More Protein, Less Candy

That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. Protein is good, candy is bad — right? I mean, it is almost Halloween anyway. And the chocolate just seems to be staring me down every which way I turn.

Chocolate never listens to me.

Chocolate never listens to me.

Luckily, the friendly people at NuZest sent me some packets of protein to try (they must have heard of my struggle!) and I played around with some different recipes while I fought my chocolate craving.

The first recipe I tried was a mocha recipe with their cappuccino flavored protein powder. I had never tried coffee flavored protein before, and since I love ALL THE COFFEE, this one had to be first.

It's like a 50V battery... in a drink.

It’s like a 50V battery… in a drink.

I mixed about a cup of cold brew coffee with the cappuccino protein powder and a splash of milk. Threw in a few ice cubes and blended. The directions on the packet say to shake in a shaker bottle, but we all know how well I follow directions…

The flavor was great. Not gritty, no weird aftertaste, and the best part — the ingredients list is very short. This is possibly the cleanest protein I’ve tried so far. The shake ended up being “frostier” than I like, which sometimes happens when I blend protein with just liquid and ice. I predicted adding fruit to a shake would help with that, and I was right.

The next recipe I tried was with the smooth vanilla flavor. I added some orange juice and a very ripe banana, plus a little ice. Oh yeahhh, that gave me the smooth consistency I like. The flavor was amazing. Like an orange dreamsicle without all the extra calories and junk ingredients.

Finally, I decided to step outside of the box with the chocolate protein powder and make a snack instead of a shake. My kiddos love “energy balls” and I was thrilled to be able to make a snack for them that didn’t have extra weird ingredients.

I mixed one packet of NuZest rich chocolate  protein, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter, and 1 Tbsp honey in a bowl and stirred until the spoon was no longer effective. Then I used my hands to mash it all together and form little balls of yumminess.

These won’t last long at all…

My completely un-uniform method of rolling out these energy balls ended up making about 10 bites. That’s just enough for us to snack on for one day. Normally I would double or triple the recipe and save some for later. I would also refrigerate them so the peanut butter and honey became a little more solid… But when your snack smells and tastes this good, you just skip the whole refrigeration step. ūüėČ

Thanks to NuZest for allowing me to try out this tasty, clean, vegan, soy-free protein! I am always looking for a great protein product to try since I don’t typically eat a lot of meat. This is a great protein powder, and one I would highly recommend! If you want to check out NuZest protein for yourself, head over to their website. They have a lot more recipes, and their own version of energy balls as well. ūüėČ

Phoenix Fitness wants to know: What’s your favorite protein snack?¬†

Freekeh with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, and Garlic

So this happened last night.

I got some swiss chard in our CSA share this week, and it is one vegetable I haven’t cooked before. Of course I went to Pinterest to see what to do with it, and it seemed that most recipes called for it to be sauteed or wilted and served with other veggies for flavor. So that’s what I did!

It’s kind of pretty, right?

So I washed the swiss chard, and removed the leaves from the stems. I chopped the stems into small pieces and roughly chopped the leaves as I would kale or collard greens.

I decided to use my last bag of freekeh with this dish, because it’s what I had on hand. You could easily substitute rice, quinoa, or couscous and have a very similar recipe.

I sauteed the chopped stems and onions in some olive oil first, then added some jarred tomatoes we got from a previous CSA share. Fresh tomatoes would work as well – about 2 or 3 if they are small or Roma tomato size. Just dice them up and toss them in!

After the tomatoes are warm and the stems and onions are softened, add in the garlic and swiss chard leaves. Cook until garlic is fragrant and leaves are wilted. Then serve over a bed of freekeh and eat!

This is a super yummy meal with plenty of protein and slow-digesting carbs, not to mention the nutrition from the veggies! You can play around with the ingredients and add some extra veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, or carrots, or maybe add different spices. If you do, please leave a comment and let me know how it tastes!  

Here’s the recipe for your viewing (and cooking) pleasure.

Swiss Chard Recipe card

Summer Vanilla Shakeology

I wasn’t really sure what to name this recipe, but it seems like a great drink for summertime – so there you go!

