Yoga and YogDev Wheel Review

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Lately on my no cardio days (Tuesday and Thursday) I’ve been working on my balance and stance by doing an array of yoga exercises. Most are more geared towards helping amenorrhea (something I have been experiencing for some time now) but every now and then I’ll do a session that focuses on just balance. And since I’m not the most balanced person to begin with; I figure it’ll take some time before I feel 100% confident in taking my yoga “experience” outside my bedroom walls. In the meantime, test and try over and over, right?

So when Shaun from YogDev reached out to me about trying the YogDev Wheel, I couldn’t say no. I’ve seen yoga wheels being used on instagram photos by some individuals that I follow and I’ve always been intrigued. Not only can some of these girls and guys do these ridiculously awesome looking poses, but they’re doing them with a yoga wheel! You know – resorting back to the middle school, “she has that ability, I want that ability too!” mentality. 

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But the wheel is so much more than just a tool that helps you look awesome while working on both your core and ability to better balance yourself. There are many things that a yoga wheel can help improve including:

  • Release muscle tension
  • Build strength in both your core and back
  • Stretch key areas: chest, shoulders, back and hips
  • Tone mid-riffs, arms and buttocks
  • Drastically improve balance
  • Challenge basic yoga poses
  • Help to transition into a headstand or handstand

Those sound like things that everyone can benefit from. I’m all about toning my core so I was excited to try out the wheel once my YogDev package arrived. 

First off – I want to take a couple sentences to dedicate to how well designed this wheel is. The particular wheel I was sent was gray and white, which is perfect because my house is all neutral and I have OCD about things matching. Also, when positioned with the wheel, you don’t have the unfortunate skin pinches if you were to flinch slightly or feel like you have plastic squished between your legs or digging into your back arch – the padding material is so soft and comfortable. 

What else is awesome is that YogDev sends you a small pamphlet that gives you a variety of poses to use with the wheel – something anyone without yoga wheel experience needs! What I loved most about that was the listed poses too was that they didn’t seem too far-fetched for a beginner or someone who may not be super flexible.

I can’t wait to continuing using the yoga wheel in an abundance of ways and gaining the courage to actually video my experience – I need a little more practice first though! In the meantime, if you’re interested in having a YogDev Wheel for yourself – check them out here. Don’t forget to check out their mats and towels as well! 

 

Pasta Arrabbiata

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It feels like it’s been some time since I’ve done a meatless Monday post, let alone cooked a meatless meal on a Monday. While searching for clean-eating recipes for the week, I stumbled upon this one from Yummily Yours that I had to try since I’m still in the quest for finding the perfect natural (aka unprocessed) marinara sauce. 

It’s crazy how little amount of time and effort it takes to make a marinara. I like more chunks of tomatoes and less “sauce” in mine, so I don’t necessarily puree the tomatoes – just halve them and cook or bake. Tomatoes are magical like that. 

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So Arrabbiata is a spicy sauce that is made from garlic, tomatoes, and red chili peppers cooked in olive oil. I laid low on the red chili peppers and used chili powder myself because I was going to have the children try the sauce, but my husband deemed it an “adult meal” and now I know next time to actually use red pepper FLAKES, not ground chili. I left it as it’s intended to be cooked in the recipe below though. 

I was most thoroughly excited about learning how to get that “restaurant shine” you see often see in pasta dishes when I tried this recipe. The secret? Add a little under half a cup of the water you cooked your pasta in to the skillet you’re cooking your tomato mixture in. Who would have thought?!

Pasta Arrabiata
Serves 3
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 8-ounces linguine pasta
  2. 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  4. cherry tomatoes , sliced into halves
  5. 2 tablespoons chilli flakes
  6. 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  7. grated parmesan, for topping.
Instructions
  1. Bring a large saucepan to a raging boil and add pasta. Cook according to package.
  2. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Add minced garlic, allowing to saute; 3 minutes. Next add the tomatoes and cook until they appear softened and the skin looks slightly broken.
  3. As pasta is finished, drain all but 1/3 of pasta water if possible. Add just pasta to tomatoes and mix well, adding salt and pepper for taste if desired. Next add pasta water, stirring so that the water and olive oil are combined. This sound appear to thicken the sauce some.
  4. Garnish with chilli flakes and parsley, stirring again to combine. Serve with grated parmesan strips overtop.
Adapted from Yummily Yours
Adapted from Yummily Yours
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Pumpkin Donuts

 

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The best pumpkin donut I have ever tasted!

