I love me some kettlebell work, and the snatch is probably my favorite. It includes anti-rotational work, cardio conditioning, shoulder strength and stability, and just a smidge of technique and coordination as anyone who has banged up their wrists can tell you. Plus, it's fun to throw heavy stuff around. I'm working with a relatively light bell here for demo purposes, and also because this was the closest one and also because I'm very cautious with my chronically screwy lumbar spine. Done right, kettlebell work should strengthen and not aggravate the back (or anything else) but a good way to screw up any kind of lift or dynamic movement or maybe just anything in life is to do too much too soon or try to be a big shot in any way. Humility is the name of the longevity game.
Let me start off by saying that I love pizza, and there is, and will always be, a place in my life for its heavenly combination of cheese, sauce, and crust. For most people, pizza fits in just fine to an overall healthy style. To be crystal clear: there is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with pizza! But one of the most challenging things for anyone to handle is when you have a fitness and/or nutrition plan, and the person you live with isn't on the same one. What's a girl (or a guy) to do?
Grass-fed ground lamb is usually pretty inexpensive in my local Giant grocery store. Therefore, I've gotten a bit past the "but baby lambs are so cute" guilt, and learned how to make some stuff. It's a good source of protein and often used in Mediterranean recipes which makes for interesting flavors and recipes I didn't grow up with.
You guys, what a roller coaster ride this was. Highs, lows, celebration, despair, fear, elation! I made this souvlaki chicken recipe last week and was mentally berating myself because I'd meant to write it up days ago...but it turns out the extra few days made all the difference. What a ride!
Here's a no-excuses, squeeze it in, no-equipment workout.
It takes about 15 minutes including a brief warm-up and rest period so you can get it in before work, while you're waiting for dinner to cook, before your kids' show ends, in between meetings...and all it requires is a little space and 100% of your effort...for 20 seconds at a time.
"Tabata" (rhymes with ciabatta...mmm...carbs...) workouts are high intensity intervals that use a 2:1 ratio or work-to-rest. Each one is only 4 minutes long, so here, you'll do two back-to-back. You can download a free interval timer to use, or just keep an eye on a stopwatch or clock. Easy, right? The only "catch" is that these super short intervals mean you have to go as hard as you can for the full duration. You should be out of breath at the end of each 20-second interval! And that 10-second rest should feel shorter and shorter each time it comes around.
Look, sometimes you just can't make it to the gym and you don't have an hour to spare. This isn't going to take the place of a long cardio session or serious lifting, but HIIT has been shown to improve aerobic capacity (especially if your typical cardio sessions are a little slow), and stimulate fat-burning.
Challenge yourself to get the same number of reps in the first round as the last!
So this recipe is advertised as "healthy." And also "idiot proof." I will absolutely confirm the latter. The former...eh, it's a "depends on what your definition of 'is' is" kinda thing. That said, you could do a lot worse for a sweet treat. More on this later. In terms of ease, you could do a lot worse in this area as well. It's a one-bowl, zero-prep, mix and bake recipe, and took about 8 minutes before I tossed it in the oven for 25 minutes.
The original recipe calls for:
Taste: Oaty and chocolatey and brown sugary. Stands to reason. These aren't a sweet, dissolve in your mouth kind of snack by any means. These puppies are DENSE. This may have been due in part to not using the pastry flour, as the original recipe calls for, but it's actually kind of nice to have a filling snack or breakfast or treat. One square is definitely enough, as opposed to a butter-based cookie or brownie, where you don't feel like you've had enough until it's way too late.
Nutrition: Well, these are "healthy-ish." Yes, oats are great for you. Whole grains and fiber and all that goodness. If you use whole wheat flour, even better.
But let's be honest: there's still a bunch of brown sugar and chocolate in here, not to mention a cup of oily fat. All that said, I did some math (brace yourselves). A cup of brown sugar has about 840 calories. The chocolate chips have about 1200 calories. Seems like a lot, but I got 35 substantial squares out of my pan. Assuming I divided everything with laser-like precision, that's about 24 sugar calories and 35 chocolate chip calories per square. I'm not going to add up the estimated caloric value and portions of everything else, but I will say it's not the worst you could do for a sweet treat in terms of whole grains and sugar breakdown.
Life: One bowl, 30 minutes? Yeah, totally worth it. Plus, these are kind of hard to mess up, and easy to mix up if you don't have absolutely everything on hand or want to switch up your fats or swap out chocolate for something else. It's so easy and adaptable, it hardly counts as baking since you're unlikely to screw it up by changing things much. I'd say it's a good option if you're dying for a cookie (or a project) but don't want to go off the rails, or want a family snack that feels like a treat.
Now please enjoy a bonus photo of a sneaky dog with a bottomless pit for a stomach, stalking a potential snack.
I know this is going to sound crazy, but sometimes I miss Mondays. Obviously I still experience Monday as an actual day, but in my line of work- training, working for myself, having weird hours, etc.- I don't ever get that "first day of the work week!" feeling...or the "yay it's Friday!" feeling. (Okay, maybe that's the feeling I miss more!)
