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Recipe: Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken

I’m always on the lookout for easy, healthy and delicious meals to add to my rotation and in the winter months that often involves my crockpot!

This was my first try with this cilantro chicken recipe, and it turned out awesome!

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans - Cooked!

Recipe Details:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Crockpot Cooking Time: 6-8 hours on Low OR 5-6 hours on High
Serving Size: 1 cup
Serves 6-8

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans - Ingredients

Shopping List / Ingredients: 

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, thighs or breast
    (I find that chicken thighs don’t dry out as much as the breast in the slow cooker)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1, 15-ounce can black beans
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Siracha sauce (optional, if you like it spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

Directions: 

To eat it today: Combine all ingredients except cilantro in the slow cooker and cook it on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.

To prepare for the freezer:  Chop up all the ingredients (except cilantro) and place them into a ziploc bag and freeze it for an easy meal option at a later date.

When you’re ready to cook it, take it out of the freezer, run warm water over the bag to separate it from the frozen food, and place frozen ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans

How to Serve Cilantro Lime Chicken:  

Stir in 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro before serving.

Add to tacos, burritos, taco salad, nachos, or make burrito bowls with it. Or just add it to your meals as a side dish. It’s very flexible.

In the photo below I’ve made huevos rancheros with my crockpot cilantro lime chicken for breakfast – DELICIOUS!

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans - Huevos Rancheros

Do you have a crockpot recipe to share? Post it in the comments below!

Recipe: Apple Butternut Squash Soup

I’m a HUGE soup lover, so I thought I would give this delicious looking apple butternut squash soup a try with the surplus of apples I picked from my parents’ trees. I had a fairly small butternut squash to work with, so I cut the recipe in half – an average squash should be fine with the full ingredient amounts.

Apple Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Apple Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Total Time: 1 hr.
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cooking Time: 50 min.
Equipment: Blender, large saucepan
Yield: 8 servings

Shopping List:

  • 4 lbs. butternut squash
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 medium apples, peeled and chopped
    (Tip: Use the apples of your choice, a more sour apple will help reduce sweetness of the soup.)
  • 4 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
  • 1 thin slice fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped
    (Tip: I keep my ginger in the freezer, it helps it last longer and makes it super easy to cut into very thin slices.)
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
    (Tip: if you have lactose intolerance, use almond milk instead.)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground white pepper
  • Optional: Cilantro to garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
    Apple Butternut Squash Soup Recipe - Squash cut in half
  3. Cover squash halves with foil and place them on a baking pan cut sides up. Bake until tender (about 45-50 minutes). Set aside.
    Apple Butternut Squash Soup Recipe - foiled butternut squash
  4. While your squash is in the oven, add oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  5. Add chopped onion; cook, stirring frequently until tender (maybe 3-4 minutes).
  6. Add apples, broth, ginger, and nutmeg and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until apples are tender (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat.
  7. Pour the apple mixture into the blender (in batches, if necessary). Blend until smooth. Return apple mixture to saucepan.
    Apple Butternut Squash Soup Recipe - Blended apple mixture
  8. Take the squash out of the oven and scoop the flesh out into the blender, add milk (or almond milk in my case) and blend until smooth.
    Apple Butternut Squash Soup Recipe - baked squashApple Butternut Squash Soup Recipe - Blended squash
  9. Add blended squash to the apple mixture in the saucepan and add salt, and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil over low heat, stirring frequently.
  10. Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with fresh apple chunks and cilantro.

Apple Butternut Squash Soup

If you liked this apple butternut squash soup recipe, share the love with a pin, a like, a pic or a comment below!

Creating My Own Momentum

[This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7]

I’ve been working at my Beachbody coaching business for a little over two months now. I’m still learning the ropes and figuring out where my momentum is going to come from, but there a couple of things that I know will make a big difference by committing 45-60 minutes every day for the next 30 days. I’m taking Natalie’s advice to take this on for 30 days as a personal challenge!

This time commitment will be shared by two tasks:

Daily Beachbody Workouts

In order for people to truly understand what I do is and the true benefits of it, they need to see the program in action. Over the past couple of weeks, I have substituted other outdoor activities (hiking, running, etc.) for my daily workouts at least 2 or 3 times a week. My commitment is to do a Beachbody workout every single day for the next 30 days. There are so many options, from yoga to bootcamp to extra ab workouts – I have no excuse to not get a workout in everyday.

Daily Personal Development

think-and-grow-rich-napoleon-hillPersonal development plays such a great part in transformation and growth. It is something that Beachbody encourages over and above all else. Always be learning. Always be developing yourself.

