FALL RECIPES- Acorn Squash and Chicken Chili

So, fall is here in Southern California…even though it doesn’t particularly feel like it. Today the forecast says it will get down to a chilly 70 degrees, only to get back up to 91 degrees on Saturday. I am dusting off my UGGS as we speak…haha!

Anyhow, even though it hasn’t cooled down a ton here, the fall vegetables are out in full force at the grocery stores, so I picked up a few of my favorites last week. I always buy spaghetti squash, but one of my other favorites during the fall is acorn squash. This little green and orange nugget of joy has a sweet flavor when baked. One cup has only 56 calories and 25% of your daily Vitamin C!

One of my favorite acorn squash recipes is to just cut one in half, bake it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes and drizzle it with coconut oil, a little cinnamon and brown sugar. But today I decided I wanted to do something a little more filling and put together a delicious chili that will last for a few days in my refrigerator…which is a good thing, because I have a busy week. Any time I can make a healthy and hearty meal that I can put in tupperware and carry with me to work for lunch is a good meal.

This chili was a little different. It called for a cup of pilsner, which is a light beer. It also called for unsweetened cocoa powder, which has become a staple in my chilies, because it adds a rich but subtle dash of flavor.

IMG_9177

IMG_9184

IMG_9182

ACORN SQUASH AND CHICKEN CHILI

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 acorn squash seeded, cooked, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices
1 cup pilsner/light beer
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Navitas Naturals)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 15 1/2 ounce can black beans, drained
Juice of 2 limes (about 3 tablespoons)
Cilantro, for serving

Feel free to add sour cream, greek yogurt or sliced avocados as well!

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, garlic, five-spice powder and chili powder and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the squash pieces, chicken pieces, tomatoes, beer, cocoa powder and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the black beans and lime juice and cook for 5 minutes. Let the stew cool slightly, then ladle into bowls and top each serving with some cilantro.

ENJOY!

CLASS PASS SERIES-The “Premiere” Of Your New Self!

I have taken almost 100 classes on ClassPass, so by now I feel like I have most of my favorite types of workouts and places to do them picked out. However, every so often a new one will catch my eye and bring something different and exciting to the table. I love HIIT (high intensity  interval training) and I love spin classes, so if I see an opportunity to do both in one workout I am definitely interested in trying it.

IMG_9117

Vie2 Cycling is located in Santa Monica off Olympic and 19th Street. It is at the end of a dead end road and they have a bright sign and banners out front so you can’t really miss it. You can either hope to snag one of the very few parking spots located in the area, or you can park on the street. I was able to grab a space right in front of the studio.

There is a large banner in walkway entrance that resembles something you might see in front of a red carpet premiere. Although the studio is new, and I was told the banner is just a temporary decoration, I like to think of the banner as “entering the premiere of your new self”, making those who enter the studio feel excited about the start of a new workout, a new opportunity to become more fit and healthy.

IMG_9118

The cycle room displays three large screens that have a short inspirational message playing on repeat until the class starts. The bikes are all new and your number is periodically displayed on one of the screens during the class so you can see where you stand with other members in the class. For someone like me, who can be competitive, this is a good thing, because it pushes me to pedal harder than I might normally pedal. At the end of the spin class, someone comes in the room with cold wet towels that have been doused in eucalyptus oil. If you haven’t experienced this sort of luxury before, let me tell you, it is quite refreshing to wipe one of these over your face after a sweaty and intense workout.

IMG_9121

The class I took was called HIITCycle, so it was about an hour where half of the class was on a spin bike and then for the other half we went outside, where mats were laid out for each of us. And we completed 2 rounds of 10 exercises at one minutes a piece. The exercises included mountain climbers, burpees, planks, pushups, and high knees, to name a few. I loved the HIIT part, because spin is great, but it can get monotonous, and the HIIT cycle really broke that up and kind of shocked my body after a weekend of not working out.

Vie2 Cycling also has bathrooms, showers and lockers on its premises. I brought my spin shoes but they will give you shoes to borrow if you don’t own a pair.

VIE2 CYCLING

1708 19th Street

Santa Monica, CA 90404

 

CLASS PASS SERIES-Finding Your Fit, Finding Your Energy

It has been a crazy few weeks of health screenings all over Southern California (and Northern California!) and I was finally able to get around to some new studios this past week. Monday I was working an event in Sylmar, deep in the San Fernando Valley, and I wanted to find a place to get in a workout that wasn’t super far from the event. I clearly do not know my way around the valley, because I picked a place in Woodland Hills, which while in the valley, is about 20 miles northeast of Sylmar. It ended up being an easy commute and a great workout, to say the least.

