Category Archives: Food & Fitness

FruiTea2Go™ – Fruit and Veggie Infused Water Bottles!

During these hot summer days, it is really important to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! As you know, I try to exercise at least 3-4 times a week, so I am always drinking water – especially pre & post workout. Often times I like to put lemon or cucumber slices in my water. However the little bits of fruits & veggies sometimes get sucked up into the straws of my water tumblers. So what’s a person to do when you really want fruit or veggie infused H2O? FruiTea2Go™ is the solution!


This is such a cool invention! All you have to do is cut your fruit &/or veggies that you want to include in your water.


Then you drop it into the chamber & screw the top to seal it in.

My first time trying it, I wanted to have cucumber water. For some reason, sipping on chilled cucumber water makes me think that I am at the spa when in reality I am at the gym sweating it out in the Valley.  🙂


I also tried a fruit combination of blueberries & lemon slices!


There are countless combinations that you could make for your own custom fruit or veggie infused water! For recipe ideas, you might want to check out the FruiTea2Go™ website.

 Tell me, what fruit or veggie recipe would you want to try in a FruiTea2Go™ Bottle?

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary FruiTea2Go™ Bottle which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My opinions (as always) are 100% my own.


Sandbox Fitness: Come Exercise on the Beach in Sherman Oaks!

Just last week I was invited to attend classes at Sandbox Fitness in Sherman Oaks. This studio is located on Ventura Blvd, near Woodman Avenue. When you first walk inside the studio, you’ll notice right away the beach-like vibe. Instantly I felt calmer, as being near the ocean always makes me feel more relaxed & centered (even in a faux one such as this).  🙂



All of the classes are taught in the sandbox. The sand comes from Cal Silica & is non-toxic AND silica-free. You are allowed to go barefoot or you can purchase “sand socks” which they sell in the lobby area. As many of you know, I suffer from plantar fasciitis. I wasn’t sure how this was going to feel, so I made sure to tape up my foot really well with KT Tape.

The thing about going barefoot in the sand is that it cushions your feet really well. In fact when I took the classes at Sandbox, I noticed it actually felt better to do TRX barefoot in the sand than in my workout shoes at my local gym. The sand really conforms to your heels & feet, hugging it in such a way that I felt more stable than I had thought I would. I’m not a professional & who knows what my podiatrist would say about it. All I can say is that for me, it did not aggravate my foot or cause my heel pain to flare up.

Tidal Turbulence
The very first class that I took was called Tidal Turbulence. This class, taught by Tonni, combined a type of fitness class that I love (TRX) with Surfset, which is class that is done on a surfboard-type of equipment. It is unstable & you are meant to wobble at first (like I did) but then you will eventually get your balance & just flow with it.

After a light warm-up, Tonni took us through some TRX moves that I was familiar with. It was a really good workout. Then after a while, she had us hop onto the Surfset & do balancing exercises that really worked our core, legs & arms. Since it was my first time channeling my “inner surfer girl” it was a challenge for me to get the board steady. Tonni was really great about helping me balance, remembering to breathe & making modifications. There were several exercises that I had to modify & perform on top of the board with my knees & not full on in a plank position (with my toes). Tonni explained afterwards that these were all great modifications & that in time I would be able to do it in full plank without the wobble.


Minna, the co-owner of Sandbox Fitness, taught the TRX class that I took the very next day. I’m not sure what I was thinking about taking back to back classes, but I did just fine. I was sore while performing the TRX moves, but I made it through! One thing to note is that I am used to taking 30 minute TRX classes. The class at Sandbox Fitness is about 45 minutes long (not counting the cool down). I really enjoyed it, as I knew that I would. The longer session & being on the sand really made for a great TRX class.


Beach Yoga
This was the last class that I took at Sandbox & it was nice to save it for last. After all of the things that I put my poor muscles through, I really wanted to stretch my body & be mindful of how it felt. Stacey’s yoga class was exactly what I needed after a week of exercise. I had also driven a lot that week, attending various work functions. You know how you can sit in a car during a 45 minute to an hour traffic jam & just feel your shoulders & neck tense up? Taking a good yoga class will cure that.

