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5

5 Age-Defying Tips to “Youthen” Your Heart

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

picture of heart rate on a wrist monitor

This is the heart rate of someone who exercises!!

What better way to end February’s Heart Health month than to be your own lifelong Valentine and show love to your heart? To help you, we’re sharing some lovely heart facts to inspire you to write a sonnet improve your health.

Your heart is the fastest responding muscle in your body. When you work out cardiovascularly (heart rate increases, you breathe heavily, and your whole body is involved in the movement), the heart adapts upwards within 24 hours. Aaaaand, if you dodge exercise more than you dodge taxes, then your heart adapts down, down, down.

Do you want your midlife body to stay as vital, youthful, and cooperative as long as possible? As Dr Michael Roizen MD, co-founder of RealAge and chair of its Scientific Advisory Board puts it: “Physical activity decreases the greatest causes of arterial aging, including stress, the greatest ager of all.”  Good news: you can combine strategies to achieve the youngest, most stress proof, physiological body possible. No heart stopping shocks coming, but the secret to a Strong, Age Defying Hearty Har Har is ……….

… to exercise and eat well. Did you see that coming? But what does “eat well” for heart health mean in practical terms, especially for baby boomer women? We wondered ourselves so checked in with Registered Dietitian and celebrity, best-selling author Frances Largeman-Roth. Based on her input, we offer you the following juicy tips:

fruit for Outshine frozen fruit bar smoothie

Red and blue: Key colors of healthy circulation

Embrace the C

1. Vitamin C is a heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory nutrient that helps repair and produce body tissues. Add oranges or grapefruit to your snack routine to get your daily dose. Other vitamin C-rich foods include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, papayas, mangoes, kiwi and bell peppers. Basically, eat fruity stuff aka “fruit.”

We’ll (Not) Drink to That!

2. Limit high-calorie, sugary drinks such as soft drinks, and sweetened iced tea and coffee drinks. Instead, drink lots of water – at least 2 liters per day. Water, water everywhere. Alcohol isn’t so great for you either. Yes, we know about the studies that tout the benefits of red wine, and Mayo Clinic simply says that it MIGHT be healthy in MODERATION. They theorize that flavonoids or resveratrol may be the beneficial substances. More to come on our radio show about those flavonoids.

Circulate and Let Your Arteries be Free!

3. Support your circulation. Add a guaranteed source of cocoa flavanols, like CocoaVia® cocoa extract supplement, to your breakfast every morning. Once we learned about flavonoids, we jumped at the chance to try cocoa extract powder supplements when we met CocoaVia at a fitness convention a few years ago, because they are …. flavanols..in cocoa form. What’s not to like about cocoa that’s clinically proven to help maintain healthy circulation?

Puffy, swollen foot

Oh, Swell! Begone Flim, Flam, Inflammation!

What if You are Super Swell?

4. Fight inflammation. Eat foods that contain high amounts of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that fights inflammation and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. You can find it in blueberries, blackberries, plums, cherries, Mission figs and eggplant. (note from Alexandra: Figs – ewwww)

Go Popeye and Olive Oil on Yourself

5. Instead of cooking spray or butter, use olive oil. Olive oil is a great heart-healthy ingredient; the Mediterranean diet has long been linked to heart health and longevity. Try drizzling extra virgin olive oil on top of pasta and using it as a salad dressing or as a substitute for butter on bread.

Frances LCocoaVia Live thw Life You Loveargeman-Roth recently partnered with CocoaVia® to help spread awareness on maintaining good heart and circulatory health, and we’ll be sharing more of her tips on air. when we interview her live. Yes, in the world of Yawn, Who Cares Exciting News, we proudly announce our own partnership with CocoaVia® for our revamped, bigger (cue the cannons and confetti) radio show on VoiceAmerica that begins March 19, where we and our guests will share weekly amazing info about active, healthy aging. For more information visit www.cocoavia.com/. Then do 10 push-ups.

11

How Duff Goldman, Pompeian Oil and I Teamed Up To Donate $5000 to the Foodbank

Alexandra Williams, MA
Tweet from Duff Goldman re: Bake4Better contest

The tweet Duff Wrote Just for Me!

The Santa Barbara Foodbank is $5000 richer, thanks to a contest I won that was sponsored by Pompeian Oil, and judged by celebrity chef Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes fame.

I’m not a professional baker, and definitely not a pro photographer, so how did I beat out everyone else for the chance to donate $5000 to the foodbank of my choice?

1. I followed the rules. Really, that counts. I saw some of the other entries, and they didn’t follow the rules (Create and post an original photograph that features the Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray bottle using the #Bake4Better hashtag and tagging @Pompeian). There were other criteria, such as ownership of the photo, using other brands in the photo, inappropriate themes, and so on, but nothing difficult.

2. We were judged in three categories: Originality/Creativity, Use of the Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray in the photograph, and Quality of photograph. I am pretty certain I won based on the first two. What do you think – creative or no?

Alexandra's entry to the Pompeian Contest

The Winning Entry

3. Fewer than 50 people entered. I know. Sad, isn’t it? So few entries for such an amazing prize. And of those 50,  take a look and you’ll see how few actually had the oil in the picture (one of the rules).

Enough about me; let’s talk about the foodbank. I happen to be in Santa Barbara, which is one of the loveliest towns in the U.S. (and most expensive, I think). This means a lot of people might assume we are all rich. Hahahahahahahahahah. Okay, let me stop laughing while I go weep over my property tax bill. I actually think S.B. is like many towns in that hunger is invisible to many.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, food is a basic necessity; without it we cannot grow and develop. This is both metaphorical and literal, especially for children. I think we adults have a moral obligation to ensure that all children get a fair crack at growing and developing.

Purpose of Foodbanks

The mission of the Santa Barbara Foodbank is “to provide nourishment to those in need by acquiring and distributing safe nutritious foods via local agencies and providing education to solve hunger and nutrition problems in Santa Barbara County.” This is probably similar to the mission statement of your local foodbank.

picture of Santa Barbara Foodbank workers

Fresh Food for the Foodbank
Photo credit: S.B. Foodbank

When I saw the contest, I thought, “I probably won’t win because I’m not a good photographer, but I might as well try because I might get lucky.” Not only did I get lucky, it turns out the $5000 has some excellent math behind it. According to the letter I received from the foodbank’s development coordinator, “Every dollar we receive is leveraged into $17 worth of nutritious food to build strong, healthy kids and families in our community. So the $5,000 that Hunter Publication (Pompeian Oil) awarded the Foodbank translates into $85,000 worth of food. Just incredible!”

And incredible is how I feel. If I had donated from my own money, it would have been about $20. For spending about 20 minutes of my time taking pictures, making the collage, and submitting my entry, I got $85,000 worth of “good feeling.”

Giving Improves Your Health

The point of my tale? To encourage you to enter these types of contests. Whether you’re a blogger, baker, Instagrammer, photographer, or even Google+ lover, give it a go. Even if you don’t win, you’ll feel good inside. Altruism has so many benefits, with research indicating that for the donor, “giving help was more significantly associated with better mental health than was receiving help.”

As a friend of mine from church loves to say, “Give till it helps.”

Want to give us some love? Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

 

16

Healthy Smoothie Recipe using Frozen Fruit Bars

Alexandra Williams, MA

This is a sponsored post for Socialstars by Crowdtap showcasing my super-delicious smoothie using Outshine frozen fruit bars. All opinions, sips, and resultant good health are mine!

ingredients for Outshine Frozen fruit bar smoothie

These yummy ingredients are calling to you. “Blend me. No, blend me.”

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for new, tasty and healthful ingredients to add to my morning smoothies, especially now that I’m trying to lose a mean ol’ menopausal ten pound weight gain. Grrr.

When I was invited to create a recipe using either the strawberry or coconut Outshine frozen fruit bars, I hesitated for ooooh, 3 seconds before raising my hand to volunteer a strawberry smoothie recipe. I even spent lots of time learning how to take and send photos using my new tablet so that I’d have pretty pictures to share.

The recipe is pretty complex simple, so you might have to spend a few years at a cooking school seconds staring into your fridge before attempting to create what I’ve dubbed the “Red, White & Bluethie.” Feel free to print out scribble on a post-it note the recipe.

 

 

Red, White & Blue Smoothie Bluethie

fruit for Outshine frozen fruit bar smoothie

“If fruit be the food of love, play on.” – William Shakespeare (sort of)

Strawberry Outshine frozen fruit bar

You can shine both out and in!

One fruit bar (be smart; remove the stick)
1/2 cup Blueberries
1/2 cup Strawberries
2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp Flax
1/2 cup Almond milk
Squeeze of lime

You will now be amazed bored by my mad cooking skills as I describe the mixing instructions:

Put ingredients into blender or juicer. Push Blend (my blender actually says, “Smoothie”). Pour. Drink. Gain Super Powers and Strength (maybe not the latter).

Outshine frozen fruit bar finished smoothie

Drink this smoothie and you’ll be transported to York, England. Or not.

You don’t need ice cubes, as you have the frozen fruit bar. Every morning I bring my smoothie and hot chai into the car with me, as I drink them on the way to teaching. When my older son drives with me, he likes to hold the cold smoothie for me on the hot days. On the cold days, he holds my chai. And no matter whether it’s hot or cold, he hates to hold my bagel.

Bonus: If you usually use ice cubes, you need a special blender. I know this because I broke the blender blade. Now I have a magical blender with an ice-crushing blade. With the fruit bars, you do not have to think about these important, yet destructive, details.

