Our Top Picks for Fitness Products, Kitchen Supplies, Recipes, and Outdoors Gear for 2018

Our Top Picks for Fitness Products, Kitchen Supplies, Recipes, and Outdoors Gear for 2018

By Bryan Carroll CFMP, NTP, FAFS

December 18, 2018

With 2018 coming to a quick end, it is time for us to showcase our favorite items we have used this year. We have broken it down into 4 main categories that we use:

  • Kitchen Supplies
  • Recipes
  • Fitness Products
  • Outdoors Gear

We did not order any of these items from favorite to least favorite. These are items we use regularly and recommend the most to our clients.

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*Some links are affiliate links, which means we may make some commission on these items at no expense to you. Regardless of us receiving commission from certain items or not, these are the items we would use anyways.*

Our Top 3 Kitchen Supplies From 2018


The Instant Pot has been one of our main kitchen gadgets for a couple of years now. It is just so easy to set up a recipe and forget about it, then come back to it once it is all done.

What makes a pressure cooker different than a slow cooker? Well, the pressure cooker can make just as tender of meals in a much shorter amount of time. This is great when we don't know what we want to cook until it is the evening, and we want something made within half an hour.

Sarah and I use the 6 quart version of the Instant Pot. However, we both can eat quite a bit of food in one sitting, so we would do better with an 8 quart option. If you are feeding more than 2 people, I recommend the 8 quart.

During the holidays, the Instant Pot runs pretty cheap. You can typically find an 8 quart option for under $90. You can check the price here on Amazon.

Vitamix a3300

This year we decided to upgrade our blender from the Ninja blender you can get at Costco. While the Ninja blender did a decent job, it seemed to struggle with completely pulverizing vegetables in the smoothies, leaving lots of little chunks.

With the new Vitamix a3300, this completely changed the way our smoothies were made. For the first time, our smoothies were smooth instead of chunky.

We have also used the Vitamix to mix together batters, such as for waffles or baked goods. Because of the power of the motor, it blends up items really easily.

Something Sarah has been playing with is the ability to make soups in the Vitamix. If you want a smooth soup, such as a tomato soup, it does a great job at that.

Pro tip if you are buying on Amazon, we noticed that the price between the morning and evening on Amazon can fluctuate $50+, so wait until the evening to order. 


High Quality Chef Knife

For years and years we used the cheapest knives possible in the kitchen. So it is no surprise that we got used to muscling our way cutting things in the kitchen. If you have ever cut a sweet potato with a cheap knife, you know what I mean.

People kept telling us we need to invest in nice knives, so naturally we decided to set up a debate on Facebook. We asked if there really is a noticeable difference, and out of the 100+ responses, there wasn't a single person that said cheap knives worked just as well.

We decided to swing into Sur la Table to test out the knives. Sure enough, they cut through produce as if it were butter. We were hooked!

Now we don't have to muscle our way through the kitchen, and can use the sharp edges to our advantage. The most noticeable difference is in a sweet potato, which are normally difficult to cut. But a nice knife cuts through a sweet potato just like any other vegetable.

We recommend going to a store like Sur la Table to test out the knives. You want to find one that feels good in your hand, so we don't recommend purchasing online without trying it in person first.

Salt and Pepper Grinder

While this seems like a simple luxury, it is really nice to have Electric Salt and Pepper Grinders for when we cook.

Typically when we cook, our hands are doing a bunch of different things at once. Using these is a great way to add your salt and pepper one handed.

Also, we like the taste better of freshly ground salt and pepper, so this allows us to easily add it to our foods.

Our Top 3 Recipes From 2018

Instant Pot Mexican Chicken Soup

If you ordered an Instant Pot, you may be wondering what you can whip up quickly in it. Well, if you are in the mood for soup, we have a great option for you.

The Instant Pot Mexican Chicken Soup is a quick meal option that can feed the whole family. I mentioned that we usually don't get leftovers when we make Instant Pot meals, but this left us with enough food for 2 more meals, and it only takes 20 minutes to make!

It is a great "intro to Instant Potting" for those who want a delicious meal rather quickly.

Paleo Granola

Let's be honest here, I have not found a single person who doesn't love this granola. In fact, we have tested it on people who don't enjoy "healthy eating", and they still love it!

The Paleo Homemade Granola is completely gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free. In fact, it is made mostly of seeds and nuts.

If you decide to whip up this recipe, you will want to make a double batch because it will be gone before you know it!

Paleo Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Power-Packed Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Of course we have to throw in a dessert option. This is one of my favorite recipes during the summer when all of our zucchini is growing like crazy in the garden!

Again, this recipe is gluten and dairy free, and also is low carb. It has just the right amount of chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth without being overpowering.

