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My dear friend and business partner Jennifer Koutouras

It is with great sadness that I write about the passing of Jennifer Koutouras, co-founder of The Glo Bag and a very close friend.  Jennifer left this earth on September 7, 2016 due to complications associated with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer which she fought with all her strength and determination for almost one year.   Jennifer was only 45.  She leaves behind two children Sofia and Dean, husband George, and mother Marlene.  She also leaves behind many friends.  Jennifer made friends everywhere she went from Starbucks to her children’s school and most recently through her battle with cancer.  However, many of her closest friends were her friends from high school in Detroit.  Jennifer was a true entreprenuer.   She came up with the brilliant idea for the glo bag and nothing would stand in her way when it came to getting it produced.  She also opened a boutique real estate brockerage  in Los Angeles called Roost.  Jennifer will be missed by everyone who ever had the chance to spend time with her and she will live on forever in our hearts.

Nadia’s Favorite Grab and Go Snacks!

Nadia Madias

An End to Empty Calorie Snacking

Even if you make a conscious attempt to eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner you could be sabotaging your “healthy” diet if you are not choosing wisely when it comes to snacks. Whether you are trying to limit your calories to prevent weight gain or you simply want something to tide you over until your next meal, snacking is an essential part of any diet.

An empty calorie is any calorie from food that supplies energy but is not nutritionally balanced. In other words, it is foods that are energy dense but nutrient poor, providing more calories than nutrients, which can lead to weight gain. These calories are primarily made in the form of solid fats and/or added sugars and they can be found in highly processed foods. Some common foods that are culprits of empty calories are pastries, cookies, soda, and breaded/fried foods. These energy dense foods can also have a significant impact on your overall health according to a study that was published in “Diabetes Care.” Their findings concluded that energy-dense foods may increase your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Although we are surrounded by plenty of unhealthy choices of foods to snack on, there are also many nutritious options out there. I have put together some delicious choices to choose from that will leave you satisfied.

Now for my top 5 favorite snack foods that will nourish your body, keep you fueled longer, and provide you with a balanced diet.

1. Lesser Evil Super 4 Kale and Roasted Garlic Bites
I am raving about these new snack bites that are made from white beans, quinoa, lentils, chia seeds and kale. All their products are USDA organic, non-GMO, gluten-free and of course, empty calorie-free. This is an excellent choice to satisfy your savory craving and it’s loaded with fiber and antioxidants. They have a variety of flavors and products to choose from in case you are more of a popcorn or chip lover.

2. Fage Total 0% Yogurt
At 170 calories and 13 grams of protein this option is incredibly creamy with zero percent fat. At first bite it’s almost hard to believe that it’s not loaded with cream and saturated fat with its remarkably smooth texture. You can choose this as a light breakfast option or a perfect mid-morning snack. It’s also packed with those wonderful probiotics that will keep your gut happy as well.

3. Tapaz 2 Go
This convenient single serve pouch comes with a substantial portion of hummus combined with sea salt lentil crackers. It is made of all-natural, non-GMO ingredients and it provides 7 grams of protein and only 250 calories or less per serving. Choose from a variety of hummus and cracker flavors.

4. KIND
I always make sure to throw one of these granola bars in my purse or GLO bag so that I can reach for a sensible snack when I’m in a pinch. With over 22 bars to choose from, there is a flavor for everyone’s palate. Their motto is to choose ingredients that you can pronounce, such as, nuts, fruits, honey and spices, and with absolutely no artificial ingredients you can be certain that this choice is one your body will thank you for. Start by picking your favorite ingredient and be ready to be amazed at the variety of delicious flavors they have to choose from.

5. My Green Super Smoothie
I combine organic berries, tart cherry juice, Vega One powder, fresh spinach or kale, goji berries and some cocoa powder in a blender. The Vega One powder is an amazing addition to any smoothie recipe. It is free from dairy, gluten and soy, which makes a great option for vegans and it has no added sugar, flavoring, dyes, or sweeteners. I love that the protein is derived from plant-based blends, and it includes all the essential amino acids. The Vega One powder is great on it’s own mixed with water or almond/soy milk and it still provides you with 50% of the daily intake of vitamins and minerals, or you can mix it with any variety of fruits and vegetables for a heartier choice.

