Basics

6 Must-Haves to Deck Out Your Kitchen!

Have you ever wondered how those celebrity chefs always look overjoyed to be running around the kitchen cooking??

Look closer and you’ll notice they have all the proper tools, things are organized and measured out, and you probably haven’t ever seen them do the dishes!

You might have to enlist a friend, spouse or kids to take care of that last one, but this week we’re helping you deck out your kitchen to make sure you have what you need to enjoy cooking and food prep!

Start Simple: Get the Basics

1. Sharp Knives

Make sure you have sharp knives to work with! If you don’t have a good knife sharpener at home, go and get one. There’s nothing worse than trying to cut a tomato with a dull knife – you might as well use a hammer. Preparation time can be cut in half with the right knives!

2. Silicone Cookware

Do you have silicone cookware in your home? If not, it’s a must! Silicone utensils have become fairly commonplace, but now it comes in the form of muffin, loaf, and cake pans – even parchment! The non-stick capability is unbelievable AND it’s dishwasher safe!

Silicone bakeware can go straight from the freezer to the oven, and utensils won’t scrape your cooking surfaces!

*Not sure if it’s 100% silicone? Give it a pinch test. When you pinch the silicone material, if it changes color, stay away. If it looks the same, you are good to go

3. Quality Pots and Pans

Have you ever tried to cook with a wobbly pot on a cooktop? Not only is it annoying, but you’ll get uneven cooking. Still working with scratched up teflon pots and pans you’ve had for 10 years? It might be time for an upgrade!

There are some that swear by cast-iron skillets (*be careful of scratching a cooktop) and there is a “Cadillac” of pans, the carbon steel option is what most restaurants reach for – like cast iron for heat retention, but a fraction of the weight.

Have you ever used a “Chef’s Pan” AKA “Saucier Pan”? With their higher edges they can not only work for standard frying, and sautéing, but also take the place of a soup kettle for smaller batches and are excellent for “one-pan” type dishes.

4. Baking Sheet

Did you know a cookie sheet is defined as a sheet without sides, or just a small lip, and a baking sheet has a rimmed edge? The rimmed edge can be helpful to contain juices and oils for general cooking.

Look for a pan with a 10-18 gauge rating (the lower the gauge, the thicker/more durable the pan) to avoid warping and thus more uniform baking. A good quality sheet with uncoated aluminum can provide a, surprisingly, non-stick environment! You can use baking sheets to make full meals with one sheet a million different ways – just check out this Roast Chicken and Veggies Recipe!

5. Box Grater

With a high quality 4-sided box grater you can make food prep a breeze! The largest setting is perfect for the most common, cheeses of course but also vegetables like zucchini, apples, carrots, onions, cabbage, and more! Even tomatoes if you are using for sauce!

There is the side for smaller shreds. The prickly side for grating things like hard cheese and zesting citrus. The slicing side can take the place of a mandolin in a pinch.

TIP: Freeze cheese for a short time to making shredding easier.

TIP 2: Save your knuckles by purchasing Food Grade Cut Resistant Gloves!

6. Measuring Cups

Did you ever wonder why you need one of those glass type measuring cups for liquid? Why can’t you just use a regular measuring cup?

Standard measuring cups are meant for solids where you can just scrape along the top to get a precise measurement. Liquid measuring cups indicated 1C = 8 oz but it means one cup = 8 FLUID ounces.

Dry ingredients differ in weight, i.e 1C of flour = 4.5 ounces, not 8oz. If your recipe calls for ounces of dry ingredients, make sure to weigh it!

TIP: Yogurt should be measured in a liquids cup.

It Takes More Than an Apple a Day to Keep the Doctor Away!

This week we are highlighting an exciting new App from NutritionFacts.Org called Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen.

NutritionFacts.Org is a free website that curates the piles and piles of research out there and scours it to weed out bias, flawed studies, and more to provide short summary videos and articles on every health topic you can imagine.

Recently, they released this FREE app. Rather than food plans, it offers a daily list you can check off of the healthiest foods that are ideally consumed on a daily basis. This week we’ll look at a few of the checkbox categories and offer ways to incorporate them into your diet. Download the app and follow along to add an additional check to your list each day!

Get it here for Apple – or here for Android

Incorporate More Beans!

