On a roll!

wp-image-2122404066

I first came across foam rolling on Pinterest when I was looking for a way to relieve my sore muscles. Once a little pain sets in, it can put a HUGE damper on motivation, and it’s easy to forego workouts altogether. In one respect, soreness means you’re doing something right. Too much, however, could indicate dehydration or the need for a good old-fashioned stretch.

Recently, a friend of mine posted a photo of her foam roller and said that it was one of her greatest investments. After that, rollers kept popping up everywhere – Instagram, Facebook, you name it! To be honest, that first one only caught my eye because it was bright pink, but after a little research, I knew I had to have one.

What is foam rolling, anyway?

Foam rolling is a soft massaging therapy that you can do on your own with a roller made of – you guessed it – foam! It’s also known as self-myofascial release and is a hell of a lot cheaper to do at home.

The “real” myofascial release that you would go to a licensed therapist for is a pretty expensive treatment that involves applying pressure to your connective tissue to reduce pain and increase motion. To get the best results, a series of 4 sessions are recommended. For a full treatment, including info session and diagnosis, you could pay upwards of $600. Yikes!

GRID Foam Roller

wp-image-1193093766

The roller you choose makes all the difference. It may be painful to roll at first, but once you form a routine, you’ll start to experience great results. Some of the benefits include better sleep (kiss those restless legs goodbye!), increased flexibility, and reduced muscle pain. My recommendation is the GRID foam roller by TriggerPoint. For just $39.99 (plus shipping), you’ll be well on your way to feeling better. Compare that to what you’d pay for just one session at a wellness center!

The GRID is designed to replicate an actual massage, and as you roll, you can feel the different pressure points rubbing against all of your tight muscles. Unlike most rollers that have a foam core, this one has a hollow core that is wrapped in a thin layer of foam, making it firmer with the ability to withstand up to 500 pounds of static weight. At just over a foot long and less than six inches wide, you can literally take your GRID foam roller anywhere! And the best part? The product is backed by a 30-day guarantee and one-year warranty, so roll your heart out!

wp-image-538593848

As part of my cooldown after each workout, I roll my back, glutes, hamstrings, I.T. band, hip-flexors, and calves, for about 30 seconds on each body part. It feels so good. Plus, I’ve never slept better! Around nighttime, I was getting aches and odd sensations in my legs that would wake me up at odd hours, especially after a tough workout. Since I started rolling with the GRID, I haven’t had any trouble sleeping through the night. I’m seriously amazed.

Bottom Line

This is a must-have purchase for everyone who works out. If I could only choose one recovery tool, this would be it. The only decision you need to make is which of the five fun colors you want!

Check out TriggerPoint’s website for more information and to view the entire product line, including massage balls, DVDs, guidebooks, and more!

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by TriggerPoint. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

I know you know, but I have to say it anyway…Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise or fitness program (yes, even foam rolling!). Use this roller and all other fitness tools at your own risk.

An obsession is coming 

Photo property of Beachbody, LLC

This January, Autumn Calabrese is back with a new Beachbody fitness program. You know her – celebrity fitness trainer and creator of 21 Day Fix, Country Heat, and the cooking show Fixate, to name a few.

80-Day Obsession – a program designed to sculpt your abs and booty.

When the news first broke at the beginning of the month, I was less than thrilled. An 80-day program? That’s like a lifetime. I quickly dismissed the idea and went back to Letting Shi(f)t Go.

Then I thought about it. In the scheme of things, 80 days is not very long. It’s less than three months – the probationary period before benefits kick in at a new job, the first trimester of pregnancy, a quarter of a year. In fact, several other Beachbody programs run longer. In other words, it’s doable.

I thought about chunking the program into four 20-day cycles and how each new cycle would be an opportunity to take before and after photos, reset the mind, and begin anew. It would be good to challenge myself to make a BIG commitment, and to show others that even with a full-time job, a family, and a few freelance jobs on the side, it’s still totally possible to work on yourself. Now I’m actually excited for it to begin!

What I know

  • The program lasts 80 days (duh) and will begin in January
  • New workouts are released every Monday-Friday
  • High-intensity workouts build on previous ones – no repeats
  • Times vary from 45-60 minutes a day (much like in Core de Force)
  • It follows the container system, with precise guidelines of when to eat what
  • There will be tacos!

Preparation

So maybe you aren’t in the mindset to fully commit right now. It’s going to be an extreme 80 days. Luckily, you still have about four months to get your mind and body ready for it. Start by completing some of Autumn’s other programs – 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, and Hammer & Chisel.

Before you say “Oh, hell no!” I encourage you to believe in yourself. Before you think you can’t commit to 80 days, see my idea for breaking it down (above). Before you say that 45-60 minutes a day is just unreasonable, remember that a one-hour workout is just 4% of your day. It might take some rearranging of your schedule (I wake up at 5 am to get my workout in before I go to my day job), but it’s definitely worth it. Your body (and your mind) will thank you.

Always remember – nothing is impossible.

Eat hole foods

20170822_161130

I debated whether or not to try The Dough Bar’s protein-packed doughnuts for far too long. They look delicious with all of the yummy toppings and flavor combinations, they’re a healthy alternative to my favorite Dunkin’ glazed, and there are only 150 calories and 16 carbs per (plain) doughnut. So, why the wait? Well, I just couldn’t be sure that they would taste as good as they looked.

The problem with “healthy alternatives” is that there are plenty of phonies out there. You know the food that claims to be healthy and good tasting, but really just resembles sugared cardboard? I didn’t want to waste my time or money on any more of that. But, I figured, if I didn’t like them, I would just leave a scathing review and be on my way – JUST KIDDING!

I can honestly tell you that when you try The Dough Bar’s doughnuts, you won’t be disappointed. At all. They were so good that I wanted to cry tears of joy. I finally found a good one!

The texture is similar to a moist cake doughnut – like something I’ve made in my Babycakes donut maker, not like the apple cider cake doughnuts you can find practically everywhere in the fall. They have a hint of vanilla and cinnamon (even though that’s not one of the ingredients – hmmm) and aren’t overwhelmingly sweet. They definitely don’t taste like cardboard.

Gimme all the doughnuts!

The Dough Bar designed their doughnuts to be eaten every day – you don’t have to, of course, but why wouldn’t you want to?

Froot Loops, PB Puppy Chow, and Carrot Cake are just some of the creative flavor combos. I’m ordering Froot Loops next because it comes with double the glaze and the classic cereal definitely takes me back to my childhood. (Did I mention double the glaze?)

 

20170822_161226

This is literally an everything doughnut!

If you aren’t very adventurous (or you prefer to make your own glaze and toppings), you can purchase a 4 or 8-pack of plain doughnuts.

I see a plain doughnut sliced in half with almond butter and banana topped with cacao nibs in my future! That would be a serious enhancement of my typical Tuesday night snack.

A new variety of the month 8-pack appears every month, so be on the lookout!

What’s included?

When you order a standard 4-pack (not plain), you get four individually wrapped plain doughnuts with their doughnut holes, four cups of glaze, and four cups of toppings. The fun is in how you decorate them. Check out Instagram for ideas.

20170822_161153

JunkBanter Pack

I really couldn’t decide which flavor I wanted to try first, so I went with the JunkBanter Pack because it included four different ones: Cinnamon Glaze & Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Cookie Butter Glaze & Crushed Oreos and Chips Ahoy, Nutella Glaze & Kit Kat Crumbles, and Reese’s PB Glaze & Mini PB Cups. Plus, a portion of each sale was donated to the National MS Society. Double win!

20170822_161356

I love Cinnamon Toast Crunch!

The bottom line: I would recommend these to a friend. The doughnuts taste great, and they make a nice “cheat” treat. The only downside is the shipping cost – $9.00 for those of us on the East Coast. Ouch! But, I’ll allow it every so often. While the company only ships out each Monday, you do get your items quickly after.

Happy Snacking!

 

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by The Dough Bar. All opinions are my own.

Get your chocolate fix

Looking for a chocolate fix? Go Dr. No.

I (virtually) met Amale, the woman behind this amazing chocolate, last year. We chatted via email a bit and I learned that she wants to help people suffering from cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses live happier lives. She really wants to make a difference in our world and has a heart of gold. And really, what better way to spread the happiness than with good-for-you chocolate?

What makes it different?

How cute is this stamp?

Dr. No Chocolate is 75% cocoa and organic with a rich and smooth taste. It makes a perfect treat for diabetics or those eating low carb because it’s sugar-free and void of artificial sweeteners. It’s also gluten free and doesn’t contain artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

The chocolate comes in three delicious flavors: Dark Chocolate, Pumpkin Seed & Sea Salt (my favorite!), and Almonds. I love the salty-savory combination that the pumpkin seeds and sea salt add to the sweet chocolate – such a unique and delicious treat! If you have a HUGE sweet tooth, I recommend the variety pack so you can try one of each and pick your favorite!

Great for gifts, baking, or snacking when you’re craving something sweet. You won’t believe it’s sugar-free!

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Dr. No Chocolate. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Grab ’em and go

20170525_122019

What do you grab when you’re in a hurry? If you’re like most people, it’s junk. I can remember walking to the corner store armed with a pocket full of change and a desire to check off everything on my list – Laffy Taffy, Hot Fries, Slim Jims, and Blow Pops. My 10-year-old self was shining in the glory of it. Why? Because it tasted good, was convenient, and the packaging screamed: “EAT ME, NOW!”

Flash forward almost two decades, and I still revel in all things easy and convenient, but I pride myself on making better food choices.

That’s why I love Bricks Bars. The ingredients are clean and sustainable, and the on-the-go packaging suits my busy – at times, hectic – lifestyle.  Great for hiking, biking, traveling. Just throw them in your bag, and you’re good to go.

20170525_121958

Bricks organic meal bars are paleo and soy, gluten, and antibiotic free. The company uses grass-fed meats, and sustainably sourced GMO-free veggies, fruit, and seeds. Now, that’s something I can stand behind.

My favorite is the organic beef, uncured bacon, cranberry, and sunflower seed bar. Such a unique combination of flavors that makes your senses go wild with adventure. There’s something about the salty-sweet blend that gets me every time.

20170525_121927

Runner up is the organic turkey, sweet potato, cranberry, and pumpkin seed bar reminds me of Thanksgiving. Actually, if I’m honest, it reminds me of Willy Wonka’s factory. Anyone remember the 3-course meal in a stick of chewing gum? I always wondered what that would be like. You get the yummy, savory main course, the side dishes, and pie at the close. What nostalgia attached to this!

Don’t just take my word for it. To taste just how delicious these bars really are, head over to bricksbars.com. You can get a variety sample 3-pack of Bricks Bars for $8.99 and FREE shipping.

Happy Snacking!

 

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Bricks. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Smooth or crunchy?

It’s the age old PB question, but it fits with almond butter too. I’m a smooth gal myself, and my mom likes crunchy. There’s no compromise here; it’s either one or the other.

Fortunately, most companies have caught on. One of these, Barney Butter, has so many awesome flavors and unique combinations such as Vanilla + Espresso, Honey + Flax, and Cocoa + Coconut. Whether you’re looking for super smooth, chunky, or somewhere in between, they’ve got you covered.

IMG_20160831_082253

One of my favorite afternoon snacks.

Barney Butter’s almond butters are made with fresh California almonds in a peanut-free and Certified Organic facility. They are also Certified Vegan, Certified Gluten-Free, and Non-GMO Project verified (other than the Honey + Flax). I love that the company uses recycled, BPA-Free jars that can be reused for on-the-go snacking.

Barney Butter comes in snack packs (perfect for on-the-go) and jars (perfect for every day, baking, and eating with a spoon!) Check out their site for a full list of products.

Sometimes you just need a cookie!

Here’s a recipe that’s easy to whip up with ingredients you probably have on hand.

Vanilla Espresso Almond Butter Cookies

1/4 cup brown sugar20170412_181909

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, sofened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3-1/2 cup Barney Butter Vanilla + Espresso Almond Butter
1 cup gluten free flour blend
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, beat sugars and butter until smooth.
3. Whisk in vanilla and egg, then almond butter.
4. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined.
6. Form dough into 1″ balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet, flatten. (Dough may be sticky.)
7. Bake for 6-8 minutes.
8. Let cool and enjoy!

Visit Barney Butter online for fun recipes with all of the creative almond butter flavors.

 

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored, in part, by Barney Butter. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions (and the recipe) are my own.

Tastes like sunshine

Move over PB, there’s a new jar of goodness in town!

I love peanut butter – on toast, in cookies, straight from the jar – you name it. So the first time I encountered SunButter, I quickly dismissed it. Nothing could replace my beloved PB.

But a couple of months ago I thought I would give it another shot (well, actually try it). It’s like the Heavens opened up and angels were singing – this stuff is amazing.

20161008_084049.png

Creamy SunButter makes the BEST cookies!

Flavors: natural, creamy, natural crunch, no sugar added, and organic. The organic is Whole30 approved (I’m super excited about that). The creamy also comes in on-the-go packs (great for kid – or adult – lunches).

  • It’s free from the top 8 allergens (including nuts and soy), which makes it a good alternative for those allergic to nuts.
  • It’s school safe. If you don’t have kids this might not seem like a huge deal, but it totally is. Did you know that many schools are banning PB from lunchboxes? We never had to worry about that when I was in elementary school – 75% of kids brought in either PB&J of Fluffernutters. Now there are extra precautions to limit exposure. Better to be safe than sorry! For more information on this, check out the website.
  • It has 7 grams of protein per serving (2Tbsp). This is good for picky little eaters – make them ants on a log and know that they are getting in some extra protein in with their snacks. You can even add a scoop to a chocolate shake for breakfast – yum!

Fun Fact: It takes 3 pounds of sunflower seeds to make one jar of SunButter. Wow! (credit: SunButter.com)

How awesome is this pen?!

Use it just like PB

I swapped out the PB in my favorite peanut butter cookies and not only were they good – they were better with SunButter! I’ve tried several of the recipes online too.  It really is wonderful.

For more fun  ideas, visit SunButter.com

 

This post is sponsored by SunButter. Thank you for supporting the companies that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.