Farmhouse Winter Veggie Beef Instant Pot Soup

 Boost nutrition while warming up from the inside out with my Farmhouse Winter Veggie Beef Instant Pot Soup – all in under 30 minutes! In the winter months, I absolutely love coming home from a long run or day’s work to a comforting, soul-soothing pot of soup, stew or chili. However, so many of my old family recipes take hours upon hours to complete — ain’t nobody got time for a slow-simmer these days! Farmhouse Winter Veggie Beef Instant Pot Soup

Farmhouse Winter Veggie Beef Instant Pot Soup uses the Instant Pot to cook quickly under pressure and replicate the deep, rich flavor of those traditional all-day dishes our grandmothers, mothers and other matriarchs so lovingly made. Read on to get all the details and full recipe: Continue reading

A Dozen Days of Soup for Everyone!

January is National Soup Month and, of course, I’ve been celebrating my favorite course (either as a meal starter or main dish) with in all the ways that I see fit! And that means, ladling up lots of wholesome, hearty and holistically nourishing goodness into bowls, mugs and thermoses. I love ALL the soup and I have A Dozen Days of Soup for for Everyone! You get soup, and you, and YOU get soup (Oprah style).A Dozen Days of Soup - including all sorts of dietary options including paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegan, vegetarian and more.

As I rifled through my soup recipes (there are so many more than I’m sharing today, just search “soup” in the upper right bar), I noticed themes – meal prep suitable, medicinal spices like turmeric and ginger, gluten-free noodle and grain options like rice vermicelli or quinoa, and unique interpretations on traditional favorites. Some of the soups are vegan, some are loaded with meat – just like I love ALL the soups, I love ALL the foods. Read on to get the recipes for a dozen days of soup! Continue reading

7 Reasons Runners & Athletes Should Eat More Winter Squash + Recipes

We’re well into cooler weather, have you been fueling your training diet with delicious recipes featuring winter squash? Since the onset of fall, the produce department has been bustling with beautiful displays of winter squash varieties such as butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin and more! I can’t guarantee these staples of the season will make you run faster or jump higher, but they will help keep your body health and your taste buds happy.  7 Reasons Runners & Athletes Should Eat More Winter Squash -- find out the health benefits of vegetables like pumpkin, acorn, spaghetti and butternut squashes and how they can  help fuel your performance. Find easy recipes too, ranging from soup and stew to baked goods.

Continue reading

Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew w/ Sage Romano Grits + #StubbsInsider Giveaway

This post and giveaway was sponsored by Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q , however all opinions, comments and enthusiasm are my own.

Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits

This holiday season, I’ve made a vow to make all my meals with love, happiness and smiles. Not just the big celebration dinners, but also the crazy night meals when we’ve been out all day running errands, visiting with family or volunteering with our favorite charity (Brown Santa).  Some times on these chaotic nights, I get grumbly about making supper, but shortcuts with Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q products  keep me grinning even after sitting in shopping mall traffic or spending hours trying to figure out which bulb in a string of lights has burned out.

Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits in slow cooker

For this slow cooker recipe, I’ve used Stubb’s Smokehouse Bourbon Cookin’ Sauce. This convienient product (which is gluten free) works in both the skillet and slow cooker. It contains a flavorful sauce pouch made with bourbon, garlic and rosemary along with a spice packet that can be used to prep the meat. Browning Stew Meat

One little hint extra step I have for this quick and easy recipe is to brown the stew meat before putting in the crock pot. While this may seem unnecessary (and you can skip if absolutely pressed for time), it does create an amazing caramelization on the beef which helps to create a more complex flavor experience. Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits -  an easy slow cooker meat that will satisfy your guests this holiday season.

Don’t just think of Stubb’s ONLY as a way to fix traditional Texas BBQ. They have so many delicious Bar-B-Q sauces, marinades, rubs and Cookin’ Sauces that offer bold flavors to spur on your creativity in the kitchen this holiday season.

