Sugar-Free Baked Apple Slices

 

INGREDIENTS
3–4 Braeburn apples*
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon of apple pie spice (I used Penzeys. If you don’t have this, use approximately 1/8 teaspoon of both nutmeg and cloves, and add an extra 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup “no sugar added” apple sauce
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (bottled orange juice will be too sour)

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a small bowl, combine softened butter, cinnamon, apple pie spice, salt, and applesauce. Mash together with a soft silicone spatula until mixed thoroughly. Set aside.
Core the apples and slice them into very thin slices.
Line the bottom of a small, shallow baking dish with a single layer of apples. Spread a small amount of the butter mixture over each slice. Add another layer of apples to cover up any open spots. Spread a small amount of butter over those newer slices. Drizzle 1 tablespoon orange juice over the apples and lightly sprinkle with cinnamon.
Repeat layers until you’ve used up all your apples or filled your dish to the top. (You’ll be using the orange juice and extra cinnamon on every other layer of apple slices.)
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until apples are fork tender. Take out of oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

NOTES
*Braeburn apples are used because they are sweet and tart and have a lot of flavor, which is very important since we’re not adding sugar to this recipe. If you can’t find Braeburn, try Fuji or Jazz apples.

Star Mint Meringues

 

Ingredients
3 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
⅛ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
Red paste food coloring

Directions
Step 1
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl combine egg whites, cream of tartar, peppermint extract, and salt. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight).

Step 2
With a clean small paintbrush, brush stripes of red paste food coloring on the inside of a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch open-star tip. Carefully transfer egg white mixture to the pastry bag. Pipe 2-inch stars 1 inch apart onto prepared cookie sheet.

Step 3
Bake for 1-1/2 hours or until meringues appear dry and are firm when lightly touched. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

To Store:
Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts
Per Serving:
27 calories
total fat 0g
saturated fat 0g
polyunsaturated fat 0g
monounsaturated fat 0g
cholesterol 0mg
sodium 20mg
potassium 12mg
carbohydrates 6g
fiber 0g
sugar 6g
protein 0g
trans fatty acid 0g
vitamin a 0IU
vitamin c 0mg
thiamin 0mg
riboflavin 0mg
niacin equivalents 0mg
vitamin b6 0mg
folate 0mcg
vitamin b12 0mcg
calcium 0mg
iron 0mg.

CINNAMON APPLE ENERGY BITES

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup dried apples, not freeze dried
  • 1/2 cup medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almonds
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, gluten-free if needed
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons water, more if needed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Soak the dates in hot water for 10 minutes. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender and blend until the mixture turns into a paste or dough like consistency.
  2. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls. Store the energy bites in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
NUTRITION INFORMATION:

YIELD: 20 SERVING SIZE: 1

Amount Per Serving:
CALORIES: 52
TOTAL FAT: 2g
SATURATED FAT: 0g
TRANS FAT: 0g
UNSATURATED FAT: 2g
CHOLESTEROL: 0mg
SODIUM: 4mg
CARBOHYDRATES: 8g
FIBER: 1g
SUGAR: 6g
PROTEIN: 1g

Roasted Grape and Kale Salad

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 heaping cup red grapes
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 bunch kale ribs removed and finely chopped
  •  cup roughly chopped candied pecans  can use regular pecans, walnuts, or almonds
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese goat cheese is good too

For the dressing:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the grapes on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until grapes are blistered and caramelized.
  • While the grapes are roasting, make the farro. Place 1 cup farro in a fine mesh sieve and rinse with cold water. Drain. Transfer to a medium sized pot that has a lid. Add 3 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, until it is softened but still chewy. If there is liquid remaining in the pot, drain it off. Fluff the farro with a fork and let cool to room temperature.
  • To make the dressing, in a small bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup or honey, mustard, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Place chopped kale in medium bowl. Add the roasted grapes, cooked farro, candied pecans, and feta cheese. Drizzle with dressing and toss well. Serve immediately.
  • Note-if you don’t have farro, you can use quinoa or brown rice in this salad.

Italian Stuffed Peppers

Italian stuffed peppers are a fresh, healthy twist on a classic! Made with ground chicken, tomatoes, herbs and cheese, they’re easy and freezer friendly.

