Finish February Fit Challenge – 4th & Final Week

Hey, it’s Saturday and I am writing this weekend post from Albuquerque, NM where Pete and I are spending a few days as a late anniversary trip.image

I’ve been hittin up all my favorite places, which is super fun when you are buying groceries for the next 6 months. It’s easier to justify buying one of everything…well, maybe not, exactly, but I’m doing a shout out for Trader Joes, and Sprouts Market. Supplying my pantry one 5 mile long receipt at a time. 🙂 Funny…but true.

Also I’ve been eating my bodyweight in hummus and berries, drinking lots of yummy coffee, working out at a new gym (woot for guest passes) and enjoying some together time with the hubby, which is always awesome.image

And freezing my bootay off! Who knew Albuquerque was cold! This WI girl has truly turned beach babe forever.

Oh…and firsts:
I could have won a pair of free jeans at AE just for trying them on…but alas, we are like the only people in this country without a smart phone, so I couldn’t text the coupon code to the # to see if I won. Fail.

I drank kombucha with chia seeds in it…holy yum. I’m definitely doing that at home.

Had our order taken at a restaurant on a tablet…I know, welcome to the first century Liesl.

And we ate lunch everyday in our truck. Cheese, crackers, hummus and veg! Yep…we are classy like that.image

Anyways, it’s been a fun time, and I hope you’ve had a great week too.

How did your workouts go? Bodyweight…what did you think? Did you try my Burn IT workout? Feedback?

Well, it’s week 4, hard to believe that February is almost over. I’ll be traveling more this week, and working on paperwork, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to Finish February Fit!

This week is all about staying consistent with your workouts, plus adding a bonus strength sesh to each day to really get you feeling your very best as you move into spring. So…ready to hit this last week hard with me?!

Week 4’s Challenge – 100s! image

This week’s challenge is simple:
Do – 100 squats
100 pushups
100 situps or v-ups
100 count plank hold
Every single day, in addition to your normal workout routine.

Some things to remember:
* You do not have to do all 100 reps at once, consecutively. You can break them up however you like, and do them throughout your day. I like 4 sets of 25.
* Make sure you are using proper form as you do each exercise, they are not meant to be done quickly.
* If you get sick of regular pushups or squats, mix it up! Try plie squats, or some wall squats, or one of these pushup variations.
* Have fun with it!!

You’ve done an amazing job this month and you should be really proud of yourself. This week I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about your fitness potential, and about yourself in general. I’d love to hear about gains you’ve made, or set backs you’ve had. And what you’ve liked or disliked about the challenges.

This blog, Fitness in the Kitchen, is for you guys. Free tips, exercise routines, and healthy recipes that encourage me to be creative and to keep things fresh, however, it is my hope that they also encourage you to live a healthier lifestyle. 🙂 So…let me know what’d you’d like to see more of in the future. I love your feedback.

Thanks for reading, and stay strong this week, I’ll be pounding out those 100s with you!

~ Liesl

Rockin’ Raw Chia Seed Bars

You guys, I am excited about these bars. Like really excited.

I’ve made them twice now, and they are serious business. As in a snack that doesn’t quit. You know how sometimes you grab a snack, and it’s healthy and balanced, and no doubt it will keep you full until your next meal rolls around. And then you are hungry…like ridiculously hungry 15 minutes later. Not with these chia bars.

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The other day I ate one around 11am, planning to have lunch around 12:30pm, and I didn’t end up being able to eat until 2pm and I did not even notice. Yeah. It was like that. These raw chia bars are like an incredible protein packed bar, that you can make in 5 minutes at home. You’d pay $3 for one of these in a health food store. I suggested you head to the kitchen and make a batch right now.

Rockin’ Raw Chia Seed Bars

2/3 c chia seeds
2/3 c pumpkin seeds, raw
1 scoop protein powder, vanilla (I used pea protein, and also hemp both were good)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c ground flax seed
2 Tbsp raw creamy almond butter
2 Tbsp applesauce, unsweetened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c almond milk, unsweetened
1/3 c dried bing cherries
1 T. raw honey (optional…if you’d like them a little sweeter)

Combine the chia, pumpkin seeds, protein powder, cinnamon, ground flax, and dried cherries in a medium bowl. Stir together.

Add the almond butter, applesauce, vanilla, and honey if using. Mix until combined; your mixture will be very lumpy. Then add the almond milk and stir until incorporated.

Line a 8×8 baking dish with wax or parchment paper. Press your chia bar dough into the bottom of the pan making sure it is evenly spread so the thickness of your bars is uniform.

Put the pan in the refrigerator for several hours until firm. Then lift the paper out of the baking dish onto a cutting board, and using a large knife cut the chia bars into 12 squares.

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Store in the refrigerator for a grab and go, filling, nutritious snack!

**Tip for chia newbies: If you haven’t eaten chia seeds at all or much before, they do have a “different” texture, so if something seems off, it may just be that. And of course these are raw bars, so they may just take a little getting used to…but they are so worth it.

And in case you are curious, (I was), these raw chia bars clock in nutritionally @ 180 calories, 12g fat, 11g protein, and just 3g of sugar per bar. Yeah, awesome…like I said.

If you try them let me know what you thought!

What snack keeps you going until the next meal without mindless noshing?

