“I think I have eaten ‘overnight oatmeal’ every morning for three years in a row,” says Suzi McKee, the owner of Live-Well-Fit. This wellness expert and personal trainer has built a huge Amarillo following for the unique whole-lifestyle fitness programs she has developed for Amarillo women. One of her passions is educating her clients on healthy eating. Central to that is removing the temptation of emotional eating – using food as stress relief or a reward – through planning and ahead-of-time meal preparation.
Every Sunday, McKee sets aside an hour to plan her week’s meals, chopping vegetables, thawing meat, and taking the guesswork out of mealtimes. “Meal prep saves stress,” she says. “You’re not trying to plan what you’re going to cook every night.” Central to her approach are nutritious, versatile grab-and-go meals that she and her clients make over and over again. “These are quick and easy and simple,” she says. “They’re also gluten- and dairy-free, so if anyone has food allergies the whole family can eat it – you’re not making special meals for anyone else.”
Her popular “overnight oatmeal” recipe is a perfect, protein-rich breakfast. McKee’s snack-size protein balls (a.k.a. “power balls”) are ideal as pre- or post-workout fuel. And her versatile chicken salad recipe, when combined with fresh vegetables, offers a complete meal with lean protein. “It’s very good for your body,” she says. Set aside an hour one day a week to prepare these recipes, she says, and you’ll be taking a big step toward a simpler, healthier life.
Contents of can of coconut milk will be separated; stir in large pitcher until well blended. Add almond milk and combine with whisk. Place ingredients in each jar: ½ cup gluten-free oats, ½ teaspoon chia seeds, ½ teaspoon hemp seeds, and 1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds. Fill each jar three-fourths full with coconut-almond milk mixture. Stir mixture in each jar. Add ¼ cup chopped strawberries, ¼ cup blackberries, and ¼ cup blueberries. Seal jars and refrigerate for up to 7 days. May heat but meant to be eaten cold.
Makes 6 (12-ounce) servings
LWF Nut-Butter Protein Snacks
2 cups fresh ground almond butter (may also use sunflower seed butter or cashew butter) 1 cup organic pumpkin seeds 1 cup hemp seeds 1 cup sunflower seeds ½ cup chia seeds ½ cup Lilly’s sugar-free dark chocolate chips 1 cup organic honey 1 cup goji berries Organic coconut oil spray Parchment paper
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Using a ¼-cup measure sprayed with coconut oil, shape into round balls. Store in airtight container lined with parchment paper.
Makes 20 servings
LWF Chicken Salad
One roasted chicken, de-boned with skin removed 4 organic eggs, boiled 2 cups celery, chopped ½ cup purple onion, diced ½ cup Bubbies kosher dill relish ½ teaspoon turmeric ½ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt ½ teaspoon pepper ½ cup safflower mayonnaise ¼ teaspoon paprika
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Stir to combine. Sprinkle top with paprika. Serve with carrot slices and celery sticks or spread on gluten-free toasted bread.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Meet the Cook: Suzi McKee, of Live-Well-Fit
Several years ago, Suzi McKee moved to Amarillo from Lubbock. She brought with her a two-decade career in fitness and dance, as well as more than two dozen different fitness and personal-training certifications. She was passionate about every element of a healthy lifestyle, from exercise to nutrition to getting the right amount of sleep. As she began teaching classes and working with clients at area fitness centers, McKee found herself encouraging women with education as much as she did with exercise.
She also discovered that many of the women she met really weren’t that comfortable in a gym. “Women can be intimidated,” she says. “They have a huge fear of looking silly or they can’t keep up – especially women my age. They don’t know where to start.”
To help these women get healthier, McKee began creating fitness programs she called “Fit Camps.” Some camps she led at local parks. She opened a few at gyms like the Amarillo Town Club. The groups blossomed. “These women kept coming and coming and wanting more. They were introducing other people to the Fit Camps,” she says. The social interest blossomed into additional classes, personal training, and a holistic 60-day challenge program.
Eventually, McKee decided she and her clients needed their own space. She opened Live-Well-Fit and watched her business take off. She believes the key to her success is a focus on more than a woman’s physical health. “I address the entire body, physical and emotional, which is huge for women,” she says. “No one else really addresses that.” There’s a social element, too. “It’s almost like a sorority. The women support each other so much. The girls who did [a 60-day challenge] last time become mentors for the next group. There’s been a great deal of bonding.”
Over the past year, McKee expanded Live-Well-Fit into a new space on 33rd Avenue north of Hobby Lobby, upgraded her equipment and facilities, and added a new client base when a nearby Curves franchise closed. “Now we have a whole new element of senior fitness,” she says. “I probably have 60 to 70 ladies between the ages 55 and 90 years old who are coming three-to-four times a week. All of those ladies have gotten tremendous strength gains.”
McKee’s popular 60-day challenge programs combine exercise coaching and workouts alongside education about nutrition and meal preparation. The grab-and-go suggestions in this issue are simple, protein-rich meals that have become staples in the healthy diets of McKee and her clients.
“The ‘overnight oatmeal’ doesn’t go bad for seven or eight days, and everything in there is 100-percent nutrition. It’s an awesome meal for everybody,” she says. In addition to providing workout fuel, she says she always makes the protein-ball recipe for use during car trips and on airplanes. They’re great as an afterschool snack for hungry kids, too. “I have a lot of moms who are picking kids up from sports, and the kids are hungry so they just hand them one of those,” says McKee. “They’re delicious and the kids love it.”
by Jason Boyett
Jason is a journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, and the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent is “12 World Religions: The Beliefs, Rituals, and Traditions of Humanity's Most Influential Faiths”, published by Zephyros Press. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.