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Crock Pot Steak Italiano Marinara

I’m always on the lookout for fast, easy, and healthy dinner options to share (and enjoy)! I made this one for the first time last night and it was a hit with my seven year old as well as the big kid (hubby). Unanimous approval means it’s post-worthy. Dust off the crock pot, toss in the ingredients listed below and you’re good to go. I did choose to place this on a bed of zucchini noodles, which I pre-sliced after adding the ingredients to the crock pot, put aside, and cooked briefly in a skillet for approximately 10 minutes before serving.

I found this recipe at www.newleafwellness.biz. Check out their site for additional clean eating dinner options!

Steak Italiano Marinara Recipe from New Leaf Wellness
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients
• 2 pounds boneless sirloin tip steak (cubed)
• 28oz can crushed tomatoes
• 1 small yellow onion, diced
• 2oz fresh baby spinach
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
• 1 teaspoon basil
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

To Cook
Add contents of freezer bag to slow cooker and cook on “low” setting 6-8 hours. Serve with zucchini “noodles.” (Tip: for best consistency, saute instead of boiling.)

Zucchini Noodles
As of now, this is the best way I have found to prepare zucchini noodles:

Peel strips with a vegetable peeler
Place strips in paper towels or dish cloth
Lightly salt (salt will help absorb moisture) and squeeze out as much liquid as possible
Place noodles in a strainer and let sit in fridge between 30 min – 2 hours
When ready to saute, place in a med-hot pan with a bit of oil, and turn over regularly
(depending on your use, and what you will be serving them with, you can add things like garlic and parmesan cheese)
Cook for approximately 10 minutes

Enjoy!

 

Isometric Hold and Crunch

I am definitely a fan of simple, classic movements. Exercise doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. That said, sometimes we need to spice things up or add a little bit of variety to boost motivation. I was introduced to this movement recently, and found it to be fun, challenging and effective.

Form is always of utmost importance. As with any exercise, don’t sacrifice form for additional resistance, speed, diversity, or anything else. If you’re still working to build basic core strength, and traditional crunches put a strain on your neck, hold off on trying this move until you feel more prepared. At the bottom of this page I have listed a couple of modifications to decrease intensity, if required.

Isometric Hold and Crunch

Lay flat on the ground, facing up toward the ceiling. Bend one leg to form a 90 degree angle and hold a weighted medicine ball between your knee and hand (I am using an 8lbs ball in these pictures). This arm and leg will not move. Focus on squeezing the knee and hand together to hold the medicine ball in place and activate the muscles (create contraction), but there will be no range of motion. Extend your other arm and leg. These will be your “active” limbs. Lift the active leg and shoulder blades slightly off of the ground to engage your core. This will be your starting position.

iso-hold-and-crunch1

Keeping active limbs long, slowly lift each one simultaneously to reach for the toes and meet in the middle. You should be exhaling on the lift and inhaling as you return to the starting position. Opposite side maintains contraction with no movement. The knee will be pushing toward your head as the hand provides equal resistance to press the knee away. The harder you push, the more you increase intensity.

iso-hold-and-crunch2

As you move through your prescribed repetitions, be aware of your body position and holding true to form. Continue to ask yourself if your breath is good, if you’re maintaining a good angle on the isometric hold (as you fatigue, you’ll notice that 90 degree angle diminishing…make the correction), is your power coming from your core or are you trying to lift through the neck? Stay strong. Do not allow active leg and shoulder blades to touch down on the floor between reps, but bring the arm and leg as close to the ground as you can with slow and controlled movement.

iso-hold-and-crunch3

You can modify this exercise slightly and decrease intensity in the following ways:

  1. Use your hand to press directly against your knee in the isometric hold (eliminating the medicine ball).
  2. Rest active arm and leg completely  down between each rep.

Whether you choose to add additional resistance with a medicine ball, or perform this movement on its own with rest between reps (allowing the shoulder blades and active leg to release to the ground between reps), try for three sets of 10-15 on each side, with good form. See how you feel and adjust the intensity accordingly.

 

Train hard, train safe and have fun!

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew

This is a healthy and hearty crock pot recipe that goes a long way. If you have extras, it also freezes well. When prepping healthy meals I pick my battles. If I know I’m short on time but don’t want to sacrifice healthy choices for quick and easy dinners that include ingredients I can’t pronounce, I compromise. I’ll pick up the already chopped, diced, washed, peeled whatever is required vegetable and consider it an investment in my health (and the health of my family). I sourced this recipe through PaleoLeap.com . Check out their web site for additional clean-eating dinner ideas!

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew

StewBowl

Ingredients

1 lb beef cubes for stewing
1 butternut squash, peeled de-seeded and diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 carrots, diced
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
6 oz spinach, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
14 oz diced tomatoes
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

TIP: If you are short on time and willing to pay a small premium, some grocery stores carry vegetables already prepped in their produce department, or diced and frozen in the freezer aisle)

Instructions

  1. Spray skillet with oil and warm over medium-high heat.
  2. Brown the beef cubes in the skillet for approximately 1 min per side.
  3. Transfer the meat to the crock pot.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients, except for the spinach and the mushrooms, to the crock pot.
  5. Give everything a good stir, set the timer on your slow cooker for six hours (depending on type of cooker and time available).
  6. Add in the mushrooms 30 minutes before the stew is done.
  7. Add the spinach just before serving

Elevated Jackknife with a Fit Ball

Whew! Wordy title, but I couldn’t think of a snappier way to summarize this exercise. This is a more advanced move for those who have a solid foundation of core work and are looking to turn up the intensity. If you don’t have access to a flat bench, you can also perform this exercise in prone position with shins on the top of the ball and arms in push-up position (wrists in alignment with shoulders). This exercise hits many additional stabilizing muscles, but primarily focuses on the Transversus Abdominus and Rectus Abdominus (think working toward chiseling out that six-pack). Read More →

Super Simple (Practically Gulit Free) Peanut Butter Brownies

I found the original idea for this recipe printed in the May 2016 issue of Oxygen Magazine (LOVE Oxygen Magazine). It was submitted by Fitness Expert Paige Hathaway. Using the ingredients I had on hand, I made some slight revisions and the result was delish!! (For the record, I’m sure the original recipe is just as amazing). I shared among my Facebook followers, but wanted to be sure I could access it easily again and again….and again….and….you get the point.

Super Simple (Practically Guilt Free) Peanut Butter Brownies

1 1/4 cup Natural Peanut Butter (no added sugar!)
1/2 mashed banana (large)
3 tbsp Pure Maple Syrup (no added sugar)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla
3 tsp Natural Unsweetened Cacao

Blondies ingredients

 

Method of Preparation:

Heat Oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together all ingredients until well blended.

Spray small baking dish (approximately 8×8) with Coconut Oil, and pour mixture into dish.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, and let cool completely before cutting to serve.

Makes roughly, eight servings.

 

Note: I did not have an 8×8 dish so I split the mix into two smaller, circular, oven safe dishes

Rep and a Half Chest Press

I’ve recently been doing some further investigation into half rep techniques. I have found partial reps to be very beneficial in my own training, and that’s why I was interested in research discussing the Rep and a Half Chest Press. I should also note that I promote the use of various techniques during training, and while I do use and benefit from partial reps, it’s also important to ensure this is only one facet of a well balanced program. Read More →

Knee Tap Plank

So your plank, rocks? Form is solid? Looking to add a little some-n’ some-n’?

Knee Tap Planks might be for you. I personally enjoy using this exercise in my own training. When performed properly, you can really feel the boost of intensity. Planks are one of those go-to exercises that can be performed virtually anywhere and with no special equipment. If you have lower back pain (and have been cleared for exercise by your physician), planks are a fantastic way to strengthen your core. A primary reason for lower back pain is muscle weakness. Read More →

Egg-cellent Quiche

Generally speaking, most of the recipes I share are simple and quick. I’m not going to lie…this one is a little more time consuming in comparison. I mean, relatively speaking. It’s not Martha-Stewart spends a day in her apron kind of long. But definitely longer than most of my “I need something quick to throw together between helping the kid with homework, making school lunch, starting the bath and bedtime routine” options. Read More →

Unilateral Squat

It’s very common to have imbalances within our body. One leg is stronger than the other. One arm has more flexibility, or a greater range of motion than the other. This is when unilateral exercises become an important part of our training routines. Working one side of the body at a time, allows the weaker side to gain strength without the stronger side providing any compensation. Read More →