recipes from ellipse fitness

Taste The Rainbow: A Visual Nutrition Guide

Eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk for chronic disease, by ensuring you are providing your body with all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrition it needs.

The different colors are made possible different phytochemicals and can be an easy way to visually see what vitamins and minerals fruits and veggies provide. If you tend to eat the same colors all the time, you are likely missing out on certain green, red, white, purple/blue, and/or yellow/orange phytonutrients.

Still Not Convinced?

Generally, when we think of eating protein it’s not a vegetable. Did you know 1 cup of broccoli has almost 6 grams of protein?!!? In addition to being a protein source, broccoli and it’s green friends offer calcium, iron, folate, and B vitamins. Folate, a B vitamin, is important to make DNA and genetic material, especially for pregnant women’s developing babies, and warding off heart disease and depression. So let’s start there shall we?

GREEN

Start by adding a serving of a nutritionally dense vegetable like kale and spinach to check that GREEN phytonutrient box. Leafy greens are generally contain omega-3 fatty acids which are important and sometimes difficult to work your diet. Vitamin K is another great reason to seek out greens.

Make it even simpler by tossing a handful of spinach in your smoothie…you won’t even taste it! I know that sounds like BS – go try it!

ORANGE/YELLOW

ORANGE/YELLOW fruits and vegetables improve your immune system and promote eye health (reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration) with their vitamin A and C. Try adding your “orange” colors like orange bell peppers, carrots, yellow summer squash, roasted winter squash and/or fruits like mandarin orange slices to your salads.

RED

Foods with RED phytochemicals have a very protective antioxidant effect. They can can ward off or inhibit tumors in our bodies. Try some red peppers, tomatoes, beets, cherries, apples, watermelon, and more!

BLUE/PURPLE

Like red fruit and vegetables, BLUE/PURPLE foods are plump with antioxidants especially anthocyanin. Berries are a powerhouse when it comes to antioxidants, helping to protect the skin, aid in cardiovascular health, and improve our memory!

Pro Tips

• When shopping, look at your cart. If you find most of your choices are the same one or two colors, swap out a few to increase the colors — and phytonutrients — in your cart.

• 1/2 cup of chopped raw vegetables or fruit makes one serving. Less dense foods, like leafy greens, take up more space, so 1 cup chopped counts as a serving.

• Think in twos when it comes to vegetable/fruit servings. Try to eat two servings in the morning, two in the afternoon, and two at night.

• We have a tremendous amount of access to fresh vegetables this time of year, but keep in mind that frozen vegetables are picked and frozen quickly, thus retaining virtually the same nutrient density as fresh – even though the flavor may be slightly affected.

6 Foods for a Higher Metabolism!

Ready to start a fire?? These foods (and drinks) will not only jumpstart your metabolism, but also offer you other great health and weight management benefits!

1. Cinnamon

Loved by most, but many don’t really know where it comes from other than maybe that it comes from a tree. Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of cinnamon trees. The inner bark is extracted and the woody parts removed. When it dries, you get that curled wood that you see sold as cinnamon sticks. Cinnamaldehyde is the active ingredient responsible for cinnamon’s ability to boost the metabolism.

In regards to body protective antioxidants, cinnamon wins by a landslide even over foods like garlic and oregano! Cinnamon helps fight insulin resistance (we need insulin to move sugar from our bloodstream to our cells…when resisted, we have too much sugar floating around) and it interferes, in a good way, with how much sugar enters our blood stream in the first place after a meal. Both HUGE factors for weight maintenance and metabolic health.

2. Green Tea

In addition to cancer fighting and anti-inflammatory properties, Green Tea can help boost your metabolism and increase your fat burning rate! It is unclear whether these benefits are attributed to caffeine alone or to Tea specifically. Studies have also shown that drinking Green Tea may improve insulin sensitivity.

Fun Fact: Oolong and Black Tea come from the same plant as Green Tea, the difference simply being how long the leaves are allowed to oxidize which turns them black (Oolong being in the middle of Green and Black Tea). While the antioxidant profile differs, generally the health benefits remain constant from Green to Black Tea.

