Friday, August 31, 2012

Protein Oats

Happy birthday to my favorite 2 year old! My adorable nephew turns 2 today, and I cannot wait to go to Indiana this weekend to see him! Last weekend, Kyle and I went on an adventure to find the best gift for him. He loves Mickey, but Kyle thought a trip to the Lego Store would be an even better idea. Honestly, I think Kyle just wanted me to buy him some Legos. It didn't take long for us to decide that Korbin needed a Lego zoo set, and Kyle has already volunteered to help him build it. I guess I know what to get Kyle for Christmas this year.

Little man has grown so much in one year! 

I told you in an earlier post that I am a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast. During the week I make Protein Oats. This breakfast is filled with protein, carbs, and natural sugars that will keep you energized and satisfied until lunch. Not only is it healthy for you, but it is also delicious!

I use protein powder and almond or peanut butter to load the oatmeal with plenty of protein.  Don't worry the protein powder won't make you bulk up like the Hulk, unless you are eating the whole tub in one sitting. Instead, it will fuel you with protein that will help build muscle. Remember more muscle means: you burn more calories, you become lean, and you protect your bones from deterioration.

Today I mixed raspberries, blueberries, and figs into my oatmeal. I figured I might as well take advantage of these fruits while they are still in season. When winter comes I tend to add bananas and apples to the mix since berries are more expensive that time of year. Add in whatever fruits you like, and start fueling strong.

                                                                   Protein Oatmeal
                                                                        Serves 1

½ C Oats (I prefer thick rolled oats, but you use quick oats)
1 C Water
1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
½ C Fruit (Blueberries, raspberries, figs, bananas, or sometimes I choose to put all of them in!)
3 T Vanilla Almond Milk
1 T Flax Seed
1 T Almond or Peanut Butter
¼ tsp Cinnamon

Get Cooking
1.       Place ½ C oats and 1 C water into a microwaveable bowl and microwave for a 1:30 – 2 minutes
2.       Add all of the ingredients above. Stir and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Single Leg Stability Ball Squats

It’s leg day at Fueling Strong! Don’t worry; I’m not going to make you squat 250+ pounds like my strength coaches used to make me do on leg day. Those days of my life are over. Now I have fun making up new and challenging leg exercises that give you just as much burn as a 250 pound squat, but with half of the weight. Today, I am going to add a  little instability to your normal squat with Single Leg Stability Ball Squats. These squats strengthen your quadriceps, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings. There is an added bonus as well, since we add a stability ball to the workout the squats also strengthen your core (abs/back)! Put aside the sit ups today, and try this total body workout!

If you are new to single leg squats, do not use a stability ball! Instead, replace the stability ball with a stable bench or chair (shown below). Once you’ve gained strength there, gradually move your way up to using a stability ball. Also, start with no weights. After mastering the exercise a couple of times, then you can start to add weight slowly. Get ready to embrace the burn! Remember burn = calories burning! 

 Single Leg Stability Ball Squats

1.  Grab a medium sized stability ball and stand near a wall or piece of equipment that you can hold on to.
2.   While holding on to the wall/equipment place the ball behind you and put your foot on the ball. The ball should be far enough behind you that only the top of your foot is touching. If your shin is on the ball, hold on to the equipment and walk the ball backwards until you are in the correct position.

3. Take your hands from the wall/equipment and lunge down through the front leg to a 90 degree angle. Be sure that your knee is over your ankle and that you keep your core tight and engaged. You will notice that your shin will be touching the ball when you are in this position.

4. Return to a standing position and repeat 8-10 more times on your right leg. Then switch to your left. Do 3 sets. 

For those of you who are not ready for the stability ball, follow the same directions as above, but do it on a stable bench  or chair. 

Let me know what you think. I promise you that you will feel these squats the next day, but soreness leads to positive changes in the body!

