In Season Recipes for February

In-Season Foods for February:
Brussels Sprouts, Buttercup Squash, Cabbage, Cactus Pear, Collard Greens, Clementines, Date Plums, Dates, Grapefruit, Garlic, Kale, Kiwifruit, Leeks, Lettuce, Mandarin Oranges, Oranges, Passion Fruit, Pears, Pomegranate, Mustard Greens, Onions, Parsnips, Red Currants, Rutabagas, Scallions, Spinach, Sprouts, Winter Squash, Sweet Potatoes, and Turnips..

Southern-Style Collard Greens

What You Need…

2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound collard greens, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

How To Make It…

In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil and butter. Saute the onions until slightly softened, about 2 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes and garlic, cook another minute.
Add collard greens and cook another minute. Add the vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until greens are tender, about 40 minutes.
Add tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Southwest Chicken with Butternut Squash Soup

What You Need…

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder or smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder or smoked paprika
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup salsa
1 can diced green chilis
1 1/2 cup peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp lime juice
1 avocado
grated cheese, optional (we like manchego or pepper jack)
crushed tortilla chips, optional

How To Make It…

Preheat Grill to high. Rub chicken breasts with a small amount of oil and season breasts by sprinkling with cumin and chili powder or smoked paprika. Place chicken on preheated grill and reduce heat to medium, cook until done – being careful not to overcook. Remove and allow to cool.
In a large stock pot, add oil and chopped onion. Sautee for 3- 5 minutes or until beginning to get soft. Add the spices (chili powder or paprika and cumin) and stir until onion is coated and the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken broth and water Add next 5 ingredients (tomatoes through black beans) and allow the soup to simmer until the squash is tender. Add more water or broth as desired.
Shred chicken. When stoup is nearly ready add the shredded chicken and frozen corn. Simmer until heated through and adjust seasonings to suit your taste (add extra chili powder or salt and pepper, etc.).
Ladle hot stoup into bowls and garnish with your favorite toppings. We like chopped avocado, sliced scallions, crushed tortilla chips and manchego cheese. Give a squeeze of lime juice and serve with additional hot sauce if desired.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bulgur and Pomegranates

What You Need…

1 lb brussels spouts, ends cut off, halved
Salt
Olive oil
2 tbsp fine bulgur
1 tsp lime or lemon juice
½ cup cup pomegranate seeds
1-2 tbsp crushed pistachios

How To Make It…

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the brussels sprouts with salt and 3tbsp olive oil. Arrange the brussels sprouts on a baking sheet or cast iron skillet. Bake for 35 minutes, flipping occasionally to make sure all sides of the brussels sprouts caramelize.
Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet, heat ¼ tsp olive oil. Add the bulgur and toast briefly until golden brown.
When ready, remove the brussels spouts from the oven. While still hot, add the lime juice and toss. Then add the bulgur wheat, pomegranate seeds and crushed pistachios. Toss again to combine. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Soup

What You Need…

4 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
3 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon parsley

How To Make It…

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cover. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours.
Blend soup with an immersion blender (or pour into a high-powered blender to blend).
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Why You Should Be Eating with the Seasons
Let’s think back to our ancestors… they only ate what was in season because that was there only choice… but today when we go to the store, every fruit and vegetables can be found regardless of what time of year it is. By consuming foods that are in season we give our bodies a wider variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Visit the local farmer’s market to get started! You can find out what’s in season, where your food was grown, how it was grown, and who grew it. Freshly picked fruits and vegetables are more nutritious and can eat easier knowing your food didn’t travel 1000’s of miles before reaching the plate. Simply put, Mother Nature knows best; she grows exactly what your body needs, when you need it most. Eating with the Seasons is a simple way to become more in tune and grounded with the world around you. Give it a try and let us know how you feel.

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Cabin Fever Survival Guide

MarchNewsletterOutdoorWe are very blessed here in Michigan to experience all four seasons. However, winter being the longest of all the seasons it is easy to become bored and stagnant. Here are some creative ideas on how to survive the long days of winter and beat cabin fever.

1. Open the Shades
Let the sunlight into your home! Peel back those curtains and roll up the blinds to enjoy the natural light of the outside world. A cost efficient way to help heat your home and bring brightness to your day.

