Basics

Do YOU Drink Enough Water?

Sunday, March 22nd is World Water Day, which is a dedication to explaining how water and climate change are linked (worldwaterday.org). This week we’ll talk about water and how it’s important for our bodies and life. But first, we can’t consume water if we don’t have the resources!

Conserve!

Conserve water by taking shorter showers, turning off the water while brushing your teeth, buy a high efficiency dishwasher and laundry machine, use a rain barrel to gather water for watering plants, and stop throwing pesticides on your yard that will ultimately end up in the ground water.

There are SO many reasons to consume water regularly, it affects your health, your skin, lowers your risk of many diseases, and can even help you lose weight!

Weight Loss

Water is one of the best tools for weight loss, because it often replaces high-calorie drinks like soda and juice and alcohol with a drink that has ZERO calories. But it’s also a great appetite suppressant, and often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty. Water has no fat, no calories, no carbs, and no sugar. Drink plenty to keep your goals in check.

TIP:
Not sure how much water you drink each day? Keep a little log and keep it simple.

Better Performance

Being dehydrated can severely hamper your athletic activities, slowing you down and making it harder to lift weights. Kickboxing and other forms of exercise can help make you WANT to drink water more.

TIP: Be sure to drink water a couple hours before your workout, so that it works through your system in time, and drink during and after exercise as well.

Healthy Skin

Drinking water can clear up your skin and people often report a healthy glow after drinking water. It won’t happen overnight, of course, but just a week of drinking a healthy amount of water can have good effects on your skin.

TIP: Carry a reusable bottle. Not only is it good for the environment. It’s good for you! When it’s empty, refill and keep drinking.

Reduced Risk of Diseases

Drinking a healthy amount of water has also been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer by 45%. Drinking lots of water can also reduce the risk of bladder cancer by 50% and potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer. Drinking a good amount of water could lower your risks of a heart attack.

TIP: Set your watch to beep at the top of each hour, or set a periodic computer reminder, so that you don’t forget to drink water.

How To Stay Well When Everyone Else is Sick!

Sickness is running rampant this time of year. Colds and multiple strains of the flu are just the most well-known. Take your health into your own hands by taking preventative measures.

Step 1: Keep Your Hands Clean!

Washing your hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, is the most effective in reducing the spread of germs and bacteria.

Keep hand sanitizer with you for when soap and water aren’t available. Make sure to find sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. If your hands tend to get dried out, be sure to get sanitizer with vitamin E added.

Try this DIY spray: In a 2 ounce spray bottle, combine 2 Tablespoons of witch hazel with aloe or Vodka (!), a few drops of Vitamin E to keep hands from drying out, 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil blends, and top off with distilled water.

Prefer a gel sanitizer? Try ½ c Aloe, 1 tsp witch hazel, 1 tsp vitamin E, and ½ tsp glycerin along with your favorite essential oils.

Step 2: Get Your Beauty Rest!

Who got 7-9 hours of sleep last night? When you fail to get enough sleep, the number of infection-fighting antibodies (called cytokines)
are reduced AND if you do get sick, a lack of sleep can prolong your illness!

If life prevents you from getting adequate sleep, take up to two 30-minute-or-less naps to try to “catch up” and help ward off illness and reduce stress.

Step 3: Eat well!

During these times of sickness floating around, make sure your diet is loaded with vegetables and fruits. Loading up on foods that contain vitamin B, vitamin C, and B6 will help ward off viruses.

Vitamin C is readily found in bell peppers and citrus fruit. Poultry is a great source of B6. Other immune boosting foods include garlic, yogurt, broccoli, and green tea. Build your immune system with a smoothie with these immune-boosting foods: berries, oranges, spinach, honey, and yogurt.

Step 4: What If It’s Too Late?

