All Posts by Nancy Carlson

Get Rid of the Munchies

I am not sure what triggers it but there are days when all I want to do it eat. What's up with that? Has that ever happened to you? I've figured out a few things that have helped me over the years to get rid of the munchies, so I thought I would share them with you.

Here's how I Kick the Munchies Back to Where they Came From:

  1. Distract myself with work. Making that work as far away from food as possible. 
  2. Grab a hot cup of coffee or tea or water. I can give my stomach something to fill itself but making myself drink it slow because it is so hot often satisfies my need to eat.
  3. Reward myself. I actually will give in to the munchies but I set a timer first. If I can make it 30 minutes or whatever time I set, then I will allow myself to eat something. Often I forget what the timer is for.
  4. Take a walk. The outside air and the sun do magical things for our inner self.
  5. Put your mind on someone else. Write an email expressing gratitude, give a friend a call, or sit down to write a note on real paper. There is something about putting your attention on others that takes the focus off my 'want to have it now attitude'. 

What do you do? If you have a tip that could help me next time the munchies hit please leave me a comment below. Who knows it might just be what I need to save myself from overeating. 

To your best health,

Coach Nancy

Foods You’ll Love For the Big Game

My family will be watching The GAME Sunday. We love football. On top of that despite the fact that Tom Brady isn't a Patriot anymore, we still like him. We'll be rooting for the Bucs to win this year. I haven't quite decided what we'll be eating but here are some of our options. 

Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos

  • 3 sweet potato, large and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper , to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup black bean, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado, pit removed and diced
  • 1/4 cup sour cream , or greek yogurt

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sweet potato rounds on a large baking sheet. You might need two baking sheets if you run out of room. You don't want to overcrowd the sweet potatoes. Toss the sweet potatoes in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the sweet potato rounds. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are crisp.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle cheese and black beans over the sweet potatoes. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5-7 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and top with green onions, cilantro, avocado, and sour cream or Greek yogurt. Serve immediately.

Braised Short Rib and Bacon chili

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 lbs. boneless short ribs, cut into cubes
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, deseeded and diced (optional)
  • 2 - 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 15 - ounce can fire roasted diced tomato
  • 1 4 - ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumble
  • 1 32 - ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium- high heat.

Add the beef in batches and cook until browned on all sides.

Remove the beef from the dutch oven and set aside in a bowl.

Add the onion and sauté, adding more oil if necessary, until tender and golden. About 3 - 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and jalapeño and sauté for a minute until fragrant.

Return the beef to the pan along with the cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, bacon, and beans.

Cover and cook over low heat for 3 1/2 hours. (Alternatively, the chili can be placed in a slow cooker and cooked over low heat for the same amount of time.)

After 3 1/2 hours add the red and green peppers, salt and pepper to your personal preference, and replace the lid.

Cook an additional 30 - 60 minutes, or until the peppers and beef reach your preferred tenderness.


Slow Cooker Balsamic Pulled Pork

  • 1 lb Pork shoulder
  • 1⁄2 cup Water or broth
  • 1⁄2 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1⁄2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • salt
  • pepper


Place the pork shoulder in a slow cooker. Mix water/broth and balsamic vinegar and pour over pork. Season pork with garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Drizzle with honey. Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours. Shred and enjoy!

● Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 - 4 days.

● Enjoy in many different ways including mixed with eggs, served with coleslaw or sauerkraut. 

If it was you, what would you serve for the BIG game this year?

Enjoy Good Food,

Coach Nancy

Creamy Italian Salad Dressing

Have you ever contemplated Salad Dressing? If you are the one who does the grocery shopping, you might have wondered why it is sooooo expensive to buy. And you might be like me and wonder why don't I make my own. 

Well for probably the last 10 years, I've made my own. I've tried a zillion recipes and this one is my favorite. I have others I really like but this is hands down Delicious. If you don't tell anyone, no one will know how easy and fast making salad dressing can be. 

