Baked Acorn Squash & Baked Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

 

Guest blogger Ashley is sharing some fall recipes:

 

Baked Acorn Squash:

Squash is coming on to the scene and it sure is good.  I have an acorn squash and a spaghetti squash as well sitting in my kitchen waiting to be cooked.  The last time I cooked an acorn squash I used a simple recipe and it was so delicious and healthy. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil to reduce clean up time.  Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. 

I spread coconut oil on the inside and the outside of the squash. Feel free to use salt and pepper or any other spices you like to give it some flavor.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

 

Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

It has become popular to substitute noodles with spaghetti squash.  Here is a yummy spaghetti sauce recipe to pour over the squash.  Feel free to cook the spaghetti squash the same way I cooked my acorn squash.  You probably won’t need to spice it because the sauce will have plenty of flavor.

Spaghetti Meat Sauce:

28 oz. tomato sauce (I use organic with sauces, just be aware of the sodium content)

28 oz. diced tomatoes

1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey

1 onion, diced

1 pkg mushrooms, sliced

1 tbsp. basil

1 tbsp. pepper

garlic powder to taste

1 zucchini, diced (optional)

 

1. Brown the meat and make sure once cooked to drain the excess fat.

2. In a skillet, sauté the veggies using coconut oil.

3. Once the veggies are cooked, add the tomatoes, sauce, spices and meat to the mix.

4. Serve over your cooked spaghetti squash.

 

I love the fall and the food that comes along with it.  The four seasons allow us to mix up our meals throughout the year which is nice.  Variety in our diets is the key to being able to eat healthy and stay on track for the long term.  Get ready to carve those pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns and enjoy this spin on spaghetti.  It’s also a great time of year to get outside and run.  Enjoy the breeze without humidity and get fresh air before the winter comes.  Happy October everyone.

Increasing Strength with Glute Exercises

 

A guest post from fitness blogger Ashley:

 

One of the most common complaints that I hear from clients but also have experienced myself is low back pain.  I have learned in my years of training that this stems from more than just weak abdominals. 

 

When people say ‘core’ typically you just think of your stomach muscles and low back.  What they realize is it also includes your booty muscles, serratus anterior and posterior, erector spinae and your lats.  With that said you have to stretch and strengthen a lot more muscle groups than just your abdominals to reduce low back pain. 

 

My glutes and hamstrings are the main muscle groups that I’ve been working on to ensure my low back feels good.  It’s not always about strengthening…also remember to stretch to increase flexibility in your lower body.  You can go back into the archives of my blog and check out my stretching entry to get you started.

 

The most important kind of training for strengthening the glutes is unilateral training.  This simply means working one side of your body at a time.  Everyone has a dominant side and unilateral movements allow each glute to work equally as hard to perform the exercise.  It doesn’t allow your dominant side to compensate for the weak.  This also will allow you to make gains in leg exercises that involve both legs working at the same time like a squat. 

 

So what are some basic glute exercises that will increase strength?  Here are a number of body weight exercises that you can start with.  Enjoy the downtown Milwaukee atmosphere and the blinding sun in these photos.  What a beautiful day it is today and why not lay in the grass on Water Street after a great cup of Collectivo (it will always be Alterra to me) Coffee and perform them for you. Side note: don’t exercise in sandals like I am.  I simply forgot to take them off and always have good footwear on when I’m working out.

 

 

Glute Extensions:  Lay on your back with your hands at your side and your knees bent with feet flat on the ground.  Lift your hips and squeeze your glutes at the top of the exercise.  Lower your hips back down and repeat.

 

Single Leg Glute Extensions: You will start in the same position as glute extensions except one leg will be up in the air.  Lift your hips, squeeze your glutes at the top and lower hips back down. Repeat.

 

 

Hydrants:  The ‘look like a dog peeing on a hydrant’ exercise.  Start on all fours with your back nice and flat.  Stack your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips.  Bring your bent leg up so your leg is parallel with the ground and lower back down.  Don’t forget to do both sides.

 

Side Leg Raises: Start in the same positions as hydrants.  Try to stretch your leg straight out so it is perpendicular to the rest of your body.  If your hips don’t allow that kind of flexibility, decrease the angle of your leg.  You are going to lift and lower your leg without touching down.  Think of it as more of a pulsing movement.  Switch sides.

 

Hip Circles: Start in the same position as the last two exercises.  Kick one leg back, lift your hip and circle your leg back around to your starting position.  You will go the opposite direction as well.  Bring your knee into your chest and then lift your hip in a circular motion.

 

Forward Lunges and Lateral Lunges: Forward lunges that I have talked about in a couple of my blog entries (go back to my ‘No Excuse Workout Plan‘ entry if you need a refresher) are a great exercise to increase glute strength.  Another great lunge exercise is a lateral lunge.  Start with feet together and take an oversized step to the side.  Both sets of toes should face forward the entire exercise. The leg that you step out with is going to bend while the other leg stays straight.  Do all your repetitions on one side and then switch to the other.

 

Here’s a quick workout sample for you to try:

 

Glute Extensions – 3×25

Single Leg Glute Extensions: 3×15/leg

Hydrants: 3×25/leg

Side Leg Raises: 3×25/leg

Hip Circles: 3×25/leg, make sure you go both directions so you will end up doing 50 repetitions total on each leg.

Forward Lunges: 3×15/leg

Lateral Lunges: 3×15/leg

*Don’t forget to include stretching of your hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors in this rotation as well.

 

I would go through each exercise once and then start at the beginning and go through them two more times.  If you don’t have as much time, just go through the exercises twice.

 

I will leave you with this thought.  As we were walking downtown we passed this:

 

We all have choices.  We have choices to see the glass half full or half empty.  This week try to choose a positive thought even if your first inclination was to think of the negative.  Attitude can be a driving force towards obtaining your goals or a road block constantly getting in your way.  Try to take the high road and embrace all the great things in your life. Work hard, stay positive and keep your goals in the forefront of your mind.

Oven Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

cauliflower blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A guest post from food blogger Christine Fontanin:

Oven roasting cauliflower brings out its natural sweetness and gives it a completely different and delicious flavor!

 

Ingredients:

4 garlic cloves diced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large head cauliflower, separated into large florets (try to keep them in uniform size for even cooking)

Parmesan cheese (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil and garlic and salt and pepper.  Pour into a large greased baking dish.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Stir and bake for another 12 minutes.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and broil until cheese is melted.

Easy Homemade Strawberry Jelly

 

jelly

A guest post from the McDonald Family:

 

With fall getting closer by the day it means that canning season is right around the corner.  In our house we go through a lot of jelly with our two year old son; a huge fan of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.   By using just a few ingredients you can make jelly that beats anything you can buy at the grocery store…and healthier too!

 

Ingredients:
2 quarts organic strawberries
2 cups white sugar (organic or cane sugar)
1/4 cup lemon juice

 

Directions:
Wash and hull strawberries.  In a large bowl, crush the strawberries using a dough cutter.  Combine strawberries and sugar in a large sauce pot.  Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Turn heat to high and cook rapidly to a gelling point.  As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.  Remove from heat and skim the foam off the top if necessary.  Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Place caps on jars and process 10-15 minutes in boiling-water canner.  Enjoy!

jelly2

Zucchini Chips

A guest post from the McDonald Family:

 

Zucchini is one of our favorite vegetables but we were getting tired of preparing it in the same way every time.  ( Sauteing it with a little butter and seasoning with fresh ground pepper)  We decided a to try something new but it acts more like a tasty appetizer than it does a side.  Here is a delicious and easy recipe for zucchini with just a few ingredients from your pantry.
chips2
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 2 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini (about 2 small)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.  Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place milk in a shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place coated slices on an ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve immediately.
 chips

Easy Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

 

A guest post from fitness blogger Ashley:

I made a great crockpot meal the other day that was so tasty and probably the easiest recipe yet.  I wanted to make a meal of it so I also cooked some quinoa and a 16 bean mix to add to it.

I actually cooked the bean mix a few days prior to making the chicken in the crockpot.  I just followed the bag instructions and let the beans cook for about 8 hours.  I would suggest adding salt, pepper and spices to the cooking mix because they will be very bland if you don’t.  Some ideas would be garlic powder, onion powder, minced garlic or even thyme and rosemary.

Here is the easiest recipe ever…

Salsa Chicken

1 package organic boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1 jar organic salsa, I used black bean and corn salsa.  It gave the chicken a smokey chipotle flavor and made my apartment smell so delicious.

1 cup quinoa (cooked separately)

All you have to do is put the chicken and salsa in the crockpot on high for a few hours. Once the chicken starts to cook and the salsa starts to sizzle, turn it on low and keep it in there for another few hours.  I left mine in the crockpot for six to eight hours and the chicken just fell apart and was so tender.  The salsa is a great topping to go with the meat and quinoa.

The quinoa should be rinsed and then cooked according to the package.  Put one half cup of quinoa on the bottom of a bowl and top it with beans and a few chicken tenders and the salsa.  Salt and pepper is optional but gave the quinoa and beans more flavor.  I live by myself and was about to get 4-5 meals out of this.  It makes being busy much easier when I have prepared my meals ahead of time. Enjoy!

Overnight Oats

 

A guest post from fitness blogger Ashley:

Do you find yourself hitting the snooze button a couple extra times in the morning and then rushing around trying to get out the door on time?  Well for me, I end up hitting the snooze button about three more times than I should and then I have on average about 10-12 minutes to get dressed, brush my teeth, put my contacts in, make breakfast and pack snacks. So I came across a recipe that is now one of my new favorite on the go breakfast meals.  You make it the night before and just add a few ingredients in the morning and it’s ready to go.  The less time I have to spend prepping, the better. So here are the ingredients that I’ve used, though you can pretty much add or take out whatever you want depending on what kind of fruit you like. I used a mason jar to make it in. It’s a great portion controller and has a lid so you can save some for later if you get full.

Ingredients:

1 cup milk.  I used almond milk but you can use regular milk, coconut milk etc.

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 banana, peeled and smashed, optional.  I’ve thought about trying it with berries or peaches.

1 tbsp. chia seeds

1 tbsp. hemp seeds

1 tbsp. peanut butter

1 tsp. agave nectar.  You can also use maple syrup or honey.

Directions:

Mix all ingredients besides the peanut butter and agave nectar in a mason jar.  Let sit overnight and then add peanut butter and agave nectar in the morning. Stir well.

I love it because I can eat some for breakfast and the rest for my mid morning snack.  It’s very filling and has great flavor.  You can add or take out most of the ingredients and make it your own with whatever you like best.

Add in a cup of tea or coffee with it on those colder mornings and enjoy. Go Packers!

 

Fish Tacos with Mexican Coleslaw, Chipotle Mayo and Cilantro Garlic Mayo

 

A guest post from Holly:

We wanted to make fish tacos in order to creatively use food from our Brewers Organics delivery (cabbage, cilantro, scallion and carrots) and that is exactly what we did! This recipe is recommended for shrimp, soft-shell crab or clams, but we used tilapia and lake perch.

 

fish tacos

Seafood Tempura

½ lb tilapia filet, cut into ~2 ½  inch pieces

½ lb lake perch, cut into ~2 ½ inch pieces

¾ cup all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons organic fine cornmeal

½ tsp kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 egg

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tbsp minced scallion

6 tbsp water

½ cup beer

oil for deep frying

Cut the fish into pieces and pat dry.  Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, garlic, scallion, water and beer, then combine with flour mixture.  Let the batter sit for 20 minutes.  To deep fry, bring 3 inches of oil to 370 degrees F in a large pot.  Dip the seafood into the batter and drop into the hot oil.  Cook for about 3 minutes.  Work in batches and make sure oil comes back up to temperature before adding more seafood.

