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Monthly Archives: December 2014
3

Swedish Tea Ring Recipe

Alexandra Williams, MA

picture of Swedish Tea Ring

Many of you like to shop right after Christmas. I like to bake. For me, it’s a relaxing way to balance out the commotion that leads up to the 25th. For quite a few years, I’ve made Swedish Tea Rings and Stollen, based on recipes from a 1972 book “Parents’ Magazine’s Christmas Holiday Book.”

If you’re over 50, this book will bring back memories of holiday food; some good, some best left in the 70s (Consommé Noël made with turkey broth, beet liquid, onion juice and sherry anyone?).

The Swedish Tea Ring is easy to make, delicious, and popular. Basically it’s a gussied-up cinnamon roll.

Sweet Dough
1 ¾ to 2 cups flour
2 ½ Tbls sugar
1 packet (¼ oz) yeast
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup milk
2 Tbls water
2 Tbls butter
1 egg at room temperature

In a mixing bowl, combine half the flour, and the sugar, yeast and salt. In a saucepan, heat the milk, water and butter to 110º, then stir into the flour mixture, beating till smooth, then beat in the egg. Gradually add the remaining flour until the dough is stiff. You can then either use a dough hook or manually knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Put it into a greased bowl, cover it and let it rise until doubled in size.

picture of Swedish Tea Ring dough

Roll out to 7 X 15 rectangle, spread with soft butter, then sprinkle with remaining ingredients.

Swedish Tea Ring
Sweet Dough
2 Tbls softened butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsps cinnamon
½ cup broken walnuts
½ cup raisins

picture of rising Swedish Tea Ring

Tea Ring on baking sheet, with cuts at 1-inch intervals. Let rise until doubled in bulk.

Roll the dough into a 7 X 15 inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough, then sprinkle on the sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and raisins. From the long edge, roll up tightly, then shape into a ring on a parchment covered baking sheet with the sealed edge down. Tuck one end of the ring into the other, and pinch to seal. At 1-inch intervals, cut 2/3 of the way through the ring with scissors, twisting the cut sections slightly to separate. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size. Bake at 375º for 20-25 minutes.

If you want to frost the ring, recipe is below. Also, my boys don’t like walnuts or raisins, so sometimes I’ll make two rings and leave those ingredients out of one. It still tastes perfectly delicious, though I prefer the regular recipe.

Frosting
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
¾ tsp vanilla or lemon juice
1 Tbls water
1 Tbls heavy cream (you can do 2 Tbls water if you don’t have cream)

picture of baked Swedish Tea Ring

Frosted or unfrosted, the Tea Ring is delicious.

Spread over warm (not hot) Tea Ring. You can add candied cherries (which seem to have been the rage in the 70s), but I don’t, as they all get picked off and ditched on the plate by everyone I know anyway!

 

9

Can Your Wearable Medical Technology Do All This?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

This post is sponsored. The views and belief in wearable medical technology are sponsored by our fine selves and direct experience with older adults and loved ones who use such alerts.

IMG_4248In 1946 Dick Tracy got his wearable two-way radio watch. Hmm, same year that the first batch of baby boomers was born. Coincidence or great timing (get it)?  Since then, wearable technology has become a reality for millions of people who want quick access to health information or assistance. Think of the number of times James Bond’s life has been saved thanks to his futuristic tools.

Well, the future of wearable medical technology is now. And saving lives — yours, your parents, other loved ones, perhaps? — is one of the many benefits of such devices. We monitor our pulse rates, oxygen levels, safety, location, air quality, sleep, steps taken, and so much more. Something as simple as medical alerts can offer independence, peace of mind, and life-saving action. (Click that link to see a review of medical alerts). And yes, we even use our devices for two-way communication, just like Dick Tracy. Don’t believe us? We did two-way time travel two years ago when we wrote about e-textiles as a future health trend. Check it out — over and out.

