Recipe: Very Berry Oat Bars (GF,V)

Confession: I’m a happy, healthy gal with a major sweet tooth. Brownies, cupcakes, and pies – you bake it, I like it. More often than I’d like to admit, former me could be found in the aisles of the corner bodega, picking up a freshly processed pack of TastyKakes. Turns out refined sugar and crazy chemical additives were not benefiting my bod – like, at all.

Since adjusting my eating habits, I’ve found that my cravings can be managed with naturally sweet ingredients that align with my lifestyle (think maple syrup, honey, cacao, fresh fruit and even protein powder). When it comes to experimenting in the kitchen, I opt for gluten free, no-sugar added recipes that fit into one of my favorite molds – muffin or donut, anyone? Check out my blog on Craving Compromises for even more sweet treats 🙂

And so this Very Berry Oat Bar recipe was born. The love child of a few different Pinterest finds, sweet berry-chia jam and a golden oat crust are a mix n’ match made in heaven. Gluten free, vegan, and no-sugar added, these chewy berry bars will have that sweet tooth singing hallelujah!

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Very Berry Oat Bar (yields 10-12 bars)

Ingredients

Berry Chia Jam:

  • 16 oz. frozen berries (I opted for a mixed blend of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries)
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds (hello, nutritional powerhouse!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

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Oat Crust:

  • 3 cups GF rolled oats (divided)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

ingredients-crust

 

Directions

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9 x 12 baking dish with aluminum foil and spray generously with your favorite cooking oil. Set aside and prepare jam and crush while oven preheats.

Berry Chia Jam:

  1. Combine frozen fruit and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Mix gently with a wooden spoon. Heat until berries begin to release liquid. Bring berry mixture to a boil until berries begin to break down and thicken, about 10 minutes. (If you’re using a mixed blend, break down time will vary depending on berry. Use your wooden spoon to gently assist stubborn blueberries.)
  2. Stir in the chia seeds and vanilla extract and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool until desired consistency is reached. Jam will continue to thicken the longer it sits.

Crust:

  1. Place 1 ½ cups of GF oats in a food processor (or nutribullet, or blender!) and process until reaching a flour consistency. Set aside.
  2. Completely mash bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add maple syrup and vanilla extract and combine fully.
  3. In a separate bowl combine 1 ½ cups processed oats, 1 ½ cup rolled oats, and baking powder. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Transfer dry mixture into large mixing bowl with mashed banana and mix until a dough is formed.

 

Bars:

  1. Spread 2/3 of the crust mixture onto foil-lined baking dish. Use your fingers to press and shape the dough, forming a tightly packed rectangular base.
  2. Layer the berry chia jam on to the crust, using a spoon to spread evenly. Be sure to leave some room around the edges to prevent jam from burning.
  3. Separate the remaining crust mixture into smaller portions, rolling into balls and flattening with your hands. Place patches of crust mixture on top of the jam until an even top layer is formed. Pinch patches together with fingers for a more seamless crust. Don’t be afraid to let that jam peek through!
  4. Bake for 30 minutes until crust turns golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool completely before transferring to cutting board and dividing evenly into bars.

Receipts Rejoice!

True or False: healthy eating is just too expensive. So very, very false, sister!

Repeat after me, every dollar spent on your health is a seriously good investment. However, a lean, clean, and green lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to break the bank at the grocery checkout line each week. Avoid receipt remorse with these 5 money saving tips, and go spend that extra $20 on the drop-in hot yoga you’ve been dying to try 🙂

