DVD Review: Angie Gorr

About twice a year, my workout dvd collection starts to bore me and I am ready to invest in a new program to throw in the mix.

After exhaustive research on Amazon, bodybuilding.com, and random forums rating exercise dvds I finally settled on a new one… “Custom Fit” by Angie Gorr.

custom fit by Angie Gorr
Girls this video kicks ass! Actually I liked it so much a few weeks after I bought a second video of hers, “Sweat and Tone”. They are currently thrown in rotation once a week and are one of my dvd favorites already.

I think the greatest thing about both of these videos is the amount of customizing you can do. Only have 20 min? 30? 60? Not a problem! She even let’s you mix up your session between cardio, upper body, lower body and abs depending on your goal.

The quality of the video production is not as dynamic as Bob Harper’s or a Beachbody dvd but the workouts offered definitely make it worth your time. So if you are in the market for a new dvd to “get your beach on” this summer try Angie’s out. She won’t disappoint.

Do you have a favorite workout dvd? What is it and what makes it one of your favorites?

 
Written by Kimberly Hale

Would You Like Toast With That Sugar-free Jam?

One of the first things to perish out of a person’s diet when they are attempting to lose weight, or have discovered some health condition that prevents them from having sugar, are jellies and jams.

It has long been believed that without added sugar, there is no way to create that wonderful texture and flavor that is so well-loved. Today, here I’d like to prove that concept false with some recipes that let you cut out those ingredients either in whole or part, and replace them with healthful alternatives that produce near, if not the same, effect and flavor.

 

strawberries and jam

 

This isn’t to say that this process is without its tricks of the trade, after all, there is a reason that sugar is such an intrinsic part of the normal process. There are some well-known alternatives, things such as freezer jam, but sugar serves the role of preserving the delicious treat. Freezer jam must either be kept in the freezer where it’s difficult to enjoy easily, or kept in the fridge at most a week or two.

Pectin is another big factor in the preservation process, and with some fruits you can get away without adding any. Plums, for instance, are free from this burden by an abundance of natural pectin, but other jams and jellies have commercial pectin put in, which contains sugar.   Sugar free is available, but not easily or readily, you’d have to plan ahead to get this from a supplier before you begin. Note that adding pectin is of particular importance with berries, which generally are completely lacking in this vital preservative.

 

blueberries

 

A particularly clever approach is using sugar-free gelatin, which you can get unflavored to preserve the natural taste of your mix. You’re going to want to experiment with this one, as strawberries, for instance, just don’t seem to want to play. There are bound to be other issues, but blackberries seem to play nice with this as one of the only berries to have a bit of their own natural pectin. Blackberries come out with a very believable rendition of jam, enough that it’s still a solid favorite.

When you’re in the process of deciding which methods to try or what substances to use, a bit of research can help save a frustrating batch. You’ll be wanting to pay attention to the natural sugar and pectin content of the fruit base, as these can make a huge difference in your final consistency. There are other alternatives, some of them clever tricks, others are playing with chemistry, and as a result, the flavor of your final product.

Ph levels are important in inhibiting bacteria growth, to this end you might want to consider adding some lemon juice to the mix. It’s a tried and true method to increasing the pH, and will help you keep the bacteria from bubbling up in your delicious jam. It’s yours after all, and we’re not making alcohol! In these cases, be aware that you’re going to be dealing with a much thinner jam, not the hard set of the commercial stuff. But that just makes it an amazing topping for things like pancakes, ice-cream or even other fruit!   Sliced peaches covered in sugar-free blackberry jam now that’s an amazing dessert!

 

lemons

 

These are just some of the techniques that have been tried by experts throughout the years, and there’s always room for more experimentation and creativity. If you manage to hit on a blend that’s just about perfect, you can always consider packaging it up, putting a cute little label on it, and knocking people’s socks off when you give it to them as a gift. And don’t forget to share that recipe with of us other jelly and jam enthusiasts!

 

Contributed by Nicole Nowlen

**Like what you just read?  You can follow Nicole on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicolenowlen87

5 Essential Foods to Add to Your Diet

Eating a well-balanced healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to compromise enjoyable foods for boring salads, unsavory cottage cheese or the same apple or banana every day.  Adding variety to your diet is essential in maintaining a healthy well-rounded diet that will keep you on the right track.

 

flavorful salad

Image via Flickr by Freddy

So often people fall into the boring trap when “eating healthy” and end up falling off the wagon.  There are tons of colorful and flavorful options of fruits, nuts, yogurt and vegetables sure to keep you enjoying your healthy plan.

