Mediterranean Turkey Kabobs

TURKEY KABOBS

 

Mediterranean turkey kabobs are a great main dish to make when you are looking to give a little extra flavor to dinner without having to go out to eat.  These kabobs are super tasty while keeping you in line with your health and fitness goals.  They can be paired with a Greek salad, rice, and some roasted veggies for a meal that would rival something you would get at a Mediterranean café.

Serves: 4 (2 kabobs each)

Prep Time: 20 min    Cooking Time: 8-10 minutes

ground-turkey-kabobs

Mediterranean turkey kabobs are a great way to add a little to fair to a simple dinner recipe.

Turkey Kabobs Recipe Directions:

  1. Preheat grill or stove to medium-high
  2. Combine turkey, mint, oregano, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, black pepper, and allspice in a medium mixing bowl; gently blend until the ingredients are evenly mixed
  3. Separate mixture into 2 oz portions. Shape each portion into a cylindrical patty and place on a wooden or metal skewer.
  4. Lightly splay each kabob with cooking spray and grill for 8-10 minutes. Turn occasionally, until the meat is cooked through and a light crust has formed on the kabobs.

Ingredients: turkey-kabob-recipe

1 lb 93/7 lean ground turkey

1Tbsp chopped fresh mint

2 tsp chopped fresh oregano

¾ tsp salt (or Himalayan salt)

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp ground allspice

My 21 Day Weight Loss Challenge

21 DAY WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE

21-day-weight-loss-challenge

Sometimes we need a kickstart to getting us going in the right direction.  We want to make healthy changes in our life, but it’s so easy to get stuck in a routine.  I have seen a bunch of 21 day weight loss challenge posts online and so I decided to use one that I trusted to help get my healthy habits back while dropping a few unwanted pounds from the holidays.

Because, well.  The struggle is real!

Life gets busy.  I think that’s a universal truth no matter who you are.  We live in a society where there are NEVER enough hours in the day and ALWAYS somewhere to be or something to do.  Personally, this last winter was extremely busy for me.  In addition to my full-time teaching job, my busy family life (Danielle and I have 3 kids wo are each in their own activities), building the Fit Teacher Network and helping several teachers in the United States and Canada who are working to make their personal health and fitness a priority, I took over as the woman’s varsity soccer coach at my high school.  This added an extra 15-20 hours of work per week.

As a result, I found myself beginning to cut corners as I worked to accomplish everything.  I slept less, snacked more, and found myself drinking a pot of coffee (or more) per day to keep me going.

21-day-weight-loss-before-and-after

In 21 days I lost over 12 pounds (without exercise)

I put on a few pounds between November and March as my body tried to keep up with my schedule.  Danielle saw what was happening and we decided together that we need to make a change.

Starting My 21 Day Weight Loss Challenge

We chose a 21 day challenge that focused on making quality food the foundation for improving our health.  We had read reviews and had some friends do it with great results.  Honestly, I was skeptical at first.  We had done a “cleanse” in the past where Danielle convinced me to drink this concoction of lemon juice and cayenne pepper.  It tasted horribly and I hated every minute of it.

However, when I read the plan I could tell this was going to be different.  We would be following a program based around a whole-food, plant based diet for 3 weeks.  There would be no alcohol, caffeine, or other additives that would prevent our body from doing a total “reset’ of our systems.

Week 1 Summary

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My favorite dinner from our week 1 recipes was the black beans and rice with corn tortillas and guacamole.

On Day 1 my starting weight was 156.8 pounds.

That was 15 pounds over my weight last summer and I knew if I wanted to feel good about myself around the pool and at the beach, I needed to clean things up.

The hardest part of the week wasn’t the food, but switching to water only.  I could have drank green tea for a few days but instead I went “cold turkey” and gave up all coffee and teas for the entire 3 weeks.

The meal plan was great and I always felt like I got enough food.  The first few days we got lean chicken on our salads for lunch and eggs with whole grain toast for our breakfast.

We had an afternoon snack and dinner was a vegetarian dish (we found 3-4 different meals we liked so we didn’t have to eat the same thing every night).