3. Spicy Peppers

Spicy food heats you up – no doubt about that! But eating spicy peppers (or cayenne pepper) at a meal, for example, burns only about 10 extra calories. However, consuming capsaicin has been shown to reduce overall hunger throughout the day which certainly can help you adhere to your diet! It may also aid in digestive health, and in animal studies it has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

4. Coffee

Coffee can boost your metabolism up to 11% boost with its caffeine, like green tea. It seems to affect/benefit lean people most though AND if you are a regular coffee (vs occasional) drinker you may not see the same affect.

It’s not all “meh” news though…you can still have your coffee and get your protein in! Try an Iced-Mocha Coffee for the hot summer days: mix 1.5 scoops of Ellipse Chocolate Protein Powder with ½ c unsweetened almond milk. Add 1.5 cups iced coffee.

5. Spices

Kind of lumping a few things in here, but spices like ginger and turmeric can help raise your metabolism with their thermogenic effects.

Ginger can increase calorie burn by increasing blood flow and thus body temperature. Granted this increase is relatively small, it can’t hurt to add into your meal rotation. (Quick side note: Ginger can interact with certain medications like Warfarin, an anticoagulant – so refer to your doctor’s recommendation).

Grab some broccoli and sweet peppers and fresh basil at the farmer’s market for this super quick dish; Ginger Basil Chicken And Rice.

6. Coconut Oil

We’ve probably all heard that coconut oil is a good choice when it comes to oils. But why? Coconut oil offers a different effect than other oils by raising the GOOD/HDL cholesterol levels in your blood with its medium chain triglycerides and increase calories burned.

2 TBSP seems to be about the recommended amount per day to help reduce belly fat.

BBQ Side Dishes and Summer Salads!

It is Summer time and BBQ season, so this week we have several recipes for you using the fresh produce you should be able to find at your local markets!

Green Beans

Green beans are in season! Like other legumes, green beans contain high fiber to keep you full longer. 1 cup of green beans has just 44 calories plus offers a good source of vitamin K, C, and folate. Eating green beans fresh or with a quick steam method will retain the most nutrients. Store fresh green beans unwashed in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer for up to 7 days.

Try this marinated bean salad to bring to your next BBQ: it combines green beans, kidney beans, and lima beans (swap out if you are not a lima fan!), tomato, and fresh herbs, olive oil, and lemon juice. That perfect “Fresh” salad for the summer!

Tomatoes

Keep ripe tomatoes on the counter away from sunlight. When the tomatoes become (too) soft, toss in the fridge. Keep in mind at the end of the season that green tomatoes can be placed stem side down in a paper bag to ripen (give it time though, it usually takes a while!). Tomatoes are full of water and fiber as well as a good source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, and folate.

Serve yourself up a simple fresh side dish: 1 chopped cucumber + 1 chopped tomato + olive oil and salt. Delish!

Potato Salad

Going to that BBQ and need a dish to pass? Potato salads can be laden with heavy dressings and little nutrition. Add some extra veg and pull back on the heaviness with this potato salad makeover!

Tri-Colored Pepper Potato Salad uses red potatoes, sweet peppers, onions and a lighter sauce of white wine, chicken broth, lemon juice, garlic, dijon, and salt/pepper! TIP: Make it extra colorful with purple, red, and golden potatoes. You can find a 5# bag of cute little fully washed rainbow baby potatoes at Costco. Just cut in half and you are ready to go!

Berries and Melons

Blueberries and melons are coming into season! Find a local blueberry picking patch by searching Google for “Pick your own blueberries” and local patches will pop up. Blueberries are loaded with fiber and antioxidants (one of the highest antioxidant foods actually) plus low in calories. Melons are also a good addition to your diet with their high-water content, vitamin C and other great nutrients depending on the melon choice.

