Australia 2017

Our Trip to The Land of Oz

A few months ago, Rob and I decided to take the 20+ hour flight journey to the land of oz during spring break! (Ironically, my favorite movie/musical is the Wizard of Oz). 

We flew 5 hours to LAX, had a 3 hour layover and then embarked 15 hours overseas to Sydney. The flight was comfortable (though I don’t think the seats reclined back as far as I’m used to). We were served grilled chicken and spinach, a “sandwich” and omlet with fruit for our meals. I of course had a large carry on bag packed full of snacks (grapes, blueberries, pears, hard boiled eggs, popcorn, string cheese, grilled chicken, homemade trail Mix and a homemade granola bar). 

We landed and got through customs quickly. *You need to get a ticket before getting your photo taken and then getting your bag. If you have a chip in your passport, you can go to any kiosk. There are some along your walk but we waited until the customs line… go to the first ones you see to save time! 

After, we grabbed an Uber from the express pickup spot (exit airport and walk through the parking garage toward the right) and took a 25 minute ride to Pyrmont. 


What beauty and charm this city holds! Interesting architecture and people everywhere out and about 🙂 


We found our hosts, dropped out bags and ventured out to Darling Harbour. It is such a beautiful and lively walk and we so enjoyed the 80 degree weather in March! 



After some walking, we went back to shower… much needed! I did a little workout in the gym and then we went out to get some snacks at the grocery store “coles”. Grapes, popcorn, cereal and milk were on my list. I also found this amazing yogurt. I tried it and it is SOOO GOOD! This will totally be on my list throughout my two weeks here 🙂 


Our first day concluded with a home cooked dinner at Rob’s cousin’s house 🙂


 

… and Rob picked out THE BEST DESSERTS EVER! From Zumbo (and I am not even a desserts/pastry person 😋)


Passion fruit tart, lemon merengue tart, chocolate mouse, and some delicious passion fruit cake 😍🙌🏽👍🏽

Garlic Basil Stuffed Chicken Breast

I have a lot of food allergies … and it seems like I am getting more each and every week. Luckily they are just annoying (none are life-threatening), I start sweating, get back and muscle spasms and experience nausea and dizziness. Luckily, Benadryl seems to help! So far uncooked bananas, avocado, quinoa, ice cream, fro-yo, chia seeds? (I had one reaction but was okay the next time) and peanut butter cliff bars (again one strange reaction) are on my “no” list.

I have been trying to change my diet back to what I was eating before more foods started bothering me so this recipe is making its debut on the blog!

You know me; I don’t cook or bake if it’s not quick, easy and cost-effective … so here is your recipe 🙂


20-minute garlic basil stuffed chicken breast

Ingredients:
-2lbs chicken breast
-1c ricotta cheese or mozzarella cheese (but that bothers my stomach)
-1/2 – 1c freshly chopped basil (amount depends on your preference)
-2 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed
-Salt, pepper and garlic salt

Making it:
-Butterfly each chicken breast so you can “stuff” it with your mixture
-Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic salt on the chicken (both sides and the middle)
-Chop basil and garlic and mix it with the ricotta cheese (I topped the chicken w/TJ’s red pepper spread)

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-Evenly stuff each chicken breast with the cheese mixturefullsizerender-11
-Heat a pan to “medium” and oil/spray it at necessary
-Put chicken breast in hot pan and cook covered 6-8 minutes on one side


-Use tongs to flip chicken and cook for another 6-8 minutes uncoveredfullsizerender-13
-Enjoy


PS: A big shoutout/plug for the “copper chef” pan! I was curious about it and a student gave it to us for Christmas and I absolutely love it! It is VERY nonstick and the version we got came with a pan (which I used here) and a deeper pan which is awesome for making one-pot-meals! ❤ it!!!

Bari Studio – Workout Review


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Maybe you’re #bariaddicted … or maybe you need/want a jumpstart in your workout program.

*BARI is the way to go!

BARI means TRIBE, and this high energizing cardio and toning workout makes you feel like you are a tribe of fitness fanatics working together.

*Here is how to get #bariaddicted, and what to expect before your first class…


1. Book your Barione (Bari One) class online @ http://www.thebaristudio.com

The Barione class is a required “intro” class that will teach you the fundamental routines that the other bari classes are built off of. After you complete your barione class, you can take a barihybrid class (a combination class, built off othe the barione class), barimicro class, barimicro class, or baribounce class. Each of these classes focuses on different combinations of the components of a barione class.


 2. Show up!

  • About 15 minutes ahead of time is sufficient for your introduction. Wear sneakers and comfortable clothes, bring a water bottle, pick up a towel at the door and get ready for some fun.
  • The studios are sleek, clean and comfortable. There is water and drinks for sale (or use the water fountain), cubbies for your keys, jackets and gym bags, and fully stocked bathrooms with showers.
  • The walls around the studio are chalkboards and have tons of motivational contests and quotes written on them.

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 3. Enjoy!

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*Your amazing fitness coach will greet you and show you around the studio. Bari classes are typically small (private to small groups of 10 or so) so the studios are cozy.

*You will be asked if you want to wear a heart rate monitor which will track how hard you are working throughout the class (although this is optional, it is fun to track your progress with your tribe number on the TV at the front of the class).

*The class will start off with dynamic stretches to music (one song)


*Next, you will be introduced to some of the “bari basic” cardio sequences.

*These sequences sort of reminded me of Zumba crossed with Plyometric training (lots of jumping jack variations and grapevines).

*We also got to use the resistance bands hanging from the ceiling to do triceps presses, squats with resistance, and split lunges (this was awesome because the resistance bands helped to cushion our knees).

*This part of the class got my heart rate up the highest and lasted for about 15-20 minutes.

*I also thought that this part was the most fun 🙂


*From there, you will learn the “bari basic” trampoline sequences.

*We learned these moves on mini trampolines

*It was a bit hard to get used to at first (keeping the rhythm while on a trampoline) but the first class’s goal is just to get the hang of it.

*Despite sounding scary, it is easier than it looks, and is fun and EASY ON THE JOINTS

*It helps to build the supporting muscles around the knees/hips/ankles etc


*Finally, you will learn the “bari basic” toning sequences.

*You will use a mat, 3 lb weights, and “skimmer pads” (think furniture moving men pads)

*The mat and skimmer pads are used for a series of abdominal planks, mountain climbers, plank jacks, and inchworms

*The weight toning sequences work your biceps, triceps, shoulders and back

*The mat was also used for a series of leg lifts (bringing back the old school mat work!)


  • At the end, you will finish up with some more abs on the mat, and a cool-down with stretches.

  • The first time I look a class, I burned 596 calories according to the non-calibrated heart rate monitor, the second time I burned 480 (partially due to the killer bootcamp class I took the day before).

All in all, Bari is a SUPER FUN, ENERGIZING, FULL BODY WORKOUT!

There is no excuses not to try it because your first class is FREE with code barione @ checkout

Why say tomorrow when you can sign up today?

  • Unfortunately, BariStudios are only in Summit NJ, NYC and California at this time, but look for it in your city or town in the future 🙂

Motivational Monday – Drink Up! (more H2O)

Are you drinking enough water?


pDSP1-7952924p275wI am rarely spotted without my trusty green gatorade bottle! Its really not that i LOVE water or that I am addicted to it, but i do love the way that my body looks and feels when I drink enough water. 

WATER has helped me to …
-Stay hydratedIMG_6265
-Control my craving
-Stay awake during my night classes
-Manage my weight
-Ensure proper digestion and cell function
-Look and feel younger!
-Enjoy Life 🙂

 Water is a nutrient that is essential to life! Every body function depends on water. Your total body weight is 55-75% water, which is approximately 10 to 12 gallons. Water makes up about 83% of our blood, 73% of our muscles, 25 % of our body fat, and 22% of our bones. It is also inexpensive ($) and readily available. 