Stacey’s voice was very calm & soothing. Her vibe & general presence was really nice, which helped because she came over several times to make tiny corrections & reposition my body. Btw, I like taking yoga, but I don’t take it often enough. So when I do take yoga classes, it always takes me a while to remember how to get into that stance or move my arms into a certain position. My favorite pose of the whole entire class was the pigeon pose. It really opened up my hips & legs. After the class, I had mentioned to Stacey that my sciatica flares up on occasion & that I was going to practice that stretch on a regular basis to help prevent the sciatica from coming back.

Here’s me doing one of my signature moves! Just kidding…it’s Stacey looking fab out on the sand.


I cannot say enough about Sandbox Fitness! This place is SO cool, I love their classes & best of all, it is in the Valley!! I could easily see this type of studio in West Hollywood or Santa Monica. The fact that it is in Sherman Oaks is awesome for me because I don’t have to take the dreaded 405 freeway to get there! However if there was one fitness studio that is worth the drive, it is definitely Sandbox Fitness!

Tell me, out of all the classes that I described in this review, which one would you like to take?

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I attended complimentary classes which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.

Meet Selene B. Kepila of Naked Infusions Salsa

Recently I tried out a new salsa brand that is SO fresh & delicious! It’s made with organic ingredients sourced from local California farms. I personally love fresh made salsa, but honestly I don’t always have the time to make it. For those looking for a really great, smooth yet rich tasting salsa, then you might want to give NAKED infusions a try! I will be giving my review of the product line next week. In the meantime, please meet the latest Real Mom of the SFV, Selene B. Kepila – founder of NAKED infusions.

(Photo credit: Selene B. Kepila)
(Photo credit: Selene B. Kepila)

How/why did you begin your business?
Selene: I began my business out of a desire to share salsa that I grew up with with others. There was no leading jarred salsa and I felt I could solve that problem. I reinvented the recipe by memory and hired a co-packer and other experts to help me market and sell.

As a working mother, what is one tip or piece of advice that you would give to other female entrepreneurs?
Selene: Stay balanced. Between work and family life.

What do you like best about having a business in the San Fernando Valley?
Selene: There are lots of conscious people looking for satisfying and healthy food.

If there was one thing you wish you knew before you began your business, what would that be?
Selene: How much money it takes to bring a product to market.

Selene’s company NAKED infusions is based in Calabasas. Personally I’m so glad that something wholesome & good for you has come out of Calabasas, unlike some of those reality TV stars that start with a “K” or that Bieber kid. Lol…

Seriously though, I love this salsa brand. You’ll have to check back next week for more info on it! In the meantime, check out their website. If you live in California, their products are sold in Sprouts & Whole Foods.

Have you heard of NAKED infusions salsa or seen it on store shelves? Now that you know where to find it, will you give it a try?

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. The image shown in this post is used with permission. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.

Zola Coconut Water Lemonade

Like a lot of my fellow fitness friends, I enjoy coconut water. I recently tried a new drink from Zola that contains the perfect blend of tart & sweet. What is that drink? It’s Zola Coconut Water Lemonade! This drink contains coconut water, lemonade, Vitamin C (yay!) and cane sugar, among other items. It’s also gluten-free & dairy-free.


But how does it taste? I really like it! It’s not overly sugary tasting like most lemonade. My husband & daughter love their sweet lemonade, which is why I rarely drink it or have it with an iced tea (Arnold Palmer style). With a Zola Coconut Water Lemonade, you get the refreshing taste of a lemonade, plus the health benefits from coconut water. Win-win…

I also received a few other goodies in my care package from Zola, which their company motto is Live Live to the Fullest!


