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


Have You Downloaded Your Summer Cookbook Yet?

Let see...

Summer?

Hot?

Don't want to cook indoors?

Coach Nancy has a solution?

It's called the "Great Grub to Grill" cookbook, and it's packed with "grill-ready" recipes that will not only get you out of the kitchen, but add some serious flavor to your summer!

From Poultry to Pork with flavors ranging from Spicy to Sweet, there is sure to be your new favorite summer recipe in this beautiful book.

And It's absolutely FREE!

Just enter your first name and email address below, and you will be sent your own copy faster than you can say "Humugity"!

Enjoy!

Change Your Stars

"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill

I love that quote, and I need to be reminded of it often. I am NOT an optimist by nature. I wouldn't call myself a pessimist either, though. Probably I would describe myself as an analyst. Take a look at what's going on around me, size up the situation, and if there is a problem to be solved, try to figure out a way to solve it. I think you lean optimist when you think that way.

And I think analyst is different than being a realist. To me there is a hint of resignation to the situation in that description. Nancy would probably agree I a bit too stubborn to just accept things the way they are. Why do I have to just accept it? I can at least try to do something about it, right? 

You learn pretty fast in life that you can't control every situation. But you are far more in control than you think you are. One of my favorite movies is "A Knight's Tale", starring the late Heath Ledger. I know it's fictional, but there is a big lesson in there. Ledger's character William is from a poor family, and his father, knowing he cannot take good care of him, sends him to squire for Sir Ector. At a tournament Sir Ector dies, and William disguises himself as Ector and wins the tournament. And so begins an elaborate ruse as the poor William fakes being nobility so he can enter tournaments, and starts winning them. Of course there are bad guys and beautiful girls along the way, like any good adventure story.

One tournament finds him close to home, and he finds his father, now blind and even more destitute. In a touching scene William asks his father "Can it be done father? Can a man change the stars?" His father gently and resolutely replies, "Yes William. If he believe enough, a man can do anything."

And that's exactly how William Thatcher becomes Sir William.

Just a story? Maybe. 

But I've had the privilege of seeing many people change their stars. Lose massive amounts of weight. Be able to flush their once necessary meds down the drain. Make weak muscles strong and achy bones healthy. 

They do it because they believe they can. Because they are problem solvers. Because when life knock them down they get up just one more time.

Change The Stars. Change YOUR Stars.

I believe in you.

Coach Dean


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




I Don’t Feel Like It

I didn't feel like getting out of bed this morning. I didn't sleep well, had a lot on my mind in the middle of the night, and was kind of cranky.

I didn't feel like training this morning. The thought of getting under the bar for some heavy squats just wasn't doing it for me. 

I didn't feel like writing this article. Sometimes the words and thoughts just don't come, and I didn't want to wrestle with it.

And I did all of it anyway.

Why?

Well it really does not change the situation to stay on bed and mope. So I got up, did some reading and office work. When I saw Nancy I matter-of-factly told her I was in kind of a bad mood. "Noticing and Naming". Doesn't do any good to ignore it and bite someone's head off because of it. She responded kindly, gave me a little room, and everything is cool. 

Next was taking Andrew to work and then hitting my workout with my Monday training partners, who I always enjoy seeing. Did our thing, warmed up, and then got under the bar with a weight I had missed the last time I attempted. Couldn't get one single rep. Today I successfully completed every set and every rep on the training plan. Feels good.

And this article? It gets a lot easier to put a few thoughts down when I open the computer and start typing, rather than milling around the house ignoring the fact that Monday mornings is my writing time. And while these few words may not exactly be on par with Socrates, I hope the lesson I learned (or re-learned) this morning is that while we are emotional people, being driven solely by emotions is usually not a good idea, and if I didn't do something every time I didn't "feel like it" not much would get done.

In a few short hours, just by taking some action in spite of my feelings, some real productive things happened, not the least of which is I feel better.

My mood is better. 

I demonstrated to myself I am getting stronger.

And you get to share in my boundless wisdom. Ok, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. 🙂

The next time you "don't feel like it"?

Do it anyway.

Because that's where magic can happen.

Let's get moving!

Coach Dean

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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Too Good Not To Share

Josh Hillis is the kind of guy who makes you smarter just by reading him. The following quote is in an article he wrote about Brie Larson, who plays the superhero Captain Marvel in the movies. (You can and should read the whole article here.

"The irony is that people tend to get better results when they’re focused on process based goals (like doing the work) instead of outcome goals (like looking a certain way).  Paradoxically, people who over-value the end result often get disheartened and quit, when they don’t hit their goals fast enough, or maybe miss a milestone on the way to their goals.  They get thrown by each and every (normal) bump in the road.

On the flip-side, people get awesome results when they simply focus on doing the work.  When people just focus on doing the work:

  1. The do more work
  2. They do higher quality work
  3. They do more consistent work

If you just focus on doing the work in the gym every day, you’ll get stronger.

Also, you might find it to be more empowering, more fun, and have a drastically more positive impact on your relationship to your body.  Instead of being entirely focused on some idealized body standard, your gym work can simply be an expression of being the kind of person you want to be."

When we take hold of this concept it changes everything. When we can stop trying to live up to some 'ideal" (usually perceived not real) and simply focus on "doing the work", training becomes more enjoyable. When we accept that results aren't instant and we are in it for the long haul, training really is more fun. When we look at exercise as a practice, rather than something we are instantly going to be good at, training is a lot more enjoyable. 

Think about it this way. You don't earn a black belt in martial arts until you have practiced for years. And nobody walks into the dojo thinking they will earn theirs in 3 months. We need to have the same mindset in the gym. Lifting takes skill, which requires practice. Training your body to get into the right position, create proper tension, produce stability and mobility in the right places. Practice. Practice. Practice.

And it's so worth it. There is genuine joy when due to your repeated efforts everything comes together and it feels easy. When the chin goes over the bar, when the Turkish Get-Up flows smoothly, when the bar loaded with more than your bodyweight breaks off the floor in one smooth motion. It's poetry. 

Results will come. But as Josh says, to be successful we need to do more work (practice), which in turn creates higher quality work, and we need to do it consistently enough to maintain our skill and flow.

Bumps in the road do happen. But don't let them throw you into the ditch. Slow down, correct the wheel, and get back on course.

Let's make it happen together!

Coach Dean

Random Recovery Week Ramblings

1. 2757.6 miles and 44 hrs 42 minutes is a lot of driving in 9 days

2. I never knew the etymology of the word "bunk"...until now (unless this sign is just, well, bunk!)

3. Nancy is in way better cycling shape than me. 

4. North Carolina has the twistiest roads I have ever driven on. My motorcycle would have been preferable to the minivan. 🙂

5. One of my favorite authors is buried in Asheville

6. The Biltmore House is really stunning. The history is amazing, the architecture and engineering is incredible. 

7. George Vanderbilt was truly a visionary. He purchased over-used farmland and was instrumental in creating the first managed forests in the United States. After he died, his wife Edith sold the majority of the acreage to the US Government for what is now Pisgah National Forest. One of the most stunning things we were told was that at one time, when you stood on the back verandah everything you saw in every direction (over 15 miles out) was owned by the Vanderbilt's. 

8. Exercise equipment has been around for awhile. Check out the various "toys" in the Biltmore House gymnasium. Barbells, dumbbells, Indian clubs, a rowing machine, a cable pulley machine. Even one of the first massage showers, which they called a "needle bath". Really cool for this gym geek to see!

9. North Carolina is really beautiful.

10. It's good to be home - see y'all soon!

Coach Dean

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