Thursday, December 18, 2014

No-Bake Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites (#MadeWithChobani)

If Thanksgiving is all about pie and Christmas is all about cookies, when does cheesecake get its day?

Today, my friends . . . in a healthier, bite-sized, no-bake, holiday-flavored form.

No-Bake Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites (#MadeWithChobani)

Graphic by Brianna Kolota

The truth is that I fully intended to make a cheesecake, but lazy, post-law-school-exams me wanted no part in that baking ordeal. I bet you're too busy for that nonsense too, which is when I decided a healthier, raw snack version of cheesecake was the way to go.

I started with the main ingredient: Chobani non-fat plain yogurt . . .  <--- One of my favorites!


 . . . and added mascarpone, ground flax seed and a few other ingredients to give the bites that distinctive gingerbread flavor.

After making the cheesecake base, I rolled the balls in two different toppings: cocoa powder for my inner chocoholic . . .

No-Bake Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites (#MadeWithChobani)

 Photo by Brianna Kolota

. . . and lightly salted, crushed brown rice cakes for a sweet and salty flavor combo.

No-Bake Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites (#MadeWithChobani)

 Photo by Brianna Kolota

You can roll your bites in any crushed cereal, nuts or even protein powder if you feel so inclined. It didn't occur to me until after I made the bites, but crumbled graham crackers would probably taste AMAZING. Maybe like pie crust?

Anyhoo, no matter how you roll, make sure you share these gingerbread munchkins with the ones you love. Bring them to a holiday party. Make a batch for your kids, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Gifts don't have to be store-bought, and I can personally vouch for the fact that people appreciate homemade gifts, especially homemade desserts, MUCH more than any item you'll find in a mall.

So without further adieu, here's the recipe.

No-Bake Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites (#MadeWithChobani)


Makes about 24 bites

 

Total preparation time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 5.3 ounces Chobani non-fat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 4 dashes of powdered stevia (or your other favorite sugar substitute)
  • 1/8 cup cocoa powder (optional; for rolling the bites in)
  • Four crushed, lightly salted brown rice cakes (optional; for rolling the bites in)

Steps:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, except for the cocoa powder and crushed brown rice cakes.
  2. Once the mixture is even, roll into small balls and roll the balls in whatever mixture you choose.

If you like these bites, be sure to check out more Chobani recipes too. It's seriously incredible how many things you can make with Greek yogurt, and I'm always a fan of adding a protein punch to my recipes. 

Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions in the post are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of Chobani. Chobani did not compensate me or provide products for me to use in making this recipe.


Questions:

  1. Are you a fan of cheesecake?
  2. Do you cook or bake with Chobani yogurts?

Related HGG Posts:


Berry Cheesecake Smoothie


Berry Cheesecake Smoothie from Hungry Gator Gal

Overnight Strawberries and Cream French Toast




Dreaming of Holiday Sweets

SAM_2680

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Workout Lemonade (Sugar-free, made with BCAAs)

Let's pretend it's hot outside. Like SO hot outside that you can feel the sun burning your skin and all you want to do is drink this lemonade and eat ice cream.

Winter isn't real. Summer lasts forever.

Sound good?

Workout Lemonade (Sugar-free, made with BCAAs)


Workout Lemonade (Sugar-free, made with BCAAs) from Hungry Gator Gal

I started making this lemonade to drink before Ranger Challenge workouts. It gives me the perfect boost to make Daily 100s (i.e. 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups), interval training and long runs easier.

There's NO way I'm waking up at 4 a.m. to eat something. I just can't handle it. But chugging a glass of this lemonade 30 minutes before starting a 5:30 a.m. workout? That I can do.

I also sip on a glass after a workout too since I basically lose all the water in my body after one of those workouts. #sweatybeast


Workout Lemonade (Sugar-free, made with BCAAs) from Hungry Gator Gal

I also sip on this lemonade when I'm studying or wickedly craving carbs or sugar even though I'm not hungry. The BCAAs stop me from eating purely out of stress or boredom.

In other words, it prevented this image from happening during my two weeks of law school exams.


