Live Happy, Live Healthy, Live Now + NOW Foods #Giveaway

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of NOW Foods.

 I think my new “Live Happy, Live Healthy, Live NOW” shirt sums it all up to a T! When a company whose products you already love, loves you back with double-puffy-hearted hospitality, it’s a win-win-win – for me, for them, for YOU! Recently, I was invited to visit Now Foods at their Midwest Operations Facility and Corporate Headquarters in Bloomingdale, IL (a suburb of Chicago) to learn more about their products lines, core values and mission to “enable people to live healthier lives.” NOW Foods Blogger Immersion 2016 It was a fun and fact-filled two days with a group of other health and fitness influencers.  Of course, we naturally had fit a group workout into the festivities and headed over to Lifetime Fitness for a specially developed HIIT workout that targeted 9 body parts to promote Target’s awesome athletic line called “C9.” That serious sweat session was followed by a bit of relaxing yoga and a delicious post-workout smoothie made with nourishing NOW products. NOW Foods Blogger Immersion 2016 My excitement is bubbling over from seeing with my own eyes how NOW products are made from start to finish and meeting with company executives including Jim Emme (CEO) and Dan Richard (son of founder). Oh, and by the way, please feel free to take a virtual tour of the Midwest Operations Facility yourself! NOW Foods Midwest Operations Facility Not only did I get a chance to tour the facilities, but also got to participate in some fun and educational sessions including a presentation by the lovely Dr. Wendy Bazilian on Food Tribes (more about this in an upcoming post) and impact these different diet choices (like Gluten-free, Paleo, Vegan, etc) have on athletic performance. It was also fun to partake in a DIY session where we made our own Aromatherapy Bath Soak and also Exercise Equipment Cleaning Spray using very versatile and pesticide/herbicide free Now Essential Oils. So, to recap my amazing experience, I want to share with you three awesome things I learned about this honest, totally-transparent and quality-focused company that started out way-back-when in 1968 as a simple health food store.  Also, make sure to read through to the end, they are generously sponsoring an enormous giveaway of products for one lucky reader to win! 1) NOW Foods makes and sells nearly everything on my shopping list! Seriously, I think this company makes almost everything I need to support my healthy living . . . except fresh fruit and vegetables. Not only does Now Foods make a vast array of vitamins, supplements and sports nutrition products (how I first found them), but they also have an impressive selection of personal care and wellness items, essential oils, healthy foods and even natural pet care products! Even though this large company produces so many different items, each individual product is very thoughtfully and carefully made — it’s as if each came from a single-focus boutique operation. There is just that much passion among the employees at this company that has been recognized as one of the “101Best & Brightest” to work in the nation!

Now Sports Plant Protein Complex and Sprouted Brown Rice Protein  Over here to the left, a couple of the protein powders that started my love affair with NOW Foods. Oh, and their food lines is amazing and so many of their products, from BetterStevia™ (it really is better) to gourmet, small-batch Ellyndale Foods™ to  , are the foundation for many of my healthy recipes on the blog including my Kiwi, Apricot and Feta Salad with Hemp Honey Dressing   (I used their organic hemp seeds and avocado oil for this yummy summer dish). Gold Kiwi Apricot & Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing is an easy, elegant and amazingly nutritious addition to your dinner party. Also, the Living Now™  line up is has a nice variety of tasty, junk-free products that make it easier and more convenient to keep a gluten-free diet. Ellyndale Gourmet Oils by Now FoodsWe also had an interesting and informative “oil tasting” led by the adorable and talented Executive Chef in their corporate test kitchen. Apparently, there is a proper way to appreciate the flavor of oils (think wine tasting) and I slurped in little bits of various oils one at a time, from pumpkin seed and almond to olive and sesame, and let them slowly wash over my tongue!  At the end of this taste-test, I have very moist lips as a whipped up a homemade berry salad dressing using the macadamia nut oil.  We also made to-go salads for our travel home that day and packed our jars from a rainbow array of produce, nuts and healthy grains – of course, I went straight to the Organic Tri-Colored Quinoa from  NOW Real Food™ , one of my favorites ( because, when meat isn’t on the menu, this near-celebrity-status seed offers a complete amino acid chain). Jar Salad with Now Foods Tri Colored Quinoa 2) NOW products are a blessing for my body and budget Now Foods products are both affordable AND high-quality — gasp, I know!  These two factors are important to so many of us trying to live, role model and share our passion for the “fit life.” It’s such a common assumption in the natural health food and supplement industry that the more expensive, the better   — not so! In fact, many times (not always), an expensive product is actually quite cheap in quality and just jacked up with a big marketing budget. But NOW Foods never tries to trick you into thinking that you’re getting something you’re not. They don’t waste money (which is ultimately your $) on overkill advertising because they are confident that their products always stand up to the test – literally!