What are some of the technology options midlifers, older adults, and caregivers can take advantage of? The inventions and capabilities are pretty cool and ingenious! In fact, we’ll go so far as to say you can find wearable technology that covers land, water, and air!  To assess what is best for your situation, consider the following 7 actions:

1. Locate Loved Ones Anytime, Anywhere via GPSIMG_4769

A Global Positioning System can be incredibly accurate when determining a person’s location anywhere on the planet. This technology could allow medics to find a person if he or she is unconscious or unable to communicate. This kind of technology can also help locate someone lost in the wilderness while monitoring his or her physical condition.

2. Detect Falls Even From Afar

Help, we’ve fallen, but we can get help to get up! By monitoring the G-force of a pendant or other wearable item, medical professionals can detect immediately if someone has suffered a fall. With devices such as medical alerts, this technology could be lifesaving if the person who falls goes unconscious or gets injured. The difference between help arriving in minutes versus hours could mean the difference between life and death; eventual recovery and the beginning of the end.

3. Monitor for Smoke and Fire

Wearable technology that monitors for smoke and fire can save a person’s life regardless of location. As long as the sensor is able to capture samples of the surrounding atmosphere, the risks of smoke inhalation and other complications can be greatly reduced. Imagine how glad you would be to know your monitor can signal for assistance even if, for example, your parents were unconscious or unable to call out.

Shipwreck off Santa Barbara 4. Resist Water, not Technology

Who wants a device that resists water better than the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz? If you invest in medical technology products, check whether the device is waterproof or at least water resistant. For the sake of discussion, let’s refer to the wearer as “your parents.” What if something happens while your mom is swimming, bathing, or showering? You want to be sure you can depend on the device in all environments.

5. Share Vitals and Vital Info via Apps

Some technologies are able to use app connectivity to gather information. Such tools can render data in a more readily accessible platform providing charts and graphs and offering emergency personnel vital statistics. Envision an EMT being able to take bio readings directly from your mom’s wearable medical device to determine the correct course of treatment whether she is alert or unconscious.

picture of labyrinth at Rancho la Puerta

Where am I going, and I how do I get there?

6. Connect to Your Physician

You can also use the monitoring capability of medical technology to keep a designated physician apprised of any change in your parents’ physical condition even from a distance.  Granted, you have a trade-off between privacy and safety. When safety is the bigger concern, you may want a doctor to know about deviations in your loved one’s physical habits or unique physiology.

7. Communicate Two-Way

Quote: Do a Little MoreSome, but not all medical devices offer two-way communication. Decide whether you want the ability to directly communicate with service providers. Let’s say your dad is rendered incapable of using his hands or is otherwise unable to make a phone call. A two-way device can still allow for communication from the service provider to your dad as he awaits assistance.

Innovation in this field is only accelerating. And it’s fairly exhilarating! We have the opportunity to take a more active, real time role helping loved ones stay safe and well. Who knows what will be available by the time we baby boomers buy our own wearable medical tech devices! We’ll be ready to bond, James Bond with something stylish, super futuristic, and life saving!

Contact us — or have your new medical tech device do so — to book us for your next event. But only if you want edu-taining speakers who will liven up your audience and leave them healthier than when the day started! info@funandfit.org (805) 403-4338

 

4

3 Ways to Lose Weight without Dieting or Exercising

HURRY! Just one more week to get our FREE booklet, 34 Guilt Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain. Subscribe to our blog now. 

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Stars at Rancho la PuertaReady to lose weight, reduce anxiety, and be more present? What if you knew three ways to reach those goals that don’t require food restriction or exercise? Of course, we advocate a life with lots of movement in it. But hey, aren’t you curious and keen to know you can make progress with your weight loss goals in mellow manners as well? Don’t wait until the new year to get a jump start on your fitness and personal growth goals.

Incorporate the following 3 “activities” into your life to enter 2015 with less — less weight, less stress, less mental clutter.  Each supports and interacts with the others.

