Back to School Treats Vegan Tofu Coconut Cookies, Raisin Cookies and Tofu Sticks

America’s leading tofu purveyor since 1983, House Foods Tofu, is making the transition of back-to-school simpler with their easy to make, healthy and delectable recipes. Revealing new school lunches, after school snacks and sweet treat recipes.

I have been treated to new cookie recipes from House Foods Tofu. Their Tofu Oatmeal Coconut Cookies and Tofu Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are made by combining House Foods Organic or Premium Tofu Soft with old fashion oats with either coconut flakes or raisins. For a quick finger friendly lunch, after school snack or family dinner, whip up House Foods Crispy Tofu Sticks. Simply coat House Foods Organic or Premium Tofu Extra Firm with a mixture of crushed cornflakes and spices. These Tofu Sticks look a great deal like the wings at my family’s favorite vegan restaurant, I can’t wait to get a kitchen and give them a try!  Let me know if you try these recipes and how they work.

Tofu Oatmeal Coconut Cookiesimage001

Created by House Foods America 

INGREDIENTS:

½ pkg House Foods Premium or Organic Tofu Soft
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 ½ cup old fashioned oats
¼ c brown sugar
½ c granulated sugar
⅓ cup vegetable oil
½ cup coconut flakes
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt 

DIRECTIONS:

Add Tofu, sugar, oil and vanilla to food processor and purée until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, salt and coconut and combine with wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly and place in refrigerator for 1 hour to firm.

Spoon approximately 2 Tbsp worth of dough onto greased baking sheet. Repeat for remaining cookie dough. Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

 

Tofu Oatmeal Raisin Cookiesimage002

Created by House Foods America

INGREDIENTS:

½ pkg House Foods Premium or Organic Tofu Soft
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 ½ cup old fashioned oats
¼ c brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup vegetable oil
½ cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

 

DIRECTIONS:

Add Tofu, sugar, oil and vanilla to food processor and purée until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, salt and raisins and combine with wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly and place in refrigerator for 1 hour to firm.

Spoon approximately 2 Tbsp worth of dough onto greased baking sheet. Repeat for remaining cookie dough. Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Once batter is thoroughly mixed stir in chocolate chips.
Pour into greased baking tray and bake at 350° for approximately 30 minutes.

 

image003Crispy Tofu Sticks

Created by House Foods America

 INGREDIENTS:

1 pkg House Foods Premium or Organic Tofu Extra Firm, drained and pressed
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
½tsp black pepper
2 eggs, beaten (or egg replacer)
1 ½ cup cornflakes, crushed into small pieces

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice Tofu into 1 x 1 x 3 in. sticks. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper and set aside. Add beaten eggs to a small bowl, and cornflakes to a third bowl.

To coat Tofu sticks, lightly roll in seasoned flour, dip in egg, and roll in cornflakes, turning to coat all sides. Repeat for remaining Tofu sticks and place on baking sheet. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

Singing Your Way Through Stress a New Parenting Tip

Puppet Show

Puppet Show

Today was the same as most days, I started off with lofty goals of no yelling, compliance with requests and at least one nap.  There were no total screaming moments on my part, but I couldn’t control what the kids did with their volume.  On a more worrying note my younger son, due to stress I believe, has begun to make sucking noises after he speaks.  The type of noise that comes from pressing the tip of the tongue to the soft palette and then sucking in breath, to punctuate his words.  Everyone in the family is growing weary of this action and its loud sound.  His other new tick is chewing on things; Legos, sheets, collar of his shirt – basically anything a five year old can stick in his mouth that may have germs on it.  These two habits join his already disturbing habit of rolling and chewing on his tongue which all add to my stress because they are signals of his stress. As my husband reminded me tonight on the phone, last time we made this awkward trip he started picking up odd idiosyncrasies, and they diminished once my husband was with us. My main concern is that with epilepsy these types of temporary self-stimulating stress relief techniques can become permanently wired pathways and truly long term habits.  This puts stress levels on high for me in a new way, a parent never wants to permanently mar their child in any way.

Our day proceeded on packed with driving and fun – and because this is a typed format I can’t tell if I mean that sarcastically. I know the first part of the day was not fun as I dealt with a teenager who is a really great guy who makes some poor choices at times.  For example, I asked him to accompany us down the elevator since I was pushing two strollers by myself and holding two cups of tea.  He instead went his own way then watched from inside the mall window as his sister spilled her tea on herself, I had to remove her from her stroller and make sure the other stroller wasn’t in the street – before getting in the elevator without us.  I thought of a way to handle this without much yelling and decided on a discussion of natural consequences that went down like so, “A natural consequence of not wanting to be a part of our family and help out means that you are on your own, so I guess you need to find a way to pay for your private lesson.” That didn’t go over well and  a more heated discussion of what had transpired ensued. The little ones and I went for a stroll before I watched his morning lesson. While I watched our skater the little ones watched Super Why next to me.  This is one of a few times when they really do share and act calm with each other, they take turns holding the phone, making sure the other one can see the screen and co-operatively determine which episode to watch – yes I know it is TV but a psychologist recently told me that the current TV viewing guidelines are unrealistic and must have been set by 60 year old psychologists who still believe in Freud and don’t have children (his words, seriously).  That being said, I do limit my children’s screen time as much as I can while preserving my sanity and I have found that less flashing shows (such as Super Why) don’t stimulate them in the same negative way as brightly, garish shows.  The best shows are realistic shows such as Chopped or Cutthroat Kitchen.  The main concern with screen time of any type is my younger son.  He really loses all self-regulating capability when given screen time outside of these parameters. I digress, on to the rest of our day…

Shuttle Bus to the Museum Campus

Shuttle Bus to the Museum Campus

After the ice rink drop off the younger kids and I headed off to the Portland Children’s Museum again.  This time we split our time between the indoor grocery area and the outdoor adventure area.  My thesis paper for my

Outdoor Adventure

Outdoor Adventure

Montessori certification delved into the levels of parental engagement and developmental purposes of different play areas, including an observational study of play areas at the Children’s Museum – my findings were that realistic play areas create better engagement and have more developmental purpose / positive interaction outcomes so I always try to get them to at least one of these areas per visit.  Of course, I should temper that motivation with knowledge of whether or not we have extra clothing.  Suffice it to say, it was a soggy and oddly dressed ride back to the car on the shuttle with both of my kids wearing oversized, recently purchased museum t-shirts.  Getting them away from the Outdoor Adventure took a great deal of parenting wit to accomplish without screaming “Let’s go” so instead I relied on singing.  I sang a song about me leaving and sure enough they moved along – I was like the parenting piped piper.  I used it all the way to the shuttle to avoid having to carry anyone. To the tune of the “Ants Go Marching” I sang “my kids go marching” and they actually marched in line to the shuttle to the bemused smiles of other parents. Win for me!

Play it Forward Piano at the Entrance

Play it Forward Piano at the Entrance

We piled into our rental car super soggy and super sleepy -viola! one goal met, both children took a nap.  They were completely exhausted and we headed back to the rink to pick up our skater.  From the rink it was a short trip back to the hotel to jump in the pool; because sure enough those naps were short lived. I can still feel the effects of our pool visit – three kids hanging on me, jumping on me and requesting to be thrown into the air has taken its toll on my back and provided me with a really strenuous water resistance workout – I may never hit the fitness center here and I am okay with that.  Our pool jaunt reaffirmed my

Plumb Tuckered Out

Plumb Tuckered Out

belief that loud areas are not conducive to small children following instructions.  I think that the cacophony of the filters, the hot tub and the echo in the pool enclosure is way too over stimulating and of course this results in a failure to comply with requests which in turn escalates the requests in my world.  My younger son decided to throw a pool towel into the pool, the older one threw it back, this went on for five minutes during which time I used positive phrasing “pool towels are for drying ourselves, you may put the towel away” etc.  None of these worked, I yelled – and I kicked them out of the pool – again it started with a calm request “you may sit on a chair” and then after my requests went unanswered I yelled for them to get out of the pool. If you are keeping track I have a pitiful winning streak by this point in the day but ever a glutton for punishment (or feeling my own inadequacies as a parent) I proffered up a trip to Washington Square Mall to visit the puppies and the Lego store.  

The pet place, Hannah, always gives me a weird vibe having participated for many years in pet rescue and having worked as a vet tech.  They claim to be a pet society of some sort and set you up on a monthly payment plan, of more than $100,

Soft Play Area

Soft Play Area

for the lifetime of your pet which includes vet and food; however as our visits have been frequent, I get the distinct feeling it is nothing more than a dressed up pet shop and far less than a pet rescue.  They always have puppies and really hard sell – which is not what rescues normally do.  Not to mention today Michael F asked “are you looking to adopt a pet” while holding a tiny bundle my daughter wanted to pet – and before my no stopped resounding he had haughtily walked off to a corner of the “store” for no other reason than to make a point that pets were for petting by people who were interested in this scam. We left without a new pet, thankfully, because we are not ready for one which is sadly a thought I had for many of the people who were easily gaining quick access to “adoption”.

Angry,Contemplative? Who knows.

Angry,Contemplative? Who knows.

Never chagrined by others, my daughter gayly ran off to the soft play area for a bit. I didn’t fare much better at the next stop. The Lego store didn’t involve any yelling but it did involve a return before we left the store and a discussion with my older one who dropped a pouty face several times.  I’d like to say that I don’t understand him some days, but its more like every other hour I call into question my understanding of the world and human behavior, as well as facial cues. Being the parent of a teenager is pretty stressful at times which is why I am sure Montessori suggested Erdkinder and the idea that teens should live on the land away from family learning life skills.

Veggie Grill and Lego Building

Veggie Grill and Lego Building

The mall is just down the road from Veggie Grill, a place I know all of the kids will eat something and I can order off of their garlic-free menu with ease. Last time we were in I was sure to grab their app which allows you to snap photos of your receipt and earn points.  So far we received a free appetizer for signing up and have 300 points good for a soup or dessert – I’m accruing them for a free entree.  As usual the kids ate “wings” and mac n cheese.  I dined on the All Hail Kale, mashed cauli-potatoes and gave the new street corn a try – it was great.  Everyone finished their meals and we decided to walk over to New Seasons to pick up detergent for hotel laundry night. If you have every been to Meijer you know how easy it is to get sucked into general merchandise purchasing, or even little bits of things you don’t really want or need – well New Seasons takes this to a whole new level because everything looks adorable, handcrafted and high-end decorative.  That we have not left with tiny gurgling fish pitcher shot glasses on our last four trips is completely a feat of ultimate will power – everyone in our family wants one.  We walked back to the car singing once again a song about how everyone was walking – this is a favorite of my youngest, she adores any song about what she is doing. 

In retrospect my day was a huge win.  There were dozens, maybe hundreds of other interactions with my children when I was able to keep my cool during bouts of crying, screaming, stomping or all three.   

 

 

Figuring Out How to Stress Less – Finding a Way on Our Second Day

Our second full day in Portland started at 6am with a private ice skating lesson for my oldest, of course without another adult this became an early morning for all three kids, an idea I realized I did not relish late last night.  The first alarm went off and I jumped out of bed and began getting everyone ready, cleaning up the piles of Legos on the floor to facilitate cleaning by housekeeping and again returning to wake everyone up.

Sound Asleep

Too Early

Not the most easy beginning to a day but definitely not stressful.  In an attempt to keep my day relaxed I preplanned some work arounds for our family’s common pitfalls including brining the anti-epilepsy medication with, including a cookie to take the medicine with, bringing drinks and strollers for both younger ones.

We arrived at the rink and the younger ones were still tired, they didn’t even stay up to play in the soft-play area.  When the lesson was over I carted everyone to Bob’s Red Mill Restaurant – probably one of the best kept vegan secrets in Oregon.  We had a breakfast feast for $21 which included 3 giant flapjacks, 2 large pieces of English Muffin Toast, Tofu Scramble, Country Potatoes, Silk Chocolate milk and Nantucket Nectar Lemonade – more than enough for leftovers and everyone was happy. My little gal loves checking out the watermill outside and my older son, who is on a mission to complete an axel, is obsessed with jumping up to touch signs – so both were elated by our breakfast spot today.

Getting some serious air

Getting some serious air

Lots to Learn

Lots to Learn

Vegan Flapjacks

Vegan Flapjacks

After breakfast we dropped our ice prince off at the rink while the three of us checked out a brownstone in NoPo.  It was nice enough, the problem is the somewhat scam-like way that rental agencies operate here.  If you find a listing, you have to file an application paying $45 per adult.  Even if you are approved, they will not let you rent because they want to show the place to as many people as possible – for several weeks, each person paying the application fee.  It doesn’t seem like much but I have been at open houses that have a line of 15 people, to be told there are two applications ahead of mine (so what was the point then?!) Today was the same, I couldn’t leave a deposit or secure a home because they had other showings for the weekend and next week and wanted to get all applications in before making a decision.  Think about it, a 3 Bedroom could have up to 7 people living there – at $45 per application of adult that is $315 per set of applicants (all adults must pay) and with about 5 showings a day for even 2 weeks that is over $15,000 to show one townhome – it really is a racket out here and only one group can actually get the place.  I probably sound mad, but this is reality and it is really inconvenient and it seems unethical. Add to this that the rent is $2500 for 1500 square feet and no A/C, and you get why I have been a bit stressed, this place was the best deal and largest for the money.  Our first day here we stopped at a new complex that had bedrooms so small you could not fit a toddler bed in them at $2495 for 950 square feet. 

After our disappointing home showing we headed back to the mall for some time at the soft-play area – it was a hit but I was tired and I finally convinced everyone to head back to the hotel after a quick stop to pick our skater up some veggie sushi at Mio Sushi.  After much distraction I was able to take a short nap.  When I awoke I made the kids quesadillas before we headed back to the mall and the ice rink.  We hung around until 9pm, everyone had Auntie Annie’s pretzels and lemonade and finally we packed up for the night.

Finding Friends

Finding Friends

I am even keeping my cool as I look at a completely sheet free bed, calmly explaining to my eldest why you want the sheets on for sanitary reasons and asking him to use a calm voice when talking to his overly hyper brother who is jumping during the bed making.

The whole day has been about stressing less – actively.  Things are not necessarily less stressful, I am just choosing not to react to them in a negative way and instead focusing on the positive.

 

My Apocalyptic Life and Finding Gratitude

Hectic is an understatement. I recently graduated in May from an AMI accredited training program as a Primary Montessori Guide. Two weeks later my family packed up our small (895 sq ft) apartment and headed to Baltimore, Maryland so I could finish an intensive Masters of Education program at Loyola. We stayed in the Charles Village neighborhood a block from Hopkins and two blocks off of York Road which puts the phrase “night and day” in new perspective. On one side of the Victorian painted lady we were occupying (without air conditioning in 100 degree weather) were preppy young co-eds and on the other side, a lower socioeconomic neighborhood that had lines of police cars with rollers on stationed at each corner come 5 pm and helicopters circling above all night. It was a little surreal.

Flash forward three weeks and the kids and I were on a plane to Nashville, TN for a job in a small town school while my husband headed back to Oregon to facilitate the expansive and expensive move of our belongings via UHaul’s U Boxes. UHaul missed the mark at several stages during our move but here we are using them again because they are convenient, cost effective and offer onsite storage. My job did not pan out the way I had been expecting which was sad because I had gotten used to the smell of sweet grass as I cycled to work, a 2400 sq ft updated town-home, the donkey in the field behind our home, and had even resigned myself to living in a town without a library, where the biggest attractions were the fountain in our fabricated village neighborhood and the Sonic drive-thru. I had also secured a second part-time job teaching fitness and yoga classes at a local gym. I liked that when I was late coming home my husband had two places to look for me and could find me and my bike in under 10 minutes. What I could have done without fills a small part of my personal journal journeying my road to becoming a Montessori Primary Guide and I am sure I will never forget all of the reasons I left this job and town – but I am trying my hardest to bring my past life as a yogi into play and leave it all behind me.

Zip forward to the day after we unpacked our last box and then decided we were not going to stay in TN. Instead, we were headed back to Portland – the place I kept referring to as home. To solidify this idea we took a 6 hour car trip back to Illinois to visit our previous home and take care of some errands in person. Then back to TN after three days and onto a plane for Portland, OR -just me and the three kids. Not a big deal for most people, but I really abhor flying, think panic attack, white knuckled gripping of armrests fear – with three kids in tow.  I have a great game face.

So here we are; you, me and my kids on the end of my first full day back in Portland. I have not yet found a place to live, I have been to the ice rink more times than I care to recall in this day and a half but that knocks out steps to my older son’s dream of skating in the Olympics. I have watched and listened to my children deal with the stress of moving, uncertainty and a missing father with very open eyes and wounded heart. My own relations with them are strained more than I like because of all of the stress. I have been reading The Biology of Beating Stress: How Changing Your Environment, Your Body, and Your Brain Can Help You Find Balance and Peace and of course reading that stress could literally kill me, cause cancer, and obesity does nothing to help my mounting stress – I jest, a little. We tried a no yelling or screaming day, it lasted exactly one and a half minutes before one from the backseat yelled at one in the front seat as I tried to calmly diffuse the situation through gritted teeth. I realize more and more how having a second adult helps, my son commented “When daddy isn’t here I am a better son because I have to be, when he’s around I’m worse”. That prompted a discussion about independence and responsibility, I corrected him that all of them are the best thems they can be, but when daddy isn’t around they have opportunities to take on more responsibility. For example, I had to have the kids come with me to a job interview today because there was no-one to watch them my eldest did so by taking his younger siblings around the neighborhood and giving them snacks.

I want to cultivate gratitude so that I don’t get into this kind of situation again,  looking for something better and not appreciating what I have, but even more than that because I really do know the value of all that I have, sometimes I don’t have gratitude for myself or grant myself the time to just be.  I rushed to find the perfect job and what that boils down to is a lack of gratitude for who I am and the special talents I bring to any situation.  I hope to recognize all that I actually do accomplish and instead of playing it down or worrying what someone else thinks – I want to validate myself and be grateful for who I am.  Along this line I decided to document this next year, I hope daily,  to prove to myself that I am doing the best I can do and making the most out of my time with my kids.

Some of the things we did and places we went today:

  • Mio Sushi – extensive menu for vegans with gluten free tamari and kids’ bentos.  I love the use non-dyed ginger, the wasabi is delicious and the kids like eating here.
  • Portland Children’s Museum- a great place rain or shine with newly opened outdoor exploration area.  You now have to pay for parking but it isn’t too bad.  Great little cafe with vegan options inside.
  • Llyod Center Ice Rink – a great place for kids or a date and reasonable rates to skate.  Located inside the mall so you don’t have to watch a lesson, you can shop!
  • New Seasons Market – one of our favorite places to shop, somehow it feels friendlier than Whole Foods, the stickers flow for kids and the Williams St. location has my children’s favorite cashier so we had to go and say hi today.
  • Back to Eden Bakery – gluten free vegan bakery serving soft-serve ice cream and some really great baked goods, the scones are scrumptious and the rotating selection always impresses with innovation.
IMG_6528

Olympic Dreams

Taking a Twist on Hairbands the Damage Free Twistband

 I received several samples for review.  I was not compensated in any way, all opinions are my own and freely expressed.

image Normally I prefer reviews be just that, my opinion, but honestly there is not too much to say about a hair band, is there?  I will be upfront – hair ties that are tight and rubber band like do give me headaches, they pull on the roots of my hair, I experience breakage, etc.  When I opened the delightful little carton for review I was not that impressed.  When I stepped into a local boutique and saw similar items priced at $14 for 3 I was even less impressed thinking “WOW! How can I put a review together that does not discuss that these are 300 times the cost of hair ties you can pick up at any convenience store, or even *Gasp* the one buck shops?” But then I gave them a try.  I may not personally spend $3 on one hair tie but I can honestly say the Twistband is not your average hair tie.  I would bet that the headbands are also quite nice – not the squeeze your brain out of your ear feel I normally get.  I could even see them being perfect for babies if you go in for adorning your little miss with bows – a flower or bow could easily be sewn on.  The company also offers shoelaces, gifts, customization and limited edition pieces.  These could easily become the new collectible for fashionistas.

Right now they are offering free shipping, loyalty points and even a monthly subscription service. These would make a great gift at baby showers, bridal showers, for the yoga lover in your life, as goody bag stuffers, giveaways and incentives! Check out a little more on how this woman owned company got its start:image

Meet the Founder: Jessica Frandson

Like all great inventions, Twistband was born out of necessity. After having a baby, Jessica Frandson grew tired of having her hair tugged by the little one and quickly learned the least painful hairstyle for a new mom was a ponytail. She made sure to always have her hair up and kept a second band on her wrist as a backup. Traditional hair bands hurt her head and her wrist, so she twisted a soft piece of elastic trim to hold back her hair, thus creating the first Twistband. A few weeks later she was looking to write down a phone number and in the absence of a notepad, she wrote the number onher Twistband, and the custom message Twistband was born. In 2009 she officially launched the Twistband brand and began selling the product at retail stores nationwide. Jessica serves as the president of Twistband, overseeing all aspects of the emerging brand.


All about Twistband

We all remember the days of the hair scrunchy. Easy to wear, enough styles to match any outfit, and they slid comfortably on your wrist between wearings. But as style evolved, our once-beloved scrunchy became a fashion “don’t,” creating the need for a new breed of hair accessories. Elastic bands tug on hair, cause headaches and can leave dents in your hair when you take it down. But with the introduction of the Twistband that is all about to change.
Twistbands are ponybands and headbands made of elastic trim. They stretch to support any hairstyle, yet are slim and sleek enough to wear on your wrist when you want to let your hair down. Twistbands are available in a variety of colors, patterns and fabrics to complement any style. And with prices ranging from $5-12 for a set of three you can have one in every color!
Twistbands are offered in a wide range of styles and collections to suit anyone or any need, including couture and fashion, athletics, toddlers through tweens, and licensed and branded logos and messaging. In addition to the fashion Twistbands sold at retail, the line is also available for corporate and promotional branding. The ponybands and headbands can be printed with logos or messages, making them a perfectly unique and stylish way to spread your word.
Twistbands provide a slew of uses beyond a hair accessory. Wear it as a bracelet; wear a branded Twistband to make a statement; commemorate a bachelorette or birthday party with custom-printed bands … the uses are endless!

Twistband:

http://www.thetwistband.com

Price Range: $3-$12

Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy

I absolutely love this book for its illustrations, give me an anatomy book hands down any day and I am glued to the pages.  This book is broken down into specific muscle categories with clearly verbalized to the point execution notes, a meter for level of difficulty, variations and specific muscles targeted (yes the category may be chest, but there is more than one muscle in there!).

image SO how will this book play out to the fitness neophyte?  Probably not too handy.  There are several brief tables in the back that breakdown some sample push-pull, split or whole body workouts, and if you aren’t sure what some of those mean…that is kind of my point. This is another great book for the fitness professional, someone working with a fitness professional, or anyone looking for more information on anatomy and how muscles work.

While Contreras believes all strength trainees should master their own bodyweight as a form of resistance training before moving on to free weights and other training systems, he is adamant that a person can maintain muscularity and fitness solely by performing bodyweight exercises. “As you progress to more difficult variations and increase the number of repetitions you perform with the various exercises, you will continuously challenge your neuromuscular system,” he explains. “Your body will respond by synthesizing more protein and laying down more muscle tissue. In essence, your body adapts by building a bigger engine.”

Featuring drawings, instructions, and descriptions of 156 innovative and unique exercises, along with a rating system to help you determine the level of difficulty of each exercise, Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy goes far beyond standard pull-ups, push-ups, and squats to work every muscle in the body. Contreras, who maintains a popular blog at BretContreras.com, also has instructions on creating a customized, equipment-free workout program for building a stronger, more toned physique.

I received a copy of this book for review, I was not compensated in any way and the opinions expressed are freely given and my own.

Better Body Workouts For Women

image Dean Hodgkin and Caroline Pearce team up to bring Better Body Workouts for Women to the market.  This book is chock full of material and that is quite honestly its downfall.  As a fitness professional even I found it hard to read, it was laid out almost like a text book though the charts and text did give way to photos and descriptions of exercises, but you would have to jump around a lot to build a workout plan.  From my experience the average fitness consumer would prefer something boxed and packaged, ready for use.  There is great information in here, but more than the average individual needs to be successful, however; if you are within the fitness profession, grabbing a copy of this book could not hurt.  It is written as well, if not better than a lot of those produced by certifying agencies.

In line with the review of this book I have been provided a great little article from another source, hopefully it steers readers down the right course:

Five Exercises to Avoid

From professional athletes to green gym goers, thousands of people find themselves injured each year when exercising.  To maximize your workout both safely and effectively, Dan Geraci M.S., Head Strength Coach at Hard Pressed, debunks the myths surrounding injury-prone practices.

“Incorrect form when lifting weights is one of the top contributors to sports-related injuries,” says Geraci.  “To prevent pulled muscles and other ailments, it is important to take age and fitness level into account as well as any neck, back or spinal issues you may have.”

Below are five exercises to avoid as well as alternative methods for a safer workout:

  1. Box Jumps:  A compound movement that works the musculature of the hip and knee joints, this method also places excessive pressure on the Achilles Tendon which can lead to a rupture or tear.  Missing the box with an uncoordinated misstep can result in a twisted ankle or scraped shins while the repeated jumps on a hard surface can cause knee pain.
    •  Alternative:  The leg press works these same muscle groups but can create stronger muscles without the negative impact of box jumps.  “The leg press targets the muscles around these joints as well,” says Geraci.  “This produces more explosive and higher jumps, often the reason many turn to box jumps in the first place.”

  1. Dumbbell Chest Fly:  Without a spotter or when using heavier weights, dumbbells can be difficult to control properly which can potentially lead to catastrophic muscle tears.  Furthermore, most individuals use a shortened range of motion (ROM) for chest flys, which misses the mark for the most effective portion of the exercise.
    •  Alternative:  Machine Chest Fly and cables can be much more effective and safe as these alternatives place you in the proper positioning to utilize a full ROM without leaving your muscles and joints vulnerable to free weight errors.

  1. Walking Lunges:  Improper form is the main problem with walking lunges as the majority of people perform them incorrectly.  “Bad form leads to increased stress on the knee and places it in a vulnerable position,” says Geraci.  “Putting excessive force on structural components of the knee such as the Patella Tendon and the Meniscus can lead to injury.”
    • Alternative:  Doing stationary lunges (and having a spotter) will keep the knee in the proper position and allow you to maintain proper form while reaping all the benefits of lunges.

  1. Upright Rows:  This exercise puts the rotator cuff muscles in an extremely pinched space (referred to as the sub-acromial space).  In many individuals the Acromion Muscle is hooked or slightly hooked which leads to increased impingement.
    • Alternative:  To work your traps in a similar method, use the Shrug and Pull technique.  This allows you to target the same muscles while moving the joint in a much more natural way, thus decreasing the chance of injury.

  1. BOSU/ Stability Balls:  The extremely instable platform these balls provide can lead to a myriad of injuries.  They put you in a vulnerable state while performing movements that often times lead to injury when in completely stable environments.  Contrary to popular belief, doing exercises on these balls has no functional purpose outside of training the body to better perform these exercises while on a stability ball.
    •  Alternative:  Perform the exercises in a stable environment rather than on the ball.  You will better target the primary muscles (i.e. chest for chest press) while not leaving your joints, muscles and tendons susceptible to injury.  Then, exercise your core muscles and abdominals separately.  “Working your chest with a chest press movement on a stability ball is a poor attempt at a two-for-one type of deal,” says Geraci.  “While killing two birds with one stone sounds good in theory, if it leads to injury you are worse off than when you started.”