Bring the best of both worlds together with this Melon Berry Fruit Salad. Combine melons and berries with honey, lime juice, and mint. A perfect summer side dish to bring to your next BBQ/picnic. TIP: Store cut melon for about 3 days. If you find yourself with extra, freeze on a cookie sheet before tossing into a container for easy use.

Carrots

Carrots are coming into season! Did you know baby carrots have a lower nutritional vitamin quantity than full sized carrots? BUT WAIT! Baby carrots are actually a small carrot/carrots not allowed to fully mature, NOT the carrots we typically think of in bags (called manufactured baby carrots).

Bagged “baby” carrots are typically carrots that are grown closer together to have a narrow shaft but grow 8-10 inches long. They are then chopped apart and tumbled. The peels go to compost or are used as cattle feed. These carrots have similar, if not the same, nutritional quantities as their standard counterpart. When baby bagged carrots were first “invented” they were shaved down “ugly” carrots.

Summer Squash

Summer squash includes yellow squash, zucchini, and cute little different squash like the pattypan (looks like a little flying disc with scalloped edges) or ball squashes.

With both green beans and summer squash coming into season, there’s no better combination than the Summer Chicken Sauté from our own blog!

Start the Harvest Season Off Right!

The Early Summer Harvest!

Ah summer! Mid-June is when several vegetables are starting to be harvested. Nothing tastes quite as great as freshly harvested veggies! Although many factors are at play, the nutrients and vitamin content of fruits and vegetables start decreasing after they are harvested. In some cases that can be as short as 24 hours and others within a week.

If your produce makes a long trip from a field, to a processing area, to a supermarket, you have already narrowed that window significantly! If you can’t grow your own produce, consider a local farmer’s market or CSA to get your produce from the field to your table in a shorter amount of time to retain the most nutrients. (Check out this past blog post about CSA’s and local markets!)

Depending on the spring weather, typically just coming into season mid-June are: beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, scallions, and kohlrabi. You’ll also find lettuce greens, arugula, kale, peas, radishes, and rhubarb are already in (and perhaps almost past) season!

Beets!

Did you know? Swiss chard is a bottomless beet! Standard small beets are best for roasting or steaming. Try grating beets and sautéing in a pan with some butter or olive oil. Use the leaves too like you would kale. Beets can be bagged and stored in your crisper drawer for 7-10 days.

Salad Greens!

Salad greens are high in nutrients and low in calories which make them great if you are watching your diet. There are many varieties of greens so mix and match for a variety of tastes, textures, and nutrients.

PRO TIP: If you are not using your salad greens immediately, after the greens have been washed and dried, line a container with paper towels and loosely place the greens on and cover with a piece of paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

Click here for a ranking of the most nutritious greens. HINT: number one is NOT spinach or kale…and certainly not iceberg lettuce!

Want more? Learn how to construct the Perfect Salad!

Broccoli!

Broccoli heads are the unopened flowers of the broccoli. When stored too long the green head of “buds” start to turn yellow and lose their nutritional value. Do NOT store broccoli in a sealed container or plastic bag. If in a plastic bag, make sure the bag is open or has holes poked in it; it needs to have air flow. It should be misted lightly or unwashed and then wrapped loosely in damp paper towels and refrigerated. Consume within a couple days or 1-week max.

Try this recipe to get more broccoli in your days! Combining zucchini “noodles”, traditional spaghetti, broccoli, peas, and pesto sauce. Toss in some chicken/protein and you’ve got a meal ready to serve! Love zucchini? Double the amount of zucchini and reduce the amount of traditional spaghetti…or fully replace it!

Bok Choy!

Bok Choy is a great source of fiber as a cruciferous vegetable. It also contains healthy amounts of vitamins C, K, and A (beta-carotene). Store bok choy in a zip bag and remove any extra air. Toss it in the crisper and serve within about a week.

Pick up some bok choy and serve it up with this classic Ellipse Ginger Chicken Recipe! This tasty meal combines chicken breast, bok choy, ginger, leeks, orange, lentils and curry!

