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10

Fitness, Weight Loss, and Nutrition in 2015: Get More Sizzle, Less Fizzle

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

picture of one-legged plank

Plank it Real Good!

How is your new year starting out? More to the point, how do you want your year to progress? More sizzle, less fizzle? One way to maintain an upwards trajectory is to stay up with the latest and greatest (“Latest” is Alexandra’s nickname; “Greatest” is Kymberly’s. Already cracking ourselves up here).

The new year is starting out well at the Boom Chicka Boomer ranch, homestead, cottage, boom shack-a lacka. We have 2.0.1.5. exciting exercises, retreats, ebooks, advice, research, food, and all-around goodness to share with you so that you can be up to date. Let’s get rolling, shall we?

1. Top Ten Fitness Trends for 2015
Wonder what the top 10 fitness trends for 2015 are projected to be? Then click the link to see the list compiled by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM),

2. Four Key Trends That Affect You
For YOU, we highlight 4 of those fitness trends relevant to active women who want to be comfortably awesome.

  • Body Weight Training, which includes push-ups, lunges , squats and planks. Ka-Boom. Check out the short videos we made for all these, so you can get a head (and chest, abs, legs and arms) start.
  • Experienced and Educated Fitness Professionals. This refers to those of us accredited by the NCAA (a 3rd-party accrediting organization). In other words, here we are, just us with our credentials and 60+ combined years of exercise experience.
  • Exercise and Weight Loss. Look to us to provide MORE tools for you in 2015 to meet your workout, movement, weight, and wellness goals!
  • And one of our favorites? Fitness Programs for Older Adults. ‘Nuff said in that department.

3. Buy This Cookbook (Subtle, eh?)
Skinnylicious cookingEating will continue to be popular in 2015. Shocker, eh? What if we told you about a great recipe book <<<<<——- (click that link) that will have you eating more while losing weight, AND you can keep eating bacon? We are now affiliates for the ——->>>> (or click here) Skinnylicious Cooking downloadable recipe book.  This book aligns with our preference for grass-fed meat, healthy ingredients, real food vs. food-like substances, easy, time-saving, delicious, affordable, and metabolism-boosting recipes. In other words, the recipes are designed to work WITH, not AGAINST your body. No dieting involved. You probably already know our low opinion of diets. But we have a high opinion of Skinnylicious and think you will too.  But you need to click to find out. And you have to actually get the book and USE it to gain all its benefits. Action time.

It looks like 2015 might finally be the year when the food industry recognizes how important it is to increase plant intake and decrease animal intake, both for health and the environment.  Even more reason to eat – gasp – more veggies and fruits.

4. Trust Those of Us in the Trenches
Teaching group fitness classes every week is not enough to qualify us to advise you about active aging. We also present and lead sessions around and about. Keeps us on our toes.Session leaders for BAM conference

Join us in person or vicariously online as we hoof it to: Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite, then to the Lorna Jane store at the Paseo Nuevo Mall in Santa Barbara, then out of state to the first Bloggers at Midlife (BAM) conference in Nashville. Yes, you can work out in cowperson boots! The ultimate booty class!

Spa and Wellness Retreat at Tenaya

5.Tenaya Lodge Wellness Spa Retreat Weekend
If you want to jumpstart your wellness plans, but without any jumping involved, join us at the Tenaya Lodge Wellness Retreat.  Taste wine, go on a nature hike, get a mass-aaaahhhh-ge, work out with us, learn how to pair tea with dinner. If your budget allows, and you enjoy learning and doing healthy activities in a luxury environment, meet us there! Coming up soon: Jan 16-19

Regardless of your ability to attend, tell us in a comment below which of the planned activities would be your favorite. We are pretty keen on the Saturday, Jan 17 3:30 session! To see the schedule and sessions or to register, go to this spa weekend link.

6. ABC Workout, Free Food, Prizes, and Lorna Jane Activewear DISCOUNTS
For you locals (Santa Barbara), join us for FREE Sat Jan 31 at 10am for the world, nation, state, county famous ABC: Abs, Balance, Core workout we are teaching. Sponsored by Lorna Jane Activewear, you not only get to improve your abs and show the shoppers who rules the mall, but also snacks and juicy discounts on LJ gear. Did we mention prizes as well? Gotta play to win!

