Sunday, June 29, 2014

Slow Cooker Chipotle Shredded Beef or Pork

This is a very versatile recipe. The shredded meat can be used in burritos, tacos, wraps, tostadas, quesadillas, and anything else you can dream up. It requires a little bit of prep and then sits in the slow cooker all day. This would be a great recipe for meal prep since you'd have a whole pot of shredded meat to use throughout the week in meals.


2-3 lbs Pork or Beef (pork butt or picnic, beef chuck)
2 tbsp Olive Oil, divided
1 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 Sweet Onion
2-3 Garlic Cloves
2 Chipotles in Adobo (canned, in the hispanic foods isle)
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
1 Can Beef Broth


1. Combine the spices in a small bowl. Rub into the meat, covering all the nooks and crannies and each side evenly.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil until shimmering. Sear the meat on each side, using tongs to flip it. Remove and place in the bottom of a large slow cooker.

3. With the skillet remaining over the heat, deglaze with the beef stock and scrape up any brown bits. Whisk in the tomato paste and chipotle peppers. Once sauce comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until slightly thickened and reduced.

4. Meanwhile, add the onion and garlic to the top of the meat in the slow cooker. Carefully pour the sauce over top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

6. Once the meat is fork tender, remove and shred with two forks. Pour a portion of the sauce, over top of the meat and let soak to enhance flavor.

Great Apps for Food Journaling

Food journaling is a great way to track your daily nutrition. You can keep track of your calories if you are trying to lose weight, or you can use it to see how certain foods effect your mood and fitness performance. Many Beachbody programs come with nutrition plans which specify a certain amount of fats, proteins, carbs, etc, and this is an easy way to keep track of them. 

There are plenty of high-quality, free apps that you can use for food journaling. Below are a few of my favorites:

LOSE IT - The Lose It App is my favorite and it's the one I use to track my daily calories. It is very user-friendly and has a lot of great features. I use their recipe function to input recipes I make often so I can quickly track them. It also has a UPC scanner so I can scan-in any grocery items I use. You can choose to monitor your protein, fats, carbohydrates, sugars, and other nutrition data so you can easily follow nutrition plans that are included with most Beachbody programs. You can also track exercise with this app either by choosing their pre-entered workouts or you can add custom workouts, which his great if you have a heart rate monitor that tracks calorie burn. 

SPARKPEOPLE - This app is associated with the very popular website, which has been around for a long time. With the app, you can track your calories and exercise, daily water intake, and nutrient data. This App also has features for adding recipes, custom foods, and scanning UPC codes. You will also have access to recipes, exercise demonstrations and fitness articles. Sparkeople has a huge community of members who connect with each other to share fitness information.  

I find this app to be a bit too much information for me since my exercise and nutrition have already been mapped out, but it's still very useful and easy to use. 

myfitnesspal - This app is very popular with the Beachbody community for it's simplicity. It easily helps you track calories, nutrients, and exercise. Similar to the other two apps I mentioned, myfitnesspal lets you add custom foods and recipes, scan barcodes, and add exercise. There is also a large community associated with this app, many of whom do the Beachbody programs. 

One added benefit to joining myfitnesspal is the way it interfaces with some of the new fitness technology available. If you have a Garmin, Fitbit, Jawbone, etc, check out the webpage to see what they offer. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Health and Fitness Favorites

I've been doing Beachbody programs for years, and along the way, I've found some great items that have made my life a lot easier. Most of these items are low cost, but they can make a huge difference in your fitness routine.

Hanging Pull-Up Bar
This is a must if you are doing any of the P90X programs. I did my first round of P90X with bands and I really didn't feel like I got an effective workout that way. This pull-up bar is not terribly expensive but it made a huge difference for me in my arm and back definition. If you are going to commit to P90X, X2, or X3, invest in one of these.

Rage Fitness Pull-Up Assist Bands
I have zero arm strength, so when I tried doing a pull-up on my own, it was a huge fail! I got these at Dick's Sporting Goods and I am very happy with them. They were a bit of a splurge, but I am able to follow along with the P90X back workouts with no problem using these. There are three levels of weight, so you can reduce the amount of assistance you get as you get stronger.

