I love cooking but, like most of you, I also feel crunched for time. I joined the Instant Pot bandwagon at the end of last year and let me tell you: It's the best appliance I've bought and the one I use the most thanks to it's magical time-saving abilities.
Since I've played around with it for a while, I thought I'd share one of my favorite lunches to pack for the week: Salsa Chicken (which I got from NomNom Paleo) with Sweet Potatoes and Cabbage Slaw! Keep in mind that you can absolutely still make this if you don't have an Instant Pot :)
Ready? Let's make it!
INGREDIENTS (makes lunch for 1 for 5 days):
5 small sweet potatoes (I LOVE the bagged sweet potatoes from Trader Joe's because they're so tiny)
1 cup water
1-2 lbs chicken breast, depending on how many oz you want (aim for 3-5oz)
Salt and any other seasoning you'd like to use, to taste
1 jar of your favorite salsa
1 bag already-made chopped cabbage slaw to save time
Avocado if desired
For the Sweet Potatoes:
- Pour 1 cup of water into your Instant Pot
- Place a steamer into the Pot
- Place your small sweet potatoes in the steamer
- Close the lid and make sure the vent is closed
- Press the Pressure Cook button and set the time to 4 minutes (or up to 10 if you like your sweet potatoes really soft)
- When the 4 minutes are up, let the Instant Pot release the pressure naturally (this can take 10 minutes or so)
- Open the lid and carefully place the cooked sweet potatoes into a bowl and let cool; once cool, you can take the skin off (it should easily slide off the potatoes)
- IF YOU DON'T HAVE AN INSTANT POT, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and place sweet potatoes on the sheet (you can poke the potatoes with a fork to make a few holes, too). Cover the sweet potatoes with foil and bake for 45-60 minutes.
For the Salsa Chicken:
- Season both sides of your chicken breasts with salt and whatever seasoning if you'd like (I love the Spice House's Chipotle Chili Powder)
- Place the chicken in the Instant Pot
- Pour your jar of salsa on top of the chicken
- Close the lid, making sure the vent is closed, press the Pressure Cook button, setting the timer for 7 minutes
- As soon as the timer goes off, open up the vent for a quick release
- Open the lid and place the chicken in a separate bowl so it can cool and not dry out
- Once cool, shred the chicken (either with two forks or with clean hands)
- IF YOU DON'T HAVE AN INSTANT POT: You can still make this in a slow cooker by following all of the same steps and then either cooking on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours
TO PUT IT TOGETHER:
- Line up all of your Salsa Chicken fixings in a line along with your lunch containers (I love these)
- I started by putting in the sweet potatoes, and then the cabbage slaw...
- I then topped the slaw with the Salsa Chicken
- Chopped some cilantro on top
- I'll dice 1/4 of an avocado into my container daily so it doesn't get all brown and icky during the week...
And voilà! A yummy, well-balanced meal that should carry you through your day without a mid-afternoon slump that didn't take all day to make!
Ah, summer: We wait 8 months for it to arrive and then it goes by in a flash. Spending time outdoors has been shown to greatly improve mental health and, since exercise also does the same thing, imagine what combining the two can do for your mind, body and spirit! (I mean, I certainly don't have to tell you runners this, right?)
Getting ready for our great outdoor workout can be a little different than getting ready for an indoor gym workout, so here are a few of my favorite warm-weather swag for great sweat sessions!
These are my absolute favorite resistance bands. They're tough, they're versatile, they're light and take up very little space in bags. Plus, the band's creator Dave Schmitz, has a treasure trove of exercises you can do with them at your fingertips. Like, literally here.
The. Ultimate. Fanny. Pack. Keep your water bottle, phone and keys (you know, the essentials) close to you as you train! (Fanny pack not your thing? Store your license and phone in your bra!)
SPF 50 for your face and SPF 30 for your oft-forgotten lips! Sweat resistant! Packaged together! Safety first!
