Healthy Sweet Potato Stew

sweet potato stew

This healthy sweet potato stew recipe must be good, because it’s adapted from a fitness magazine–and my family still likes it!  At my house, the comfort foods come out as soon as the fall chill hits the air.  But these aren’t just any comfort foods.  They’re cleaned up, but with that great hearty taste my family wants.  This stew is a perfect example.  Bonus:  It’s also pretty easy to make.

(serves 4)

1 pound lean trimmed stew meat

1/2 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 tsp minced garlic

2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp

1/2 packet stevia

2/3 cup sweet potato, peeled and diced (I’ve used more)

1/2 cup chopped green string beans

1/4 cup carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (I’ve used baby carrots)

1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced

1/2 tbsp dried mushrooms (I’ve used sliced fresh, sautéed)

1 tbsp whole-wheat flour (optional)

Salt and pepper

Coat large pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat.  Sprinkle stew meat with salt and pepper and sear all sides, then reduce heat to low.  Add beef broth, onions, Worcestershire sauce, and all spices.  Stir gently to coat.  Cover pan and let simmer for 90 minutes.

Thinly slice celery and carrots; cut beans into bite-size pieces; peel and cube sweet potato.  Stir in all veggies, then cover and let cook on medium-low (simmer) for an additional 40 minutes.

If desired, thicken stew by adding a tablespoon of whole-wheat flour whisked together with a small amount of water.

Nutrition facts (per serving):

220 calories, 23 g protein, 18 g carbs, 6 g fat, 4 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar, 611 mg sodium

Healthy Peanut Butter Blender Mini Muffins

healthy easy peanut butter muffins

No sugar, no oil, no flour–so easy!

Put some peanut butter and a few other ingredients in a blender and 15 minutes later you have a delicious, healthy muffin.  It’s astounding how easy these muffins are to make!  Equally impressive–how delicious they are.  No refined sugar, flour or oil but tons of gooey flavor, all at under 100 calories.  FYI, omitting the chocolate chips reduces them to 66 calories.

Here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare mini muffin pans by spraying well with cooking spray.

Add 1 ripe banana, 1 egg, 1/2 C. peanut butter, 2 Tbs. honey (agave or maple syrup also work), 1 Tbs. vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp baking soda and a pinch of salt to your blender and blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

Add 1/2 C. semi sweet chocolate chips (if desired) and STIR BY HAND.  Place batter into prepared pans 3/4 full and bake for 8-9 minutes.

You may want to make a double batch–These little buggers go fast!

 

 

A Shamrock Shake, The Healthy Way

I post this every year around St. Patty’s day because…well…It’s an awesome recipe!  Who says you have to down a whole meal’s worth of calories to indulge!?!  Try it and enjoy.

healthy shamrock shake

 

Did you know that a small McDonald’s Shamrock Shake has 530 calories and 73 grams of sugar in it?  Yikes!  Here’s a healthier, tasty, additive, dye and chemical-ingredient-free alternative… Continue reading

The 20-Minute Full-Body Circuit Workout

 

ICPNo gym membership?  No equipment?  No problem!  If you have 20 to 30 minutes (dumbbells optional), you can do this very effective, full-body circuit workout!

If you’re relatively new to exercise or strength training, forgo the dumbbells.  If you’re at an intermediate to advanced level of fitness, at least five pound dumbbells are recommended.  Perform each exercise for 30 to 60 seconds, resting in between each move no more than 10 seconds.  Perform the circuit two to four times through, resting for two minutes in between each set.

 

  1. Squats: With your feet hip-width apart and holding medium to heavy dumbbells at your shoulders, bend your knees into a squat. Keep your back straight, your chest up and your shoulders back.  Return to standing.

Modifications:  Don’t use weights and don’t squat down as far.

OR

Jump squats:  Lower into a squat, extending your arms straight in front of you.  On the way back up, push off your feet into a hop, swinging your arms back and behind you.  Land toward the front of your feet, not your heels.

  1. Push-Ups: Start in a plank position. Your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are in one line and your core is activated so that you have a flat back, pushing through your heels to create length in your body. As you take an inhalation, lower your chest towards the floor. On exhalation, push your chest back up to the starting position.

Modification:  Perform on your knees with your hips lowered and aligned with your body.

  1. Split Squats: Holding a medium dumbbell in each hand, start by standing with one foot forward, and the other foot back. Bend both knees. The thigh of your front leg and the shin of your rear leg should be parallel to the floor. The knee of your rear leg should be almost touching the floor. Keep your front knee behind your front toe. Return to standing. Do 10 reps on one side, then switch for 10 on the other side.  Keep switching until your interval is finished.

Modifications:  Don’t use weights and don’t squat down as far.

  1. Chair Triceps Dips: Place your palms behind you on the seat of a sturdy chair with your knees bent and feet on the floor. To begin, lift your hips off the chair.  Slowly and gently bend your elbows and lower your body down in front of the chair. Keep your elbows facing the back of the room. Extend your arms and repeat.
  2. Sumo Squats: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointed outward.  Hold two medium dumbbells in front of you at chest level.  Keeping your tailbone tucked under, lower into a squat position with your knees tracking your toes.  Return to standing.

Modifications:  Don’t use weights and don’t squat down as far.

  1. Reverse Plank: Start in a seated position on the floor with your legs together and extended in front. Place your hands under your shoulders with your fingertips pointing in front of you. Lift your hips off the ground until your body is straight. 
  2. Wall Sit: Lean against a wall in “chair” position with your knees bent and your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible.
  1. Straight-Arm Plank: Keep your torso rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.  Your palms should be directly underneath your shoulders.

Modification:  Perform on your knees with your hips lowered and aligned with your body.

