healthy recipes from Ellipse Fitness

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!

There’s No Way You Knew These Things About Berries!

Berry picking season is here! Whether you pick your own berries, get them through a CSA or local market consider adding them to your next meal plan! Berries are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and immune-boosting vitamin C. This week we are going to deliver the facts on nature’s candy, and spruce up some old Ellipse Classic Recipes!

Let’s start by adding any and all types of berries to our Ellipse Protein Pancakes recipe! Just a few ingredients and they pack a serious nutritional punch!

Strawberries

Strawberries taste best at room temperature, but they are also one of the most perishable! What a paradox…
As soon as you get your berries consume the ones with bruises, they are the ripest. Compost any that show signs of mold. Wash your berries only once you’re ready to eat them. If your berries were commercially produced and may have pesticides on them, soak in a container of water with 1 tsp of baking soda for about 15 minutes before using. Berries will stay best when stored in a single layer, so it might be worth taking them out of the container you generally find them in.

Fun Facts!
• Because of their natural level of nitrate, strawberries have been shown to increase endurance for a workout!
• Strawberries are the only fruit that wear their seeds on the outside! Although that fact means that by technicality strawberries aren’t even a fruit since fruits have their seeds on the inside, like blueberries. Strawberries are part of the rose family. Are you starting to feel like you don’t really know your fruits at all??

Try strawberries by making your own yummy Yogurt Bark!

Blueberries

Blueberries make a great frozen snack right out of the freezer! Freeze your berries by washing, patting dry, and freezing on a cookie sheet in a single layer before moving to a bag or container to freeze for up to a year.

Fun Facts!
• Blueberries can be used as a natural food dye. It’s thought that back in colonial times, colonists boiled blueberries with milk to create grey paint.
• Blueberries are only 1 of 3 fruits native to North America! (Cranberries, Blueberries and Concord Grapes)

Pair blueberries or other types of berries with nectarines and almonds in this delicious and healthy Couscous Fruit Salad!

Raspberries

Raspberries are known as an aggregate fruit, creating bead-like pockets called a drupelets from multiple ovaries (Yes, plants have ovaries). Based on how it grows, each drupelet could be considered a fruit on it its own! Unlike many fruits, unripe raspberries do not ripen after they have been picked. Once it’s picked, that’s that.

Fun Facts!
• One raspberry has approximately 100-120 druplets, meaning EACH raspberry has 100-120 seeds! Got a toothpick?
• Raspberries don’t just come in red, but can be purple, gold or black in colour! The gold ones are the sweetest variety, and very tasty.

Raspberries are a no-brainer addition to so many recipes, but start by mixing them into some Banana “Nice” Cream!

Blackberries

Blackberries, like raspberries, are an aggregate fruit. But unlike raspberries, they are produced from one ovary. With that difference, when you pick a blackberry the center stays intact, unlike a raspberry.

Fun Facts!
• Blackberries were used to treat gout by the ancient Greeks because of their anti-inflammatory properties!
• blackberries are known by a variety of names including brambleberries, dewberries, and thimbleberries.

Add blackberries in to our classic Ellipse Breakfast Muffins!

6 Classic Favorites with a Healthy Twist!

Happy Mother’s Day!

This week we honor Moms of today and generations past! Many popular recipes from generations before were often comfort food type meals and laden with heavy creams, cheeses, and sauces. We’ll be looking at recipe makeovers for some of the most common recipes “Mom always used to make!”. What was a recipe YOUR mom always made that you would like to see a makeover for? Comment below and maybe we’ll come up with something for you!

#1 - Meatloaf

An undeniable classic! What dish better captures the essence of American households of generations past than the meatloaf? Turkey, fresh herbs and marinara sauce meld together perfectly for this delicious Ellipse Fitness recipe.

Italian Meatloaf by Ellipse Fitness

#2 - Mac 'n' Cheese

A classic comfort food that many of us grew up with and may still eat! That cheesy sauce and mass of white noodles can quickly fill a good portion of a day’s worth of calories, carbs, and fat! Instead, try this healthy alternative loaded with spaghetti squash, cheese, and spinach…but don’t worry! It still has some cheese, milk, and the base feel of Mac and Cheese.
(PS Have you ever tried Nutritional Yeast? Get that flavor of cheese with FAR less calories! Try it out and leave your comments on the blog!)

