Super Slow Cooker Recipes

These cold mornings are a teaser for winter, and have us dreaming of soups, stews, and all the delicious things that can be cooked in a slow cooker, simmering all day, a delicious aroma filling your house.

While it’s not quite cool enough to have the slow cooker going every day, we’ve compiled a few recipes that would be great to add to your wintertime slow cooker arsenal of recipes.

Chunky Chipotle Chicken Soup: 

http://www.cleaneatingmag.com/recipes/dinner-tonight/chunky-chipotle-chicken-soup/

Cincinnati Chili with Turkey and Pumpkin:

http://www.cleaneatingmag.com/recipes/dinner-tonight/cincinnati-chili-with-turkey-pumpkin/

Bean Soup with Andouille and Collards:

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/slow-cooker-white-bean-soup-with-andouille-and-collards

Chicken and Pasta Soup:

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/chicken-pasta-soup

Shiitake and Noodle Hot and Sour Soup

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/shiitake_hot_sour_soup.html

Picadillo

http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/slow-cooker-picadillo-recipe-ew0212

Black Bean Mushroom Chili:

http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/slow-cooker-black-bean-mushroom-chili-recipe-4408

Yum! Those all sound delicious – and most of them can be adapted to dairy free or gluten free versions. There are also few vegetarian versions in there. Something for everyone. The crock pot is a great way to have food prepared and ready for you when you get home – so pull it out from the back of your cabinet, and get to using it!

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It’s Time to Fall in Love with Yourself

We hear a lot of negative self talk around the gym.

“If I weren’t so fat I could do that.” 

“Maybe someday I won’t have a fat a$$.”

“I just need to lose X more pounds.”

Truth is, ladies, this should not be happening. We are coming to the gym in order to improve ourselves, feel better, gain strength, confidence, flexibility, endurance, or just plain functional ability. This takes effort that goes beyond just the physical exertion. It takes effort to have healthy food prepared to take to work for the week. It takes emotional support from the people surrounding us. It takes emotional strength the create and maintain change. So why, then, are we counteracting this effort with negative self talk?

It’s time for you to love yourself.

Not in a narcissistic, nonstop selfie-taking, all consuming sort of way, but in a productive, positive and constructive way. One of my favorite quotes is “It’s hard to be happy when someone is being mean to you all the time.” That means YOU. Quit being mean to yourself. 

This can be incredibly hard to do. But why? Here are some ways to make it easier to love yourself:

1. Be realistic.

Let’s be honest. Perfect is not realistic. You cannot expect yourself to look like someone else, either in a magazine or in real life. Each body is different and unique. Everyone’s abilities, struggles, and strengths are different, and so their fitness/life journey will look completely different than yours (and so will their body).

2. Surround yourself with positivity.

Seek out your positive friends. Write down daily positive affirmations. Stay away from fitness magazines that make you feel bad about yourself. Don’t spend your energy on people who are negative. This is not always possible 100% of the time. But do the best you can.

3. See and Seek your strengths and passions.

What do you love? What are you really good at? What are you getting better at? Find those and spend energy on these things. 

4. Appreciate your strengths and improvements.

Have you gotten stronger in a particular movement lately? Do you feel like you have more endurance than you used to? Good job! Pat yourself on the back for that. Recognize those things and acknowledge them. 

5. Give yourself grace.

Accept yourself the way you are. (I know, this can be really hard.) Forgive yourself for mistakes that you make. You’ll be better for it, I promise. 

6. Get in touch with you.

Take some time to spent just with yourself. Go for a walk, meditate, get a massage or pedicure. Become aware of how your body is feeling, both physically and emotionally. Becoming in touch with yourself can allow you to see negative self talk coming before it derails your day and your mood. 

Try practicing one of these tips at a time and observe the changes that (hopefully) occur. Loving yourself can help you become more successful. Who doesn’t want that?

Want more tips on how to love yourself? Check out this blog post (and the video included):

http://www.paleoforwomen.com/10-steps-to-fall-in-love-with-your-body/

Learning To Listen – Guest Post from our Head Trainer

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone come in and say they were tired…

We all work ourselves too hard. Burn the candle at both ends, so to speak. And we forget that our bodies have signals built in to let us know how we should be handling that. Our head trainer addresses this in her most recent blog post. You can read the blog post here:

http://nutsandboltsfittraining.blogspot.com/2014/08/learning-to-listen-plus-weekend-workout.html

Have a safe and happy Labor Day Weekend!

A Lesson to Learn at Any Age

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook posts and a high school friend of mine, with a daughter under one year old, posted this wonderful article title “10 Things I want My Daughter to Know About Working Out.” While reading the article, every part of me was singing a resounding “YES!” 

These lessons are things that of course I would want my daughter to know, but they are things that I also want my clients to know. So often people come in to the gym to lose weight, fit into a particular dress size, or look sexy. This is the mindset around working out, and we put ourselves into the gym to workout, we put ourselves through a workout to lose weight, we want to lose weight to fit into that dress, or to impress that person (sometimes that person is ourselves). When we have this mindset, we forget the other things that working out gives us. Strength. Mobility. Longevity. Confidence. Endurance. Durability. Health (and working out) is more than just a number – whether the number is our weight, our body fat percentage, or our dress size. We forget that we can take that workout outside, enjoy the sun, the grass, the water, the hillsides and mountains. There are so many other ways to workout other than just inside the gym. Remember this. We want you in the gym, of course, but don’t limit yourself. Take a hike, go for a swim, play with your kids at the park. You’ll have fun and benefit your health in more ways than one. 

You can read the article by following this link.

Happy Monday!

Are Your Hips Sassy? – A Brief Guide to Stretching and Opening the Hips

Many of our clients have been coming in to their workouts expressing hip pain or tightness. A good number, if not all, of those clients have careers that involve long periods of sitting.If you are one of those people, here are some stretches and exercises you can do to restore hip mobility/flexibility and may help to reduce pain and tightness.

1. Butterfly stretch (Psoas and Hip Adductors)

Begin in a seated position and bring the bottoms of your feet together, making a diamond shape with your legs. The closer your feet are to your body, the more you will feel this stretch in your inner thighs. Move your feet away from your body while keeping the bottoms of your feet together, and you will feel the stretch in the outsides of your hips through the outside of your hip.

2. Kneeling Hip Opener (Hip Flexors)

Begin kneeling with one knee on the ground and the other leg bent with the foot on the ground in front if the body. (This kneel should look the same as the kneel football players take when another player is injured.) Keeping your torso upright, push the hips forward. You should feel this stretch in the hip flexor of the leg with the knee on the ground.

Alternatively, you can do this stretch while standing if kneeling is not an option for you. With a step in front of you, place one foot forward on the step. Bend the front leg and push the hips forward while keeping your torso upright. Again, you should feel this in the hip flexor of the leg that is back.

3. Pigeon Stretch (Gluteus Medius and Maximus, Piriformis, and Hip Abductors)

Find a counter or table at hip height or below. Bend one knee, bringing it up toward your chest. Then, picking up your foot, place the outside of your leg on the table or countertop, laying it down. Your leg should be out in front of the body, resting on the tabletop in the shape of a “7.” Begin with a lower surface if hip height is too intense, and work your way up. Your goals is to lay your leg down flat on the table.

4. Deep Squat (Hip Adductors and Psoas)

Begin standing with feet just outside hip width and toes pointed out slightly. Keeping your core tight and back straight, lower body into as deep a squat as you can manage. For a deeper stretch through your hip adductors (inner thighs) you can use your arms or elbows to gently press your knees outward.

This should not be painful, so if squatting if an issue for you please skip this exercise. 

Try some of these stretches at home this weekend. Tight hips can cause discomfort when sitting, standing, and walking. You may find that these are helpful! This is by no means a comprehensive list of hip opening stretches, so if you are in need of additional stretches please see us or your fitness professional.

These stretches, in addition to core, glut, and hamstring strengthening exercises, should help to alleviate some tightness and counteract the effects of long periods of sitting we all experience. For more stretches and exercises, you can see this article. Happy weekend!

