Feedback is in from friends, family and those of y’all around the Internets . . . . this hearty, healthy Banana Quinoa, Oats ‘n More Breakfast Bake is a winner! Other nutritious ingredients I’ve snuck inside this make-ahead breakfast meal — hemp seeds, chia seeds and cacoa nibs!
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.
December may seem to be the month of BIG FANCY MEALS. Tenderloin, roast turkey, Cornish hens, or lobster tails might headline a celebratory holiday dinner, but there are still plenty of other meals to be made in the month. And, let’s be honest, with a to-do list and social schedule packed fuller than Santa’s sleigh, there isn’t much time left to make a balanced, nourishing meal to fuel up for the festivities. Or, you may even be trying to “eat light” between events that are loaded with delicious, yet indulgent, foods that aren’t typically in your diet.
SOUP is the answer, soup to the rescue! Soup is the unsung hero of the season and gift to all us family meal makers out there – it’s typically super simple make, extra veggies can be snuck in without backlash, it’s forgiving and easy to swap out ingredients, it can be made ahead and then reheated as-needed, leftovers seem to even taste better as spices have more time to mingle. And, if you need a last-minute gift idea for your neighbor or that single guy in the office, why not whip of a batch of your favorite soup and pair with a loaf of artisan bread for an amazing, edible present.
I hope you enjoy at leat one of my seven super soup favorites!
“Almost Instant” Spicy Shrimp & Spinach Soup – So much better than a Styrofoam cup of salty, surprisingly high fat ramen noodles, this fresh and fit soup recipe is meal prepped with fresh veggies, cooked shrimp, brown rice and more and then stored in the fridge (for up to a few days). When ready to eat, simply add boiling hot water, shake and then spoon in up right from the jar.
Thai Carrot Crab Soup – Oodles of noodle deliciousness and healthy veggie ingredients, including carrot juice and brown rice noodles keep it gluten-free. Not feeling crabby? Feel free to swap out the crab with shrimp, chicken, tofu or whatever protein you have on hand.
Comforting Chicken & Rice Soup – A feel good, taste good soup on days when you’re feeling run down and need soul and body satisfying nourishment. A light roux makes the soup seem richer than it is, and shredded chicken, fresh veggies and brown rice create a balanced bowl of goodness.
Vegan Sweet Potato Soup with Cilantro Chimichurri – It’s easy to make a meal out of this meat-free, dairy-free, vegan soup – it’s as hearty as it is healthy. The velvety texture is spicy, smoky and a touch sweet and the vibrant green drizzle adds an unexpected (yet delicious) tang!
Smoky Chipotle Butternut Squash & Chickpea Soup – Frozen cubed butternut squash and rinsed canned chickpeas keep this pleasingly peppery soup convenient for a quick fix on weeknights. A bowl of this soup will fit a vegan or vegetarian diet, but I like to add cheese and bacon!
Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew – When does a soup stop become a soup and start becoming a stew? Perhaps it’s when you add succulent, meaty chunks of beef to a slow cooker like in my delicious stew-soup hybrid that is elevated with a hints of orange and tangy berries.
Lemony Carrot Ginger Gazpacho – Stop thinking of gazpacho as only a warm-weather soup. This twist on the Spanish classic is perfect cool lunch for post-workout when you don’t want a steamy bowl of soup in your face. Or, if you feel chilled to the bowl, just go ahead and heat up Gazpacho, there’s now law that you can’t. I’ve done it and it’s great!
What is your favorite soup to make? Should soup be a “side” or “entree”? Do you ever take soup in a thermos to work? Tell me all the souper soup things in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
Even though summer season has long gone, the watermelon lover on your holiday list is sure to love any of these gifts inspired by the planet’s favorite jumbo-sized fruit – and, I’m not talking jackfruit.
I’ve got 20 things on my list, there’s a little something for everyone here, from a designer coin bag to a ‘lil ukulele for plucking. While Santa would sure like to deliver real watermelons to all the good boys and girls, it’s bound to break his back — so do him a favor and “live on the wedge” with one of these fun novelty gifts.
