For Jen Widerstrom, clean eating feeds both her body and soul.

For Jen Widerstrom, clean eating feeds both her body and soul.

It’s not enough for former American Gladiators athlete and NBC’s The Biggest Loser trainer Jen Widerstrom to simply eat “healthy.” For this Oxygen Challenge 4 coach, the real difference comes from committing to a clean-eating nutrition plan — for life. “You work so hard to be healthy and vital, and when you put fuel in your body that’s been altered, it diminishes the return on that investment,” she explains. “When it comes to eating animal-based protein, we have to remember that we ultimately ingest whatever was given to that animal.”

In other words, any hormones and antibiotics these animals consume through their feed are transported into your body, which Widerstrom says can adversely affect your physical development and organ function. “Also, I care very much about the way animals are treated, especially when it’s for our benefit,” she says. “In the words of Mary Temple Grandin, a professor of animal science, ‘Nature is inhumane; we don’t have to be.’ I couldn’t agree more.”

Be Responsible and Well-Rounded

So what should you look for at the grocery store? “Be proactive — read the labels on your food,” Widerstrom says. “If the food is made well, they’re going to tell you on the packaging. If there’s no messaging, it’s often because the products contain antibiotics and hormones.” Making these determinations can be harder at a restaurant, but typically if a food is grass-fed, hormone-/antiobiotic-free or organic, it will be listed boldly on the menu.

“I also advise people to be conscious eaters instead of mindless ones,” Widerstrom says. “Have a clear understanding of what kinds of foods your body digests well, and focus on choosing real foods so you will look and feel your best.”

That being said, Widerstrom is a big proponent of having everything in moderation. “I’ll have a beer and pizza with the best of them, but I’ll sweat that day, and you better believe I’m eating my eggs and avocado that next morning!” she says.

Recipes — for Life

Jen Widerstrom, an NASM-certified trainer, is on a mission to share the importance of eating natural products — and that’s why she chooses to source her beef, turkey, chicken and jerky from Laura’s Lean. Here is a recipe that uses these all-natural, hormone- and antibiotic-free, grass-fed products.

One-Pot Chicken

Makes 2-3 servings

Ingredients

  • 1½ lb (3-4) boneless, skinless Laura’s Lean chicken breasts 
  • ¾ tbsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp lemon pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs of choice

Preheat oven to 400 F. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine salt, lemon pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Sprinkle mixture evenly over chicken on both sides. Heat oil in a large oven-safe pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 4 to 5 minutes each side, until nicely browned. Add rice wine vinegar and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. In another bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey. Pour over chicken and stir until coated. 

Cover pan with foil and place in oven. Bake 15 minutes, then add tomatoes. Bake another 5 minutes until tomatoes start to burst. Remove, sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve.

Powered by WPeMatico

Sometimes it’s tricky to divine which foods are fads and which are fab. Here are five fab finds for 2019 curated by certified trainer and nutritionist Alexa Uhurek.

Lupini Beans

Lupini Beans

This Mediterranean superfood was used by Roman warriors for fuel thousands of years ago. It’s high in protein and is a great low-carb alternative instead of lentils or chickpeas. Buy lupini beans dried, pickled or as a packaged product that is cooked and spiced.

Mushroom Coffee

Mushroom Coffee

Move over bulletproof coffee — there’s a new fungi in town. Mushrooms are adaptogenic, meaning they help your body naturally adapt to stressors by supporting your adrenal function. You can buy coffee already combined with mushrooms or buy the ‘shroom powder separate and blend yourself.

Moringa

Moringa

Moringa contains a diverse range of bioavailable nutrients, and the leaves, bark, seeds, flowers and roots are all used medicinally for a variety of ailments, including joint pain, diabetes, stomach issues and infection. Moringa has an earthy taste similar to matcha, and fresh leaves can be used in a salad. Powdered moringa can be used in smoothies or chia puddings, and it’s also available in capsules as a supplement.

Adzuki Beans

Adzuki Beans

These beans are a popular Asian legume with a rich nutty flavor. They are a great source of protein and fiber as well as molybdenum, a mineral that facilitates enzymatic reactions and works to detoxify the liver. They are slightly sweet and are used in many plant-based desserts. Buy them dry at your local grocery store.

Cauliflower Pizzza Crust

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

While trendy, cauliflower pizza crusts are actually pretty tasty and are a great low-carb, high-fiber alternative for homemade pizzas. You could spend hours making your own, or try one of the frozen products widely available in stores, such as the Paleo crust from Caulipower, which contains minimal, high-quality ingredients — and is gluten-free! (amazon.com, $53 for a 4-pack)

Powered by WPeMatico

You’re only 60 days away from finally making exercise and clean eating part of your lifestyle.

Healthy New You with Katie Corio

New Year’s is approaching fast, and if you’re like 99 percent of the world, part of your resolution is to get fit/lose weight/eat healthy. Unfortunately, the majority of resolutioners will abandon their healthy goals by March, and so continues the cycle of gym memberships that go unused. So also continues the cycle of quick-fix programs and yo-yo diets, which not only do a number on your metabolism but which also undermine your confidence.