Creamy Italian Salad Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper , to taste

Add and then shake everything inside a mason jar with the lid on tight. Refrigerate the leftovers.

There you have it, super simple.

Here are a few benefits of making your own dressing:

  1. Saves you money
  2. gives you the control on how much sugar or lack of is inside your dressing
  3. No added preservatives
  4. All the ingredients are in my kitchen
  5. Its easy
  6. You can control how much you make

If you really want to try something crazy, make your won mayonaise. It is a totally different taste. 

Homemade Mayonaise

  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp. dry mustard
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 ¼ cup light olive oil

SLOWLY incorporate the remaining olive oil. Drizzle it in with as small a stream as possible. You’ll hear it start to emulsify. Don’t rush this. Be Patient. Continue to blend until all the oil is incorporated and your mayo is light and fluffly. (Do not use extra virgin olive oil. I’ve tried this, it is not a good choice at any time. Trust me on this). If you don't go slow your mayo will not end up like mayonaise. Don't throw it out, use it in the recipe for Creamy Italian Salad Dressing.

To Good Food,

Coach Nancy

Chicken Bacon Alfredo

Who doesn't love Bacon? The saying goes "everything is better with bacon". This recipe is no different. I love this recipe and the bacon adds tons of flavor. 

Chicken Bacon Alfredo

  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 larger delicata squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 4-6 slices bacon, diced
  • ½ cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your 425 degrees.

Cut spaghetti squash  and delicata squash in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and excess threads. Don’t be dainty.

Place open side down on a baking sheet (use aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean up) and cook for 20-25 minutes. You will know when they are done cooking when you can poke the outside skin and it ‘gives’ a bit.

Now you can either cook your chicken at the same time or after the squash is done cooking. Whatever you’d like. Just place chicken on a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil over the chicken, salt and pepper it, and sprinkle just a bit of basil on top.  I cooked my tenders for around 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Once your squash is done cooking, pull it out of the oven; dethread the spaghetti squash into a large bowl with a fork. Go against the grain. I wonder if spaghetti squash actually has a grain.

Now throw your diced bacon into a skillet and cook until done. Use a slotted spoon to pull out your cooked bacon, but leave behind the grease.

Take your delicata squash and hollow it out.  Use the insides and dump them into your warm skillet filled with bacon grease. Then add your coconut milk. You may need to add a little bit more coconut milk depending on how thin you like your sauce. Mix thoroughly with a ladle to break up the squash a bit.

Add seasonings to the mix and salt and pepper as needed. Mix thoroughly and cook on low for about 5 minutes to simmer.

Now dice up your cooked chicken.

Pour sauce over spaghetti squash and add your chicken to the mix.

Mix well & top with bacon.

I've used butternut squash a lot in this recipe. Since I usually double this recipe it works out great to use 1 butternut in place of 2 delicata squash. I mix everything together for more of a one dish meal. Plus by mixing in the bacon with the rest of the ingredients, I save myself from the bacon lovers in my family from serving themselves the 'top' portion of the meal and leaving others to a dish minus the bacon. 

Enjoy good food,

Coach Nancy


Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Its crock pot season! The winter days are soooo cold and wow the wind makes it nippier. I don't seem to have time to slow down at work, with the kids in school, or home life. But a busy season doesn’t mean we won’t be eating great meals at home. Crock pots are a life savor. I hope you enjoy these delicious tacos as much as we do.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

  • 12 oz raw skinless chicken tenders or breast
  • 10 oz can tomatoes with mild green chiles
  • 1 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp plus 1/8th tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1 medium scallion, diced
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
  • For the Slaw:
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar (or lime juice)
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Taco:

We always make these as a taco salad without any chips or shells. But you can use whatever works best for your family. My family doesn't seem to miss the crunchy part of a taco. There are ways to add crunch to a taco without the processed chips or wraps. Peel and slice Jicama into French fry looking pieces and add a few to each salad bowl. They are crunchy and have a bit of sweet taste to them. 