I have read bits and pieces from Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich,” and I have heard great reviews about this book, but I have never read it cover to cover. This will be the first personal development book I tackle and will read from start to finish.

The Compound Effect is another book I’ve heard is worth checking out. If you know of any inspiring books that I should add to my list, I would love your recommendations in the comments below.

There are Still a Few Days Left to Join the Blog Challenge!

I have found this 10 Day Blog Challenge to be a fantastic exercise to help me get back into a habit of writing everyday, as well as to explore where my personal road blocks are.

Do you have road blocks of your own that are stopping you from living your dream life? There’s still time to join this Blog Challenge! *Click* the image below to join!

Join Natalie Sisson's 10 Day Blog Challenge

 

5-Day FREE Clean Eating Challenge – Starts September 19

Announcing my F R E E Clean Eating Challenge, starting Sept 19!

After a summer of patio and BBQ spoils, I’m sure we all have a little maintenance to do on our eating habits. I know I do! So I’m hosting another 5-day clean eating challenge to help you get back on track.

Free Clean Eating Challenge, Starts September 19

 

This 5-Day Clean Eating Challenge Includes:

  • The Basics of Clean Eating
  • Free Meal Plan
  • Free Clean Grocery List
  • Free eBook of Clean & Delicious Recipes
  • Daily (optional) Mini Workout Challenge
  • Provide Support & Accountability
  • FUN & RESULTS!

Results From My Last Clean Eating Challenge Group:

  • “I feel great! I’ve lost weight, my clothes are feeling looser and I’m not craving not-so-clean foods.”

  • “So encouraging how the results show up so quickly!”

  • “This group has really motivated me to be more mindful and realize how great I feel when I am eating clean!”

It all starts on September 19th! Comment “I’m in!” below or message me if you want to join!

How I Learned to Eat Clean and Healthy

About a year and a half ago I went from working from home back to a full-time office job. It was a tough transition for both myself and my beastie. Going from choosing my own schedule and work times, with 2-hour mid-day hikes with Roxie to sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day was tough. I found myself snacking more and exercising less.

My healthy eating habits at home turned into convenience snacking on things like cookies, sugary granola bars and instant oatmeal packets for breakfast. My 2-hour mountain hikes with Roxie turned into quick hour-long fairly flat walks around Thetis Lake at the end of my day. It was a challenging transition and I found myself leaving my healthy habits behind me in exchange for making time for the commute into the office. I started to feel lazy and cooking easy nutrition-poor meals to save time. I felt gross.

Working from home vs working in an office

So my 2016 New Year’s resolution was to eat clean and healthy, cut down on the wine, and get fit. I joined a 12-week Lifestyle Challenge at my local gym to kickstart these new healthy habits. I was looking forward to the program, but was also a bit anxious about the hard work it was going to take to find my healthy self again. But once I got started, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get back into it!

Not having had any concept of the caloric value of anything, the program taught me about what was good and what was bad about my food choices. It taught me about high-value calories and empty calories. With a calorie limit of 1200 calories at the time, I just didn’t see the value of eating a 330 calorie bagel, only to be hungry again in a half hour, so I started choosing better, more valuable food options. But once I had grasped the concept of caloric value, I was not a fan of the calorie counting, which was a requirement of this lifestyle challenge. The app was a great teaching tool, but eventually entering every little thing I ate and drank into an iPhone app was tedious and annoying.

What I LOVE about the Beachbody program is that there is NO CALORIE COUNTING! Yay!! Instead of counting calories, Beachbody uses color-coded portioning containers. Each food group has its own color and depending on your fitness goals and daily caloric target, you are assigned a certain number of each container that you should eat everyday to reach your goals. Easy!

21-Day Fix Challenge - Portioning Containers
  • Red: protein
  • Green: vegetables
  • Purple: fruit
  • Yellow: carbs
  • Blue: healthy fats
  • Orange: nuts, seeds, oils & dressings

At first this freaked me out, because when I looked at the containers it didn’t look like it was going to be enough food and felt like I was going to be hungry all the time. But once I got started with my first 21-Day Challenge, I found it difficult to eat all of my assigned containers in a day! Now THIS is a system I can get on board with! No counting. No reading the packages for portion size. No wasting time entering food into an iPhone app! Just good plain healthy portioned food! YES!

The program also provides an eating plan with lists of healthy food choices in each color coded food group, which has made meal planning and shopping for ingredients so much easier than my usual, “I’ll just go to the grocery store and see what I find” method.

