Holiday Gift Guide Review: Taffy Activewear for Plus Sized Gym Goers

Happy Monday, everyone! Can you believe there’s just three more days until Thanksgiving?! Yikes — I need to get my butt to the grocery store to load up on Turkey and all the fixins. Matt and I are hosting this year; but that’s another blog for another day. Today, I’m excited to tell you about Taffy Active Wear, stylish activewear for women with curves. My love affair with Taffy began a couple years ago when I won a pair of workout pants from Taffy on Authentically Emmie. These pants quickly turned into my every-day-after-work pants and my all-the-time-on-weekends pants. They were soft, but had enough structure to suck in the less than desirable pouchy parts of my belly. Plus, they had the perfect amount of flare in the leg. As a tall gal, I like a basic flare, but I don’t need bellbottoms nor am I looking for a straight-legged taper. These are the best pants ever, basically. (I’m so obsessed with these pants I wore a hole into them. Don’t worry – a fresh new pair is on its way. My weekend wardrobe requires these pants. For serious! Pssst. They’re on sale for $22.99 right now too!)

In conjunction with the Latina Lifestyle Blogger Collective (I am an honorary Latina!), I was sent a full Taffy outfit to review. Here’s my review in one word: excellent. You know how sometimes you buy exercise clothes and they’re cut like normal clothes? That doesn’t work for activewear. Especially when you’re plus sized. You need clothes that move with you, that bend and crease, that don’t give you horrible wedgies or VPL. You also want them to be cute! Case in point: the Taffy Wide Waistband Fitted Capri, the Essential Tank Top and the Taffy Essential Jacket.

Rockin' my Taffy Activewear at the Shoulder Press

Rockin’ my Taffy Activewear at the Shoulder Press

1) The Capri pants are perfect for basically any kind of exercise, because while they help you suck it in, they also don’t ride up (or worse – fall down). These were so comfy I ended up wearing them the whole night after I finished at the gym. I also like the mesh detailing along the sides, which adds a sporty contrast.

2) The Essential Tank Top is adorable with the dove imagery on the front. I actually would wear this as a normal shirt! It’s super soft. One note is that it has a little bit of sheerness, which was actually sort of sassy and sexy with the neon sports bras I favor. I also like the “Work of Art” messaging, because all of us are truly a work of art!

3) The Essential Jacket is my favorite of all three items. I normally don’t wear white, and this jacket may have converted me (You can get it in black, too). The 2X fit me perfectly – enough to feel like I was downplaying the areas I’m self conscious about (tummy), but enough to be nipped in at the waist and show off my hourglass figure. I really liked this fabric, too – it was warm without being stuffy, and I was able to wear it on the treadmill without feeling too hot. I loved how it tied together the whole outfit, and I’ve actually worn this out shopping several times as just a cute, sporty jacket. You can also tell that ALL of these items are really high quality. The zipper pulls, seams and linings are all deluxe feeling. As much as I love Old Navy activewear, I can tell sometimes that its low price translates into low quality. Not the case with Taffy. One more small thing — each piece has a cute little candy logo on it. My galpal Susannah actually noticed it and pointed it out, saying, “Is that candy?!”. It is, indeed, and it is adorable.

If you want to give Taffy a try (you won’t regret it!), you can save 25% with the code LLBLOG for 25% off entire site until Dec 31, 2013. That also includes free shipping — AWESOME deal. (I may need to do a little more shopping. Don’t tell my husband. I mean, how can I resist this adorable tunic tank? It’s only $14.99. Old Navy prices — Taffy quality!) Taffy would be perfect for a gift for YOURSELF (don’t forget to gift yourself this season — we all need a lil’ pampering) or for a wonderful, health conscious gift for plus-sized ladies in your life. I happen to know somebody who’s getting a special Taffy gift from Santa this year! One other thing I also really love about Taffy that you’ll read more about in my upcoming Double Chin Diary giftguide is that from now until December 31, Taffy is giving back 10% to Philippine relief via UNICEF. Giving your money to a socially-conscious company is a great way to give back this holiday season.

Do you have any questions about Taffy? What activewear do you usually find yourself wearing?

FTC Disclosure: I was chosen for this opportunity by the Latina Lifestyle Bloggers Collective in conjunction with their annual Holiday Gift Guide. All opinions expressed are my own.

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lyssaloves

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

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!

 

Foodie Finds & a Quick Giveaway

You guys know by now that I’m a sucker for delicious food. I want to start sharing some of my favorite foodie finds with you, because it feels criminal not to!!! Some of these items were provided to me for review purposes but some came out of my own pocket. Let’s start by talking about the thing that’s been kicking my “kravings” to the kurb (ha!) all weekend.

1) Krave Jerky. I’ve always liked beef jerky, but usually, I stay away from it because of the price tag. It’s also high in sodium, but as an occasional treat, I think it’s fine for people like me who tend to skimp on protein. Krave Jerky makes artisanal jerky from beef, pork and turkey – and by far, my favorite is the amazing lemon garlic turkey jerky. A whole pouch of this stuff is only 200 calories and 15 grams of protein, so it’s an awesome and filling snack. Because Krave kindly sent me several packs to try, I’m going to give you a chance to win one! Comment on this blog post after visiting their website and tell me which flavor you’d most like to try. Next week I’ll pick one random commenter to win a pack of Krave and a couple Soya fishes. Anyways, back to the Krave. As of today I’ve inhaled the lemon pepper flavor and the smoky grilled teriyaki. Both were insanely delicious, and I’m thinking about subscribing to their Jerky-a-month club so I always have a protein-rich, low GI snack on hand when I start my PCOS Diet (Countdown – five days! I’m seeing my doctor on Friday and once I get to go-ahead, will begin the new plan).

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2) Little Soya Fishies. I was browsing Cost Plus on a lunch break and instantly my eye was drawn to these adorable fish shaped packets of soy sauce! Soy sauce is a hot commodity in my household because we’re constantly using it to marinade meats. I bought these little fishies thinking they’d be perfect to have on hand for the days when we’re out of soy sauce and our meal needs a salty little kick. Little Soya’s fishies are MSG free and have a robust, more full flavor than most soy sauces I’ve tasted. Deeeeeelicious! The problem is, they’re so darn cute I don’t want to use them. PS: Visit their website and fill out the pop-up form to receive a free fishie of your own to sample!

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3) Chobani FLIPs. I got serious yogurt-envy when I saw some of my other bloggy pals had received Chobani FLIPs to try out, because I’d been seeing them mentioned everywhere and I could not find them for the life of me!! Thankfully, the kind people at Chobani recognized a serious craving when they saw one, because they sent over two FLIP flavors to try – the Almond Coco Loco and the Raspberry Choco Fix. I would have taken a picture of the Coco Loco’s, but um, they were all gone. These are seriously intensely awesome – at 230 calories, 12 – 15 grams of protein and the TEXTURE! Holy cow, the texture. The yogurt has these amazing coconut flakes in it, and when you dump in the chocolate chunks and almond slivers, it’s like eating sort-of-healthy ice cream. I had to seriously keep my hands off of them because they were that good. Now looking at their website, it looks like they’ve come out with some other new flavors, like Honey Bee Nana and Key Lime Crumble. Yum, yum, yum. Don’t eat that artificially-sweetened dessert yogurt junk when you can have something a lot closer to the real thing. I’ll definitely keep these around as a sweet-treat every now and then. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.

Lovin' my Chobani Flips

Lovin’ my Chobani Flips

Those are my top three favorite finds of this week – what new food products have you discovered? Share them here, I’m always game to try new and awesome things!

KalorieBox Review and Giveaway!

I love getting mail. Especially now that I work from home, I wait in anticipation for the 4:30 shuffle of steps up my front stoop – knowing then that hopefully, the postman will deliver a bevy of boxes, a parcel of padded envelopes, or at the very least, a stack of letters and not just bills. Usually my mail days are a bust, filled with the mundane reminders of adult life – political flyers, cell phone bills and grocery store circulars. But on Saturday, I scored with the mail – because I received a Kalorie Box!

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KalorieBox is right on par with the new monthly subscription type boxes sweeping the nation – As a current BirchBox member (if you sign up use this link and we both get credit!), a monthly premium beauty sample box for $10, I was eager to check out a box filled with low fat and nutritional goodies. The first thing that struck me about KalorieBox is that it has a charitable angle to it. For each box they sell, they donate meals to hungry children. Pretty cool – I like the idea of losing my weight caused from TOO MUCH FOOD to help out people who don’t have enough (which is why my DietBet winnings this month will go to No Kid Hungry!)

Upon opening the box, I was impressed with the amount of stuff they pack in it. I scored a full sized box of Cheese Thinables, a Zevia lime cola soda, a bag of pirates booty, a fiber one cookie brownie, Peeled dried mango, a Pacific Grove Almond milk drink and a $1 off coupon for Zevia. This was a pretty hefty score, and one I’m still exploring. (Love the Zevia!!!) I have definitely been curious about almond milk but didn’t want to commit to a whole gallon, so I’m jazzed to try this out in a sample size. Also, the Cheese Thinables are pretty darn decent for a large 60-calorie serving (you get a huge handful! They taste just like Cheez-Its!)

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My KalorieBox loot – look at all those goodies!

KalorieBox has a few different options for subscribing – if you order one month at a time, it’s $25. If you order three months at a time, it’s $21 a month, or if you order 6 months at a time, it’s $17 a month. I definitely might check this out for a few months, because I love trying new foods and don’t always have the time to hunt them down at the store. Because seeing is believing, KalorieBox has generously offered one of my readers a sample box! There’s a ton of different ways to enter this giveaway, but I ask that you leave one comment letting me know why you want to win, and “like” KalorieBox on Facebook. This is a RaffleCopter giveaway, so for each action you complete, just hit the “I Did It!” button to the right for your action to be accepted. This giveaway will end next Wednesday at 12 AM PST and is US Only, 18+. (Don’t worry international – I have a giveaway coming up for you soon, too!)

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Why do you like Chike? Giveaway!

Hellloooo Double Chinners! I’ve missed you! I’m back from my trip to Thailand and while I have TONS to tell you about, I wanted to kick off the new year with a great giveaway! Chike, tasty high protein shakes, is offering one of my readers a BPA Free Shaker and Ball and a set of their best flavors. Read my review and then enter by following the instructions at the bottom of this post.

20130106-183108.jpgI had initially heard of Chike through some of my favorite bloggers who focus on bariatric surgery. When you have weight loss surgery, you can’t eat as much, so quality high protein drinks like Chike are desirable to fill you up but also give you vitamins, protein and calcium. Since I’m a fan of anything quick and tasty, I definitely wanted to try these out as they’re not just for people who’ve had bariatric surgery.

The first one I was going to try was the protein packed iced coffee…but my husband got to it first. This is a big deal, Chike, because most of the “blog stuff” that comes to our house he won’t touch as it’s more often than not something weird like mushroom noodles. Matt’s review? “Very good! I was skeptical of a high protein coffee but with ice and water this had the caffeine I wanted and it filled me up.” Matt didn’t realize it was a meal replacement until I told him later that day when he didn’t want dinner! Haha!

photo 1I decided to try the chocolate flavor, and went all fancy by using cold milk in the shaker instead of water. I added some calories and fat this way but I prefer a creamier tasting drink and love that cold milk foam you get on top! After a couple hearty shakes, my drink was ready to go. I was also very pleasantly surprised, because most weight loss powdered drinks taste like chocolate flavored chalk. Not this one. It also didn’t have little bubbles of powder in it still, which is a plus if you’re a huge freak about texture like I am. Nice!

I haven’t tried them all, but my next favorite is strawberry. It doesn’t taste exactly like a sun ripened strawberry, maybe more like strawberry ice cream. I’d love to maybe one day see this shake from Chike with some small dried strawberry pieces. Then it would totally be like a milkshake! Chike also sent me vanilla, creamsicle and banana, but those are chillin in my pantry waiting to be eaten for breakfast! :)

I think you’ll really like these if you give them a try, so please enter the giveaway. Once again, just like Chike’s Facebook page here and write on their wall why you would like to try Chike. You can just copy and paste something like this – “I’m Jane and was sent over by the Double Chin Diary. I would like to try Chike because I want one of those snazzy shaker ball cups!”

photo 2Then just come back here, tell me you commented, and you’re good to go! If you want an extra entry, send a tweet about the giveaway and tag @lyssacurran or @doublechindiary and @chikenutrition with this link: http://wp.me/p2kXVY-ym .

Once again, leave a comment letting me know you did. You guys rock!This contest will end on Monday, January 14th at 12:01 AM PST. I will randomly pick a winner. GOOD LUCK!

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read about how one of my new year’s resolutions is already off to a strong, itchy and quite-a-story type of start! (It involves: severe weather, mosquitoes, jungle treks and getting lost. Whee!)