The Epic Double Chin Diary Holiday Gift Guide

Ah, the holidays. The smell of chestnuts roasting (really, who does that?), family fighting (now that’s more likely), and the season of sales, sales, and sales, causing us all to stress out about the perfect gift when really it doesn’t matter. However, because gifts are kind of a thing, I’ve rounded up some new favorites for your consideration for those who like relaxing, cooking, fashion, and exercise. All of these gifts were sent to me gratis in exchange for mention (but only if I really liked them – two got the axe!). This post also contains affiliate links, so if you click on something and buy it, I might make four cents (I’m rich!). Enjoy — and be sure to read carefully as you have a few chances to win some of these goodies for yourself!

1) Royal Silk Scarf by World Vision

Looking for the perfect thoughtful gift for your world conscious friend? Consider this royal silk scarf from WorldVision. Vietnam’s Ma Chau villagers weave these traditional silky smooth scarves, helping to provide them with a sustainable income. This scarf is 68″ long, and has the most incredible colors and vibrancy.  Each is unique; size and color may vary slightly. You can make a suggested donation of $95, or enter an amount that’s meaningful to you. Want to see how purchasing from WorldVision works? Click here.

Alyssa rocks the World Vision Royal Silk Scarf

Alyssa rocks the World Vision Royal Silk Scarf

You know you want one of your own… so follow the steps below for your chance to win!
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2) Tiger Tail Classic

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Foam rolling both terrifies me and delights me; the concept of massaging painful, tight muscles is initially scary, mildly painful, and then after it’s sweet relief. When I heard about Tiger Tail, I knew I would need one of these puppies (kitties?) for my post-walk soreness. I packed it along with me on my trip to San Diego, and this thing was passed among my teammates with more enthusiasm than a box of chocolates. The small, compact size and quality build make it perfect for bringing along on trips, or for stashing in your house. Our traditional foam roller is bulky and giant, and this removes a lot of heft but still packs a punch. Plus, look at how adorable the packaging is! I loved this thing post 3-Day, and am super psyched about using it to roll out my muscles post-hike. The Classic is priced at $34.95, is made in the USA, easy to clean, and has a 3 year warranty. The next thing I’ll try out is the Knotty Tiger — I can really see that sorting out the giant knots in my neck!

The cutest sticker on the packaging!

The cutest sticker on the packaging!

3) Creekside Farms Kitchen Herb Wreath

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it’s too bad smellovision doesn’t exist yet on the web!

This is the type of thing that doesn’t come across my inbox too often; a gift that simultaneously makes me go “ooh, pretty” and “Ahhh, it smells good.” While I was initially struck by the photos of how stunning Creekside Farm’s Kitchen Herb Wreath is, when I received it, it was the amazingly lush smell of lavender, dill, oregano, sage, and rosemary that won me over. It looks great outside (away from direct light) and also inside, where you can see the naughty cat that isn’t supposed to be on the table. (She argues that the wreath smelled so good she just HAD to be closer to it.) This wreath would be the perfect gift for the Foodie in your life, and if you want a different style, check out my other favorite, the Sunflower wreath. Creekside Farms grows all of their own herbs, and they dry everything on site, truly making these family-created products artisanal.

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Stunning Kitchen Herb Wreath Scents Up The Kitchen

Visit Creekside Farms on Facebook here, and on Twitter here. Want 15% off your order? Use code CURAN. I know that I personally will be making an order for one of these beauties!

Gorgeous Up Close Shot of the Kitchen Herb Wreath by Creekside Farms

Gorgeous Up Close Shot of the Kitchen Herb Wreath by Creekside Farms

4) Natracure Heated Booties

So what if these are technically for Arthritis – after walking a ton of miles this past weekend in the 3-Day, I couldn’t wait to slip these babies on my feet. With separate microwavable gel inserts, you heat up the pads, stick ‘em in the bottom of the super fuzzy velour slippers, slip them on and oooh and ahh your way to toasty relaxation. Better yet, these booties are coated on the inside with a smart gel lining, with 7 botanicals. My feet did actually feel smoother and smelled like a foot that had been freshly scrubbed at a spa. One tip with these: don’t walk in them! Thankfully I Googled it online before I took a step and burst the gel packs, but these booties are meant to be worn 5-10 minutes at a time to heat up your tired tootsies, and they’re worn best when you’re relaxin’ in one spot. These retail for $49.99 and are great for people with foot pain and stiffness, and you can also find a pair designed just for the hands. Time for relaxation!

