with lighter weights (add more reps) and bodyweight exercises to add lean and mean muscle that will improve your stride and overall fitness, busting you right out of a running rut. While beneficial, don’t only focus on squats and other lower-body movements. A strong core and arms are also beneficial for running.

Avoid Over-Training:  It makes sense that gains in speed and endurance won’t be seen if hard work isn’t put in. But, too much of a good thing can also keep you down. Over-training has significant mental and physical symptoms that can keep you from reaching your goals — increased heart rate, poor recovery, loss of motivation (or obsessive fixation) and more. If you think over-training may be the culprit, swap out a workout for complete rest, cardio cross-training or just run lightly with a friend for fun (no watch).

Mix Up the Motion: Human bodies become better, stronger and faster when asked to constantly adapt. That means you can’t hit “replay” on your runs day after day. Mix up your running with a variety of speed work including short intervals, long intervals, mixed intervals and more. Also, running on varied terrain improves fitness, so run hills, stairs and trails every now and then. Try something new, other than a road race — for example, trail running and Spartan races are fun and “mix up the motion.”

Hit the Snooze Button: Part of a runner’s ability to recover and get back at it the next day is based on logging quality sleep. In non-REM deep sleep, blood pressure drops, breathing slows, the brain is at rest and increased blood supply becomes available to deliver oxygen and nutrients to restore muscle tissue. Additionally, the pituitary gland releases growth hormone which helps muscle recover and supports muscle gains. Too little sleep can cause growth hormone to be held back – you don’t want that! So, either go to bed earlier, wake up later or sneak in a nap when you can.

Use Food as Fuel: Eating junk food and other highly-processed foods and drinking alcohol are like putting regular gas in a top-of-the-line sports car. It’s just not what to do for optimal performance. An occasional splurge is fine, but for the most part, eating a variety of foods that are as unprocessed and naturally colorful as possible is the best bet for your health. Also, while complex carbohydrates are an essential source of quick energy, the importance of protein shouldn’t be overlooked. Don’t skimp on protein, the healthy fats, amino acids and other important vitamins, minerals and nutrients found in protein offer sustained energy and muscle recovery.

Have you ever found yourself stuck in a running rut? What did you do to move forward? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer 

Linking Up With: Happy Fit Mama, The Fit Foodie Mama, Hello to Fit, Fairy Burger , Jill Conyers

Benefits of Running & Music | Get 1 Free Month RockMyRun Rockstar + Giveaway

WANT ONE FREE MONTH OF ROCKMYRUN PREMIUM ROCKSTAR, NO STRINGS ATTATCHED? KEEP READING . . . (btw, this post and giveaway sponsored by RockMyRun.com

Jennifer Fisher at Zooma Texas Half Marathon

Crushing a challenging Texas Hill Country race (Zooma Texas Half Marathon) with the help of music. Music for the win!

Should you run and workout listening to music, or not? I’ve blogged on the topic before (here), so no need to rehash every little detail. In my opinion, if music provides some motivation to get up off the couch and is used safely (be aware of traffic, stranger danger, and hearing loss if too loud), then by all means hit the play button and boogie on. I wear headphones on the treadmill and in many longer races, perhaps half of the time while running my neighborhood – but rarely in a shorter races or speed workouts on the track. In these cases, I like to focus all my senses on the feedback I’m getting from my body – it just seems like music gets in the way.  Oh, and never with a friend – there is just too much catching up to do!

One Free Month RockMyRun.com Premium Rockstar Membership

I do love music, but must have a short attention span. One thing I’ve noticed is that I get bored with my music library very quickly — ugh, and then it’s just the same old songs wearing me down. So needless to say, I was excited to try out Rock My Run, a free, top rated fitness music smartphone app available for iOS and Android. RockMyRun creates high energy, motivational mixes that are designed by DJ’s specifically for exercise – right now, I’m listening to the Super Twerk Mix (don’t laugh) that has a two hour play list of hip-hop specifically mixed to keep 200 beats per minute (bpm). I like the faster mixes that are 180 to 200 bpm because that’s the same number I like to keep per minute for foot strikes during tempo runs, speed work and races.