I like to top each taco with one or these instead of sourcream :

  • Pico de Gallo or more salsa
  • 1 medium avocado, sliced
  • chopped cilantro

Add the tomatoes to the crock pot and season with the remaining chili powder and cumin. Place chicken in the crock pot and cover. Cook on HIGH 2 hours or low for 5-6 hours.

Meanwhile, combine shredded cabbage with vinegar (add more to taste), season with salt to taste, set it aside. 

Remove chicken from the crock pot and shred with two forks. To serve place a bed of lettuce on each plate, a serving size of the chicken mixture goes on top followed by the cabbage and your favorite toppings. Garnish with scallions and cilantro.

Eat Good Food,

Coach Nancy

Remember Cr8tive Gardens has just picked Herbs for sale in the gym's fridge for $1 a pack. Right now we have Cilantro, Parsley, Thyme, and Basil. Be on the look out for Salad Greens, Collard Greens, and Micro Greens.

Everything’s NOT Awesome

Did you know that  "Everything's NOT Awesome" is a name of a song? Yep, from the Lego Movie 2. There are actually quite a few movies featuring animated lego characters. I'm off track already. Here is what I want to say. The year 2020 wasn't awesome. I don't think anyone is going to argue with that. Here are some of the highlights from my year. 

  • My aunt died
  • My Dad died
  • My sister died
  • Covid Pandemic took over
  • vacations were cancelled
  • Cr8 Fitness wasn't able to be together for more than 2 months.
  • My son's best friend died
  • They tried cancelling Thanksgiving and Christmas

I could scream 2020 was the worst but it wasn't. Here is what I see when I look back over 2020.

  • I spent more time with my family in Indiana than I have since I was married. I was there almost a month in the first 5 months of the year.
  • I was able to spend a week caring for my sister - super special memories
  • I've talked with my mom twice a day since March
  • I was with my sister during hospice
  • The Cr8 Family trained together on Zoom. We figured it out together and found it really can work.
  • My Cr8 Family is a real family in the fun times and when life is hard
  • Christmas was one of the best I can remember, Thanksgiving too
  • And life is precious so don't dismiss it by trying to skip a full year. 

So what does that have to do with "Everything is NOT Awesome" a song from a Lego Movie? My kids got me started on this song because it's catchy and gets stuck inside your head. I often am accused that I always treat life as wonderful and fantastic, kind of like I never have any bad days. That just isn't true. I miss my Dad and Sister more than words express. Having Cr8 Fitness threatened by a virus was stress I didn't know how to tackle. Seeing my son hurt with a hurt I can't fix is miserable. There are two ways to respond: Everything is Hopeless and Bleak or they aren't. I just choose to look at the good and let it define my life. How about you? 

2020 was tough on everyone. Where do you see the good in 2020? Focus on that. And then repeat.  Be known and know others for the good. 

I'm here to see your best,

Coach Nancy

"Just have one good day. Then repeat."

James Clear

A friend sent me this quote today

And just in case you want to hear or see all the words to the song, "Everything's NOT Awesome" you can check it out here.

Chicken Bacon Alfredo

I've been pulling out some blast from the past recipes this week. Favorites that I forgot were favorites. This one is yummy delicious. My whole family loves it. 

Chicken Bacon Alfredo

  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 larger delicata squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 4-6 slices bacon, diced
  • ½ cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your 425 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash and delicata squash in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and excess threads. Don’t be dainty.

Place open side down on a baking sheet (use aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean up) and cook for 20-25 minutes. You will know when they are done cooking when you can poke the outside skin and it ‘gives’ a bit.

Now you can either cook your chicken at the same time or after the squash is done cooking. Whatever you’d like. Just place chicken on a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet, sprinkle some olive oil over the chicken (or other kind of fat), salt and pepper it, and sprinkle just a bit of basil on top.  I cooked my tenders for around 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Once your squash is done cooking, pull it out of the oven; dethread the spaghetti squash into a large bowl with a fork. Go against the grain (if spaghetti squash had grain).