Enjoy!

~ Liesl

“My Superfoods” – Chia Seeds

Many of you write to me, usually after I post a recipe, asking about some of the “not so common” ingredients that I use.

So I thought, why not do a series of posts on some of “my” superfoods. Superfood is a label given to a lot of different foods that pack a nutritional punch, but in my opinion I have certain foods that I have incorporated into my diet for personal reasons so that makes those foods, my superfoods! 🙂 And, to be honest it could get quite costly for me to just go out and buy anything with the label “superfood” so I’ve done my research and use on a daily basis the foods I’ll be writing about. I believe in the nutritional properties of these foods and love how they make me feel.

Should we get started?

Today I gonna ramble a bit about CHIA SEEDS.

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In the right of the photo, that is a tbsp of chia seeds.

What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are an ancient superfood and were once a daily staple among the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca cultures. In fact, the word chia means “strength” in Mayan and the seeds were used by the these cultures as sustenance for messengers who would go on long running missions, or by soldiers in battle.
Today many endurance athletes tout the power of chia seeds for endurance training.

These little black and white seeds are very small, and closely resemble poppy seeds. According to naturalnews.com chia seeds are actual part of the sage family.

Why should I eat chia seeds?

Chia seeds are little nutritional powerhouses. Seriously.
Here are some of their benefits:
– chia seeds are naturally gluten free and more easily digestible than flax seed
– they contain 5g of dietary fiber in just one tablespoon, more antioxidants than blueberries, and more iron than spinach
– chia seeds are a complete protein with all the essential amino acids
– they contain 5xs more calcium than milk, and 7xs more vitamin C than an orange
– these little seeds are chock full of omega -3 and omega- 6  which are essential fatty acids for our bodies
– chia seeds have water absorbing qualities and can help keep you hydrated and bulk up the food you eat with volume and nutrition, not calories
– 
Chia slows the impact of sugars on your system, if eaten together. Chia gel (made with chia & water) creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, which slows the conversion of carbs into sugar. This is fantastic news for diabetics, and could possibly help in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Now to get up close and personal…when you add chia seeds to your food the chia bulks up and sweeps through your digestive tract helping to clean up old waste and clear out your intestines. And who doesn’t want to poop better? I thought so. 🙂 

What do you think? Are you convinced yet?

How do I incorporate chia into my diet?

There are many ways to make chia part of your daily noshing since you can pretty much use it how you would use any other seed sprinkled on top of salads, soups, smoothies, etc. However, I thought I would share a few of the simple ways that I use chia in my kitchen.

1.) As an egg replacer – Chia seeds mixed with water make a great egg replacer, for when you are out of eggs, or you have a vegan guest. Combine 1 Tbsp. of chia seeds  with 3 Tbsp. of water. Set aside for about 10-15 minutes. The chia will absorb the water and form a gelatinous consistency just like that of an egg.

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2.) My morning oatmeal – when I make my morning oatmeal I usually add 2 Tbsp. of chia seeds right into the pot. It gives the oatmeal volume, keeps the hubby full until lunch, and gives us both an extra shot of protein, essential fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and iron. WOOT!
3.) Overnight oats – check out this recipe for overnight oatmeal, it is delicious, and nutritious.

4.) In Smoothies – I like to add a few tbsps of chia to our morning smoothies, just put them in the blender with all your other ingredients and blend. I think this is the best way for beginners to start incorporating chia seeds, as the gelatinous texture that naturally occurs with chia & liquid doesn’t appear in a smoothie because the chia gets blended up with everything else. For an added nutritional bonus sprinkle some on top.

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5.) Granola – often when I make granola I toss a 1/4-1/2 cup chia seeds into the mix. Baked with all the other ingredients they take on a yummy, crunchy texture.
6.) In baking – chia seeds are fun to add to muffin recipes, scones, cookies, cakes etc…and to me, almost resemble poppy seeds in texture.

Where do I buy chia & how much does it cost?

I buy my chia seeds online here. If you buy the 5lb. bag it comes out to about $9/lb. + shipping, which is a good price, and I don’t have a whole lot of other options. 🙂

Yes…it is true that a lot of chia comes from Mexico, and I live in Mexico. They sell chia here, and about 2 years ago it was a screaming deal…about $4/kilo (2.2lbs). I know right, I should have stocked up then. Recently I don’t know who spilled the beans, but they must have found out how much chia was going for up north, and the price spiked like crazy, and now it is very comprable to how much chia would cost in a health food store in the states.

Chia Recipes to try:

Writing this post made me want to get even more creative with chia, so I did some recipe research, these all look SO good:

Cinnamon Banana Chia Seed Pudding

Watermelon Strawberry Chia Cooler

Happy Crackers

Grain Free Pumpkin Bread

Green Dip w/ Feta

Chia Protein Oat Bran (forgot how much I LOVE oat bran)

Mushroom & Chia Soup

ALSO I created a fall-inspired Pumpkin Spice Latte Chia Pudding that we enjoyed for breakfast this morning. I need to make a few tweaks to the recipe, but I’ll be posting it next week. 🙂

Are you ready to try chia seeds? Or is all this just sounding a little weird? If you are familiar with chia, what is your favorite use? 

Cheers to new “chiadventures!” (I know chees-er)

Liesl