From the caffeine withdrawal I did have a headache on day 1 and during days 2-4 I had major pains in my back, hips, and shins.  In hindsight a lot of this could have been avoided if I had lowered my caffeine intake (I was drinking a pot of coffee a day) gradually instead of all at once.

Week 2 Summary

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On most days I chose fresh fruit as a healthy way to start my day.

After the first week, I was down to 151.2 pounds. Losing over 5 pounds in just 7 days was a huge boost to my confidence.  And while it wasn’t always easy, seeing results fast was enough motivation for me to stick to the plan.

I mentioned that I had decided to give my routine of weights and cardio a break for the three weeks.  For those wondering, the plan did give the option of doing light yoga (and there is a yoga workout to follow) but I chose to just spend a little more time during the reset catching up on my sleep.

I slept great and noticed I woke up more relaxed.  Danielle noticed that by the 4th night I had stopped snoring.  I’m sure this helped her sleep better at night as well.

We changed up the meal plan a little during week 2 and by this time we had removed all animal products from our diet.  We had fresh fruit for breakfast.  Lunch was a big salad with plenty of veggies, seeds, and a homemade dressing.  My two favorite dinner options from this week were the sweet potato and roasted pepper bisque and an Asian stir fry.

 

Week 3 Summary

clean-eating-foodsBy day 14 I was down to 146.4 pounds.  I still can’t believe I was able to eat 4 times a day, take a break from working out, and still lose over 10 pounds in 2 weeks simply by adjusting my diet.

Week 3 was busy as my work load had increased a bit.  But the meals were easy to plan for and I simply brought what I needed to lunch.  Still fresh fruits, salads, my shakes in the afternoon, and a healthy vegan dinner.

By day 21 I was down to 144 pounds and I felt amazing!!!

Since completing the 21 day weight loss challenge I’ve been able to reintroduce a few foods to see how my body would respond to them.  I have brought back lean protein and some whole grains.  I have had a few drinks with friends.  I’ve only had coffee one morning in the past week and I didn’t even get a second cup.

I have chosen not to eat cheese and other dairy products because I seem to sleep better without them in my diet. I am back to exercising 5-6 days a week, but I don’t feel the stress on my joints I had before.

In Conclusion

If you are looking to reset your nutrition and find balance again this is a great program.  I still honestly am in shock that I was able to lose over 12 pounds in 21 days without exercise.  If you would like the details on this 21 day program fill out the form below and I will reach out to you with how to get started!

 

The Ultimate Reset: Week 1 Recap

Have you ever felt like your body needed a reset?

The winter months are always tough on me and my body and I was in desperate need to take some massive action.  We all know the holiday months are a time when most people pack on a few pounds.  Between parties and family gatherings it’s easy to indulge on drink s and extra sweets.  And then when you add in parties for things like the Superbowl it’s no wonder the average American packs on between 5-15 pounds during these months.

My personal situation is a little different.  I’ve stayed consistent with my diet and we didn’t go overboard with celebrating with food.  In addition, I continue to exercise about 10 hours per week.  This helps keep my blood sugar levels low so my body isn’t converting extra calories to fat.

My struggles during these months are due to my increased job responsibilities.  In addition to teaching I also coach a varsity high school sport which consumes another 15-20 hours a week of my time.  So for 4 months strait I am working 60-80 hours per week.  To help compensate I have found myself using caffeine and drinking almost a pot of coffee per day.  I wake up at 3:30 (or earlier depending on what’s on my mind) and don’t go to sleep until 10:30 or 11:00pm.

The results of my actions have been that I’m pretty sure my hormone levels, specifically my cortisol levels, are out of whack.  I had heard of the ultimate reset as a way to use food to heal the body and bring everything back into order.

I wanted to do a cleanse but had a bad experience with one a few years back.  It felt like my stomach was in knots and I was in the bathroom 24/7.  We didn’t get any “real food” and everything I lost I gained right back when it ended.

My week 1 journey

We started the reset last Tuesday after taking the family to Universal Studios for a 2 day trip.  It was perfect because we did have a few meals on the road and enjoyed the foods you get at an amusement park.

My starting weight was 156.8 pounds.

