Best Broccoli Salad on the Planet

The best things in life do not have to come in big packages, they don’t have to be expensive, they don’t have to take lots of time. This side dish is one that my entire family eats.  In the recipe I’ve included my secret tips to make this better, faster and you become stronger.  (sorry I am a fan of the 6 Million Dollar Man Series)

Broccoli Slaw

  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1½ cup broccoli spears, shredded
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ¾ cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 Tablespoon of Creamy Italian Dressing - below

Use the shredding blade in your food processor; grate broccoli, carrots and red cabbage.

Peel and slice red onion into thin slices and quarter the slices. (Shhhh….. When I am in a rush or I don’t want to clean all those dishes, I buy a bag of broccoli slaw mix but use my dressing not the one included in the packaging.)

Add all ingredients to a large bowl, mix. (Another secret tip: I like to add a bit of chopped broccoli just to give it some texture) Serve chilled.

Creamy Italian Dressing

  • 2 Tablespoon homemade mayo
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon Italian herb
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a blender. If mixture is too thick add either vinegar or water. Remember your dressing will get slightly more liquidy as you toss it with your salad.  (tip of the day: ½ teaspoon of garlic powder can be substituted for the clove of garlic)

Homemade Mayo

  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 ¼ cup light olive oil

Place egg, dry mustard, salt, and lemon juice in the blender. Add /14 cup of olive oil and whirl until well mixed.

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)

Enjoy all your Broccoli adventures,

Coach Nancy

Susan Gets a Perfect Report from Her Doctor

My kids just went through report card time at school. Each grade shows them how they are doing in each subject. As adults we get report cards too. Our report cards often are in the form of job assessments. And yet, there are other reports we need to pay careful attention to. These reports come in the form of numbers from blood work drawn at annual doctor's visits. Susan had such a visit recently. Her score Perfect- how cool is that. 

Susan has changed her health and therefore is changing her life. I know we both want to inspire others to do the same. Let's change the world one person at a time.

Thank you Susan for sharing.

To your best health,

Coach Nancy


Why Not Eat Your Veggies?

"Eat Your Vegetables!"

Do you hear that tone, like it was coming from mom?

Unfortunately way too many of us have memories of soggy green beans. Or the same veggie served over and over until we were seeing them in our dreams. Many of us are still hanging on to those memories as an excuse to not eat vegetables to this day. Cut it out!

Now I am not blaming mom, because when I was young the grocery stores weren’t packed with all the choices we can get now. There wasn’t the plethora of fresh options, while most people had a garden they only produced so much. Farmers markets and CSA’s were nowhere in sight.

We have no such excuses.

In fact even when fresh isn’t available frozen vegetables are extremely high quality, inexpensive and can taste really, really good. Last night for dinner I made a favorite, and it is super easy. Roasted Vegetables from a bag of frozen mixed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots), a little salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix it all together and roast in a 350 oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The vegetables natural sugars start to caramelize – delicious!

Roasted Vegetables: from Freezer to Oven to the Table

Vegetables and Your Health

“Eating higher levels of veggies and fruits are associated with a lower incidence of:

Cardiovascular disease

Colon, prostate, cervical, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, thyroid, and breast cancer

High blood cholesterol

High blood pressure

Type 2 diabetes

Obesity

Stroke

Osteoporosis

and a lot more that aren’t on this list…” – Dr. John Berardi

There is no magic pill, potion, or lotion that is going to do all that. Now if that list doesn’t speak to you, do vitamins, minerals and fiber? PLUS you get to try an amazing variety of incredible tastes from all over the world – right from your very own kitchen!

Did You Know? Vegetables (and fruits) provide an alkaline load to the blood. Both proteins and grains present acid loads. Too much acid can cause loss of bone strength and muscle mass – not cool. Osteoporosis is not just about calcium. Stay balanced by getting enough veggies.

The Good News? Vegetables are good to eat and good for you!