P.S. Drinking the Red, White and Bluethie will make you more patriotic, happy, healthy, full of Outshiny goodness.

Be extra smooth and follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly; on Twitter – AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit; and Instagram – KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

 

12

Should You Burn Your Bread (not Your Bra) to Lose Belly Fat?

Alexandra Williams, MA
Homemade Sourdough Cheesy Bread

Homemade Sourdough Cheesy Bread

Today a friend asked me how I am able to bake and eat bread so often, yet stay trim, when there are studies showing that menopausal women increase their “central body fatness and insulin resistance” (as the research authors so eloquently put it!!) unless they decrease their carbohydrate intake (bread is mainly carbs).

As this is the time of year when many women in my cohort (that’s just a fancy word for “age posse”) are making frustrating resolutions about weight loss, I thought I’d answer that question for all of you too!

Carbs and Belly Fat

The answer is simple; it’s the same answer I learned in grad school for counseling. The answer is “It Depends.” I’ll lay out some info and you can decide for yourself. Keep in mind that everyone’s different. I’m a physiologically identical twin, yet we are different sizes with different eating habits, and no definitive research saying our differences are carb-related!! If my sis gave up carbs, she might lose deep abdominal fat, while I might stay the same and cry about being separated from my beloved bread. It just depends…

Abdominal Fat is Frustrating for Menopausal Women

Abdominal Fat is Frustrating for Menopausal Women

Here’s what we currently know:

* Menopause coincides with an increase in several comorbidities including cardiovascular disease
* Central body fatness and insulin resistance are components of a cluster of metabolic abnormalities which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
* Studies suggest that the menopause transition is associated with an increase in abdominal and visceral adipose tissue accumulation
* The effects of menopause on insulin resistance appear to be moderate, if any, although available studies are insufficient to draw firm conclusions
Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9847982

* A modest reduction in consumption of carbohydrate foods may promote loss of deep belly fat, even with little or no change in weight
* Losing belly fat can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease
* Subjects in a 2011 study who consumed a moderately carb-restricted diet (43% percent calories from carbohydrates, 39% from fat, 18 from protein), had 11 percent less deep abdominal fat than those study participants who ate a standard diet (55% from carbs, 27% from fat, 18% from protein)
Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110606092532.htm

Cut The Carbs…Or Not

Should you base your decision on just a few studies? Probably not, though you would be wise to see if further research gets to a tipping point as more studies are done. But if you’re the kind of person who can wait 25 minutes for bread to bake, but not a year or two for more studies, become your own experiment. Try eating a moderately carb-restricted diet for a few weeks, using the percentages listed above. Or, if you don’t want to spend lots of time doing food math, pull all starchy carbohydrates from your diet, then reintroduce them one at a time. This includes breads, pastas, rice, grains, oatmeal, potatoes, legumes (beans) and squash. If a reintroduced food gives you cravings, bloating, digestive discomfort or mood swings, it might be time to say bye-bye to to it.

I'll Swing from a Tree for Monkey Bread

I’ll Swing from a Tree for Monkey Bread

To go back to the original question, I don’t know how I’m able to bake and eat bread so often, yet stay trim. Maybe my intra-abdominal fat never read the studies. Maybe my body doesn’t know that I’m in the menopause years. Maybe all my exercise counteracts the “food belly bloat.” Maybe my fondness for organic food and ingredients over processed or packaged foods helps. Maybe it’s because I only eat a few bites of the things I bake. If I were to guess, I’d go with the organic food and ingredients answer. But a guess isn’t science.

One day I’ll have to do the food removal/ reintroduction test on myself. Until then, I guess my answer is “It Depends.”

If you want further info about bread and wheat, read our post “Is Wheat Free Better for You?”. You probably know the answer.

For further tips on making nutrition changes to your diet, read “Hormones and Weight Gain: Why Nutrition Matters” by our friend Tamara Grand, a personal trainer and scientist.

While your bread’s in the oven, run to your computer and follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. 

Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

17

What Can You Do to Be Happy This Year? Besides Eating Tuna

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Resolve to Be Actively Happy

Enjoying quote of the day at Rancho la Puerta

Happy Is as Happy Thinks, Drinks, and Does

Did you set New Year’s Resolutions? Some years I do; some I don’t. Which got me to pondering why we consider changes and fresh starts each new year. “To become a better person” seems the obvious answer. But to what end?

What lies behind the desire to “improve,” “remake,” or “change” ourselves? Ultimately isn’t it a pursuit of happiness? “If only this or that changed, then I would be happy,” is the implication. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. At least for 2014.

2014 issue of Outside Magazine

Get Out?! Be Happy!