What’s your favorite abs or core move? Bet we’ll show you one you’ll like more!

Bloggers at Midlife logo7. Bloggers at Midlife Conference
Then in mid-March we fly to Tennessee to present at the inaugural BAM conference. If you are a baby boomer or midlife women who blogs on any topic, this event is for you. If you are not a blogger, thank goodness! We need you as readers! So charge up your laptop or mobile phone to read about our adventures and whether we sweat during our sessions. Look for wild photos and behind-the-scenes stories from the conference.

8. Track our Knee Adventures
Starting next week, we will be busting open the inflammatory, painful, yet ultimately upbeat story of two middle-aged women who want to age actively. When their knees try to defeat them, they fight back — with traditional and new methods. Methods that you can learn about as well. This (unfortunately) universal tale of joy, frustration, pain, and odd detours offers help to any of you also suffering from knee pain. Will Kymberly be able to continue teaching her beloved step classes in 2015? Can Alexandra postpone knee surgery past 2015? And how will their experiences help you? Track with us as we enter 2015 raring to go!

Did you think you’d have to read 2,015 bullet points from us? Nahhhh. 2 + 0 + 1 + 5 = 8, so you only get 8 points from us. Happy 2015. See you at Tenaya! While reading Skinnylicious. In a box. With a fox.

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!

 

3

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.

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

26

10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Alexandra Williams, MA

Christmas display in Pacific Grove

Everyone has great ideas for avoiding weight gain during the holidays. Our ideas actually work. How do we know that? Well, I have been in the fitness industry for over 30 years, I know (and write professionally) about healthy eating, and I have a Master’s in systemic counseling. More importantly, we use these tips ourselves.

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

To make it easy to share (and because I want to increase my Pinterest skills), I made a nice easy pin of our 10 tips to avoid holiday weight gain that you can access at the next big get-together.

10 tips to avoid holiday weight gain graphic

Let us know which tips were most helpful to you. And please follow us on Pinterest: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

12

Prepping for Holidays and Kathmandu: What About You?

Mountain in Nepalby Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Want an example of active aging?

On Saturday, my mom is taking my daughter and me to Nepal. As in Kathmandu, exotic locale on the other side of the world. Land of the Himalayas. She just turned 85 yesterday and has long wanted to travel to Nepal. So off we fly with a Sierra Club group for a 10 day journey through national parks, temples, cities, and villages.

Dive Into Some Fitness Classes; Sub Out Ohers

Lorna Jane and Kymberly

Taking flight sorta in my Lorna Jane active and travel wear.

To prep for this trip, my mom has been attending aqua aerobics classes at least twice a week, sometimes thrice. No, we are not trekking up mountains where the air is thin, unlike me! But we will be doing much in those 10 short days that will demand a lot from an 85 year old. I prepped by finding subs to cover my group fitness classes. Oh, and by gathering up my new Lorna Jane activewear, Ahnu shoes, Purple Frog insect patches, and Garden of Life organic energy bars and fondling them all lovingly. Into the suitcase they go, coming out on the other side of customs and the world!

Sneak Peeks Into Nepal

Nepal red panda

Red panda = Yup, already got a selfie!

If you want to track pictures from our adventures, follow me on instagram: @KymberlyFunFit. Not only will you get photos of an unusual, tantalizing place, but also shots of what an active life allows. Stairs, hikes, cityscapes, early mornings, long days of adventure, a three-generation trip of a lifetime! Maybe someone out there (probably someone needing new reading glasses) will even confuse me with my daughter in the rare air of Nepal. She turns 22 on our trip. Pretty sure you’ll have a hard time figuring who is nana, who is young pup, who is the Boom Chicka Boomer.

Holiday Gift For You: It’s a Wrap!

Other prep involved completing a booklet for YOU and new subscribers just in time for the holiday season: 34 Guilt-Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain: Getting Through the Holidays without Stuffing. This free booklet is loaded with practical tips that are reasonable and non-judgy. (Remember that my twinnie sissie does have her Master’s Degree in Counseling so she has some good mind tricks!)

Read, Do, Look Good, Feel Even Better

Avoid Holiday weight gainIf you have a goal to Break on Through to the Other Side of the season feeling good about yourself, this booklet is for you (who knows the song and band reference?)* Details on how to get your copy coming via our Facebook page and future blog posts. New subscribers will automatically get 34 Guilt-Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain.

This gift from us to you offers action items, realistic tips, and great strategies to:

  • keep the ell-bees off as you make your way through food-centered celebrations;
  • feel full and satisfied, not stuffed and self-recriminatory;
  • maintain healthy movement and eating habits even if you travel;
  • resist temptation without feeling deprived;
  • use your habits and strengths to stay fit
  • train your brain to send messages you want to hear

Odds are pretty darn good you will find ideas you have not seen elsewhere nor thought of yet. Get ready to open new *Doors once you open your copy of our holiday booklet (ha ha ha hah that is the ultimate hint for the question posed above).

As for me, I plan to move as much as possible in Nepal so I return ready to greet the holidays with excitement and no extra pounds waiting under the turkey or tree.

2

A Peek Into Vegan Living with Attila Hildmann

Alexandra Williams, MA

Knowing I’m a vegetarian and fitness pro, a P.R. friend of mine recently sent me two books by Europe’s top-selling (almost 1 million copies) cookbook author, Attila Hildmann. The books are “Vegan for Fun” and “Vegan for Fit.”

Vegan for Fun by Attila HildmannVegan for Fit by Attila Hildmann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was a bit hesitant to accept them at first, as we are extremely picky discerning when it comes to recommending lifestyle philosophies. After looking through both books, I can see why Hildmann is so popular. He isn’t a zealot, yet shares his passion. He details how and why he became a vegan in a straightforward way that feels inviting rather than browbeating. The best part? He agrees with so much of what we say! Hahahaha. Don’t we all think someone is clever when their philosophies are close to our own?

Main Selling Points for Me

Quotes such as, “Vegan for Fit isn’t a diet, but rather a healthy way of eating,” and “The recipes…weren’t in any way influenced by the food industry.” And my fitness favorites – “It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in; you can start now-even if you just walk around the block at your own pace… Starting slow and then building up is the key to success. My workout plan serves primarily to increase my feeling of well-being.”

He recognizes that vegans can be the worst advocates for veganism. For example, when Hildmann discusses his transition from vegetarianism to veganism, he acknowledges the “all or nothing” mentality that puts many people off.  “What makes me really sad is this ‘I’m a better vegan than you’ phenomenon.”

The people who took his 30-Day challenge have realistic Before and After pictures and results, and Hildmann includes the downsides as well as the upsides when he shares those results.

The actual recipes. Once he gained my respect, I was ready to check out the food. The pictures and ingredients looked really enticing and surprisingly achievable for me (based on the ingredients I keep in the house). I tried a few of them, and they were super tasty. Except for green bell peppers. I’ll never like green bell peppers.

picture of Tofu Bolognese from Attila Hildmann

Spaghetti with Tofu Bolognese

To get a well-rounded feel for Hildmann, I sent him some questions, which he answered in more detail than I was expecting. To put the interview into context, you should know that his dad’s death was a catalyst for his transformation from overweight, junk food eater to healthy chef.

Interview with Attila Hildmann

How old were you when your Dad’s death caused you to make a life change, and what was your life like prior to his death? Were you already into fitness?
I was 19 years old when I watched my father die of a heart attack. You can’t even imagine the pain I felt because I always looked up to my dad. Before it happened the doctors didn’t tell him to change his diet in a specific way; they prefered to open up his ribcage for open-heart surgery and after that was done, pump him full of pills to lower his cholesterol. I was also worried about myself because at that time I was severely overweight at 230 pounds and my cholesterol was critically high. I always loved sports, competed in Triathlon and swimming from an early age, but I always struggled with keeping my weight consistent. Yo-yo dieting was what I did, so the weight always came back in the off-season. And I loved what many young people love: burgers, fries, steak, chips and ice-cream. One day I went to the doctor for a check-up and he did a blood test. When he got the results he told me “Attila, if you keep eating what you’re eating, you’ll end up just like your father!” I had to change something so I did some research and cut out all the foods that contained cholesterol and worked myself up to a vegan diet. Instantly I felt better, my skin got clearer, my energy level went up, I had more power and the fat around my hips melted away. It was the best decision in my life!

Can you share some of the specific steps you took to get from the Before to the After?
The first step was to forget about the clichés that I had in my mind about healthy vegan eating. At first I was afraid about belonging to a group of hippies that eat nut roast for Christmas and preach to people that meat-is-murder. It all began in my head. And I just wanted to try it out as well, as I always like to challenge myself. But I fell into one trap that many new vegetarians and vegans fall into which is vegan junk food. Although it may not contain cholesterol, soy pudding, soy ice cream, fries with ketchup and vegan burgers with meat alternatives still do contain a lot of calories and I ate way too much of that in the beginning. Back in 2000 I hated vegetables. So first I learned how to cook so that I could make them tasty and delicious for myself. Working out is always a good idea but 80 percent of my weight loss success is due to sticking to a balanced vegan diet!

What do you recommend as the first thing someone should do who’s a carnivore, yet is curious about the benefits of being an occasional vegan?
You don’t have to go all the way and change your whole life! One vegan dish per week or a day is a great step toward a healthier life. It should be fun – don’t force yourself into something. If you start to like it, that’s great, and you can incorporate more vegan dishes into your diet plan. About 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year; that’s one out of four deaths. We have to start somewhere. Make baby steps and pat yourself on the back for doing them.

Why do you prefer veganism over vegetarianism?
At first I was a vegetarian, but even that increased my cholesterol level. I also like the aspect that you save lives by eating completely plant based — it is so good for the environment, climate and the planet! Vegan foods touch so many levels of my well-being, it’s absolutely incredible.

vegan dessert recipe by Attila Hildmann

Crumble in the Jungle

Do you have any simple recipes for people who are time-pressed?
I have a lot of easy, quick to make recipes in my books. You can order them on amazon.com. There are also free recipes on my website attilahildmann.com. I love to make vegetable pasta with a spiralizer and serve them with a quick Carbonara sauce made with almond butter, smoked tofu and parsley. And I looove sandwiches: whole wheat bread, lettuce, some hummus, roasted peppers and some pesto and you are good to go. It’s really that simple! Vegan cooking is even easier and less expensive than cooking with animal-based products!

I’m not trying to persuade anyone to become a vegan or buy these books; I’m just sharing my opinion. But if you are interested in knowing more, you might want to enter the giveaway, as we are giving away one copy of each.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

12

Coffee Brownies

Alexandra Williams, MA

Are you one of the kabillion people who likes coffee and chocolate? If so, you will want to bake this coffee brownie recipe (or at least lick the computer screen).

pic of coffee brownie

My life for the past month has been highly stressful due to family medical issues, so one of the ways I de-stress is to bake (which would explain last week’s post about vanilla sugar cinnamon rolls).

A few of the commenters for that post noted that cinnamon rolls didn’t seem like a health food, so I will address that issue while I’m here a’bakin’. For some people, sugar or butter might be an issue. For others, the calories. And there are many people who cannot have flour. For those people it’s true that cinnamon rolls might not be a healthy choice. I am lucky because I have no food allergies, and can eat anything I want (I do not EVER want Marmite or Bovril). I am also realistic about knowing that most people do better with a variety of foods that include items such as rolls or brownies. By “better” I mean they will have a healthier overall diet if they approach food from a “choice” rather than “restrictive” perspective. We never want anything more than the one thing we’re told not to have. As we teach and preach, most foods are okay for most people most of the time in moderation.

I say this not in defense or to persuade you to eat fake food made of nasty ingredients (calling your name Twinkies); just to explain why I think my homemade, organic ingredient cinnamon rolls are so super delicious and belong on our healthy aging blog.

Sadly, the rolls are all gone. And my son brought his new girlfriend over for the first time. And he and she both love chocolate. Beloved son + new girlfriend + chocolate + need to de-stress = coffee brownies. I tweaked a recipe from “Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.”

recipe for coffee browniesCoffee Brownies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter (I use Organic Valley)
3 large eggs (we raise chickens, so we have a direct supplier)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract (I use Fair Trade Nielsen Massey)
½ tsp almond extract (I squeeze unsuspecting almonds till they sweat, then gather it)
1/8 tsp salt
4 tsp dry instant espresso powder (I use King Arthur – don’t use granular instant coffee unless you like crunchy blobs of coffee stuck to your teeth)
2 ¾ cups granulated sugar (I use Wholesome Organic Raw Cane)
½ cup all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur or Hodgson Mill Organic Naturally White Unbleached)
1/3 cup whole wheat flour (King Arthur or Hodgson Mill)

pic of chocolate-coffee browniePreheat oven to 425°. Line an 8 X 8 pan with parchment paper (or just butter a glass pan).
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside when melted.
Beat the eggs, vanilla, almond extract, salt, coffee, and sugar at high speed for 10 minutes (no, it’s not a typo). On low speed add the chocolate mixture and beat just till mixed. Then add the flours and beat again just till mixed.
Pour into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. The crust will be crispy, while a toothpick inserted into the center will come out a little wet, but these babies are DONE. Let them stand (or sit in the fridge) for 6-8 hours before serving. Of course, I didn’t follow that advice. I served them an hour after baking and no-one died or complained. But waiting patiently does make them easier to cut. Whatever.

P.S. The whole wheat flour makes them magically extra healthy. And if you break one in two, half the calories fall out. This is due to sciencey science. Sort of like truthiness, but more fat-free.

While on the topic of health, we have a giveaway that ends soon. Five people will win all of these prizes from Garden of Life. They are leaders in being USDA Organic Certified and Non-GMO, so we extra-special like them, and so will you.

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22

Vanilla Sugar Cinnamon Rolls

Alexandra Williams, MA

Nielsen Massey sent me some vanilla sugar so I decided to make cinnamon rolls. They were delectable. I tweaked a King Arthur Flour recipe to create these. One person is going to win some N-M vanilla sugar along with a 2 ounce bottle of vanilla, so you can recreate this recipe to your heart’s tongue’s content.
picture of Nielsen Massey vanillas

Dough

½ cup sourdough starter

¾ cups lukewarm water

1 tsp instant yeast

1 ½ tsp sugar

1 ¼ tsp salt

2 ½ cups unbleached flour

Combine all the ingredients, kneading to form a smooth dough. Cover and let rise till doubled in size.

Filling

¼ cup (2 oz) soft butter (I use Organic Valley)

¾ cup vanilla sugar mixed with 1 Tbl cinnamon

After the dough has doubled, roll it out to an 11 X 16 rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over it, leaving the sides and long edge away from you free of the mix so it doesn’t all squish out when you roll up the dough. Roll up the dough into a long log, starting with the long edge near you.

Use a serrated knife to gently cut the dough into 12 pieces, and place them into a lightly greased 9 X 13 pan. Cover and let rise for 30 – 45 minutes (longer and in the fridge for part of the time if you want the sourdough flavor). While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the rolls for 20 – 25 minutes. If you want icing, mix 3 Tbl heavy cream with 1 cup powdered sugar and pour over warm (not hot) rolls.

I used sourdough for this recipe simply because I had a lot of starters in my fridge, and I knew the strong flavor wouldn’t come out, as I didn’t let the dough rise very long. If you want the sourdough flavor to come through, let the dough sit longer.

picture of vanilla sugar cinnamon rolls

If you want to enter for a chance to win a bottle of Nielsen Massey vanilla sugar (you must have a U.S. mailing address  – no P.O. boxes), plus a 2 ounce bottle of vanilla, follow the entry instructions below.

As I’m taking a photography class, you get the benefit of my food photo attempts.

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