8 Ways Watermelon Sweetens Workouts and Runs #WatermelonForHealth

This post is sponsored by National Watermelon Promotion Board, and the content, opinions and enthusiasm expressed here are all my own.

watermelon hula hooping

I love all the fruits, but have BIG love for watermelon – that’s no secret!  I’ve tried to name the one single reason why I love this mega melon, but I can’t. There are just so many reasons I love watermelon — it brings back great childhood memories and has played a role in creating new ones with my kids, it’s insanely yummy enjoyed straight off the rind or used as a healthy ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes! But, other motives for my watermelon munching madness are the bumper crop of benefits for health, wellness and fitness.

For example, when it comes to fitness, the watermelon may be the only piece of workout equipment that can be eaten afterward.  While working out with a watermelon may sound crazy, it makes perfect sense – melons are available in a range of weights (from 2 pound personal-sized melon to seeded varieties tipping the scales at 30 pounds and beyond.  Watermelon isn’t expensive in a price-per-pound sense; I mean have you seen the price of a kettlebell?! And, this “two-fer” fitness fruit is really more of an amazing deal knowing you’ll slice open a melon to enjoy afterward (or even just drink the juice on the go).  Since I like to #KeepFitFun and put the “FUN” in FUNctional fitness – check out my video above that I hope inspires you to get after a watermelon workout and then refuel with the fruit for recovery!

8 Amazing Reasons Watermelon Sweetens a Run or Workout

Yes, watermelon is delicious and natural, so much better than a sugary goo when needed as a carb source for quickly sourced. The melons come by their name honestly, comprised of 92% water and loaded with potassium and other electrolytes that will help keep fluid levels in check and hopefully keep muscle cramps away. It’s also high in other vitamins and antioxidents that are beneficial for wellness and the L-citrulline in watermelon has been studied for its ability to quicken muscle recovery. Get more details on these benefits of Watermelon for Health at Watermelon.org.

watermelon-for-health

See how eating watermelon is a win-win? Discover more fitness-focused watermelon facts that can help you up your game!  Make watermelon your workout buddy today and win fabulous watermelon prizes. All you need to do is enter this easy-peasy contest from Watermelon.org. Here are the juicy details:

  1. Tag a workout buddy (or someone you’d like to inspire to be your workout buddy!) in the comments section of our National Watermelon Promotion Board’s (NWPB) weekly video post on Instagram and Facebook. (note, this week, it will be my video that you see above)
  1. Win weekly watermelon prizes. NWPB will choose one lucky workout pair each week from October 3rd through October 28th.

Have you ever had watermelon specifically for workout fuel / recovery? Better yet, have you ever worked out with a watermelon?! Give me your best exercise idea, I might use it my next video – XOXO, Jennifer

Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl

Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl

One bite of my Brazilian Beef & Plantain Bowl (with egg, honey and toasted coconut) and you’ll happily say “Tchau” to a tower of pancakes, waffles or buttered toast in the morning!  Loaded with protein, quality complex carbohydrates, iron, potassium and other essential nutrients, this easy breakfast made with leftover steak will fuel you for a full morning of demanding activities! The flavor combination may sound weird, but trust me, it’s so delicious! Pra caramba!

Brazilian Beef & Plantain Breakfast Bowl is a healthy way to start the day, packed with 28g protein and quality complex carbs for energy.

The protein in the recipes is a combination of 3-oz. left over lean steak (like top sirloin, strip, tenderloin, flat iron, etc.) and a single, sunny-side up egg. Along with a little bit from the plantain, you’re getting about 28 grams of protein with this meal – the ideal amount to consume in a single sitting.

Each Day is a New Start! It’s the perfect morning meal for a Protein Challenge!  Each day is a new start, so beat yourself up if your diet wan’t exactly “on point” yesterday — you get a new chance to eat well today!

I always feel best when I’m eating 25g – 30g protein evenly spaced at each meal. Plus, it helps prevent snacking!

 

 

If you’re not familiar with plantains, you can typically find them in most grocery stores in the “exotic produce” area. This “vegetable-banana” is a less sweet and a little more starchy tasting than a regular banana – but so yummy when baked, microwaved or sautéed! They are a common ingredient in the cuisine of Mexico and Central / South America and in Brazil go by their Portuguese name of “banana-da-terra.”

Oh, and now for something crazy beef & bananas that isn’t actually food! It’s me planking until failure the other day before teaching a Grilling 101 class at the Texas Beef Council. 

pinners conference pic 1I’ll teaching a class on “Empowered Meal Prep – Protein for Fitness”  at the Pinner’s Conference in Dallas on Sept 9 & 10th. I’ll be sharing this Brazilian Beef & Plantain Breakfast Bowl along with a delicious Molasses & Pepper Flat Iron Steak recipe and Super Iron-Boosting Steak Spinach Salad. Sign up for my class, I’ll also have beef swag and lots of tasty samples!  Use the discount code FITFORK at online registration to save 10% on the very reasonable cost that allows you access to 100+ classes on food, fitness, crafts, home décor and more! Or, if you just want General Admission to shop and see the sights (no classes), you can get a free pass ($7 at door) using FREESHOPPING. RESISTER HERE

Have you ever used plantains in a recipe? Do you have a planking hashtag for me?  Are you watching the Summer Olympics? What has your favorite moment been so far? Please share in comments, XOXO – Jennifer

 

Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl
Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl
Print Recipe
Power up your day in savory-sweet South American style with this hearty, protein-rich steak breakfast bowl featuring plantains, coconut, honey and an egg!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl
Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast Bowl
Print Recipe
Power up your day in savory-sweet South American style with this hearty, protein-rich steak breakfast bowl featuring plantains, coconut, honey and an egg!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Add coconut oil to medium skillet and bring to medium-high heat. Sauté chopped plantains and yellow peppers for approximately 6 to 7 minutes, or until plantains turning golden brown and peppers softening.
  2. In the last 90 seconds or so of cooking, stir in steak chunks to gently reheat without overcooking. Slide the steak mixture into 4 cereal-sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Immediately poach or fry eggs to your preferred level of yolk “doneness.” Slide a cooked egg on top of each bowl of beef mixture and season with salt, pepper, sprinkle of coconut and a drizzle of honey!
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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)

Plyometric Power Workout – How To Increase Your Vertical Jump

Whether you want to up your game in basketball or volleyball, or just need to grab stuff off the top shelf without dragging out the step stool out, a vertical jump workout will help you catch that big air you crave.

verticle jump plyometric power workoutWhile many traditional vertical jump workouts focus on heavy lifting in the weight room with exercises like Bulgarian Squat Jumps, Box Squats and Deadlifts, you can still get enviable gains with explosive plyometric bodyweight exercises. And, the beauty of this type of workout is little or no equipment is needed, so it can be done anytime, anywhere!  Just grab a jump rope and exercise box (or curb) for this workout. Do this this Power Plyo Vertical Jump Workout once per week and enjoy some newfound oomph in your vert!

Here are the details for the above exercises:

Jump Rope: Warm up with jump rope for 2 minutes to get blood pumping and help activate muscles used in jumping. Only do warmup once, not at the top of each set.

Three Sets of Exercises Below (2 minutes rest after each set)

Depth Jumps: Step off box or bench and, upon landing, explode upward immediately. Reach arms overhead to increase lift and land softly back down on ground in athletic position. 10 reps / 3 sets

180 Squat Jumps: In an upright position, squat down slowly until your knees are flexed to almost right angles. Jump explosively without locking out knees, and rotate body quickly to land facing the opposite direction.  10 reps / 3 sets

Tuck Jumps: From standing, lower into a squat position and then jump as high as possible while bringing knees up and in toward chest.  10 reps / 3 sets

Lateral Box Jump Burpees: Stand to the side of box and jump laterally, leaping over it. Upon landing, drop to a full burpee with an upward jump finish.  10 reps / 3 sets

Walking Lunges: From upright with hands on hips, step forward with one leg and drop hip until back knee is almost touching ground. Keep torso erect and ensure front knee stays above front foot. Drive forward and extend up position. 10 reps (each side) / 3 sets

Single-Leg Box Jump:  Stand facing approximately 18-inches way from box with feet shoulder-width apart. Jump on box with one leg, using bent-elbow arms to help drive upward. Fully extend body at top of box and then softly jump backward with both legs to starting position. 5 reps (each side) / 3 sets

I finally have my Workout and WOD Gallery back in working order, so head over to nab some new ideas for your fitness routine!

Check out my workout gallery for new exercise and wod ideas to add to your fitness routine.

So, what’s your favorite explosive lower body exercise? (I just giggled when I typed that)

10 Reasons to Yoga Upside Down

10 Reasons to Turn Upside Down - Yoga Inversions - TheFitfork.comYou may have first-hand experience with headstands, handstands and other bodily inversions from your current yoga practice or even way back in gym class. Or, perhaps you’ve only been a spectator of the “stunt” on your Instagram feed or when pausing the remote control to marvel at Olympic gymnasts. It’s obvious that turning upside down puts a new perspective on life, but you may be surprised to learn just how many benefits there are to doing handstands, headstands and forearm stands. Even a downward dog is considered a yoga inversion because it is a pose that places the hips above the heart and the heart above the head. Whether you’ve done hundreds upon hundreds of handstands and inversions or are just learning the basics, these  10 Reasons to Yoga Upside Down should encourage you to add an inversion to your daily workout routine.

Stayfree My Yoga Gaiam TV OfferIf you are looking for instructional tips on how to perform headstands and handstands, My Yoga on Gaiam TV has a huge variety of online yoga classes available to be watched at a time that fits with your schedule. And, now through March 12 (2015), Stayfree has a fantastic “free with purchase” offer for one month of complementary My Yoga – just buy a Stayfree product at Target (like STAYFREE® Ultra Thin® Regular Feminine Pads with Wings), keep the receipt, and visit http://www.stayfree.com/myyoga to get started. Of course, please consult with a medical professional before starting any new exercise regimen.

Handstand - TheFitFork.com

10 Reasons to Yoga Upside Down

    1. Get a Glow On: When upside-down, fresh nutrients and oxygen are flushed to the face, creating a healthy glow that will look like you just came from a spa facial.
    2. Tone and Strengthen: Performing headstands and handstands work the muscles of the shoulders, upper back and core in the constant attainment of balance. To hold a handstand for any length of time requires control over the obliques, the rectus abdominus and the transverse abdominus.
    3. Gray Away: Because inversions increase nutrients and blood flow to the scalp, some yogis claim that these poses can help stall the onset of gray hair – maybe even reverting some gray back to the original color. Not sure if this is true, but worth a try and much cheaper than a colorist!
    4. Brain and Body Booster: Being in a headstand or handstand increases blood flow to the brain and improves cognition. It also stimulates the glands in charge of sleep-wake cycles, digestion, sex hormones, blood pressure, and more.
    5. Confidence Kickstarter: Mastering a handstand or headstand will take your self-esteem to new levels. With good instruction and practice most of us can eventually accomplish these yoga poses or modified versions.
    6. Mood Lifter: The adrenal glands are flushed and detoxified with yoga inversions and this creates a better outlook on life, some yogis even say preventing mild depression thanks to the release of happy hormones. In any event, doing a handstand while frowning turns it into an automatic smile!
    7. Happier Gut: The gravitational pull of being upside stimulates digestive juices and keeps things moving along. Inversions stimulate the pituitary gland, the endocrine glad that is in charge of regulating metabolism and turning food into energy.
    8. Reduce Swelling: Getting feet above the head in an inverted yoga pose is an effective way to alleviate edema (swelling) in legs, ankles and feet.
    9. Improve Focus: Practicing yoga inversions will help you learn to tune out distractions, listen and respond to the feedback from your body, and lock in on the task at hand.
    10. Party Trick: Add some swagger to your step by impressing friends and family with your upside-down balancing talent!

 

Don’t forget to visit http://www.stayfree.com/myyoga for the free My Yoga from Stayfree offer.

This post is sponsored by Sverve on behalf of Stayfree. I was compensated for my time and review of the product(s), however all opinions, editorial comments and suggestions are my own.

 

Summer Vacation Snacking with Blue Diamond Almonds

Almonds make a good travel snack

Whoohoo, I’m a little bit nutty! When I jump in front of national monuments or execute yoga poses in public places, my kids always roll their eyes, hide and later say “sheeze, mom! Aren’t you embarrassed to do that?” Absolutely not, no way, nope! That’s one of the freeing things about being an adult and no longer caring what people think! I’ve done the Chicken Dance in the grocery store, cartwheeled down the sidewalk and wear my pajamas during early morning carpooling while singing along to music with the windows rolled down (the horror!)

almonds healthy travel snack

But on a recent vacation to Washington, D.C., I had selfish motives for embarrassing my 3 ‘tween and teen children – I was greedily keeping those human vacuum cleaners away from my Blue Diamond Almonds!  As a Blue Diamond Tastemaker , I was sent a couple of cans of healthy, yummy almonds to incorporate into my summer entertaining plans. However, we don’t entertain much in the summer because the family is too busy attending family reunions, heading off to camp or exploring new cities on vacation.  Instead, we let our adventures entertain us!

In my opinion, there is no better healthy snack to take on a trip than almonds. Nutritionally dense, they don’t take up a lot of space in a purse, backpack or airline carry-on. Almonds are also loaded with protein and heart-healthy fats that keep the hunger pangs away longer than carbohydrate-heavy food.  One of my favorite quick travel “recipes” is to set a whole natural almond on top of a dried apricot and top it with a chocolate chip – only 20 calories and totally delicious!

blue diamond natural almond and apricot snack

Blue Diamond’s Whole Natural Almonds are very versatile -you can eat them plain, put them in trail mix or even whip up into your smoothie.  They can also be easily toasted at home and incorporated into so many breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes. Toasting whole natural almonds only takes about 10 minutes and makes them super fragrant and crunchy – Cooking Light has a great tutorial on how to toast nuts.

toast almond video tutorial

The other almond flavor I sampled was the Rosemary & Black Pepper. These little guys pack a bold punch without being too overwhelming. While I gobbled mine straight from the can, these salted, herbed nuts would be great on a salad, alongside a cheese board, or crushed up and used as a topping for salmon.

Blue Diamond provided me with compensation and product for this post. However, the opinions and nuttiness are completely my own!