“I have been there,” says Katie Corio, NPC bikini competitor and creator of Oxygen’s Healthy New You online education program. “I have felt the guilt and the low self-esteem that comes with being out of shape. I understand what it is to want to be fit and healthy, but to have it seem so out of reach.”

Stats: Katie Corio 

Birth date: August 29, 1993
Height: 5’3”
Weight: 127 lb
Current residence: Del Mar, California
Sponsor: 1 Up Nutrition
Instagram: @cutekatiebug  @cutekatiebug_workouts  @fitforlift_ig
YouTube & Facebook: KATIECORIOCUTEKATIEBUG
Twitter: @cutekatiebug
Snapchat: “cutekatiebug”

Rising Above

Corio went from being super active to sedentary after she tore her meniscus in a volleyball tournament. Though she did the work to rehab her knee, Corio gave in to the typical college lifestyle — late-night drinking, poor food choices and zero exercise — and quickly lost her physique. “I remember trying on bikinis in the dressing room and noticed how different I looked,” she says. “That’s when I decided I needed to make some real changes.”

Corio hired a trainer who competed in figure competitions and was immediately inspired to do so herself. She did three NPC bikini contests and a powerlifting event and excelled at them all. However, after her last bikini competition, Corio felt horrible. She had stiff, swollen joints and would lie in bed at night in tears wondering why she could not move. The doctors diagnosed her with rheumatoid arthritis and told her to stay away from the gym. “That was like a death sentence to me,” Corio says. “I thought my fitness days were over.”

The lab coats also wanted to dose her with medication, but Corio was reluctant. She researched alternative treatments and decided to try homeopathic remedies and an anti-inflammatory diet to control her symptoms. She continued doing physical therapy exercises to loosen and warm up her joints, and after several months, she was living and training almost completely pain-free.

“This filled me with hope that I could manage my symptoms naturally,” she says. “So I decided to train for a USPA powerlifting meet to prove to myself — and the doctors — that I could lift heavy and be strong with rheumatoid arthritis and that I didn’t need their harsh medications to cope.” Needless to say, she crushed her competition, squatting almost 300 pounds with perfect form and optimal mobility.

Total-Life Transformation

Even if you don’t have rheumatoid arthritis or the desire to squat the equivalent of a baby water buffalo, you likely can relate to Corio’s dressing-room drama. “That terrible day of trying on bikinis helped me move forward,” she says. “I was determined to improve my self-confidence and be happy with my body again. My intuition was telling me there were bigger and better things in store, and I fully committed to seeking those out. I didn’t realize at the time that much more than my body was going to change.”

Corio found that the healthier she got, the more her mindset and desires changed. “I started sitting a little taller, looking people in the eye and speaking with more deliberation,” she says. “I transformed from the inside out rather than the outside in. That, I think, is the secret beauty in living a healthy lifestyle: It isn’t just a physical improvement but a total-life transformation.”

Happy New You

This is the transformation Corio wants for you, as well, as the coach of our new 60-day Healthy New You online video program. “I know what it takes to break out of that cycle and can teach people how to maintain their health and fitness long term,” Corio says. “Together, we can turn any resolution into a daily, sustainable lifestyle.”

Corio’s program of consistent exercise and clean eating enables anyone at any level of fitness to succeed. “It’s about finding exercise options that you love and look forward to, and finding recipes and heathy foods you enjoy eating,” she says.

Her workouts are a progressive mixture of total-body training and bodypart splits using simple equipment (e.g., no gym membership required!) so you can do them anywhere, anytime — in 60 minutes or less! Corio also curated her best collection of recipes to share with program participants, and moreover, she will show you how to create your own healthy meal plan. “My step-by-step guide centers around macronutrients and teaches you how to put your meals together in a well-balanced and nutritious way,” she says.

“My hope is that you will use the Healthy New You program as a springboard to living a fit and healthy lifestyle,” she continues. “At the end of 60 days, you will have all the tools you need to make your new, healthy habits a permanent part of your life. Ladies, I got you! No more starting over. We will do this together, once and for all!”

Slow-Cooker Turkey and Sweet Potato Stew

Makes 6 servings

“’Tis the season to get cozy! Warm up with this easy, healthy recipe!” Corio says.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb extra-lean ground turkey breast
  • 16 oz sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 2 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 2/3 cup marinara sauce
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 bay leaves

Directions

In a skillet, brown ground turkey, breaking it up as it cooks. Remove and put into a slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. The liquid level should fill the pot a little more than halfway with ingredients inside; add more chicken broth, if needed, to level out. Cover and cook 4 hours on high, or until potatoes are tender. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 212, fat 1 g, carbs 30 g, protein 21 g, fiber 8 g, cholesterol 30 mg, sodium 468 mg

Ho-Ho Holiday Survival

Here are five tips from Katie Corio for avoiding collateral celebratory damage.