If you already feel symptoms coming on, all is not lost! Elderberry has been used for centuries to increase the immune system and fight upper respiratory tract symptoms. Sambucol is one brand that has been directly studied and been proven to reduce the duration of symptoms from 6 days down to 2 in many cases! Sambucol is not preventative, but if you’re not feeling great, it may be worth a shot. As always, check with your doctor first!

Post-Workout Nutrition 101

CONGRATULATIONS! You worked out! If you haven’t, click the “Categories” drop-down list and select “Workouts” and you’ll find some great at-home workouts!

But now it’s time to replenish your energy stores and start repairing/rebuilding your muscles. So let’s get the basics!

Window of Opportunity

There is a “window of opportunity” that you’ll hear varying durations for, but most will agree somewhere between 30-90 minutes post-workout is ideal. This will maximize digestion/absorption of key nutrients to help your body make the most of your workout!

What are My Priorities?

A post workout meal of some carbs and protein will help refill your glycogen stores (from the carbs) and help build muscle (from the protein). Try to get in the habit of approaching your post-workout nutrition as a MEAL – as opposed to a snack. At mealtime we are more likely to make better choices, and avoid “snacky”, high-fat foods that don’t serve out body as well post-workout.

It could be said that your post-workout meal is the most important meal of the day. Your body needs help to replenish its energy stores, increase our muscle quality/size and repair damaged muscle tissue. We want to break down muscle tissue DURING the workout so it rebuilds stronger, but we need to help it recover too.

In the end, although other factors do come into play, calories out still needs match or to exceed calories in to assist in weight maintenance and loss. Make sure your post workout meal matches your goals.

Recipes    

Oatmeal: Are you an early morning fitness fan? Your post workout meal could be oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder, berries, and sliced almonds. Easy peasy!

Tuna and Veggies: Do you work out over the lunch hour and need a fast go-to post workout lunch? Toss a packet of flavored tuna in a cooked steamer bag of vegetables! Have an apple to round out the carbs and replenish the glycogen stores.

Salad: Try salad with chickpeas (the chickpeas have protein and carbs) topped with an oil and vinegar dressing for something quick and light. Or… Have you tried Mason Jar Salads?

Power Shake: In a hurry? Bring a shake with you. Try this Precision Nutrition Tropical Power Shake: Blend 6 ounces of water, scoop of vanilla protein powder, ½ banana, ¼ c pineapple, 1-2 TBSP of flax seed, 1-2 TBSP. unsweetened coconut, ¼ c plain Greek yogurt. Add a fist of fresh spinach and blend until smooth. Add ice as desired.

Salmon and Veggies: Salmon is a “fatty fish” that has the added bonus of omega-3s to help with inflammation and heart health. Serve up your favorite salmon recipe with some veggies and sweet potato for that perfect post workout meal.

Tilapia with Cilantro Lime Quinoa: Although not a source of omega-3s, tilapia will serve up good quality protein too. Try this: cook up some quinoa and toss with corn, lime juice, garlic/onion powder and cilantro. Pan fry tilapia with smoked paprika and serve over the quinoa mixture. Get the full recipe here!

FAQ: New Guest Tips

Welcome to Ellipse Fitness! First off, we are so excited to be a part of your fitness journey, and PLEASE always feel welcome to talk to our trainers and staff about anything! If we don’t know the answer, we are always happy to point you in the right direction!

Here are some common questions we see that may help you to get started…

1. What should I bring?

a. A good pair of clean tennis shoes
b. Sweat towel
c. Water (we sell bottles of water too, but go ahead and bring your favorite water bottle if you’d like!)
d. Appropriate fitness gear, like a t-shirt and fitness pants/shorts.
e. We have foam rollers and boxing gloves, but if you have a roller or gloves that you love, feel free to bring them.

2. Will I be the only one who…?

There is a 98% chance, someone your age, with your condition, and/or your concerns HAS done this before and was successful doing so! You are not alone! We have levels suitable for almost everyone. Fitness can be intimidating initially, but we will set you up for success, going over the basics, breaking down the movements and only adding things in once you are ready.

