Week of thanks: Tone It Up family

To continue my little week of thanks, I want to take a day to recognize how grateful I am for my Tone It Up family. And yes, I say family, because they really are family to me! Even though I haven’t met all THOUSANDS of them…they mean so much to me and have really become my extended fit family! :)

It all started back in 2011, when I first found the TIU team. I was working for an agency and one of my clients was a fitness brand. In the process of looking for content to share with them, I found an ab workout from these two spunky, beautiful women, Katrina and Karena, and was instantly hooked…

I joined the TIU team personally and even got some of my office co-workers to join in the fun. There were office ‘plank breaks’ where we’d go into the hallway and do planks…no joke. haha My TIU family grew locally and we became lovingly calling ourselves BMOREtoned…where BMOREtoned was born! We grown to be a very close knit group over the years, and I can honestly say I’ve found some of my best friends forever through TIU! I was lucky enough to end up winning the first TIU Bikini Series and got the opportunity to fly to California for an incredible few days with Katrina & Karena…

It’s been a whirlwind since then and it has been incredible to watch the team grow along the way. Over the years, I’ve joined as K&K have launched their very own Perfect Fit Protein (which has expanded…) and gear (which has expanded…) and so much more! I’ve been attended three TIU weddings (including my own!). I’ve seen more than a few TIU babies born. This summer, I got to attend the first ever Tone It Up retreat! Every day I meet (virtually) more and more new TIU girls and get more and more inspired!

For all of this I am eternally grateful. It has been (and continues to be) an amazing journey! Thank you, to K&K, to the amazing TIU team, to my incredible family who literally helps me every day. I love you all so much!

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds… ♡

Want to learn more about the Tone It Up team? I absolutely, definitely advise you to check out the Tone It Up site! They have blog posts, tips, recipes and so much more available right there for you! 

Week of thanks: Good Karma Weekend

It’s going to be an amazing week. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it really brings together friends and family around the idea of giving thanks – something that is so important, even though we don’t always remember to do it.

I kicked off this thankful week last night with a great class at M. Power Yoga Studio in Canton. As you may or may not know, I’ve gotten to know this awesome crew this past summer through various classes they’ve held around town at lululemon, on the rooftop of their building, at Farmstead Grill….so so fun!

Their team is thoughtful and happy and inspiring and I’m so so happy they’ve finally opened their studio in Canton’s Natty Boh Building! It’s such a great addition to the Baltimore fitness scene! If you haven’t already, take a look at their site (you’ll see a familiar face haha) and classes! They’ve got a great mentality and a beautiful spot for newbie and well established ones!

mpower yoga studio katekatebear | sunshine & the bear

mpower yoga studio katekatebear | sunshine & the bear

After a week of time with family, friends and turkey back home in NJ, I’ll be heading back to town to join for M. Power’s upcoming Good Karma Weekend! It’s going to be a fun-filled few days with fitness, food, discounts and more – all benefiting the Holistic Life Foundation, a non profit organization that is dedicated to bringing Yoga and mindfulness to underserved communities in Baltimore City. There will be:

  • mpower yoga studio store | sunshine & the bearComplimentary yoga & barre classes all day on Saturday November 29th!
    Suggested donation of $8 goes to Holistic Life Foundation
  • Live music and DJs in classes throughout the day
  • Complimentary henna tattoos on Saturday November 29
  • Complimentary coffee & pastries provided by Atwater’s
  • Complimentary food provided by Of Love And Regret
  • Mini spa services by Nava Health & Vitality Center (I seriously need this…) 
  • 15% off the entire retail boutique from Friday November 28th – Sunday November 30th
    (M.Power members get 20% off)

Hope you can come join me at a great studio for a great cause! 

 

[Recipe] Crock Pot Pumpkin Soup

It’s cold. Like freezing cold. So, we definitely need to up our warm-foods-to-reset-your-insides game.

Luckily, in the latest edition of the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan, they included a lot of warm menu items. This time around, they’ve also included some slow cooker recipes, so they’re healthy and tasty but ALSO easy! I love using our Crock Pot because we can set it in the morning and then we automatically have dinner ready when we get home that evening!

One fall recipe that stuck out was their Sweet & Savory Pumpkin Soup – I made it in the slow cooker recently and it was delicious! Check out the recipe below:

SWEET AND SAVORY PUMPKIN SOUP

tone-it-up-fall-edition-pic-SLOW-COOKER-RECIPES

Caution: Do not put a cat in your soup haha

Courtesy of: Tone It Up 
Needs: Slow cooker
Ingredients:

  • 2 C pumpkin puree
  • ¼ C unsweetend coconut milk
  • ½ C vegetable stock
  • 2 sweet potatoes (peeled and diced OR you can use the pre-cut cubed sweet potatoes at the store!)
  • 1 C carrots (chopped)
  • 1-3 garlic cloves (peeled and cut in half)
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 T tumeric
  • 1 T pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Wash and prepare all vegetables.
  2. Add all ingredients to your slow cooker.
  3. Set it on low to medium heat for 6-8 hours.
  4. OPTIONAL: This recipe does come out a little chunky which is delicious, but not for everyone. If you’re more of a smooth consistency soup person, you can also use an immersion blender to grind everything up! 
  5. Enjoy! (SO EASY, right?!)

