Category Archives: Healthy Living Looks Good on Everyone

My Gym Musts!

I get a ton of questions about my favorites when it comes to health and fitness, so a blog on my must haves is long overdue!

I will preface this blog by saying this: there are so so so many great products out there that can help you reach your goals. These are the things that I like best because they are best for MY goals and MY needs. Make sure that you think about what works for you, your lifestyle, and your budget when you are trying to determine alternatives and things that will help you. The one thing I love about health and fitness is that it is not a one sized fits all kind of thing and there are options for literally everyone out there. Do your research, ask your friends what is working for them, and make your own opinion based on YOU!

In no particular order, here are the things that I absolutely cannot live without when it comes to my health and fitness lifestyle.

1. Junk Brands headbands. Those who follow me on Instagram know that I cannot work out without a headband. Even before I ditched 14 extra inches of hair I relied on them to keep my hair out of my eyes when working out, but now having shorter hair I am even more obsessed with them. I have tried so many brands of headbands, but these are the best for not moving around, breathability, and overall cuteness. Are they a little pricier than others? Yes, but they last longer and are much better quality. Worth it a million percent.

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My donuts Junk Bands are my favorite….obvi. 

2. Beachbody On Demand Workout Library. This has been a huge game changer for me. As someone who loves working out at home……but also sometimes likes going to a gym….and travels more than most but wants to still stay on track, this is my go to. Every single workout program Beachbody has ever released is in the library, plus all of the workout materials and meal plans. I can stream it from my cell phone or tablet or laptop when on the road or I can use my Apple TV or Roku when at home. From a cost perspective, this is the best value out there. A year of it breaks down to about $8 a month. Don’t tell me you can’t fit that into your budget, because that is less than a Starbucks visit or drive thru McDonalds run. Factor in that anyone in your home can use it and you have a budget friendly option for everyone to get/stay in shape.
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3. Bowflex Select Tech Weights. I told myself for a long time that I didn’t need these weights. Why, I have no idea. I think in my mind I worried they would be clunky or hard to use, but after completing my 80 Day program earlier in the year, I realized I needed heavier weights to take my results to the next level. I went between these and the Power Block weights, and after visiting Dick’s Sporting Goods, opted for these Select Techs. I am beyond happy with how easy they are to use. ***Tip: Use Ebates and shop around to get the best pricing on these.
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4. Spotify. If you need music to rock your workout, Spotify is the way to go. I love creating new playlists using this easy app, and I also love that the Beachbody On Demand app has coordinating Spotify playlists for all of the workouts. There is a free version if you don’t want an added expense!

5. Grrrl Leggings. I always get a lot of questions about my leggings, and this is brand I wear 99% of the time. Yes, they are colorful and fun, but beyond that they are jump-approved, squat approved, and all things cardio approved. That is important when you are an active person. I recommend everything from this line.

 

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6. Comfort Mat. I never in a million years thought I would like this mat. I had yoga mats already, so when I won this as an incentive for a business contest several years ago I assumed it would just collect dust. When I actually pulled the mat out of the box and laid on it, I heard angels start singing from the heavens. It was incredibly cushioned and comfortable, and since that day I have used it nonstop. Even if you are just doing crunches on a harder surface, you need a mat like this!

7. Unicorn Blood. If you follow me on IG, you see me make my beloved unicorn blood every morning. As far as preworkouts go, this is the best on the market. I have tried so many that have made me feel weird, given me strange tingles, or have hooked me up with awful headaches. This is the first workout that I actually love the taste and also don’t have any weird feelings with it. It also gets me the fired up feeling I need when I’m riding the struggle bus (which is basically every day).

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8. Workout Dice. At the end of every workout I roll my workout dice to add a little extra burn, and I love it! The dice are inexpensive and have a great combo of moves. If you are looking for something to up your workout game, grab one of these. I also take mine when I travel if I need a quit workout and have access to literally nothing else.

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9. S’well Water Bottle. I am a huge fan of S’well bottles and use mine every day, but if you aren’t a fan of the price point, they do have a sister brand available at Target called S’ip. Either way, these bottles are great for keeping your water or whatever you drink during your workout cool.

10. CliniqueFit Wipes. Clinique launched a Fit makeup line awhile back, and these wipes are great post workout to make sure your face is properly cleansed. I think the entire Fit line is a great product line for those of you who workout with makeup on (something I don’t encourage because no one likes clogged pores).