Meantime, both neuroscience and Outside magazine had the good timing to release a list of strategies that enhance happiness. Wouldn’t you know it, but the keys to being happy involve exercise, healthy eating habits, and playing (mostly outdoors).

If you are looking to add more happiness to 2014 then try adopting some of the the following habits. I listed the happy habits that I either liked the best, saw as easiest to implement, or validated my current values. To see the complete, original article read the January 2014 issue of Outside magazine.

Wake Early

Alarms set on iPhone

1) Cranky hour 2) Sleepy hour 3) Just right for “early.”

I was a little surprised that early risers are happier people until I thought of the days that my get up and go got up but good! I always feel better when I get a jump on the day. Sure, we need to get in our 7-8 hours of snoozing per night. But we also need our Vitamin D. So the more time awake during sunlight hours, the better our immune system. It’s hard to be happy when ill; it’s easier to greet the day with a high five when we’ve gotten a good night’s sleep followed by an early rise. This habit is one I am working towards. Pretty sure this is really a sneaky way for me to have to set another resolution — get to bed earlier than midnight so I can wake refreshed at 6:30 or 7:00am, not the 7:30 that feels so luxurious.

Drink Water

If you read my post, A Tale of Caffeine and Dehydration, then you already know being dehydrated makes us — ok, ME — irritable. One supposition is that our neurons detect dehydration and warn the parts of the brain that affect our mood. Not enough water? The neurons hit the “bad mood” button. You’ll know if you’ve drunk enough water to improve your mood if your pee is clear or pale yellow. Wheeeeee Peeeeeee!

Exercise With a Group

Bouldering at Lizard's Mouth

I’ll be happy when I get down safely and into my step class!

Imagine how happy I felt reading this as a group fitness instructor for the past 33 years. Want to work harder while feeling happier? Being part of a team or group increases your intensity and endorphin levels more than when you train alone. Could this be the year you try group exercise classes or continue through the year? I have space in my classes for you! Perhaps a master’s level team sport is in your near future.

Exercise Consistently

Cardio workouts are brain boosters; exercise in general reduces stress; even a few months of activity can reverse age-related memory impairment. Now that you are so smart, remember that regular, ongoing exercise rewires your brain for the better. Low stress, younger brain, and a good memory? That spells “H-A-P-P-Y better than a crossword puzzle clue if you ask me.

Eat Chocolate

Eat chocolate

Science from CocoaVia tells me cocoa flavanols help me live well!

Who cares the reasons?!*  The fact that cocoa flavanols are good for us (in moderate doses) is just plain old good news. Enough said.

* For those of you who want the reasons, hold on a minute while I lick the dark chocolate from my typing fingers. Basically, chocolate (specifically the flavanols) releases endorphins and calms us. Yes, it’s all in the mind. And mouth.

 Eat Mood Enhancing Foods

Dark green veggies, turkey, salmon, tuna, sunflower seeds, walnuts, black beans, — these and other foods high in tryptophan or glutamine positively affect your neurotransmitters. Get naturally high without medication! How many of you noticed that eating happy foods causes the opposite of being dehydrated?

Listen to Music

Photo bombing or singing at Glen Ivy Spa
Singing in My Pain, Just Singing in My Pain. Alexandra is Happy
Doing a Selfie Again

Who wants to hear me sing? Debatable whether this will enhance your mood. Hmmm. Or you can hear Alexandra tra la la in many of our past radio episodes. Also debatable about the effect. We can say that if you listen to music you like, you will pump out dopamine (happy hormones) faster than Ahhhnold Schwarzenegger pumped it up back in the day. Tunes you enjoy give you an emotional rush. I now await a music company sponsor for this tip.

Choose the Right Biological Parents

Yes, it’s true and I’d be amiss not to confirm that genetics plays a role in your disposition. If born rich, I’d be happy! Oh, wait. That’s not really what we’re talking about here. Inherited tendencies determine about one third of our happiness level. So quit griping if your mom and dad were negative Norman and Nellie. You have two thirds of the story to write yourself. Especially if you follow the tips above!

I know I’ll sure be happier if you:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

 

16

Naughty or Nice?: A Tale of Caffeine and Dehydration

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Skeleton from Rancho la Puerta

Dehydration Takes a Heavy Toll

Have liquids ever been your downfall? Specifically, NON-alcoholic ones. The other day I was ultra-cranky, especially at my daughter and husband. Of course it was all their fault. Or the stress of the holidays. Except the holiday season doesn’t really stress me out. The bad error my husband had made was bringing in wood to build a fire for Christmas Eve. My daughter had the nerve to ask me to stay up late to scratch her back (she just graduated from college and had flown home a few nights prior).

photo 3

My husband after I bit his head off. And torso. Yes, I was that cranky.

Feeling Irritable?