Rock My Run Giveaway - TheFitFork.com

If you use the RockMyRun app on your iPhone or Android, check out the myBeat™ Body Driven Music feature. Proprietary algorithms read your steps per minute, heart rate and soon pace to adjust and deliver content (music tempo – BPM) in real time to match, motivate or calm you at just the right moment. MIND BLOWN! You can also able to manually change the BPM of the mixes on RockMyRun to help them achieve a personal goal.

RockMyRun creates lots of other high energy, motivational mixes that are designed by DJ’s specifically for exercise. Use of the app has recently been proven to increase the enjoyment of the running experience by up to 35 percent compared to static playlists or no music.  Other studies have shown that running with music can increase your performance by 15 percent —  the USTFA lifted their strict sanctions against headphone use in 2008 and left the decision in the hands of individual race directors. However, headphones remain banned for any athlete competing in a USA Championship — no music doping, you must suffer in silence!

Music and Exercise Infographic - TheFitFork.com

Click infographic to find out other interesting info about music and exercise.

It’s superfast and easy to download the Rock My Run app on your iPhone or android, create an account and start downloading mixes through WiFi. If you don’t want to hear ads while streaming music, you can sign up for RockMyRun Rockstar (premium) memberships for as little as $35.99 per year or $4.99 going month to month – you are even allowed to download a limited amount of mixes to a personal music player – that’s how I’ve been listening on the Wifi-less trails. I also really appreciate how clean lyric mixes are available, because who really wants to explain Truffle Butter to their kids?! To get you started, Rock My Run is offering ALL MY READERS a code that will get you ONE FREE MONTH OF ROCKMYRUN PREMIUM ROCKSTAR – just enter RMRBJ at RockMyRun.com, download the app onto your phone and get rockin’!

fit 2.0 jlabI am also giving away one GRAND PRIZE —  an entire YEAR of RockMyRun Rockstar plus a pair of JLab Audio’s Fit 2.0 Sport Earbuds.  Whoohoo, take advantage of the one free month and enter to win the full year and headphones in the Rafflecopter app below:

 

rock my run logo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Why You Should Workout with Your Sweetie + Partner WOD

Benefits of Working Out Together - TheFitFork.com

Most people don’t equate Valentine’s Day with working out, but maybe they should! Breaking a sweat with your sweetie is not only a fun “date” and good for your health, it also boasts bunch of benefits that will keep any relationship fit and strong.   Here are the three most compelling reasons, in my opinion, why couples who sweat together, stay together.

Soulmates make the best ‘swolemates’. Opposites often attract and even similar-personality partners may not have many interests which overlap. However, exercising together is an activitity that can help every couple connect — it creates accountability, increases synchronicity, and promotes a shared passion. One study (Aron, Norman, Aron, & Heyman, 2000) suggests that couples who participated together in an exciting and challenging physical activity reported a higher level of love and relationship satisfaction.

More fun, less stress.  The never-ending responsibilities of adulthood can take a toll.  Instead of coping with worry, anxiety and conflict in an unhealthy manner, exercising is a positive way to shed life’s irritations . . . and maybe even a few unwanted inches. And, when you hit the gym, tackle the running trails, or go zen in a yoga class with your spouse or significant other, it’s like a date – and that’s fun!

Ooh, la, la endorphins and other hormones! The racing pulse, shortness of breath and sweatiness that comes from a good workout sounds a lot like the symptoms of romantic attraction! Researchers (Dutton & Aron, 1974) say that people can easily mistake the two – so if you’re feeling hot and bothered at the gym, this is why!

Here’s a partner workout you can try with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day – or any other day of the year!

Heart Pumping Partner Workout - TheFitFork.com

zooma buttonI also want to give a shout out the Zooma Women’s Race Series again – I’m back in my 4th year as an ambassador for this very fun and empowering race targeted to women. While there is a lot o she-power going on at Zooma, MEN are not excluded – in fact, they are welcomed! I especially love it when I see a couple running side by side, one giving encouragement to the other! So, round up your most loved running partner and enter the upcoming Texas race on March 28, 2015.  Pick from the half-marathon, 10k or 5k and don’t forget to toast each other afterward with complementary wine and bubbly at the finish line!  Register for the Texas race HERE and use discount code JENNIFER15 or 10% off any distance.