Source

Some of you may think supplements are only for the super serious bodybuilders or the really ripped guys at the gym, but it's not true. BCAAs in particular provide a host of benefits if you're looking to build muscle, lose weight, lose fat or prevent muscle breakdown. And if my suspicions are correct and you're serious about fitness, you're trying to do at least one of these things.

So without further adieu, here's the recipe for your new favorite drink. :)

Workout Lemonade (Sugar-free, made with BCAAs)


Ingredients:

  • 10 grams BCAAs (I use 4 teaspoons of Piping Rock's 100% Pure BCAA Powder. It's one of the cheapest available online.)
  • About 16 ounces of water (You can use more or less.)
  • Juice from one lemon.
  • A few dashes of pure stevia extract. (I use Trader Joe's or this brand.)

Steps:

  1. Fill a large glass 3/4 of the way to the top with water.
  2. Add the BCAAs and stevia extract.
  3. Squeeze in the lemon juice.
  4. Stir.
  5. Drink!

Questions:

  1. Do you use supplements?
  2. If so, what do you use? 

Related HGG Posts:


Whole-Wheat Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes



10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner

10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner from Hungry Gator Gal

Favorite Nike Training Club App Workouts 

 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Yoga Workout Playlist No. 2

Does running make anyone else crave yoga?

Maybe I'm crazy, but all I can think about besides literally drinking a gallon of water after a long run is dropping into pigeon or triangle pose.

Tight hip flexors from running = yoga ASAP.

Yoga Workout Playlist No. 2 from Hungry Gator Gal (@spotify playlist included)

Spotify playlist:



I go to power yoga in the evenings twice per week, but I often take 10 to 15 minutes to practice on my own before I go to bed. I put this playlist on, stretch it out and I'm out like a light bulb. Try it if you have issues winding down after a long day. It might be just what you need. :) 

P.S. Check out my Spotify profile and my playlists page if you like what you hear. 

Questions:

  1. What are your favorite stretches for pre- or post-run? (My favorite pre-run stretch is the toy soldier.)
  2. What are your favorite yoga poses? (I'm a fan of crazy arm balances in addition to stretches.)

Related HGG Posts:


Yoga Workout Playlist



10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner

10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner from Hungry Gator Gal

Best Yoga Stretches for Stress Relief




 
From the Keep Calm-O-Matic

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fall 2014 Workout Jams + Benefits of Group Fitness

Listening to music while working out is SUCH a treat these days. Let's just say armbands, headphones and Spotify are no bueno while working out with the Ranger Challenge team. 

Needless to say, it's been months since I created a new playlist for the gym. The one below is a mash-up of my current favorite songs.

Fall 2014 Workout Jams from Hungry Gator Gal

Spotify playlist:



Follow me (Brianna Kolota) on Spotify if you like what you're hearing.

I'm not going to lie and say working out without music is easy. Learning how to run four miles with only my own thoughts was difficult at first. . . especially when I was thinking about how much I dislike running. HA!

But you know what? I've learned that I don't need music. I have my teammates, their words of encouragement and the inner motivation to push through the last mile, the last rep, etc. 

If you're a regular reader, you know I'm a longtime fan of group fitness, and Ranger Challenge is no exception. The workouts are never easy, but my teammates and I bond in our pain and constant endeavor to become faster, stronger and smarter.

The good news is that you don't have to be in the Army to reap the benefits of group fitness. Check out a class at your local gym. Find a CrossFit box or boot camp club. Find or start a running club. Join a local club sport or intramural league.

The key is to find a group of people who are in similar shape or slightly better shape than you, whatever that may be. They'll push you to improve, and you'll probably make friends in the process. You might even build teamwork skills that are transferable to other parts of your life (i.e. your job).

Sounds like a win-win situation to me. What do you think?

Note: If you need help finding fitness clubs or group workouts, check out apps like peerFit and SweatGuru. They'll help you "try before you buy." You'll pay for individual classes or a pass to try a bunch of different classes before deciding to commit to one single gym. You can also check the group fitness schedule at your local gym. Most gyms will let you try the first class for free.