1. Meditate

Clear Your Mind: Calm Your BodyWoman meditating sculpture

Use meditation to better understand your relationship to food, exercise, and stress. For example, meditation can assist weight loss efforts by reducing emotional eating, binge eating — basically any kind of eating that is not mindful. Meditators generally have higher consciousness of their thoughts and actions. They therefore make better decisions regarding health choices.

Guided Meditation Apps

If you are eager to get started with meditation, try the free meditation apps listed in our post: Meditation, Menopause, and Memory.

2. Sleep Sufficiently

DSCI0034Sleep My Pretty, Sleep

Several studies link lack of enough sleep with obesity. For one, if you are getting only 5 or 6 hours of sleep each night, instead of the recommended 7 to 9 you are awake more hours slugging down extra snicky snacks.

For another, sleep deprived brains tend to make poor decisions. “Yes, I neeeed that high calorie, sugary late night treat. I deserve it. The calories disappear after midnight just like Cinderella’s coach and horses.” Uh huh. Let me also ask — do you feel like working out when you are tired?

Too little sleep also affects the hormones that regulate appetite and fat storage. The little gremlin, ghrelin whispers a naughty message more to the sleep deprived — “you are hungry. Eat, my pretty, eat.” Simultaneously, leptin the lambkin that usually cues you to back away from the fork, goes to sleep on the undernapped.

Still awake? Then read our post on how insufficient sleep causes weight gain.

3. Breathe “Actively and Energetically”

Breathe Your Way to Less: Less Food, Less Weight, Less Stress

Active breathing simply means paying attention to your in- and exhalations. No judgment, no expectations. Just be aware of your breaths. Energetic breathing is short and fast. Inhalations are forceful and through the nose. Expand your belly as you inhale. Exhale with equal force, contracting your belly.

Take 4 or 5 active breaths before eating to slow down your food intake pace, to enjoy your meal more, and to increase awareness.  Active breathing elicits the calming effect, similar to meditation.Kymberly in the meditation maze

Use energetic breaths as a natural, zero calorie picker upper instead of food, caffeine, or other quick fixes to gain energy. Breathing energetically stimulates your central nervous system the way exercise does — first by elevating, then calming you.

With both kinds of breaths, you are building self-awareness and interrupting unconscious patterns that may not be serving you. Become a better breather by inhaling the info in our post, Breathe Life Into Yourself.

True — meditating, sleeping more, and breathing with intent alone will not directly cause calories to burn faster than holiday buns baked too long and hot. However, combined with everything else you are doing to keep weight at bay, these 3 tools can be part of your powerful arsenal as you wrap up the holiday season, the year .. and maybe a few gifts too.

Wellness Retreat at Tenaya LodgeRetreat, Retreat, Without Having to Run Away

Give a gift to yourself. Join us at the Tenaya Wellness Spa Retreat coming up faster than energetic breaths. Jan 16-19 in Yosemite. Click to see the sessions, treatments, meals, and more that you will get as their guest. BONUS – we’ll meet each other as we are presenting workouts and wellness sessions. Wonder whether you are doing common exercises correctly … or um, well, stoopidly? Eager to take a cutting edge ABC: Abs, Butt, Core workout? You get it all at the Tenaya wellness weekend.

Special K is More Than My Sister’s Nickname

Alexandra Williams, MA

Special K Snack BarsWhen we were growing up, my mom only bought healthy cereals for us five kids to eat. Special K was a fairly new cereal then, and we ate it while reading the Los Angeles Times comics. That may or may not have been the same era that produced one of Kymberly’s nicknames – Special K. She had other nicknames too, but those shall be revealed another day.

When I went away to college, I went on a junk food cereal binge for a while, just to find out what I’d been missing. That phase didn’t last long.