My reaction at the hotel to my bags full of NOW products! High quality and affordable, whoohoo!

My reaction at the hotel to my bags full of NOW products! High quality AND affordable, whoohoo!

Just one example, I can get NOW Whey Protein Isolate for double the amount for half the price (okay, that’s a generalization, but the point is it’s a very good deal) as many other brands I’ve tried – plus the macros are spot on in my opinion, as opposed to many of the other protein powder options out there. Same goes for product after product in their collection of hundreds (if not thousands) of different items. NOW also maintains a highly efficient, low-error operations facility that helps keep costs down.  And, because NOW is privately-owned, they don’t have to jack up prices to please profit-margin focused shareholders – actually, NOW wants to please YOU, even if that means a little less moola in their own pockets 3) NOW Tests to be the Best

NOW Foods labratory

Learning some of the high-tech testing that goes on at the $40M lab at NOW.

So what did I just mean when I just said in #2 that “products always stand up to the test”?  I mean that NOW is highly committed to quality and bringing you the cleanest, safest products. Their 263,000 square foot facility is widely regarded as one of the most scientifically-advanced in the natural products industry. The $40+ million lab of this privately-owned company is simply amazing and is nearly unmatched both nationally and world-wide. I could tell from the giddy grins on the otherwise serious chemists, bio-scientists and other laboratory professionals’ faces that the NOW lab was THE place to be. jennifer now foods facilityNot only does NOW test the quality of their finished products, but they also monitor and maintain quality all through the entire manufacturing process which starts with product development and receiving raw ingredients from vendors and ends with storing in appropriate thermostatically-controlled environments and shipping out from a precision-inspired, highly-streamlined warehouse.  They also keep samples from each batch of products for a lengthy six years to ensure that if there ever is a problem, they can identify and correct immediately. I really appreciate that NOW is very transparent about the make-up of their natural products, ingredient lists and macros for nearly everything on their website. Plus, with all this testing I’ve described – I am 100% confident I’m getting what’s sold. Plus, they stand by their products if there ever is a rare, rare, rare exception.  The overwhelming majority of NOW products certified organic and non-GMO, those few that aren’t are always in the pipeline to meet those standards as soon as viable in the ingredient sourcing process. Feel free to read more about the Must Use Ingredients and Must NEVER Use Ingredients. Join the twitter chat on June 16th (9PM EST) to learn get into the conversation — follow @NOWfoodsand #NOWgetfit Gigantic giveaway of NOW products Enter my giveaway for a huge haul of NOW products, the same two huge bags of items they sent me home with!  It’s so much stuff, I can’t even describe it all – but it’s a bit of everything (probably $200+ at least) and you won’t be disappointed! USA only! Thank you FitFulFocus.com for the photo of loot, because I was so excited to try everything that I forgot to snap a pic! Don’t miss #NOWGetFit Twitter Party 6/16 9pm EST w/ me @NowFoods and @Fitfluential #ad a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lime Pie Smoothie + Blender Giveaway

Healthy Surprise Lime Pie Smoothie features hemp seeds and spinach for extra nutrition!Lime pie, don’t you just love this sweet, tart and tasty treats?! A big slice of Key Lime pie or the fabulous lime sherbet pie my mom used to make always reminds me of warm-weather memories and how sweet the slower pace of summer can be. Wouldn’t it be grand if summers were endless and we could all kick back on the lawn or hang out at the lake with the biggest worry in life being a bit of sunburn or not being able to get out of the hammock to fish before dinner?!

Enjoying some relaxing family time at the lake.

Enjoying some relaxing family time at the lake.

But, eventually, we all have to get back to the daily grind! But, my recipe for {Healthy Surprise} Lime Pie Smoothies is a delicious and nutritious way to fuel up for the day while serving as a reminder to slow down and smell the saltwater, chase the fireflies or just sit back on the patio and wait for the rainbow to appear over the sprinklers. The recipe for this protein smoothie features protein powder (use your favorite brand) and a tablespoon of hemp hearts for added protein and heart-healthy fats.  I like to have about 25g protein in my smoothies, but you can also just skip the protein powder scoop and cut back the milk an ounce or two.