Question:

  1. Are you a fan of group fitness? If so, why?
  2. If you're a fan of group fitness, what's your favorite class? (I'm always looking to try new formats!) 

Related HGG Posts:


August Workout Jams

August Workout Jams from Hungry Gator Gal (An @spotify playlist)

Pumping Iron Playlist

Pumping Iron Playlist from Hungry Gator Gal (an @spotify playlist)

Yoga Workout Playlist

 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner

New to running? Me too! Here's what I've learned in my first six weeks of truly pursuing my goal of becoming a "runner."

10 Things I've Learned as a New Runner from Hungry Gator Gal

1. Check your form!

Go to a running store or find a running coach who will videotape you while you're running to check your form. I went to Fit2Run in Gainesville and completed an assessment for FREE. Other stores also offer the service at little or no cost.

I discovered I'm a heel striker during the assessment, so I've been walking around on the balls of my feet and my toes for weeks to change the way I walk and run. My calves hurt like hell, but I don't feel pain in my shins anymore. I did a simple search online and found these tips on running form.

2. Buy new running shoes, if necessary. 


Women's Nike Zoom Pegasus 31 Shoes on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

If you receive an running assessment, the store associate will likely tell you what type of runner you are (i.e. under pronator, over pronator, neutral). The associate will then suggest specific brands and types of shoes that fit your stride.

Trust me when I say that the correct shoes will prevent injuries. I'm a neutral runner and recently bought the pair of Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31s you can see above, which make it feel like I'm running on clouds, no joke.

No shin splints = a happy Brianna.

For my male readers, check out the same pair of Nike shoes below, which my brother bought in a different color. Each pair cost about $100.

Men's Nike Zoom Pegasus 31 Shoes on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

3. HYDRATE.


Nalgene Wide Mouth 32-Ounce Water Bottle on Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

Drink water all day, every day. Keep a water bottle at your side at all times. Challenge yourself to drink a liter every 60-90 minutes. I drink at least four full bottles of water from my 32-ounce Wide Mouth Nalgene every day and often more. That's 128 ounces or nearly 4 liters for you math wizards.

Hydrating properly before and after a run is especially important if you live in a more humid climate like Florida, even if you run in the mornings when it's not as hot outside.

How do you know if you're drinking enough water? Let me show you this lovely pee color chart . . .

4. Mind over matter.


 

The struggle is real . . . but, it's more mental than physical.

I had never run more than 2 miles without stopping prior to joining the Army ROTC program. Now, I regularly run 4 miles at a decent pace without stopping. I'm not the fastest of the bunch, but I push my personal limits with each run.

To ensure I don't give up, I usually pick a mantra and repeat it to keep myself going. I can't wear headphones or listen to music when I'm working out for ROTC, so I usually repeat something like, "The faster you run, the faster it's done!"

5. Make "pre-hab" a priority.


 

Photo by Brianna Kolota

Do dynamic stretches before running and static stretches afterward. Go to yoga at least once a week. Foam roll. In other words, do something now to save yourself from an injury, subsequent rehabilitation and time off from all exercise.

Here's my favorite warm-up, the ultimate static stretch for hip flexors and quads, and my favorite  yoga stretches.

6. Don't forget about strength training.



If you run, run, run all the time without taking time to build muscle, you won't become stronger or faster. Aside from running with ROTC, I complete two strictly strength workouts on my own each week.

I've been digging "One-Set-to-Failure" workouts lately because they're challenging and time-efficient. Check out my weekly workout log to see what I'm talking about.

7. You are what you eat.



Cajun Turkey Lettuce Wraps photo by Brianna Kolota

If you eat crap prior to a run, you'll probably feel like crap. In other words, put down the fried foods, pizza, candy, etc. and go eat your veggies and lean meat.

And even if you eat relatively healthy, make sure you're not eating too much fat. More than once, I've made the mistake of eating too much "good" fat (i.e. nuts, avocados) the night before a cardio-intense 5:30 or 6 a.m. workout. And guess what? I was as slow as molasses.