Have a product you love? Tell me about it….I’m always on the lookout for amazing products!

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It’s an Impasta!

My fellow Italian friends……

Wouldn’t it be so fab if pasta was good for you? One can wish, right?

Since I started making healthier changes and coming to realization that I have a gluten intolerance, I have been on a mission to find as many healthy versions of Italian inspired recipes that I possibly can. There’s one that has been on my radar for awhile, and I FINALLY made it last night: Zucchini Ravioli!

You guys…..these were so delicious! Here’s the recipe!

ZUCCHINI RAVIOLI
Ingredients:
-4 zucchini
-1/4 cup fresh parmesan
-1 cup low fat ricotta
-1 egg
-2 Tbl fresh oregano
-1 clove garlic
-1 1/2 cup marinara (unless you prefer more sauce)
-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

To make:

-Preheat oven to 375, greasing 9×13 baking dish. Spread some marinara on the bottom of the dish.

-To make the “pasta”, cut zucchini in half (lengthwise), then use a vegetable peeler to slice zucchini into thin “noodles”, peeling until you reach the center. It’s okay if they are thin or uneven.

-For the filling, mix the ricotta, egg, oregano, and parmesan in a bowl. You can use other spices if you prefer (many recipes call for basil in place of the oregano).

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-To assemble the ravioli: layer two pieces of zucchini with another two, placed perpendicular. Your zucchini noodles should look like a plus sign. Spoon about a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture into center of zucchini, then fold toward the center, starting with the the vertical pieces, then the horizontal. Once folded, place the ravioli seam side down in the baking dish.

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Your ravioli should look like this:

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Once ravioli have been placed in dish, top with marinara and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Top with parmesan if you like and serve!

****A few things to share****

-Don’t go for large zucchini. I made the mistake of trying to use a homegrown one that was ginormous, and because of the size, it was harder to make the noodles. Medium sized work best. Size does matter!

-You can use a mandolin over a vegetable peeler if you want. I personally found the peeler much easier.

-You can change up the filling. Next time I think I will mix in some Italian sausage because I typically do a meat/cheese option in my ravioli. You could also use spinach or veggies.

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This was a fabulous swap, and I highly recommend it. You’ll be seeing this on my meal plan many many times!

Enjoy!

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Drink the beach.

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Usually my daily Wonder Woman shake involves peanut butter because I am always craving peanut butter cups, but some days I think of the beach and want to bring it to me. This recipe was my quick solution today as I was looking at tickets to fly to Hawaii to visit my family.

Ingredients:

-8 oz coconut milk
-1/2 frozen banana
-1/2 cup frozen pineapple
-1/2 cup frozen mango
-1/2 scoop vegan vanilla superfoods mix
-4 ice cubes

BLEND and pour into glass.

Then…..

-6 oz water or coconut milk (I always go for a blend)
-1 cup blueberries
-1/2 scoop vegan vanilla superfoods mix
-3 ice cubes

BLEND and pour into glass. Top with blueberries or shaved coconut….even a little umbrella if you have one!

ENJOY!

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Every Day is Fry-Day!

I am one to never jump on trends….it doesn’t matter what it is. I like to wait it out to see if something is worth buying, and I am one of those people who love to get the opinions of those I love who have experience with said item, and I also read reviews…..lots of reviews.

I had a few friends buy an air fryer when they first became a phenomenon, but I wasn’t sold on them. I love fried foods, but something that uses the air to help fry a food….could that really taste good? And did I really need another thing to junk up my counter?

So I waited…..I read the reviews….and slowly more and more of my friends were sharing about their love for the air fryer. I was turning to the dark side…..and I finally decided I needed to get one.

I read many reviews on the best air fryers on the market, but most of my friends who were actively using one weren’t using those brands; instead NuWave seemed to be the winning brand. Do I go with what consumers say is best or what my friends say works?
My friends….always! I listen to the people I trust in my life because I know they won’t steer me wrong. I ordered the Nu Wave 3 Quart Air Fryer and patiently awaited its arrival.

Piece of advice: Shop around for the best deal! Right now there are lots of great savings with Memorial Day, and make sure you are using Ebates first to get the most cash back.

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The day my air fryer arrived I was elated and started using it immediately. HOW IN THE WORLD HAD I WAITED SO LONG TO BUY THIS THING????!!!!

