Friday, November 26, 2010


Hi Guys,
I had to tell you about this deal while it lasts:

Farmer's Market Brand Organic Canned Pumpkin PACK OF 12!!!! $18.00!!!

 I normally buy this stuff for close to $4 a can! This is 58% off!!! I am definitely taking advantage of this! If I were to buy this IN STORE and ON SALE, I would normally pay $40 for 12 cans minimum!!!
Sale ends soo, so take advantage of it and get ready to stock up and make healthy pumpkin pie oats, shakes, pumpkin bread, protein cakes, muffins, cakes, brownies, dips, curries...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A few of my Favorite Things: Xmas ideas and 5 of my Favorites

I have had a few very nice emails of readers asking me to tell them more about myself and make my site more personal. As many of you know, I started this off as a personal blog, but due to one rather derogatory comment, I stopped blogging about my life and daily happenings, and instead stuck to reviews, recipes, articles, editorials etc. I realized that one comment should affect me at all. For now, I will start a series of "A Few of My Favorite Things", which will be items (food, household, gadgets etc) that I absolutely love and cannot live with out. I figured that with Black Friday and Christmas around the corner, now would be the perfect time to recommend some items that I use regularly, stand behind and love! I, personally, appreciate when I have 'real people' feed-back, as opposed to advertising. I hope this helps and gives you guys some great ideas!

1. My Salter Mini Electronic Scale!
It is small and fits into my purse/gym bag. It is so convenient for when I am measuring out protein powder, Fibersmart, oatmeal etc. Great to take to restaurants, on vacation, to class etc. It is portable, discreet and weighs in 0.05g increments!! This is my 'baby' and I am attached to this more than I'd like to admit!
Salter 1250USBKCRDR Digital Precision Travel Diet Scale

Salter Kitchen Nutritional Scale
I use this daily in my kitchen, whenever I am baking/cooking. It's fun to see how off certain food counts are (packaged food serving sizes) and it is invaluable for baking, cooking or just weighing food portions. It calculates the calories as well. It weighs up to 3kg, and has tons of pre programmed foods in it. You can also program your own foods.
This is invaluable for people with Diabetes, Hypertension (tracks sodium as well!), pre-contest fitness athletes and athletes in general. This is the old-school model. They have the update which is sleeker and you can get it HERE>. It has about 1450 pre-stored Nutritional Values for foods, and you can enter about 100 of your own foods (protein powder, kabocha etc) 10yr warranty, comes with batteries, and even tracks GI loads!

3.  I ADORE and highly recommend THE NINJA Master Prep Pro. It works just like the infomercial says it does (for once they didn't exaggerate) and really chops ice into snow! High quality, fast, effective- the perfect gift for ANYONE. College student, kid, teen, family, parent's, friends etc. It has 6 blades (3 on the top and 3 on the bottom base) so it doesn't leave anything un-blended, chopped, mixed etc. It doubles as a powerful food processor, chopper and ice crusher (that really delivers results)! This truly has been one of my best purchases and I highly recommend it! It makes everything- from chicken to salad! The Master Prep Pro has 2x the speed of the original, is more powerful, chops evenly and doesn't turn your salsa into mush! The BEST GIFT!
Ninja Master Prep Professional Blender, Chopper and Ice Crusher: More Power & 2 Times Faster & Recipe Book Included
For those of you who want a simpler easy blender only, they also have THE NINJA original (which is FANTASTIC) and blends/mixes/crushes everything!
Ninja Quad Blade Food & Drink MakerNinja Quad Blade Food & Drink Maker
Ninja Quad Blade Food & Drink Maker

4. Magic Bullet! or if you really want a more powerful version, try the Magic Bullet Platinum Pro!
The Platinum Pro has 100 extra Watts and they really make a difference! Food doesn't get stuck, and it works way better than the original! I realize this seems along the same vein as #3, but options are good! The cups are blender itself are MUCH sturdier than the original, and crushes ice into snow really well (unlike the old, original Magic Bullet). They also make the Bullet Express Food Processor/juicer, which makes chopping apples, tomatoes, cucumbers etc a breeze! It's a bigger machine, because it is a food processor primarily. Personally, I'd stick to the Platinum Pro.
Magic Bullet 7921 Platinum Pro 20-Piece Set, Stainless Steel