Watermelon Keds – These fun classic canvas tennies show how watermelon satisfies the “sole”! $20
Watermelon Ukulele – Pluck out your favorite, fruity tunes on this fun musical instrument. $22
The Watermelon Seed – This picture book by Greg Pizzoli is a must-read for watermelon lovers of all ages. Find out how the crocodile overcomes his fear of swallowing seeds! $12
Sprout ‘n Go Greenhouse Baby Watermelon Kit – Perfect for the future farmer or budding botanist, this kit has everything needed (except patience and sunshine) to grow a Sugar Baby mini watermelon in less than three months! $9
Crochet Watermelon Bra – Bet your knitting granny never made a top quite like this bikini halter top that would be so amazing to show off at a summer music festival! $6
Watermelon Gumballs by Double Bubble – fill up the gumball machine with these adorable pieces of round gum – the 3lb bag should last all year ‘round. $17
Salted Watermelon GUs – Optimize performance in an endurance event with these salty watermelon energy gels — yassss, I just ordered some! $29 / for 24
Watermelon Knife by Kuhn Rikon – Not is the blade painted up pretty, it makes an easy task of a tedious job. $20
Watermelon Coin Purse by Kate Spade – Save your nickels and dime to get this awesome leather coin purse by one of America’s favorite bag designers. $48
Watermelon Socks by Socksmith – I get a zillion compliments every time I step out in these fun knee-highs. $11
“Watermelon Crawl” by Sweaty Headbands – This hair accessory holds hair back off face and stays in place for running, CrossFit, yoga or pretty much any fitness activity.
Watermelon PJs – by Carters This four-piece, toddler-sized pajama set is a sweet choice for the little watermelon lovers in your life. $22
Watermelon Charm by Pandora – enjoy a little slice of summer all year long with this sterling silver charm with sparkly crystals. $63
Watermelon Insulated Bottle by Tervis – Cold drinks stay cold, hot drinks stay hot in this sportym 24-ounce reusable water bottle. $20
Watermelon Bike Hoodie from Design by Humans – Artists from around the world submit artwork that you can then have made into everything from tanks to hoodies and more. There are so many watermelon designs (I’ve purchased quite a few) and this is bike one is next!
Watermelon Umbrella – Stand out from the crowd with this whimsical watermelon umbrella, sure to brighten up any gloomy day. $15
Watermelon Christmas Ornament – Deck the halls with this beautiful glass-blown holiday ornament. $7
Watermelon Scented SNIFTY Pens – the familiar fruity scent takes your mind off whatever boring task is at hand!
Reload Watermelon helps your muscles refuel, recover and rebuild after a hard run or intense workout with just whatcha need including branch chain amino acids. $22
FYI, this post contains affiliate links.
Do you eat watermelon in the winter? Do you have traditional fruit of the season (like my mom always put an orange in my stocking). What is the most fun or funniest gift you are giving this year? Lemme know — xoxo, Jennifer
This post and giveaway was sponsored by Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q , however all opinions, comments and enthusiasm are my own.
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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!
To 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:
This is a bad news, good news post. Unfortunately, it’s that time of year when the sneezes, sniffles and the stuffy-head crud comes on. But the upside is that a comforting bowl full of chicken soup (your grandmother’s remedy) actually has some merit to making you feel better — plus, it tastes great too!
I whipped up a huge batch of my Best-Ever Chicken and Rice Soup when the kids came back from our recent trip to the mountains feeling under the weather. I had them licking their colds . . . and the bottom of their bowls in record time.
Dozens upon dozens of scientific studies have investigated the basis for this centuries-old remedy — from how the hot temperature unblocks stuffy airways to how the zinc found in certain ingredients might just shorten the length of a cold. Science aside, it’s pretty much agreed on that slurping up soup helps keep you hydrated, chases away chills associated with fever and reduce certain annoying symptoms of being sick. Plus, the addition of turmeric, a golden spice related to ginger, helps to provide the antioxident power you need to start feeling better.
