Crock Pot Ginger Apple Pulled Pork

Pulled pork. Pork that is pulled apart (by hand – caveman style!) and slathered in sauce. Super easy to make when it’s unhealthy and loaded with sugar…  but I’ve never really found a recipe that both made my mouth water AND is good for you.

ginger-apple-pork

Until now.

This recipe is a lot different from the normal bbq pulled pork sugar-bomb we normally have, but it’s amazingly tasty and with a different flavor profile,  it’s a nice change up from the same-ole same-ole “meat with red sauce” that can quickly become routine.

So drop your preconceived notions on combining ginger, apples, and pork and let’s give this a go!

Ingredients:

  • 2-2.25lb pork shoulder (I buy the cheapest hunk of meat they have normally)
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 apples (I prefer red apples, but anything you have on hand will work)
  • 1 cup beef broth (I use the low sodium stuff)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp ginger (buy fresh, it makes a difference!)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Directions:

Core your apples and cut into small cubes. Slice up all of your onions. Make a bed along the bottom of the crock pot using roughly half your apples and onions. Put your meat in the crock pot. Add the rest of the onions and apples on and around your pork.

Grate your ginger and add it to the crock along with the rest of the ingredients. Make sure the meat is evenly covered by your spices.

Cover your crock pot, set to high, and let cook for 5-6 hours.

Everyone’s crock cooks a little differently, but cooking for around 5ish hours seems to do the trick. A perfect indicator of it being done or not is if you can easily shred the pork IN the crock pot using only one fork. The meat should be basically falling apart at this point. If you need to take it out to shred it, I’d let it cook for a while longer.

That’s all there is to it. Get out of your safe zone and give this sucker a try.

Turkey Vegetable Chili

vegetable turkey chili

A big ole pot. A pound of turkey. Some tomato, veggies and spices.

What does that all add up to?

The tastiest healthy chili you’ve just about ever had. The only thing that could make this recipe even better is if it was super easy. Like throw a bunch of stuff into a pot and a couple hours later have some delicious food to eat easy.

Luckily for you – it is. I’ve had a bunch of folks try this yummy chili at one of our 44 fitness post workout potlucks and the reviews were awesome, so I’m confident you and yours will enjoy it too.

The recipe below has no beans, but you could easily toss in a can of pinto beans if you need some additional carbs in your life.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pd ground turkey
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomato
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • 8 baby carrots
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 squash
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 bay leaf

start with 1/2 a tsp of the following spices if you like your chili milder, you can always add more later (I personally normally do a generous tsp to liven stuff up)

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin

chili in pot

Directions:

Throw your ground turkey into a large pot, break apart with a spatula until cooked. When that’s doing its thing start cutting up your veg. When the turkey is finished cooking, toss in your chopped celery and onions. Let the onions cook until they are translucent.

Add the rest of your chopped veggies, tomatoes, chicken broth, and spices to the pot. Bring everything up to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and let simmer for one hour. The longer you cook it, the better it will taste, but an hour is the minimum. I normally start my chili around lunch time and let it simmer until dinner, checking the heat and stirring occasionally. Depending on how moist your veggies are, cooking for longer will allow you to get rid of some of the extra fluid and thicken everything up (as well as make it taste better).

Like noted above the 1tsp of the spicey-spices will make an above average spicy chili, so if you like your food a bit milder (or someone who is eating this does) start with half tsps of the last spices. Remember you can always taste it and add more heat if needed.

Give it a try and enjoy!

David’s Green Smoothie

Most days I’m up at the crack of dawn helping people get in the best shape of their lives. Do I love my job? Absolutely!

Do I want to sleep for the longest possible amount of time before getting up? Absolutely!

So I needed a healthy meal filled with all the good stuff to kick start my morning, prepared as quickly as possible,  to maximize the amount of time my head is resting on my pillows.

Enter weeks of tinkering in the lab (kitchen) until I settled on the recipe below for my delicious green smoothie.

smoothie_blended

Ingredients:

  • 1 handful spinach or kale
  • 1 banana or 3 large strawberries
  • 6 baby carrots or 1 whole “adult” sized carrot
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • ice (optional)

Directions:

Throw everything above into a blender, add some water, blend until you have a delicious green smoothie!

DONE.

That’s really all there is, but if you’d like some additional, tips keep reading.