When my kids were born, one of them had food allergies, so I taught myself to cook from scratch. I’d been teaching group fitness for over ten years by then, so was very interested in learning as much as possible about food, nutrition, and realistic snack habits. Now I teach in the exercise studies department at a university, and have to help students learn to make food choices that are in their best interests and will help them reach their goals.

picture of push-up and Special K snack bars

Special K Push-Ups

When I was asked to try out the new Special K® Chewy Snack Bars, I was all for it, as I like to find options for my students. Some snack bars are too big, too heavy feeling (especially during exercise) or too high in calories. The four new flavors – Berry Medley, Salted Caramel Chocolate, Salted Pretzel Chocolate, and Blueberry Bliss – are 100 kcals per bar, which is good. Generally speaking, we burn about 400 kcals per 45-minute cardio class, so the math sounds good to me.

I love oats, and am glad to see that the first ingredient for all four flavors is rolled oats. For my personal taste preferences, they are a bit too sweet, yet they are perfect for my university students. And it would seem that my boys (who are now college-aged) like them too, as several of the boxes are nearly empty. The two fruit flavored bars have a bit of real fruit in them, though I prefer the salty-sweet combination in the Salted Pretzel Chocolate bar.

Fall Quarter is now over, but by the time Winter Quarter starts, these bars will be available nationwide, as they will be officially out in January 2015. As I always carry a quick snack in my fitness bag for students who “forgot” to eat before class, the timing is just right.

To find out more, or be Special K Social, check them out at Facebook and Twitter.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Special K Snack Bars.

3

Exercise Advice Depends on Goal: Test Your Knowledge

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

20140828_075500Can you match the exercise statement below to its correct goal? Ever seem confused, overwhelmed, or downright cranky at what appears to be contradictory workout advice? It could be simply making sure you know what your primary exercise purpose is. Then you can select the proper solution to address that priority.

Take Our Mix and Match Test

All of the following, seemingly contradictory statements are true … depending on …. your goal. Ready to mix and match with more style than when you are in a Macy’s dressing room? GO! (Answers at the end of the post).  And when you see a link, click on it for more detailed scoop on each action and benefit.

Go for Action with Go To AdviceIMG_4997

A. Cardio training – of any type — is best.

B. Strength training is more critical than cardio activity, especially for baby boomer women.

C. As you enter midlife, you need to incorporate 7 specific movement habits into your cardio workouts to get the best results.

D. Accumulate at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity.

E. As few as 10 minutes of high intensity training per day is sufficient.

F. Make sure to include resistance training, aerobic exercise, and stretching in your workout program at least 2-3 times per week.

G. Aim first for Amount of movement; Next for Type of activity; then for Intensity of exercise level

H. Go as long as you can, as hard as you can, as often as you can.

Given Which Goal?

20140701_190809

Which numbered goal below goes with which lettered advice above?

  1. Burn calories and improve overall health – minimize risk of disease and illness – at any age.
  2. Boost metabolism and maintain function (ability to continue daily tasks and activities) and minimize risk of falling, especially post age 60.
  3. Enhance brain power, improve memory, and stave off cognitive decline.
  4. Increase life expectancy, improve cognitive skills, reduce the incidence of chronic disease and disabilities.
  5. Maintain fitness level if you are already fit.
  6. Achieve general fitness – defined as having lean body mass, minimal stored fat, good endurance, flexibility, and muscular strength.
  7. Keep lost weight off
  8. Prevent weight gain; lose weight, keep lost weight off – the trifecta. Ba da bing! Click the links to read about Fat Loss and more.

Bottom line if you forget everything? (Well, that means you aren’t performing any cardio, because you just read that cardio enhances memory). Anyway, if nothing else, simply remember that doing something is almost always better than doing nothing when it comes to accruing health benefits. And the more fitness benefits you want out of your movement, the more frequency, attention, and effort you have to commit to.IMG_4785

Commit to follow us, up hill, down dale, over the pale. Subscribe now if you haven’t yet, and get FREE our booklet, 34 Guilt Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain. Get insider fitness advice all year!