How Does She Do It: Jessie

I love highlighting inspiring women/people because they truly get me jazzed and re-energized about life and doing great things!

My newest addition to the How Does She Do It series is Jessie Benson!

jessie benson floyo | sunshine & the bear

Jessie is a friend here in Baltimore and she’s unbelievably inspirational! (Not to mention she’s a blast to hang out with haha) Jessie and I met through the small town city that is Smalltimore, and since then we’ve been entangled through fitness and friendship.

Jessie is the founder of an awesome fitness company called FloYo. FloYo® fitness classes are full body workouts performed on a standup paddle board – that’s right, a regular workout that you might struggle doing, but with even more of a challenge! Classes combine yoga sequences and interval training methods to create a full body workout.

Check out my Q&A with Jessie below!

rio on instagram | sunshine & the bearHow do you start your day?
I typically teach first thing in the morning. So I wake up, take my puppy Rio for a quick walk and head straight to the gym or studio to teach. After teaching I come home to eat my steel cut oats, play with Rio, catch up on emails and check social media! (BONUS: You can also follow Rio on Instagram – cute dog photos are always good, right?!)

What do you never leave home without?
My nalgene water bottle. It is always attached to my hand and I have a backup in the car just incase I forget it. I like to stay very well hydrated! :)

What’s your favorite healthy food?
Salmon! I also love quinoa and faro…I make all kinds of crazy concoctions with those two grains!

You’re the FOUNDER of FloYo – so so cool! It’s such an awesome company and idea – how did that come to be? What inspired you to found it?
jessie benson floyo fit | sunshine & the bearI had been teaching paddleboard fitness classes for about 2 years when I finally decided to create FloYo®. I always knew that I would own my own business someday but I just wasn’t sure what it would be. I absolutely loved teaching SUP yoga classes and introducing new people to the world of standup paddling and saw an opportunity to try to create a new standard in the way SUP yoga classes were developed and taught. I saw a lot of awesome yoga instructors suddenly taking their classes out of the studio and on to paddleboards, but the problem was that they didn’t really know how to properly paddle, nonetheless teach other beginners how to paddle. So, I saw an opportunity and ran with it. My goal with FloYo is to create an awesome fitness experience that takes people out of their comfort zone while teaching them about the sport of SUP and giving them the opportunity to find balance not only on the board but in their lives. Now FloYo’s main focus is on leading teacher training certifications, workshops and retreats all over the world! Someday I want people to automatically think of FloYo when they see a standup paddler go by!

It’s got to be tough running your own thing all the time – What does your hardest day look like? What got you through it? What made it worthwhile?
Well, the most challenging part of my day-to-day life is finding the balance between teaching and running FloYo. I currently teach 22 group fitness classes a week (yikes, hadn’t actually counted the number of classes lately!) so am often running from one studio to another, so simply finding the time to sit down at the computer and do the work that needs to be done for FloYo is a challenge. I also find myself overwhelmed a lot. There are so many possibilities for FloYo, different directions I can take the company, other businesses to partner with, new locations for affiliates, etc. so staying on task and not getting lost in the bigger picture is a constant battle. I try to simply make lists and stick with one task at a time in order to prevent myself from getting too overwhelmed!

jessie benson yoga class at UA | sunshine & the bear

jessie and esther at rev | sunshine & the bear

It’s so cool to see you taking FloYo in new directions and expanding what you’re doing – from FloYo on the Surfset board to FloYo in the pool, it’s a whole new way to look at it! Tell me a little more about those new ventures and any new ones you feel like sharing!
Jessie Benson - FloYo at Beachfit | sunshine & the bearYes, one of the things that I have learned as a business owner is that you always have to keep your company fresh and find new and different ways to get on peoples minds. Being such a seasonal business, I am always trying to figure out new ways to keep the FloYo energy flowing during our colder months. I am really excited about my partnership with BeachFit Baltimore, where I am now teaching FloYo classes on the SurfSet boards (Check out my post about FloYo at Beachfit!). Both the Surfset classes and the pool classes are a great opportunity to introduce new people to FloYo. Not everyone loves the idea of trying FloYo in the open water for the first time, so if we can get them comfortable on a board either on dry land or on a pool where they can see the bottom it helps them gain confidence and want to take the experience outside! I do have a few new projects in the works, but not quite ready to announce them yet! But I will say that one involves a new board partnership and the other is with a few new resorts in the Caribbean…so get excited!