2. Get Outside
Go for a walk, cross country skiing, hiking, or snow shoeing! Any of these outdoor activities will get your blood pumping and fresh clean air into your lungs. Connecting with nature nourishes the mind and body. Sportsman’s Island, Norway Ridge, or around your neighborhood are all beautiful places to take a walk.

3. Eat Healthy
Eat a variety of bright colored fruits and vegetables. Healthy and nutritious food provides more energy and can help boost your immune system. It is a challenge to get enough vitamin D during this time of year. You can find Vitamin D in some foods like, salmon, tuna, orange juice with added vitamin D, and eggs (specifically the yolk).

4. Lend a Hand
If you find yourself with the winter blues don’t worry we have the cure… Helping others! Volunteering your time and energy to those in need will lift anyone’s spirits. You can volunteer at the Humane Society, The Alpena County Library, Community Mental Health, Woman’s Shelter, local nursing homes, and many more places are always searching for great helpers like you!

5. Think Spring
For those of you who just cannot wait for winter to end, start planning your summer adventures ahead of time! Start your garden early by planting inside. You have all the time you need to research places to visit on your summer adventures and look into all the possibilities for your garden to grow.

6. Be Grateful
Take a few moments each day to practice gratitude for the many wonderful blessings you already have in your life. Everything might not be perfect or exactly what you want.. but you may find you have everything you need. An attitude of gratitude can change your life!

No money required – all you need is an open mind and a little time.
These ideas were inspired by Tisha Tolar’s article from Wise Bread.

In Season Recipes for January!

In Season Recipes for January! 

Parsnip Pilafparsnip-pilaf

What You Need…

1 cup of basmati rice
1 vegetable stock cube
1 cup of red lentils
1lb of parsnip, 1/2 grated, remainder cut into long chunky wedges
4 tbsp olive oil
zest 2 oranges (use the juice in the sauce)
2 tsp cumin seed
2 tbsp honey
3 onion, sliced
1 tsp each turmeric, ground coriander and caraway
3/4 cup of raisins
zest 3 lemons (use the juice in the sauce)
2 tbs of butter
yogurt, to serve (optional)
For the herb sauce
1/4 of cup of pistachios
juice 3 lemons
juice 2 oranges
small bunch coriander
small bunch each dill, parsley and mint, stalks discarded

How To Make It…
1. Soak the rice in water for 1 hr, then rinse in a sieve until the water runs clear. Heat oven to 400 F . Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil with the stock cube in it. Add the rice and lentils, and simmer for 5 mins until just beginning to soften on the outside. Drain well.
2. Toss the chunky parsnips with 2 tbsp of the oil, the orange zest, 1 tsp of the cumin seeds and plenty of seasoning in a roasting tin. Roast for 30 mins until golden, then drizzle with honey and roast for 5-10 mins more.
3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a wide flameproof casserole or deep pan. Fry the onions until softened and browned. Stir in the remaining cumin with the rest of the spices and cook for 1 min, then add the grated parsnips and raisins, and cook for 1 min more. Turn the heat right down and stir in the rice mixture and lemon zest with plenty of seasoning.
4. Melt the butter and remaining 1 tbsp oil in the big saucepan you cooked the rice in. Tip in the rice mixture and roughly flatten the surface. Poke 3 steam holes in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon. Cover the pan with a tea towel, then put on the lid. Cook for 20-25 mins more, making sure the heat stays quite low.
5. To make the herb sauce, whizz all the ingredients to a salsa-like mix. Spread the rice on a serving platter, breaking up any crispy chunks from the bottom. Top with the roasted parsnips and herb sauce, and serve with some yogurt, if you like.