I have a pair of kettlebells in the trunk of my car (I love this brand and this brand). I can't tell you how many times (and in how many states) they've come in handy for a good strength training session outside or in a hotel room. You don't even need two! Exercises you can do with just one bell: Squats, deadlifts, lunges, rows, chest presses, overhead presses, swings, Turkish getups... The list goes on. (Not sure how to use a bell? I know a few people who can help ;) Shoot me an email or call 312-497-8999 and let's chat!)
Are you out and about working out and need to use the restroom? There's an app for that! This is only one out of many apps that will help you find a restroom when you're away from your regular gym or home! Find more information here.
I think you're fully accessorized now! Ready? Get out there!
I’m a city girl who typically enjoys the concrete jungle over nature but that doesn’t mean I don’t empathize with all of you amazing gardeners who suffer from aches and pains while you make your gardens beautiful. On the contrary, it’s a topic near and dear to me since my father is an amazing gardener, planting flowers and vegetables, lemon trees and herbs, tending to them day in and day out as soon as the soil is ready for his hard work. (I mean, check out that photo above!)
And, while he finds this work to be akin to meditation or yoga in terms of its calming and therapeutic benefits (as most gardeners do I’d imagine), it can take quite a toll on the body.
If you're a gardener, you most likely feel your strains/pains/aches/soreness in your knees, low back and hamstrings which really stinks because this can make moving around the rest of the day challenging.
The last thing you want is to have to retire from something you love because it doesn’t feel good so here are some moves you can do before, during and/or after that address all of those hot spots I mentioned earlier! Try these out 1-2 times daily (or even more at the peak of your gardening season) and let me know how you feel!
Imagine your torso is a balloon. Balloons fill up on all sides and you’re going to do the same thing! As you lay on your back with your feet on the floor (or elevated like the video above), don’t just focus on your stomach lightly rising but also your sides and back. Breathe for 2 minutes or so.
2. Supine Marching with Foot Circles:
Lay on your back with both feet on the floor. Now, straighten one leg at the knee; feel the front of your thigh contract lightly as the back of your thigh lengthens. Alternate legs. After marching about 5-10 times on each side, keep one leg up. Point and flex your foot up in the air 10 times. Follow that up by doing 8-10 big foot circles clockwise and then counter-clockwise. Then switch legs.
3. Neck Nods & Look-Arounds:
Flip over onto your stomach and prop yourself up onto your elbow, forearms parallel to each other. If you feel any discomfort in your low back creep your arms forward a bit until you’re comfortable. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and breathe in and out through your nose. Look up with your eyes and let your head follow. Look down toward the floor and let your head follow. Do this 10 or so times. Then, look over your shoulder and behind you in one direction and then in the other direction. Do this 10 or so times.
4. Single Leg Rockbacks: Get onto your hands and knees (hands right under shoulders, knees right under hips). Keep your eyes on the horizon. Pick up one knee and, as your rock forward, let your knee come up toward your chest. As you rock back, extend that leg and tuck your toes under on the floor. Continue rocking back and forth this way 10 or so times, then switch legs. Make sure you’re breathing!
Sit up tall with your legs extended and apart out in front of you. You can absolutely use your arms for balance or support if you need to. Look over your shoulder and let your body corkscrew itself, following your eyes, as if you’re looking for something. Then, look (with your eyes first) over your other shoulder. Go back and forth like this 10 or so times. Make sure you’re breathing! Let your legs go with you, too, it will allow your thigh bones to get internal and external rotation in the hip socket.
6. Plank to Downward Dog (on floor or chair):
Whether you’re in a high plank with your hands on the floor or on a very sturdy chair/couch/counter, get into that plank and take a breath in. Exhale as you pick your hips up and back, pushing the floor/chair/counter/etc away, reaching your shoulder blades down your back and your heels to the floor. Take a few breaths in that position. Repeat 2-3 times.
Other tips and tricks: