How ZMA Can Help Female Athletes & Swanson Vitamin #Giveaway

Turning things around with ZMA!

Turning things around with ZMA!

Did you know I supplement with ZMA? I’m not outing myself with anything weird or wacky,  just want to share with y’all how this formula of zinc, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6 has helped me tremendously the last several years.  Yes, being a runner and general fitness enthusiast is a great way to stay healthy, but it can also take a toll when you’re not taking care of yourself – I know this firsthand. Increased levels of physical exercise can deplete the minerals, vitamins and nutrients that are essential for protein synthesis, muscle maintenance / building, and testosterone production. This is when I had a light bulb moment – no wonder I was feeling so run down, worn out and stuck in a performance rut.

swanson ZMAI was already taking magnesium and vitamin B6 at the suggestion of my physician, but with little discernible effect. However, when I found the specific formulation of ZMA, I started noticing some improvements – and now, I’m afraid NOT to take it! Here are the main reasons why I like ZMA, and why you may be interested too – but of course, please consult with a trusted medical professional first.

woman back muscles

Boost Testosterone: You may be surprised to find out that women produce testosterone too, although in much lower levels than men. A lack of adequate testosterone, regardless of gender, can make you feel tired and lethargic as you go about your daily schedule and (blush) not in the mood at night. Blood work at a doctor’s appointment a couple years ago showed I needed to boost up this hormone and, compared to some other options out there, I felt that ZMA supplementation would be an all-natural and gentle way to kick things up a bit without growing any hair on my chest!   One study has shown that testosterone in men increases as much as 30% when taking ZMA.

Deepen Sleep:  I have a troubled history with getting enough quality sleep. That’s bad on so many levels – not only do I feel grouchy in the morning, but I am often unable to execute my workouts as planned.  Falling into deep REM sleep is vital for muscle recovery and proper testosterone production – all of this action happens at a higher rate while we are snoozing soundly. ZMA is taken about an hour before bed on an empty stomach and encourages a deeper, more productive sleep.

Achieve Strength Gains and Improve Performance:  Studies have shown that ZMA supplementation has many benefits for athletes. As mentioned earlier, due to the taxing demands we put on our bodies, athletes lose more minerals and nutrients than the general population. These exercise stress caused deficiencies need to be continually replenished to stay healthy. When properly replenished and recovered, the body can continue to train and build strength at levels that yield performance improvements. A study on football players during 8 weeks of spring training revealed that those taking ZMA had 2.5 more gains in muscle strength than the placebo group.  While I don’t exactly have a football player physique, I do count on nightly ZMA to help mend my muscles so that I can tackle the next day of running and working out!

Lean Body Composition: A nice side benefit of taking ZMA is that the little boost in testosterone helps me stay lean with a much higher percentage of muscle mass compared to body fat. Now, you can’t just take ZMA and think you will drop weight like crazy – it doesn’t work that way AT ALL!  You definitely need to be mindful of your diet (I eat a higher protein, lower-carb diet) and genetic body type. I’m an ectomorph, which in terms of body building, has been described as someone with “thin limbs and stringy muscles” – lol, no worries about bulking up here!

RDA for ZMA Supplement

The serving size for women is 2 capsules.

swanson badgeI started purchasing my ZMA, other supplements and health foods at Swanson Vitamins.  Why I was schlepping up to the grocery store and paying twice the price, I’ll never know. Yup, that’s right – the Swanson Brand ZMA is at least 30 percent, if not 50 percent, less than the name brand product I had been previously purchasing at the local market or sports nutrition store. In addition to helping me save money with their line of high-quality, private-label products, Swanson Vitamins also offers a discount on automatic re-ordering, has a low-price guarantee, and a 365-day, free shipping return policy. They sell every vitamin you can think of (in many of the top brands in addition to Swanson), beauty items, eco-friendly products and organic foods.

win a gift card for vitamins

Swanson’s Vitamins has been around for 45 years, so it’s a safe guess they are treating customers right! In honor of this landmark birthday, the company has offered to let me host a giveaway for a $45 shopping spree to their online store (check out the Rafflecopter app below for entry options). Also, you have another chance to win even more — check out Swanson’s Sweepstakes page for a chance to win 45 Healthy Foods and $500!