Since this is a dessert, you want to eat it in moderation (which I struggle with...). If you do whip it up, I would love to know what you think!

Our Top 3 Fitness Products From 2018


This has been one of our favorite exercise tools to use at home and when on the road. The TRX Suspension Trainer can be set up pretty much anywhere, from connecting it to a tree to using it in a doorway.

The TRX allows you to adjust the difficulty level of exercises to your capabilities. For instance, if you had a knee replacement, it helps to take weight out of your legs while still allowing you to get range of motion through squatting. Or if you have a lot of experience with exercise, it can kick your butt by requiring you to use more of your stabilizer muscles.

I have used a few different versions of suspension or strap trainers, but the TRX seems to be the best built version. I recommend this standard all-in-one version for most people, however if you upgrade to the pro4 version, you can adjust the foot loops to fit your feet.

Powerblock Speedblock

When we work out, or we train people out of their homes, then it usually isn't economical to have a gym-set of dumbbells. This is where the Powerblock Dumbbell Sets come in.

These adjustable dumbbell sets allow you to have a whole range of weights in one set of dumbbells. The smaller blocks go from 3lbs to 24lbs, where as the big blocks can go all the way up to 175lbs.

It is totally worth getting a Powerblock instead of individual dumbbell sets because there is room for you to grow into the dumbbells. Dumbbells themselves can cost between $1-4 per pound, which adds up quick.

Here is another pro tip: if you buy from Amazon, the price is way cheaper than directly from their website, plus you get free shipping. Otherwise you are paying expensive shipping since it is a heavy delivery.


Hypervolt from Hyperice

This tool has been a favorite among our training and rehab clients. The Hypervolt is a percussion massage device that comes with 3 speeds:

  • 2400 rpms
  • 2800 rpms
  • 3200 rpms

This allows people to adjust the device based on their comfort levels.

The Hypervolt is used to increase circulation to your muscles and tissues which helps in the recovery and rehab process. We have seen tremendous results in the way people can move after using this device.

While something like this is best used by a professional, you can totally use in on yourself and be fine. In fact, we have taught quite a few of our clients how to use it so they can have their spouses massage them before bedtime!

You can get the Hypervolt directly from Hyperice here.

Our Top 3 Outdoors Gear From 2018

Hyperlite Mountain Gear

Hyperlite Mountain Gear

Instead of using all of our outdoor gear spots on each item from Hyperlite Mountain Gear, we have decided to clump it all into one category.

We have been working with HMG for over 4 years now, and they have been the best company to work with. Their gear is top notch (yes, it is expensive, but it is for a good reason).

Their whole mission is to help you travel lighter. All of their gear is made from a dyneema material, which means it is waterproof and extremely durable.

When we went on our trip to Patagonia a couple of years ago, most of our setup was from HMG. My backpack for 13 days, with camera gear, was just shy of 21lbs. 

Our favorite shelter is the UltaMid 2, which is a 2 person tent but could easily hold 4 people our size (seen in the picture above).

MSR Windburner

The MSR Windburner has been an absolute beast of a cook stove for us on all of our trips. Its main purpose is to boil water extremely effectively, and it definitely succeeds in doing so.

We bring this stove with us on all of our trips. So far we haven't had any issues with boiling water at any elevations below 14,411ft. We have not tested it out at elevations over 15k, nor have we used it in temperatures way below 0.

The design is to keep the flame protected while in windy areas, which is does well. While this stove isn't necessarily the lightest option out there, since we use it so much, we have sacrificed the weight for convenience of use and time until water is boiled, which is around 3 minutes.

The MSR Windburner is a great stove if you are focusing on boiling water for freeze dried meals. If that is all you need, then this stove will be perfect for you.

Feathered Friends Spoonbill

This was probably our favorite purchase ever for our sleep system.

Previously Sarah and I would each carry our own sleeping bags, which would take up additional room in our packs. We decided to look into double bags just to save room in our packs, and to lighten the load.

Feathered Friends is local to us, so we swung in there because we knew they made quality bags. Lucky for us, they just had a return come in for this bag because a couple bought it for California weather, and didn't realize that people use this bag on Denali.

It not only saves room and weight in our packs, but it allows us to share body heat for warmth. We haven't had a single cold winter night where we haven't been toasty in this bag. In fact, we usually have it slightly unzipped to let out some of the air!

We totally recommend checking out the sleeping bags that Feathered Friends has.

About the author

Bryan Carroll CFMP, NTP, FAFS

Bryan Carroll is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and Movement Therapist who helps the outdoors community to reduce injuries and improve their health so they can get back to exploring nature. His big health crisis from mold exposure taught him the importance of finding the root causes to illnesses so you can take back control of your life. He is also the host of the Summit For Wellness Podcast.

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