Cozy and comfy in Natracure's Heated Booties

Cozy and comfy in Natracure’s Heated Booties

5) Goody QuikStyle Brush

Ever since I got my hair cut and colored, I’ve been making an effort to actually style my hair rather than throwing it in a sloppy bun. Part of that means blow drying my hair, and since I’m lazy, I like to exert minimal effort. That’s where the Quikstyle comes in – an awesome, space age looking hair brush that has microfiber tufts between the bristles. I had actually seen this brush in stores and wanted to try it, so when it came through my inbox I figured this would be a fun one to review.

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The awesome Goody Quikstyle

While initially I was skeptical, it does actually dry your hair as you brush through it. And, it’s designed smart, so antimicrobial microfiber keeps the brush fresh and inhibits mold or mildew growth. Seeing is believing, so how about you enter to win one yourself by following the steps below? The Goody Quick Style Paddle Brush is six bucks on Amazon.com, a perfect stocking stuffer for the lady in your life who needs a darling ‘do on the go.

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I hope you’ll consider some of these goodies for the loved ones in your life this holiday season. What’s on your wishlist?

Health Warrior Chia Bars Review and Giveaway

If we were in person together, I’d totally start telling you about these Chia bars by chanting, Ch, Ch, Ch, Chia! Side note: I have had several Chia pets in my lifetime, and they never grow as beautifully lush as the ads made them out to be. Typical. Thankfully, I now have a much more useful application for Chia Seeds in my daily life: as part of my diet! My tentative enchantment began when I started making pudding out of Chia Seeds, like this nommy Peanut Butter Cocoa recipe. Then, I worked briefly for a nutrition bar company, and one of the bars they recommend I try was the Health Warrior Chia Bars. Right away I was intrigued by their small size. I know that sounds weird because usually in America, bigger is better, but I was on the lookout for something I could tuck into my purse or waist pack for on the go. I picked up a mango bar and was blown away at the taste. Immediately, you notice the lovely, chewy texture, the real hunks of mango, and the nutty, toasty taste of the Chia seeds. Each of these bars has 3 grams of protein, 4g of fiber, 4g of sugar and is only 110 calories. Plus, they’re packed with 1,000 mg of Omega-3.

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Health Warrior has kindly sent over a few packages of Mango and Coconut Bars for my 3-Day team, and I know we’re all looking forward to fueling up with them over our 60-mile journey. If tropical delight isn’t your thing, you can also try Chia Bars in Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Banana Nut, Coffee, Acai Berry, and Dark Chocolate Cherry. I’ve had the Banana Nut before as well and it was like delicious banana bread in a tiny, compact bar that’s lots better for you than banana bread. Now, I might say I love this product, but how do we know it’s legit, and I’m not just another rambling blogger? Because Mr. Double Chin Diary has been going through these like crazy, and I actually had to hide the last two boxes from him and remind him that these are for my walking team! Usually he turns his nose up (and usually, rightfully so) at the variety of chalky protein powders and stuff that makes its way into the house.

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Let’s talk about the nutrition stats for a moment. While these bars aren’t 100% organic, they use a bunch of organic ingredients, and there’s NO CRAP in their ingredients. You can pronounce every ingredient, and it’s all stuff that’s, you know, actually made out of food! These bars are dairy free, gluten-free, soy-free, and 100% vegan — and 100% tasty.

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Now! Enough about what I think about them. Let’s get you a chance to try them too. Enter now to win a box of Chia Bars, valued at $23.50 for 15 bars. The only mandatory entry is for you to hit “Easy Entry” on the Rafflecopter below. Then, score extra chances to win by doing the additional steps. This giveaway will end on Monday, 11/17 at 11:59 p.m. PST. GOOD LUCK!

 
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De-stress with Organic India Tea: Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I received free samples of Organic India Tea in exchange for a review.

Stress. No matter how many downward dogs, deep breaths, or meditation chants I do, stress always finds a way back into my life. It’s kind of just the age we live in; life is chaotic. Cell phones buzzing, emails pinging… the constant connection, though delightful, can also add up. When you think about a de-stressing beverage, you probably think of beer or wine. Oh yes; a nice buzz can sometimes be a great way to de-stress. But! If you’re seeking a de-stressing beverage that is appropriate for the work day, or one you can consume while in a moving vehicle, I think I have a solution.  ORGANIC INDIA has over 18 different flavors of its signature organic Tulsi, Holy Basil herb, that helps reduce stress, aid in digestion, balance metabolism, support anti-aging and overall immune system.