ANSWERS: A1, B2, C3, D4, E5, F6, G7, H8 Yeah, I made it easy for you … and for me. How did you score? You are a winner no matter what, as you now know more about this subject than most US adults.

Alexandra wants to win the Modenus/ Ambiente Frankfurt Holiday Shop Window contest, which would mean a trip to Frankfurt to share the latest in Dining, Living and Giving with you, so please take two seconds to click here and vote for her photo. Make her holiday! (Ends Friday, Dec. 19 at 2pm PST). Thanks!

11

I Took a Photo Class and Now I’m Headed to Best Buy

Alexandra Williams, MA

I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card.

picture of pomegranate

One of the portfolio photos that got me a grade of 100%

I just finished my beginning photography class at our local community college, and loved it. My original motivation was to learn to take food photos for our blog, so I asked for a good beginner’s camera for my birthday.

Two days after my birthday (I got a Canon Rebel T3), I enrolled in the photo class. If you want to look at (or even better, give me suggestions for improvement) my final project, I put the portfolio up on Facebook. I don’t think of myself as a photographer yet, but I am determined to become good. And I know that a good photographer can do great things with any camera. And yet…. I find myself wanting to get a zoom lens, and wide angle lens, and and and… I covet more photo gadgets.

When I was offered the opportunity to post about three different cameras at Best Buy, I actually got a bit gadget-drooly. Let me tell you about them, and see if you also get the urge to update.I learned about a Nikon, a Sony and a Samsung, all of which come equipped with built-in Wi-Fi so I can share my masterpieces with unlucky followers interested friends!


Nikon D5300 at Best BuyFirst up: Nikon D5300 DSLR w/18-55mm VR Lens

This Nikon D5300 DSLR camera comes with an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II lens that enables you to capture sharp photos and video footage. Optical image stabilization helps prevent blurring to ensure image clarity. It’s also available in red or gray.


picture of Sony a6000 cameraNext in Line: Sony a6000 Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

This Sony Alpha A6000 features a 24.3-megapixel, Exmor APS-C CMOS sensor that makes it easy to shoot scenes in stunning clarity. You can get it in white or silver too. And FYI, it comes with the world’s fastest autofocus.


DI multi Samsung Galaxy CameraAnd Finally: Samsung Galaxy Camera 2

This is a digital camera that allows you to shoot, share, and use Android Apps. This Samsung Galaxy 2 digital camera’s 16.3-megapixel, 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor allows you to capture sharp images and high-definition video footage. It has a 4.8″ touch screen to simplify operation.

So, which one do you think is on my wish list? I’ll give you a hint – I have expensive taste and like to spend as little as possible. (Actually, after visiting the Best Buy Holiday Gift Center I saw a $2,000 Canon that wants to come live with me). Whether you are gift shopping or wish to upgrade as I do, check out the Best Buy choices (including the Canon I mentioned).

Psssssst – Don’t tell my sis, but I might take pictures of her while she’s walking the dogs, or teaching, or (her favorite “exercise”) even running at the mouth. I’ll use my best camera. And best judgment. At Best Buy, of course.

38

Peanut Butter & Other Healthy Holiday Foods

Alexandra Williams, MA
pictures of PB & Co. peanut butter

Yes, they are all close to empty.

Peanut butter is yummy any time of the year, so when I received several PB items in the mail, I knew I had to share (info, not my snacks).

Peanut Butter & Co. sent me their Smooth Operator creamy PB , plus a box of candy canes, so Boom – red, white and peanut butter bread.

 

 

Peanut Butter Candy Cane Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsps baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6-8 crushed candy canes

A food processor is the easiest way to crush candy canes

A food processor is the easiest way to crush candy canes

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the flours with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the oil, sugar and eggs together for 2 minutes. Add in the milk and stir to blend.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just enough to blend. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for about 10 minutes before covering the loaf with the crushed candy canes. Finish baking for another 50 minutes or until the loaf springs back to the touch. Let it fully cool, as the candy topping will be very hot.

holiday recipe peanut butter bread with candy canes

Peanut Butter Candy Cane Bread

After eating it, I think it would have been better to put the candy cane bits into the bread rather than on top.