  • Pace yourself. Your eyes are usually bigger than your stomach. Eat a small portion and then wait before diving in for seconds.
  • Hydrate. A lot of times we mistake thirst for hunger. Drink a full glass of water between each helping of a meal for hydration and appetite control.
  • Exercise early. That way, you ensure it doesn’t get pushed back by family plans or lack of energy. Plus, you’re more likely to make healthier choices after a nice sweaty workout!
  • One is enough. Don’t deprive yourself of the joy of the holidays. Indulge in dessert but remember that one is enough: Have one piece of pie — not three!
  • Plan ahead. If you know you’ll be enjoying a high-calorie, home-cooked meal later in the day, eat light and healthy leading up to that meal.

Resolve to Evolve

Preregister now for the Healthy New You program! You’re only 60 days away from living your fittest life — ever. Go to oxygenmag.com/healthy-new-you and get ready to face down your resolutions!

The One-Plate Glute Workout

Believe it or not, Katie Corio’s glutes were flatter than a flap- jack before she started lifting. After years of trial and error, she found a winning formula that gave her a brag-worthy booty. Here are some of her favorite go-to moves to build gravity-defying glutes. 

Instructions

Do all the exercises in order one after the other. Rest one minute and then repeat for a total of two rounds. Choose whatever weight plate is appropriate for your fitness level.

Exercise; Reps

Pulse Sumo Squat; 15
Plate Swing; 15
Walking Long Step Lunge and Twist;  15 (each leg)
Single-Leg Hip Thrust; 10 (each leg)
Single-Legged Romanian Deadlift;  10 (each leg)

Pulse Sumo Squat

Pulse Sumo Squat

Hold a plate with both hands and stand with your feet outside shoulder-width apart, toes turned out comfortably. Bend your knees and drop your glutes straight toward the floor, stopping when your thighs reach parallel. Rise back up a couple of inches, lower back to parallel and then stand all the way up to complete one rep.

Katie’s Tip: Focus on squeezing your glutes at the top of each rep — exaggerate it even — and go nice and slow for each rep.

Plate Swing

Hold a plate with both hands and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees soft. Break at the hips and push your glutes back to swing the plate underneath you and between your legs. As it comes back through to the front, quickly extend your knees and snap your hips forward, creating enough momentum to lift the plate to shoulder height. Guide it down carefully and go right into the next rep.

Katie’s Tip: Don’t round your back as you swing the plate between your legs. Keep it flat throughout.

Walking Long step Lunge and Twist

Walking Long step Lunge and Twist

Hold a plate with both hands at your chest. Take a large step forward, bending your front knee while keeping your back leg straight. Lunge until your front thigh is parallel to the floor, then twist your torso toward the forward leg. Return to center, push off your back foot and bring your feet together. Continue, alternating sides.

Katie’s Tip: Long step lunges target the glutes and hamstrings more than a traditional lunge. Exhale and blow out all your air as you twist.

Single-Leg Hip Thrust

Single-Leg Hip Thrust

Lie faceup, knees bent, and position a plate across your hips. Extend one leg straight up over your hip and then press down through your grounded foot to lift your hips toward the ceiling, keeping your hips square and the plate centered. Slowly lower to the start and repeat. Do all reps on one leg, then switch.

Katie’s Tip: Changing your foot position changes the emphasis of the move: The closer it is to your glutes, the more you engage your hamstrings; the farther away it is, the more you engage your quads.

Single-Legged Romanian Deadlift

Single-Legged Romanian Deadlift

Hold a plate with both hands and shift your weight onto one leg. Extend your opposite leg behind you, then hinge at the hips and lower your torso toward the floor as you simultaneously lift your leg behind you, hips square. When your torso and leg come parallel to the ground and/or you feel a stretch in your standing hamstring, return slowly to the start. Do all reps on one leg and then switch.

Katie’s Tip: Lower the plate over the arch of your standing foot and pull your shoulders back for optimal position and balance. 

Powered by WPeMatico

Fire up your diet with this fabulous superfood — dragon fruit.

Dragon Fruit Smoothie

Though it sounds exotic, dragon fruit — aka pitaya — is now commonplace in most grocery stores. This member of the cactus family has either white or bright pink flesh, and it is the latest superfood being researched for its role in things such as cancer prevention, immunity, increased energy and gut health. Here are five ways to enjoy this tasty, vibrant treat.

1. As a cancer-preventive condiment 

Research published in the Journal of Food Science revealed that the polyphenol and flavonoid content of both white and red dragon fruit contain cancer-preventative substances that help combat breast, ovarian, lung, liver and skin cancers. 

Dragon-Fire Salsa: Add 1 cup chopped dragon fruit, 1 chopped green onion, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, 1 chopped and seeded jalapeño pepper, and 1 tablespoon lime juice to a bowl. Stir to combine and add salt (to taste). Serve with tortilla chips or on top of fish.

2. As a muscle-building meal maker 

Dragon fruit contains a healthy dose of magnesium, which is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle contractions, blood sugar regulation and energy production.

Red Dragon Rice

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • ½ dragon fruit, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red chili pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ green onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add all ingredients except rice and saute. Add rice and stir until combined. Serve with chicken, shrimp or lean beef.

3. As a B-heavy breakfast 

A wealth of B vitamins are found in dragon fruit, including B1, B2 and B3 for improved immune function as well as vitamin B12 for energy, concentration, improved mood and red blood cell production. 

High-Pro Smoothie Bowl: Blend together 1 cup frozen mango cubes, 1 cup frozen pineapple cubes, 1 packet frozen pitaya puree, 2 handfuls spinach, ½ peeled kiwi, ½ cup almond milk and 1 scoop plain or vanilla protein powder. Top with granola or fresh fruit.

4. As an anti-aging treat 

Phosphorous helps protect and repair cells to preserve skin’s youthfulness and prevent premature aging. Dragon fruit contains 22.5 grams (per 100 grams) of phosphorous, as well as a ton of vitamin C — almost three times the amount as carrots — which boosts collagen production and fights free radicals. 

Happy Skin Sorbet: Blend 2 chopped dragon fruits (peeled) with ¾ cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Pour into a baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer. Stir every 2 hours for 8 hours, then allow to freeze overnight.

5. As a good-gut side 

The oligosaccharides found in dragon fruit act as prebiotics, improving digestion and gut health, controlling weight gain, and preventing cardiovascular diseases and cancer, according to research published in 3 Biotech. Dragon fruit also contains 1 gram of fiber (per 100 grams), aiding digestion and normalizing blood sugar. 

Dragon Fruit Salad: To a large bowl, add 2 cups chopped dragon fruit, 1 pint halved strawberries, 1 pint blueberries, 1 pint blackberries and 6 fresh mint leaves, finely shredded. Whisk together 2 tablespoons honey and 1/8 cup olive oil, then drizzle over salad. Stir gently and refrigerate 1 hour.

Powered by WPeMatico

These quick, refreshing, cook-free recipes will keep your body well-fed from morning to night.

There’s a lot to love about summer — flip-flops, yoga in the park and lazy days at the beach. What’s not fun is hovering over a hot stove to get a nutritious meal on the table. It’s hard to muster an appetite for roasted chicken and vegetables when it’s roasting outside and your patience for complicated recipes is wearing extra thin.

Well, don’t sweat it (literally): It’s possible to keep your cool and eat great at the same time by combining healthy supermarket convenience foods with in-season fruits and vegetables. These quick, refreshing, cook-free recipes will keep your body well-fed from morning to night, and they will give your stove — and your patience — the day off.

LUNCH

Gazpacho With Tuna Salad

Makes 4 servings
Serving size: 1 cup soup and ¼ tuna salad mixture
Hands-on time: 25 minutes

Gazpacho offers a refreshing break from stale lunch sandwiches and puts your farmers market haul to good use. The canned tuna adds a ready-to-eat and satiating protein element, the olive oil is full of anti-inflammatory compounds, while the tomatoes and cucumbers keep you refreshed and hydrated.

Ingredients

SOUP

  • 3 medium tomatoes, quartered 
  • 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 4 red radishes, roughly chopped
  • ½ English cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 2 scallions (green onions), white parts only, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

TUNA SALAD

  • 2 cans albacore (white) tuna in water, drained
  • ¾ cup canned navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Directions

1. Place ½ cup water, tomatoes, red bell peppers, radishes, cucumbers, scallions, garlic, basil, red wine vinegar, paprika, salt and black pepper in a blender or food processor container and blend until nearly smooth. With the machine running on low speed, slowly drizzle olive oil in through the feed tube. Place soup in container and chill at least 2 hours.

2. In a bowl, gently break up tuna and stir in beans, olives, parsley and vinegar.

3. Place soup in serving bowls and top with tuna salad and a drizzle of olive oil.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 258, total fat 12 g, carbs 15 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 5 g, protein 24 g, sodium 519 mg

DINNER

Salmon Ceviche Nachos

Makes 2 servings*
Serving size: ½ nachos
Hands-on time: 30 minutes

This fusion of ceviche and nachos is fun and sophisticated at the same time, and it is the perfect chilled dish to eat with your hands outside. The beans are loaded with hunger-quelling fiber, the salmon contains a boatload of heart-friendly omega-3 fats, and the sweet cherry tomatoes infuse your diet with vitamin C.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ lb sushi-grade skinless salmon
  • ½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered 
  • ¾ cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 small avocado, chopped 
  • ½ English cucumber, chopped 
  • 2 green onions (whites and greens), thinly sliced 
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño chili pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp salt 
  • 3 cups baked tortilla chips
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro

Directions

1. In a bowl, stir together lemon and lime juices. Slice salmon into ¼-inch pieces and add to bowl. Cover and refrigerate, stirring once or twice, for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

2. In a separate large bowl, toss together black beans, tomatoes, pineapples, avocado, cucumbers, green onions, chili peppers, garlic and salt. Drain salmon and toss gently with tomato mixture.

3. Line a serving platter with half the tortilla chips and top with half the ceviche. Layer on remaining tortilla chips and top with remaining ceviche. Add dollops of sour cream and garnish with cilantro. Squeeze on fresh lime juice.

* Double the recipe if serving a crowd.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 549, total fat 27 g, carbs 47 g, fiber 9 g, sugar 11 g, protein 32 g, sodium 523 mg

DINNER

Thai-Style Chicken Lettuce Tacos

Makes 4 servings
Serving size: 2 tacos
Hands-on time: 30 minutes

A cross between a taco and Asian street food satay, this bundle of cook-free nutrition will stoke your palate with a winning mix of great textures and fresh flavors. Make this with a ready-to-go supermarket rotisserie chicken for high-quality protein, mango and red bell peppers for immune-boosting vitamin C, and peanut butter for a dose of heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz thin brown rice vermicelli noodles
  • ¼ cup peanut butter 
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp grated or minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp chili hot sauce, such as Sriracha
  • 8 large lettuce leaves
  • 2 cups sliced rotisserie chicken
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks 
  • 1 mango, sliced
  • 2 scallions (green onions), chopped
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 1/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts (optional)

Directions

1. Bring a teakettle of water to a boil. Place noodles in large heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and let soak until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Slice noodles into thirds.

2. In a bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger and chili sauce. Then whisk in warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a thin consistency is reached.

3. To assemble a taco, place half the rice noodles on a lettuce leaf and top with chicken, red peppers, carrots, mango and scallions. Drizzle on sauce and top with cilantro and peanuts (if using).

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 451, total fat 14 g, carbs 54 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 12 g, protein 29 g, sodium 440 mg

DESSERT

Pecan Cups With Banana “Ice Cream” 

Makes 10 servings
Serving size:
1 cup
Hands-on time: 30 minutes

This whole-food, nutty, no-bake dessert hits the spot on those hot summer nights. The dates and bananas offer up some potassium, the pecans are full of healthy fats, and the flax is a rich source of belly-shrinking dietary fiber.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1½ cups pecans
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed
  • ¼ cup honey or agave syrup
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 frozen chopped bananas
  • ¼ cup almond milk or coconut milk 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • ¼ cup cacao nibs

Directions

1. Place dates in a bowl, cover with warm water and let soak 15 minutes. Place pecans in a food processor container and grind into small bits. Drain dates and pat dry with paper towel. Add dates, flax, honey and salt to the container. Process until mixture sticks together when pinched between your fingers.

2. Divide pecan mixture between 10 standard-size silicone or greased metal muffin cups. Using damp fingers, press mixture down and up the sides of muffin cups to form a mini-bowl. Freeze an hour. Run a knife around edges of pecan cups to remove from pan and keep chilled until ready to use.

3. Place bananas in food processor container. Turn machine on and let it run until bananas are the size of small pebbles. Scrape down sides of container, add milk and vanilla, and blend until creamy. (Do not over-blend where bananas begin to melt.) Add a splash or two more of milk to help with blending, if needed.

4. Serve immediately, dividing banana “ice cream” among pecan cups and topping with cacao nibs. If not using right away, freeze for later use. When ready to serve, allow to sit at room temperature for several minutes to soften or process again until it becomes creamy.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 235, total fat 13 g, carbs 32 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 22 g, protein 3 g, sodium 36 mg

Chill Out!

These healthy supermarket convenience foods can help you keep your cool — getting you in and out of the kitchen — fast.

Baby Kale: These little leaves are plush with nutrients and antioxidants, require no chopping and have a less-bitter taste than full-grown kale. Add to sandwiches, salads and green smoothies.

Rotisserie Chicken: An already-cooked bird lets you add instant protein to any meal. Ditch the skin to eliminate a ton of sodium and fatty calories.

Peppadew Peppers: Often sold jarred in brine, these sweet-spicy peppers can enliven all forms of no-cook dishes. Try stuffing them with goat cheese or hummus for a no-fuss backyard appetizer.

Frozen Cooked Shrimp: Thaw as many as you need and reap the rewards of this low-calorie protein powerhouse. Serve with low-sodium cocktail sauce, or chop and add to a salad.

Canned Beans: Embrace budget-friendly canned beans as a way to enrich salads, dips and tacos with nutrient-dense protein and fiber.

Frozen Cherries: Conveniently pitted, these sweet nibbles are the perfect addition to cereal, desserts and even savory dishes like tuna salad.

Smoked Salmon: No need to fire up the grill for your fish fix. Add this precooked, velvety delight to whole-grain crackers, wraps, salads and summer picnic charcuterie spreads.

Quinoa Flakes: Made by rolling whole quinoa seeds to flatten, these flakes are a great addition to smoothies for a boost of protein and fiber or as a high-pro sub for oatmeal. 

Powered by WPeMatico

Break through your diet plateau and kick your metabolism into overdrive with this four-week meal plan.

Here’s the deal, carbs are good for pretty much one thing — providing energy. And let’s face it, going too long without them can take your workouts from awesome to crummy and leave you feeling like a certified couch potato. On the flip side, cutting carbs, even by just a small amount, can help you get (and keep) the summer bod you’ve always wanted. The struggle is real: This love/hate relationship with our favorite macronutrient has got to go. The fix? Carb cycling. It may just be the happy medium you’re looking for.

Carb Cycling 101

Carb cycling is a simple dietary approach in which you alternate the amount of carbs you consume on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. There’s no one right or wrong way of doing it — if you eat fewer carbs today than you do tomorrow, you’re carb cycling. So why do it? There aren’t many scientific studies surrounding the protocol, but we can take some insight from how macronutrients are used in the body and what we want to get out of our training and nutrition habits.

While carbs provide energy — we need them to perform at an optimal level — we don’t need carbs all the time. That’s why it makes sense to use them only when needed the most — during intense physical training. On the days we’re not training to our fullest — maybe it’s an off day or a light training day — cut back on carbs to help improve metabolic flexibility and help the body learn to use fat as fuel. And because the body uses stored glycogen (sugar from carbs) during training, strategic high-carb days can help replenish your supply and increase strength during workouts.

The other cool thing about carb cycling is that targeting your carb intake around training days can help improve insulin sensitivity. If you’re insulin sensitive, the body only needs to release a small amount of insulin to use and store glucose (blood sugar). This factor alone can keep you from putting on too much body fat and prevent you from getting Type 2 diabetes.

To get even better weight-loss results, pair carb cycling with a caloric deficit (reduce calorie intake and/or burn more calories).

Your Four-Week Carb-Cycling Meal Plan

While there are a handful of ways to interpret carb cycling, this plan is based around your training routine. Our plan is laid out for you to use the high-carb and moderate-to-low-fat and protein menus for endurance/cardio or intense training days. On off days and weight-training days, you’ll follow the high-protein, high-fat and low-carb menus. If you’re someone who doesn’t do any cardio or does cardio and weights on the same day, use the high-carb days on weight-training days and follow the low-carb days on off days.

Since we’re changing the amount of carbs we’re eating based on training, we’re going to do the same with protein and fats. You’ll notice that on high-carb days, protein and fat are reduced, while on low-carb days, you’ll be eating more protein and fat throughout the day to maintain satiety and keep calories similar throughout the week.

Though protein has been lowered on high-carb days, it’s still considered “high” in the mainstream nutrition world. This is because no matter what day it is — training, endurance or off day — protein is always important. It helps boost metabolism, burn fat, improve recovery and build/maintain muscle. Plus, it helps keep us full and satisfied long after eating.

How to Tweak the Plan to Your Routine

The meal plan is laid out as follows:

Monday/Wednesday/Friday = Weight-Training Day = Low Carb

Sunday = Off Day = Low Carb

Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday = Endurance/Cardio Day = High Carb

The weekly calendar follows an every-other-day approach to training and cardio days. If your workout schedule follows a two-on and one-off approach, simply use the endurance meal-plan days for on days and the training/off menus for your off/rest days. You can manipulate the meal plan based on your own schedule as needed. So if you workout three days with two days of rest in between, update your meal plan accordingly.

If you’re not seeing the results you’re looking for or have hit a plateau, you can try reducing carb intake to about 30 grams total for the entire day on off days only (aka days of complete rest). Another option is to reduce calorie intake by 100 to 200 on weight-training and off days — this is the equivalent to cutting out one snack — while your high-carb days will remain the same.

Salmon Poke Bowl

Note: Poke bowls are generally made with raw fish or tofu. However, this dish is still fabulous if you choose to cook the salmon or use a smoked variety. To cook the salmon, marinade it in the sauce recipe provided, and either cook on a hot grill or bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz fresh sashimi-grade salmon
  • cubed into ¾- to 1-inch pieces(You can find this at your local 
  • Whole Foods or other freshmarket.)
  • ¼ cup shredded purple cabbage
  • ¼ cup sliced cucumber
  • ¼ cup sliced carrot
  • 1 tbsp chives, chopped
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • ½ to 1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce, or to taste (optional)

Directions:

1. In medium bowl, whisk together ingredients for sauce. Add salmon and toss well. Set aside.

2. To assemble your poke bowl, add rice first. Then top with the rest of the ingredients and seasoned salmon. 3. Garnish with fresh chopped chives and toasted sesame seeds. Top off with remaining sauce.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 549, total fat 39 g, saturated fat 6 g, trans fat 0 g, protein 21 g, sodium 369 mg, carbs 32 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 3 g

Pizza Mac n’ Cheese Casserole

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups whole-wheat elbow
noodles or gluten-free elbow
noodles (Banza chickpea pastais awesome!)
½ cup nonfat milk
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ cup nonfat milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup + ¼ cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp butter
12 turkey pepperonis
½ cup tomato sauce

Directions:

1. Cook noodles as directed on package until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. In small saucepan, add ½ cup nonfat milk, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and ¼ teaspoon onion powder, and bring to a simmer.

3. In separate small bowl, mix cornstarch with ¼ cup nonfat milk and add to saucepan. Mix well and continue to stir over heat for a few minutes until sauce starts to slightly thicken, about three to four minutes.

4. Shut off heat and mix in 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Stir until melted throughout. Mix in 1 tablespoon butter.

5. Combine cooked noodles with cheese sauce until well-combined. Add cheesy noodle mixture to casserole dish. Pour tomato sauce over the top. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and top with turkey pepperonis.

6. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until
the top is slightly brown and gooey.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 358, total fat 7 g, saturated fat 3 g, trans fat 0 g, protein 21 g, sodium 379 mg, carbs 58 g, fiber 8 g, sugar 1 g

Pesto Chicken Sandwich

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices light whole-wheat bread
  • 3 oz grilled chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp pesto sauce
  • 1 slice mozzarella cheese
  • 2 slices fresh tomato
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil mayonnaise

Directions:

1. Heat skillet over medium heat or preheat a countertop panini press or indoor grill.

2. Slather olive oil mayo on one side of each slice of bread. Then spread pesto onto the opposite side of each slice of bread.

3. Assemble sandwich starting with chicken, then tomato and finish with slice of mozzarella cheese. Top sandwich with second piece of bread and place onto heated skillet
or grill.

4. Cook about two minutes per side (on the skillet), or until bread is toasted and cheese is melted (when using the grill).

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 419, total fat 24 g, saturated fat 5 g, trans fat 0 g, protein 30 g, sodium 575 mg, carbs 24 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 5 g

French Toast With Caramelized Bananas

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • dash ground cinnamon
  • dash ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 slices light whole-wheat bread
  • 2 tsp butter
  • ½ medium banana, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. In small bowl, whip egg, egg white, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

2. Dunk and coat bread slices in egg mixture, and cook on grill or skillet until they are golden brown, about one minute per side.

3. Add butter to skillet and place over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add sliced banana, cinnamon, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Stir to combine and saute until they are just cooked and soft, about three minutes.

4. Pour cooked bananas on top of French toast. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and dash of cinnamon.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 324, total fat 13 g, saturated fat 6 g, trans fat 0 g, protein 16 g, sodium 369 mg, carbs 40 g, fiber 6 g, sugar 15 g

View the 2 images of this gallery on the original article

Powered by WPeMatico

Here’s another reason why this summer staple deserves a place on your plate all year-round.

Summer is just not summer without watermelon. This iconic picnic fruit is directly related to cucumbers, pumpkins and gourds, and besides containing a cool 92 percent water, watermelon also boasts a host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep you healthy and happy all year-round. Here are five new ways to enjoy this refreshing fruit and keep your nutrition on point.

1. As a post-workout juice

Watermelon juice contains L-citrulline, an amino acid that has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery postworkout. It’s also reputed to increase nitrous-oxide levels, helping blood vessels expand and relax, thereby reducing blood pressure. To make your own relax-and-recover juice, blend 2 to 3 cups of watermelon chunks, then strain the mixture into a pitcher and serve over ice.

2. As a skin-saving salad

Watermelon is super high in vitamin C, which helps combat inflammation and oxidative damage. It also helps your body produce collagen for healthier skin and hair. Combine magnesium-rich watermelon with a cheese such as feta and the magnesium will facilitate the absorption of the calcium from the cheese — making bones stronger and providing a further boost to your immune system.

3. As an unexpected side

Though most people toss the rind, this part of the watermelon also contains lots of L-citrulline as well as a healthy dose of fiber to promote regularity and stave off intestinal diseases and cancers. Slice off the green peel and then use the firm white part like a vegetable: Shred it into a coleslaw, puree it with ripe tomatoes for gazpacho, slice and pickle it as a condiment or chutney, or dice it and use in a stir-fry.

4. As a frozen treat

Watermelon is mostly water and contributes more than its fair share to your daily hydration needs. And with only 42 calories per cup, it makes for a low-cal refreshing treat on hot summer days. Create the easiest frozen treat in the world: Slice the watermelon into wedges, cut off the rinds, punch a popsicle stick into the bottom of each wedge and freeze until solid.

5. As a snack (instead of as a projectile)

Take a break from your seed-spitting competition and eat your watermelon seeds as a snack. One ounce contains about 156 calories, 8 grams of protein and 16 milligrams of folate, which promotes a healthy cardiovascular system and helps your body convert food into energy. Toss seeds in olive oil and sea salt and roast at 325 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Voilà! Instant snack. 

Powered by WPeMatico

Boost your nutrition with these five refreshing, summertime recipes.

Mark Twain said, “When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.” So when’s the last time you indulged in this heavenly fruit? If it’s been a while, make sure to stock up in time for National Watermelon Day, which falls on August 3 this year.

“National Watermelon Day is a chance for everyone, everywhere to appreciate and share their love for watermelon,” says Stephanie Barlow, senior director of communications at the Watermelon Board. “Whether shared around a pool or picnic table this summer, watermelon evokes happiness, healthiness, family and fun.”