Baked Pumpkin Donuts
Yields 18
Krispy Kreme Pumpkin Spice Donuts will be a distant memory after you try your hand at making your own pumpkin donuts!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1½ cup puree Pumpkin
  2. 3 large eggs
  3. ½ cup vegetable oil
  4. 1½ cup granulated sugar
  5. 1¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1½ teaspoon salt
  7. 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  8. 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
Buttermilk Icing
  1. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 2 cups confectioners sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 1 tablespoon whole milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a donut pan. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl add pumpkin, eggs, oil, granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Mix well until completely combined. Slowly add flour, mixing well.
  3. Fill each donut til it is ¾ filled and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. Remove each donut gently using a fork and place onto a cooling rack.
  4. While donuts are cooling off, add butter into a small size saucepan over med-high heat. Stir well, using a wooden spoon if able. Remove from heat when butter has melted and pour into a medium size baking bowl. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Stir well.
  5. If donuts are cool enough to handle, dip the top carefully into icing mix and return to the cooling rack. The glaze will harden at a generous speed.
Notes
  1. To maintain a cleaner space - place a piece of parchment paper underneath cooling rack to catch donut icing when it drips.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

BBQ Honey Ranch Chicken and Vegetable Bowl

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Monday, the first day that I actually am beginning to feel as normal as normal gets for me. After spending the majority of the past week either caring for someone sick or being sick myself, I was able to actually sleep soundly through the night with a cough here and there and wake up feeling refreshed enough. I had my entire weeks menu as well as my workout schedule all ready to go last week and so today I had the motivation to be productive. Happy to say I succeeded!

I started off my morning with a Egg McFitFun, a fun and healthy version of what you can find at most fast-food restaurants and discovered via my FitGirlsGuide 28 Day Jumpstart ebook. After that, I did my BBG 1.0 leg workout (FINALLY!) and proceeded to make this fantastic lunch that I stumbled across on Pinterest that this post is mostly about. Little did I know that this meal itself was big enough and as much work as an entrée is; something it would probably be more perfect for – but what the heck, I made it anyway and stashed the extra portions in the refrigerator for the next few days worth of lunch!

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If you haven’t gone outside the box and made rice with anything but what the directions tell you, let me tell you – you are MISSING OUT! Don’t get me wrong, rice in itself can be delicious, but it’s a whole other world when you’re cooking it with broth and spices. I know you’ve probably already looked at number of instructions in the directions and thought “Whoa! That’s a lot!” and I thought that myself too, but the end result is absolutely worth it.

I think my favorite part about this recipe is the fact that it’s based on the combination of Ranch and BBQ sauce. Anyone else use to order a side of ranch and a side of BBQ sauce to mix together and dip their fries and chicken nuggets in as a kid? I still do it at 34. So this Hidden Valley Ranch dressing is like a dream come true for me.

BBQ Honey Ranch Chicken and Vegetable Bowl
Serves 4
If you haven't tried a ranch and bbq sauce combo, it's about time you did! Why not try it over this salad mix?
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Cook Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into tender size pieces
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. ½ cup onion, diced
  4. 1 ½ cups long grain white rice
  5. 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  6. I can black beans, washed and drained
  7. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  8. 16-ounce bottle Hidden Valley Ranch Honey BBQ Dressing
  9. 1 medium cucumber, sliced thin
  10. 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced thin
  11. 2 cooked ears of corn, kernels cut off cobb
  12. 1 avocado, sliced
  13. cilantro, optional
Instructions
  1. In a large ziplock bag, add chicken pieces and 1 cup of Hidden Valley Ranch Honey BBQ Dressing. Allow marinating in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. In a medium size saucepan over med-high heat, add olive oil and allow to momentarily heat up. Next add onion and rice, stirring often; 3-5 minutes or until rice appears a light shade of brown. Add chicken broth, black beans and cumin. When rapid boiling occurs, lower heat to low setting, cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes. After, remove from heat , sitting for 5 minutes before fluffing rice mixture with a fork. Set aside.
  3. Using a medium size skillet, add pepper and corn with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté vegetables for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Well grease a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, allowing to cook on each side for 5-7 minutes or until chicken has grill marks. Flip and cook other side. When chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove from heat.
  5. In 4 bowls, add rice mixture followed by peppers, corn, cucumber and avocado. Add chicken, cilantro and drizzle additional Hidden Valley Ranch Honey BBQ Dressing on top.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Lentils and Potato Tacos