5. VITAMIX!!! Love this!!!! This my friends, is the Bentley, Maserati, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Ashton Martin and Rolls Royce of Blender/Mixers. It does everything- makes ice cream, heats and makes soup (through friction, not heat which destroys enzymes), grinds flours (oat flour, wheat, coconut, garbanzo etc), makes Soy and Almond Milk, makes Nut Butters (peanut, almond, walnut, pecan, tahini etc- saves you so much money), smoothies, batters etc. It will pulverize anything! This is the ULTIMATE GIFT! They come in different models, and different versions (professional CIA, 4500 , red, black, platinum etc).
Vitamix CIA Professional Countertop Blender with 2+ HP Motor, OnyxVitamix CIA Professional Countertop Blender with 2+ HP Motor, Platinum
I own the Platinum one. It really is one of those things that is 'too good to be true' but actually is even better than advertised. This supersedes all expectations! Perfect for anyone on any diet! Great for Raw Vegans, because it doesn't use heat in the conventional sense. All the enzymes are left intact, along with all the nutrients. You do not core/peel/chop anything. Just dump the fruit (ex apple) into it whole. Saves so much time! Great for baby food etc.

I realize these have all been Kitchen Gadgets and appliances thus far.
Next post I will delve into different categories, price points, and various other items!

What about you guys? What are some gadgets you LOVE and cannot live without, or have come to depend on?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The fallacy of Happy Weight.

Lately I've been really thinking about the term "happy weight", and how disordered that statement really is. Ever since Self magazine coined the term, I've heard so many women refer to their "happy weight", or more accurately, what their "happy weight" is, or will be. Again, reinforcing that a certain weight/ body size= happiness. I think it's become a convenient way to justify disordered eating habits, and dysmorphic body images. Why not "my happy self" or my "best version" or just "healthy-body mind spirit" all together? The fact that it's been assimilated into our society at such a rapid state just goes to emphasizes our unhealthy fixation on weight loss, diets, and being judged and ultimately, ONLY worthy when we reach that certain "magical" number (which never ends up being low enough, or good enough). And then,- only then, can we truly be happy. We need to realize that being/feeling "happy" isn't a something have to earn, or only have a right to feel if we've met some sort of ridiculous societal standard. We all have the right to be happy- regardless of size, and even more so because happiness is intrinsic to our well-being. It is not an alienable right that only certain people deserve to have. Think about it, what exactly does a "happy weight" really mean? They are two words that have nothing to do with one another. Without happiness, what is the point of life? To ascribe 'happiness' with weight is ludicrous.

I am in no way advocating obesity, or saying one should just let themselves go. That isn't healthy body mind spirit. But what about being happy with the person you are because of WHO you are? Not what the scale says? A little self-acceptance goes a long way, and leads to a healthy mind, which translates to a healthy body as well. A healthy mind leads to making healthy, sound decisions. You aren't prone to binge eat when you have a healthy mind. When you aren't emotionally binge- eating, you are usually at peace with yourself and life. You are in your HAPPY PLACE! You aren't trying to stuff down feelings, fill an emotional void and numb yourself to life. Your sense of self allows you to fill yourself with love.

 I recently was in the grocery store browsing isles when I saw a girl (about 17) talking on the phone. While I didn't hear her entire conversation, I noticed her definite frustration, and confusion while trying to decide what to buy. She looked overwhelmed and so unsure of herself. She kept picking up boxes, looking at them, hesitating and putting them back, while she listened to whomever was on the phone. She finally asked her friend in exasperation "I don't know what I should buy!!? I don't know what do get!". Her friend must have suggested something, as she replied immediately "I can't!!! I'm on a diet. I need to lose 5 lbs". Now this girl was a stick- the type that can fit into Aritzia size 0 pants. Her friend said something, and this poor girl threw out this rhetoric, "Well, not more than 10. But just 'tone up'". Her friend must have interjected with shock, saying she doesn't need to lose ANY weight, as the girl finally ended the conversation  by saying "Well I just want to get healthy. I'm not at my happy weight, Ok!!!? Just 5-10lbs and I'll be happy. I just want to get this roll of flab off my stomach before Christmas- then I'll be happy". She sounded defensive, frustrated and so naive. She could have gained a good 20lbs and still been skinny.