More Than Just a Summertime Sweet

Sure, watermelon is a refreshing treat during pool parties and barbecues, but there are many reasons to enjoy this fruit beyond festive outdoor gatherings. According to the Watermelon Board, it’s packed with health benefits, which include the following:

  • Vitamin A. Important for optimal eye health, vitamin A boosts immunity by enhancing the infection-fighting actions of white blood cells.
  • Vitamin B6. This B vitamin helps the immune system produce antibodies, which are needed to fight many diseases. Vitamin B6 also helps maintain normal nerve function and form red blood cells. Finally, the body uses vitamin B6 to help break down proteins — so the more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need.
  • Vitamin C. Help bolster your immune system’s defenses against infections and viruses with vitamin C. This vitamin also can protect the body from harmful free radicals that can accelerate aging and conditions such as cataracts.
  • Potassium. A 2-cup serving of watermelon is also a source of potassium, a mineral found inside every cell and necessary for water balance. People with low potassium levels can experience muscle cramps. After a tough workout, grab some watermelon because this electrolyte will help with replenishment and recovery.
  • Lycopene. This antioxidant, which gives watermelon its red color, is important for protection against free radicals, and it has been studied for protection against harmful UV sun rays.
  • Citrulline. Watermelon is a heart-healthy choice thanks to its citrulline content, an amino acid that helps blood flow.
  • Hydration. At 92 percent water, you can’t spell watermelon without water. It’s one of the most hydrating foods you can eat, which is especially helpful during these hot summer months.
  • Low calorie. Watermelon is a guilt-free sweet treat at only 80 calories per 2-cup serving.

5 Refreshing Recipes

When visiting your local farmers market or grocery store, look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that’s free from bruises, cuts or dents. When you lift it up, it should feel heavy for its size and should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. Now that you’ve picked your perfect melon, you could just cut it up and eat it straight from the rind. Or try using it in one of the following recipes:

Powered by WPeMatico

This simple recipe from OC4 coach Jen Widerstrom features a savory, satisfying, meaty mix of mushrooms and lean beef. Omit the cheese, if you’re dairy-free.

Spicy Stuffed Peppers

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium bell peppers (any color) 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed, chopped 1 pound Laura’s Lean Beef
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, plus more to taste 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 (28–ounce) can crushed tomatoes 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 large handful of roughly chopped fresh spinach 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional) 3/4 cup chicken stock

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Prepare the bell peppers by cutting them in half through the stem and removing the core. Place in a large baking dish, cut side up, and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and black pepper, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the carrot and mushrooms and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Add the turkey, the 1 1/2 tsp salt, the 1/4 tbsp black pepper, the garlic powder, oregano, paprika, and the ½ tsp red pepper flakes, and break up the meat while incorporating all the spices. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat is no longer pink.
  5. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes and let the mixture simmer over low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasonings, adding more salt, black pepper, or red pepper flakes to taste. Add the rice, spinach, and basil and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.
  6. Spoon the turkey-veggies mixture into the halved bell peppers until nice and full. Top each pepper with a little bit of cheese (if using). Pour the stock into the bottom of the baking dish and cover the dish lightly with foil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the peppers are just tender.
  7. Remove from the oven and discard the foil. Transfer to a plate and serve.

Now in its fourth year, The Oxygen Challenge 4 has helped thousands of participants all over the world transform their bodies and their lives. This summer, we are bringing you two of television’s most celebrated experts: Jen Widerstrom of NBC’s The Biggest Loser and Karina Smirnoff of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars!

So what are you waiting for? Start transforming your life and body now.

Join the challenge today!

Powered by WPeMatico

OC4 Coach Karina Smirnoff shares two of her favorite easy seafood recipes that provide the protein you need to fuel healthy muscle growth without extra calories and fat.

Zucchini Swordfish

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into thin, 3-inch strips
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 box precut white or oyster mushrooms
  • Handful black olives, chopped
  • 1 tbsp canned jalapenos, minced
  • 2 1-lb swordfish steaks, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp black truffle oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic glaze
  • 1 bunch thyme, stems removed

Instructions:

  1. Turn on broiler to 550 degrees
  2. In a medium pan, add oil and thyme. Cook for 2 minutes on medium, then add zucchini. Season with pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a separate pan to medium, add oil and mushrooms and cook for five minutes.
  4. Add olives, jalapenos and balsamic glaze and heat through.
  5. Remove from heat. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Season swordfish with truffle oil and black pepper on both sides. Place on baking sheet and back in the over until fish starts to sizzle, about 7 minutes
  6. When the outside turns golden brown, remove from oven. Divide zucchini between two plates then place fish on top. Divide mushroom mix and pour over the top of each fish.

Miso Glazed Salmon with Broccolini

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 6-ounce salmon filets
  • ¼ cup brown sugar 
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • Sprig parsley
  • 1 bag broccolini
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • Juice of one lemon, divided

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl mix sugar, soy sauce, miso, mirin and half the lemon juice. Add salmon to bowl and turn to coat.
  3. Place salmon on baking sheet covered with foil and cover with remaining sauce. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  4. Steam broccolini until desired tenderness, then season with pepper. Place salmon on top and top with remaining lemon juice and parsley.

Now in its fourth year, The Oxygen Challenge 4 has helped thousands of participants all over the world transform their bodies and their lives. This summer, we are bringing you two of television’s most celebrated experts: Jen Widerstrom of NBC’s The Biggest Loser and Karina Smirnoff of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars!

So what are you waiting for? Start transforming your life and body now.

Join the challenge today!

Powered by WPeMatico