Swanson’s Vitamins has provided me product to review and is sponsoring the giveaway, however all opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Muscle-Making Mudslide Smoothie & Saturday #ShoutOuts

Oh yeah, it rained in Austin yesterday and goodness knows we can use it. For the last couple years, our beloved lake has been in jeopardy of drying completely up and blowing away. In honor of this precipitous precipitation, I’m sharing one of my favorite chocolate smoothies – a Muscle-Making Mudslide Smoothie. healthy protein mudslide smoothie Muscle-Making Mudslide Smoothie Recipe

  • 10 ounces of almond milk*
  • 1 scoop (1/3 cup) favorite protein powder*
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 4 ounces strong coffee, chilled
  • 1 large frozen banana, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cacao nibs
  • Ices, as needed
  • Chocolate syrup (optional)

Blend first 7 ingredients together until smooth. If desired, drizzle sides of glass with chocolate syrup before pouring in smoothie.  *An 11.5 ounce bottle of Chocolate Core Power may be substituted for the almond milk and protein powder.

I also have lots of favorite new products to share that have been sent to me complimentary for my opinion.  I tell it like it is, so don’t worry about getting some polished sales pitch. If you have any questions, please ask me in the comments.

procakes packageProCakes High Protein Pancake Mix:  I’m back in town and finally had a chance to whip up a batch of these yummy pancakes. The founder of ProCakes is a fellow FitFluential ambassador and came up with the idea for this protein pancake mix while training for her first fitness competition – she wanted to show people how easy and tasty it can be to eat in a way that does the body good. This product has lots of protein, no added sugar, no gluten — meaning no guilty conscience about enjoying a stack of these light and tender hotcakes in the morning. That is, no guilt unless you soak ‘em up in a sugar bomb of syrup – how about some fresh fruit and dollop of Greek yogurt instead?

ProCakes wit greek yogurt and blueberriesProCakes Protein Pancakes with Greek Yogurt & Blueberries Recipe

  • 1 packet (45g) ProCakes pancake mix
  • 1 large egg or egg white equivalent
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 10 drops liquid vanilla Stevia
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries

Mix pancake mix, egg and milk together in bowl. Heat lightly oiled skillet to medium-low heat. Pour batter onto heated skilled into three pancakes. Cook until pancake bubbling on top, then flip over until golden brown. Mix yogurt and stevia together in small bowl. Top pancakes with dollop of sweetened yogurt and blueberries. Makes 1 serving (3 pancakes)

 

love grown granola

Love Grown Foods – I’m still on the breakfast bandwagon here and am a new-ish fan of Love Grown Foods, an awesome company that offers all sorts of nutritious products to start the day including Power O’s (great for kids), Oat Clusters (this granola-lover’s favorite), and Hot Oats which I haven’t tried yet. With no genetically modified ingredients, high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils, I feel confident feeding my family Love Grown Foods. I love how the Power O’s are made with a bean blend to add protein, fiber, and additional health benefits. Yes, that’s right BEANS FOR BREAKFAST. Although, you’d never know they were in there! How lucky am I that when I stopped in the gym yesterday, I bumped into one of my favorite bloggers, Ms. Cotter Crunch and the company founder, Maddy – they loaded me up with a big haul of LOOT and LOVE.

Lindsay from CotterCrunch.com and Maddy of Love Grown Foods

Lindsay from CotterCrunch.com and Maddy of Love Grown Foods

altra zero drop The Ones SquaredAltra’s The One2  I am totally digging my new running shoes from Altra Zero Drop – in fact, they may be my favorite yet. Lighter and less clunky that some of the past models, these streamlined babies weigh in at only 5.4 ounces yet have loads of wiggle room for toes (yay, no black nails) and some real, honest-to-goodness cushioning that you don’t get in a lot of other zero-drop shoes.  Goodness knows I love me a minimal shoe, but sometimes my feet have had enough impact– Altra calls the cushioning “light” and I call it great compromise for my road weary feet. The One2 running shoe is perfect for speed work and shorter road racing. I’d even be comfortable wearing them through a marathon, but I know many of you like a running shoe with more cushioning – Altra has those, too!

the fit fork altra running shoes

Altra’s The Ones Squared are light & speedy, plus lots of wiggle room for toes. #EmbraceTheSpace

body fat scaleSurpahs Body Fat Scale BFS-835 Okay, I have always avoided body fat scales because I felt like I didn’t need one more thing to obsess over. But, when Surpahs offered to send me one, my curiosity got the better of me – and now that I’m used to it, I think it’s a great way to check in every week or two for a benchmark. Some people say, “oh these body fat scales have a huge margin of error” – who knows, because I know I’m fit, I am not so concerned with my body fat being 100 percent correct – I am just looking for discernable changes in my weight and body fat from week to week.  Not only does this body fat scale measure body fat, water, muscle mass and bone mass, it can be pre-programmed for up to eight people making it convenient for large families or fitness / nutritional coaches. The scale is super sleek and looks great with my bathroom décor. Get a good deal at Amazon.com:

  • So, what products are you loving right now?
  • Have you ever used a body fat scale?
  • What are you eating for breakfast?
  • Have you ever tried Altra Zero-Drop running shoes?

Summer Vacation Snacking with Blue Diamond Almonds

Almonds make a good travel snack

Whoohoo, I’m a little bit nutty! When I jump in front of national monuments or execute yoga poses in public places, my kids always roll their eyes, hide and later say “sheeze, mom! Aren’t you embarrassed to do that?” Absolutely not, no way, nope! That’s one of the freeing things about being an adult and no longer caring what people think! I’ve done the Chicken Dance in the grocery store, cartwheeled down the sidewalk and wear my pajamas during early morning carpooling while singing along to music with the windows rolled down (the horror!)

almonds healthy travel snack

But on a recent vacation to Washington, D.C., I had selfish motives for embarrassing my 3 ‘tween and teen children – I was greedily keeping those human vacuum cleaners away from my Blue Diamond Almonds!  As a Blue Diamond Tastemaker , I was sent a couple of cans of healthy, yummy almonds to incorporate into my summer entertaining plans. However, we don’t entertain much in the summer because the family is too busy attending family reunions, heading off to camp or exploring new cities on vacation.  Instead, we let our adventures entertain us!

In my opinion, there is no better healthy snack to take on a trip than almonds. Nutritionally dense, they don’t take up a lot of space in a purse, backpack or airline carry-on. Almonds are also loaded with protein and heart-healthy fats that keep the hunger pangs away longer than carbohydrate-heavy food.  One of my favorite quick travel “recipes” is to set a whole natural almond on top of a dried apricot and top it with a chocolate chip – only 20 calories and totally delicious!

blue diamond natural almond and apricot snack

Blue Diamond’s Whole Natural Almonds are very versatile -you can eat them plain, put them in trail mix or even whip up into your smoothie.  They can also be easily toasted at home and incorporated into so many breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes. Toasting whole natural almonds only takes about 10 minutes and makes them super fragrant and crunchy – Cooking Light has a great tutorial on how to toast nuts.

toast almond video tutorial

The other almond flavor I sampled was the Rosemary & Black Pepper. These little guys pack a bold punch without being too overwhelming. While I gobbled mine straight from the can, these salted, herbed nuts would be great on a salad, alongside a cheese board, or crushed up and used as a topping for salmon.

Blue Diamond provided me with compensation and product for this post. However, the opinions and nuttiness are completely my own!