Here’s another fitness shout out – this time for Tommie Copper, a line of stylish yet functional compression wear that supports muscles for improved performance, recovery and relief. Look at some of these cute items I’ve been wearing to the gym and on my runs – and Tommie Copper has just as much gear for the guys! Right now a huge Presidents’ Day Sale is going off and you can save up to $40 on your order along with free shipping – check it outtommie copper jennifer fisher

Michele's Granola BarsReady to share a post-workout snack together? Well, if I was picking, I’d split a Core Power High Protein Shake with my hubby and one of these delish granola bars from Michele’s Granola. Made from scratch in small batches, these healthy treats are packaged 10 bars (assorted flavors) to a pack and can be ordered from Michele’s Granola web store. Ooh, the Cherry Chocolate is my favorite.

Disclaimer: I was provided product or sponsorship in return or my review and promotion of these products. However, all opinions are my own.

{Slow Cooker} Salted Caramel Chocolate Crunch Holiday Gift Recipe

Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Chocolate Crunch - TheFitFork.com

I would be thrilled if you would head over to Love Grown Food’s Facebook and/or Pinterest page and vote for my holiday recipe creation (by “liking” or pinning) – {Slow Cooker} Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Crunch! This scrumptious salty-sweet snack couldn’t be easier to make in the slow cooker . . . . yes, Crock Pot power! Just dump in everything but the chocolate and let it mingle and caramelize together while you tend to other holiday tasks like wrapping gifts, addressing cards and hauling out the holly. Chocolate chips are melted in at the end and then it just cools for a bit on parchment paper. By using Power O’s, a crunchy cereal made from a blend of beans that adds protein, I’m able to bring a little balance to this sweet snack mix.

If you don’t gobble up the entire recipe at once, this Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Crunch makes a nice addition to any holiday party snack lineup or can be packaged up in jars with pretty ribbon for gift-giving.  Remember to go vote through the Facebook or Pinterest links, it’s really easy.  Thank you.

Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Chocolate Crunch - TheFitFork.com

Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Crunch Recipe

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups “O’s” cereal like Cheerios or Love Grown Power O’s
  • 2 cups mini pretzels
  • 2 cups oyster crackers
  • 2 cups toasted almonds
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

1. Melt butter in a saucepan.
2. Stir in sugar and vanilla until well blended.
3. In a large slow cooker, combine cereal, pretzels, almonds and crackers. Pour in melted butter mixture and stir to coat.
4. Cook on high for 2-3 hours with the LID OFF, stirring occasionally. Mixture will be done when sugar caramelizes to create a glaze over ingredients. Please keep an eye on ingredients, as slow  cooker temperatures can vary from model to model or with age of the appliance.
5. Turn heat to low and stir in chocolate chips. Put lid on slow cooker and let chocolate soften for about 5 minutes.
6. Remove lid and stir mixture to distribute melted chocolate.
7. Spread mixture on parchment paper and immediately sprinkle with coarse sea salt. After mixture has cooled and hardened, store in an airtight container.

Makes about 10 to 12 cups.

Friday 5 |So Many #ShoutOuts it’s Scary + Running Giveaway!

Boo, it’s Halloween! I don’t do this very often, but I wanted to share with you some of the products and events I whole-heartedly stand behind. Actually, I have so many, that I’ll shout out another five next Friday. Don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom of the post for a Spartan entry, two tubes of Nuun, and a pair of Altra running socks.

1) Core Power:  For years, I’ve been a big fan of this product and remember way back when it was called Athlete’s Honey Milk.

Jennifer Fisher Core PowerNow these high protein shakes are big time popular, so I’m super honored to be one of their athletes . . . plus, you’ve probably noticed I do a lot of workouts and recipes for their social media.   I like to stash a bottle in my gym bag for the perfect amount of protein recovery after a long run or intense workout. The six yummy flavors are also the base ingredient for many of my crazy delicious smoothie recipes – like the Vampire Slayer Protein Smoothie I whipped up for Halloween.

Vampire Slayer Protein Smoothie  Recipe

Vampire Slayer Smoothie

Core Power Vampire Slayer Protein Smoothie

  •   1 (11-ounce) Strawberry-banana Core Power
  • 1 cup frozen berry blend
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • Ice, as needed

Place all ingredients in blend and blend until smooth. Serves 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Zooma Women’s Race Series: This is my 4th year to be a Texas Ambassador for this female-focused running event that takes place in fun destination locations like Austin, Napa, Cape Cod and others.

Jennifer Fisher at Zooma Texas 2014The Austin race is on Saturday March 28, 2015 at the Hill Country Hyatt Resort – a gorgeous, gorgeous place to run a race. The bluebonnets and other flowers are blooming this time of year and this welcomed distraction of Mother Nature has always made the hills seem less painful! The main race is a half marathon, but there is also a 10k and 5k and everyone is encouraged to run, laugh and celebrate. Oh, and did I mention the massages, wine and pretty necklace-style finisher’s medal to be enjoy afterward.  Register using code JENNIFER15 and get 10% off any distance in the Texas lineup.

3) Spartan: I’ve never actually done a Spartan race but it’s been on my bucket list for a while.

Spartan - If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change youOne of the things that’s been holding me back is my own competitive nature – what if I don’t kill it, what if I don’t WIN (ha)? But, then I realized that’s totally the wrong attitude – if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you  — right?!  I’m going to be signing up the next time Spartan comes through Texas, meanwhile YOU can enter to win a free entry. Enter through the Rafflecopter app below, the winner will receive a registration code that will work for any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Spartan Race (check out the upcoming races) in the continental US.  You can also just go ahead and register now and get 10% off any race (Sprint, Super or Beast) in any US with the code: SPARTANBLOGGER

4) Nuun Hydration: This sugar-free electrolyte tablet that you plop into a bottle of water and it magically fizzes up, has saved my butt from dehydration many, many times.

Nuun Hood to Coast Team 2013I use Nuun on my long runs, marathons and even out when watching my kids play sports all day in the Texas sun (I put it in their water bottles too!)  They have a fairly new line, Nuun Energy, which combines the same optimal electrolyte blend with B vitamins and caffeine — yeah!  The products are awesome, but I also can’t say enough about the people who work at Nuun –as a lucky ambassador, Nuun has invited me twice to be one of their runners in the Hood to Coast Relay, and I got the royal treatment each time!

nuun bottles If you want to stock up on Nuun, use the code nuunbassadorfriend to get 20% off a one-time purchase (through the end of 2014).  Oh, what the heck, I’m going to throw two tubes of Nuun (my choice) into the giveaway below!

 

5) Altra Running –  I was first introduced to this line of “zero-drop” shoes several years ago when I was tweaking my running form with the Pose Method.

Altra TRE13 smallAs an ambassador for the brand, I’ve shared my testimonial on how these shoes have helped me as a mid-foot striker, improved my natural running form and saved my toenails from turning black and falling off! I’ve worn them in every distance from a 5k to 50 mile ultra. Currently, I’m wearing the Ones Squared, and loving the lightness with a touch of cushion!  They also make socks with a wider toe box and I’m giving away a pair of Women’s White No Show Sprint Socks

altra sock

a Rafflecopter giveaway

RUN HAPPY & RUN FAST + Motivational Fitness Jewelry #Giveaway

I have my lucky ladybird earrings, go-to running shoes and a favorite route (and friend) for long runs. Despite all these creature comforts that get me out the door, I often I lose sight of exactly WHY I’m running. Sometimes running seems like such a chore, I will grumble and grouse about it in not-so-eager anticipation for longer than it actually takes to do the run. But, I’ve noticed time and time again that my mood is elevated, my worries are worked out and my heart is lighter when I finally hit the streets to run– although it can take a few miles to get to this RUN HAPPY state of mind.  Other times, I’m so anxious and excited to run, I can’t even sleep at night. Can I trust my training, will my performance meet my expectations, and will I really be able to RUN FAST? words to sweat by bracelets I’ve been wearing these two motivational bracelets to remind me of why I run – to RUN HAPPY and to RUN FAST.  At first, I thought I’d wear them one at a time, based on the type of run on my day’s agenda – like a race, a track workout or a social run with a friend. But, then I had an “aha” moment and realized my ultimate relationship goal with running is to RUN HAPPY and RUN FAST at the same time (well, most of the time). So, now I’m wearing the bracelets as a pair  and happily reminding myself that the reality of running fast is all relative.