Blend various types of beans with spices to make spreads for sandwiches or vegetable dips! Add pureed beans to thicken soups! The possibilities are endless!

Here’s a 5-Minute Black Bean Dip!

Add Berries!

Berries can be added to many whole grain-based dishes, like quinoa and kale salads. Have you tried the Costco bagged kale salad with cranberries and pepitas? Yum!

More Flaxseed Please!

Try adding flaxseed to your oatmeal, smoothies, dressings, or anything you’d like adding a slightly nutty flavor too! Packed full of healthy omega-3 fats and fiber!

Eat More Cruciferous Veggies!

Add more cruciferous vegetables to your day like red cabbage in your tacos, broccoli or kale in a pasta dish, or even roasted Brussel sprouts on your salad!

Add Whole Cooked Grains!

For a more filling meal, try adding whole grains like barley, buckwheat, quinoa, farrow, oat groats, or millet to soups and salads!

Simple Tips That Will Change Dieting Forever

Not Sure Where To Begin?

We have all been there. It is time to make a change. You feel like you need to make a major shift in the way you eat. A friend had great success with this or that extreme diet, while someone else you know had terrible results.

There is so much information, and honestly so much BAD information out there with regards to dieting and proper nutrition that sometimes it can be overwhelming. Making drastic changes, cutting, slashing, restricting, etc can lead to a very short-lived diet change for most of us. Try taking it one step at a time and incorporating these basic ideas!

1. Eat Intuitively!

Intuitive Eating is associated with lower body fat and better relationships with food. Eat intuitively by rating your hunger on a scale from 1 (weakness/dizziness has set in) to 10 (you may have to roll me out the door/filled to the point of feeling sick).

Really listening to your body before eating, to determine if you are truly hungry, and while eating slowing down to let your body detect fullness levels, will keep you on the right track with intuitive eating. Try it at your next meal!

2. Think Abundance Instead of Restriction!

Start by adding an additional serving of vegetables to your day. Once that becomes habit, add two servings. When eating intuitively, the vegetables will start to take the place of more calorie dense food choices like starches or junk food!

3. Check Your Portions!

Our friends at Precision Nutrition suggests a palm of protein, a cupped hand of carbohydrates, a fist of vegetables, and a thumb of fat for most. If you are still hungry, add another fist of vegetables. Click the image for a great article on portion control!

Still hungry after intuitively eating? Add a small amount of protein. It will take a number of weeks (maybe even months) to work through and find the amounts and timing that works best for you body, lifestyle, and schedule. There is no one-size fits all in nutrition, but start from a baseline and build from there.

4. Don’t Give Up All Your Favorites!

The IDEA Fitness Journal suggests “Flipping” your ingredients. Instead of that traditional burrito, ask for a burrito bowl which puts all the ingredients of a burrito into a bowl instead of a wrap.

Instead of eating ice cream with fruit on top, try a spoonful of ice cream on top of a bowl of fruit!

Instead of a steak dinner with a side of potato and vegetable, try a salad with sliced steak and cubed potatoes on the side.

(Source: Padgett, Cassandra MS . “Nutrition Hacks Based on Hard Science” IDEA Fitness Journal, January 2019: 46-49. Print)

5. Beware of False “Health Food”!

Be cautious of “Food Halos” – foods high in sugar or artificial ingredients that are packaged to appear healthy and may even be lurking in the “health food” section of the grocery store!

Tuna and chicken salads for instance are often laden with heavy amounts of mayo. Making your own? Try swapping out the mayo for plain Greek yogurt.

Think instant oatmeal is a healthy go-to breakfast? Be watchful of high sugar levels! Consider using one pack and adding plain rolled oats, walnuts, and berries to balance out the load…even better, start with plain oats and build your own oatmeal so you are aware of what is going into it!

6. Build Healthy Habits!

The most important thing to remember is that building healthy habits and determining the right path for YOUR body will take time. Determine your priority in nutrition. Where can you make an easy change that will have significant results for your health and wellness?

Is it more water every day? Maybe you drink several sodas per day and just swapping them out with water will yield you incredible benefits!

Need to eat more vegetables? To trim out the excess snacking or late-night eating? Work on ONE habit first and do not move on until it’s mastered. For many, this will take at least a week or two. In some cases, much longer.

It may take more time than you’d like – scratch that, it WILL take longer than you’d like – but in the long run when it’s just part of what you do and you are well on your way to your goal, it will seem like a blink in time.

