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Dried Plums: Your Grandma Was Right About Them

I’ve been working on a magazine article about the top healthy food trends for 2016, so this is a perfect time to team up with California Dried Plums, as people are finding so many creative ways to incorporate them into their snacks and meals.

plums Some super creative recipes are coming out of the nation’s most popular restaurants – from Gitane’s stuffed dried plums with goat cheese and prosciutto with a citrus gastrique to Russian restaurant Mari Vanna’s beet salad with walnuts and dried plums, and back west to San Francisco’s Q in San Francisco, where they take dried plums with red verjus and purée them with red wine vinegar, salt and Dijon mustard in its crudité appetizer.

Tasty Snack

My all time favorite dried plum treat is prune hamentaschen (yup, I’m old enough to go by the original name), but as Thanksgiving is coming, I decided to share this recipe for plumkins from the California Dried Plums Culinary site. It only takes 20 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook, so you can bet I’ll be bringing these to our holiday dinner.

California Dried Plum purée:
1 1/3 cups (about 8 ounces) pitted dried plums 6 tablespoons hot water. In food processor, process dried plums and water until puréed.

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
2/3 cup California Dried Plum purée
¾ cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest
4 eggs
3 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
½ cup California Dried Plums, chopped
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together pumpkin purée, dried plum purée, sugar, oil, vanilla, orange zest and eggs in a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Place paper muffin cups muffin tins. Fill 2/3 of the way with batter. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Recipe created by Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN for the California Dried Plum Board.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 35Total Fat 1.1gCarbohydrate 5.6gProtein 0.5gFiber 0.7g

CA dried plums recipe for plumkins

Health and Bone Benefits

As I’m particular about what goes in my body (it’s the only one I’ve got, and it has to last), I also care about the benefits. Eat my way to health?! Well, sure, something like that.
Research suggests that eating two servings, (about 100grams or 10 to 12 dried plums), may improve bone mineral density (BMD) and slow the rate of bone turnover in post-menopausal women. As a Boomer, that is definitely important to me.

Vitamin K helps improve calcium balance and promotes bone mineralization. A 40gram serving of dried plums (4-5 prunes; about 100 calories) is considered an excellent source of Vitamin K, which provides 30% of the 80mcg Daily Value.

Dried plums may help manage weight through improved satiety, perhaps by producing lower glucose and/or appetite-regulating hormone concentrations.

Naturally cholesterol free (maybe that’s news to you), they also promote digestive health (which isn’t news to us Boomers, I imagine).

Emerging research suggests that dried plums support healthy bones, and may support heart health, digestive health, immunity and healthy aging. So don’t eat them if you want unhealthy aging. Exactly. Who would sign up for unhealthy aging?

Long a part of California’s agricultural history, dried plums are getting lots of great press lately because of the combination of taste and health benefits. You can learn even more (and get some sweet and savory recipes) by heading to the California Dried Plums site.

I shall now go try my new phrase on my son – “Don’t be a bumpkin. Bring me a plumkin.”

Yes, this is a sponsored post. Yes, I love dried plums. Yes, I jumped at the chance to partner with Vibrant Nation in this campaign for California Dried Plums. I did, however, receive a few bags of dried plums in the mail. No, I’m not sharing. I’m using them for my plumkins. Can you tell I like to say “plumkins?”

Now go over there ———————–> and subscribe to our twice-weekly posts. All great stuff for actively aging Boom-Chicka-Boomers.

Alexandra Williams, MA

photo credits: hamentashen/RealFoodForager via creativecommons.org; plumkins/California Dried Plums; fruit basket/Alexandra Williams


“I am participating in a VIN campaign for California Dried Plums. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with California Dried Plums and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.”


The “Best” Foods to Eat Before a Workout

Every quarter for the past 21 years my university students ask me the same question – What should I eat before my workout? And every quarter my answer is essentially the same – The closer to the ground, the better.

Of course, the full answer is more nuanced.

Annie's tomato soup & crackersFor those interested in complex answers (and complex carbohydrates), I share information about slow and fast release carbs. Fast release carbohydrates are foods that are quickly broken down into sugars. Slow release carbs are foods that are slowly broken down into sugars.

And some like to know about the glycemic response, which refers to the body’s increase in blood glucose (a simple form of sugar. If you see the word “monosaccharide,” that is the type of sugar that is glucose) and insulin after you eat. The Glycemic Index is a standardized list of food categories. Using white bread as the reference food (GI of 100), foods that have a GI >85 are considered high, foods that are 60-85 are moderate, and foods that are <60 are low. Low Glycemic Index foods are slow release.

Food for Life Cinnamon BreadSome foods listed as low (<60) on the GI:

hummus                             peaches                        apples

grapefruit                           peanuts                        pears

beans                                  oat bran bread            milk (whole or nonfat or soy)

yogurt                                 dried peas                    egg fettuccini

apricots                              bananas                       wheat kernels

cherries                              plums                           tomato soup

rice                                      bran barley

For a truly complete list of over 1,300 food listed on the Glycemic Index, you can click to the International Table of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2002 published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In case you don’t want to memorize the Glycemic Index list, I’ll give you a super simplified way to choose – if it’s white, you probably don’t want it (except milk). If it’s colorful, you probably do. Brightly colored children’s cereals do NOT qualify. One more way to quickly gauge – starchy = fast release; non-starchy – slow release. But I find the white/ colorful easier.

Now let’s talk about carbohydrates and protein. These sample pre-workout choices give you a good idea when you’re trying to decide:

Nest Fresh nonGMO, organic, free range eggswhole-grain toast and peanut butter
orange and cottage cheese
yogurt and granola
nuts and apple
hard-boiled egg and wheat bagel
chicken breast (not a nugget) and rice
string cheese and pretzels

Notice how these foods are much closer to the ground than fruit-flavored or infused foods, and that the ingredients ARE the food, rather than a long list of mystery chemicals and additives.

In a nod to my fabulous self, my students also ask what I eat. They know that I have a lot of energy, good skin color, and am the right size for my health and build.

I got lucky. When my (now 18-year-old) son was diagnosed as a baby with a lot of food allergies, I had to learn to read labels and cook from scratch. So in order to protect his health I ended up protecting the health of my entire family.

We eat organic, non-GMO food from brands we trust. And for a while I had a fruit orchard and vegetable garden. On a side note, my skin and body care and make-up products have to be free of toxic chemicals too. What goes on your skin goes into your body. If you want to experience this for yourself, rub a clove of garlic on your bare big toe. Wait a few minutes, then check your breath. Weird, eh?

Thrive Market Want to make it really easy on yourself so you can avoid shopping at five different stores or growing your own food? Shop at Thrive Market. Think of the baby if Costco and Whole Foods combined to birth only their best features – low annual fee, free shipping (over $49), a focus on organic and natural products, wholesale prices, and great customer service. Plus, they donate one membership to a low-income family for every purchased membership. The founder is a young guy who grew up with a financially struggling single mom, and he wants to pay it forward so that everyone, not just the upper middle class, can access healthy food and products. Now don’t you want to hug him?

I joined their affiliate program because they reflect my values AND are super affordable. I’ll end this post with an invitation to click on this link to Thrive Market and see for yourself.

Thrive Market adYou want to eat the right food before exercise, right? And I imagine you want to eat the right food the rest of the day too, yes? Use the info and resources in this post and you’ll be just dandy. Especially if you buy organic candy.UnReal PB cups

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While you’re at it, I do a lot of videos around Santa Barbara via my AlexandraFunFit Periscope account, so you might like to follow me.

by Alexandra Williams, MA


Keep Your Family (and Self) Healthy and Happy

Over the past year, and especially the last few weeks, my family’s happiness (and mine) have been on my mind. A lot. Mainly because there hasn’t been much of it, due to a life-altering medical issue that occurred in the family.
Manhattan Beach PierWithout dwelling on unhappiness and un-health, I’ve now made some changes that were imperative to our health and happiness. You need both to have a quality life (plug here for exercise – do it).

So this post is about some of the things I’ve recently done that make life easier and more enjoyable. And yes, much happier and healthier. See if any of these resonate with you.

orchid from orgainAttend ShiftCon – This social media conference focuses on wellness, health, and the environment. Bloggers, brands and non-governmental organizations come together to share information about living our values through our food, skin care, household products, activism, and how we treat the environment. Keep a particular eye out for Orgain, Thrive Market, and Stonyfield Organics. They are game-changing companies.

Hermosa Beach muralI support organic, non-GMO, labelled products. I want to know what I’m eating and putting on and in my body. Eighteen years ago I had to learn to cook from scratch and read labels due to my son’s allergies and delays, and his health is extremely important to me. Being unaware is an excuse, not an explanation, so I like to stay aware. And I know that my money is my vote.

Hermosa Beach bicyclist

Visit My Hometown – ShiftCon was held in Manhattan Beach, which is next to Hermosa Beach, where I grew up. So I spent some time walking and taking pictures. In some ways the visits back to Hermosa make me sad, and I’m not sure why, yet overall I feel at peace and can focus on the arc of my life. I don’t want to move back there, but I sure do love the emotional attachment, history, and memories.

Move Into Downtown Santa Barbara – For the past ten years, we’ve lived at the top of a mountain, with driving being the only travel option. Taking all the other chores out of the equation (and they are overwhelming on their own), just the chauffeuring was taking up hours and hours of my time, as I was the only driver in the house. Now my younger son and I are living in a place where he can walk or take the bus (he is blind at night, so I’ll be doing some driving, which is way better than constant driving).

