Want a chance to win 1,000 Diet to Go meals?! Of course you do!

It’s January. Which means the gyms are filled with resolutioners and hopefuls, those embracing a new, active lifestyle. I say… “more power to them!” But — we can’t forget that some health enthusiasts fully believe that “Abs are made in the kitchen.” (I think my jellybelly was made in the kitchen too, but I digress!) Because you can’t embrace a new, healthy lifestyle without embracing a new, healthy eating plan, now’s your chance to give Diet to Go a try – for free! Diet to Go is offering up a chance to win 1,000 meals! Say whaaaaat?!

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Your chances are good, guys. I admit — I’m lucky and I win raffles pretty frequently. Today, I’m sharing the good luck ju-ju with you! Here are all the awesome details:

• 5 lucky winners will receive one month of free meals! (Dude – I lost 9 pounds in a month!)
• 20 winners will receive a free week of meals! (And averaged 2.4 pounds per week)
• 25 winners will receive a $50 Diet-to-Go gift card! (With code NEWYEAR2014 you can save an additional 25% off!)

It’s easy. Simply enter your email address for your chance to win! Receive up to 5 bonus entries just by liking and sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Plus, get unlimited bonus entries for each friend you refer! You can even enter right here, without having to go to any other website.



Now — want a few more chances to win? Of course! Join me and some other members of the Diet to Go Dream Team for a Twitter Party on January 7th at 9:00 p.m. EST. We’ll be talking about the Anti-New Year’s Resolution, which means using common-sense to make lifelong, lasting changes towards health. (It’s not about a diet or quick-fix. It’s about a lifestyle change) 1 randomly drawn chatter will win a Fitbit Flex Wristband or a Fitbit scale and 3 randomly drawn chatters will win 1 week of free meals. If you guys have never done a Twitter Party, it’s fun, I promise! You answer questions sent out into the Twittersphere by @diettogo using the hashtag #diettogo, and each answer gives you more chances to win.

Enough of me blabbing – let’s get to WINNING! Enter now and please let me know if you have any questions :)

***Diet to Go is compensating me for helping to promote this sweepstakes. As a reminder, I only promote things I believe in — no B.S. here!

 

Fitcation Recap 3: Earth Footwear, Halter Ranch, Hearst Castle and Morro Bay

Disclosure: The costs of the events and activities for Fitcation were defrayed by sponsors, and the attendees were contractually obligated to write a summary of the experience and also received free swag items. However, the thoughts and opinions I’m sharing in this post are honest and my own.

I’ve written about Fitcation 13′ here and here, and even though I wish I could have stayed on this vacation forevvvvver, I have to wrap it up! Last I left off, we were on our way to the beautiful Halter Ranch, another gorgeous location in the lovely Travel Paso region. When you arrive at Halter Ranch, you first see this beautiful Victorian home and lovely wooden bridge. However, once you walk past the wooden bridge is where the true splendor awaits; hundreds of rolling acres of winding grape vines, dusty dirt paths and expanse of beautiful blue sky.

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Beautiful vineyards at Halter Ranch in Paso Robles, Calif.

We took a hike up to a very special oak tree, called the Ancestor Tree, one of the oldest oak trees in California. The branches of this tree were large enough to shade over 35 people! Here I am looking tickled to be in such an amazing place.

The Ancestor Tree, Halter Ranch

The Ancestor Tree, Halter Ranch

After hiking up to the tree, we headed back to the winery, where we treated with a tour of the wine-making rooms. I loooooove the smell of wine being made. It’s not only deliciously boozy, it’s a rich, sweet smell… grown up grape juice, y’all. We learned more about the SIP Certification and how important ethical, green business practices are in today’s green-washed consumer culture (green washing = everyone and their mom saying things are green because they’re “natural” – marketing buzz words that have no truth or verification behind them!).

Where the magic happens - Inside Halter Ranch

Where the magic happens – Inside Halter Ranch

After our education, it was off to a beautifully decorated barn for dinner and EARTH SHOES! Now, if you know me in person, you know I have a bit of a problem with shoes. As in, there’s a whole storage trunk full of shoes in my house. Only one problem… they’re all MY shoes. Yup. Maybe it’s the big-girl syndrome, but often, shoes are the only things I can buy without worrying about size, and even saying that is a stretch — as a size 11, I’m lovably larger in all ways! I was excited to learn more about Earth footwear because one of my favorite stories about my mom and dad’s relationship is that when they first started dating in the 1980s, my mom thought my dad was a hippie because he wore Earth shoes. Back then they were way less fashionable, but made of premium materials, as they still are today. We got to try on shoes and I was generously gifted with these adorable Bellflower shoes in Pewter. These shoes have not left my feet for the past week! They’ve really molded to my feet and are sooo comfortable. They’re padded with three layers of material and the leather has definitely conformed to the shape of my foot. If you “like” Earth on Facebook, you’ll be the first to know about sales and deals. Believe me — these shoes are worth the price, and for those of you who want shoes in non-animal material, they have plenty of adorable vegan options as well.

Loving my new Earth Brand Bellflower Flat!

Loving my new Earth Brand Bellflower Flat!

After our shoe presentation (did I mention we each got a five minute reflexology foot massage? Mmmhmmm. It was awesome), we enjoyed an amazingly yummy dinner of spaghetti squash with turkey bolognese, roasted zucchini and squash, kale salad and some delicious artisan bread. And wine! LOTS OF WINE! I have some very funny pictures from this evening that I’ll not post on this blog, as I’d like to keep some of my new friends ;) Let’s just say 35 women who are all pretty chatty (aka BLOGGERS) plus booze plus vacation = some pretty wild conversation.

Locally sourced dinner at Halter Ranch

Locally sourced dinner at Halter Ranch

After dinner, it was back to the hotel for a night of sleep before DAY THREE: MY FAVORITE! We woke up early in the morning and headed to the amazing Hearst Castle! I had been to Hearst Castle before with Matt, but it’d been a few years. I enjoyed a private car pool with three of my new buddies, Deb, June and Ana-Lydz. One thing that sounds corny but I think is important for women to remember is that we really need to value friendship with women of ALL ages. In that car, we had many different ages, but each of us had something special to contribute to the conversation. Our chatter never stopped, and I felt so lucky to get to gab to them! We arrived at the amazing Hearst Castle, boarded the shuttle up the hill, and were off to William Hearst’s castle in the hills. I have to say, I’m a big sap, because seeing those amazing mountains and the ocean in the distance was just breath-taking and brought a tear to my eye. I’m so glad my Dad moved us here 15 years ago :)

Hearst Castle in the San Simeon Hills

Hearst Castle in the San Simeon Hills

Check out some of the gorgeous sculptures and flora around his home. I wouldn’t mind living here for awhile. I’ll say this much, none of the houses we’ve been hunting for look like this…

The grounds at Hearst Castle

The grounds at Hearst Castle

One of my favorite spots is the Neptune Pool. I wanted to rip off my jacket, throw on a swimsuit, grab a trashy magazine and set up shop RIGHT HERE. Sounds good, right?! Here I am with Leah, the founder of Fitcation and Mamavation!

Alyssa and Leah at the Neptune Pool

Alyssa and Leah at the Neptune Pool

And because one pool wouldn’t be enough, Hearst also had a second pool, the Roman Pool. I think I might almost like this one better. Breathtaking.

The Roman Pool, Hearst Castle

The Roman Pool, Hearst Castle

After Hearst castle we got back into our cars and headed to Cambria! We enjoyed a yummy lunch from Robin’s Restaurant, and then we did some yoga on the beach, led by Kia. It felt soooo good to stretch out my body with the sun on my face, the sea breeze gently lapping my hair, and the sound of the waves crashing against the sand. I need to get into yoga again, because it’s a great workout and has a magical calming effect on my monkey mind.  How amazingly gorgeous is this picture of Kia from Bodhi Bear doing Yoga on the cliffs?

Kia and the waves.

Kia and the waves.

Here I am with Meagan doing the Warrior Pose. Meagan and I have a great story to tell you sometime this week about our amazing kayaking trip, but it’s such an awesome story that it needs its own post :)

Warrior Girls aren't afraid of a little sand in their clothes!

Warrior Girls aren’t afraid of a little sand in their clothes!