But there is a lot to be said for taking that weekend off, and feeling like you're starting fresh, staring down the week with a sense of energy and hopes for what you want to accomplish.
This Monday, March 20, happens to also be the first day of Spring. As someone who is deeply affected in the cold, dark months, I love knowing that warmth and sunlight are on the way, even if the day itself isn't so warm and sunny. It makes me feel hopeful and energized and about all the things that make people happy or feel good...which is basically the point of my job, and arguably, my existence on earth.
To that end, I'll be starting a weekly wellness post, as well. I want to fill these posts with wellness tips for getting through a workday, a work week, a tough time, a tough workout. More to come, so stay tuned!
I stumbled upon this recipe while researching new ideas ground turkey (that sale the other week was a blessing and curse!) and TL:DR...it was pretty good! The mix of sweet potatoes and savory other flavors really hit the spot, and didn't leave me feeling overly full or heavy.
I didn't change anything from the original recipe, as I hadn't made it before and wanted to see how it turned out. Also, I love my cast iron pan and will use it at any opportunity but it's absolutely not a requirement for success here. Oops, I lied: I was out of real garlic so I used garlic powder, which I buy in biggie size.
All you need is:
It's always great when you can pull together a pretty good meal from basic ingredients, and I happened to have (almost) all of this laying around already.
So brown the meat, add the onions and peppers, add the sweet potatoes until tender, season, melt cheese on top if you want...and done. Dinner and lunch and dinner again. And maybe lunch again.
Taste: More than okay. Definitely not the most amazing thing you've ever eaten, but that's okay for a mid-week, mid-day meal, right? You're probably not going to binge on it, but it's an enjoyable meal and a little different than the boring old salad. High lunch points! Loved the sweet potato and found myself fishing for it. I think the cheese is good, but definitely optional.
Nutrition: Again, we've got lean protein, so check-plus for that. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite carbohydrate sources, which will keep you energized and prevent a crash as you work through the afternoon. Plus, they taste like a treat to me. Onion and pepper are great for flavor and those orange foods have the orange-y vitamins we like, like Vitamin A, plus filling fiber. This is a solid, nutritionally dense meal and relatively low in fat. Just mind the cheese quantity if you're watching fats!
Life: Oh, just try this one. It took about 20 minutes, including chopping time. The hardest part was not slicing my fingers during my onion-cry. This is a perfect lunch meal for the office: easy to portion off, easy to heat up, and satisfying.
I'm starting a new (hopefully) weekly feature (probably on Thursday!) in which I try out a "healthy" recipe from the ol' interwebs, and see if it's worth your while. This week, I tinkered with a tried and true recipe for meatballs, and sort of followed along with one for turkey spinach meatballs I found on Pinterest. I figured I would start with something I'm reasonably confident in, and also, the turkey was on sale. The result: tiny brains!
Full disclosure: I am a pretty good, if not terribly gourmet, cook. That is, I can usually dig through the contents of my fridge and cabinets and come up with something, based on basic principles and ratios of food prep, and I don't always need to follow a recipe. Case in point, I have made these meatballs, or variations thereof, many times. They are a go-to when I want a week's worth of food that's easy to make, easy to heat up, and can be added to a salad, served with a side of roasted veggies, or even homemade marinara sauce, like I made today. (More disclosure: realizing that I could make really good sauce from scratch without referring to a recipe made me feel like a goddamn culinary genius and a bona fide adult.)
Anyway. Here's what I did.
Took all of the below, put it in a bowl and mashed it up together with my hands. There is no concern about "brusing" the meat or the herbs or any nonsense. This was discounted ground turkey ("Manager's Special!").
Taste: It's turkey, so it kinda tastes like what you put on it. It's a great vehicle for other flavors, and a healthy nutritional profile. These particular meatballs have a light flavor, a little salty, and I enjoy the cooked spinach which is definitely not overwhelming.
Texture: Because turkey is super lean, it's also not super moist. This is why we add some fat for cooking. I personally find these tasty and satisfying but if you're used to beef meatballs, it's just not going to be the same.
Nutrition: Okay, obviously I barely measured anything here but these are good sources of lean protein. The spinach sneaks in some good vitamins and fiber without feeling overly 'spinach-y' and they make a good base for a number of different sides.
Life: These are so damn easy and you can alter them in so many ways based on what you have, you basically have no excuse not to make them once in a while. I've made them with lamb, beef, bison, turkey and combinations thereof. The important piece is adding a bit of fat for moisture and whatever seasoning you want, then keeping an eye on them as they cook. I like mine when they are a little bit browned on the outside. I love throwing them on top of a salad (and even eat them cold but I might just be weird); I've sliced one up with some eggs, almost like a side sausage; I'll eat them with cooked veggies or with a dab of BBQ sauce on top.
PS: In case you're wondering, my marinara is based on this recipe.
Trying foods, trying moves and trying to be more awesome.