Monthly Archives: February 2014

Winter Squash and Kale Salad

Everyone knows salad is a great choice for a healthy meal, but they can also get boring or heavy on calories when you add cheeses and dressings.  The nutrient rich kale in this Winter Squash and Kale Salad is a great alternative to plain lettuce, but can also be a tricky salad base because of its large leafy stems that sometimes feel like you’re eating a topiary.  It avoid that feeling, try slicing the kale into smaller strips or tearing it up a bit.  With bite sized kale, this Winter Squash and Kale salad is a Team FitNice salad favorite that’s easy to put together, light on fats and sure to fill you up.

Winter Squash and Kale Salad

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: 2

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup yellow squash, sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
6-8 cups loosely packed kale
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced, fresh tomatoes
3/4 cup broccoli, fresh
1/6 cup feta cheese (optional)
4 Tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette

1.  Brown chicken in 1/8 cup Olive Oil in medium sized sauce pan, then add broth and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 20-25 minutes.
2.  In medium sauce pan, saute squash with olive oil and seasonings.
3.  Add kale, carrots, broccoli, tomato and cheese to large bowl.  Stir.
4.  Add chicken and squash to large bowl of salad mix and toss.
5.  Dish into 4 large salad bowls and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette before serving.Winter Squash and Kale SaladLooking to cut carbs?  Decreased to volume of kale included or remove the carrots.  Put this good for you and tummy filling Winter Squash and Kale Salad on your meal plan for next week and enjoy!

4 Tips for Recovery with Cross-training

Injuries happen, but they don’t always mean lots of time without a workout.  Even if an injury does require a little time off, it’s always best to gradually get back into your old routine, rather than diving in head first and risk re-injuring yourself.  Recovery with cross-training will help keep you fit while also lowering the chance of getting hurt again.  The type of cross-training you decide to do will depends on the nature of your injury, but here are 4 tips from Team FitNice to make sure you’re properly using recovery with cross-training.

Talk to your doc.  First things first, make sure you have your doctor’s permission to start working out again.  Include specific exercises in your questions so you’ll know exactly what you can, and what you shouldn’t, do during your recovery period.

Choose carefully.  The types of exercises your doctor will OK depend on the specific injury you’ve endured.  Be deliberate about the exercises you decide to do when heading back in the gym so you can protect your injured body without sacrificing the quality of your workout.  Just because you can stand, bend or flex doesn’t mean you should.

Water.  You definitely don’t want to re-injury yourself and non-weight bearing activity is a great way to make sure that doesn’t happen.  Running in deep water, wearing a floatation device, is great for runners because it simulates the movement of running without the recovery with cross-trainingimpact.  Those who aren’t runners can also benefit from the low impact, heart pumping workout laps in the pool can give while coming back from an injury.  The water provides resistance for arms and legs while also putting a strain on the cardiovascular system.

 Listen to your body.  If it hurts, stop doing it.  There’s a difference between muscle soreness or weakness and an injury.  Pay attention to how you feel before, during and after a recovery with cross-training workout and treat your body accordingly.

Take these tips and apply them the next you have an injury.  Have questions about recovering from an injury?  Ask us!

Baked Chicken Chiles Rellenos

Here’s a great weekend meal from Team FitNice that is sure to satisfy any craving for spice.  These Baked Chicken Chiles Rellenos are a flexible, healthy way to enjoy a Mexican inspired dinner at home.

Servings:  6
Prep Time:  35 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes
Difficulty:  5

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/3 cup all purpose flour or cornstarch
3 Tablespoons cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 egg
1 Tablespoon water
4 ounces (1 can) whole green chile peppers, rinsed, seeded and sliced lengthwise in half
2 ounces low-fat Monterey Jack cheese, cut into six sticks (optional)
2 Tablespoon fresh parsley or cilantro
1/4 Tablespoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons melted butter or margarine
8 ounces (1 jar) medium red salsa

1.  Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
2.  Place each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4 of an inch thick with flat side of metal mallet.
3.  Combine flour, red pepper and cornmeal in small dish
4.  Place egg in a second small dish, add water and lightly beat to combine
5.  For each chicken roll, place one chile pepper half and one stick of cheese on the edge of each chicken breast.  Season with cilantro and black pepper then fold in and roll chicken up, securing with wooden toothpicks.
6.  Dip each chicken roll in egg mixture then coat with flour and cornmeal mixture.
7.  Place each chicken roll seam side down in shallow baking pan and drizzle with melted butter.
8.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Serve topped with warm salsa over a bed of Mexican rice or quinoa.

baked chicken chiles rellenosHeat these chicken chiles rellenos up with additional peppers, a dash of cayenne powder, hot salsa or spicy rice.  Be sure to use low fat cheese, or leave it out of your preparation for an even better-for-you dish.  Team FitNice likes these best without cheese and over freshly cooked quinoa and a sprinkling of diced jalapenos.  Roll up an oven full of Baked Chicken Chiles Rellenos for your dinner table today and save the extras for a delicious lunch tomorrow.

What Does That Mean? Gym Terms 101

Team FitNice knows walking into a gym or fitness studio can be intimidating.  A brand new place, lots of strangers and equipment that looks like a torture device.  Whether you’re starting yoga practice, kicking off Crossfit or picking up Pilates, fitness has a language all its own.  Every workout community has gym terms and phrases that describe and direct each session, but they often differ by nature.  The words that work for yoga don’t get it done in a kickboxing class, and it’s almost impossible to cover every single phrase you could come across in this post.  Here’s a list of basic gym terms that will help you feel at home starting any fitness program.

Reps – Short for repetitions, reps count the number of times you repeat an exercise.  This can be anywhere from 1 to 100 and depends on the type of workout.

Set – A group of reps for any given exercise.  This predetermined number is high for cardio-endurance workouts and low for strength building workouts.

DB – Dumbbells are a versatile, standard piece of gym ware and can be used for a myriad of exercises.  Two weights are separated by a handle, allowing one hand to hold the weight and can be anywhere from one to 100 pounds.gym terms

Circuit Training – A series of exercises performed with little or no rest between them.  A circuit consists of one set at each exercise and a short period of rest after completing each circuit.

Work In – Sharing a piece of equipment by alternating sets with rest so another person.  The usually occurs on stationary exercise machines or with heavy dumbbells.

1RM/3RM – One rep max, three rep max.  The maximum weight you can lift one or three times.  This is common in Olympic style lifts and for those who are trying to increase muscle mass.

Superset – Similar to circuit training, a superset is a sets of two exercises performed without rest between them.  A superset often works complimentary muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps or back and chest.

AMRAP – As Many Rounds as Possible.  Given with a preset time limit, AMRAP workouts are common in Crossfit and designed to be short, intense periods of activity with predetermined exercises.

Tabata – A form of high intensity interval training (HIIT), Tabata is a four minute interval during which the participant alternates 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest for 8 sets.  This is a flexible but advanced, difficult cardiovascular workout.

Feel comfortable in any fitness center with these terms and get started today!  Have questions about another terms you’ve heard in the gym?  Ask us!

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

This simple, lean meat recipe is a Team FitNice week night go to.  Pork can be as lean, and sometimes even more lean, than chicken, which makes is a great protein choice for any dinner table.  Suitable at any time of year, these Honey Garlic Pork Chops can be done on the grill or in the oven.

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes (or marinade over night)
Cook Time:
Difficulty: 3

4-6 Pork Loin Chops, boneless with excess fat trimmed, roughly 4 ounces each
4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Honey
4 cloves garlic, minced (add additional garlic to taste)

1.  Whisk honey, soy sauce and garlic in small, shallow bowl
2.  Coat pork chops with marinade on both sides, rest over night if desired, saving excess marinade for basting
3a.  Oven Cook:  Grease baking dish and bake at 400 for 20 minutes, basting twice with excess honey marinade.
3b.  Grill Cook: Grill on medium-high heat for five minutes on each side, or until cooked through, while basting frequently.
4.  Serve with seasonal vegetables and optional brown rice or quinoa.

Honey Garlic Pork ChopsPrepare this healthy dinner plate for your family tonight and enjoy a low fat meal that’s filled with nutritional value and taste.

7 Tips for Running in Snow

Winter isn’t over yet, and there’s probably more snow on the way.  Good news or bad, the same way driving on slippery roads can be treacherous, running in snow can be dangerous, too.  Anything more than an inch or two can put an unfortunate cramp in a training schedule with business closures, poor road conditions and unshoveled sidewalks.  As we head towards March, many runners are deep into training routines for Spring races and a day or two off because of unsafe running environment is much less than ideal.

Here are 7 tips from Team FitNice that will help keep you safe, warm and injury free when you want to, or have to, go running in snow.

Slow down.  You won’t want to run your usual pace in slippery conditions because it’s harder work.  Much like running in sand, running in snow recruits muscles in your inner and outer thighs that don’t work very hard on solid ground.  With them pulling overtime, you’ll feel fatigued sooner.

running in snowUse trail shoes, spikes or Ice Grippers.  Making sure your shoe has ample traction is incredibly important when running in snow.  Good treads, spikes or ice grippers add traction to each footfall and mean you’re less likely to slip, slide or take a spill.

Two pairs of socks.  If you’re heading out in the snow, you’ve probably already faced the fact that your feet might get wet.  Help keep them warm and dry with two pairs of sweat wicking socks.  Make sure your shoes still fit with an extra pair, but don’t be afraid to loosen your laces.

Change your stride.  A shorter stride will help you balance, lowering the risk of slipping and falling.  You can also improve balance by making sure your foot lands directly under your hips.  This increases the surface area of your foot that touches down and better Blizzard of 2014stability.

Find fresh snow.  At least snow that’s crunchy.  Plowed, packed snow is much more difficult to navigate that fluffy stuff that helps you grip.

Think with your eyes.  You want to be seen, so dressed in brightly colored clothing and wear a safety vest or reflectors.  You also want to avoid potholes and icy patches, so be sure to constantly scan your surroundings.

Focus on effort.  It’s hard to run adjust your stride and run in snow.  Be sure to account for the extra work your muscles are doing when you choose how far or how long to run.

Keep your running shoes close and your shovel closer as you prepare for your Spring Race Season.  Use these tips to stay injury free regardless of weather conditions and remember to always put safety first.

Did weather force you to change your schedule?  Ask us to help you get back on track!

Snow Day Crock Pot Chili

Snow Day Crock Pot Chili

Snow Day Crock Pot Chili is a great way to warm up after a few hours spent in the snow.  Put it on, go shovel, sled or build a snowman and by the time your boots are off, it’s ready to heat you right back up.  An already healthy meal, Team FitNice likes that it can be made completely paleo by simply replacing the black beans and sauce with an additional can of stewed or crushed tomatoes.

Servings: 8-10
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 – 6.5 hours
Difficulty: 2

2 pounds lean ground beef (preferably 97%)
1 diced green pepper
1 diced red pepper if desired
1 diced onion
1 cup carrots, diced as desired
1 – 14 oz can black beans, undrained
1 – 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 – 28 oz can of stewed or crushed tomatoes
3 cloves (3 teaspoons) minced garlic
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1-2 avocados, diced (optional)

1.  Saute onion, pepper and garlic in large saucepan over medium heat
2.  Add ground beef and brown, drain excess grease
3.  Add beef, tomatoes, sauce, carrots and seasonings to crock pot and stir thoroughly
4.  Set crock pot to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 6.5 hours
5.  Serve with over brown rice with optional avocado garnish

Snow Day Crock Pot ChiliHaving a cold, wintry day?  Dry out your boots and settle in for a hearty bowl of Snow Day Crock Pot Chili to warm you from your nose to your toes.  If this version doesn’t warm you up, try adding additional cayenne to really bring some heat to your meal.  Fill your tummy and freeze the rest in lunch sized portions so you can stay warm even when you’re at work.

Starting Getting Good Sleep Tonight

Sleep helps athletic performance.  Good sleep is even more beneficial.  It’s when our bodies recover from what we’ve put them through during the day, and the more we exercise, train or compete, the more sleep we tend to need.  We’ve written about the benefits and importance of sleep before, with Get Some Sleep, but how are we supposed to get them?

good sleepThe first step towards getting a sound night’s sleep is to admit you’re currently not getting what you need.  Depending on caffeine to get through every day, failure to wake up without an alarm and sleeping very late on weekends are all signs of sleep deprivation.  The bad news is that a study conducted at Penn State University claims sleeping in the weekends might not be enough to get your body back on track.  The good news is you can alter your week night habits little by little until you’re eventually getting the good sleep your body requires.  Here are five ways you can start working towards getting good sleep tonight.

Slowly increase hours.  Start hitting the hay 15 minutes early for one week, week two turn in 15 minutes before that.  It might take a while to adjust, and making a sudden, huge change in bed time can result in tossing, turning and laying awake with a racing mind.  Gradually increasing your amount of sleep can make a big difference and within six weeks, you’ll be resting longer.

Hit the lights.  All of them.  Turn off the TV, iAnything and flip your glowing phone screen upside down.  These artificial lights trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime, which makes it a whole lot harder to fall asleep.

Make bed a sleep only zone.  Take the television out of the bedroom completely, move the clock that makes you anxious about getting up in the morning and hide the laptop underneath a chair.  Using your bed exclusively for sleeping, and sex, will increase the strength of the association between bed and sleep.

Can the caffeine, and alcohol.  Caffeine is great in the morning, but avoid it in the afternoon and evening.  It can interfere with deeper stages of sleep, like REM, and good sleepseriously impact your ability to rest.  Caffeine is also a diuretic, making it more likely you’ll have to get up during the night to use the bathroom.  Alcohol might initially make you feel sleepy, but it, too, is a diuretic that will lead to waking up at night and result in restless sleep.

Establish a routine.  Create a pattern for getting ready for bed.  Meditate, read, listen to music or write down the day’s worries to bring it to a close.  Set out your wardrobe for the morning, brush your teeth and take a deep breath before sliding under the sheets.  Start this routine about an hour before bedtime, it will give your body time to relax and transition to good sleep mode.

Start working on your bedtime ritual today and get lots of good sleep tomorrow.  For help getting more rest, ask us!