While we’re on the topic of food…

WOATS oat snacks

In my gym bag now

WOATS has three flavors of oatsnacks, and I have pretty much plowed through two Peanut Butter Graham Slam bags. They also have Cookies ‘N’ Dreams and Nuts About Berries, but I haven’t tried those yet. The company was founded by a 16-year-old who wanted oat snacks in a soft version that was kind to his braces.

Depending on the month, you might find some peanut snacks in the UrthBox. A subscription snack service that sends non-GMO, organic, vegan, gluten-free, and diet versions, I actually found a number of snacks that my picky high-schooler loved (vegan brownie, anyone?). My favorites were the barbecue quinoa crisps, Rogue blue cheese popcorn, and black rice crackers. I noticed they’re offering $10 off right now with the code CRUNCHWEEK.

UrthBox picture

Only thing missing is the vegan brownie my son ate

We just learned about a brand-new company called Thrive Market. They offer nonGMO, organic and natural foods at 30-50% BELOW retail, with free shipping. It’s a member site like Costco, but cheaper and only healthy products. We recommend you join. For every membership Thrive sells, they give one away to a needy family through non-profit partners such as The Boys & Girls Club. We signed up as an affiliate because we believe in it so strongly. Sign up via this link and you’ll get 3 months’ free membership, plus 15% off your first order.  Working my “shop my values stocking stuffer plan” via their company.

And…… A Giveaway from Peanut Butter & Co. for our U.S. based readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, if you want a 25% discount for the month of December at the Peanut Butter & Co. online store, use this case-sensitive code: YUMSQUADLOVE

3

7 Movement Habits to Improve Your Memory Now

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Kymberly speaking at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Spa on Memory BoostingWant to have a better memory doing what comes inexpensively and immediately?

Take a look at the following images I used in the presentation I gave last week at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Spa located in Tecate, MX. The Ranch is so wonderful and special that I wanted to make sure my session was as valuable. If memory serves me right, the following 7 factors will improve your recall, memory, attention span, and focus.  ha ha ha Oh, and my presentation was well received too!

Before you get to those 7 things you can do to gain for the brain to the max, note that the key is to engage in CARDIO activity. While ALL exercise is thought to improve cognitive skills, cardio is top doggie. If you combine cardio with any of the 7 factors coming right up, you are getting exponential return on your exercise investment.

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 8.07.53 PM

Yup, cardio has more benefit for your gray matter than crossword puzzles, learning a new language, sudoku, and international travel (though these are all helpful).  Say, click that link <—- to read about how smart Nepal made me.

Small Steps Lead to Big Changes

And we mean it. Steps as small as going left instead of right, or working out a different day or time than usual all register as new in the brain.

 

Habit #1

Build a Better Brain

Movement Habit #2

Movement Habit #3

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 8.38.06 PM

Movement Habit #4

Hmm, are you starting to get any ideas about what kind of cardio activity might be best if your priority is to boost your brain?

Obese at risk for Alzheimer's

 

Movement Habit #5

The midline is the the line that visually divides your body into a left and right side side. If your right arm reaches to your left side, you have crossed the midline, for example.

 

Movement Habit #6

Movement Habit #7

Want a summary image you can pin? So do we! Pin away my hearties!

7 Movement Habits to Iprove Your Brain

And on that final note, zzzzzzz. Or semi-final note. If you want to experience this presentation in its entirety, come to Tenaya Lodge’s Wellness and Spa Retreat Jan 16-18, 2015. That’s another smart move!

If you are not yet a subscriber, now is a great time to sign up, free! New subscribers get a holiday gift: 34 Guilt Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain.