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Natural Delights Medjool Date Summit

With a quick hop, skip, and a jump, I boarded a plane from LAX en route to YUM. Yes, that is the actual abbreviation for Yuma International Airport. YUM couldn’t be any more perfect for a food blogger summit! Even better, the mountains surrounding the Yuma area are called the Chocolate Mountains. Uh-mazing. As you can already tell, this was a food filled adventure! After my previous collaborations working with Natural Delights Medjool Dates I was invited to attend their first ever blogger summit in Yuma, Arizona. It was nothing but delightful. ha. ha. pun definitely intended.

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Let’s start off with why I LOVE Medjool Dates so much:

  • They are naturally sweet – Medjool dates are naturally sweet and contain no added sugar, making them an ideal alternative to artificial and processed sweeteners.
  • They help protect against cancer – Medjool dates are filled with polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that help protect the body against the oxidation and inflammation of cells that can lead to cancer. Medjool dates contain more antioxidants than blackberries, plums and apples.
  • They help stabilize blood sugar levels – Medjool dates rate low to low/medium on the Glycemic Index (GI). A low-GI carb diet keeps glucose and insulin levels stable, helping maintain sustained energy and a healthy weight.
  • They make you feel fuller for longer – Medjool dates are loaded with dietary fiber. Just one-quarter cup of Medjools provides 12 percent of the daily requirement of fiber and helps satisfy between-meal cravings.
  • They can reenergize – Rich in potassium, manganese and other important minerals, Medjools help balance blood sodium levels and release energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates.
  • They are a healthy snack – Medjool dates are a no-fat and no-cholesterol treat, making them ideal for snacking.
  • They help fight against “bad” cholesterol – Medjool dates help lower LDL cholesterol levels, which decreases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
  • They can ease labor and deliveries in pregnant women – A study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology indicated that pregnant women who consumed six Medjool dates for four weeks prior to their estimated delivery date had easier labors with fewer complications.
  • They help lower blood pressure – Medjool dates are also dense in copper, Vitamin B6, niacin, calcium, iron and Vitamin K, making it the perfect addition to the DASH diet, which is proven to lower blood pressure.
  • They have a long shelf life – Medjool dates have a shelf life of 30 days when stored at room temperature – making them ideal for travel and enjoying at work, home or play.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-41In attendance were these fineeeee bloggers:
Very front: Beth Atkinson from DGWB – thanks for the pic, girl!
Second Row (from left): Cynthia David – Cynthia David Blog, Caroline Edwards – Chocolate and Carrots, Me!
Third Row: Theresa Albert – My Friend in Food, Nicole Hamaker – Pinch My Salt, Kim Nguyen – Lovin’ From The Oven
Back row : Alyssa Brantley – Everyday Maven, Jackie Bruchez – The Seaside Baker

