Crock Pot Picante Chicken & Black Bean Soup

It has been a wonderful Friday. I got to coach morning clients and taught a bootcamp class. I feel so blessed to get to do work that I am passionate about and enjoy. Thomas Edison said, “I never did a day’s work in my life. It was always fun.” Sammy and me are taking a sun break now out by the pool to soak in the sunshine. The weather has fluctuated so much, but today it’s a nice 60 degrees:)
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This week the weather has been colder that usual, so I made a bean soup.  My family says it’s the best they have ever had, so I’m  happy to share it with you!  I’m sure my friends and family up north will appreciate this heartwarming bowl of soup.  The recipe comes from skinnytaste.com  This website has great recipes & I’m looking forward to trying more of them.

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Her food photography is amazing & I wanted to give the recipe the presentation it lives up to, but I will share my actual pic at the end of the article;)

Crock Pot Chicken and Black Bean Soup Skinnytaste.com

Servings: 7 • Size: 1 1/2 cups • Old Pts: 6 pts • Weight Watchers Points+: 6 pts Calories: 306 • Fat: 6 g • Protein: 28 g • Carb: 37.5 g • Fiber: 13.5 g • Sugar: 3 g Sodium: 698.4 mg (without the salt)

Ingredients:

  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (10 oz) cans tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 4 oz can diced green chiles
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 16 oz (2) skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 2 medium scallions, diced
  • cut limes, for serving
  • 1 medium haas avocado, sliced
  • sour cream, for serving (optional)

Instructions:
Take one can of beans and place in the blender along with 2 cups of the chicken broth; puree then add to your slow cooker. Add the remainder of the beans and chicken broth into the slow cooker along with tomatoes, bell pepper, diced green chiles, cumin, chile powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, chicken breast, and 1/4 cup of the cilantro. Set slow cooker to HIGH 4 hours or LOW 6 to 8 hours.

*My family doesn’t like cilantro, so I omitted that ingredient.  I also placed additional chicken breasts into the crock pot to use separate from the soup.  I used these chicken breasts for topping my salads through the week for lunch.

001  It is delish!  You will want to make it again.

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Top 4 Exercises For Firm, Tight Abs

Who wouldn’t love swimsuit confidence? The biggest hurdle is having firm & tight abs. There will be endless morning shows & magazine articles about how to pick out the right swimsuit to hide and/or camouflage areas of the body that the winter months have put extra layers on (mostly in all the wrong places).  I don’t want you feeling embarrassed on the beach, sucking in your stomach, or crying in the dressing room.

I propose that you take a different approach & hit those abs every which way but loose! Think about getting your body confidence from the hard work you are bringing into the gym.

The real benefit in training is going to be in your posture.

I know that looking good on the beach is important, but good posture will literally CHANGE YOUR LIFE. This is when the work you put in at the gym & with healthy eating is going to impact your everyday life. You will project confidence daily from the inside out.

I want to be apart of this positive life change, so I am sharing with you my top 4 Ab exercises that will hit every angle of your abs.

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This was an ab routine I did this week.  Adjust based on your fitness level.

Hanging Leg raise  4×8-10

Side Crunch  3×10-12

Roll Outs with Barbell  4×10-12

Decline crunch  3×12-15

You can perform this workout once a week along with another ab routine to add a good balance to your training.  I always change-up my ab workouts, but they always follow the format of some type of lower ab, oblique, plank, and upper ab/overall exercises.

I hope this helps!

Keep fitness fun and fresh that way you don’t get bored or stuck.  Yesterday, after I finished up personal training at one of the gyms I work at, I worked my chest and triceps.  I usually don’t train those body parts at this particular gym, so I took advantage of different pieces of equipment.  Sometimes we get stuck in doing the same workouts so maybe try going to a buddy’s gym & working out with him or her for a change of pace.

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One of my gyms:)

I have learned that my body taps into more fat burning when I do my cardio at the end of my weight training.  I don’t like doing cardio on a treadmill or elliptical, so I found out there was a bike path close to the gym.  Perfect!  I went for a 30 min run, & it was a fun little adventure.  I got to see the town some and run across a little bridge.  It was nice.

Let fitness be an adventure.  It doesn’t have to be a drudgery.  Find ways to shake it up and make it fun for yourself.  Some people find that entering a race, training for an event, or entering a challenge gives them motivation to extend their comfort zones.

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“Keep your waist tight and health will follow throughout your life.”  -Jack Lalanne

Unleash Strong & Sculpted abs

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Underneath all the layers is a power that will astound you.  It’s time to release this unseen potential and give those abs the justice they deserve.

In order to uncover those strong & sculpted abs, you have some positive changes to make in your diet & workouts.

1.  There are certain foods that will help you shed the layers of fat.  Protein: eggs, skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey, peanut butter, salmon, etc.  Whole grains: oatmeal, whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes  Produce: bananas, bell peppers, blueberries, asparagus, green beans, avocados, etc.  Dairy: Greek yogurt, almond milk, cottage cheese  Spices: Cinnamon  Supplements:  Whey protein powder.  The important key is to eat clean & unprocessed foods.

    Bust your belly fat by avoiding refined grains like white bread, pastries, pasta etc.  Studies show that eating whole grain will help you lose more weight from your stomach.

    Limit your whole grains close to bedtime, & try to get them in earlier in the day.

  • Train your abs like any other body part.  I believe people overtrain their abs.  Approach your abs like any other body part & work them out 2-3 days a week.

2.  Change up your routine.  Instead of doing the same old crunches 50-100x, you should mix it up so you don’t ignore critical parts of your core.  You want to hit your upper abs, obliques, transverse and lower abs.  I always put together my ab workouts with this in mind & integrate exercises that hit all the different angles of my core.