Of course, I love to create my own new holiday recipes as well as revisit family food traditions, but why recreate the wheel on every single side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other winter family gatherings when Stubb’s has complied a delicious collection of recipes for the season?! stubbs-roasted-brussels-sprouts

Yes-sir-ee, the Stubb’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts will be a delicious compliment to my Slow Cooker Cranberry-Orange Beef Stew with Rosemary Garlic Grits. You need to try these, so amazing!   

stubbs-cranberry-orange-beef-packageTo help you get cooking with down-home but daring style, I’m hosting a giveaway for one reader to win a Stubb’s Prize Pack that includes a spatula, T-shirt, Stubb’s hat and coupons for free Stubb’s products (yeehaw)!  Just enter via the Rafflecopter app below:

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Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits
Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew w/ Sage Romano Grits
Print Recipe
Warm up with this tasty beef stew that is slightly spicy, sweet and tangy -- it makes a hearty meal topped on grits but you can also pair with pasta, potatoes, and whole grains.
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits
Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew w/ Sage Romano Grits
Print Recipe
Warm up with this tasty beef stew that is slightly spicy, sweet and tangy -- it makes a hearty meal topped on grits but you can also pair with pasta, potatoes, and whole grains.
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Instructions
for stew
  1. Sprinkle stew meat with spice packet from Stubb’s Slow Cooker Sauce (or simply season with salt and pepper for alternative preparation).
  2. Heat large, heavy-duty skillet to medium-high heat and brown stew meat in single layer. Don’t overcrowd, work in batches if necessary, draining cooking liquid between.
  3. Add browned stew meat to 6-quart slow cooker along with chopped onion, cranberry sauce, orange segments, orange zest, bourbon and Stubb’s Slow Cooker Sauce. Stir to combine.
  4. Top slow cooker with lid and simmer on high heat for 4 to 6 hours, or until beef tender. If desired, add 1 cup fresh cranberries to last 1 hour of simmering.
  5. *** If you can’t find Stubb’s Cookin’ Smokehouse Bourbon Flavor, the use this substitute. To season stew meat before browning, sprinkle with mixture of 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground pepper and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. For liquid, add 1 cup beef broth, 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and add an additional 1 ounce of bourbon whiskey.
for grits
  1. Add water to saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Slowly stir in grits, sage and salt and then reduce to medium-low for simmer.
  2. Simmer for about 7 minutes stirring frequently. When thickened, stir in cheese until incorporated. Remove from heat.
  3. To serve, place a mound of grits on a plate and use a slotted spoon to remove beef, onions and fruit from slow cooker. Top with optional garnishes of grated orange zest and chopped parsley.
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Jalapeno Feta Cornbread + Cast Iron Recipes

Um, YES PLEASE! Give me that Jalapeno Feta Cornbread — and find out why I don’t mind having a second slice!Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread SkilletMy Jalapeno Feta Cornbread will be the star of your next meal and makes the perfect paring for my Best-Ever, Super-Secret Beef Chili.  Bake up a batch of this old-fashioned quick bread in a cast iron skillet for the crunchiest crust, a country-style presentation and a surprising health benefit – extra iron in your diet!

Easy Skillet Jalapeno Cornbread makes the perfect pairing with soups, stews, and salads.  Also, did you know that cooking and baking in cast iron helps add additional iron to your diet? Another reason to make a batch for dinner tonight.,

You heard me right, cooking and baking in cast iron can fortify a recipe with iron transferred from the pan. Iron is an essential mineral that the body uses to deliver oxygen to the body via our red blood cell. On average 10 of American women are iron deficient with one recent study suggested that more than half (56%) of recreational joggers and competitive runners suffer from an iron deficiency that may negatively affect performance. Runners, cyclists, CrossFit athletes and other athletes typically need more iron in their diet than the average Joe because this essential mineral is lost via menstruation, pregnancy, sweat, GI distress, and even repetitive foot-strike (“footstrike hemolysis”). Also, some chronic medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease can prevent the prober absorption of iron.

The more acidic a food (like tomato sauce), the more iron will be leached from the pan, but even baked goods like this cornbread can get an iron-boost from cast iron cookware. On average, one cup of cast-iron skillet food gains 6 to 8 milligrams of iron, helping you to meet daily allowance of this mineral (For women aged 19-50, the RDA is 18 milligrams per day).

However, don’t just count on cast-iron or iron supplements to get the optimal amount – getting iron from fresh foods is optimal. Beef, spinach, broccoli, beans, legumes, and dates are all high-iron choices, you can find out more on this earlier blog post I wrote about Anemia in Runners.

Here are some iron-rich recipes to serve up with this cornbread!