No time to make dinner for the family? Start here.

roasted sweet potatoes

According to study from the CDC, one third of all children eat fast food, every day.

Let’s make getting healthy, delicious food on the table for our kids a priority.  Cooking at home is possible, even when our lives our crazy.  Have them help you prepare it.  It just takes a little advance planning.  They are worth it, and so are you.

Do your kids swear they hate veggies?  They can taste delicious, really!  It’s all in how you cook them.  Keep experimenting, and don’t give in.  The earlier you start them on healthy eating habits, the easier the whole process is.

Take advantage of fall’s wonderful, colorful, nutritious root vegetables while they are still in season–Try oven-roasting root veggies.  Dice them up, add a few ingredients, and throw them in the oven, and that’s it!  You’ll be amazed at how good they taste!

Start out with sweet potatoes!  And, you won’t need butter, brown sugar or syrup to get that sweet, melt-in-your-mouth flavor.  Here’s my favorite way to do them:

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Peel and dice 2-3 sweet potatoes or yams (this, seriously, is the hardest part!).  Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet.  Drizzle with a couple tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and turn to coat.  Drizzle with a small amount of honey or agave nectar.  Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon.  Roast until edges are browned, turning over half way through.

It’s impressive how nutritious this dish is.  A medium sized sweet potato contains more than your daily requirement of vitamin A, nearly a third the vitamin C you need, almost 15 percent of your daily dietary fiber intake and 10 percent of the necessary potassium.  Not to mention, sweet potatoes contain an abundance of antioxidants and anti-imflammatory properties.  Plus, studies show that cinnamon and honey provide a variety of health benefits from insulin regulation (cinnamon) to disease prevention (honey).

For other healthy recipes to try with the whole family, check out these other posts:

http://equilibriumfitness.me/2013/04/24/healthy-quick-dinners-the-whole-family-will-eat/

http://equilibriumfitness.me/2015/03/26/a-super-quick-homemade-dinner-for-a-crazy-weekday-night/

http://equilibriumfitness.me/2013/10/21/healthy-sweet-potato-stew/

http://equilibriumfitness.me/2013/03/21/easy-healthy-turkey-chili/

Awesome Abs: 5 Of the Best Crunch-less Moves

no-crunch abs workout

Descriptions and photos of these moves below!

 

Do you faithfully perform crunches, hoping to achieve a flat tummy? It may be time to mix it up a bit! Research shows that crunches are one of the worst abdominal moves in terms of how hard the obliques and rectus abdominus are worked.  The crunch only affects a small part of the core, repeatedly bends the spine, and burns few calories.  Try this no-crunch abs workout instead. Continue reading

The 20-Minute Fat-Torching Workout

                                                                                   *my workout was originally published on fitnessgoals.com.

If you don’t have the luxury of spending hours in the gym, here’s some good news…You don’t have to.

 

Research shows that high-intensity intervals of strength and/or cardio training burn just as much, and in some cases, more fat–in less time.

The following moves are extremely efficient.  Compound exercises allow you to keep your heart rate revved, firm up and burn mega fat all at once.  Intense workouts like this one will jack up your metabolism so that you’ll continue to burn calories for hours after your workout.

For maximum results, add cardio to this circuit.  Do two to four minutes of jogging, jumping jacks, jump ropes, or another cardio exercise between each of these moves.

Perform this circuit two to four times, resting one to two minutes in between.

 

squat to overhead press

Squat to Overhead Press

  1. Begin in a standing position.  Holding two medium dumbbells at your shoulders, with your feet hip-width apart, squat and return to standing.
  2. Once in standing position, extend your arms overhead and back to your shoulders.
  3. Repeat this sequence for 10 to 15 reps.

lunge with biceps curl

Lunge with Bicep Curl

  1. Holding light to medium dumbbells, extend your right leg, lunging forward.  Make sure your knee does not extend past your toe.  Simultaneously, keeping your arms close to your sides and elbows back by your ribcage, curl your arms up.
  2. As you return to standing, pushing off your front heel and extend your arms back to your sides.
  3. Do this 10 to 12 times, then repeat on the opposite leg.

static wall squat with lateral arm press

Static Wall Squat with Lateral Arm Raise

  1. Lean against a wall in “chair” position with your knees bent, holding two light dumbbells at your sides.  Bring your thighs as parallel to the floor as you can.  Keeping your arms fully extended, slowly raise them to shoulder level.
  2. Lower your arms slowly back to starting position.
  3. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

pile squat to triceps extension

Plie Squat with Triceps Extension

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointed outward.  Hold two light to medium dumbbells behind your head with your arms bent and elbows up.  Lower into a plie squat position and return to standing.
  2. Once in standing position, extend your arms up over your head, making sure to keep your upper arms still, not letting them drop in front of your face.  Bend your arms again to starting position.
  3. Repeat this sequence 10 to 15x.

Plank to push-up

Plank to Push-up

  1. Assume a plank position, keeping your abs tight and body straight and aligned.  Stay in this position for 10 seconds.
  2. Staying in this position or moving to your knees (but keeping your hips down), perform 10 push-ups.
  3. Return to plank position and repeat this sequence 2 to 3 times.

one legged bent over row

One Legged Bent Over Row

  1. Holding medium to heavy dumbbells, hinge forward at the waist, keeping your abs tight, shoulders back and back straight.  Let your arms extend to the floor.  Extend your left leg in the air behind you.
  2. Maintaining this position, bring your arms up, raising your elbows as high as they will go, and keeping them close to your sides.  Pause for a second, and return to starting position.
  3. Repeat for 10 reps, then do the same exercise with the opposite leg lifted.

 

Model: Shelby Elmore, NASM-CPT

Photography: Darian Simon-Toliver