Eating vegetables will enhance our nutritional quality and they come in such a variety of ways to eat and enjoy. Its recommended to eat at least 2 servings of vegetables every time we eat. 1 counts, but at least 2 is way gooder!

What’s a serving?

1/2 cup raw chopped veggies

1 cup raw leafy vegetables

Here’s are some other (non-measuring cup) examples:

5 broccoli florets

10 baby carrots

1 tomato

4 slices of onion

1 cup of leafy greens (spring mix)

15 cherry tomatoes

0.5 bell pepper

1 cup of spinach

“But” you whine “I don’t like any of those!”

Lucky for you there are hundreds of vegetables in this great big wide world. Check out this list.

Help everyone out and post your favorite way to eat your veggies. 

To your best health,

Coach Nancy


Introducing Jicama

Did you know that I am not normal? And maybe you aren’t either!

And I mean that in a good way.

I’m not normal in the sense that I want to be the best version of the healthiest me I can be. I am constantly looking for ways to challenge myself to become better.

Sadly, that's not normal.

Most people just coast through life not wanting to put in the time or effort to be the best.

Most people coast through life accepting their health as unchangeable. They do what is typical in our society - eat too much, sit too long, go for the easy way out.

I enjoy physical activity! I prep food every week. I care what goes into my body. And I'm guessing but I probably eat more than the average person when it comes to vegetables.

I don't have any hard data on this, but just by talking with hundreds of people, I would guess the average person consumes less than two servings of vegetables per day.

And most of those are the same ones, over and over again.

A lot of people just don't know what or how to cook certain foods.

My biggest challenge doing this over the computer is that while I can tell you all about a certain vegetable, I can show you what it looks like, I can even tell you what is great about a certain veggie... until I can get you to experience it, it’s just to ‘weird’ to even think about.

I’m going to introduce you to jicama today. Just to say it seems a bit odd, but think of the first letter as being an “H”. It looks a bit like an odd shaped potato. In fact you would peel it like a potato and the inside reminds me of a white potato. BUT the similarities stop there. It tastes different, in fact ,you can eat it raw or cooked.

Jashbrowns are a favorite way to cook jicama for rockstar Jennifer.

I peel the jicama, which is a root vegetable, and then slice it into thin French fry shapes. I add these to a taco salad so that I have crunch without a taco shell. My kids love it this way too.

Check out this recipe highlighting jicama paired with cucumbers as a side dish.

Jicama Cucumber Salad with Chili Dressing

  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced onion
  • 1-1½ teaspoons chili powder, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups diced peeled jicama
  • 1 medium English cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Puree vinegar, oil, onion, chili powder and salt in a blender until smooth. Toss jicama and cucumber with the dressing in a large bowl; stir in mint. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the salad with more chili powder before serving, if desired.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Ultimate Meal Planning Guide: Chapter 4

The Cr8 Fitness Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning

Chapter 4: Shopping For Success

Once you have created your meal plans for the week, you'll need to create your shopping list, and then go grocery shopping. There really is no one way to create your list. Some of us like old fashioned paper, and there are plenty of apps online if you prefer the electronic thing.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a sanity check for what's actually ON your list. We should see plenty of lean proteins, veggies, fruit, and healthy fats. If you have more boxes of breakfast bars in your cart than you do packages of broccoli, beans and beef, you need to reconsider.

As one of my nutrition coaching mentors used to say; "Don’t spend your time scavenging the bread aisle for a lower net carb English muffin while your cart is overflowing with Pop Tarts. That’s like mowing your lawn while your house is on fire.”

The infographic below shows what should go in your cart, and into your body, 90% or more of the time. Take a few minutes to check it out. I bet you come up some great ideas to add to your meal plans just from this list.

meal planning

My Number One Grocery Shopping Tip

This is NOT a secret and most assuredly you have heard it before. But it's worth remembering, rehearsing, and getting tattooed on the inside of your eyelids. (Ok, maybe that's going too far. Maybe.)