My Famous Salad Recipe & More Favorites (Like Pandas)

Hey, I’m just back from my vacation to Washington, DC and have lots of interesting, historical, and presidentially-inspired food discoveries to share. However, I want to recreate and “health-ify” some of the recipes at home first, so today I will leave you with one of my favorite moments in the Smithsonian – getting to see Julia Child’s kitchen! Whoot, whoot!

julia child kitchen 700

Because I’ve been eating out for the last week and not making new healthy recipes at home, today I’m sharing a recipe that’s been a real superstar for me – Tropical Fusion Salad with Spicy Tortilla Ribbons.  It’s been featured on the COVER of Taste of Home magazine and in a number of their cookbooks. This summer, they have the recipe running in the June/July issue of their sister publication (and one of my favorite reads), Simple & Delicious.

black bean, avocado and papaya salad

Below is the glamor “cover” shot! You can check out my previous post to get the full recipe – this almost no-cook recipe is perfect for these hot dog days of summer when it’s just plain miserable to turn on the oven. It’s also super nutritious too – black beans, avocado, papaya and more! While my recipe instructs baking the tortillas in the oven to crisp them into strips, you can easily crunch-ify them in the microwave or just crumble up some chips as a no-sweat alternative.

2010 MAy taste of home cover

 

 

baby panda

I just can’t resist sharing this photo — the kids and I were so lucky to get to see the panda baby toddle about. He was so cute and endearingly uncoordinated to watch climb over fallen tree trunks or roll down the grassy hill!

Talk to me, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

  • What no-cook recipes do you like to make for dinner?
  • What is your favorite thing to do in Washington, DC?
  • Have you ever seen a baby panda bear?

Colorful Protein Smoothie & Run or Dye 5k

Layered strawberry and blueberry smoothie

With the family vacation to Washington, DC and the recent celebration of Independence Day, I’ve been feeling pretty patriotic.  That’s why I’m still blending up delicious and nutritious Red, White & Blue Smoothies and declaring my independence from sugary soft drinks. This healthy frozen beverage is perfect for a breakfast that won’t have you crashing in an hour or also as a muscle-making post-workout treat.

That time we went to the White House.

That time we went to the White House.

Red, White & Blue Protein Smoothie

  • (11.5 oz.) bottle Vanilla Core Power or milk of choice(divided)
  • ½ cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup of frozen red fruit (cherries, strawberries, raspberries, or mix)
  • Ice, as needed
  • Whipped cream, sprinkles and fresh fruit (optional garnish)
  1. Blend blue layer first. Add 1/3 bottle of Core Power high protein milkshake into the blender along with blueberries. Blend until smooth, adding ice if needed to thicken up. Divide among two 16-ounce glasses.
  2. Rinse out blender before making the white layer. Add 1/3 bottle of Core Power Greek yogurt and small handful of ice. Blend until smooth and pour over blue layers.
  3. Make red layer by adding the remaining 1/3 bottle of Core Power to blender along with red fruit and ice, if needed. Blend until smooth and pour over white layers.
  4. Top with whipped cream, sprinkles and fresh fruit to garnish. Serves 2.

Tip: Place glasses in freezer during the preparation of each layer to prevent melting. However, if the smoothie does melt together (which happens in the hot summer), it still has an awesome tie-died look. 

This yummy layered smoothie isn’t the only colorful thing I have to share today — I’m also pumped for the upcoming Run or Dye 5k race.

Blog_Austin_3

I’ve run a lot of races in my day, but not one that sounds nearly as fun as the Run or Dye –it’s billed as the world’s most colorful 5k. Run with your friends or kids to make vivid memories, everyone will long be swapping stories about the color-blasting on the course!  The Austin, Texas Run or Dye 5k is headed to the Travis County Expo Center on the morning of August 30, 2014 and I have a special discount code for you to use – get $10 off admission with the code BLOGAUSTIN .

If you’re on the fence, don’t be. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and looking forward to getting messy – and I’m inviting my BRF (best running friend) to join me.  In my opinion, finishing a race resembling a rainbow is so much better than having mud in every body crevice –plus, how much fun to be laughing with friends along the way. So, the deal with Run or Dye is that you wear white running gear  (for the best effect, but you can wear whatever you want) and get sprayed with safe, eco-friendly dye every kilometer on the course – the dye is made with cornstarch and washes off in the shower and allegedly out of clothes (but I wouldn’t wear anything new)!

So, doesn’t this look like a big, beautiful blast – a riotous rainbow of fun?  After the run, hang out at the Dye Festival and “tie-dye” the sky in an overhead, over-the-top showering of color.  Join the Run or Dye Facebook page so you don’t miss out on any of the action. And, don’t forget to register for  Austin, Tx Run or Dye race with the code BLOGAUSTIN for $10 off!

So, have you run a Run or Dye or similar race before – what tips do I need to know?! Please share in the comments.

 

Lemon-Lime Chicken & Grilled Grapes – Love the One You’re With

I call this post, “Love the one you’re with” after that folksy 1970s song by Crosby, Stills & Nash. I had my heart set on making a grilled steak with tomatoes for dinner but all I had in the fridge was chicken breast and grapes. As the chorus of this oldy-but-goodie goes, if you can’t be with the one you love – honey, love the one you’re with!    

grilled citrus chicken and grapes

Getting flexible and going with the flow is just my way (usually) and I rarely know what I’m making at dinnertime until minutes before – or sometimes the dish just evolves during the process. I know I can’t be the only one leaving evening meal planning until the last minute – pretty sure that “chicken recipes,” “easy dinner ideas,” and “30 minute meals” are some of the most Googled phrases between 4 pm and 6pm.

google search chicken dinner

If you’re guilty of Googling, then I’ve got your back! My recipe for Tuscan Lemon-Lime Chicken with Grilled Grapes (created for my friends at Litehouse Foods) will get dinner on the table in half an hour and impress your family with gourmet goodness. The chicken dinner is “fancy” enough to show off your ad hoc hospitality skills should guests unexpectedly drop by. Of course, you can follow the recipe to the letter – or use it for inspiration and get creative with other fruits and veggies.

Get the whole recipe for Tuscan Lemon-Lime Chicken with Grilled Grapes at the Living Litehouse blog.

I have another grilled citrusy chicken dinner that is a winner – Mojo Chicken Breast with Grilled Citrus. Keeping it colorful and creative and loving the one I’m with! Tomorrow, steak

grilled chicken and oranges

Best Watermelon Tips – Day 7 #LivingOnTheWedge

#LivingOnTheWedge Watermelon Tips

Did you know the average person eats 16 pounds of watermelon per year?  That’s pretty close to the weight of a typical medium watermelon – but I’m not typical nor am I average when it comes to most things and I could eat another person’s annual allotment in two days – now that’s #LivingOnTheWedge!  My friends and family will agree that I often like to take moderation in moderation — sometimes over-the-top is under rated!  There’s that time I tried to set a Guinness World Record in 6th grade for “Sitting on the Wall.” I held the hideous, quad-burning position for 1 hour and 37 minutes before the school nurse made me stop. Or, when I decided to run an out-of-town, 50 mile ultra-marathon race on a whim literally, on the morning of the event with no training or preparation other than serendipitously having packed my running shoes   . . . . or, that time I won a beer drinking competition on my honeymoon.  I don’t really even like beer.

But I do love watermelon! Here are some tips you should know about picking out, storing and serving watermelon:

good watermelon picking tips

Storing watermelon:  The general rule of thumb is to keep your melons chilled between 32 and 55 degrees. Watermelons won’t ripen any further once they’ve been picked from the vine. However, a watermelon will stay fresh for around a week at room temperature. Freezing doesn’t work well for watermelon, except in the case where you want to use it in a smoothie or frozen treat recipe.

Cutting watermelon: As with any fruit or vegetable, you should wash the exterior before slicing into the flesh. You don’t want your knife to cross-contaminate the inside with any germs that were lurking on the outside.  There are many ways to cut up and serve a watermelon – if you have the patience, you can even use a melon baller for a nice presentation. However, I like to cut my watermelon in half and cross-hatch it into spears for the quickest, most convenient way to serve.

watermelon cutting tip

If you have a watermelon tip to share, please post it in the comments. Or, better yet, join the group at my #LivingOnTheWedge Pinterest board.

watermelon prize pack

If you haven’t already, enter my giveaway for a great Watermelon Prize Pack.