Information Overload

There are a lot of “diets” out there. You’ll find articles and research indicating some food you’re eating will make you sick, fat, and/or diabetic, or that another food is the holy grail of health. You can find a diet for every health condition under the sun – for diabetes, rheumatism, obesity, irritable bowl syndrome, autoimmune disorders, for skin health, heart health, to lower cholesterol, for fertility, and even some that claim to reduce cellulite.

For every article that indicates you should be eating a particular food, you can almost assuredly find an article that indicates you should not.

Often the recommendations or criticisms of particular diets are contradictory. Red meat causes cancer. Juicing is good for weight loss. Gluten is bad for you. Raw vegan diets are the best way to go. Red meat is safe if it’s sustainably sourced. Eating a “Paleo” or “Primal” diet is best for your body because it follows what our bodies are evolutionarily designed to eat. Juicing spikes insulin levels and counteracts weight loss. Some people tolerate gluten better than others. Raw vegan diets are not the most nutrient dense diets. You should take vitamins every day. Drink plenty of water. Plant based diets are best for the environment. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Avoid sugar. Avoid carbs. Avoid fat. Eat enough protein but not too much.

You can find articles, calculators, and recommendations for the amount of calories you should be eating for your age, gender, activity level and goals. You’ll see that research indicates very low calorie diets (VLCD) of 1200 calories or less per day quickly and effectively reduce body weight. Because of this, many people feel that 1200 or less calories is appropriate for their own weight loss goals. Often it is overlooked or omitted that these VLCD are not recommended for the average person with weight loss goals because the hormone response to a VLCD can actually cause weight gain (healthy hormone profiles are disturbed by a VLCD). Very low calorie diets should only ever be adopted under a physician’s recommendation and supervision.

Are you confused yet?

Sometimes we put ourselves into a box and limit ourselves to certain foods. We can be paralyzed with the amount of information, floundering, trying fad diets that don’t work, or not eating entire groups of food. (Of course there are situations in which you should not eat particular foods, such as with allergies or intolerances.) This limitation can cause unnecessary stress, which can in turn counteract your weight loss efforts, disrupt your life, and even disrupt your relationships. Food should not be so confusing.

So what should you eat?

This will be different from person to person. Your age, gender, activity level, tolerances, preferences, and cultural background will all contribute to the foods that you will feel most comfortable eating. The real answer to the “what should I eat” question is another question: “What do you feel best eating?”

Now is a perfect time to become more in tune to your body. Listen to and feel what your body is telling you, particularly after meals. Do you feel bloated or tired after eating a certain food? Does a particular food upset your digestive system? Do you feel energized, nourished and sustained by the food you are eating? Below is a list of tips that should help you discover what foods work best for you, with a few general rules about what foods should (almost) always be included.

1. Keep track of what your body is telling you after meals. 

Write down how you feel physically and emotionally after meals. Are you stressed and bloated? Sleepy? Still hungry? Keep track of your responses to certain foods (being sure to include what food you ate) to understand what your body responds best to. You should not feel bloated, gassy, or have an upset stomach after meals. You should feel full, satisfied, and energized.

2. How do you feel between meals?

This one you may or may not need to physically track on paper, but it definitely worthy of paying attention to. Are you bloated? Tired? Dizzy? Grumpy?

It is very common for people to feel tired or sluggish between meals, and their energy is brought back up only when they eat again (not related to sleep). Just because it is common, however, does not mean it is normal. Fueling yourself with the proper food at meal times is essential for blood sugar regulation and control which will help keep up your energy levels through out the day rather than just around meal time.

3. Do your food limitations stress you out?

Sometimes we follow a particular diet because we think it is the healthiest way to eat, but excluding certain foods causes a high level of stress – especially in self-inflicted restrictions, rather than those of necessity. I’m not saying that someone who has a gluten allergy should eat gluten because eliminating it causes stress. I am saying if there is no real medical/health reason to exclude that food, then maybe it would be worth reducing your stress by including that food again.