Since I’m not driving as much, I’m using the time to pick up more writing and social media jobs. And put more of my photos up for sale. Feel free to hire me. I’m very good. The cat is all settled in (no more barfing or peeing on my bed), and the dog is now here too.

Surfers in Manhattan BeachBlock Out People Who Add Stress – If you get into a situation where you are the caretaker for someone, shed yourself of the idea that you have to answer to anyone except those who are directly impacted. Heck, even if you’re not a caretaker, do this. Opinions are stressful; solutions are helpful. Answer every inappropriate or judgmental question with “May I tell you how you can be helpful?” That usually works.

sandbird at the beachIf I had tried to solve all my big problems over the past year, I would have been stuck because I was too overwhelmed. So I am solving one thing at a time. I cannot help others if I don’t stay healthy and happy. The martyr thing is overmarketed. Now, who wants to come over and help me plant hedges and a garden?

What do you do to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and happy?

by Alexandra Williams, MA

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Flatbread Recipe: Five Ingredient Curried Salmon with Cantaloupe

Alexandra Williams, MA

picture of Flatout Bread salt and pepper flatbreadAt a recent breakfast hosted by Flatout Bread I was invited to create a recipe using one of their three new flatbread flavors. I decided to create a wrap using the Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper that only needed 5 ingredients – Curried Salmon with Cantaloupe.

Before you try to guess the five ingredients (well, three, since I mentioned two above), you’ll want some good nutrition news about the Flatout Bread ingredients. The two flatbreads that I tried at the breakfast (but didn’t use for this recipe) were Core 12 and Red Pepper Hummus, both of which are powered by chickpeas. The flatbread I used for this salmon recipe is full of navy beans. Yes, I want to break out singing the Village People song. All three flavors have 12 grams of protein and 8-10 grams of carbohydrates.

As I am currently studying for my Nutrition Specialist certification, I am also aware that these flatbreads have 0 trans fat, plus the macrominerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and the micromineral iron. I have had anemia in the past, so am always on the lookout for iron. As well, they are made from whole beans, which is a fiber and protein benefit for a non-meat eater like myself.

Okay, time for the recipe, and I really do hope you’ll try it. When I created this recipe I tried to choose only ingredients that added flavor and benefits.

Curried Salmon and Cantaloupe Protein UP Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper Wrap

First off, I chose the salt and pepper wrap (even though the red pepper hummus is my favorite) because it already had salt and pepper in it, so I didn’t need to add any to the recipe.

½ pound salmon
4 oz organic sour cream
¾ tsp red curry paste
6-7 fresh basil leaves, cut into pieces
½ cup cantaloupe, cubed into small pieces

grilled salmon picture

Grill the salmon, then cut it into small pieces. While it’s cooking, mix the red curry paste and sour cream together in a small bowl. You may be tempted to add water to the curry paste, but resist, y’all, resist, as the cantaloupe has plenty of water and you will cry in frustration if your wraps become soggy. Add the unseasoned salmon to the curry mix and stir them together.

photo of cantaloupe

Lay out two Flatout Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper flatbreads on a cutting board, then spread the salmon mixture over them, covering the flatbreads fully. Then sprinkle the cut cantaloupe over the top, followed by the basil. Roll the flatbreads up tightly, starting at the long end, then cut into one-inch sections. That’s it. Eat them. One suggestion – be liberal with the basil, as this recipe is not as exciting without it.

.picture of curried salmon on flatbread

Even though these three new ProteinUP flatbread flavors won’t be in stores for another month, you can try their other wraps and pizza crust using this .50 off coupon:

photo of curried salmon wrap

Then in a month you can return to get the Core 12, Red Pepper Hummus, and Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper and create your own flat, flatter, flattest, flatout love recipes.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Flatout.


ShiftCon: Make a Shift Toward Better Health

Alexandra Williams, MA
living centerpieces from FarmBox

Living Centerpieces from FarmBox L.A. at ShiftCon designed by Teachable Mommy

What happens if you bring together brands, bloggers and non-profits for a conference billed as  “the first eco-wellness social media conference?” Shift. Shift is what happens. At the inaugural ShiftCon event this past weekend, hundreds of people came together to further the national conversation about the way we eat and live, and how that impacts our health and the environment.

For example, if you knew the EPA classifies bleach as a pesticide, would you still wash your kids’ clothes in it? Would you want them breathing it at school?

What if you knew that the European Union bans over a hundred of the chemicals found in make-up & beauty products due to cancer concerns, yet the U.S. only bans about 10 of them (and the entity regulating the industry is comprised of the same people who make the beauty products)?  The average U.S. woman uses 12 – 15 beauty products a day, so how much of those contaminants are getting into your body through your skin?