You would think with age comes maturity, but this is obviously not the case. I hear woman constantly discussing diets, fast weight loss, "does it really work", the "magic quick fix" and magazines with Diets and celebrity diet secrets are constantly the best selling. Unfortunately, it is the older of us who have sadly- unintentionally- given this message, perpetuated it and spread it like wild fire. I hate to blame media/TV- I think that ultimately, celebrity culture doesn't impact our mind-set all that much, unless the mind is already 'sick". Only then do we view these celebrities as 'perfect' and strive to fit into sample size 0s. If we have a healthy mind, attitude, sense of self and perception, we regard these TV shows and celebrities as just what they are- normal people working. We don't need to look for outside acceptance as a source of validation and joy. And our weight wouldn't dictate how much we like ourselves that particular day. We strive to be our best self, live, laugh, learn, and grow. We relish all that life throws at us, and can shake off the bad along with appreciating the good. We don't focus on the size of our jeans (it's just a number!), food, what we ate, how much etc. We would love food, look forward to it, eat what we want, and get on with our life. No fixation, not 'data mining' into dissecting what we ate, and what this means about who we are and how we should view ourselves.

 Self-love goes a long way. Instead of using terms like the fairly 'innocuous' happy weight, let's just focus on our 'happiest selves'. What makes us shine, and have a zest for life? When are we at our best, happiest and most confident selves? So I propose that today instead of the scale, our plates, foods, and body image dictating how much we can love ourselves, we just appreciate how wonderful and blessed we are and decide to be happy in spite of our 'flaws'. Our Self-Image and worth ISN'T reflected in the mirror! Let's focus on being our HAPPIEST selves, living our best lives.... Scale not included!

What makes you happy?

When do you feel the most at peace with yourself and life?

The most content and tranquil?

When are you the happiest?

How can one get out of the mind set that your weight dictates who you are or how you feel?
What are your thoughts on the term "Happy Weight"?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dangers of Insomnia and the Health Benefits of Sleep

I wanted to post this article, as it bears repeating. Insomnia and the dangers of sleep deprivation have finally been getting more attention from the medical community and the media. All for good reason. We live in such a fast paced, busy, profit motivated society- usually at the cost and peril of our health. Sleep is essential for healthy development, mental health, metabolism, hormone production, immune function, just to name a few.

Below is an article I received from HSI Health Newsletter which supports and provides further scientific evidence that sleep is essential to our well-being and functioning, and lack thereof, can be very dangerous and detrimental to our health.
A US study at Emory University School of Medicine found that acute sleep deprivation can lead to an increased production of inflammatory hormones including fibrinogen, IL-6 and C- reactive protein which changes blood vessel functioning.

According to the researchers, inflammation may be one way poor sleep quality increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

How much is enough?

Keeping the latest research in mind, it is even more concerning when further research shows that one in ten people suffer from insomnia every night. This is according to Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, Medical Director of the London Sleep Centre, who says that insomnia is caused either by stress, anxiety, being overweight or use of alcohol and that it can lead to depression, anxiety and a compromised immune system.

Not getting your forty winks has also been linked to high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and psychological stress – all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Without stating the obvious, it is clear that poor sleeping habits can easily push you into a downward spiral that can have a knock-on effect in all areas of your health.

So how much sleep is enough?

The need for sleep can vary quite a lot between individuals, although it is usual to require less sleep as you get older. As a general rule, most adults need around seven hours of sleep each night.

In fact, new research carried out by scientists at the University of California showed that those getting 8 hours sleep or more each night were 12 per cent more likely to die within the six-year study period, than those sleeping seven hours.

Lead researcher, Dr Daniel Kripke said: “Individuals who now average 6.5 hours of sleep a night can be reassured this is a safe amount of sleep”.

Its sleep quality rather than quantity that’s the key.

A 2005 survey of 25,580 individuals found that around 16 per cent of Britons suffer from ‘non-restorative sleep’ (NRS). With NRS, sufferers sleep through the night, but wake up feeling as bad as before going to bed. At the time of the survey, the UK was at the top of the NRS list compared with six other European countries (with Spain at the bottom), with just 2.4 per cent of the population having NRS – and that was before the recession!

More than just a sleeping disorder

According to Dr. Clifford G. Risk, from the Marlborough Center for Sleep Disorders, in the US, people with a sleep disorder may suffer from multiple underlying conditions, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, which are reflected during sleep and disrupt the sleep process.

Dr. Risk and his colleagues assessed 50 patients with NRS, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue and found that 33 patients suffered from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Researchers also identified 15 patients with possible or probable attention deficit disorder (ADD). Further testing showed that patients also suffered from primary ADD, severe memory impairment, depression, and mild dyslexia.

The study results also showed a high degree of attention deficit in non-OSA patients with insomnia or a lack of deep, restorative sleep. Test results indicated that 28 patients suffered from neuromuscular disorders and mood and anxiety disorders. Ten patients suffered from primary neuromuscular disorders, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or multiple sclerosis; 14 patients suffered from a primary psychological disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety; and four of the patients were affected by only depression or fatigue.

Cherry-picking your options

The quick solution for insomniacs is to get a prescription for sleeping pills. But these often present a new set of problems like ‘drug fog’ or psychomotor impairment and are often addictive.

Luckily, nature provides healthy and effective alternatives with no side effects.

Tart cherries are one of the few food sources of melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain and released in the body by the pineal gland. Melatonin is nature’s sleep-regulating hormone and is closely connected with the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle.

Melatonin levels are usually maintained naturally, stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light. Levels are lower during the day and gradually increase as night falls to help induce sleep. Low levels of melatonin can lead to difficulty in initiating sleep, maintaining sleep and waking too soon from sleep — all cases of insomnia.

US studies conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Centre found Montmorency tart cherries contained 13.5 nanograms (ng) of melatonin per gram, much higher than the amount normally found in our bodies.

Insomnia sufferers can help guarantee a good night’s sleep with Cherrygood, the UK’s only ready to drink cherry juice, made from Montmorency cherries. It’s available in two great tasting flavours; Original Cherry and Cherry & Berry from most major supermarkets and offers an easy and delicious way to boost melatonin levels.

As an added bonus, research earlier this year revealed that drinking cherry juice can significantly reduce known markers of inflammation... helping you repair the heart damage poor sleeping patterns may have caused. On top of that, cherry juice also helps lower levels of triglycerides (blood fats) and LDL (bad) cholesterol — both known risk factors for heart disease. These add to the growing list of cherry juice’s other health benefits like fighting cancer, acting as a powerful antioxidant and providing neuro-protective and immune-modulating effects.

Do you suffer from insomnia? How does lack of sleep affect you? What are some ways that you manage insomnia?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Post- Workout Food: Fighter's Food

It is no secret that how you recover post work-out will set the stage for your next workout. What so many people refer to as the "Window of Recovery" or Anabolic Window (muscle building/recovery), is the one time that supplements may truly benefit you and offer the most benefit. A lot of people refer to this as a 1 hour window, when in fact studies show that taking a post workout recovery product within 15-30 min following your workout really maximizes your results. Think of yourself as a sponge, your glycogen is depleted post workout, muscle fibers torn up, and your body is ready to soak up anything you put in it like a dry sponge to aid recovery. So this is the time that really matters (a worthwhile read on recovery and Nutrient Timing is "Nutrient Timing: The Future of Sports Nutrition). The aim of "recovery" is to Replenish, Rebuild, and Rehydrate.

What you ingest will go towards repairing your muscle tissue, helping rebuild the fibers you have broken up; replenishing your glycogen stores, so you have adequate energy for the next workout, as well as having energy throughout the day; replenishing your electrolytes, so that the water balance in your cells stays balanced, and you do not get dehydrated and weak. Potassium is essential for this, and for keeping your heart healthy. In essence, post workout fuel, determines your next workout as well as your results.

I know many people who are doing the P90X or Insanity (or similar workouts), and I have to say that I find the Beach Body products shameful, insulting to the customers who pay for these products, and pathetic due to the content and quality. I deal with so many people on a weekly basis, looking for a similar product to their "recovery" drink. For anyone not familiar with it, it contains all of 10 grams of protein. I know that the 4:1 ratio is popular, but the quality of product is lacking: at a whopping 36 grams of sugar per serving, it seems sugar trumps all- keep in mind only 10g protein (the first 2 ingredients are glucose and fructose) . People either do not want to spend money ordering it, or once they read the ingredients, are desperate for a replacement that is all-in-one (especially newbies to exercise, who aren't experienced and don't want the complications of making your own mix). Although there is no "one size fits all" product out there, as we all have different needs, workouts etc, I have come across a wonderful recovery product that I feel comfortable suggesting to clients and customers; one that I stand behind.

I have reviewed Nutrabolics Vitabolic in the past (Multi-Vitamin/mineral/greens/antioxidant), and had great results with it. Besides having a full Sports Nutrition Line, they also make some fantastic Recovery formulas not over flowing with sugar. Namely, Anabolic Window, and the one that I want to review today:
Fighter's Food.

What led me to like this formula, is the formula itself! While not perfect, I have found it gives consistently great results, tastes pleasant, and covers a wide spectrum to help your body recover in multiple ways. It is comprised of all the components one would need in a post-workout optimizing product, in a readily absorbed and digested form.