Kohlrabi

Stock up now! The bulbs do great in the refrigerator for quite some time, but you’ll want to use/process the stems and stalks right away as they will get limp otherwise. Kohlrabi is in the “brassica” family which is the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussel sprouts. Kohlrabi stems can be used raw in salads like kale, but more commonly the kohlrabi bulb can be peeled and eaten raw (tastes great with hummus or ranch too!) or shredded into a coleslaw.

Try roasting kohlrabi! It’s fantastic! A simple recipe can be found here.

What are you waiting for?? Go shopping and get to eating!!

National Hamburger Day, National Olive Day, and MORE!

This week in addition to Memorial Day we had some very strange national holidays that we thought it’d be fun to talk about and offer some nutritional suggestions with! First let’s talk about the one we are probably all familiar with:

Memorial Day

Today we honor those who died in active military service. By 1890, every former state of the union recognized Memorial Day, but just those that died in the Civil War. This didn’t start to change until after World War I. While remembering the real reasons for today’s holiday, many will kick off the summer and picnic season. Don’t let your goals fall by the wayside.

Give some of your picnic classics, like potato salad, a twist! Instead of a mayo-based potato salad, try swapping out plain Greek yogurt. Check out this link for a great potato salad recipe made with yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, and fresh dill to get that classic flavor.

Want more? Here’s 8 things you might not know about Memorial Day!

National Hamburger Day

Now of course, this plays off Memorial Day nicely as the picnic season has jumped into full gear. Hamburgers CAN be a part of a healthy diet. Consider what parts may derail you, like a huge doughy bun, perhaps a slew of condiments, that slathered cheese, or maybe it’s the side dishes.

Find the biggest offender and make a healthy swap. Small changes can lead to big results. Change out the bun or consider eating it open-faced. Can’t toss the bun quite yet? Try a sprouted grain bun. Looking for something a little new? Check out Smart Baking Company for some low calorie, low carb bun and snack options.

*BONUS*
Here’s a review by our very own Heather Trevarthen:

“First – Buns. I tried the sesame seed buns. I tried a bite just plain. They definitely have a different taste. I wasn’t sure I would love it with a burger so played it safe by toasting it. Toasted, I thought it was a great alternative!

Second – snack cakes. OMG…these are delicious. Low cal, low carb, low glycemic index, and protein from their main ingredient of egg whites! These are light, fluffy, and full of flavor. Loved them. Kids loved them too! I gave them a bite and then hoarded the rest for myself. LOL!”

So, here’s a purchase link that will get you 10% off when used with promo code: EllipseAllouez

If you try them, please let us know your review!

National Senior Health & Fitness Day

Many of us have a “senior” in our lives and all of us want ourselves and our loved ones to age gracefully. Reportedly, 86% of hip fractures occur in men and women 65 and older, and after a hip fracture general life expectancy diminishes. (Source)

Seniors can protect themselves from injury by incorporating good nutrition, aerobic training, strength training, and balance work into their daily life. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Encouraging simple things like balancing on one foot for x amount of time or squatting to a chair (for safety) will help make these movements a part of their routine. Encourage good nutrition by sharing your healthy picnic sides, from this week, to introduce easy nutrition transformations.

National Olive Day

Rejoice olive lovers, olives have a laundry list of health benefits! Olives contain only 4-6% carbs which is almost all fiber. Olives are an unusual fruit (yes a fruit since they grow from a tree and have a pit; they are a stone fruit like a plum) with their high fat content. The fat in olives is heavy in oleic acid which has been shown to decrease inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease. Go ahead and spread that olive tapenade on your wrap or toss some olives in your next picnic side dish!

It’s Picnic Season!

It’s picnic season and you may be looking for some picnic salads or a dish to pass without sabotaging your nutrition goals with another fruit fluff dessert or mayo laden salad! Do your research and find a couple recipes that are a “Safe bet”. Bring a dish that you know you is a healthy option and load your plate up with that one first and choose wisely among the rest.

Not sure where to start? Give this salad recipe a shot: red potatoes, onions, and sweet peppers tossed with a delicious sauce of apple cider vinegar, white wine, chicken broth, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Picnic ready!

For even more search the blog for a bunch of great recipes! Simply search for an ingredient or even the word “salad”. Search for Cabbage and you’ll find a great Kale and Cabbage Slaw recipe: kale + green and red cabbage tossed with a delicious sauce. Yum!

Pizza! Numerous Healthy Twists

Pizza! Just the name may make your mouth water. Pizza, by definition, is a dish consisting of a flat, round base of dough baked and topped with tomato sauce and cheese, typically with added meat or vegetables. BUT…the idea of pizza has transformed a lot over the years and lucky for our waistlines has taken on some healthier forms. We’ll share some of those options this week!

Portabello Pizza

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place portabello mushroom caps, with gills and stems removed, upside down on a baking sheet. Top with salsa, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Bake for 10-12 minutes. That’s it!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Buy it or make it yourself! Cauliflower crusts can be relatively easy to find for purchase now. Make sure to check your labels though! In some cases, a cauliflower crust can have more carbs, fat, and calories than a regular crust…even if it’s gluten-free and low-carb!

However, if you’re ready to give it a shot, check out our blog for a link to the basics: “Rice” a head of cauliflower, squeeze out the water, mix with egg, herbs, and cheese (yes, cheese is needed to help stick the cauliflower together and this is sometimes where recipes can go crazy) and then bake. *If you go this route, you may want to consider going lighter on the cheese knowing it’s incorporated in the crust.

Check out this recipe from ifoodreal!

Tortilla Pizza

Pizza crusts can come in sooo many forms today! There are spaghetti squash crusts, sweet potato crusts, and even chickpea crusts that you can make! Even Oprah is making her own pizzas now!

Want your pizza but making your own crust is just too much? Try using a tortilla for a crust. Many of us have tortilla’s laying around the kitchen. The trick is to get it fairly crisp in the oven before applying your toppings. Our favorite “flaky” crust tortilla is Tortilla Fresca uncooked flour tortillas, found in the refrigerated section at Costco. Once crisp, get creative with your toppings…try pesto topped with spinach, artichokes and chicken and then bake until the toppings are cooked through!

Pizza in a Pan

Yes, you can even put pizza in a pan! We’re talking skillet dishes. Want to go out on a limb? Try a pizza stir-fry that has kale, cabbage, and peppers at the heart of the recipe and then all your pizza flavors, including pepperoni, added in to satisfy that pizza desire. Get the full recipe here!

Not quite ready for the jump? Try another pizza stir-fry option that still hangs onto your mozzarella, but throws in some spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, and even banana peppers! Recipe here!

If you love the flavors of pizza, run with it, as it can lead to some healthy recipes that you may have never considered.

Quinoa Pizza Bites

Love the flavor of pizza, but you know you can’t hold back to just a slice or so? Try some veggie loaded quinoa bites! These poppable bites contain quinoa, zuccchini, and summer squash to add in an additional splash of nutrients. Toss in some italian seasoning, basil, garlic, tomato sauce and a little parmesean cheese, you’ve got yourself some healthy pizza snacks!

Pizza in a Salad

Start with a bed of greens, top with bell peppers, halved grape tomatoes, artichokes, red onions, black olives, and all your favorite vegetable favorites! Toss on some cooked/warmed turkey pepperoni or italian ground turkey and toss with a pesto vinigarette like this one!

Feel Like a Spring Chicken With These Egg Recipes!

It’s the season of spring chickens and the celebration of Easter. Why eggs in spring? Because they symbolize new life! What better time than to talk eggs!

Eggs are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Eggs contain vitamins A, E, D, and B12 plus minerals like iron and folate. Egg yolks are one of the very few foods that naturally contain vitamin D!

Not All Eggs Are Created Equal!

The most commonly found eggs in the supermarket are grain-fed: a combination of corn and soybeans. Check your labels! “Free Range” would indicate a more natural diet of seeds, green plants, and insects, thus a lower omega-6 content (the fatty acid that most of us are already getting too much of).
Some eggs like Eggland’s Best feed chickens an omega-3 rich diets and thus transfer those healthy omega-3’s into their eggs and ultimately in our bellies. Omega-3 eggs have been seen to decrease blood glucose levels. If it’s in your budget, free-range and omega-3 diet fed chickens appear to be worth the investment!

What About The Yolks?

The yolks of eggs are often seen as “bad” because of cholesterol concerns. The yolk is actually where the good nutrients are stored, however! Eggs have not been found to be associated with any form of cardiovascular disease, despite their bad cholesterol rap. 75% of the cholesterol in our bodies is created by the liver. 25% comes from food. Studies have shown, even after eating 1 egg daily for a year, no adverse effects were found (except perhaps for people who are diabetic).

Does The Shell Color Matter?

So really, why are eggs different colors? To determine what color egg a chicken will lay, check out it’s earlobes! Seriously!

White feathered chickens with white earlobes will lay white eggs. Red or Brown chickens with red earlobes will lay brown eggs. Earlobes aside, the color of the egg really has no bearing on nutrition. Now, the YOLK color is dependent on the diet a hen was fed, a more pale yellow color indicating a weaker grain-fed diet versus a more golden yellow indicating a free range type diet.

Eat Eggs for Eye Health!

Treat your eyes with a healthy egg meal! Eggs contain lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Did you know that eggs age more in one day at room temperature than in one week in the refrigerator?

Consider adding more eggs into your meal routines. Afterall, they are the most commonly consumed animal product in the world!

Boost Your Protein!

Add some protein to your day with eggs! 2 egg whites contain 7g of protein. 1 full egg has 70 calories, 6g of protein (but also then contains the 1.5g saturated fat in the yolk).
DID YOU KNOW? Younger chickens lay eggs with harder shells. Now you know!

RECIPES

Check out these healthy, delicious egg recipes from our Ellipse Fitness Recipe Archives!

Pancakes, Pie, Naps?? Yes Please!

This week we are celebrating anything and everything folks!! And we’ve got some fantastic recipes to help you celebrate some obscure holidays.

National Nap Day!

Let’s kick this week off with a very happy National Nap Day! Sleep plays a role in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels, control body weight, and enhance memory. Sleep helps to reduce inflammation in the body.

The Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends adults get 7-8 hours of sleep per day for ideal health. Improve your sleep with the same bedtime/wake time, limiting blue light exposure (they make glasses for this now!), exercising regularly, and limiting caffeine and heavy meals in the evening.

National Pancake Day!

Love pancakes but think they are off limits? Maybe it’s time to try a few different options that may suit your goals! Have you tried Kodiak Cakes? They contain ingredients you can feel pretty good about including 21g of protein per serving when made with a milk and egg.

Or, try one of the many recipes “out there” that include oats, cottage cheese, banana, and eggs like this OR go super simple with a 3 ingredient pancake: ½ C cottage cheese, ½ c. rolled oats, and 3 eggs. Blend in a blender and cook!

National Cruciferous Day?

Alright this one isn’t real – yet! But we think it should be!

Cruciferous vegetables have been shown to have cancer-fighting attributes and contain many beneficial properties. Cauliflower has come back into fashion with all sorts of new ways to prepare it – cauliflower crusts anyone?

If you haven’t jumped onto the cruciferous wave yet, give this Cauliflower Hash recipe a whirl. It cooks up fasts and you’ll struggle not to eat the whole thing!

Chop a head of cauliflower and an onion and sauté until starting to brown. Toss in paprika, salt, pepper, and water and cook briefly until the cauliflower is tender. Add minced garlic and lemon juice and enjoy!

Happy Pi Day!

This one is for real though! (3/14…3.14, get it?)

Let’s talk PIE…better yet, PIE for dinner, not dessert! Have you tried Spaghetti Squash Pie? Think, spaghetti squash, zucchini, fresh basil and marinara all wrapped up in one dinner!