Korean Style Beef & Cabbage Tacoscabbage-korean-tacos

What You Need…

4 cups sliced napa cabbage (sliced crosswise)
¾ cup rice vinegar
½ cup water
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepperPinch of salt
¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, finely chopped
Onions Green Bunch
1½ tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1½ tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoons chile paste, such as sambal oelek
1 pound skirt steak or flank steak, trimmed
1 cup water
½ cup brown basmati rice
¼ teaspoon olive oil plus 1½ tablespoons, divided
1 medium red cabbage
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

How To Make It…

  1. To prepare pickled cabbage: Place napa cabbage in a large bowl. Combine ¾ cup rice vinegar, ½ cup water, 1 tablespoon ginger, ½ teaspoon pepper, crushed red pepper and salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the salt is dissolved, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Let cool for 2 minutes. Pour over the cabbage and stir well. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. To marinate steak: Combine soy sauce, ¼ cup vinegar, sesame oil, scallions, 1½ tablespoons ginger, sugar, garlic and chile paste to taste in a shallow glass dish. Add steak, cover and marinate in the refrigerator, turning once or twice, for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  3. To prepare filling & cabbage shells: Combine 1 cup water, rice and ¼ teaspoon canola oil in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir well, reduce heat to maintain the barest simmer, cover and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Set aside, covered.
  4. Remove the outermost leaves from red cabbage, cut the head in half through the core and remove the core from each half. Peel leaves from each half and select 8 good-looking ones to use for the taco shells. Thinly slice enough of the remaining cabbage to get 4 cups.
  5. Heat the remaining 1½ tablespoons canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, ¼ teaspoon pepper and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced red cabbage and 1 tablespoon ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage starts to wilt, about 5 minutes more. Set aside.
  6. When you’re ready to cook the steak, preheat a grill to medium-high. (Or position an oven rack 3 to 4 inches from the heat source and preheat broiler to high.)
    Remove the steak from the marinade; reserve the marinade. Grill (or broil), turning once, 6 to 7 minutes for medium-rare skirt steak or 9 to 12 minutes for medium-rare flank steak. Transfer to a clean cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the marinade to the red cabbage mixture in the skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 4 minutes.
  8. To serve, divide the rice and the red cabbage mixture among the cabbage shells. Very thinly slice the steak against the grain and divide among the tacos. Top each with about 2 tablespoons drained pickled cabbage.

Carrot Soup with Ginger & Lemon carrot-soup

What You Need…

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or dairy free butter alternative
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds medium carrots, peeled, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 tomatoes, seeded, chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
3 cups (or more) chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small carrot, peeled, grated

How To Make It…

  1. Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add chopped carrots, tomatoes and lemon peel; sauté 1 minute. Add 3 cups stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
  2. Puree soup in batches in blender. Return soup to pot. Mix in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)
  3. Bring soup to simmer, thinning with more stock, if desired. Ladle into bowls. Top each with sour cream(optional) and grated carrot.

Spinach Salad with Grapefruit & Roasted Beets grapefruit-salad

What You Need…

12 small beets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt
3 tangerines
1 large red grapefruit
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound curly leaf spinach (12 cups), stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces

How To Make It…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the beets in a medium baking dish. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and rub to coat the beets. Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the beets are tender. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and quarter them.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover the onion slices with the vinegar. Add a large pinch of salt and mix well. Let stand for about 1 hour.
  3. Using a sharp knife, peel the tangerines and grapefruit, removing all of the bitter white pith. Working over a bowl, cut in between the membranes to release the sections.
    In a small bowl, whisk the mustard with 3 tablespoons of the vinegar from the onion slices. Whisk in the 1/4 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the spinach in a large bowl. Drain the onion slices and add to the spinach along with the tangerine, grapefruit and beets. Drizzle the mustard dressing over the salad and toss well. Serve right away

In Season Recipes for December

In-Season Foods for December:

Artichokes, Arugula, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collard Greens, Fennel, Garlic, Herbs, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Onions, Parsnips, Sweet Peppers, Radishes Rutabagas, Scallions, Spinach, Sprouts, Winter Squash, Sweet Potatoes, and Turnips..

Mushroom Spinach Artichoke Pasta (One Pot)

What You Need…

  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • 1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

How To Make It…

  1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, combine fettuccine, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, onion, garlic, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes and 4 1/2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until pasta is cooked through and liquid has reduced, about 12-15 minutes.
  3. Stir in spinach, Parmesan and butter until the spinach has wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately.