We wrapped up the activities of the day at Morro Bay, a lovely seaside town with a huge rock jutting out of the bay. I definitely need to return here for a fun weekend trip with the husband. Half of the gals went kayaking, while the other half enjoyed some libations at the Morro Bay Yacht Club. I have lots more to say about the awesomeness that ensued while kayaking, but like I said, I’m saving that for another post :)

The amazingly beautiful Morro Bay

The amazingly beautiful Morro Bay

The final Fitcation gathering was enjoying a feast of yummy pizzas at Eatz  in San Louis Obispo, and then I said my goodbyes. I feel so very, very lucky to have met all of the women I did, and hopefully, we’ll all stay in touch. Also, a huge thank you to the wonderful sponsors of Fitcation for the meals, activities, swag and education. It’s amazing to think this little blog has brought about so many wonderful experiences. Last week, I noticed that in October of 2012, I was celebrating 150 Facebook likes. Today, I’m just over 1,400. WOW! While I know my journey has barely even started in terms of getting the weight OFF, I’ve learned so much about myself, fitness, food and health in general that it’s safe to say this blog has become a very special part of my heart. Thank you for that! *cheese fest over*

Now — because I can’t be the only one who gets to enjoy the awesomeness of this trip, if you leave a comment on this post, you’ll be entered to win a MYSTERY GRAB BAG of some of my swag items! Just leave me a comment and let me know if you’d like to travel to Paso Robles, Cambria, Morro Bay and San Louis Obispo, too. I’m pretty sure you would ;) Have an amazing day!

 

Love,

The Double Chin Diary Siggy

 

 

Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free Cookbook Review and Giveaway

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Hi everybody, happy Friday! A few months back I had the opportunity to sign up to review a new cookbook by Ricki Heller called Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free.  I knew back then that following the PCOS diet would mean making healthier choices in regards to sweets, and trying to eat as close to low-glycemic as possible would be a huge puzzle piece in my efforts to get fit. The book first attracted me because of the gorgeous cupcakes on the front cover. Although I can get down and dirty in the kitchen, I don’t consider myself a great baker… EXCEPT for making and decorating cupcakes. A few cake deco classes later, and I’m pretty confident with my swirly-topped creations. I have to admit that sometimes, the words gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan make me skeptical. Is it *possible* to have delicious tasting treats without butter, cream, eggs, or sugar? The answer is yes, and I know from both Lenny & Larry’s Vegan Protein Cookies and this new cookbook that vegan, sugar-free, and gluten-free CAN mean delicious!
As a highly visual person, one of my favorite things about this book is the gorgeous photography by Celine Saki. There are more than 60 full-color photographs in the book, which makes me happy because I think the most important part of any cookbook, besides the recipes, are the pictures. Doesn’t this picture of Cinnamon Buns make you drool? I’m a sucker for gorgeously styled food photography, and I must be the daughter of a photographer because today I was even pondering buying one of those mini light boxes for amateur food photographers.

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Heller also spends some time discussing how she came to be a food blogger and natural foods baker. She struggled with IBS and various tummy ailments her whole life, until she learned to start eliminating wheat, sugar and processed foods from her diet. Her story is similar to so many people I know, including my best friend, and I always appreciate it when authors give personal context to their work. Heller also provides a handy breakdown of the different types of non-wheat flours and sweeteners, which was helpful to me as I cheated a little bit in the upcoming recipe and used pre-ground Almond Flour by Bob’s Redmill. Shhhh.

The recipe I decided to test first was the “Easiest Almond Cookies”. The relatively short ingredients list appealed to me, and other than flax seed, I had almost all of the ingredients on hand. I was slightly intimidated by the process of grinding my flax seeds at first, because my food processor wasn’t seeming to “grind” them — just whirled them around helplessly. I finally realized if I jiggled the processor a little bit as it spun, it hit the seeds just right to turn them into crumbly, coarse meal.

Easiest Almond Cookies by Ricki Heller

Easiest Almond Cookies by Ricki Heller

Once I got past the step, the recipe lived up to its name, and they were pretty darn easy to make. I especially like that these are “smush” cookies, meaning you get to roll the dough into little balls with your hands, which I always think is fun. What can I say, I’m still six years old in a lot of ways :) After a brief visit in the oven for just eight minutes, my cookies were delightfully firm around the edges but still chewy and soft. I barely let them cool, took a bite and was pleasantly surprised by how clean they tasted. Most cookies are so sweet that you’re kind of sugar-shocked with the first bite. These have a very delicate, light taste with a fragrant almond after taste. The texture would be lovely with a dark British tea like PG Tips. I did make one small substitution by using coconut oil instead of the suggested sunflower oil, as I had it on hand and am loving all things coconutty.