Would you eat a frozen yogurt if you knew that powders and chemicals that have been linked to cancer had been added to it, or that the CEO of the yogurt company was intentionally NOT giving you a list of ingredients?

A sampling of some of the sessions will give you a feel for the tenor of the conference:

The Future of Labeling GMOs

Why Are We So Allergic

Is Organic an Elitist Trend

Legal Implications of Blogging and Activism

Pesticides – What You Need to Know

Fat Vs Fit – the Truth About FitSpo (I mention this one because I was invited to be on the panel after a scheduled contributor became sick)

pic of panelists for FitSpo talk at Shiftcon

FitSpo Panel – Lisa Johnson, Andrea Metcalf, me, and Kia Ruiz (Photo by Ana Lydia Monaco)

After I got home from ShiftCon I looked around my house. Sure enough, many of the brands I support with my purchases were at the conference. I’m lucky that the Isla Vista Co-Op near my work carries many of these brands. If you want to be a shifter, ask your local store or co-op to carry them too. Demand creates change.

These are a few brands I love and recommend to you – Organic Valley Co-op, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Stonyfield Organic, Molly’s Suds, Uncle Matt’s, Boiron, NatraCare, Nordic Naturals, and Dr. Bronner’s.

picture of the Naturpedic suite at ShiftCon

Taking a Nap at the Naturpedic Suite.

And a few that will now find their way into my home are Kingdom Organic Cheeses, Healthy Hoo-Hoo, Health-Ade Kombucha, Nutiva, and Naturepedic.

picture of sunrise in L.A. by the airport

Up at Sunrise for the Boiron 5K at ShiftCon in L.A.

I am not much of an activist, at least not in the way most people think, in that I’m not particularly noticeable. The activists who are out in front and noticeable are game-changers. They push. Loudly. And they make things happen that improve all our lives. I’m more of a shifter. Over time I have shifted my thinking, habits and most importantly, money over to companies and non-profits that support healthy food and products. I believe our nation will improve its labeling and choices when more people shift their money and votes. ShiftCon was a conference for both game-changers and shifters like me. Together we can lead from in front and behind.


7 Healthy Living Products You Want to Know About

Alexandra Williams, MA
Louis van Amstel at his LaBlast booth

Our dance BFF Louis van Amstel with his LaBlast program

We are just back from the annual IDEA World Fitness Convention with some products and info that should interest you. This post will focus on food and products, while Kymberly will write later this week on trends she discovered.

Though there were hundreds of vendors in the Expo Hall, I shall share seven that grabbed my attention.

Beyond Meat

The founders wanted to make a substitute that tasted like meat, and they’ve achieved their goal. Free of gluten and cholesterol, the 100% plant protein beef and chicken products are also non-GMO. Great flavor. The ingredients list for the beef crumbles: Water, non-GMO pea protein isolate, non-GMO expeller-pressed canola oil, beef flavor (yeast extract, maltodextrin, natural flavoring, salt, sunflower oil, onion powder), rice flour, tomato powder, caramel color, contains 0.5% or less of: calcium sulfate, evaporated cane juice, potassium chloride, oregano, dried marjoram, ground basil, lemon juice concentrate, citric acid, black pepper, salt, dried thyme, dried rosemary, red chili pepper flakes, onion extract, garlic extract.

posture apparel by Intelliskin

IntelliSkin Sports Bra


Cute compression fitness apparel that assists with posture support and pain relief. As we mentioned in one of our six posts about posture, it’s important to “zip” down the back as well as up the front. When I stopped at the IntelliSkin booth, they emphasized this aspect too. Technology truly is being woven into our clothing, just as predicted in this 2007 article about the fitness facility of the future.

picture of Gerolsteiner mineral water

Gerolsteiner mineralwasser comes to the U.S.

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water 

My very first aerobics job was in 1983 in West Berlin, and this is the mineralwasser I drank when I lived there. So to me, Gerolsteiner has been around for a long time, though it is definitely new to the U.S. In the 80s, I drank it because I liked it. Now I know about its health aspects too. No calories, no sugars, and no preservatives, it’s even sold in glass bottles, as plastic bottles are known to have phthalates. With over 2,500 mg/ minerals per liter (yup, the Germans don’t do quart measurements), the three main minerals are calcium (bones, teeth), magnesium (metabolism, muscle & nerve function), and bicarbonate (regulates acidity). Even though it’s the world’s #1 sparkling natural mineral water, Gerolsteiner is just now coming to the U.S. so you might have to request it from your local grocery store. And I don’t think they’ll mind if you pronounce it wrong.

picture of Workout Wypes

Ready to wipe sweat off any machine in sight (or a shopping cart)

Workout Wypes 

If you don’t want to leave your workout machine to get some wipes, you no longer have to, as this is a packet of wipes that attach to an arm band. The sales crew at the booth had me at “helps prevent staph infections” because my son got staph when he wrestled in high school, and it was serious. The website is under partial construction, as the Wypes are brand new, but don’t let that deter you from spending $3.79. Total deal.

