Dinner Menu: Sage Chicken Thighs, Brussels Sprouts, and Sweet Potato

What’s for dinner? Simple, delicious, and balanced is key for me; this menu does the trick. Brush some oil and spices onto chicken and bake it. While it’s baking, pan fry some Brussels sprouts, and microwave a sweet potato. Dinner is done! These three recipes as is will feed two people (if you bake two sweet potatoes). And one serving of everything for the whole meal is under 400 calories! That leaves plenty of room for another helping of chicken, or some dessert!

As a bonus, I will also blog about an easy post-dinner snack recipe that works perfectly with this meal: Brussels Sprout chips.  Reserve the clean Brussels sprout leaves, and the chicken drippings!

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Getting fit is a hike, not a sprint

Getting Fit isn't a Spring. It's a hike.  | Hold the Lemon

They say that getting fit is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. I’d like to propose that it’s more like a hike up a mountain.

When you first start, it seems insurmountable.  The task looms above you, and you can’t really know what’s on the other side. But you put one foot in front of the other and you go.  You move. You won’t do it in a day, but any movement more than your normal brings you further away from the bottom and up towards your goal.  Sometimes you may stumble downhill again. Sometime you may camp out for a little while to catch your breath.  But before you know it, it becomes just what you do. You wake up, and you move forward.

There are many paths up, and the one you take may not be the same one that others have taken. It may not be the same one you started out on or where you thought you’d go. You may even make your own path. You  may even get lost.  Don’t worry; that’s all part of the adventure.  You often can’t see what’s around the bend, but just look up, and you know where your goal is.

Also, this is your mountain.  It can be as high as you like, or it can have several peaks of power. Challenge yourself.

Just so this post is also a useful reference tool:  if you’re anything like me, when I first come to a new place, I need a guide.  I know that I’m not the first person to climb this mountain. I need a map to give me confidence that I’m going in the right direction and landmarks to confirm it. Below are some places to start.

Don’t forget to stop occasionally to check out the view behind you, too, and be proud for how far you’ve come!

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Nutty Cocoa-Coconut Cookies (Paleo)

Hey there, paleo cookie monster! Do you want to have your cookie and eat it too? This paleo cookie recipe uses the common basic ingredients in a paleo kitchen, so it’s easy enough to whip these up when the mood hits you! It’s also a great base to add your favorite nuts, or substitute dried fruit!

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Pineapple-bacon Chicken for a Crowd

Pineapple-bacon Chicken for a Crowd | Hold the Lemon

When I’m hosting a get-together for a large group of people and need to cook for a crowd, I value ease of ingredients, ease of preparation, and the ability to have everything all set before the guests arrive so I can spend less time fretting in the kitchen and more time socializing with my guests! I also like to make sure I provide a dish that is hearty (since guests often bring sides and desserts), hot (since it’s more difficult for guests to bring hot items), and can be eaten by the majority (if not all) attendees. These parameters can be difficult to match, but this recipe seems to fit the bill!

I adapted one of my favorite kabob recipes to create this easy bright dish, which uses only five regular ingredients (plus seasonings). This dish can be prepared before the guests arrive and is perfectly happy being set to warm in a crockpot. Extra bonus is that prep/cooking only dirties up one skillet, a cutting board, a knife, and a cooking utensil, so I don’t add too much to the pre-party dishes to clean!

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Tart Green Kale-Kiwi-Mango Smoothie

Ninjas are quiet, but Ninja blenders are not as stealthy. But my (new!) Ninja blender does have many blades and makes me smoothies! With a little help from me and my husband, Jesse, of course.

Here are two recipes for smoothies: one paleo for me  (Tart Kale-Kiwi-Mango) and a very non-paleo smoothie (Raspberry-Mint Smoothie-Shake) for my husband!

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I am the Warrior! Training the Untrained.