The first day went well.  The plan lets you have eggs and whole grain toast the first few days as you remove animal products from your diet.  Lunch was a Greek salad with chicken breast.  We got to have our Shakeology as an afternoon snack which helped satisfy my sweet tooth.  And we got a black bean and rice veggie taco with avocado for dinner.

During the week we’ve had fresh fruit and Greek yogurt, stir-fry veggies over quinoa, and last night we had an amazing sweet potato and red pepper bisque soup.

The food so far on The Ultimate Reset has been great.  There are plenty of options and we went through the guide book and chose the meals that fit our preferences.  In addition to following the food plan, there are some extra vitamins and minerals used to help the body heal itself from the inside.  We’ve replaced our water with distilled water that we add pink Himalayan salt to.  We also are taking some digestive enzymes and power greens to help break down much of what is still in the body from months of past food choices.

The only tough part during week 1 was dealing with caffeine withdrawl.  I had to lay down on day 1 because of headaches from going to zero coffee after months of drinking it excessively.  By day 2 my headaches were gone but then my muscles in my hips and legs started aching.  It was the weirdest thing.  I got really bad to the point where I couldn’t sleep and it hurt to walk around the house.  But by the end of day 3 they were almost gone.  I know others have dealt with feeling cold and even dealing with eczema issues.

By the end of the week I felt great.  I am sleeping soundly and my all the little aches and pains have gone away.  Best of all I finished my first week weighing 151.2 pounds

I lost 5.6 pounds in my first week of the ultimate reset.

I don’t think I’ll keep losing weight at that rapid of a pace but I am definitely excited to see what the next 2 weeks has in store.

If you are ready for a reset send me  a message on The Fit Teacher Network Facebook page.

 

To your health,

Mark

Crock Pot Meals: Solving the Dinner Dilemma

Teaching IS Exhausting.

I think we can all agree on that. For example, my day begins with my alarm going off at 3:30 am. I get up early so I can have a quiet house to myself. I read or listen to about 15 minutes of an audiobook, check my email and Facebook, and workout in my garage or living room (depending on what program I’m doing). From there I’ve got just enough time to pack my food for the day, make breakfast, and get cleaned up for work before I need to head out the door to school.
At school I’m constantly being pulled in a dozen different directions between teaching my classes, coaching my high school team, helping students, and serving on district committees. And when you throw in extracurricular activities for our kids or tasks that need to get done after work, we are exhausted and almost too tired to do anything else.
It’s no wonder why teachers seldom make dinners when we get home from our busy days. So instead we pick something up on the way home, order pizza or take-out, or we cut corners and heat up a prepared meal that high in preservatives and added fats and sugars. Over time this not only leads to us gaining weight but it becomes expensive when we add up these charges for the month.
But it doesn’t have to be this way……….

The Crock Pot Solution

One of our solutions to the dinner dilemma is the use of crock pot meals. With a little planning, we are able to make a meal that is simple, quick, healthy, tastes good, and won’t cost us an arm and a leg. It almost sounds too good to be true, right?

Benefit 1. Crock pot meals are simple

Confession time. I am not a good cook. I’m decent working the barbecue when we have family and friends over. But that’s about it. I’m not formally trained and haven’t ever taken a cooking class. So any recipe I make needs to match my skill level. Crock pot meals for the most part are very simple to construct. There are not a whole lot steps in preparation and there aren’t any advanced cooking techniques you need to know before getting started. You might need to do a little cutting and peeling of ingredients but that’s about it.

Benefit 2. Crock pot meals are quick

I started this article by walking you through my “normal” morning routine. I’m already maximizing my time since I leave for work before my kids are even awake. And Danielle’s mornings are even crazier. After all, she gets our 3 kids fed and ready for school before she can begin her day. So we don’t have an hour or two to prepare our dinners. In fact, there are many days when we have less than 10 minutes to get it set so dinner will be ready later that evening.
The crock pot meals we prepare generally fall within this 10-minute window for getting them started. The only advance planning includes making sure we took our proteins out of the freezer beforehand so they are not frozen when we add them to the crock pot and making sure everything we needed was picked up at the grocery store. From there we can add the meal ingredients in the morning, set the timer for the crock pot, and then continue our days.

