All Posts by Nancy Carlson

Gotta Love Me Some Zucchini

I love August in the garden. The backyard garden is bulging with produce. One of my favorite growing plants is zucchini. I think it is because they are easy to grow, hard to kill, and produce fruit with little effort. I’m not much of a gardener but I do get my hands dirty. Over the years I've collected many recipes using zucchini. Here are a few of my favorites.

Raw Zucchini Alfredo

  • 1 cup raw unsalted Cashew nuts, chopped
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup Pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cloves garlic
  • 8 cups zucchini

Blend all ingredients except zucchini in a high power blender until smooth and starts to warm up from blender, about 5 minutes to make the Alfredo sauce.

Cut top and bottom off of zucchini. Using the julienne blade on a mandolin cut zucchini length wise to create noodles. Pour sauce over individual portions.

Since zucchini are prolific I wanted to share this recipe from Paulette W. These are one of our family’s favorites year round.

Zucchini Fritters (my absolute favorite when I have a bit of time in the kitchen)

  • 5 medium zucchini, shredded (4 cups) with box grater or food processor
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (I used almond flour)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional (but yummy) and 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • coconut oil or ghee for cooking

Shred zucchini and put into large bowl. Sprinkle with the sea salt and toss well. Walk away for 10 min. Scoop up a generous handful of zucchini and squeeze the living daylights out of them. You want the zucchini dry - nobody likes soggy fritters. Place in a different bowl. Add flour, egg, pepper, and baking soda. Stir to combine Heat a large skillet over med-high heat. Melt a spoonful of oil or ghee in the pan. Pack a 1/4 cup of zucchini mixture out onto the pan and flatten until you get a patty. You can cook 4-5 patties at a time. Cook each side for 3-5 min or until brown. Cool on a cooling rack so they don't get soggy. 

Coach Dean's sister gave me this recipe. It is a killer soup in the Fall. I freeze some zucchini just for this recipe. 

Deb’s Zucchini Beef Soup

  • 1/2 pound cooked ground beef or use left over steak or roast cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes,  do not drain (28 ounce)
  • 3-5 zucchini, cubed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley as garnish (optional)

In large stock pot cook onion, celery, and green pepper in oil until tender. Stir in tomatoes, water, seasonings, and beef. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired. Serves 6

Chicken & Zucchini Poppers

  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (leave peel on)
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 3-4 Tablespoon cilantro, minced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin (optional)
  • Coconut oil for cooking (or avocado oil or ghee)

Toss chicken with zucchini, green onion, cilantro, garlic, salt, and pepper (and cumin, if using). Mixture will be quite wet.

To cook on the stovetop:

Heat a drizzle of coconut oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Use a small scoop or a heaped tablespoon to scoop meatballs into the pan. Cook 8-10 at a time for about 5-6 minutes on the first side. Flip and cook an additional 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown and the centers are cooked through.

To bake:

Drizzle a bit of coconut oil or avocado oil onto a baking sheet. Scoop meatballs onto the greased pan. Drizzle a bit of additional oil over the meatballs. Bake at 400 degrees 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through. If desired, place under the broiler for an additional 2-3 minutes or until browned on top.

Serve with guacamole, salsa, or your favorite dip.

Enjoy Good Food,

Coach Nancy

Why Your Coach Takes Fish Oil and You Should Too

Do supplements count?

Dietary Supplement. Definition, Merriam Webster: "a product taken orally that contains one or more ingredients (as vitamins or amino acids) that are intended to supplement one's diet"

Supplements are intended to be just that, an addition to already sound nutrition practices.

Since many supplements come in a bag or bottle, and have lengthy ingredients lists, they do not fit the definition of either "fresh" or "whole" foods. But they are not totally useless either.

At Cr8 Fitness we work hard at not being a supplement pusher. We do carry supplements and will make recommendations that in our studied opinion can make a difference in your overall health and can help "fill the gaps" in your diet under certain circumstances.