[Thanks to my wonderful husband for taking the pictures]

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fish Tacos with a Mexican Cabbage Slaw

It is only 10:30AM, but I can already tell you that today is going to be a good day. Kyle and I started the day off with a great church service, and now I am sitting on my balcony watching the Chicago Triathlon. As I watch every cyclist fight the Chicago wind, I continue to dream of the day when I get to participate.  I had every intention of racing this year until I found out I needed a heart procedure mid training. Thankfully, I only have athlete's heart, so next year I'll be out there racing and living the dream!

I hope you all are having a great weekend. I want to give a big shout out to the Lincoln Park Ruby Football Club! They beat their rivals yesterday 76-7! It was a great way to open season especially after losing to the team three times last fall/spring. In order to celebrate the win, I made one of Kyle's favorite dishes - Fish Tacos. I love this dish because it makes me feel like I am sitting on the beach in Cabo at Seven Seas, my favorite place to get fish tacos.

The real highlight of this dish is the red cabbage slaw on top. It is so delicious that you almost forget you are eating vegetables. Not only is the red cabbage tasty, but it also helps lower cholesterol. Do yourself a favor, and put away the box of Cheerios for the day and load up on some cabbage! Give this recipe a try to fuel strong this week!

                                              Fish Tacos with a Mexican Cabbage Slaw
                                                                     Serves 4


3 Tilapia Fillets
Salt and Pepper
3 Limes
1 Small Head of Red Cabbage (or half of a large one)
1 1/2 T Chopped Cilantro
4 T Low-Fat Ranch Dressing
1/2 T Chili Powder
1/2 T Cumin
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
Corn Tortillas

Get Cookin'

1. Heat a large saute pan with 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil over medium high heat.
2. Season the fish with salt and pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes on each side. These will cook fast, so be sure to watch them.
3. Once all of the fish is cooked, break the fish into smaller pieces the will fit in the tortillas
4. Cut 2 of your limes into quarters. These will be served with each taco.
5. Finely slice the cabbage and place it in a large bowl.
6. In in separtate bowl, mix together the ranch dressing, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and the juice of 1/2 a lime.
7. Add the ranch mixture to the cabbage and mix well until all of the slaw is coated. If you notice that you need more dressing, just make half of the original amount and add it to the slaw.
8. Mix in the cilantro to the slaw and season with salt and pepper to taste.
9. Warm your corn tortillas until they are soft. Place the fish in the tortilla and top with the cabbage slaw.
10. Take your lime wedges and put the juice of one wedge on each tortilla, and start fueling strong!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Berry Lime Fruit Salad

I cannot believe that Labor Day is next weekend. I am excited for an extra day off of work, but sad because that means summer is coming to a close. Was this the fastest summer for anyone else? I am not quite sure where it went.

Labor Day seems to be a good time to get together for cook outs. If you plan on attending a Labor Day get together, I have the perfect dish for you to bring – Berry Lime Fruit Salad. I came up with this recipe last weekend after seeing that all of the berries in my local grocery store were on sale. An "On Sale" sign in the produce aisle, is always an open invitation to buy more and to not feel as guilty about spending the money! 

This fruit salad is filled with antioxidants. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, but do you really know why you should be consuming them? Every day we come in contact with chemicals and pollutants that cause our cells to weaken. The weakened cells, also known as free radicals, attempt to take over the whole body and make us susceptible to chronic diseases. No need to freak out, though. You can do your body a favor by fueling  with antioxidants to combat the free radicals. Not only do antioxidants strengthen your immune systems, but they also prevent inflammation and aging! Good bye to Botox, and say hello to antioxidants.

Even if you don't have any Labor Day parties to attend, give this recipe a try. It is great to snack on, and you can easily make this into a kick-starter breakfast by mixing the fruit salad with some plain Greek yogurt. Keep fueling strong. 