  1. Make a List (and stick to it). No list? Back away from the Trader Joe’s, girl. Walking into the bright, white light of grocey heaven without a plan means only one thing for your budget: it’s blown. Wander aimlessly from aisle to aisle and your cart will fill with unnecessary items faster than you can say, “quinoa.” Before putting the pen to paper (or the thumbs to the keyboard), read up on my “Week of Eats” blog for the low-down on my favorite cost-effective tip – Overlapping Ingredients – and bring your grocery A-game. (Tip: To compliment Overlapping Ingredients, look for strategic substitutes in your planned recipes. If your ONOs call for dried cranberries and your kale salad calls for raisins, pick one of these sweet ingredient cousins and roll with it!)
  2. Protein + Pantry in Bulk. When shopped wisely (key word: wisely), big-box stores like Costco and BJ’s protect your pretty pennies with wholesale prices. Limit your purchases to items you use regularly, like protein and pantry essentials, to avoid surplus-spending. My favorite big-box finds:
    • Chicken
    • Frozen Seafood – Tilapia, Shrimp, Salmon (Tip: Some of you may be thinking, “Really, Al? Frozen Seafood?” Before you knock it, check your preferred grocer’s seafood counter labels. If you’re looking at fine print that reads: Previously Frozen, you could be paying up to 40% less for the same product a few aisles over.)
    • EVOO
    • Maple Syrup
    • Zero Sodium Spice Blend
  3. Nontraditional Grocers. As a car-less fittie in a big city, thinking outside the health-box is key when it comes to cost savings. In times of ingredient-need, say goodbye to pricey specialty shops and hello to nontraditional grocers! Online grocery services like my personal favorite, Amazon, carry those hard-to-find ingredients without the sky-high markup of boutique providers. My favorite Amazon purchases:
    • Quinoa
    • Pasta Alternatives (like Banza!)
    • Powdered Peanut Butter
    • Protein Bars
  4. Don’t Discriminate. Frozen veggies are veggies, too! I love stocking up on frozen produce like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and green beans. Not only are frozen choices just as easy (if not easier!) to prepare, but their long shelf-life maximizes your spending and prevents waste.
  5. C.I.Y. (Chop It Yourself). Do you find yourself tempted by the allure of prepared meals and pre-cut produce? Snap of out of the life-without-cubing-butternut-squash day dream, girl! Before tossing that Quinoa Pilaf (you know the one) in your cart, check the price tag and nutrition label. Chances are, you’re about to pay big time for some wonky ingredients you can’t pronounce. Purchasing individual, whole ingredients will often save you half the price, and over half the sodium levels.

FAQ: “How do you stay motivated?”

Motivation. It’s a necessary brick in the foundation of any fitness journey, nestled somewhere between determination and discipline. Without motivation, one of two things is sure to happen: 1. You won’t do it (insert whatever your it may be here: exercise, nutrition, etc.) 2. You’ll do it, but you won’t give it the required dedication.

Motivation comes from within, and the key to finding it every day relies on an honest and loving relationship with oneself. The way I see it, motivation has three stages:

  1. The Catalyst. This is the part where you want it more than anything. It often begins as a means to a solution, a transformation, an “after.” In this stage, you are propelled by the honest reality of your current state of being, and your deep desire to change.
  2. The Results. Something happens when you do it, day after day. Your efforts become results that you can see and feel – you lift a heavier weight, you run an extra mile, you have more energy. With each small change, you imagine the endless possibilities of your potential. Here, you are motivated by the promise of an outcome.
  3. The Lifestyle. You’ve been so fiercely consistent that it is engrained in every fiber of your being. You are motivated by the very idea that it is a part of what makes you, you.

Disclaimer: There is no magic pill – two tablets once daily with water does not apply here. However, these simple practices totally have your back when it comes to maintaining motivation.