A high quality Fish Oil is my first recommendation. I'll give you 5 reasons why I take it and you make the call for yourself.

  1. My grandmother died of a stroke and my mom has always had blood pressure issues. One of the main reasons a doctor will recommend fish oil is for its healthy heart proponents. I'd like my ticker and my whole circulatory system to run without any hiccups. 
  2. My immediate family has a history of 4 different types of cancers. Fish oil has been proven to help slow or even stop the growth of cancer cells. As far as preventing it in the first place that is still being studied but many believe it is true. I'll take any benefit I can when it comes to cancer.
  3. Boost my brain health. Omega-3s are vital for normal brain function and development. Low levels of omega-3s may accelerate brain aging and contribute to deficits in brain function. People with depression or a mild memory loss should consider taking omega-3s from fish oil. Although fish oil is typically praised for its benefits for heart health, it also has incredible effects on brain and mental health that are worthy of some attention.
  4. Fish oil has strong anti-inflammatory effects and can help reduce symptoms of inflammatory diseases. Inflammation is your immune system's way of fighting infection and treating injuries. Because fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties, it may help treat conditions involving chronic inflammation. It can significantly reduce joint pain and stiffness. 
  5. Beyond those great reasons, your skin will benefit, your hair, your metabolism, and even your bones benefit from taking a fish oil. 

With all these reasons, I've chosen to take a fish oil supplement daily. While I enjoy eating fish, I don't eat it enough to gain the same benefits. This is easier for me. 

SFH is a high quality brand that delivers. Right from the SFH website I read how they are different than others fish oil supplement companies. 

  • Concentrated fish oil in just 4 capsules!
  • 2 capsules twice daily delivers approximately 3000mg of EPA and DHA
  • Enteric coating is applied to target the oil for GI absorption which helps maximize effects.
  • Enteric coating also means less fish burps!
  •  Third party tested: our SO3 oil meets or exceeds CRN, GOED, WHO, and IFOS.
  • SFH is derived from a mixture of Alaskan Pollock, sardines, herring, and anchovies which means it is naturally derived and never created in a laboratory setting.

I choose to listen to what science tells me is true and I enjoy the benefits I feel from fish oil. 

To Your Best Health,

Coach Nancy

Quite the Quinoa Spinach Salad

It's a sign when in the past two weeks, three different people have asked about Quinoa. I figure if three people are asking, more of you just haven't had time to ask as well. 

Quinoa is a grain. It's been proclaimed as an ancient grain, the queen of grains, and close to super food status. I'm going to stick with calling it what I know- a grain. Since it is a grain, its primary macro breakdown is carbohydrate. While it has a fair amount of protein (for a grain) and some healthy fats too, it is a grain and in our meal planning should be treated as such. It is a bit different than wheat as a grain because it is gluten free and eaten more like a seed than a cereal type of grain. 

With all that being said. Here is one way to enjoy quinoa in a cold summer salad. 

Quite the Quinoa Spinach Salad

  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound of turkey kielbasa
  • 1/2 cup black berries or raspberries
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 6 cups of fresh spinach

Don’t forget to rinse the quinoa. You’ll be an unhappy camper if you spend time fixing a meal that you can’t eat. Quinoa has a coating that is easily rinsed off with water right before cooking. It tastes bitter without that rinse. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse until the water runs clear before going to the stovetop.

Bring 1 cup of water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 12 minutes. Set aside. Cook kielbasa on a grill over medium heat. Set aside to cool, then slice into ½ moon shapes. Combine all the ingredients in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with your favorite dressing.

Once it gets closer to Fall, I use 2 apples, sliced, in place of the berries for a perfect Fall time salad. 

Enjoy good food,

Coach Nancy

Tex Mex Hash

Why is it that when it gets hot out, I'm in the mood for hot spicy foods? Am I the only one like this? Well whether I am or not, I've got a great recipe for a hot and spicy meal. If you're not up for this in the summer, then save this one until the cooler weather hits. 