Yoga Block
I am not a very flexible person. I struggle with a lot of the poses in yoga workouts, especially standing poses. A yoga block is great for extending your reach during the more difficult standing poses and helping you to keep your balance. These are also very inexpensive at Amazon or Target.

Aura Cacia Aromatherapy Mist
I bought this product on a whim at Whole Foods and I use it all the time. There are several different scents to choose from and I have liked every one I have tried. I spray these on my yoga mat before beginning a workout to energize or relax me. I spray this on my face after a workout to refresh  and hydrate my skin. I also spray this on myself during the day set my makeup and give myself a little aromatherapy boost.

Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt Soak
I cannot live without this stuff. When I start a workout program, my muscles get SORE! I hate the feeling of walking around with stiff, achy muscles all day long. Epsom salt soaks are fantastic for soothing muscles and preventing soreness. Mix 3 handfuls in a very hot bath and soak for 15-20 minutes after a hard workout. You will sleep better and the next day, you will feel much less sore. Dr. Teal's comes in great scents like rosemary mint and lavender, but any old epsom salt will work.

100% Tea Tree Oil
Essential oils are great, they smell good and a lot of them have many uses. Tea Tree Oil, in my opinion, is the most useful essential oil. This oil has antiseptic properties, so if you start to break out after starting a workout program, dab this oil on problem areas and you will see a reduction in inflammation. If you want to take care of your skin and scalp, add a few drops to a bath or to your shower products. The oil will cleanse your skin and prevent dirt and grime from building up.

Quest and Power Crunch Protein Bars
I've never been into protein bars, I find them to be chalky and not very good, but these two are the exceptions. When I find myself reaching for candy or a treat in the afternoons or after dinner, I grab one of these instead. My craving is satisfied and I won't ruin my nutrition for the day with sugar and fat. Both of these bars come in great flavors and give a boost of protein. These are great for a clean eating nutrition plan.

Vanilla Shakeology Latte

If you still love your iced coffee drinks but want something way healthier, give this a try. You get a great vanilla latte flavor with all of the health benefits of Shakeology. Win-win!


1 Scoop or Packet Vanilla Shakeology
1.5 cups Almond Milk
1 sprinkle cinnamon
1 tbsp instant coffe grounds or 1/2 cup brewed coffee
5 ice cubes


Add almond milk and coffee to blender. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth.

Peppermint Patty Shakeology

This is a great, refreshing way to enjoy Shakeolgy. I think it tastes a lot like a Peppermint Patty. Be very careful with the Peppermint extract. A tiny bit goes a very long way. You only need a few drops to get a great minty flavor.


1.5 Cups Almond Milk
1 Scoop or Packet Chocolate Shakeology
1/4 tsp Peppermint Extract
5 ice cubes


Add almond milk to blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

Peanut Butter Cup Shakeology

This is my go-to recipe for Shakeology. I got the recipe from my coach when I first tasted Shakeology years ago. I love the chocolate-Peanut Butter combo, it has a really rich taste without being too sweet.


1 Scoop or Packet of Chocolate Shakeology
1 Sprinkle Cinnamon
2 tsp Powdered Peanut Butter
1.5 Cups Almond Milk
5 Ice Cubes


Add almond milk to blender, then add all of the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth and serve.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Savory Parmesan Oven Fries



2-3 Baking Potatoes, washed and cut into strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Cooking Spray


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

2. Soak potato slices in warm water for 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse clean. Place slices in a large bowl. *Do not skip this step, rinsing the potatoes removes starch from the surface of the potato and makes for a crispier fry*

3. Drizzle olive oil over potato slices and mix with your hands to coat every slice

4. Mix the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika in a small bowl. Slowly mix in spice blend with your hands to coat the potato slices. 

5. Spray a baking pan very well with cooking spray (or use nonstick pan, but these do STICK! so be careful). Lay out potato slices in a single layer on the baking pan. 