Ingredients

  • 4 large red bell peppers
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or up to ½ teaspoon if you like more spicy
  • 1 can no salt added diced tomatoes with juices, 15 ounces
  • 1 ½ cups cooked brown rice farro, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or orzo (if using orzo, undercook it slightly)
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella provolone (or a mix)
  • ½ cup Parmesan divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Slice the bell peppers in half from top to bottom. Remove the seeds and membranes then arrange cut side up in the prepared baking dish.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook, breaking apart the meat, until the chicken is browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid, then pour in the can of diced tomatoes and their juices. Let simmer for 1 minute.
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the rice (or farro) and ½ cup of the Mozzarella and ¼ cup of the parmesan. Mound the filling inside of the peppers, then top with the remaining cheeses.
  • Pour a bit of water into the pan with the peppers—just enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes, until the peppers are tender and the cheese is melted. Top with fresh basil. Serve hot.

Notes

  • Keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in the microwave or oven. For easiest reheating, cut the peppers into a few pieces first so that they warm evenly.

BANANA YOGURT RECIPE

A deliciously sweet and creamy dessert sweetened only with fruit.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (optional) 
  • .5 scoops of Whey or Vegan Protein Powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1.5 cups natural greek yogurt

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Add the banana, peanut butter, protein powder and cinnamon to a blender and blend until smooth
  • Add the banana puree to a mixing bowl and fold in the yogurt until mixed through.

RECIPE NOTES

  1. You can use brown or yellow bananas for this. The browner the banana the sweeter the yogurt.
  2. The peanut butter and cinnamon is optional. You can leave them out or replace with other additions such as vanilla or cardamom.
Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 132Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Fat 2g
Cholesterol 4mg
Sodium 52mg
Potassium 369mg
Carbohydrates 18g
Fiber 2g
Sugar 10g
Protein 11g
Vitamin A 40IU
Vitamin C 5.1mg
Calcium 113mg
Iron 0.3mg

HOW TO MAKE THIS HEALTHY APPLE CIDER DONUTS:

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a donut pan with non-stick spray.
  • In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Add in the eggs, and apple cider. Mix until combined. Add the melted coconut oil, and honey and continue mixing.
  • Place the mixture into a large piping bag and piping batter evenly into each mold.
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes. Let cool. Dip each donut in a coconut sugar/cinnamon mixture if desired.

Notes

  • Use a preheated oven.
  • Make sure to spritz your donut molds with non stick spray.
  • For an even bolder flavor, you can reduce the apple cider down by simmering it for 20 mins. This gives an eve stronger apple taste.
  • You might notice the batter is thick, this is fine! Thicker donuts give us a more cakey bite!
  • If you don’t have a piping bag that’s fine. Pour your batter into a zipped-top bag, then cut the corner off and pipe it into the donut pan.
  • To check the doneness of these baked donuts, poke your finger into the top of one. If the donut bounces back, they are done.
  • You can add some ground nutmeg to the topping for more festive flavors.

Nutrition

Calories: 151kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 64mg | Potassium: 113mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 0.8mg

Sometimes you just need an extra boost…or chocolate.

And nothing says pick-me-up quite like our chocolate protein bites. Made with less than 5 ingredients, they’re the perfect pre-workout snack.

They’re supercharged with brain-boosting benefits from lion’s mane mushrooms. And the cordyceps, AKA an athlete’s best friend, are great for muscle fatigue and endurance.

Not to mention they taste just like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!

The best part? They come together in only 5 minutes and they can be enjoyed throughout the week.

CHOCOLATE SUPER BITES

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Chocolate Whey or Vegan Powder
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ground cinnamon, shredded coconut (optional)

Directions:

  1. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until you’re left with a sticky mixture.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the baking pan and press down evenly. Alternatively, roll into bite-sized balls and roll them in shredded coconut, if desired.
  4. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before cutting into squares.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Meal Plan: 3 Most Common Mistakes

I talk to a lot of clients, athletes, and people on social media, and they frequently want to know about nutrition. And from decades of experience helping people get fit, improve their health, and change their bodies sustainably, here are the 3 most common Meal Plan mistakes I see people making that limit progress towards their goals long term.

