twice baked southwest sweet potatoes

 up and at it eeeearly this morning again gettin’ sweaty with the stair master. i thought it was pretty cool to see my own sweat on the machine but when you really think about just how GERMY gyms are it’s pretty disgusting! wiping your machine down before you use it eases your mind a little..but far from a truly effective germ blocker.  also, if you’re like me you’ve got your phone, ipod, headphones, etc. with you that you’re constantly touching in between sets. wash your hands and wipe those items down before you leave! if you use weight gloves, wash them often and don’t even think about driving home in them. eeeeewwww.

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i told Sonny if i start going hard with the snooze button to simply push me out of bed.  for real. 9 times outta 10 i severely regret not getting up to get my workout in.  it jump starts my mood, my productivity, my drive to accomplish some goals on my to-do list… i need my early am workouts. my day depends on them. when i skip, it’s like i never wake up and really get going until the day is pretty much over. which means getting to bed is a must but sometimes difficult with these unpredictable little people.

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 fighting through some soreness from all the lifting i’ve been doing, but it’s nothing some consistency won’t fix.  ‘starting over’ physically after being quite active is always a humbling experience for me. it gives me a bit more mercy on the first timers that take my classes for sure lol.  anyhow, 8 weeks postpartum today,

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and 8 weeks old for this little guy <3 .  the back of his onesie says ‘focus on me’. loves it!

i was inspired to whip up this sweet potato recipe via Instagram earlier today.

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Twice Baked Southwest Sweet Potatoes

the stuff:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, roasted
  • 1/4 cup sweet summer corn
  • 1/4 cup low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 cup shredded cheddar almond cheese
  • 4 oz grilled chicken breast, chopped into chunks
  • 1 heaping tbsp Mrs. Dash Southwest seasoning blend
  • sea salt & black pepper to taste and avocado for presentation

do this:

  1. set your oven broiler to high and coat a square 8 x 8 pan with no-stick cooking spray.
  2. halve both sweet potatoes and scoop out the insides (but leave some around the edges so the halve can stand on its own) and add it to a large mixing bowl.
  3. add all seasonings, corn, half of the green onions, black beans, 2 oz of chopped chicken, and half of the shredded cheese; mix well.
  4. spoon mixture back into the 4 sweet potato shells evenly and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, green onion, and chicken chunks and arrange them in your prepared pan.
  5. place pan in oven (not too close to the broiler flame though!) and let it go  for 12-15  min or until the cheese is melted and the tops are browned/crisped.

20140812_151336_1once done, top with tomato and avocado. make it pretty.

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hey these can even be vegan if you nix the chicken!

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 makes 4 servings. for 1:

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 yall enjoy!

le

zucchini pepperoni pizza poppers

Bey and J are performing in Houston tonight and guess who’s going!??!?! all of Houston!!!  except us. we’re at home eating zucchini pizzas and staring at each other.

IMG_20140718_174525these healthy, light snacks are bursting with Italian, cheesy goodness and make THE perfect party appetizers by the way! you just need to serve them immediately while they are hot and bubbling. else, the cheese hardens up. but i can eat cheese at any temperature. especially burnt cheese. yummy.

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Zucchini Pepperoni Pizza Poppers

the stuff:

  • 2 raw zucchini, coined 1/2 in thick
  • 1/3 cup homemade marinara
  • 1/4 cup turkey pepperoni rounds, chopped
  • no stick cooking spray
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice (vegan, dairy-free, cheddar, monterey  jack, pepperjack, mozzarella, etc.)

do this:

  1. wrap a large flat baking plan with foil and coat with no-stick cooking spray and set your oven broiler to high
  2. heat a large griddle to med-high heat  (i made pancakes for breakfast and the griddle was already out but you can use a very large skillet too) and coat it with no-stick cooking spray
  3. place as many zucchini coins flat on the griddle as possible and cook for 1 minute (you may have to work in batches)
  4. flip the coins over and cook for an additional minute
  5. transfer the cooked coins to the baking sheet lined with foil
  6. dab some marinara sauce on the top of each coin and using the back of a small spoon, spread mixture out
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  8.  sprinkle a few shreds of cheese on top of the sauce
  9.  sprinkle some chopped turkey pepperoni on top of the cheese
  10. place entire pan in your oven as close to the broiler flames as you can get and cook for approx. 5 minutes or until the cheese is melty and bubbly
  11. sprinkle with Italian seasoning. done.

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s/n: if you have more zucchini to use up, see if you can stretch your ingredients even further as you might have sauce/cheese, etc. left over.