Benefit 3. Crock pot meals are healthy

One of the reasons so many quick solution dinners become unhealthy is because of so many of the added ingredients up the fat and sugar content in the name of increasing the flavor of the food. But this isn’t the case with crock pot meals. The meals are slow cooked in the a broth or the juices of the ingredients itself, so there isn’t the need to add extra butter or oils for the cooking process. Also, the bulk of the ingredients are proteins, vegetables, and seasonings/herbs. These items maximize the nutrient content of the food without adding extra unwanted calories to the meal.

Benefit 4. Crock pot meals are tasty

I don’t care how good a meal is for you. If you don’t like how it tastes you will avoid it at all costs. And this goes for both kids and adults. We’ve all found an excuse for why we chose to order that pizza or swing by the local taco shop or drive-through on the way home instead of eating what we already had available to us. Luckily crock pot meals can be delicious. We have found several crock pot meals that our whole family will eat and most of the lime there are barely enough leftovers for me to take to work the next day.

Benefit 5. Crock pot meals are inexpensive

A decade ago as Danielle and I were busy, young teachers who were also starting a family, we found ourselves eating out of bringing home dinner 4-5 times a week. $30 for pizza. $20 when we would stop at a drive-through. And by the time we would reach the end of the month we couldn’t believe how much we were spending on food that wasn’t all that good for us. This is one of the reasons I always question people when they say it’s expensive to eat healthy. It was more expensive for us to eat crappy food that just contributed to us gaining weight.
With crock pot meals we have been able to significantly lower our monthly food bills. A whole meal that will feed our family of 5 (and still have enough food for a few leftover lunches) will cost around $10. And that includes the meat too. That’s just not the veggies and seasonings. It’s crazy how just replacing two meals a week where you would spend $30 going out with two crock pot meals can save you almost $100 a month. Those savings add up quickly and now you’ve just found the money to set aside for new cloths, entertainment, or even that workout program that all of your friends are raving about.

In conclusion

It’s easy to see why making crock pot meals has become one of our “secret weapons” to eating healthy without having to spend hours cooking dinner in the kitchen. It’s also helped us keep with our health and fitness goals so we don’t pack on those pounds we’ve lost despite our busy schedules.
If adding crockpot meals to your routine is something you would like to begin doing (or maybe you are just looking for a new recipe or two to try) you should definitely consider joining our FREE 5-Day crock pot challenge group. We give you the grocery lists, recipes, and cooking instructions. We even host daily live videos where we will answer your questions and we have a private Facebook group dedicated to helping everyone achieve great results with the challenge.
If you are ready to get started,?  Click here to sign up for our next FREE 5 Day Crock Pot Challenge Group.

Until next time,
Mark

The Benefits of Clean Eating

 

the-benefits-ofChances are you’ve heard the term “clean eating” before.  But have you wondered what foods are considered clean and why is it important?  I’d like to share with you a little bit about our story of how clean eating has improved our health and fitness – contributing to our combined 150 pound weightloss while allowing us to take several daily medications.

What is clean eating?

When we think of foods that are “clean” we are talking about whole, real foods that have been minimally processed or altered from their natural state.  For instance, juicing is a form of processing as we alter the orange when we put it through a juice to create orange juice.  But this form or processing is nowhere near what happens when foods are processed for commercial sale by stripping away many of the nutrients found in parts of the foods while adding in a bunch of chemicals and food-like products to alter taste or increase shelf life.

When I think of clean eating, I tend to ask myself if what I’m eating is something that my grandparents would have had access to.  There foods were not bleached with chemicals, genetically modified, or combined with artificial colors and flavors to play tricks with the hormones of our body.

Why are processed food bad for us?

When it comes down to processed foods, it’s all about the bottom line.  Food companies are in the business of generating profits and to help the bottom line processing foods allow them to cost less to make, last longer, and increase our consumption.  Processed foods generally have high amounts of extra sugar, sodium, and fat added to them along with various other chemicals to make them taste, small, and look better.

Why should we eat clean?

