Get Balanced, Get Lean: “Fuel + Fitness the Total Package” Book Giveaway

My friend, Sandra Koulourides, is the most fit woman I know. I am honored to call her a close friend as she is such an inspiration. I am excited to introduce her brand new book to you, “Fuel + Fitness The Total Package”.  Sandra, a Registered Dietician and Fitness Expert has been counseling people for years on how to eat right and get lean. Sandra’s company, Fuel + Fitness, started with her infamous (and tough) workout called “Horizontal Conditioning”. It has become quite the rage, and she has released a total of 8 DVD’s as well as a DVD club where you get a new workout DVD each month. Sandra says her method is “not a diet but a lifestyle. It’s about balancing food, fitness and life.” She honestly offers a simple, practical, real-food, and real-life approach to eating, and her book provides so many tips, advice and much more. I am giving away one copy of her fantastic book to one of you.

How to Enter:

1. Please leave a comment telling me why you would like a copy of this book. This is only open to U.S residents. To earn additional entries, leave a comment for the steps below:

2. Tweet this on twitter: Check out @alisonlewis Fuel + Fitness Total Package Giveaway http://su.pr/30cH2g

3. Follow @alisonlewis on twitter

4. Become a fan of Ingredients, Inc on Facebook

5. Follow @FuelplusFitness on Twitter

6. Join the Fuel + Fitness Facebook page

6. Stumble this post and follow me on Stumble Upon

7. Winner will be selected Thursday

Is The Mediterranean Diet the Healthiest Diet?

The Mediterranean diet has been called the “healthiest” diet of all, and my brother, Craig, a physician, sites research to his patients quite often as the most highly recommended diet. As a Nutritionist, I have studied a lot about it too, but when I was in Italy last month, I became a true believer. I traveled for seven full days in Italy eating six and eight course meals for lunch and dinner served with wine. I also didn’t exercise the entire week (very unlike me). When I came home and realized I actually lost weight, I was stumped. I thought about what ingredients comprised those extravagant meals, and I realized how pure all the food was. This shot was taken on my trip touring the beautiful land of the Le Marche Region of Italy.

Some Key Components of the Mediterranean Diet Include:

1. Plenty of exercise

2. Eating primarily plant based foods

3. Replacing butter with olive and canola oils

4. Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods

5. Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month. Eat more vegetables.

6. Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week.

7. Drinking red wine in moderation.

8. Eat fruit for dessert

9. Eat small portions of high-quality foods.

10. Eat yogurt and cheese as your main dairy products.

11. This diet conveys the importance of enjoying meals with friends and family.

Top Foods on The Mediterranean Diet

-Fish and Seafood

-Olive oil or canola oil

-Fruits and Vegetables

-Nuts

-Beans

-Cereal

-Red wine

Rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, fish oil and even red wine, this diet is lower in saturated fat and has been said to reduce risks of cancers, heart disease and more.

Other Great Attributes about a Mediterranean diet:

1) A diet rich in fruits, grains, nuts, can reduce risk of obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and alzheimers.

2) This diet is high in fiber which is great for decreased risk of diabetes and stomach issues.

3) This diet is filled with a good supply of mono-unsaturated fats found in fish, avocados, olive and canola oil which can help fight disease from the cellular level.

4) This is a diet people can stick to and actually enjoy.

Evo Conference and Park City, Utah

This weekend I am in one of my favorite cities, Park City, Utah for Evo Conference. Last year I was fortunate to win a trip to the first ever Evo Conference. I wasn’t sure what to expect. This was my first social media conference for one thing. Also, I had never stepped food in Utah. Needless to say, this was one of the best conferences I attended all year long filled with useful information in the most incredible venue. I made so many wonderful friendships last year, and I am looking forward to seeing them as well as making new ones. The conference is held at the Canyons resort, a beautiful resort in the winter and summertime for families or creative minds. Thank you to The Canyons for use of their photos. 

10 Health Benefits of Blackberries

While at their peak season, indulge in blackberries for a nutritious snack or dessert. One cup of fresh blackberries has 62 calories, 1 gram of fat, 15 carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and only 1 mg of sodium. Here are the top 10 health benefits of eating blackberries:

1. Blackberries are one of the top ten foods containing antioxidants.

2. Blackberries are packed with polyphenols helping to prevent cancer and heart disease.

3. Blackberries are filled with anthocyanins (antioxidants which give blackberries their deep purple color) which help in memory retention and the risk of hypertension.

4. Blackberries are said to strengthen blood vessels, help fight heart disease and help improve eyesight.

5. The high tannin content of blackberries help tighten tissue, relieve intestinal inflammation, and help reduce hemorrhoids and stomach disorders.

6. Ohio State University found that blackberries may protect against esophageal cancer, a cancer caused by gastric reflux disease.

7. Blackberries have shown to protect against other types of cancers. They contain phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), a compound believed to play a vital role in preventing breast and cervical cancer.

8. Blackberries are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Manganese and fiber.

9. The high fiber content of blackberries help reduce risk of intestinal disease and the risk of developing diabetes.

10. Blackberries are a healthy food choice that kids and adults love. They are a great way to refuel after a hard workout and help aid in fighting obesity. See a recipe for Blackberry-Blueberry Cobbler from my site last year.

10 Foods Great for Healthy Skin

Summer is now upon us, and this is the time of year to really take care of your skin. Many doctors say the more attention we pay to what we put in our body, the more it will help with skin problems later. I thought I would share some of my favorite foods that are great for healthy skin. Let me know if you have any favorites to add to my list.

 

1. Blueberries and Strawberries-Foods high in antioxidants are ideal for healthy skin. These should be on your summer list while they’re in peak season.

2. Green Tea-Green tea contains phenols which have anti-inflammatory properties. It has been said that drinking green tea daily can even prevent skin cancer.

3. Avocados-Filled with essential oils and B-complex vitamins, avocados are filled with Niacin (vitamin B3) which is important for healthy skin.

4. Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds and Walnuts-These nuts, filled with vitamin E, zinc and magnesium, are great for your skin.

5. Salmon-Contains essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 and can help create great moisturized looking skin.

6. Water-Many of us have heard it before, but water keeps you hydrated and keeps the skin healthy and younger looking. Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses a day.

7. Low-Fat Yogurt-Dairy products are full of Vitamin A necessary for healthy skin. Try Greek yogurt or even low-fat cottage cheese if you like.

8. Carrots-An excellent source of Vitamin A, carrots also contain high amounts of beta-carotene and antioxidants which helps prevent damage to the skin.

9. Mangoes-Mangoes are high in Beta Carotene and Vitamin A, and they are a good source of antioxidants. These have also been called an “acne cure”.

10. Kiwi-Kiwi packs more vitamin C than any other fruit which helps maintain collagen in our skin.  Collagen helps keep the skin firm.

Great Family Healthy Site & Sports Authority $100 Giveaway: Together Counts

Being a full-time working mom with 3 kids isn’t always easy. I am very fortunate that my company, daily work and passion revolves around food, health and lifestyle. I am so excited to be a part of the Together Counts campaign asking families across the country to take a pledge to get healthy and active. Together Counts believes that the most powerful way of gaining a healthy lifestyle is by working together as a family. Eating meals together as well as being physically active together can only make families healthier and happier.

 

The Together Counts program empowers families and helps them balance and learn lifelong healthy habits. Just go on the website and take a pledge of how many meals you will eat together as a family and the amount of physical exercise you will do as a family. Teamwork is the theme. This site really helps keep you on track.

 

As part of this campaign, I would like to offer $100 gift card to Sports Authority to one lucky winner.  This giveaway is sponsored by Together Counts. Just take the pledge on Together Counts and leave a comment of your favorite way to exercise as a family or your favorite healthy family dinner. Winner will be drawn on Friday, May 27th.

Note: I was compensated for my participation in the Together Counts campaign. The giveaway was sponsored by Together Counts. All opinions expressed in this post are 100% mine.

Top 10 Ways to Find Balance in Your Life

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

 

This past year has been a whirlwind for me working on a 400 recipe cookbook (and now promoting it), 3 very, very busy kids, the decline of my parents’ health and more. I have been so filled with multitasking that I spend the majority of the time not living in the “now”, but thinking (or worrying) about what is to come next. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about balance. How do you achieve it? How do you find that happy medium when you’re living in a very stressful time? I thought writing this post might help me get closer to the answers and, maybe, assist some others at the same time.

Ways to find Balance

1. Learn to say no-I say yes a lot, but have learned in business as well as with my kids, I need to learn to say “no” more often.

2. Focus on key tasks-I find myself having more distractions than ever with email, social media, my blog and large projects. I have learned that focusing on key tasks daily simplifies things for me.

3. Be positive-We’ve all have heard it time and time again: “Attitude is everything”. My yoga instructor once said to look at your day as you would look forward to a vacation. It’s all in our control to keep positive and to have a good attitude even in rough times.

4. Take care of your body-Try to eat healthy, drink a lot of water, and exercise regularly to achieve and enhance balance.

5. Get enough sleep-I find being sleep deprived is my worst enemy in feeling balanced. Getting more sleep helps me be better at everything in my life and in a better mood.

6. Find and make more “me” time-(I need to do this more without a doubt.) Whether it’s reading a book, getting a facial or massage or taking a nap, taking time for yourself is a key to finding balance.

7. Meditation-Studies show that meditating can help with stress, help you concentrate more and help you achieve balance in your life.

6. Laugh more-Laughing is a huge stress reliever and a great way to achieve balance when times are tough.

7. Go for a run-Running keeps me grounded, helps me relieve stress and helps me be more creative. A good run always makes me feel better.

8. Take up yoga-Yoga has been one of the top saving graces for me. It clears the mind, helps with concentration and works on the body and mind at the same time.

9. Hang out with friends-Whether it’s a lunch with friends or dinner out, stepping out of your everyday busy routine pays off in spades.

10. Vacation-I need more of these (and not to work on vacation), but a vacation is one of the best ways to get centered and recharge.

Food Blogger Bake Sale to Benefit Share Our Strength

I am so excited the Birmingham edition of the Food Blogger Bake Sale (organized by Gaby Dalkin of “What’s Gaby Cooking”) is this Saturday from 10 to 3 at the corner of 18th Street and 29th Avenue in downtown Homewood, across the street from Urban Cookhouse. Jason Horn, my awesome partner on the bake sale has a great blog, The Messy Epicure. Check it out.

 

Bloggers from across the country will be selling wonderful baked treats to raise money for Share our Strength, a charity working to end childhood hunger in the U.S. We want to thank Birmingham favorites, Edgars Bakery, Urban Standard, Teds Restaurant, Urban Cookhouse, Dreamcakes, Olexas, Dunkin Doughnuts and more for donating their awesome baked goods. I will also be selling my famous Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Come by and say hi!

How to Choose a Yoga Mat

I am so lucky to have Jennifer Berman, Owner of Jennifer Berman Corporate Yoga, as a friend. She is always there to answer all of my yoga questions. I was in desperate need for a yoga mat, and she was a wealth of knowledge. I thought I would share my interview with her recently. If you’re considering a new yoga mat or curious about the differences, read on. For more information on Jennifer, see  Jennifer Berman Corporate Yoga.

1. Why is a yoga mat important?

A good  yoga mat will provide you with cushioning and traction for your yoga practice.

2. What should you look for in a yoga mat?

Just like most things, the type of mat people prefer is a personal preference. I have tried just about every type of mat, and my preference is a basic, no frills mat. The basic mats are lightweight, easy to carry and provide enough cushion for most people. The more expensive mats, like “Manduka“, are thicker, have extra cushioning and provide more of a textured non-slip surface. If you have knee issues, you might choose a thicker mat. Also, when you choose a mat, you might select an eco-friendly mat that is free from PVC or latex. If you do Bikram or Hot Vinyasa Flow, then a Yogitoes Skidless towel is helpful for slipping and to absorb sweat.

3. What is your favorite brand?

I like Gaim and Hugger Mugger.

4. How do you clean yoga mats?

The thinner mats can be put in the washing machine on gentle cycle with a mild detergent. In fact, when I first get my mat, I put it in the wash to get rid of slickness and any rubbery odor. You can also make a simple water/vinegar spray that is a natural antibacterial spray using 1 part warm water and 3 parts white vinegar. Spray the mat, wipe it down with a sponge or towel, and hang your mat outside to dry.

5. How should you store a yoga mat? hung up? rolled? why?

If your mat is dry, then it’s fine rolled up. However if you sweat a lot, make sure you wipe it down each time you practice yoga and then hang it to dry.

6. What is your favorite thing about teaching corporate yoga?

I love bringing health and wellness to people that normally would not have time to get to a yoga class. It is so rewarding to watch my students transform their overall well-being.

7. If you could purchase any yoga mat, which would it be?

I like the Gaim Eco Reversible Yoga Mat (pictured below). It’s not too thick, it’s versatile and it’s made from nontoxic TPE, which contains no PVC or latex.

From Alison: The Breathe mat (pictured above) is my new favorite a mat and towel all-in-one which is so easy to wash.

My 10 Top Healthy Cooking Tips

I saw a friend at the ball park over the weekend, and she asked, “Alison, can you give me some tips for cooking healthier?” I said, sure. I’ll write a few down for you. So here goes… Some of these may come easy for some of you, but hopefully, I can lend some new ideas as well.

1. Use salt sparingly-You can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Most Americans consume more salt than they need. Salt can lead to higher blood pressure and bloating. Consuming foods high in salt becomes even much more noticeable as you get older. I can’t stand the feeling of waking up feeling puffy.

2. Grill more-Grilling is a great way to prepare healthy fish, chicken and meat as well as vegetables. What I really love about it is that my kids love to eat most anything grilled, and they are even more willing to try foods cooked on the grill.

3. Buy seasonal, buy local-Purchasing seasonal fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs and purchasing locally grown ingredients, will help you stay on track.

4. Simpler is always better-Starting with cooking with less ingredients, but fresh ones.

5. Choose Leaner and lower-fat ingredients-Choose leaner cuts of meats, lower fat milk, low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt and reduced-fat mayonnaise. Start with smaller steps to gain great strides. Also, don’t forget to trim fat from meats.

6. Broil, steam, roast and grill foods instead of frying– If you choose to fry foods, try oven frying instead.

7. Substitute 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg when called for in recipes-This helps to to reduce fat content.

8. Read food labels-Be sure to choose foods with lower sodium, fat, sugar, carbohydrates and saturated fat.

9. Choose fresh-Use fresh juice from lemons, limes and oranges combined with fresh herbs and spice to season foods.

10. Cook with healthy oils such as Canola and olive oil-Also, try to cook with nonstick cookware more often to reduce the amount of oil needed.