 More Benefits of Drinking Water

  • IMG_0763Gives the feeling of fullness when consumed with a meal
  • Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
  • Provides moisture to skin and other tissues
  • Helps strengthen muscles
  • Regulates body temperature to about 98.6° F
  • Reduces fluid retention
  • Helps prevent constipation
  • Cushions joints

 How Much is Needed?

  • On an average day, a healthy adult needs 8 to 12 cups of water to replace the amount lost through perspiration, breathing, urination, and bowel movements. These fluids must be replaced to avoid dehydration and to keep the body working normally. When eating a high fiber diet, extra water is needed to process the additional roughage.
  • The exact amount of water needed depends on: age; gender; weight; health; level of physical activity; foods eaten; any medications taken; and the weather.
  • Thirst is one sign that you need fluids. Your current fluid intake is probably adequate if you drink enough water to quench your thirst, you feel well, and you produce a normal amount of urine that is colorless or slightly yellow. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU FEEL THIRSTY TO DRINK WATER. Often the brain doesn’t get the thirst signal until you are already dehydrated. Older adults often lose the ability to sense thirst.

 What Else Determines Water Needs?

Exercise: When involved in an active sport that makes you sweat, drink plenty of water throughout the day, not just during the activity. Sweat, or perspiration, is the body’s natural way of cooling down, especially on a hot day or when your body gets a real physical workout. Without fluids, your body overheats. To replace fluid loss, drink plenty of water and juice or milk before, during, and after physical activity. These fluids prevent dehydration and the tiredness that accompanies it.

To avoid cramps and dehydration during activity, drink fluids at regular intervals, and continue to replenish with water after the activity is completed. A good rule of thumb is to drink a cup of fluid every 15 minutes during and immediately after exercise.

Drink the following amounts of fluids when exercising rigorously or in very hot weather:

—2 cups during the two hours before exercising
—1 to 2 cups within 15 minutes of the activity
½ to 1 cup every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. (One medium mouthful of fluid equals about 1 ounce, and 8 ounces equals 1 cup.)

For most physically active people, water is the best fluid choice. Sports drinks are necessary only for endurance athletes and people who have exercised for an hour or more, because they lose sodium and potassium through sweating.

Environment: In hot or humid weather, drink additional water to replace what is lost through sweating and to help lower body temperature. In winter more fluids are required due to loss of skin moisture from heated indoor air. Extra water may be needed in cold weather if you sweat while wearing insulated clothing. High altitudes (greater than 2,500 meters or 8,200 feet) cause an increase in fluid needs, and recirculated air on planes promotes dehydration, also.

Health Conditions or Illnesses: Fever, vomiting and diarrhea cause the body to lose extra fluids that must be replaced with water or other solutions such as Gatorade. Sometimes intravenous water and electrolytes may be necessary. Certain health conditions prevent the body from getting rid of water—heart failure and diseases of the kidney, liver, adrenal and thyroid. People with urinary tract stones usually need to increase water intake.

Pregnant or Breast-Feeding: Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need additional water. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink nearly 10 cups of fluids a day, and women who breast-feed should get about 13 cups of fluids daily.


Tips for Drinking More Water

  • Drink a glass or bottle of water as soon as you get up each day.
  • Every morning, fill a 64-ounce to 96-ounce container with water for the day. When you drink all the water in the container, you have met your daily water need of 8 to 12 cups. Heres my water jug. I fill it twice during the day. Customize your own 🙂 to keep you motivated!

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  • Drink water with meals and snacks.
  • Add slices of lemon, lime or orange to water for a hint of flavor.
  • Start your meal with soup occasionally.51Wple+dVrL._SY300_
  • Enjoy water breaks instead of coffee or tea breaks.
  • Take water bottles* with you to work and when running errands.
  • Keep a cup of water on your desk to sip on as you work at the computer.
  • When passing a water fountain, stop and take a drink.
  • Instead of a soft drink, or soda, reach for bottled water in the convenience store, as well as from the vending machine.
  • At social gatherings substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks, or alternate them.
  • Pack a water bottle in your carry-on luggage when traveling by plane. Fill it before you fly. Drink 1 cup of fluid for every hour of your flight.
  • Drink water before, every 15 minutes during, and after physical activity.

*Every time you drink, bacteria from your mouth contaminate water in the bottle. Keep your water bottle clean or replace it often. Wash it in hot, soapy water or run it through a dishwasher. If you use a bottle repeatedly, make sure it is designed for reuse.


Final Thoughts

Try to limit your soda, caffeine and alcohol consumption! They are all super dehydrating 😦 which is bad for your workout, skin, body and mind


 Drink up ❤

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Motivational Monday – My “Go-To” Blissful Banana Muffins

Saturday Mornings

are my FAVORITE …

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Aran Islands - Ireland Sunset, 11pm
  • 7:20am wakeup call
  • 8:00am spin class
  • 1 mile jog
  • 9:30am kickboxing class

…followed by… *drumroll please*MUFFIN MAKING!

These muffins are my “go-to” energy treats throughout the week. If I am in a hurry, I will have 2 for breakfast. Typically, I will have one after work when I am starving (around 3pm) and they will keep me full through my workouts until dinner.

They are so delicious that I could not keep them to myself. Since I started sharing them with my clients and friends, I now make several dozen each week to  feed all of the happy mouths and hungry tummies 🙂


 Prep Time: 5 minutes — Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat/oatmeal flour (or just use oatmeal for a more “muffin like” version)
    • To make oatmeal flour, simply put oatmeal into a strong blender/food processor and mix until it becomes flour-like
    • You can also use 1.5 cups oatmeal flour and ½ cup protein powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ c sugar free applesauce
    • To make your own, peel apples, boil until soft & mash
  • 2 eggs, beaten (or egg white substitute)
  • 3 mashed overripe bananas
  • Cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice to taste (about 1 T)
  • ***1/8 c Greek yogurt (optional – only use ¼ c applesauce if you choose to add)
  • ***1/4 cup honey/agave/ pure maple syrup (optional – add only if you feel you need it extra-sweet)
  • Coconut oil spray (or your cooking spray of choice)

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Step one:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

STEP Two:

  • Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan *or 12 muffin tins (bake 30 minutes for muffins) I use Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil/Coconut Oil Spray to grease the muffin tins

STEP Three:

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients (oats/flour, protein powder, baking soda, cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice, and salt)

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STEP Four:

In a separate medium-sized bowl, mash bananas & mix together applesauce, eggs and *sweetener (if you choose to add it).

It should start out looking like this…

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…and end up looking like this!

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STEP Five:

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together!

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STEP Six:

Spoon the muffins into a muffin tin. This batter will make 12 muffins. or 24 “mini-muffins”. The batter does not really rise, so fill each tin about 3/4 of the way.

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STEP Seven:

Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. If you chose to make a banana bread, insert the 9×7 loaf pan into the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Bake until they turn to a dark, golden brown.

Voila! You did it!

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Important Info:

Each Muffin has approximately-
*100 calories
*2 grams of fat
*5 grams of fiber
*5 grams of protein

Store in tupperware for up to 4 days, in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer up to a month (but who can wait that long to finish them all?).

if you want to get really fancy

Throw in 1/2 c of chocolate chips and drop them onto cookie trays lined with parchment paper.

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Now you have chocolate-covered banana cookies! 🙂

YUM!

ENJOY!

Go make them and then SHARE with a FRIEND 🙂


Motivational Monday – 10 Tips to be Happy, Healthy and Fit in 2015


Catching some ZZZzzzzs

Healthy-Sleep

We all love sleep, whether its sleeping in or getting a good night’s rest


This morning, all of my teacher friends (myself included) started off the day saying “Happy New Year” and “Welcome Back” … and then progressed to explain how they “could not sleep last night after such a wonderful break.”

We all know that sleep is important, but these past two weeks really allowed me to realize how much sleep affects our mood, diet, and exercise habits.

For instance, there were several days in December, between studying for grad school finals, writing my own final exams, wedding planning and preparing for the holidays, that I was in bed after midnight and up before 6am .

What happened the next day? You could probably guess…

  • Crankiness, eating LOTS of snacks (chocolate, chips, you name it), and feeling too tired to complete my daily workouts 😦   –   The worst part was that all of these behaviors kept spiraling and repeating themselves!

Here is the good news!

A recent study found that when a group of people slept an extra 1.5 hours per night for a month, they had a 14% drop in overall appetite and a 62% decrease in desire for sweet and salty snacks.

A lack of sleep can alter signals in the brain that correspond with your appetite and cause you to seek out sweet, salty or savory snacks.

Aha! That has been my problem this past month (along with the yummy snack surrounding me). During this past vacation, I finally was able to sleep in, rest, and recharge my batteries, which allowed me to get “back on track” with my diet and exercise routine!

I also did a little research and came up with 10 tips to increase my sleep quality and quantity during 2015 🙂

I hope they help you too!


Ten Tips to Catch More ZZZZZs

*Nighttime Prep

1. Plan your outfits the night before, or on Sunday nights for the whole week.

2. DVR your favorite nighttime shows (if you don’t have this, try Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime … or ask a friend to record it).

3. Drink up! Sip some 100% pure cherry juice (or better yet, eat some cherries) or herbal tea before bed. Many clinical psychologists found that cherry juice and herbal tea (check out chamomile) may easy anxiety. A study at the New York Sleep Institute confirmed these results. Just make sure your tea doesn’t contain caffeine!

4. Stretch it out! A light stretch or some gentle yoga poses can put your body at ease. Try some deep breathing or the happy baby pose (Lie on your back, bend your knees into your chest and grab the outsides of your feet with your hands. Keep your feet flexed and gentle rock side to side).

5. Bath Time Beware! Hot baths are okay, as long as you take them an hour or two before going to bed. The water raises your body temperature, which needs to dip naturally before you can fall asleep. If you take a bath or shower and then hop in bed, you may have trouble dozing off right away. This may be a hard habit for me to break, although it usually takes me an hour to get ready for bed after a bath or shower.

*In Bed

6. Stop counting sheep! A recent study (based off of several other studies) found that counting sleep caused before to stay awake longer than those who used visualization or did nothing at all. People who visualized a peaceful, beautiful, or relaxing scene fell asleep 20 minute sooner than people who did nothing. Just don’t visualize yourself doing anything high intensity (skydiving) which could increase brain activity and keep your from falling asleep. Fiji, here I come!

7. Sleep with a firm and contoured pillow. Although I love my feathery down, the gap between the head and neck should be supported. A proper pillow is actually WAY more important than a mattress. A sleep study at UCLA said that mattresses minimally affect sleep quality and spinal health… Who knew?

8. Sleep on your back. I love to snuggle up on my right side, but sleeping on your back puts your head, neck and spine in a nice neutral position. It may even help ease back aches and pains!

9. Avoid spicy foods at dinner for better sleep quality. I always knew that spicy foods could cause indigestion, but it can actually affect your body temperature, which means you may not be able to proper shift through both light and deep sleeping phases.

*In the AM

10. Skip either your shower, blow-drying your hair, your coffee in bed, or the morning news. An extra 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes of sleep can help you stick with your mood, nutrition and exercise goals 🙂


Do you get enough sleep? If so, how?

What is your New Year’s Resolution?

Could getting more sleep help you to achieve it?


Motivational Monday – Your Thanksgiving Week Workout Itinerary :)


turkey-on-crossfit


  • The holiday season is officially here! It is such a beautiful time but it can be stressful too with balancing shopping, parties, baking and travel. Often times we ask ourselves, “How can I possibly have time to workout with all that I have to do?”

  • Here are some simple solutions for the many excuses we have about why we can’t exercise during the holiday season.


