Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fit Quickies - who wants to get fit fast?

The book looks much nicer than the braces.
Lani Muelrath, I was so pleased to get my copy of Fit Quickies! (Lani and I both did Dr T Colin Campbell's Certificate of Plant-Based Nutrition...)

Introducing Lani and the Fit Quickies

The first two chapters cover the book's promises to you, Lani's history, and how the Fit Quickies were developed. Don't skip this, or you'll miss out on the three pillars of successful Body Transformation:
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Mind-set
Yes, this is an exercise how-to book that acknowledges that exercise can only ever be one part of the solution. It also celebrates your actions toward a healthier and more useful body.

This is Lani's special set of isolation exercises drawn from her dance training and conditioning classes, targeted at our least-used muscles.


Lani tells us all about why exercise is essential to health. She covers the benefits and SMART goals for getting you on track. Next, a crucial discussion on how much exercise you need: to be healthy and have a strong cardiorespiratory system, strong muscles, and a flexible and coordinated body.  

She also takes a stand on sitting. Your body's health also suffers if you spend a lot of time sitting or lying down, even if you also do exercise on the same day! Are you an active couch potato? She provides some practical solutions for nonexercise activity to get you going.

Lastly, she talks about workout duration. Since we now know that many short workouts is as beneficial as one longer workout, we can now move onto the Fit Quickies.

Top Quickies 1, 2, 3!

Belly, inner thighs, and back of the upper arm. Definitely a familiar list for those of us after more toning.

In all of the Quickies, Lani gives us some background on the muscles involved in the problem area and the benefits of the exercise before setting out exactly how to do it for maximum effect.

I like this because it gives me some hints on how to work these muscles in everyday life even if I'm not doing a Fit Quickie routine. For example, if I'm walking, now I know I can swing my arms back straight and challenge that triceps muscle each time.

And at the end, we learn the perfect stretch for the muscles we just worked.

Fit Quickies Continues

Next, Lani gets to the bottom of, well, your bottom, and then moves on to the exercises all around your body: waist, thighs, upper body, etc.

The gluteal and waist exercises immediately and fondly reminded me of exercises from Callanetics, which I did back in the last millennium (and the exercises still work). The main difference is that with Callanetics, you are encouraged to do all the exercises in a single workout. With Fit Quickies, you can sneak them in here, there, and everywhere.

Fit Quickie Combos

Once she's shown us all the Fit Quickie exercises, there's a short chapter on willpower and how to get it before she suggests some routines of selected Fit Quickies to work particular areas of the body, or fuller workouts.


Fit Quickies are great, but they can't counteract the effects of a poor diet. This chapter outlines Lani's lifelong journey and struggles toward her current success with a whole-foods, plant-based, low-fat diet. We learn what hunger and satisfaction really mean at a physical level, and how we can use that to achieve our health goals.

She shares how she builds her meals, a typical day's menu and a food journal for a day. Then she addresses some common dietary information conflicts, including CARBS!

Getting Mental

She wraps up the story with some finishing chapters on motivation, mind-set, and moving forward. These recommendations are useful for any area of your life.

What I love about this book

The photos

Lani is in the photos demonstrating the exercise positions. And she looks like herself. She's healthy looking and fit, but there's no airbrushed model thing going on. She's a real person. I noticed that, and I love it.


Almost all the exercises need no special equipment. A chair or table, a playground ball, a towel... I'm happy that I already have an exercise ball (when the kids let me have a turn).

Wish List

Just a couple of little things!

The order

It's ordered by the Fit Quickie number, and I'm not already familiar with them. So I often can't find an exercise in the book quickly. The Quickies move all around the body areas.

Say it in pictures

There's a lot of valuable info with each Quickie. But this has ended up with lots of long descriptive paragraphs that I've found hard to study and absorb. I really want to learn these exercises by heart so I can use them whenever I'm at my standing desk or watching a movie or some other inactivity. But I'm still not there with all of them yet.

So I would love for each Quickie to start with a labelled diagram or photo showing as much as possible with short phrases and pointers to the part of the body that's going to be working out.

Learning the moves

Prevention recently consulted Lani on the "10 Most Useless Exercise Machines. Ditch these time wasters for moves that really matter." Fit Quickies is the book with all the moves that really matter.

Lani Muelrath (MA, CGFI, CPBN, FNS)
The Plant-Based Fitness Expert (

Lani is the Best-Selling Author of Fit Quickies:  5 Minute Targeted Body Shaping Workouts with plant-based diet and creator of Lani Muelrath's Plant-Based Blueprint. Lani specializes in helping people who struggle with health, weight and energy levels transform their bodies - and their lives - without going hungry or grueling, excessive exercise.

Lani Muelrath is presenter and celebrity coach for the 21-Day PCRM Vegan Kickstart and VegRun Programs, and fitness adviser for the Dr. John McDougall Health and Medical Center discussion boards.  A guest lecturer in Kinesiology at San Francisco State University, Lani Muelrath is a presenter for the Complete Health Improvement Project (CHIP) and associate professor in Kinesiology at Butte College

Recently featured on ABC TV, CBS TV and Huffington Post, Lani holds a Master's degree and several teaching credentials in Physical Education, and holds multiple fitness certifications including fitness Instructor from the American Council on Exercise, Yoga, and Pilates-based instruction from the PhysicalMind Institute, and over 30 years of experience as health educator and coach.   She is the health and fitness expert for Vegan Mainstream, contributing author for VegWorld Magazine, and Plant-based Fitness and Healthy Living Examiner She is certified in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University and holds a Fitness Nutrition Specialist Advanced Credential from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Lani created and starred in her own CBS TV show, "Lani's All-Heart Aerobics." Recipient of the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Instruction, she regularly speaks and writes about healthy living, plant-based nutrition, weight loss, and fitness. She overcame her own lifetime struggle with weight over more than 15 years ago when she lost 50 pounds, which she has maintained easily with the tools that she uses to coach others to be successful with in weight loss, body shaping, and health.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Crumb Brownies and 3 more frugal bread crust recipes

I love to transform food so it is appealing and doesn't go to waste.  

My family eats lots of bread, but not the ends. (Good luck with this trick to get rid of them. Let me know whether your kids are fooled.)

So we always have annoying frozen bread end collections. Here's how to use them up and enjoy it!

1. We're Bakin' Brownies!

I've totally transformed a brownie recipe so it's vegan, delicious, and uses up heaps of breadcrumbs...

  • 2/3 cup nondairy milk
  • 2 Tbsp nondairy margarine (opt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (opt)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 6 cups medium-fine soft bread crumbs (made in food processor, mine were quite chunky)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar, packed (or 1 cup + 2Tbsp molasses + 1/8 tsp stevia)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts or desiccated coconut (opt)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (opt)
  • 1 mashed ripe banana (opt)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (opt)
  • 2 egg (replacer equivalent)
They go quickly - here's one left!
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C) and (if not nonstick) spray a 8-inch square baking pan or similar (I used a round cake pan).
  2. Melt nondairy milk and margarine and add sifted cocoa powder and vanilla - stir
  3. In large mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, baking powder, sugar and nuts/optional extras.
  4. Stir in cocoa mixture and brown sugar; beat until combined.
  5. In separate bowl, prepare egg replacer.
  6. Combine with bread mixture until all ingredients are moistened. Add more nondairy milk or water if not moist enough to make smooth sticky batter (bread crumbs are hard to measure exactly).
  7. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes or until done. Cool completely on wire rack.
Loved by the whole family (the brownies...and me, of course)!

2. Dipping Toasties

These are much quicker than croutons and make soup night a bit more special.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C)
  2. Cut at least 2 bread ends in half for each person eating
  3. Spread with your choice of:
  • Marmite or other yeast spread
  • Vegan margarine or olive oil
  • Refried beans
  • Salsa
  • Vegan cheese
  • Hummus
  • Herb/seasoned salt sprinkle
Place on oven tray and bake until just barely brown - keep careful watch as the edges can get burned easily

Serve with soup, spread with more goodies like guacomole....yum!

3. Vegan Fruit Pudding

This frugal pudding can be made with practically whatever you've got.

4. Vegan Stuffing

This savoury stuffing is great for the festive season or anytime it's chilly.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

G is for Gifted and that's good enough for me...

Thanks a million, Sesame Street!
...and now I want a cookie.

The G Word

The G Word (gifted) is very much on my mind right now.

I've just opened discussions within our local gifted group about our name: I would like the name to feature "gifted" more prominently, others have very valid concerns about the impact of such a change.

My personal experience with the label of giftedness started very early, with the introduction of a gifted program at my primary school.

The very real impact of gifted labelling and separation continues as a divisive issue throughout generations of our family.

As for our children, any bonuses they may score from being gifted must be weighed against the other attributes they inherit or must otherwise endure in a gifted family.

So, what are the Pros and Cons?

This isn't a new topic, so here are some discussions:
For me, being gifted is the true divider. Not the label - that's far less visible. So our children have enjoyed gifted educational programmes like Small Poppies and Gifted Kids, as well as the more social Explorers.

Owning Gifted

No doubt, there is a cringe factor out there for “gifted”. But what message do we send when we cringe too?  How will our gifted children feel if the word gifted is so awful we can barely say it?

Even more telling than the cringe factor is the public lack of understanding even of the basics of what gifted means...and what it doesn't. While happy to acknowledge levels in sporting prowess, the world is horribly and hypocritically cruel about differing intellectual capabilities. Consider the word "retarded," which is simply derived from a Latin word meaning "delayed" yet has been allowed to become an insult.

Today, when image means everything, can we afford not to say "gifted" as often as possible, with our message of choice attached? Can we own the word gifted instead of letting it be used against us?

This post has been written for the NZ Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour. Check it all out!

Jessica Parsons is the mother of two gifted children and the president of Explorers, the Auckland branch of the NZ Association for Gifted Children.