Almond Sun Butter w/ Sea Salt

Several posts ago I waxed eloquent on how easy it is to make nut butter at home.

And, because I am a nut butter fanatic at heart I wanted to share my latest fav with you guys. This nut butter is smooth and creamy, but also extra tasty because of the sunflower seeds. It’s a marriage of my two favorite nut butters of all time; almond and sunflower, and I’m truly loving it…on everything, including a spoon.

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Roasted Almond Sun Butter
2 c raw, unsalted almonds
1 c raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Roast the almonds, and sunflower seeds on the stove top in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often. Watch during the roasting process so the nuts and seeds don’t burn. When the nuts and seeds become fragrant remove from the heat and stir in the sea salt. Let cool.

Add the nut, seed, and sea salt mixture to your food processor once cool. Turn on and let your food processor do the work. Scrape down the sides every so often. In anywhere from 6-12 minutes you will have deliciously drippy almond sun butter.

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Store in a glass jar, and you can refrigerate it if you want, but speaking from experience you do not need to refrigerate your nut butters, and they are way easier to spread if you don’t. 🙂

Let me know if you try my new favorite, I’d love to know what you thought!

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What is your favorite nut butter? What is your favorite food to eat nut butter on?
I love both sunflower and almond butter, and my favorite way to eat nut butter is on top of a warm bowl of oatmeal. Think it sounds weird? You should try it…oatmeal will never be the same again.

Liesl

Fitness & Eats – 9.30

Hey everyone! How’s your Sunday afternoon treating you?

I’m posting my weekly eats a little later this weekend as we just got back from sharing El Dia de San Miguel (Saint Michael’s day) with some friends in a nearby village about a 45 minute walk one way. It was a nice time of chatting, practicing the language we are learning, and sharing in the customary food of the day, atole and corn tortillas.

Atole is a hot drink made with water, flour, and sugar. They mix the flour in by hand (seriously…their hand is the spoon) while the water is still room temperature and then cook it over an open fire. While it is cooking they add the sugar. Sometimes instead of white sugar they use something called piloncillo, which is sort of like a brick of brown sugar. And if the family is financially able to afford it they add milk and cinnamon. It is very good, a little sweet, and thick. If it was grainy it would remind me of cream of wheat or a hot cereal.

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So, we shared in the meal, chatted and walked home. It was a nice Sunday morning.

This weekend I was thinking about meal planning and was completely uninspired. While cooking is something that I truly enjoy doing, sometimes my energy wanes and I put on my lazy pants. It’s a good thing I’m married and I know I have my man to feed…it would be scary to see what I would eat as a single gal. 🙂

Anyways, here are my uninspired eats for the week, and my fitness ideas, I’m hoping they will inspire some of you!

Meal Ideas:
Minestrone Soup  & Millet bread
Spicy Edamame Slaw & Roasted Salmon
Zucchini Quinoa Burgers
Herbed White Beans & Tuna
Pizza – we have friends flying in to see us Friday night, it should be a BIG partay! Can’t wait!!

Tentative Fitness Plan: 
Monday – Run (if it’s not raining…it’s still been pouring regularly out here) + 15 Minute Workout
Tuesday – Legs Day – workout undecided
Wednesday – Run (HIIT) + Upper Body Circuit
Thursday – Beach Shape Up Workout #2 (post comin’) 🙂
Friday – Run (steady) + 10 Minute Plank Workout
Saturday – Cardio + Strength Workout
Sunday – Yoga

It is now less than two weeks until we head down the mountain on our little beach vacay…and I am so ready! But, still two more weeks to eat healthy, exercise hard, and make the next two weeks great!

So, what’s your plan this week? What are you eating? Are you trying a new workout, if so what?
Tell me about it, I love hearing from you!

Liesl

Fit Focus: Dumbbell Deadlifting at Home

Deadlifts are most commonly known as a power lift. We see pictures plastered all over in fitness magazines, on pinterest boards, on fitness blogs of men and women deadlifting barbells with crazy amounts of weight. While this is great, and definitely an aspiration for the daily gym-goer, it’s not practical for those of us who workout at home with minimal equipment. I wish I had Olympic weight barbells and a stash of 45lb. plates in my home gym, but I don’t.

So, does that mean we should kick the deadlift to the curb? Heck no. Why?

For starters the deadlift is a functional exercise. It basically consists of two movements that we do daily…bending and lifting. Anyone who lifts boxes, or children, or grocery bags off the floor is familiar with the basic components of the deadlift exercise.

