Category: Recipes

Collagen for a Stronger, Healthier Body – Guest Post!

There’s a pretty big buzz around collagen supplements and gelatin in the nutrition industry these days. Collagen is touted as beneficial for hair, skin and nails, excellent for digestion and its gut healing properties.

Collagen supplements can also be vital in maintaining optimal performance ability for athletes. Over time our bodies naturally begin to lose collagen, we begin to have aches and pains in places we are constantly putting pressure on, no matter how careful we are or how perfect our form is. Shoulder, knee and joint pain can become all to familiar for many athletes.

I became an avid proponent of collagen supplementation because joint pain started to hit home directly.

My husband is one of those people who is just good at every sport or athletic event he attempts. He can just “do” sports. Its both amazing and slightly infuriating, as my personal athletic capabilities are…lacking. He has been a runner for as long as he can remember, and that’s his thing – he needs to run. I mean that in the sense that he loves it, but also he has to pass a PT test with a timed run every year for his job. He literally needs to run. After years of pounding pavement, his knees were on their way to being shot to sh*t.

About 5 years ago, we did some research and came across the benefits of collagen hydrolysate as a natural, traditionally used supplement to relieve joint pain. After a few weeks of consistent use, the pain he felt in his knees had diminished significantly and he was able to discontinue the other over the counter supplements he was taking to manage discomfort. We both felt better, had better skin, stronger nails and thicker hair. All around, a winner!

Collagen hydrolysate has a unique amino acid makeup that is extremely valuable for the body’s ability to replace synovial fluid found within joints to help rebuild and strengthen the cartilage. Three amino acids in particular (glycine, lysine and proline) are what makes collagen hydrolysate an ideal supplement, as they build connective tissue that promote cell growth within joints. Glycine is also a beneficial amino acid for athletes who are looking to maximize muscle growth. Glycine promotes the production of creatine and human growth hormone, helping to prevent deterioration of muscles. After all the hard work that goes into building that muscle in the first place, these benefits are key!


​Which collagen supplement to choose??

There are many types of collagen supplements on the market. We have used Great Lakes brand Collagen Hydrolysate and Gelatin for years. We’ve been very pleased with both the quality and consistency of their products. Collagen hydrolysate comes in a powder form and can be dissolved into both hot and cold substances. This type of collagen dissolves completely and has no flavor or any effect of the consistency of your food. It is perfect for mixing into coffee, tea, smoothies, oatmeal, soups, sauces, pancake and waffle batter – you get the idea! It really is super versatile and easy to fit into your daily nutrition regimen, has a 90% absorption rate and is fully absorbed into the body within 30 minutes.

​Gelatin is formed when collagen has been broken down and differs in that it needs to be dissolved in a hot liquid and gels when cooled. You know, Jello-O.  Gelatin provides the same benefits, but it is not as easily digested. Remember, everybody and every BODY is different. It is not very common for people to have problems digesting gelatin, but if you are prone to digestive issues, just be aware.

I listed many suggestions for using Collagen Hydrolysate above and I’ll leave you with one of our favorite gelatin recipes for Bulletproof Coffee Gummies. Each tablespoon of gelatin has about 11 g of protein making these an easy post-workout refuel or afternoon boost. Enjoy!

Bulletproof Coffee Gummies
6 oz. freshly brewed organic coffee (I recommend Mayorga brand)
1 tbsp. grassfed butter (like Kerrygold)
1/2 tbsp organic coconut oil or MCT oil
OPTIONAL ADD-INS: 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. tumeric, 1-2 tsp. raw honey for sweetness, if desired
3-4 tbsp (depending on preferred consistency) Great Lakes Brand Gelatin* (the red can!)

1. Add all ingredients to high speed blender, except gelatin, and blend until frothy.
2. Add gelatin and blend until fully incorporated
3. Pour immediately into molds and refrigerate for 20-30 mins until solid

If you have any questions about collagen supplements or using it effectively, feel free to email me!

Leah Harvey is an Air Force wife and mother of 2 girls. She is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant, completing her certification at American College of Healthcare Sciences in 2015. Shoot her an email at lharveychnc@gmail.com  and give her some love on Instagram (@lealoves3).

*Sources
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18416885

Taco Tuesday – 21 Day Fix Style!

Ok, it IS Wednesday but this post is to help you with ALL your upcoming Taco Tuesdays!

I polled some of my challengers for their favorite 21 Day Fix-friendly taco recipes and they are AMAZING!!

Add these options to your meal planning and taco nights, ASAP!

Your “reds” are easy – stick with lean options like ground turkey, chicken and beef.  Use the Fix taco blend!

Are you a “yellow” saver?  If you are good at saving up those yellows, choose whole wheat tortillas or brown rice for a taco bowl.  Otherwise, try some “alternative” yellows like cauliflower rice!  Season it up with lime and cilantro!

Other ways to get that crunch or carb-feeling are diced bell peppers at the base of your taco bowl or simply using lettuce leaves as your wraps!

We love to maximize that blue so save up your cheese and avocado on taco night! If you miss sour cream, add in some Greek yogurt or do a quick puree of avocado and Greek yogurt to make a smooth and creamy avocado sauce – add some lime juice, salt and cilantro for a little more flavor!
Taco night is also a great way to sneak in the veggies – if you use lettuce wraps or bell peppers, you are good to go!  Add in some tomatoes, onions, spinach or cabbage and boost up that taco!
We didn’t even touch on the options for fish tacos or explore the idea of homemade tortillas!  The possibilities are really endless!
How do YOU do Taco Tuesday??

Turkey Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

It was rainy and yuck on Monday morning so I decided that I would throw an old stand-by into the Crock Pot. 

And then, miraculously, the sun came out, it was warm and lovely and all of a sudden, Turkey Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili just didn’t seem like the right dinner.

At this point, I did what anyone would do….I asked my kindergartner what we should do with the ingredients.

And the little genius said “MAKE IT INTO A BURGER!!”

lessons

So, that’s what we did!

These burgers were delicious! I baked them to make sure they didn’t dry out but you could cook them in the pan or grill them!

IMG_0526
Turkey Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers
(aka Brixon’s Chili Burgers)
Makes 6-7 patties

Ingredients
16oz ground turkey
1 small/medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed (softened in microwave or baked briefly)
1 can black beans, lightly mashed with fork
4 slices turkey bacon, chopped (optional, but, bacon!)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
3. Form into patties and bake on lightly greased baking sheet for 18-22 minutes, flipping halfway.  Make sure internal temp has reached 165 degrees.

Enjoy!

The 21 Day Fix conversion is roughly 1 red and 1 yellow, with a calorie count of 180 calories per burger, if preparing 7 patties.

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Meal Prep in 30 Minutes

One thing that I absolutely rely on to stick with my meal plans and not be caught starving and staring aimlessly into the fridge is PREPPING!

Part of meal planning means thinking ahead, portioning out your staples so they are grab and eat (or grab and go, if you work out of the house).  The time spent on planning, prepping and portioning is time saved during the week!  


Sometimes, the prepping process can be long, especially if you are planning whole meals for the freezer.

But, I have four staples that I can prep and portion in 30 minutes!

First, I put 2-3 frozen or fresh chicken breasts right into my Crock Pot with olive oil and a little water to cover the bottom of the pot.  I toss in my favorite seasoning blends (I rotate between Mexican/Southwest flavors orclassic garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and parsley) and I let the chicken cook until I can shred it easily to use over salads or in wraps.
 
As soon the chicken is in, I put my eggs on the stove to hard boil them. I boil 6-8 at a time.  
Next up is the quinoa.  Rinse it and cook per the instructions.
 
While the eggs and quinoa are on the stove, I turn to my bell peppers.  I like to chop them so that I can throw them in salads and I leave a few slices for things like hummus.  These get portioned right into containers. My favorites containers are the Rubbermaid LunchBlox!
 
After the quinoa has cooled, I portion it into my containers and the excess in my smaller Lunch Blox.
 
This gives me 4 containers of chopped peppers and 4 containers of quinoa which equals 2 days of lunches for my husband and me to eat with the chicken!  By keeping the ingredients separate, I can have a little variety with how I choose to eat them.  The boiled eggs go with my husband to work and also into my kids’ lunches too.
 
Don’t forget to shred your chicken and portion it into your containers!  4oz is a typical serving of protein so if you have a scale, weigh it and divide up!
 
If you need more meal planning and prepping tips or want to join my next challenge group, email me!

 

What is Clean Eating?

You might be sick of hearing the phrase “clean eating” by now!!  But, I’ve found along this fitness and wellness journey, is that the key to my successful weight loss (and keeping it off) was and is not exercising religiously – it is all what I eat! I’ve been following the principles of clean eating (I actually prefer to call it conscious eating and I’ll more into that later) for almost 4 years now.

clean_eating_basics

But, what is clean or conscious eating?

Clean/conscious eating is eating food in its simplest form. Veg, fruit, nuts, “good” fats. Minimal processing, minimal ingredients, not a lot of added sugar. Cooking, prepping and planning more and eating out less, making boxed meals less, etc. You’ll also find that in a lot of cases, you’ll actually save money on certain things by making them yourself!