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You can find the recipe at the bottom of this post, but because you guys are awesome and so is Ricki Heller, she’s graciously offered one copy of the book to one lucky Double Chin Diary reader. To enter is pretty straight-forward — just leave a comment on this post telling me which recipe from the book you’d most like to try. You can read about a few more recipes at this webpage. For an extra entry, “like” Ricki Heller on Facebook or follow Ricki Heller on Twitter.  Just let me know in the comments if you did either, and I’ll count your entry twice. This giveaway will end one week from now, on Friday, October 4 at 11:59 PM PST. GOOD LUCK!

Easiest Almond Cookies by Ricki Heller

This recipe is from Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free by Ricki Heller. Recipe re-printed with permission from Sellers Publishing, 2013.

Yield: 15 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (12 oz or 340 g) natural raw skin on almonds, preferably organic
  • 1/4 cup (25 g) finely ground flax seeds (from about 2 Tbsp or 30 ml whole)
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) pure almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) water, if necessary

 

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
  • 2. In the bowl of a food processor, whir the almonds, flax, baking soda, and salt until you have a very fine meal (it should be the consistency of a coarse cornmeal or fine breadcrumbs, with no large pieces of almond visible). Watch that you don’t blend so long as to obtain almond butter, however!
  • 3. Add the agave nectar, oil, and extracts, and process again just until the mixture holds together and leaves the sides of the bowl. It should look like a moist dough. If the mixture is too dry, add the water and pulse quickly to blend.
  • 4. Using a small ice-cream scoop or tablespoon (15 ml), scoop the dough and roll into balls; place them about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Wet your palms (or use a silicone spatula) and press down to flatten each ball to about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
  • 5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheets about halfway through baking, until the edges are barely golden brown and the cookies are dry in the center (the tops will still be light). Allow to cool completely before removing from the cookie sheets; the cookies firm up as they cool.

**** A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes, and an affiliate link to Amazon is included above. As always, all opinions are always 100% my own!

lyssaloves

FitBloggin’ Swag Giveaway

One of the best perks of being a blogger, besides reading all of your lovely comments (Thank you for all those awesome, thoughtful comments on Friday! You guys are the berry berry best audience ever!), is scoring swag. Sometimes it’s a bummer when you get something you don’t like, and you have to tell the person who made it like, “Oh, I thought that sucked, so you probably DON’T want me to write about it…”, but usually, it’s awesome and super fun to try out new things.

Going to FitBloggin’ every year means you get a gigantic reebok gym bag packed to the gills with goodies. I couldn’t possibly score all those perks without sharing some of them with you! So lo and behold, my FitBloggin’ swag bag giveaway. You can win of two prize packs:

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  • The Nutrilite giveaway – a green duffel bag packed with Nutrilite Perfect Pack AM & PM Supplements (This kit retails for $168!!!!), Body Key Raspberry appetite suppressant chews, a blender ball shaker cup, and Slimmetry vitamins.

bodykey_fitbloggin

Now – I haven’t tried all of these items, so if you don’t like them I apologize, but they’re FREE, so why not give ‘em a try, eh? I was SO LUCKY at FitBloggin’ and not only won a Tiffany Key Necklace from Nutrilite, but a FREAKING KITCHEN SUITE from Amana!!! I scored a stainless steel refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher and stove/oven. It arrives on the 29th… perfect timing as my husband and I are looking to buy our first home! Yay! More on that later when I get pictures and such.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the sponsor of FitBloggin for providing all of these lovely goodies! As someone who works in brand marketing and social media, I know that stuff like this actually isn’t free for the company, but can be an amazing way to get your product out to the right set of people.

If you’d like to win one of the prizes, just leave a comment with which giveaway pack you prefer – either the FOODIE or the NUTRILITE. I’ll pick a winner next week! I’m sorry, US Only because it’s crazy expensive to ship out of the country. Good Luck!

