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January 2016 - Vicki Brands

30 Day Sore to the Core Challenge

I love following fitness bloggers and fitness blogger moms on Instagram. They always have great workouts that require little to no equipment and can be done in about 15-20 minutes. These workouts may look easy to your every day Crossfitter, fitness enthusiast, or athlete, but they are pretty challenging.

One of my favorite fitness blogger moms is Alexa Jean. She has an awesome fitness program that includes the 30 Day Sore to the Core Challenge, Butt & Leg Challenge, and an Upper Body Challenge. We just wrapped up the 2nd week of her Sore to the Core Challenge and highly recommend it! We complete each day’s Sore to the Core workout in addition to our full workout for the day (usually after). This is a no equipment, body weight challenge and can be done with as many people as you’d like. All you need is something to view the workout on (iPad, phone, computer…or print it out), an open space, and a timer.

Head to http://www.alexajeanfitness.com/ to purchase the Challenge! (picture above also belongs to AlexaJeanFitness)

{ Weekend Hikes }

This weekend Gerrit & I were blessed with an extra long weekend because of MLK Day, so we decided to spend most of it outside. Being outside and/or going to San Diego is always a good choice (:

Santa Rosa Plateau ~ Murrieta, CA

On Saturday, we hit the Santa Rosa Plateau which is located off of Clinton Keith/ 15 freeway in Murrieta, CA. There are several places to park along Clinton Keith, including the visitor center. If you keep following the road past the visitor center, you will come to two more parking lots, one on the left and one on the right. The one on the right is the one we choose to frequent because they allow dogs on a leash (as well as horses!). Our dogs LOVE coming out here and tend to walk us, rather than the opposite. The trails are fairly flat, but depending on the route you choose, it can get pretty rocky and steep at parts. Our hike on Saturday totaled about 3.5 miles roundtrip. Not bad for a little afternoon hike with the pups!


Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve ~ La Jolla, CA

Today we made it down to San Diego for one of the most beautiful hikes in southern Ca (in my opinion). Torrey Pines was PACKED with families today, maybe because most, if not all, schools were not in session today. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a gorgeous day that included a hike totaling just under 5 miles. Torrey Pines is located off the 5 freeway and Carmel Valley Rd. If you park in the parking lot at the base of the hill, you can walk/ run up the large hill to start your hike. If you’re not feeling so motivated, you can also drive up the hill and park by the Visitor Center (but we all know it’s better to take the hill!).  We hiked down and back on several of the trails lined with beachy shrubs. The trails lead to different view points and one leads down to the beach. Once you make it down to the beach, you can either go back up the trail (which we did) or you can walk on the flat beach back to your car. I highly recommend this hike, especially if you love the beach like I do!


If you have time to take another little trip after, head about two miles south of Torrey Pines Reserve to the Torrey Pines Glider Port. You can sit outside on the deck, enjoy a snack and watch the parachuters take off. It’s pretty neat. And relaxing. And…just go, you’ll see!

Shrimp Stack

Oh dear…I can’t handle all the new recipes this week. They are just so deLISH!!!

This is a recipe that I saw on Facebook. However, it wasn’t really a “recipe”; it was just a series of videos, sped up, in a video type presentation. No ingredients were listed, no measurements were given. But it looked delicious, so I tried it. This reminded me of an Ahi Stack you would order as an appetizer at a restaurant for $14…so of course, I had to try to make it. Here’s the recipe I used (slash, threw together using my best judgement):

Ingredients (for 2 shrimp stacks)

1 lb cooked shrimp

1 avocado (mashed)

2 stalks of green onions (chopped)

1 bowl of 90 second brown rice (Costco)

1 medium cucumber (diced)

a dash of low sodium soy sauce

~ 2 tbsp of mayo

6 shakes of Tapatio

a few shakes of sesame seeds



  1. Cook shrimp in a pan. Add pepper and garlic to taste. Cut shrimp into smaller, bite sized pieces.
  2. Mash avocado in a bowl. Chop green onions. Cook rice. Dice cucumber.
  3. Mix mayo and Tapatio (or Sriracha) together.
  4. This recipe makes TWO stacks, so you need to repeat this two times. In a LARGE coffee mug (or small pot…something cylindrical), layer the following ingredients: add half of the cucumber, then the green onions, followed by the avocado, and finally the brown rice.
  5. Pack down the ingredients to better insure that they will stick together. Flip mug upside down on a plate and tap several times to make sure the stack comes out. Pull the mug up slowly. If necessary, gather pieces that fell out and pack them to the side of your stack.
  6. Pour a small amount of soy sauce over your stack. then spread the Tapatio mixture on top. Add sesame seeds for extra style points.
  7. Tadahh! I chose to serve this with corn chips which worked out perfectly. It was fun to scoop up the stack with the chips, plus it added some extra crunch.