I was sent three types of tea to try; Original Tulsi Teabags, Raspberry Peach Tulsi Loose-Leaf, and Moringa Tulsi Teabags. First of all, I love that these teas are organic, because I recently learned that some big-name tea companies cover their tea with all sorts of pesticides (that sucks – but Organic India doesn’t). Holy Basil itself has a slightly peppery taste to it with a sweetness I really like, and don’t worry — it doesn’t taste like the classic Italian pesto, so you’re not going to feel like you’re sipping a mug of pesto. The Raspberry Peach was my favorite out of this batch, tastewise, for its fruity undertones. However, Moringa takes the cake for the coolest attributes — “Tulsi (Holy Basil) and Moringa (Moringa oleifera) are two of the most unique herbs to come out of India, and together they offer a myriad of health benefits. Tulsi is well known in the west for its adaptogenic benefits and uses in combating stress. The antioxidant activity in Moringa is extremely high, and the easiest way for your body to assimilate them is in tea form. There is one antioxidant in particular that Moringa contains called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which is twice as powerful resveratrol, one of the most popular anti-aging antioxidant supplements on the market. EGCG has been shown to help maintain healthy LDL cholesterol levels and protect cardiovascular health.” I try and drink a cup of tea daily anyways; can you imagine if I replaced my daily breakfast tea with this one? Cashing in on the health benefits!

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The concept behind Tulsi that I love, besides the organic, non-GMO, sustainible farming side, is that you’re taking the very relaxing act of drinking a cup of tea and turning it into even more of a “chill” moment by using an herb that’s shown to be a mood lifter. Some people think that herbal remedies are hocus pocus, but having had my own garden for years and seeing how cats take to catnip and how aloe soothes burns and how peppermint can cure a gnarly stomach has proven to me that herbs are powerful forms of medicine. One note about Tulsi Looseleaf that’s just good to know: it is a smaller brew of leaf product, so you’ll end up with some sediment at the bottom of your mug (shown above). It won’t harm ya, and you’ll barely notice it, but if you’re a super picky tea drinker, you can brew through a coffee filter or use a french press.

Because I’d rather show you than tell you, let’s get to the good stuff! One lucky reader will win a nice starter pack of Tulsi Teas, in Pomegranate Green tea, Original Tulsi, and India Breakfast. Please use the rafflecopter to enter to win, and note all the extra ways you can score entries! This contest will run until Thursday, July 31 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Winner must be 18 years or older and live in the United States. GOOD LUCK!
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The Double Chin Diary Charitable Holiday Gift Guide

Ahh, the holidays. A time of year when cinnamon scents the air, your jeans are tight, traffic is worse and family fights are abundant. Just kidding! I actually love the holidays. Even though they can be stressful, I love the idea of a season of giving, spending time with loved ones, and enjoying some time off. This weekend I was lucky enough to have all of my family come down to Los Angeles for Thanksgiving. There’s nothing like a good meal with those you love. This year, I’ve decided to focus on gifts that have a “good for you” angle, and not just in a health and wellness sense. This year, I wanted to focus on gifts that have a “good for the world” angle. It’s easy to get caught up in the “oooh! I want that!” type of consumer mentality that abounds, believe me, as someone who enjoys shopping, I know the temptation of glitz and glam quite well. However, sometimes you want to give a gift that’s more meaningful and has a special meaning. In this case, enter the five gifts below that are good for YOU, and good for the world. I was gifted two complimentary items (Dancing Deer Cookie and Brownie Pack and Prosperity Cinnamon) in exchange for review. You have a chance to win your own Prosperity Cinnamon from WorldVision at the end of this post :)

1) Madres Jewelry

Madrews Jewelry Simplicity Necklace

Madres, which means “mothers” in Spanish, empowers low-income women by providing fair wages and dignified employment. My sister has been a longtime supporter of this jewelry, and they have some beautiful pieces. How gorgeous is this “Simplicity” necklace? It’s Sterling Silver with Apatite beads and is only $25.00.

