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December 2015 - Vicki Brands

Ground Turkey Chili

Here is a great rainy day recipe that you can throw together pretty quickly. It’s delicious, healthy, and super easy to make!

Ground Turkey Chili


  1. 1 lb. ground turkey
  2. 2 cans of crushed/ diced tomatoes
  3. 1 can black beans
  4. 1 pack of chili seasonings, or you can make your own
  5. 1 bell pepper, chopped
  6. 1 onion, chopped
  7. 1 sweet potato, diced
  8. Pepper, garlic powder to taste


  1. Cook diced sweet potatoes until they are almost completely soft. Set aside.
  2. Thoroughly cook the ground turkey in a large pot.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes back in.
  4. Add all other ingredients in any order, including spices.
  5. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Enjoy! (:

Butternut Squash Soup (paleo version)

WOW. This soup was delicious! I have never tried butternut squash soup in my life, but decided to take a shot at it tonight. It was the perfect cold weather dish. Here is the recipe I used, as published on http://paleogrubs.com/


  1. 1 large butternut squash (about 5 lbs)… I used 2 lbs, pre-cut from Costco 
  2. 1 green apple, sliced and cored
  3. 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  4. 2 carrots, chopped
  5. 3 tbsp olive oil
  6. 2 tsp cinnamon
  7. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 1/2 tsp cumin
  9. 1 tsp chili powder
  10. 2 tbsp ghee (I subbed coconut oil)
  11. 3 cups chicken broth
  12. *** I added 2 chicken sausages (Costco) to up the protein content 


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, olive oil, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp cumin. Mix together, coating the squash well. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Next, in the same bowl that the butternut squash was in, toss the apple slices, onion, and carrots to coat with the remnants. Place on a second rimmed baking sheet and add both baking sheets to the oven. Roast for 35-40 minutes until soft, stirring once.
  3. Heat up ghee over medium heat in a large pot on the stove. Add the roasted ingredients and then the chicken broth. Add 1 teaspoon each of salt, cinnamon and chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  4. While mixture is simmering, cut and warm up two chicken sausages to use as garnish and to add some protein to this dish.
  5. Using an immersion blender, combine the ingredients until smooth, or transfer to a blender to puree. Serve warm. Sprinkle warmed sausage on top. Garnish with peeled carrots if desired.


Partner Workout

Working out is way more fun with a buddy! If you’re like me, you get lazy when you are working out by yourself. If you want to workout with someone (or multiple people), then you need to create workouts where everyone can be moving at the same time. Stations always work best. We have a garage gym, which means that we are limited in our weights and equipment. Here’s a great workout we did yesterday:

Work for 4 min., rest 1:30 min. for 6 total rounds (each station 3 times)

Person 1:

~ row for 4 min straight, working to match or exceed calories or distance each round

Person 2:

AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) in 4 min of:

~ 10 push ups (modify if needed)

~ 10 kettle bell swings (whatever weight you’re comfortable with, I do 35#s)

~ 10 lunges, alternate legs

~ 10 balance ball sit ups

*At the end of 4 minutes, rest 1:30 minutes. Then switch stations (rower goes to AMRAP, AMRAP moves to the rower) You should get to each station 3 times, bringing your workout to about 30 minutes.

Hero WOD: T.U.P.

Today’s workout (as posted on http://www.crossfit.com and Crossfit’s instagram today):


15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:
135-lb. power cleans
135-lb. front squats

To complete this workout, complete 15 reps of each skill listed, then complete 12 reps of the skills listed, and so on until you finish the 3 reps. This workout is for TIME, so you want to complete it as quickly as you can.

Modifications: The nice thing about Crossfit WODs is that you can ALWAYS modify it to your level. For this workout, I modified the weight (Hero WOD’s are presented with men’s weight). I completed this workout using 85 lbs. for both the power cleans and front squats. The girls’ weight for this WOD would normally be 95 lbs. I modified the weight because I have not done lifts like this nor at this rate in a while, so I’ll work back up to those recommended weights (:

For the second set of pull ups each round, I chose to do ring rows instead. My husband, on the other hand, completed the workout as prescribed. I’m working my way back up to that!

Shrimp Tacos

Seafood, especially shrimp, is low in calories but high in protein. Here is a simple recipe for fresh shrimp tacos!


  1. fresh, raw shrimp (~ 1 lb.)
  2. 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  3. 1 avocado, diced
  4. corn tortillas
  5. fresh cilantro
  6. 1 lime
  7. 1 tomato
  8. baby greens


  1. In a frying pan, melt coconut oil. Place shrimp in pan and cook until orange. Add salt, pepper and garlic as desired.
  2. While shrimp are cooking, make your salsa: mix your diced avocado, juice from half a lime, 1 diced tomato, and chopped cilantro in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Grill/ warm up your tortillas. Place baby greens on warm tortillas, then add cooked shrimp, and top with salsa. Serve with a few lime slices. Enjoy! (:

Protein Pancakes

Happy Saturday!

