Recipe of the Week – Almond Butter Espresso Cookies

Impress your New Year’s Eve Party guests with these amazing Almond Butter Espresso Cookies.

What You Need:

  • 3/4 cup creamy almond butter
  • 3/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon finely ground espresso
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax whisked with 3 Tablespoons water

How To Make Them:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat.
  2. Make flaxseed egg by combining ground flax with 3 Tablespoons of water in a small bowl. While the flaxseed egg gels up, use a large bowl to mix together the almond butter, sugar. Add flax egg, espresso, baking soda and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Use a cookie scoop or spoon to place about 1 Tablespoon of cookie dough on baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Cookies will spread!
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on pan for 3-5 minutes on the cookie sheet before gently transferring cookies from sheet to a cooling rack with a spatula.
  5. They will harden up while cooling. Once completely cool you can transfer them to a storage container.
*Recipe Source: https://www.eatingbirdfood.com/gluten-free-almond-butter-espresso-cookies/#_a5y_p=6007274

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Recipe of the Week – Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Who doesn’t love Christmas cookies? Give these tasty thumbprint cookies a try at your next party.

What You Need:

  • cup blanched almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut oil melted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons creamy almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt to taste
  • 2 oz. dark chocolate chopped or chips
  • Flaky sea salt

How To Make It:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the almond flour, melted coconut oil and maple syrup and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking sheet.
  3. Form 15 balls with the dough, about 1 tablespoon each. Make an imprint in the center of each cookie with your thumb.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes for until light golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and use a small teaspoon to press down lightly on the thumb imprints again, to make sure theres room for the filling in case they puffed or spread in the oven at all. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the almond butter, melted coconut oil, and maple syrup until smooth. Fill each thumbprint with the caramel.
  6. Place chocolate in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Put the melted chocolate in a small zip bag, snip the corner, and drizzle over the cookies. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, to taste.
  7. Place cookies in the refrigerator to set. Keep stored in the refrigerator.
*Recipe Source: https://www.bakerita.com/salted-caramel-thumbprint-cookies-gluten-free-paleo-vegan/

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Recipe of the Week – Dark Chocolate Almond Truffles

Sometimes you just crave something sweet. Satisfy your sweet tooth with these delicious Dark Chocolate Almond Truffles.

What You Need:

  • 14 Medjool dates, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (70g) Diamond of California whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup (70g) sunflower seeds (I use salted)
  • optional: 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (226g) semi-sweet or bittersweet quality chocolate

How To Make Them:

  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  2. Place pitted dates, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, almonds, sunflower seeds, and salt (if using) into your food processor. Blend/pulse until a moist dough forms, as pictured above. This will take a minute or two of blending. If the dough is too dry and crumbly, add 1-2 more soaked dates or even a teaspoon of pure maple syrup.
  3. Once dough is formed, scoop out 1 Tablespoon of dough. Roll into a smooth ball and place onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Set aside as you melt the chocolate in the next step.
  4. You can melt the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave. If using the microwave: place the chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. I like to use a liquid measuring cup. Its depth makes it easy for dipping. Melt in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring after each increment until completely melted and smooth. Let the warm chocolate sit for 5 minutes to slightly cool before dipping.
  5. Dip each ball completely into the chocolate using a dipping tool. When lifting it out of the chocolate, remember to tap the dipping tool gently on the side of the bowl to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place each back on the baking sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate has set, about 30 minutes.
  6. Make ahead tip: Cover truffles tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can freeze these truffles, too! Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
*Recipe Source: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/02/12/healthy-dark-chocolate-almond-truffles/

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Recipe of the Week – Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Almond Clusters

Treat your holiday guests to these delicious little chocolate clusters. They’re sure to be the hit of the party!