Roasted Root Vegetables 

What You Need…

  • 1 pound turnips
  • 1 pound rutabagas
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 pound parsnips
  • 3 shallots, halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 garlic cloves

How To Make It…

  1. Preheat to 400°. Peel first 4 ingredients; cut into 1-inch pieces. (If your carrots are small enough, leave them whole.) Toss with shallots and next 4 ingredients. Place in a single layer in a 17- x 11-inch jelly-roll pan. Bake 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Add garlic; bake 45 minutes or until tender, stirring at 15-minute intervals.Note: You can prepare 4 hours ahead: Cool in pan 30 minutes or to room temperature; bake at 450° for 10 to 15 minutes or until hot.

Maple Glazed Salmon with Roasted Brussels Sprouts  

What You Need…

How To Make It…

  1. Heat oven to 450° F, with the racks in the upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the Brussels sprouts and onion with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast on the bottom rack, tossing once, until golden and tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the maple syrup, mustard, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. After the vegetables have cooked for 12 minutes, place the salmon on a second rimmed baking sheet and brush it with the maple mixture. Roast on the top rack until opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Serve the salmon with the vegetables and lemon wedges.

Kale with Roasted Beets & Bacon

What You Need…

  • 2 beets (about 14 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6 thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon slices (8 ounces), diced
  • 1 large bunch kale (about 1 1/2 pounds), washed, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

How To Make It…

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Wash and trim the beets, removing both ends. Place them on a 12-inch square sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Drizzle with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Seal up the foil packet and roast until the beets are fork-tender, about 1 hour.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until medium-crisp (or however you prefer your bacon). Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Increase the heat to high and add the kale, stirring to coat in the rendered bacon grease. Cover and cook for a few minutes, and then add the chicken stock and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Stir to combine, cover and allow to wilt for 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Peel and cut the beets into chunks and add them to the kale. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar. Add the bacon, stir to combine and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Why You Should Be Eating with the Seasons

Let’s think back to our ancestors… they only ate what was in season because that was there only choice… but today when we go to the store, every fruit and vegetables can be found regardless of what time of year it is. By consuming foods that are in season we give our bodies a wider variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Visit the local farmer’s market to get started! You can find out what’s in season, where your food was grown, how it was grown, and who grew it. Freshly picked fruits and vegetables are more nutritious and can eat easier knowing your food didn’t travel 1000’s of miles before reaching the plate. Simply put, Mother Nature knows best; she grows exactly what your body needs, when you need it most. Eating with the Seasons is a simple way to become more in tune and grounded with the world around you. Give it a try and let us know how you feel.

In-Season Recipes November

In Season Recipes for November! 

In-Season Foods for Michigan in November:
Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Green’s (Mustard, Collards, Kale), Herbs, Peppers, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Squash, and Pumpkins.

Sweet & Sour Beef-Cabbage Soupcabbage-beef-soup

What You Need…
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean (90% or leaner) ground beef
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups frozen bell pepper and onion mix, thawed, chopped
1 medium Golden Delicious or other sweet-tart cooking apple, unpeeled, diced
6 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 15-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon paprika, preferably Hungarian sweet
3 cups coarsely chopped Savoy, or green cabbage
1-2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

How To Make It…
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add beef, caraway seeds and thyme and cook, stirring and breaking up the beef with a spoon, until it is mostly browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in pepper-onion mix and apple; cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Stir in broth, tomatoes, honey and paprika and adjust the heat so the mixture boils gently. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Stir in cabbage and cook just until barely tender, 3 to 4 minutes more. Season with vinegar to taste, salt and pepper.

Moo Shu Vegetables moo-shu-broccoli-recipe

What You Need…
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 12-ounce bag shredded mixed vegetables, such as “rainbow salad” or “broccoli slaw”
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 bunch scallions, sliced, divided
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

How To Make It…
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add eggs; cook, stirring gently, until set, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.
Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, 1 minute. Add shredded vegetables, bean sprouts, half the sliced scallions, soy sauce and vinegar. Stir to combine. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are just tender, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved eggs and hoisin; cook, uncovered, stirring and breaking up the scrambled eggs, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining scallions and remove from the heat.