Molasses Steak Salad Dates Blue Cheese overheadSuper-Iron Boosting Molasses Steak, Spinach & Date Salad

Steak and Squash Harvest Stew comes together in the slow cooker for a hearty, healthy meal that is perfect for dinner on busy weeknights -- weekend meals too! Slow-Cooker Steak & Squash Harvest Stew

Best Ever Beef Chili

Best-Ever, Super-Secret Beef Chili.

Note, I originally developed this Jalapeno Feta Cornbread recipe for Litehouse Foods, using their deliciously tangy, creamy artisan feta cheese.

Truvia NectarAlso, let me just add — this cornbread is off the hook drizzled with honey — I like the new Truvia Nectar, a honey/stevia blend that has 50% fewer calories and carbs. Get a free sample! #sponsored #UseLikeHoney

 

 

What do you cook in cast iron? Cornbread fan? Do you make yours plain, or mix “extras” in? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread Skillet
Easy Skillet Jalapeno Cornbread
Print Recipe
The crispy crust and homey presentation of this easy cornbread recipe is the perfect addition to your best chili, soup or stew recipe!
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread Skillet
Easy Skillet Jalapeno Cornbread
Print Recipe
The crispy crust and homey presentation of this easy cornbread recipe is the perfect addition to your best chili, soup or stew recipe!
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to large bowl and mix together.
  2. In separate medium bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk; stir into flour mixture until just combined. Stir in 3 ounces of the feta cheese, reserve remainder.
  3. Place butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a 2-quart baking dish and set in oven for a couple minutes to melt. Remove skillet and swirl butter around to coat bottom. Pour remaining butter in batter and stir to combine.
  4. Top cornbread with sliced jalapenos, seed side up and sprinkle batter with chives and remaining feta. Bake cornbread in center rack until golden brown on top and toothpick pulls clean from center, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm. If not serving right away, turn from pan to cool on wire rack.
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{Slow Cooker} Steak & Squash Harvest Stew

Steak and Squash Harvest Stew comes together in the slow cooker for a hearty, healthy meal that is perfect for dinner on busy weeknights -- weekend meals too!I felt it for a second, the cooler morning that is. So I pulled out fringy scarf, boots and slow-cooker – yeehaw, fall weather is here. But, it was a total fake out, ended up being 90 degrees that day. Even though I shed my fall finery, my Crock Pot creation was a dinner winner not about to be tossed.  Rich, meaty, hearty and amazing nutritious thanks to wholesome ingredients like lean beef, pumpkin, acorn and butternut squashes.

You absolutely must pin this photo below if you like healthy, hearty and helpful! 

Steak and Squash Harvest Stew comes together in the slow cooker for a hearty, healthy meal that is perfect for fall and winter meals.

I originally made this recipe for my friends at BeefLovingTexans.com, I almost tried to call it Chili but then remembered some Texans don’t think beans belong in chili. Well, heck, I don’t care – I think everything belongs in chili! This one has a bit of chipotle chili powder to add smoky spice, but feel free to tone it down or kick it up with your favorite chili seasonings. chipotle-beef-butternut-pumpkin-chile-browning-meat

The beauty of this recipe is just dumping all the ingredients into a slow cooker and walking away. I prefer to sear my chili meat (I cubed up a sirloin steak) because that magical caramelization process that happens in the skillet creates a deeper, more complex flavor. But, if you are pressed for time, the stew still turns out dang delicious if you just dump the uncooked beef straight into the slow cooker crock.

I was worried the kids would be suspicious of the trio of winter squashes in the dish – pumpkin, acorn and butternut. But, they loved it and a new autumn family favorite was born – especially when paired with some cast-iron skillet cornbread. I can’t believe I’ve never shared this recipe in photo below — it’ll be served up on the blog next week! COME BACL!

Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread Skillet

So, why don’t you make this Steak & Squash Harvest Stew for supper this weekend – free yourself up some time to hang out with the family, hit a hay ride, visit the pumpkin patch, get lost in a corn maze.  It’s also a great little warmer-upper for those chilly afternoons tailgating and talking all things football or for the neighborhood Halloween potluck!