Also, the deadlift is a compound exercise. This means that the deadlift works more than one muscle group in the body. In fact, it works our traps, upper and lower back, our abs/core, hamstrings, quads, forearms, hips, and glutes. That is what I call a worthwhile exercise!

Plus deadlifts are one of the best exercises for toning your glutes, one of the big trouble zones for women, so I say…bring it on!

When deadlifting with a barbell at the gym (or at home if you have one) there are two main types of deadlifts:
1.) the Conventional deadlift and
2.) the Sumo deadlift.
However, there are also other variations such as the Romanian deadlift which I practice a lot with dumbbells to build strength in my hamstrings and stabilize my back. For more information on deadlift variations and some good tips on deadlifting, check out this post.

Now back to our at home exercisers…how can we incorporate the deadlift in to our home workouts and learn to do it safely and efficiently?

1.) Use Dumbbells – since most of us have dumbbells in our home gyms that will be our weight of choice for learning how to properly deadlift at home.

2.) Practice your set up – For a Conventional deadlift with dumbells you will first place your dumbbells on the floor and stand facing them with your toes very close to the handles.

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3.) Bending & Lifting – The actual motion of the deadlift begins when you bend at your hips and knees lowering to grab the dumbbells in a double overhand grip. Now, perform a standing up motion with the dumbbells and at the top lock into a standing position, pushing your hips just slightly forward. Once locked in the standing position, slowly lower the dumbbells downward bending at the knees and hips just as you did to get into the starting position.
*Tip: Your arms should be straight throughout the entire exercise as the photos below show. 

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4.) Practicing Deadlift Variations – Now that you know how to safely perform the Conventional deadlift with proper form, here are two more variations to try and then add into your workout routine.

Sumo Deadlift – Grab a dumbbell and place it on the floor in front of you. Next spread your feet wider than shoulder width apart with your toes pointing slightly outward. (Like a sumo wrestler would stand when getting ready for a match) Bending your knees squat down to cup the dumbbell in both hands and using your glutes lift yourself into a standing position. Then bend down again letting the dumbbell just graze the floor and lift to a stand again to perform a second repetition.

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Stiff-legged Deadlift – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, and holding two dumbbells by your sides with your arms straight. Keeping your knees in place lower the weights to just over your feet keeping them close to your shins as you lower. The motion is like you are bending at the waist to pick something up from the floor. As you bend keep your back straight, and exhale. Once you feel a pull on your hamstrings start bringing your torso back up by extending your hips and waist until you are back in the standing/starting position. As you lift your torso up really squeeze through your glutes. This exercise is amazing for the toning of your hamstrings, and glutes and strengthening your lower back.

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Single Leg Deadlift – Stand on one leg with your other leg behind, toe resting on the floor, and hold a dumbbell in your opposite hand from the leg you are standing on. With your knee slightly bent bend down hinging at the waist, keeping your back straight and letting your other leg lift straight behind you. Your glutes should be firing on both sides in this exercise. Once the weight is a few inches from the group, extend at your hips and waist and stand back up.

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5.) Increasing Weight Safely – When you first begin doing dumbbell deadlifts at home I would suggest starting with a manageable weight. A weight where you can perform 10-12 repetitions with good form. Once you can do this increase the amount of weight that you use. If you can feel your form is suffering at any time, drop your weight. For example: If you choose 20lb dumbbells and you perform 5 repetitions and feel your form is going south, stop, exchange your 20lbers for 15lbers and continue through your set. If you do deadlifts with more weight than you are ready for you can really injure your back, and no one likes injuries. 😦

Now you’re probably itching to try a workout that incorporates deadlifts right?! Here are a few total body workouts that incorporate deadlifts and some combination deadlift with a row moves:

Beach Shape Up Workout 
6s Leg Burner
Get Glutes HIIT
Cardio & Strength Home Workout

Did you learn anything new about doing deadlifts? What? Let me know if you try any of the workouts, I’d love to get your feedback on what you thought!

Have an amazing weekend!

Liesl

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Scones

I don’t remember exactly when my love of scones began, but, of any coffee shop baked good, a scone is almost always my choice.

According to Wikipedia scones originated in Scotland, and is a basic component in the Devonshire English Tea. They were originally made with some type of grain like oat, barley, or wheat and very dense because baking powder was not well known or used. Scones can also be made sweet or savory…(rosemary peppercorn scones are delicious with a bowl of hot soup). Also, scones can often be glazed on top with a light, sugary glaze.

