Don’t “Diet” – Eat to Fuel Fitness & Health Goals

Today’s post is sponsored by Smoothie King, but my content and love for their Meal Replacement Smoothies is all my own! Take the challenge as part of a low-calorie diet and daily exercise program.  Weight loss depends on individual needs. 

Smoothie King #ChangeAMeal Challenge Meal Replacement Smoothies -- over 20 options under 400 calories and at least 10g protein.I can’t believe it’s already 2017, the New Year snuck up on me before I had time to formalize my goals and best intentions for the next 12 months. I’m not so much a fan of “resolutions,” per se. Somehow that implies a certain past wrongness and need for fixing! But goals are a good thing, and I like to set them high – that way, when and if I fail, I most likely have achieved above and beyond par. Find out why I don’t diet and how snacks like Smoothie King helps me fuel up for and recover from workouts and fill my nutritional gaps.

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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

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6 Easy Strawberry + Protein Snack Recipes

Easy Protein and Strawberry Snack Ideasjennifer spartan training up and over cg arenaSchool’s out, sun’s out and guns are out and the skies the limit on all the fun and fit stuff that’s coming up in the next few months!

Not much could be sweeter about summer, except maybe a top-crop snack of strawberries. Strawberries balanced with a bit of protein are the perfect healthy snack to fuel the body for one warm-weather activity to the next.

On their own, strawberries are quite the super food, providing a quality source of simple carbohydrates that the body can turn into quick energy for runs, workouts and even power-thinking! The high fiber and water content found in this fruit creates a feeling of welcomed fullness, while keeping the calorie count low – a single medium strawberry only has 4 calories! Plus, a powerful wallop of vitamin C is packed in strawberries, an antioxidant that can help keep muscles, skin and tissues in tip-top shape – just eight strawberries match the vitamin C in a medium orange.

But often, especially for athletes and those with an active lifestyle, merely munching on a handful of berries alone won’t suffice. Pair up strawberries up with a lean protein source for added nutrients and a few extra calories to feel fuller and more fueled for the most vigorous daily routine. Also, eating a snack of carbohydrates with protein (in a 4:1 to 3:1 ratio) 30 minutes after an intense exercise session will help tired and sore muscles recover more quickly.

Check out these Six Strawberry Protein Snacks that can be made in a snap and will fuel you up for running, workouts, climbing and reaching for the sky!

 

Strawberry Banana Mug Muffin with Core PowerClick here for first recipe Strawberry Banana Protein Mug Muffin (20g protein)

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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Buh-Bye Bloat! Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothie

Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothie is a low-cal way to cleanse your system and tame tummy troubles.Oh, we all have those days when the dreaded bloat is out of control. Personally, sometimes my tummy can stick out more than my butt.  I’ve reduced my family to tears of hysteria (and fear) on more than one occasion by sticking out my distended middle as far as humanly possible – I look like a skinny 6-month pregnant woman or have an awful basketball sized tumor!  Maybe it’s too much salt, not enough water, low fiber intake, that time of the month . . . or all of the above. I think we can all agree that being bloated and retaining water is not only an uncomfortable feeling, but also a self-confidence shaker – even though we all know that by eating healthfully, this gut grief not a lasting situation. Can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’ll share pictures of me taken within a short period of time — before dinner and already bloated (left) and feeling fabulous early one morning (right)! .

Rather than staying swollen up like a balloon, you can stop the suffering and get on the path to that slim and trim you with my Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothie.  Packed with all sorts of healthy ingredients that promote healthy digestion and hydration, this green smoothie recipe is also very light, so you don’t have to fret about overdoing the liquid calories.

Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothie is a low-cal way to cleanse your system and tame tummy troubles

detox smoothie nutrition

For under 120 calories, you get a 20-ounce glass of goodness that has no added sugar, progresses you towards your daily fiber needs, and even has a touch of protein from the dandelion (surprise!) It’s also rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin K.

Here’s a rundown on the ingredients and how they can tame your tummy troubles.

Cucumber: Not only is this veggie is loaded with water (95% to be exact) which helps improve hydration, it also is a good source of a flavonoid antioxidant called quercetin that help reduce inflammation and puffiness – that’s why  we have all long-loved to put slices over our eyes.

Coconut Water: High in potassium and other electrolytes, this watery juice from inside the coconut helps to flush sodium out of the body and restore healthy hydration levels. For convenience, I love to have this Coconut Water Powder on hand.

Banana: Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps manage fluid levels in our bodies and can assist in shedding salt-related water retention. Also, this dietary fiber in this popular fruit keeps things moving along in your digestive system.

Ginger:  This root is a wonder when it comes to health benefits, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, migraine relief and more. It also contains an enzyme that optimized the absorption of proteins and Lessing protein-related bloating and gas in the process.

Dandelion Greens: Dandelion greens (as well as the root) are a fantastic detox food that cleanses the liver, flushing toxins and excess water out – perfect if you have lots of water retention. Dandelions have a surprising amount of protein for a “green” and even more calcium than spinach.  You can also use the greens (mainly found in the early spring) in salads or sautés or reap benefits from drinking a dandelion tea or taking a dandelion root extract or supplement.

Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothie is a low-cal way to cleanse your system and tame tummy troubles

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

Have you ever tried dandelion greens before? What do you do to beat bloating? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothie is a low-cal way to cleanse your system and tame tummy troubles.
Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothi
Print Recipe
Tame your tummy troubles with this low-cal smoothie filled with bloat-busting ingredients like cucumber, dandelion greens, coconut water, ginger and more.
Servings Prep Time
1 20-ounce smoothie 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 20-ounce smoothie 5 minutes
Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothie is a low-cal way to cleanse your system and tame tummy troubles.
Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothi
Print Recipe
Tame your tummy troubles with this low-cal smoothie filled with bloat-busting ingredients like cucumber, dandelion greens, coconut water, ginger and more.
Servings Prep Time
1 20-ounce smoothie 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 20-ounce smoothie 5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: 20-ounce smoothie
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to blender and process until smooth, adding more ice if necessary. Pour into tall glass and enjoy immediately.
Share this Recipe
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Dark Chocolate Espresso Pre-Workout Shake #HeartMonth

Disclosure: I was compensated for my time as part of the @CocoaVia Supplement #HeartMonth campaign through the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network.Dark Chocolate Espresso Pre Workout Shake offers your workout the benefit of cocoa flavinols, caffeine, quality carbs and sustaining protein.

Does it sound strange to say the favorite part of my day is working out? Some people hate exercising, but I love it. It’s a time to forget about everything that stresses me, focus on achieving personal goals, and cater to my competitive side while still having fun with friends. But, more often than not, it’s hard for me to get my rear in gear for a run or workout. However, I’ve found that the right nutrition about 30 minutes before I head out to the gym, trail or track helps me win the day. Jennifer Fisher TheFitFork.com BVM CrossFit

Since I’m typically in a rush tying up work and family obligations, I need an easy pre-workout snack that I can stash in my gym bag. Personally, I prefer a drink over food because it’s easier for me to stomach before a workout — unfortunately, many beverages need refrigeration. However, I came up with a delicious recipe for Dark Chocolate Espresso Pre-Workout Shake that can be prepared right on the spot with no blender, fridge or heating appliances.

CocoaVia Espresso PreWorkout Drink

The workout friendly ingredients include canned espresso for a caffeine boost, honey crystals for some quality, quick-energy carbs, chocolate whey powder for sustained energy and CocoaVia® Daily Cocoa Extract Supplement for a dose of cocoa flavanols, which are scientifically proven to promote a healthy heart by supporting healthy blood flow†.Sharing CocoaVia Espresso PreWorkout Drink

I didn’t have any trouble finding taste-testers at my CrossFit gym!

Seriously easy, all you do to make the “recipe” is bring along a mason jar filled with a bit of dry honey crystals and a half-scoop of your favorite chocolate protein powder. Before drinking, just add your 8-ounce can of espresso, 4 ounces of water and a packet CocoaVia® Daily Cocoa Flavanols Extract Supplement (Unsweetened Dark Chocolate). If you don’t want to use the canned espresso (or can’t find it), you can just add black coffee to the Mason jar brought from home – however, I do recommend the 8-ounce can of High Brew Double Espresso because it’s convenient and is made with just a light touch of cane sugar. Whole Foods usually carries it.