3. My [fill in the blank] hurts, had surgery, etc…

First, make sure you have filled out a medical history form so we know exactly how to work with you during your Ellipse training sessions. Our certified trainers are experienced to offer suitable adjustments or alternate exercises as needed.

4. My schedule is tough! How long are the workouts and what does the schedule look like?

At Ellipse we program our sessions assuming that everyone has a variable schedule and in some cases can never make it on a certain day. No worries, our behind the scenes programming has you covered! Get a complete workout attending as little as 2-3 days/week. Our sessions run 45-50 minutes and include foam rolling and a dynamic warm-up.

Group Personal Training (5am, 6am, 9am, 12pm, 4pm, 5pm*, 6pm*. Ask your local studio for the Saturday schedule.)
*Allouez – no 5 pm or 6pm on Fridays
*Oakville – no 5pm on Fridays

– Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are strength based with Monday and Friday offering a little more heart-pounding metabolic component.

• Kickboxing/Team Training (5am, 6am, 9am, 12pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm. Ask your local studio for the Saturday schedule.)
– Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday have a kickboxing basis with a variety of twists to keep it fresh.

We respect your time and make a practice of starting and ending on time. Don’t forget, we have showers available as well if you need to make your getaway even quicker!

5. I’m nervous

That’s totally normal and you are not alone! Taking the first step into the studio is always the hardest. If you can make it into the front doors, we promise to take good care of you and help you feel as comfortable and welcomed as possible! If you have any injuries, bodily limitations, or just want to test the waters as opposed to jumping right in, our trainers will work with you. Not sure what a deadlift is? No problem, we’ll walk you through a hip lift and work to progress you toward the next step.

6. I won’t know anyone!

Most people don’t know anyone the first day, which is why we are here! Let us introduce you to some new fitness friends and trainers. We’re all here for the same positive results, accountability, and community.

7. In the past, I’ve gotten bored

For over a decade, Ellipse has been known for our variety and fitness expertise. Let us show you variety like never before!

8. How do I get started?

First, request a medical history form (or click the link above!) and login from your local studio. Call, email, or stop in to set up an initial “Get To Know You” session to help us guide you toward the program best suited to you. Short on time? Just fill out your medical history form and we can email or call you our recommendation and best way to get started.

Your first session we’ll have you come in about 15 minutes prior to get your orientated and ready for the session. After your first session, arriving 5-15 minutes prior will allow proper foam rolling and warm-up time.

9. How can I stay connected?

Make sure you are getting our emails! On Tuesday’s you’ll find our “Lunch N’ Learn” series to keep you informed and motivated. Keep up with your local studios with our Friday studio update and notes. If you haven’t received an email yet, be sure to reach out.
Follow the Ellipse Fitness corporate Facebook pageand your local studio Facebook/Instagram pages for another method of staying “in the know”.

Finally, when you join as a member, you will be invited to be a part of your local studios private Facebook group; a place to interact with other members and ask health and fitness related questions!

10. What else should I know?

Our training team and Ellipse community are here to ensure your success. Without you, your results, or your positive experience, Ellipse wouldn’t be here so we are grateful and VERY motivated to make sure you have the best fitness experience EVER!

Our members are encouraged to book their sessions at least 4 hours prior to help the trainers provide the best service possible. Your situation doesn’t allow for a 4-hour window? Just check with your local studio as we have processes in place for those situations!

Life is about balance, and so is Ellipse Fitness. As mentioned before, you’ll get a great workout in, but there will be no exercises that you “cannot do”. Our coaches will make sure you have options, just communicate with us and we will figure it all out!

THE Core Exercise You Should Be Doing Every Day!

The Plank is a simple, but very effective and EFFICIENT core exercise that helps you build stability and strength throughout your entire body. The primary muscles involved are the erector spinae (muscles around the spine that straighten and rotate the back), rectus abdominis (the “6-pack” muscles), and transverse abdominis (a deep core muscle that stabilizes the low back and core).