Snip, snap, I bit their heads off! Someone just earned a spot on the Naughty list and it wasn’t either of them. Normally I am cheerful and fairly even tempered (hush up Alexandra!) and consider it a Christmas gift to send my daughter to sleep by scratching her back and petting her hair. And I appreciate my husband tackling chores to make us more comfy in our new house.

So what was going on that sent me over the edge? Blaming menopause seemed like a convenient idea, but I knew it was not accurate. Fortunately I had enough self-awareness to realize something was unusual beyond fatigue. Have you ever been uncharacteristically moody without knowing quite why?

Caffeine Messes with Your Mind and Mood

Turns out I had entered a liquidy perfect storm. Caffeine was largely to blame. However I don’t drink coffee or sodas, so the caffeine answer was not obvious at first. But many of you might be coffee drinkers. Or soft drink imbibers. In fact, if you drink more than 3-4 cups a day or are particularly sensitive to caffeine then you may also turn into a Grinch.

Here’s the gig: Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, with one of its effects being to increase irritability. Other effects (courtesy of the Mayo Clinic) include:

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Stomach upset
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors

Who Loves Thai Iced Tea? Look Out!

Me in attack mode
The Thai Tea Effect on Me

Did you know all that? I had not really paid attention to caffeine’s downsides as I rarely intake any. But I had developed a new habit, now broken. Since visiting Thailand in March with my mom and sister, I had come home with a new appreciation for Thai Iced Teas. (Read about our leech hike escapades in Thailand, how we sweat a lot in Thailand, and tips on what to pack when it’s 100 degrees out). At $3.50 to $4.00 per drink at the local Thai Donut and Bagel store (doesn’t everyone have a place like this nearby?), I had limited my indulgence to once a week. Until……. I discovered last week that the local Japanese specialty item shop sold Thai tea mix bags, ready to brew! Whoo hoo! Guess what? A $5.00 bag with the artificial yellowy-orange coloring already in it yields cup after delicious cup. For pennies per swig! Just boil water, add sugar and milk, and string me up like Christmas lights!

You see where this warning about caffeine is going. I went from one expensive cup per week of black tea cleverly disguised at Thai Iced Tea to three frugal and full cups in one day. The day I gave the gift of instant snapback to my family. But like George Clooney in Perfect Storm, I was headed into more troubled waters. Or lack of, as it turns out. Because now this liquid tale gets updated news relevant to all of us, whether we exercise or not; whether we take in caffeine or not.

Wat-er The Heck is Going On?

ALERT! Dehydration makes people IRRITABLE! CRANKY! WITCH ON WATERWHEELS! (women more than men, wouldn’t you know it).

Even mild dehydration can change your mood, ability to think straight, and energy level, according to two studies just conducted at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory. Sure, we all know that too little water can cause headaches, fatigue, and yellow pee. But the bad mood angle is kinda new. Or at least it was to me.

water bottle and sky

Water Up!

Normally I have one water bottle in my car, one in my gym bag, another in the refrigerator, and one in the freezer. But the past few days, my schedule has been almost as out of whack as my mood, what with my daughter coming home, my husband on teaching break, and my sister out of town. I was running late wherever I went so kept neglecting to grab water.

Drink this: Get on the Nice List

Drink this: Be on the Nice List

We lose about a liter per day of water just through normal respiration. Add in walking dogs, teaching step class, sweating a lot, and installing flooring (just as a random example), and the need to replenish water becomes more critical. Yes, I had just ordered a double expressed dose of “frothy a lotte” at the mouth — too much caffeine and too little water.

You can avoid taking my journey and stay on the “Nice” list. If you find the holiday season challenges your normally calm, loving, low-stress mood, then keep caffeine down and water up! Say good-bye to unusually high levels of cranky-puss and drink a lot this season. Watery, decaf drinks. Take it from me, Or else!

Get on the Nice List all year when you:

Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog

Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

28

Holiday Food Gift Guide & Giveaway

Alexandra Williams, MA

Disclosure: This is a 100% unsponsored post! Organic, natural and unfiltered, just like our opinions. We made our list, then contacted the various companies. They were generous enough to offer prizes!

Just as with the first 11 months of the year, it’s important what you eat during the holiday season. Maybe even more so, because the amounts tend to increase (yeah, I know about second helpings and cookie swaps)!

brownie mix KAFIf you’ve been following Kymberly and me for a while, especially on our social media accounts, you already know from our pictures which brands we use consistently. But it’s December, and your minds are occupied with all kinds of details, so I’m making a handy little list for you of some of my favorite, recommended food brands.

These companies have ingredients we trust and recognize, good customer service, and they taste good. What more could you ask from your food except for it to bake itself?! Oh, and while we’re at it, we have a bunch of prizes to share. Good food and gifts. Perfect for the time of year, wouldn’t you say?