How has leading a healthy lifestyle changed your life?
Since high school, I have always lead a very healthy lifestyle. I started teaching fitness classes in college and really eating clean right after college. But, I will say that in the past few months I have focused more on my own personal health and fitness goals then ever before. This has made such an impact on every aspect of my life. I realized I was teaching all these fitness classes and helping tons of other people achieve their fitness goals, but I wasn’t really pursuing my own and I wasn’t 100% happy with my own body. So, recently I have been setting aside more time to lift weights, more time to keep track of my food and more time just for ME! This has just given me a more balanced life and a better attitude. I don’t feel as stressed and irritable all the time, I am finally starting to find that work/life balance that is so important!

jessie benson floyo | sunshine & the bear

What is your favorite inspirational quote?
Hummm, this changes daily! But at the moment I have been reading this at the end of my yoga classes and it really resonates with me… “The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are; the second greatest is being happy with what you find.” It has taken me a little while to figure out what exactly I want to do with my life and my career, but I finally feel like I have figured it out, so now my challenge is staying true to myself, my goals and my dreams. There are so many people out there that consider what I am doing crazy, but I know I am headed down the right path and I just need to hold on to my vision and keep forging my own path!

Be sure to follow Jessie & FloYo on TwitterInstagram & Facebook to keep up with her awesome posts! 

And check out FloYo for yourself if you can – it’s a challenge, but a really fun, unique way to get in a workout AND have a blast! 

[Recipe] Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust

YEP. You read that correctly…Cheddar crust.
As if having a delicious pie wasn’t enough, you had to make it more tasty by adding cheese. haha 

apple pie with cheddar crust | sunshine & the bear

One of my coworkers recently hosted a ‘friendsgiving’/housewarming party and I wanted to bring something tasty, besides the obligatory bottle of wine. Since finding the amazing salted caramel chocolate chip cookies on Spoon Fork Bacon, I’ve been obsessed with their recipes! I looked and found this tasty looking fall recipe and thought I’d take a stab…

I haven’t made many pie crusts from scratch, so this was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone. BUT it was super easy! Instructions are below – keep in mind, the crust mix and the filling mix need to sit for at least an hour before you start working them together, so just prepare your timing! :)

And yes, my pie plate has my name on it. Because my mother-in-law is awesome and got me this super cute gift for Christmas last year! You can get one too from Red Envelope – totally a perfect gift for a foodie, chef or just someone who really loves pie.

Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust

Courtesy of: Spoon Fork Bacon 
Needs: Mixer, pie plate(s)
Ingredients (crust):

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon pure cane sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen and grated
    3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
    2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons ice water

Ingredients (apple filling):

  • 4 granny smith apples, peeled cored and thinly sliced
    4 golden delicious apples, peeled cored and thinly sliced
    juice of 1/2 lemon
    2/3 cup light brown sugar
    1/3 cup pure cane sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3 tablespoons of tapioca starch or cornstarch
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted browned butter, cooled

Ingredients (additional):

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    2 tablespoons water

Directions: 

  1. For the crust, first place flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl and whisk together.
  2. Add butter and gently incorporate into the flour mixture until a fine mealy texture forms.
  3. Fold in cheese until just combined and stir in water.
  4. Turn mixture onto a clean, lightly floured surface and gently knead the mixture into a disc. Cover dough disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. For the filling, place all ingredients, except for the butter into a large mixing bowl and fold together until well combined. Set aside and allow mixture to sit for about 1 hour.
  6. Once crust has cooled, divide in 1/2. Cover 1/2 and set aside.
  7. Sprinkle a little flour onto a clean surface and roll dough until about 1/8 inch thick.
  8. Gently lace the dough in your pie dish. Press dough into shell, cutting off any excess around the perimeter. Crimp the edge using your fingers and knuckles.
  9. Pour filling into pie, forming an even layer.
  10. Roll other half of dough until about 1/8” thick and cut into 10 strips of 3/4″x 11”.
  11. Gently lay 5 strips of dough across one direction of the pie, spacing them each even from one another. Form a lattice by arranging the remaining strips through the first strips. Trim the edges and gently press the ends into the crust of the pie.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water and brush egg wash over pie.
  13. Refrigerate pie for 30 minute
  14. While your pie is setting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  15. When you’re ready, place the pie onto a baking sheet and baking for 15 minutes.
  16. Reduce temperature to 375˚F and continue to bake for about 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.
  17. Remove pie from oven and cool for at least 1 hour. Serve warm.
  18. Enjoy! :)