What You Need:

  • 2 cups (280g) Diamond of California whole almonds
  • 8 ounces (226g) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped1
  • sea salt
  • turbinado sugar (or any coarse/raw sugar)

How To Make Them:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (149°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spread almonds out in a single layer and toast for 10-12 minutes, stirring once during that time. Set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or (carefully!) use the microwave. For the microwave, place the chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. Melt in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment until completely melted and smooth. Alternatively, you can temper the chocolate. If tempering, do not store finished nuts in the refrigerator.
  3. Stir the almonds into the chocolate, making sure to coat each one. Spoon clusters onto a lined baking sheet, as large or small as you’d like. My clusters had about 10-12 almonds each in them. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and turbinado sugar, then allow chocolate to completely set. I placed the baking sheet in the refrigerator to speed it up!
  4. Store chocolate covered almonds in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks
*Recipe Source:https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/03/01/sea-salt-dark-chocolate-almond-clusters/

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5 Thanksgiving Fitness Survival Tips

You’ve worked hard the past few months to get where you are. Your clothes are fitting great, you feel strong, and have gotten your confidence back.

But as Thanksgiving approaches it’s kind of scary to think of getting derailed and falling back into your old habits. Sure it’s only one day, but one day can lead to leftovers the next, and then a slice of leftover pie each day for the next week.

Well PNF has you covered with our Thanksgiving Survival Guide. We are all to familiar with that overstuffed feeling after the big meal that leaves us in a food coma on the couch. Our goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Tip #1: Get in a morning workout.

Start your day with movement. This can be a pretty sedentary day between driving to see family and watching the Macy’s Parade and football, which is why we want to get some good quality movement in first thing.

This will help to also give your body a needed metabolism boost to help offset the food you will be eating later in the day.

Bonus boost if it is strength training versus cardio because of the long lasting metabolic calorie-burning boost it will give you.

Tip #2: Eat a healthy breakfast.

Get up and start your day with a healthy breakfast. A veggie egg omelet is a great choice, but just make sure you eat.

The worst thing to do it not eat until dinner because of fearing how much you will eat. Doing this will set you up to overeat and most likely eat more than you would have had you eaten breakfast.

The key is to keep your eating normal throughout the day, with the exception of Thanksgiving dinner.

Tip #3: Don’t deprive yourself.

If you love sweet potato casserole, eat it. If your mouth waters just thinking about your grandmas pumpkin pie, eat it. Don’t deprive yourself of the things you like, but only get to enjoy eating once a year.

What you eat at this one meal is not going to make much of an impact on your long-term weight loss success. The problem becomes when Thanksgiving dinner lasts for the next week and then spirals into a changed pattern of food choices.

Tip #4: Take a walk.

Yes, more movement.

Once you’ve finished your meal take a short walk, it doesn’t have to be long or even an intense pace. Just getting outside and moving will help you digest your food and burn a few more calories than if you just plopped down on the couch to watch football.

Bonus – take your dog and this will hopefully help them digest all the turkey they got fed to avoid their smelly turkey farts later in the evening.

Tip #5: Move over the weekend.

Sitting is always the waist’s enemy, so make sure you get up and move over the holiday week. This can be difficult with time spent in the car and visiting with family. So start each day with this simple ten-minute workout.

  • World’s Greatest Stretch with T-Spine Reach – 5 reps each
  • Push Ups – 10 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 10 reps
  • Repeat 3-5 times.

Bonus if you do it a few times through the day.

Stick to these tips to burn the bird, keep your belt buckle in the same hole and survive Thanksgiving.

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Eat Clean 80% Of The Time

You may not be eating as well as you think.

Sure Monday through Friday you may do well. But, then Friday night hits. You go out for dinner and order the grilled salmon with steamed veggies and skip the bread. But, you have dessert and a bottle of wine.

Or maybe on Saturday you feel that it would be nice to make your kids a big breakfast of pancakes and bacon. You tell yourself it’s okay because “it’s for the kids” and you’ll only have a little.

Then there is that stressful day that just needs unwound with a few drinks or a bowl of ice cream.

These are the small things that by themselves are perfectly fine, but added up can wreck your progress. To get results in the gym it takes eating clean 80% of the time. For most, it ends up only being 60-70% clean.

