Refuel Recipe: Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats

A Nutrition Nugget with Lauren Bratcher, Nutrition Coach

Welcome back to Refuel Recipes! Each month, we’re gonna focus on one key ingredient that’s both delicious and nutritious and teach you how to incorporate it into your diet in a realistic, sustainable, tasty way! 

If you are just now tuning in with us, this month we’re obsessed with oats. A super versatile, super-good-for-you source of fiber and carbohydrates, oats should be a pantry staple. And hopefully, after this month, we’ve convinced you of that! Before you dive into our final oat-centric recipe, look back at our first oat recipe to learn about the many amazing benefits of incorporating oats into your diet!

Our final oat-centric recipe is just as prep-friendly as the previous three, warm and cozy on a cold morning and gives us one more reason to swoon over the Instant Pot. This recipe is adapted from Skinnytaste

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats

Serving size: 1 cup of prepared oatmeal plus toppings | Number of servings: 8-10

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 235 | Fat – 3g | Carbs – 50g | Protein – 7g

Prep time: 5m | Cook time: 20m

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups steel cut oats
  • 12 cups water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 5 tbsp honey or pure maple syrup
  • Toppings for or serving:
    • ½ banana (sliced, mashed, whatever suits you)
    • Milk of choice 
    • Ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Combine the oats and water in the bowl of your pressure cooker and stir.
  2. Add cinnamon sticks, cover and cook for 6 minutes on high pressure.
  3. Allow pressure to release naturally.
  4. Remove cinnamon sticks and discard.
  5. Stir in blueberries and honey or maple syrup.
  6. To prep for a week of glorious breakfasts, portion out 1 cup of oatmeal into each plastic or glass container.
  7. To reheat, microwave for 2-3 minutes, until warm then add toppings.

Refuel Recipe: Oatmeal Energy Balls

A Nutrition Nugget with Lauren Bratcher, Nutrition Coach

Welcome back to Refuel Recipes! Each month, we’re gonna focus on one key ingredient that’s both delicious and nutritious and teach you how to incorporate it into your diet in a realistic, sustainable, tasty way! 

In case you missed it, this month we’re highlighting oats! This versatile little carbohydrate packs a big fiber punch and comes in many shapes and sizes. Before you dive into our third oat-centric recipe, look back at our first oat recipe to learn about the many amazing benefits of incorporating oats into your diet!

Our third oat-centric recipe is just as preppable as the previous two, super kiddo-friendly and might even feel like a sweet treat! This recipe is adapted from The Healthy Maven.

Oatmeal Energy Balls

Serving size: 1 ball | Number of servings: 20

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 88 | Fat – 4.5g | Carbs – 9g | Protein – 4g

Prep time: 20m | Cook time: None! Just pop’em in the fridge

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups quaker oats
  • ½ cup scoop protein powder
  • 4 tbsp milk of your choice (nutrition facts for original almond milk)
  • ½ cup natural smooth peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp natural honey
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup 70% dark chocolate chunks
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Add oats, protein powder, cinnamon and chia seeds to a large bowl.
  2. Add in peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
  3. Add in chocolate chunks. Mixture should be slightly sticky but still crumbly.
  4. Slowly add 1 Tbsp of liquid at a time and using your hands (don’t be afraid) combine until mixture comes together in a sticky ball that holds together. 
  5. Roll into balls 1-1 ½ inches in diameter using hands and and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Let sit in fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Enjoy all week!

PNF Stretching: What it is and why it matters

What it is

Simply put: “PNF” stands for Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, and is implemented as a way to utilize the neuromuscular system to bring about a relaxation response in targeted muscle groups. It’s a much more efficient form of stretching, as it allows for going deeper into a stretch than you could typically achieve with 20-60 seconds of a simple passive stretch. In fact, PNF stretching has been found to increase flexibility of your targeted muscles, and increase the range of motion of the related joints. 

The increased stretch response is thought to arise from a combination of autogenic inhibition (decreased excitability of the muscle fibers due to inhibitory signals), reciprocal inhibition (which occurs in the targeted muscle when the opposing muscle is contracted), stress relaxation (the muscle tendon unit gradually elongates as a stretch is held for time), and gate control theory (when pain and pressure are sensed simultaneously, the sensation of pressure overwhelms the sensation of pain, causing the Golgi tendon organ sensors to decrease their inhibition of muscle lengthening).