So, I know you are probably in LOVE with these motivational bracelets too– they are from Words to Sweat By, a fun fitness jewelry and apparel online boutique.  The inspirational words are hand-stamped on an aluminum charm and attached to a one-size-fits all jersey cuff. There are TONS of colors and motivational word choices to choose from and the bracelets are a great little gift for yourself or a fitness friend. words to sweat by categories

Words to Sweat By makes other motivational fitness jewelry and apparel that will inspire you to start a new fitness routine or help push you through those last minutes of a workout or run.  With the holidays coming up, I bet any girlfriend in your group exercise class or running club would love receive such a thoughtful and thought-provoking present.  If you have a “Best Running Friend,” Word’s To Sweat By even has a Best Running Friend Forever necklace set (one for you, one for her) designed with a running shoe design, race distance and initial letter charm. custom necklace from words to sweat by Hello, can you believe the fabulousness of this necklace that was custom-designed just for ME! A miniature fork is resting on a salad bowl of beaded greens and the words “THE FIT FORK” are stamped on a circle charm.  If you want something special made just for you or to give as a unique gift, Words to Sweat By has a lovely selection of custom and personalized items.

words to sweat by header

I have a treat for one of my readers – a giveaway for a $50 gift credit to Words to Sweat By! Don’t walk, RUN over to the website start making your list now – you may be the big winner!  Rafflecopter entry below.

This post and giveaway were sponsored by Words to Sweat By. However, all comments and opinions are naturally my own.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Caramel Crunch Apple Nachos & The Running Revolution

caramel granola apple dessert

Looking for a delicious dessert that celebrates some of the fall season’s favorite flavors without making your clean-eating conscience scream in horror?  My recipe for Caramel Crunch Apple Nachos is an easy-to-make, fun-to-eat sweet treat that is perfect for a Halloween party, harvest hoedown or any autumn-themed entertaining. I’m planning on making this no-cook recipe again soon as a sensible snack for movie night – since it’s October, I’m planning a classic horror movie marathon with my three teenage boys.  With so many apple choices at the market this time of year, this recipe is the perfect time to try that new variety – use just one type of apple or as many kinds of apples as you like in this fruit recipe.

apples granola caramel chocolate

Caramel Crunch Apple Nachos Recipe

  • 4 large apples, any variety (about 2 pounds)
  • 8 oz. light caramel dip from produce section (I used Litehouse brand)
  • 1 cup favorite granola (with or without nuts)
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

 Directions

1. Cut apples crosswise into ¼” slices. Remove seeds and core from center with paring knife.

2. In microwave safe bowl, heat caramel until warmed and easier to drizzle, about 30 – 45 seconds from room temperature.

3. Layer half of apples on a plate and drizzle with 4 oz. of caramel dip. Sprinkle on ½ cup granola and 2 tablespoons chocolate chips.

4. Layer remaining apple slices on top of caramel-granola-chocolate mixture and then add on remaining toppings.

running revolution text I also wanted to share with you a book that I’ve been reading – in fact, my running testimonial is featured! The just-published book is called The Running Revolution (How to Run Faster and Farther for Life) and is written by Dr. Nicholas Romanov, a two-time Olympic coach and world-renowned sports scientist known for the Pose Method.  When applied to running, the Pose Method® marries gravity, key body position (pose), body weight, support, and change of support into a comprehensive technique that maximizes natural body mechanics, increases performance and reduces risk for injury. I’ve blogged a bit before about what Pose Method has done for me in the last five years and I’m admittedly lucky to have Dr. Romanov’s coaching protégé, Valerie Hunt, as my long-time running partner.  I’d chomping at the bits to share more about foot strike, pulling not pushing, “falling” and more, but I also want you to check out the book and come to your own conclusions.

Paperback Version:

Kindle Version:

What is your favorite fall time dessert? 

Are you a heel-striker, mid-foot striker  or forefoot striker when it comes to running?

 

Paleo Pecan-Paprika Tilapia on Bacon Brussels Sprout Toss + Fit Foodie 5k

With autumn just around the corner, it’s time to start salivating about all things that include pumpkin and pecans to bacon and Brussels sprouts – and, of course, other delicious fall-inspired ingredients. The Paleo diet embraces so many healthy foods that remind me of the cooler weather season – squashes, sweet potatoes, onions, cranberries, persimmons, pomegranates, broccoli, chard, spinach, all types of nuts, turkey, wild game and more.

Check out Fall Into Paleo

by The Fit Fork at Foodie.com

If you’ve scrolled through my blog, you may have noticed I don’t live and die by the strict rules of the Paleo diet. That being said, I DO believe that the Paleo diet has many great benefits that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle and I always feel great when I’m eating meals that follow a Paleo-esque menu. However, this regime, which eliminates wheat, cereals, dairy, starches (including most starchy vegetables & fruit), grains and anything containing gluten and/or legumes, can be difficult for me to maintain for many reasons including practicality (sometime I just can’t find or afford grass-fed beef), performance (I need extra carbs to support my athletic output – check out the book Paleo Diet for Athletes) and personal sanity (an excessive focus on food makes me freak out). So, I’m one of those “I eat 100% Paleo 80% of the time” kind of people and I don’t feel bad about it nor do I pass judgment on others who are strict abiders or those who would never, ever eat caveman style.  Also, when I’m thinking about Paleo recipes and what I should or shouldn’t do, I remember a quote from one of the go-to cookbooks on my shelf, Paleo Comfort Foods. The author makes a great point that the “Paleo (diet) is a logical framework applied to modern humans, not a historical reenactment.”  Amen. pecan crusted tilapia and warm brussels sprout salad I hope you enjoy my fall-season paleo dinner I whipped up as part of a Foodie.com campaign — Pecan-Paprika Crusted Tilapia on Bacon Brussels Sprout Toss.  Of course, this duo is delicious together, but can also be made and served individually – for example, the fish is also excellent in lettuce-wrap tacos and the warm Brussel sprouts salad makes the perfect seasonal side dish to bring to a potluck or Thanksgiving dinner. .paleo diet pecan paprika tilapia For Pecan Paprika Tilapia Recipe:

  •  1 lb tilapia filets
  • ½ cup pecan meal (ground raw pecans)
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  1.  In large shallow dish, mix together pecan meal, paprika, and salt.
  2. In another shallow dish, whisk egg.
  3. Dip each fish filet into egg and then dredge in pecan mixture.Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add fish to skillet and pan fry for 3 to 4 minutes per side, flipping once. Fish will be done when white and flakey throughout and turning golden brown on crust. Serves 4.

Paleo Bacon Brussels Sprouts For Bacon Brussels Sprout Toss:

  • 4 slices bacon
  • ¼ cup finely minced sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (sweet or hot, your preference)
  • 1/3 chopped raw pecans
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup wine or cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 lb shaved Brussel sprouts
  1. In large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon from skillet and crumble up (set aside); reserve about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in skillet.
  2. In same skillet with drippings, add paprika, onion and pecans; stir over medium-high heat for several minutes until nuts are lightly toasted, onions are softened and paprika has become fragrant.
  3. Add vinegar and cooking wine to skillet; stir quickly for 1 minute to deglaze pan. Lower heat to medium and add syrup and garlic paste; stir combine.
  4.  Add shaved Brussels sprouts (either slice thinly with sharp knife or mandolin or buy prepared) to skillet and saute for approximately 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften and caramelize.

Tips: Finely slice the Brussels sprouts with a knife or mandolin – or just by them pre-prepped from the produce section of your market.  Also, it’s important to add the paprika to the beginning of the saute so the spice has time to bloom, lending a richer and deeper flavor – this is a trick of trade with chefs fiitfoodierun collage Also, I want to share with y’all an upcoming event that so matches my personality and interests, I’m assuming it must have been put together specifically for me! But, I want you to come join the fun too – it’s the Fit Foodie 5k Weekend hosted by Cooking Light and Health magazines. In addition to the 3.1 mile race, there are gourmet tastings from Texas chefs, fitness demos, sunrise yoga, an obstacle course and boot camp. Allison Sweeney from The Biggest Loser television show will be there signing her newest book and showing support for the race beneficiary, City of Hope. City of Hope is a leading treatment and research center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases – 10% of all race entry proceeds benefit this official charity.

The Fit Foodie Weekend is coming up quick (Sept. 12 – 14), but it’s not too late to register!  Use the promotion code FITFORK and get 10 percent off your registration. Please let me know if you are coming by sending me a note in the comments – I’d love to plan a meet up! Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Foodie.com, however all opinions, comments and recipes are my own.  Also, I am an ambassador for The Fit Foodie Race Series – whoot, whoot!