So what does 80% look like? Or better yet, what does the 20% look like?

To stay at 80% or above means you can have roughly 3-4 cheats per week. Every alcoholic drink that is a cheat. Every dessert that’s a cheat. Every piece of chocolate or candy another cheat. Fried and processed foods, a cheat again. Chips and salsa, you get the point.

Here’s an easy way to determine if you actually ate clean 80% of the time. Take a sheet and paper and make two columns. In column one write down all of your weeks “good” food choices and their calories, then in the second column write down all of your “bad” food choices and their calories. Now total the calories in each column. Then add those two numbers together. Finally divide the bad calories by the total calories of each column. If the number you get is less than 20% you did good if not, then you didn’t adhere to the 80/20 Rule.

Eating clean is the missing link to getting results. And many times what we think is clean eating isn’t clean enough.

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7 Habits of Clean Eating

 

You’ve probably heard before that results start in the kitchen and you will never be able to out exercise bad nutrition. This is true. It is simply too easy to consume calories faster than you can burn them. In order to lose body fat you need to make some changes to your daily nutrition, by incorporating the “7 Habits of Clean Eating”.

Nutrition is easy, everyone knows what he or she should and shouldn’t eat. Applying it is the hard part. 

By incorporating the following ” 7 Habits of Clean Eating” you’ll be on your way to making better nutritional choices and changing your body.

Clean Eating Habit #1 – Reduce Processed Foods

“If it was made to sit on the shelf for years, if will sit on your butt, belly and hips just as long.” Your goal should be to eat as much real, whole, unprocessed food as possible. This means if it’s in a box or a wrapper it’s processed and not the best choice.

Clean Eating Habit #2 – You Can’t Change What You Don’t Track – Keep A Journal!

At PNF we’ve seen repeatedly that those who achieve the best results keep a daily food log. Some prefer paper and pencil; others prefer an app, such as “My Fitness Pal.” What you use doesn’t matter as long as you track it. Simple but effective!!

Clean Eating Habit #3 – Eat More Protein

Eating more protein will result in greater fat loss and muscle gain than a low protein diet. Protein, which is found in red meat, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy, contains essential amino acids that act as the building blocks of muscles. These are needed to rev up your metabolism and help you shed fat. This happens through the process of building muscle tissue, which requires your body to burn more calories. Also, when you have more muscle on your body, it gives you a toned and sculpted looked. Aim to eat about 1 gram for each pound of goal bodyweight.

If you are following a vegetarian diet, your total daily protein will be slightly lower and you should try to eat a variety of nuts, seeds, and beans each day, along with a plant based protein shake after your workouts.

Clean Eating Habit #4 – Eat More Veggies

Not only do vegetables contain numerous vitamins and minerals, as well as high amounts of fiber. They are also very low in calories. Eat as many veggies as you can each day. We also recommend 1-2 servings of fruit each day. This makes a great dessert without all the added sugar.

 Clean Eating Habit #5 – Stop Drinking Calories

The number one way to gain weight is to drink calories. This means no soda, juice (even 100% juice drinks), sports drinks, and coffee drinks. The best options are water, green tea, coffee (no more than 5 cups per day), and other unsweetened teas. If you must have something in your coffee choosing either whole milk or full fat creamer is a healthier choice than skim or reduced calorie creamers. – See Habit #1.

But what about “diet” versions! The artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks trigger some of the same signals in your body as regular sugar and cause you to gain fat. The same can be said for artificial sweeteners such as Stevia, Sweet & Low, and Truvia.

And how about that nightly glass of wine? Wine, beer, liquor are a part of many people’s social lives and we don’t expect you to give them up all together. After all, we’d be hypocrites if we did, being that we are craft beer snobs at PNF. That being said we recommend keeping your total weekly drink to six or less. Now that doesn’t mean you should go out and buy bigger glasses, although we like how you think.

Clean Eating Habit #6 –Stop Eating Sugar

 Pass on desserts, candy, cakes and ice cream. These foods all contain high amounts of sugar and very little nutritional value and are a great way to gain body fat. With that being said, we don’t expect you to never eat anything bad again. Are you going to eat pizza and then follow it with ice cream? Sure you are, you’re human. You just are not going to do this regularly. Instead you will save these things for your splurges, or little indulgences to enjoy the good things in life. All you have to do is keep the splurges to only 20% of your diet. That means that 80% of everything you eat and drink is a healthy choice that will improve your body. The other 20% is where you eat and drink the stuff you know you shouldn’t, but tastes amazing.

 Clean Eating Habit #7 – Supplement for success

At PNF we are not big on supplements, but there are two that we find extremely helpful.

The first is a Post-Workout Recovery Shake. This is a shake that contains roughly 20 grams of protein (preferably whey protein because it is absorbed by the body better) and fruit puree. This natural sugar is beneficial to the body because it will replenish muscle glycogen stores that have been depleted during the workout. Also, post-workout is the one time that we always have control of our nutrition and the ability to get in good quality nutrition, during the rest on the day this is not always the case.

The second is fish oil. Fish Oil has numerous benefits including fighting inflammation and helping improving our body’s fat profiles. Our diets tend to be low in Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA specifically. So we like to supplement with these each day. Our recommended brand is Nordic Naturals as it is one of the highest quality fish oils available on the market.

There you have it 7 Habits of Clean Eating to help you feel better and build a better body.

 

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Recipe of the Week – Crockpot Chicken Fajitas

Spice up dinner with these simple and delicious Crockpot Chicken Fajitas

What You Need:

  • one pound boneless skinless chicken
  • 1 package of fajita seasoning
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion

How To Make It:

  1. Place chicken in the bottom of the crockpot.
  2. Pour the fajita seasoning on top of the chicken.
  3. Slice up the bell peppers and onions and place on top of the chicken and seasoning.
  4. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  5. Serve on tortillas with your favorite toppings!
Recipe Source: https://centslessdeals.com/crockpot-chicken-fajitas/

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Recipe of the Week – Spinach Tortellini Soup

There is nothing as comforting as a warm bowl on soup on a cold fall day. Warm up with a blanket and this recipe for Spinach Tortellini Soup while catching up on your latest Netflix series.

What You Need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 large carrots, diced small
  • 2 large celery stalks, diced small
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 cups good low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 9 ounces tortellini
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated parmesan or pecorino, for serving

How To Make It:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and salt and stir to coat with oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften. If you happen to get distracted and the veggies brown a little bit, it’ll add some nice depth of flavor.
  2. Stir in stock, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer until veggies are tender. Remove lid and add spinach and tortellini. Cook according to tortellini package instructions (usually just simmering for a couple of minutes). Off the heat, stir in parsley and black pepper to taste.
  3. Ladle into bowls and serve with cheese to pass at the table.
Recipe Source: https://umamigirl.com/spinach-tortellini-soup/

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Recipe of the Week – Slow Cooker Greek Chicken

A healthy meal is as easy as throwing this all in the slow cooker and get on with your day.

What You Need:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (from about 3 large cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, optional for serving
  • Chopped fresh herbs: any mix of basil, parsley, or thyme, optional for serving (I used fresh thyme)

How To Make It:

  1. Lightly coat a 5-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, then place it in the hot pan, seasoned side down. Let brown on the first side for 1 to 2 minutes until golden, then flip and brown on the other side for 1 additional minute. If your skillet isn’t large enough to fit all of the chicken pieces, work in batches so that the chicken does not overlap. Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker.
  2. Arrange the peppers, olives, and onions around the chicken (do not place on top).
  3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the red wine vinegar, garlic, honey, oregano, and thyme. Pour over the chicken and vegetables. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours on high or 3 to 4 hours on low, until the chicken is cooked through and the center reaches 165 degrees F. Serve warm, sprinkled with feta and fresh herbs.
Recipe Source: https://www.wellplated.com/greek-chicken/#recipe

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