Zucchini Corn Soup + Crispy Bacon


This month, our family decided to do a little home cooking-challenge. For the next 4 weeks, we'll be researching, prepping and taste-testing some new healthy recipes that come highly rated.

I would chalk this first recipe up to a family success! It was easy, fun to make and delicious to eat. Even our 2 year old daughter, Chloe, was able to get in on the action (I think she earned the award for cutest corn husker). 

3 ears of corn (or 1.5 cups frozen corn), 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1.5 tsp. thyme, 1/2 fresh ground black pepper, 2 minced garlic cloves, 5 cups low sodium chicken broth, 1 bay leaf, two zucchini (quartered, 1/2in. thick), 4 slices of bacon (cooked & crumbled)

Remove husks from ears of corn, clean, and cut kernels from cob. In a 4qt dutch oven heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, salt, pepper and cook about 5 minutes. Next, stir in thyme and garlic until fragrant then slowly add broth, bay leaf and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in zucchini and corn kernels and let simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve soup into bowls and sprinkle the crumbled bacon on the top. 

TIP: for a Veggie option, substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth and bacon for kidney beans. Let us know what you think! 

172 Calories, 20g carbs, 3g fiber, 9g protein (no joke!), 35 minutes to make.


Banana Apple Muffins


The is one of my favorite healthy recipes for a cozy fall day because not only do they taste amazing, but they will also fill your home with the delicious smells of banana bread, cinnamon spice and apple pie! (Yes, Please!)

It's a 21-Day Fix Approved recipe from Autumn Calabrese's cookbook FIXATE. For those following the program, it translates to 1 purple and 1 blue container per muffin. Please leave a comment below on any additions or suggestions you used when baking your own at home! Enjoy!

  • Preheat oven to 350F and prepare 9 muffin cups by lining them or coating them with a spray.
  • Combine 2 large beaten eggs, 1 cup of mashed ripe bananas, and 1 Tbsp of melted grass-fed butter. Mix the ingredients well and set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups of almond flour 3/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1 dash of sea salt. Next, you want to add this almond flour mixture to the egg mixture and blend well.
  • Once the ingredients are blended, fold in 1/2 cup of finely chopped apple (about 3/4 of a medium apple). I decided to add 1 tsp of cinnamon for added flavor, but that's up to you :)
  • Divide the batter evenly between the 9 muffin tins and bake for 16-18 minutes or until they are golden brown and pass the toothpick-test. Transfer the muffins to a cooling rack.
  • Once they've cooled down find a good book, pour a cup of tea and enjoy!

Nutritional Info (per serving/muffin)
Cal: 161, Total Fat: 12g, Sat Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 45mg, Sodium: 157mg, Carbs: 11g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, and Protein: 6g


Take a Flattering "Before" Picture


Ahhhhh!!! The dreaded body shots -no, not the kind that involves alcohol but some might need a little liquid courage to get through it! I promise it's not as painful as you think- it's just something you have to do.

So your first challenge before starting your program is to snap your "Before" picture and take your body measurements - don't worry, you can bury them in your backyard if you want, but I promise you will wish you had them at the end of your program! I know, I get it, taking a selfie is a challenge for me, let alone taking a picture of my post-baby body (YIKES!) But to be honest my before picture actually became a real motivator for me- cameras don't lie and I was not happy with what I saw so I used my pictures to fuel me.  Anyway, your picture and measurements are for your eyes only, but hopefully you will love your new body so much you might even share them someday to inspire others...you never know!

Watch these two videos below to find out how to take your best "Body Selfie" and how to record accurate body measurements. If you have any questions, message me at SandiOhBrien@gmail.com


Fitness Tips from Eminem


Love him or hate him - I've always been intrigued by Eminem and his life story, probably because the world he lives in seems so different then mine, but after reading this article I guess we now have at least one thing in common- our "wacky trainers". 

Check out Eminem's interview with Men's Journal on how he got sober and healthy in the comfort of his own home.

"I'm not sure exactly when I finally got it. In the early days, I just went with the flow: If I could hit a gym, I'd hit up a gym. If someone suggested a workout that seemed legit, I might try it, but it wasn't a priority. Everything has to work around the music. Still, I wanted to stay fit even if I never wanted to get big. I worked out with Dre a few times, and I had to lift the kiddie weights. I've always been more into cardio, because when I'm performing I have to keep my wind up. It's never cool to be out of breath — anywhere, doing anything — but especially onstage. So I ran and did regular sit-ups and push-ups. For a while I even got into boxing. 

For close to a year, I worked with the late Emanuel Steward [who'd trained Thomas Hearns, Wladimir Klitschko, and others]. I wasn't doing so hot at the time, drinking a lot and taking pills, and Emanuel offered to come out to the house to train me, to motivate me. What am I going to say — no? He was incredible. He taught me fundamentals, the mechanics of boxing. A lot of basic shit I thought I knew, I didn't know. But I wasn't that motivated; I wasn't taking it too seriously. Once I got sober, that changed. 

