Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Plant Meets Paleo: New Sister Site

Attention! Attention! Hear ye! Hear ye!

Let me take a second to introduce myself: 




My name is Lex and I am an honorary best friend to the head honcho around here-- Crista Scott. I will be helping Crista review some awesome products (like Quest Bars, Paleonola, and Caveman Cookies) in the future. But that's not all.

We are proud to announce the birth of our new sister site!




This website is dedicated to embracing bioindividuality --- a diet and lifestyle that works for one person may not work for another. In terms of dietary needs, we are all very different! We will explore various diets and nutritional stances.

I personally follow an "eat by your blood type" diet when it comes to food. There is research that suggesting a plant-based diet is best for my specific blood type. Crista feels her best while sticking to a Paleo diet (A.K.A Caveman Diet...we will explain more later). We want to share our experiences as we strive for healthy living both in and out of the kitchen. 

Because we love to cook and bake together, we often try to make meals and dishes that can be enjoyed by both of us. It didn't take us long to realize that there was a HUGE overlap between both of our dietary lifestyles and needs. And healthy eating in general.

That nutritional overlap we like to call "Plant Meets Paleo".

Vegetables, fruits, nuts and berries.

Meat or no meat?

Soy or no soy?

Dairy or no dairy?

These options are a large dissection factor for many people's diets.

Plant Meets Paleo will bring you creative recipes, fun facts, and health tips revolving around avoiding or embracing some of these food groups. We believe that you can make food that is both clean AND healthy. Not to mention...delicious!

We are most excited about posting some of our sweet treat creations (that taste divine AND are good for you!) that will also fit snuggly into your dietary guidelines. Because, a person's gotta have something sweet every once in a while, right?!

Join us on our journeys to healthy living and exciting cooking adventures!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

ENERGYbits: Review & Giveaway


ENERGYbits is rapidly becoming one of the most popular (and unconventional) go-to's for top athletes around the world.

On their website, ENERGYbits states: "Made from 100% organicallly grown spirulina algae and loaded with 40 nutrients, ENERGYbits® algae tabs have the highest concentration of protein in the world (64%) all for just one calorie per tab. Endorsed by the United Nations as the most nutritious food on earth, spirulina algae has been a favorite of Olympic gold medalists for decades and is a super food in every sense of the word, delivering instant and enduring energy to your brain and body."

How are they taken? For best results, swallow at least 30 ENERGYbits® (or more) before any workout, run, game or intense physical or mental activity. They will improve your energy and endurance. Also take whenever you are tired, hungry or don't have time to eat or cook. They are a terrific high protein, low calorie snack or meal on the go.  A favorite of Olympic athletes.Swallow with beverage (or chew them as you would a handful of nuts). Remember, they're "bits" of food (not pills)."

While the amount of capsules to swallow seems daunting, the immense nutritional benefit surely outweighs the inconvenience  In a day when people are taking wheat-grass shots (who really likes those, lets be honest) and making dishes out of chia seeds (which have the consistency of tiny bug eggs), this is a CAKE WALK. You don't even have to chew the "bits", which completely removes any taste of the spirulina algae altogether. 

What I really want to say here is....don't knock the idea until you try it. Just take a look at this info sheet below, they aren't kidding when they say it's a super food.


Just STARE at that image above for a few minutes and I guarantee you'll want to try them for yourself. I dare you to find another SINGLE ingredient food that provides that much nutrition.

So did I like it? Did it work for me?

I took the capsules before a particularly BRUTAL run. In hindsight, I really do believe that they aided in my stamina and performance during the workout. At the time, it was hard to distinguish the effects because I didn't "feel" them being digested. Normally, if I have caffeine, an energy gel, or coffee, my stomach hurts a little. With ENERGYbits, I felt nothing. I felt normal! Which in a lot of ways is amazing, because this product provides hurt-free energy. I know I'm not the only one who struggles with a sensitive stomach when it comes to eating pre-workout or pre-run energy sources. I'd eat these things by the handful all day long if I could! I can only imagine how good I'd feel if I had these things to take on an every-day basis.

Think the algae trend has just begun? Nope. You're late on the energy train, my friends.

ENERGYbits states: "Chlorella algae has been used worldwide for over 50 years. It is even used by Olympic athletes, NASA astronauts and tens of millions worldwide for energy, health and vitality. Now it's your turn."

My friends at ENERGYbits have graciously allowed me do a giveaway of their product!

Enter below for your chance to win a sample of these awesome ENERGYbits!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


You can also purchase them online in a bundle-pack at EnergyBits.com



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review & Giveaway: EPICbars



This past month I have been eating a Paleo-based diet, which basically means I stick to meat, veggies, fruits and nuts/seeds. Because a lot of protein bars contain gluten & milk-based protein, ect, I decided to investigate Paleo-friendly options.  I've always thought that a meat protein bar would be really cool, so after searching through google a little bit I discovered a company called EPICbar.