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-3I arrived in Yuma to sunny skies at a warm 103 degrees and tons of Natural Delights goodies in my air conditioned  hotel room!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-6Night one started with a happy hour full of Medjool date appetizers like mascarpone stuffed dates, and sweet Medjool date salsa.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-37After happy hour we made our way to Glen Vandervoort’s house for a beautiful dinner with other Bard Valley Medjool Date growers and their families. The Medjool date appetizers continued with prosciutto wrapped dates, and an olive date tapenade that was to die for. Just think, salty sweet deliciousness. I will be sharing the original recipe with you this week!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-4I came home from dinner to turndown and a box of Bard Date Company chocolate covered dates from Dave & Debbie Mansheim’s shop Basket Creations and More. They are like chocolate covered raisins, but better. Much better! Want to make some chocolate covered dates similar to these? Try this recipe for Medjool Date Pecan Chocolate Truffles!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-7The next morning, we all met in the conference room for breakfast, history of Natural Delights Medjool Dates, and a rundown of their current and upcoming products.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-38Natural Delights is now offering Snack Packs of Medjool dates and their super popular date rolls. I love the convenience of these mini bags. They make for a great healthy on the go snack! I actually wish these would be in the check out lines at Whole Foods and other grocery stores. I would definitely grab mini bags of fresh Medjool dates versus a bag of candy any day!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-24Glen Vandervoort brought us freshly harvested medjool dates straight off of his tree for us to try during breakfast. Words cannot even describe how divine fresh dates are. They literally taste like caramel. For the rest of the day, all we (the bloggers) could talk about was how insanely amazing the fresh dates were!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-33After breakfast we visited the medjool date gardens!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-26We had the opportunity to go up in the cherry picker and harvest dates from a 30ft tree.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-25Safety First! Andrew Costanza: Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association’s Director of Compliance and Standards got us in our sweet harnesses before going up in the trees. How fab do Alyssa (Everyday Maven) and Kim (Lovin’ From The Oven) look?!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-43
Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-28When dates are growing, they are covered in cloth bags to prevent birds from eating them, and any from falling to the ground. In order to harvest dates we shook the bags, untied the string holding the bag together at the bottom, and then let the ripened dates fall out of the bag and onto a tray.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-31Once the dates fall onto the trays, they are checked and sorted depending on their ripeness. As you can see the yellow date closest to the front is not yet ripe, the date in the center is only partly ripe, and the  last one is just perfect.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-30Theresa (My Friend in Food) sorting through her pile of harvested Medjool dates.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-29Beth from DGWB harvesting dates with the bloggers!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-32“The Big Six”
Did you know that Medjool dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world? I bet you wouldn’t have guessed they have been around for 8,000 years! In 1927, eleven Medjool date trees were brought over from Morocco to escape disease. Of these 11 trees, nine were brought to Bard Valley and six still remain today. All 250,000+ Medjool date trees in Bard Valley can be traced back to “The Big Six.” Kind of amazing if you ask me!
Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-34Me standing with one of “The Big Six” Medjool date trees. As you can tell, they are soooo tallll!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-23After frolicking in the date gardens, we arrived at Datepac, LLC., where all of Natural Delights Medjool Dates are packaged for you! I loved the vase of pens in their front office with non other than date pits! Who needs rice or beans, right? Hilarious!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-1Health and safety required us to wear these super chic hairnets and visitor passes while inside. #lunchladychic

IMG_7859 While at Datepac, we watched the dates make their way from being washed to sealed up in their packages.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-21After being washed, the dates go one by one down a conveyer belt which takes individual photos of each date with a fancy shmancy state of the art camera. Once the computer system receives each image, it determines the date’s size. A brief puff of air then blows each date onto next next conveyer belt according to it’s size. So high tech!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-19The packing grade scale doesn’t just go by size. It actually goes from highest quality and largest date, down to lowest quality and smallest date. The quality is determined by how tight or puffy the skin of the date is.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-36It was amazing to see how much of the process was actually done by hand. In order to sort the dates, it must be done by (extremely clean) bare hands to feel the skin’s texture.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-16We even got a chance to sort the dates and see if we could tell the difference between jumbo, large, extra fancy, fancy, mini, and confection.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-18After dates are sorted, they go to the packaging area.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-20Dates on dates on dates.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-17 Another fun part of Datepac that we got to explore was the Date Roll area! We watched them make some fresh pistachio date rolls. The lower quality (not so pretty, but still tasty) dates are ground up (kind of like sausage), rolled in their topping, and then sliced up and packaged.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-15After our tour of Datepac, we had a beautful lunch at River City Grill. The restaurant made us a special lunch filled with, you guessed it: Natural Delights Medjool Dates! Lunch started with Bacon Wrapped Dates and Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Next up was a fresh Salad with Juicy Pears and Chopped Medjool Dates. For the main course, I chose a Medjool Date & Pesto Pasta. Our decadent lunch concluded with Date Caramelized Crème Brulée. Ohh my tummy was so happy!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-14Once we got back to the hotel from lunch, we had a social media break for a couple of hours before our next event. Andrew (Director of Compliance and Standards) asked if any of us wanted to go on a spontaneous trip to the sand dunes in California. Funny because we were staying in Arizona! Five of us we’re up for the adventure, and away we went!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-10
Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-9The sand dunes were absolutely gorgeous.

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-8On our little adventure, we also made a quick stop in Mexico. Just kidding! Kind of…

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-13We were so close to the border. No joke! We were in Arizona, California, and Mexico all within 15 minutes! Andrew dared us to go and poke our fingers between the border fence, but none of us took the dare, haha! The sign was a bit intimidating!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-12Kim from Lovin’ From The Oven!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-11Cynthia (Cynthia David Blog), Kim (Lovin’ From The Oven), Theresa (My Friend in Food), Me, and  Caroline (Chocolate and Carrots).

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-39After our trip to Mexico (ha) it was time for a Date Shake Competition! All of the bloggers were randomly paired into groups of two and we had a huge variety of ingredients to use. Nicole (Pinch My Salt) and I made a “Bananaccino” with 10 different ingredients. Not exaggerating, there were actually 10 odd ingredients in there! It was…interesting to say the least! Unfortunately, Nicole and I didn’t win, but we had a great time anyways!

Natural-Delights-Medjool-Date-Summit-2013-5After our wild adventure to Mexico and Date Shake Competition, we had our final fiesta at  Tina’s Cocina with Private Chef Alex Trujillo. Our extravagant dinner was made table side in the back of a historic church. We got to sip on Prickly Pear Margaritas and enjoy each other’s company while watching Chef Trujillo prepare our dinner! The endless courses started off with Baked Brie and Medjool Date Jam on crostini and five courses later ended with a Sweet Medjool Date Tamale with Coconut Rum Sorbet. It was a fabulous ending to a delicious summit.

Medjool Date Summit, Yuma, AZ | chocolateandcarrots.com -3108The next morning a few of us who had later flights went on a tour of the Yuma Territorial Prison. 3:10 To Yuma, anyone?
Me, Caroline (Chocolate and Carrots), Kim (Lovin’ From The Oven), Nicole (Pinch My Salt), and Beth (DGWB) behind bars! Ahhh!

I had the absolute best time at the Natural Delights Medjool Date Summit. Every little detail of the summit was perfectly thought out and planned for us. Thank you so much to Erin Hanagan for finding all of the amazing venus in Yuma, to Dave Anderson for getting us everywhere promptly and keeping us with the schedule down to the second, to Glen Vandervoort and family for opening up your home to us, to Andrew Costanza for taking us to Mexico and back in one piece, to Dave & Debbie Mansheim for the Chocolate Covered Dates, to Ed O’Malley for the perfect tour of Datepac (and for remembering me from the PBH Conference!), to Jim Freimuth and Chris Nielsen for teaching us about organic dates, Steve for all of the great photos, and last but not least, thank you to Beth Atkinson from DGWB for organizing this incredible summit and having an answer to EVERY question! You guys are all Natural Delights! This is near the top of my list of favorite blogger summits I have ever attended. Of course it would not be the same without all of the hilarious, sweet, brilliant, creative bloggers that were a part of it. So many delightfully tasty memories!

Show Natural Delights Medjool Dates some Love!
Website: naturaldelights.com
Facebook: facebook.com/MedjoolDates
Twitter: @NDmedjooldates
Pinterest: pinterest.com/NDMedjoolDates
YouTube: youtube.com/NDmedjooldates
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Guest Blogger: Selena {Nom Nom Crunch}

Hi my little bunnies!
I am still on vacation, so while I’m exploring the Netherlands I have some fabulous guest bloggers for you to meet! Thank you so much to everyone who submitted to be a guest blogger! I had no idea that I would have such a huge response from readers and bloggers, and I was so excited to hear from you guys! If you weren’t selected this time, don’t worry because I am keeping  everyone’s submissions in mind for my next vacay!

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Selena from Nom Nom Crunch! Not only is Selena gorgeous and a fabulous foodie, but she is also a friend and sorority sister of mine! I die over her recipes. I mean seriously, can you come and cook for me everyday Selena?!
A fun little fact: Nom Nom Crunch was started on my couch! What can I say, my house is blog central!

Hello from NomNomCrunch.com

Hi Bunnies!

I’m Selena and I blog over at NomNomCrunch.com.

Since I was little, I always struggled with weight. I was always trying new diets, everything from the cabbage soup diet (which I swear forever scarred my taste buds for any soup with cabbage in it) to Weight Watchers to Paleo. I have probably tried them all.

Well my weight loss journey is far from over but I have definitely learned a thing or two. But the most important thing I have learned after trying diet after diet is that there isn’t a diet in the world out there that’s one-size-fits-all. I learned more about myself and my own habits when I stopped playing with yo-yos and just ate better, as a lifestyle.

I struggle with portion control. I like to making excuses. I am a social eater. I like to enjoy a Slurpee or Starbucks just because it seems like a good day for one. People say that recognizing your weaknesses is the hardest part, but I think the day-to-day struggle to fight these old habits and make a change is where your determination and strength are really put to the test.

So my blog is all about my journey to lose weight. I like to share my healthy recipes and fitness endeavors. If you want to know more about me, check out the “About Me” section on my blog.

in progress

For now, I’m going to tell you a little secret: I never liked oats.

Recently I started working out with a new trainer and she asked me if I liked oats because that’s what she was planning for my daily breakfast. I told her, “of course I like oats!” But the truth is, I only WANT to like oats. I never actually made it to the point of actually liking them yet…. until I got creative. I have a sweet tooth so you’ll notice I added stevia in EVERYTHING!

For my oat customization recipes, use Catherine’s Fluffy Oats Recipe as the base.

Fluffy Oats
Serves 1

1/4 cup whole rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup water
1 egg white (1 egg white = 2 tbs if you’re using it from a carton)

Whisk the egg until it gets a little fluffy/foamy. Combine with oats, water, and almond milk in a saucepan and bring heat to medium. Whisk the mixture until it starts to simmer. Raise the heat to high and continue whisking for a couple of minutes until it starts to thicken. Reduce heat back to medium and whisk until most of the liquid is soaked. Transfer to a bowl and enjoy with toppings!
Note: Be sure to whisk the egg before combining with other ingredients!

Now for the customizing…

Customize Your Oats via NomNomCrunch.com

Berry Bliss

When you are combining the oats, water and almond milk together:
+ 2 tsp of vanilla extract
+ 2 tsp of stevia

Top it off with a berry reduction:
Put a handful of mixed berries into a food processor or blender. (I used raspberries and strawberries.) Then pour into a sauce pan, add 1 tsp of stevia and bring your stove to high heat, slowly stirring the mixture consistently. When the sauce begins to bubble and the color darkens, reduce to medium heat and continue to stir to prevent burning. After about 2-3 minutes, it’s ready to pour onto your oats. The sauce will be the consistency of olive oil.

Berry Bliss Oats via NomNomCrunch.com

Berry Bliss Oats via NomNomCrunch.com

Berry Bliss Oats via NomNomCrunch.com

PB&J

When you are combining the oats, water and almond milk together:
+ 3 tsp of PB2 or another powdered peanut butter alternative
+ 2 tsp of stevia

Top it off with a spoonful of your fav jam or jelly. I used a natural huckleberry jam I got from while on vacation in Yellowstone. Just keep in mind when adding your jam/jelly, many of them have added sugars so you don’t want to go crazy with it.

PB&J Oats via NomNomCrunch.com

PB&J Oats via NomNomCrunch.com

Choconut

When you are combining the oats, water and almond milk together:
+ 1 tbs of unsweetened coco powder
+ 3 tsp of stevia
SWAP the water for coconut water

Top it off with some coconut shreds and almonds.

Choconut Oats via NomNomCrunch.com

Choconut Oats via NomNomCrunch.com

Apple Pie

When you are combining the oats, water and almond milk together:
+ 1 tsp cinnamon
+1 tsp vanilla extract
+ 3 tsp of stevia

Top it off with caramelized apples:
Heat up 1/2 tsp of coconut oil and 1 tsp of honey in a small skillet on high heat. Once the oil and honey are warm, add half of an apple to the skillet, chopped or sliced. Any type of apple will do. Traditionally apple pie is made with McIntosh apples (according to Eating Well), but I just like to use whatever is on hand. I used HoneyCrisp. With a wooden spoon, stir the apples around until they are completely coated in the oil and honey. Continue to stir until the apple begins to soften and turns to a golden brown. Then pour onto your oats.

Note: Because this recipe has real sugar (honey) in the mix, it will burn a lot easier than the berry recipe. Keep an eye on your apples and keep stirring. Burned honey on your pan can mean death to your pan.