This meal plan combined with 30 minutes of exercise a day, plus Shakeology has made a huge difference for the better in my health, fitness and overall daily life. Our next 21-Day Challenge begins on July 25th. Message me if you’re curious to learn more or to join the group. Your future self will thank you for it!

10 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Avocado

Avocado has got to be one of my favorite fruits. I include it in my meals nearly everyday. I put it on salads, in smoothies, spread it on toast, put it on sandwiches, add it to wraps, or just eat it right out of the skin with a spoon!

But not only is avocado delicious, it’s also very good for you. If you don’t already include avocado in your regular diet, this list of health benefits might convince you to start adding it to your regular menu.

Why You Should Eat More Avocado

10 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Avocado:

  1.  Avocado Can Lower Cholesterol – The oleic acid in avocados helps to reduce cholesterol levels.
  2. Avocados are Loaded With Antioxidants – Antioxidants help prevent disease and have even been touted to help against cancer and Alzheimer disease.
  3. Eating Avocados May Help You Lose Weight – Avocado has been known to be a hunger-squasher – the fiber and healthy fats make you feel fuller for longer.
  4. Avocados Provide Healthy Fats – Not all fat is bad for you. Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fat, which it where you get most of your calories from the avocado. Monounsaturated fat helps lessen you LDL cholesterol, which is harmful to your body.
  5. Avocados Are Good For Your Heart – Avocados help with the absorption of carotenoids (beta-carotene and lycopene), which are essential for heart health. They are virtually the only fruit that contains monounsaturated fat, making them a heart-healthy diet choice.
  6. Avocados Are Packed With Vitamins – You will find vitamins B, K and E in avocados. Vitamin B helps you maintain a healthy skin tone and metabolism, vitamin K is instrumental in bone growth and density, while vitamin E is key for strong immunity and healthy skin and eyes.
  7. Avocados Are High in Fiber – Avocados provide 37% of the daily recommended amount of fiber. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps you with appetite control by making you feel full, while insoluble fiber is great for cleaning out you bowels.avocado selection
  8. Avocados Are Great During Pregnancy – On top of all the other benefits of avocados, they have been known to help with morning sickness and also help your baby’s brain and tissues grow. Plus, if you’re having trouble gaining weight during pregnancy, they are a great food to load up on thanks to the healthy fats.
  9. Avocados Are Potassium Rich – Avocados contain more potassium than bananas! Potassium helps lower blood pressure and is something that most people don’t get enough of in their diets, putting them at risk of stroke and heart problems.
  10. Avocados are DELICIOUS! – Seriously! If none of the above convinced you to add more avocados to your diet, maybe the deliciousness will! They are rich and fresh and squishy in your mouth and fit in with almost any meal.

How To Choose the Right Avocado

Avocados only ripen after they have been picked, this is why you will find that most stores and markets will have mostly hard, green avocados available in their produce section.

Because of this, you will most likely not be eating your avocado on the day you bring it home from the store. Leave it on the counter at room temperature (not in the fridge) until it ripens. You’ll know it’s ripe by the color – it will change to dark green, almost black – and becomes soft when you gently squeeze it. One trick that has been known to help an avocado ripen faster is to put it in a paper bag with a banana and place it in a dark cupboard. Try it and let me know how it goes in the comments.

 What’s your favorite way to eat more avocado?

11 Health Benefits of Coconut Water

Coconut oil has become all the rage these days. There are so many benefits and uses for this natural oil, some of which I will cover in a future post. Today I’m going to focus on another wonderful nectar that this delicious fruit provides: Coconut Water!

I first discovered coconut water while traveling in Bali a few of years ago, and then I rediscovered it in Costa Rica last fall. Toward the end of my trip, I would hunt down “Señor Coconut” on the beach to indulge in this delicious nectar on a daily basis. My favourite time to drink it would be after my morning beach workout as a reward for my hard work.

What I didn’t know then was that coconut water has many benefits beyond its refreshing deliciousness!

Fresh Bali Coconut

My very first fresh coconut in Bali. This man climbed the tree to pick it for me, lobbed the top off and handed it to me with a straw. So delicious!