3.  Cardio melts away the unwanted layer of body fat.  I have always seen results from varying my cardio days with one day doing a steady, long activity such as a long run or walk &  the other day doing interval training.  Interval training is alternating periods of intense work with recovery time.  For ex. going for all out effort on the elliptical for 1 min. and recovering at a moderate pace for 2 min.

It is my belief that everyone has strong and toned abs, often hidden, but they are their:)  In the same way I believe we possess hidden strength & power in our person that is waiting to be unleashed on the world.  Consistency in the daily habits of a champion, having a strong center, &  being true to your moral compass will, in due time, reveal your potential.  You will step back & be astounded.

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Spinach & Vegetable Soup

 This is surprisingly delish!  You will want to make more after you try it.  I use my Vitamix to blend up the veggies to a puree, but if  you have a blender, adjust your recipe according to that particular kitchen appliance.

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2 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups water

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp. diced onion

1/2 cup steamed chopped carrots

4 spears of asparagus, steamed

3/4 cup chopped broccoli, steamed

1 cup diced cooked potatoes

2 cups of spinach, washed

1/2 cup steamed chopped yellow squash

1/2 cup steamed chopped zucchini

1/4 tsp. dried basil

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1 (15 oz.) can drained chickpeas

  1. Place all ingredients, except the chickpeas, into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure the lid.
  2. Select variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend for 6-7 min. or until heavy steam escapes from the vented lid.
  5. Reduce the speed to Variable 2 and remove the lid plug.
  6. Add the chickpeas and blend for 5-10 sec.

Voila!

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I LOVE cookies and sharing this love with my favorite little one makes for a fun time together:)  We even have matching aprons to help us feel like true bakers.

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 I’m always experimenting to find the best healthy cookie, and so far this one is a winner!  I have found the secret to this recipe is to use frozen ripe bananas and to defrost them when you are ready to bake.

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3 mashed bananas

1/3 cup applesauce

2 cups oatmeal

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used carob chips) *optional

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tsp. cinnamon

Bake at 350 for 9-1 2 min.  Try not to over bake them.  They will look like they are not done when you take them out.  I bake mine for 9 min. and they are moist.  Adjust based on your oven and taste preference.

 

MOJO MONDAY: Get Going & Keep Going

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Growing older & reaching the age where you qualify for senior discounts is a destination that most Americans dread, especially women.  I have to admit that I’ve been thinking more on how I want to approach my golden years.   Do I really want to stress every wrinkle?  Am I going to measure my self-worth by whether or not men look longingly at me anymore?   Will I give in to the idea that being elderly means I will be frail & weak?  Well, that’s a big heck no!

Try telling 90-year old National Senior Games Athlete, Hazel Trexler Campbell that & you might get blown away in a cloud of dust when you see her run the 100-meter dash.  Campbell says she realizes that “being active is what’s important as you get older.  It helps you to survive.”

In 2007 I took a volunteer trip to Thailand for a month where I worked at a nursing home.  Of all the ways I could have served, I found myself teaching the elderly kickboxing, along with charades, and other crazy shenanigans:)  I was surprised at how agile, flexible & fit they were, but looking at the mindset of the culture, it makes sense.  Aging to them isn’t dreaded; it’s welcomed & seen with honor.  They have an acceptance of themselves that brings them inner peace, joy and love.  Out of that healthy mindset comes a healthy body.

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No matter what your age you can be eternally young and forever fit.  What is the secret?

  1. Love yourself by caring for your thoughts.  Watch your inner dialogue.  Debunk stupid thoughts like:  I’m over the hill…I get in the way.  While we are at it, kick the guilt to the curb.  Guilt is a bully you will never win a fight with, so enough of “if I only had a 2nd chance.”
  2. Love yourself by caring for your body.  When you love your body you will put good, nutritious & healthy food into it, & you will exercise.
  3. Love yourself by caring for your spirit.  Your spirit is ageless and powerful.  Prayer & spiritual practices feed our spirit man. So when those giants of fear, guilt & sickness come you can nail them to the ground!   Proverbs 18:14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity.

#agingwell; #positivethoughts; #seniorfitness; #gymmotivation

 

MOJO MONDAY “I want her to inspire me,” he said.

your excuseI was eating out at a restaurant when a conversation behind me caught my attention.  I couldn’t help but eavesdrop in as the man was sharing with his date what he was looking for in a woman.  He said, “I want her to inspire me.”  (I know, it’s rude to eavesdrop, but you might have too;) lol.

That struck a chord with me.  Isn’t that what most of us are searching for not only in a partner, but in all of our lives from work, fitness, church, to entertainment and fashion.  “Inspire me.”

When I see pictures like this one of Aimee Mullins, I’m amazed.  She was born without shinbones and had her legs amputated at the knee at age of one.  Doctors told her family that she might never learn to walk, but she overcame this negative expectation.  With prosthetic legs, she set 3 world records at the Paralympics in 1996 in the 100m, 200m, and long jump.

There are many stories from paraplegic athletes that testify how toughness is in the soul and spirit, not the muscles.  These athletes didn’t wait around for someone to “inspire them.”  That type of inspiration is short lived.  Their sustaining power came in using their limitation to make them stronger, more determined and focused.

Although we need to surround ourselves with friends, coaches, and teachers that challenge us to be more, the real fuel has to come from within.

What do you do when you have worked all day and the idea of making a healthy meal or going to the gym seems daunting?

You blow into your own sails and engage the will.

  1. Realize the difference between try and triumph is a little “umph.”
  2. When you feel like quitting you think about why you started.
  3. Do it to make yourself proud.
  4. Know that physical training helps you manage difficult times in your life.
  5. Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.

We have much more in us than we may believe.  Look for inspiration around you and within you.  Find ways to give encouragement to others.  This kind of motivation is the difference between victory and defeat.