Remember to choose wisely when reaching for your next snack.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Sources for this article:
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/beware-empty-calories
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/4/721.long
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/4/721/T1.expansion.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2571060/?tool=pubmed
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/emptycalorie-foods-vs-nutrientdense-foods-1350.html

One pound at a time…

Last week, while on the treadmill at the gym I was glued to the tv because they were airing the story of a 18-20 year old man that weighed 1345 pounds.  They had commentators and specialists talking about his situation.  Repeatedly I heard different guests asking how this could happen to someone.

My thought was very easy.  It happens one pound at a time.  It happens one bite at a time.  I have never really talked about the number that was my high, because it is and was too painful to face.  My high was 340. Just typing that makes me feel nauseous. I come from a good family. I have great friends. I have always worked. I am smart and yet I ate my way to 340 lbs.  It is no ones fault, I take responsibility for what I did, but I cant put my finger on when it happened.  There is no way to pin point the moment that it started going horribly wrong.  Even at my heaviest I didn’t see it.  Denial is a powerful thing.

Alana at 340 pounds.

How many people get a do over?  I do!  I created my own second chance.  Walking up a flight of stairs was painful.  Now I workout because I can.  Sometimes I love it and sometimes I don’t, but being able to exercise is a gift.

Deciding  that my high is just a number is the first step.  Facing it and dealing with the shame and what that represents, so I never go back there again.

All it takes is wanting to change and making the decision to do it.  If I can do it anybody can.

And I thought to myself, yes it may be hard for people to understand that this man ate his way to 1345 pounds, but I get it. I understand that people have triggers, they have demons they need to fight, and they use food as a means to cover something deeper. I felt for him on screen because I knew what he was going through and I knew the difficult challenges he will face, but it was his ability to come forward and tell his story that inspired me most of all. It allowed me to look at myself and say, I’ve been through this and like a phoenix, I have risen from the ashes, ready to inspire just like this man is trying to inspire those around him. It solidified my desire to help those who feel like I  once did. The person who didn’t want to get off the couch, who didn’t want to face their demons, and who were too afraid to begin anew. I knew at that moment, on that treadmill, watching that young man, that I wanted to help carry the torch and provide support to anyone going through the journey. Because if I can help, just one person, I know it will have been worthwhile.

 

Healthy Halloween chili

Ingredients
8 oz Turkey burger
2-3 slices Turkey bacon
1 medium onion, coarsely diced
2 14 oz. cans low salt diced tomatoes (look for “no salt added” or “low sodium” on the label)
1 collard green, or several leaves kale, ribs removed and finely diced
1 14 oz. can low salt red kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed (look for “no salt added” or “low sodium” on the label)
half of a green or red bell pepper, diced
1 14 oz. can low salt beef broth (look for “lower sodium” on the label)
2-3 tablespoons barbecue sauce OR 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar OR 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup

Spices: Cumin, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder and/or cayenne pepper for heat
Optional: diced jalapenos, canned or fresh
Tip: for a chili that approaches salt-free, substitute water for the beef broth

Instructions: Brown bacon and ground turkey together in the skillet. When both are browned and cooked through, transfer to the chili pot, leaving the drippings in the skillet. Brown the diced onions in the bacon drippings, stirring occasionally. Transfer browned onions and any remaining drippings to the chili pot.

Momma always said, “Eat Your Berries!”

Want to keep your brain young? Eat berries. A Harvard study found that berry eaters, especially strawberries and blueberries, (16,000 women were in the study) had brains that functioned like they were 2.5 years younger than the non-berry eaters.

Does anyone know where I left my umbrella?) In other words, eating lots of berries can ward off dementia and keep your mind functioning more optimally.