Relax, Hamilton Beach's Wave Action Blender is ready to whip you up a smoothie, shake or icy drink this summer!

hamilton beach wave blender If you love to make smoothies, shakes and icy drinks (the most important refreshments of summer), the powerful and durable Hamilton Beach® Wave~Action® Blender will keep you whirling without any annoying chunks!  Ordinary blenders spin contents around the walls of the jar, which can leave whole chunks untouched by the blades. But, the unique Wave~Action® System is designed to continually force the mixture down into the blades for consistently smooth results.

 

blender lid spout

Other features I appreciated about this blender(and you’re sure to love, too) are an easy-pour spout,  700 watt motor, stir spoon for thick foods and dishwasher-safe 48-ounce glass jar.

So, YAY, I get to give one of these blenders away to a lucky reader – just enter via the Rafflecopter instructions below the recipe!

This Lime Pie Smoothie has a surprise -- spinach and hemp seeds for a boost of nutrition.

Healthy Surprise Lime Pie Smoothie Recipe

  • 12 ounces unsweetened coconut, soy or almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder of choice
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts (hulled hemp seeds)
  • ½ medium frozen banana
  • One large lime, zested and juiced
  • ½ cup packed spinach leaves
  • Stevia or honey to taste
  • Garnish – yogurt, lime slices

Add hemp seeds to blender and pulse for a few seconds to grind up. Add milk, frozen banana, lime juice and zest, and spinach. Blend until smooth and add stevia or honey to desired level of sweetness. If needed, add a few ice cubes and blend to create a thicker consistency. Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt and lime slices.  Serves 1.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blackberry Melon Smoothie Bowl – #ILoveSilkSoy

Blackberry Melon Hemp Smoothie Bowl - thefitfork.com

It’s fantastic there are so many alternative milk options at the market these days, there is seemingly something for everyone! However, it can sometimes become overwhelming to decide which carton to grab, but I can always count on Silk Original Soymilk to be a great option for me and my family.

original silk soymilkOne of the things I love most about Silk Original Soymilk is that no other dairy-free milk brand offers more protein ounce for ounce!  I’m a huge advocate of getting enough protein and portioning it at optimal times through the day – just read my recent post on the #proteinchallenge.  Each 8-ounce serving of Silk Original Soymilk has 8 grams of heart-healthy, plant-powered protein and a creamy, yummy taste.  And because Silk is plant-based, it’s naturally low in saturated fat and has no cholesterol and also has 50% more calcium than dairy milk.

silk ligh vanilla soymilkI also am a big fan of the Silk Light Vanilla Soymilk — so yummy in coffee, tea and smoothies. With that hint of vanilla flavor and fragrance, everything tastes like a treat splashed with a bit of this silky goodness.

Glass of Silk Soymilk

My three active teen boys can drain a carton of milk faster than I can scream “wait, save some for your cereal in the morning!”  That’s why I stock the fridge with multiple cartons and am thankful I don’t have to worry about them filling up on junk beverages like soda, corn-syrupy “juices” and even some of those surprisingly sugary sports drinks.

Ingredients for Silk Smoothie Bowl

I like to use either Silk Original Soymilk or Silk Lite Vanilla Soymilk as the starter for my smoothies – the ingredients that can blend into Silk is only limited by my imagination (and the size of the blender pitcher)!  Today, I’d like to share my take on the latest craze of smoothie served in bowls  — SMOOTHIE BOWLS!  I think you’ll love my creamy Blackberry Hemp Melon Smoothie Bowl that is perfect for a plant-powered breakfast, post-workout snack or refreshing and more mindful take on dessert.

Silk Blackberry Melon Smoothie Bowl

Blackberry Hemp Melon Smoothie Bowl Recipe

  • 1/2  cup frozen and thawed or fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • ½ frozen banana
  • 1 cup cantaloupe cubes (frozen if possible)
  • 1 cup Silk Original Soymilk or Lite Vanilla Soymilk
  • Couple drops of Stevia natural liquid sweetener
  • ½ scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • Ice, if needed
  • 1 tablespoon shelled hemp seeds (hemp hearts)
  1. Divide blackberries in half. Use back of fork or muddler to smash up one portion of blackberries into a “sauce.”  Set aside.
  2. Add oats to blender, pulse until ground up and powdery.
  3. Add frozen banana, cantaloupe cubes, soymilk, stevia and protein powder (optional) to blender.  Blend for a minute or so until everything well combined and smooth. Blend in ice if consistency needs to be thicker.
  4. Pour smoothie into bowl and drizzle with muddled blackberries, remaining whole blackberries and sprinkle with hemp seeds.
  5. Serves 1.

If you’d like to try Silk or fall back in love with it again, head over to Silk and nab a coupon before you head off to the store.

p>This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.