This change in thinking doesn’t happen overnight and it is best done literally one ingredient, household staple or recipe.

I need to stress that it is not healthy to obsess over the ingredients.  When you can choose “clean” – do it.  But things like breads and tortillas are hard to find with minimal ingredients simply because they need to stay fresh.  Pick the whole grain option, the less sugar added option, etc.  We don’t want your mindset swinging the other way to obsession. This is why I prefer the term “conscious eating” over “clean eating”….make the best choices when available, within your budget and time constraints, and you will still improve your health.

Live by the 80/20 rule and you can’t go wrong!  80% of the time choose healthy and 20% indulgences will create a nice balance and a great habit without obsessing or negative relationships with food.

But, will I lose weight just by eating “clean”?

The short answer? Possibly.  You’ll like stay fuller longer from fiber-rich food and quality proteins but you’ll still need to be eating the right amount of calories to create the deficit needed for weight loss. The hotly debated “Calories in, calories out” vs “all calories are not created equal” is a topic for another blog post.  That said, hopping on My Fitness Pal or a similar app and tracking your food (either briefly for an idea, or longer term) is a great way to find out if you are eating too much for your goals.

Related: How Many Calories Should I Be Eating?

If you would like to join my free clean eating group on Facebook, please email me and I can add you!  We share lots of recipes, do mini-challenges and offer tips on meal prep and planning too!

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Chicken Sausage Quinoa & Spinach Skillet

This recipe was an accident! A yummy chicken sausage, quinoa and spinach skillet came from a happy accident that was a direct result of some simple meal prep.

I had cooked off some Trader Joe’s Sundried Tomato Basil chicken sausages the day before as well as a big batch of quinoa for my husband to bring to work with his fajita chicken lettuce wraps.

If you are planning lunches at work, you can easily prep and portion this out and reheat it. I think this would be amazing cold too but I’m also a cold pizza person!

In a moment of creativity, I now have a new weekday lunch staple.  

Chicken Sausage, Quinoa & Spinach Skillet
(serves one)

1 chicken sausage, cooked and chopped
2 cups raw spinach
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1. Heat oil in small pan.
2. Add spinach and sauté for about a minute over medium heat.
3. Add cooked sausage and quinoa and cook for 1-2 minutes until spinach is cooked through and all ingredients are warm.

Note: The sausage is not 21 Day Fix friendly however if you subbed in ground turkey, it would still be great!

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Spicy Kale Chips – 21 Day Fix Friendly!

It took me a LONG time to get on the kale train.

I thought it was a hipster fad, a passing “superfood” craze.

And while I don’t run and sing its benefits from the hilltops or drink it in green smoothies, I do love making kale chips.


But literally only eat THIS version! If you like heat, this is the recipe for you!!  If you aren’t into spicy food, leave out the cayenne in this recipe.  Add more garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper for a non-spicy “everything” style kale chip.

Spicy Kale Chips
(makes one pan, enough for 1 person)

3-4 kale leaves 
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbs olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Tear kale leaves up, pulling off the larger stem towards the bottom, spreading in a single layer on the pan.  
3. Drizzle olive oil over the leaves.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the dry seasonings.
5. Spread over leaves and then use your hands to gently toss everything together, making sure the leaves are evenly coated.
6. Bake for 10 minutes and lightly flip them.  Bake another 5-8 minutes, depending on your oven. You want them baked and crispy (but not burnt). Undercooked kale chips will be chewy!

I make these so often that I usually just sprinkle the powders and eyeball the amounts; this is a very versatile recipe and you only need to be careful with the cayenne!

It is also 21 Day Fix friendly! Conversion is 1 green and 2 teaspoons (roughly).

Enjoy!

21 Day Fix Guilt Free Guacamole

I confess, guacamole is a comfort food for me!  I LOVE IT.

I also have a hard time keeping to a reasonable portion size because while it isn’t a “junk” food, it can pack some calorie damage if you aren’t careful!


This guy also loves his guacamole – including this 21 Day Fix friendly option!



This is one of my go-to recipes for an easy guacamole craving, inspired by the Good Foods or Trader Joe’s versions of Greek yogurt guacamoles.




21 Day Fix Guilt Free Guacamole

1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup avocado
1/4 cup pico de gallo

Mash the avocado, then mix in yogurt and pico de gallo.

This makes enough for a big snack!

21 Day Fix conversion: 1/2 red, 1 blue, 1/4 green

Note: If you use salsa with added sugar, it will be a purple instead of a green.

Enjoy!