For this recipe, I used:

  • One container of coconut water
  • Half a banana
  • Half of a watermelon Chobani ¬†yogurt (you could use the full cup)
  • Vanilla Shakeology
  • Ice

I blended it all up with some ice – DONE! It was pretty tasty!

A friend recommended a similar recipe, but she added fresh mint leaves before blending. I didn’t have any fresh mint — and I checked by biting some of the herbs I had in my fridge. Definitely NOT mint leaves. Yuck.

If you try this one, I’d love to hear what you think! Drop a comment or send me a message on Facebook. Enjoy!

Freekeh Jambalaya Recipe – and Giveaway!

Going with the original tonight. I'll try the rosemary sage another time.

Going with the original tonight. I’ll try the rosemary sage another time.

Yesterday I posted about freekeh, a cracked whole grain that I had planned to try in a new recipe tonight. I was pretty excited to see a rice alternative that would help me meet my fiber and protein needs for the day. One serving of freekeh has 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber — not too shabby!!

Protein for dem gainzzz.

Protein for dem gainzzz.

I decided that jambalaya would be our dinner for tonight, so I went with the original flavor. I got all of my ingredients together and started cooking. It was sort of a “cheat” recipe since jambalaya is one of those meals where you can just throw everything into a pot and walk away until it’s done.

Or maybe it was a “smart” recipe. Hah. #busymomproblems

Anyway, the jambalaya turned out great! The texture of the freekeh is just slightly more firm than rice, not in a bad way. I think this is more rice-like than quinoa, and would probably make a good substitute for rice, especially in stews or other one-pot dishes. Especially for fitness peeps like me who are really conscious about how they use their calories each day — I mean really! Look at the macros per serving! (The recipe makes six VERY nice sized servings.) **Sorry to my friends with gluten sensitivities – this is a wheat product so it isn’t gluten free.

Freekeh Jambalaya Recipe Card

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 4.50.27 PM

If you aren’t a fan of jambalaya, you can head over to the Freekeh Foods website and check out all of their recipe ideas! I think we will try the Mexican freekeh chili next.

So…. do YOU want to try some freekeh for FREE(keh)? I’m having a giveaway so one lucky reader can win! Here’s what you have to do:

1. Like my fitness page on Facebook.
2. Like Freekeh Foods on Facebook.
3. Follow @bephoenixfit on Instagram.
4. Follow @freekehfoods on Instagram.
5. Follow @ask1980 on Twitter (that’s me!).
6. Follow @freekehfoods on Twitter.
7. Tweet about the giveaway using the hashtag #LoveFreekeh #Freekeh and mention me @ask1980 in your tweet.
8. Comment here that you’ve completed the six steps above, tell me what flavor you’d like to try (original, rosemary sage, or tamari), and you’re in!!

A winner will be chosen at random on August 22, 2015 so you have a little over two weeks to enter! So go ahead and get freekeh with it!!

**US Residents only, please.

freekeh foods flavors

Time to Get Freekeh!!

Occasionally, I get a little freaky (yes, pun intended) and want to try some new foods. Kohlrabi, golden beets, eggplant — which isn’t so freaky but I had never tried it before — are all foods that I’ve tested out recently thanks to my CSA share and my desire to not waste any of our yummy, organic, local, fresh foods.

Can't wait to see how both of these taste!

Can’t wait to see how both of these taste!

However, freekeh (pronounced free-kuh) is one food that I had not heard of until recently and I have never tried it before! But…lucky me!…I get to try it tomorrow night! I will be writing a review and sharing the recipe here on my blog. I’m thinking jambalaya since I haven’t had any in a while, and I think the freekeh would be a great rice substitute in that dish.

If the rest of my family doesn't love my jambalaya, that just means more for me!!

If the rest of my family doesn’t love my jambalaya, that just means more for me!!

Make sure you check back for the recipe and my full (and honest!) review. And because I’m such a giving person, I will be hosting a giveaway for one lucky reader to win their own bag of freekeh! Stay tuned for those details!

Shakeology Chocolate Treat – 21 Day Fix Extreme Approved!!

Hello. I’m Amanda. And I’m addicted to chocolate.

Self portrait right there.

Self portrait right there.

Unfortunately, Autumn does not allow us to have chocolate on the 21 Day Fix Extreme plan. (Although dark chocolate is allowed as an occasional treat in the original 21 Day Fix.) We’re supposed to be all EXTREME to get EXTREME results, yadda yadda yadda. Lemme tell you: not eating chocolate for 3 weeks is pretty dang extreme for me. And sometimes can cause some EXTREME behavior and mood swings. Yep. Just ask my boyfriend. Poor guy.

But…There is a way to get around this little rule, without actually cheating. Oh yes. You can actually make a chocolate treat by using foods that are listed in the 21DFX nutrition guide. And it tastes GOOD.

Do I have your attention yet?

It’s Shakeology chocolate! ¬†I won’t lie, you can add this to the list of the things I was skeptical of! ¬†I really wasn’t sure I would like this, especially after seeing the ingredients that goes into it. But it’s actually good!

The recipe is simple:

  • 1 scoop of Chocolate Shakeology
  • 1 spoon of melted coconut oil (zap in the microwave for a few seconds)

Stir it up to mix, and then spread it on a sheet of wax paper and put into the freezer until solid.

That’s it.

Looks sinful, but is oh so healthy.

Looks sinful, but is oh so healthy.

I broke it into chunks and basically enjoyed a chocolate bar with zero guilt.

The coconut oil is a healthy fat (tsp) and the Shakeology serving is a protein (red). You can also add in some peanut butter, PB2 or other nuts to add variety. I think maybe some almond slivers or chopped unsalted peanuts may be good next time? I like crunchy textures, so that is right up my alley.

Try it and let me know what you think! Drop a comment below or send me an email. If you find another cool variation (as long as it’s Fix approved!) let me know and I’ll add it to this post for others to try. ūüôā

If you want to try it and don’t have Shakeology,¬†hit me up for the details on how to score your own!!!!

Salted Caramel Shakeology

I am such a sweets junkie. I like sweets so much that when I am craving chocolate, I will dig through my desk drawers at work or look in every kitchen cabinet for something sweet…even when I know there is nothing there! Ha! Just because I eat clean 80% of time time doesn’t mean that I don’t still get those cravings. I am human, just like everyone else. I have my weaknesses. Sweets is the one thing I have a VERY hard time saying no to.

That’s one of the reasons I love drinking Shakeology.¬†It satisfies my sweet tooth and give me 70+ superfoods every day – something I don’t get from that yummy chocolate.

I’m always trying¬†new Shakeology recipes. I mean, I enjoy my¬†Mocha Frappe Shakeology¬†and my Thin Mint Shakeology, but sometimes I want a little variety. So at the suggestion of a friend,¬†I tried a new recipe. It is salty, sweet, and chocolaty! Best of everything combined into one! Give¬†it a whirl and let me know what you think!!!



  • 1 scoop/packet Chocolate Shakeology
  • 4 oz cold water
  • 4 oz Unsweetened Almond Milk (I prefer Almond Breeze)
  • 1/8 tsp Caramel Extract
  • A dash or two of pink Himalayan Salt
  • Ice to taste


  1. Place wet ingredients into your blender.
  2. Add your Shakeology.
  3. Sprinkle in the Himalayan salt.
  4. Top with ice.
  5. Blend and ENJOY!

This recipe could easily be made with Vanilla Shakeology as well if you aren’t a fan of chocolate. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Panko(ish) Parmesan Chicken Breasts….sort of…

I hope you have a sense of humor, because that’s what I had to have tonight as I was making dinner. Let me back up and set the stage…

It’s Friday night. After a long week of work and being sick, we are also expecting a big snow storm to roll in this weekend. I went to Sprouts after work and battled the crowds to get some fruit, coffee, veggies, and what few other things I had on my list that we needed. Truthfully, I wasn’t prepared. So I grabbed and picked here and there, rushed to the checkout, and went home. Luckily I had gotten the ingredients that Hunter needed to bake some banana oat chocolate chip cookies, so there was that! But I had no idea what to cook for dinner.

I can cook. Really, I can. But this super amazing boyfriend I have is a genius in the kitchen. He throws stuff together, whips up sauces, and cooks probably 90% of the time now. I won’t lie — I enjoy it. And if anyone wants to take over in my kitchen, I gladly step aside without complaint! However, with him being sick this week….I’ve been forced to feed myself and my kids haha. So tonight I had to figure something out.

I decided I would make panko crusted chicken breasts. I’ve done those before and they were decently tasty. Problem #1: I only had frozen chicken breasts. So I took out 4, put them in a pot of water and started thawing them on the stove. Ok, problem resolved. Then…problem #2: no panko crumbs. Seriously?? I thought we just had some of those! Well, no panko crumbs but we DID have Cheerios. So of course, I poured some into a bowl and started crushing them. I remembered that we had some shredded parmesan cheese in the fridge, and some almond slivers in the pantry. I thought I’d spice up the recipe a little with those added in. I couldn’t think of what spices I wanted to use, so I found this recipe¬†from Ambitious Kitchen¬†on Pinterest. Yay! Taking out some of the guesswork. I got started.

I poured in the olive oil into a gallon size baggie, added some mayo (the sour cream was old, yuck), threw in the seasonings…Hmm, the recipe calls for the chicken to marinate. Well, ain’t nobody got time for THAT. My chicken was about thawed, so I decided I’d go ahead with the plan. Dumped in the crumbled Cheerios, added in the shredded and grated parmesan cheese, and decided it looked a little dry. Since I didn’t have the lemon juice that was in the original recipe, I added in a little water. Close enough, right?

Crushed up cheerios...and generic ones at that.

Crushed up cheerios…and generic ones at that.

Baggie of yum

Baggie of yum

I took one piece of chicken out of the pot and put it in the bag. Started squishing it around, trying to coat it with the mix. And then it hit me: I wasn’t supposed to put the crumbs and cheese in there. OH CRAP. Welp, too late. I wasn’t about to start all over now! So on with the coating of the chicken, and again with the other three breasts. I ended up slapping the last of the crumb mixture onto the breasts after I put them in the pan. Sprayed the tops with a little olive oil cooking spray (don’t even know why, but that’s one of the few things from that recipe that I actually did), then put the pan in the oven to cook.

That’s about the time I realized that I had forgotten to add in the almond slivers. Whatever. I’m starting to lose hope at this point.

Sideways, but tasty!

Sideways, but tasty!

I let the chicken bake for about 20 minutes (it was already pretty much cooked through when I was thawing it on the stove) and then took it out to check it. It looked good! Tops were golden brown and the chicken was fully cooked. Time to taste it… SUCCESS!! It was actually pretty good and even the 5 year old approved! Now I supposed it’s time to give you MY version of this recipe. ūüėČ

Kaiden likes it! Even with all the fails, it was a win.

Kaiden likes it! Even with all the fails, it was a win.

Panko(ish) Parmesan Chicken Breastsfor when you’re pressed for time and you just want to feed your family

Prep time: 10 min or less, depending on how fast you are
Cook time: 20 minutes (if your chicken is already cooked haha, longer if it’s raw)
Serves: 4 people


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt, mayo, or sour cream
  • 1¬†Tbsp Italian seasoning (rosemary and thyme and all that stuff)
  • 1 Tbsp powdered garlic (you could do about 4 cloves of the fresh stuff, chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
  • 3/4 cup crushed Cheerios (or panko breadcrumbs if you haven’t run out!)
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese (in the cheese section or deli)
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  1. Heat the oven 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet or glass pan with foil and spray the foil with olive oil cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Put all ingredients in a large ziploc bag and add chicken breasts one at a time to coat.
  3. Place the chicken onto foil sheet. Press any remaining crumb mixture onto the breasts (it’s pretty yummy). Spray the top of the chicken lightly with a bit of olive oil cooking spray.
  4. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and juices run clear. Garnish with fresh chopped basil, herbs, or additional cheese if desired (or just cut it up on a plate and serve to your kids with a quick and easy veggie). Note: baking times will differ depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

If you try this crazy variation, please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear how it turns out for you.


Creamy Coconut Soup

This is a super tasty dish I made a while back. I really wasn’t sure how I would feel about fish in my soup, but it turned out way better than I anticipated! It only takes about 30 minutes to make and fed my family of four.


