De-stress with Organic India Tea: Review and Giveaway

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!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

 

 

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!

 

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.

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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!!!