Apple Pie Oats via NomNomCrunch.com

Apple Pie Oats via NomNomCrunch.com

 

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Tips For Your First Spin Class

Spinning is definitely no ride in the park but all that pedaling will work the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core and give you a total calorie burn anywhere from 400 calories and up! Good news for anyone with joint issues, indoor cycling keeps impact on the joints to a minimum.

I’ve been totally addicted to spin class at Full Psycle recently! Once I powered myself through my first class I was absolutely hooked. Since some of you guys have been asking me questions about spin class on Instagram, I thought I would share what I’ve learned so far. I’m no expert, but I hope that these tips will make spinning seem a little less intimidating and maybe inspire you to try a class! I mean, it’s just a stationary bike… how terrible could it be?! haha.

CATHERINE’S QUICK TIPS
Reserve a bike before class:
Spin class popularity is on the rise, so make sure to call or reserve a bike online beforehand if your studio requires it.
Don’t sit in the very back row:
I know, we’re all tempted to snag a bike in the very back row our first time, but if you sit towards the front (second row) you will be able to watch the instructor and veterans. Its often helpful to watch a pro and use them as a guide.
Don’t go faster than the veterans: If your legs are going faster than the veterans or instructor, you probably don’t have enough intensity and you’re not doing yourself any favors. When your instructor says “give it your all” or “go go go” think of it as intensity, not leg speed.
Kick your heals out with some force to unclip from the pedals: I saw a girl a few days ago take her feet out of the shoes and leave them on the pedals after class! No need to do that haha, unclipping is easy!
Bring water: Seriously, I drank an entire 1 liter bottle of Smart Water my first class!
If you have a Heart Rate Monitor Watch: BRING IT! You will be so motivated and inspired by your endurance and the amount of calories you burn!


Full Psycle(source: Full Psycle)


What to expect:
Expect a vigorous workout! You will burn upward of 400 or more calories per 45 minute class. Every class is different, but you’re going to get a hardcore workout no matter what. For those of you who say “I never sweat,” you will!

Don’t be intimidated: Yes, there will probably be some seasoned pros in your class, but there will also be some newbies and people of all different ages, sizes, and level! Spinning is less intimidating than you may think. 
Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from trying an awesome workout! Remember that anything new is always scary. It’s just spinning!

Polar RC3 GPS 1My new PR calorie burn from Spin class at Full Psycle!

Polar RC3 GPS 2Polar sent me their new Polar RC3 GPS to review, and I am so obsessed with it. Aside from the clips I have been wearing to class, this is one of the biggest reasons I am so addicted to spin. You can watch your progress and see your exact calorie burn, minimum, average, and maximum heart rate, distance, and more! I’ve been wearing the heart rate monitor to class and it has been life changing you guys! I will be doing a full review on this watch and it’s functions in a couple of weeks!

THE ATTIRE:
Suit up: You will definitely work up a sweat, so throw on some moisture-wicking clothes to keep cool and dry.

Girls: I recommend crops and a fitted tank that’s tight so you don’t have a lot of extra fabric. Oh, and it can’t hurt your ride to put on something you feel confident in!

Guys: Shorts and a tank. A lot of guys end up without shirts by the end of class because it can get pretty hot in the studio.

Thoughts on padded bike shorts: The saddle can be an issue for some people and I’ll admit, the seats can definitely take some getting used to, but my advice would be to take the class in your normal workout gear and see what you think before buying cycling shorts. I don’t think padded cycling shorts are 100% necessary since you do spend a good amount of time out of the saddle, but it’s all about preference. If it makes you more comfortable, go for it!

Shoes matter: Make sure to call ahead or look at the FAQ online to see if your shoes are okay for class. In most cycling classes normal athletic kicks are just fine, but in others, cycling shoes are required.

My two cents on cycling shoes: I suggest finding a studio that has cycling shoes to rent, because with cycling shoes the feet are connected to the pedals much more securely. “Clips” as they’re called, can also make you more comfortable on the bike, give you more power, and allow you to get more integration of muscles in the legs for an overall better workout.

Full Psycle 3
WHAT TO BRING
Towel: Bring a towel if your studio doesn’t provide them and keep it draped over the handlebars for easy access.

Water Bottle: You are definitely going to want a big bottle of water nearby! Swigging water is encouraged mid-ride to stay hydrated, although the spin n’ sip may take some coordination haha. Sport cap bottles are suggested.

Full Psycle 1

BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
Eats: It’s important to feel like Goldilocks before class. You know… not to be too full and not too hungry.

Hydration: Stay well hydrated before, during and after class! You know you are properly hydrated if you are not feeling thirsty. Probably a good idea to use the restroom before class too!

Arrive 15 minutes before class begins, especially if it’s your first time. You will probably have to sing a waiver and it takes a few minutes to get properly situated on your bike.

Full Psycle 2
IN CLASS

Bike setup is key to a great ride: Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor for help setting you up on the bike. It’s the best way to prevent unnecessary discomfort and injuries!

Resistance: There are no real gears to change, but there is a resistance knob (or computer screen in some cases). There should always be some resistance on the pedals. It takes a few classes to get familiar with the right amount of resistance for you, but you’ll get the hang of it.

Don’t give up: If you start to feel exhausted or overwhelmed, just sit down in the saddle, take the tension down, and continue to peddle through the end of the class if you can. You’ll be prouder of yourself for enduring the class than walking out! Give yourself permission to build into this activity and you’ll find that you enjoy it more each time.


AFTER CLASS

Stretch: Take full advantage of stretching those legs to keep tightness and injuries to a minimum.

Eat: It may seem a little counterintuitive, but immediately after your workout is the best time of day to eat. Try to eat a high protein meal right away, because your body’s ability to refill muscle energy stores decreases by 50 percent if you wait to eat just 2 hours after your workout! Everyone loves an incentive to eat, right?!

Hydrate: Drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated following your workout.


Indoor cycling puts things in full gear with its awesome tunes, control over resistance and speed, and overall intensity. Hop on to the nearest bike and give this class a go!

Do you have any additional tips for first time spinners or a story about your first class? I would love to hear about it!

Second Attempt at Spin

Happy Monday bunnies!

Congratulations to William, you are the winner of my Chobani #WTFlavor Giveaway!
Be sure to check your email!

Motivation Monday: “It doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger.”

A little over one year ago I took my first spin class. I struggled the entire way through, unable to keep up with the instructor. It was so hard for me, that I was actually really really proud of myself for pedaling the entire time! A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to my friend Katelin and she was telling me how much she loves spin. Her pitch to get me to go with her was pretty convincing. “45 minutes and you’re done. That’s it and your workout for the day is done!” “Full Psycle has clips and towels!” “Your first class is free!” How could I say no to that? A couple of days later we met up at Full Psycle for our class and away we went! I have to admit I felt pretty bad@$$ when I “clipped in” with the cycling shoes. It got me seriously pumped for some reason. Like, I just felt so cool, and I’m not even joking, I think that made all the difference from my first spin class.

Spin

My very first class at Pedal Spin, I wore my Nike Frees and the instructor attached “baskets” to the pedals since I was wearing regular shoes. I quickly realized that spin class is 10 times better when you wear Clips. They make it much easier to keep your foot in place. This way you aren’t worrying if your foot is sliding or going to pop out, and you can focus on your power and speed. If you’re interested in trying a spin class, I highly suggest finding a studio that has rental clips like Full Psycle or Soul Cycle, borrow them from a friend, or buy a cheap pair from a bike shop or online. It made such a huge difference for me. After my first class I had no interest in going back, but thankfully my friend convinced me to give it another try at an excellent studio and now I’m in love!

Spin

After trying a free class at Full Psycle, I wanted to give spin a chance and see what other studios had to offer. Later last week I met up with my friend Amanda at YAS. I am totally addicted to spin right now! I used to be a die hard Bar Method-er until a few months ago. I got really burnt out and to be honest extremely lazy. I got into a complete fitness rut and nothing could motivate me until I was convinced to give spin a second chance. I’m so happy that I did because once again I have found something that I actually look forward to doing for exercise! I’m not saying spin is easy, it’s definitely challenging for me, but I have already seen progress with my strength and endurance in a few short weeks! Yay for second chances!

The classes: I tried them, so you don’t have to!

Pedal Spin – My very first classMonthly Unlimited: $119 ($49 for first month, new students)
First class free
Towels are provided
No rental clips
Instructor was very… passionate, and raised his voice a lot
He would run around and actually up our resistance for us. Ugh not fun!
Britney Spears Soundtrack played the entire class haha. But that was probably specific the instructor.
What I thought: My first experience was not so great. I hear great things about the studio, maybe I had a mediocre instructor?

Full Psycle – Second attempt at spin
Monthly Unlimited: $150
First class free
They provide rental clips
Towels are provided
Instructors remember everyones names
The instructors often come around the room and motivate you
Full body workout – you do weights while on the bike
HDTV screens in front of the class display your real-time performance statistics (Power, RPMs and Energy), allowing you to compete against your neighbors, your instructor and, most importantly, yourself.
Your personal online account tracks your progress and PRs.
What I thought: Obsessed. I love the displays that show you your speed, power, energy, etc. It keeps my mind occupied and makes me want to try harder to keep up with the group. I really hope that they open more locations!

YAS – Third spin class
Monthly Unlimited: $225
First class free
No towelsNo rental shoes
Good music and good instructors
What I thought: The company has great branding that really draws you in, but I didn’t find anything special about it. Why would I pay almost twice the price as another studio that has more amenities?

This morning my friend Kayleigh from Okay Fitness convinced me to go to spin at 5:45am. Yaaaa, never thought this night owl would take an a.m. class when it’s still dark out! We had a ton of fun and it was totally worth it! Metromint sent me a case of their waters, so I decided to take my Metromint Spearmint water to class with me today along with another bottle of plain water. The mint water gave my body a cooling sensation that was super refreshing during class. You know that feeling after you chew mint gum and then drink water? How it feels extra cold? Thats what this water does, every time! I have to admit that I’m not crazy about most of the other flavors, but spearmint and peppermint are awesome! I love that Metromint is made with refreshing real mint with zero chemicals, and zero calories! It’s a tasty way to up your water intake!
Spin
Spin
After spin I got a ginormous green juice from Nekter!
photo 4
How many of my bunnies take spin?! Or who has tried it and what did you think?
Your challenge this week:
 Go to a “first class free” fitness class! Spin, barre, yoga, anything! Just try it! You never know, it might be your new favorite!

Two Ingredient Coconut Macaroons

Congratulations to the winner of my Love True Naturals Beauty Box Giveaway: Melanie H.!
Be sure to check your email!

Motivation Monday: “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.”

My website had some technical difficulties this morning, so I apologize for the inconvenience. I’m so happy it’s back up and running!

I’m obsessed with desserts and after making some toasted coconut this weekend, I though to myself; I NEED to make healthy coconut  macaroons! Most macaroons contain tons of added sugar and even full fat condensed milk, so I took to the kitchen to make a skinny bunny version with only 2 ingredients! Crispy and toasted on the outside with a lightly sweet chewy center!

This recipe is gluten-free, paleo friendly, clean, and made with healthy plant based fats!
If you’re following my Rabbit Food Pyramid: 4 Macaroons (2 Tbsp of shredded coconut) count as 1 serving of healthy plant based fats! Excellent topping for your Banana Nicecream!

Two Ingredient Coconut Macaroons
Two Ingredient Coconut Macaroons
Two Ingredient Coconut Macaroons
Two Ingredient Coconut Macaroons
Two Ingredient Coconut Macaroons
Two Ingredient Coconut Macaroons
Two Ingredient Coconut Macaroons
Two Ingredient Coconut Macaroons
Makes 14 macaroons
(about 3.5 servings)

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk one egg white and then stir into the shredded coconut until well combined. Spray a cooking sheet with nonstick cooking spray (I used coconut oil spray, but any will do). Using a 1/2 Tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop the mixture, press into the spoon (to keep the mixture together), and then place onto the cooking sheet. Once all of the mixture has been scooped into 1/2 Tbsp balls, place cooking sheet in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until they become a light golden brown. If only the bottom halves of macaroons brown, turn the oven to broil and cook for 1 minute until the tops turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Note: Watch the macaroons while baking because they tend to burn quickly.

What’s your favorite healthy dessert to make?

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