Red, orange, yellow and green: Peppers brighten our meals with vibrant colors and rich flavors. And they’re loaded with many essential nutrients, including substantial amounts of vitamins A and C, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Homegrown peppers light up gardens and containers, too, with their vivid hues and unique shapes. They’re easy to grow and there are lots of different kinds to choose from, so you are sure to find one or more that suit your tastes. Whether you’r
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e an experienced green thumb or gardening for the first time, these hints are sure to help you get your best pepper crop ever.

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Check out eight simple tips for homegrown peppers:

1. Plant a few.

If you like sweet-tasting peppers, you can choose from bell-shaped varieties, pimentos and frying types. Ace is a reliable bell pepper and Lipstick is a productive, trouble-free pimento. Both start out green but eventually ripen to red. Cubanelle bears yellowish, tapered frying peppers. Chile peppers add spice to your meals and grow well wherever summers are hot. Jalapenos are mildly spicy, but if you like your food zestier, plant Anaheim or even hotter habanero peppers. Whichever you prefer, include more than one variety in your garden and you’ll be almost guaranteed a healthy harvest, no matter what the conditions are like during the growing season.

2. Full sun, loose soil.

Peppers are native to the tropics, so they fare best where they get lots of direct sunlight throughout the day. Like most garden crops, pepper plants suffer when they sit in water that doesn’t drain away after a rainstorm. If planting them in a garden, loosen the soil well and add compost to help disperse moisture. For containers, use a mix of compost and potting mix—ordinary garden soil is too dense and holds too much water.

3. Fertilize early.

During their first few weeks after planting, peppers need nutrients to grow tall, sturdy stems and a robust leaf canopy. Use an organic liquid fertilizer, such as those made with seaweed and fish (Alaska is a widely available brand) to ensure the plants have a balanced supply of nutrients. Feed them only once a week and carefully follow the package instructions. Remember, just like with people, too much feeding is not healthy for plants. When the fruits begin to form, stop fertilizing, as you want to the plant to focus its resources on ripening them rather than growing more branches and leaves.

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4. Water and mulch.

As tropical plants, peppers are accustomed to growing with a steady supply of moisture. Give your plants at least one gallon per week during the growing season (when it hasn’t rained). Surround each plant with a two-inch-deep layer of dried grass clippings or straw to help block weeds from sprouting, which siphon away moisture from your pepper crop.

5. Stakes or cages.

Homegrown peppers don’t sprawl like tomato vines do, but when they are loaded with fruit the branches and stem can bend or even break off altogether. Give the plants some support by tying them to wooden stakes or surround them with the small size of tomato cages.

6. Wait to pick.

The fruit of nearly every variety of pepper starts out green or purplish-green, which eventually turns to red, orange or yellow when they are fully ripe. When they reach their final color, peppers are at their peak of flavor and nutrition. (There’s a real difference: One cup sliced green pepper = 74 milligrams of vitamin C vs. one cup sliced red pepper = 117 milligrams of vitamin C.) Patience is essential to get the most colorful, flavorful and nutritious homegrown peppers. It can take up to three weeks or even more for a full-size pepper to change from green to its final color. When you bite into them, you’ll be glad you waited.

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7. Clip, don’t pull.

Ripe peppers don’t separate easily from the branches like tomatoes do. Instead of pulling them off and possibly damaging the plant, use hand pruners to clip the stems as close to the branch as possible. Snip cleanly so the plant stays healthy and continues producing new peppers.

8. Easy preservation.

Did you harvest more peppers than you can eat right away? Homegrown peppers, especially the spicy types, are easy to dry and keep for use another time. Simply spread them out on a cookie sheet and put them in your oven at the lowest temperature setting—ideally about 200 degrees F. Check them every 30 minutes or so as they dehydrate. Take them out when they are wrinkled and firm. If you like to make your own hot pepper flakes, leave them in the oven until they are crumbly. When they cool, crush them with an herb grinder and store them in an airtight jar. Now you have your own homegrown Free Food you can use to season any healthy meal.

The post Gardening with Scott: How to Grow Your Own Peppers appeared first on The Leaf.
This workout will work your entire body using a wall and a single dumbbell. As always, talk with a doctor before making any fitness changes and honor your body. Feel free to modify as needed! You can modify most of these exercises by ditching the wall and using a bench or the floor for a less-intense version.

Hey friends! Hope you’re enjoying the week. Today, I’m recording a podcast episode, catching an Orangetheory class, and grilling with the fam. I’m definitely loving this Tucson summer. It’s so amazi
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ng having family around, especially since they always want to hang out.

For today, I have a new workout for you!

All you need for this one: a wall and a dumbbell.  

I like incorporating lever and incline changes in my workouts and classes as a way to make standard exercises more challenging. Decline push-ups are wayyyy more exciting than regular push-ups, and something about putting your feet on a wall or bench for hip bridges transfers the work directly to that bootay. 

This one was so much fun to put together, and I really hope you love it!

Here’s what the wall workout looks like: 

Single-arm push-ups: Stand perpendicular to the wall, about 2 feet away. Lean towards the wall and place your outside hand flat on the wall, so it’s bent at the elbow. Squeeze your shoulders and chest to push yourself away from the wall. Complete all reps on one side before switching to the opposite side. 

Split squat: You’ll step one foot onto the wall. Make sure to hop or step a few steps forward to give yourself a safe stance to sink down into a squat. (Think of this as lunging with your back leg on the wall.) Make sure as you sink down, you keep a tall posture and watch the front knee to make sure it doesn’t extend past your front toes. 

Wall sit with dumbbell press: Come into a wall sit, holding a dumbbell, with your back against the wall, feet flat on the floor, and a 90-degree bend at your knees. Hold onto each end of the weight and bend your arms to bring the weight in towards your chest. Keep your shoulders down and exhale as you press the weight straight out in front of you. Bend your arms to bring it back in towards your chest. You’re holding a wall sit the entire time. Complete as many as you can in 30 seconds. 

Triceps dip: For a more challenging version, place your feet on the wall (I used a step in the photo above). As you complete your dip, make sure that your elbows stay pointing straight back, keep your chest lifted, and shoulders down. Modification: overhead dumbbell triceps extensions. 

Dumbbell oblique twist: Come into a wall sit, holding a dumbbell, with your back against the wall, feet flat on the floor, and a 90-degree bend at your knees. Hold onto each end of the weight, and lower the weight to one side of your thighs. Bring the weight overhead, and using your obliques, twist and lower the weight to the opposite side. 

Mountain climbers: Get in plank position with feet on the wall and your wrists under your shoulders. Bring one knee towards the elbow on the same side. Move back to plank and switch to the opposite side. For more of a challenge, move as quickly as possible.

Plank: Make sure that your body is in one straight line from your head, all the way back through your knees or toes (depending on whether you’re modifying). If you’re on the wall, press back through your heels, and keep your core lifted. Tilt your chin away from your chest, so your neck stays long, and take some nice deep breaths. You can walk your feet up the wall a little for less pressure on your core.

Single-leg hip raise: Start on your back with legs bent and feet flat on the wall. Lift one leg off the floor, and press your heel towards the ceiling. Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips, keeping your upper back pressing into the floor and hips parallel to the floor. Lower down towards the floor (don’t touch it!) and exhale to rise back up. Continue for 10 reps, then switch legs.

Please let me know if you give it a try! If you’re catching a workout at home, what do you usually do?



Photos: Lindsay Colson

Wearing: Twist and Toil tank and Align Crops

The post Wall Workout (all you need is 1 dumbbell) appeared first on The Fitnessista.
Hi friends! Happy Monday to ya. I hope you’re enjoying the morning. The girls are off to their fun half-day camps, and I have a couple of conference calls and a car-related errand. Always a joy. We’re getting excited for my nana’s bday this week (I need to find a piñata!) and I’m looking forward to catching up with an old friend from high school for brunch.

It rained almost all weekend! The desert was definitely needing it, and it cooled the temps way down. Before the rain hit Friday evening, we met up with Meg and Everly at
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the park, and then grabbed dinner at Bear Canyon Pizza.

You guys. Bear Canyon Pizza may be my new favorite kid-friendly place. They have not one, but TWO kids’ play areas (an indoor area with a chalk wall, toys, and books + an outdoor place house) and the food is awesome. They also have local beers, gluten-free pizza, and cauliflower nachos. I can’t even. 

Saturday morning, we woke up early and headed straight to the Mercado San Augustin to grab Mexican donuts from Estrella with Kyle, Meg, and Everly.

(My childhood in a glass case.)

We hadn’t been to the mercado yet, and it looks like we’ll be making up for lost time. They have quite a few vendors (like little boutiques and food stands, like a bakery, raspado shop that has Mexican shaved ice and fruit with chili powder and lime <— the best), and a couple of great restaurants. The entire area is shaded by trees; it’s ideal to dine and relax al fresco. The kiddos happily ate their donuts and chased each other around, while Kyle, Meg and I watched them while sipping coffee and snacking on fresh, soft Mexican pastries.

I’m not quite sure when P will smile for a picture again, but for now, the faces are a crackup.

I got a chocolate donut and helped P finish off this piece of pan dulce. (It’s like a soft egg bread with a hardened sugary topping.)

Liv had no trouble crushing her treats. I also bought a dozen tamales in a Ziplock bag that the girls ate with their hands. #tucsonlife

Saturday afternoon, we chilled here at the house, and later that evening, the fam came over for dinner. My Uncle E made a “No Apron” meal (a Blue Apron meal I had delivered. He doesn’t look at the recipe and creates his own thing). It was intended to be a crispy fish recipe with potatoes, but he turned it into a ridiculous Asian fish stew. My mom brought over grilled salmon, Caesar salad, and apple pie, and I had the ingredients for strawberry shortcakes.

Uncle E helped me make a strawberry syrup for the berries with 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, a few springs of mint, and about a cup and a half of sliced strawberries. Summer on a plate. 

Since it was pouring, the kiddos hung out inside watching The Greatest Showman and we all chatted and enjoyed each other’s company until late. 

Sunday morning, we took it easy, had pancakes at home, and ventured out to the mall. I got in an afternoon workout, 

 and we had pasta here at home before heading to church.

This morning’s breakfast is a repeat of yesterday’s:

(2 eggs, 2 egg whites, 2 Siete tortillas, a cup of mixed berries, and Four Sigmatic decaf coffee with almond milk)

This week, I’m getting stuff ready for Summer Shape Up, putting the finishing touches on this week’s podcast episode, and writing the workouts for two Fit Guide videos I’ll be releasing this fall. We’re filming with Grant this weekend (wahoo!!) so if you have any video requests, please send them my way.

Happy Monday friends!


Looking for a workout? Try this core workout, this barre blast, or this total-body circuit. 

PS. Amazon Prime Day is today! Some of my favorite finds:

Instant Pot

MY FAVE VACCUUM (I’m yelling because it’s that good)

Fire Stick

The post Tucson life appeared first on The Fitnessista.
Well, we’re right in the middle of wedding season – and fall weddings rising in trend, it doesn’t look like the nuptials are going...

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