I use a full size blender for my smoothie every morning and I’ve found that putting the fruit in first makes everything mix a lot easier. After I have everything added, I normally add enough water to cover about half the components. Depending on the size of your blender and how thick/thin you like your smoothie, you’ll need to experiment a bit. Adding ice can cool the entire smoothie off a bit (personal preference if you like it cold) as well as make the consistency more like a milkshake.

smoothie_preblend

As far as taste, this can be a strong smoothie for people not accustomed to veggies. If you are looking for ways to help get your taste buds used to it, I’d start with spinach first as it has a milder taste than kale. You can also do both a banana AND some strawberries to better mask the taste of veg. Keep in mind that even though it’s good sugar, the more fruit you use the more calories you are taking in, so be mindful of that. You can also try adding almond milk (unsweetened is a good place to start) if it’s still not sweet enough.

In my experience doing spinach with a banana AND a few frozen strawberries will bring around even the most devout vegetable hater.

Banana Egg Pancakes

What is the single food item I personally miss the most when I’m really knuckled down on my eating and want to stay as healthy and focused as possible?

PANCAKES.

banana_pancakes

What if I told you that you could make mouth wateringly delicious (and healthy) pancakes with zero guilt ONLY TWO MAIN INGREDIENTS?

You can!

This is seriously one of the most simple and delicious recipes I know, and with a little bit of care will become a favorite of your healthy AND not so healthy eaters.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs (or 1.5ish eggs and 1.5ish whites)
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 dash of vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Coconut oil or nonstick cooking spray (I use an organic olive oil spray)

Equipment:

  • skillet (non-stick works best)
  • spatula (the thinner the better, an old beat up spatula is gonna make your job harder)

Directions:

Throw your bananas, eggs and whites, and spices into a blender. Blend on high for about two minutes. You want the mix to be very well aerated and thoroughly blended up before you use it.

When everything is mixed, put some of your coconut oil on your skillet or griddle and set it to around 400 degrees (that’s high on my griddle and med/high on my stove top). Every cooking surface will be different, but you want each side to cook in roughly a minute.

Pour your cakes in a spiral shape, starting from the center into around 3/3.5 inch pancakes. No bigger! They are very fragile and anything bigger, at least in my experience get a bit unwieldy and will break when you try to flip them.

You want to cook each side for about a minute. Watch the bubbles. When you see the bubbles start to pop and stay popped (meaning the batter doesn’t fill the hole caused by the bubble back up) it’s time to flip! 

A nice quick flip with another minute on the other side and you’ll be good to go!

These pancakes will get darker than your normal flour based pancakes but that’s okay!

Top with agave nectar or fruit and you are good to go… or even light syrup if you are feeling extra decadent.

Serve ‘em up and enjoy!

Healthy Homemade Hamburger Helper (HHHH)

Comfort food is the best food. It can mean different things to different people, but when I think back to my childhood, I imagine eating delicious high sodium foods out of cardboard boxes. Mac n cheese, pizza rolls, rice-a-roni and hamburger helper, all things that I grew up with AND when the mood strikes me I still sneak a little cheat of today.

hhhh skillet

But… isn’t there always a but?

Sadly pretty much every comfort food that I grew up loving are terrible across the board: tons of preservatives and chemicals, carbs and calories. All around bad news for someone trying to lose weight and stay healthy.

Which is what started me on the path to making my Healthy Homemade Hamburger Helper (that quadruple H, dog!), I knew I wanted to have delicious hamburger helper lasagna goodness, but there was no way I was gonna eat the out of the box stuff anymore.

After a bunch of different variations I have settled on this and let me tell ya, it is absolutely amazing and one of my regular dinner and lunch go-tos. Meaty, tomato-y, Italian spicy goodness with only about a million less ingredients than the boxed stuff, seriously delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 lb ground turkey
  • 1.5 cup hot water (or 1 cup water, .5 cup skim milk)
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • “Sauce packet” (mix everything below in a small cup or bowl)
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch
  • 1 tbsp. mixed Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar (or stevia)
  • Optional – ½ cup mozzarella cheese (adds a lot to the flavor but is around 175 calories)

Directions:

Toss your ground turkey into a skillet, break into small pieces and cook until brown.

When your turkey is cooking you are going to mix up your “sauce packet” (just like the “real” hamburger helper lasagna!) in a small bowl.

sauce packet

After the turkey is fully cooked, remove it from the heat and add water, diced tomatoes, and then stir in your “sauce packet”.

Return your skillet to the heat; bring the entire thing to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer for 12 minutes to thicken the sauce.

Stir in your mozzarella (optional but recommended if you can afford the calories), turn off heat, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

HHHH

You can serve over brown rice for an even more authentic hamburger helper experience.

You Can’t Out Run A Bad Diet

I’m asked all the time “how much extra cardio do I need to do to get rid of this pooch/flab/belly/etc/etc” and my answer is always exactly the same:

NONE.

out run the diet

People don’t realize how fast calories can add up… and how hard it is to burn them off.

Let’s take a look at a very simple number: 3500. Its 3500 calories that add up to one pound of weight gain. Looking at that number you might think “man, that is a ton of calories and way more than I eat in a day, what’s the big deal?”

When you break down an average fast food meal:

  • Burger – 650 avg cals
  • Fries – 350 avg cals
  • Soda – 110 avg cals

Adding that all up we come to 1110 calories, creeping up on a third of our 3500 number from before and near what many of our clients eat in an entire day!

So getting back to our “how much cardio do I need to drop _____?” question, let’s take a look at a few normal cardio activities and how many calories they burn:

  • Running  (10 minute miles)  – 800 avg cals per hour
  • Jump Rope – 800 avg cals per hour
  • Swimming – 700 avg cals per hour
  • Biking – 650 avg cals per hour
  • Juggling – 320 avg cals per hour

To work off your one overboard meal, you are putting in a minimum of about an hour and a half of cardio and that’s just to burn off that one meal!

When you start factoring in eating multiple bad meals a day, multiple times per week, multiple weeks per month, you are looking at tens of thousands of extra calories and why so many people struggle when trying to drop weight.

The best advice I can give anyone is this: working out will do wonders for you, you’ll improve your health and cardio, improve your strength, flexibility and attitude. You’ll build bone density and improve posture, not to mention all of the great things it will do for your outlook and mind.

Bottom line – if you want to make significant changes to your body you are going to need to make significant changes to the way you eat.

Don’t cheat yourself by busting your booty in the gym but eating garbage!

Want a good place to start? Check out this link – http://www.44fitness.com/blog/3-weight-loss-tips-to-help-build-a-healthier-lifestyle/

Healthy Barbeque Sauce

I love the sauce.

I’ve learned that ultimately, all the savory and spicy foods that I eat are only vehicles for sauce.

So when spring comes around and I need to hit it hard to lean up for “ab city” one of the first things to go are my variety of sauces. Barbeque sauce especially is filled with sugar, carbs, and calories, all things that you DEFINITELY want to avoid when trying to shed the extra pounds.

Did I mention barbeque sauce is by far my most favorite of all sauces? The king of all sauces perhaps? The king of sauces!

healthy bbq

So I guess that means the barbeque sauce is gone right? Plain chicken.  Sweet potato with no sauce.  Pulled pork with zero delicious barbeque?

No way!

With this recipe you are going to cook up your own barbeque sauce and it is going to be healthy and taste amazing, so let’s get to it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup apple juice (get the all-natural no preservative organic stuff!)
  • 1 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (I suggest starting at ¼ tsp if you don’t like it hot)

Directions:

  1. Toss all of your ingredients into a saucepan, bring up to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  2. Pour it into a little Tupperware container or jar and place in the fridge.
  3. Done!

Your newly made BBQ sauce will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Enjoy!

Scrambled Egg Muffins

scrambled_egg_muffins

Healthy, quick, easy and will stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to a week. This all adds up to the perfect storm of an egg recipe which will shake up your normal egg cookin routine.

These scrambled egg muffins will make a great start to your day as-is, or you can add salsa, avocado, or a touch of cheese to spice things up.

 Ingredients:

  • 12 egg whites
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped baby spinach
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Beat eggs in a bowl. Add the veggies. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Pour into muffin tins filling about 2/3 full. The muffins will rise.

Bake 25-35 minutes until muffins have risen and are slightly browned and set.

Muffins will keep at least a week in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen and reheated.

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size: 1 muffin

  • Calories: 48
  • Fat: 1.3 g
  • Carbs: 1.1 g
  • Protein: 6.5 g

Thanks a bunch to Micaela Velazquez  for the recipe hook up!

Chocolate Flax Seed Protein Balls

mmm flax seedy!

mmm flax seedy!

Healthy, high in protein, and chocolaty delicious, the chocolate flax seed protein ball is an easy to make alternative to store bought preservative filled granola or protein bars.

These are a perfect snack to whip up on Sunday afternoon that will last you the entire week.

You can also try different flavors of protein powder (though avoid fruit flavors) like vanilla or choco-mint.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup red quinoa
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 ½ tablespoons flax seed
  • 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein powder (Nectar Chocolate Truffle flavor works great!)
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Makes 12 one-inch balls

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine quinoa and water in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover tightly with a lid and turn to lowest setting. Cook protein balls for 15-20 minutes or until fluffy, pop your head in and take a look. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients to cooled quinoa and stir well to combine. Mixture should still be a bit warm so almond butter can melt into the batter. With your hands (best tools in the whole kitchen), form 12 one-inch sized balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes then remove from sheet and cool on a plate or wire rack. Your balls will break down if you leave them for too long, so store them in an airtight container and enjoy!

 Nutritional Info:

  • Calories: 57g
  • Sugar: 0.7 g
  • Fat: 1.87 g
  • Carbs: 4.1 g
  • Protein: 5.5 g

Thanks much to Iris Gonzalez for the recipe!

3 Weight Loss Tips To Help Build A Healthier Lifestyle

We all know the simple equation that burning more calories than we take in will make us lose weight. Sounds super easy on paper but why do we struggle sooo much when trying to drop the first or last ten, twenty, or thirty pounds?

Losing weight and keeping it off is about a lifestyle change. Crash diets are great… when you need to lose twenty pounds by your wedding or your Mexico trip. But let’s be honest, that weight is going to make its way back onto your body if you revert back to your old ways.

I’ve worked with countless clients over the years who have lost hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pounds. Here are three very simple weight loss tips that can truly change your life.

found_journal

1.Track your food/food journal

I am a huge, HUGE fan of keeping a food journal. It’s something I recommend to every one of my clients. Why? There are two huge reasons why the food diary is the bomb-diggity and I’ll break ‘em down for you here:

  • accountability: when we record every meal and snack, we have unmistakable proof about our bad habits right in front of us. Many of my clients come to me and THINK they eat “pretty good”, when in reality their diets are reasonably terrible. Seeing the proof of your eating habits (cereal twice a day, three or four cookies six days in a row, or eating out multiple times a week, etc, etc)  really hammers home our problem areas.
  • learn what’s in our food: we might think we know how many calories and fat and sugar is in the food we eat, but for the most part I’ve found people really have no clue how many calories are in their food. Foods that can add up in big ways around the waistline, like soda for example, really show up like a red flashing light when you see you are drinking over 300 calories a day of sugar water.

Keeping a food diary is easier than ever these days, with apps that we can use on our smart phones (myfitnesspal is a current favorite). These apps allow you to take pictures of barcodes to enter in your food automatically. NICE!

measure_cups

2.Portion control – learn it!

So in the past I’ve had people that I have worked with show me amazing food journals. Week in and week out they are eating so clean and healthy I just can’t figure out why they aren’t dropping any weight.

What was the problem? Portion size!

Many food portions are measured by the cup. A good idea, at least until you are comfortable with what a cup looks like,  is to keep a 1 cup measuring cup near your food staging area (or kitchen heh) at all times. When you are plating up your food glance over at your measuring cup and make sure you are using the correct portion.

Having double the amount of healthy cereal for example can really add up when you are doing it day in and day out.

veggie_baby

veggie baby tee-hee!

3.Vegetables – every meal every day!

This one I can’t overstate the importance of.  There are so many great reasons to eat veggies. You wanna lose weight? You can bet I’m going to be crooning on and on about eating more vegetables!

Veggies are going to help fill you up. Veggies are great for you. Veggies help you poop. If you eat more veggies you are going to feel fuller, longer, thus making you want to eat less of the bad stuff.

A Tupperware container of veggies and humus is the ultimate crunchy go to snack.

If we could elect a bucket of vegetables into public office our country would enter an age of unparralled prosperity!

Snack? Add veggies.

Meal? Add veggies.

Going dancing? Take veggies.

Street fight? Veggies!

Having veggies for a snack? Eat more veggies.

See how easy it is? Seriously, add veggies, I can’t say it enough!

Remember the changes you make in your life need to be sustainable and easily worked into your daily life. We are lazy. We want to take the shortest path with the least resistance to meet our goals. Making small, easy changes in our behavior is the best way to help build success! Try adding in some of these changes to your normal routine and let me know how it goes.