Would Amanda Eat It?

One of the things that drives me craziest in the nutrition side of my business is questions about processed food.  If it comes from a box, has a label, or has a shelf life of over a couple of weeks, it’s probably not great for you.  Sorry kids, that’s the cold, hard truth.

As you know from past Would Amanda Eat It? posts, that’s not to say I don’t understand why someone would need to eat a processed food from time to time – Quest bars being my own convenience food of choice when I’m running from client to client.

It’s just that I get a lot of submissions asking about this type of chip or that kind of fruit snack, and the overarching answer is usually – skip the junk, make it yourself, or find an alternative.

That leads us to today’s Would Amanda Eat It? – not technically a processed food (I mean, it does come in a bag, typically), but not technically a fresh one either.  The product in question today is dried fruit.

But it’s fruit!, you may cry, wondering how I could even question the merit of nature’s candy.  Sure, it was fruit.  But does it still count as fruit when it’s been dried, (often) sugared, and packed up?  Here’s the info:

The good:

  • At its best, dried fruit is simply a dehydrated form of fresh fruit – when it has no added sugar, you are getting most of the benefits of the fresh fruit (for example, fiber and iron from prunes, vitamin E and B6 from figs, or beta-carotene in dried apricots)
  • The portable, long-lasting benefits of dried fruit mean you can take it anywhere, pack it in purses or bags, and/or mix it with unsalted raw nuts for a powerful protein and carbohydrate combo

The bad:

  • let’s be real, peeps – a lot of the dried fruit you get at the grocery store has a ton of added sugar – and even if it has none, the concentration of the sugars natural to the drying process means that you’re getting a big dose of fructose – and calories – with every (tiny, tiny) serving of dried fruit (you only get 4 dried apricot halves, and even that has quadruple the calories of a nice, fresh apricot)
  • beware of course the “commercial” dried fruit (i.e. not the nice, natural kind from Whole Foods or the farmers’ market) – one meager 1/4 cup of Craisins has most of your sugar for the entire day (29g out of a total 40g) – and you know those little bad boys are so addictive it’s hard to stop at 1/4 cup!

The alternative:

  • Um, no brainer here – the alternative to dried fruit is fresh fruit!  Delicious, skin-on, water-filled, healthy and delicious fruit.  Sure, you may have to think ahead a bit more (you can’t just stash bananas in your car for a week), but it’s way worth it to grab an apple rather than an apple chip, an apricot rather than a Turkish dried apricot, or a big bunch of grapes rather than a tiny 1/4 cup raisins.
  • If you must get your dried fruit fix, look for those with no added sugar, use them sparingly (like sprinkled over a salad, rather than a big handful), or just bite the bullet and dehydrate your own fruit (in the oven – no extra gadgets needed!) – that way you know where it’s from, what’s in it, and how much you’re really eating.

Are you a dried fruit fan?  What’s your favorite kind, and where do you get it?

Weekend Roundup

Ah, what a week.  My wedding is two weeks from today.  As in, TWO WEEKS.  So please cut me some slack on the frequency of posts – believe me, I’m trying.

What’s happening this week around the web?  Let’s check it:

I cannot tell you how many of my clients request workouts to pop dat booty.  So here’s a month of ’em.

I wish L.A. still looked like this.  In my mind it does.

A “V-steam” is exactly what you think it might be.  And it sounds painful to me.

Almost as annoying as having to be “skinny yet muscular” is the plus-size ideal of having to be “slim yet curvy.”  How is anyone IRL supposed to figure it out?

Apparently you can run on a treadmill without dying of boredom.  I mean, I won’t ever try it, but hey, go for it, readers.

Looking at NFL players’ weddings is somehow calming for me this week.

Awesome, simple tips from a celeb stylist that you can actually apply to your real life.

And finally, the definitive list of leggings brands that don’t let your butt crack see the (stretched-out) light of day.

What are you guys reading and talking about?  As always, I love a good link share!

Would Amanda Eat It? Simply 7 Hummus Chips

Ah, chips.  Bane of my existence.  Love of my life.  What’s better when you’re hungry than a crunchy, salty, satisfying chip?

…which is exactly why I can’t keep them in my house.

I haven’t kept chips in the house (save in the few hours DIRECTLY before hosting a party) in years, but when my parents recently visited and left half a bag of tortilla chips, you better bet those little triangles of pure (carb-y) joy were gobbled with whatever dip/sauce/cheese I could get my hands on.  And I was ashamed.

My point is, chips are addictive.

Enter Simply 7 Hummus Chips.  They come in four varieties (sea salt, red pepper, spicy pepper, and tomato basil) and are billed as “a richer snacking experience” compared to hummus in its non-chip, basic b*tch form.