Fighter's Food is described as a "High performance Protein and Micro-nutrient Complex" and comes in 2 flavors: Acai Berry and Chocolate. Surprisingly the Acai Berry seems to be the most popular. I will post the label and ingredients first, and then do a complete run down following their own description:

Fighter's Food Integrals: Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fruit And Vegetable Extracts.

Here is a brief run down of the different complexes as described by the company:

Precision Engineered High Performance Protein Complex: Fast acting, easily assimilated, and anabolically active multi-spectrum protein matrix stacked with essential amino acids, BCAA's, and growth factors.

Cross-Flow Micro-Filtered Whey Protein Isolate supplies the highest levels of di-, tri-, and oligo-whey peptides, including over 10% immunoglobulins (vital antibodies support a balanced, healthy immune response).

Whey Protein Hydrolysate is Whey Protein Isolate that has been pre-digested through an enzymatic process and is assimilated into the body quickly. This process breaks the protein down into its smaller amino acids and reduces the amount of time that the protein stays in the stomach, thus making the protein more available for the muscles to begin using rapidly without further degradation by digestion. This makes Whey Protein Hydrolysate well-suited for use post- workout and exercise because of the increased bioavailability of the predigested protein.

Freeze Dried Extracts From Berries And Vegetables: Freeze drying removes water from fruits and vegetables while preserving 100% of the biologically active antioxidants and phytonutrients. In terms of biological activity, FIGHTER'S FOOD possesses powerful enzymatic activity and a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals.

High Tech Fiber Blend: For over-all health your nutritional strategy must include high fiber foods. FIGHTER'S FOOD is a powerful weapon in every athlete's diet and is a convenient way to supplement quality fiber into your nutrition plan.

Size Inducing Carb Formula with Waxy Maize Starch: Waxy maise starch is a unique complex carbohydrate capable of being absorbed quickly by bypassing digestion in the stomach. Unlike glucose, waxy maize actually pulls water and nutrients from the stomach and into the blood. Expect fully engorged muscles, increased vascularity, and greater recovery.

You Get:

•Quality Nutrition

•Faster Recovery

•More Energy

•Advanced Multi-spectrum Protein

As I mentioned, it isn't perfect, namely the lack of BCAA's or Branched Chain Amino Acids (which are in their Anabolic Window formula).

Starting with their Protein Complex, the first thing I generally look for is the type of protein used. I was thrilled to see Hydrolysates, and Cross Flow Microfiltered Whey Isolate on the label! Both of these deliver almost immediate absorption of Amino Acids to the muscles, which the body desperately needs post workout. Hydrolyzed Proteins (Smallest particles, enzymatically broken down into di-tri peptides and have the fastest absorbency),  literally is Pre-Digested and offer great benefits to those looking to maximize their nutrient timing and recovery.

I really love the ratios in this product, as well as the freeze dried component; added antioxidants to negate free radical damage caused by exercise is always welcome! I especially love the Land and Sea Vegetable Complex, which among other things contains: Spirulina, Green Algae, Chlorella, Kelp and Dulse! Granted, it is a proprietary blend of products, so you don't know the standardization and amounts (most likely they are there just as a 'garnish), but the fact that they took the time to research, and put these in here is a nice touch, and a very appreciated component!

The same applies to the Herbal Complex, which includes Milk Thistle, Astragalus and Ginseng. I would have loved to see Rhodiola, and Maca in here as well.

Their Freeze Dried Veggie Complex boasts vegetables such as Kale, Broccoli, Wheat Grass, Barley Grass, Spinach, Shittake, and Cabbage. Vegetables and greens specifically are needed for maintaining a more Alkaline PH balance, and are full of phytochemicals, vitamins and nutrients.

The Freeze Dried Fruit Complex contains Acai Berry, Gogi Berry, Blueberry, RESVERATROL (I LOVE Resveratrol, and highly recommend it!), Coffee Berry, which is a potent antioxidant; Elderberry, which boosts immune health and helps combat the flu and viruses; Billberry, which is great for eye health, and Grape Seed Extract. As you can see, the fruits that they picked are among the highest ORAC containing fruits, that pack a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory punch.

Additionally, it contains no added sugars, which generally is a deal breaker for me. It would be nice if they came out in more flavors besides just chocolate and Acai Berry. Overall, this is a fantastic product. I recommend giving it a try, and seeing how you feel after using it!

*As with all of my reviews, I have not been paid for them at all. These are my own opinions and thoughts. Additionally, I have never been contacted by Nutrabolics.