How to apply it

PNF stretching involves alternating strong contraction of the muscle being targeted for stretching, followed by relaxing deeply into the stretch. When performed prior to strength exercise, PNF and static stretches have been found to have a temporary effect of decreasing performance of strength training, sprinting, plyometrics, and other high intensity exercises. For that reason, active range of motion is considered a better warm-up than static or PNF stretching prior to exercise. However, when performed after exercise, static and PNF stretching have beneficial effects, such as enhancing performance, decreasing risk of injury, and improving range of motion and function following an injury.

A common protocol is to apply a near maximal contraction for six seconds, followed by relaxation into the stretch for ten seconds — repeating the sequence for four total sets. 

For example, to stretch the hamstring muscle group, one can lie supine and reach one leg up toward the ceiling. A partner can hold the back of the heel to provide isometric resistance. Keeping the knee straight and the pelvis stable, press the heel into the resistance of the partner’s hand for six seconds. Apply near maximal force; be sure to continue breathing. Then relax into the stretch for ten seconds, while the partner applies gentle pressure to assist further stretching of the hamstring muscles. Repeat three more times.

If you do not have a partner available to assist, you can do the same thing with a stretching strap. Holding the ends of the strap, and with the strap around the bottom of the foot, press your heel downwards against the resistance of the strap for six seconds, and then pull the ends of the strap for ten seconds while relaxing deeper into the stretch.

This approach could be applied to stretching almost any muscle group. For another example, while doing a standing quadriceps stretch, you can press the top of your foot into your hand for six seconds, and then pull the foot higher into the stretch for ten seconds. Again, repeat three more times.

PNF stretching can be added to your post-exercise routine on occasion to help loosen up particularly tight muscles. As a regular daily practice, active range of motion warm-up movements, foam rolling before and/or after exercise, and passive stretching post-exercise will help you be more mobile, with reduced risk of chronic pain and overuse injuries

Something to note: It is important to listen to your body to avoid overstretching. A slight discomfort in the stretching muscle is normal, but discontinue or reduce the degree of the stretch if any sharp pain is felt in the stretching muscle or adjacent joints.

Paul Kevin Smith has a M.Ed. degree in Kinesiology from U.T. Austin, and is an Adjunct Professor of Exercise Science at Austin Community College. He has several certifications in Exercise Physiology, Yoga, and Pilates, and is an authorized practitioner of the Functional Movement Screen. Contact him via www.paulkevinsmith.com, or Instagram at @pksmithatx.

References:

  • American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer, 2018.
  • Hindle, Kayla B., Tyler J. Whitcomb, Wyatt O. Briggs, and Junggi Hong: “Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF): Its Mechanisms and Effects on Range of Motion and Muscular Function.” Journal of Human Kinetics. 2012 March; 31: 105-113.

Refuel Recipe: Amish Oatmeal

A Nutrition Nugget with Lauren Bratcher, Nutrition Coach

Welcome back to Refuel Recipes! Each month, we’re gonna focus on one key ingredient that’s both delicious and nutritious and teach you how to incorporate it into your diet in a realistic, sustainable, tasty way! 

In case you missed it, this month we’re highlighting: oats! This versatile little carbohydrate packs a big fiber punch and comes in many shapes and sizes. Before you dive into our second oat-centric recipe, look back at our first oat post to learn about the many amazing benefits of incorporating oats into your diet!

Our second oat-centric recipe is low-prep and high reward! This recipe is adapted from Healthy Steps Nutrition

Overnight Oats

Serving size: ¼ cup dry oats | Number of servings: 1

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 278 | Fat – 6g | Carbs – 44g | Protein – 15g

Prep time: 5m | “Cook time”: Overnight (8-12 hours)

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup quaker oats
  • ½ cup milk of your choice (nutrition facts for original almond milk)
  • ½ banana
  • ½ tsp chia seeds
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • ½ scoop vanilla protein powder
  • Optional toppings to taste:
    • Nuts and seeds (add after)
    • Nut butter
    • Shredded coconut
    • Literally anything that sounds good

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl or jar and stir
  2. Cover and refrigerate overnight
  3. Grab, go and enjoy! 

How to Holiday: 7 tips to staying on track this holiday season

The holiday season is one hand-traced finger feathered turkey away from being in full swing and we would be remiss not to acknowledge that while a joyous time — the holidays can be stressful, y’all. Kids are out of school, family is in town or we’re heading out of it, holiday treats and libations are around every corner, and there’s this weird cultural pressure to constantly indulge because “it’s the holidays!” 