Inside this care package were cans of Zolo Coconut Water with Pulp, Coconut Water without Pulp & Coconut Water with Expresso! I’m not a fan of pulp. I don’t even like it in my orange juice. So I am glad that I got to try it with & without pulp. The Expresso drink gave me a little kick that I needed after my workout.

ZolaCoconutWater_Pckg contents

We are in the midst of a heatwave in Los Angeles, with highs in the Valley at 100+ degrees. So I really enjoyed that cold Coconut Water with Expresso, which has as much caffeine as a 2 oz. shot of expresso. Plus the calorie & fat content of this drink is lower than a blended coffee drink that you would get from your local coffee chain!

(Image credit: Zola)
(Image credit: Zola)

So the next time you find yourself wanting a refreshing drink, you might want to consider one of the coconut waters from Zola!

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received complimentary samples of Zola which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My opinions (as always) are 100% my own.

JicaChips™ – All Natural Jicama Chips Product Review

Ever since I got back from my vacations in Utah & Arizona, I’ve been making it a point to eat healthier snacks. I’ve had jicama in salads & as a garnish in other items, but I never thought about it as something that I would regularly snack on. So when I heard about JicaChips, I was very intrigued.


JicaChips come in four flavors: Sea Salt, Smoked BBQ, Cinnamon Sugar & Spicy Szechuan. They are made from real jicama slices & baked (yes that’s right – baked, not fried). JicaChips are low in calorie, low in carbs & have 3 times the fiber of oatmeal! My cousin who is a registered dietician & also my friends who are into nutrition will be happy to know that these are gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO & 100% All Natural . In fact, these chips are made with olive oil, spices & pure cane sugar (depending on flavor).

(Image credit: JicaChips)
(Image credit: JicaChips)

I tried all four flavors & my personal faves are the Smoked BBQ & Cinnamon Sugar ones. The BBQ one reminded me of a BBQ potato chip, but a much healthier version. I’m not fond of overly sweet snacks, so this Cinnamon Sugar JicaChips satisfied my craving for something sweet.


My husband’s personal favorite was the Spicy Szechuan. He likes snacks with a spicy kick!


Want to know where you can buy these JicaChips? Well for now you can buy them from their online store. However I hear that they are going to roll out in other places in the near future, so check their Facebook or website for updates!

**Update: Get 20% off your first order when you go to their online store & use DISCOUNT Code “jicachips20″**

If you are looking for a healthy alternative to the average chip, you might want to give JicaChips a try!


Do you like jicama? If you could try just one of the JicaChips, which flavor would you buy?

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary sample pack which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My opinions (as always) are 100% my own.

Pure Barre – Fitness Studio Review

As you can probably tell, I am addicted to group fitness classes. While I enjoy doing my usual cycle class or TRX class at my local YMCA, sometimes you just have to change up your routine. So a few weeks ago, I decided to try out Pure Barre in Woodland Hills. Mind you, this was the first class that I took after being back from a 2 week vacation to Utah & Arizona. So I was a little apprehensive about taking it.


The class was taught by Gigi & she really helped me with getting the right technique & positioning of my body. Pure Barre workouts focus on lifting your butt, toning your thighs & burning fat. It is a total body workout that fuses elements of ballet, Pilates & strength training. In this particular class with Gigi, we used these rubber tubes as part of our leg workout.


After the first class, I did feel invigorated & energized – this was quite an intense class to take after being gone for 2 weeks. Since I didn’t know the moves or understand the technique (I had taken a barre-type fitness class before, but no two barre studios are alike), I felt like I should take a second class to get a better feel for how the Pure Barre method works.

This second class was taught by Rachel. It went a little smoother for me since I kind of understood the idea of tucking your body in a certain way, being laser-focused on a certain part of your body (core, outer thigh, etc.) & making small movements. In this class, we utilized the rubber tube, a small rubber ball & light hand weights.


How did I feel afterwards? I felt like I got a nice workout. The difference between this type of workout & something like a “boot camp” type class is that those classes are all about getting sweaty, doing a lot of cardio as well as strength training & getting your heart rate up. Pure Barre is totally different. I think if you go into it with an open mind, willingness to learn & the patience to focus on toning & mindful positioning – then you will do well.