Baked Spaghetti Squash and Cheese

#3 - Spaghetti and Meatballs

Now, THAT’s Amore! One of the challenging parts of this meal is often the lack of vegetables – not to mention many serve it with butter laden garlic bread. Carbs on top of heavy carbs! Lighten up with chickpea or lentil-based noodles, toss in a few handfuls of spinach (it cooks down such that you hardly know it’s there), mushrooms, and other finely chopped vegetables, and loads of FRESH herbs to add some micronutrients to your dish, as well as great flavor!

Consider skipping that garlic bread or replace with a Wasa Light Rye Cracker. Check out the blog post from last week for zucchini noodles and meatballs for a fresh take and a major health boost!

#4 - Tuna Casserole

According to Wikipedia “Casseroles became a popular household dish in the 1950s mainly because the ingredients were cheap and easy to find at the store. Tuna casserole is a common dish in some parts of the United States, prepared using only nonperishable (AKA never expires!) pantry ingredients: egg noodles, chopped onion, shredded cheddar cheese, frozen green peas, canned and drained tuna, condensed cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup, sliced mushrooms and crushed potato chips.

Try giving that ol’ casserole an updated healthier flare with this SIMPLE and FAST Ellipse tuna white bean salad: tuna, white beans, sweet peppers, and onion served over lettuce. Have more time? Jazz it up with a little olive oil and fresh herbs!

Tuna White Bean Salad by Ellipse Fitness

#5 - Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice baked potatoes typically contain loads of butter, cheese, and sour cream which can quickly crush any attempt at balancing your meals. Instead, try an updated version by pureeing cottage cheese and egg yolk in a food processor. Add scooped out potato flesh, scallions, dill, salt and pepper; pulse until just blended. Mound filling into potato skins and place in a baking dish. Bake at 400 until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. You will not be disappointed!

Twice Baked Potatos by Ellipse Fitness

#6 - Shepherd's Pie

Historically created to use up leftover meats (doesn’t that sound delicious?? haha), Shepherd’s Pie has a lot of varieties but can often be loaded with butter (like an entire stick!) and less healthy meat options. Try lightening it up and adding some additional nutrients to your next pie with this version containing zucchini, red potatoes, and ground turkey!

Shepherd’s Pie by Ellipse Fitness

What to Eat, When to Eat, and What it Means for Your Workouts

Thankfully, it seems the era of fad-diets, fat-free, no-carb or other diets that entirely slash a whole category of macronutrients is coming to a close! But with that said, it is still difficult to find reliable information on proper nutrition! Let’s take a look at how eating factors into the effectiveness of your workouts, and maybe we can make sense of some of this.

“What should I eat before/after my workout?”

For most of us who exercise for health and not training for a high-level competition, our meals will contain some combination of high quality protein, high quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, and some fruit and vegetables 1-2 hours before and/or after your workout to get the maximal benefit. Whether it is “and” vs “or” will partly depend on the intensity/duration of your activity, daily caloric intake and what is on the menu for the rest of your day

Break it down for me: What’s important – and Why?

Protein can help maintain muscle size, reduce muscle damage, provide your bloodstream with amino acids when it needs them most, and helps you adapt to your exercise over the long term! But most people are at least somewhat aware of the importance of protein for strength training – what about carbohydrates?

Pre-Exercise carbs fuel your workout and help with recovery/muscle retention with even shorter, intense workouts. Post-exercise carbs however should come from whole foods like fruits and vegetables because these are better tolerated by the system than insulin-spiking refined carbohydrates and are just as good at restoring muscle glycogen over 24 hours.

Alright…but tell me more about “When”.

If you ate a normal-sized, balanced meal a couple of hours before training (or a smaller shake closer to training), then you have 1-2 hrs after training to eat your post-workout meal and still maximize the benefits of workout nutrition.

But if you are like many who work out early in the morning or directly after leaving work, and you ate only a small meal within the last 3-4 hours before your workout, or you are in a fasted state, then you should consume a meal within one hour after your workout to prevent a slowed recovery. A whole food meal pre/post workout provides many things including important phytonutrients that build muscle, supply energy, decrease inflammation, and boost recovery.