The Origin

Some credit Joseph Pilates for the concept of the plank exercise, dating back to the 1920’s! Like standard planks, side planks recruit the transversus abdominis muscles, but also the glutes, obliques, and adductors as the primary muscles.

Why Should You Do It?

In today’s world we are in spinal flexion so often, hunching over our phone or computer – therefore doing loads of “crunches” is unnecessary. Instead utilizing planks encourages stacking the spine, improved posture and can greatly reduce the incidence of back pain.

The plank is a popular exercise in yoga, boxing, and sports because it not only increases strength and stability in the whole body, but it also trains balance and flexibility.

On The Go? No Problem!

Planks are perfect for that workout you need to complete at home or while traveling. No equipment is necessary, and it can be done anywhere! Your job is to make a plank hard to be the most effective. Before increasing your time in a plank make sure to master the form, only then increasing INTENSITY to make sure it’s the safest and most effective plank.

Tips For Improving Your Plank

1. In the pushup position, push up through the shoulders (shoulder protraction) to create stability so the upper back feels rounded arm to arm.

2. Set your wrists under the shoulders (in a low plank our elbows are under the shoulders) and stay there! As we fatigue, we tend to push away from the hands causing unnecessary strain on our shoulders, neck and wrists.

3. To keep your head aligned with your spine, pretend you are giving yourself a double-chin or you are up against a wall and pulling your head back against it.

4. When we train deadlifts, you may have seen a coach place a dowel or pole on a member’s back to have them connect their head, shoulders and tailbone to it while hinging. The same three connections should be seen in a plank.

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER!

Wrists under shoulders, actively drive your hands into the ground, double-chin, push up through the shoulders, squeeze your quads/front of your legs, squeeze/engage your glutes, and build tension in the legs by drawing the legs towards each other.

One final tension boost? Make it a STRICT PLANK by drawing your elbows/hands back as if you are on a rug and pulling it toward you.

5 Reasons to Get Fit THIS FALL!

Let’s be honest, there’s always a million and one reasons to get in shape, but this week we’ve got 5 major reasons to get fit THIS Fall!

1. Fighting the Winter Flu

Are you one to catch that winter cold? Is this then your excuse to not stay active when it gets cold? Exercising in cooler temperatures helps strengthen your immune system and decreases your chances of getting a cold during the wintertime. The cells in your immune system will love you for that and better fight off all bacteria!

2. Beauty of Autumn

Even though temperatures are dropping, it is also such a beautiful time of the year! Don’t waste these days sitting around and doing nothing. Enjoy that beautiful autumn weather by going for a walk or run. Maybe even take up snowshoeing or cross-country skiing!

3. Resist Fall Comfort Food

Turkey, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate…there are many unhealthy temptations during this time of year. However, if you stay active this season, your body will start to naturally crave healthier foods. Resist excuses. Resist temptations. Await results!

4. Make Use of an Empty Schedule

Did you have a busy summer and no time to work out? Then this is one less excuse you can use. Make the most of your time by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Invest time on your fitness now, and avoid Spring/Summer regret!

5. Get a Head Start on your New Year’s Resolutions

Studies show it takes about 4 weeks for the body to adapt to new lifestyle changes. If you start your workout routine now, you’ll not only be one step ahead of your New Year’s resolutions but also more likely to meet them.

Have a Fit Fall by building your immune system, health, and nutrition by being consistent in your workouts and sleep schedule, getting outdoors, using the extra “indoor” time to cook/prep, and ultimately setting yourself up for a strong start in the new year!

What You Need To Know About Your Muscles

MUSCLES!

You have 642 of them, you use them every day, but what do you really know about them? Knowledge is power if every aspect of life and training is no different – read on!