Tree Nuts

Okay, nuts aren’t new. But I did learn that peanuts are not a tree nut. The nine that are: Brazil, almond, hazelnut, walnut, pistachio, pecan, cashew, macadamia and pine nuts. The council had research papers that I grabbed, knowing you’d be interested in the health findings. I read that tree nuts are inversely associated with both metabolic syndrome and obesity, and total and cause-specific mortality , plus associated with decreased health risk factors for cardiovascular disease. I happen to love almond milk, and am glad it’s working with me and my body. I still hate Brazil nuts.

pic of Ahnu Shoes

Come to Mama, little Ahnus.

Ahnu Footwear

As the owner of four pairs of Ahnu Shoes, I was stoked (70s organic-y, surfer expression) to see them at the Expo for the first time, showcasing their super attractive footwear. We even got to meet the co-founder, Jacqueline van Dine (a good Dutch name if I ever heard one). Now owned by Deckers (conveniently based in our town of Santa Barbara), Ahnu has a catalogue full of cute shoes. We even got a sneak preview of their upcoming line, which made us drool a little bit on ourselves. And they follow the Ethical Supply Chain Guidelines.

picture of Lily weights from Bling Fitness

The “Lily” floral pattern for the Bling Fitness weights

Bling Fitness

With a mission to “provide style choices for women that spark interest in fitness and promotes healthy lifestyles in mind, body, and spirit,” this company makes dumbbells and kettlebells that are cute and colorful. Not just a single color – boring. These weights come in pink camo, floral blue, cheetah, zebra and hope. I had fun playing with these at the booth. And I like their tag line – Strength Comes in Many Colors.



ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
One last thing – I’ve seen the various celebrity ice bucket challenges (fundraisers for the fight against ALS) going around, and saw a big one live at the convention, when the founders of IDEA joined up with some of the fitness industry’s leaders for a group ice-freeze, but had no interest in doing one myself, especially here in drought-stricken California. But this morning my nephew wanted to tag me, so I agreed because I believe in the project (if not the waste of water) and couldn’t say no to a kid. Known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is well known to the fitness industry, due in large part to our long-standing relationship with Augie Nieto, founder of Life Fitness and Augie’s Quest. I hope you watch my video and go tag three people with your own video. Of course, the point is to raise money, which seems to be working.

Go forth and be healthy! Challenge yourself to something new today.


I Spa. Do You? A Visit to the International Spa Association Media Event at the Beverly Wilshire

Alexandra Williams, MA

ISPA MEDIA invitationSis and I drove to Beverly Hills last Thursday as invited guests of the ISPA Media Event on behalf of the International Spa Association. Twelve different spas were in attendance, offering a variety of treatments and products to us lucky media people. Since many of you have asked us for spa recommendations, we thought we’d share our experiences and info about the companies that were there.

First of all, two of our long-standing favorite spas were in attendance, Rancho la Puerta and Glen Ivy Hot Springs, which has hosted our Christmas family get-together the past two years. (For more on Rancho la Puerta, read our review from last summer). At Thursday’s event, Glen Ivy Spa had a labyrinth you could walk (I didn’t, as I am terrible at being contemplative), plus they sent me home with lavender honey and a recipe for lavender honey muffins, which were popular with some family members; and not so much with the younger set!!

picture of lavender honey muffins

Lavender Honey Muffins

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group gave me a Calm Mind massage, with a focus on my Chinese dominating element of Flourish. This was perfect timing, as I mentioned I was fighting a bit of light vertigo, so the massage therapist worked to loosen up my very tight neck and jaw. I went away less dizzy, which made me very grateful. According to their recommendations, raspberries are one of my healing foods, which suits me perfectly.

I then had a Vitamin C Infusion mini facial from Massage Envy. They are ubiquitous in California and I was surprised to discover they are only eight years old! The woman who gave me my facial looked about 25, yet mentioned a college-aged daughter. Crikey, after that, I told her to do the same to my skin as she was doing to hers. I wish I had taken her picture, as she really did look 20 years younger than she is.

picture of Sheila Cluff, owner of Oaks at Ojai

Sheila Cluff, owner of The Oaks at Ojai


At the Oaks at Ojai booth, I made my very own Italian seasoning, AND met Sheila Cluff, the owner/ founder, who also happens to be a prolific author, fitness icon and ice skater. She’s been in the fitness biz longer than I have! I also stopped at the Matrix booth and test “walked” their latest technology treadmill. I rarely use a treadmill since I love group fitness so much, and find them boring, but this one had lots to keep me occupied, including movies on demand. Mostly I enjoyed chatting with the rep Doug, as he had on crazy blue patterned shoes, mismatched multi-colored socks, and an orange patterned shirt. He said everyone over 50 gets to dress as they please, and age in reverse like Benjamin Button, so I adopted him. A little plug here for fitness – exercise keeps you young. Actually, it can reverse aging in some cases (think dementia, metabolic syndrome, intelligence).

Since fitness is our game, and soccer legs are my, er, legs, I happily hopped on the Travaasa bike and pedaled my way to a kale smoothie. I don’t like chunks in my drinks, so I pedaled till it was smooth. Or till I reached Austin, Texas, where they have a resort! Either way.

Travaasa bike at ISPA Media event

Smooth Ride = Smoothie

New to me was the Sacred Waters massage, which I got from Aspira Spa of Wisconsin. The spa is on a lake considered sacred by its native peoples, and the plants and methods used in the massage were warm and smelled great. The 15 minutes went by way too quickly. I had to feign sleep. They were on to me. Ah, well. Good excuse to visit Wisconsin again.

pic of sacred waters massage at ISPA Media event

Sacred Waters Massage from Aspira Spa




Join us this Wed. June 11, when we welcome Dr. John Ratey, bestselling author of Driven to Distraction and Spark, to discuss his new release Go Wild. Listen and call in at 8:00 am PDT/ 11:00 am EDT or catch the rebroadcast at 8pm PDT the same date at Voice America. He’s just one of many stellar guests on our radio show.


What Food is Healthy? And a Whole Grain, Wholly Amazing Bob’s Red Mill Giveaway!

Alexandra Williams, MA

“What food is healthy?” This is a question we are asked quite frequently, mostly by our university students, but also by our 60- and 70-year-old students.

bean flourThe answer is quite simple at first glance, yet in practice deceptively difficult. For years I’ve told my students “the closer to the ground the better,” yet many of them found this answer confusing, and over the years it’s required more explanation (yes, kind of sad).

First off, I’m not a nutritionist or dietitian (although I can spell “dietitian” without looking it up). What I am is a good researcher and writer, including this list of articles about food and health that I’ve written. I’m also a good eater and all-around healthy person.

I’m tempted to say that the answer to the healthy food question is, “It depends,” but that’s probably due to my counseling studies, when I learned that it’s the answer to most questions! My new response is to answer with my own question: “Does it (the food) help or harm your body?” For example, I have a friend right now who’s pregnant and dealing with gastroparesis. She cannot eat veggies without getting quite ill. She can, however, keep down sno-cones and pierogies. For her, leafy veggies are unhealthy.

For my sister, it’s possible that she is now allergic to some foods that were perfectly fine for her for decades. As identical twins, we are usually quite similar in our medical issues, so I’m curious to see what she discovers as she eliminates, then reintroduces, certain foods. Kind of a canary in the coal mine thing. She is the canary in this scenario. At present, she is testing out a wheat-free diet. We wrote about some of the research for and against in our post “Is Wheat-Free Better for You.” Bottom line: Eat whole grains. Stay away from genetically modified organisms.Wheat silo

For many of my women friends, a glass of red wine in the evening is possibly a heart-healthy dose of resveratrol. But for me, it’s just a drink that makes me turn red and get a headache. Other friends need to live by a gluten-free diet, while some thrive on organic whole grains.

Vegan, vegetarian, paleo, GF, clean eating, pescatarian, omnivore, high-carb, low-carb, restricted-calorie, intuitive, timed – the list of eating categories goes on and on. And every single one of these eating styles is healthy – for someone.

So I think my new answer is a good one. If it helps your body (chemical cravings for Ben & Jerry’s “Americone Dream” don’t count), then it’s probably healthy for you. If it harms, then why would you eat it? Rather than give advice, I’ll share what works for me.

* Whole grains
* Organic or at least pesticide-free
* Cooking & baking from scratch
* Few processed, packaged foods
* No soda, energy drinks, or high-sugar drinks
* No meat
* All ingredients are recognizable and pronounceable
* If it shouldn’t go in my (or my kids’) mouth, it doesn’t come into the house
* Reading research and books. At present I am reading “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and I love anything by Michael Pollan (did you know he’s Michael J. Fox’s bro-in-law?)

Bob's Red Mill Gift CardIn a further spirit of sharing, I’m also going to give away a $100 gift card from Bob’s Red Mill. I wholeheartedly endorse their tagline “Whole Grain Foods for Every Meal of the Day.”

Reasons you should love this company:

* Their mission is to bring good, healthy foods to as many people as possible
* They have given millions of dollars to support healthy nutrition and wellness, and address the issue of pediatric obesity
* Owners Bob and Charlee Moore gave the company to the employees in 2010
* They sell a complete range of whole-grain food products (not foodlike substances), including organic, gluten free, non-GMO, and kosher
* Their prices are extremely fair (example: $5.79 for 5 pounds of organic white whole wheat flour, compared to $8.95 from their closest competitor)
* The food is delicious

Grains, Beans & Seeds: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, fava bean, kamut, quinoa, spelt, sorghum, teff, triticale, farro, kamut, and way more!

Grains, Beans & Seeds: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, fava bean, kamut, quinoa, spelt, sorghum, teff, triticale, farro, kamut, and way more!

So what will you choose if you win the $100 gift card?
* Flours & Meals
* Grains, Beans & Seeds
* Cereals
* Gluten Free
* Mixes
* Baking Aids
* Oats
* Books
* Entrees

The SuperFine print: This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents. Yes, my Canadian friends, you are included!!!! That is just how generous Bob’s Red Mill is. The winner will be chosen on Monday, August 5th at midnight PST. We will notify the winner via email and other social media forums. If that person doesn’t respond within 48 hours, we will choose another winner.

This is a truly amazing gift, so you will want to do all the amazing entry options.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Got an event needing edu-taining speakers? Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Get whole-body goodness, including great exercise and active aging advice by subscribing to our YouTube channel to access short videos that will improve your fitness level! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

Photo credits:  Grain & Silo –  Frank Kehren; all others – Bob’s Red Mill


Exercise, Food, Weight Loss & Menopause (and Water for People): Notes From the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute:

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

What are some of the important upcoming fitness trends? What does the latest research indicate is the “best” way to get and stay healthy? Can someone really give you a cold or are you taking the cold from them? And what do menopause and HIIT have in common?

Kymberly at IDEA PTI West 2013At the recent IDEA Personal Trainer Institute, which Kymberly and I attended (and spoke at), we covered a variety of topics relevant to you and your fitness goals. At past fitness conventions we’ve listened to speakers who are so cutting-edge that they are called quacks…until their information turns out to be accurate and helpful.

So put on your “duck” shoes and let’s waddle through some of the information and posts we gathered from a number of presenters and colleagues. Read the linked posts so that you can be fully ahead of the rest of the gaggle (is that what they call a group of ducks?).


From “Boosting Your Immunity” with Teri Mosey, PhD
* For every thought you have, you release a chemical that goes to the rest of your body. What do you think happens to your body with repeated thought?
* Ninety percent of your thoughts today are the same as yesterday’s.
* We have a second brain, called the “enteric” brain.
* We have more brain cells in our stomachs than in our neo-cortex.
* Every 7-10 years we are physically a new person.
* You are the age you think your body is (I’m 39. I’m 39. I’m 39. I think I can. I think I can.)
* Most of us are too acidic and need more alkaline. Cancer cells grow in acidic space.
* Habitual coffee drinkers are more prone to osteoporosis and have become too acidic.
* You know what the Standard American Diet is – S.A.D.!
* 3-minute or poached eggs are anti-inflammatory; once the yoke is hard, it’s pro-inflammatory.
* Our emotions are not from the brain, but produced at the cellular level.

Kymberly wrote a post about falling – fears and injuries – from a full-day session she attended, which has some very helpful information.
* Thirty-three percent of older adults fall every year.
* Women break arm bones; men break their heads.
* People use the A.S.H. strategies to maintain balance (you have to click the link to know what ASH stands for)
* You need more core work.

Getting brekkie with fitness colleague Pamela Hernandez at IDEA PTI West

Getting brekkie with fitness colleague Pamela Hernandez at IDEA PTI West

Our FitFluential colleague Pamela Hernandez wrote an excellent post entitled Fit Tips from IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West about two philosophies she sees in the fitness industry – one is to stick to traditional, government-recommended standards, while the other emphasizes just getting people to move a little more. As a person who embraces technology, Hernandez welcomes its further blending with fitness. Oh, and she liked our session on social media. Twitter Shout Outs to her for that!

In the post Breaking the Barriers to Exercise, Jacquie Scarlett expounds on the need to make exercise more approachable to the average person. In one section she states, “The fitness industry is not designed to meet the needs of the sedentary population because the fitness industry’s idea of exercise is too high.”
Jacquie’s post really makes us wonder what it would take to get you to like exercise if you currently don’t.
* Is rolling a ball across the floor considered exercise?
* Do you think exercise is different than daily movement?

menopauseHayley Hollander gave a workshop on programming for peri- and post-menopausal women.
* When our hormones are out of balance, we end up with excess cortisol.
* Excess cortisol causes us to eat more (among other not fun things).
* We need to do exercise that doesn’t exacerbate the amount of cortisol in our system.
* Meaning…High Intensity Interval Training
* High Intensity does not mean High Impact, so jumping until your uterus falls out is not necessary!

On an unrelated note, while you’re not jumping (unless it’s for joy), exercise your right to help me with a water awareness campaign I’m participating in please. BLANCO America is supporting a “Water for People” campaign via Pinterest. I believe water inequality is one of the most reprehensible and avoidable human conditions in the world today. Everyone deserves access to potable, pure water. Feel free to Like my pins while you’re there. That’s the spirit!
Oh, if you view this video before May 30, BLANCO will contribute a dollar for every view to “Water for People.”
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0ogoIOCeos&feature=player_embedded[/youtube] Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. 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.

Have a Clicky, Fit day!


Food and Recipes from Thailand and Natural Products Expo

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Do you like organic, fresh ingredients? Do you like to bake or cook? And please say you like Thai food.

Fruits of Thailand

Fruits of Thailand

In March we spent 3 days at the Natural Products Expo West, then went to Thailand for 3 weeks. We should just rename March as “Delicious Food Month.” We want you to have a delicious April, so we have some pictures and recipes of a few of the sweet dishes.








Thai coconut pancakes w/ veggies on top

Thai coconut pancakes w/ veggies on top

Coconut Pancakes (not the same as U.S. coconut pancakes)

2 cups coconut milk (we like Native Forest from Edward And Sons)
2 eggs (we can’t all shop at my son’s chicken coop, so we recommend Happy Egg Co. and Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs)
1 ½ cups rice flour
3 Tbsp. glutinous rice flour (available at Asian markets)
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ cup corn or green onion

Mix the flours, salt and powder. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, coconut milk and sugar. Pour the batter into the dry ingredients and whisk together. Heat a poffertje pan (also known as abelskiver pan to medium high, then add just a drop of oil to each depression. Pour in batter and drop a pinch of the veggies on the top of each pancake. Unlike poffertjes, Thai coconut pancakes do not get flipped. When the center looks cooked (they should be a bit soft), remove the pancakes using a chopstick.

* If you don’t have this type of pan, you can use a crepe pan and make these crepe-style.

Waiting for fresh coconut pancakes

Fresh coconut pancakes










Sticky Rice with Mango and Coconut Milk

Fresh sticky rice with mango and coconut milk - 40 baht (less than $2)

Fresh sticky rice with mango and coconut milk – 40 baht (less than $2)

1 cup sticky (glutinous) rice
1 cup coconut milk
1 mango cut into bite-size pieces

Don’t use a rice cooker, as the result won’t be quite right. You can use a steamer, but I’m going to share the quicker version using a microwave. Soak the rice in a glass bowl in warm water for 10 minutes. The water should come just over the rice. Cover and microwave for about 3 minutes. Stir fully and cook another 3 minutes. If it’s done, all the rice should be translucent. Pour ¾ cup of the milk over the rice and stir just to mix. Put the mango on top and pour the remaining ¼ cup over the top.



Coconut Crusted Peanuts with Kaffir Lime Leaves
We discovered this snack at a local market and became big fans. As we didn’t have a chance to get the recipe, we will turn you over to a wonderful version by chef Robert Danhi, a Beard nominee for his Asian cuisine cookbook.




Thai Iced Tea and Iced Coffee

Identical twins are NOT the same – Alexandra prefers vanilla; Kymberly, chocolate. And we both spent a lot of time taste-testing the Thai versions of iced tea (Kymberly) and iced coffee (Alexandra).
The tea is a combination of black spiced Thai tea, condensed milk, evaporated milk and sugar. We found out that the recipe changes as you travel around Thailand, but this is essentiallly it. As to the coffee, just switch out strong coffee for the tea, and eliminate the sugar! If you want to take the easy route, Taste Nirvana makes a bottled version of both, and they use coffee beans from Chiang Rai (we saw those for ourselves) and tea leaves from Chiang Mai (we went there too)!

We worked hard to find the best Thai iced tea and coffee

We worked hard to find the best Thai iced tea and coffee





Thai food

Thai food is enjoyable in many forms!

If we wrote about ALL the great food we found in Thailand or at the Natural Products Expo, this would be a book, not a blog post, so we’ll stop here for now.

Kob Kuhn Kah which means “thank you” in Thai (this is the female version, which we happen to be). Koh Hai Cha-roen Ar-harn – Enjoy your meal.

Show your good taste by subscribing to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above. Then go have some salt fish or shrimp in a leaf or a blue sweetpea drink.