Thursday, March 28, 2013

Homemade Granola Bars

Everyone needs a fast snack from time to time and granola bars are a quick, easy, yummy solution. The problem is, many store bought options are really just candy bars in disguise. So, I've been wanting to try making some and someone emailed me a recipe out of Shape Magazine so I decided to try it. I modified the original recipe a bit to my liking, and I think it's a good base for trying different flavors and additions. Here's my modified version of the recipe:

1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup Grape Nuts cereal
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup natural unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate bar)

Combine oats through ginger in a large bowl. Whisk together egg, applesauce, honey, and oil. Pour into oat mixture and stir until combined. Stir in nuts, seeds, and chocolate. Pour into 8x8 pan lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes, until edges start to brown. Cool on a rack then lift bars out of pan with foil and cut into bars.

I baked mine for 30 minutes and will probably leave them in a few minutes longer next time as I like mine a little more brown around the edges. I'd like to try adding peanut butter to the recipe as well as use different types of nuts to change the flavor. If you like dried fruit, that would also be a great addition!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Love Smoothies!

Pictured below was my breakfast this morning: a smoothie made with spring greens, frozen fruit (mango, pineapple, strawberry, blueberry), Greek yogurt, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. It felt great to start the day with a glass full of nutrition! And if I'm totally honest, my nutrition has been seriously lacking for the past week. More specifically, I've been on a major sugar kick and need to be stopped! So I made the decision to start my day with this yummy and healthy smoothie to get me going on the right track for the day. For me, once I get started eating sweets, it is so hard to stop. I just keep craving more, and if I eat more, the cravings get worse! On the flip side, once I'm able to get out of the sugar death spiral, the cravings diminish and I remember how good I feel when I'm eating well. I've read and seen a lot of research and commentary regarding sugar consumption lately, and the resounding message is that sugar is not only an addictive substance, it is also a major contributor to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more. While I'm not an alarmist or extremist, the combination of this knowledge and how I feel when I'm consuming a lot of refined sugar is reason enough for me to put a big effort toward minimizing my consumption. So what do smoothies have to do with this? For me, they are a delicious way to get a lot of nutrients in one meal and also satisfy my sweet tooth with fresh or frozen fruit. And, I can put whatever I like in. My typical smoothie has about a half cup of Greek yogurt, a big handful of whatever greens I have on hand (spinach and kale are faves), about half a cup of almond milk, and whatever kind of fruit I have (I've been buying huge bags of frozen fruit from Sam's Club for this purpose). Surely there are many additional additives to try such as chia or flax seeds, nuts, and different veggies, but I don't have a super powerful blender, so I keep to items I know will get blended well. Now that I've had my smoothie for today, I'm going to keep the goodness going with leftover chicken pot pie for lunch (see recipe in previous post), Shakeology for a snack, and pork tenderloin with roasted veggies for dinner. If I really feel the need for a little treat after dinner, I'll have a square of dark chocolate. Yay for healthy food!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Getting Back to Normal

Last weekend, I took the kids up north on a long weekend to visit the various branches of my family. As is usual with any traveling, I was off my normal routine for several days. I managed to fit one workout in, but that was followed by 3 non-exercise days (and plenty of car time). My eating was way different than usual too...I'm always very well-fed when visiting family. Delicious homemade meals and bigger portions for a few days and I was definitely ready to load up on fruits and veggies and my trusty Shakeology (I also made my special Shakeology brownies to help tame my sweet tooth...yum!) after we got home on Tuesday. My workouts started back with double PiYo day on Wednesday followed by a double dose of Turbos yesterday. Another Turbo this afternoon and again tomorrow morning and I am feeling back on track (need to find some time for lifting!). I fell behind on the Instagram Mad About Yoga challenge, so getting all those poses photographed felt like its own workout too. I even got caught up on cleaning and laundry today! Now if I could just get some extra sleep...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Still Sore!

I took the opportunity to do my own workout at the gym Saturday morning (rather than teaching or take a class) and 2 days later, I am still sore! I take it as a sign that I succeeded at working my body differently from what it's used to and that I should do the exercises I did again so I can get stronger. As a fitness instructor, it is easy to get in the mindset that you shouldn't or don't need to do your workouts outside of the classes you teach. That's fine if you don't have new fitness goals and your schedule of classes is very well rounded (cardio, strength, flexibility). My schedule is somewhat balanced, but I could definitely stand to incorporate more strength training, so that's what I've been working on. A couple of goals: strength train 2-3 times per week, work toward being able to do unassisted pull-ups, explore new yoga poses and styles.

Here's a quick rundown of Saturday's workout:
30 minutes of treadmill intervals (2 min run/ 1 min walk)
Single leg deadlifts w/ 20 lb dumbbell (will increase weight next time)
Single arm rows w/ 20 lb dumbbell
Shoulder to shoulder presses w/ 20 lb dumbbell
Squat & pull with purple resistance band
Assisted pull-ups (feet on box) 5 reps each w/ 2 different grips
Wide and tricep push-ups with feet on Bosu
Plank knee pulls with feet on Bosu
Various stretches and rolling (self myofascial release)

I also practiced a few yoga poses and took my daily photo for the Mad About Yoga challenge I'm doing on Instagram.

My plan is to repeat many of these same exercises (might alter it a little) this week on Tuesday and Friday in addition to the 5 classes I teach. Hopefully it won't be long before I can increase weight on more exercises and need less assistance for the pull-ups. Then I'll start working on some new challenging exercises!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mad About Yoga

While I've had an Instagram account for some time, I've been more active with posting photos and exploring photos in the past couple of months. I've really enjoyed looking at fitness and motivational photos and have found many beautiful shots of people practicing yoga. If you're not familiar with Instagram, part of the social aspect behind it is the photo challenges that people come up with. This month, I'm participating in a challenge called Mad About Yoga (#madaboutyoga to tag your photos). Hosted by 3 talented yoginis who rotate posting the challenge pose for each day, the challenge serves to expose users to new poses and enjoy practicing virtually together. This challenge has been perfect for me as gaining more yoga experience is one of my current goals. Some of the poses have surprised me - some for how easy they were for me, and some for how hard. It's funny how sometimes the simple looking poses can be the most challenging.

Follow me on Instagram to see the pose for each day: @cococrawford