Excuse #1 – I can’t get to the gym

Solution: No gym is no excuse!  There are countless workouts that can be performed at home or outside – NO GYM REQUIRED! Check Pinterest (Health and Fitness Section), Facebook (Poll your friends what their favorite in-home moves and routines are), and blogs (like this one). Many of these workouts also require no equipment!


Excuse #2 – I don’t have much time to exercise today; I might as well skip it.

Solution: With everything in life, something is better than nothing. Experts say that your workout segments should be no shorter than 10 minutes at a time (for maximum benefit), but even a five-minute no-equipment circuit (planks, squats, jumping jacks, pushups and burpees) can burn calories, especially when completed at a high intensity. *Challenge: Can you complete this workout 5x on Thanksgiving?


Excuse # 3 – But we have visitors…

Solution: This one is an easy fix … get them involved! Call your gym and see if your guest(s) can join for the day. Many gyms offer free exercises on Thanksgiving, or offer a free workout to each out of town guest. Exercise reduces stress, and increases your dopamine (feel good hormone) levels. Who doesn’t need that when hosting in-laws or traveling during the holidays? Another great simple solution … TAKE A WALK WITH YOUR FAMILY OR VISITORS BEFORE OR AFTER YOUR MEAL – a great tradition to start!


My Thanksgiving Week Workout Itinerary 🙂

Monday: BodyPump and teaching Zumba

Tuesday: Drive home, visit with friends, Jillian Michael’s DVD at home with mom

Wednesday: Lablast dance workout 9-10am & Pre Holiday Cycle Hour – 5:30pm

Thursday: Turkey Trot 5k – 8:30am or 75 minute “Pure Sweat” workout – 9:30am

Friday: Step Killer Madness – 9am

Saturday: Spinning – 8am & Body Combat – 9:30am


Photo from a FREEZING 5K 🙂

*Still Smiling after!*

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*What are your tips for staying fit over the Holidays?*

*What is your Thanksgiving Week Workout Itinerary?*

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Motivational Monday – Health and Fitness Tips & Tricks

Clean Eating & KILLER RANCH DRESSING

(just kidding … keep reading)

If you haven’t been keeping up with the latest food trends over the past year or two, there has been lots of buzz around “clean eating”.

  • According to Clean Eating Magazine, clean eating is “consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible”

Essentially, it is about eating whole foods rather than processed foods.

Clean eating is not a diet, but it has gotten a lot of slack over these past few months (similar to every other health and fitness trend).

  • Most of the controversy has circled around whether “whole foods” (apples, spinach, etc) are actually “clean” or not because so much food has been genetically modified (http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/) — that is another blog 🙂

Personally, cutting out processed foods makes sense to me. While I am not a religious “clean eater” most of my meal preferences have always been pretty “clean”.

At least for the past few years…

I am writing today to divulge a dirty little secret…

In my past life, I was addicted to Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (okay not addicted, but I ate it regularly)


 Here are the sequence of events in my story…

  1. I was cleaning out my fridge this past weekend, and what did I find but a FOUR YEAR OLD BOTTLE OF HIDDEN VALLEY RANCH DRESSING (please do not judge). As I took out the bottle, I realized that it still looked eerily like ranch dressing.
  2. The curious side of me told me to smell it, and so I did, and it still smelled like ranch dressing.
  3. Next, I did it… I tasted just a bit of the ranch dressing and guess what – it STILL tasted like ranch dressing. 
  4. Tasting it made me realize how good life was when I still smothered my salad in ranch as opposed to olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper, but that is beside the point … I was appalled at the number of preservatives and processed ingredients that bottle of salad dressing must have to keep it so fresh.

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I am not one to bash food, choices, lifestyles etc.

But I do want to share my story to raise awareness about the foods that we eat. Ingesting chemicals and added ingredients cannot be good for us.

Stay healthy, make yourself & others happy, be kind, and keep moving 🙂

HAPPY MONDAY!