Friday, December 5, 2014

Les Mills Combat: Day 1

I started Les Mills Combat today, and it was SO FUN - seriously. Combat is a 60 day program based on 6 different styles of martial arts (Boxing, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Capoeira and Jiu Jitsu) so it's really physical and active, but more fun than just repeating basic workout moves over and over again. I mean, who wouldn't like kicking and punching and pretending to beat down bad guys? (ok so they kept saying "your opponent" during the workout like you're in a ring or something but come on, kicking bad guy butt is so much more satisfying.) There are two instructors - one woman and one man - and 4 other participants including someone modifying the moves to make them low impact.

Day 1 was Combat 30: Kick Start - a high paced cardio workout with a lot of upper body punches and a crazy stretch of hundreds of kicks (literally hundreds) that was only 30 minutes. I'm wondering if I'll be sore tomorrow; I think I can feel it in my shoulders already.  I'm excited to see what tomorrow's workout is like, and that's always a good thing because it makes it that much easier to press play!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Get Healthy for the Holidays

I'm co-hosting a 30-day fitness challenge and it starts in just a few weeks! Why wait for January to work on your New Year's resolution? Join us, dial it in for 30 days and then reward yourself with a Thanksgiving feast! Not to mention, you could win some holiday shopping money!

Leave a comment or send me a message if you'd like more information.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Jumpstart Your Health Journey: A Weekly Series of Health and Fitness Tips

This week I'm starting a health and fitness tip series so that I can share the kinds of things that have helped me during my journey to fitness, hopefully in an easily digested (see what I did there?) format. The idea is to have one tip a week, that you can implement one week at a time, adding on each week so at the end of the series you're well on your way to your own optimum health.

There are so many little things you can do to start building healthy habits around food and exercise - and it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Try things out, stick with them for at least a week so you can see if it's made any impact on your health at all, and above all, keep moving forward!

As we go on, I'd love to hear your own tips for how you work to improve your health - what's the number one thing that gets you moving or keeps you motivated?

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Curried Butternut Squash Bisque {Recipe}

I love Fall - the crisp air, chilly mornings, the leaves turning colors. Football weekends and our family's annual apple cider press. The kids are back to school - we can start to have a routine again which is great and cuts down a bit on the chaos. Autumn is also my favorite food season - all of the warming spices, roasted  meats and vegetables and comforting soups and stews.

One of my most favorite fall soups to serve is a simple curried butternut squash bisque (or cream soup). This version tastes so rich with the curry powder and the caramelized onions but it's actually quite light - prepared without any cream or stock at all. Best of all it doesn't take much time to prepare; you could have it on the table in an hour and if you've roasted the squash ahead of time it only takes about 20 minutes!

Curried Butternut Squash Bisque (Serves 8-10)

1 butternut squash
1 red onion (large, about 2 cups chopped)
1 TBS olive oil or coconut oil
2 TBS curry powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups water

1. First roast the squash by preheating the oven to 400°F and slicing the squash in half lengthwise. Empty out the seeds from the cavity and place the squash halves face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tinfoil (to make cleanup easier). Roast for around 40 minutes until the squash is soft when poked with a fork. When the squash is cool enough to handle scrape out the flesh and set it aside.

2. Roughly chop the onion (no need to worry about the size of the chop since you'll be pureeing the soup later).

3. In a heavy soup pot heat the oil over medium high heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until the onion has softened and begun to caramelize. Once the onion is softened and browned, add the curry powder and cook for a minute or so, stirring so it won’t burn.

4. Next add the squash and the water, stirring well. Allow the soup to boil gently for a few minutes – since everything is already cooked you don’t need to cook it long. The vegetables should be covered in water, so you might need to add more water, depending on how big the squash was to start.

5. Now puree the soup. I love using an immersion blender for this, because you can do it right in the pan while the soup is still quite hot. If you’re using a regular blender you might want to let the soup cool down some so you don’t blow the top off the blender. Return the soup to the pot, heat it up again and you’re done!

Now this is the most basic version – here are some ways to adapt it to make it even better:
  • The recipe is vegan, but it tastes great if you use chicken stock instead of water.
  • When you roast the squash, try chopping the top off of a head of garlic so the cloves are exposed and sticking it under one of the squash hollows to roast – when the squash is done you’ll have a head of mild, nutty creamy roast garlic that you can squeeze right into the soup when you add the squash.
  • Roast the squash a day or two before if you're baking something else in the oven, then just scoop out the flesh and store it in the fridge until you're ready to make the soup.
  • Use a bit less water and add a half cup or so of coconut milk to the soup – you’ll have Curried Coconut Squash Bisque.
  • Add a small can of diced green chiles before pureeing, or saute a mild chile along with the onions for a spicy kick.
  • This soup freezes beautifully, so you might as well make a full pot and freeze the leftovers in smaller portion sizes to reheat later.
Do you have a favorite fall soup? I'd love to hear from you if you do - and leave me a link to your recipe in the comments so I can try it myself!

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This recipe was originally posted on my food & craft blog

Friday, October 3, 2014

October FREE 7 Day Clean Eating Challenge

I still have a few spots available in this month's clean eating challenge - who wants to challenge themselves to clean up their kitchen and their diet for 1 week? Just 1 week - you got this! Let’s learn some new recipes, get some mini HIIT workouts in and create some healthy habits that could lead to a lifetime of change! As part of the challenge you'll have access to meal plan with a week of healthy recipes (there are even modified plans for vegan and paleo diets), lots of helpful information about what it means to 'eat clean', and the support and encouragement of a group.

Fall is the hardest time for me to stay on track, so if this sounds like you too, comment below and come join me! Let’s keep each other accountable. 

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Transformation Tuesday

It's Transformation Tuesday! Look how I changed in just four months - looking at the pictures now I can't even quite believe it but I did it, and the real changes aren't even visible from the outside. I just got back from a beach vacation and the level of fitness I have right now kind of surprised me - I went for several hour long beach runs and a long bike ride with no real effort or fatigue and that felt GREAT!

I've never put photos like this out in public before, but I'm doing it now because I really believe that Beachbody and Shakeology can change lives and I'm proof of that - in just four months I've lost 13 pounds and almost 11 inches from my body. It took consistent work and some willpower, but with the help and motivation of my fitness community and the effective workouts and eating plans from Beachbody it wasn't as hard as I imagined it might be. I know that this can work for anyone who puts in the time (and hey, 30 minutes is just 2% of your day, and isn't 2% worth spending on your health?).

You can do this! I'd love to help you have this kind of result too - if you'd like to know more, connect with me on Facebook and I'll add you to my (absolutely free) fitness community group where you can see what Beachbody and Shakeology can do for you.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Swiss Chard and Artichoke Tart {Recipe}

Savory tarts are some of my favorite things to eat - I love the combination of the rich crust, the flavorful vegetables, the filling egg and salty cheese. They're also versatile, so you can serve them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. In Peru there is a popular swiss chard tart made with whole eggs baked in the middle - this is a variation on that with the egg mixed into the chard instead, and the addition of artichoke hearts.

Because I'm really trying hard to cook healthy food for my family, we end up eating a lot of simple grilled or baked meats or fish - my old standby dishes are often too loaded with fats and sugars to fit into our menu anymore. This tart tastes like a treat, but it's packed with leafy greens and protein so it's good for us too.

Swiss Chard and Artichoke Tart
serves 8

1 package prepared pie dough (2 sheets), or your own favorite dough recipe divided into two and rolled out into circles
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped (about 1/2 medium onion)
20 oz Swiss Chard, chopped
10 oz Artichoke hearts, quartered (I like using the frozen kind so they have no added oil, but thaw them before using)
6 eggs
1/2 cup Gouda cheese, grated
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1.  Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, add the onion and saute until the onion has begun to brown lightly.

2. Add the chard and stir occasionally for about 20 minutes, until it has softened and reduced in volume. (you might need to add it in two batches, depending on how big your pan is - if you do, let the first batch cook down some and then add the second).

3. Add the artichoke hearts and the salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes more, then remove the pot from the heat and let the mixture cool.

4. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the 6 eggs and then add the grated cheese and stir to combine.

5. Line a 9" pie plate with one of the dough circles and lightly prick the bottom of the crust with a fork.

6. Once the chard mixture is cool, add it to the egg mixture and fold the two together until they are mixed well, then put the filling into the pie crust.

7. Top the pie with the second crust, crimp the edges of the bottom and top crusts together and cut 4 slits in the top to let the filling vent.

8. Brush the top of the crust with milk or an egg wash to help it brown, then cook in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. Let the tart cool slightly before serving it - this tart is delicious hot, room temperature or even cold from the refrigerator.

Note: If you're watching your calorie intake, you can leave the top crust off and it will be just as delicious!

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