You can eat fat before a run. It's your choice. However, I realized I need more carbs, less fat, and a moderate amount of protein to perform my best. If I have a physical training test in the morning, I like to do a moderate "carb load" at dinner the night before with fruit, starchy veggies and occasionally some whole-wheat cereal, pasta, bread or crackers.

8. Track your progress.



Photo by Brianna Kolota

I bought this $15-Casio watch at Walmart to time my runs. It's the cheapest watch I've ever bought, but I LOVE it. It's waterproof, easy-to-operate and has a 24-hour clock for military time.

9. Don't think every run has to be better than your last.


Some days you might not be "feeling it." Don't give up and go home on those days, but make the most of what you can do if you're not in the "running groove."

Case in point: I could tell during the first lap of my first Army Physical Fitness Test this semester that it wasn't going to be my best run. My legs were stiff. My hips were tight. I didn't get enough sleep the night before. I was nervous. But you know what? I made the most of it and told myself the next test would be better.

10. REST.



I couldn't resist the seal photo. . .

First, sleep at least 7 hours every night. And if you can't sleep for at least 7 hours, try modifying your sleep schedule. You don't want to feel exhausted before you even start running.

Secondly, take FULL days off. Don't run every day and overdo it. This concept sounds easy, but it's easy to forget if you like to exercise.

The amount of time you need to recover is personal. I typically take two or three days off from all strenuous physical activity each week. I also have one day where I walk a lot and/or practice yoga. <---More to come on the "less-is-more" approach in a later post.

When you take rest days, enjoy them. Be productive. I usually knock out a bunch of homework on rest days and sometimes even sit on my butt for a few hours to watch "JAG" or "How to Get Away with Murder." I thoroughly enjoy the laziness, and you should too.

Side notes:
  1. Yes, I hope to join Army JAG after law school; and 
  2. "How to Get Away with Murder" is incredibly unrealistic in terms of what I've experienced in law school, especially in my criminal law class. 

Conclusion:



Photo by Brianna Kolota

After six weeks, I can say I still don't love running. If given the choice, I prefer to cycle, hike, interval train without running, etc. However, becoming a better runner currently tops my "fitness bucket list" in terms of ways I want to keep challenging myself physically and mentally.

So if you're new to running like me, please don't give up! Learn from my tips and mistakes. That's why I'm sharing them. Secondly, if you're a seasoned runner, please offer your advice by leaving a comment on this post. Sharing = knowledge.

Also feel free to email me at bkkolota@gmail.com or reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter or Google +  if you have questions about running or anything really. I LOVE talking with readers.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day! :)

Related HGG Posts:


Tips for Setting Realistic Fitness Goals



This Hungry Gator Gal's Post-Grad Plans



Photo by Brianna Kolota

Best Treadmill Workout for Killer Legs

Monday, September 1, 2014

Favorite Nike Training Club App Workouts

I really should have named this post "Long workouts? Ain't nobody got time for that."

But really. The following Nike Training Club (NTC) app workouts are my favorite way to squeeze in a quick, efficient workout when I'm crunched for time, which is basically every day of my life now with law school and the Army ROTC program.

I do cardio with ROTC in the early morning hours three times per week, so I don't have to condition on my own. However, finding time to strength train and stretch has been a bit more challenging with back-to-back classes and other engagements every day.

Given the time crunch, I've been super setting basic lifts for a total body workout or completing one or two of the following 15-minute NTC workouts. Each workout below focuses on upper body, lower body, core work or stretching with exception to Hope Solo's Unbeatable Workout. This workout is more of a total body conditioning workout with core work mixed in.


Screenshot by Brianna Kolota


Screenshot by Brianna Kolota


Screenshot by Brianna Kolota


Screenshot by Brianna Kolota


Screenshot by Brianna Kolota


Screenshot by Brianna Kolota

All workouts are completed circuit style for time, which means you complete one exercise for a minute or so and then move to the next without resting. The timer on the app shows you how to complete each exercise and signals when it's time to move on to the next. However, you can always pause the timer if you need to rest or drink water.

In other words, the NTC app is like having a FREE personal trainer. Not to mention, you pick the weights used, if you need any. For example, if I have one minute of rows, I can choose to go heavy with a low number of reps, or I can choose lighter weights and go for more reps. It's totally up to you.