Mexican Coleslaw

Use ¼ of a head of red cabbage and ¼ of a head of green cabbage – thinly sliced

½ small sweet onion – thinly sliced

1 carrot – grated

½ bunch cilantro – coarsely chopped

½ tsp white wine vinegar

½ adobo seasoning to taste

½ tsp olive oil

Combine ingredients and toss

Chipotle Mayo

½ cup organic mayo plus 1 tbsp

1 tbsp El Pato (salsa de jalapeno) (green can)

½ tsp chipotle powder

Blend and use as a topping on tacos

 Cilantro Garlic Mayo

½ cup organic mayo + 1 tbsp

½ bunch cilantro – chopped very fine

2 medium cloves garlic – chopped very fine

Serve as a dipping sauce for pieces of fried fish, or make some sweet potato fries (frozen)!

Easy Cucumber Salad

 

A guest post from the McDonald Family:

As a kid I remember my grandparents always having a huge garden and there being a ton of cucumbers.  My grandma was 100% German and always made a cucumber salad for any family get-together that her mom used to make.  This salad continues to be a staple at any family party to this day.

Ingredients:

5 Large Cucumbers

2 Tbsp Salt

2 cups low fat sour cream

1/4 cup wine vinegar

1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

2 tsp minced chives

Directions:

Wash, trim and peel cucumbers completely.  Slice them thinly and place in a salad bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and let stand 30 minutes.  Drain off liquid.  Add other ingredients and mix well.  Cover and chill for at least 1 hour (the longer they sit the better they are)

Spicy Coleslaw

 

A guest post from Kerri:

Spicy Slaw: Warm Up Your Next Fall Gathering

It was 92 degrees yesterday…20 degrees above normal.  Although the 7-day forecast is still chock full of 80 and 90 degree days, Fall is right around the corner.  In this season of flux, it’s nice to have something that warms but doesn’t weigh you down so you can get out there and play one last round of bocce ball or Jarts (we still have a set…don’t tell “The Man”).  “Kerri, what is this superb side you speak of?”  Spicy Slaw!  Dial up or tone down the spiciness and/or nuttiness of this Asian-style slaw as you see fit.  No matter how you slice (and julienne) it, this slaw delivers a flavor punch and a whole lotta veggie crunch!

slawSpicy Slaw!

The Ingredients:

Dressing
1/3 cup of all natural chunky or creamy peanut butter (I think any type of nut butter would work in this recipe if you have a peanut allergy or follow an ayurvedic diet)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (roll the lime on a hard surface before juicing to release more juice)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup Sriracha (“rooster sauce”) (remember – you can up the spice or tone it down)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used about 1 T of pre-minced garlic…I hate mincing garlic)
2 T fish sauce (available at your local grocery or Asian grocery).
1 T sesame paste
1 T grated fresh ginger
2 T organic dark brown sugar

Slaw
1 and 1/2 lbs green cabbage, shredded ( I used the cabbage we received in a recent Brewers Organics box)
1/2 lb red cabbage, shredded
2 carrots. peeled and julienned (I used baby carrots – about a cup)
2 bell peppers, seeded and julienned (red or green…whatever you have on hand…I had a couple red I had just picked from the front garden)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 bunch green onions, white parts only, cut into long thin matchsticks
1-2 T cilantro paste or 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro ( I had some paste on hand so I used that)
Chopped fresh basil or thai basil (I just used regular basil)
Chopped and whole cashews
Lime slices for garnish

The Recipe:

1.  Mix all dressing ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to mix with slaw veggies.

2.  Prepare all of your veggies and toss them until they are well mixed.

3.  Pour on your dressing and toss again until dressing is well distributed.

4. To serve, place a hefty scoop on your plate or in your bowl. Make sure to garnish with chopped basil, a bit of chopped cashews or a few whole cashews (or both!) and a couple slices of lime to really fancy it up.  Feeling adventurous? Break out the chopsticks.

If you, like me, hate having leftover cabbage just sitting in your fridge unused, feel free to shred up all of your cabbage and make a bit more dressing.  Really, if you have tons of any of the veggie ingredients (peppers, carrots), you can add more as well.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can really adjust it to fit your fridge contents 🙂

Keep it spicy, my friends!

Next time: A zucchini snack for your next Packer (or insert team of your choice) party!