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower roasted-caulifloewr

What You Need…
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, separated into florets
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

How To Make It…
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease a large casserole dish.
Place the olive oil and garlic in a large resealable bag. Add cauliflower, and shake to mix. Pour into the prepared casserole dish, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bake for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through. Top with Parmesan cheese and parsley, and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.

Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Pasta sweet-pot-pasta

What You Need…
8 ounces whole-wheat angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups shredded, peeled sweet potato, (about 1 medium)
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup diced plum tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar, or lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

How To Make It…
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes or according to package directions.
Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon oil and garlic in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant, 2 to 5 minutes. Add sweet potato, bell pepper, tomatoes and water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell pepper is tender-crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and keep warm.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the vegetable mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, parsley, tarragon, vinegar (or lemon juice), salt and cheese; toss to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, 2 tablespoons at a time, to achieve the desired consistency.

Why You Should Be Eating with the Seasons
Let’s think back to our ancestors… they only ate what was in season because that was there only choice… but today when we go to the store, every fruit and vegetables can be found regardless of what time of year it is. By consuming foods that are in season we give our bodies a wider variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Visit the local farmer’s market to get started! You can find out what’s in season, where your food was grown, how it was grown, and who grew it. Freshly picked fruits and vegetables are more nutritious and can eat easier knowing your food didn’t travel 1000’s of miles before reaching the plate. Simply put, Mother Nature knows best; she grows exactly what your body needs, when you need it most. Eating with the Seasons is a simple way to become more in tune and grounded with the world around you. Give it a try and let us know how you feel.

Three Reasons to Eat With The Seasons

You Are Eating at the Peak of Freshness

It’s no secret that fruits and vegetables are at the peak of freshness right when they are picked.  As time passes, the nutritional value (vitamins, in particular) starts to fade.Plants have a climate that is optimal for them. That makes it easier for them to grow – as the soil, the sun, and the temperature are just right. Not only will they be loaded with nutrition because they are getting exactly what they need, but their flavor will also be at its peak. We are talking mouth-watering-you-don’t-need-to-add-anything-to-it delicious. That’s what the hype is all about in buying ‘seasonal, local’ produce. If it’s in season where you live, the local farms will be growing them. They’ll be ripe for the picking. And they could be on your plate the same day in some cases.


You’ll Save Money

It’s basic economics here.  When there is a lot of supply, prices will be lower.  Weekly sales, bundle deals – you name it.  Stores and farmers want to get their harvest out and moving.  You’d be hard pressed NOT to find a deal on berries in the summer. The larger quantity you buy, the larger your savings. If you’re in the Alpena area we have an awesome Farmer’s Market! They sell locally grown fresh produce, baked goods, grass fed beef, eggs, poultry, fresh herbs, mushrooms, plants, artisan breads, cut flowers, perennials, maple syrup, honey, and arts and crafts from Alpena, Alcona, Montmorency, Presque Isle, and Oscoda counties. Click here to check out their website for Hours of Operation and other info. You benefit because …


It’s Exactly What Your Body Needs

With the changing seasons, come different needs and Mother Nature knows best. In the fall, your body is adjusting and preparing for shorter days and colder weather. In the winter, cold and flu viruses are lingering, waiting to find a ‘home’. You’re mood and energy levels are different. The sun goes down earlier and earlier calling you to go home. You might even feel a little depressed. We move from grilling outside to roasting inside; from raw salads to warm bowls of hearty stew. The fruits and vegetables of fall and winter offer the perfect ingredients for all these shifts. Winter fruits and vegetables include:

  • Root vegetables like beets, sweet potatoes, turnips and rutebega;
  • Cruciferous vegetables like Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage;
  • And Carrots, Kale, and Apples
    These foods are high in carotenoids (vitamin A), vitamin C and antioxidants like quercetin and allicin, which help fight viruses and allergies. Winter squash also is high in serotonin which will help brighten your mood. These foods will also help you feel more grounded during the winter months.
    As your planning our meals this week, make sure you include some of these goodies. Let us know how it goes eating with the seasons! We can’t wait to here from you and look forward to learning more with you. We found this awesome article on urbanspicenutrition.com and could’t help but share it! Check out the original article right here.

Live to fight another day

I’ve had two incredibly frustrating bike rides recently.

The first was a road ride.  I woke up early on Sunday morning to get in 30 miles to be back in time for family breakfast. About two miles in a stiff knee that had been an issues for the last few weeks began taking to me and it was not super happy. Having taken to time to get everything together and ready it was beyond disappointing to turn around and head home just two miles out.
Second was a mountain bike ride, I drove out to my favorite trail which is almost 45 minutes away. Whenever I head out there I like to get in a nice long ride and make the most out of the trip. Because of the distance it take some planning to drive out there, ride and drive back to town around work and family obligations. On this particular trip nothing felt good and although I was glad to get some riding in it was tough to cut my route in half and head home.
In both instances the urge to push through was palpable but then I started thinking about my Facebook feed.
You see being in the business of fitness as you can imagine my friends list has a large number of very active individuals many of which are fitness professionals themselves. That being the case I see a number of posts and conversations about injuries, soreness, stiffness and pain from a multitude of people. The interesting thing about many of these posts is you can see that many people have managed to separate their injuries/pain from their activity or exercise. They seem to believe that the two are completely separate and have nothing to do with each other. Many read “can’t wait for my back/foot/knee to heal up so I can get back to running/biking/other activity”. When their injury gets as little as 1% better they are right back to their old activities and like clockwork shortly there after are once again there are hobbled up at some point. Sometimes the cycle will play out for months if not years, never realizing that there is a direct correlation between the activities we choose any injuries we might be dealing with.

So what do we do?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.  If you find yourself on a repeating injury cycle begin by addressing the elephant in the room and start to realize that “thing” or activity you love so very much might just be the culprit.  There is a extremely strong possibility that your activity or workout routine could be the very thing that is causing your aches, pains or recurring injuries.

Once we have identified the problem we then have to take steps to fix it.  You might love doing upright barbell rows but if they are consistently trashing your shoulders our only option is to stop doing them and begin taking steps to fix the damage.  Maybe you love Mauy Thai (Kickboxing) but every time you get back into your “routine” your back spasms flair up.  Because of the complex nature of the activity step one would be to stop doing the thing that is hurting (kickboxing) then address WHY it is causing you pain/injury.  For most of us that would include getting some kind of movement assessment to identify potential underlying joint/movement issues/imbalances then taking the steps to fixed the foundation movement issues found.

Yes, that will take some time and No you might not enjoy every second of the process to fix it.  However, the alternative is having your life interrupted by crippling pain or mobility issues on a regular basis.  Which would you prefer?

A Singular Anomaly

Don’t let the title scare you, I promise this article will not be as confusing as the architect’s monologue from the Matrix Reloaded.
We do not live in a vacuum.

It is a diverse and complex world that we inhabit with millions of different factors and variables that have a hand in any given situation. It is been my experience during my short time on this earth that anything that happens is never the direct result of one single event.
When we look deeper into any situation we will always find that there’s a number of factors at play. How, when and in what doses these ingredients are mixed into a situation will provide an outcome. However, it is almost always the final ingredient that gets all the attention. The straw that broke the camels back if you will, the last item in a chain of events that is now taking 100% of the blame for whatever outcome was produced.
Injury plays out the exact same way.
When you asked someone how did you hurt your (fill in the blank) you will often receive a singular answer such as “I stepped off of a platform funny” or “I have been biking too much”.  I’m sure it sounds as if I am splitting hairs but my experience is actually taught me that this is very dangerous thinking. It causes us to focus to much on a singular item and lose sight of the bigger picture. In essence we miss the forest through the trees and develop an in accurate perspective for why an injury happened. In that situation it’s very hard to correct the problem if I refuse to look at all the variables. Is it possible that a singular event causes an injury? Of course.  I can slip on the ice and shatter my wrist on the impact of the fall, that one does not take a detective to figure the cause of the injury.  However, these event tend to be the exception and not the rule.

Similar situations play out in the business world everyday.  The public sees the final results without seeing the years of effort and work that went into creating “that thing”.  One of my favorite quotes is from Dave Ramsey who said, “it took me 10 years to become an overnight success”.

