Reviews

TRANSFORM by moveBALL™ 30-Day Fitness Challenge Review + Giveaway

January is one of the busiest times of year for gyms, fitness centres, and the at-home fitness market. But when you’ve made the decision to focus on your health, how do you decide which option is going to work best for you?

Obviously as a fitness instructor I am partial to fitness classes, and training with a trainer, but I know and understand that isn’t an option for everyone. Sometimes it’s a lack of availability in your area, or lack of time, or financial issues that hold us back from making those decisions. That’s why workouts you can do at home are such a great option. There are affordable, can be very portable, and above all else – can be done on your own time in your own home. No driving anywhere, or getting a babysitter or worrying about snowstorms. You just carve out a few minutes and get it done.

While I’m not in the position to *need* an at-home workout program per say, I do prefer following someone else’s workout plan, especially when it comes to strength training. While I am perfectly capable of creating my own plan, I always work harder and are better challenged when using a plan someone else has created for me. That is what really excited me about working with Fitness Matters to complete their TRANSFORM by moveBALL™ 30-Day Fitness Challenge!

Fitness matters


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Make Movie Night Better

I’m so darn close to being on vacation I can taste it! And that means that I am getting ready to snuggle in and watch all of my favourite Christmas movies while sitting next to our stove, looking at Christmas decorations, and eating snacks. And what pairs better with a movie than popcorn?

movie

For the past 6-months or so I’ve completely avoided popcorn because the last time I had it was when my IBS was acting up and it made me feel ill. I can never have theatre popcorn because the added chemicals and additives makes me crazy sick, and honestly I do miss it. When the folks from Popcorn, Indiana offered to send me a couple bags of their Movie Theatre Popcorn in the new Warm-up bag I decided that it was time to see if I could eat popcorn again!

PI BAG MovieTh FR

Popcorn, Indiana isn’t your typical store bought popcorn. Their popcorns are made with no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives, are made with non-GMO corn and are certified gluten-free. I opted for the Original Movie Theatre Popcorn, but they have a number of flavours and styles available (including Popcorn, Indiana FIT which is 40 calories or less/cup).

I was really impressed when the popcorn arrived and I checked out the ingredient list: popcorn, vegetable oil, clarified butter, salt. Yay for real ingredients!!

To warm you corn you tear a hole in the top of the bag and microwave it. Our microwave is pretty powerful so I had to be careful not to burn it, but overall I was happy with how the popcorn reheated. I typically don’t care for re-heated popcorn, but this didn’t have that “re-heated” taste or texture. It wasn’t s hot as microwave popcorn but I think that is to be expected since the kernels are already popped.

And in case you’re wondering, not only did the popcorn pass the taste test, it also didn’t upset my stomach or leave me feeling like I’d eaten an entire box of table salt, three cheers for Popcorn, Indiana!!

movie2

The real problem is I have already scarfed down the two bags they sent and my vacation hasn’t even started yet….oops. At least I know I can pick some more up at the grocery store because I scoped it out on Friday ;) #priorities

If you’re not into popping your own popcorn, and want an easy theatre-style popcorn without the extra chemicals and nastiness found in those microwave brands check out Popcorn, Indiana. 

Disclosure: I received complimentary product in order to execute this review, all opinions are 100% my own. 

Have a #FeelGoodHoliday with Nature’s Path + Giveaway

The Holidays are fast approaching, and all of the get togethers and parties make it a really difficult time to stay on track with your healthy eating. While I’m a huge advocate of enjoying those treats you love and indulging a bit over the holidays, I’m also all for treats that trick you into thinking you are having something more indulgent than you really are.

One of my go-to brands for breakfast cereals and granola bars is Nature’s Path. Their products are organic, made with real ingredients I can pronounce and understand, and are down right tasty. A favourite “treat” cereal here in the Fevens household is Nature’s Path Leapin’ Lemurs. Okay, so it was made for kids as it’s part of their Envirokidz line, but who doesn’t like chocolate and peanut butter swimming together in a pool of milk!? Exactly.

Anyway, when Nature’s Path reached out to me about their #FeelGoodHoliday campaign I knew I wanted to get involved. Not only is this brand I already use and really love, but after seeing the recipes they’ve developed to add healthier elements to some traditionally indulgent holiday treats I had to get involved and try some of them out! They were so kind as to send me this awesome package of Nature’s Path goodies so that I could get started:

package

and they even put a box of Leapin’ Lemurs in it knowing how much I love them!

For that past couple weeks I’ve been thoroughly enjoying all of the products they sent, and have been working my way through my list of “must make” recipes from their site. One of the things I really like is they have organized their recipes so you can search based on which of their products you want to use so you don’t have to go through all of the recipes finding one you can make!

