Rock Hard Abs by Thanksgiving

My brother texted me a few days ago wanting a way to get motivated to increase the intensity of his core training. He came up with the idea of completing the same workouts every day, and motivating each other by sharing our reps and times, to ultimately prepare for an Ab Off at Thanksgiving to see who has the strongest abs.

I’m super excited about this new challenge because it’s a great way to get motivated and strengthen our core, and the addition of a little competition to train for makes it fun and exciting!

So I thought I’d share a few of our workouts so far, as they can all be done at home in under 15 minutes, and really, why can’t we all have rock hard abs by Thanksgiving? :-)

Day One: (Designed by Me)

  • One minute plank
  • Max hollow rocks in 3 minutes (Aim for 75-100)
  • One minute plank

Yes, it’s only 5 minutes long, but trust me, you will feel the burn!

Day Two: (Designed by Matt)

3 sets
AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible) in 3 minutes, rest 2 minutes between sets

  • 45 second plank
  • 20 crunches
  • 10 pushups

I got through 2 full rounds with about a 15 second plank at the end each time

Day Three: (Designed by Me)

50-30-10 for Time (aim for 10 minutes)

  • Hollow Rocks
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Butterfly Situps

Day Four: (Designed by Matt)

  • 125 Hollow Rocks
  • 5 minute Plank

You can split it up however you like, but you cannot rest. Your rest from hollow rocks is plank, and your rest from plank is hollow rocks! (Yes it is as brutal as it sounds..)

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Veggie-Packed Spaghetti Squash Comfort Bowl & Netflix

Today was a long day. And it was raining. And all I wanted when I finally got home was to snuggle up in blankets on my couch to watch Netflix while eating a hot bowl of something yummy. So I immediately got to work in the kitchen to work some magic, and oh how magical it was! The idea for the dish actually originated when seeing a spaghetti squash on my counter out of the corner of my eye while scanning my fridge. The same spaghetti squash that had been there for probably close to a month. Immediately I knew it was time to crack er’ open and see what could be salvaged.

 Now one thing that never fails to shock me is the shelf life of spaghetti squash, or any type of squash for that matter. Obviously they will last a lot longer than your average cucumber or tomato, but I always find that when I finally get around to using one that’s been sitting out for a very long time, I usually expect it to be mostly compost-worthy. But once I crack it open I’m always amazed to see that it’s still completely fine and good to eat! And oh how good it was…

I started with the spaghetti squash, because they do take a little while to cook, and then just let my little heart (and big tummy) take control for the rest. Other than the cooking time for the squash, it’s very fast and easy to prepare. I filled half the squash and just used it as my bowl, but I also ate a whole lot more than I would suggest for an average serving. Letting the veggies simmer for a bit let all the flavours combine and mix together as they cooked, so it really fit the “comfort bowl” category quite well in my opinion. The fresh herbs also add a ton of flavour to the dish, so I wouldn’t recommend skipping them.

Veggie-Packed Spaghetti Squash Comfort Bowl

Makes 4 small, or two very large servings

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 1 small broccoli floret
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 can chickpeas
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh salsa
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Split spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out insides with a spoon. Place halves face down on baking sheet with one inch of water, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until outside is soft when touched with a fork.

2. While spaghetti squash is cooking, sauté onion and red pepper in olive oil and garlic in a medium-large sized skillet over medium heat.

3. Meanwhile, boil broccoli in a small pot over the stove. Once partly cooked, strain water and add broccoli to onion and red pepper.

4. Once broccoli, onion, and red pepper are tender, add diced tomatoes, chickpeas, salsa, and fresh herbs, and reduce to low heat. Cover and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add spinach about 5 minutes before taking the spaghetti squash out of the oven.

5. Take spaghetti squash out of the oven, flip upright, and let cool until manageable to touch.

6. Using a fork, scrape the inside of the squash into spaghetti strands. Add desired amount of vegetable mixture on top, season with pepper to taste, and snuggle up in blankets to enjoy!

Three Ingredient Banana Pancakes–With a Twist!

After watching the bananas on my counter turn from green, to yellow, to speckled, and finally black, I knew it was time to do something with them before my kitchen turned into fruit fly infested madness. So today I woke up with a specific mission: Three ingredient banana pancakes (which really turned into five or seven ingredient pancakes once you include the toppings and tweaks I made, as usual.. but that’s besides the point. :-)

I don’t actually remember where I originally saw or heard of the three ingredient pancake recipe, but it is quite popular, and I’ve wanted to test it out for a while. And after recovering from being sick all week, I thought it was the perfect opportunity–because who doesn’t love a pancake breakfast when they’re sick?

The recipe is really simple and quick to whip up, and literally only three ingredients (+ 2 + 2) :) After bite number one, I completely fell in love with everything about these pancakes. I can easily say it is my   favourite recipe on my blog (even though it isn’t completely mine), and it hit the perfect spot. When cooking the pancakes in the pan, I noticed they were really crumbly and difficult to flip. (Or I’m just a bad pancake flipper…) But because of the banana, it was easy to just squish the pieces back together with the spatula. This was also the first time I combined microwaved frozen raspberries with vanilla yogurt as a topping and OH MY was it delicious. It has probably become my new obsession. The recipe makes three pretty large pancakes, but they are really quite filling. I made three pancakes, expecting to eat them all myself, but I was very full after eating half of it, and set the rest aside for later, or for someone else to enjoy. (And I eat a lot!)

Banana Chocolate Oatmeal Pancakes with Raspberry Topping

Makes 3 large pancakes

For the Pancakes

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 very ripe bananas (mine were small-medium sized)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cacao nibs (or dark chocolate chips)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (I used 1/4 teaspoon for each pancake)

For the Topping

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

1. In a medium sized bowl, peal and mash bananas. Once mashed, combine rolled oats, egg, cacao nibs, and coconut sugar, and stir until well mixed.

2. Heat 1/4 teaspoon olive oil over a small skillet on medium-low heat.

3. Pour 1/3 pancake mixture onto pan. Once underside is golden and edges are slightly crispy, flip pancake using a spatula. Once pancake is cooked, use the spatula to place pancake on a plate, and repeat steps 2 and 3 for the remainder of the pancake mixture.

4. Heat frozen raspberries in a mug in the microwave on high for 1 minute and thirty seconds, or until liquified. Stir in vanilla yogurt, and pour over pancakes.

5. Sprinkle with whole raspberries and cacao nibs for garnish, and serve warm!

 

New Spin Shoes & Protein Power Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal

Waking up after a super shortened sleep to a super sore back was not a very great start to my day.. but I’m happy say it has certainly turned around! After over a year of attending spin classes between 6 and 10 times a week, I have finally invested in a pair of spin shoes, and I am so very, very excited!! On our way home from our workout this morning, we decided to stop by the cycling store to see what was in stock. A pair of black, lace-up specialized vibram shoes were sitting on the shelf just waiting for me to take them home. So I did. And I am beyond excited. Once I try them out a few times in class I’m also thinking of buying the pedals for my bike to ride with them outside as well, but that’s another day’s project. I will certainly make sure I post some updates about what I like (and dislike) about the shoe, but here is a picture of what they look like.

So when we finally made it home after a long morning, we were just absolutely starving. And after a tough workout, our bodies needed a protein-rich meal. So we made some oatmeal. But I wouldn’t really call it oatmeal because, as you can see in the picture, it’s more toppings than it is oatmeal. Possibly because we couldn’t resist adding everything we could find because it all just looked so good and our tummies were just so empty… But it was still absolutely delicious and definitely loaded with protein! There is certainly more to this simple bowl than what meets the eye, that’s for sure!

This recipe makes quite large servings (again because we were super hungry), so keep that in mind when preparing it. I also used two teaspoons of cinnamon because I really like a whole lot of cinnamon, but if you don’t want as much cinnamon flavour just use one teaspoon. We used oat bran, but really any kind of oatmeal or oats would work. You can also change up the fruit and use fresh instead of frozen, we just used frozen because we had no fresh berries left :'( But I think the juice from the frozen fruit added some wetness and flavour to the dish, as well.

Protein Power Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal with Berries & Mango

Makes one large serving

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup dry oat bran (or other oats)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons coconut granola
  • 1/8 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup frozen fruit

1. Boil water in a small pot over the stove. Once boiling, add oat bran, reduce heat, and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until water is absorbed.

2. While oat bran is cooking, heat frozen fruit in the microwave to desired meltedness.

3. Once oat bran is cooked, stir in cocoa powder, coconut sugar, shredded coconut, and cinnamon, and pour into a bowl.

4. Pour yogurt and melted fruit on top.

5. Top with coconut granola to serve.

 

YUMMM :-)

 



Balsamic Portobello Mushroom with Apple Walnut Salad

Today was one of those days where after a good long day of both working and working out, I feel super content and satisfied. I was quite productive throughout the day (even getting my entire kitchen sparklingly clean!) as well as energized and motivated at the gym reaching a new personal best for myself in spin class! It’s just one of those days where nothing particularly exciting happened, yet I’m headed off to sleep with a mega smile and a noonecanruinmymood sorta feeling. Oh how I do love these kinds of days!

Now, for me anyway, a great day like this absolutely must finish off with the same standards when it comes to dinner. So creating a meal to satisfy my hunger and my superb mood of the day was my challenge tonight, and twas accepted and oh was it ever highly achieved! This meal was so light and flavourful, yet it hit the perfect spot after a tough workout.

Both components of this meal were extremely fast and easy to whip up while absolutely not sacrificing flavour, so it’s a perfect weekday meal after a long day! I was super excited to share the recipe the entire time I was trying to savour it (but really inhaling it because I was so hungry) ;-) So I hope you’ll give it a try and enjoy it!

Balsamic Portobello Mushroom & Apple Walnut Salad

Makes two servings

Balsamic Portobello Mushroom 

  • 2 Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • Pepper, to taste

1. Combine olive oil, water, balsamic vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, maple syrup, and ginger together in a small glass and stir well.

2. Using a rubber brush (or just a spoon), brush 3/4 of the marinade on the bottoms of the mushrooms.

3. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.

4. Place mushrooms face down onto barbecue.

5. Brush the rest of the marinade on the tops of the mushrooms.

6. Barbecue until soft and tender.

7. Sprinkle with pepper, to taste, before serving.

Apple Walnut Salad

  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 small royal gala apple, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

1. Combine spinach, chopped onions, and chopped apple in a bowl.

2. Mix together olive oil, water, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and sugar in a small glass for the dressing, and pour on top of salad.

4. In a small pan or pot, roast walnuts over the stove on high heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning.

5. Sprinkle roasted nuts on top and enjoy!