Tex-Mex Hash

  • ½ pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced small (about 1 ¼-1 ½ cups)
  • ½ cup diced red onions
  • ½ cup diced red pepper
  • ½ cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • Fresh Cilantro, Avocado, Green Onions, Salsa (optional)

Place a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add beef, seasonings and water to the pan. Cooked until beef is browned.

Remove beef from pan and place on paper towel lined plate.

To the same pan, add ½ tablespoon of coconut oil and heat over medium-high until it starts to shimmer.

Add sweet potatoes, dash with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 10-12 minutes or until cooked through and slightly browned.

Add remaining ½ tablespoon of oil, onions, red pepper, mushroom and spinach and sauté for about 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado green onions or salsa. 

Enjoy good food,

Coach Nancy

P.S. I haven't tried this yet but sprinkling the top of this dish with crumbled bacon sounds sensational. Let me know what you think after you try it. 

Water You Waiting For? Drink up

Your coaches are always up to something. In July we're going to challenge you to drink a lot of water each day. Here's how we're going to help you do just that. It's going to be a competition. When you come into the gym you'll find one board covered in blue stickie notes. Our goal is simple, clear the board as fast as you can of these blue stickies. We should be able to do that in just about 3 days if we all drink up. 

Here's how you pull a stickie note off: Drink 100 ounces of water in one day. It's that simple - 100 ounces over the course of 1 day. Each of those 100 ounces is one stickie note removed. Your assignment is to drink 100 ounces in one day therefor earning one blue stickie note. As a group we'll be drinking almost 100 gallons a day. We can do that. 

Not convinced that you need to join our challenge?

 Water is the most important nutrient we can feed our bodies. Let's face it we all know we can survive a lot longer without food than without water but we certainly don't act like it. If you are like me, I sometimes feel like I am starving (like every few hours) and yet I rarely say I am dying of thirst. If I truly believed that water is the most important nutrient I would be drinking water all the time. Are you like me?  I usually have a glass of water with my meals and rarely in between. To me that looks like I am giving just as much focus on the food I eat as the water I drink. Science tells us that the body would die without water in just a few days and yet we could survive 3-4 times that without food. Some of us could go even longer. What do we need so much water for?

· 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (Likely applies to half world pop.)

· In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.

· Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%.

· One glass of water deters hunger pangs for 98% of the dieters observed in a University of Washington study.

· The biggest trigger of daytime fatigue is lack of water.

· Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

· A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

· Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, breast cancer by 79%, and develop bladder cancer by 50%.

· Water serves as a lubricant

· Water forms the base for saliva

· Water forms the fluids that surround the joints.

· Water regulates the body temperature, as the cooling and heating is distributed through perspiration.

· Water helps to alleviate constipation by moving food through the intestinal tract and thereby eliminating waste- the best detox agent.

· Regulates metabolism

Did you see that last one? That is how our bodies use the fuel we give it.

This list is not exhaustive but it only touches the surface. Our bodies are 98% water so we need to replenish it and renew it.

So how much water does all this take? Researchers say to take half of your body weight and drink that in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds that is 75 ounces of water a day. Remember the 8-10 glasses that your doctor told you to drink. If there are 8 ounces of water in each glass you are not getting enough. (10 glasses times 8 ounces is only 80 ounces of water, so make it 16 ounces of water or two cups in each glass and you are there.)

Water are you waiting for? 

Get your glass filled to the brim and drink up.

To your best health,

Coach Nancy

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Celebrate the Fourth of July

Happy July 4th! Today that just doesn't seem like the right thing to say without truly recognizing what July 4th stands for in our great nation. Many of us know our history and we realize the founding fathers of this country put a stake in the ground so to speak in writing The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. They wrote a paper and sent it off to the King of England. That paper was backed by their resolve and oh so much more. They were stating and declaring war on England if the king didn't release them to form their own country. And war came. To celebrate when many of these men lost their homes, their fortunes and their family due to the very war they brought on. It seems odd to celebrate with such heart ache and yet we do because of the ideal of a better end result.

It seems odd to me today. Last week my son who is serving our country called to say he was home from his deployment. He had been injured in battle. It could have been serious. He could have died. As his mom, I don't want to celebrate a country that is at war. I'm too afraid of the price that could be paid. As a citizen who loves this country I will celebrate. I'll celebrate because this country is great, not perfect, but great. I'll celebrate because I am thankful. I am thankful for the blessings of this place. I'm thankful for the technology that protected my son. I'm thankful that if a bigger price had to be paid, many people would recognize the loss knowing the bigger picture is held in place. He serves to protect that better end result. 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,"

Today celebrate our great country. Celebrate each and every life that has spent their days on our soil. The 'end result' is no longer an ideal but a reality. Independence Day is a day to celebrate the life we chose to make here. 

Happy July 4th.

Coach Nancy

Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Dressing

This salad will get you ready for the warmer weather. It's the perfect dish for a summer barbecue. It's excellent with grilled shrimp or chicken, and you can also place this salad on top of lettuce greens.

Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • Black pepper, to taste

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spread two-thirds of the watermelon on a serving platter. Top with red onion and mint, then season with pepper. Pour dressing over salad and garnish with remaining watermelon cubes.

To your best health,

Coach Nancy

Winning S3 – Sizzlin Summer Slimdown

Sizzlin Summer Slimdown 2019 is over. Once again S3, our six week get ready for summer challenge has created a noticeable loss of weight in over 200 people. We started in the beginning of May with 211 people signed up for six weeks of diving deep and focusing on their nutrition. Their goal was to lose weight. In losing weight our goal is always to become a healthier version of ourselves. We knocked it out of the park this year.

Check out these numbers. We started with 50 teams between the 211 people who signed up for the challenge. 190 of those 211 did the final weigh in. 90% of the people who started this challenge, finished it That is phenomenal numbers. From those 190 people we loss 1, 354.5 pounds over the course of the challenge. (1300 pounds is as much as a male polar bear or a quarter horse)

Out of those 50 teams, each person on 39 teams completed their final weigh in. Which by the way was the average number of teams who completed our weekly challenges as well. Each week, every team who completed the challenge had their name thrown in a drawing for real prizes. The prizes ranged from meals cooked and delivered to the team or food items they'd need during the challenge to kitchen tools to use while prepping. 

After the final numbers were in, 12 teams had over 4.99% of weight loss during the challenge. These teams were in it to win it. They took the challenge as a team and helped each other for six weeks. Working as a group, they achieved more than they could on their own.

The Top 12 Teams Were Represented At Our S3 Party!! 

High fives go out to these teams:

  • Trans4mers
  • The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
  • The Naturals
  • 8:30 Friends
  • KECH us if you can
  • Dan's Girls- Keeping up with the Jones
  • Just do It
  • Changing our Weighs
  • KlLL
  • Chafing the Dream
  • Girl Power
  • The Three Burritos and Refried Beans

Our team winners walked away with over $800 each. The secret to their team success? Daily check- ins amongst themselves. "Chafing the Dream" was made up of Katie Bean, Andria Collins, and Katrina Lebrecque. They trained each day together at 5am. They didn't miss one training time. They wrote each other in a group chat every day. I know they were snapping pictures of each meal and sending it to the group to keep themselves accountable. These ladies were tight knit in goals and how they were going to achieve them. They managed to lose 13.68% of their beginning weight during the challenge. Congratulations ladies.

One person took home the biggest check. Katrina Labrecque won the overall individual weight loss category in S3 2019. She lost 16.42% of her body weight. She has been on a journey to regain her body composition since her third child was born 8 months ago. She has twin, 4 year olds as well. Working full time and being a busy mom of 3 preschool kids is hard. Katrina took these last six weeks and focused much of her attention on herself. She is a healthier and happier mom and wife because of it.