The first thing I made: Jojo Potatoes (or wedges for those of you not from Ohio). I cut the raw potatoes into wedges, tossed them with a mix of 1 tablespoon coconut oil, paprika, and garlic, and cooked them for about 16 minutes in the air fryer. The result: perfection!

Reasons why you need to own one: 

1. No oil! Hot air is what is used to cook the food, and unless you are using a little bit to coat the foods like I did with the JoJos, you don’t need it.

2. You can make pretty much anything. Wings, fries, donuts, onion rings…..anything you love that is fried! Don’t believe me, check out pinterest for some ideas!

3. It’s quick and a healthier alternative! I was able to make fresh fries in about 15 minutes in a healthy way. You can’t beat that.

4. It’s easy to clean. All you do is press a button to release the frying tray and boom…..ready to wash.

Im very happy with this NuWave product and think it is very easy to use. There are lots of options out there, so do your research on what will work for you and talk to those you know who have one. Listen to their reviews! I only have one complaint with my air fryer….I should’ve purchased the 6 quart instead of the 3 quart! The 3 quart is fine for two people, but if you have a family of more than two, definitely go for the bigger size!

I’m off to make onion rings now…..but if you grab an air fryer let me know your thoughts!

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You can’t BEET these recipes!

Yep, you can always expect a pun or two on the blog! Sorry, folks….just a natural comedienne here!

Earlier in the week I shared that I finally found a way to love beets, and that was by adding them to my daily Wonder Woman Shake. I was smart about it….I purchased ones already cut so I didn’t have to deal with any of that, and I did cook them for a bit to make them softer for blender.

There are actually TWO recipes I have been using, and I encourage you to try them both!

Recipe #1: Berry Beet
Ingredients:
-14 oz liquid (I use about 4 oz Califia Almond Milk or Coconut Milk and the rest water)
-1 scoop Vegan Vanilla Superfoods Mix (message me if you need some)
-1 cup Strawberries/Blueberries ( I freeze mine)
-3/4 cup beets
-3 ice cubes

Mix and Blend!

Recipe #2: Nana Beet
Ingredients:
-14oz liquid (same as above)
-1 scoop Vegan Vanilla Superfoods Mix
-1/2 frozen banana
-1/2 cup beets
-3 ice cubes

Mix it up and Enjoy!

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Ohio gave us nice weather for a day….I had to take advantage of it. 

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Week 6: Obsession Brownie Points

It’s Little Friday aka Thursday and I am just NOW getting up my Week 6 Check in with you guys! Someone please yell at me.

In all seriousness, this has been one of those weeks where time has magically disappeared, and I am sitting here wondering how the hell it became Thursday. My To Do list is basically the length of a full marathon, and I cannot wait for some down time to this weekend to knock some of those things out. Amidst all the chaos, I am still trucking along with 80 Day Obsession. Sunday marked the end of Week 6….I can’t believe it! As of right now I’m down 10.5 lbs and about 17 inches…not too shabby.

Workout wise I have been crushing it. I am loving all of the workouts this phase and really can see improvement when it comes to the weights I am using and my endurance. I’ve been using double bands for many of the moves, and I love the challenge they create. If you are doing the program and haven’t tried a double band yet, do it. Challenge yourself!
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When it came to my timed nutrition, I was excited about the Refeed Day that was on the agenda, mostly because I was missing sugar majorly. One thing that surprised me this week….I wasn’t as into the sugar as I thought I would be, especially with the vanilla wafers that I had paired with my pre workout meal. Now let’s get something straight….I love sweets, and I love love love vanilla wafers. For some reason though I wasn’t enjoying the wafers when I ate them, and I was worried I wouldn’t like the rest of the items on my Refeed meal plan.

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Breaking up with these guys, 

Since I was a week behind everyone else doing the program, I was very careful selecting the recipes I would add in, and I made some BOMB ASS choices. They included the little blueberry pies that I already shared the recipe for, chicken and broccoli mac and cheese, healthy egg mcmuffins, and my personal favorite, chickpea brownies. OOOHHHHHH-MMMMM-GGEEEEEEEEE! Everyone said they were amazing, but I had to find out for myself. They were fantastic, and the good news was that no one knew chickpeas were the main ingredients! I had some additional taste tasters who found out after they sampled the brownies, and they gave them rave reviews. I loved everything else on my meal plan, so maybe there was something with the artificial ingredients in the wafers that made me feel strange.

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Someone is wishing he could have chickpeas.

Here’s the recipe for the chickpea brownies! Trust me, you need to try them! They are gluten free and flour less so those of you with food allergies could still enjoy them!