I am sure you’re wondering, why berries? What do they have in them that make this so? It all comes down to flavanoids, a type of antioxidant that fends off the free radicals harmful to your brain cells. But, as usual, researchers caution that these positive results could be associated with broader healthy habits. They actually top the charts in the in antioxidant power, protecting your body against inflammation and free radicals, molecules that can damage cells and organs.

They are also loaded with fiber, which helps keep you feeling full, so you of course, eat less. And they can also help keep you regular!

To get the optimal health benefits of berries, eat two to three types of fresh, frozen or dehydrated berries each day. Incorporate berries into your smoothies, cereals and other foods. I will give you a list of berries and the vitamins and minerals they are rich in.

Strawberries: contain more vitamin C in a one-cup serving than one orange, and are particularly high in folic acid.

Blueberries: contain 20 types of anthocyanin, antioxidants that give berries their blue-violet and red colors. Other berries contain only three to four.

Blackberries, Raspberries, Boysenberries each contains 8 g of fiber in one cup, one-third the daily recommended amount (25 g).

Cranberries not only combat urinary tract infections by preventing Escherichia coli bacteria from sticking to cells in the urinary tract, but they also are a natural probiotic, supporting healthy bacteria that grow in the gastrointestinal tract and aiding in digestion.

With all of these healthy, brainy benefits, why wouldn’t you eat 2 or 4 or 10 servings a day? They are yummy and the keep your mind beautiful. Enjoy!

Chia Seeds

You may hear the word “chia” and think terra-cotta Homer Simpson heads sprouting green hair. Well, you’re right, sort of. For years, chia seeds were almost exclusively associated with sprouting terracotta pets and heads. But now, since the novel Born to Rub by Chris McDougall was published in 2009, chia seeds are all of the rage.

Chia seeds first became popular among runners, cyclists, triathletes and other athletes, seeking the secret to Tarahumara endurance. But soon the trend also caught on with food bloggers, chefs, foodies, and generally health-conscious people. Now, chia seeds are commonly included in energy bars and drinks, and many other food items.

There are fabulous health benefits associated with chia seeds, such as, they are incredibly nutritious, with significant concentrations of protein, fiber and several essential minerals. Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds contains 5 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, 2282 mg of Omega 3 and 752 mg of Omega 6 fatty acids!
A significant concentration of fiber combined with their ability to absorb 10 times their weight in water also makes chia seeds excellent for maintaining regularity.

With an amazing nutritional profile, mild flavor, and impressive versatility, it’s hard to think of a reason NOT to incorporate more of these super seeds into your diet! They make a great addition to smoothies. You can also use them as a thickner for puddings and sauces! Who would’ve thought alfredo sauce could have any healthy benefit? Well, it does now!

Chia seeds can also be combined with water to make a “chia egg” which is a gel-like mixture that’s perfect for baking.

And now for my favorite health benefit, weight loss! Chia seeds help reduce food cravings by preventing some of the food that you eat from getting absorbed into your system. This blockage of calorie absorption makes them a great diet helper. They can also help your diet by making you feel full. This is because they absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel.

These are just a few of the many health benefits you can receive from chia seeds. Don’t wait, go to the health food store and start reaping the benefits now!