So the next time you don't think you have the time, just download the NTC app on your phone and complete one of the workouts. You don't need to spend hours in the gym every day to see results.

I actually receive a lot of questions about how much time I spend in the gym, so I plan to talk more about my success with the more-for-less approach to getting stronger, faster, etc.

Until then . . .  :)

Questions:

  1. Do you use the Nike Training Club (NTC) App?
  2. What other fitness apps do you use? <---Please leave suggestions! I'm always looking for new apps that make working out fun and/or easier.

Related HGG Posts:


Food and Fitness Finds for the New Year




Friday's Favorites: My Life Lately + Where I'm Going to Law School

 

Best Yoga Stretches for Stress Relief



From the Keep Calm-O-Matic

Monday, August 18, 2014

South of the Border Turkey Meatloaf (Gluten- and Grain-Free; Paleo Recipe)

As much as I like trying new flavors, I could eat and drink certain things every day without tiring of them.

I like what I like, and sometimes it's just easier to run on autopilot in terms of making meals. Why reinvent the wheel? Does anyone else agree?

Anyhoo, I've been feeling less-than-inspired this past month, which has translated into me living on the staples: salsa, hummus, carrots, dark chocolate, deli meat and nut butter. <--- I just typed "butt nutter" on accident. LOL.

Luckily, a last-minute Sunday meal prep inspired me to take the usual suspects and combine them to make a FANTASTIC new main dish: South of the Border Turkey Meatloaf.

South of the Border Turkey Meatloaf (Gluten- and Grain-Free; Paleo friendly recipe) from Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota

Seriously. This meatloaf is delish. I'm eating it as I finish typing this post.

South of the Border Turkey Meatloaf (Gluten- and Grain-Free; Paleo friendly recipe) from Hungry Gator Gal

Photo by Brianna Kolota 

If you're a fan of making tex mex meals, you probably have all the ingredients to bake this incredibly flavorful, somewhat spicy meatloaf. It takes about 2 minutes to prepare and an hour to cook.

Tip: Feel free to bake sweet potatoes in the oven or make a tray of roasted broccoli while the meatloaf is cooking. When I can remember, I bake everything at once during the week to save my apartment from the heat of the oven. Let's not make the air conditioning bill higher than it needs to be.

If you're cooking for one, this meatloaf makes about four servings. If you bake the broccoli and sweet potatoes, just add them to a Tupperware container with a slice or two of meatloaf. Just like that, you're good-to-go for lunch tomorrow.

Easy leftover lunch from Hungry Gator Gal: south of the border turkey meatloaf, roasted broccoli, and a chickpeas/diced tomato mixture topped with red wine vinegar and Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute.

In photo by Brianna Kolota: meatloaf, roasted broccoli, and a chickpeas/diced tomato mixture topped with red wine vinegar and Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute.  

You'll find the recipe below. Let me know what you think if you try it! Did I mention it's gluten- and grain-free? You're welcome, my paleo friends. :)

South of the Border Turkey Meatloaf (Gluten- and Grain-Free; Paleo Recipe)


Makes four servings


Difficulty: Easy peasy


Total Preparation Time: 2 minutes


Total Cooking Time: 1 hour


Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup restaurant style salsa (The more liquid, soupy kind)
  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey (I used the 93/7 variety.)
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced bell peppers
  • 2 egg whites (1/3 cup)  

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Spray a bread/loaf pan with cooking spray or spread some oil in the pan.
  4. Add meat mixture to pan and smooth top with a spatula.
  5. Bake for 1 hour.
  6. Optional: Wrap some sweet potatoes in foil and/or make a large tray of roasted broccoli to eat on the side and/or with leftovers during the week.

Related HGG Posts:


Spicy Salsa Meatloaf



BBQ Turkey Meatloaf Muffins



Salsa Ranch Tuna Salad (mayo-free; made with Bolthouse Farms yogurt dressing)

Salsa Ranch Tuna Salad (mayo-free; made with @BolthouseFarms yogurt dressing)