Here are just 5 of the many options you can add to diversify your diet and enhance the flavor while eliminating the bore:

 

  1. Yogurt – participants in a study done by everydayhealth.com lost a surprising amount of weight by simply incorporating yogurt. Worth noting, plain Greek yogurt has 80 calories per 5 oz. serving. (This tasty treat has the added bonus of energy-enhancing B vitamins and are high in protein!)
  2. Pumpkin Seeds – these crunchy snacks are packed with Magnesium, which helps keep your energy and metabolism nice and high. A perfect mid-day pick-you-up!
  3. Cherries – these help with muscle inflammation and pain, so when you’re feeling the burn after a hard workout, pop a cherry. (Tip: dice cherries into plain yogurt to kick up the flavor factor.)
  4. Edamame – these baby soybeans are iron powerhouses, which means improved brain function. Among 113 women tested in a Pennsylvania State University study, even mild iron deficiency. produced a case of “where the eff are my keys?” When iron levels were revived, test scores improved.
  5. Apples – according to The Huffington Post, apples help with cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, breast cancer prevention and general life span extension!

 

Next time you pack that plain Jane salad for work add some pumpkin seeds and Edamame to pack in the nutrients while adding a tasty edge.

What other foods have you added to your diet that nix the boring and make eating healthy fun?  Share with us!

 

– Kate Milde, Contributing Writer

4 Spring Cleaning Tips

Late Spring cleaning

The first day of spring is just a few days away.  That glorious season where windows can once again be open and fresh air can bask any room giving it a clean feeling.  Spring is also a season for new growth and beginnings.  It’s an awesome time for renewal and rejuvenation of things once left behind.

Spring also denotes the perfect time of year to rekindle those new years resolutions we may have let slip over the past few months (ahem… comfort foods in lieu of the not so comforting temperatures of winter).

Here are 4 great tips on spring cleaning your life, sure to get you pointed back in the right direction.

  1. Open some windows – letting the breeze in your home not only re-humidifies the excessively dry air that’s been circulating from your ever on furnace.   Additionally air flow is fantastic in reviving feng shui and stability within not only your house but your life.
  2. Get outside – the weather is clearing up and the days are beginning to stay lighter longer.  What better opportunity to get out for that run, jog, walk that was once your new years resolution.  Need some motivation?  Sign up for a run/walk or 5K going on this year.  What better motivation then knowing you have a goal to work toward.
  3. Eat more greens – The cold of winter air is fading as is dreading cold meals like salads and fruit. Say bu-bye comfort foods and hello to making fabulous salads and fruit combos stocked with fresh ingredients.  Set your next few months up for success by planting a few staple vegetables in a garden or container box.  Once that kale or spring beans or squash begin to grow you’ll be able to reap benefits of fresh healthy food all summer/fall long.
  4. Clean your house – Dust bunnies get out!  Spring is the perfect motivation to deep clean those not so clean areas in our homes (aka windows, dusty shelves, salted kitchen floors and entryways).  Not only will your house be gorgeous once again but you’ll also burn a ton of calories in the cleaning process!  So scrub, scrub away!

These are just four  of the many easy ways to incorporate health into the new approaching season.  What other ways or goals do you set for yourself as Spring approaches?  Share with us!

Written  by: Kimberly Hale

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Exercising Mistakes to Avoid

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jblmmwr/

We all know by now how essential exercise of some sort is to our lifestyles.  In fact I came across a recent stat that mentioned those classified as “obese” were putting in less than an hour of exercise a year! There are more reasons pointing to the benefits of exercise than those against it.  So if (I really mean when) you are going to carve out the time to fit in a workout why not make the most of it?

 

Below are 5 exercises pitfalls to avoid to make sure you are maximizing your effort and don’t end up injuring yourself:

 

1)      Putting in the time, but not the effort – folks get into a gym habit, and when something becomes easier they don’t increase the intensity, leading to a plateau in weight loss and no improvement. Too many of us believe 30 minutes a day on the elliptical will solve our body issues, when the reality is, “If you want serious results, you need to do serious exercise.” Make yourself sweat! (http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/WorkoutMistakes.htm)

2)      Never changing your workout – this issue is in line with the gym habit we just mentioned. Not only do you have to sweat it out, but mixing up your routine is a surefire way to get impressive results. Simple changes like small weight increases or taking a different group class each week will cause quick and noticeable changes in the way your body fits you.

3)      FORM – if you’re not sure about your position, ASK a trainer or someone whom you know is educated enough to help and not hurt you. If you are certain you are doing something correctly, ASK this same person to double-check your form. I’ve said before that small changes add up to big results – just make sure the results are positive!

4)      Be wary of those machines! – “Weight machines… usually focus on one muscle group at a time, and they don’t replicate the way we move in the course of our daily lives,” according to a Huffington Post article. It continues, “For maximum efficiency, try total-body exercises that involve squatting, bending, lunging and reaching.”

5)      …and one for the ladies: Yoga in general is fine during “that time,” but try to avoid headstands. Doing inverted yoga poses not only adds to your flow, but can make cramps much worse! (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/exercise-during-period#.)

 

Have you heard of any additional exercise no no’s to be avoided?  Let us know!

 

– Kate Milde, Contributing Writer

3 Hot Cereals You Must Try!

Bored with your typical healthy morning breakfast? Do you find yourself rotating between the same three or four breakfast food items none more exciting than the other? I know I do (did), do I want an english muffin? BORING.  How about some greek yogurt?  BORING.  Egg and toast?  Not much better…  Oh wait I know a big bowl of oatmeal! Bummer, that’s boring too…

But wait!  It does that have to be that way!

Hot cereals like oatmeal might just be the most exciting thing breakfast has to offer! Don’t believe me?  Here are just three of the many ways to dress up your breakfast cereal.  Through into rotation a few of these or create some more variations of your own and breakfast will never be boring again!

English: Breakfast porridge: rolled oats cooke...

Breakfast porridge. credit: Wikipedia)

1. Peanut Butter Banana Power Oatmeal:  This version is sure to keep you powering through your day.  Dress up your standard 1/2 cup dry  cooked oatmeal by mixing in a tablespoon of peanut butter or in my case i like to swap it for Better Butter (2 tbsp = 100 calories versus regular PB which is 2 tbsp = 200 calories).  Once the peanut butter has melted into the oatmeal turn off, pour into a bowl and slice 1/2 banana on top.  Add a little milk.

2. Blueberry Quinoa Splash: Just like the name sounds, this tasty comfort breakfast includes 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and blueberries (lots of them!).  Cook quinoa using water for about 20 minutes.  At this point if you were preparing quinoa for anything else you would stop cooking.  Don’t!  Instead pour about 1//4-1/2 cup on unsweetened almond milk into the quinoa in your pot and continue to cook on low for another 10-15 minutes.  Quinoa will begin taking on a creamier form.  At this point

3. Chia Strawberry Sunset: This recipe is simple, a nutrition powerhouse and under 200 calories!  Combine 2 tbsp Chia seeds, 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or light soy milk, and 2-3 sliced ripe strawberries (recipe named for Jenna, who shared this stellar recipe with me).

Plain old hot cereal rut no more!  No one ever said breakfast cereal had to be boring.  Oatmeal, quinoa, and chia for that matter serve as a foundation for pretty much whatever you want to mix them with.  For example, make a big batch of quinoa which will keep for 3-4 days at least.  One day use it for breakfast with the blueberry recipe above, the next use it for lunch mixed with black beans and fat-free cheddar, and maybe the next use for dinner with a grilled chicken breast, and the last day use for breakfast with sliced bananas and milk.

How do you dress up your breakfast cereal?  What’s your go to breakfast staple?  Tell us about it!

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Recipe Alert: Polenta with Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Ever tried Polenta? This cornmeal base is really moldable into any shape and can be used at pretty much every meal. It’s very mild in taste as it’s basically cornmeal and water and low in fat/calories. I stumbled upon a really tasty low-calorie but filling recipe using polenta and tomatoes in a magazine recently. Of course when tasking myself with recreating the recipe I could not find the exact version I found anywhere! In turn I came up with an adaptation of the original recipe I read.

I encourage you to try it out sometime, it’s really tasty!

polenta with tomatoes, corn, and black beans

Polenta with Tomatoes, Black Beans, and Corn

  • 1/2 tube of prepared polenta (unless you’re feeling creative enough to create it from scratch!)
  • 1/3 can of diced tomatoes (I recommend Trader Joe’s can of fire-roasted tomatoes)
  • 1/2 can drain black beans
  • 1/3 cup of corn
  • 1-2 oz of a fat-free cheddar
  • 1/4 can black olives (optional)
  • 1/8 diced avocado
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Slice polenta into 1/4 inch thick slices (about 5 or 6)
  • Spray frying pan with an olive oil or butter spray
  • On medium heat place polenta in frying pan and continue to flip until slightly crispy (5-6 minutes each side)
  • In the meantime combine in a pot tomatoes, corn, black beans and heat until hot
  • Place in small glass baking dish polenta slices and pour tomato mixture
  • Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top and pop in the oven to melt cheese (about 5 minutes)
  • Take out of oven and garnish with diced avocado, black olives, and a dollop of greek yogurt

 

If you have another polenta recipe you like to make, share it with us! We’d love to try it out.