Now throw your diced bacon into a skillet and cook until done. Use a slotted spoon to pull out your cooked bacon, but leave behind the grease.

Take your delicata squash and hollow it out.  Use the insides and dump them into your warm skillet filled with bacon grease. Then add your coconut milk. You may need to add a little bit more coconut milk depending on how runny you like your sauce. Mix thoroughly with a ladle to break up the squash a bit.

Add seasonings to the mix and salt and pepper as needed. Mix thoroughly and cook on low for about 5 minutes to simmer.

Now dice up your cooked chicken.

Pour sauce over spaghetti squash and add your chicken to the mix.

Mix well & top with bacon

Enjoy good food,

Coach Nancy

Work Hard or Hard Work?

I'm in the gym 6 days a week to train, meet clients, clean, or stock inventory. A few weeks ago I rearranged all the Dumbbells and Kettlebells. You might recall the contest to guess how much I moved that day? 7,454 pounds of metal so that the traffic could flow a bit easier. It was hard work. 

Since March we have all faced different challenges because of Covid. One theme keeps coming back to mind as I see you struggle to create your new normal. You're Working Hard! As an observer it is thrilling to see the determination and guts, the flexibility and creativity, the energy and positiveness you've displayed while training. 

We have a nutrition challenge starting on January 29th. This challenge will give us (I'm in this with you) the opportunity to Reset, Redo, or just Start getting our food back in line so our waistlines don't keep suffering. YOU 2.0 in 2021 is designed to focus our attention to the kitchen so we can Work Hard on both sides of Health. FYI, the first 50 people to register get $10 off.  

Keep Making It Happen,

Coach Nancy


Lemon Salmon

Salmon is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, loaded with good fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein.  Cooking fish can seem intimidating, but it’s not as hard to make at home as you may think. Make it in the oven for easy clean up and save your kitchen from the dreaded “fishy” smell. This is an easy 3 ingredient dish. I've given some options to add variations too.

Lemon Baked Salmon 

  • 2 Salmon Filets
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil

Take 2 salmon filets and add a small amount of olive oil to both sides. Roll the filets in some almond meal if you want to create a crust/breading-type topping (to create almond meal just take almonds and put them in the blender). Add fresh squeezed lemon juice, salt, and pepper generously. Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 12 minutes (check at about 10 minutes to see if it's cooked enough for your liking - when poked with a fork the salmon should “flake”). Add some fresh chopped dill and parsley and pair with some vegetables, salad, or a whole grain like quinoa. 

You can't get much easier than that.

Eat Good Food,

Coach Nancy

Sawubona – I See You

2021 is right around the corner. Many of us are rushing to get there in hopes that it is going to be like a beautiful rose instead of all the thorns so many of us had in 2020. There is a famous saying: “Where ever you go, there you are.” What if 2021 is not a bowl of sunshine and roses? What if it starts where 2020 left off?

Sawubona means ‘I see you’. Not just I see you have a mask on and I see that you are shopping in the same store as I am. It means I see you intimately. Sawubona is that deep seeing where you get that person. You understand where they have been and where they are going.

I see Sawubona happening at Cr8 all the time. The chatter happening as you catch up on the weekend details or hear how an elderly parent is doing. You not only know that person exist but you see into their lives and want to participate in it with them.

Sawubona is seeing beyond the mask we are wearing.

2021 will have its roses.  As you ‘see’ others this year, see them deeper. Take the word Sawubona to heart and really see them. You’ll find by getting into each other’s lives,

  • Challenges become easier because you have others to help with the burden.
  • Tension eases as you see their perspective and not just your own
  • Goals are attained with the accountability and help of those who ‘see’ you
  • Sunny days are even brighter because you’re sharing them

I’m sure you’ll find more benefits from Sawubona – I see you.

Happy New Year Everyone. We have the ability to make 2021 the Best Year Ever.

Coach Nancy

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