Take it one step at a time…

8 Glasses of Water a Day? THINK AGAIN!

This time of year is often about trying to maintain some semblance of health while being bombarded with treats, rich foods and drinks.

One way to combat this is simply to drink enough, and/or MORE, water! Simple huh?

The science of water has changed some over the past decade, so let’s see if you have the latest facts!

How do I tell how much water is the right amount for me?

Taboo or not, check the color of your urine! If you are properly hydrated your urine will be colorless or light yellow in color. Drinking too much water is rare for healthy Americans who eat a typical American diet.

How much water should I drink each day?

It’s simple to give a solid number, but the reality is every person is different. Water needs are based on your health, your activity level, and where you live. Outside of being sick or pregnant, women’s general recommendations are around 90 ounces per day (74 ounces at a minimum) and 125 ounces for men; BUT this includes water from food consumption as well.

Foods high in water, like fruits and vegetables, will contribute more to your daily intake, typically about 20%. Even coffee, tea, etc is still counted toward your water intake, caffeine or not. Still not your gig? Try drinking broth!

Wait…Coffee counts??

You’ll be happy to know, despite popular the myth, science shows that coffee does NOT dehydrate you. If tap water just doesn’t do it for you, grab that cup of Joe…just skip, or go light, on the add ins because excessive dairy and sugar will certainly not help you feel hydrated.

What about carbonated water?

The latest science shows that carbonated water is just as good for you than still/tap water. Science has shown that carbonated water is NOT bad for your tooth enamel or bones and has been shown to help with digestion!

Is carbonated water too acidic? Well, it’s been shown that your body properly balances the slightly acidic carbonated water via the kidneys, with no additional stress. Not feeling the tap water? Crack open a non-sweetened sparkling water! Check your label just to be sure. Have you tried HINT sparkling infused water? NO sweeteners!

BEWARE! Tonic Water and Club Soda are not the same as carbonated water or Seltzer Water

What about exercise?

In addition to needing water to lubricate and cushion your joints, you need to replenish the water you lose during exercise. It’s important to note, the amount consumed to replace it would not count toward your daily consumption needs. For most, this ranges between 12-24 ounces when working out for less than an hour. When it’s hot/humid, your hydration needs will increase.

Holiday Travel Doesn’t Have to Destroy Your Fitness!

Vacations or business trips can throw our health and fitness goals for a loop, BUT they don’t have to!

Assess the situation: Is this a family trip with regular movement and activity as you explore? It could be best to let your body RELAX, REJUVENATE, and come back to your workouts stronger and ready to go.

However, we have numerous members and guest with heavy business travel schedules that can be harder to manage. This makes knowing how to stay fit on the road all the more important! It’s hard to build a routine and stick with it, so consider building a daily routine for no matter where you are.

It could be as simple as 15 minutes. If you have extra time in the day, fantastic! If not, you are firming up your routine and making strides toward consistent healthy habits.

Stuck in a Hotel?

First off, many hotels have fitness centers with free-weights, machines, etc for you to get a workout in, but even if they don’t that is no excuse to be lazy!

• Grab some paper plates from room service (even cardstock paper can do the job in a pinch). Use them as sliders to add intensity to your lower body mountain climbers, planks with hand or foot slides, slide back alternating lunges, squats.

• Grab a shower towel or belt and stabilize your lower leg lifts, or stretch the towel between two hands overhead and perform 10 get up sit up’s (lay flat with legs wide and straight, sit up with hands/arms extended over your head).

Access to a Pool?

Swim laps! Or if that’s not your thing, try to run laps/move through the water as fast as possible, or stand in athletic stance and move your arms forward and back (in a t-position) as fast as you can with water as resistance and similarly “flapping” arms up and down. The faster your move the more the water will resist you! Move slow for therapeutic range of motion, or bring some speed for high exertion strength training!

Have kids? They love to be tossed around in water and can be a great workout! But safety first!

No Equipment? No Problem!

Body weight can work great! Think pushups, lunges, split squats, dead bugs, plyometrics, and all kinds of other movements we already do at Ellipse! Add intensity by increasing repetitions, duration, or speed.

Keep it Simple: Choose 5 movements and perform 10 reps of each for as many rounds as possible for the time you have.

Or try out these body weight travel workouts we’ve already posted on the blog!
Workout 1
Workout 2

Stash Equipment in Your Luggage!

Get a resistance tube!

• These can easily be tossed in luggage. Resistance tubes usually come with door jambs allowing you to perform most exercises in the convenience of any room! With an anchored tube in a door you can perform tons of exercises including a chest press, row, pallof press, lat pulldown, shoulder press, tricep pressdown, and more. Using your own body as an anchor you can perform resisted squats, lunges, tricep extensions, shoulder press, and more!

• Ask your trainer for demos as needed. Create a workout by choosing a push, pull, lunge, hip hinge, and single leg exercise and perform 10 reps each. Repeat for time.

Get a mini band!

• You can add sumo/monster walks, hip bridge with abduction/adduction, resisted bicycles, standing foot taps, the options are endless!

• Find more band exercises by following these links!

Check out this video for some great suggestions, or this “Perform Better” article for tips on how to blast your glutes!

Hey Siri, Google, SOMEONE! I Need Directions to Fat Loss.

“Fat Loss Happens in the Kitchen!”
…or Does It? Truth is Truth.

Dan John, a celebrity in the strength and conditioning world, an Olympian, educator and author once shared that “fat loss happens in the kitchen.” He passionately expressed how important proper nutrition is regardless of what happens in the weight room, at the gym or even right here at Ellipse Fitness Training Centers.

Blasphemy you say?!

John recommends that people who want to burn fat should eat protein and vegetables and drink water consistently for two years. THEN, let him know how it’s going.

That isn’t the answer we want to hear – I know, but most of us know that ‘truth is truth.’

Let’s argue however, that ‘truth is not truth’ in this case. Don’t worry! Dan John is correct. Fat loss doesn’t happen in the gym, but we are not so sure that it happens primarily in the kitchen either…

Fat Loss Happens…

  1. In the Drive-Thru

  2. At the Gas Station or Convenience Store

  3. At the Concession Stand

  4. At the Grocery Store

  5. THEN In the Kitchen

  6. Finally…ON YOUR PLATE!

1. In the Drive-Thru

Sure. We plan to succeed, head to the store with the list in hand and meal prep on Sunday like we are supposed to, yet SOMETIMES we run late at work, traffic backs up and advertisements seem to whisper sweet nothings from the highway billboard lies of starting tomorrow, fast and convenient and only 99 cents! The next event of the day is closing in and nothing is going according to plan. THIS is where fat loss happens for many of us…

• Chic Fil A? Try the Market Salad: 330 calories, grilled nuggets, fruit, and super food salads!
• Jimmy John’s? Go for the Unwich: a pickle on the side for crunch, no cheese please!
• McDonald’s? Choose the Southwest Salad, Egg White Breakfast Sandwich, or Grilled Chicken Wrap to help mitigate the damage when you are stuck at this joint!

2. At the Gas Station or Convenience Store

Depending on the location, chances are there is a powerhouse gas station that has a full restaurant inside. Of course they have hot dogs, taquitos, crunchy salty things, and candy.

They ALSO often have fresh fruit, salads, nuts, jerky, or protein shakes/bars (watch those ingredients! Some are just candy bars in disguise…)

Fat loss happens when we choose right on a consistent basis, time after time. Build the habit into your life!

3. At the Concession Stand

Concession stands should be called “Greasy Carb Stands”. Pretzels and cheese, candy, and soda are more than just empty calories. These foods offer ZERO nutritional ingredients and turn the day into a hotbed of poor choices!

Some may offer healthier options like grilled meats, but game days is the perfect day to stash an RX Bar, Dale’s Bar or Quest Bar in your pocket, purse, or sports bag. Keep some quick-grab goodies in your car’s center console: dried fruit, nuts, jerky, seeds, or protein balls all keep well in the car especially through the winter!

4. At the Grocery Store

Obviously healthy and then not-so-healthy options are both available at our local grocer. Here are some tips to help:

Shop the perimeter of the store. This avoids temptation to throw the dry, processed goods into our basket.
Find the pre-prepped vegetables – even if they cost more to make sure they will be used to munch on or for a quick meal.
Check out the salad bar and get more prepared fresh food. Purchase 2-4 days’ worth of food instead of a week’s worth to avoid spoilage and overeating. Drink a full glass of water before shopping. Shop on a full stomach as often as possible. Make a list and stick to it!