Don't go grocery shopping hungry. Ever.

I swear when I am hungry cookies jump off the shelf into my cart and a pint of gelato rolls across the floor in front of me. Every time.

And always always always shop with, and stick to, your list. Honor the time and hard work you put into creating it, you'll be happy you did.

Next time I'll reveal my secrets for making dinnertime meals quick and easy!

Digging the Results of March Madness

In my days as a Preschool teacher, March was the month of, "March in like out Lion and our like Lamb". I don't think anyone felt like a fluffy wooly little lamb after our Million Meter Match in March. It felt more like March was a Rip Roaring Lion that didn't let up one bit. We all grabbed this challenge by the handles and skied our lion hearts out. It took each of us working daily to accomplish this. Proud, Proud, Proud! 

Dan didn't take time for this photo shoot, he kept right on skiing. His goal is a Million Meters skiing solo this year. 

A Million Meters is a lot! But just how much did you ski?

1,000,000 meters is like going to Boston and back = 8 1/2 times. 

1,000,000 meters is like crossing Lake Michigan twice. (No need to fear sharks when crossing a lake- just saying)

1,000,000 meters is like driving around Lake Winnipesaukee 10 times on a Sunday. 


Each of these posters represent 50,000 meters skied

One poster represents enough miles to drive to Portsmouth, NH from Cr8 Fitness! 

1,000,000 m is about 20% of the way to San Diego 


Pulling together as a team, we accomplished a mighty task. We did a little every day instead of trying to cram it all into one day. It's this course of action we need to do in our personal lives on a daily basis. Each day doing one task that will, over the course of doing it consistently, will make a magnificent impact on our lives. 

That is my challenge to you. Find one task you can do each day that will improve the quality of your health. Track your progress. See how far you can go!

To Your Best Health,

Coach Nancy


The Secret Life of Motivation

One of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies includes this exchange between Captain America and the Hulk...

Steve Rogers:
Dr. Banner! Now might be a good time to get angry.

Bruce Banner:
That's my secret, Captain. I'm always angry. (morphs into the Hulk and punches the leviathan)

HULK. SMASH!

I was reminded of that scene when I was talking to a client about their motivation, or in this case lack thereof. The gist of the conversation is that he found it hard to be motivated to train regularly, and to nourish his body with good food choices, and to lay off the alcohol.

But the kicker was when he said something along these lines; "Well it's easy for you, you're a trainer, you're always motivated!" 

Yeah. Right.

Because I am a trainer I have some unique genetic makeup that causes me to be full of energy all the time, never get tired, always feel like working out, and be predisposed to eating broccoli and sprouts, while vomiting at the site of chocolate cake.

Tell that to my 280 pounds self from 15 years ago. The one that couldn't walk up the stairs without getting winded, got home from work and crashed on the coach for four hours every night, was pre-diabetic and just plain unhealthy.

I am no superhero, but I do have a secret. Just like Bruce Banner.

Here it is. 

I am not motivated all the time. But I take action anyways.

You see we have motivation all wrong. Motivation is about emotions, and we tend to be ruled by our emotions, rather than control them. If I only trained when I felt like it, if I only ate right when I felt like it, if I only went to bed early when I felt like it - I'd be the mess I was 15 and 20 years ago.

Just like in the dictionary, Motivation follows Action. Feelings follow Activity. 

When you don't feel like it, do it anyway. 

It's not easy. If it were easy everybody would do it But think about it this way. 

Have you ever regretted getting that workout in, once it was over? Have you ever regretted biting your tongue and responding kindly rather than reacting in anger? Have you ever regretted an act of service when you rather would have stayed home?

Didn't think so.

You absolutely will need some of level of discipline, and success breeds success. The more you exercise a little discipline, the easier it gets to continue to do so. The opposite is also true.

Don't tell yourself you are not motivated. You already know.

Take action. Put your feet on the floor, and get your butt out the door.

You won't regret it.

Let's Get Smashing!

Coach Dean


Ultimate Meal Planning Guide: Chapter 3

The Cr8 Fitness Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning

Chapter 3: Building Your Portfolio 

Have you ever looked through a photographers or artists portfolio? Dozens, if not hundreds of beautiful prints, displaying amazing creativity and artistry. 

We all know instinctively this portfolio took time and effort to cultivate. Pictures get added and removed as experience and skill increases. The artist learns what appeals to her audience, and it gets easier to get in the creative flow.

You are the artist of your kitchen, and your "audience" is the people you are feeding. The first pages in your meal planning portfolio is the work you have already completed; building individual meals and then your first full weeks meal plan. You are building your meal planning skills, but you are also building momentum.

You see, once you get that first weeks plan under your belt, you can really get rolling. The second week builds off the first week, the third week build off the second, and so on. 

Creating A Month of Meals

As noted, the second week of meal planning is easier than the first, because you are not starting from scratch.

Plan Week 2

The simplest strategy is to repeat last week's plan this week. But you will probably find there were a few meals that just didn’t work for your family. That's ok. Print out a new meal planning template and fill in the ones that did work. Then find another family favorite, add that one in its place and move on.

But, you may be thinking, what about variety? Won't I get bored? Maybe, but probably not. Studies show that most of us eat the same 20-30 foods nearly all of the time. But if you are worried about variety, switch the days you serve a certain meal or switch up the side dish. Don’t forget to make your grocery list now. Week two is done. Simple is Easiest, Simple is Best.
 

Week 3

We are on a roll and just getting the hang of meal plans. The amount of time it takes this week will be shorter than the first two weeks. The process gets quicker and easier every week.

With weeks one and two meal plans in front of you, print out a new meal planning template and use them as the basis for week three. Keep the ones you like, replace the ones you don't. Just like our photographer, you are cultivating your portfolio. In general you should be repeating most of your meals on a week-to-week basis. Adjust one or two meals. Don’t go crazy and change up everything that is working. Keep the changes small and consistent. Mix up the side dishes you served with a different meal and move forward. Don’t forget to make your grocery list. Week three is done. Simple is Easiest, Simple is Best.

And if you are struggling to make it happen? Don’t give up. Anything new takes a bit longer until we have made the system our own. All this planning will save you time and loads of stress each day, and you are oh so close to making that happen.

Week 4

When you sit down to plan this week, you have three weeks of your portfolio already created. This portfolio will be key to stress free kitchen time now and in the future. After this week you will have whole month of meal plans to mix and match.

Just like last week, we are going to review, and where necessary, replace. Circle the meals your family loved, and cross out the ones that got the "thumbs down". Even if you really want your kids to start eating spinach, don’t force one recipe at them. You’ll find a meal with spinach (or your wish list food item) that your family will eat.

Keep cultivating. How did the new recipe night work? Is there a certain mealtime that you want to mix up? Stick with one or two changes each week. Fill out your meal planner, and then make your grocery list. Remember Simple is Easiest, Simple is Best.

Once you have four weeks of meal plans that you like, use them like a revolving door (circular planning).

I have certain days of the week that I always fix the same thing, and my family likes that they have something to look forward to. Other days are crunch days where I need to remember to use a crockpot or have a quick fix meal. The days that I plan to have time to spend in the kitchen I use to prep other meals, make a new recipe, or make two meals at once.

Any time you feel stuck with your meal plans, come back to our basic principles.

  • Plan Dinners First
  • Plan Breakfast Second
  • Leftovers for Lunch
  • Shop with a List
  • Build your Portfolio

One more note. While this might sound silly, it's crucial to your success. Have the food you need for your plan in the house. You can spend all the time in the world planning, but if the food on your plan isn't around when it's time to prep and eat, it's hard to succeed. 

And remember, progress not perfection. Some planning is better than no planning. One meal at a time is all it takes to get started.

Let's go shopping!

The Spotlight is on Lauren

Popcorn. You know the light as air fun you pop in your mouth. About the only way I enjoy popcorn is trying to catch it one piece at a time with my mouth. I know you've all done that. It's the little bit of kid that stays inside us even as we age. Popcorn like that is the food I would use to describe Lauren's personality. She keeps the mood around her light and airy. She sparks fun like the fun we had as kids. At Cr8 Fitness Lauren catches me smiling because she is reaching her goals. She works, she goes to school and she trains with us. Through it all she is like popcorn- she brings out the kid in all of us. 

I'm excited to see what the next year is going to bring in Lauren's life. 'Moving Forward' is her middle name. Lauren is officially a member of the "Hall of Fame" at Cr8 Fitness. Every time you see a red shirt at Cr8 Fitness, you're meeting a Hall of Fame-r. Lauren has earned hers and is moving forward.

To Your Best Health,

Coach Nancy


Eat the Rainbow

I know what you are thinking, no not we are not going to talk about Skittles.

What does it mean to "Eat the Rainbow?"

Simply aim to eat as many “colorful foods” as you can throughout the day; real food - think fruits and vegetables, not Skittles. Eat green, purple, red, yellow, blue and orange.

Kind of sounds like advice for a child right? That's good, it should be that simple!

Why Color is Important

Whenever you are about to eat a meal, look down at your plate and ask yourself “where is the color here?” You want to be able to easily spot 2-3 different colors every time you eat. This is an indication that you’re eating foods that contain many different nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants.

Nature has a very simple way of letting us know which foods are really healthy and full of nutrients - color.

Close your eyes for a second and try to visualize this: the strong blue/purple color of fresh blueberries, the deep red hue of tomatoes, the bright orange of carrots.

These colors indicate nutrient content and and also the presence of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and other free radical fighting ninjas which are important in slowing the aging process and helping our body deal with inflammation.

Think Lots of Color

The different colors in fruits and vegetables indicate the different types of antioxidants. There are many types of helpful antioxidants, so you want to make sure you are exposing yourself to a variety by including different colors on your plate. You don’t want to consume only orange and red fruits and veggies while ignoring the greens and yellows. You want a wide variety.

Branch out, eat the rainbow.

Avoiding White-and-Beige-Only Meals

A standard unhealthy diet is going to be made up of many white, brown, and beige foods. As you can tell, this means colors (antioxidants) are lacking. If you notice that a lot of the foods on your plate are white (potatoes, rice, cereal, bread, pasta), brown (beef, pork, sausages, heavy sauces) and beige (cheese, processed carbs, low quality chicken and turkey), then it’s time to add some color to your plate in the form of fruits and vegetables.

Remember, every single meal you consume should have noticeable colors in it. Aim to get 2-3 different colors into every meal and you will be on the right track. Once you get the hang of that, think about your day/week as a whole and figure out which colors you might be ignoring (greens? Reds? Orange? purples?), then start adding more of those kinds in too.

Need some help to get you started? Try this recipe for Rainbow Chicken.

Rainbow Chicken

This chicken is a fiesta of rainbow colors, and is quick and easy to prep and bake – give it a try tonight!

  • 4-6 skinless boneless chicken breast (thin cut)
  • 2 cups no salt added chicken broth
  • 1 small purple onion
  • 1 small green pepper
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1 small orange pepper
  • 1 small yellow pepper
  • 1 medium tomato
  • Goya Adobo seasoning

Preheat oven to 425

Pour chicken broth into 9×13 pan and lay in chicken seasoned with 2 Tbsp of Goya Adobo.

Slice onion, peppers and tomato and arrange on top of chicken, and sprinkle an additional 2 Tbsp of seasoning.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 20 minutes or until chicken cooked through.

To Your Best Health,

Coach Nancy

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