2) WorldVision Prosperity Cinnamon

Prosperity Cinnamon from World Vision

Prosperity Cinnamon from World Vision

I’m a big fan of cinnamon. In fact, when Christmas is over, I hoard those cinnamon-scented pinecones from the clearance section because I love the way they make my house smell. Cinnamon is also a “wonder spice” in that it can reduce inflammation in the body and is even thought by some to help you metabolize fats more quickly. Have you ever tried some cinnamon sprinkled on a sweet potato with a drizzle of coconut oil? Wonderfully delicious! However, this cinnamon is more than just sweet spicy goodness; it’s Vietnam’s renowned sweet cinnamon, a renewable resource collected from the Cassia tree, sold to benefit generations of hard working families. This beautifully carved cinnamon bark box contains 3 oz. of cinnamon and bears a common Asian character for prosperity. Don’t panic by the suggested price of $85 on WorldVision.org — you can donate whichever amount you’re most comfortable with, less $19 as the fair market value for the cinnamon. This gift is awesome because not only do you get an ecletic yet totally useful thing, you’re giving a direct contribution to a family or community in need. It may help fund microloans, it may feed a small family in a remote village, or it may help provide clean drinking water. You have a chance to win your own prosperity cinnamon at the bottom of this post! Looking for another charitable gift? I’m in love with this Giraffe Christmas Ornament made out of glass beads. So cute — and such a thoughtful way to gift!

3) Dancing Deer Baked Goods

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Sometimes, you just have to give someone sweet something sweet! Baked goods are wonderful gifts for people you have a little bit of confusion over what to buy; everybody loves dessert, so in my mind, these are perfect gifts for neighbors, babysitters, colleagues, hair dressers, and more. I was sent the Dancing Deer Winter Holidays Gift Box that includes four chocolate chunk brownies, award winning Molasses Clove cookies, and 14 peppermint snowflake butter cookies. With the first bite of brownie, I knew I was sold. These brownies and cookies are truly fresh-baked, and the brownie had such a wonderful, dense texture, with big chunks of dark chocolate. To prove a point, note that none of these items were photographed like I usually prefer; and the embarrassing reason is that they were so good, they didn’t last long enough in our house to get their own photo shoot! The giftbox comes with everything nestled inside a festive red box, tied with a brown ribbon and carefully packed in brown krinkles. It’s a no fuss gift – send it and you’re done with your giftgiving. This gift box is $26.99, and Double Chin Diary readers can score 20% off with code KITCHEN. The charitable aspect I love about this company is their Sweet Home gifts, that give 35% of all profits to to scholarship programs through One Family Inc to help homeless and at risk mothers further their education. Sweet taste, sweet gift, sweet initiative – sweet all around! Check out this one that comes with a great red gift basket. These cookies and brownies truly tasted fresh-baked!

4) Shop Taffy Plus Size Activewear

ShopTaffy_PlusSizeActiveWear_DoubleChinDiaryI’ve already professed my love to ShopTaffy because their clothes are cute, high-quality, reasonably priced and best of all, they really “move” with you as you workout. Until December 31st, 10% of all proceeds of ShopTaffy are going to Unicef Philippines. Have a stylish sweat sesh AND give back to a community in need of some help? Sounds good to me. (PS: Use code LLBLOG for 25%  entire site until 12/31/13)

 

5) My awesmoe friend Virginia (who hangs around this blog often) walked recently to help raise money for the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. This dish towel, pot holder and oven mitt set are not only adorable, but after the production costs, 100% of profits goes to St. Jude’s. This would be a great gift for a foodie friend who loves to cook! $24.00.

St. Jude's Kitchen Gift Set: 100% of profits help fight childhood disease

St. Jude’s Kitchen Gift Set: 100% of profits help fight childhood disease

Now that you have a few ideas of some “Good for you, Good for the world” gifts, it’s your chance to win one! For a shot at some WorldVision Prosperity Cinnamon, please follow the instructions and use the rafflecopter app below. This giveaway is good through Saturday, December 14th at 11:59pm PST. US Only, 18+. Good luck!!!

1) Visit WorldVision’s Gift Page and tell me in a comment on this blog post, which gift you like best.

2) Once you’ve done that, mark the “leave a comment” option on rafflecopter app as DONE.

3) That’s it! You can do the extra entries if you like but don’t feel obligated.