5. THEN in the Kitchen

We eat what we see, and we certainly can’t eat what we don’t have on hand! Keep fresh choices on the counter, and in the fridge, whenever possible. Have some meals pre-portioned and ready to go when you need to grab quickly on the way to work or come home starving!

Become the primary shopper and take control of the food in the house! Utilize Shipt and similar services for shopping if time is short. Your health is worth the extra cost! Put poor choices in the downstairs fridge or on a basement shelf. Out of sight, out of mind is true.

Meal plan. Meal prep. Make food commitments to yourself! It may be tough at first, but with repetition it becomes part of your routine.

6. Finally, ON YOUR PLATE!

What you put in your mouth…this is where the true magic happens. At least 50% of your plate should be vegetables! This may be the most important step towards fat loss and healthy nutrition in general.

What goes on our plate and in our mouth is 100% up to us. Accept full responsibility for this! Our bodies become our journals and the writing doesn’t lie!

Be honest with yourself, stay consistent, and you will be strong and healthy.

5 Ways to Boost Your Breakfast Protein for Better Results!

Breakfast.

Just the word brings about warm fuzzy feelings of coffee, toast, pancakes, potatoes, oatmeal, muffins, and more…carbohydrates.

You may be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t find breakfast to be their favorite meal of the day, but there is often one major problem with breakfast – the lack of protein! (and veggies for that matter)

Work to get a protein source at breakfast as well as a vegetable, or least a fruit to pack some extra nutrients in your “most important meal of the day”! This helps to set you up for recovery from your workouts and ensures you are giving your body what it needs to reap the benefits of all the hard work you put in at the gym!

1. Start Simple!

Start easy by making a homemade parfait with plain Greek yogurt, fruit, seeds, and perhaps a dollop of local honey or maple syrup.

Greek Yogurt is a great protein source, but be aware of flavored yogurts!! You wouldn’t believe how much sugar they add into even “healthy” brands.

2. Add Eggs!

Eggs can be as simple as hard-boiled eggs (an Instant-Pot makes these super easy by the way!) or as fancy as a breakfast casserole (think leftovers for the week!). Check out this recipe for a breakfast casserole that combines spinach, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, eggs, and hash browns for a nutrient packed and high protein breakfast!

3. Add Cottage Cheese!

Cottage cheese can be added to many dishes to add a protein kick, like shakes and baked goods. Especially for those who aren’t a big fan, adding to baked goods is quite good!

Have you tried our classic Ellipse Protein Pancakes with cottage cheese, oatmeal, and egg beaters as the main ingredients?

Or maybe even go as simple as serving cottage cheese and berries with some Kodiak Pancakes. If you haven’t found Kodiak cakes in the store yet, you’re missing out!

4. Add Protein Powder!

So many people count on that quick morning shake or smoothie. Try adding a scoop of protein powder (and even consider a greens powder) to give your breakfast a major nutrition boost!

See the cottage cheese suggestion above as well, because it makes a great add-in to shakes as well to thicken them up and add protein.

5. Add quinoa!

Quinoa? That’s right! Quinoa has 8g of protein per cup – the highest of any grain – and it’s a vegan/vegetarian source of protein!

Try this Cinnamon Toast Breakfast Quinoa with cinnamon, pecans, and maple syrup! YUM!!

Or try this Sweet Quinoa Breakfast Bowl!

Break The Fast with Protein

Choose breakfast consciously instead of mindlessly grabbing the same thing each morning! Plan it like any other meal throughout the day.

Try adding some beans to your breakfast burrito or it could be as simple as adding some vanilla protein powder to your coffee in place of creamer (TIP: make sure to cool a small cup of coffee to mix the powder in first so it doesn’t clump from too high of heat. then add the rest after it’s been emulsified).

Do These 3 Things to Lose 2 Pounds This Week!

Are you tired of starting a diet only to start it over again and miss out on all the results you were expecting or promised?

SO ARE WE!

Let’s keep this simple.