What if on January 1st you could look back at the previous 6 weeks feeling that you fully celebrated the season, loved those around you well and intentionally cared for yourself in the midst of the holiday craziness? It’s not too good to be true. Here are 7 tips to help you not just get through, but totally slay the holiday season ahead! 

Have a workout plan (or don’t!). 

Our bodies go through the ringer during the holiday season — especially if long-distance travel is thrown into the mix. If you’re the type of person that just feels better when you move — make a plan! Take a few minutes before the hullabaloo begins and map out some days where you can get your body moving. 

Maybe a long walk around the ‘hood with your pups and your pops, or find a nearby gym with a free trial, or maybe scope some options to drop in to a local CrossFit gym for some community-away-from-community. Or, if your body needs it, just plan to take the week off. But being intentional about it will help squelch any feelings of guilt or FOMO and help you fully enjoy the seasons!

Pack those snacks. 

Trying to stay on track with your fitness and nutrition goals while traveling can feel like such an impossible task — airport food doesn’t exactly lend itself to be the most nutritious. So make one extra trip to the store before you take off and stock up on your favorite nutrient-dense snacks! TSA can take our water bottles, but they can never take our meat sticks.

Need snack hacks and ideas? Check out this graphic from Precision Nutrition and never be afraid of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season again!

Give yourself a hand (and a break).

Let’s be honest here, tracking macros and counting calories are two fast ways to make your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners a bit miserable. We hate to break it to you — but there’s no way you’re going to be able to account for all the butter Aunt Jane uses in her famous mashed potatoes — so why stress? Instead, try the “hand measurement” method when figuring how much of what should be on your plate. Once again, Precision Nutrition is going to help us out with this one. Check out their handy portion control guide. Two thumbs way up.

Keep your head in the game.

Similarly, we encourage you to be mindful while you munch. If you know yourself, and know you have a tendency to overeat and you go to sleep miserable — pair the hand portion trick with a gut check. As you go in for seconds, ask yourself: “am I actually still hungry, or am I just feeding a craving?” 

And if you think you’re still hungry, would you go in for seconds for, say, baked salmon and kale? Allowing our brains to catch up to our stomachs helps us build better eating habits and food associations for life! 

Contribute a healthy dish.

If you’re walking into a holiday potluck or heading to your in-law’s house for Christmas dinner, and you find yourself leery to eat some of those Crockpot creations — contribute a healthy dish! A big colorful chopped-salad. A festive mocktail. Or maybe even some carrot fries with bacon and rosemary?! The only way to solve your problem is to be the solution!

Have someone in your corner.

And finally, find a freaking friend. If you’re truly nervous about steering too far off track, keep in touch with someone who knows your goals and can help encourage you from afar (or have them come over and enjoy the festivities with you!). You don’t have to go into it on your own, and you certainly don’t have to be miserable. 

Now go celebrate this good season with great food and fun times. Happy holidays!

At Home Holiday Workouts

The holidays are here. Thanksgiving is just a few days away and before we know it, Christmas will be here. 

The kids are out of school this week, there’s shopping to be done, fellowship with friends and family. Let’s face it, there’s just not much time to workout. But because of that limited time doesn’t mean we should stop working out. Let’s revise those workouts and keep them quick, efficient, and simple. 

Here’s five workouts you can do from home this week that will help you stay active, burn calories, and have fun!

Monday

For time:

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1

  • Air squat
  • Push up

Notes: It you want to make this a longer workout, double the reps. 20-18-16, etc. If you’re unable to do a push up from the ground, make it an incline push up from a bench or box. 

Tuesday

12-minute AMRAP10

  • Lunges
  • 30-second plank hold on elbows
  • 10 Burpees
  • 30-second plank hold on elbows

Notes: If you’re unable to do a lunge, sub air squats. Break up the plank hold as needed to accumulate 30 seconds. 

Wednesday

For Time:

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

  • Burpees
  • Sit ups

Notes: This should be short, fast, and intense. 

Thursday

For time:

  • 100 Lunges
  • 75 air squats
  • 50 push ups
  • 25 burpees

Notes: If you’re unable to lunge, sub jumping jacks. Use a bench or box if unable to do a pushup from the ground. 

Friday

For max reps 

Tabata:

  • Squats
  • Push ups
  • Sit ups

Notes: 4 minutes each exercise – 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest for 8 rounds 8 rounds of air squats, then 8 rounds of push ups, then 8 rounds of sit ups. The total workout should be 12 minutes. Keep track of total reps. 