PS: Congrats to LIZ for winning the Turkey Jerky Prize Pack from Perky Jerky! I will e-mail you soon with details!!!

 

 

Perky Jerky Review and Giveaway

Hey everybody, happy Monday! Today let’s talk about MEAT. Marinated, chewy, delicious meat! I’ve talked about my protein challenges before; I’m not a huge meat eater. Despite being raised on a steady diet of beef and chicken growing up in the Midwest, in my teenage years and onwards there was something about meat that just didn’t appeal to me. As I work towards weight loss, one of my biggest challenges is fitting in enough protein, as I often order vegetarian at restaurants and cook without meat. Enter an awesome solution: jerky! Before I tasted amazing artisanal jerky, I thought every kind of jerky was the same, that it all had that kind of dog-foody, fake beef smell and weird rubbery texture. Thankfully I now know better, and my mind has been blown by Perky Jerky. I first tried a sample pack at FitBloggin’ and was impressed with how tender their turkey jerky was, and even cooler, it has a kick of a little energy boosting ingredient called “guarana”, something you usually see in energy drinks. I reached out and asked to try some and they’ve been kind enough today to offer one winner a kit of their amazingly delicious Turkey Jerky, valued at $30. Now that you know what you can win, let’s get in to the good stuff – the taste!

Introducing the brand new Perky Jerky Flavor, Hot and Bothered Beef Jerky.

Introducing the brand new Perky Jerky Flavor, Hot and Bothered Beef Jerky.

The Hot & Bothered jerky was definitely my favorite of the batch because of the amazing heat. With the first bite you can tell it’s going to be spicy, but not so bad that it’s painful. After the first garlicky bite, you can feel the heat start to creep up your tongue, a nice slow burn, as we chili-freaks like to call it. The spice was intense enough but not too much to make you lose the flavor. I really enjoyed the amount of heat in this one, which leads me to my next favorite, the Sweet n’ Spicy Turkey Jerky. When I first tried turkey jerky, I didn’t know what to expect. In my mind, you wouldn’t see turkey as a meat that would taste good dried, but you almost can’t tell the difference between turkey and beef jerky. The Sweet n’ Spicy has a delicious jalapeno tang, followed by an almost honey-like BBQ taste. It was sooo good and perhaps the “safer” choice for those of you who may not like the idea of an awesome, pepper-punchin’ jerky like Hot & Bothered. Did I mention all of these big bags have around only 100-180 calories per serving? Yeah, awesome.

Perky Jerky comes in 5 amazing flavors, including Hot & Bothered and Sweet N' Spicy.

Perky Jerky comes in 5 amazing flavors, including Hot & Bothered and Sweet N’ Spicy.

 

One of the best parts of this jerky (besides the taste) is that the nutritional stats are awesome. The original Turkey Perky Jerky has only 100 calories for the whole bag, which is awesome for people like me that can’t conceive of stopping at one serving. The most caloric flavor is the sweet n’ spicy beef jerky, but even so, two servings will only cost you 180 calories. With upwards of 20 grams of protein, that’s hardly something to worry about. Sodium is a bit high, but you know that will happen with dehydrated meats and jerky in general, so just consume more water to prevent the dreaded bloat. (If I got bloated off this I’d totally make fun of my “jerky jowls” – see, a silver lining in every cloud, right?!) So now that you know Perky Jerky gets the Double Chin Diary stamp of approval, let’s get to winnin’! Ask Lady Luck to pay you a visit by leaving a comment on this post with the flavor you’d most like to try.You MUST leave a comment to be entered to win. That’s all ya gotta do, but if you want more chances, you can do the things below!

For additional chances to win,

Please let me know what actions you have taken and I will make sure to count your extra entries in the final tally! This giveaway will end on July 15 at 11:59 pm and is open to US residents only, ages 18 and up.

Perky Jerky did provide me complimentary samples in exchange for this review, but as usual, if something tastes yucky or is made up of BS claims, it won’t receive the Double Chin Diary Stamp of Approval, nor would it be available for you to receive as a giveaway item. GOOD LUCK!

Assorted Beef and Turkey Perky Jerky

Assorted Beef and Turkey Perky Jerky