Fitness Tips

Boost Winter Nutrition with Sprouts and Microgreens!

It’s winter and it feels like it can be harder to get more nutrient dense foods like lush greens from the garden and ripe tomatoes from the vine. Try bringing the simplest of gardens indoors!

You can grow microgreens and sprout your own seeds and grains to add a major boost of vitamins and minerals to your meals.

Microgreens

Do you eat microgreens? No matter what the season, microgreens can be grown near a sunny window year-round!

Microgreens are harvested after the first set of true leaves have sprouted in 1-3 weeks. Snow pea shoots, red beets, purple and green basil, pak choi, cilantro, parsley and mesclun mix germinate and grow to microgreen size in about two weeks.

Add microgreens into your next salad, sandwich, stir-fry or just eat by themselves! Check out this DIY video tutorial here!

Sprouts

Differing from microgreens, sprouts are harvested within just a couple days of breaking away from the seed or legume. Plants grown specifically for their sprouts are grown in water and either dark or partial light.

Grow your own sprouts at home with a mason jar and cheesecloth or to make getting started easier, you can purchase a special sprouting container that has a screen/sieve built into the cover and sits on an angle to drain water best.

Why So Expensive?

Well first off, the cost comes way down when you do it yourself! But long story short: Just think, a seed can produce a full plant or it can produce one sprout. Microgreens and sprouts have a higher cost due to the number of seeds it requires to create your end-product. Have extra garden seeds left over? Throw them in a pot with soil, densely, and create your own microgreens at home!

Sprouted Grain Bread

I eat sprouts…is that the same thing that is in sprouted grain bread?

Basically, yes. Most sprouts are from pulses/beans where most breads are made from whole grain seeds that are just starting to sprout, called sprouted grains. Seeds are living things! When sprouted, they are easily digestible since their starch is broken down, having a minimal effect on blood sugar and contain more protein, vitamin c, folate, fiber and B vitamins, and essential amino acids than their non-sprouted counterparts. Some people with allergenic tendency towards grains find less sensitivity to sprouted grains since they have less starch.

Note: Generally, sprouted grain foods should be refrigerated to avoid bacteria that can grow on them (think warm, moist environment for sprouting to occur). Therefore, the truest “sprouted grain” products will be found in the refrigerated or frozen section. One of the cleanest and well-known breads in the frozen section are the Ezekiel brand products that come in bread, buns, and wraps. Slightly more processed versions, that are also then less dense, that are not in the frozen section would be Dave’s Killer Bread – Sprouted and Angelic Bakehouse products.

Chickpeas – WAY More Than Hummus!

Two-weeks ago we talked about plant-based eating. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans have a moderate calorie load and are a great source for fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Despite their starchy appearance, chickpeas fall into the low-glycemic load category (with a glycemic index of 28).

Make chickpeas, from dry, easily at home with an Instant Pot! Dried beans are incredibly cheap even compared with their canned counterparts and aren’t loaded with sodium! Check out a super easy NO-SOAK chickpea recipe from a previous blog post using an Instant Pot!

First: Some Background

Chickpeas were first harvested in 3000 B.C in southeast Turkey and later spread to India and Africa. Today they are a part of many nutritious dishes by swapping out less nutrient dense items like pasta.

Chickpeas are classified pulses. Pulses are part of the legume family, any plant that grows in a pod, but a pulse is the dry edible seed within the pod. Pulses are complex carbs, which means they stick with you longer releasing energy over time vs simple sugars which release all their energy at once – increasing blood sugar and fat storage.

Pulses contain PREbiotic fiber (undigetstible plant fibers that feed the probiotics/good bacteria) which contributes to gut health! These powerhouses of nutrition contain more folate than kale! Eat more vegetables by dipping them in your own fresh hummus, or incorporate chickpeas into your diet many different ways via the recipes below!

Recipes

Make Your Own Hummus!

In a food processor, combine 1 can of chickpeas, 2-4 Tbsp. water, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1/4-1/2 Tsp smoked paprika, 3/4 Tsp cumin, and 1/2 Tsp salt. Blend until smooth! Get creative with add in’s like spinach, olives, feta cheese, and more! If you like thinner hummus, simply add more water. Super FAST and TASTY!

Charred Chickpea Corn Salad

Combining chickpeas, quinoa, sweet peppers, and avocado – this healthy recipe is amazingly delicious!

Check it out here!

Super-Fast Chicken and Chickpeas

Directions: In a large skillet, sauté the garlic in 1 tsp olive oil for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken and onions. Stir fry for a few minutes, until onions begin to brown, then add the remaining ingredients. Continue cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes, until the meal has a good consistency.

– 8 oz roasted chicken breast, chopped
– 1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, drained
– 1/2 onion, chopped
– 1 large tomato, chopped
– 2 tsp olive oil

– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1/4 tsp cumin
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 2 cardamom pods (Or equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg)

Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa

Here we’ve found a really interesting recipe for sweet & savory, 30-minute Moroccan chickpea quinoa salad made in one pot!