How to stay active during the holidays

My favorite time of year is here!! Thanksgiving is around the corner, which means Christmas is soon approaching. I sweat less when walking to my car, twinkle lights are going up, everyone is anticipating a much needed break from work (love you guys but *raises hand*). But let’s not forget one of the best parts of the holidays…

The food. 

Holiday parties are filled with home-made goodies, powdered sugar is as abundant as the cedar in the air, peppermint schnapps is good in literally anything, and your couch by the fire is so, so comfy. It’s almost like you could stay there forever with a soft blanket and a good movie with friends and family. 

I will be the first to admit that when I’m home, literally no calories matter. I don’t generally buy junk food so I don’t eat it on a regular basis, but, like me, my mom looooooves chocolate, and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and salty snacks to go with the chocolate, and also ice cream. Please do not forget the ice cream. 

When any of the kids are home, my mom sees it as a special opportunity to get all the snacks and cook all the things. I am not mad about this, but I also lack all self control because I’m on “vacation”. 

To make matters worse, I refuse to workout. As a coach, I’m constantly moving for multiple hours of the day, plus hopefully working out on my own. Being home is my rest time. Which is good to an extent, but when it’s been a week and all I’ve done is snack on the chocolate bowl and lay on the couch with my favorite pup, I start to feel gross. 

This year, I’m going home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Usually it’s just one. This season, I am determined to do things differently. I decided to brainstorm some things to do to keep active that is fun for the whole family and not just me trying to work out in the backyard! Fitness and family bonding! What more could you want!

Bodyweight workouts at home! 

You don’t always need a gym and barbells and medballs to workout. Your bodyweight is all you need to work with! Check out these at home workouts that you can pull the whole family into! 

Turkey trots.

My family has never done one of these, and honestly, it’s one of my biggest fears that I will marry into a family that does, but if this kind of thing is your jam, check out this site to find one near you! 

Just move your body.

If getting your family out of the house to do a workout or a 5k isn’t an option, try some easy things like taking a family walk after dinners! This will not only help your food digest a little better, but it is great bonding time as well. Win-win! 

Taking small children to a park is another great option! They’re more active than you, so even if you just walk around with a bit to make sure they don’t die, you’ll be getting more activity than if you were on the couch. Don’t have small children in your family? Take your dog to the park. Don’t have a dog? Borrow one. Don’t know how to borrow one? Email me directly. I know people. 

Another idea could be just to get going on that Christmas shopping. Remember malls? We all know you’re going to need to anyways, so take the long way to your favorite mall and get your stroll on as you check people off your Christmas list! 

There you have it. Plenty of ways to stay active during the holidays that you can share with those around you, and not feel pressured to drop into a gym (but do it if that empowers you, you go girl). If you have any questions or need more suggestions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]. I’d love to chat! 

Now, go and enjoy family and friends and good food guilt free, with a bit of activity sprinkled in once a day for about 30 minutes. Your body will thank you. 

In love and chocolate (and) labradors,

McKenzie

WODs for the road: 10 no-equipment workouts you can do anytime, anywhere

Whether you’re heading home or moving into hosting mode this holiday season, one thing’s for sure: your time in the gym during these end-of-year months can start to feel sparse. But don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holidays deter you from staying active! 

To help keep you moving, here are 2 weeks of workouts you can do anytime, anywhere — no equipment needed! 

#1

4 Rounds For Time:

Run 400m

50 Air Squats

25 Sit-ups

#2

10 Rounds For Time:

5 Pushups

10 Hollow rocks

15 Squat jumps

#3

For Time:

200m Walking lunge

#4

5 Rounds:

1 Hill sprint

25 Tuck-ups*

*At the top of the hill perform your tuck-ups; rest as you walk back down to the start

#5

Moving continuously for 20:00:

20 Glute bridges

15 V-ups

10 Bear pushups

#6

30-20-10

Burpees

Jumping lunges

Russian twists

#7

In 30:00 (for form, not for time), in partners:

10 Hamstring curls*

20 Air squats

30 Plank up-downs

*Partners trade off doing the curls; then move together during the squats and up-downs.

#8

For time:

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1

Push-ups, with a 100 meter sprint between sets

#9

For Time:

Run 1 mile

Spend a total of 5 minutes in a hollow hold

Run 1 mile

#10

For time, for 200m:

1 burpee + 1 broad jump + 5 air squats

As always, if you get stuck on a movement or need to modify, there ain’t no shame in the scaling game. If you need ideas for how and what to modify, don’t hesitate to reach out. Happy holidays, y’all! 