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 i upgraded my fry cutter!  this is the Deluxe Fry Cutter from Bed Bath & Beyond and i got it for 13 bucks after using the 5 bucks off coupon that comes in the snail mail flyer.  great, affordable investment.  the only thing i did have to do first is peel the potato, then slice it in half.  the device only opens so wide, so you might have to cut the ends off to make it fit.  other than that, no microwaving needed before cutting!  sign up for their ads directly on their website to get their coupons.

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what a big helper! not just in the kitchen with me but with his little brother as well which is a huge answered prayer. many have asked how the transition with the boys has been and i can honestly say smooth.  putting Dego’s dirty diapers in the diaper genie for me is exciting to him. yeah, i’m milking that for as long as he lets me.

also, these are the delish, Spicy Smoky Sweet Potato Fries from my ebook!

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WHY didn’t i think of this sooner… Quest Bars help out big time with my sweet toof.  i really i only get them when i go to my gym, so now that i’m going almost regularly the bars are making appearances again. THIS time though, i’m going to GNC and buying an entire box. can’t keep buying them for 3 bucks at a time, pretty stupid and not cost-effective.  20g protein, 17g fiber, 170-180 cals. coconut cashew is one of my fave flavors! .

didn’t get to have my early gym rendezvous this morning so i went power walking this evening.

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 i strapped down the girls with two sports bras and hit the bricks.  let me tell you how much i appreciate working my back 2 or more times a week when i was preggo! the weight of these boobs right now….. whew.

le

sweet slow cooker cornish hens + ‘Chopped’ suey

did anybody else catch the new ep of Chopped tonight!? i’m a huge fan of the show and while i thought one of the competitors, Lauren Von Der Pool ‘s performance was totally disrespectful yet comical, social media pretty much agreed and proceeded to rip her to shreds immediately the show aired :shock: . after watching i just had to google her name (apparently i wasn’t alone) and i’m just blown away yet again at the wrath of social media, my goodness.  it’s 2014 and words still hurt.  they always will.  i wish her much success and sincerely hope she takes away some valuable lessons from her Chopped experience.  anyway, i hope your #sundayfamilyfunday was pleasant!  i whipped out my crock pot this morning before church and threw this together:madewithOver-4

sweet slow cooker cornish hens

the stuff:

  • 3 whole cornish game hens
  • 1/4 cup liquid aminos
  • 1/2 cup light agave nectar
  • 2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Crystals (or coconut sugar)

do this:

  1. set slow cooker to 4hrs & 30 minutes on low
  2. place thawed birds in slow cooker
  3. coat birds in liquid aminos
  4. drizzle birds with light agave nectar
  5. sprinkle birds with cracked black pepper
  6. sprinkle birds with coconut crystals / sugar
  7. turn the birds every hour or so and coat them with the pan drippings to ensure it cooks evenly and is flavored evenly.

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i was supposed to cook these guys for new years day but never got around to it.  they were served with turnip greens and a giant baked sweet potato topped with cinnamon and a tiny bit of Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread. tip: spray your pot with no-stick cooking spray first; i forgot to do so.

my early am Lifetime classes are back on the schedule after a 2 week holiday break!  i’ll be hitting my new members and veterans with new moves, new music and a bigger bump :lol:

le

sweet potato pie + Light of Hope Festival

i know Thanksgiving is headed our way, but not that kinda pie yet! we had guilt-free, sweet potato crust pizza for dinner last night from my ebook.

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i usually make 3 mini pizzas, but i did a large one for the very first time.

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our toppings included: fire roasted all natural pizza sauce, fresh spinach, sliced roma tomatoes, fat-free feta, shredded mozzarella almond cheese,  golden & orange bell peppers, and italian seasoned extra lean ground chicken.

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Chiso actually ate a small piece after taking off all the toppings, so i made him a small pie with cheese only. the ‘what will Chiso eat today?’ saga continues. :shock:

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calorie count for 1 piece of crust (1 large pizza cut into 8 slices): 67 cals, 0g fat, 14g carbs,  2g sugar,  2g fiber, 3g protein!

20131105_181456_1ready to make some pizza? click here to get your copy of Fit Foodie Lean along with almost 50 other healthy recipes.

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this past weekend i was invited to be apart of the Light of Hope Festival as a community partner! it was an extremely beneficial event that provided free health and educational information for the surrounding communities designed to increase family skills.  i was honored to participate.

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thank you to Chrystal Rivers for allowing me to share health and fitness tips with the participants and mingle / network with the other community partners!

the attendees even got down and did my rendition of The Wobble with me- the Fit Wobble! fun, fun ;)

le

kb lunges & crunches + Athleta product review

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last night’s meal 5…. ain’t she fine? i took a roasted baked potato, topped it with crumbled 99% lean ground turkey (seasoned with Mrs. Dash no-salt fiesta lime seasoning, fresh parsley, garlic, and liquid aminos) chopped green onion, fresh tomatoes, and a dollop of 0% greek yogurt. finished it off with a sprinkle of more Mrs. Dash and dried parsley.

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 flavor EXPLOSION in ya mouth!

i cooked the potato like i always do- 450 deg for 45 minutes or until oozy.  if you poke holes in it beforehand it won’t ooze, but there’s no fun in that.

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after 42 pics from every angle possible, i gobbled it UP.   yall know i love the versatility of sweet potatoes- try them with your family and see what they think! you can customize your toppings for sure, just like you would on a normal russet potato.  don’t let the sweetness throw you off- it will work out, i promise.

so i’m gonna post LEG exercises all this week, and i’ll start with these two:

1. side lunge w/ squat

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1. start position stand with feet shoulder width or closer apart

2.(lunge) keeping your left leg straight, step out to the side with your right leg, and bend at your right knee.

3. (squat) push your heel firmly into the floor while pushing your glutes back and keeping knees behind your toes.

push-off the right leg through your heel to return to the start position.

repeat; 3 x 12, each leg.

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above is just a collage of what the lowest point of your lunge/squat should look like^

  • knees behind your toes
  • straight opposite leg
  • back flat
  • chest up
  • head up
  • weight planted firmly into your heels
  • lift your toes in your shoes
  • push back up to starting position through your heel, not your toes

Q: can’t you do these with a dumbbell? A: this particular exercise, DEFINITELY.  however, the two main differences (ok really the only two in my book) btw kettle bells and dumbbells are the grip/handle and the center of gravity of the weight.

‘once the bell is thrown with force, it must be controlled and stopped with an equal amount of force. you are now working twice as hard to move and stop the bell. these actions and reactions require tremendous efforts to stabilize the body. most of these efforts start with your legs and hips and are controlled with your shoulders and trunk or core.’

kinda hard to do that with a dumbbell… and some will argue that you just can’t get a GREAT, EFFECTIVE full body workout with a dumbbell alone vs. a kettle bell.

 well, what do you think?

2. knee to elbow standing crunches
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these are fun and all about obliques!  they also contribute to balance and core stability.  the kettle bell handle is very useful on this one.

1. engage your core while standing with your feet shoulder width apart.

2. drive your right knee up,  and simultaneously bring your right elbow down to meet it, crunching your right oblique in the process.  same rules apply:

chest up

back straight

core engaged

you can speed it up or take it slower, depending on the weight of your bell.  really engage the obliques though by keeping your movements controlled and with a full range of motion.  keep it even and hit both sides of course til it burns!

*****

being an instructor has its perks- this outfit is a testament to that!  an Athleta (by Gap ) store opened up close to my gym, and they kindly gave the instructors tops and bottoms to model and show off to our members.

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 sweet deal.

*warning* i took these  pics after working out and put this fit to the ultimate test!  excuse the sweat stains! among other things ;)

Athleta – Inside Track Knicker 69.00$

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  • great for running, gym training
  • wide waistband streamlines hips
  • NeverEnd drawstring means no hunting for ends

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  • lightweight, sleek, stretchy, comfortable, moveable
  • made of recycled polyester/lyrca spandex
  • performance fitted, mid-rise, and tight leg

not shorts and not pants- i have always dug the cropped length.

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Athleta - Run On Tank 39.00$

  • running, gym training
  • ultra flattering style lines
  • lightweight, silky, breathable, stretchy
  • polygiene (ployester/spandex)
  • rear zipper pocket (cards, keys, small items, etc.)
  • semi-fitted (more ‘flowy’ than skin tight)
  • reflective detail keeps you visible in low light conditions (for my evening runners!)

if you haven’t checked out Athleta yet, go for it!

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i told ya i don’t discriminate- i found the biggest beets i’ve ever seen at wally world (Walmart) and threw them in my basket without hesitation. @ 1.98 for 3 huge bulbs, they are as big as grapefruits!

however i was looking for eggplant, which i did NOT find and had to go elsewhere to get it.

