Bedtime Snacks for Muscle Making & Weight Management

The advice to not snack before bed is much more fiction than fact! The real story on noshing at night has a happy ending for those of us who are always hungry. Turns out it’s perfectly okay, if not a “good thing,” to eat a little something before bed, especially if you are trying to build or maintain muscle. However, before you start feeding your midnight munchies, there are exceptions and caveats – aren’t there always?!

Why You Should Eat Bedtime Snacks and Top Picks for Muscle Making And Weight Management. Casein powder before sleep is best.

Continue reading

3 Ways to Chow a Cherimoya + My #MustHaveBox

Just when I think I’ve tasted every type of fruit and vegetable there is to eat (ever been to Produce Convention), I realize that a tasty treat has slipped past my radar – the Cherimoya. Mark Twain once likened the cherimoya “deliciousness itself!”  – how did I ever miss the memo on this quite large and armored lizard-skinned looking fruit!

Discover easy, tasty ways to eat a Cherimoya (also known as a Custard Apple)

Cherimoya

Once set aside solely for ancient Incan royalty, this “King of Fruit” is still a prized possession – they are delicious and hard to find . . . and usually fairly big-bucks if you do. But, so worth the investment as you will gobble up this healthy treat in a single sitting, especially if you have a friend sitting nearby with a spoon. The flesh inside is amazingly fragrant, soft, sweet and scoopable – there some seeds inside, but they aren’t too hard to flick away.  When selecting afruit, pick a cherimoya that is still green but showing minor signs of turning brown soon. Like an avocado, the fruit is ripened with the flesh yields to a gentle touch. So, if your fruit is still green and hard, let it ripen on the counter for up to three days – or stick in a paper bag to speed the process along.  Check out my friends at Frieda’s for other great Cherimoya Recipes and Tips.

So, my top 3 ways to chow a cherimoya are:

Cherimoya sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg1)  Sprinkle with Spices: Sliced in half and sprinkled with cinnamon, dash of nutmeg and a bit of honey drizzle – I swear it tastes just like apple pie. My kids think it tastes more like a pineapple and banana that got married and laid a big prehistoric egg.  Either way, it’s a taste bud winner – haha!

Pureed Frozen Cherimoya - Smoothie and Meal Pret2) Mixed into Oatmeal: I put chunks or puree of cherimoya in my morning oatmeal.  This is a great way for me to boost up the vitamin C, potassium, and in my fiber in my daily diet. If I find the fruit on sale or can’t eat what I’ve purchased before going too ripe, I simply puree the fruit in the blender with a tiny splash of lemon juice and freeze in heavy-duty zip-top bags (above picture). This will keep in the back of your freezer for 6 months! You can also sub in for 1/2 the oil in baked goods as you would applesauce, pumpkin or another fruit puree.

Apple Cider Cherimoya Smoothie is loaded with fall flavor, fiber, vitamin C and more!

3) Blended into Smoothie: Blending cherimoya with orange juice is traditional but my recipe for Cherimoya Apple Cider Smoothie is super yummy.  I use one of the delicious, cold-pressed, 100% juice apple ciders from Litehouse Foods — so fresh you need to look for it in the produce department!

Directions: Add 2 tablespoons oats to bottom of blender, pulse for a few seconds to grind up. Add ½ cup cherimoya puree (preferably frozen) or fresh chunks, 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, ½ cup apple cider, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon honey (or sugar-free alternative) to blender and blend for 1 minute, adding a few ice cubes to achieve desired consistency. Serves 1.

Must Have Box from POPSUGAR

Also, I want to share with you my favorite little luxury each month – it’s the PopSugar #MustHaveBox from POPSUGAR.  The Must Have Box is a specially-curated monthly subscription that is filled with full-sized products across fashion, beauty, home décor, upscale edibles and more. I absolutely have adored everything that’s come in my monthly box – often they are splurges that I would never buy myself (but am oh-so happy to have) or fabulously off-beat, quirky things that I never knew I needed until I have in my hot little hands – and then I’m hooked!

The Fit Fork - POPSUGAR Must Have Box

Must Have Box from POPSUGARThe October box included a book, Power Your Happy, by POPSUGAR founder Lisa Sugar, a gorgeous umbrella from Henri Bendel (along with a shopping discount card), Dark Drinking Chocolate (by My Cup of Cocoa) and a Rise & Shine Diner Mug (by Morning Culture). The Lalicious Bubble Bath, Revlon Eye Pen and Makeup Eraser Mini really spoke to my girly side, that’s a nice treat when a mom of three boys!  Check out some of the past Must Have Boxes  and sign up for a subscription that suits you – save $5 on your first box with code SHOP5.  Whoohoo!