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What is it with the beginning of the school year and illnesses? Both kids have been sick and now I seem to have caught it, so as I type this up I am “enjoying” a cup of hot alka seltzer and praying that my throat won’t feel as awful as it does now in the morning. Talk about not much of a productive past 7 days.

Anyhow – my husband is out of town, and while I had originally planned on slow-cooking some barbacoa for this Taco Tuesday, I felt it would be a waste if I had a 3lb chuck roast all to myself. Instead of spending more money at the grocery and dragging said sick child #2 out, I worked with what I got and I have to say; I was extremely pleased with the results!

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I was introduced to lentils via FitGirlsGuide a couple years back. I haven’t met a bean I didn’t like and I’ve used potatoes in place of meat before, so paired with pico de gallo, I can totally see why this combination can work great if you’re trying to do without meat or you’re a vegetarian. Just make sure you don’t go light on the lentils! They’re high in lean protein and a great source of potassium.

Lentils and Potato Tacos
Serves 2
Skip the meat! A delicious take on tacos using lentils and potatoes.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 6-inch corn tortillas
  2. 1 cup lentils, boiled
  3. 2 medium potatoes, diced small and cooked
  4. 3-4 tablespoons pico de gallo
  5. ½ cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  6. ¼ teaspoon fresh cilantro, thinly chopped
  7. sour cream, optional
  8. salsa, optional
Instructions
  1. Using a small pot, bring 1 cup of lentils and 4 cups of hot water to a slight boil over medium heat. Allow to cook 25-30 minutes, or until lentils seem tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. At the same time, using a large skillet - add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set heat to medium. Add diced potatoes, making sure to stir with a spatula to prevent burning. Cook until potatoes seem crispy. Set aside.
  3. When both lentils and potatoes are ready, assemble your corn tortilla - beginning with potatoes and followed by lentils, 1 tablespoon of pico de gallo, cheese and cilantro. Top with sour cream or salsa, if desired. Repeat step with each tortilla.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Easy Apple Yogurt Dip

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It’s September and to me that’s basically fall. AKA apple pickin’ time. Last year we visited a local apple (and various other grown fruits and vegetables) farm and picked enough to make a serious amount of slow-cooker apple sauce and some cute little mini apple pies. However, I think that this year I would like to branch out a little more with my apple recipes and try some new things. This little dip recipe isn’t new, but it sure is delicious and takes less than 5 minutes to whip up for a quick mid-day treat. 

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Having fruit for a snack is a for-sure way to stay on the healthy path. Especially if you’re eating apples as they contain no fat, sodium or cholesterol and are a good source of fiber. Pair them with some peanut butter for protein and greek yogurt for your nutrients and you have an extremely good-for-you dip.

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Easy Apple Yogurt Dip
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Ingredients
  1. plain greek yogurt
  2. small apple of your choice, sliced
  3. 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. pinch of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Add each ingredient in an amount to your liking. Stir well and enjoy with fresh apple slices.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Raspberry Lemonade Overnight Oats

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Experimenting with a variety of overnight oat flavors this week, I decided to start the week off bold with raspberry and lemon. I originally got the inspiration off of this Raspberry Lemonade slushie that my husband gets at our local Graeter’s Ice Cream. You know a combination works well if it’s a repeated bought treat. Luckily, that same combination works just as good for some overnight oats!

Chobani is my favorite, favorite yogurt brand. I haven’t met a flavor I don’t like, so it was the obvious choice to go with their lemon greek yogurt. To add a more fresh side, I threw in a handful of raspberries and zest of a lemon. Because I’m doing the overnight oats, I used old-fashioned oats but this would also do wonderfully with some granola if you’re not an oat kinda gal or guy. Just make sure you add a little bit of almond milk to help soak the oats. I don’t imagine dry oats are too delicious. 

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Raspberry Lemonade Overnight Oats
Serves 1
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 container of Chobani greek lemon yogurt
  2. ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  3. ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
  4. handful of fresh raspberries
  5. ½ teaspoon lemon zest
Instructions
  1. Using a mason jar, layer overnight oats with old fashioned oats followed by almond milk, lemon yogurt and raspberries. Top with lemon zest and store in a refridgerator for up to 3 days.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Ranch-Style Cobb Salad

 

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If you’re like me, you’ve gone through your Pinterest feed for what feels like a gazillion times looking for some sort of “different” kind of lunch to prepare for the week. I often like to base my mid-day meals around salads or something close to, as lunch is when I like to get the majority of my greens and vegetables intake. 

With today being Labor Day, the kids being home from school and a local Arts Festival going on; I wanted to get my grocery shopping done early yesterday so that I could successfully complete all my Sunday chores today and not having some spill over into the first of the week and delay any fun or relaxation for today. I started my meal-plan planning extra early because so. (Remember… fail to plan, plan to fail!) – and while things didn’t go as planned (one child is sick), my food was still ready today so I didn’t have to worry about screwing up on my new dietary!

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I don’t feel like I get my share of enough egg-protein, or at least I don’t feel like I have lately. So when I opened my laptop this morning I made sure to search for a recipe that would require at least one egg or more. I can always make the staple recipe for egg salad; I could prepare it blind-folded, but I wanted something that had a little more taste to it. One where by Tuesday afternoon, I’m already sure that come Wednesday’s lunch time I will be wanting anything BUT what I’ve already got prepared. And so I ran across this recipe for a Cobb Egg Salad from Lemon Tree Dwelling that had one key ingredient that won me over – dry ranch dressing mix. I like to use my dry ranch with yogurt for a healthier take on ranch dressing for dipping some veggie sticks in. If you love ranch, you can’t really go wrong with this dressing mix.

Another great thing about egg salad is how quickly you can prep it. Sure, if you’re not much of an hard-boiled egg peeler it can take *some* time, but I promise with practice and correct technique you’ll get the knack of doing it. Afterall, it took me months but I finally got it and I can proudly say that today I peeled 6 eggs in under 10 minutes. That’s an accomplishment! The rest of the ingredients though – super easy to assemble and throw into a bowl. Almost too easy. 

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Ranch-Style Cobb Salad
Serves 3
If egg salad and cobb salad were to meet in an alley, and egg happened to have brought ranch with him and cobb, arugula lettuce - this would be the outcome. Enjoy this recipe with rye crackers, as a salad or on a sandwich. Perfect for both parties and for meal-prepped lunches for the week.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  2. 4 pieces cooked turkey bacon, crumbled into small pieces
  3. 4 tablespoons lite mayonnaise
  4. ½ dry ranch dressing mix
  5. ¼ cup grape tomatoes, diced
  6. ¼ cup celery, diced small
  7. ¼ teaspoon green onions, sliced thin
  8. ¼ cup chopped arugula lettuce
  9. ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Hard-boil your eggs; bringing your pot of water and eggs to a raging boil over medium-high heat. When this has happened, turn off heat and cover pot with a lid allowing to sit for 12 minutes. Run cold water over eggs before attempting to peel. After eggs have been peeled, chop into small pieces.
  2. Using a large mixing bowl add eggs, bacon, tomatoes, arugula and cheese. Next add mayonnaise and dry ranch dressing mix, stirring gently but combining well. Serve or store in a tight-closed container for later.
Notes
  1. Original recipe can be found at Lemon Tree Dwelling (www.lemontreedwelling.com) - I added a few extra vegetables, etc of my own to their own delicious recipe.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Slow Roasted Seasoned Tomatoes (Sauce)

A gas range is something I am still getting used to. No one quite understands the difference between an electric stove and a gas range until they actually go from having one to the other. I’ve always heard that a lot of food not only tastes different when using a gas stove (or oven), but also cooks much quicker. It’s still too early for me to validate the taste answer, but I can absolutely attest to the cooks quicker one! I learned just how quick after burning french toast.