Easy, nutritious, beautiful AND delicious!

Get the recipe here!

Spinach & Sweet Potato Crustless Quiche

Try chickpeas for BREAKFAST with this veggie quiche! (note: nutritional yeast is part of the recipe which gives it the cheesy flavor without cheese!)

Roast sweet potato cubes in the oven, then combine chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt and water. Mix with roasted sweet potato cubes, spinach, garlic, and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes. Voila!

Full recipe here!

What You Need to Know: Plantar Fasciitis

Today’s blog post is courtesy of a special guest writer and expert on the topic of Plantar Fasciitis: Rachel Zimmerman DPT.

If you’ve ever experienced pain in the bottom of your foot, or in your heel, chances are it’s Plantar Fasciitis.

There is a common misconception that this is something you have to live with, but you don’t! The following advice will help alleviate your pain and get you back on your feet.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

To understand what this condition is, we need to break it down into parts: plantar fascia and -itis. The plantar fascia is a structure in the bottom of the foot. It is a thin, white tissue similar to a ligament that sits between the skin and the muscle and extends from the heel to the toes. It provides stability to the foot. The suffix “-itis” is a Greek term meaning inflammation. So plantar fasciitis is inflammation of this tissue in the bottom of the foot.

What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis typically presents as pain in the heel, usually on the inside part of the foot. The pain can also spread along the arch and along the bottom of the foot. The pain is usually worst during the first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning but can also occur after standing or walking for long periods of time.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis has multiple causes, but one of the most common is increasing your activity level too quickly! Also, having tight calf muscles, weak foot muscles, and/or wearing improper footwear.

What do I do if I believe I have plantar fasciitis?

Avoid aggravating activities: The most important thing you can do when you have an inflammatory condition is to avoid activities that increase your pain. Figure out which activities are aggravating it and modify them as you can. This does not mean to avoid activity altogether – just find activities you can do that don’t increase your pain level. This does not have to be long term, just while you are experiencing pain.

Stretch your calves: Tight calf muscles (the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) can contribute to inflammation in the plantar fascia. Stretch your calves by sitting with your feet out in front of you with your knees straight, and place a towel around the ball of your foot. Pull back on the towel towards you until you feel a stretch in the calf. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat a few times. You should feel a stretch, but not pain.

Strengthen your foot muscles: There are specific muscles in your foot that help to support your arch and take stress off the plantar fascia.

   • Great toe extension: Lift big toe, leaving other 4 on the ground. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

   • Small toe extension: Lift 4 smaller toes, leaving big toe down. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

   • Doming: Raise the arch of your foot, keeping toes down. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

Change your footwear: Avoid shoes that are flat as these do not support your arch and can contribute to stress on the plantar fascia. Look for shoes that have a buildup on the inside of the shoe where your arch would be. Most shoe stores will be able to help find footwear that is appropriate for your feet, whether you need a stability shoe (which has more arch support than normal) or a neutral shoe (which has arch support but not as much as a stability shoe).

Ice: You can freeze a plastic water bottle, and then roll your bare foot over the frozen water bottle. It provides massage and ice, which will decrease the inflammation and will numb the pain temporarily. Do this for a few minutes at a time at most.

Consider orthotics: There are orthotics, or inserts for your shoe, that provide more stability for your arch. You can try basic orthotics from a drugstore or consider custom orthotics. A physical therapist, podiatrist, or orthotist can help you with custom orthotics.

**If your pain does not get better, consult a physical therapist! There are many other factors that contribute to plantar fasciitis that your physical therapist may be able to assess and treat.

This blog was specially written by our friend and guest writer Rachel Zimmerman, DPT.

Rachel is clinic director at ATI Physical Therapy right here in Green Bay, WI. You can find out more about her clinic or find a location near you at ATIpt.com!

Let’s Talk Turkey Folk! (Recipes for Leftovers Inside!)

Are You Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner?

Consider buying TWO turkey while they are specially priced and save one in the freezer for later or make 2 right away and freeze leftovers for future easy meal prep! Below we’ve got a bunch of recipes to make use of all that leftover lean, healthy protein!

Tips for Surviving a Holiday Built Around Overeating!

• It’s easy to indulge on Thanksgiving, without even trying, especially if you’re attending more than one meal! It’s a long day off and most of you have the day off, start on the right foot by working out, going for a walk/hike, or just being active first thing in the morning! You will “feed” your mindset to help make better choices throughout the day.

• After getting your fit on, make sure to eat a NORMAL breakfast. Don’t skip breakfast in an effort “save calories” for your Thanksgiving lunch or dinner. You will end up going into the meal starving and almost certainly overeat!

• Bring a dish to pass that you consider a “safe zone” in regard to a healthy option. Create a game plan and stick to it, but still enjoy the day and be kind to yourself. Love pie? Have a piece of pie for goodness sake! Perhaps skip the dinner roll or sugar-laden sweet potato casserole to make room for it.

Last But Not Least…Give Thanks!

Give thanks for those around you, the life you’ve been given, and the community that surrounds you. Life can sometimes throw us lemons, it’s up to us to keep an eye on the blessings and using the gifts we’ve been given. Let today be the first day in a season, in a YEAR of giving! Giving thanks, building up those around us, and becoming the change you want to see in the world!

Bust Out the Recipe Books!

Turkey sandwiches get old real fast after a couple of days. Try out these fresh takes on turkey leftovers to switch things up and use the rest of that bird!

Turkey Enchiladas

The recipe calls for low-fat/low-carb ingredients, but feel free to adjust for your own nutritional needs!

Turkey Tortilla Soup

Crispy tortilla strips and flavorful low calorie soup combine for the perfect come-down from Thanksgiving feasting!

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).

5 Fitness Essentials from Ellipse Fitness

Whether you have been at Ellipse for some time or are newer to the fitness world, there are a few things you’ll want to do your homework on.

Get a good water bottle.

Find something that will encourage you to stay plenty hydrated and is convenient, keep in mind that if it is a burden to you – you will drink less. You can even find double-insulated bottles that are easy to fill, clean, and keep everything cool for up to 24 hours!

Get the right shoes!

This is a big one! Sometimes when our ankles, knees, etc bother us, it could very well be related to the shoes we wear. Make sure you do your homework on the best shoe for you. Many appreciate the feel of barefoot shoes, some feet need support for over pronation, supination, etc.
Next, you’ve got to acknowledge when those things are worn out! Be sure to replace your shoes regularly enough. The average running shoe needs to be replaced about every 400 miles for instance…watch the wear on the bottom and sides. Don’t wait until you are in pain. Also, be aware that it’s a myth that shoes need to be broken in!

Recovery

Set yourself up to recover properly with enough water, sleep, and movement! This last one can often be neglected. We finish a workout, give ourselves a job well done and then proceed to sit around for the rest of the day, but this will only lead to more soreness!
Your movements may include recovery tools such as a foam roller, tennis or lacrosse ball, or even a TENS unit (electric pulse massager). Try not to only use the foam rollers at the gym. It’s a great investment to use at home as well, and they are pretty cheap. Tennis balls can help with those hard to reach areas and so can specialty rollers, like a Rollga, can help with different pressure points. Ask your trainer for the best recovery tool/process for you!

Back to your feet again…Socks!

It’s not something we usually invest in as much as we may want to, but a good pair of socks can go a long way to keeping your feet healthy! Too small of a sock and your ankle can rub on the back of your shoe. Too big of a sock and you can cause blistering.
Try some of our favorite brands like Darn Tough (yes, they make a sport line AND they have a LIFE-TIME guarantee! No BS), Smart Wool, and/or socks made of a sweat wicking material.

Gloves!

Still have that same set of boxing gloves from 3 years ago? It may be time to purchase a new pair! When the padding wears down in your boxing gloves, your hands can begin to ache. Just like your shoes, you should replace your gloves when they start wearing unevenly.

*Side note: Lifting Gloves – Although your grip can be impacted, some people don’t appreciate the calluses that can occur from regular strength training due to occupation or personal preference. For those situations, find a proper fitted lifting glove and keep packed in your gym bag with your boxing gloves, water bottle, sweat towel, and shoes!

What fitness equipment can YOU not live without?? Leave us a comment with your favorites and why!

Concerned with the aesthetic side-effects of working out? Well, a few months ago we went over the differences between deodorant and antiperspirant. Find a deodorant that helps neutralize your underarm bacteria. Each body responds to ingredients differently. What works for your friend may not work for you! You may need to experiment with a few to find the right one for you. At the gym, as a courtesy to others (especially with asthma), avoid heavy body sprays and perfumes/colognes. Have to run to an appointment after a workout? Keep baby wipes, or your favorite microfiber washcloth, in your gym back for a last minute freshen up.

Stir Fry: Quick and Easy Healthy Cooking!

Stir Fry is a Chinese technique of cooking in a small amount of oil, over high heat, in a bowl-shaped pan (wok) while being stirred. Stir fry can be a great component of healthy eating since it usually contains lots of veggies and lean protein. The stir fry technique allows veggies to retain their color, crunch, and most importantly nutrients!

Step 1: Choose Your Protein, Seasonings and Veggies

This is the foundation of all stir fry, and a fantastic base for healthy eating! Below you’ll see we’ve got beef, chicken, and even veggie stir fry with chickpeas and snow peas for a protein boost!