  1. Bring Your Goals To Life. Something incredible happens when you get your goals out of your crowded mind and onto a sacred space. Statistics vary, but it is reported that those who translate their goals to a tangible form are 50%-90% more likely to achieve success. A vision board is a tool used to bring clarity and focus to a specific life goal through imagery, quotes, and objects. Grab your magazines and start cutting, girls! Clip images of #fitspo and words that resonate with you – happy, love, strong. Bullet out your goals and check them off. Jot down positive affirmations (and read them). Allow your vision board to be a constant work in progress with room to grow. Fancy yourself more of a digital gal? Use Pinterest to source and save your inspo. (Tip: place your vision board somewhere highly visible and away from clutter. My vision board is next to my bed to reinforce my goals as I start and end each day). FullSizeRender 4.jpg
  2. Get Social. A check-in a day keeps the cheat days away 😉 I highly recommend creating a social media profile solely dedicated to your fitness journey and whole-heartedly believe it was crucial to my own success (shout out #TIUteam!). Committing to one post a day encourages you to make choices that you are proud to share with your new #fitfam. Consider this: would you rather post a pic of your hand hitting snooze or hitting the weights? The latter, baby! Struggling to get out of bed for those early morning workouts? Open up Instagram and get inspired by all the fitties beating you to it. Social platforms are the ultimate accountability partner – they track your progress, provide encouragement, and are full of knowledge and experience.
  3. Define (and continue to redefine) the Motive. Without a clear motive, your mind is much more inclined to convince you that your goals are not in fact priorities, and this could not be farther from the truth. I want you to sit down, with only a writing utensil and a piece of paper, close your eyes and think about why – why you are going to run, lift, sweat, and meal prep. Then, every time you think of giving up (the 5 am alarm, the last rep, the burnt protein pancake), look yourself in the eye, remember your why, and keep going. (Tip: If you don’t know where to start, jot down “Because I love myself” and go from there).

Most importantly, love what you do. Cultivate a positive relationship with your fitness journey, be unapologetically passionate about your lifestyle, and continue to nourish yourself – mind, body, and soul.

Any other questions? Drop  me a line!

Week of Eats

As I settled into this week’s menu planning with meal journal (and pen and white-out –always have white out) in hand, my very own Meal Prep tips were fresh at my fingertips. I promise, blogosphere, I practice what I write. Focusing on The Big Picture and my most favorite cost-saving tip, Overlapping Ingredients, I put together a stellar meal lineup that I can’t wait to dig my fork into.

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If you’re staring at your empty meal journal wondering where in the world to begin, I’ve got your back… and your belly 😉

I typically start with one meal, a meal that encompasses all the vibes I’m feelin’ for the week ahead, and build out my menu from there. (Tip: Keep it manageable by planning 2-3 options per meal and alternating throughout the week for a menu that boasts nutritional variety and totally satisfies the palate.) This week, with a comfort-food-beckoning cold front sweeping in, that recipe was Tone It Up‘s “Fall in Love” Kale Salad from the #TIU31 challenge. The rich, fall-inspired ingredients called my name like a warm, cozy melody as frost crept up around my window panes.

This Kale Salad (consult the TIU Nutrition Plan for full recipe) gets its flavor from speciality ingredients like dried cranberries and toasted pecans, that, while über tasty, come with a high(er) price tag. Determined to stick to my $50/week grocery budget this month, I set out on a mission to incorporate these ingredients into other meals as much as possible.

Enter Overlapping Ingredients – I admittedly geek-out #fitgirl style over the challenge of reinventing ingredients in different meals (and totally slayed this week if I do say so myself). From M1-M5, each of my meals feature at least one overlap, depicted in the chart below, and my receipt came to $47.62!!! A major win thanks to serious strategy and my main man, Trader Joe.

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Eating is most definitely one of my top 3 favorite activities (it’s up there with lifting booty and napping), and I have developed quite the enthusiasm for constructing new and exciting menus to fuel my healthy lifestyle. Meal prep is a hobby, right?!

True Life: I love Meal Prep & Chill

Allow me to introduce you to my two best friends: Meal Prep and her cousin, Chill. Every Sunday, Meal Prep and Chill and I get together for a few hours. We groove to Selena Gomez, and wash, chop, bake, and bag until my Monday-Saturday meals are housed in their respective containers.

That’s about 30 meals. Also known as 30 opportunities to eat lean, clean and green. 30 ways to save cash on an overpriced salad. 30 excuses to pass on office brownies. 30 reasons to not order Chinese takeout. The list goes on.