What is your MUST HAVE this month? Tip me off on your new, most favorite, most awesome find! Oh, and have you ever tried a Cherimoya?! Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennnifer 

 

DIY Cranberry Vanilla Sugar Scrub #BerryBeautyTrends #AzoCranGummies

Creamy Cranberry Orange Smoothie - TheFitFork.comSome people only think of cranberries during the holidays, but these little tart berries are awesome all year ‘round! Especially in summer tossed in recipes like my Creamy Cranberry Orange Smoothie, whirled up and frozen into fruit pops or tossed atop salads. Having a hard time tracking down fresh packages of this bog berry in warm weather months? Then, do what I do – stock up at the produce section right after Thanksgiving and Christmas (they are often also on sale) and then stick the straight into the freezer in original packaging where they’ll stay good for at least six months – or longer if packed air tight in a zip-top freezer bag.

You can also use cranberries to make a really effective and inexpensive sugar scrub! Natural beauty experts say that skin-care with cranberries is perfect for the acne-prone or those who have oily skin because – you can thank the berry’s inherent antibacterial properties. Used in a sugar scrub, cranberries also help to smooth skin texture and brighten your complexion.  My DIY berry beauty treatment only takes a few ingredients and few minutes to whip up — the “recipe” for Cranberry Vanilla Body Scrub makes enough for you and another container to give as a gift!

Make your own Cranberry Vanilla Sugar Scrub that is great for acne-pron and oily skin -- plus is softens and smooths!

Another important health benefit of cranberries is the prevention of urinary tract infections. After the flu and the common cold, urinary tract infections (UTI) are the most common medical complaint among women age over the age of 18 – and the majority of us will experience the significant discomfort (to put it mildly) of a UTI at least once during their lives. If you’ve ever had one, you know UTIs are a real pisser, to put it bluntly.

You’ve probably heard that drinking cranberry juice may help prevent UTIs. But why? According to WebMD, researchers used to think that cranberries created a more acidic environment that bacteria wouldn’t want to grow in. Now they believe that cranberries contain compounds that prevent infection-causing bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls – while research is still evolving, it appears that either the antioxidants in cranberries alter the bacteria in some way or create a slippery coating on urinary tract walls that keep bacteria from adhering or maybe both.

azo bottleBut, what if you don’t like the taste of cranberry juice, can’t drink it for dietary reasons, or it’s just not convenient to have a jug of the juice on hand at all times? You should try AZO Cranberry Gummies – just two of these mixed berry-flavored gummies provides the equivalent health benefits of a 10-ounce glass of cranberry juice**.  AZO Cranberry Gummies contain Pacran®, a super-concentrated cranberry powder that helps flush the urinary tract to maintain cleanliness.  The gummies taste really great and are an easy solution if you are worried about UTIs — AZO also has a bunch of other products that help women dealing with other delicate problems.

azo prizeAlso, don’t miss out on the Berry Beauty Sweepstakes – you could win a Berry Beauty Basket full of Sephora Goodies!

 

 

Have you ever made a DIY beauty product? Do tell! Share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

Disclaimer Stuff: I am being compensated to share my honest opinion of AZO Cranberry Gummies. **Biological activity of 10oz cranberry juice cocktail. *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. AZO Cranberry® used under license by i-Health, Inc. Pacran® is a trademark of Naturex.

5 Yoga Poses for Better Skin + Beauty Products I’m Loving NOW

This post is sponsored by NOW Foods via Mamavation.

5 Yoga Poses for Better Skin

Not only does practicing yoga have great benefits for your body and mind, but yoga also can help improve skin health by lessening stress and flushing toxins from the body. Some poses are better than others at helping you attain that magical glow – incorporate these five yoga poses into your workout routine and then reflect on your new healthy complexion!

Five Yoga Poses for Better Skin

Breathing Exercise: In seated position with legs crossed and arms at sides or gently resting on knees, practice deep rhythmic breathing slowly inhaling in and out ten times. Drawing in oxygen through the body will help release toxins and keep your motor running smoothly.

Legs Up The Wall: To perform this simple inversion, lay on back with rear touching wall and legs extended straight upward. This pose gets blood pumping to all parts of the body and has long been touted as an anti-wrinkle pose.

Seated Twist:  Sit with one leg bent and the knee behind you and the other bent and tucked in at the crotch. Place opposing arm on forward knee and other arm behind for support, twisting torso, neck and head as far as possible .This pose focuses on the digestive system which is vital for moving toxins out of the organs; remember to breathe deeply.

Headstand: Using a forearm or tripod position, extend legs over heart into headstand. Balance against a wall if needed. This position circulates the blood, especially to the face in a rejuvenating manner. While it is good to practice headstands every day, use caution to stay upside down for too long – this could be counterproductive to skin health by causing broken capillaries.

Plow: Lay prone on back with arms at sides. Extend legs upward and over face, optimally reaching the ground behind your head with your toes.  To modify, extend legs as far as possible and use hands to support back. This pose sends blood flow to the face and stimulates the hormone and metabolic system.

Some other ways I’ve been helping my skin, hair and teeth out are with natural products from NOW® Solutions.  You may be familiar with the vitamins, supplements and healthy food that NOW Foods makes to help people achieve optimal nutrition – but they also have a really great line of organic personal care products like moisturizers, shampoos, essential oils, home fragrances and more. All of the lotions and potions are made with a commitment to quality and  tested for potency, purity and safety — and never test on animals. There are no synthetic ingredients or yucky chemicals because NOW Solutions believes that nature provides almost everything we need to maintain the health and vitality of our hair, skin and nails — and so do I.

Here are some of the NOW® Solutions I’ve been loving lately (along with a few of their other personal care items):

Now Solutions Herbal Revival Shampoo and Conditioner

NOW® Solutions Herbal Revival Shampoo and NOW® Solutions Herbal Revival Conditioner: This invigorating shampoo and conditioner combines Horsetail Extract, Tea Tree Oil and Sea Kelp to help soothe and nourish the scalp.  L-Arginine and L-Cystine strengthen damaged follicles, giving hair a healthy shine and smooth feel – it’s perfect for my colored hair that tends to get damaged from styling tools! I also love how NOW avoids harsh chemicals and synthetic ingredients – who wants to put that yuck (like SLS or Parabens) on your hair?

Now Solutions Almond Oil -- great for skin, hair and even lessening dark circles under eyes!

NOW® Solutions Sweet Almond Oil – Vitamins A, B, and E, certain phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, and a variety of minerals make almond oil an effective natural moisturizer and skin protector.  Among its many varied used, almond oil softens and smoothes skin, removes makeup naturally with little greasy residue and helps add shine and moisture to undernourished hair. Perhaps the benefit I’m most interested in (and am testing out now), is the suggestion that almond oil can help reduce dark circles under the eyes and on the lid – simply apply lightly before bed and allow to work overnight for a few weeks.

Now Solutions Toothpaste, Biotin and Vitamin D cream

Now Solutions Toothpaste, Biotin and Vitamin D cream

NOW® Solutions XyliWhite™ Neem & Tea Tree Toothpaste – I feel good about brushing my teeth with this cool, minty gel toothpaste made with quality ingredients including 25% Xylitol – a natural ingredient that creates a healthy ph balance in your mouth and helps fight the bacteria which cause cavities (more about it here). . . . . Too much fluoride in your system can be a bad thing causing everything from brown spots on your teeth (dental flourousis) to allergies – there are even claims that over-flourinating can cause lower IQs, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Biotin: Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for normal growth and body function.  Biotin is a key regulatory element in gluconeogenesis, fatty acid synthesis, and in the metabolism of some amino acids.  Alongside its role in energy production,  Biotin enhances the synthesis of certain proteins.  In addition, Biotin promotes normal immunity and plays a critical role in skin health – I notice a difference in my hair and nails!

NOW® Solutions Vitamin D3 Cream –  This lotion provides intense and renewing moisture to skin that is dry, damaged, cracked or just crying out for help.  Just 1 gram (about ¼ teaspoon) will help get your skin on the fast-tract to recovery with a balanced ratio of vitamin D (1000 IU), vitamin A (500 IU) and Vitamin E (50 IU). I’ve been using this with good results to keep my heels from cracking and to massage into rough patches of new skin where scabs (from obstacle racing) have fallen off.

What is your skin care routine and do you have major concerns — acne, wrinkles, etc? Please share in the comments!