Saturday Sweat Full Body Circuit

I always try to get a couple of solid workouts in on the weekend and save my rest day for the week in case I’m busy with school and can’t make it to the gym. This morning I had a later start than usual because I decided to sleep in. When I woke up, I made a bowl of oatmeal with walnuts, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, and a frozen banana (I forgot to snap a pic though – so the image below is some oatmeal inspiration from the internet), and planned out a full body circuit workout .

oatmeal with orange and kiwi

The Workout

Before today, it had been a couple days since my last trip to the gym; since we’ve been having slightly warmer weather, I decided to go running outside this past week, instead of walking to campus for an indoor workout. Since I wanted to jump right back in and get my whole body moving, I put together a full-body workout, with a focus on combining strength moves with cardio intervals.

What You’ll Need

For this workout you will need a medicine ball (I used 15lbs), two small dumbbells (I used 7.5lbs), a larger dumbbell (eg. 15 lbs), and a skipping rope. Alternatively, you can just use the larger dumbbell in place of the medicine ball for the move that uses the medicine ball.

How it Works

The workout is made up of three circuits – one targeting lower body, one that focuses on upper body, and one that emphasizes the abs. Each circuit has 5 exercises, with the number of reps indicated in brackets beside the exercise. Set a timer for 5 minutes and begin with Circuit 1, moving through the exercises as many times as you can within that 5 minute period (you’ll likely be able to get through each exercise once, and the first 2 or 3 exercises a second time). The reason I often set up my workouts like this is that I get bored easily when I have to repeat exercises too many times. Once the 5 minutes are up, set a timer for 2 minutes and skip until the time is up. Next, move on to Circuit 2, again, performing that circuit for 5 minutes, followed by 2 minutes of skipping. Do the same thing for Circuit 3, ending with a final 2 minutes of skipping. In between each circuit try to rest for just long enough to catch your breath.

red skipping rope on blue background

The Exercises

Beside each exercise I’ve included a brief description of how to perform the exercise, or a link to a page that demonstrates the exercise. If there is any exercise you’re confused about, it’s fairly easy to do a quick YouTube search and see someone doing the exercise.

Circuit 1 – Lower Body

  1. Medicine Ball Squat and Press (15 reps) – hold medicine ball in front of chest and perform a squat. As you return to a standing position, raise the medicine ball above your head.
  2. Split Squat Jumps (10 each side – 20 total) – this one is easier just to watch someone perform, so here is a video showing this move.
  3. Glute Bridge w/dumbbell (20 reps) – lie on back with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Hold your larger sized dumbbell across your hips. To perform the move, raise your hips as high as you can and squeeze your glutes at the top, before lowering to the ground again.
  4. Jumping Squats (15 reps) – perform a squat, but as you stand up from your squat jump in the air. Land softly, sinking down into your next squat.
  5. Fire hydrants (15 each side) – Here’s another that is easiest to watch – link. Do not alternate between legs – perform 15 on one side, and then move on to the other side.

Circuit 2 – Upper Body

  1. Walk out push-ups (10 reps) – from a standing position, reach down to touch the ground, and walk your hands out until you are in a push-up position. Do a push-up, and then walk back to the position you started in.
  2. Burpees (12 reps) – I think most people know how to do these ones…they’re a killer. If not, just do a quick Google search. There are a few variations, but I do mine without a pushup.
  3. Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension (15 reps) – see this webpage for a demonstration of how to do this exercise. Perform this exercise using your larger dumbbell.
  4. Commandos (10 each side – 20 total) – this video shows how to perform this move.
  5. Bent-over Dumbbell Row (15 reps) – check out this page for pictures of how this exercise is performed. Use your two lighter dumbbells for this move.

Circuit 3 – Abs

  1. Spidermans (15 each side – 30 total) – start in a high plank. Bring your right knee up towards your right elbow, then, return leg to plank position. Next, bring your left leg toward your left elbow; return to plank. Continue to alternate.
  2. Plank Jacks (20 reps) – in a high plank, jump legs out to both sides, then jump them back into the centre (a jumping jack movement with the legs).
  3. Jack Knives (12 reps) – lie on your back with your arms extended above your head and your legs extended out straight. Raise your legs off the floor and simultaneously raise your arms, reaching your hands towards your feet. Here’s a video that demonstrates this move: link.
  4. Mountain climbers (20 each side – 40 total) – this one is fairly common, but in case you haven’t heard of it before, here’s a video.
  5. Bicycle crunches (20 each side – 40 total) – this is another exercise that’s fairly well known. Here’s a video.

Post-Workout Eats

When I got home from the gym, I made this delicious mixture:

poached eggs on veggies

It looks a little random, but the combination of flavours is amazing. I started off by boiling some broccoli and sweet potato. Then, in a frying pan I heated some coconut oil and cooked a clove of garlic and a quarter of an onion. To that I added some cabbage and kale mixture, plus the sweet potato and broccoli I had previously boiled. I stir-fried that for a few minutes, adding a little pepper and garlic salt. Then I put the mixture onto a plate and topped it with with two poached eggs, some goat cheese, a few dried cranberries, and some cilantro. I also had an apple on the side.

Then for dinner, I brought this bowl with me to work:

zucchini noodles, chicken, sweet potato

Included: poached chicken breast, cabbage and kale mix, spiralized zucchini with tomato sauce, the rest of the sweet potato I boiled earlier in the day, and some tahini for extra healthy fats. Another strange mixture (I realize the tahini looks a bit odd) – but it was good! Random bowls of nutritious foods are one of my go-to meals, especially when I’m taking food on-the-go.

Now that I’m home from work I’m headed off to bed so I can have an early start and get some school work done tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

In case you want to pin my workout for later:

Workout Graphic to Pin Later

Note: This workout is quite challenging and might not be suitable for everyone. If you have any health concerns, make sure to talk to your doctor before starting High Intensity Interval Training.

10 Tips for On-The-Go Salads

When I’m packing lunches to take to campus for busy school days, salads are one of my go-to options. They’re easy to throw together last minute, they help you get plenty of veggies into your diet each day, and they are incredibly versatile. However, when you’re having a salad as your main dish and bringing that salad on-the-go instead of eating from a giant bowl at home, there are a few things to take into consideration so that your salad fills you up and satisfies your cravings.

salad with pumpkin seeds

The most nutritious recipes generally consist of a combination of protein, fat and carbs. With salads, I usually follow a more specific formula: something leafy, 2-3 different kinds of chopped veggies (or fruit!), a source of lean protein (which can be either meat or plant-based), a source of healthy fats, delicious add-ons (for extra flavour, crunch, and nutrients), and a dressing.

lettuce and toppings

Below I have outlined the top ten tips I follow so that my on-the-go salads are delicious and nutritious every time.

1. Use the right containers

I find that the best way to transport my salads is a BIG container with a clasp lid to hold the main salad, and a small container for the dressing  (also with a clasp lid, to prevent leaks). I use a glass container like this one, although I have a few different shapes and sizes. You’ll want to use a really good sized container when you’re bringing a salad on the go, because it will generally take a large volume of veggies to keep you full until your next meal. If you skimp on the container, your salad may end up being a snack before a bigger meal (and usually a less healthy one) that you purchase while you’re out and about. I also like to use a lunch bag with an ice pack in it to keep my salad cold.

2. Pack the protein

Including a source of protein is an important part of preparing a nutritious and filling salad. If you don’t have any meat prepared, a hard-boiled egg is the perfect option! Just place your egg in a small pot, cover it with water, and bring it to a boil. Once it starts to boil, remove the pot from the heat and wait for 10 minutes before draining the pot. Then, peel the shell off your egg and add it to the salad! I like to boil a few eggs at once and then store them in the fridge so I can easily access them for snacks and salads later in the week. The other easiest source of protein I use is canned tuna. Other options include poached and sliced chicken breast, or some baked fish, broken into pieces.

3. Dress with Apple Cider Vinegar and/or Tahini

If you’re taking your salad dressing in a separate container and adding it while you’re at work or school, dressings that have a lot of oil can get messy. When I bring salads to school, I love dressing with apple cider vinegar because it’s healthy, tastes great, and helps minimize the mess. Tahini is also great for a creamier dressing. If you drizzle it on top prior to heading out the door, it won’t make your lettuce soggy by the time you eat it, like many other dressings do. Plus, it’s a great source of healthy fats and with a little effort you can transform it into a healthy Cesar dressing like this one from Naturally Ella.

4. Put rice on the bottom of your salad

Now, this may be heading out of salad and into nourish/macro bowl territory, but putting a layer of rice on the bottom of your salad adds some carbs to help keep you full. It’s also great because it soaks up any excess apple cider vinegar that reaches the bottom of the container. And, if you are in need of some extra protein, add black beans to the rice and you’ve got a complete protein!

5. Top with healthy fats

Did I include this tip just so I could add a picture of an avocado? Possibly. But aesthetically pleasing avocados aside, adding healthy fats to your salads will help you stay full (and they promote glowing skin!). Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, they’re full of fibre, and they contain more potassium than bananas. Other sources of healthy fats that are great on salads include walnuts, and salmon.

avocado

6. Mix up your greens

While lettuce salads are great, experimenting with different leafy greens is a great way to add some variety (and some extra micronutrients) to your salad. While I occasionally make my salads with lettuce, most of my salads contain baby spinach, which is a great source of vitamin A and antioxidants. I also like to use kale, which is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can consume.

7. Get colourful

There’s nothing better than a beautiful rainbow salad. Not only will adding a variety of vegetables improve the taste of your salad, different colours also come with a whole host of valuable micronutrients. To create your colourful salad bowl, I recommend adding cherry tomatoes, corn, cucumber, celery, any colour of bell pepper, blueberries, purple cabbage, or red onion.

8. Use fresh herbs

Chopping and adding fresh herbs to a salad is the ULTIMATE secret for taking a good salad to a fantastic one. Honestly, this piece of advice completely changed my meals. My favourite herb to add is cilantro, but mint, basil, and parsley are other great options.

cilantro

9. Add sweet potato

Sweet potato is a miracle vegetable in salads. It adds colour, helps to balance savoury flavours with sweet, and is an excellent source of healthy carbohydrates. It tastes great boiled or roasted, depending on the texture you prefer. If I prepare a batch of roasted sweet potato at the beginning of the week, it is easy to add a little to my salads each day.

10. Add-ons for texture, crunch, and sweetness

Last, there are so many options for delicious toppings that will add a little extra flavour and texture to salads. You can mix and match your add-ons depending on what flavour profile you’re going for. Options include: raisins, dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, goat’s cheese, hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

What are your favourite salad ingredients? Any favourite dressing options?

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Breakfast Platter w/Poached Egg

This plate of delicious Mexican flavours would be perfect for any meal, but I’ve decided to call it a breakfast platter because of the poached egg. The recipe has a few different components, but they’re all easy to prepare, and the dish is assembled simply by stacking all the ingredients. With a combination of complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats, this meal is the perfect way to start a busy day.

Sweet potato platter

sweet potato platter top view

Lately I’ve been a fan of savoury breakfast recipes, particularly eggs. When I start my day off with a combination of protein and fat, it usually keeps me full until lunch. Although I wake up early, my earliest class doesn’t start until 10:30, so I like to take some time to make a delicious, healthy, and filling breakfast. Ensuring that I have breakfast and that my meal is healthy sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Most days, I use sweet potato as the source of carbohydrates in my breakfast, whether it is in wedges with scrambled eggs on the side, with a poached egg on top, or in the form of a breakfast bowl (like this amazing Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl from Healthy Liv). In addition to their delicious taste, sweet potatoes are a good source of iron, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Avocados are another one of my favourite breakfast foods; they are a great source of healthy fatty acids, as well as potassium.

breakfast platter ingredients

The sweet potato in this recipe takes about 30 minutes to bake, so it’s best to make this recipe when you’re just doing work at your house in the morning, rather than rushing to class or work. This breakfast platter is also great for a weekend brunch. When I make this recipe, I wake up, peel and slice half a sweet potato into thin rounds, and put it in the oven. Then I go about my morning routine of washing my face, drinking lemon water, and making a cup of green tea or coffee. As the sweet potato cooks, I drink my coffee and lemon water, and get started on the first task on my to-do list.

sweet potato on baking sheet

If you haven’t prepared the black beans in advance, you should start preparing them about 15 minutes into the cook time of the sweet potato so that both components are finished at the same time. This recipe uses Mexican Seasoned Black Beans, which can be prepared a day or two beforehand (the beans do not have to be warm for this recipe – the platter tastes great warm or cold!). The black bean recipe makes 1 1/2 cups of beans and this recipe only uses 1/4-1/2 cup, so the black beans can be stored in the fridge to whip up another breakfast platter the next day (or to be used in another recipe).

cooking black beans

spoonful of black beans

Once the sweet potato is cooked, place the sweet potato rounds on a plate, slightly overlapping. Then, stack the other components on top – black beans, then salsa, then sliced avocado. Finally, poach an egg and place it on top of the breakfast platter. I usually season my platter with a little black pepper sprinkled on top, and if I have cilantro around, I’ll chop that up and add it to the top of the dish as well. If you want to pack this dish full of some extra greens, you could also put a layer of baby spinach underneath the sweet potato.

sweet potato platter side view

Print Recipe
Sweet Potato Breakfast Platter w/Poached Egg
Course Breakfast
Servings
Ingredients
Course Breakfast
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place rounds of sweet potato onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Cook in oven for 30 minutes, until the sweet potato is soft and the tops are brown.
  3. If you have not prepared the black beans in advance, follow recipe for Mexican Seasoned Black Beans.
  4. Poach an egg (link to poaching instructions provided in Recipe Notes)
  5. To assemble the platter, place sweet potato slices on a plate with their sides overlapping slightly.
  6. Add Mexican Seasoned Black Beans on top, followed by salsa.
  7. Next, add avocado, and top with the poached egg. Season with black pepper as desired.
Recipe Notes

The recipe for Mexican Seasoned Black Beans makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of beans. As this recipe only uses 1/4-1/2 cup of beans (depending on preference), the extra beans can be covered and saved in the fridge to use in another recipe.

For instructions on how to poach an egg, see this post.

Mexican Seasoned Black Beans

These seasoned black beans are the perfect addition to any Mexican-inspired dish. They taste great in burritos, tacos, and as a side dish for a Mexican breakfast platter with scrambled eggs. Only a few ingredients are required for this quick and easy recipe, and the spice mix used for the beans is also perfect for seasoning taco meat.

seasoned black beans

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a wonderful time celebrating. I just spent a quiet night relaxing with my family and watching the last few episodes of one of my favourite TV shows, Bones. School started back up again today, so I drove back yesterday and immediately started cooking. Whenever I go home I always anticipate that I’ll do lots of cooking since the kitchen is bigger and I have more free time, but usually I end up keeping busy with other activities. There’s something about being back in my little kitchen at school that makes me want to cook!

I made two recipes yesterday. One was a Coconut Chickpea Curry from Jessica in the Kitchen. A friend came over last night so I made this recipe for the two of us, since I’d made it once before and it was absolutely fantastic. It’s also easy to cook and comes together quickly. I served it with some rice, so now I have a few extra servings of rice and curry that I’ll be able to take for lunches at school for the next couple days.

The second recipe is this recipe for Mexican Seasoned Black Beans!

I would estimate that 50% of the meals I make involve Mexican flavours. I’m a huge fan of taco bowls, guacamole, and adding salsa to everything. As a result, a lot of these recipes will show up on the blog. I love this recipe for black beans because it is incredibly versatile – it’s the perfect addition to almost every Mexican dish. It would even taste good with just a little rice and salsa (and actually, it tastes delicious on its own by the spoonful – these beans don’t last long in my fridge!).

The recipe comes together in about 15 minutes, and the ingredients are minimal – just canned black beans, garlic, a few spices, and some water.

black beans in a colander

cooking black beans

The first step is briefly frying a minced clove of garlic in cooking oil. Then, you add the black beans (drained and rinsed) and the spice mix, and stir to coat. Last, you pour in half a cup of water, and simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes. And that’s it!

spiced black beans

These beans taste great in a ton of recipes, so you can get creative. But in case you need some ideas for how to use them, the next two recipes I post will include these spiced black beans as an ingredient!

spoonful of black beans

Print Recipe
Mexican Seasoned Black Beans
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
cups black beans
Ingredients
Spice Mix
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
cups black beans
Ingredients
Spice Mix
Instructions
  1. Heat oil to medium heat in a medium-sized pot. Add garlic and fry for 1 minute, or until garlic becomes fragrant. Be careful not to overcook garlic.
  2. Add black beans and spice mix. Stir to coat the black beans in the spices and to evenly distribute the garlic.
  3. Add water to the pot, bring the water to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low.
  4. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed/boiled away.