Since beginning my fitness journey 8 months ago, I’ve spent approximately 128 hours meal prepping, and today I’m sharing what I’ve learned in the kitchen. But first, let’s cover the basics.

What is meal prep? Meal prep, short for meal preparation, is the practice of cooking meals (or preparing portions of meals) in advance. Meal prep aims to save time and money, and makes sticking to a healthy eating plan a breeze.

What is chill? Chill is a messy bun, a Say Yes to the Dress marathon, your favorite Spotify playlist, and some serious quality time with the couch. Chill promotes sanity, reflection, and intention.

Together, they mesh like PB + banana 😉 Got it? Good! Let’s get to slicin’ and dicin’.

  • Have the Right Supplies. In order for meal prep to serve its main function of saving time and stress, the proper tools are of paramount importance.
  1. Meal Journal. Keep a journal that allows you to pre-plan your meals, workouts and water intake. Purchase one or design your own! (Tip: be honest with yourself. If you opt for a different meal choice than what you’ve planned, add in some extra munchies, or skip a meal – make note.)
  2. Storage Solutions. After your protein is cooked and your veggies are chopped, they need a place to live. Think freezer-safe and BPA free plastic Tupperware, glass containers, and plastic baggies. Stock up on a variety of sizes to manage portions (Tip: check out your favorite off-price retailer like Home Goods for major cost savings). I have a personal love affair with glass containers. They clean easily, don’t absorb color or smell, and they photograph beautifully 😉
  3. Food Scale. There’s an unwritten rule that goes something like this: if you eye-ball a serving of Banza pasta, you will cook about three servings worth. Forget guessing and the confusion of conversions – a food scale will provide the most accurate measurement for solid-food serving sizes listed in ounces like grains and protein.
  4. Measuring Cups/Spoons. As with a food scale, measuring cups and spoons are tools that guarantee portion size. Measuring cups/spoons are especially important when it comes to baking any delicious gluten free treats. Trust me, actually measuring baking soda according to the recipe will make all the difference in your banana bread muffins.
  5. Kitchen Essentials & Extras. My most-used essentials include baking trays, sauce pans, and muffin tins. When it comes to extras, I recommend a Nutribullet (for blending batters, dressings, and smoothies), donut tin, silicon muffin molds, and mason jars.

mealprep-tools

  • Consider the Big Picture. I’ll admit, planning 5 meals per day across 6 days can seem overwhelming. Take a deep breath, and view the week ahead as a whole to better understand your needs. What do your workouts look like? A heavy lifting sesh or SoulCycle double header might call for some pre-workout carbs or recovery protein. Late night meetings creeping into M5? Add a meal that’s easy to prepare, store, and microwave to the menu. Busy day away from your usual setting? If you’re on the move during M2 or M4, pencil in a protein bar. Grey’s Anatomy mid-season finale? Plan for a craving compromise, you know you’ll want it! Make this practice a habit – it will spare you from scrambling over last minute adjustments and letting meals go to waste.
  • Choose Overlapping Ingredients. When planning meals for the week, find recipes with common ingredients. If you’re craving cucumbers and hummus for M4, spread that hummus on a healthy pita for M3 the next day. After baking your egg white muffins, sauté remaining spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms with quinoa for a delish stir fry base. Top your stuffed peppers with almond cheese and use the leftovers in “cheesy” spinach quinoa bites.
  • Love the Oven. The oven is my favorite low maintenance tool for prepping in bulk. No need to hover over the stove monitoring 4 pans on a fickle cook top. Simply preheat to a universal temp (350-400 is my sweet spot), stack in the pans and trays, and let ‘em bake. Be mindful to adjust suggested cooking times based on your temperature.
  • Use. Rinse. Repeat. Resist the urge to let the sink pile up. While it is impressive that you can in fact use all of your kitchen tools in one prep session, cleaning your supplies as you go will prevent counter chaos and promote a positive relationship with meal prep. Plus, it will make snapping that gorgeous after pic so much easier.
  • The Power of Portion. If you’re anything like me (a combination of guaranteed plate-finisher and certified snacker), clearly defined portions are crucial – especially for those M2s and M4s. For these filler meals, I love to bake up single serving muffins and donuts, or grab a whole piece of fruit. If my meal of choice is packaged with multiple servings, I measure out exactly what I need to prevent celery and two tablespoons of peanut butter becoming a jar of peanut butter with a side of celery. (Tip: muffin tins are perfect for portioning – and not just baked goods! Think egg white frittatas, quinoa bites, and even frozen smoothie packs.)