Opposing Muscle Groups

When talking about muscles sometimes it is easiest to think of a really simple one for starters, so let’s begin with those biceps being shown off up above! When you bend your arm, your bicep contracts and your tricep does the opposite (elongates) in order to let your elbow bend.

These are called “opposing muscle groups”. Our workouts need to cover all aspects of muscle training from the composition of muscle to how they perform.

Muscle Fibers

Muscle fibers are long and cylindrical; only about the size of a strand of hair! These fibers determine how much weight you can lift and for how many reps (think a bunch of hairs tied in a ponytail make up what a muscle looks and acts like).

There are two types of muscle fibers:

Slow Twitch

Slow twitch fibers are used for aerobic exercise and are very resistant to fatigue and are good for things such as longer distance running. The downside is, they don’t move very quickly (like if you suddenly need to sprint to the finish line). You train slow twitch fibers with higher repetitions, at a slower tempo, and with short rest times.

Fast Twitch

Unlike slow twitch muscle fibers, fast twitch fire very quickly but also fatigue quickly. Fast twitch fibers are used for things like sprints and heavy lifting. You train fast twitch fibers with explosive movements like the push press, kettlebell swing, and box jumps. This type of POWER training needs more rest and recovery time.

Are We All The Same?

NO! Every person has a different percentage of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers, which is why some people tend to be naturally better at running distances than sprinting, or better at longer sets than short ones. Even within each person different muscles may be various ratios of fast and slow. For instance maybe your hamstrings are 60% slow twitch, but your biceps only 30%.

So, Why Bother Training?

You are born with a certain number of muscle fibers so you can’t increase the number of them, but you CAN increase their overall mass and strength.

Remember when we said there were TWO muscle fiber types? Well…technically that’s correct, but within “Fast Twitch” there is the potential to train for more short bursts of power or more endurance. Muscles literally change based on your activity and these hybrids will shift more toward slow or fast depending on your training. Train for your goals!

TRAINING GOAL CHEAT SHEET

Determine if your workout is designed to gain muscle size (HYPERTROPHY), strength, or power.

Hypertrophy training aims to fatigue the muscle fiber, which after proper rest will cause the muscle to grow larger. 6-12 Reps and rest 30-90 seconds. The focus is more about the process vs the actual load.

Strength (vs muscle size or power) requires a slower speed and lower reps (like 6 or less) with heavier load/weight.

Power training is similar to strength training, but speed of contraction becomes a factor as we want to generate as much power in as short a time as possible.

As you have seen this week, to get a fully balanced program to build muscle strength, size, and power takes a fine balance and a deeper understanding of how the body works. At Ellipse, you see Tabata, Declining Hypertrophy, Eccentric Training, Pause Training, and so much more. All the different formats and styles are to achieve RESULTS! If you can step through that front door and work to YOUR best, we’ve got the rest covered 😊

Sugar? Starch? Carb? What’s The Difference!

Last week we talked about forms of sugar (words ending -ose) and how they are different or alike. In many cases the sugars broke down to, in at least part, glucose. Glucose is used by your muscles to perform work. Sugars are SIMPLE carbohydrates. COMPLEX carbohydrates are what we call “starches”.

Why Do I CARE??

GLYCOGEN! Glycogen is why you care.

Glycogen is one of TWO forms of energy storage in the body:

1. Glycogen stored in muscle and the liver.

2. Triglycerides (i.e. FAT) stored in adipose tissue.

So, let’s get to the point…Your body can store 1-day’s worth of glycogen. The trick is, your body will use your “one day” stores of glycogen BEFORE relying on the stored energy in your fat cells. Meaning, you MUST exercise off your daily stores before you can mobilize the energy stored in the fat cells. Keep your energy/food intake in check!

Why Complex Carbohydrates Matter

All forms of sugar, and starch, break down into glucose. Starch is a COMPLEX CARB (i.e. 3-10 sugars linked in a long COMPLEX chain) vs sugar being a SIMPLE CARB.