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Since we are now officially in the new home, I can settle in more comfortably and get back into the swing of things – meaning actually cooking again; something I desperately missed both mentally and physically. I always feel so much better about myself when I know where my meals came from and who prepared them. Don’t get me wrong, eating out every once in awhile is nice but not only does it get expensive but it’s also most likely not healthy.

Tonight’s dinner was a late one due to schedules so it had to be something more on the simple side. It’s been some time since I made a marinara sauce and pasta can be both satisfying to all tastebuds and a quick clean-plater. I had most things already on hand, aside from the tomatoes which I happily walked over to Whole Foods to acquire. It’s awesome just how good even a basic marinara sauce can taste. Those tomatoes really do their job!

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Tomato? Tomahto? Marinara is a personal preference. I happen to like mine sweet so cherry tomatoes that were roasted in an oven were sure to give my marinara a sweet taste. I made sure to marinate them with some olive oil, minced garlic, sea salt, italian seasoning, oregano and fresh basil leaves before I cooked them in the oven for a couple hours. And if you don’t want to get out the whisk and crush your tomatoes after they’re done roasting; you can puree them the lazy (and super smart) cook way – in a blender! Just make sure to pulse for less than a minute if you would like to have some “chunk” pieces to your sauce.

What would you add in your marinara sauce?

Fit & Chic Over Summer Heats

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Everybody – especially ladies – do their best to transform their bodies and looks before summer into something that’s perfect for them so that they can show off their nice appearance, while the weather dictates more revealing clothes and spending time at the beach. Still, many people pay attention to their health and fitness few months before the summer season while they completely forget about balanced diet, proper skin care and fitness routine when the summer is finally there. This often results in poor skin and hair condition, and your figure starts changing (and not for the good) as the summer is near its end. If you want to keep your good looks and make sure that your previous hard work will be visible for many months and seasons to come, you can beat the summer heat and adjust your healthy habits to the weather.

Drink plenty of water

Let’s get the most annoying advice out of the way first. You’re probably tired of reading about benefits of water in every possible beauty article, but ask yourself the most important question – why is it always there? Proper intake of water during summer is essential if you want to keep your body energized and hydrated. There’s no skincare product that can transform your skin into smooth and moisturized canvas if you don’t hydrate it from the inside first. With lack of water, your skin can become dry and patchy. So, make sure you drink a lot of water while at home, and bring a bottle with you when you go out.

Stay fit with continuous exercise

If you think that having to work out constantly in order to stay fit is bad news, wait till you hear the good news. Once you put a lot of effort into reaching your desired fitness skill and body shape, you don’t have to keep exercising like crazy in order to stay fit. Fifteen minutes per day is more than enough if you want to keep things the way they are, as long as you do it regularly. Since summer heat can pose a lot of problems when running, or even going to the gym, you can exercise at home instead. There are many tutorials that can help you. Also, you can make great use of summer fun and engage in some water sports that will keep you fit and healthy.

Lead a balanced diet

We all know how fun it is to drink one or two cocktails at beach parties and grab a bite at fast food restaurants after long summer nights. Therefore, make sure to keep your diet balanced. For example, smoothies are a great way to start your day and get enough nutrients and energy. You can also make them for dinner. Getting your fill of vitamins is especially important if you are exercising, or if you have to spend a lot of time in the sun. Therefore, be smart with your smoothie ingredients and add some organic pea protein powder in order to get the most benefits out of this tasty meal.

Keep protecting your skin and hair with products

If you think it’s enough to use sunscreen when you go out and completely neglect any other skin and hair care routine, you’ll face a lot of problems. While sunscreen is absolutely necessary, you still have to make time to clean your face in the morning and before bed, use restoring and moisturizing creams and give your hair some special rich treatments from time to time. Also, don’t forget your skin. Because of the heat, it’s more prone to dryness, so applying some body lotion after a shower will keep it healthy and moisturized. If summer weather makes it unbearable for you to have any product on your body, use in-shower lotions.

Staying fit and chic during summer heat is more than possible if you start looking at the whole process as a new lifestyle, instead of a troublesome effort for a short-term effect. Embrace the habit of looking and feeling great!