While Katrina took home the top award, there is a big shout going out to 17 other individuals who lost over 9% of their body weight during Sizzlin Summer Slimdown 2019.

Denise Call                 

Lindsey Peterson

Donna Maltais

Andria Collins

Tim Hall

Frank Muller

June Fredette

Heather Manning

Bob Jones

Jessica Emond

Katie Bean

Lori Mercier

Evelyn Gaynor

Peter Hallock

Laurie Vallee

Abby Jones

Lisa Beausoleil

And these aren't the only winners. I've been saying this so much to many others who lost weight but didn't win a cash prize. "Did you make progress? Did you learn something new about your self? Can you continue this process? Then you've won, you've won something more than money. You've won the power to change. Things like the habit of planning meals, having a system to food prepping, setting aside weekly time to get meals ready for the week ahead, and getting yourself started with your first pound lost are giving yourself the power to change. 

S3 involves cash prizes, and the ladies who won will enjoy their checks. And yet, we've all been given the power to change. What are you going to do with it moving forward? 

To your best health,

Coach Nancy

Birthday Cake Smoothie

I love parties and I love birthday cake. The other day a group of us were talking about protein shakes and which flavor we liked best. I mentioned that Coach Dean is very good at creating new combinations of flavors. Since Sonia's birthday was coming up, they suggested Coach Dean put his creative abilities into making a Birthday Cake Protein Smoothie. It was a hit. In fact I liked it so much I had it for breakfast this morning, and I do not know anyone who has a birthday today. 

Birthday Cake Smoothie

  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Beverly International's Vanilla UMP)
  • 1 scoop angel food cake protein powder ( I don't know of any other brand that carries this fantastic flavor- Beverly International's Angel Food Cake UMP)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces of water
  • ice
  • whipped cream and sprinkles just for fun!

Mix the protein, the banana, the almond and vanilla extract, water, and ice in a blender. Pour into a glass and decorate with whipped cream and sprinkles. 

During the summer I love treat that is light in flavors. As a kid Pineapple Upside -Down Cake was a favorite. So you know what I did? I made a Pineapple Upside - Down Cake Smoothie. It was delicious, maybe just as good as Coach Dean's Birthday Cake Smoothie. You'll have to let me know. 

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Smoothie

  • 1 scoop Vanilla UMP
  • 1 scoop Angel Food Cake UMP
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 16 ounces of water
  • ice
  • whipped cream and sprinkle - because it makes me smile

Mix the protein, the pineapple, the almond and vanilla extract, water, and ice in a blender. Pour into a glass and decorate with whipped cream and sprinkles. I think a cherry on top would make this perfect. 

Enjoy your food,

Coach Nancy 

Stacy’s Snickerdoodle Smoothie

Coming up with a new recipe is all about experimenting. Creating a taste in a smoothie takes talent and Stacy and her family have talent. She created this recipe for her son who loves Snickerdoodles. Now he is enjoying the snickerdoodle flavor in a cup. I asked Stacy to share this recipe with me. We decided to taste test it with some of our 6:15 peeps too. 

Here's how you make them. 

Stacy's Snickerdoodle Smoothie - Single Serving

  • 1 scoop Vanilla UMP (Beverly International Protein powder)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 ounces water
  • ice is optional

Blend and enjoy. It's that simple

Stacy's Snickerdoodle Smoothie to feed an army

  • 1 container Vanilla UMP 
  • 2/3 cup cinnamon

Shake the container well to mix the dry ingredients. Use 1 scoop in 8 ounces of water. Add ice if you like it colder. 

Thank you Stacy for creating and then sharing this recipe with us. Thank you Sonia and Jane for being our test tasters. We'll be testing this recipe soon during training so be ready to have your taste buds dazzled. 

Enjoy your food,

Coach Nancy

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