Starch/complex carbs break down slower than simple carbs/sugar. Since complex carbs break down slower, we stay “full” longer. Complex carb examples include peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables. Stick with complex carbs in your diet vs simple carbs for overall health!

Starch come in the forms of digestible and resistant starch. Digestible starch is quickly turned into fat if we don’t use it right away. Resistant starch doesn’t get digested in the small intestine like digestible starch, instead many types ferment in the large intestine and act like fiber! Resistant starches are not broken down into glucose in the stomach, so they have a lower calorie content, also improve insulin sensitivity/lower our blood sugar levels and keep us full longer (thanks to the slow digestion). Although there are various types of resistant starch, some examples are grains, seeds, legumes, potatoes and unrefined rice.

WAIT: White rice is “refined”, which means it’s been processed, and the fiber has been broken down making it a SIMPLE carb. Brown rice however is a whole grain – fiber intact – so it is a complex carb. Purchase whole grain rice!

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs??

Why are the terms “good carbs” and “bad carbs” floating out there? GOOD carbs can be considered those that not only contain energy/glucose (i.e. refined sugar) but also vitamins and minerals (i.e. vegetables – more bang for your your calorie-buck).

EXERCISE improves how our body moves sugar/glucose into our muscles, eventually causing you to require much less insulin than someone who is physically inactive.

You NEED This Head-to-Toe Healthy Overhaul!

We’ve got some simple tips, revelations and suggestions to share with you this week so take a quick read, and give yourself the tools to live your healthiest life!

Let’s Start At The Beginning!

With your feet! The first things to hit the floor every morning (if all goes according to plan…) There are 26 bones, 30 joints, and 100 muscles in your feet. We should probably take care of our feet as much as possible with that much going on in there.

Take your shoes off and try squatting while pretending you have a ladybug under the arch of your foot. Don’t squish it! Your range of motion is limited. That is exactly what happens when wear shoes with arch support! Even .5mm off in an arch support, from what you may need, can throw off your whole skeleton.

Try massaging your feet each day to increase circulation and mobility. Tip: Sit cross legged and put one leg on top. If you are mobile enough, use your elbow to massage the arch of your foot. If not mobile enough, use your knuckle. You might be surprised and find that your knee, hip, or neck may even start to feel better! It’s all connected!

Healthy Feet: Part II

Because they are that important! When you go to the gym, you wear loose clothing to be able to move and bend, right?

So why do we cram our feet into rigid shoes? When we break an arm, you put your arm in a cast and the muscles atrophy because the joint is stiff. The same thing happens with your feet when they are bound and unable to move naturally. Your ankle is meant to be mobile. When we hold it in place with a shoe, it will take mobility from the next joint, the knee – which is not built for lateral mobility especially. Certain shoes can be appropriate of course but maybe not for all day long.

Healthy Muscles

Muscles make up close to 40% of our body, give or take. We stop growing NEW muscle cells as a baby, so our only option to get stronger is to increase the SIZE of the muscle cells we have. When we strength train, we create tiny tears in our muscles and when we recover those tears are rebuilt stronger and/or longer (depending on the type of training that was utilized).

Sometimes we shy away from strength training because of soreness, BUT the best way to reduce soreness is active stretching and more exercise – light exercise – which allows the body to move out lactic acid, smooth out knots and bumps, get blood flowing, etc.

Our bodies can become stressed from the food we eat, work, family…even exercise! You heard that correct, exercise. Exercise is great, but we also need to recover properly! Listen to your body. Maybe after 4 days in a row it is saying it needs a day off, or recovery exercise like a leisurely walk, yoga, or shooting some hoops with the kids. If your muscles are screaming or you’re excessively tired, listen up and recover so you can get back to the grind sooner than later.

Healthy Heart

Our heart is a MUSCLE that we need to strengthen just like our other muscles. We often hear “I hate cardio” or a certain exercise is the ONE that works best for me. Sometimes we forget about the benefits we don’t directly see.