<——- PIN THIS
This easy soup recipe is also ideal for light dinner and lunch leftovers to keep your wellness in check every day of the year. Plan ahead and double the recipe – freeze in single serve portions for busy or sick day convenience.
I’ve used Instantly Fresh Italian Herb Blend as a recipe shortcut to lighten and brighten the broth – it’s a medley of basil, oregano, garlic, red onions, red pepper, marjoram, rosemary and sage conveniently bottled together. I love these freeze-dried Instantly Fresh Herbs by Litehouse Foods — they have a huge assortment (I also love the Mint). Find them in the produce section or herb aisle of your grocery store. Head over to my Instagram profile (@thefitfork) now through this Monday (1/4) at midnight for a flash giveaway for three free product coupons. Look for my Chicken Soup photo and follow the post instructions to enter.
Do you have a home remedy for times when you’re feeling under the weather? What is your favorite soup? Please share in the comments below, XOXO — Jennifer
Raise your hand if you love the holiday season as much as me! Now, raise the other hand and jump up and then down to the ground in a burpee – yay, now we’re exercising! Between parties, shopping, baking and volunteering, I sometimes find my self fa-la-la-ing too much and forgetting about my normally-scheduled sweat sessions. Well, I never really “forget” to run or workout, rather I just just can’t figure out how to fit a fitness session into the whirlwind of winter celebrations. Even sneaking in a quick run can be unpredictable when the weather won’t cooperate, traveling is on the agenda, or you’re hosting overnight holiday company.
But, I’ve found that just doing ANYTHING is SOMETHING – fit in a holiday fitness hack wherever you can! As a firm believer that “all the little things” add up, I’ve made a list (and checked it twice) of exercises you can sneak in when life gets busy. Don’t worry about getting side-glances doing some of the crazy-sounding moves in public — soon you’ll be get getting ALL the attention with your super fit New Year’s body. By the way, I originally came up with these 40 Holiday Fitness Hacks for Core Power High Protein Shakes — an excellent way to power up with 20 – 26g of protein and keep your belly from shaking like jelly!
- Wrapping Paper Roll High Knee: Lay out a series wrapping paper rolls on the ground about 2 feet apart. Quickly move laterally, pulling knees up to waist while moving between rolls with each step.
- Rake Yard: Work up a sweat rounding up all those fallen fall leaves – offer to do the neighbor’s yard, too!
- Shovel Snow: No leaves left, but have snow? Clear a path for company with this heart-pumping chore!
- Front Box Carry: Take that heavy box of holiday decorations and hold it at your chest. Walk down the longest hall in your house and back.
- Ladder Side Plank Dips: After putting up holiday lights, use lower rungs of ladder for a challenging side plank. Rest feet on a rung that is even with your hips and dip down and back up to a side plank.
- Kitchen Squat Jumps: Take a break from slicing and dicing with a few sets of squat jumps. Put your knife down, lower into a squat and jump upward explosively; repeat.
- Bar Stool Pistols: Stand side-by-side to bar stool and lower down into a pistol using bar stool for balance; repeat on opposite leg.
- Yoga Tree Pose: Stop and admire your holiday tree with a classic yoga pose that will challenge and improve your balance. Stand with feet together; bend one leg up at the knee, resting foot anywhere between knee and crotch. Extend arms upward or to sides for balance. Hold until failure and repeat on opposite side.
- Ab Rolling Pin Roll Outs: While on knees, use rolling pin to extend forward while keeping core engaged; roll back up and repeat. This is proof abs ARE made in the kitchen!
- Commercial Break Cardio: When watching holiday classics with the kids, get everyone moving with jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers or other heart-pumping exercises until the show comes back on. No fast-forwarding with the DVR!
In a hotel:
- Ice Bucket Goblet Squats: Fill ice bucket up to give more weight and hold at chest while dropping down into squats; repeat.
- Towel Hop: Lay out a series of hand towels 5 or 6 feet apart in a line and use them as your target for standing long jumps.