Member Spotlight: Kristen Machczynski

Meet Kristen Machczynski — but you can call her Mac. Mac is the living, breathing product of if a Lisa Frank sticker sheet and a sunny 70 degree day had a baby. She’s colorful, joyous, and brings a ray of light to the 5:30am. Check out this blog to learn more about one of our newest members! 

Q: What got you into CrossFit? What’s your favorite part about it? 

A: I got into CrossFit because I was looking for a new group of humans with whom I could play and make friends. And I did. And it was awesome. And it continues to be!  My favorite part about CrossFit is when people support other people – just cool to see someone doing extra burpees to help a fellow friend along in a particularly ass-kicking workout. 

Q: How do you have so much energy at 5:30am? Please share your secrets. 

A: 5:30am CrossFit classes are a gift, y’all. Most of you will roll your eyes at that, but when you’re done and heaving and super sweaty before the sun rises, there is a definite “I am awesome” feeling you get. As far as being spunky in the morning, it’s cliche as all get out, but I’m just awake once my feet hit the floor – that’s the trick. Hit the floor and not the snooze button. 

Q: When eating any meal, do you save the best for last, or eat the best thing first? 

A: Ooh, good one. I’m a “can’t wait, must have” kinda gal, so I’d probably eat most of the best part of the meal first, and then save a teeny bit for last to savor it at the end. Yup. That sounds about right. Because I can’t ever just answer a question in a straightforward manner. 

Q: You’ve got a lot of tats. Which one is your favorite and why? 

A: I’ve got 7 tattoos, but always up for more. I think my favorite is the octopus on my ribcage. It’s for my son, Miles. He loves octopus and it was his favorite food when he was not even 3 years old – I kid you not. Instead of his name, I got an octopus. It’s fitting. My second favorite is my “3, 2, 1…” in honor of my favorite hard-as-hell, push yourself to the limit sport. 😉 

Q: From what you’ve shared, it seems like you’ve got a pretty cool son. What’s your favorite thing about being is mom? 

A: My son, Miles, is hilarious. My favorite part of being his mom is seeing how funny he’s becoming, but also when he gives me kisses, tells me he loves me, and then adds, “Love you the most. The end. I win.” Sorry, little dude. I’m the winner there. 

Wait, sorry, there’s dust in our eyes. 

Mack, we’re so glad you’re around. Stay forever?

Refuel Recipe: Amish Oatmeal

A Nutrition Nugget with Lauren Bratcher, Nutrition Coach

Welcome to the first of many Refuel Recipes! Each month, we’re gonna focus on one key ingredient that’s both delicious and nutritious and teach you how to incorporate it into your diet in a realistic, sustainable, tasty way! 

This month: Oats! This versatile little carbohydrate packs a big fiber punch and comes in many shapes and sizes. Before we dive into our first recipe, let’s learn about  why oats are so awesome.

Oats boast an impressive nutritional resume. One unassuming cup of oats provides your morning routine with 6g of protein, 4g of fiber and nearly 70% of your daily recommended manganese (a mineral that aids in bone formation!).

Oats fill you up and keep you that way. Even though one cup of oats only contains 147 calories, the high fiber, low GI qualities of this grain keep your blood sugars low, mean they are digested slowly and ultimately keep you fuller, longer! 

These guys are jacks of all trades. You probably are most familiar with oats from their longstanding lead role in the breakfast classic, oatmeal, but when you think outside the bowl you will soon find that oats are wonderful added to baked goods, thrown into smoothies, rolled up into energy balls, or even used as typical grain replacements for some savory soups! ! 

Our first oat-centric recipe is one of my all-time favorites. You can find this in my oven every Sunday afternoon. This recipe is adapted from Healthy Steps Nutrition

Amish Oatmeal

Serving size: 3/4 cup (or 1 square) | Number of servings: 10 

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 140 | Fat – 6g | Carbs – 17g | Protein – 6g

Prep time: 5m | Cook time: 25m 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup instant oats
  • 3 tbsp light nectar agave, honey, or maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup milk of your choice
  • 3 tbsp grass-fed butter
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional toppings to taste:
    • Dried berries
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Nut butter
    • Shredded coconut
    • Literally anything that sounds good

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat 13×9 pan with coconut oil 
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix well
  3. Pour mixed ingredients into pan, spread evenly into one layer edge-to-edge
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until edges are golden brown
  5. Let cool, cut into 8-10 squares and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days