Blue Diamond Almond Snack PacksBlue Diamond

Almonds are known to have a beneficial effect on diabetes, weight management, and heart health. Whether you want them as a snack, baked into a stollen, or as milk for a morning smoothie, Blue Diamond has almonds for you. I happen to love almonds in every form (except marzipan), so I’ve made it a habit to grab a handful whenever I need a quick snack, as opposed to grabbing some, er, dare I say it, junk food! To showcase some of the variety, five people will win a set of almond snacks that range from “of course” to “wow, I never thought of THAT flavor!” You could receive the following set:

3- 1.5oz Whole Natural
3- 1.5oz Roasted Salted
1- 1.5oz Blueberry
1- 1.5oz Strawberry
1- 1.5oz Mocha
1- 1.5oz Caramel Macchiato

Organic Valley EggnogOrganic Valley

I bake. A lot. Mostly bread. I love baking AND eating well-made bread. And pancakes, cookies, French toast, cakes, scones, toast. etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (I’m quoting Yul Bryner in “The King and I). You don’t have to be a baker to buy quality dairy ingredients; all supporters of organic, non-GMO food that comes from family-owned farms will want the OV (see how we’re on nickname terms there?) products. And December 24th is eggnog day, so I’ll highlight it. “Organic Valley eggnog is made from fresh organic milk, cream and eggs from family farms, committed to the highest organic standards along with organic and fair-trade sugar, vanilla and nutmeg.” Five of you will win a $10 coupon from Organic Valley to try the eggnog or any other OV product you choose. Did I mention their Organic Prairie division produces bacon to go with that eggnog? Yeah, I’m a vegetarian, but what do you think I buy for my boys?

Peanut Butter Co. Six PackPeanut Butter & Co

Quick, of their ten flavors, which one is my favorite? This question is easy for all my Instagram followers, as I’ve shown the White Chocolate Wonderful enough to make my niece-in-law threaten to rob me! From using The Heat is On in Thai sauces, to baking Peanut Butter Banana and Pumpkin Monkey Bread with Smooth Operator, this stuff is delicious. One of you will win The Big Six case, which contains 1 jar each of Smooth Operator, Crunch Time, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, The Heat Is On, White Chocolate Wonderful, and Dark Chocolate Dreams.

Buckwheat & Hemp and Uncle Sam OriginalAttune Foods

Yummy, healthy cereals with very few ingredients, this company has been non-GMO since 1908! From the supergrain, four ingredient Uncle Sam Rye & Hemp cereal, to the Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice with Mixed Berries, the cereals are tastiness in a healthy package. One person will win a #FitClean cereal package set of the Uncle Sam Original, Uncle Sam Rye & Hemp, and Erewhon Buckwheat and Hemp.

 

KAF ingredients: Fiore di Sicilia & Callebaut chcoclateKing Arthur Flour

Baking ingredients and mixes to infinity and beyond!! Just for flour they have 63 choices! My all time favorite product is the 25 pound bag of all purpose flour, especially now that it’s cookie-baking season. One person will get a head start on baking with this baker’s gift set:

5lb bag of All Purpose flour OR 1 24oz box Gluten Free Baking mix
1 lb bag Barry Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate chunks
-1oz Pure Vanilla
-1oz Fiori Di Sicilia
-1 box Brownie mix OR 1 box Gluten Free Brownie mix

Miele Combi-OvenMiele

Where will you bake and cook all your splendericious, tasterific creations? Maybe on a Miele Combi-Oven! Sadly I don’t own one, but I fell in love with this oven when I went on a blogger trip to the Miele test kitchen in Seattle. As the name implies, it’s a combination steam and convection oven. Everything we made turned out perfectly, possibly because the oven computer program is smarter than the non-cooks in the Seattle group! If you are planning to splurge this season, this oven is splurgerific!

Giveaway Rules

We’ll randomly choose five Blue Diamond Almond winners, five Organic Valley winners, one Peanut Butter & Co. winner, one Attune Foods winner, and one KAF winner. Winners must have a United States mailing address. We will notify the winners via email or social media. If any winner doesn’t claim the prize within 48 hours, we will randomly draw a new winner. The giveaway begins now and ends at midnight December 17. Good luck!!
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Feed a Healthy Habit when you hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog

Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFitand KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

24

Holiday Baking Means Family Memories (and a Spode Giveaway)

Alexandra Williams, MA
My sister Stephanie

My sister Stephanie

My older sister Stephanie loved to bake. That’s written in the past tense, not because she quit baking, but because she died seven years ago. During my 20s and then in my 30s when my boys were small, she’d host Christmas dinner at her house.

She was proud of several things during the holidays – her baking skills, her auntie skills (she was very loving to my boys), and her extensive collection of Spode Christmas china. She was easy to shop for – whatever was new that year in the collection!!