The Pure Barre studio in Woodland Hills is spacious & clean. In the front lobby, you can buy merchandise with the Pure Barre logo on it. There is an area in the back where they honor the members who reach their 100th class milestone. You get to sign the studio’s ballet barre & you are part of the 100 Club. The studio manager & owners do a nice job of keeping the community spirit engaged among their members through social media & also via in-store/off-site promotions with Lyfe Kitchen, which is located in Tarzana.


For more information on Pure Barre Woodland Hills, check out their website, follow them on Facebook &/or connect with them on Instagram!


Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I participated in two fitness classes via ClassPass. All images are mine & my opinions (as always) are 100% my own.

Meet Debbie Adler of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats

As a mom of an 8 year old daughter with a sweet tooth, I am always on the hunt for healthier options for dessert. I also have friends who have gluten sensitivities or happen to have allergies to dairy, soy &/or peanuts. That’s why when I came across Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes, I thought “whoo hoo!” finally a dessert book that can address those issues.


This book is filled with great recipes for those who want to cook healthy sweet treats, who suffer from peanut allergies or live a gluten-free & vegan lifestyle! Debbie has come up with some yummy, tried & true recipes that have been honed in her kitchen & bakeshop – Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes. You can buy her baked goods (cupcakes, cookies, brownies, muffins, etc.) online or bake them yourself by purchasing her cookbook! I love that her company is based in the San Fernando Valley!

There is one dessert flavor that I absolutely love & that is red velvet. I’ll eat it as a cake, cupcake, cake pop, you name it! Fortunately for me, Debbie has a red velvet cupcake recipe in her book & it is also sold online at her cupcake shop!

(Photo credit: Carl Kravats. Photo used with permission)
(Photo credit: Carl Kravats. Photo used with permission)

What I really like about this dessert cookbook is that it has exotic flavors that you might not find in a traditional cookbook. Check out this recipe for Saffron & Cardamom Donut Holes!


There is also a recipe for Basil Lemonade Cookies! It sounds delish!


As I had mentioned before, Debbie Adler’s bakery is based in the San Fernando Valley. I am SO excited to introduce to my readers a new feature on the blog! At least once a month (or perhaps more depending on scheduling), I will feature a “Real Mom of the SFV” – someone who lives in the San Fernando Valley community, is a mother & a businesswoman.

I am so pleased to introduce to you Debbie Adler of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes!

(Photo credit: Debbie Adler. Photo used with permission.)
(Photo credit: Debbie Adler. Photo used with permission.)

How/why did you begin your business?
Debbie: I began my bakery business in 2006 because I was hungry. I was hungry for something that didn’t exist at the time – organic, sugar-free cupcakes. I didn’t think I would be the person to pioneer something like this since I wasn’t a baker per se, but like I said, I was hungry. And when you’re hungry you become very determined. After I developed my recipes, which took many months, I opened up my bakery and it turns out a lot of other people were hungry for the same thing, too! When my son was born a few years later, I found out he had severe and life threatening food allergies to dairy, eggs, nuts and seeds. In 2010, I revamped my recipes, moved my bakery and it became vegan, gluten-free, allergy-free and as always, organic and sugar-free.

As a working mother, what is one tip or piece of advice that you would give to other female entrepreneurs?
Debbie: I remained flexible with my schedule from the very beginning when my son was born, so that I could breastfeed him and enjoy as many milestones as possible. So one tip of advice would be to have someone or someones that you could count on to help you execute your business so that you’re not doing absolutely every little thing. In other words – delegate!

What do you like best about having a business in the San Fernando Valley?
Debbie: The Valley is becoming the mecca for small business, especially in the food arena, and I love that people in the San Fernando Valley “get it”. And what I mean by that is, they understand the value of something that is different, more healthful, and of premium quality. They’re not afraid of ingredients that maybe they’re not familiar with, but are willing to try and learn about.

If there was one thing you wish you knew before you began your business, what would that be?
Debbie: I wish I knew how to expand more quickly because I had to turn down some business at the beginning due to capacity constraints.

Check out Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes Facebook page & follow her on Twitter for new updates!

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary cookbook which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.

CocoZen™ Coconut Water – Product Review

It’s another hot day in the San Fernando Valley! I’ve learned from living in LA that while many folks like to stay active & physically fit, another very important lesson is to stay hydrated. The intense heat is no joke in the SFV & you don’t want to be caught without water or some sort of liquid that can help cool you down & refresh you, especially after a tough workout. That’s why I’m glad to have had CocoZen™ Coconut Water on-hand after my workout at a barre fitness class in the Valley.


Did you know that coconut water is 95% water & a fat & cholesterol-free drink? It’s also a great source of electrolytes, you know, that stuff that they always tout in sports drinks, like the one that starts with a “G.”  😉  Coconut water is also a good source of B vitamins.

How does CocoZen™ Coconut Water? It tastes great. I personally like coconut water. The fact that each CocoZen™ box contains 100% juice…well, I just knew that I would love it!


The other thing that I liked about CocoZen™ Coconut Water is their packaging. It’s packaged in a Tetra-Pak carton that is recyclable.


You can buy CocoZen™ Coconut Water on & in select NYC stores. Check out their website for more info!

Tell me: What do you enjoy drinking on a hot day, especially after a workout?

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received complimentary samples of CocoZen™ Coconut Water which helped facilitate this review. All images & opinions are 100% my own.

Dog Haus Canoga Park – Attending the “Wurst” Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

It’s Friday afternoon, so cheers to the weekend everyone! I don’t know about you but on the weekends I like to try out new restaurants & eateries. If you are looking to try a new place, you might want to check out Dog Haus in Canoga Park.

Real Mom of SFV was invited to attend a special ribbon cutting ceremony on July 1st. Paul Homayoun, the franchise owner of Dog Haus Canoga Park, was being recognized by the Woodland Hills-Tarzana Chamber of Commerce during this special media event.


Dog Haus Canoga Park is located on Topanga Canyon Blvd, between Victory & Vanowen. If you are familiar with the area, you’ll know that it is directly across the street from the Westfield Topanga shopping mall (my favorite mall in the Valley). When I met with Paul, I mentioned that this is such a great location – minutes from Warner Center, near Westfield Topanga, as well as Westfield Promenade. Paul said that they get tremendous foot traffic from all of the businesses & the proximity to the malls.

But how does it taste, you ask?! It is the bomb!! (Do people still say that…well, I do!). I tried several items from their menu.


First up…The Pig & the Fig Haus Sausage. Their haus sausages are made from the highest quality ingredients. This particular gourmet sausage is an emmentaler stuffed sausage. It has a fig & onion relish with toasted almonds on top. I was introduced to Michael Brown, who is the Culinary Director for Dog Haus. Michael explained that emmentaler is basically a Swiss cheese, but it is very flavorful. The Pig & the Fig is a new menu item for Dog Haus. They wanted to introduce it first to the Canoga Park location before rolling it out to the Pasadena ones. Yay for the San Fernando Valley!

DogHaus_Pig and Fig

The second item that I tried (AND it was my favorite) was The Little Mule Burger. This is no ordinary burger. It has a fried egg, pepperjack cheese, tomatillo sauce, cilantro aioli & avocado. Honestly they had me at fried egg & avocado! Here is what it looked like…


The last entrée that I sampled was the Old Town Dog. All of their hot dogs are special, all-beef skinless dogs. The Old Town is a smoked bacon wrapped dog with caramelized onions, jalapenos, chipotle mayo & cotija cheese. It was good & spicy! Not for the faint of heart, but I like my food that way. 🙂


I also sampled the sweet potato fries, which were yummy. I noticed someone near me had ordered the chili cheese tots, which are tater tots topped with a homemade cheese sauce, chili & onions. It looked delicious but unfortunately I don’t have a photo of it. I’ll just have to go back again & order it next time!


One thing I appreciated was the global menu of Dog Haus. When you think of hot dogs & hamburgers, you tend to think of it as an all-American classic. For an area that is as diverse as the San Fernando Valley, it was neat to see a hot dog called the Tae Kwon Dog, which has a bulgogi glaze, kimchi, fried egg & Korean chili powder. Another unique item is the Another Night in Bangkok Sausage. This one has an Asian slaw, peanut sauce & spicy Thai red currywurst, as well as crushed peanuts on top.

If those items seem too much for you, you can always “build your own” sausage, dog or burger. According to Michael Brown, in some of the Dog Haus restaurants, the “build your own” sells more than the other items. For my vegetarian friends, you’ll be happy to know that you can substitute a veggie burger or a veggie dog when doing a “build your own.” At the DogHaus Canoga Park, there is something for everyone!!

Tell me: Have you been to one of the Dog Haus restaurants? If not, check out their menu & let me know which item you would most like to try!

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I attended a media event and received complimentary food & drink which helped facilitate this review. All images & opinions are 100% my own.

Ocean’s Halo™ Seaweed Chips – Four Flavors to Try!

It’s no secret in my family that I am a “salty snack” person. While my daughter may have inherited her dad’s sweet tooth, I tend to reach for the chips & salsa or cheese & crackers at family parties. As someone who is always seeking a healthier alternative to cheese-flavored snacks, I was thrilled to sample Ocean’s Halo ™ Seaweed Chips!

(Photo credit: New Frontier Foods Inc.)
(Photo credit: New Frontier Foods Inc.)

Ocean’s Halo ™ Seaweed Chips are made from organic, sustainably harvested & nutrient-rich seaweed. It is also vegan, kosher & baked, not fried. I’m happy to report that this product does not contain GMOs, trans fats, MSG or other artificial “stuff” – so it truly is a healthier alternative for me & my family. An added bonus for me is that they are a low-cal & low-fat snack!

(Image credit: New Frontier Foods Inc.)
(Image credit: New Frontier Foods Inc.)

The Seaweed Chips come in four flavors: Chili Lime, Korean BBQ, Sea Salt and Hot & Spicy. I sampled all four & my husband tried some as well. As someone who grew up eating seaweed flavored snacks, we both wondered how it would taste. Well…we BOTH like it! Ocean’s Halo ™ Seaweed Chips have the seaweed flavor that we know & love, but contain extra spices that we really like (such as Korean BBQ) AND you get the added “crunch” of a chip. The crunch is what sold it for me! There is something satisfying about snacking on a crunchy chip as opposed to the paper-thin nori that we have snacked on from time to time.

My personal favorite is the Korean BBQ, but my husband loves the Hot & Spicy one the best.


So where can you find Ocean’s Halo ™ Seaweed Chips? They are sold in U.S. stores like Whole Foods Markets, Vons, Super Target, Safeway and Fresh & Easy, as well as select markets throughout Canada. If you are unable to purchase a bag at your local store, you can always buy them online at

I am very happy to see that New Frontier Foods Inc. (a California based company) which produces Ocean’s Halo ™ Seaweed Chips, practices social good. Two percent of their profits go to organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Children’s Education Fund. Also I love the fact that the seaweed chips are packaged in BPI certified, compostable bags. How cool is that?!

(Photo credit: New Frontier Foods Inc.)
(Photo credit: New Frontier Foods Inc.)

If you are a fan of seaweed or nori-flavored snacks, then you might want to give Ocean’s Halo ™ Seaweed Chips a try!

Do you like seaweed-flavored snacks? Of the four flavors – Sea Salt, Hot & Spicy, Chili Lime or Korean BBQ, which one would you most like to try?

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary sample pack which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My opinions (as always) are 100% my own.