Pumpkin Recipes for Every Occasion

Cr8 Fitness has the best peeps ever! In the last week, I've been given a joke book to fill our days especially Tuesdays with laughter, a pair of socks, and two pumpkins. I'd like to thank everyone who trains with us. You make my days easier and full of family. Since I've been able to share the joke book I also wanted to share some recipes to help make your Fall festive and healthy. If you've been blessed with a pumpkin you might be able to use that in some of these recipes. A can of pumpkin from the store will work amazing as well. I'm working on ideas to share my socks with everyone. 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup pumpkin pureé
  • 1 scoop Beverly Vanilla or Graham Cracker Protein
  • pumpkin spice (for topping)

Mix together all ingredients (except pumpkin spice) until well combined. Place into molds, I used the small silicone muffin pan. Ice cube trays work great too! Sprinkle with pumpkin spice and place in freezer until firm (about 2 hours). Let thaw a couple minutes before enjoying.

I wonder what Angel Food Cake would taste like here.

Pumpkin Bars

  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar

  • ½ cup butter

  • ½ teaspoon cloves

  • 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups milk

  • 3 eggs

  • 5 scoops UMP Vanilla

  • 2 cups pumpkin

Heat oven to 350. Place butter into a 9×13 pan and let melt in oven while it is preheating. In the meantime mix the oats, flour, and the brown sugar. Pour over the melted butter and press down with a spoon. Bake for 12 minutes. While crust is baking, scald milk and the spices. Stir in the pumpkin and then the eggs followed by the protein powder. Pour this over the crust and bake for another 20 minutes or until the pumpkin filling is firm to the touch.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

  • 1/3 cup pure pumpkin, canned
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or walnuts, almonds, flax, chia, etc)
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Ice 

Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth and creamy. Pour immediately into a large cup. Eat with a spoon or a large straw. 

Pumpkin Overnight Oats

  • 1 1/2 cups steel cut oats (do not substitute quick cooking, instant, or rolled oats)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups milk, any kind you like (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal (or swap an equal amount of chia seeds, hemp seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For serving: chopped toasted pecans, dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, peanut butter, or any other mix-ins you enjoy with pumpkin

Pumpkin Chia Pudding

  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 scoop UMP Vanilla protein powder
  • 2 TB almond butter
  • 1 TB raw honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • Sea Salt, a pinch

Blend all ingredients, except chia seeds, until smooth. Place the blended mixture into a reseal-able large jar (or 2 smaller jars) then add chia seeds. Seal jar and shake.

Place in refrigerator overnight or for at least 3+ hours. Feel free to shake jars once or twice in between to make sure they didn’t become too gelatinous. Breakfast, snack or post workout recovery is served!

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, diced, green
  • 6 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 1/2 pound ground beef, or bison
  • 1 28 -ounce can crushed tomato
  • 1 6.5 -ounce can can tomato paste
  • 1 14- ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup chicken broth, or water
  • 2 ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. cayenne, optional
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ - ¾ tsp. sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and saute the onions and peppers, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes or until onions start to soften. Then add the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Add the ground beef. Use a spatula or spoon to break it up as it cooks. Cook until meat is nearly cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

Transfer meat mixture to the slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Set heat to LOW and cook for 6-7 hours. 8. Serve with desired toppings such as: Lime wedges, diced avocado, fresh cilantro and/or hot sauce.

Enjoy Fall and Enjoy Good Food.

Thank you for being in my life,

Coach Nancy


Reminds Me of Thanksgiving – Chicken With Apples and Onions

This year's apple crop is fantastic. We have two trees and they are loaded with apples. One of the reasons Fall is my favorite season is because of apples. For the next month or so, my family will be eating a lot of apples. Another reason Fall is my favorite season is it ends with Thanksgiving. This recipe has both, apples and the flavor reminds me of Thanksgiving. 

Chicken with Apples and Onion
2 tablespoons almond meal
salt and pepper
2 boneless chicken breast
2 teaspoons coconut oil
2 onions, sliced
3 apples diced
1 teaspoon dried marjoram or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 sprigs sage
Place almond meal, salt, and pepper in a Ziplock bag, add chicken, seal bag and shake to coat. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick frypan over medium high heat. Add chicken, saute 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan, keep warm. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in pan. Add onion, saute for 5 minutes or until browned. Add apples, spices, and sage, saute for 5 more minutes. Add the chicken, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is done. If you feel you need a bit of liquid while cooking add in water or apple cider. (about 1/2 cup) My apples cooked down so I didn't add it to mine. 

Since I have apples, apples and apples, I'm going to be making applesauce and Graham Cracker Applesnack and Applesauce Overnight Oats. If you have a favorite way to eat apples, send the recipe my way, I'd love to give it a go. 

Enjoy Good Food,

Coach Nancy

Over the Top Stuffed Acorn Squash

I enjoy meals that are contained in one dish. It just seems easier to me. It helps me to keep things simple. And the clean up goes faster too. This meal could be made ahead of time and then put in the oven when you need it. It's another bonus when the whole family is busy. 

Over the Top Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • 2 acorn squash, small
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup cauliflower rice
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 2 apple, chopped


Preheat oven to 400°. Cut each squash in half. Use a spoon to remove seeds and brush all over with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast until tender, 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, make filling: in a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage. Breaking up with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally until golden and cooked through, 5 minutes. Add onion, celery, and apple. Cook until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.

Add kale and cook, stirring frequently. Add cauliflower rice and sausage to skillet with vegetables and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Divide mixture among the 6 squash halves. Switch oven to broil and broil until tops are golden and filling is warmed, 2 to 3 minutes.

You can add variety by adding in mushrooms, green peppers or both to this as well. I ended up with extra filling. My family didn’t seem to mind as it disappeared before dinner was over.

Enjoy Good Food,

Coach Nancy

3. 2. 1. 0. September Challenge

It is already the middle of the month and we are going to start a challenge. Our 3. 2. 1. 0. Challenge is laid out in the gym for you to choose what you'll be doing. Here's how it works. 

For the rest of the month of September you'll pick one area to focus your nutrition into. By choosing one focus point you can direct all your attention to that one thing so you can help yourself out. I know I could choose to do all four things but I want to do one thing really well.  After I can see success in that one area then I can place my attention on other areas. Where are you going to place your focus?


3 PPW meals

Protein, Produce, and Water

You're choosing to eat 3 PPW meals a day. Protein, Produce and water make up your meal without adding any other food categories. An example might be a steak, with a side of green beans washed down with a glass of water 

Every time you eat you'll make sure there are 2 servings of vegetables on your plate. 

(A servings is a cupped handful.) A great example would be a salad made up of Papa Dean's Microgreens topped with chopped tomato, cucumbers, and green peppers. 

2 servings of veggies

serving = 1 cupped handful

1 glass of water

glass of water = 8 ounces

Drinking one 8 - ounce glass of water every time you eat is easier said than done. 

Before every meal drink your water. Before every snack -drink your water. Tasting your meal while cooking or snagging a quick bite of your child's - drink your water. Every time you eat - drink 8 ounces. 

This i where I am focused. I am committing to eating main meals but not grabbing a snack in between. Zero means zero bites, licks or tastes of food. 

0 snacking

zero, zilch, nothing nada

Now it is up to you. We can all better our nutrition. The healthier we are, affords us a body that is able to handle the stresses of life easier. Currently there is a lot of stress factors going on. Let's give ourselves the best chance to be ready for them. 

Which choice are you going to make? 

To your best health,

Coach Nancy

So Easy Salmon Cake Recipe

These are a cinch to make from start to finish. These salmon cakes are healthy, fast, and delicious... and can be served for lunch with a salad or for dinner with a side of vegetables. Plus they are a cinch to make from start to finish.  I mixed them up a few hours before dinner this week. Coach Dean was able to coach his soccer team and have dinner ready when I came in from the gym. Now that's teamwork. 

Salmon Cakes

  • 1 can wild Alaskan Salmon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup almond meal

Empty the wild Alaskan salmon into a bowl. Add an egg, one Tablespoon lemon juice and a ½ cup almond meal. Mix everything together and shape into patties.

Sauté over medium high heat and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Homemade Tartar Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together. Best if made a day ahead. Store in refrigerator.

Enjoy good food,

Coach Nancy

Lemon salmon is another favorite recipe with only three ingredients you need to check it out. Find the recipe here. 

What Does 10 Years At Cr8 Fitness Look Like?

A decade can be viewed as a very long thing. It can also be a very short thing. If I look back when I was in second grade 10 years later would have been close to an eternity of time. When I look back on my kids last 10 years, It's flown by so quickly. 

What about in the gym? Cr8 Fitness has been around for more than 13 years. Has anyone survived more than a year, 3 years, 5 years, or the unthinkable 10? The incredible answer is Yes! In fact Dan at 6:15am has been training with us since day one. Brian is a close second by just about 3 weeks. 

And there are soooo many more. 

I'm incredibly humbled when I look at the peeps in the gym. We all have our different reasons for being here and yet health and fitness unite us all. 

I'm a grandma, my littlest peeps call me Gigi. When I am 93 years old, I want them to think I am worthy of being asked to go sky diving by them. I want to be that crazy Gigi they tell their friends about. 

Get to know those in your training time. I know you will be awed and inspired by their story.  

Gretchen who is owns one of the famous names on the banners in the gym put it so well as she signed her name that day. She wrote, "Gretchen, a Work in Progress." We are all a work in progress. I'm proud to be working along side, with you, and for you.

Keep Making It Happen,

Coach Nancy 

Everyone’s Having a Skiing Good Time in August

Team Challenge Time.

August 2nd begins our Ski Team Challenge. Summer skiing is amazing for several different reasons. 

  • The weather isn't too cold
  • No need for snow suits, hats, and gloves
  • You can hang out with your friends and not freeze
  • And it will warm you up, just in case you were a bit chilly

In fact Summer Skiing is a team sport. Here is how our challenge is going to work. You'll need to Cr8 a team (see what I did there?). Each team will have 3-4 people on it. They do not have to be from the same training time. You can ski before or after training each day. I realize some groups will be skiing while a training session is just finishing up but it'll work - promise. You can ski a maximum of 2,000 meters a day per person. Which means your team can ski up to 8,000 meters each training day. You'll mark your actual meters on your team's Ski Thermometer. If we ski during the training session those meters can be counted towards your daily meters. 

The team with the most meters at the end of August wins!

Need some inspiration?

  •  Dan from 6:15 has come into the gym and skiied since April. He just hit 800,000 meters! His goal is 1,000,000. 
  • Petra set up her own goal sheet. She has faithfully done skiing each time she comes into the gym. Her goal this month is 20,000 meters
  • The 6pm ladies formed a ski team. They wanted to challenge others so we devised this Summer Ski Challenge. They have stayed after training and skiied together. They started with 500 meters and now they are skiing at least 2,000 meters daily. 


There are already 15 Summer Skiing Thermometers posted in the gym. Start cr8ing your team now. Plan to show up a bit early or stay a few minutes later to ski. Your meters will quickly add up.

By the way if you have 4 people on your team and each of them skis 2,000 meters each training day in August you'll have a combined total of 128,000 meters. That's a lot.

Let the FUN begin,

Coach Nancy

What’s Going on Inside Cr8 Fitness Now?

Everyone is busy. In order to make your life easier I thought I would give you a heads up on some things going on inside the gym now and in the next few weeks. Check it out!

Quick recap of the video just for you:

  • Cr8 Fitness has your favorite protein flavors, multi- vitamin, Fish oil, Probiotics, and Zinc/Magnesium Supplements all stocked up. Let me know you need something.
  • T Shirt Design Challenge  -  You've been asking for more Cr8 Fitness T Shirts, tank tops, and sleeveless shirts.
    Put your imagination in gear and help design the next awesome shirt. Your design will need to be posted here in picture form by Tuesday, July 27th. We'll vote and get the new design to the T- Shirt guys at Shirtmasters for an August delivery.
    This is a challenge. Put your heads together, talk with those in your crew, get your pencils out and come up with an idea. On July 28th and July29th we'll vote here on your favorite design. The person who submitted that design will get their shirt free. Since its always good to have lots of ideas, I'll also raffle off a free shirt to all those who submit a design.
    Please make the design family friendly. It needs to be original. I've already heard some really good thought. Put them to paper or your computer and generate it.
  • Be Strong - it's good for you and it's one of the reason you come into the gym
  • A team Ski Challenge is coming up in August. Details coming soon.
  • Schedule your  Inbody scan - its easy
  • Have fun and help others have fun too. 
  • Ice cream can be eaten for breakfast. We recently sampled protein ice cream. Which means some of us had ice cream before 6am. It's super easy to make. I'll put the recipe below.

I count it a privilege to be your Coach. You are important to me. It's a proven fact that if you become healthier, you automagically become happier. And the world needs more happy. 

To your best health,

Coach Nancy


Protein Ice Cream

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 Scoops UMP Chocolate Protein
  • 4 cups ice

Blend for 30 seconds in a powerful blender. You'll need to eat this right away. It's much better that way. 🙂

When You Don’t Really Want Chicken Recipe

Staring into an open refrigerator didn't help me much yesterday. I knew there was chicken inside that I had on the menu to cook. I just didn't feel like chicken. Actually I just didn't feel like cooking. Coach Dean does most of the cooking yet I take over a few days a week. Today was my day and chicken was supposed to be on the menu. Yuck. 

I am sure that has happened to you at times too. Since I couldn't change my fate about a chicken dinner, I decided to change my mind. I spent a few minutes decided what type of food I was in the mood for and then went to my cookbook. I love Thai food and Mexican food. Probably because both have a bit of spicy hot to them. I went with Thai. 

I'm going to post the recipe as it is written but hang onto your hats because I changed it up drastically. Here's the original. Which by the way is fantastic, I just didn't have crockpot time yesterday. 

Chicken Pad Thai

  • 2 pound chicken thighs, skinless you can also use chicken breasts
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoon sunflower seed butter, (Sunbutter)
  • 1 tbsp. coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp. of fish sauce
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger (or 1 tbsp. freshly minced ginger)
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1 bunch green onion
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 carrot
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp Chopped cashews
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and a little bit of the cayenne pepper and ginger. Add coconut milk and chicken stock to a crockpot and stir well. Add sunflower seed butter, coconut aminos, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, 2 chopped green onions, cayenne pepper, and red pepper. Stir well until sunflower seed butter is completely dissolved. Place chicken breasts or thighs into the base liquid.Using a spiral slicer turn the zucchinis into veggie noodles, and shred your carrots in a food processor. Toss the zucchini noodles and carrots together to mix them well. Place these on top of the chicken in the slow cooker. The goal is for them to be steamed, not stewed.Cook for 3.5 to 4 hours on low if you are using a 4-quart slow cooker. Cook for 5 to 6 hours on low if you are using a 6-quart slow cooker. To serve, place veggie noodles on each plate and top with . chicken, then garnish with green onions, chopped cilantro, and chopped cashews.


All good stuff right?


Now here is what I did instead. 

Coach Nancy's Chicken Pad Thai (Take 2)

  • 2 pound chicken thighs, (skin on bone in)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tablespoon sunflower seed butter, (Sunbutter)
  • 1 tbsp. coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp. of fish sauce
  •  1 tbsp. freshly minced ginger (2 tsp. ground ginger)
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1 bunch green onion
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 carrot
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp Chopped cashews


Place the chicken in a 9 x9 cooking dish. Add the coconut milk, sunflower seed butter, coconut aminos, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, 2 chopped green onions, and red pepper flakes. Stir well until sunflower seed butter is completely dissolved. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 until temperature reaches 160. (about an hour)

Using a vegetable peeler turn the zucchinis and carrot into veggie noodles. Toss the zucchini noodles and carrots together to mix them well. Don't use the inner soft seedy area of the squash. Sauté the veggie strips in a pan heated to medium with melted coconut oil for about 3 minutes until soft. I used the recipe for Vegetable Fettuccine as the base for the Chicken Pad Thai.

To serve, place veggie noodles on each plate and top with chicken. Garnish with green onions and chopped cashews.

I loved the new take on this recipe for one reason, I liked how the skin on the chicken crisped up and the flavor from the liquid it was in stood out. It was a bonus how sensational it looks in the picture.

Enjoy good food,

Coach Nancy

I have different Chicken Thai recipes. Click here for one that uses broccoli slaw and lime juice. 

Sunflower Shoots, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Salad

Microgreens are the new thing when it comes to salad. At least they are in the Carlson house. Sunflower shoots are one of the six different kinds of Microgreens grown by Papa Dean. Sunflower shoots have a slight nuttiness to them and a bit of a crunch which provides a great texture. According the Riegl Palate; “Farmers originally started growing them in greenhouses to provide a supply of winter greens. They’ve become such a popular microgreen that they’re now grown all year round and available at many farmers markets. Microgreens contain up to 100 times the enzymes found in full grown greens allowing your body to more easily assimilate vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (substances found in certain plants that are believed to be beneficial to our health and help prevent various diseases).” My favorite reason to eat Sunflower shoots? I really like they way they taste. 

Sunflower Shoots, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Salad

  • 1 small head green leaf lettuce, I’m going to use Papa Dean’s microgreens 🙂
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, each slice rolled up and cut in half
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, sliced and cut into quarters
  • 14 cherries, pitted and sliced in half
  • 2 cups sunflower shoots (loosely packed)
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Divide the microgreens between 2 plates. Arrange prosciutto, mozzarella and cherries on top of lettuce.

Top with sunflower shoots.

Lightly drizzle rice wine vinegar and olive oil over salad – you may not need the full amount of either. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Serve immediately.

Whatever reason you pick to eat Sunflower shoots I hope you purchase them from Papa Dean.

Enjoy good food,

Coach Nancy

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