Have you ever had a terribly long, stressful week where you are busy every day, all day, yet feel like you got nothing done? That’s been my week.
Normally I have relatives in town who help me with various caretaking, chauffeuring, and supervising chores. But not this week. So I spend all day driving people to appointments and practices, always aware that I am not getting my own work done. And some of it has deadlines. That have passed. Sigh….
We live on top of a mountain, so it’s not feasible to drop someone off, go home, then go back for them. So while I wait, I like to walk around, rather than sit in the car or lobby. If you saw my post earlier this week about relaxing, you know I like to take pictures. Taking pictures keeps me from feeling sorry for myself. Besides, I never actually got an official invitation to a pity party, and I don’t know what to wear to one. Sharing my pictures makes me happy.
I’ve also downloaded an app called Periscope that allows me to take and share videos in real time, then replay them. So I’ve gotten into doing video “scopes” of my walks around town. I also share some great ab moves here and there too. If you have a Twitter account (or are already on Periscope), you can join and share your videos in real time too. I’m AlexandraFunFit in case you want to follow me. I will follow you right back. In a non-stalkerish way. You will love this scope of our amazing Santa Barbara sunset (Periscope only has portrait view).
While I’m sharing, you might want to get in on this Honest Tea Giveaway we’re hosting. If you have a U.S. mailing address (not a P.O. box), you can enter for a chance to win a case of Honest Tea Cinnamon Sunrise Herbal Teas. One winner will be picked at random and notified. If no response is received within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.
What do you do to reduce chronic stress?
by Alexandra Williams, MA
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
½ cup milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6-8 crushed 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.
After eating it, I think it would have been better to put the candy cane bits into the bread rather than on top.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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)
Preheat 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.
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.
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.
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.
First of all, I was just going to make chicken marinated in the sauce, but I accidentally defrosted chicken lunchmeat instead of chicken breasts, so I just defrosted bratwurst and figured it would work to wrap the chicken around the bratwurst! That’s my full disclosure on the way I create the cooking magic here at the Alexandra House of Cooking Infamy. I’m actually a vegetarian, so can be excused (somewhat) for my chicken confusion, right?!
In any case, the recipe is below, and was pronounced a delicious success by the meat-eaters in my family. So it shall be repeated for the weekend. It’s a versatile recipe, eh!! (I’m channeling my inner Canadian for no apparent reason there).
8 slices chicken lunchmeat
4 large bratwurst
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey peanut butter
1/2 tsp curry paste (red or green)
2 minced or crushed garlic cloves
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
zest and juice of small lime (or 1/2 of regular)
Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Put the bratwurst into the bowl and fully cover it with the sauce. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes. While it’s marinating, preheat the oven to 350. Put the bratwurst into a baking dish (or on a parchment covered baking sheet) and wrap the chicken slices around the bratwurst. Pour remaining sauce over the meat and bake for 45-60 minutes.
I baked it in a covered dish, so if you bake it in an uncovered dish or on a baking sheet, the cooking time might be somewhat less. And in case you’re wondering what I ate, I had the borscht, made from beets I grew in my garden.
This is not a sponsored post, but Peanut Butter & Co. did send me two jars of Bee’s Knees. They also will send two jars to a U.S. resident who gets randomly selected in our giveaway.
Kymberly: The advice Frances shares is so achievable and easy to incorporate, we decided to share the highlights here. Makes me wish she’d asked which foods make my legs longer.
Interestingly, it also turns out your food choices can greatly impact your skin. If you want to feel good and look good, then eat well! Let’s find out how and what.
Listen to our interview “Eat to Defy Your Age” with Frances to find out more about which foods to put into your body and which to put into your arch enemy’s snack bowl. Listen all the way to the end to discover the two foods this professional nutritionist, mom, and celebrity food author would never give up.
Alexandra: One of the five recommended foods is cocoa flavanols, so we have a giveaway for you. One person will win two boxes of CocoaVia cocoa flavanol powder sticks – Dark Chocolate & Fruit Variety Pack, two bottles of CocoaVia® cocoa extract supplement capsules (a 2 month supply), and the recipe book “Eating in Color” by Frances Largeman-Roth. You must have a U.S. address to be eligible.
Yet for some people, baking can be scary, especially those with food allergies. Living Now by NOWFoods to the rescue. In this case, you could be the winner of seven different allergy-friendly products they offer from their Living Now™ line.
Free of the 8 major common allergens including wheat, nuts, soy, dairy, eggs, and fish, the Living Now products have a focus on wholesome, natural, organic ancient grains and flours, all of which are produced in a dedicated, certified gluten-free, allergy-friendly, Kosher facility.
Want to scare up 7 of the products all for yourself? First up, the grains and flours. Aren’t these 5 choices just BOO-tiful? Amaranth, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, white rice flour and quinoa.
Next up, the just-released baking mixes. They are so new that we believe this to be the first blog where you can get them!! What beastie wouldn’t want gluten-free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Mix, or gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix? Even if you have no allergies, you can be a SpookTacular winner because they are tasty all on their own.
Just follow the instructions below to win. You must have a U.S. mailing address. Giveaway ends on Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013. Winner will be notified and have 48 hours to respond.
Congratulations to Gail Gedan Spencer, the winner of our Giveaway!!!
Giveaways are Great. We are also Great at Writing & Speaking:
A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Alexandra: A 2012 survey on beauty by BOOMbox Network found that we midlifers are concerned about crow’s feet, lip lines & creases, forehead wrinkles, dark creases around the eyes, skin texture, aging spots, facial wrinkles, dry skin, oily skin, acne, and uneven skin. Whew, that is an extensive and somewhat frightening list! Guess we aren’t the only ones who spend time staring at the mirror, just looking for something to worry about. And here we thought our worries ended once our kids left the teen “my parents are here to ruin my life” years!