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i found some for a great price at Fiesta! i also copped some papaya since it was on sale. lunch was a plate of grilled chicken breasts seasoned with Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning, grilled egg-plant, roasted sweet potatoes, and papaya salsa!

fresh & fit papaya-lime salsa

  • 1/2 diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced papaya
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 2 tbsp green onion, chopped
  • juice of half a fresh lime

slice and dice that all up, squeeze the lime over it, refrigerate, top on whatever you like, devour.

WHEW! it’s a lot goin’ on in this post lol! until breakfast, goodnite fit foodies.

le

made with LOVE


i had a cooking date with my sister-friend, Ogechi recently.

she’s heeeeeere!  i snapped this right after she rang the doorbell-  i was so excited to spend some girl time together hanging out, cooking, and EATING.

Ogechi brought me some of this insanely good sweet potato black bean soup while i was in the hospital having Chiso, and again once we got home and adjusted to being a 3 member family.  so this recipe is AAAALLLL her! she gets 100% credit and nothing but 100% gratitude from me.

 it was a no-brainer as to what we’d be making for our cooking date.

‘just be natural, Ogechi!’ lol.

Sonny better be glad he wasn’t home cause he knows he woulda been our photographer for the evening.

 she brought the bulk of the ingredients with her and even some gifts for me:

SEASONINGS!!!!!!! :shock:  smoky chipotle…it smelled magical.

and some sweet smoked paprika.  will that not be BOMBTASTIC on some  fresh salmon!?

this girl loooooooooves the spice aisle @ Marshalls and hooked me up big time.  she also brought me some hickory smoked salt.  i have been convinced to go look around for more spice aisle goodies at Marshalls / Home Goods / T. J. Maxx for sure.

we broke out all the ingredients on the island, and yaaaaay, she brought the Bragg’s liquid aminos!!! then, Ogechi whipped out her kitchen knife.

yes, she brought her own knife!  i completely understand… i’m the same way with my own kitchen utensils and pots and pans.  she was slicing and dicing away on the onions, garlic and sweet potatoes with her impressive knife skills, my goodness.  i was in awe cause ummmm….   i put the rough in rough chop :lol:

‘i just love the sound of sizzling vegetables.’

me too Ogechi, me too.

medjool dates- sweet and chewy.  Ogechi brought these with her, but i had some fake medjools (they were cheaper *shrugs*) i bought in bulk from HEB last week. they have been sitting on my counter staring at me since then.  i’ve seen them used in pie crusts for vegan recipes and i plan on making some key lime pie soon, just in time for turkey day next month!

my kitchen

smelled

AMAZING.

p.s. remove the bay leaves after the soup is done; they get bitter if  left in too long.

time to taste!  a few pinches of salt and some fresh cilantro made it perfect.

Chi enjoyed his dinner and the show.

sweet potato black bean soup

the stuff:

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1  large sweet potato
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (may use fresh as well)
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn (may use canned)
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 3 medjool dates chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp smoky paprika chipotle seasoning- (can use regular paprika, no worries)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • *1 tsp smokey sweet paprika…..(add this more for color but it gives a nice smokey taste too) optional!
  • 1/2 cube low sodium veggie bouillon
  • 1 tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • salt & pepper to taste (or chili powder)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1-2tbsp olive oil (may use vegetable oil)
  • 3 cups broth or stock
  • 3 cups water

do this:

  1. chop the onions, garlic & cut sweet potatoes into bite sizes.
  2.  heat oil in sauce pan on medium heat, add onions, garlic and sweet potatoes. saute for 3-5mins.
  3.  while veggies are sautéing, rinse beans very well (this helps keep the soup color pretty & not muddy brown & washing off extra salt too).
  4. after 3-5mins of sautéing, add the stock to the pot.
  5. throw everything else in…..the beans, tomatoes, salsa, dates, corn, bouillon cube (melt this with a lil warm water first) ginger, all seasonings and top off with water.
  6. add enough liquid to make it soup. remember, the size of the soup will reduce a bit as it simmers.
  7. cover and let simmer for about 30mins.
  8. taste and adjust seasoning (some salt or even an extra dash of Braggs ) as needed, then top with cilantro, cheese avocado, lime, sriracha, etc.
 Ogechi enjoyed a bowl topped with plenty of ripe, creamy avocado.
 i almost titled this post ‘soup and sisters’.  sooooooo corny.
i’ve been eating the leftovers for the past few days and topping it with almond cheese and avocado- it just keeps getting BETTER AND BETTER!
make some for someone you love.
thank you x’s infinity, Ogechi. xoxo

le