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#Fitbit2014 Challenge – Week 4: Try a New Recipe, Featuring Thad and Annie from Sugarland

UPDATE: Nice recipes, y’all! This week’s winners of a Fitbit Flex are @hollyblanco on Twitter, Sheree Thornton on Facebook, and industriousj on Instagram. Congrats, guys!

Every Monday for six weeks starting January 6, we’ll launch a new weekly challenge for #Fitbit2014 to get your thinking more simple habits and less big resolutions. This week’s challenge comes courtesy of Thad Beaty and Annie Clements of the Grammy-winning group Sugarland. Thad advocates a healthy lifestyle, having lost more than 70 pounds and recently became an IRONMAN and a mentor for ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, while his wife and bass-playing band-member Annie is an impressive cook with a passion for staying healthy while traveling 9 months out the year. Their non-profit Music That Moves encourages the music community to make better lifestyle choices through diet, exercise and volunteer opportunities.

My husband and I were unhealthy. As professional musicians, we spend most of our year traveling the world, backing up artists in packed clubs, theaters and arenas, and come off stage to beer, pizza, and other typical late-night fare. Before we knew it we were both overweight and out of shape. We would try trends like Atkins and other fad diets but with no long-term success. We were fed up.

But thankfully our lives were changed when we discovered a simple solution. We finally realized we had to take small steps — that slowly became permanent lifestyle changes — to see results. By doing so, we have collectively lost nearly 100 pounds, and my husband is now an IRONMAN twice over! We are pleased to share some of what we learned with you as part of the #Fitbit2014 challenge.

With this week’s challenge being “Try a New Recipe,”  we’re starting small. Below are a few recipes that we tried early on to show in our weight-loss plan just to show you how easy it is to fill your plate/day with the raw fruits and veggies you need for optimal health.
Today’s Tip: Eat 50% raw fruits and vegetables at each meal.

The key to long-term success is to not break off more than you can (literally) chew and to make small permanent changes that, over time, add up big! For us, it began by simply having 50% raw fruits and veggies per meal. We can’t tell you enough what incredible changes this first step brought about for us. By following this simple guideline, weight fell off as we “crowded out” room on our plates for unhealthful foods.

Eventually we found we both came to crave things like kale, fresh berries and other power foods that transformed us from the inside out. It was a long, slow process, but one that is now a permanent way of life for us. As a couple, we’ve never had more energy and looked or felt better.

Here are three recipes — breakfast, lunch and dinner — that have worked so well for our family, sticking to the 50% raw rule!

Breakfast Fruit Smoothie

(aka Thad Beaty’s Frog-Swamp Breakfast : A name acquired on the road by people who saw Thad make this drink as it often has a green-ish hue. Don’t be scared, it’s delicious!)

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup frozen fruit berry medley
  • 1 Handful of baby carrots
  • 1 Handful of almonds
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. The frozen fruits replace the need for ice cubes. You can also add extras like chia seeds or a protein powder – we use Garden of Life RAW protein powder to ramp things up before a serious workout!

Watch Thad’s instructional video with additional tasty additives!

Spinach, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 small cucumber cut into small slices
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup quinoa – prepared according to package directions
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss together. We usually make a big pot of quinoa twice a week and use it for several days in various recipes so this is a quick-prep lunch for us. Once a week, I shop for the produce I need and chop and divvy it up into easy-to-use baggies in appropriate serving sizes. Again, it’s super convenient and quick if you do a little prep work ahead of time! The quinoa is a complete protein that keeps you full and satisfied and Thad often adds banana peppers, jalapenos and olives for variations of flavor. You can add as many different veggies as you like to this salad!

Butternut Squash Curry Soup

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger (jar ok)
  • S/P to taste
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 2 tart apples, cubed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

In a large dutch oven, melt coconut oil and saute onion and garlic until onions are clear. Do not burn garlic. Add seasonings to saute mix and stir until aromatic (30-45 seconds). Add the veggie stock and then all other ingredients. Stir. If the veggies are not covered with liquid, add more broth or water. Bring soup to a boil. Cook covered on low until squash is very tender. I usually cook mine for a couple of hours.  This can also be cooked in a large crock-pot on low for 4-5 hours.

See? That wasn’t so hard was it? Try it for a week and see how you feel. Tell us how you did it using #Fitbit2014 on Facebook, Twitter,  Google+, and/or Instagram. Up for grabs this week for three lucky winners: A Fitbit Flex!

Keep it up and watch as you transform. And by combining the awareness of your activity levels and calories burned though Fitbit with attention to healthful eating, you can be sure to see incredible changes in 2014!

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