Step 2: Prep Your Ingredients

Any given recipe uses about a pound of protein, 1 tablespoon of aromatics, and 4 cups of vegetables. Stir fry comes together quickly, so you need all of your ingredients chopped and ready to go before you begin cooking.
TIP: Consider buying pre-chopped onions, matchstick carrots, etc if you are strapped for time!

Step 3: Make Your Sauce

Sauce…maybe the biggest factor between eating and dining! A basic stir fry sauce would include garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar/honey, stock/water, and cornstarch. Get creative! Just make your own whenever possible because pre-packaged sauce often comes with unsavory ingredients.
TIP: Cook up a huge batch of brown rice when you have extra time and freeze it in storage bags. If you whip together a last minute stir-fry, pull out of the freezer, cut open the bag and microwave covered for about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Time to Stir Fry

Cook your protein for a few minutes alone until browned and set aside (does not have to be cooked through). Add oil, aromatics, then veggies until cooked, but crunchy. Recombine, add sauce and simmer a few minutes. Voila!
TIP: Aromatics are ingredients like garlic, green onions, shallots, ginger that are heated in some sort of fat/oil to release the flavor, cook these by themselves in the oil for 30 seconds to a minute, being careful not to burn them before adding the veggies.

Step 5: Serve and Enjoy!

Add a little culinary flare to your dish with garnishes such as cilantro, green onions, or sesame seeds for flavor and presentation. Enjoy a speedy, flavor packed meal!

Why a Wok??

The shape of the pan and constantly stirring helps make sure things aren’t over-cooked so veggies can retain their crunch and the aromatics don’t burn! When it’s time to add the sauce, push the contents to the side of the pan so they stop cooking on the most intense heat, and pour your sauce in the middle until thickens/boils before mixing it all together!

Recipes for Starters!

Hot Summer, Cold Salads!

Now don’t get us wrong, the grill has a special place in the Summertime rotation, but sometimes you are just too hot to stand over an open flame and what you really need is to cool down!

This week we have a bunch of excellent, COLD salad recipes for you so you can give a major boost to your nutrition this summer, cool down your body, and delight your taste buds!

Vegetable Bean Salad

Try this large batch veggie-loaded cold salad with a sweet, and optionally spicy kick!

Check it out: Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, corn, avocado, cilantro and beans get topped with a dressing of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, raw honey, hot sauce/chilies (to taste), garlic, and salt/pepper. This was a huge family hit! (The proof is in the picture…) It goes great with almost any main protein meal since you now have your vegetable, carb, and fat taken care of!

TIP: Try using unfiltered apple cider vinegar. It is known to have many medicinal properties, including easing GI distress.

Get the full recipe here!

Zoodle Salad

Zucchini + tomatoes + basil + mozzarella balls topped with balsamic vinegar. So simple! Sooo good…Get the recipe here!

TIP: Balsamic vinegar is traditionally made in Italy from unfiltered, unfermented pressed grapes (not fermented alcohol like other vinegars) and aged like wine. The older the vinegar, the sweeter and more syrupy – not to mention more expensive. Beware: a lot of cheap balsamic vinegar is just an imitation, made by adding color to white wine. Look at the label for words like “grape must”, “aged grape must”, “Mosto d’Uva” or “DOC.”

Cold Shrimp Salad

Shrimp is a good source of protein and a nice change of pace. This recipe can be made even quicker with precooked shrimp, then simply toss with a healthy dressing and served over lettuce leaves or as a salad topper/dressing.

Shrimp with celery, red onion, and dill + dressing. We love simple – had you noticed?

The dressing is made with mayo (could also part plain Greek yogurt part Mayo), lemon, and dijon.

TIP: This recipe was tested using 1/4 c Greek yogurt + 1/4 c Mayo, however 1/8 c mayo would likely have been enough.

Click here for the recipe!

Greek Salad

Who doesn’t love the classic taste of cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and feta? Today’s Greek Salad has a dressing that can be used for any lettuce salad: red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon, oregano, and salt/pepper.

TIP: Red wine vinegar, as the name suggests, is made from red wine that is allowed to ferment. It’s one of the more popular vinegars with its sharp taste, making it great for vinaigrettes, salad dressings, and marinades.

Unfamiliar with this classic recipe? Check it out here!

Quinoa Salad

A terrific way to use your garden surplus, create a satisfyingly filling dish, plus get a protein boost from the quinoa!

Quinoa + cucumbers + tomatoes + onion, avocado, feta, and parsley. This cold salad offers a light creamy feel yet light for summer. Serves well with chicken on the side or incorporated right in! Rave reviews from the kids and adults alike!

Get the recipe!

Bonus Tuna Salad

This is one refreshing take on the timeless classic. Red onions, dill pickles and hot sauce pack a serious punch of flavor that make this recipe particularly enjoyable. Try wrapping it up in some romaine lettuce!

Full recipe here!