Fixate Chickpea Brownies

Ingredients:
-1 15oz can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)
-1/4 cup of grassfed butter
-2 large eggs
-1/2 cup pure maple syrup
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 pinch of sea salt
-1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life dark chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350. Line 9×9 pan with parchment paper or spray with coconut oil spray.

In a food processor or high powered blender, place chickpeas, butter, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Blend until smooth. Mix in chocolate chips, then spread batter into pan. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cut into squares and enjoy!

A few things I want to share:

***One brownie counts as one yellow.

***To make these extra tasty, spread a teaspoon on a brownie.

***The batter can look a little grainy….don’t worry…they taste amazing!

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Bidi Bidi Bom Bom

I’m a huge Selena fan, so when I first heard of the dish that I’m about to share with you, I instantly thought of this song and gave it a new name. I’m just weird like that! This song had one of the most iconic looks (fun fact: I’m considering this outfit for Halloween this year), and has such a fun, catchy beat!

Watch the video here!

Now that Selena’s song is stuck in your head (your welcome), here’s the recipe I had to share with you…..Bibimbap! It’s a dish my brother got my hooked on, and this particular recipe was in one of my Hello Fresh boxes awhile back. It fits in great with my current meal plan, and I hope you love it as much as I do!

BIBIMBAP
Ingredients for 4 servings:

-Zucchini
-8 oz Button Mushrooms
-2 large carrots
-4 Scallions
-Ginger (about a 2tsps…I love ginger so I use a bit more)
-4 cloves of garlic
-1 1/2 cups jasmine rice (you can sub cauliflower rice or brown rice if you prefer)
-2 Tbl sesame oil
-4 tsp sriracha
-6 TBL soy sauce (I use half that amount)
-20 oz ground beef

Wash and dry all produce. Bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil. Halve zucchini lengthwise and slice into thin half-moons (I use a vegetable peelers to make zucchini ribbons). Thinly slice mushrooms and scallions, keeping scallion greens and white separate. Peel carrot, then use vegetable peeler to shave into ribbons. Peel and mince ginger and garlic.

Once water is boiling, add rice. Cover and reduce to a gentle simmer, cooking for about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, pickle scallions by tossing the scallion whites with vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside and let marinate. In another bowl, stir together sesame oil, 1 1/2 TBL sugar (I skip the sugar), half the sriracha, and 1 1/2 TBL soy sauce.

Heat drizzle of olive oil in a large pan. Add carrots, cooking until tender but still crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Add a little more oil and add zucchini. Once those have been cooked, add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, add a little olive oil as well as ginger and garlic, tossing until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add beef, cooking until no longer pink. Pour in remaining soy sauce.

Divide rice between bowls, then arrange beef, zucchini, mushrooms, scallion white mixture, and carrots on top. Garnish with the green scallions and drizzle with the remaining sriracha.

The awesome thing about Bibimbap is that there are several variations. Some have an egg, some have other veggies….it just depends! I love this recipe but encourage you to use the veggies you like so you really enjoy it!

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Recipe courtesy of Hello Fresh

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Miso happy about this recipe!

Hehehe…..see what I did there? Obvious little pun to let you know a Chinese recipe is coming your way!

I love Chinese food, but I can’t work much into my meal plan because the things I love most are loaded with not so healthy ingredients…..like fried egg rolls or crab rangoon. Miso soup I can, but that’s not the recipe I want to share with you right now……

I want to share with you the deconstructed egg roll recipe I have on my meal plan this week! It’s so freaking good!

Deconstructed Egg Rolls

Ingredients:
-Turkey Sausage
-Coleslaw Mix
-Brown Rice
-Sesame Oil

Cook the sausage (Remove the casing) until brown. I use a Pampered Chef mix n’ chop to make sure it is broken up. At the same time, cook brown rice. Once both are ready, add coleslaw mix to the sausage so it softens up. Add rice and cook for a few more minutes, stirring consistently. Add Sesame Oil and fall in love!

Let me talk about how much you need of what. The recipe I initially found said to the portion amount was 1 sausage, 1 cup coleslaw mix, 1/2 cup brown rice, 1 teaspoon sesame oil. That equates to one red, one green, one yellow, and one teaspoon if you are following one of the meal plans I do. Since I don’t cook in single servings, I cooked an entire box of rice, used 2 bags of coleslaw mix, and 6 sausages. When it came to the sesame oil, I used 6 teaspoons, but you can go a little heavier or lighter if you wish.

I love it! I hope you do, too.

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Muffins deserve their own pair of pants!

I bet you never thought about that happening, did ya?

I’m currently running an online bootcamp entitled “Eff You Mom Jeans and Muffin Tops” because the ab region is the area most of my challengers shared they needed some work. Not only are we focused on our nutrition, meal planning, and our daily workouts, but we are working hard on getting rid of those muffin tops and avoiding mom jeans for-ev-errrrrrrr (Sandlot voice).

I wanted to share one of my favorite healthy muffin recipes with my challengers and wanted to make it fun, so I decided the muffins needed some pants. Yes, they exist….you can actually buy them HERE!

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Here’s the recipe for the Banana Apple Muffins I love so much (found in the Fixate cookbook, a staple in my kitchen):

Ingredients:
-2 large eggs
-1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium sized bananas)
-1 Tablespoon grassfed butter (melted)
-1 1/2 cups almond flour
-3/4 Teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 cup chopped apple
-dash of sea salt

***I also add in cinnamon to taste, usually about a Tablespoon. This is not part of Autumn’s recipe, just something I think makes them even tastier!

Preheat your oven to 350 and prepare muffin tin by spraying with nonstick spray or paper liners. Combine eggs, banana, and butter in a bowl and mix until blended. Combine baking soda, almond flour, and salt in a separate bowl, then mix in with banana mixture. Fold in apples and cinnamon (if you are using). Divide batter between muffin cups (this recipe usually makes about 9 muffins). Bake 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.

That’s it! How easy are they?

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A few things I want share:

-I prefer using silicone baking cups, so I loved the little silicone muffin pants. However, they do make smaller muffins. In the batch I made last night I was able to make 9 regular muffins and 4 muffins wearing jeans. I also was worried about overfilling them so they didn’t end up with a true muffin top, which is actually okay since we are working on getting rid of them anyway!

-You want to use ripe bananas…..as in REALLY RIPE bananas. If you follow me on Instagram (@sparklefitnessbabe) you probably caught my IG story where I showed how RIPE mine were….they were basically black! I love baking with bananas at this state because you can mash them so much easier and they are so much more flavorful!

If you are a 21 Day Fixer, 80 Day Obsessioner, Hammer and Chiseler……these count as 1 purple and 1 blue (blue is the almond flour. If you use another flour you will want to adjust accordingly).

Enjoy friends!

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Carbs are out, clouds are in!

Listen, friends….I’m all about that carb life…like 99% of human beings. But…..I have some issues with gluten, so I have to be careful. If I’m going all in with gluten, it’s going to be something really satisfying, like a huge doughnut!

My breakup with gluten meant that my bread intake went from a thriving relationship to pretty much non existent. That makes spaghetti dinners and lasagna and all things Italian a little sad, right???? And don’t get me started on things like egg salad or chicken salad, two of my favorite quick lunches!

Fortunately for me, I stumbled across a recipe awhile back that has been a lifesaver and serves as a wonderful bread substitute: CLOUD BREAD!

For starters, the name Cloud Bread is just fabulous as it is….but there is something to the name. This “bread”, made with only four ingredients, comes out light and fluffy like a cloud. The best part??? It is a protein! Yes, you read that right….nothing carby about it! You’ve got to make it!

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                                                    Katie’s Cloud Bread Recipe
Ingredients:

-3 large eggs
-1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
-Dash cream of tartar
-Dash of salt (optional)

How to make:

Heat oven to 300 degrees, then spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Separate egg whites from egg yolks, placing in separate bowls. Add dash of cream of tartar to egg whites and beat on high until peaks form (between 3-4 minutes). Set aside, then add yogurt and salt (if using) to yolks, beating until blended completely. Fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture, then fold in the remaining egg white mixture. Using a spoon, scoop mixture onto cookie sheet, pressing mixture down to resemble a pancake. Bake for 30 minutes or  until golden brown. The “bun” should be crispy when touched. Once you remove from oven, loosen with spatula, then allow to cool. If not serving immediately, store in tupperware container.

***Few notes***

-Don’t over mix when combining the egg whites and yolks.
-When scooping out mixture, make sure scoop is about 3 inches in diameter.
-This recipe makes three servings. A serving is two pieces of “bread”.
-One serving has 94 calories and 9 grams of protein.

ENJOY!

 

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