                                                            Berry Lime Fruit Salad
                                                                       Serves 4


1 Pint Strawberries, Rinsed and quartered
1 Pint Blueberries, Rinsed
1 Pint Raspberries, Rinsed
2 T Blackberry Preserves (I prefer organic because it doesn’t have added sugars)
Zest of 1 Lime
Juice of ½ a Lime

Get Cookin’

1  Place all of the berries in a large bowl
2.  Mix in 1 T of blackberry preserves, lime zest, and juice of one lime
3.  Chill for 1 hour

    If you want more information on antioxidants, take a look at this article from Women's Health.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

Saturday mornings are always a good time in the Toombs’ house. Not only does it mean that I don’t have to set my 5:15AM alarm to get to the gym before work, but I can also change up my breakfast choices since I have more time. During the work week, I am a creature of habit and typically eat protein oats, but on the weekends I like a little variation.

In order to keep Kyle fueling strong for his rugby game last weekend, I made Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes. These pancakes have a powerful combination of whole grains, healthy fat, and protein which are key to make sure you do not get hungry one hour later and to give your body the macro nutrients it needs to properly function.

Our natural habit is to douse pancakes in syrup, but remember syrup can pack on a lot of unnecessary calories and sugars. In order to avoid this, purchase either the light or sugar free brands and stick to 2 T. I prefer to skip the syrup since the pancakes are naturally sweet from the lemon juice and berries. Just put some berries on top, and you are good to go. Which ever way you decide to eat them, you are still fueling your body to perform at the next level.

Stay tuned for my Saturday morning breakfast ideas to keep your body fueling strong for your Saturday activities.

Note: I don't recommend eating as many pancakes as I have in the picture. Stick to two.
                                                Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes
                                                                    serves 4
1 1/4 C Whole Wheat All Purpose Flour
3 T White Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 C Low-Fat Ricotta Cheese
1 Egg
2 Egg Whites
Lemon Zest of 3 Lemons
1/2 C Fresh Lemon Juice
1 T Canola Oil
1/4 tsp Vanilla
1/4 C Skim Milk
1 C Blueberries

Get Cookin'
 1. In a large bowl, mix together your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. In another bowl, mix together the eggs. Add ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, canola oil, vanilla, and milk.
3. Slowly mix in the wet ingredients into your flour mixture. Whisk the batter until the it is well mixed.
4. Slowly fold in the blueberries. Folding in the berries will keep them from breaking up and making your batter blue.
5. Heat a griddle pan. With a 1/4 measuring cup, scoop batter onto the pan and let cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. (Note: Once the top of the pancake starts to bubble, it is time to flip)
6. Continue cooking the pancakes until all of the batter is gone, and then it is time for you to start fueling strong.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Traveling Smart

Good morning everyone, and happy Friday! I am getting very excited about the weekend. Kyle's rugby season starts, so we will be in Milwaukee tomorrow, and then it is time for my favorite event of the summer, the Chicago Air and Water show.

I spent the last two days in Austin, Texas for work. It was my first time in Austin, and despite the heat, I found it charming. My co-worker grew up there, so she gave me a tour of 6th Street and also found us an amazing restaurant to eat dinner. If you find yourself in the city, I recommend the Roaring Fork for some cedar planked salmon.

I love to travel, but I hate when airports do not offer healthy food options. Luckily, I have learned over the years to bring my own food with me on trips to ensure that I keeping fueling my body properly. For this trip, I packed: bananas, apples, a Peanut Butter Kashi bar, a Pumpkin Spice Flax Kashi Bar, Green Tea, Go Raw Pizza Flax Snax, and almonds with Kashi Go Lean Original Cereal. 

Don't worry, I didn't eat that all in one day. I made sure to pack enough for two days, and extras in case I did not have time for lunch during our busy meeting schedule. I know your first thought is, "This girls loves Kashi!" Well, I can't deny that, I am a huge advocate of what the brand stands for and they make amazing food. Also, very few brands offer a cereal that has 13 g of protein and 10 g of fiber in one cup! Mix Kashi Go Lean Original Cereal with some almonds, and you have the perfect high protein trail mix to keep you going throughout the day.

You also won't catch me traveling without my my Brooks Adrenaline running shoes. Not only are they helpful if you have tight flight connections, but I also prefer to explore a new city with long runs. Sometimes there is nothing like getting "lost" on a run in a new place. On my last trip to Dallas in February, I was even lucky enough to meet up with my friend Andy who gave me a running tour of the city. If any of you would like a running tour of Chicago, let me know. I would love to show you around via foot.


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with activity and laughter. Whether you are running a race, walking the mall, or playing sand volleyball... your body deserves the proper food to keep you fueling strong.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Perfecting the Pushup

During my freshman year of high school, my dad signed me up for personal training sessions with Brad, one of the best personal trainers in the South Bend area.  During our four years together,  I would get stomach aches before our workouts just thinking about what he would have up his sleeve. I am still convinced his goal was to literally kill me.  Well, 9 years later, I am still alive and fortunate to call Brad one of my best friends.  I have enjoyed watching his girls grow up, becoming friends with his lovely wife, and being a part of their lives despite living 2 hours away.

Brad would always challenge my body’s physical and mental strength with super sets. Super sets are when you perform exercises back to back with little to no break (more to come in another post). One super set that I dreaded were push-ups after a heavy set of bench press. Both of these exercises work the similar muscle groups in your chest, arms, and shoulders, so after challenging myself with bench press my arms would be almost too fatigued to do “normal” pushups (what many of you may refer to as “boy pushups”).

Instead of resulting to “girl pushups” when fatigued, Brad taught me one of the most valuable pushup lessons to still challenge the body, but lessen the load a little. These modified pushups are more effective than pushups from your knees because you are resisting your body weight on the way down, which helps build muscle and strength faster.

If you have problems with regular pushups, I highly suggest trying these modified pushups out to take your strength to the next level. If you can do “regular pushups,” do what I do. I do pushups until I’ve reached my max, then finish with 10 of these to really increase the burn and to further strengthen both my body and mind.

A few tips before getting started: keep your abs pulled in and tight, keep your butt level, breathe, and embrace the burn… burn = body transformation.  

1. Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder width apart, abs pulled in tight, and hips up and level. Your hips should be in a nice straight line with the rest of your back.

2. Lower down to the ground keeping your hips up and back level. One major mistake made at this point is people tend to either arch their back or lower their hips to the ground. To avoid this, keep your abs tight and contract your gluteus muscles (butt muscles) together. Also keep your head and neck level. Your body should be going down in one line, not in separate segments.

3. When you are 2-4 inches from the ground, slowly drop your knees while maintaining form. You can barely even tell that I’ve dropped to my knees in the picture because I’ve maintained form.

4. From there, push up like you would doing a “girl pushup,” but remember to keep form.

5. Return to a plank position with your hands shoulder width apart, and repeat for 10 reps. Take a 60-90 second break then repeat for 2 more sets. 

Note: Form is key!! By letting your hips drop, back arch, etc you are susceptible to injuries and causing muscular imbalances. If you are doing this form right, your abs should feel fatigued and possibly sore as well. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Green Chile Turkey Burgers

Can you believe the Olympics are over? The last two weeks of my life have been consumed in the lives and successes of the athletes. As some of you may know, I had the chance to live part of the “Olympic Dream” in the spring of 2010 while interning for USA Triathlon. I lived at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, and I cannot even begin to tell you what kind of experience I had. I ate with the Olympians,  I trained at their facilities, and I stared at the mountains everyday. It was a dream come true, and a place that will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Because of this experience, I found myself crying a lot during the Olympics. Not out of sadness, but out of pure passion. Yes, you can call me crazy, but the Olympic Movement is the most powerful thing. It brings  people together from all around the world who don’t share the same language, culture, or beliefs, yet they can communicate through sport. That right there is inspirational. Although the Olympics are over, I encourage you to watch some of the Paralympics, starting August 29th and truly see what the human body is capable of.