6. Cook fries for 30 minutes in the oven, turning fries with a spatula about halfway through. 

Grilled Beef and Vegetable Kabobs



2 lbs lean sirloin steak, cut into 1" x 1" chunks
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Button or baby bella mushrooms
Dash of your favorite steak seasoning
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Dash of salt and pepper
splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar (optional)
Kabob skewers (metal or wood)


1. Rub steak seasoning into steak cubes

2. Combine soy sauce, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and vinegar in a 1-gallon plastic bag. Add steak chunks to bag and marinade 30 min to 1 hour (or overnight for best flavor)

3.  If using wood skewers, soak for 10-20 minutes to prevent burning on the grill. 

4. Assemble kabobs using vegetables and steak, alternating each to fill the kabob skewer

5. Grill on med-high for 10-15 minutes, turning every few minutes to cook all sides of the steak and char the vegetables

Marinara Sauce


This recipe is usually enough for 2-3 uses.

2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp Olive Oil
½ sweet or yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¾ cups red wine
2 tbsp Italian Seasoning

1.Heat Olive Oil over medium-low heat

2.Add onions and cook 5 minutes or until translucent

3.Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, be careful not to burn garlic

4.Increase heat to medium and add red wine, cook down to about half.

5.Add crushed tomatoes and spices and bring to a boil.

6.Decrease heat and simmer sauce 20 minutes – several hours (sometimes I will make this early on a weekend and let it cook all day)

Black Bean Soup



2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup diced white onion
1 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 (15 ounce) cans black beans
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke


 shredded monterey jack and cheddar cheese blend, blend
 chopped green onion, sour cream


1.Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium/low heat.

2.Add onion, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic to the oil and simmer slowly for 15 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

3.Keep the heat low enough that the veggies don't brown and be careful not to burn the garlic.

4.While you cook the veggies, pour the canned beans into a strainer and rinse them under cold water.

5.Measure 3 cups of the drained and strained beans into a food processor with 1 cup of chicken stock.

6.Puree on high speed until smooth.

7.When the veggies are ready, pour the pureed beans, the whole beans, the rest of the chicken stock, and every other ingredient in the list (down to liquid smoke), to the pot.

8.Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes or until soup has thickened and all the ingredients are tender.

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup



2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 jalapenos, finely diced
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I used Hunt’s brand)
1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup instant brown rice
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 limes, juiced, plus wedges for garnish (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 (8-inch) flour tortilla, grilled, cut into thin strips ( I used pita, tasted just as good)


1.In a large saucepan heat the vegetable oil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes.

2.Once the onions have softened add the garlic and jalepenos and cook for another minute.

3.Pour the chicken broth, tomatoes and beans into the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil lower heat to simmer and add your chicken breasts. Cook the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes.

4.Once chicken is cooked remove from pot. When cool enough to handle, shred it and return it to the pot.

5.Add brown rice and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes until rice is cooked.

6.Add lime juice and fresh cilantro to the pot. In a serving bowl, ladle soup over chicken and top with a lime wedge, and grilled tortilla strips.

Delicious Roasted Broccoli

I make this broccoli with dinner all the time and it always comes out great! After learning this recipe, I actually crave broccoli. You can use a cheese substitute or nutritional yeast if you are eating vegan or vegetarian, I don't think it would make a big difference in the taste. it's the oven roasting that makes all the difference.


1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets (or a bag of fresh florets)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
sprinkle of pepper
Sprinkle of favorite seasoning (optional)
1-2 tbsp Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2. Arrange broccoli florets on a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with olive oil, toss to coat. You don't need to use much here, just a little bit to add some flavor.

3. Sprinkle with pepper and seasoning

4. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until broccoli is fork tender and lightly browned

5. While still hot, sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese (or cheese substitute)


Sautéed Balsamic Mushrooms

This recipe is for a mushroom side-dish that goes well with grilled meats, fish, or a salad. The balsamic vinegar reduces as it cooks and glazes the mushrooms, which makes them very flavorful!


1 tsp olive oil
1 carton sliced baby bella mushrooms
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced


1. Heat oil a small frying pan over medium heat
2. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds
3. Add mushrooms and stir them around in the pan until they are slightly browned, this takes 2-3 minutes. 
4. Add balsamic vinegar and coat mushrooms
5. Reduce heat, simmer 2-3 minutes, then serve