Ya know, it just isn’t the same for me!

You might be right! In the end, the total amount of protein and carbohydrate consumed over the course of the day is far more important to lean mass gain, fat loss, and performance improvements than any specific nutrient timing strategy. If you are a high-quality eater (you are only looking to tweak minor things) check out this infographic that further breaks down your meals by body type!

When in doubt, keep it simple and fill each nutrient slot:
Protein – Scrambled Eggs with veggies
Fat – 1 “thumb” of cheese
Carb – 1 slice of Ezekial toast or fruit

Now we’ve got some recipes to help make finding a well-balanced, complete meal a little easier for you!

Asian Scrambled Eggs:

Shake up your eggs with a few new elements like some incredibly healthy ginger root and nutritious snow peas!
Check the recipe here!

Classic Protein Pancakes:

Rolled oats, eggs, cottage cheese, fruit – these pancakes have everything you need to call them a complete meal!

Find this recipe and more on our previous blog post here!

PB & Chocolate Banana Shake:

1 scoop choc protein powder, 1 fistful of spinach, 1 banana, 1 “thumb” of peanut butter, and 8 oz choc unsweetened almond milk. Blend and enjoy!

Need even more ideas? How about Banana Cream Pie Oatmeal?? Peaches and Cream Omelet?? You can find those and MORE in Precision Nutrition’s Gourmet Recipes List!

The Year of YES!

Maybe 2018 should be deemed The Year of YES!

I think we have all had those days …

  • I walked by the dog the other day thinking I should take her for a quick walk, but I kept going to the couch. Have you ever done this too? I wonder if my tail would wag as happily as my dogs’ at the invitation to go on a walk.
  • My kids wanted to go to the park, but I tried to talk them out of it. I don’t want to just sit there when I could be getting things done.  They talked me into it anyway.  They wanted me to play with them.  I was tired so I sat on the bench and waited mindlessly scrolling on my phone.
  • The kids are glued to their iPhone or iPad so often that I can hardly get their attention. Suddenly I have two notifications pop up on my phone and immediately log in to check.  I’ve read about having technology blackout times to refocus on important things in my life.
  • I have friends that are always inviting me to one run or another. Most recently it was a mud run.  I was afraid I would make a fool out of myself, having them wait for me or even hurting myself.
  • My significant other comes home and asks almost nightly if I want to go for a walk. I’ve turned them down citing a long day, rain, cold, smog…
  • I turned down my neighbors invite to come over to swim in their pool because I was worried that I would actually have to show up in a swimsuit.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’m alone here.  All these scenarios can be and are often very real.  What if we said yes just a little more often?

Fitness isn’t some crazy lifestyle requiring hundreds of hours in a gym, extremes in food or special equipment that costs thousands of dollars.

Fitness is a hundred simple choices a day that we have to make anyway.  Walk the dog or kick back on the couch? Throw the ball around with the kids or scroll a small screen?

Eat an apple or eat a cookie? Drop into the gym a few times per weeks with a friend or make an excuse not to go?

The foundation of fitness can be easy. We simply do the stuff we have to do anyway everyday a little differently.  We have to eat, so let’s eat some good food instead of pulling through that drive-thru on the way home.

The kids will do what we do. If we move, they move. If we sit, they sit.  Let’s set the tone for an active life that will propel them into adulthood.

Simple walks a few times a week with our spouses can at least give us time to communicate uninterrupted or at its best assist us in earning a few more quality years together.

Fitness can be easy. Just move every day until you can’t.

And if you move every day you will most likely have many more days in your life to spend with your loved ones and to do that “when I retire”.

Let’s make 2018 the year of YES!  SURE!  I’M IN!

Christmas Workout

As we wrap up another year, we could not ask for a better group of people to call our Ellipse family/community.

Although Ellipse Fitness isn’t open today, that doesn’t mean you can not get a great workout in today (if you want!).

Below is our gift to you. A Christmas workout!

So, grab your mom, dad, sister, uncle, cousin, significant other, niece, nephew, and do this holiday workout together or stash it for a snowy day!

70 Speed Skaters

60 Jacks

50 Speed Squats

40 Pogo Jumps (think fast jump rope feet)

30 Lower Body Mountain Climbers

20 Pushups

10 Burpees

1 Turkish Getup

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Holidays!