Coconut{milk} Mushroom Chicken

Tonight’s dinner: coconut milk mushroom chicken on brown rice with a side of 5 super food salad. Amazing. Delicious. Absolutely scrumptious.

Cooking chicken on the ever-so-handy counter-top George Foreman grill with some veggies and brown rice is a staple in our house. But tonight, we switched it up a little. I had a bag of precut mushrooms and left over coconut milk from the “Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Soup” I posted about the other day. So, why not put them together? Good idea…

  1. Bake 2 large chicken breasts.
  2. In a pot, heat coconut oil and add: 1 lb of chopped mushrooms, 1 medium yellow onion (chopped), pepper and garlic. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Add 1/2 can of coconut milk. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until it looks thick.
  3. Heat up 1 package of brown rice (90 seconds in the microwave…Costco!).
  4. In a separate bowl, mix up the 5 food super salad (Costco)
  5. Serve in a bowl: rice, then chicken, then mushroom mixture on top. Salad served on the side.



Lifting Day! {Yesss}


My favorite days are lifting days with my husband (who doesn’t like to be videoed ;). Today we worked on three different lifts: overhead squats, strict press, and high pulls. Overhead squats are tricky, as they require excellent balance and control. Strict press is one of my weakest lifts, I tend to max out on that really fast. And finally high pulls; I’ve never done these isolated before, so this is my first shot at them!


5 X 5 overhead squats (2 sets at 95#, 3 sets at 100#)

5 X 5 strict press (65#)

3 X 10 high pulls (45 # bar)

Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Soup

A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for Butternut Squash Soup, but I’ve found an even better, more savory one! I wasn’t happy with the appearance and the texture of the last one; it was dark in color and had the consistency of apple sauce. So, I decided to take another shot at butternut squash soup: I ordered an “emersion blender” on Amazon…UHHHmazing…plus I had some coconut milk I needed to use, AND I found a new recipe that sounded delicious! It came out PERFECT! I hope you enjoy it just as much as we did (:

Here is the recipe I used, reposted from “Making Thyme for Health”  http://www.makingthymeforhealth.com/2013/11/19/butternut-squash-and-sweet-potato-soup-vegan/


1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 5 cups) (save yourself some time: buy the precut package from Costco)

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)

2 carrots, peeled and chopped, (about 3/4 cup)

1 small yellow onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups vegetable broth (I used low sodium chicken broth)

1/4 cup full fat coconut milk ( used low fat- still delicious)

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon curry powder (I didn’t have any…just left it out)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Start by warming the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and the carrot for about three to five minutes.
  2. Next, add the squash and sweet potato to the pot and pour in the vegetable broth.
  3. Then add the spices and salt and bring to a boil. Once it has started to boil, reduce to a simmer and cover while allowing it to cook for about twenty minutes or until all of the veggies are very tender.
  4. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the vegetables until a thick, smooth consistency is reached.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk and continue to blend until it is mixed thoroughly. Serve warm with fresh bread and enjoy! (I garnished with parsley and made my own crutons with two slices of whole wheat bread, toasted)


Booty Blaster Workout

This is by far the best booty and leg workout I’ve done! Booty Blaster is a tabata style workout that targets your lower body muscles. Need a workout like this? Here you go!

Booty Blaster

Total Time: 20 minutes

*Girl weight is the weight I used, guys weight is what my husband used. Be sure to choose your weight based on your ability.*

Air Squats (40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest, 4 X’s)

1 minute rest

Kettlebell Deadlifts (girls 53#, guys 80#) (40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest, 4 X’s)

1 minute rest

Overhead Squats (girls 45# bar, guys 95#) (40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest, 4 X’s)

1 minute rest

Back Squats (girls 95#, guys 135#) (40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest, 4 X’s)

1 minute rest

*Once this becomes easy for you, complete 2 rounds instead of 1, for a 40 minute workout*

Video: In this video, I demonstrate a few reps of the air squat, kettlebell deadlift, over head squat, and the back squat.