Most importantly, develop your own relationship with meal prep and be flexible with the process. I promise, that snap of the last Tupperware lid will be so very rewarding!

Healthy Holiday Hors d’Oeuvres

Holiday gatherings ’round these parts mean one thing: potluck parties. The promise of endless dips and chips, spreads and breads, and crunchies and munchies poses a fun challenge for the party goer living lean, clean, and green – whip up a deliciously healthy dish that is sure to please all taste buds in the room.

These healthy holiday hors d’oeuvres have it all: easy to prepare ahead, guilt-free ingredients, and down right tasty.

Mini Pepper Hummus Boats (makes 24)

Ingredients:
12 mini bell peppers
16 oz. of your favorite hummus (I used the Hummus Quartet from Trader Joe’s for flavor variety)

hummus

Directions:
Wash and dry mini bell peppers. Cut in half length wise and carefully deseed. Arrange halved mini bell peppers on your serving tray and spoon hummus into the cavities. Voila! When it comes to the hummus, try making your own and experimenting with flavors or toppings.

Cheesy Spinach Quinoa Bites (makes 12)

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (dry)
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 cup water
3 bunches chopped spinach
1 cup shredded almond or vegan cheese
2 egg whites (or 1/2 cup liquid egg whites)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Dash of sea salt
Zero sodium seasoning blend to taste
Cooking spray

quinoa

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook quinoa according to instructions on package, adding a dash of sea salt and your favorite zero sodium seasoning blend to taste. (I love to prepare mine in a rice cooker with 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth and 1 cup water). Allow quinoa to cool. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped spinach in batches until completely wilted down. Combine cooled quinoa and spinach in a large bowl. Add almond (or vegan) cheese, dried oregano, and garlic powder. Fold in egg and egg whites and thoroughly mix ingredients with hands. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Form quinoa mixture into 12 evenly sized balls and place in muffin tin, lightly patting down to fill mold. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from tin. If you make these ahead of time, warm in the oven before serving!

Protein Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls (makes 12)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 cup vanilla Perfect Fit protein (if you are using a whey based protein, start with half the portion and add as needed)
1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

pb-bites

Directions:
Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with hands. Fold in chocolate chips and form mixture into 12 evenly sized balls. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

*recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

Happy noshing!

fitlicity tip: Eat a satisfying meal prior to parties where food is the star of the show. With a full belly, you’re more likely to make healthy choices. And if you’re anything like me and can’t avoid your best friend’s lip-smackingly-good buffalo chicken dip… don’t! Set yourself a portion limit (for me, it was 3 dunks into the ramekin with wheat crackers) and stick to it.

Craving Compromises

The life of a fit-girl-in-progress in a big city can be full of fried and greasy ghosts. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not immune to cravings, but I have found that completely abandoning my lean, clean, and green eating habits leaves me feeling sluggish, sick and not my best self. And so with every neon-glow of the corner Chinese takeout spot or pizza joint, there is the choice: to cheat, or not to cheat?

Cheat meals. We hear about them all the time. Plenty of people love ‘em and swear by ‘em. But, the very definition of cheat is to “act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage,” and that just isn’t my thing. Too often, I find that cheat meals are a part of entire cheat days (or weekends or weeks) surrounded by excuses and emotions. And so my personal philosophy is, why cheat yourself when you can treat yo’self, girl?!

A healthy lifestyle is not about deprivation, it’s all about balance – smart, strategic balance. Like any other human, I love sweets and any combination of hot cheese & bread, but I also know that I have a history of abusing these foods. To help scratch the temptation itch, I’ve come up with what I like to call Craving Compromises. Craving Compromises are conscious meal choices that, when eaten in moderation, satisfy the urge to stray from the straight & narrow without totally derailing the tracks.

Here are my favorite Craving Compromises for some of my most coveted unhealthy eats:

  1. The Sammy Craving. (Hoagie, Panini, Grilled Cheese, Cheesesteak – you name it, I like it).
    • Opt for a hearty whole wheat (or GF) wrap. I typically go for turkey (ideally nitrate/nitrite free), lettuce, tomato, avocado and cheddar cheese – keep it dry. Craving Compromise tip: Avocado keeps your sandwich creamy without any full-of-artificial-ingredients dressings or spreads, and 2 slices of cheddar totally satisfies the need for cheese. Take it home and throw it on a George Foreman and you are living in warm panini heaven.

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  1. The Sweet Tooth Craving. (Chocolate, Candy, and Desserts galore)
    • Whip Up Something Decadent. Start with one cup plain Greek yogurt (I love Fage Total Zero). Mix in any (or hey, all) of the following: cacoa powder, grainless granola, dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs, fresh fruit (I love raspberries or sliced banana). Top with a drizzle of honey or all natural nut butter. Craving Compromise Tip: Take this tip to your local frozen yogurt shop with your girls! Fill your cup with plain fro-yo and top with fresh fruits and a drizzle of honey.
    • Make It a Perfect Fit. When Tone It Up founders Karena & Katrina couldn’t find an honest protein powder to recommend, they developed Perfect Fit protein and a slew of sweet, heavenly recipes: Perfect Fit BrownieChocolate DonutsChocolate Mug Cake.
    • Pick the Right Package. Nutrition labels are key! Look for easy-to-pronounce, simple ingredients. Steer clear of added sugars and crazy chemicals. Try swapping beloved mini frosted donuts with LaraBar Bites. These simply made sweets are one of my favorite pre-packaged snacks.
  1. The Grease Craving. (Hello Pizza, Mozzarella Sticks and French Fries!)
    • Pick Your Parlor Wisely. When possible, branch out from the big chains and look local. Some of your neighborhood pizza parlors may have a better alternative to the traditional pie. Start with a base of gluten free crust and organic marinara. Top with loads of veggies and finish off with light shaved or grated parmesan or fresh mozzarella. Craving Compromise Tip: Choosing a lighter cheese option saves majorly on the grease factor and spares your slice a painful napkin dab.
    • Get to the Good Stuff.  When it comes to cheese, skip the fried disguises (I’m lookin’ at you mozzarella sticks) and get right to the crown jewel. For a special occasion, experiment with gourmet cheese from your grocery store or local farmers market! Serve with stoneground wheat or GF crackers.
    • Don’t Discriminate. Sweet potatoes make great fries, too! With less calories, less total carbs, and more fiber than white potatoes, sweet potatoes pack a nutritional punch.
    • Choose Your Crunch. Try swapping your favorite bag of chips with a serving of Biena Chickpea Snacks. These salty, crunchy garbanzo beans contain more than double the protein and fiber of classic Lays – and the best part, they don’t leave your fingers full of grease!

Recipe: Cranberry Quinoa Salad

Thanksgiving: a day for celebrating family, reflecting on gratitude, and… eating food. I’ll be honest, the holidays are unchartered territory for my healthy and fit lifestyle. But, as with all other aspects of this journey, I choose to be empowered by challenge. Here’s my three-part plan for the feast of all feasts:
  1. COOK! So-long bottle of wine, this year I’m bringing my new-found love for creating delicious, healthy recipes to the table. Contributing my kitchen skills both guarantees a dish will be served that aligns with my lifestyle (hello, control!) and, most importantly, it gives me the opportunity to bond with my family in a new way through sharing something I’m passionate about.
  2. Portions on Point. It’s all about balance, baby. I’m loving this guide to the perfect Thanksgiving plate from ToneItUp.com!
  3. Relax & Enjoy. I’ll be happiest knowing I made the best choices for me! Not to mention, I’m looking forward to the added ab workout with some major belly-laughs 😉
This Cranberry Quinoa Salad (inspired by several Pinterest searches) is packed with fall-flavor-favorites and robust ingredients that make for a filling and satisfying side. Plus, it’s totally #tiuapproved with an optional Craving Compromise* (I’m opting in).
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Ingredients:
2 Bags Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch blend (or mix trimmed and chopped brussels sprouts with your favorite kale)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dry quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
2/3 cup pecans (toasted)
2 oz. Goat Cheese *optional Craving Compromise
Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute to taste (or your favorite zero sodium seasoning blend)
cranberry-quinoa-salad
Instructions
Pecans: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Evenly spread pecans on baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes. Watch carefully!
Quinoa: Rinse 1 cup of quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. (Check out this awesome guide to cooking quinoa here!) In a saucepan, combine rinsed quinoa with 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Add in your favorite zero sodium seasoning to taste, fluff with a fork, and let cool.
Salad: In a large bowl, combine greens, cooled quinoa, toasted pecans, and dried cranberries. Top with goat cheese* and toss thoroughly.
Fill your plate and serve with your favorite dressing! I recommend an orange vinaigrette or pomegranate-balsamic vinaigrette.
*Blog on Craving Compromises coming soon!

What is fitlicity?

To be completely honest, when I began my fitness journey I wanted just one thing: to lose weight. Probably, more specifically, to have the bod of Gigi Hadid. It wasn’t until my fitness journey unfolded that I came to the realize two things. 1. Surprise, surprise – I am no sun-kissed and freckled 5’10” frame (and never will be) and 2. This lifestyle is about far more than the physical.

I read once that a healthy outside begins with a healthy inside. For me, this wasn’t necessarily the case. In my experience, my mental and physical health developed simultaneously. Their roots so inextricably intertwined that where I watered one, the other would grow. As I nourished my body, my mental attitude bloomed.

The way I see it, each conscious choice I make towards a balanced, healthy lifestyle is an opportunity to flex my emotional & spiritual muscles – whether it’s pushing my limits in the gym or easing into a mobility flow, using food to fuel my body or fuel my soul.

That’s what fitlicity is about; it’s the alignment of mind, body, and soul. It is physical, mental, emotional and social well-being. It celebrates the process of progress and the beauty of becoming. It is as equally marked by consistency and discipline as it is about patience and self-love. It’s a state of happiness built on a solid foundation of healthy choices – and it’s how I define my life.

fitlicity (fit · lic · i · ty) noun: the point where happy, healthy, and fit meet.

 

 

#TIUtransformation

It’s hard to put into words something that completely changed your life. Especially when that thing is largely contained in the storage space of your iPhone – pdfs of meal plans and grocery lists, an Instagram community, workout videos and Spotify playlists. Below are excerpts from my Tone It Up Transformation submission, the most personal account I can offer you of what TIU means to me. Let this be a window to my past, an opportunity to understand my present, and a glimpse into all things TIU.
(P.S. The proof is in the pictures, baby! I encourage you to scroll through TIU hashtags on instagram: #tiutransformation, #tiuteam, #tiugirls, #tiuapproved)

 

Describe yourself in 10 words or less! GO!: BootyCall Lovin’, PFP Flippin’, Meal Preppin’, Squat Droppin’, Aspiring Mermaid!

 

How Did the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan Contribute to Your Success? The TIU Nutrition Plan did not just contribute to my success, it is the key to my success. For years, I yo-yoed between countless diets & fads, and was completely lost nutritionally. My perception of health was totally warped, and I found myself in a rut of bad habits. The Tone It Up Nutrition Plan provided me with the foundation needed to not only look, but feel, my best. The Nutrition Plan educated me on what was needed to fuel my body – and, most importantly, why it was needed. Besides the hundreds of lip-smacking recipes, the best thing about the Nutrition Plan is the tools it provides for success, no matter what. Gal pals craving Mexican? K+K have a suggestion for that! I can walk into a restaurant with friends confident in my ability to choose a meal that works best for me in accordance to the plan.

 

What made you decide to change and what was your biggest inspiration to finally make a change in your life? I have been all over the spectrum when it comes to health, fitness, happiness and body image. Diet fad? You name it, I’ve tried it. In all other aspects of my life, I am not one to take the shortcut or find a quick fix – why should my health & happiness be any different? At the turn of the new year, I was at a low point when it came to my perception of self. Looking in the mirror was not something I particularly enjoyed, and that just did not align with my ideals – we should all love ourselves! But in order to love ourselves we need to give love to ourselves. I wanted to live my best life each and every day, and I knew that a new perspective was within my grasp, if only I took the opportunity. When I found Tone It Up, Karena & Katrina and their girl boss, female empowering, totally uplifting community resonated with me so deeply, and I knew that was the start of my journey!

 

How did you keep yourself motivated to keep going? To put it simply, I was not willing to quit on myself. From past experiences, I knew what happened when I gave up – this time, I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t. I look at it this way: a new day, a new week, a new month is going to come – how I feel when I get there is completely up to me! And with that, one BootyCall turned into another. Hundreds of miles, workouts, and meal preps later, there is no looking back.

 

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself? I am fiercely determined when it comes to my goals.

 

What advice would you give someone who needs encouragement to get healthier? I would first remind them that there is a great, big beautiful world for them to explore, and one life for them to experience. I would then tell them that they deserve to live that life to the fullest, and ask them to consider if their state of health & happiness is allowing them to do that. Then I would say, hey – I was there, I understand, but here is how I changed my life. And I would direct them to Tone It Up, and the rest would be history 😉

 

What are your favorite Tone It Up Nutrition Plan meals and snacks? Okay, I could go on FOREVER! Chili Lime Shrimp Tacos, Pesto Quinoa Bowl, Slimdown Scramble, Perfect Fit Pancakes, PerfectFit Banana Bread Muffins, Quinoa Crusted White Fish, K+K Salad, Strawberry Fields Bikini Wrap, Portobello Pick Me Up… to name a few.

 

What is your biggest #TIUgirl problem? Using the line, “But this is SO TIU!!” to justify any and all mermaid related purchases.

 

What is your favorite TIU workout? I am loving Upper Body Total Toner and Cardio Abs from Beach Babe 4. Making Waves Cardio is my Friday-fave!

 

How is the Tone It Up Plan different? The TIU Nutrition Plan is not a diet, restrictive, or bland. In fact, it is the opposite, it is a limitless lifestyle that embraces balance.

 

What shifts did you see in yourself, mental and physical, over the past 8 weeks? The pounds (12 to be exact) and inches I’ve lost throughout my TIU journey have been incredible, but to be honest – what I’ve gained from this experience is much more valuable. Hundreds of #tiubesties, confidence, a passion for life, happiness, lasting friendships. Over the past 16 weeks, I feel like I’ve peeled away several layers of doubt, fear, and negativity that were holding me back, only to reveal my true self in its best form.

 

  
What’s the most encouraging thing you saw from this community? The most inspiring thing about the #TIUcommunity is its realness. TIU girls are not afraid to share their struggles along with their successes, their hardships along with their triumphs – and TIU girls support each other no matter what the case. Women empowering other women every single day.

 

Do you have any advice to give to this team? If you don’t love your life every moment of every day, it’s time to make a change. You deserve to love yourself fully, and Tone It Up can help you do that! Take the plunge – K+K, the TIU team, and myself are here for you!
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Left: April 2016 / Right: November 2016
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Left: July 2014 / Right: September 2016