- Bed Decline Push-ups: Put feet up on bed and lower down into push-ups; repeat.’
- Wall Sit: Find an uncluttered wall and slide back down wall until thighs parallel with ground and knees bent at 90 degree angle. Hold as long as you can.
- Burpees: Knock out as many traditional burpees as you can before hotel room guests below start complaining.
- Water Bottle Tricep Extension: Grab that one-liter water bottle by the mini bar and get after one-arm tricep extensions. Hold bottle overhead and bending backward at the elbow. A liter only weighs about 2.25 lbs. so ramp up your reps.
- Bed Bridge: In a room with two beds, see how long you can hold a plank with feet on one bed, arms on the other.
- Hallway Handstands: Practice handstands in the small hallway inside the hotel room. Kick up to a handstand and balance against the door, or place a folded towel on the ground for headstand modification.
- Luggage Sumo High Pull: Grab a duffel or small carry-on at the handle with both hands and pull to chin moving elbows upward; lower and repeat.
- Polar Bear Swim: Head to the hotel pool and knock out a few laps! If not heated, you’ll be motivated to swim fast!
At the mall:
- Mall Walk: Not just for seniors, you can rack up extra daily steps by taking a couple bonus laps around the stores.
- Stair Climb: Always choose the stairs over the escalator or elevator – it’s less crowded too!
- Fitting Room Stretch: Loosen up before sliding into those new skinny jeans with toe touches, windmills and arms-behind-back stretching.
- Food Court Booty Squeezes: No one will be the wiser if you are flexing and relaxing your glutes repeatedly with this isometric exercise.
- Park in the Boonies: Leave your car in the furthest away spot from the mall entrance.
- Shopping Sherpa: Volunteer to carry the entire family’s load of purchases. Distribute weight in bags evenly between both arms for a farmer’s carry type workout.
- Bench Hops: Find and empty, backless bench and grab sides firmly with both hands. Starting with feet together on one side, jump legs and torso to clear bench and land on the opposing side, with hands staying in place; repeat to other side.
- Santa Line Lunges: While waiting in the long line to see St. Nick, take every step forward with a lunge. Repeat as the line permits.
- Ice Skate: Most malls put up rinks during the holiday season, take advantage of the fun and burn around 362 calories per hour.
- Grand Total Jumping Jacks: When back in the parking lot, tally up your receipts and bust out the same number of jumping jacks. For example, $250 spent means 250 jumping jacks – you’ll warm up as a bonus!
At the market:
- Top Shelf Calf Raises: Extend up onto your tip-toes for 10 to 20 reps as if reaching to grab a can from the top shelf.
- Lower Shelf Squats: Rather than bending over to get an item squat and hold for 15 seconds; repeat.
- Cart Rows: Hold handle bar of shopping cart with both arms extended and legs shoulder. Pull cart toward you and then push away, without letting go of handle. Fill cart with big bags of dog food for an extra challenge!
- Milk Jug Side Bends: With legs shoulder-width apart, hold milk jug by handle, hanging arm downward at side. Bend torso at side; return upright and repeat on opposing side.
- Freezer Aisle Agility: Park cart at one end and run high knees to last freezer door. Stop, do a tuck jump, get anything you need from the freezer and side skip back to cart.
- Shopper Wood Choppers: Grab heavier items for your holiday recipes (like 5lb. bag of sugar) and set on ground near feet. Pick up with both hands and rotate upward with arms overhead; repeat 10 to 20 times before putting in your cart.
- Line-Wait Leg Circles: While waiting in line to check out, lift one leg about 8-inches off ground. Keep leg straight, point toe and rotate around in small, imaginary circles.
- Chest Opener Stretch: Also good while waiting in line, stand with back straight and shoulders pulled back. Reach behind and clasp both hands together while bringing hands up towards head as far as possible. Hold for 15 seconds.
- Bag It Bicep Curls: Bag your groceries and then hold by handles and knock out a few bicep curls on each side.