This is the last post in my #LivingOnTheWedge week but please go back and visit all the other the other watermelon love I’ve been sharing since July 1st, the start of National Watermelon Month.

 

 

The National Watermelon Promotion Board is providing me with compensation to share my love of watermelon. However, the opinions and content (unless otherwise noted) shared are my own and NWPB did not tell me what to say or how to say it.

Watermelon Smoothies – Day 6 #LivingOnTheWedge

#LivingOnTheWedge watermelon

Come over to my house in the morning and you’ll hear the low hum of my blender – it seems to be in constant use!  My husband makes a smoothie to drink during his commute to work and I whip one up to cool down and rehydrate after a run. And, the kids love them for breakfast or as a healthy snack anytime of the day – especially when watermelon is an ingredient.  Everyone loves my recipe for this Watermelon Chia Seed Smoothie. It’s very good for you and very versatile – use the milk product of your choice and put in (or omit) protein powder based on your dietary needs.

watermelon chia frozen smoothie

Directions: Pour 6 ounces of milk (cow, soy, coconut or almond) into blender pitcher. Add 2 cups watermelon chunks and process until smooth. If desired, add one scoop (about 1/3 cup) vanilla protein powder and another 2 tablespoons of milk; process again until smooth.  Add 1 teaspoon chia sees and pulse a few times to mix through. Serves 1.

super green detox smoothie watermelonI place a priority on “eating clean” as much as I can. That being said, I’m no saint – a burger with fries or pizza with the works are two of my favorite ways to splurge. After all, as Julia Child once said, “All things in moderation including moderation”! When I need to hit the “reset” button, this Super Green Detox Smoothie from Watermelon.org helps me get back to my healthy eating plan. It’s packed with watermelon, kale, avocado, hot chile paste and other nutritious ingredients that will get your engine humming once again.    

 

watermelon coconut strawberry smoothieThis yummy Watermelon Malibu Surf Smoothie is blended with strawberries, watermelon, coconut cream and a little something extra — rum! Sure to be a popular drink at your next outdoor party. If you prefer a non-alcoholic drink or are looking for a kid-friendly version, just swap the rum for extra watermelon juice.

 

 

 

Someone special reads my blog and gave me a watermelon for my birthday!

Someone special reads my blog and gave me a watermelon for my birthday!

I’m getting toward the end of my #LivingOnTheWedge week, and I am not anywhere near running out of things to share about watermelon.  I’ve talked a lot about how the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in watermelon can help improve your workouts and keep you hydrated during running and other outdoor, but I shouldn’t fail to mention the basics in nutrition this healthy sweet treat offers everyone.

  • Vitamin A found in watermelon promotes healthy eyes and supports your immune system by bolstering the infection-fighting ability of lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell).
  • Vitamin B6 found in watermelon assists in the production of antibodies that your immune system uses to fight disease. Vitamin B6 also helps keep your nervous systems in tip-top shape, aids in the restoration of red blood cells, and synthesizes protein.
  • Vitamin C found in watermelon helps keep your body “younger” by warding off cellular damage and medical conditions that can be created by free radicals. Vitamin C also helps promote a healthy immune system ready to combat invading infections and viruses.
  • Potassium found in watermelon helps keep your electrolytes in balance and helps keep you from getting dehydrated.
  • Low in calories, watermelon fills you up and satisfies cravings for “sweet” – this can help in weight management.  A 2 cup serving of watermelon chunks has only 80 calories and no fat.

watermelon giveawayAlso, check out all the other posts on watermelon I’m featuring all week and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a great Watermelon Prize Pack! I also have a group pinterest board to share all the #LivingOnTheWedge love — you are invited to join!

The National Watermelon Promotion Boardnofollow is providing me with compensation to share my love of watermelon. However, the opinions and content (unless otherwise noted) shared are my own and NWPB did not tell me what to say or how to say it.