1. PFW – Fat loss happens when we pay attention to what goes in our mouths. Focus on Protein, Fiber, and Water.

 • Stop focusing on what to eliminate and focus on eating more proteins like chicken, eggs, and fish.
 • Forget the trendy headliner diet and enjoy the fiber found in fruits and vegetables. The more fibrous the food, the more it satisfies.
 • Drinking just 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water will do more than just hydrate. Drinking this, relatively small, amount of water will curb an appetite and ensure the mind doesn’t get thirst confused with hunger. We recommend drinking your bodyweight in ounces of water. Go the extra mile!

2. Move MORE!

 • Walking at a leisure pace for 30 minutes 3-4 times each week can significantly decrease the stress hormone cortisol and allow the body to focus on other functions besides stress management. Fat loss is one of those functions.
 • Already walking and not seeing results? Check that it is a true leisure walk. The kind of walk that is not measured on a tracking device and occurs at a speed that would allow you to hold a cup of coffee or tea in your hand. Slow down a little. Something tells us that your life is moving fast enough on its own.
 • Truly leisure walking and working out and STILL NOT SEEING RESULTS?? Go back to tip number 1 for a seven day stretch.

3. Get some ZZZZzzzzz’s

 • No, we are not suggesting a crazy supplement or product called ZZZZzzzzz’s. We are suggesting that quality sleep can allow your mind and body to fully recover from the day.
 • This should NOT be underestimated! This will set all your systems and faculties up for success. Start each day rested and ready for results.

Our resolve will be challenged every step of the way!

Efforts to consume more PFW may be compromised or sabotaged by quick-fix shakes that offer little more than flavor and expense. Moving more does not entail moving all the time to continue eating, sabotaging, and compromising one’s self to avoid change. Avoiding change nutritionally is the equivalent to avoiding change physically!

Know this: We promised simple. That doesn’t necessarily mean EASY! It is uncomfortable outside of the comfort zone. Declaring war means preparing to battle, holding your ground, and occasionally…fighting back!

If you’re excited about the simplicity of all this, but need a little extra guidance and motivation then let us help! It is literally what we live for!

Our 21-Day Ellipse Fitness Training Camp will give you all the tools you need to get on your way to making staggering change that can last you a lifetime.

21 days of unlimited training sessions PLUS one small group personal training session per week!

Nutrition Guidance, Ellipse Cookbook, Simple Meal Plan and Shopping List!

Before/After Weight, Pictures, Tape Measurements and Body Composition to give you a clear picture of your progress and results!

Welcoming, fantastically supportive group atmosphere, friendly and knowledgeable coaching staff, accountability, motivation, and MORE!

“Squash” the Boring or Tired Menu with Brand New Recipes!

It’s squash season!

Now is the time to munch on some squash while it is at its peak in flavor and nutrition. Pick it up in bulk for cheap at your local markets, because squash can be stored in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area (like a basement) for months in most cases! Keep squash on hand for those days where you may not have planned well enough and run out of vegetables in the house!

We are going to shine a light on some lesser-known varieties, and give you some fantastic ways to use them!

Delicata Squash

Delicata squash have a cucumber-y shape but are yellow with green variegated lines and grooves. Delicata are delicious due to their sweet flavor and edible skin. Slice delicata the lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and cut into quarter-inch moons. Place on baking sheet sprayed with oil (Mistos work great), spritz the top of the squash “moons” and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place under broiler on low. When the tops are golden brown, flip until bottom side is browned and enjoy!

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash (also called a pepper squash) has the shape of an acorn, with ridges. Like a delicata squash, this winter squash has thin skin which is edible when cooked. The mildly sweet and nutty flavor however lend itself well in savory dishes where it is a base layer or by itself in sweet dishes.

It’s also the king of squash nutritionally speaking with the most folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium! 1 cup of cooked acorn squash has more potassium than 2 bananas and 9 grams of fiber (adult men need 38g/day and adult women need 25g/day).

PRO TIP: Acorn squash is HARD! To cut it, try microwaving for approx. 3 minutes before cutting to make it easier.

Butternut Squash

Coming in second place, nutritionally, is Butternut squash. Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty flavor that is perfect for simply cubing and roasting in the oven with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper! This squash can also offer a healthy sweet treat by tossing it with cinnamon, maple syrup, and salt until caramelized in the oven – YUM!

Butternut squash, with its sweet flavor, can also be substituted for Mexican dishes that often contain sweet potatoes. Although you likely will not eat a whole butternut squash in one sitting, one butternut squash has over 350% of your vitamin A requirements!

