This recipe is super complicated and time consuming....NOT! It's so easy and everyone loves it. I'm a latecomer to the Crockpot Party but I love mine now. I've served this at a dinner party and everyone wanted the "recipe" haha.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs total)
  • 2 jars Donkey salsa (one mild, one hot - they don't make medium)
  • (optional: fresh lime wedges, avocado, cotija cheese)

I like to par-grill the chicken before putting it into the crockpot to get out some of the juices. But you can put the chicken in raw if you want to save time. Place chicken breasts in the slow cooker and cover with salsa. Toss until the chicken is covered. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 6-8 hours), or until the chicken shreds easily with a fork. Shred the chicken in the slow cooker and toss with the remaining salsa and juices until well-mixed. (This chicken also freezes well.) Serve with flour or corn tortillas. 

 

Avocado and Tomato Salad with Sunflower Seeds

Have you ever paired sunflower seeds with avocado? Delicious! This recipe is so fresh and easy.

  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup roasted sunflower kernels 
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Put everything in a bowl and toss until well combined.

Planking

July 24, 2018

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Want a solid, strong core? Of course you do! Then think about adding a planking routine to your workouts. I noticed a significant difference in my core strength when I added a plank to every workout - currently up to 4 minutes extended arm. My next goal is to incorporate a weighted vest for part or all of the time. I wanted to find out why this simple exercise is so effective so I went to fitness professional (and one of my all time fave Elite Instructors at Lifetime Athletic), Missy Vacala. 

Which muscles does a plank work?

When planking first became popular (1994), there was a rush of new exercises in the fitness industry that didn't require fitness equipment. Even though push-ups have been around for decades, the plank (named after the mimicking of a wooden plank) is fairly new. There are many benefits to practicing a plank position every day. Here are five that I feel are the most important: Strengthens the core safely, improves posture, helps reduce back pain, increases agility/balanced coordination and, my personal favorite, planking helps keep us light on our feet! By strengthening the core we become more efficient at moving in and outside of the gym. The incidence of becoming injured from losing our balance or falling greatly decreases.

Can planking give you a six pack?

This is a very popular question! Everyone wants a six-pack! However, similarly to doing crunches, planking alone will not give you the look of toned abdominals. But when performed in combination with a healthy diet, cardiovascular workouts and a full-body strength training regimen, planks can help you develop definition in your core area.

Which type of plank is harder - straight arm or elbows?

When performing a plank, a great way to start is on your forearms and knees. There are many ways to progress as you get stronger and your stamina increases. Side planking is one way; where you turn to the side with one leg stacked on the other and one hand supporting. Another would be lifting one foot off the ground in a traditional plank position.

How long does it take to see results when a regular planking routine is started? Is it ideal to do this exercise every day? 

By increasing the amount of time you are in the plank position you will become stronger and increase your endurance. A great way to start is on your forearms and knees for :15. If you need a break, don't sweat it! Relax for a couple of seconds and then proceed. Try every day! Planking is an exercise you will be fine training daily. After a few days increase by :15-:30. After a week or so, try progressing to your forearms and feet. Eventually you can work your way up to planking on your hands and feet for one minute. Make that your goal!

How important is form when holding a plank? And will good form help me get results quicker?

Keeping your plank form in check is pinnacle to achieving your desired results. First and foremost you want to brace your abs and tighten your glutes. Whether you are on your forearms or hands, your toes and elbows should be pointing toward each other (inward to the center of your body). Work on creating energy and strength across your chest and back while maintaining a lengthened spine. You can achieve your desired plank goals quicker by adhering to proper plank form!

Can you hold a plank for TOO long?

Honestly, I don't feel you can hold a plank too long but there are some risks to holding over five minutes especially if you are not yet conditioned. It is true that the joints are challenged in a way that may not be the best fit for a fitness amateur. But I feel that working the plank in combination with a well-rounded fitness plan, three minutes is a perfectly healthy goal to work towards.

 

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Missy has been in the fitness industry for over twenty-five years and is a certified Health Coach, Wellness Expert, Elite Instructor and Trainer at Lifetime Athletic and Choreographer and Instructor for WERQdancefitness. Follow her on Instagram @missyvacala

 

 

This coconut curry has broccoli and chickpeas and a creamy coconut curry sauce that comes together super fast. Add cubed firm tofu or chicken if you like!

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste (or more to taste)
  • 2 small heads broccoli
  • 1 green pepper chopped 
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
  • optional: minced garlic 
  • As is this isn't very spicy. I like to add red chili oil or cayenne pepper to pump it up.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Saute broccoli, pepper, onion (and garlic if you’re using it) in a tablespoon of oil. After a few minutes, add the coconut milk and let simmer for 5-8 minutes. The broccoli should soften but still be tender-crisp.
  2. Add the curry paste to the pan and whisk it until it combines with the coconut milk. Add the chickpeas.
  3. Bring to a slight boil and add the cornstarch. Boil for about a minute, then reduce heat and let cool slightly. Sauce will thicken as the mixture cools.
  4. Serve over jasmine rice.

Goji berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
Some even claim these berries are natural remedies for diabetes, hypertension, malaria or even fever. Considered both a fruit and an herb, goji berries are typically found in Asian (usually China) and European countries. Some claim this is the "fountain of youth" berry and also helps reduce cancer risk. While these claims are not backed by scientific research, these tiny berries ARE loaded with antioxidants. As a plus, goji berries are low in calories, fat-free and are packed with fiber.

Goji berries have a natural tinge of sweetness with a very slight herb-like aftertaste.
You can eat them raw or soak them in hot water before munching. Others prefer adding goji berries to trail mixes, smoothies or as a garnish on cereals, salads or yogurts. Basically, goji berries can be baked, cooked, steamed, and processed in any way after they are washed.

You can buy the whole berries but I prefer goji berries in powder form, sold in bags at Whole Foods and online at Amazon (less expensive) under the brand name Navitas. It is easy to dissolve the powder in water or add to juice or smoothies. 


Healthy, Glowing Skin?
Similar to the benefits you get from eating other berries, goji berries are loaded with beta-carotene (a pigment found in plants and fruits) which helps promote healthy skin.

Protect Your Health ... All Over Your Body
Goji berries have also been known to help boost the immune system and protect the eyes. And like other berries, goji berries are also an excellent source of vitamin C and can reduce tough cold symptoms.

Packed With Antioxidants
Goji berries are an excellent source of antioxidants because of their oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) value. An ORAC value indicates a food's antioxidant power on a relative scale.

 

Have a juicer? If not - get one! They are so great for making healthy fresh juices from leafy greens, cucumbers, lemons and fruit. 

Also - you can make these delicious cucumber margaritas with it.

2 parts white 100% agave tequila

2 parts triple sec

1 part fresh lime juice

Mix these ingredients together in a pitcher.

Garnish glass with pink sugar. Pour tequila mixture over ice and top off with fresh cucumber juice.

At home chemical peels can help with a variety of skin conditions. Chemical peels are effective for anti aging skin care (wrinkles, lines, crow's feet, dull skin tones), to improve acne and acne scars, minimize pores, loosen blackheads, improve sun damaged skin, improve the appearance of stretch marks, fade age spots and general hyperpigmentation, to rejuvenate and improve the tone and texture of your skin. Doing your chemical peel at home is convenient and cost effective.

There are different types of peels that range from very light to deep. The deeper peels have longer lasting results and are more intensive. 

My favorite is the TCA peel. Trichloracetic Acid is the primary ingredient in the Obagi Blue Peel. Noticeable peeling will be realized, with some down-time (meaning your skin will be red, then brown, then peeling/flaking - nothing too unsightly) that will vary from person to person, dependent upon your skin type. Within the TCA category there are different percentages ranging from 12.5% to 30%. TCA Home Peels are excellent for softening deeper wrinkling, reducing/removing less severe facial lines, improving sun damage, fading hyperpigmentation (freckles, "age" spots), reducing scars (not keloid scarring, however), reducing acneic conditions with/without scarring, reducing and/or completely removing upper lip lines.  Improved skin coloration/brightness will be seen after peeling, with a fresh, more refined texture to the skin.

***TCA peels typically tighten the skin and provide a lifting effect.

A TCA peel of 12%, 15%, 18% or 21%, performed at a doctor's office, can cost $500 for one treatment. Doing it on your own you can do 20 peels for $50. 

Personally, I would visit the doctor for anything above 21%. I typically do the 15% or 18%. The website I am recommending has 1/2 oz.  samples if you just want to see how well you tolerate the percentage. 

Purchase the peels at this site: Makeup Artists Choice

http://www.makeupartistschoice.com/TCA-At-Home-Chemical-Peels_c_94.html

Here is a link to the instructions and what to expect. Please read this carefully before you begin!

http://www.makeupartistschoice.com/assets/images/Product%20Directions/tcapeel1page.pdf

 

 

Grilled Pesto Chicken and Tomato Kebabs
Servings: 8 
Calories: 147 • Fat: 7.5 g • Carb: 3 g • Fiber: 1 g • Protein: 18 g • Sugar: 0 g
Sodium: 104 mg • Cholest: 2.5 mg

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-1/4 lbs skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 16 wooden skewers

Directions:

In a food processor pulse basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while pulsing. 

Combine the raw chicken with pesto and marinate a few hours in a bowl. Soak wooden skewers in water at least 30 minutes (or use metal ones to avoid this step). Beginning and ending with chicken, thread chicken and tomatoes onto 8 pairs of parallel skewers to make 8 kebabs total.

Heat the outdoor grill or indoor grill pan over medium heat until hot. Be sure the grates are clean and spray lightly with oil. Place the chicken on the hot grill and cook about 3-4 minutes; turn and continue cooking until chicken is cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with rice, pasta or salad and naan bread.

This 90's staple is making a major comeback. Slip dresses cropped up all over the runways for Spring 2016.

Length is key. Too short looks too ready for bed; midi or floor-length looks more modern. Slips lend themselves to layering. Try wearing one under a skirt or another dress, so you can see a bit of lace poking out underneath the hem. 

1. With a turtleneck layered over it. 

Feeling cold this winter? Make like Kate Moss from the 90's and combine the best of two worlds: The cozy turtleneck and the body-clinging slip dress. 

2. With a shirt layered over it. 

Slip dresses are meant to be sexy, and that they are. Want to tone the sexy level of your slip dress down? Turn it into a skirt, layering a T-shirt or a sweater over it, so just a peek of the slip dress is visible. Totally acceptable to wear during the day.

3. With an open cardigan. 

Take your slip dress to dinner, pairing it with a soft open sweater. Don’t be afraid to play with color, but keep your accessories on the minimal side. Add a sexy pair of mules, and you’re good to go.

4. With a motorcycle jacket.

Motorcyle jackets and slip dresses are a match made in style heaven. Wear the outfit with ankle-strap sandals when it’s balmy outside, and transition to boots when the weather turns chilly. This is the quintessential date night outfit.

5. With boyish flats and an oversize blazer.

Temper the dress’ inherent sexiness with menswear staples, like a oversize blazer and not-so-feminine flats.

 

 

I won't lie and say this is EASY...but it is WORTH it. Better than P.F. Chang's and better than Yard House. You won't have any left overs.

    • 1 c. teriyaki sauce 
    • 1/3 c. sweet chili sauce
    • 1/4 c. soy sauce
    • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger (finely minced or grated)
    • red pepper flakes, to taste
    • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into small pieces
    • 2 Tbsp oil
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 2 Tbsp. oil
    • 1/2 c. sliced green onion
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 c. chopped water chestnuts
    • 1/2 c. pine nuts (chopped cashews work great too)
    • 1/3 c. chopped mushroom (optional)
    • 1 head butter lettuce
Dipping Sauces:
  • remaining teriyaki mixture (about 3/4 c.)
  • 1/4 tsp. Sriracha sauce (or to taste-- depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter

Instructions

    • Combine teriyaki sauce, chili sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a bowl.
    • Mix well and set aside.
    • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add chicken.
    • Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper. When chicken is white on all sides (doesn't need to be completely cooked through), remove chicken from skillet and set aside on a plate. Discard any extra juices.
    • In the same skillet, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, water chestnuts, pinenuts, and mushrooms and saute for about 1-2 minutes.
    • Stir in about 1/2 of the teriyaki mixture and chicken to the skillet. Cook uncovered, for about 7-8 minutes, stirring often until chicken is cooked through. Serve with butter lettuce.
For the dipping sauces:
  • Heat remaining teriyaki sauce in a small sauce pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and divide into 2 small bowls (one for spicy teriyaki sauce, one for peanut sauce).
  • In one bowl, add about 1/4 tsp. Sriracha sauce (or more to taste) and mix well.
  • In the other bowl, add 1-2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter (or to taste), mix until creamy and smooth.