You too can make your body do extraordinary things by fueling it properly. In order to keep you fueling strong this week, I have created a new turkey burger inspired by one of the ingredients I grew to love in Colorado – green chiles. For those of you who are wary of turkey burgers, don’t be afraid, these are extremely flavorful and not dry at all! Also, don’t be afraid of the heat of the green chiles. I have a very sensitive palate when it comes to spicy foods, and I can assure you that these are mild. You can of course make them spicy by purchasing “hot green chiles" or adding 1 jalapeno.

This turkey burger is a great source of fuel because it provides the perfect amount of protein to build and repair muscle. Give it a try, and let me know what you think.

Green Chile Turkey Burger
Makes 4-6 Burgers
1 lb. ground turkey
2 cans (4 oz) mild green chiles (one for in the burger and another for topping)
1 Garlic Clove
2 T Chopped Cilantro
1 tsp Cumin
1 T Chili Powder
¼ tsp Garlic Powder
¼ tsp Black Pepper
¼ tsp Salt
1 Package of thin sandwich buns

Get Cooking
1. Chop 1 can of green chiles and 1 garlic clove in food processor. (Be careful not to puree this mix) If you do not have a food processor, you can mince the garlic on your own and keep the chiles as they are because they are chopped rather thin already.
2.  In a large bowl mix the turkey, chile mix, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. 
3. Divide your meat into equal portions. I prefer to make 6 smaller burgers out of the mixture, but if you prefer larger ones you can make four. 
4. Grill the burgers about 5-7 minutes on each side, depending on how hot your grill or grill pan is.
5. Top your completed burgers with 1 T of green chilies and extra cilantro if you desire, and start fueling strong.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Asparagus Fries

Happy Friday! Does anyone have plans for an active weekend? I don't have my plans nailed down yet, but I plan on some nice long runs along the lake, granted the winds don't blow me over. We are expecting 14 foot waves in Lake Michigan today, so needless to say... Chicagoans run and bike with caution on the trail!

With the weekend ahead, I thought I would give you one of my favorite snacks, Asapargus Fries. I know you're first thought, "Kelsey, is telling me that eating fries is okay?" Usually I would say no way, but in this case, they are okay and eat as many as you want! As stated in the title, asparagus serves as the main component of the fry, and it's baked! I prefer to eat mine plain, but Kyle thinks they pair well with BBQ sauce.

Try out the recipe this weekend, and let me know what you think. I recommend eating them all the first day because they don't stay as crispy on day 2. Have a great weekend, and continue to fuel strong.

                                                                  Asparagus Fries
                                                                      Serves 4
1 lb Asparagus - Cut each asparagus spear in half
2 eggs - Beaten
1/2 C Whole Wheat Flour
1 C Unseasoned Bread Crumbs or Panko
1/4 C Parmesan Cheese
1 t Dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper

Get Cookin'
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Place the beaten eggs in a medium sized bowl and season with salt and pepper
3. Add the asparagus and flour in a gallon size bag. Shake well to coat the spears.
4. Take the spears and dredge in a the egg.
5. In another gallon sized Ziploc bag, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan, and oregano. Close it up and give it a shake to mix everything well.
5. Place the asparagus in the bread crumb mixture, close the bag and shake well making sure each "fry" is coated well.
6. Spread the fries on a baking sheet, and season with salt and pepper. Spray the fries with the some cooking spray to make them crispy.
7. Back for 15-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown.

PS- Coyote Fans (Kyle's company)--- Kyle will be bringing in some treats for you guys next week. I think I will add them to my "indulgences" section. Every strong body deserves a little sugar every once in a while.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Listening To Your Body

As most people know, I hate taking days off from working out. For example, I often remember my coaches getting "upset" with me because after a 3 hour practice I would head to the gym for a lift or for a run. I was also the person who played through any injury including a stress fractured foot that I played on for 4 years! I know, terrible, but I refused to take a break.

Well, over the past 5 months, I’ve learned that I can’t “neglect” my body any more by simply not listening to it. For those of you who do not know, 5 months ago I learned that I had an enlarged heart (later diagnosed as Athlete's Heart). After countless tests and one procedure, I finally understood the most important lesson in fitness…listening to your body.  Aches and pains are your body’s ways of telling you to take a step back and treat them. Sometimes we need medical treatment, but other times we just need to give our body a little rest and relaxation (a word that has never existed in my vocabulary).

Don’t get me wrong, there are some aches and pains that you can work through. For example, soreness from working out is a good pain because transformations are happening, but constant fatigue is not healthy. I encourage you to get in touch with your body and listen to it. My favorite way to do this is through yoga.

Most amazing view for our yoga on the lake sessions
There are different types of yoga, so give each one a whirl and find your favorite. This summer I’ve found a love for Power Yoga. I won’t lie, Power Yoga can be tough, but it provides an amazing burn and helps tone up every part of your body. I also love to go to “Yoga on the Lake,” a Vinyasa yoga class right on Lake Michigan. The class allows me to really get in tune with my body and mind while enjoying God’s beautiful creation.

Here is my challenge to you this week, get out of your comfort zone and try a yoga class. Even, if you know you aren't flexible, use this challenge to get limber! If you don’t have the resources to go to a gym, you can easily find a class on YouTube. I also love For $10 a month you get access to unlimited yoga videos that you can stream in the comfort of your own home. Get out there, and listen to your body and continue to “fuel strong.”

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ratatouille Polenta with Ricotta

Did you guys have an active weekend? I hope you were able to get outside and enjoy the amazing weather (minus the little storm on Saturday)! Kyle and I have been loving the Olympics! I cannot get enough of it, especially after having the opportunity to live at the Olympic Training Center for 6 months. I'll touch on that more in another post, though. Anyway, after watching the Olympic tennis matches this weekend, Kyle and I felt inspired to put our tennis skills to the test before going to the gym. Unfortunately, my inner Serena didn't come out as much as I wanted it to, so I got my frustration out with a nice long run. 

My little sister also came in town for Lollapalooza. Before she went to the music festival, we had a great time exploring the farmer's market and doing a little shopping. Her visit inspired me to try out some of my new vegetarian recipes since she is a vegetarian. Check out my version of ratatouille served with polenta and low fat ricotta cheese to add some protein. Enjoy this for your meatless Monday meal, and to get your week off to a great start.

                                                         Ratatouille Polenta with Ricotta
                                                                 serves 4 large servings

2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Large Yellow Onion, Chopped
1 Green Pepper, Chopped
1 Orange Pepper, Chopped
2 Small or 1 Medium Zucchini, Chopped
5 Tomatoes, Chopped
6-8 fresh basil leaves, Chopped
1 C Instant Polenta
3 C Water
1/4 C Grated Parmesan
Low-Fat Ricotta
Balsamic Vinegar (optional) 

Start Cookin'
1. Saute the garlic, onions, and peppers  with 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil until tender (about 10 minutes), season with salt and pepper to taste
2. Place the onion mixture in a separate dish, and saute your zucchini in 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil  until tender.
3. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes have reduced down.
4. Add the onion mix and basil to the pan.
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to let the ratatouille simmer for 10 minutes.
6. While the veggies are simmering, bring 1 C of polenta and 3 C of water to boil. Be careful because the polenta will bubble and may splash out of the pan. This will cook quickly (5 minutes), so be sure to stir often.
7. Once the polenta is done cooking, add 1/4 C of grated Parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
8. Place 1 serving of polenta (about 1/4 c) on the plate and top with the ratatouille. Top with as much ricotta as you wish and a little balsamic vinegar to bring all of the flavors together.

I hope this recipe starts your week of healthy eating and living off to a great start. Stay tuned for more recipes this week! Fuel Strong!