One of my favorite weekend breakfasts is pancakes. I’ve make “paleo pancakes”, which use almond flour and other paleo products, but these take the cake! I found Kodiak Cakes “Power Cakes” mix at Costco, and I have to say, it’s well worth spending the $12 on. This pancake mix is made with whole grain oat & wheat flour and a whey protein blend.

Power Cakes

1 cup mix to 1 cup water

*To get the highest protein content, replace water with milk and add an egg per cup*


  • I love topping my pancakes with fresh fruit, especially berries.
  • For some sweetness, top with honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup

For two people, we normally make 2 cups worth and sometimes we still have left overs. The left overs are amazing the next day in the toaster! We also like to prepare some chicken sausage (Costco as well) to go with the pancakes.

Have a great weekend!


Slow Cooker Beef Stew

This is a great cold day meal and it’s super easy to cook! My recipe is based on the “Mexican Slow Cooker Stew” recipe from Everyday Paleo (available on Amazon). This recipe turns out different every time, but it’s always delicious!

  • 2 lbs of beef stew meat
  • 1 small red or yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp chipotle or chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 carton of beef broth
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • Anything else that you’d like to throw in to complete your stew
  1. Mix all dry spices in small bowl.
  2. Place beef, garlic, and onions in crockpot and turn on low.
  3. Add spice mixture and mix well.
  4. Next, I add 1 cup of raw baby carrots, 1 bell pepper, diced, and 2 uncooked potatoes, diced (left over from Thanksgiving). These are optional, but taste great in beef stew (:
  5. Add the carton of beef broth and tomato product. Mix well.
  6. Cook on low for 8 hours or until beef is fall-apart tender.



How to Tabata

Tabata workouts are my favorite workouts. I enjoy the intensity and I love that I don’t get bored or lazy half way through! Choose a few of your favorite workout movements to build your own “tabata” workout.

How to “Tabata”: For each movement, 1 movement at a time, work for 20 seconds, rest for 10, work for 20, rest for 10 and so on until you hit 4 minutes. Take a 1 minute rest and repeat this pattern for the next movements on your list. The idea is to work at a high intensity for 20 seconds and recover during the 10 seconds.

I like to choose 6 movements so that my workout lasts 30 minutes. Trust me, those 30 minutes fly by FAST.  You can add more or shorten it based on how much time you have. Here is my workout from last night:

Tabata: work for 20 seconds, rest for 10, 8 rounds each movement

Row:  (0:00-4:00)

Rest 1 minute (4:00-5:00)

1 arm kettle bell press, alternate arms (5:00-9:00)

Rest 1 minute (9:00-10:00)

Box jumps (10:00-14:00)

Rest 1 minute (14:00-15:00)

Kettle Bell Swings (15:00-19:00)

Rest 1 minute (19:00-20:00)

Ab Slings or V-ups (20:00-24:00)

Rest 1 minute (24:00-25:00)

Airdyne Bike (25:00-29:00)

Rest 1 minute …You’re done!

Equipment needed to replicate this workout: a rowing machine (Concept2 Rower), stationary bike (Airdyne), kettle bell (any weight you are comfortable with), ab slings (attach to a pull up bar, or you can do “v-ups” on the floor instead), and a box (or anything sturdy you can jump onto safely).


First Steps

Hi Friends!

Welcome to my blog! My name is Vicki and I am a 28 year old elementary school teacher, a wife, a traveler, and an aspiring photographer. I developed a love for fitness after discovering Crossfit, of which I was a member of for 3 years. My husband and I now workout together in our garage, where we have built a mini Crossfit gym. I created this blog as a motivational tool for myself to get back to my healthy eating and workout habits after falling short during Thanksgiving break. I know that I can’t be the only one that this happened to, so hopefully you will find some sort of inspiration in my blog as well!

Over Thanksgiving, my husband and I were lucky enough to travel to the East Coast to visit my extended family and play tourists for a week. When we go on vacation, we tend to eat and drink like it doesn’t matter, even though we are no where near close to keeping up with our normal workout routine. We walked a few miles every day during our adventures, which was a decent start.

My plan for this blog is to post travel workout & eating tips whenever my husband and I are out of town, provide you with new recipes I have found or created, document the workouts we complete in our garage, and provide some inspiration to people who think that because they work full time, they can’t make time to workout. I too have to MAKE time to workout and to prepare healthy meals. I choose to make health a priority. Making a healthy life style a priority is the best way to see progress and will allow you to reap the benefits of your hard work!

I hope that you are able to find motivation alongside me, whether you have never worked out a day in your life or are trying to hop back into your routine like me. Enjoy!

<3 Vicki Brands