11 Health Benefits of Coconut Water

  1. Hydration – Coconut water is rich in potassium and natural sugars that your body needs to rehydrate after rigorous exercise.  Sport drinks only carry half the amount of potassium and twice the amount of sugar compared to coconut water. So stop buying sport drinks and try this natural and more effective (and healthier!) alternative.
  2. Energy Booster – Rich in essential nutrients, coconut water makes a wonderful energy drink. Coconut water has less sugar and sodium content than energy drinks, and a high content of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium which helps hydrate and rejuvenate the body.
  3. Hangover Remedy – Thanks to it’s hydration properties, coconut water is a great remedy if you had one too many the night before. It also helps settle your stomach and replaces essential electrolytes for those extra rough hangovers that result in vomiting and dehydration. So before you reach for that caesar or redeye, give your body a break and start with a glass of coconut water!
    Me and My Coconut
  4. Muscle Cramps – You know how they say you should eat bananas to avoid cramps? Well if you’re not a banana fan, this is a perfect alternative. The high potassium content in coconut water helps to reduce muscle cramps caused by potassium deficiency.
  5. Weight Loss – Regular consumption of coconut water increases the metabolism rate which helps burn sugar much faster. As a result, the level of insulin in the body burns faster, causing more energy and fat burning. It also helps you feel full and reduces cravings.
  6. Stronger Bones – Coconut water is high in calcium, which we all need for stronger, healthier bones, muscles and tissue.
  7. Regulates Blood Pressure – It helps improve blood circulation, lowers blood pressure and reduces the chances of a heart attack or other cardio problems. Drink up!
  8. Skin Benefits – If you have problem skin, or you simply want to retain your skin’s youthfulness (who doesn’t?), apply coconut water on your face and leave it on overnight. Coconut water has shown to be effective against acne and acts as a toner for the skin. It also moisturizes your skin from within if you drink it regularly.
  9. Hair Conditioner – You know all those hair products that contain coconut oils and extracts? Well it’s not just to make it smell nice! It actually conditions the hair from within by penetrating the hair shaft. You can get these benefits by either consuming coconut water, or by washing your hair with it. It also promotes hair growth by protecting the scalp against dandruff, lice and itchy scalp, all of which can impede hair growth. And an added bonus: it gives your hair a beautiful healthy shine!
    coconut palm tree
  10. During Pregnancy – Doctors often recommend coconut water during pregnancy to help fight constipation, heart burn and slow digestion.  It helps to improve immunity and boosts the levels of amniotic fluid and improves the overall health of the foetus (and the mother).
  11. All Natural – The BEST part about coconut water is that it’s ALL NATURAL! There are no added artificial sugars, preservatives, colouring or other chemical ingredients that you want to avoid.

This is just a short list of the many benefits of this delicious natural nectar. Do your body a favour and try some coconut water today! You can drink it straight up or add it to a shake or smoothie. However you decide to ingest it, get it in ya!

Where to Buy Coconut Water

If you’re lucky enough to be living your dream (and mine) in the tropics, you will likely find a plethora of fresh coconut vendors around. If you are living your dream in a cooler, non-tropical place, bottled coconut water is available in most grocery stores and you can even have it delivered to your door by ordering online from Amazon. Many yoga studios stock it because of its health benefits and some gyms do as well. You may never have noticed it before, but it’s everywhere. Drink Up and Enjoy!

Do you drink coconut water? What benefits are you seeing? Please share in the comments below.

 

12 Natural Headache Remedies

I used to get really bad migraines. I remember the first time it happened. I was in the library doing research for a high-school paper when suddenly my hands went numb, I lost vision in one of my eyes and I completely forgot how to read. I saw the letters on the page but they made absolutely no sense. It freaked me right out! I went to the doctor and he told me that these were migraine symptoms. I was about 14 years old.

I don’t get migraines as often anymore, maybe twice a year, but I do still suffer from regular headaches. In fact, I’ve had one for the past 2 days now and I’m constantly looking for new things to try because I don’t like taking pills.

These are some of the things I’ve tried over the years and I’ve had some success with:

  1. Drink more water – Often headaches are a sign of dehydration. Make sure you drink enough water (at least 2 litres per dar) to avoid unnecessary headaches.
  2. Eat something – Your headache may be due to low blood sugar and simply eating some food may give you relief.
  3. Drink a cup of coffee – Coffee constricts the blood-vessel. I’m not a big coffee drinker (maybe a few cups per week), so this usually works well for me. I’ll drink a strong cup of black coffee and usually by the time I’m halfway down the cup, I’ll feel some relief. If you already drink a lot of coffee, it may not be as effective and it may actually make things worse with a caffeine headache.
  4. Acupuncture For HeadachesMassage Your Hand – Massage the meaty part of your hand between the thumb and forefinger. There are pressure points in this area that have been linked to headaches and headache relief. Massage with medium to hard pressure for several minutes and then switch hands.
  5. Acupuncture – Thin needles are inserted under the skin to realign the flow of energy, or qi, in the body. I have walked into an acupuncture treatment with a nasty headache and walked out with almost complete relief. Treatments can run anywhere from $60-$120, and may be covered by some extended benefit plans. I can recommend an amazing acupuncturist in Vancouver, feel free to contact me for his info.
  6.  Massage – Rub your temples, shoulders and neck to relieve tense muscles and get the blood flowing. If this doesn’t relieve the headache, it still feels nice!
  7. Yoga – The combination of stretching, meditation and breathing can help relieve your headache. I do Bikram’s yoga, which is hot yoga practiced in 40 degrees celsius and 50% humidity. I’ve had great success in leaving my headache in the room when I practice. If Bikram’s is uncomfortable for you, try another form of yoga.
  8. Pay Attention to and Identify Triggers – I have several headache triggers that I do my best to avoid. I’m very sensitive to smells (mostly certain perfumes and colognes) and can be sensitive to some foods as well. One of my triggers is Strawberry Kiwi Snapple. Even just one sip will be enough to trigger a headache.
  9. Ginger Tea for HeadachesTiger Balm – Rub Tiger Balm on your temples and along your hairline. The cooling properties will help relax the muscles in your head and neck. Tiger Balm is magic! (I never travel without it.) An alternative with similar benefits is peppermint oil.
  10. Ginger Tea – Buy fresh ginger at the grocery store, crush it up and mix it with boiling water to make tea. Ginger reduces inflammation and I’ve found that it can work just as quickly and effectively as Advil or Tylenol.
  11. Sleep – Your body may just need to rest. If you are suffering from a migraine, sometimes all you can do is find a dark room, turn off all the lights and try to sleep.
  12. Exercise Regularly – Being active regularly helps reduce the frequency of stress headaches. I make sure I exercise at least three times per week to stay healthy, fit, and hopefully headache free.

 Do you have any remedies to add? Please share in the comments below.

 

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Staying Fit While Traveling

Staying fit while traveling can be a challenge. It can be tough to get into a routine when your location changes often. While in Costa Rica I’m happy to say that I’ve been getting a workout in almost everyday. My favorite has been the beach workouts. I started doing them every morning while in Tamarindo, either with a local personal trainer or self-led HIIT workouts at the water’s edge.

For the personal training sessions, we used Nick Holt Fitness. We did several amazing TRX suspension training workouts with Nick. He tied the TRX to a tree, and with the jungle on one side and the ocean on the other the view was gorgeous, no matter which way we turned.

We worked out barefoot in the sand with the TRX and used a log for ground work and kettle bells for an added challenge. Nick pushed us HARD and our post-workout dip in the ocean was well deserved. I would recommend him to anyone who wants to maintain regular training while in Tamarindo and surrounding area.

Tamarindo Workout

While traveling around Costa Rica, I continued my beach workouts wherever possible. I would do a 35 minute HIIT workout with a different combination of exercises each time. With the heat and humidity I would do half my workout in the water. It was perfect!

What I love about the HIIT workouts is that you don’t need any equipment, and if you’re doing them on the beach, you don’t even need shoes! All you need is a timer of some kind and music to keep you moving. (I use my iPhone for both.)

All exercises are are completed using your body weight. Some examples of some would be:

  • Squats
  • Lunges (walking or stationary alternating or reverse)
  • Pushups
  • Lizard Crawls (these are fun when you do them on the beach when you see your lizard tracks in the sand)
  • Planks (do them in the water and let the waves pull the sand out from under you for added challenge)
  • Single Arm Alternating Planks
  • Site-ups / Crunches
  • V-sits
  • Burpees (the one everyone loves to hate)

I always include squats and planks in my workouts (cuz who doesn’t want a nice beach bum and killer abs?), and then I mix in a bunch of other exercises, depending on which are I want to focus on. I could add many more to the above list, but these are great if you’re just getting started with HIIT.

I drink a protein shake about an hour before I workout and I always ensure that I’m well hydrated. You should always make sure you drink plenty of water but if you’re traveling in the tropics this is especially important. In warmer climates your body loses a lot more water through sweating, so make sure you are drinking LOTS of water throughout the day. This will ensure that you are well hydrated for your workout as well as for general your health.

While in Costa Rica, I have had several days where I’ve missed my beach workouts, but those days are usually spent exploring which involves a lot of walking and/or hiking, so I get my exercise in other ways. When I returned from Central America I was so hooked on the TRX that I bought one to use at home and I love it!

Travel is no excuse to get lazy!

How do you stay fit while traveling? Please share in the comments below.

To give you a little taste of my workouts, this is my gym in Montezuma: