Friday, July 2, 2010

Fun Friday: 4th of July Edition!

My favorite holiday ranking goes like this:

1. Halloween
2. 4th of July and Valentine's Day
3. Thanksgiving
4. My Birthday (a week-long holiday!)
5. Christmas
6. Easter

I could break these down further, but I'll save it for the actual holiday :) Tied for my second favorite holiday, Independence Day has it all--grillin', pyrotechnics, a defined color scheme, patriotism, beer and summer HEAT. It's the epitome of summer fun and the American spirit.

I love fireworks--and the "fireworks" setting on my camera!

Also, my grandparents live in the "4th of July City," Seward, Nebraska (I'm sure there's more than one 4th of July city, but Seward is the NE one!). My 4th of Julys were filled with family activities and some of my best childhood memories involve my 4th of Julys in Seward.

One of my fondest memories of the 4th is when I was in about 5th grade. My older sister's boyfriend showed my younger sister and I how to make "redneck dynamite" by duct taping two "Whistling Petes" together tightly, twisting the wick, throwing it and running like hell. Please promise me you don't try this at home,'s pretty intense.

Mind you, this was back when a boatload of fireworks were still legal. The M-80s were so strong back then that my cousin blasted a hole in my grandfather's 50 gallon STEEL water barrel. Ah, good times.

My fam--July 2008, the last time I made it out to NE for the 4th. My sister and I made those tie-dye shirts. We "make" various DIY outfits for different holidays/occasions :)

Me, My little sister, My Mom

Because it's FUN FRIDAY, and the start to my 2nd fav. holiday, I brought my Step n' Sculpt class mini-star cookies this morning. I know, I know, a little contradictory to exercise. But rolling out of bed to workout at 5:30am is no small task and everyone needs a little kick to blood sugar first thing in the morning.

Countless studies have shown that that
breakfast eaters are slimmer than non-breakfast eaters. But what if you are working out early in the morning and don't have time to eat a full meal before working out? Some trainers suggest not eating anything before an early morning workout. The theory is that blood sugar levels are low in a fasted state (sleeping all night and not eating), which allows for more fat burning.

The problem is that much research has show that "fat-burning" (burning more fat than carbs) kick in
until you about are 20 minutes into your cardio workout. That is, it takes about 20 mintues for your body to start using fat as fuel (NOTE: This research doesn't take into account fat burning AFTER exercise. An intense 20-minute interval session is MORE effective at burning fat long after the exercise is over).

In a group fitness class or hour-long workout session, however, that's a LONG time to go without fuel for your muscles. Without fuel the body will fatigue faster leading to, basically, a crappier workout.

For very early morning exercisers, I suggest a small 100-150 calorie snack (granola bar, small COOKIE, or piece of fruit) first thing to power the body through the workout and another small 100-150 protein-packed snack to re-fuel the muscles (2 egg whites and toast, smoothie, protein bar). This post-workout snack will also
aid in muscle recovery.

Speaking of sugar, for Fun Friday, I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite (and SIMPLE) 4th of July appetizer and dessert recipes:

5-Layer Mediterranean Dip

1 package (7oz.) hummus dip
½ cup (or more if preferred) chopped tomato
½ cup (or more) seeded and chopped cucumber
1 pkg. (7oz) feta cheese
1/2 small can chopped olives

1. Spread hummus on the bottom of a glass pie plate
2. Later the remaining ingredients in the order listed in ingredients.
3. Chill and serve with pita chips, bread or tortilla chips.

Strawberry Shortcake Mini Cheesecakes

12 Lorna Doone shortbread cookies
2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) reduced fat Neufchatel cream cheese, softned
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
½ cup reduced fat (NOT fat free) sour cream
2 Tbs. all purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ grated lemon zest
1 can strawberry pie filling or fresh strawberries
1 tub of cool whip

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners. Place one cookie in each cupcake liner.
2. At medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy.
3. Add last five ingredient; beat until well blended.
4. Divide among muffin cups.
5. Bake 25 minutes or until puffed. Cool completely on rack.
6. When cooled, top with strawberries and whipped cream.

Enjoy these! If you try them out, let me know what you think! Also, keep an eye out--I'm launching a YouTube Channel very soon!

Have a safe and chill holiday weekend! I'll be teaching Step on Saturday, but Sunday is ALL for celebration. I don't have any definite plans yet, but I do know three things I require for the 4th:

1. Something grilled

2. Something chilled

In moderation, of course!

3. And something EXPLODED!


Qs o' The Day: What's your favorite breakfast? What three things do you absolutely require for a great fourth of July? What's your favorite holiday?


  1. Hi there - I just love your blog - and my story is similar to yours. I love your candor - and hopefully we can inspire eachotehr to keep fighting the good fight. xoxoxo erica

  2. July 4th. Best holiday ever! I'm an Easter fan myself, then Halloween, then the fourth! Great fireworks shots by the way.