- Homeward-Bound Quad Pulses: While driving home in car, pulse your quads alternating left and right for the duration of each stop light.
I woke up early this weekend to run in the Jingle Bell Dash 5k with a friend. Done by 9 am and still out and about, I was able to tackle last minute holiday shopping!
How are you sneaking in fitness this holiday season? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
It’s only the beginning of November, but between dwindling daylight hours and cooler temperatures many are already wondering how to stick with a fitness routine when it’s time to move indoors from outdoors. Both professional and recreational athletes alike complain that seasonal weather swings, along with hectic holiday schedules, can contribute to fitness fallout. Don’t let your workouts get sidelined this fall and winter– these suggestions will keep you motivated and on task until the return of sunny skies and warm weather. Oh, and don’t forget to enter my giveaway at the bottom of this post to win a pair of VIM & VIGR Compression socks – cute new gear is ALWAYS one of the ways I stay motivated to workout.
Embrace Cardio Equipment: Take your heart-pumping workout to the treadmill, stationary bike or row machine. While logging loads of miles without physically moving forward poses a mental challenge, the monotony of machines can be overcome by incorporating intervals, hills or other challenging elements that keep you pushing buttons and pushing the pace. For example, runners can sprint a ladder of eight 400 meters intervals with each getting successively faster.
Consider Gym Alternatives: While it may be too dark or dangerous to participate in your favorite outdoor activity, look around and you can probably find an indoor comparable at the health club. Obstacle course racers can hone skills at rock climbing gyms or CrossFit boxes while hikers can jam it out on the Jacob’s ladder machine or stationary stair climber while listening to nature-inspired music. Get creative!
Widen Workout Net: Keep your interest up by trying out new classes; the fall and winter are the perfect time to challenge yourself with new skills. Plus, working out in a group setting offers the motivation and structure many need to succeed. Mix it up and try a fitness class you’ve never done before like yoga, TRX suspension training, trampolining or even indoor surfing! A Class Pass or similar service is a great way to exercise within a large network of fitness studios without having to have a membership to each.
Build a Bootcamp: Recruit your family, friends and neighbors to join the workout fun by organizing a boot camp. You provide space in a basement, garage or den with the couch scooted to the side and attendees provide the on-the-spot comradery and encouragement needed to get the job of burpees, pushups and squat jumps done. To keep things fun and fresh, take turns writing up the workouts or start a friendly “challenge” style competition.
Reward Your Hard Work: A pat on the back for busting your butt in the gym is nice and all, but sometimes a more tangible incentive is in order! List out short and long term goals for your fall and winter fitness and then pick a few rewards – maybe something smaller for the short term rewards, like a new pair of compression socks or new music downloads and something bigger like a snazzy new GPS watch or fancy sunglasses for the season-end goals.
If you’re into compression socks like I am, then you’ll love to reward yourself with a pair or two from VIM & VIGR. If you’ve seen me running and hand-standing my way through Instagram, you’ve most likely taken note that I am partial to knee-high compression socks – and the brighter and more patterned, the better! Compression socks keep my legs feeling fresh when running fast or long, they keep me warmer when the weather cools down (cold is under 75 degrees to me), and they facilitate muscle recovery by keeping blood circulating. Compression knee-high socks also keep my shins from getting scuffed up doing dead-lifts, box jumps or rope climbs. They are also excellent for traveling or days when I have to stand all day working at a conference or cooking demo.
VIM & VIGR has to be the most fun, most hip and most happy brand of compression socks around – for both gals and guys. This is the only brand I will wear now, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a lucky-duck ambassador. The fit is great, the “squeeze” is just right, and the styles are modern and fun and begging to be shown off! There’s not a day that goes by when someone doesn’t tell me that “they love my socks”! You need to enter the giveaway below – three of my readers will each win a pair of their choice!
Visit VimVigr.com and let me know which pair of compression socks you like best! Share in the comments below. And don’t forget to enter via the Rafflecopter app below for more ways to enter! XOXO, Jennifer