3 At-Home Kickboxing Workouts to Try

Out of all of the workouts that I enjoy doing, boxing is high up on my list of favorites. I just love the intensity and how fast-paced it is. I’ve gone to a few boxing classes at a Title Boxing Club near me recently, and boy are they tough. After the last one I went to, my abs, glutes, and shoulders were sore for a good three days. Every time I laughed or sneezed my mid section would be hurting!

San Diego area readers, I’ve been booking my classes through the Lymber Fitness app – which lets you book classes for a variety of workouts at studios in the area without memberships. It’s great for exercisers like me that like to switch it up a lot! If you’re interested in trying the app out, you can use the code NICOLELYMB-1-21 to get $5 off your first class.

While I love the intensity and hardcore calories burned that a sweat session of hitting the heavy bag brings, I also like doing boxing workouts at home sometimes – especially when I’m crunched for time and am squeezing in a workout in between meetings. Walking into my workout room to sweat it out beats sitting in rush hour traffic to get to a class some days!

That’s why today I wanted to share 3 of my favorite at-home kickboxing workouts. These are workouts that I do all the time in my house, or during weeks like this one where I’m traveling. I’m staying at my parents’ house on the east coast this week, so instead I’m kickboxing in their living room with an audience of family Pit bulls and cats, who like to sit 2.5 inches from where I’m kicking, and also sometimes my nephews, who join in by jumping around and busting out moves of their own. 😉


1.) 30-Minute Cardio Kickboxing Workout with Natalie Yco. This half-hour workout is a great calorie burner and I’ve done it many, many times. Any Jillian Michaels’ DVD fanatics may recognize Natalie as one of the fitness models from a few of her workouts. The workout is done with a jump rope, but I usually just do my own cardio moves instead – such as jumping jacks, lateral hops, squats, etc.

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Mediterranean Barley Stuffed Peppers

Hi friends!

How was your weekend? Did you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day? I was flying cross-country all day Friday on the actual holiday, but I had a chance to celebrate the Irish holiday yesterday with my parents. I’m in Jersey this week visiting family, and went to a winery yesterday with my parents that had a live Irish band playing. It made me want to be back in Ireland hanging out at pubs with my family!

So, let’s dive into the real topic at hand today: Mediterranean Barley Stuffed Peppers – an easy Meatless Monday dinner idea!

I’ve always been a fan of stuffed peppers, and for this recipe, I wanted to do something different in terms of grains. I usually will use brown rice for stuffed peppers, but this time I decided to try barley instead and loved it.

I like to make a nice sized pot of grains at the beginning of the week to use for a few different meals, so this time, I cooked up some barley and used some for this recipe, then some another night with veggie burgers and sautéed zucchini.

You can always swap out the barley for whatever other grain you feel like – such as farro, cous cous, or rice for a gluten free option.

These peppers take a Mediterranean twist with the inclusion of crumbled feta, red onion, artichoke hearts, avocado, red onion and portobello mushroom. I always love making meals Mediterranean-style because the ingredients commonly used in this type of fare are so healthy and flavorful!

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15 Interesting Food Trends & Finds at Expo West

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

Last week I got to attend an expo where healthy food and conscious foodies collide: Natural Products Expo West. It’s an awesomely overwhelming show with every kind of food producer you could possibly imagine – from things you’d expect like protein bars, nut butters, and salad, to things you probably have never thought of, like brand new products that have never been sold before. There’s no shortage of yumminess, and brands are eager to have you sample their latest products. I sound like Captain Obvious saying this, but I love attending Expo West!

Today I thought it’d be fun to dive into 15 things that stood out to me at the show. Let’s get to it!

1.) Vegan food has gotten more delicious. Even as a vegetarian myself who eats vegan the vast majority of my meals, I used to shy away from some veganized products because they just didn’t taste that good to me. Well, that has changed, as brands are perfecting the art of meat & dairy-free food! Daiya’s vegan cheeses have gotten tastier and more melty, and I also liked their caesar dressing. Ozery Bakery introduced vegan brioche buns that were fabulous.

And Kite Hill is doing dairy-free deliciously too. I’ve bought their yogurts before so I already knew that I liked them, but I tried a bunch of their cream cheese spreads at the show… and trust me when I say that you wouldn’t even miss the dairy if you spread it on your bagel.

2.) Protein cookies are big right now. And I am not complaining about that! I like eating cookies and I like making sure I eat enough protein since I lead such an active lifestyle, so why not combine the two? Munk Pack came out with 4 tasty vegan, gluten free, non-GMO certified protein cookies flavors.

I also got to try Buff Bake‘s protein cookies, and their chocolate donut flavor was my favorite.

3.) Millet tots. For two days of the show, I was working at the booth of Rollin’ Greens with a blogger friend of mine, Laura. Since they’re doing something unique (& tasty of course!) in the market, I had to include them in this rundown. Rollin’ Greens is a Boulder-based company that puts their own healthy twist on tater tots, making them with the ancient grain of millet instead. They have their original flavor, and recently came out with two new flavors: an Italian herb + a spicy-sweet combo. Healthier takes on comfort food is one of my favorite things to create, so I love what Rollin’ Greens is doing!

4.) Cold soup bottles are the new green juice. Okay, I actually don’t know if I should take it that far, but know that soup in a bottle is a thing now. One company doing it is ZÜPA NOMA. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what I’d think of the soups… but in trying their flavors, I was pleasantly surprised to really like them! Their tomato gazpacho was full of fresh flavor, and I would totally buy soup bottles to drink on-the-go and get my veggies in.

5.) Sambazon’s new chocolate covered acai bites are delicious. Sambazon makes frozen acai packs that you can buy to make your own acai bowls at home, along with other acai products, and at the show they unveiled a new product: chocolate covered acai bites. They’re awesome, and I’ll definitely be buying them when I see them in stores!

6.) Tea with maitake mushroom powder is a thing. At the show I sipped on some organic tea from Blue Buddha that was made with ashwagandha extract and maitake mushroom powder. Sounds a little odd, but tastes good I swear! The company focuses on the tradition of using plants and herbs to help keep people healthy for thousands of years. The antioxidants from maitake mushroom help support a healthy immune function, while ashwagandha has been shown to relieve stress and increase mental focus. I’ll drink to that!



7.) Vita Coco gets the most clever booth award from me.
Vita Coco makes coconut-based water, milk and oil products, and their Expo West booth had the awesome above pictured display of a cow on vacation. I also thought their tagline, “Tastes like no udder” is pretty clever!

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Healthy Chocolate Chip Matcha Banana Muffins [vegan + gluten free]

This is the story about how I tried three times to create a naturally green recipe and totally failed… but came up with two yummy recipes in the process!

St. Paddy’s Day is coming up this Friday, and I was actually thinking ahead a few weeks ago when I decided I wanted to come up with a sweet recipe that had a green hue, sans food coloring.

I first heard that the chlorophyll in sunflower butter can turn baked goods green when it interacts with baking soda/powder when a friend of mine accidentally wound up with a green colored sunflower butter recipe, so my original idea was to make sunflower butter banana muffins. The result? They did not turn green, and they also turned out a bit dry, so it was a no go.

I decided it was possible that because I mixed all of my muffin ingredients together in my food processor, it too vigorously combined the ingredients and broke down the baking soda properties too much to successfully interact with the sunflower butter enough to turn them green. So for attempt #2, I made sunflower butter breakfast cookies that I only mixed by hand until the ingredients were combined.

While the cookies turned out yummy & I’ll be sharing that recipe soon, they did not turn green at all. Whomp whomp.

Feeling over the whole sunflower butter idea after two failed attempts, I moved onto another idea: making something with matcha. Matcha is a green tea powder with powerful antioxidant properties and a bright green color.

So for naturally green recipe attempt #3, I made matcha chocolate chip banana muffins. The batter was looking like it may have had a green hue to it prior to baking, but when I pulled them out of the oven, I practically screamed, “NOO, they look normal!”

While these muffins aren’t green in color, it turns out they’re delicious, so I’m sharing the recipe with you today. Made with oats and banana, they have some of my favorite healthy baking hacks – including the use of apple sauce & coconut oil. They’re sweetened only with maple syrup, banana and dairy free dark chocolate chips, and the matcha flavor is subtle.

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5 Yoga Poses & Moves to Strengthen Hip Mobility + One Tribe Apparel Giveaway!

Hi friends!

Today’s post is a fun one. First up, we’re talking about moves to strengthen & lengthen our hips, then it’s time for a giveaway!

Sometimes people think of strong hip mobility as something that only yogis and gymnasts should focus on. But the truth is, every single person can benefit from having better range of motion in their hips – from runners and weight lifters that don’t own a yoga mat, to people that don’t workout at all. Everything in our bodies is connected, and poor hip mobility can often lead to pain in other places in our bodies, like the lower back.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite yoga poses & moves that stretch & strengthen the hips. I do these moves pretty much every day – whether during a yoga practice, at the beginning of a strength or cardio workout, or even sometimes when I’m just watching TV.

1.) Figure Four Pose. Start standing, then lift one foot off of the mat, placing the ankle on top of the other thigh. Draw your weight into your standing leg, and sink into the pose, hands in prayer. You can do Figure Four sitting or standing, but I like the shown standing variation because it also challenges your balance.


2.) Pigeon Pose. This pose is done in most yoga classes because it’s great for the hip flexors. One way to get into Pigeon is by starting on all fours, bringing one knee forward and placing it on the floor just behind your hand, with your heel pointing toward the frontal hipbone of your other leg. You can sink deeper into the pose by bringing your elbows to the ground, and you kick it up another notch by rotating behind you to grab the straight leg with your hand and bringing your foot up to hand, bending the leg.

3.) Hip Swings. I do this move nearly every day because I think it feels awesome! Start by standing on both legs, then bringing one leg off the ground, keeping it straight and bringing the foot slightly diagonal in front of you. Swing the leg out to the same side, aiming to get the leg up to hip level, then bring it back down in a controlled motion. Try to do 20 of these without your foot touching the ground, then switch sides.

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Healthier Fettuccine Alfredo with Spinach & Tomato

Hello strangers!

So, last week was probably the first full week that I did not post on this little corner of the internet of mine since I started this blog. Trust me, it wasn’t by choice!

I was pretty much in technology hell all week. My beloved computer had been running really slow, and I was troubleshooting and running back and forth to the Apple Store like my life depended on it – because well, it kind of does. I work on my computer every single day and depend on it as a publicist, blogger, freelance writer and health coach. So, you can imagine that I have a lot of stuff on this computer of mine!

To make a long story short, the good news is that my computer was salvaged and is now working fast. But what’s the bad news? Apple restored my computer without consulting me first, and wiped out many of my photos that I saved only on my computer + an external hard drive that randomly stopped working last week. And since my computer was running so poorly, I wasn’t able to successfully back up my photos. Believe me, I tried.

So yea, I’m majorly bummed about the photos being lost. I keep thinking of my travel photos, wedding shots, and captured family memories that I’ll probably never get to see again.

(Yes, my photos are now set up to automatically go to “the cloud” every day so that this never happens again.)

But on the bright side, I can recover some of them by looking at my past posts and social media, and saving them back one by one. Luckily I’ve posted a ton of photos on this blog of mine! And, I can resume working on my computer and it not take me 4x as long to do things. I know this sounds like such a first world problem, but with how much I rely on my Mac, the whole situation was very stressful. I’m thankful for yoga, baking and my bike trainer for keeping me sane when I wanted to rip my hair out!

So that’s that, but let’s get to the good stuff today… aka pasta.

Today’s recipe is one that I’ve been making for years. I first started making this dish after I had a craving for fettuccine alfredo, but when I ordered it out at a restaurant and ate half of the dish, I left feeling too full and kind of sick. That’s the thing about consistently eating healthy & light: When you eat heavier food once in awhile, your body does not like it! So, I did what any good food blogger would do: I came up with a lightened up recipe that leaves me feeling satisfied but not stuffed.

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Blueberry Cashew Butter Energy Balls + 5 Of My Favorite Vegan, Gluten Free Energy Bite Recipes

When it comes to my eating patterns, I’m definitely more of small meals & snacks kinda girl. I like to eat every 3-4 hours, and feel like my body operates best this way.

If I eat a big meal, my belly feels heavy and too full, but when I eat smaller meals & snacks throughout the day, I feel great. Because of this, I always have lots of snacks around: in my purse, gym bag, car and obviously my pantry. Having healthy snacks around is the key to me not getting hangry!

One of my favorite kind of snacks is energy balls. I like to whip up a batch during the weekend to have on hand throughout the week. But since I get bored easily, I like to switch up my energy bite combos & am constantly coming up with new kinds. My latest energy ball creation are these Blueberry Cashew Energy Bites.

Made with rolled oats, cashew butter, raw cashews, hemp hearts, dried blueberries, and honey, they’re the perfect little snack full of healthy fats, carbs and protein.

{Note: Maple syrup, agave, or brown rice syrup can be substituted for honey to make them vegan.}

These blueberry cashew energy bites are my latest creation published on Shape. Get the recipe here!

And since I’m constantly making energy balls for my snacking pleasure, I’m also sharing 5 other kinds of energy bites that I love today. Check em out!

Chunky Monkey Protein Bites. Because banana + peanut butter + chocolate = the best combo ever!

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Three Sisters Waterfall Hike + An Afternoon of Wine in Temecula {Weekend Recap}

Hi friends!

Hope that your week is off to a nice start! Did you have Monday off of work for Presidents Day? I had off from my publicist job, and actually didn’t do work for any of my jobs whatsoever. I think I only answered one email the entire day, which was nice! My long weekend was a great one, so today I’m rewinding it back a few days.

On Saturday while my hubby studied for an MBA exam all day, I took care of a lot of freelance & blogging stuff. I also ran a couple of errands, including a trip to Michaels to pick up a frame for a new addition to my travel-themed workout room.

The artist of this San Diego Modern Map Art was nice enough to send me a print, and I think it goes perfectly in my workout room. The room is full of canvas art and memorabilia of my travels, and now I have art in there of my current beloved city, San Diego!

Sunday first thing, I took my pup for a long walk along the coast on what was a misty morning. Afterwards, I got ready for the day & prepped some food for a picnic we were planning on having in Temecula wine country. I made Greek pasta salad and packed some healthy snacks, including hummus with carrots, apple and chickpea crackers.

We headed out to Temecula to meet up with my cousin Michelle and her boyfriend. Michelle’s birthday is coming up, so we had a celebratory afternoon together sipping wine and hanging out. First up, we stopped at Weins Cellars. Known for their big reds, Weins has a great outdoor area to picnic at, so after we tasted there, we nabbed a bottle and ate outside.

Afterwards, we headed over to Lorimar Winery, where my cousin is a wine member. I’ve been to Lorimar a few times recently, and they seem to always have interesting red blends on their tasting menu. Lorimar also has a great outdoor space for hanging out, along with a food truck if you’re hungry & live music on the weekends.

We had a lot of fun relaxing in Temecula, but then again I always enjoy myself in wine country. I mean what’s not to love? Even during this time of the year when the vineyards are looking scarce and the weather can be on the chillier side, Temecula always proves to be a great time.

Hydrating with pHenOH 7.4

After a laid-back, wine-filled Sunday, my Monday off went in a different direction. After taking my pup to the dog park for some playtime, Adam and I headed out to the California countryside to the town of Descansco for a hike to Three Sisters Waterfalls.

This was only my second time doing this hike. The other time I did it was almost exactly four years ago, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. The other time I visited Three Sisters, the San Diego area was in a serious drought, whereas this time, we’ve gotten a ton of rain lately. I had high hopes for raging waterfalls, and I was not disappointed!

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Get Out of Your Comfort Zone By Feeling the Fear & Doing it Anyway

Hi friends!

How has your week been? It has been quite a busy one for me. Lots of good stuff happening, including my participation in a workshop to get certified to teach Yoga Sculpt!

If you’ve read any of my monthly workout recaps recently, you may have noticed that I’ve been going to Yoga Sculpt classes. I love the mix of cardio, weight training and bodyweight exercises with a bit of Om sprinkled in. It’s a little bit of yoga, and a lot of sweating and sculpting. Out of the many kinds of classes that I’ve taken, the one I’d probably want to teach the most is Yoga Sculpt, so when the opportunity came up for me to take a certification class, I went with my heart and jumped on it.

While I’m obviously a longtime fitness lover and have gotten to do a lot of cool fitness-related things, like getting to workout with Jilian Michaels and attend awesome fitness seminars, fitness certifications are not in my usual wheelhouse. I’ve focused more of the nutrition and integrative health side of things with my health coaching certification. While a fitness certification is entirely new to me, when it came down to it, I asked myself, Why not?

I think that so many people are afraid to get out of their comfort zone, they go most of their lives staying within their little bubble – never taking risks or trying things that are new and exciting. I’m proud to be a person that is continuously just going for it – whether that means going to events where I don’t know a soul, traveling to unfamiliar places (my favorite way to get out of my comfort zone!), interviewing for jobs that are totally out of my usual realm (and then sometimes getting them!), or doing something new like getting a fitness certification.

When it comes down to it, if you want to lead a life that’s full of growth and excitement, you’ve got to feel the fear and do it anyway. Fear-based living is what leads to stagnation, and when you think about it, if you’re not going forward, you’re really going backwards.

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Healthy Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cinnamon Cookies {vegan}

Does anyone else just all of a sudden get in the mood for baking sometimes?

The measuring and mixing, pouring and stirring, baking and cooling. The smells of something delicious coming together and the anticipation of taste testing. It’s therapeutic to me.

Last week as I was jotting down a bunch of things to nab at the food store and planning out what healthy snacks I’d make this week, I got bitten by the baking bug. And I didn’t feel like just following a recipe, I was in the mood for experimenting and getting creative.

Today’s recipe is a result of that baking bug. These cookies center around a few of my favorite things: the combination of chocolate + peanut butter & cinnamon.

Cinnamon is without a doubt my favorite spice. I’m constantly sprinkling some on my fruit, in my smoothies, and on my toast. It gives meals a bit of something extra, au naturel.

I also love pairing cinnamon with peanut buttery goodness. Cinnamon sprinkled on top of sliced banana, topped with peanut butter. Oats with baked apple chunks, peanut butter & cinnamon.

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