So, do you have a special family chili (errrr, I mean “stew” recipe)? Doing any special fall activities this weekend? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Steak and Squash Harvest Stew comes together in the slow cooker for a hearty, healthy meal that is perfect for dinner on busy weeknights -- weekend meals too!
{Slow Cooker} Steak & Squash Harvest Stew
Print Recipe
Fall in love with this healthy, hearty stew featuring pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash -- toss in slow cooker to skimmer all day, come home to dinner!
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
Steak and Squash Harvest Stew comes together in the slow cooker for a hearty, healthy meal that is perfect for dinner on busy weeknights -- weekend meals too!
{Slow Cooker} Steak & Squash Harvest Stew
Print Recipe
Fall in love with this healthy, hearty stew featuring pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash -- toss in slow cooker to skimmer all day, come home to dinner!
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chipotle chile powder and “bloom” in skillet by stirring around constantly for approximately 1 minute. Add stew meet and brown; add to 4 qt. to 6-qt. slow cooker.
  2. To slow cooker, add onion, squash, beans and pumpkin. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, syrup, red pepper and salt. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.
  3. Serve with desired toppings such as sour cream, cheese and green onions
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Best Ever Super Secret Chili Recipe + Beef Browning Tip

Best Ever Secret Beef Chili

I hope you have a big spoon at the ready, my recipe for Best-Ever Beef Chili is, well, THE BEST! With freezing temperatures and heated football bowl games going down, this big pot of spicy, rich and blissfully beefy chili is what to serve by the mug, bowl or trough.

Southwestern Steak Chile - TheFitFork.comI typically make chili by breaking down a roast into bite-sized chunks, my kitchen stampeded causing Southwestern Steak Chili is a family favorite. However, the kids love ground beef (and so does my food budget) and requested a chili made with their favorite food group — hamburger meat!

Won’t lie, I was a little worried that the ground beef would come out dry and the beefy taste might get downed out by bold chili spices. After reading an article in Cooks Illustrated on achieving “better browning through science,” I knew I had to try their technique of using a baking solution on meat to enable proteins to attract more water and hold onto it during cooking and also create a higher pH level to speed up the desirable Maillard reaction (basically, the harbinger of caramelization). My dad reported success using this method to keep steaks juicy and tender, and I hoped this easy hack would help improve the taste and texture of my chili’s ground beef.

So, how does this baking soda beef hack work? Typically, when ground beef is cooked on the stove top, so much water and liquid is expelled that the beef chunks just end up steaming in their own juices  — very little actually browning happens.  When cooked to the point of most water evaporating, the batch of beef will be unpleasantly overdone. However, by gently tossing a baking soda solution with the meat (about ¾ teaspoon baking soda to 2 tablespoons water for 2lbs of grind) and letting sit for 15 to 20 minutes before cooking , beef loses less liquid, browns faster and tastes better. Ground Beef browned traditionallyI tried it myself with 80/20 Chuck Ground Beef and I must say, I was impressed! The ground beef cooked “as-is” was almost immediately was sitting in a pool of liquids (as you can see from the picture) and when taste-tested seemed a little rubbery and bland.

Ground Beef browned with baking soda

However, the baking soda treated beef immediately started to brown in the pot. And, while there was still a fair deal of liquid released, it was noticely less so than the previous batch (Cook’s illustrated said about 10% less liquid, I felt like maybe even a little more).  More noticeable though, was the taste – the baking-soda treated batch had a richer, more complex caramelized flavor and was markedly juicier. In fact, the cooked beef was so yummy; I worried about taste-testing my way through the whole pile before I even started the rest of the chili!

So, my final recommendation on this “baking soda treatment” is definitely try it and see what you think! It does take little bit of pre-planning because you have to let the solution sit on the meat for 20 minutes, but you can have that going while you prep the other ingredients.

Best Ever Secret Beef ChiliSo, here is my  Best Ever Ground Beef Chili recipe, – every spoon is a mouthful of meaty goodness. It’s rich and spicy, without being too heavy or too “hot” for kids – I think you’ll really like it. But, feel free to use this baking soda technique with any beef chili recipe!

Mugs of Super Secret Ground Beef Chili -horiz

If you’re looking for other delicious chili recipes, check out this collection I curated for Mode! And, also head over to the Texas Beef Council for more inspiration.

 

Check out Life-Changing Beef Chili Recipes to Warm Winter

by The Fit Fork at Mode

Do tell, do you put beans in your chili? Do you like spicy or mild? What toppings do you put on top?  Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Super-Secret Ground Beef Chili Recipe
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 10 minutes
Super-Secret Ground Beef Chili Recipe
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Add ground beef to bowl and drizzle with solution of 2 tablespoons water and ¾ teaspoon baking soda. Gently break apart beef with hands to distribute, but do not over knead (causes toughness). Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large Dutch oven pot over medium high. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes until softened, stirring as needed. Mix in garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add treated ground beef to pot and cook, while stirring and breaking up into chunks. Brown beef for approximately 12 to 15 minutes or until no longer pink.
  4. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and salt to beef mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until spices begin to bloom and become fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  5. To pot of beef, add finely crushed tortilla chips, beef broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans with liquid, and sugar. Bring to a boil and then put lid on Dutch oven and transfer to a 275 F degree oven for approximately 1 to 2 hours, or until flavors have developed and sauce is thickened. .
  6. Remove from oven and let cool, uncovered for 10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, to taste.
  7. Serve with rice or tortilla chips and other toppings of choice including cheese, avocado, red onion, cilantro, etc
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6 Soups for Runners + Spartan Race #Giveaway

Even though I’ve been running and working out in the beautiful warm weather that’s been gracing Austin for the last several days, the chill of winter is expected to return over weekend – it’s my guess that Jack Frost is moseying over from the Snowpocolypse on the East coast. Although, we won’t get mountains of snow (actually, not even a freeze at all), this cold-weather wimp will be tempted to stay under the blankets and skip even her civilized late-morning run.   That is, unless I know I have soup waiting for lunch!

Soups and Stews for Runners - TheFitFork.com

After a long run in cold weather, nothing warms up my body and nourishes my soul more than a big bowl of soup.  Who wants to think about making a complicated meal when road weary, starving and chilled to the bone? That’s why I like to have a big batch of homemade soup waiting in the slow cooker or ready to simmer on the stovetop the minute I walk in the door.  Warmth and convenience aren’t the only reason why soup is great for runners — soup is also an easy, one-dish recovery meal that features the right mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healing vitamins and minerals. Eating soup after a workout refuels your tank with healthy food and the extra liquid helps restore hydration!  I’m sharing six soup and stew recipes that are in constant rotation at my house during the cold-weather running seasons — each is easy to make and tastes just as good (if not better) as leftovers.

  1. Wilted Greens, Beans & Beef Meatball Stew
  2. Black Bean & Pumpkin Soup
  3. Chipotle Squash & Chickpea Soup
  4. Southwestern Sweet Potato Soup
  5. Hatch Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Soup
  6. Lightened Yet Still  “Loaded” Baked Potato Soup
This is my favorite race photo ever - Zooma Half Marathon 2013 -

This is my favorite race photo ever – Zooma Half Marathon 2013 – I WON! !

Now that one of my favorite races (3M Half Marathon) has come and gone for the year, I can focus on my upcoming events. Of course, there is the Capitol 10k later this spring (I’m going to try to peak for this one) and the Zooma Women’s Race Series in Austin on March 28th – I’m a Zooma Ambassador again for the 4th year and will be running the half marathon – they also offer a 10k and 5k. This is a fun and supportive race for women of all abilities (and men, you’re invited too) – afterward there is just an awesome party with lots of Texas Hill Country hospitality, including music, wine and massages. Come out and join me – use the discount code JENNIFER15 at registration and get 10% off the fee for any race distance.

Core Power Workout

Oh, and did I tell you that I’m running the Spartan Race in a few months when it comes to Austin. It’s a good thing that the Spartan is in May and it won’t be cold — no soup required afterward, but maybe a cold beer! I better start practicing my obstacles ASAP! Check out the workout —>

Spartan has a ton of stuff going on right now including a newly launched podcast that shares epic stories of success – ‘Spartan Up!’  If you are totally into obstacle racing, you can get hooked up with a Spartan Season Pass that offers unlimited racing, ability to sign up in any heat including elite, special travel discounts and more. And, you literally don’t want to miss the boat on this one —  a Spartan Cruise where sand, surf and obstacles await your arrival on an exclusive island sprint course – leave from Miami and race in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas (March 6 – 9, 2015) Use code CRUISE50 at registration for 50% off the cruise fee!

spartan womenDon’t miss out on my Spartan Race Entry Giveaway – one winner will receive a registration code good for any any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Spartan Race in the continental US.  Enter through the rafflecopter app below. If you can’t wait to win, use code SPARTANBLOGGER for 10% off of any race.spartan wall
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