There are many different types of scones, but most scones are made with cold butter. That is where this recipe detours a bit. I like to use solid coconut oil in my scones versus butter, for the health benefits of the coconut oil, and also because I think it gives the scones lovely flavor and texture. Also, these are round scones that you drop onto the baking sheet, easier than rolling out and cutting triangles in my opinion. Maybe not as pretty, but just as delicious.

This scone recipe is simple, and if you’ve never made scones before I think it would be a great one to start with. 🙂
Alright, let’s get baking!

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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Scones

2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 c sucanat (brown sugar would work too)
6 T extra virgin coconut oil, solid

1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c pumpkin puree (pure pumpkin)
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c pecans, chopped

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl add the wheat flour, spices, baking powder and soda, and sucanat, and stir until well mixed. Drop in the coconut oil by tablespoon and cut in with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture resembles cornmeal. You don’t want the mixture to have any big lumps, it should all be uniform, like sand. 🙂
At this point you will want to stir in the raisins & chopped pecans.

Now in a separate bowl mix your buttermilk and pumpkin, and whisk together. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir until JUST combined. You don’t want to mix the dough too much or your scones will turn out tough, rather than light and moist.

Drop the scones onto a lightly greased baking sheet. I use an ice cream scoop to do this as it makes them about the right size. Bake the scones for about 15-20 minutes, but watch the scone bottoms that they don’t get too brown. Let cool just a few minutes on a cooling rack, and then serve warm with raw honey.

TIPS:
* If you are not used to full whole wheat baked goods start with 1c. wheat flour, and 1c. white. This ratio will help ease you and your family in to eating more nutrient dense goodies. 🙂
* You can use butter, 6 tbsp, instead of the coconut oil if you want to. Personally, I love the flavor and texture that coconut oil brings to baked goods, but it could be an acquired taste.
* Be creative with the recipe: cranberries for raisins, or walnuts for pecans, coconut, etc.
* Feel free to top these scones with jam, honey, or whatever you like to put on scones. I eat them plain, because right out of the oven they taste amazing. 

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What is your favorite baked good to order in a coffee shop? Have you ever made scones before?

Happy Baking!!

Liesl

Spicy Salmon Chowder – Dairy Free

Stay away from creamed soups, isn’t that what we’ve always been told? I would say that’s generally good advice, unless you are making your own. It is easy to make creamy soups healthier, and while they WILL taste different than their fatty restaurant counter parts, in my opinion making a creamy soup at home gives you the freedom to highlight it’s ingredients rather than it’s base.

I for one, love chunky vegetables in soup. Don’t cut the veggies into ity, bity pieces in my kitchen. I like soup with texture. The creaminess is supposed to accentuate what truly gives the soup flavor.

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This chowder is light, but not light on flavor and is perfect for a cold rainy night snuggled up on the couch with a good movie, or in front of the fireplace on a “date night in” with your significant other.

SPICY SALMON CHOWDER
1 small onion, diced
1 serrano pepper, diced & seeds removed
1 red pepper, diced
1 medium potato, cubed
1 c. carrots, sliced
1 small zucchini, cubed
1 small can corn, or frozen (about 1/2 cup)
1- 6oz. can wild salmon (a fresh salmon fillet baked and then flaked from the skin would be amazing as well)
3 c organic chicken broth (I like homemade, or Pacific brand)
1 1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 T dried dill (you can use fresh, just add to taste)
Sea salt to taste

Method:
Heat 1/2 c of the chicken broth in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, serrano, and red pepper and saute’ until they begin to get soft; 5-6 minutes. Add the carrots, potato, remaining broth, almond milk, and dill. Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are soft, about 15-20 minutes.
Once the potatoes and carrots are soft add the corn and zucchini and simmer for another 5 minutes. Finally add the salmon and heat through. Taste and adjust with more salt if needed.

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Serve steaming bowls of this spicy salmon chowder topped with cheddar cheese and to the side a square of fresh baked cornbread or this millet bread, which is one of our favorites.

Tips:
*Feel free to get creative with the veggies in this soup and use what you have on hand. Asparagus, mushrooms, or poblano peppers all sound like they would make amazing additions to this soup.
**Also, almond milk is optional. You can use whatever milk choice that you prefer. A can of evaporated milk is decadent if you are feeling a little naughty. 🙂
***If you like REALLY spicy try adding another serrano or two. Taste your serrano while you are cooking so you know exactly the amount of heat that it will put out.

When the weather turns chilly what soup is simmering on your stove? What soup do you order out, but never make at home?
When the weather bites at my bones I’ll usually put on a pot of tomato and basil soup, or my Mom’s lentil soup.
I make a lot of different kinds of soup so the second question is a hard one, but I would have to say miso soup. I love it, I just never have miso on hand. It’s not a staple ingredient here in Mexico.

I hope you’ll try the salmon chowder, if you do let me know what you think!
And cheers to fall, cooler weather, and the start to holiday season!

Liesl

Fitness & Eats – 9.22

I cannot believe that there is only one full week left in September. Time is a flyin’. Fall is really here, and brisk weather is starting to rear it’s head, are you ready? Sweaters, boots, cords, peacoats, ah…I don’t own a single one of those things anymore. Wait, I have one sweater, and I’ll probably wear it approximately 3 times this year. Ah…Mexico.

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This is a picture of our casa…the cosmos that seeded themselves are still blooming everywhere. Along with our morning glories, and moon flowers.

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And a thank you to hurricane Manuel, for keeping our creek flowing.

Fall is the season I miss the most though, now that we live in the land of no seasons. And while people tend to think that spring is the season of new beginnings, I like to think of fall as the season of beginning to truly cement our healthy habits of fitness and healthy eating that will carry us into the holiday season when it’s often hard to stay on track.

So, with one week left to go, let’s make the rest of September sensational! Which for me starts with planning…here’s what’s on my menu this week:

Meal Ideas:

Pumpkin Chili & Cornbread
Maple Winter Squash Salad w/ toasted pecans
Veggie Frittata
Simple Thai Style Curry
Homemade Tomato Soup & Cheese Toast
Tuna, Tomato, & Kalamata Olive Pasta

For breakfast I ground some 7-grain cereal to cook up with almond milk and cinnamon, and I’m also hoping to get this tasty baked oatmeal back into the rotation this week. I was also able to buy eggs, yeah for the veggie truck comin’ to town, so those will be making an appearance as well probably with some fresh toasted bread. mmmmmm….I’m making myself hungry.

Tentative Fitness:
Monday – Run day (steady end w/sprints) + Chest & Back Circuit
Tuesday – 6s Leg Burner w/core bonus round
Wednesday – Run day (steady state) + Upper Body HIIT
Thursday – This full body workout
Friday – Run (HIIT intervals) + 15 Minute workout
Saturday – NEW Tabata Workout!
Sunday – yoga, stretching

How do you plan to make the last week of September sensational?

Fit Focus: 5 Favorite Home Workouts

While I haven’t always been a “home workout” kinda gal, my life has led me to a place where home workouts are my only option for getting my daily sweat on. Which I have found is often necessary for my sanity. 🙂

Actually, I used to be quite the gym junkie in college, granted I was coaching gymnastics for the YMCA at that time and an additional benefit to my weekly paycheck was a free membership to the Y with all of its’  facilities, and classes. It was glorious…because as you know, gym memberships are stinkin’ expensive.

Of course, there are many benefits to becoming a part of the “gym-going” crowd. The atmosphere of encouragement and camaraderie in the gym is really fun, plus there is all sorts of equipment that I’ll just never have at home. So, by no means am I bashing gyms, if there was one in our beautiful pueblo, I’d join. 🙂

But, since there isn’t I’ve learned that you can do some killer, body changing,  workouts in your own living room, or kitchen in my case, and the more you try home workouts the more you learn about all the options that you actually do have. And most importantly you don’t need a gym to stay healthy and in shape.

With that in mind…I thought I would use this Friday to share Five Favorite Home Workouts that make regular appearances in my fitness routine. And check out my Fitness/Workouts page for more ideas!

31 In 31 Workout
Quick, sweaty, total body tabata that will whip you into shape in just 31 minutes.

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Sweaty Bodyweight Workout
Full body, bodyweight workout in about 30 minutes. Great workout to try while traveling, no equipment required.

Bodyweight Workout 1.bmp

Cardio + Strength Home Workout
One of my favorite traveling workouts. You can use a heavy back pack or water bottle to do all the resistance exercises!

Cardio & Strength Home Circuit

Upper Body HIIT
Fantastic full upper body workout. You can also split it into two circuits, saving biceps and triceps for another day.

Upper Body Strength HIIT

10 Minute Plank Workout
A quick workout you can do anywhere to target your core and raise your heart rate.
There are no excuses not to try this one. 🙂

Plank it Out - Core Burner

Do you prefer working out at home or in the gym? 

What is your go to home workout? 

Happy Weekend!!!

Liesl