Set Yourself Up For Holiday Success!

Here at Ellipse Fitness Training Center we wish you and your families a very happy holiday! As this season comes to a close we have a few last minute tips, tricks and reminders to help you stay on track with your goals!

Maintain a regular schedule – Try to not to veer off your normal sleep, eat, and workout schedule during the busy holidays! Illness is opportunistic with large jumps in nutrition, sleep, and/or workout routines, so remain consistent to lessen your likelihood of getting sick. If you know you will be feasting at dinner, have a lighter balanced lunch like a salad with grilled chicken.
During busy times, try to schedule your days out ahead of time to maximize your time and keep those important appointments with yourself too!

Give to others – The holidays can be, for some, a stressful time. One thing that can put the holidays back in perspective is gratitude and giving to others. Let’s all find a way to help others this holiday season! There’s still time to ring bells for the Salvation Army, help out at a soup kitchen, cook a meal for a shut-in neighbor, shovel someone’s driveway after a snowstorm, and rekindle that feeling of doing something good. Remember all the blessings that are bestowed on our own lives.

Eat your meat (protein) – Our friends over at Examine.com concluded a recent analysis with this sentiment: “Since you’re going to splurge on food, focus your overeating on protein-rich foods. Not only does this have the greatest likelihood of minimizing fat gain during the overeating itself, but protein’s well-known satiating properties might help reduce overeating to begin with. As a bonus, if you are looking to manage blood sugar levels, eating protein before starchy carbohydrates has been shown to reduce post-meal blood glucose and insulin responses.“
Check out the full article here: https://examine.com/nutrition/meta-minimizing-fat-gain/

Seek out the better alternatives – Instead of the spinach and artichoke dip, think guacamole and salsa with vegetable crudites (remember? Bite size cut up veggies!). Instead of the pigs in a blanket, seek out the shrimp cocktail or meat kebabs. Bring your own healthier dessert! Here’s a super simple one:
Baked Apples
Core 2 honeycrisp apples and fill with stuffing (Mix 1 T walnuts, 1 T raisins, 1 T dried cranberries, ½ t cinnamon, ¼ t nutmeg).
Place apples in a loaf pan w/ ¼ c water on bottom and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until apples are tender!

Bring a dish to pass – Plan ahead! Ask if you can bring a dish to your next outing. Bring something that you know you can eat that is still a healthy option. Try some of these appetizers from previous blog posts:

Spinach dip made with cottage cheese and greek yogurt

Fresh Fruit dip made with applesauce and yogurt

Ellipse Classic cottage cheese ranch dip

Relax and recharge – As the hustle and bustle picks up in these last days before Christmas, give yourself permission to relax. Sit back with your kids, significant other, pets – whomever – and watch a movie, play a board game, or simply enjoy each other’s company. Give yourself permission to do something non-productive for a while to re-center and recharge. When you are feeling at your best you are at your best for those around you too. Thank you for taking time for yourself and recharging with Ellipse Fitness! Happy Holidays!

Ellipse Fitness Chocolate-Watermelon Wedges

Ingredients
8 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
5 lbs seedless watermelon, cut into 1″ wedges

Directions
1. Place chocolate in heatproof bowl set over simmering water. Stir until melted.
2. Dip watermelon in chocolate and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
3. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired, and refrigerate.

Makes 25 wedges.
NUTRITION (per wedge) 77 cal, 1g protein, 12g carb, 1g fiber, 10g sugar, 3g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 3mg sodium

Quick and Easy Power Waffles

Ingredients:
1 frozen multigrain waffle, toasted
1 tablespoon raw almond butter
2 strawberries, sliced
1/2 small banana, sliced
2 teaspoons agave nectar

Preparation:
Spread waffle with almond butter. Top with strawberries and banana; drizzle with agave nectar.

Nutritional Information:
Calories 245; Fat 10.4g; Saturated fat per serving 1.1g; Monounsaturated fat per serving 5.8g; Polyunsaturated fat per serving 2.5g; Protein 7g; Carbohydrates 36g; Fiber per serving 4g; Cholesterol 3mg; Iron 4mg; Sodium 373mg; Calcium