If you follow me on Facebook/Instagram you already know that I made their Dark Chocolate Cranberry Qi’a Bark yesterday and it is crazy delicious!

bark

When I was putting it together I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy the Qi’a cereal in the chocolate bark but it’s fantastic. It adds another layer of crunchiness and the cranberries add a really nice sweet element. The only problem now is trying not to eat the whole batch in one sitting…

bark2

Drool.

I’ve also made Crunchy Apple Pie Parfaits using the Flax Plus Pumpkin Granola Flax.

apple

This too was delicious. If you love the flavour of apple pie but don’t want to mess around with pastry, or want a fast (healthy) alternative this is a recipe you must try! I let my yogurt sit out for a while so it was warm and I think it would be amazing if the granola was a little warm as well. But I’m one of those “warm” apple crisp people ;)

apple2

There are so many recipes right on the Nature’s Path recipe that I still want to try – I know I’ll be busy when I’m on vacation over the holidays! Some of the recipes I’m still hoping to make are Love Crunch Almond Bon-Bons, Gingerbread Love Crunch Brittle and Coconut Cranberry Macaroons.

The Giveaway:

The good news is that Nature’s Path wants to send one of you a box of goodies so you can try some of their recipes too!

2014 270 Blogger Holiday Giveaway NOV14 1

This prize is valued at $50 (please note, winner may not receive the exact products shown above).

Giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the US and will end at 11:59pm EST on Thursday, December 18th, 2014.

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.  Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Nature’s Path provided me with a selection of products free of charge in order to facilitate this post and giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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The Drink Water Better Challenge

As a Nutrition & Weight Loss Specialist the very first thing I talk to new clients about is how much water they drink. Water is the foundation of a healthy diet and too many people are walking around dehydrated, and/or filling their bodies with artificial sweeteners in order to get some hydration in because they don’t enjoy the taste of plain water.

While of course the best option is plain fresh water, or water flavoured with added fruit or caffeine-free teas, that just doesn’t cut it for a lot of the population. Especially those who are use to drinking sugary sodas or fruit juice (like kids). That is why when SodaStream Canada reached out to me about joining the Drink Water Better Challenge I was really excited to get on board.

Did you know that only 56% of Canadians think they drink enough water each day? Or that 45% of Canadians would be more inclined to consume water if it was more fun or tasted better?* Plain water, while refreshing, really can get pretty dull and boring. Even though I like plain water, there are numerous times during the week that I find myself forcing water down my throat because I know I need it, but I don’t want it. It’s just not exciting.

That was until a few weeks ago when my Drink Water Better Challenge kit arrived!

soda stream

I’ve secretly longed for a SodaStream since they first came on the market. Besides Zevia, I rarely drink regular soda anymore and I have always thought carbonating my own water sounded fun! The Challenge Kit included a SodaStream Play, 2 SodaStream FREE flavours (more on those in a second), a waterfall carafe, and the challenge booklet.

SodaStream FREE flavours are a new line that contain a fraction of the calories and sugar of other soft drinks. So yes, there is still sugar (and therefore calories), but they come in at 9-11g of sugar/10ml. The kit says that 10ml flavours 250ml of carbonated water, but I typically use less than half of that and my drinks still have loads of flavour. They have zero artificial sweeteners (something I checked before signing on to the challenge), no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and are caffeine free.

The FREE flavours come in Kiwi-Pear, Passion-Mango, Fresh Lemonade, Green Tea-Lychee, Apple-Peach and Cranberry-Raspberry. As a raspberry loving fool I was stoked when one of the two flavours they sent with my kit was the Cranberry-Raspberry, and it doesn’t surprise me that it is my favourite of the two I’ve tried!

PLAY Black 3d

The unit itself is super easy to set up, you take it out of the box, insert the CO2 Cylinder and that’s it! It requires no power outlet or anything like that, making it a pretty sleek addition to your countertop. The instructions on how to use it are really straight forward and before you know it you’ll be carbonating water like a pro!

One thing I’ll pass along, because it tripped me up for the first day or two is what kind of water to use. Our tap water is hard and has a metallic taste so we use a water cooler for our drinking water. The first few days I was using water from our cooler but it wouldn’t carbonate. I started to think I was a moron, how could I not carbonate water!? A quick trip to the SodaStream website taught me that has been treated by reverse osmosis (i.e. my cooler water) cannot be carbonated, once I switched over to tap water I was golden!

bubbles

Just look at all those bubbles!

And remember the metallic taste of my tap water? The flavours totally mask it which means I now find myself drinking more and more tap water instead of cooler water which is fantastic! And that having to force myself to drink water problem I mentioned at the start of the post? No longer an issue. I easily drink a litre of carbonated water each day which coupled with the water I drink while working keeps me well hydrated.

The awesome thing about the SodaStream is that you can flavour your carbonated water with anything you want, so if you want to cut out the syrup completely and add fresh fruit instead you absolutely can – you are in charge of your hydration! I’m pretty darn smitten that’s for sure.

I’m looking forward to picking up some of the other FREE flavours to try out, and this holiday season you can be sure I’ll be serving some fancy carbonated drinks instead of traditional soda! A few of the recipes I’m dying to try are the Citrus & Cucumber Pick Me Up,

A Citrus and Cucumber Pick Me Up

Raspberry Coolers,

Raspberry Coolers

and how festive do these Fruity Sparkling Water Cocktails look?

Fruity Sparkling Water Cocktail

With all the ways you can make water drinking more fun, what not take the Drink Water Better Challenge for yourself? Ditch the sugar (and chemical!) filled pre-made soda, and start making your own drinks in the comfort of your own home with SodaSream!

*Legar consumer survey of 1545 Canadian (October 2014)

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by SodaStream Canada, all opinions are my own and 100% honest. 

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A Christmas Explosion

There is a rule in our house, no decorating until December 1st. Which means when December 1st comes along, a Christmas bomb goes off, and that bomb’s name is Suzi. ;)

Last Monday I had 6 classes to teach, but my number one concern was, “When am I going to have time to decorate for Christmas!?!?”. Never fear, where there is a will, there is a way. Between 4:30 and 5:30 I put up our outside lights (which I still haven’t plugged in, what a dork), decorated the entire house (fortunately for me, our house is small) and had put up our small 3 foot tree that is upstairs on our pellet stove (the top of a pellet stove does’t get hot like a wood stove). Then I went and taught two more fitness classes and came home and started putting up our main tree around 10:00pm. It’s called dedication. ;)

That right there is a 7 foot pre-lit tree, with two extra sets of lights (I like lights), 40 feet of ribbon, 20 bows, 80 plain gold ornaments, 20 sports ornaments (as you can see our tree is in our sports/media room), and then tops off with somewhere between 50-100 other ornaments we’ve been given or collected over the years (I like ornaments).

tree

I remember years and years ago before I had the gold and the sports themed “starter” ornaments, J would come in as I decorated the tree and kept saying, “There are enough ornaments on that tree, you should stop.” What a guy. In those days our tree had maybe 75 ornaments total on it. Now we are closer to 200 and he doesn’t even bother opening his mouth, either he’s resigned himself to the fact that I am compelled to over decorate, or he’s come to the dark side. I like to think it’s the later.

When I finished the tree I of course instagrammed it, and then followed that up with a very important announcement. That for the month of December, I will be taking Olaf along with me on adventures.

olaf

Why? Partly because I’m insane, but mostly to help relieve us all from those dang elf on a shelf posts. Everyone has agreed that Olaf is much more adorable, and so far folks have been loving his adventures!

He’s gone to exercise class, spent an evening in drinking tea, made a cake, went out for lunch, made snow angels, and last night went to a concert! If you’re not following me on Instagram or Facebook you’re missing out on all the fun so click over to one (or both) and follow me (and catch up on his adventures last week)!

You should notice how wonderfully empty it is under the tree in the photos above, and then check out this photo taken Tuesday afternoon…

gift tree

It looks like I’ve finished al my shopping and wrapping doesn’t it? Don’t be deceived, those boxes are all empty. Yes empty. I wrapped up a whole pile of empty boxes to create a barricade to keep one grey kitty away from the tree. Why? Because she insists on chewing on it. Pekoe on the other hand is content to just hang out under the tree like a good kitty

pekoe

but Ollie is not. Here she is devising her plan of attack. So far she has penetrated the wall of boxes at least 3 times. So bad!

ollie

Between decorating and wrapping empty boxes I did still work last week, the weather has been nutty so there has been lots of tea (from my David’s Tea advent calendar!) and Chai Tea Lattes to keep me toasty warm

chai tea

but more importantly, our pellet stove is up and running!!! I’ll spare you the long saga as to what took so long to get it going this fall/winter, but the important things is that it is running!!  We are pretty darn excited!

fire

This weekend I finally had a change to check out this cookbook that was sent to me a few weeks back

What I really like about it, is that it’s like those cookbooks you get from fundraisers. The ones where everyone contributes their favourite recipes and they get complied into one. Those are the best cookbooks around, and this is just like one of those. There are countless amazing sounding recipes and one of the ones I made was spiced pecans

pecan

They were super easy and would make an amazing gift if you bottles them up in a cute container. These ones aren’t going to make into a gift though,

pecan2

because I’ve already eaten them. All. So yeah… they are yummy. If you are in the market for a new Christmas cookbook definitely check this one out.

I’ve also been up to some Christmas-y crafty business, but for obvious reasons I can’t talk about that…

This week is my last week of craziness before the holidays, I’ve got a full 17 classes (whaaaaa) to teach, and then the following week I’m down to 10 before my long awaited 2 week vacation starts. I’m like crazy excited for the 19th to arrive! I love what I do, but it’s going to be soon nice to have a two week break!

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