Spaghetti Squash

Although spaghetti squash offers the lowest nutritional density of the squashes, it’s also a great low carb and low calorie vegetable option or substitute for heavy starches like pasta! Eat spaghetti squash on its own, maybe tossed with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper or swap it out for noodles in your favorite dish.

Now Let’s Get Cooking!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Filled with brown rice, lean ground beef, tomatoes and warming spices this dish is a comforting and splendidly colorful meal loaded with earthy and delicious flavors!

Turkey Mushroom Apple Acorn Squash

Looking for a simple, nutritious dinner? This recipe is perfect for a quick meal and filled with warm winter flavors!

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

20 minutes prep time, major flavor, and easily converted to vegan!

Mexican Stuffed Butternut Squash

This weeknight dinner might look fancy, but it’s unbelievably easy to make! Savory, wholesome, vegetarian goodness in under an hour

Spaghetti Squash

The flesh of spaghetti squash comes out in long strands, very much resembling the noodles for which it is named. In this recipe, the ‘noodles’ are tossed with vegetables and feta cheese.

Why You Gorge on Junk Food and Not Broccoli

Why is it so easy to cruise through a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream, but when you get to pile of broccoli, cucumbers, or chicken, it’s hard to eat more than a cup or so? Well the truth is, it’s a little more complicated than not having self-control or even because chips or ice cream “taste so good!”

The food industry is one of the most competitive markets and there are tons of companies all clamoring for your business. Go into the center area of any grocery store and you are inundated with boxes and bags of processed food screaming for you to buy them with bright colors and million-dollar logos! Each one touting low-carb, fat-free, vegan, organic, etc all claiming to be just what you need and want. But are they?

Let’s talk about the lures of “junk food” and why it’s so easy to overeat.

Whole foods are harder to overeat because they contain more filling fiber. Whole foods usually also require more physical chewing than their processed counterparts, and this is huge! Chewing actually sends signals to your brain which help you feel more satisfied and full. Perform your own experiment! See how many chews it takes to eat a piece of carrot, chicken, or broccoli and compare that to your favorite processed food.

Beware! According to Precision Nutrition, there’s a major restaurant chain that injects chicken with sauce to flavor and tenderize it so it requires less chewing…allowing you to eat more than you need!

Money – most everyone likes to save a buck. You can walk into most fast food restaurants and pick a numbered combo meal that delivers a pile of food to munch on. To get the same volume of food in a vegetable and protein meal (like a salad or buddha bowl) you will likely pay twice as much! Even at restaurants the most healthy options on the menu are often the most expensive. But the trick is, you probably don’t need the same amount of food as that double burger with fries and soda!

Pro Tip: Creating healthy meals with veggies and lean protein at home is extremely inexpensive! In-season produce can often be picked up for fifty cents a pound, and 4 servings of organic chicken breast is likely to cost you less than $10, so get in the habit of preparing! Don’t get caught without a plan and forced to meander through the nearest fast food drive-thru.

When it comes to processed foods (something that doesn’t grow from the ground, walk, swim, or fly) a clear majority of health claims do little more for us than the traditional “junk food” brands. When grabbing that processed food with the halo, compare the label to the equivalent “not so healthy” box. Understand what you are buying. Evaluate your pantry and stick with whole foods that don’t need labels. Organic Macaroni and Cheese is not so different from the blue box brand…

Trigger Warning! Find your trigger foods, slow down your eating, and be kind to yourself! Jumping on the latest “crash diet” is not a good long-term plan. Try being honest with yourself, with how you perceive yourself, and then find a supportive environment. Look for triggers to your food choices. Are you stressed, tired, or anxious when you turn to food? When you feel the urge to overeat, from stress or otherwise, try going for a walk, spending time with a friend or pet, exercising, reading, listening to music, or anything else that will positively distract you.

Have you ever noticed it’s easier to overeat at a buffet? When “trying a little of everything” you expose yourself to more flavors and textures that your body will be more inclined to consume more. This same phenomenon applies to mix snack packages with things like pretzels, cheese crackers, etc all mixed together.

Stick with fewer food choices on your plate if you want to keep your waistline in check. A rule of thumb is to stop when you feel 80% full, because it takes time for your brain to get the signals that you have had enough to eat.

Get even more info like this from our friends at Precision Nutrition, and as always remember to…