The lesson here is simple yet powerful but requires a great deal of discipline to put into practice.  When something goes wrong look beyond “the event that caused it” and try to focus on the events that led up to it.   Zoom out and try to look at the big picture what are all the possible things that could have a hand in the final outcome.  Approach the issue with the view point that everything is connected, when your trying to figure out why you now have low back pain don’t ignore the fact you’ve had poor shoulder range of motion for 5 years; assume they are connected.

My advice, seek help.  There are people out there who have experience with what ever it is your dealing with.  They have the tools and knowledge to assist you in your journey and mostly they want to help you.

What is a “Studio”?

Since well before day one Performance Locker was always intended to be a “Studio” approach to fitness and well-being.

But what does that mean?

The majority of us are very familiar with the “Gym” when it comes to fitness but have less of an understanding to what makes a studio environment different.

A”STUDIO” is less familiar to the masses and relatively newer in the fitness industry.  Where gyms have been a mainstay in fitness since the early 80s, small group or personal training studios have only come to see increased popularity in the last 10 or so years.

A studio is a much more specialized offering.  It’s like that great little Italian restaurant you love, they may not have the biggest menu but everything on it is carefully chosen and prepared with attention to every detail.  In a studio setting you can expect less class offerings but can be sure that each one is highly specialized.  Because of this you can expect to find extremely highly credentialed professionals with lots of experience in their particular discipline.

The environment and offerings are often constructed around smaller groups and deliver more personalized attention in each offering.  There tends to be a much smaller client/member to coach/teacher ratio per class.  This is specifically done so that the professionals on staff are able to give the necessary time and attention to each individual in the group.  These smaller numbers also allow the studio the ability to dive in deeper with each member because they are dealing with a smaller member base.

We chose this path simply because my experience has been the path towards fitness and wellness is not as simple as it is thought to be.  We decided that the best way to help people reach their goals was to create an environment where were could guide them along every step of the way.  We feel that the best way we can provide value to our members in having a solid relationship with their coach/teacher in a personalized environment.  We felt passionate about having the opportunity to lead people through every step of every workout and be a constant guide in their journey.  We knew from the beginning that offering small groups and classes would help us create the most effective training outcomes and allow us to have a close personal connection with every single one of our members.

At the time of this article we are just over a year and a half into our journey at the Performance Locker and each day I am reminded that we made the right choice 🙂 All of us at PL are grateful for each one of our amazing members and guests.  Each day we are rewarded with the opportunity to deepen each relationship with everyone who comes in our doors.

Disciplined Dreaming

Disciplined Dreaming

The movie “The Dark Knight” has the very best onscreen portrayal of the relationship between Batman and the Joker.  In one scene the Joker comments, “ I believe we are destined to do this dance forever.  You won’t kill me because of some moral code and I won’t kill you because; well you’re just too much fun to have around.”  This quote is extremely relevant to the never ending cycle that plays out between the two characters.  You see the only way to stop the Joker, truly stop him is to kill him.  Because of the death of his parents Batman made an oath to never cross that line.  Some argue that is a naïve and unrealistic ideal when one is battling the worst villains known to man.  No one would blame Batman for killing the Joker.  The majority would say the world is a better place without him and his death would improve live for the entire city of Gotham.  Most would comment he has had more than enough chances and proven time and time again he will never stop therefore “putting him down” is the only way.

But not Batman.

In one story in the comics (Under the Red Hood) he is questioned by those around him as to why he will not just kill the Joker.  “Because that is the easy choice” he responds.  It would be easier to take him out; the hard decision, the right decision is not to cross that line.  That is what makes Batman, Batman; the objectivity and ability to make the decisions others can or won’t.

The right decision is not always the obvious one.

One of the biggest issues I run into with athletes and active adults are training and overuse injuries.  We push harder, further, longer and faster than we should and something goes wrong.

I believe this boils down to a discipline issue.

It is hard to stop at 8 reps when you are shooting for 10.

It is disappointing to run 6 miles when you set a goal of 8.

Stopping when your body tells you it’s done for the day takes both discipline and commitment.  The easy choice is to just push through and finish no matter what but many of us have been down that road and know where it leads.

A healthy and long term training program requires discipline and restraint, choosing to lose some battles to win the war.