  • 2 tablespoons oil (I prefer coconut or olive)
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped (or use the powdered stuff like I do!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on your heat preference)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can light coconut milk, (sometimes labeled reduced fat)
  • 1 lime, juiced, plus wedges for garnish
  • 1 (6 oz) leftover baked or grilled tilapia fillet, broken into chunks
  • chopped green onion, for garnish


Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions and ginger and sauté until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and curry powder and cook until just fragrant. Add the broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then let cook for 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend. Stir in tilapia pieces and continue simmering on low for 5 minutes, until fish is heated through. Squeeze in lime juice and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper. Serve in soup bowl sprinkled with green onion.

This is fantastic in the winter, when you really just want something warm and filling! If you try it, let me know what you think!

How to Meal Plan for the 21 Day Fix


((Edit: You can watch my YouTube video here if you would rather hear me talk through the steps of meal planning. Otherwise, keep reading below!!))

How do you meal plan? How am I supposed to figure out these containers? How can I follow this guide and still feed my family? I don’t want to make different meals for myself and my family!

Make sure you grab your book before you start planning!

Make sure you grab your book before you start planning!

I hear this often, and they are legit concerns! When you first get your nutrition guide and try to tackle meal planning, it’s almost enough to make you throw in the towel. And some people get so frustrated that they do just that. But don’t let meal planning be what stops you from sticking with this program! Here I will break it down and show you exactly how I do my meal plans each week.

Step 1:

I start with a chart. Yep, a chart. I need paper and pencil so I can sketch out what we will eat for the week. Some people use the computer and that’s cool, but I need it on paper. It works better for me that way.

Meal planning step 1

So my chart looks like this. I have the days of the week on one side and my meals on the other. Sometimes I have the days on top of the page, and sometimes I have them on the side. That’s pretty irrelevant – just make sure they’re on there somewhere haha. Moving on. I also have every meal and snack that I eat each day. You can add in an extra snack before or after dinner if that’s what you typically eat. This is just what works for me. At the bottom, I list the different containers and how many of each I am supposed to eat (I’m planning for level 2, the 1500-1799 calorie range). This allows me to put a tally mark as I enter the foods into my plan, so I can see how many of each I have planned and how many more I need to add in.

Step 2:

After I have my chart prepped, I start writing in the meals that are pretty stable. For me, Shakeology is breakfast Monday-Friday. I sometimes cook breakfast on the weekends, so it may get shifted to a snack on those days, but I rarely have time to cook breakfast during the week. So Shakeology goes in the chart first. Then I plan for my dinners. Taco Tuesday is pretty typical in our house, so some version of that goes on Tuesday. We also like to do burgers, brinner (breakfast for dinner if you aren’t a Scrubs fan haha), steak and veggies, fajitas…and so on. Those get placed in dinner slots throughout the week. If I have a new recipe I want to try, I figure out which night will work the best for me to cook it and I place it there. After I have my dinners planned…

Step 3:

…then I plan my lunches. Because I’m a teacher, I don’t really have the luxury of cooking something for lunch. Leftovers are my best friend! Pretty much 95% of the time, I take whatever meat we had for dinner and pair it with a salad for my lunch the next day. Yes, I will even cook extra for dinner to make sure I have enough to eat for lunch!

Dinners and lunches complete!

Dinners and lunches complete!

Step 4:

After I have my dinners and lunches planned, I go back and fill in the gaps. Snacks are generally the same thing every day. Fruit, almonds, deli meat, boiled eggs (oh wow, just realized I didn’t use those at all this week!), raw veggies and hummus…those are all pretty standard snacks for me. I tried to add in a little variety with this plan, but honestly I am a boring eater! I will eat some of the same things every day just to keep it simple. Then I don’t have to try to remember too many different things haha.

Fill in snacks and missing pieces!

Fill in snacks and missing pieces!

A zoomed in view

A zoomed in view

That’s pretty much it! You don’t have to be following the 21 Day Fix to meal plan this way. This method of meal planning can be adapted to any type of nutrition plan, and can also be used for the 21 Day Fix Extreme. I will definitely use this while I’m prepping my meals using the Countdown to Competition plan (eat #allthereds). For some 21 Day Fix approved recipes, check out¬†my clean and healthy recipe board here.

If you need help with meal planning or want more ideas on meals and snacks, leave a comment or feel free to message me via email ( or on Facebook! Happy planning!