Let’s have a deeper look-see into these bad boys (the sea salt version, at least).

The good:

  • the website will list off the great points of the chip straight away – they’re GF (gluten-free, for those of you living under a rock), non-GMO, preservative-free, and contain no artificial flavors – not too bad from a “real food” point of view
  • you get a full 30 (admittedly tiny) chips for only 130 calories, which feels like a solid snack
  • they’re super low sugar (only 2g per serve)

The bad:

  • besides being low in sugar, they’re also low in fiber (like, none) and protein (2g) – so don’t be fooled, these guys are still a refined carbohydrate serving tied up with a prettier bow
  • the sodium is too high for my liking – 290g per serving would buy a one-way ticket to Bloatville for me (but I keep a very low-sodium diet, under 1400mg daily)
  • chickpea flour, potato starch, and rice – again, these are not a low-carb snack.

The verdict (and the alternative!):

  • yeah, I’d have them as a “sometimes” snack (and they’d make a great snack for kids!).  Granted, per the above, I could not have these in my house for fear of eating the whole bag in one sitting (which I would easily do, especially with the flavored kind), but if I were asked to bring “chips and dip” to a party I’d surely bring this with a Greek yogurt dip or similar to up the protein content of the whole snack.
  • alternatively, if you need a chip fix but can’t spare the carbs, have you guys tried making kale chips yet?  Skip the weird superdry versions you get in the store; a batch of really hearty kale makes for a delicious chip (and you CAN eat the whole batch!) with no guilt (or sodium bloat) to worry about.

Are you guys shameless chip addicts like me?  What quells your crunch cravings?

Weekend Roundup

So I’ve just had to reason with myself about the amount of finite time there is in a day – and sometimes, I just need sleep in that last half hour of the day (sorry, loyal readers).

That said, I want to make sure I’m staying current with what’s going on around the internet world, too, so I put together this quickie little roundup to holler at the awesome and useful things you guys might want to read until I’m back up and running at full capacity.

You can now shop Spring 2015 trends according to your astrological sign (spoiler: mine’s a jumpsuit, and I love it!).

I go through about a jar of (natural unsalted) peanut butter per week.  I think I’m going to need to up that to two jars.

Do you exercise on an empty stomach?  If your diet is, shall we say, inconsistent, it may be the way to go.

Running and walking at night can be terrifying, but for some of us, it’s a must-do.  This stuff can help you stay safer as you run into the wild dark beyond.

If you don’t love Victoria Beckham, then I can’t love you.  It’s pretty straightforward.

I’m not gonna lie and say I take a cold shower, but I WILL tell you that my hair is about 80% shinier when I cold-rinse it at the end of said shower.  So that’s something.

These now-ancient celebrity MySpace pages are AWESOME in their horror.  So bad.

My “lady” issues could fill a short textbook, but for now, know that I am very interested in FAM and how to track the natural cycles of the female body – and would love to know if any of you readers out there are doing the same!

What’s on your mind this week?  What are you watching/reading/laughing at online?

Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award

My girl The Keen Peach nominated me for this fun award and I am honored – this is the first blogger-type award I’ve received and it’ll be fun to pass on the accolades.

Part of the nomination is to fill out this supershort and fun questionnaire, so here you guys go – a bit more fun about ThisFitBlonde!

In one word, how would you like your readers to describe your blog?

Must-read (hey, a hyphenated word is still a word).

Which is your most favorite among your blog posts and why?

A lot of my posts are fun, fab, and fitness-oriented in vibe, which is exactly what I want from this blog (and for you, my readers!).  But I wrote a piece back in August 2014 about body image and what it feels like to work in an industry focused so much on bodies, weight, and perfection – and I still think it has a lot of value.

What inspires most of your blog posts?

My own professional life as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor is the best motivating force for me to keep writing, but I am also inspired by current events (hello, red carpet posts!) and other bloggers (my Weekend Roundup entries).

What do you aspire to accomplish this year?

This is going to be a big year for me – I’m getting married, considering a big move, and working on building ThisFitBlonde into a more comprehensive brand.

What do you aspire to learn this year?

I need to learn more about blogging as a profession and industry rather than just a hobby, and I am taking an advanced prenatal fitness certification course to deepen my knowledge of working with pregnant women in a gym setting.

What is your favorite book? Why?

Even though I think she’s a crazy person in real life, Kristin Armstrong’s Mile Markers is a powerful, motivating reminder of why it is important for us women to keep running – no matter what life brings.

What is the most courageous thing you have ever done?

Move from Chicago to L.A. at age 16 to start college early.  Oh, and I jumped out of a plane once.

If you could be a superhero, what would be your super power?

To be able to fly, because then I could travel anywhere I wanted for free.

Who is your female role model?

I have lots – my mom, Hillary Clinton, Jamie Eason, Jillian Michaels.

And that’s it from me!  Now comes the time to nominate other bloggers.  For those of you reading on from other blogs, here’s how you “pay it forward” with the sisterhood:

  • thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site
  • put the award logo on your blog
  • answer the ten questions sent to you (the same questions above)
  • nominate seven blogs

So come and git it, somedaysunny, The L.A. Good Wife, O at the Edges, We killed the American dream, Blonde Ponytail, Maria Mind Body Health, and This Is Why You’re Single.  You’re nominated!

Would Amanda Eat It?

Spoiler alert: Amanda already ate it.  But wait – don’t go just yet!  The question here is – would Amanda eat it again?

Last night I found myself in a position lots of us face – I’d had a biggish lunch and wasn’t super hungry for dinner, but knew that not eating from roughly noon until the next morning was horrific for the metabolism.  Couple this with the fact that I was facing a 2+ hour drive back from Palm Springs and didn’t want to stop to chow down on something along the way.

What’s fast, portable, and relatively healthy, I asked myself?  And then I saw the display:

I’d of course heard about Quest bars from every single health and lifestyle blogger on the face of the Earth.

I have a bodybuilder friend who breaks them up and eats them with unsweetened almond milk for breakfast.  I have friends who crumble them over Greek yogurt and call it pizza.  I know people who Amazon order these in CASES to their private homes.

It’s threat-level red on these damn things, and here I am never having eaten one.

Don’t worry, Quest fans, I threw it down in the 7-11 last night.  And here’s my report:

The good:

  • 1g sugar.  ONE.  That’s plain-Cheerios-level low.
  • 17g fiber.  SEVENTEEN.  That’s more than FOUR CUPS of blueberries.
  • 21g protein.  TWENTY…ok you get it.  More than 4 oz. canned tuna.
  • Lower in calories than almost any other comparable-protein bar out there – 190 cals
  • I gotta hand it to ’em, the chocolate chip taste and texture is on point

The bad:

  • Lots of “unpronounceables” – think fake sweeteners like sucralose, erythritol, and isomalto-oligosaccharides (yep, that’s a single word and thing)
  • The overall taste of the bar is a little…off.  There’s a persistent metallic-y aftertaste that doesn’t really go away until well after you’re done eating the bar.
  • At the end of the day, this is a processed lump of a bar built to resemble food without actually having any food ingredients to speak of (which is why it didn’t, to be polite, “sit well” with me for the long drive home, if you get my drift)

The verdict:

  • Let’s be honest – this is one of the healthiest things you can buy at a 7-11, outside the obvious (hard-boiled eggs, apples, low-sodium beef jerky).  So  if I was in a situation like I described above, or on a road trip, or a busy mom needing a quick snack, or looking for something to hold me over until my next meal – YES, I would eat a Quest bar (although I’d like to try other flavors, too).

The alternative:

  • Should you want to stick to real food (something I recommend to all of my clients and try to do myself), you can make a pretty decent high-protein bar, shake, or snack without the powder with this handy-dandy cookbook
  • You can also make your own Quest bars, which doesn’t eliminate the chemical nature of the bar, but does lessen the impact on your pocketbook (these things ain’t free, people)

I know Quest fans far and wide are breathing a sigh of relief (ha) – their addiction is TFB-approved!

For those of you who eat whole and clean – what’s your favorite label-free protein source? (mine is hard-boiled eggs for SURE!)

Welcome to Team SunRype!

Hey y’all – did I mention that I get corporate sponsors from time to time?  #humblebrag I know, but for real, it’s a sweet deal – you agree to be sponsored by a given company, and in return they give you swag, product, and the occasional free race entry (though this “perk” is becoming more and more rare).

I’ve been through the sponsorship track many a time, starting with Aquaphor in 2006, Toyota Hybrid Vehicles in 2007, Goody Hair Products in 2008, Bear Naked Granola in 2009, Snickers MARATHON Bars in 2010-11, a brief hiatus in 2012, Wheaties in 2013-14, and now: Team SunRype USA 2015!

For those of you who are thinking, “I know the name SunRype, but what exactly do they sell?” here’s your answer: fruit snacks, fruit juices, and fruit & grain bars.  Our sponsorship focuses on using the SunRype Fruit Strips (only 50 calories and all fruit sugar – a great alternative to the chemicals in GU or gel packets!) during runs and endurance events.

If you are lucky enough to know me in real life (suckers), get ready to be bombarded with free fruit – I am going big on promoting these tasty, natural products and I want to share the wealth!  I also need to put some races on the calendar to make sure I’m wearing out my SunRype kit in style – so, any suggestions?

Local SoCal athletes – what are you racing this year?  What are your favorite races?

50 Things About ThisFitBlonde

I want to welcome all my new readers and followers by doing one of those catch-all “about me” posts – because hey, if you’ve never met me, this might be new info for you!

And to those loyal readers who do know me in person, well – here’s a chance to dig a little bit deeper into my psyche (don’t say I didn’t warn you) and find out what’s rumbling around this skull of mine in 2015.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 7:00am, because Mondays are my “late” days.

2. How do you like your steak? Medium rare these days.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Just saw Wild last night.

4. What is your favorite TV show? Right now, Orphan Black, but in life, The Simpsons.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Tie: Singapore and L.A.

6. What did you have for breakfast? Banana and peanut butter on Ezekiel bread.

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Indian by a landslide.

8. What foods do you dislike? Not too much anymore – not a huge fan of lemongrass.

9. Favorite Place to Eat? Is my own kitchen overselling it?

10. Favorite dressing? Ranch for life.

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? Hyundai Veloster and it’s ballin’.

12. What are your favorite clothes? Gym clothes, since that’s all I wear anyway.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Dying to go to Thailand, South Africa, and Greece.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? Always half full – I’m the eternal optimist!

15. Where would you want to retire? Too far away for me to think about realistically.

16. Favorite time of day? Sunrise, because everything is still possible.

17. Where were you born? Woodstock, IL.

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?  Football, because ‘Murica.

19. How many siblings? 1 big brother!

20.Favoritepastime/hobby: Working out/running, duh.

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? It’s not an email chain, so who cares?

22. Bird watcher? Nope.

23. Are you a morning person or a night person? 100% morning.  I sleep at night.

24. Do you have any pets? Sigh.  Not right now. 😦

25. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share? Oh hi, I’m getting MARRIED in 6 weeks.

26. What did you want to be when you were little? An Olympic gymnast.

27. What is your best childhood memory? Every holiday and every vacation.

28. Are you a cat or dog person? Dog of course!  Woof!

29. Are you married? See #25

30. Always wear your seat belt? Yes, I don’t have a death wish.

31. Been in a car accident? Yeah, the one that was my fault that totaled my first car.

32. Any pet peeves? Indecisiveness, laziness, and poor grammar.

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings? Pepperoni FTW, mushrooms if the group will abide.

34. Favorite Flower? Not a big flower person – er – roses?  Eh.

35. Favorite ice cream? All the ones with tons of junk in them – like super-chocolate-cookie dough-caramel-chip-explosion.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant? In N Out, with Carl’s/J-Box in a tie for second.

37. How many times did you fail your driver’s test? None, by grace.

38. From whom did you get your last email? A woman for whom I am doing a contracting job.  Scintillating.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Urban Home.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately? This question reminds me how dull I’ve been lately.  Thanks.

41. Like your job? LOVE my job.

42. Broccoli? Not a real question.  But I do like it.

43. What was your favorite vacation? The first Singapore trip in 2007, where everything was amazing and new.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with: obviously Nick.

45. What are you listening to right now? Nothing, I like silence around the house.

46. What is your favorite color? Yellow/orange/pink/warm & bright colors of all kinds.

47. How many tattoos do you have? Five.  More in the future I hope!

48. How many people will fill this out? Again, not an email chain.  Lame.

49. What time did you finish this quiz? 8:53am, seven minutes ahead of deadline for this entry.

50. Coffee Drinker? Big time.

I’d love to know more about YOU – fill this out and link back to me so I can get to know you better!

Weekend Roundup

The first roundup of 2015 – ooooh, I’m nervous!  Luckily there’s a ton of awesome stuff to look at on the web right now.

Like Brogamats.  They’re exactly what you think they are: totes masculine yoga mats and accessories.

If yoga isn’t your thing, how about a cordless digital jump rope?  No fear of tripping can hold you down.

Do you hold on to your sports bras too long?  Yeah, me too.

Want to stream shows legally and with high quality?  Here are your options.

If you’re still dragging your feet on getting your fitness game going in 2015, these inspiration boards should kick you right back into gear.

Ugh, if you’re anything like me you struggle to save money and are too quick to spend it.  So that being said, here are some tips for people like me (us?).

Granted, if Nick left me hanging at the altar (in 6 weeks!) I’d have his head.  But this girl took it waaaay better, and made a fun project out of the whole ordeal.

I am dying for this globe and somehow see it as part of a future baby nursery (!).

If you’re a HAC junkie like me, holla back at these amazing highlighter products.

And finally – if you’ve overindulged this holiday season (guilty), check out this intensely detoxifying tonic – then thank me later.

What are you seeking out on the internet this week?  Anything I missed?