IMG_9081

Finergy Cross Training Gym is a BRAND NEW facility. When I say brand new, I mean,the gym is about a month old and all of the equipment is still bright and shiny. They have a room for cycle with the NEWEST Schwinn AC Performance Plus spin bikes. They have a room just for yoga and last but certainly not least, they have a room with TRX suspension trainer stations, PRO Boxing Equipment, and all of the latest equipment for indoor or outdoor bootcamp sessions (jump ropes, kettle bells, step ups, ladders, etc). They do have a VERY small parking lot in the back, but depending on when you are taking a class, you might be better off parking at a meter in the front of the building. They do also have showers and changing rooms equipped with towels, shampoo, conditioner, hairdryers and lotions. It feels like your bathroom at home, no joke.

IMG_9079

IMG_9080

But anyways, about the workout. I got very lucky and was signed up for an 8am bootcamp with a trainer named Amy, who was very friendly, lively…and kicked my butt. Because this gym is new, word has not caught on about it, and I was the only one in class, so I basically got a private training session. We did one minute intervals of TRX movements. Step-ups with squats, chest presses, squats while slamming down heavy ropes, and a few other moves that were definitely challenging. I enjoyed being pushed with a variety of moves, which Amy said is normal for her to do with her bootcamp classes.

The vibe here is very friendly, and they are eager to gain new clientele, so if you happen to live in this area or are nearby for work, etc…stop in and try a class.

FINERGY CROSS TRAIN

22522 Ventura Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 91364

 

 

CLASS PASS SERIES- CrossFit Elements With A Cardio Kick

You probably wouldn’t ever know it was there if you didn’t a)take a walking tour of the neighborhood and casually stroll by on your way to Brick and Mortar or b) look it up on ClassPass, but located in the back corner of the Edgemar building on Main Street in Venice is CrossFit Santa Monica. It looks boutique-ish, but be warned, your a** is about to get kicked.

IMG_8867

I stumbled upon this place when I was working an event in the area and wanted somewhere to workout around 430pm. Believe it or not, depending on where you are, there are not a lot of open classes last minute near that time…but this one was, and they were doing a class called Cardio-Fit, which is supposed to be more about repetition and less about super heavy weights.

The first thing I have to say about this gym is although it is small, everything is stacked in its place, which is nice. Most of these boutique spots do pride themselves on having the members put away whatever they use after class. Secondly…the men are hot in this class (sorry guys who read this, just being honest). And many of them take their shirts off, so at least you get some eye candy while you are dying on the pull-up bar.

IMG_8869

IMG_8868

Most importantly is the workout, and I have to say, this is not for everybody. The workout for our Cardio-fit class consisted of a short warm up and stretch period followed by 5 different exercises. The first (and I cannot remember the exact name for it) was a push press type of movement with a barbell. The second was getting on the rowing machine. The third was box jumps, where you jump and land with both feet on the top of a box that is is a few feet tall, many times. The fourth was wall balls, where you take a ball that is anywhere from 10-20 pounds and squat and throw it up against the wall, then catch it. The fifth movement was a sumo style squat with a kettle bell in your hand. Now here was the catch…this was timed, and the first round started with 42 REPS of each exercise. YES. 42. The second round was 30 and the third round was 18…if you made it there, as this was a timed event, about 35 minutes. In your mind, you think, yea, that is enough time to get throughout the whole thing…yea…no. If you are a seasoned cross fitter, perhaps this is nothing to you, but to me, while I consider myself somewhat of an athlete, I only made it to the first exercise on the sets of 18 reps round. Phew!

IMG_8862

I highly recommend this place to people who enjoy Cross Fit, or just high intense shorter workouts. The people are all super nice and happy to make modifications on exercises if, say you need to kneel during pushups or just step up and down on box jumps because you have a bad knee, etc.

They have bathrooms and a shower. You can park in the Edgemar parking lot and they will validate your car for 2 hours, which is a nice perk, given the area is right by Urth Cafe and gets extremely crowded.

CROSSFIT SANTA MONICA

2433 Main Street

Santa Monica, CA 90405