This recommendation should be taken only if there is not a medical necessity, there is no addiction present, and the inclusion of the food would not cause a negative lifestyle change. Please, don’t go bingeing on fast food because its more convenient and “less stressful” to have someone else cook your food.

4. Do you still enjoy life?

Let’s face it: food is at the center of most celebrations. Food is social. We celebrate graduations, weddings, birthdays, accomplishments and other milestones by going out to eat or throwing a party centered around a meal. If you exclude yourself from celebrations because you know the food there won’t “fit into your diet,” you are excluding yourself from valuable, important interactions with friends and family. Those interactions are a vital part of your health as well – don’t exclude yourself simply because of food. Don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed with fear of eating a food that “isn’t in your diet.” Of course, make good choices when you can, choosing healthy, wholesome and nourishing foods, but it’s okay to be a human being and enjoy time celebrating with loved ones over a delicious meal.

Food sustains life, but food shouldn’t consume your life. Find a way of eating that works with your lifestyle rather than against it and nourish your body to the best of your ability.

The Time Is Now

FitSugar-Motivational-Fitness-Quotes

 

The typical phrase – “I’ll start _____.” Monday? Tomorrow? Next month? Once work isn’t so busy? When my kids are a little older? When I’m not so stressed? It’s a pattern, a cycle, in which you continue to allow yourself to start later, and something will invariably always come up, allowing you to once again postpone. How many of you have experienced this?

In a chemical reaction, there is a certain threshold of energy that is required before the reaction can be completed. This is called the activation energy of a chemical reaction. This is similar to the extra energy required to push a rock up and over a hill. You can see this in the illustration below:

 

FG14_013

Once you get the rock to the top of the hill, there is no energy required to get it to the bottom. There’s a big energy investment in the beginning, and to reach the end there is little to no energy required.  This hill can be the obstacle you need to overcome in order to get on the road to reaching your goals. It takes more investment initially, but it’s all worth it in the end.

Don’t start tomorrow. Don’t wait until Monday. It won’t happen next week – start now.

You owe it to yourself and to the ones you love to pursue your goals right now, today. Not tomorrow.

Remember that fitness is a journey rather than a destination. Remember that it’s going to be hard but also SO worth it. Remember that you will have set backs, not failures. Remember that you have a support system in place to back you up, encourage you, and help you get back on track when you lose your way. You can do it! Start now. Not tomorrow.

Priorities

We all have them. Some of us put a lot of thought into our priorities. Others still don’t think twice about them, but rather go through their lives dealing with things as they come up. The rest know that their priorities aren’t where they should be, but haven’t taken steps to change them. No matter which you are, sometimes things that make the top of the list shouldn’t.

What’s at the top of your list? Think about that.

What’s missing? YOU are not at the top of your list.

But that’s selfish, right?

Not as selfish as it may seem. Many of our clients are the primary caregiver for their home. Many are key players at work. Other people rely on them to be healthy and available. Take a look at your number one priority. Can you still put that as a priority and give it the same quality attention if you become very ill or see a significant decline in your health? We are so quick to think about how other people will suffer if we don’t make them our first priority, that we forget to think about what will happen if we don’t put ourselves first. You can most effectively benefit those around you if you care for yourself first.

Here’s the point: You are valuable. You have worth. You deserve to take care of you.

What does taking care of you look like?

Eat Good Food. That means eating enough food to properly fuel your body. Hit your calorie goal. The idea here is NOT to be under your calorie goal, but rather to be right at it or a little over. Under eating counteracts all of the work you are putting in at the gym. It’s simply not worth it to under eat. Your energy levels will be low, your ability to exercise will be hindered, your weight loss will be stalled or reversed, and you’re creating horrible habits. If you already have those habits formed, it is very hard to reverse them. BUT, you can do it. You’re important, remember?

Move Your Body Every Day.  That doesn’t mean being in the gym and lifting weights every day. Nor does it mean killing yourself doing high intensity cardio every day (or hours upon hours of moderate intensity cardio, for all you cardio junkies out there). Get those intense workouts in 2 to 3 times a week. The rest of your week get in a walk. Dance your socks off. Play with your kids, grandkids or furry kids. Do some gentle yoga. Go for an easy swim. Get outside and enjoy the beauty around us in Sonoma County -go for a easy hike, walk on the beach, or picnic at a park. Remember, there is another side to exercise. Not only do you need to sweat and work your butt off, but you also need to rest and restore. You’re taking care of your body, remember?

Get Enough Sleep. Ideally, you should be getting around 8 hours of sleep. Although this is not always possible, do the best you can. It is vital to get in enough sleep – this is the time when your body restores and repairs. Give your body the time it needs to repair your muscles from your workouts, amp up your immune system, and restore your energy for the next day to come.

Have Fun. The power of play is immense. As adults, we forget to just have fun. What makes you smile? What brings you joy? What do you enjoy doing? Take time out of your week to do that something – have fun. It’s beneficial to your wellbeing, your stress level, your health. What are you waiting for? Go have some fun.

Don’t Worry So Much. We get it, life is stressful. But remember, worrying doesn’t do you any good; in fact, it is quite damaging. The stress hormone, cortisol, wreaks havoc on your system. It can stop, stall or reverse weight loss efforts, ruin sleep, reduce immunity, and increase inflammation – just to name a few.  Stress is omnipresent in our current society, so rather than fighting against it or giving in to it, try to learn to manage it better. Meditate, go for a walk, pray, play, or any other activity that helps you feel more relaxed and in control on your stress.

So today, take some time for you. Exercise, meditate, do some yoga, or just get outside. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish, but rather a conscious effort to make yourself more available and able to help, love and care for others around you.

(You can still be a) Foodie Friday

Diet.

Ick. What a terrible word. It implies boring, tasteless, monotonous and deprivation. No one wants to diet.

The changes you make when deciding to live a healthier life typically include eating better. We want to challenge you to exclude the word “diet” from your vocabulary. This is not a diet. This is a lifestyle.

Because we are creating a long term lifestyle that includes healthy eating, we want the way you are eating to be sustainable. We want you to eat healthy, delicious food that makes you feel full, nourished, and satisfied. We don’t want you to feel deprived or constantly hungry. You can still love food! The key is to change your focus onto seasonal/fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meats, poultry, fish and other whole, real foods.

Before we share a recipe with you, here are a few ways to make your healthy food more exciting!

1. Experiment with spices.

There is an entire world out there of spices. Have you ever cooked with curry? Turmeric? Coriander? Chinese 5 Spice powder is a great one too. There is also curry paste, which is a completely different taste than curry powder. You can even try new combinations of spices, like rosemary, sage, paprika, red pepper flakes and a touch of nutmeg – works great with beef or pork. Have you ever had Jamaican jerk rub on your chicken or fish? Experiment with new spices to make a once boring dish exciting. Don’t forget the veggies too – they are another place to experiment with new seasonings.

2. Make Sneaky Swaps.

There are small changes you can make in cooking your food to make it feel more indulgent while still being healthy. Try plain greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Create zucchini noodles or use spaghetti squash in place of flour based noodles. Use applesauce or bananas in baking as a substitute for sugar, and mashed avocado makes a great substitute for oil in baking as well. Try almond meal in place of bread crumbs when making a “crusted” recipe – you can use it as a breading or on top of casseroles. Try mashed cauliflower to make “faux-tatoes.” The possibilities are endless!

3. Try a new recipe, vegetable, or fruit.

Don’t get stuck in a rut! Try one new recipe a week – Food Network has so many great ideas, and be sure to check Cooking Light or Eating Well also. Have you ever been to the farmer’s market? There is usually at least one vegetable or fruit there that you haven’t tried. Be brave, and try it out! Usually the vendors will be able to tell you the best way to cook/eat/prepare it.

And now, a recipe from a guest blog. These zucchini pizza boats are easy, delicious, and husband approved! Put the ingredients on your grocery list. Click here for the recipe.

 

Smart Snacking… On The Go

Many of our clients are busy – some of them are moms, many of them are working, and all of them have a full life. Sometimes, that means running out of time to properly fuel their body. We’ve created a list of smart snacks that are easy to pack and eat on the go (even though we would prefer that you took your time to eat!).

We ran across an email the other day with “healthy snack” suggestions. While most of the suggestions were sound, we felt that our clients (and their families!) needed a more thorough and applicable list.

1. Single serving yogurts (don’t forget the spoon!)

Grab and go yogurts are a wonderful choice – they’re full of protein, vitamins, and very portable. There are a few things you do need to be cautious of when choosing yogurts:

  • Sugar content: Sugar is a big additive in fruit-filled yogurts. Check the ingredients label and look for the key words that indicate sugar: syrup, words ending in -ose or -ol, cane juice, beet juice, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, etc. Be especially sure that the first ingredient is NOT sugar – remember, the ingredients are listed in order of highest to lowest content.
  • Additives: Try and find yogurts with less preservatives and chemical additives. Your yogurt should contain milk, active cultures, and possibly fruit.  That’s really it. If there is fruit added, their may be sugar, but try to keep that to a minimum.  The first ingredient in your yogurt should be milk.

We are a huge fan of Trader Joe’s Greek Yogurt. Staci likes the fruit ones and Marissa goes for the plain. Greek yogurt has a higher protein content, and a thicker texture (which also makes plain Greek Yogurt a wonderful sour cream substitute!). Other great Greek yogurt options are Voskos, Greek Gods, Chobani, Fage, or Zoi. Some non-greek yogurt options are Stonyfield or Clover. There are also dairy free options for those with a dairy allergy – look for coconut milk or soy yogurt. Goat milk yogurt is another option for those sensitive to cow’s milk. (Please note this is NOT a complete list, but rather a list of suggested brands.)

2. Almond butter and vegetables or fruit

Almond butter is a great peanut butter substitute with a healthier fat content and typically has less sugar added. Dip your celery, baby carrots, apples or strawberries for a yummy treat. Play with the different varieties: crunchy, smooth, salted, unsalted… just watch out for the sweetened ones like maple almond butter.

3. Hard boiled Eggs

SUPER portable, delicious and easy to prepare. With 6 grams of protein and only 70 calories per egg, they’re a great snack to tide you over until the next meal. For fool-proof instructions on how to make perfect hard boiled eggs, click here.

4. Think Thin protein bars

These just happen to be our favorite protein bars, but there are others out there. With lower sugar, high protein and great taste they are a cheaper option for a higher quality protein bar. Quest Bars are also a great option, but much more expensive. Sometimes you can find Think Thin bars on sale at Safeway or Target. Buy them in bulk boxes to save money per bar.

5. Cottage Cheese, String cheese

Another great option that is high in protein and super portable. Pretty foolproof! Try eating your cottage cheese with avocado or fresh fruit. String cheese pairs great with apples or lunchmeat.

6. Guacamole and veggies

Avocados are packed full of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Make your guacamole feel more indulgent by adding plain greek yogurt and dip those veggies! Bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, and baby carrots are a few that pair deliciously with guacamole.

7. Leftovers!

You cook delicious meals – why not continue to enjoy them after the first night? Some great portable leftovers include meatballs, chicken breast or thighs, meatloaf “muffins” (make your meatloaf in a muffin tin – portable and single serving size!), frittata, or quiche.

8. Nuts/Trail Mix

There’s almost nothing easier and more portable than nuts or trail mix when you need a quick snack. However, be cautious when choosing nuts or trail mixes. First, the calories in nuts add up quickly – be sure to either separate them into serving size packs when you buy them or buy the single size packs. Second, trail mixes can be filled with sugar and candies which makes that once healthy snack an indulgent treat. Avoid trail mixes with chocolate candies in them (darn!) and sesame crackers, but rather steer towards the trail mixes with a variety of nuts and dried fruits.

Having these snacks on hand will make it easier for you to make a healthier choice when you’re hungry and in a hurry. No more grabbing a handful of potato chips and candies! You can be prepared and ready for anything, even when you’re short on time.

What snacks are your go-to snacks when you’re in a hurry? What do you struggle with most when it comes to snacking healthfully and your busy life?