One thing she baked that I requested regularly was her sun-dried tomato rolls with garlic treatment. That’s what she called them, but I don’t know if that was the official recipe title or her own description.

All the ingredients for something delicious.

All the ingredients for something delicious.

Of five kids, Stephanie and I are the only two who became fond of baking. We actually enjoyed talking about ingredients and recipes, which always amused our other siblings. Since she died, I haven’t had her rolls because making them myself wouldn’t be the same as having the ones she made particularly for me. Besides, mine wouldn’t turn out as well. Happy memories always taste best!

Sun-Dried Tomato Rolls with Garlic Recipe

I want to share a recipe I found online that looks to be very close to my memory of the rolls. For all I know, it’s the exact same recipe. It’s from Epicurious, and the baker is erobertson11746.

Ingredients

1 envelope dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup tomato juice room temperature
6 tablespoons olive oil or oil from sun dried tomatoes
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped oil packed sun dried tomatoes
Garlic oil:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic pressed

Preparation

Sprinkle yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar over warm water in small bowl. Stir to disslove. Let yeast mixture stand until foamy about 10 minutes.
Combine remaining sugar tomato juice oil eggs and slat in a large bowl. Add 1 cup flour and whisk vigorously for 2 minutes. Add yeast mixture, basil and tomatoes. Mix in enough flour 1/2 cup at a time to form soft dough. Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary about 5 minutes. (dough will be slightly sticky)
Put dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap Let dough rise in warm area until doubled about 1 hour.
For garlic oil:
Lightly grease muffin cups. Gently punch dough down. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into balls pulling edges under to create smooth top. Place rolls rounded side up in prepared cups. Using floured scissors snip 1/2 inch deep X into top of each roll. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm draft free area until doubled in size about 20 minutes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Gently brush rolls with garlic oil. bake until golden brown about 20 minutes. Remove rolls from oven and brush again with garlic oil. Transfer rolls to rack and cool slightly before serving.

Makes 12 rolls

Spode Nesting Christmas Cake Tins by Portmeirion Group Giveaway

You Can Win One of These!

You Can Win One of These!

Also, in the spirit of passing along the happiness that comes with family traditions, we are sharing 3 sets of the Spode (by Portmeirion Group) Nesting Cake tins. You can give them away full of holiday treats or keep them for yourself – up to you! I’ve been known to put potpourri in them, which is about as craft-creative as I get!

Since my sister Stephanie was the only person I knew who collected Christmas Spode, I like being able to share these; it feels like I’m sending little memories of her. And the winners can start their own memories of holiday happiness and family!

We’ll randomly choose three winners, who will each get a set of the 3 Spode nesting tins. Winner must have a United States mailing address. We will notify the winners via email or social media. If any winner doesn’t claim the prize within 48 hours, we will randomly draw a new winner. The giveaway ends at midnight December 09 so enter  below. Good luck!!

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Photo credits: MorgueFile.com, the author, Portmeirion Group.

Did you know we are speakers and radio show hosts?

Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

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Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

13

7 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Just a few days till Thanksgiving. Want to avoid Thanks-gorging? Follow these 7 tips to avoid the holiday feast trap.

Mini pumpkins: good-looking and healthy; just like you!

Mini pumpkins: good-looking and healthy; just like you!

Make it the Season of Giving, not the Season of Sitting & Eating!

You’ve just spent ten and a half months exercising and eating healthfully. Now Thanksgiving is a few days away, which signals the start of the “Eat Too Much; Move Too Little” time of year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We all know we should stick to our healthy habits, yet it’s sooooo hard! So we’re sharing Seven Seasonal Suggestions to help you make it to January with your intentions intact.

Easy Tips to Avoid Weight Gain

1. Drink lots of water and green tea before the feast. You will feel full and less inclined to overeat.

2. Eat your usual breakfast and lunch. Don’t skip a meal thinking you will then be free to make up for lost calories when dinner is served. By the time that occurs, you’re likely to be so hungry that you’ll overeat or choose whatever is closest.

3. Sort foods into 3 categories:

  • Food I love and will probably have two helpings of;
  • Food I like and will take just one helping of;
  • Food I don’t need to eat at all.

Planning and paying attention have a definite effect on how much you pile on your plate.

4. Use a salad plate instead of dinner plate.  You’ll be inclined to eat less. Most of us are visually triggered, so we stop adding food once our plate looks full, regardless of plate size.

Stop Eating Before you get that Greasy, Queasy Feeling

Stop Eating Before you get that Greasy, Queasy Feeling

5. Get up from the table when done. Do not sit with food in front of you once you’re done. Also, put food away right after you’ve finished dinner or you could end up eating an entire meal’s worth just from picking at the stuff that’s in front of you. If you feel you’re being impolite, just say, “I’m putting stuff in the fridge now so I don’t feel tempted to overeat. Anyone who’s still hungry is more than welcome to help themselves.” Not only are you letting people know why you’re putting food away quickly, you’re also making yourself accountable by stating your goal to not overeat.