According to WebMD, when we eat whole foods we are getting the food in its “natural” state.  We are getting food that still has all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients still intact.  According to Tata Gidus, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association eating whole foods has all sorts of benefits.  “If you’re trying to eat a healthier diet, relying on more whole foods is a great place to start,” says Lucia L. Kaiser, PhD, a nutrition specialist from the University of California, Davis.

Many studies have shown the connection between eating a clean diet and the reduction of several diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, and certain types of cancers.  And there is a synergy that occurs when many whole foods are eaten together.  The body does not work in compartments but instead everything is connected together.  So when whole foods make up the diet the body can use the nutrients from these foods to optimize the chemical reactions that allow for the fighting of disease, growth, and repair.

Getting started with a clean eating plan

If clean eating is something you would like to begin, then I’d like to invite you to join our next FREE 7 day clean eating challenge.  We will give you the meal plan, grocery list, and videos showing you how to prep your meals.  In addition we will offer support and accountability through our private Facebook groups along with one-on-on assistance as needed.

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You can use this link to sign up.  We run these group on a monthly basis and try to limit the number of people to maximize the experience for our participants.  If this sounds like a perfect fit for you, sign up today!

 

Until next time.

 

Mark

 

Our Simple Homemade Pasta Sauce

With a busy family of five, pasta is one of the “go to” meals that we tend to put on our dinner calendar almost every week.  It’s simple to make.  It’s a relatively cheap dinner to make.  And it’s a meal all three of our kids with eat without any arm twisting or negotiations.  But the trick is finding a pasta ande pasta sauce that is going to be good for you as well.

 

Now I’m sure you are already thinking, “Isn’t pasta off limits if you are trying to lose weight?”

The answer is that we limit the amount of extra sugar and extra carbs that most people consume with pasta by making a few adjustments.  The first is the type off noodle that we use.  While we tend to give the kids a standard gluten free (meaning the wheat protein, gluten, is removed in processing) noodle, Danielle and I almost never have these.  Instead we will either opt to have an edamame noodle or we substitute the pasta for spaghetti squash.

Honestly, when you put sauce over it, you can’t tell much difference with if you are using the squash or the pasta noodle.  But in the big picture, we are trying to eat as many whole foods as possible and the pasta noodles are highly processed which takes away much of the nutrients found in the original ingredients.

So let’s take about the sauce.

When you go down the aisle of your local grocery store there are a wide variety of pasta sauces available to you.  And when you look at the ingredients you will see a lot of variety as well.  One of the specific things I look at is how much sugar is in the sauce, and specifically, is sugar an ingredient that is added.

But instead of again dealing with foods that have been highly processed we have found a great recipe in our Fixate cookbook that we use to make a batch of pasta sauce.  And then after dinner we can save the rest in mason jars in the refrigerator and use it on leftovers for the rest of the week.  The following recipe will make 12 servings that are about 0.5 cups each.  By the way, measuring out your pasta and sauce is another way to control your calorie intake.  When you double your portion size, you also double the number of calories you are consuming also.

Grandma’s Tomato Sauce (from the Fixate cookbook)

The first step is to heat your olive oil over medium-high heat before cooking a white, chopped onion.  Next you add your garlic and tomato paste, stirring it constantly for 2 to 3 minutes to make sure the tomato paste does not burn.  You add your 1/4 cup of red wine and again stir it in for 2 to 3 minutes before adding your tomatoes, agave nectar, salt, and pepper.  You bring this to a boil stirring frequently before reducing the heat to low and letting it cook.  After adding your parmesan cheese, you let it continue to cook on low, stirring occasionally for 1 hour.  The final step before plating it over your pasta is to add you basil and mix well.

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I know this might seem like a lot of steps, but it is very simple.  In fact, we get our kids to help us out and they love being part of the process.  It’s also great because we are teaching them that their food doesn’t come from cans, jars, or packages, but instead from real ingredients without a bunch of chemical additives.

If you have any questions about the recipe of would like to know how you can get the Fixate cookbook for 25% off, send me a message at mark@fitteachernetwork.com and I’ll be happy to get back to you.

To your health,

Mark