Alright, alright that one isn’t dessert though…If you need a little sweet, here’s an Apple Pie Shake recipe!

Éirinn go Brách!

Now surely you have heard of St. Patrick’s Day, but we’ve got a special smoothie to try in honor of the holiday! Skip the popular green shake that packs 63 GRAM OF SUGAR!

Green smoothies are commonly created by adding spinach to smoothies. Spinach is nutritious, but essentially tasteless in smoothies so it’s a great addition for a vitamin and mineral boost!

Try this St Patty’s Day Smoothie Treat: Blend 1 frozen banana, 1 cup spinach, ¼-1/2 Tbsp. of cocoa powder, ½-1 scoop vanilla protein powder, cacao nibs, and unsweetened almond milk to taste. Greener? Add some matcha powder! Need more healthy fats? Add some flax or hemp seeds!

Special Mention:

Happy 10 Years to Ellipse Fitness St. Louis!

It’s time to throw a party! Need to bring a dish to pass? Try a Chinese chicken salad with cabbage, lettuce, fresh herbs, and chicken. Check out this great recipe here! (you can swap iceberg lettuce for romaine for a few more nutrients and add as much cabbage as you see fit)

AND try an old Ellipse Fitness Favorite: Party Pepper Salad filled with sweet peppers and beans.

Excellent Recipes Celebrating Mardi Gras and Lent!

It is NEVER the wrong time of year to try some new things in the kitchen! Boredom is absolutely one of the number one reasons people fail to stick with healthy habits, so mix things up with some new recipes and take in the spirit of the season!

Mardi Gras

Fat Tuesday is well known as a holiday for binging on heavy foods in preparation for the fast of Lent, but we have some delicious recipes for you to try out that will delight your taste buds AND protect you from regret!

Gumbo

This fantastic Gumbo Recipe combines Shrimp and Chicken with a bunch of veggies and BIG flavor to create a dish you won’t forget!

Jambalaya

What’s the difference between Jambalaya and Gumbo you might ask? While Gumbo is more of a stew, Jambalaya is more of a rice-based dish essentially.

This Jambalaya Recipe may just become a year-round staple as it is light and filling at the same time, packs big cajun flavor and that Andouille Sausage is just the icing on the cake so-to-speak!

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the 40 days before Easter Sunday. For many, this is a day of an abstinence from all meat and foods made with meat, along with each Friday during lent.

There are many meals that are complete and tasty that don’t include meat! From a non-religious standpoint, many people choose to practice Meatless Mondays, or just choose one day a week to abstain from meat consumption for health or environmental reasons.

Whatever the reason, we’ve got a Whole-30 Approved, Veggie Power Bowl for you! And best of all, it’s simple:

Roast a pan of vegetables, make a simple sauce (whisk lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, small amount of water and salt), and serve with hard boiled eggs or beans like garbanzo or black beans. Check the recipe here!

Lenten Fridays

Lent has begun for many, and some have a tradition of fish on Friday’s! Another great many of us just need an excuse to incorporate more fish in our diet.

Fish is a great part of a balanced diet with high protein and low fat. Even fatty-fish (like salmon) have huge amounts of beneficial omega-3 fat that helps offset our often high omega-6’s that can come with overconsumption with red-meat. Never tried fish tacos? You’re missing out!

Check out these Mahi-Mahi Blackened Fish Tacos! Going low carb? Skip the tortilla and make it into a bowl with extra cabbage!

While EVERY day may not be a holiday, that doesn’t mean you can’t be grateful for every new day and new beginning!

According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research, finding happiness and gratefulness in each day literally changes our brain and makes us healthier and happier!

Let’s be grateful for the impending return of Spring, and don’t forget Sunday, March 10th begins Daylight Savings Time! Set your clocks ahead when you go to bed!

It’s time to leap ahead into spring cleaning our mindset, simplifying our lives and homes, and start planning your spring garden!

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.