The BOOMbox survey also found that baby boomer women want accurate, credible information about skin care products. Not surprisingly, we trust our friends, family and bloggers for information about quality, effective products more than other sources.
Kymberly: I also trust myself to read labels and to research things I want to learn more about. In so doing, I found some Fun Fit Facts about skin that may interest you. For one, your skin renews itself every 28 days. Isn’t that good news if you decide to embark on a new skin care regimen!? And where is your skin thickest? Thinnest? You have to skim the skinny in this Skin Infographic to find out.
Did you know we host a radio show? If you are committed to improving your skin as you head into midlife, listen to Beauty author and Make-Up artist to the stars, Michelle Phillips. Click to hear our radio interview of her on Being Beautiful Inside and Out. While there, scurry through our trove of episodes to discover clever, motivating, illuminating answers to many of your active aging questions.
Then enter a giveaway we and Theraderm are offering. In fact, Theraderm is generously offering two prizes. But first, a word from my sister.
Alexandra: Theraderm sent me the Cleansing Wash, Fruit Acid Exfoliant, OPC Reparative Gel, Peptide Hydrator, Platinum Protection Sunscreen, Enlighten Skin Brightener, Peptide Repair Eye Creme and the Anti-Aging Lip Complex to try, based on my requests. So far my favorites are the sunscreen, skin brightener and lip complex because I feel like I can see discernible results (no burning and soft lips). Unlike some other skin care products I’ve tried, I’m also happy to say that none of these have given me acne.
Right after I started using the products Theraderm sent me, I walked into my exercise class and was asked by one of my students what I had done to myself to look so young. I almost had to argue with my student to convince her I hadn’t had any work done to my face. I can’t say the skin care products were the cause; I can only say what happened.
I like that the sunscreen is paraben free, oil free, fragrance free and non-comedogenic (doesn’t block pores), yet I do wonder about some of the ingredients, as I don’t recognize many of them. I do recognize urea, which sounds like it might be from urine (it is), yet it’s an organic compound that’s been effective for skin hydration for thousands of years. But I digress….
Two lucky readers can win the Theraderm Skin Renewal System with Peptide Hydrator (value: $140.50)
Cleansing Wash (4oz)
Fruit Acid Exfoliant (2oz)
OPC Reparative Gel (1oz)
Peptide Hydrator (1.7oz)
Gentle Action Application Pads (100ct)
Unbuffered Lactic Acid
Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs)
Patented soluble Keratin Peptides
Kymberly: Sad news for our non-US friends. The Theraderm giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only. The two winners will be selected September 23, 2013 because we want to wrap up this silky smooth giveaway before we head to FitSocial to speak and learn. Enter below.Apply liberally, then rinse and go!
Really want to clean up? Then:
A) subscribe to ourYouTube channel and blog.
C) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email email@example.com.
The Drenched 5K Run is coming this summer, and the folks who organize it were nice enough to provide the two of us with free registration, plus a code for you to save $10 off the registration fee, plus a free registration for one lucky winner!
If you read about our mud run adventure back in February, you know that we love runs where running isn’t actually required. We (and our boomer knees) had such a good time that we decided to do another. Bam (or should we say Sploosh), along came the Drenched Run.
We can run (no thanks) or walk (yes please) through mist tunnels, fields of sprinklers (that’s got to be more exciting than fields of gold, right?), sniper zones where the spectators get to squirt us, bubbles, fire hoses (what? those things are fierce), and a 75-foot long slip-n-slide. We signed up as individuals, but might switch to a team if we convince our friends and kids to join us. Which would you rather do – a team or individual? What we want to avoid is having our kids come with us, but stick to the spectator zone, where they are free to drench us with their water balloons, water guns, water bottles…you get the point.
Oh, as it’s family-friendly, kids under 5 are free and kids 6-12 get a discount. That’s sweet, as it’s already really low priced! At the finish line, we get to take a hot shower….oh, wait, I meant to say we get to enjoy a huge water balloon fight, music, drinks and dancing. We imagine they won’t be alcoholic drinks, as it’s a family event. We’ll hold out for some limeade.
One really cool little tidbit about the Drenched 5K is that it was inspired by the Water Festival in Thailand. We were actually hiking in Thailand when we were contacted about the Drenched Run. As we used to say when we were kids, “what a co-inky-dink!” That translates as “coincidence” in case it’s not apparent!!!
Research has proven what seems logical to most of us – the more you enjoy exercise, the more often you’ll do it. Here at FunAndFitTopia, we agree. So we’re making it easy for you to enjoy one of the Drenched 5K events, which are taking place in July and August in these cities:
COLUMBUS, OHIO JULY 6, 2013
WASHINGTON DC JULY 13, 2013
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI JULY 20, 2013
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA JULY 27, 2013
DENVER, COLORADO AUGUST 3, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA AUGUST 11, 2013
ATLANTA, GEORGIA AUGUST 17, 2013
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA AUGUST 17, 2013
You can get $10 off the registration price by using the code THAIDRENCHED. Register here.
One lucky person will win a free registration. Just follow the instructions below to be entered. You can choose any of the locations. We’ll pick a winner on July 12. We have signed up for the Los Angeles event, so we hope lots of you will join us. We promise not to squirt you (fingers crossed).
Photos courtesy of RunDrenched.com
Do you or your colleagues need professional, motivating speakers to edu-tain audiences at your next event? Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Slip-N-Slide over to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness with maximal impact yet minimal joint issues! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.