6. Use your mind to decide what matters. When loading your plate, ask yourself this question: “Am I choosing this because I’m hungry or because it tastes good?” No right or wrong answer exists; it’s simply that the awareness of your choices will help you make a considered decision as you realize that you are in control, not the food.

7. Go for a walk. What better way to spend quality time with your family or friends than by putting on a jacket and getting outside? Need more motivation to move during the holidays? Give a listen to our radio episode, “Be Motivated to Move Through the Holidays.

Get outside for a Walk

Get outside for a Walk

What tips would you add to this list? 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credits: morgueFile

Don’t be a Turkey: Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog

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14

Aquasana Water Filter System Review & Giveaway

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Disclosure: We were each given a filter from Aquasana. All opinions in the following story and review are our own. Or each other’s. Or a function of twin telepathy.

Alexandra: Water is water is water is water. Or is it? We live at the top of a mountain, and our water comes from a well. That is not as exotic as it sounds. Luckily, Aquasana took pity on us and sent us each a water filter to test out.

Alexandra Tests the Under-Counter Water Filter

Look Ma, The Filter Works!

Look Ma, The Filter Works!

I chose the Aquasana 3-Stage Under Counter Water Filter because I was sick and tired of the mineral build-up that was getting into my tea. I love hot tea and chai (and even decaf coffee). I also love my tea kettle so much that I have taken the effort for years to scrape out the minerals that coat the inside of it. But I have always hated the little floaties that somehow managed to slip into my tea mug. Anyone who’s ever eaten with me knows that I abhor “bits.” I’ve taken a lot of teasing about it, but I just stick my fingers in my ears and avoid pomegranates and seeded grapes.

I didn’t expect a change in taste or feel from the water once my new filter was installed; I just wanted to be rid of the minerals. So I felt like it was Bonus Day at the Alexandra Ranch because the filtered water feels soft on my tongue (didn’t know water had “feelings, nothing more than feelings.

It was super easy to install, especially as I didn’t actually do any of the work (houseful of guys has its advantages)! I only wish the spigot were a bit wider, as the water comes out fairly slowly. But I’m turning into a patient person, because I am just so dang happy to have filtered, SMOOTH water that is bit-free.

Kymberly Tests the Shower Filter

Santa Barbara harbor and coastline

Big Unfiltered Water  – Santa Barbara

Kymberly: While we live up a mountain, we have an ocean view (I know; don’t hate us because we’re in a beautiful place). As of two weeks ago I have a view of the Pacific Ocean. My hubster and I (finally!) moved into the house we have been building for the past eight and a half years. So long tiny, “temporary” cabin; hello new shower, new bathtub, new experience when washing off the sweat from my body after teaching group exercise classes.

Therefore when Aquasana offered me the option to test their shower filter, I asked the tile contractor to slap that grout on a little faster and finish the tub surround as I was eager to get sprinkled on in style. Installing the filter took the hubster exactly three minutes. He could have done it in one but I kept trying to read the directions to him. No tools required.

One key point in the Aquasana instructions is to expect initial spurts and squirts of dark minerals. Hot tip – take them at their word. Stand out of the way unless you want dark stuff in your hair. Guess I should follow the directions if I’m going to take the trouble to read them.

New shower with Aquasana filter

Installation Was Easy

Speaking of hair, the main benefit to the shower filter is what it does for my hair. It is noticeably softer in our new, sparkly, filtered shower than it was at the cabin. Same well source; different locks (anyone else get that word play? I am cracking myself up). Many midlife women report that their hair gets more brittle with age. Certainly I am dealing with more split ends with each passing birthday, However, I can honestly and fervently say that my hair feels as though it’s been deep conditioned given the filtered water. “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?” Why, ‘tis the sun glinting off my soft hair as I enjoy my new house and free shower filter!

And there you have just another way to tell Alexandra and me apart. She quotes a schmaltzy song while I trippingly drop Shakespeare quotes from my quenched lips.

Good News to Make Your Eyes Water with Joy (but not bits)

Aquasana is giving away a water filter to one of you!! The winner can choose either the Over Counter, Under Counter or Shower Filter. We’ll randomly choose one winner for one of three Aquasana Water Filters. Winner must have a United States mailing address. We will notify the winner via email or social media. If the winner doesn’t claim the prize within 48 hours, we will randomly draw a new winner. The giveaway begins right now and ends at midnight November 15. Good luck!!
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By the way, if you want to know More More More about water’s effects on you, click on our post, Water: What Is It Good For and Water: Chilled or Straight From the Pool Post-Exercise.

Don’t be a Drip. Be sure to:

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

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