Keeping Your Kids Active Even when the Temperature Drops

Your kids are back in school, the fall fashions are back at the mall, and before you know it, and in some places across the US, snow will be drifting across the road once again. As the temperatures drop, it can be challenging to figure out how to keep your kids active. I am very passionate about keeping my kids healthy and active all year long, so I will share some of my secrets with you!
What kid doesn’t love a good snowball fight? Dig out your winter wear, bundle them (and you) up and get outside and play! Whether you’re having a snowball fight or simply building a snowman, they are being active! You can reward them later by making them a nice cup of sugar free hot cocoa.
My kids LOVE the park. Don’t let the brisk weather keep you away. Although the playground probably isn’t the safest place for your young ones to play in the winter, think slippery handle bars and wet sand, you can still enjoy the park in the fall months. Take advantage of those crunchy leaves and soccer fields!
There are lots of indoor activities that are fun for the whole family. Go karts, indoor trampolines and roller-skating rinks are open year-round, and offer a chance for your family to get out of the house during the chilly months. If you’re looking for an inexpensive day of fun, some major malls along the nation have free play areas to explore.
Sometimes, it’s just too cold outside, and the last thing you want to do is bundle your kids up and pack them into the car. Why not build an obstacle course in your living room? My kids love to gather up blankets, drape them across our kitchen chairs and make a tent. We make a batch of popcorn, pop in a movie and “camp” in our living room. Or maybe bust out mom’s old exercise DVDs, let them pretend to be an aerobics instructor and teach you and their friends and siblings out to work out!


The possibilities for fun are endless, and staying active during the colder months of the year is a great way to teach your children good habits later in life.

Kicking Your Butt into Shape

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for new and exciting ways to turn your regular exercise routine into something a little more, ummm, challenging.  When you’ve grown tired of running and lifting weights, why not try something new?  Kickboxing!  Oh yes!  Not only can you sculpt those limbs into something great, but you can also take out all of your aggression on the air!

With origins in karate, kickboxing is a martial art that involves controlled kicking and punching movements typically delivered from a standing position.  Requiring repeated bursts of movement, kickboxing promotes a healthy heart by providing a cardiovascular workout. The kicks and punches that make up the main kickboxing movements cause your heart to pump blood more rapidly, especially when done in exercise stretches that last 30 minutes or longer. Over time, this increased heart rate results in a stronger, more efficient heart.

As with most total-body workouts, kickboxing requires increased physical activity that burns fat (up to 750 calories an hour), tones and builds muscle and can lead to weight loss.

Just as a ballerina who practices dance moves every day increases her agility, so also can you increase your body’s flexibility and coordination with kickboxing. Most people lose flexibility and coordination as a natural part of the aging process, as well as from inactivity, but kickboxing can help to combat this loss of agility.

And now for my favorite benefit, the release of aggression!  Sometimes the best way to release stress after a hard day at work is not a cold beer, but some intense physical activity.   Kickboxing offers a healthy way to get out some of the day’s frustrations out of your system, which will also help you get a better night’s sleep and improve mental clarity.  Just think, how excellent of a release it is to mentally beat up your boss on the pads.  The group atmosphere of kickboxing is even more effective in releasing endorphins.

There’s nothing sexier than being able to kick some butt, and look great doing it. The intensity of kickboxing means you’ll see improvements and results quickly.  So, get that monotonous monkey off your back and try something new!

Looking Good While Sweating Your Brains Out!

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Really? Why do I need to look good while I am sweating out last night’s pizza?” Here’s why, I consider looking decently stylish at the gym to be both important to my self-image and helpful to getting the most out of my workout. Even though just the thought of all those mirrors, makes me and most woman nervous to strip down to our skimpy workout clothes. Still though, I feel like as woman we can always use the extra self confidence boost.
I know most women feel more comfortable working out in a baggy pair of sweats and your husband’s old college tees, but even if you’ve got a few extra pounds to lose, a good fitting and well-designed workout outfit can make you look trendy and ready to sweat it up while looking good. Wouldn’t that make it more fun at the gym? However, don’t go over-board with it!
When I hit the town in search for my next gym attire, I look for interesting details that add intrigue to basic pieces. I love strategically placed seams, zippers, straps, ruching, and ribbon. These really do help turn something basic and expected into the unexpected! Some of my favorite brands include, Lu Lu Lemon and the Stella McCartney for Adidas, although if you’re on a budget, not the best option. You can also find some really cute pieces at good ole’ Walmart, look for the Danskin line, they are cute and affordable.


Hopefully I’ve motivated at least a few of you to consider upgrading your gym clothes. I promise you that when you feel like you look good, you will be much more motivated to hit the gym every day.