Shake, shake, shake up everything in the Mason jar and enjoy – this pre-workout shake isn’t too filling, so it stays down even if burpees are on the whiteboard.  Another thing, and GENIUS, if I might add – if you are in a situation where there might be multiple “mason jars” hanging around or if you want to differentiate concoctions in your own fridge, those cheapie rubber bracelets fit perfectly around the rim – everyone gets a different color! Scroll back up and look at the photo for my orange bracelet!

It's easy to take CocoaVia Favinol Extract Supplement anywhere.I think you’ll love this pre-workout beverage – it provides heat-healthy cocoa flavanols, sustaining energy thanks to the protein powder, and tastes great at any temperature. You’ll also really appreciate the CocoaVia® Daily Cocoa Extract Supplement that delivers the highest concentration of cocoa flavanols you can find. The use of cocoa flavanols, like those found in CocoaVia®, are supported by two decades of scientific research that suggest these powerful plant-derived nutrients may play a valuable role in cardiovascular health. It’s pretty much impossible to get enough of these cocoa flavanols through chocolate treats (you’d surely get sick!), the traditional cocoa processing, which includes drying, fermenting and roasting of beans, destroys many of the naturally-occurring flavanols. However, CocoaVia®supplement isolates the “good stuff” and packages it up for use in a convenient, versatile form, without all the calories and fat – my heart and I love them for that! For more information, visit www.CocoaVia.com

 †This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Are you a chocolholic? What do you eat before a workout? Did you run a race or have a competition this weekend? I’d love to know, please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

CocoaVia Espresso PreWorkout Drink
Dark Chocolate Espresso Pre-Workout Shake
Print Recipe
Win your day and your workout with this easy-to-make pre-workout shake featuring the benefits of cocoa flavinols, caffeine, quality carbohydrates and sustaining protein. No blender or refrigerator needed.
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 1 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 1 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
CocoaVia Espresso PreWorkout Drink
Dark Chocolate Espresso Pre-Workout Shake
Print Recipe
Win your day and your workout with this easy-to-make pre-workout shake featuring the benefits of cocoa flavinols, caffeine, quality carbohydrates and sustaining protein. No blender or refrigerator needed.
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 1 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 1 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
Ingredients
Servings: serving
Instructions
  1. Add CocoaVia®, honey crystals, and protein powder to mason jar or shaker bottle. Add lid and lightly shake to combine.
  2. Add espresso and and water to powdered mixture. Shake vigorously until well combined.
  3. Enjoy as-prepared or serve over ice.
Share this Recipe
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Top Healthy Recipe Pins from 2015

First of all — HAPPY NEW YEAR! Before I move forward into 2016 with all the healthy recipe ideas that are bouncing around in my head, I wanted to share my most loved recipe pins from the last 12 months. If we’re not already following each other on Pinterest, let’s connect today!  So, here you go — a collection of pins that are my most popular. Top Healthy Recipe Pins from TheFitFork.com

Sweet Potato Cauliflower Mash – This simple-to-make sweet potato dish is paired up with cauliflower for a creamy, dreamy side dish for Thanksgiving or any other time of the year. This side dish recipe has been pinged on Good Housekeeping, Canadian Running Magazine, Glamour and a zillion food, health and wellness blogs.

(Slow Cooker) Salted Chocolate Caramel Crunch –  Crunchy cereal, pretzels and an assortment of nuts get a sweet upgrade with a coating of caramel and chocolate. The secret surprise is that this easy snack mix recipe is made in the slow cooker!

Black Bean, Zucchini and Corn Tacos – This summer-inspired vegetarian meal is quick and easy dinner solution for the patio – when the season passes, just swap out the zucchini for a winter squash like butternut!

Balsamic Slow Roasted Tomatoes – Scrumptious beyond imagination, this easy veggie recipe turns what I consider to be a typically bland tomato (if purchased from a consumer grocery store) into a magical topping for salads, eggs, steaks, pasta and more.   Also, freezeable!

Mom’s Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad – This versatile veggie salad can be served as a side dish, atop a bed of lettuce or as a relish for tacos.  Inspired by my mom’s family favorite recipe and kicked up with a little of my chipotle chili powder addiction. A winner in the California All-American Avocado Recipe Contest.

Brain-Boosting Cinnamon Peach Smoothie – One of the things I love most being a healthy food bloggers is explaining how the ingredients in my recipes help optimize well-being. For example,  the cinnamon and natural sugars in this smoothie recipe help improve alertness and brain function – the perfect snack for study sessions or work day pick-me-ups.

Spicy Watermelon BBQ Sauce – I made this quirky barbeque sauce to accompany my Brisket Tacos with Watermelon Rind Relish for the SXSW Taco Takedown in Austin this year.  Basically, in Austin, the weirder and wackier the better and this crazy condiment stole the show!

Southwestern Steak Chili – This delicious chili recipe fills the kitchen with the scent of smoky, spicy goodness and just might cause a stampede to the table. A bowl full (or two) makes a hearty, happy and healthy meal for even the hungriest hombres in your home.

Strawberry Greek Yogurt Tart – Not only is this strawberry tart gorgeous, it’s better for you made with protein-packed Greek yogurt and a gluten-free chocolate crust. A stunning finale to any celebration or Sunday dinner.

Yoga and Fitness Bloopers from TheFitFork.comAlso, don’t miss my Running and Fitness Recap (with Bloopers) from last week.

 

 

 

 

 

And, because everyone else is doing it (haha), my #BestNine2015 on Instagram. These are the nine most “liked” posts, but not necessarily my favorite – it’s a bunch of abs, inversions and the peculiarly popular yellow shorts.

Best Nine 2015 on Instagram - @TheFitForkl

What is YOUR favorite recipe of 2015? Please share the link or just give me the down and dirty description in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Chocolate Maca Mint Chip Protein Smoothie – Hoping #FTW

Chocolate Maca Mint Chip Protein SmoothieIt is still smoothie time in the great ATX — it’s been in the high 90s this week! It’s so hot you can’t leave a bag of chocolate chips in the car for an hour — lesson learned. That being said, I’ll drink a smoothie (and eat deformed chocolate) pretty much anytime of the year . . . it’s such a quick and easy way to make a nourishing meal to take on the go.Chocolate Maca Mint Chip Protein Smoothie

Today, I’ve blended up a Chocolate Maca Mint Chip Smoothie for a slurpable, sweet and super healthy start to the day. Who doesn’t love a chocolate protein smoothie, it’s like drinking a milkshake for breakfast. I’ve added maca powder, ’cause that’s how I mix! Maca, a root vegetable indigenous to Peru, is a natural ingredient prized for thousands of years for its ability to boost stamina, endurance and hormonal balance. It includes vital nutrients such fatty acids, fiber, proteins, carbohydrates and minerals. Sign me up for all of this. Thank you maca powder!
maca, mint and chocolateTo add a flavor lift of mint, there are two options. You can use sprigs of fresh mint, which grows so abundantly for me in the summer. But, my fresh mint is looking pretty sad, so my tried-and-true swap in is Instantly Fresh Mint from Litehouse Foods — it’s dehydrated mint that is recipe ready any time of the year. One jar has the equivalent of three bunches of mint inside. Look for it in the produce section of your grocery store in little herb-sized jars — ask the produce manager.

Chocolate Maca Mint Smoothie

Chocolate Maca Mint Chip Smoothie

  • 8 ounce unsweetened almondmilk
  • 1/3 frozen large banana
  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maca powder
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon Instantly Fresh Mint (or fresh leaves)
  • 2 teaspoons mini chocolate chips

Add all ingredients to blender, adding ice as needed. Blend until smooth. Makes 1 serving!

 

So yeah, I’m going to me needed all the energy, endurance and stamina I can get — I have a bunch of races and competitions coming up. I signed up last minute to run the Hill Country Half Marathon in Marble Falls, Texas thus weekend — it’s hill out there y’all. When they keep focusing on the words “scenic,” “beautiful” and “stunning views,” you know that those hills are going to be tough. Also, I’ve got the Spartan Beast in Dallas, it’s an approximate 14 mile run with 30-ish obstacles. I’ve been having so much fun training for obstacle course races, it’s a nice shake up from the traditional marathons and road races I do. Then, of course, San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon in early December.

Celebrating with friends at the end of Spartan Race.It’s not too late to join me! Dallas Beast, October 31 and November 1, 2015, Sign Up Now for this Reebok Spartan Race! Save 10% and use discount code FINISH at checkout!

What are YOU drinking this week? What are YOU racing this month? Please share in the comments below – XOXO Jennifer