I e-mailed them immediately, asking if I could do a review of their products. When I got back an e-mail from them agreeing to send me some samples, I was ECSTATIC. 

Before I get into the actual review, let me give you a run-down of the company background and standpoint. They are MUCH more than just a protein-bar company.

                        

EPICbars is an Austin, Texas based company which aims at providing the highest quality grass-fed meat-based protein bars. They are gluten free, have a low glycemic count, are soy-free, dairy-free and nitrate free. They have a one-year shelf life and are loaded with omega-3's.


As stated on their website at EPICbars.com, "We believe that EPIC animals should always live pasture-centered lives where turkeys forage, pigs wallow, and buffalo roam. This is the way nature intended animals to be and we see ourselves as leaders in recognizing the value of sustainable and responsible animal welfare practices." 

EPICbars is essentially a "green" company, their approach is beneficial towards the animal, the land, your health, and the taste of the product. They add that "Pasture grazing requires significantly less fossil fuel than a feedlot diet consisting of corn, soy, antibiotics, and hormones. Pastured animals fertilize the land they graze on, which eliminates the fossil fuels required by conventional fertilizing practices." 

Lastly, the health benefits of the product are immense: "Grass-fed animals are loaded with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are better for both cardiovascular health and contain anti-inflammatory properties. They also have significantly higher values of vitamins A and E as well as antioxidants.  For athletes, grass-fed meat is particularly favorable in that it contains up to twice the levels of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, which promotes the development of lean muscle tissue and lowers the risk for a myriad of other health problems."

I personally feel like the hysteria around eating animal meat stems largely from the heavily-dosed antibiotics and hormones that the animals are being fed, in addition to the unsanitary and inhumaine methods of containment. This company provides individuals with a safe and healthy way to get their protein intake, without compromising the taste.

Last week was like Christmas...I got a small package from EPICbars in the mail. They provided me with two of each flavor-- Bison (with Bacon & Cranberry), Turkey (Almond & Cranberry), & Beef (Habanero & Cherry). I also got some cool stickers, some pens and a pin! Thanks guys!!

So here is my review for EPICbars:

I decided to get a little creative with the bars. Considering they are meat, I treated them much like I would a type of sausage, and sliced it up to throw into a breakfast scramble.





Final Product: The most AMAZING breakfast ever. I honestly couldn't believe how delicious it was!! The meat was tender, tasty and doesn't pack much sodium or sugar, especially when compared to other protein bars. And they have considerably less fat than sausage.

The really nice thing about EPICbars is that they can sit on the shelf. You can bring them with you on a hike, camping, traveling, anywhere! You can eat them plain or do what I did-- make your own creative meal!


Doesn't that look absolutely delicious?


I think it's really important to point out that eating actual FOOD is much better than most of the chemically-driven protein bars and other products that are on the market right now. On their website, EPICbars explains that "Other protein bars typically source either soy or whey protein isolates. These highly processed ingredients undergo toxic chemical treatments to create a protein source that is difficult for your body to recognize. Additionally, other bars have to rely on syrups and/or sweeteners to counterbalance the chalky flavor of protein powders. This results in an unavoidable and often unfavorable high sugar/carbohydrate load that is seen in every other protein bar on the market."

Here is the nutritional content info. I apologize about the bad quality, I couldn't find an image online with the info.


Bison



 Turkey



Beef



My absolute favorite was the Bison bar, but honestly, I really loved all of the flavors. Each one had flavors that complemented the protein. I really liked the spiciness of the Habanero seasoning in the Beef bar. Since I'm partial to bacon, the Bison won my heart. 

Now the important part: Where do you buy them?

They currently sell EPICbars in a few locations in Southern California and in San Francisco  You can look up here for the locations they are offered around the country. 

If you do not live within driving distance of a store that carries these bars, you can always order them online here

So, do yourself a favor. Buy a sample pack. Open up your mind to new sources of protein on the go. Feel safe with this company-- they ensure high quality. Ditch the smoothie, grab an EPICbar.  

But that is not all, folks!


 My friends at EPICbar have agreed to let me do a giveaway of their products.

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Enjoy! 


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

10 Things I Loved About Lightning in a Bottle 2013




When I first purchased my ticket to Lightning in a Bottle's 2013 music festival, I really had no idea what to expect. I watched videos, read about the performers and workshops, and marveled at the costumes people were wearing. I packed my things, ready to camp for four days, expecting to be a spectator, not a participant. I wanted to observe, explore and investigate. What happened was transformative, and it's hard to put into words what exactly was so incredible about my experience. This festival review will be a blend of writing, videos and pictures.






So, without further adieu, here are my Ten Things I Loved About Lightning in a Bottle



1. The Tent Porn




Some of you may be familiar with the moniker "Food Porn". The first thing I noticed while carrying my things to the campsite at Lightning in a Bottle was the extravagant (and alluring) tent designs. Forget your standard REI tent, people were busting out their inner carpenters left and right! From giant make-shift castles, to pyramids full of pillows and cushions, creativity was in full blast. Being my first music festival, I was blown away by the community / tent "city" that emerged within hours.

video



My favorite part of everything? The "street" names. My friends and I camped out on the corner of Elephant Stomp and Fish-Sticks. Yeah. Seriously.



My favorite tent design goes to the makers of "The Temple of Fluff". It looked ridiculously comfortable/ amazing! May be stealing that idea next year :)



2. The People Watching

I am, at my root, an observer. I like to people watch. I like to let everything soak in before I open up and explore. Lightning in a Bottle is the perfect environment for people watching. At any given moment during the festival, you could pick a shady spot under a tree and just watch people walk by with endless amounts of entertainment. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves with this one.

I watched this couple for probably thirty minutes straight. I was in awe of their acro-yoga routine. It was absolutely flawless and beautiful. 





video

The Mud Children in all their glory!


On the other end of the entertainment spectrum, I got to witness one of the most hilarious scenes EVER. These "mud children" (as I liked to call them) christened this poor girl who got too close to take a picture. I felt sorry for her, and backed away slowly before I got dragged in too.

The First Annual Frontierville Olympics?! YES, please!!

This is a fantastic video I found on YouTube that shows you the different costumes/ creativity that people had!

3. The Visuals


Glowing lights, sparkling shrines, neon colors everywhere....LIB definitely took their visuals to the next level. "Eye Candy" hardly describes what I saw. Maybe pictures will explain this better:



This structure was made entirely out of re-purposed pieces of wood. Amazing!


video

This art piece was in the middle of the festival grounds. Watching the people gravitate towards it was like watching moths move towards a flame. 


video

Angles, shapes, lights, and colors.


It's kinda hard to tell, but the painting was glowing under the black lights. 


This shrine absolutely took my breath away.

Another great example of re-purposing items into art. I loved the rustic feel of this picture.

4. The Unique Performances, Music & Dancing




Now, I'm not really the biggest electronic music fan. Or a fan of dancing. Most of the time I prefer acoustic sets where I can sit, drink a beer and relax. I was a little nervous about LIB because I knew Meaghan would drag me on the dance floor. I was scared. Seriously.

This is basically how the weekend progressed:

Day 1: I stood in the back taking pictures. No dancing.

Day 2: I got a little closer, took less pictures and shimmied a little here and there.

Day 3: No camera, with intermittent dancing.

Day 4: No camera, dance dance dance!

Lightning in a Bottle did something I never thought would happen....it made me love dancing. I can honestly say that I've never enjoyed dancing as much as I did at LIB. I felt comfortable to open up and let go of my insecurities about my lack of dance skillz. I just bounced around, laughed, and smiled the whole time. 

On Sunday night, a couple people from the campsite and myself wandered around looking for parties at the other campsites. It was pretty cool to see all the different DJ set ups and make-shift dance areas. We probably found 8 or so little parties, where I got to meet and talk to even more interesting people. I've never been one to want to explore at 4 AM, but this was definitely an exception. I didn't want to sleep. I felt alive from the energy of the festival :)


Above is a list of the line-up at LIB. Have I ever heard of any of them before? Nope. Do I love what I heard? YES.

The first time I walked underneath the Earth Harp, I was wondering what it could possibly be. I could tell it was a sort of instrument. But I had no idea how it was played. I arrived at the start of the performance and snuck in closer to get a better look.

This video is from YouTube, but shows basically the same performance that I saw. The strings are "plucked" using your hands. 

I was spell-bound by this instrument. I wanted to play it so bad!

Here is another compilation of the different artists that performed at LIB.





video


5. The Spirit Morning 5K


                                      

So, when I was reading about Lightning in a Bottle I noticed one major flaw: They had yoga workshops, health seminars, and completely overlooked my favorite activity: running. Why don't they have a 5K? I thought to myself. 

Then it hit me: I could try and plan one.

I contacted the people who run LIB a few months back and they told me they loved the idea.

They wanted me to submit an application to do it as a workshop or activity.

Annndddd then I forgot. My thesis + first ultra completely overtook my brain space and by the time I remembered my bright idea, it was too late.

Never one to give up, I teamed up with my friend and festival partner-in-crime, Meaghan, to put on the race renegade-style.  She is local sign artist and a music festival veteran. We made some signs, spread the word, and started Lightning in a Bottle's first 5K.

                                  
                                                     We got Spirit, how 'bout you?!


The one thing I didn't consider was how much walking we would be doing during the four days we would be at the festival.

The first day (thursday) we ended up walking around ten miles. I'll talk about this later on in the post, but let's just say that come friday morning (the morning of the race), I was completely exhausted and convinced that everyone would think it's crazy to run a 5K. ...which in hindsight, we were pretty crazy for doing it, but considering I'm an ultrarunner, I have no excuses :)

We had a small group of people who showed up, and a few backed out, not feeling up for it but still wanting to cheer us on.  Five of us ended up running, so it was more of a group run than a race. Nevertheless, we ran around the camp-grounds yelling at people to join in. It was probably one of the most entertaining runs of my life. 

It was only a little past 8 in the morning, so people were just beginning to emerge from their tents, still groggy and sleepy-eyed. Let me tell you-- their reactions were priceless. Some cheered us on, some simply gawked in a mixture of horror and shock. My favorite was all the high-fives we got. It was like having your own personal cheering squad every step of the way.

A lot of people asked if we were doing races the whole weekend, and we considered doing a beer-mile Patrick Sweeney style. But after another ten-mile walking day, the idea of running soon became ridiculous. During the day, it was in the high 90s and everybody was frying. Recipe for disaster! Next year, Meaghan and I want to submit an official application to put on the race. I think with LIB supporting us we can make it huge. Just gotta do it on the first day and early enough to beat the heat and dehydration :) Meaghan and I are also thinking of calling it the "Spirit Animal 5K" and have people dress up as their spirit animal for the run. People love costumes!


6. The Water Stations



Fact: I've never drank so much water in my entire life. I absolutely LOVED the fact that LIB provided numerous water re-filling stations for us. The festival strongly encouraged everyone to bring their refillable water bottles. I was ecstatic.  

7. The "Beach"



Lightning in a Bottle takes place at the edge of Lake Skinner in Temecula, CA. If you walked past the Temple of Consciousness, at the far end of the festival grounds, you would find yourself at one of the most beautiful "beaches" you've ever seen.




It was like a small sanctuary from the heat. You can kind of see in the last picture, but the beach was decorated with shells, stones, wood and flowers. There were blankets laid out and little shrines. It was beautiful and peaceful. One of my favorite places at LIB.

8. The Location



I really hope LIB gets the location again this year. I really liked the set up of the festival. The campgrounds were arranged well, the parking was reasonable, and you didn't have to walk TOO far to get to the main stages (in comparison to other festivals). Next year it would be nice to bring a bike, but regardless, it was a beautiful green location and I enjoyed being forced to exercise a little :)

9. The Yoga/ Spirituality / Meditation Areas



On Sunday afternoon I was starting to feel exhausted from all the dancing and the heat. Meaghan and I went up to the Temple of Consciousness and decided to nap underneath one of the large oak trees. Next to us, there was a guided meditation going on with chimes, gongs and chanting. It was incredibly relaxing, and we both ended up sleeping for three hours! I felt rejuvenated and refreshed.


A photo I took of a yoga session going on. Looked like pure bliss!


Although I didn't end up going to any yoga workshops like I had planned, I still got to experience the spiritual side of LIB. There were countless shrines, meditation areas, and speakers who you could listen to as you walked by. What I couldn't stop being blown away by was the kindness I felt radiating from everyone. It truly was a magical place where likeminded people gathered to celebrate their love of music, art and creativity.


10. Walking 40+ Miles



After walking what seemed like an obscene amount of miles on thursday, I decided to track my miles the rest of the weekend on my Garmin. On friday alone, I walked ten miles, and I definitely walked less miles on friday than I did on thursday. If you go to LIB next year, BRING COMFORTABLE FOOTWEAR. I wore my Luna Sandals for the majority of the time. Ladies, don't even think about taking high-heels. I estimate, that over the course of the weekend, I walked around 40+ miles. That's just the walking. Doesn't include the countless hours of dancing. Oh, and the four hours we waited in line to get our tickets. That was pretty much the only bad part of the experience. But if you think about it this way...a lot of the people at LIB don't run. They gawked at me as I ran by during the Spirit 5K. But little do they know, that they are all actually in great shape if they are able to walk 40+ miles over the course of the week without hurting.

I talked to my friend Meaghan a lot about this. She told me that her ability to dance for hours on end is part of the reason why she felt comfortable running longer distances. Dancing is a form of endurance. Even though you're not running, you're definitely burning calories and getting a good workout! I spent the majority of the weekend telling anyone and everyone about the distances that we were covering. 

"You've walked at least a marathon," I'd tell them. The shock on their faces made my day. Maybe some of the people I talked to felt a little encouraged to start running once they realized how much they walked. Because surely, running a 5K sounds a lot easier than walking a marathon, am I right?!


Last year I was planning to go to LIB, but plans fell through. I'm actually really glad that this was my first LIB, because the group that I went with was incredible. I made some awesome new friends, had countless new experiences, and left with a new love for dancing and electronic music.

All I can say at this point is...when's the next festival?!