Recovery = Running
In 2007, I overdosed on pills, and I went into the hospital. I was close to 230 pounds. I'm not sure how I got so big, but I have ideas. The coating on the Vicodin and the Valium I'd been taking for years leaves a hole in your stomach, so to avoid a stomach ache, I was constantly eating — and eating badly.

When I got out of rehab, I needed to lose weight, but I also needed to figure out a way to function sober. Unless I was blitzed out of my mind, I had trouble sleeping. So I started running. It gave me a natural endorphin high, but it also helped me sleep, so it was perfect. It's easy to understand how people replace addiction with exercise. One addiction for another but one that's good for them. I got an addict's brain, and when it came to running, I think I got a little carried away. I became a fucking hamster. Seventeen miles a day on a treadmill. I would get up in the morning, and before I went to the studio, I would run eight and a half miles in about an hour. Then I'd come home and run another eight and a half. I started getting OCD about the calories, making sure I burned 2,000 every day. In the end I got down to about 149 pounds. I ran to the point where I started to get injured. All the constant pounding from the running began to tear up my hip flexors.

Mixing It Up
So when I was starting to dial back on the treadmill, I tried out some of those workout DVDs you do at home. One of the first ones was Shaun T's Insanity workout. I know a lot of these DVD guys are wacky, but I'm alone in my gym; I need someone on the TV yelling to motivate me. Besides, some of this shit is entertaining.

When I first started the Insanity workout, I alternated my routine, running one day and doing the Insanity the other. Then I stopped running altogether because it was too much to do them both. The Insanity won. After a while I started plateauing on that, so I mixed it up. I did the P90X for a little while (and I still do that ab workout because it's the most challenging), but then I moved on to the Beast.

Now every morning before I go to the studio, I do the Body Beast workout with free weights, bench, and pullup bar at home. It's just me, so it helps that the Body Beast dude is over-the-top. The routine is pretty intense, too. The first time I did the legs, I couldn't walk for two days. Now I'm doing arms one day, chest the next day, legs the next, and I'm still functioning throughout the day. And I can finally do it without pausing the DVD.
I still hate pull-ups. They're a motherfucker, but I do them. I even fill out the log afterward. I guess I'm pretty compulsive working out. I feel like if I step away from it for too long, if I have a crazy week and take a five-day break, it'll be like starting over. I'm afraid that if it goes beyond that, I might lose the motivation. Once you're at a place where you've made progress and you've got some time invested in it, you don't wanna quit and give up what you started."


Eat to Lose - The Fixate Cookbook


I'll be the first to admit (and my family can verify) that I am not the most creative in the kitchen and tend to cycle through my "go-to" meals weekly, but I know I am not alone in saying that I am craving a little more variety when it comes to healthy eating options. As a work-at-home mom, I would love to be the Top Chef of my family, but I struggle with finding time to come up with new ideas on my own that everyone will enjoy.

This month I will put Autumn's new FIXATE cookbook in the hot seat by testing out her 21 Day Fix® approved recipes. Join me on my quest to find more affordable healthy, "foodie-quality" meals, that aren't boring. I'll be posting honest feedback about which recipes are a must try, as well as images, tips, and new suggestions. Follow my feedback here, or on Instagram @SandiOhBrien


21 Day Fix® creator Autumn Calabrese takes her simple color-coded container system for measuring perfect portions and applies it to 101 of her favorite family recipes to give you Fixate, a delicious approach to healthy weight loss. So you're not just eating healthy foods-you're eating just the right amount. Each Fixate recipe lists color-coded container equivalents and nutrition  facts, so you can use Autumn's system for measuring portions and make sure your nutrition is on track when you begin 21 Day Fix®, 21 Day Fix EXTREME®, or any other fitness program.


  • Easy-to-follow recipes (each marked with their color-coded container equivalents) designed to work with 21 Day Fix®, 21 Day Fix EXTREME®, and Portion Fix™—or use the deliciously nutritious recipes to create balanced meals for any other Beachbody® program.
  • Seven  color-coded containers to help you keep your portions in check and nutrition on track
  • 101 perfectly portioned FIXATE™ RECIPES
  • Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and paleo recipes available.


Enjoy a sneak peak at some recipes included in the FIXATE™ Cookbook (click to enlarge) :

all images and recipes are provided by Autumn Calabrese's FIXATE™ Cookbook and Beachbody®.


Earth Day - Why Do We Care?

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In a perfect world every day would be Earth Day but I am glad that we take at least one day to reflect on mother nature and all it's greatness. If you're like me you obviously understand that Earth Day is about recognizing our efforts to protect our environment but I have no idea how this day came about or why it's celebrated on April 22nd? So, naturally I decided to consult my trusty 'ol friend Mr. Internet, and here is the cliff note version of what I discovered (pretty interesting):

  • The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.
  • With Nelson leading the charge on April 22nd, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies
  • Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
  • In 1990 Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro

With this new found knowledge I felt inspired, I also wanted to do my part to pioneer some change, hummm, but how? Well living near the beach, I often strap my daughter into her radio flyer trike and head to the boardwalk for our daily walk. It's become a fun tradition for us to go 'look for dolphins' while enjoying the feeling of crisp ocean air. but today our walk was a little different. Our goal wasn't to find dolphins, instead it was to observe, appreciate and show gratitude for all of nature -from the trees, flowers and grass we strolled past to the air, water and birds that flew by. We took time to acknowledge each natural element and it's importance and what it would feel like to not have those things. At 12 months, I'm sure she didn't understand all that I was saying, but as her mom, I realized how important it was for me to teach her these things. Not just today -Earth Day, but every day.

So, this "Monthly Challenge" isn't about fitness or dieting (you're off the hook, sort of), this challenge is about showing gratitude for Mother Nature. I challenge you for the next 30 days -hopefully longer- to do something that benefits our environment, whether it's educating yourself, planting a garden, or walking instead of driving. 

Pay It Forward: In honor of Earth Day, thanks to our team members, Hustle & Heart was able to donate to The Nature Conservancy to help tackle critical conservation issues and make a positive impact around the globe.  http://www.nature.org/


Superhuman Superfood

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You want me to drink WHAT, a meal replacement shake?!!  Ha! There's only one drink I could have regularly and it doesn't involve superfoods or protein. (but if you ask me, I think wine should count -it contains antioxidants, right?)

Clearly I was not 100% on board with the idea of drinking Shakeology, but I signed up for my first Challenge Group and part of the commitment was to drink it daily. I was a little uneasy about agreeing to this because for those who know me, I tend to like variety. It's rare to catch me eating the same thing twice in one week, let alone every day. Well, rules are rules and I was determined to hit my goal weight so I reluctantly placed my order for a variety pack of Shakeology - I figured there had to be a least one flavor I could tolerate. Besides, if Oprah is a fan, I guess it's worth a try. 

A few days after placing an order my program arrived along with my packets of Shakeology. I read the start up guide cover-to-cover, took my before pictures, and on Day 1 of the challenge group it was time to experiment with the different flavors. My husband tested out the Chocolate while I went for the Strawberry... A little Ice, some water, a banana, one packet of Shakeology...and viola! I squinted my nose, tipped my shaker cup back and prepared myself to hate it. But wait, hummm... I better taste it again. Um, maybe one more sip. Before I knew it I had guzzled down my glass. I was totally convinced that it wasn't going to be for me because I had tried a few different protein shakes in the past and didn't care at all for the texture or taste. To my surprise, I actually didn't mind it, and it's a good thing because 3 months after we said "I do" we found out we were pregnant. My happy hour glass of chardonnay was no longer, for the next 9 months I would be chugging back my frothy mug of Strawberry Shakeology. Thanks to this protein-packed superfood superhero, we gave birth to a very healthy 8lb 1oz baby girl. To this day our pediatrician jokes about my "muscle diet" during my pregnancy because she has never seen a baby as strong as Chloe.


So could you just make smoothies at home and get the same basic thing? Well, you could, if you have the money and time to prep the 70+ fancy-pants ingredients that are included in each Shakeology shake--if you were to purchase all the ingredients and supplements in one packet of Shakeology it would cost around $700-eep! But let’s be honest with ourselves, even if you had the money, who really has the time to find and prepare all those ingredients? Or even the room to store and use those ingredients before they go bad? There’s just no getting around the incredible combination of nutritious ingredients that Beachbody has fine tuned to provide a multi-faceted benefit to your body: 

• proteins, vitamins and minerals: fairly self-explanatory--helps your body function at top-performance, helps reduce hunger and food cravings.
• anti-oxidents and phytonutrients: these help detoxify and protect your body against free radical damage.
• adaptogen herbs: would you know how to get this into a shake at home? Because I sure wouldn’t! ha. These herbs are sometimes called ‘nature’s anti-stress and fatigue fighters.’ They increase your energy and help reduce anxiety, so you feel like the best version of yourself.
• Prebiotics, Probiotics, Fiber, and Digestive Enzymes: Promotes regularity and good digestion. Need I say more?

And the best part?? Shakeology comes in at only $4 a serving -compare that to all those trendy ‘cold-pressed’ juiceries that are selling one glass of juice for a whopping $8! Or worse, think about all those Starbucks latte's you've consumed over the last few months...yikes! (scary, I know) Replacing a meal every day with Shakeology will not only save you money but provide your body with all the daily vitamins and nutrients it needs to increase your energy and boost your metabolism so that you can hit your goal weight without ever feeling rundown. 

If you're interested in reading more about the ingredients and benefits of Shakeology, click here.