Now, I didn’t say these 3 mistakes are what keep people from dropping weight in the short term. I’m specifically focused on the long game and how to go beyond a quick fix, so that reaching and maintaining your goals transforms from high effort to simply second nature.

  1. Skipping Quality and Food Hygiene to get to the numbers first (skipping Phase 1)
  2. Measuring things incorrectly and without precision – (never doing Phase 2 meticulously)
  3. Asking advanced questions before you learned the basics (starting with late stage Phase 3 questions without building foundations)

3 Phases Of Meal Planning

Phase One: Food Quality & Hygiene
Phase Two: Calories & Macronutrients
Phase Three: Refining & Evolving

Mistake #1: Skipping Quality and Hygiene

Just give me the numbers, Coach. I need to know how much to eat. I don’t need a meal plan. This is such an easy and common mistake people get roped into. The reason being is that it works very well in the short term. How do you make a meal plan that will uncover exactly how you would do this and get the numbers headed in the right direction, but the point about long term success has shown me time and time again that you need to have a deep understanding of good quality and good food hygiene to be successful even with good numbers. 

Quality Meal Plan Eggs

  • what type of foods you eat
  • did you cook it yourself
  • was it sourced locally
  • is it organic, grass-fed, wild, pastured… (all the healthy buzz words)

Hygiene

  • how did you consume the food
  • did you chew the food sufficiently
  • did you slow down to eat or shovel in
  • were you distracted eating in front of a screen or calm and connected
  • did you breathe during your meal intentionally and smell your food

Low-quality food and improper hygiene ultimately leads to the following issue long term on your meal plan:

  • undernourishment of micronutrients
  • build-up of toxins
  • poor satiation cues and understanding of your hunger signals
  • stress on your digestive system and damage to your gut lining leading to gut inflammation and bloating
  • inability to every stray from your numbers without feeling lost and unable to navigate food without a spreadsheet

Mistake #2: Measuring Incorrectly

So you have decided to tackle the weighing and measuring approach to your meal plan. I’m a big supporter of this at the right time for clients. I’m a big supporter in the same way I support a chemist deciding to tackle and experiment and attempt to learn something new about the chemistry in their test tube experiment.

I honor the scientific method. Food measurement for anyone that takes it on should at one point be treated like the scientific methods. Every variable accounted for, documented, measured as precisely as you can, and done for an extended enough time period to see the value that metric played in your experiment (fat loss, performance, muscle gain, etc).

If a chemist did a wet lab experiment and just randomly poured powders and solvents into a tube without precision, what good would come from that? Unfortunately, I see people approach their weighing and measuring this way often. They do it far too loosely and don’t get the details right. The risk is when something works they really don’t know how to repeat the success, because their inputs were never accounted for correctly.

Alternatively, if something doesn’t work, clients will be quick to say that this doesn’t work for them and that their body is “unique” and can’t be figured out. In either case, the experiment was a failure because the work was never done correctly. It is annoying for many people to weight and track all their food. It takes time and is an added step that is hard to be compliant with. What is even more annoying as I see it is doing 50% of the work and having NOTHING to show for it at the end. 

Measuring correctly means:

  • Everything that goes in your mouth in a day is accounted for
  • You ideally weigh every single ingredient on a scale and note the form you weighed it (cooked rice, raw meat, steamed veggies)
  • Sauces, oils, and added ingredients are all accounted for as well
  • Liquids are all accounted for too

One important and perhaps helpful thing to note. You will not have to do this forever. Doing it with precision once in a while for a period of 30 days is enough to reset baselines, establish what is working or isn’t working, and remind you that this mysterious nutrition thing isn’t so mysterious after all. Then you can go back to your looser ways of tracking and being accountable. When the inevitable time comes when you aren’t seeing what you like or feeling the way you want you can go back to the drawing board and establish a new reference point and accountability check.

Mistake #3: Asking Questions Out of Order

Picture this scenario. A new client walks into the gym and asks, “Hey, I was told I should start working on my Snatch 3rd Pull and really start honing in on my Snatch Drop and Snatch Balance accessory lifts. Can you write me a 5x/week program with those involved?” The coach then proceeds to ask the client to perform a PVC pipe Overhead Squat. The client obliges and demonstrates the most hideous and out of position OHS the coach has seen in months. The client is up on their toes, PVC forward, shoulder internally rotated, and back flexed in 2 spots.

What was the issue here? Is asking about 3rd pull drills like the Snatch Drop or Snatch Balance wrong? No, they were just asked about a year or two before the client was ready to be asking that question. In nutrition, this happens all the time. With so much information available to you on the web it is easy to get bogged down with one new advanced trend or the other. Should I carb cycle? Should I do keto? Should I fast? When should I take my amino acids? Is this supplement something you advise?

Why is asking questions out of order a problem and not good for long term success?

  • often times these answers and some of these experimental methods get you short term results
  • short term results that eventually fail on the premise that you don’t have good Phase 1 and 2 foundations to guide you
  • Phase 1 combined with Phase 2, done diligently and with consistency, will get the vast majority of people to their goals without a big need for more tweaks beyond that
  • Phase 3 questions have the power to make the process of doing Phase 1 and Phase 2 more sustainable for you. But please remember, long term success comes from knowing how to do Phase 1 and Phase 2 correctly for a long time.

Meal Plan

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Weight Loss: Too Much Cardio Can Hinder Your Goals

Weight loss

 

 

When you think of the best exercise for weight loss what comes to mind? For many people, the answer is cardio. The reality is that doing too much cardio can actually hinder your weight loss goals. There is so much misinformation out there about how to properly workout for weight loss that many people work diligently to lose weight and get disappointing results. Understanding what cardio can do for you, why too much cardio can hinder your weight loss goals, and how to find the right balance with cardio is important if you want to choose a workout plan that will move you toward your weight loss goals.

What cardio can do for you

Cardio, in its various forms, is popular among people who want to lose weight. When you strap on your step/calorie tracker it is cardio that shows the highest calorie burn. And, since a big part of successfully losing weight is burning calories, it seems logical to increase cardio to lose weight. This approach will work temporarily. In the beginning of your weight loss journey, your body will likely respond quickly to increased cardio. Cardio is also an important part of your heart health and overall wellbeing. Getting in some type of cardio every day can provide you with important benefits but when it comes to weight loss, cardio has its limits. If a little bit of cardio at the beginning of your weight loss journey can burn a significant number of calories, then what can a lot of cardio do? The reality is that the calorie burning effect of cardio will start to change as your fitness level improves. There is a point with cardio in which you will start to see diminishing returns. If you are trying to lose weight, more cardio is not necessarily better.

Why too much cardio can hinder your weight loss goals

It is important for everyone to include some cardio into their lives. You can get your cardio in at the gym or commit to being more active throughout the day – take a walk after lunch, kick the soccer ball around with your kids, park farther out in parking lots, etc. If you choose to put in focused cardio sessions at the gym or outside, it is important that you do not do too much cardio. You may see quick results from cardio in the beginning of your weight loss journey but those results will quickly slow down and eventually plateau. If you respond to the slowed results by continually adding in more and more cardio you may get to a point where you are sabotaging your weight loss. This happens because your body adapts to the cardio you are doing. How far could you walk or run that first day? How difficult was it for you? If you are consistent with your training you will be able to go longer and farther with less effort. Your body is adapting. Doing too much cardio can signal to your body that it needs to start conserving energy. That means that your metabolism will slow down. This is the opposite of what you want to happen if your goal is to lose weight!

How to find the right balance with cardio

Cardio is important but too much cardio will hinder your weight loss. How do you know how much is too much? You can find the right balance when it comes to cardio but it will take some effort. You need to find the right balance of cardio for your body. Getting in non-exercise thermogenic activity (NEAT) is important to do every day – one way to fit in NEAT is to set a step goal. If you want to include more focused cardio into your workout plan, you will need to keep close tabs on your results to ensure that you do not overdo it with cardio. If weight loss is your goal, use your progress to help you determine if you are doing too much cardio. A plateau may mean that you are off track with your eating or that your body is adapting to the amount of cardio you are doing. If you make strength training the primary focus of your exercise sessions it can help you avoid sabotaging your efforts with too much cardio.

There is a place in your workout for cardio but it should never be the primary focus. If you are ready to find a program that will help you consistently move toward your weight loss goals then schedule a Free Goal Setting Session with 4Balance Fitness.