Cardiovascular exercise (aka relating to the HEART) like brisk walking, kickboxing, cycling, jump rope, and more are the heart-pumping/aerobic exercises needed to strengthen our hearts. Cardiovascular exercise reduces the risk of plaque build up which can reduce blood flow to the heart and cause damage. Ultimately this can cause a heart attack. A balance of strength and cardio is important for overall health!

Healthy Mindset

Exercise has a natural benefit on mindset by reducing stress. Still stressed afterward? Try reducing your sugar consumption and increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruit. Sounds simple? That’s because sometimes, it is!

Other outlets for a healthy mindset include meeting up with a close friend and/or finding friends that have similar challenges that you can talk with. Finally, find your happy place to recharge: read a book, take a walk, hang out with your dog/cat, meditate, head to the lake…what is YOUR happy place?

Healthy Environment

Finally, your environment plays a big role in your health. This could be from looking at the chemicals you use in your home and trying to give them a makeover (swap out that bleach based cleaner for vinegar and baking soda!), to opening the windows and allowing the outdoors in, to organizing, to having some plants inside that naturally filter the air. What is one way YOU create a healthier environment in your home?

A Dish To Pass: Healthy Version!

Ready to shop the farmer’s market? Read on and you’ll have dishes for the rest of the summer to bring to your cookouts and parties! Heading to a party, with a dish to pass, it’s a good idea to bring a healthy option that you know is “safe” for you to load your plate up with at a meal time that is often loaded with heavy/creamy salads and desserts. Come prepared!

Mango Avocado Salad

2 mangos + 2 avocados + juice of 1 lime + 1 seeded hot pepper + 1 bunch of chopped cilantro + garlic and salt to taste. Serve along with chicken and a few tortilla chips! Checkout this original Ellipse recipe here!
You’ll be the star of the party.

Skinny Broccoli Slaw

Combine broccoli florets, shredded red cabbage and carrots, sweet onions, and raisins and then top it with a dressing of plain Greek yogurt + apple cider vinegar + lemon juice and just a little sugar to offset the bitterness of your cruciferous vegetables. Get the recipe here!

Plan ahead as you’ll want this to sit and “marinate” for a couple hours for the best result. TIP: Make it even easier by purchasing a bag of “Broccoli Slaw” mix with the broccoli, cabbage and carrots all cut up for you!

Chunky Southwest Quinoa Salad

Quinoa, black beans, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and avocados. Toss with a light dressing of lime, cilantro, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, honey and spices. SO YUM! Full recipe here!
TIP: Throw a whole bag of dry black beans in the instant pot and fill water about 3x the height of the beans, set timer to 26 minutes. Perfect to flash freeze and keep in a freezer bag for salads like this one!
TIP2:
You can freeze quinoa too!

Slow-Cooker Balsamic Chicken

In a large slow cooker, add brussels sprouts and potatoes in an even layer and place chicken on top. In a small bowl whisk together balsamic vinegar, chicken broth, brown sugar, mustard, dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Pour marinade over chicken and vegetables. Scatter all over with garlic. Cover and cook on high until chicken is fall-apart tender(4 to 5 hours). Garnish with parsley and serve with the juices. Recipe here!

Cucumber Feta Greek Yogurt Dip

Greek yogurt, English cucumber, crumbled feta, garlic, fresh dill, scallions, lemon juice. Mix everything together and put it in the fridge to cool and then you’re all set to bring it your next party or for your next snack or lunch! Recipe here!
TIP: Cut up some veggies or try it with crackers for dipping!

Healthy Spinach Dip

That’s right – a healthy version of the beloved spinach dip that you will love! This recipe includes cottage cheese, spinach, water chestnuts, plain Greek yogurt, dry vegetable soup mix, onion, and lemon juice! Serve it with an array kohlrabi, carrots, celery and other cut vegetables, melba rounds, and/or with bread chunks. Recipe here!