The Warrior Dash is a 5k with obstacles.  Climbing, crawling, running, challenging, muddy obstacles. I have never done an obstacle course before, or a 5k for that matter. So, of course when I saw a Groupon for it, I signed up. And recruited friends to sign up with  me. Life is nothing if not a challenge!

I am both excited and intimidated. I am also training.

Training for the Warrior Dash | Hold the Lemon

When to Train

RunMudRun has put out a training guide specific to the Warrior Dash, which includes a training program for:

  • the Virgin Warrior (exercises infrequently and  just wants to finish the WD),
  • the Casual Warrior (exercises occasionally and wants to do decently in the WD),
  • and the Ultimate Warrior (exercises frequently and wants to make good time in the WD).

The programs each run about 6-7 weeks and incorporates 2-3 days of 30-45 minutes of cardio (run/jog/walk) and a progression of 60/120/150 seconds of 3-5 exercises with breaks in between.

Training Routine

To find out what exercises to train with (depending on your training type), Warrior Dash has a document of suggestions for the Virgin Warrior.  I came across this through Internet sleuthing, and I have not been able to find a corresponding document for Casual or Ultimate Warriors yet (please comment with the links if you find it)!  The idea is to alternate between the different types of exercises so that you are doing a full body training.  Warrior Dash’s document differs from RunMudRun’s in that it suggests 20/35/40 second bursts with rests.

As an exercise beginner, I had no clue what some of these exercises were, so below is a resource to walk you through how to do Warrior Dash training at home (I support the idea of getting fit without needing to get a gym membership). I also like videos. If you’re going to do it, might as well do it right.

Videos explaining Warrior Dash-recommended exercises:

I hope this helps!

My Routine

My Virgin Warrior routine includes sit-ups, push-ups, and chair dips. I’m choosing to keep with these three for the 7 weeks so I can track my progression. But since I do want to train several areas, I am also bringing in dumbbell exercises (e.g., bicep curls, tricep extensions, Arnold presses, and bent-over dumbbell rows), other body weight exercises (e.g.; squats, lunges, jumping jacks, planks, short bridges) and other activities (benchpress, assisted pull-ups, hooping) to round it all out.

Of course, I’m not doing all of these every day.

Warrior Dash Connecticut is on September 15th, which means I have time to try out all three WD training programs in succession! Virgin Warrior Week 1 is done. Stay tuned in 6 weeks or so for the start of Casual Warrior Week 1!

Also, don’t forget to run!

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What’s in My Paleo Pantry?

I have my own drawer in the pantry for paleo ingredients and snacks, since my husband isn’t strictly doing paleo with me. It’s been exceedingly helpful to have one place to scour when I’m cooking or craving. The other drawers of grains and processed foods just don’t exist. Right? /sneaks a peak.

I always thought it would be helpful to have a guide as to what you can keep stocked in your pantry for paleo, so I’ve created one! The items italicized are ones that I don’t usually have or which I intend to stock. This post is strictly about the pantry. My paleo fridge and fruit basket will come in another post.

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Creamy Ham and Yam Soup

I was feeling a bit under the weather, and soup seemed to be exactly what I needed.  I had some leftover ham and sweet potatoes and other veggies laying around.  I was tempted to eat both servings in one helping!

I realize that yams are different than sweet potatoes, but I couldn’t resist using it as its colloquial term because, well, rhyming. Oh, and did I mention that it’s paleo?

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iPhone Apps for Health and Fitness

iPhone Apps for Health and Fitness | Hold the Lemon
Yes, this is a screenshot of my iPhone icons

If I lost my smartphone, I would be lost. I know I’m not alone.  I remember a time where I thought they were superfluous, but now it’s my main way of communicating and gathering information when I am not sitting at a computer (and these days I’d much rather not be sitting in front of a computer). Being able to track my health and fitness data on-the-go has been invaluable for my initial weight loss, my weight maintenance, and as motivation to keep on going with both health and fitness.

Studies have shown that those who log their food are able to maintain their weight loss longer than those who don’t. I am also a big supporter of being accountable to something – whether it is to a log or a community!

The following reviews are for apps are ones that I use frequently and recommend.  Although many apps do multiple things, I’ve categorized them into its main functionality.

Calorie Tracking

Lose It | Hold the LemonLoseIt!
(Free)

Starting in 2010, I lost 60 pounds in a little over a year, simply by using the LoseIt web and iPhone app.  I’ve always found the web interface sufficient but nothing special, but I love that it has kept a graph of my weight loss since 2010. It’s great to keep me on track! Also, I love graphs. Put in your data, including how much you want to lose, and it will calculate your calorie goal. It lets you scan barcodes, has restaurant data, input recipes, add exercise,  actually still use this app to monitor my weight loss graph because of it’s historical data, but I’ve since moved on to MFP.

My Fitness Pal | Hold the LemonMyFitnessPal
(Free)

In 2012, I shifted from LoseIt to MyFitnessPal (or commonly MFP for short), mainly because of its food database seemed to have more restaurants in my area (New England) and really because more of my friends were on it. There is a community aspect on LoseIt, but I never used it as extensively as MFP. MFP’s web interface isn’t as pretty compared to LoseIt, but their app is pretty slick and the community aspect is strong. It does all you would expect an app like this to do: It lets you scan barcodes, has restaurant data, input recipes, add exercise, and even water intake.  Put in your data, including how much you want to lose, and it will calculate your calorie goal. But a big thing for me is that MFP links to FitBit, accounting your day’s activity level and adjusting your calorie goal accordingly.

Vitabot | Hold the Lemon

Vitabot  
(Free app, Paid program)

I learned about Vitabot from my fitness studio/gym.  It’s a calorie-tracking app on steroids.  Not only does it track calories/fat/fiber/protein, it tracks a slew of vitamins and micro-nutrients  Then it grades you on how well you’re keeping up to the recommended daily allowances.  The app is a necessary convenience in this world of LoseIt’s and MFP’s, but it is pretty limited. Although the app is free, it requires you to hook up to a web front (usually a paid or complimentary offered by someplace like your gym or nutritionist). The web app is much more robust, offering suggestions to fulfill your nutrients, but that’s for another post.

Fitness

Fitocracy | Hold the LemonFitocracy
(Free)

Yet another community-based health tool, Fitocracy has a unique spin of assigning point values to your fitness activities (cardio, weights, and sports). Those points help you “level up” to show your progress. Again, the web app is where you want to be, but the iPhone app has proven valuable while I’m doing my exercises (usually not near a computer) and want to log my activity immediately instead of trying to remember it all.

Map My Fitness | Hold the LemonMapMyFitness
(Free)

Although the web app for MapMyFitness has a super cool calendar view of activity, I must say that the iPhone app has proven to be more useful. I turn on MapMyFitness when I’m going for a walk or a run, it uses GPS tracking to track how fast I’m going, where I’m going, how many calories I burn, the changes in elevation, and if I’ve saved the route before it’ll show me if I’ve passed my time. Oh, did I mention that FitBit links up to it too? So the steps that you take with your FitBit are automatically logged in MapMyFitness. The MapMyFitness app has other features too, but honestly, I don’t use them because there are other apps, such as in this list, which do the job better. A downside to MapMyFitness is that they are kind of insistent about inserting ads. But you gotta support a free app somehow!

Fitbit | Hold the LemonFitBit 
(Free app, Paid device)

I love my FitBit, which is basically a really fancy pedometer++ (that I wear everyday) with a community aspect.  The app for it is essential for me. Not only does it work as a wireless sync station for my steps, stairs, calorie expenditure, activity, and sleep data, it allows me access to track calorie and water intake, and it shows me where I rank with my friends. I have several friends with FitBits, and we use the app to keep tabs on who’s taking the most steps for that week!  The FitBit app is pretty cool, but the web interface is super slick (but that’s a post for a different day). Oh, and did I mention that it connects to MyFitnessPal so that my calorie goal for the day fluctuates based on my actual activity? I’ve found that to be key for the FitBit app because I find the calorie tracking features to be inaccurate.  So I use the MFP app to track my calories, which syncs to my Fitbit app, so I can dynamically see how much activity I should aim for to be within my calorie goal. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

RunKeeper | Hold the LemonRunKeeper
(Free)

RunKeeper is very similar to MapMyFitness, but it is one of the few outside apps that links to Fitocracy. I have to be honest, I am only mentioning it here now because it is a commonly used app, but I haven’t used it extensively since the weather here in New England hasn’t been inviting enough for me to go outside and run.

Run5K | Hold the LemonRun5K
(Paid)

The Run5K app is basically the Couch to 5K app, which helps you go from not being a runner at all to being able to run a 5k using interval training. I actually did pay for this app, and I think it’s worth the couple bucks. You can set it to where in the program you want to start, and it talks you through warmups then the jog/walk intervals for the full duration, either with voice or tones. You can also add a playlist to go along with your training, and there are controls right in the app. I’ve spent many afternoons on the track or around the neighborhood jogging and just waiting for the voice to tell me to “Walk now.” I kept falling off the wagon and having to restart the program a couple times, but I’m glad I have it. Sometimes it makes it easier if there’s “someone” telling you what to do.

Utilities

Fitter Manager | Hold the LemonFitter Manager
(Free)

This app is a fitness calculator and weight manager, which I’ve used primarily for tracking non-weight/bmi measurements that other apps seem to favor. With Fitter, I can track my BMI, BMR, Body-Fat Ratio, and Waist-to-Hip ratio.  Oh and it graphs them (and it should be apparent by now that I do like my graphs)!  To be honest, that waist-to-hip ratio is kind of a neat thing to know both as a whole-body health indicator but also for the beauty theory. When your weight seems to have plateaued, but you have been working out, sometimes the best way to track your progress is in inches and not pounds.

Convertbot | Hold the LemonConvertbot
(Paid)

I have no clue how many teaspoons are in a millileter, but with ConvertBot, I know that there are 4.9. Maybe that measurement isn’t the most common, but often when I’m trying to convert a recipe or an item that isn’t in LoseIt or MyFitnessPal the item is listed in cups in the recipe but in tablespoons in the app.  Or grams to ounces.  Convertbot has been so valuable to make those quick conversions. It can convert measurements for mass, speed,  temperature, time, volume, area, currancy, data size, and length.

Seconds Pro | Hold the LemonSeconds (Free) and
SecondsPro (Paid)

I enjoyed the free app Seconds that I had to get SecondsPro. These apps are interval timers that are perfect for working out. With the pro version, I have several timer sets for different types of workouts, such as doing activities in intervals of 5 minutes for a half an hour, or every one minute for 10 minutes, or a set with a 5 minute warmup, then a 30 minute activity, then a 5 minute cooldown, whatever you need.  You can also set the music and colors to change with each interval change. This is perfect for HIIT. And for me, it’s perfect for fitness hooping where it’s not always feasible to hold a phone or stopwatch while you’re moving around. The timers can be beeps or speech. You can also import timers that the makers have created. I bet you could also use this app for non-fitness activities too!

A Request

What is your favorite health/fitness app for your smartphone (iPhone, Android, etc.)?  We only know what we know! Learn a bit and share a bit!

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Cuban-inspired Paleo Burger

Cuban-inspired Paleo Burger

I’ve been coming across some delicious-looking paleo burger recipes. like the Spinach-Chicken Burgers from Cardamom Mom and the Paleo Cajun Burgers from Kohler Created. So I had a craving. And out of this craving, I threw together this bun-less pork burger.

The Cuban burger recipes I looked up include mayonnaise, swiss, and ham. This version substitutes with avocado and prosciutto, which gives it the creamy texture. I also went for 100% ground pork instead of a pork and beef mixture. It’s not quite warm enough for the grill yet, so I pan-fried these burgers. I think they’d be even more delicious on the grill this summer!

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