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No Sweeter Than the Ripest Cherry — Cookbook Review

Hi Friends! Today I’m sharing a review of my friend Suzie’s comic-cook book, No Sweeter Than The Ripest Cherry. Suzi and I met about 7 years ago when she and my husband attended the UCLA Film School. When I found out Suzie was a raw food chef, I was instantly intrigued by her career, thinking that raw food must mean ALL YOU CAN EAT IS SALAD. Thankfully, I was wrong, and when Suzi’s book came out, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy to explore.

No Sweeter Than The Ripest Cherry is a seasonal, fresh food inspired comic book recipe guide designed to fuse foundational, science-based nutrition concepts with a non-dogmatic seven-day culinary exploration of exciting, practical, and bowl-licking-good meals… that are mostly raw, mostly paleo, and made 100% from scratch with whole food ingredients and superfoods.

This is not your ordinary cookbook. The design is incredible, filled with comic book style illustrations, mouth watering photography, and clever typography and text placement that has you reading each page in depth to make sure you don’t miss anything. Look at these gorgeous pages!

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I also really like the style of writing. To me, cooking is FUN — so when things get a little too stuffy (cough cough, Mastering the art of French cooking), I get bored. Ripest Cherry is filled with personality, from the cutesy images of the character Ingrid on her 7-day health transformation, to great tongue-in-cheek quips such as “Like a wild primate, bang the empty coconut on the ground until it breaks.”

For my first Ripest Cherry adventure,  I decided to tackle The Blueberry Hawaiian, a yummy raw smoothie with Avocado, Celery, Cucumber, Lime, Wild Blueberries, Ginger, Honey and greens.

Photo from EssentialLivingFoods.com

This was my first time making a smoothie that had (GASP) vegetables in it, so I was a little nervous about what I’d end up with. For “greens”, I used a handful of spinach. I also added some Spirulina, because I got some at FitBloggin’ and it’s been staring at me from my pantry since June because I had no idea what to do with it.  For the record, wild blueberries are so cute and tiny, and their color is an amazing purple! Also for the record, raw honey is so much more robust than its boring sibling. I got mine (a sage citrus blend) at the Calabasas farmer’s market and it’s so good!

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The end result is perhaps not the most photogenic smoothie, but I have to say – I’m impressed! I was nervous it would taste grassy from the spinach and spirulina, but instead, the sharp ginger was really complemented by the honey, and the texture had a creaminess from the avocado that was only accentuated by the cooling cucumber.  This recipe makes a very large amount, so much in fact, that I had one full glass for dinner and have a blender-bottle of it for tomorrow’s breakfast. SCORE! What I liked about this smoothie was that not only did it taste super fresh,but it was incredibly filling.

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Besides having super yummy recipes like Guacatacos, the other huge benefit to Ripest Cherry is the health and nutrition information. Almost every other page is packed with an easy-to-read essay about topics like how digestion begins, the benefits of fermentation, and the importance of exercise. This is the type of information that you simply won’t get in your Glamour magazine — it’s the kind of information you get from that super-smart friend who teaches cooking classes at the local Ashram. (Suzie does that too!) For example, I loved this passage from the piece about exercise: “Remember, beginnings, however humble, are still beginnings. Everything in nature begins with a singular impulse. From the tiniest germ of being, life manifests outward into the universe. Where ever you may be in your journey, you can always take the first step towards reinvention.”

There’s also a super nutrition appendix that lists the health benefits and properties of all of the ingredients in the book. Did you know that celery is sometimes used as a treatment for rashes, and that bee pollen can help reverse the effects of obesity?
These tips, along with the amazing photography, innovative recipes and informative health knowledge earn the Ripest Cherry the Double Chin Diary seal of approval. You can buy your own copy at RipestCherry.com for $14.95.

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Because a review just ain’t a review on the Double Chin Diary without a giveaway, Suzie has graciously agreed to offer a copy to one lucky Double Chin Diary reader. For your entry to win, all you need to do is visit RipestCherry.com, and tell me which recipe out of the four sample pages shown you would be most inclined to try (Leave a comment).  The winner will be picked next Tuesday at 11:59 PM. US Only, please — and GOOD LUCK! You can earn an additional entry by “liking” Ripest Cherry on Facebook, sharing a tweet or Facebook post about this giveaway! If you do those things, just let me know in the comment. Viva la ‘Raw’volution!