Fitness Friday: MatBox for a Knockout Body

Tired of the same ol’ cardio, weights, rinse, repeat?  Your body is too! Since variety is the spice of life and the booster of metabolisms, we always try to mix up our routine.  And mix it up we did in the newly created matBox workout at Pilates ProWorks Lincoln Park this past Monday.

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Pilates ProWorks was co-founded in 2010 by a fit husband and wife duo, Oscar Sanin and Taylor Carter.  Oscar sustained injuries during an accident that required rehabilitation and found quick gains in strength with Pilates.  He also noticed, however, that Pilates machines, workouts and even cost of classes could be improved.  Thus, he and his wife reformed the typical methods of Pilates with Pilates ProWorks (hahaha fitness joke).

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MatBox is only offered in Chicago and San Francisco currently and will expand nationwide to all Pilates ProWorks by the end of July.  So get this, whether you love Pilates, boxing, HIIT, yoga or even running, you will find something to love during your matBox class.  Its like a workout for the spontaneous (or easily bored).  The first 30 minutes of class centers around interval training with kick boxing rounds and high intensity cardio (think burpees, football runs, in place sprints).  Next, you head to the mat for classic Pilates moves like the one hundred (abs up for grabs!).  Finally, you stretch out with a relaxing yoga sequence (well semi relaxing as a chaturanga is thrown in here and there).

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Here are our core tips to be a powerhouse in matBox class:

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  1. Prep-Bring a water bottle and a towel with you and wear grippy socks.  You will drip off calories, no lie.
  2.  For the boxing portion of matBox, you need hand wraps and boxing gloves. Hand wraps must be purchased but come in cute bright colors.  Monica chose red and Kate snagged the blue (for ‘Merica, ya know).  Give yourself 15 minutes before class to get ready.  Our teacher, Rita, helped us wrap our hands as we were newbies but there is an online video if you’re a DIY kinda gal.
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  4. If you’ve never boxed, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Classes are relatively small so individual support is available.  Rita walked around throughout class and adjusted students’ form, encouraged us to push harder and pointed out when we were rocking our body.
  5. You’ll be sore! That’s a good thing right? By the end of the boxing sequence, our punches and kicks became less Wonder Woman and more wimpy. MatBox works to drive your endurance up so don’t be discouraged if you need to take a breather several times during class.

Pilates ProWorks also offers FitFormer machine based Pilates classes, Barre Pro, Barre and Pilates Fusion classes (called 30/30) and TRX classes so there’s no shortage of toning options.

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Ready to knockout the competition?  

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Try a 1 week new client special for only $35 if you wanna try out every class at Pilates ProWorks OR…..break out your guns and pose!

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Pilates ProWorks is kicking off matBox with the #matBoxMug competition, inviting fitness enthusiasts and amateurs alike to post their best boxing-related vogue poses on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for a chance to win a complimentary one-month membership.  Follow and tag Pilates ProWorks @pilatesproworks with your photo and #matBoxMug for entry.

An Honest Tea Honestly Brewed GIVEAWAY!

Caught ya with the word giveaway eh?  Yes, honestly we love giving stuff away especially when it’s a product we like too. This spring, Honest Tea launched two herbal non-caffeinated spiced teas to spice up your seasons.  Honest Tea was started by two entrepreneurs, Seth Goldman (co-founder and current TeaEO) and Barry Nalebuff (co-founder), who were looking for a less sweet, more flavorful alternative to soda. Fun Fact: It’s also rumored to be President Obama’s choice for thirst quenching but don’t let your political beliefs sway your taste buds!

We were given samples of the new Unsweetened Ginger Oasis and Cinnamon Sunrise Herbal Teas to check for quality control before offering you all a whole case of these goodies! It’s too good to TEA true (hehehe, if we don’t laugh at our own jokes who will). These teas are organic, Fair Trade certified (nothing like a company who prides itself on helping others!) and bikini body certified (our own moniker for no calories, beachhhhh).

So what’s the flavor, tell us what’s the flavor?  We are channeling early 90’s music for this one.

Tea-totalers and non teetotalers alike will like these teas.
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Can’t you imagine heating up some peaches with a little bit of this tea for a tasty cinnamony dessert?

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  • Ginger Oasis Herbal Tea: Organic Indian ginger, green rooibos, and Egyptian lemongrass are twisted together for a swish of citrus and spice.

Ginger is one of our best tummy tamers after an overindulgence.  Overindulgence seems to be synonymous with summer so don’t take our advice to try this tea too gingerly!  Also, doesn’t ginger go really well as a mixer for a summer adult beverage?  We keep it clean for the kids but you get it…wink*.

Both teas are offered in 16 ounce glass recyclable bottles (so you can reuse um at your next outing!).  Now on to the winnings!  Enter our Rafflecopter giveaway below and tell us what type of tea you love in the summer in our comments section.  The winner will receive one case of either Cinnamon Sunrise or Ginger Oasis Herbal Honest Tea!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Throw Shade at Food Allergies with Sun Cups

Ah the pleasures of being Aunties!  You get to see your nephews, hug them, play games with them and give them back.  Both of us have outgoing nephews under 3 who love to snack.  Sadly, both of them have food allergies.  Nut, dairy, shellfish, gluten and more can all lead to unhappiness for many people.  This is precisely how the fabulously chocolatey dessert, Sun Cups, came about.  In 2008, Seth Ellis Chocolates opened their door to find a determined dude with chocolate and sunflower seed butter in hand who wanted a comparable Peanut Butter Cup substitute for his nut allergic son.  Challenge accepted and thus Sun Cups were birthed from a chocolate womb…or maybe created in the store.

Sun Cups are not only nut free (and pack with sunflower butter goodness) but also gluten, egg, shellfish, soy and fish free.  If that wasn’t enough wholesomeness to sunny your disposition, Sun Cups are non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Kosher, and they help the environment by using Rainforest Alliance Certified farms for their chocolate.

We were given illuminating Sun Cups to sample and brought them to a park picnic to share with our peeps.

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Milk Chocolate Sun Cups

Dark Chocolate Sun Cups

The dark chocolate cups had a nice balance of sunflower butter filling and a firm semi sweet dark chocolate shell.  There are 2 in a pack and we refused to share.  Dark chocolate is a great choice for getting your healthy flavonoids while treating yo’self.

Caramel Sun Cups

Our male comrades are caramel hounds and gobbled these up before we could even breathe on them.  One tester commented: “The caramel tastes like buttery melty toffee”.  We are happy it made his soul shine but jealous too.

Mint Sun Cups

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Mint and sunflower seed? Uhh let’s see how this works.

Sun Cups also sell milk and dark chocolate bars for the simplistic types.  C’mon who doesn’t like a good cup!? You can find Sun Cups online or at health food locations nationwide.

Feel the Burn with OrangeTheory Fitness

Finding time to work out can be challenging enough without worrying about whether or not what you’re doing is effective!  Recently, we were invited to try out OrangeTheory Fitness.  Breathe a sign of relief, there are no solving of the math problems involved but there is SCIENCE, a science-y type theory forms the foundation for OrangeTheory.  Co-founder, Dave Long, and the OrangeTheory team started OrangeTheory in Fort Lauderdale, Florida centered around the concept of the very epic EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).  Read all the beaker and measuring kind of details here.  In laywoman’s terms, when you work out, you monitor your heart rate and try to get as much time as possible in the orange zone.  This zone gives you a stronger afterburn, aka you burn more calories sitting around on your tushy after.

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We traveled to newly opened Wicker Park location to get our afterburn on.  Troy, our instructor, was kind enough to give us an overview of the class before we started.  We wrangled our heart monitors around our rib change (to check our orange essence) to prep for the workout.  The class was large so we split into 2 groups. Our group started with weight bearing sets while the other group cardio-ed it up with intervals on the treadmills.  After half an hour, the groups switched.

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What we dug:

Technology!  Screens showed examples of the order of each of our weight sets and demonstrated how to do the exercise.

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Another monitor showed group members’ names and what zone they were in at all times.  Our heart monitors, linked to the screen, showed green, red or orange depending on zone.  It definitely made you strive for that orange and kept you engaged.

Class goers also get a full report of their workout sent to their email so they can track their progress.

No boredom!

The equipment options and intervals keep you on your toes!  Each class promises variety.  You may row on a water rower one interval, move on to TRX the next, and then on to free weights and have a totally different set of exercises next class.

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Best news!

First timers to OrangeTheory can try out 2 sessions for FREE!  Get ready to burn baby burn for hours after you check it out.

Whether you are looking to lose weight or just improve your speed, strength or stamina, OrangeTheory will make you say “Orange you glad you came to workout!”

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Super Sonic Health Tonic: Tonica Kombucha

If you haven’t been reading our blog since the good ol’ days, you may not know we are Krazy for Kombucha.  Kombucha, a fermented tea, provides a boost of B vitamins, probiotics to help your tummy, and is rumored to have detoxing and immunity boosting powers.  We tend to go for kombucha when when we have have the digestive downers and are known as kombucha pushers on our friends with colds.

Now that has been cleared up, we have to tell you about a new Kombucha we are loving, Tonica Kombucha.  Tonica comes from our neighbor to the north, Oh Canada.  You may know Canada as the land of yummy things like poutine, ketchup fries, and Makintosh toffee.  Now you can also equate it to something healthy!

Tonica Kombucha was started by Zoey Shamai who, in our opinion, is sort of an Emma Stone doppelganger as well as (more notably) a traveling yoga teacher and home kombucha brewer.  Once she started sharing her home brew, her Canadian crew went crazy too so she expanded into a business.  Her Toronto based Kombrewery pumps out 8 different fuzzy flavors of Kombucha: Ginger Rapture, Green Tea Revival, Nude Brew, Peach Resolution, Mango Passion, Coffee, Vibrant Blueberry and Jasmine Tea.

We were given samples of Jasmine Tea, Coffee and Peach Resolution to try and review.

Coffee:

We were a quite curious to see how this kombucha would taste.  The coffee kombucha had a bubbly texture and light coffee flavor.  It also provided a decent boost of energy that could replace a moderated coffee drinker’s caffeine needs. It had a balance of sweet without being overpowering.

Tonica coffee

Jasmine Tea: 

Most of us know that tea is a go to health drink as it has super anti-oxidants and Jasmine tea happens to be a star in the tea world.  The Tonica Jasmine tea has a fresh floral flavor along with the fizz and a sweet fragrant balance.  Jasmine tea also has caffeine (surprise) so you can sub it in for a detoxifying morning jolt!

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Peach Resolution:

If you have a resolution to lose weight or kick a sugary drink habit, try this inspired flavor. Peach resolution has only 30 calories, 4g of sugar and a mix of fermented organic green and black tea, rooibos, which are great for metabolism boosting and halting hunger. It surprises your palate with blackberry leaves, ginger pieces, calendula petals and organic peach extract as well.

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Tonica is only 45 calories for 1 bottle with natural carbonation.  It’s 100% raw and certified organic.  It’s also full of healthy bouncing baby bacteria, the kinds you need to keep a balanced body PH.  Tonica can be purchased in ‘Merica at Whole Foods.

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FINAL FIZZ THOUGHTS:

One kind tip for 1st time kombucha drinkers: Tonica, like most kombuchas, is a fizzy party.  Unless you want to shower in kombucha, DO NOT shake the bottle and for extra precaution, open over a sink so all your delicious kombucha doesn’t escape.  Ready to taste Tonica?  6 flavors are available at our Chicago area Whole Foods or you can check to Tonica locator here!

The Paleo Vegetarian Diet: A Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

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We bet you’re wondering by the title how Paleo and Vegetarian can even be in the same sentence together.  You’re probably also looking at a pack of bacon and wondering: “Is this vegetarian”?  No my friends, bacon isn’t veggie friendly … Continue reading

Be a Natural Beauty with Whole Foods Lincoln Park!

Now is the time to bare shoulders, freckled cheeks (face cheeks silly people) and calves as summer in Chicago has officially begun!  With all that exposed skin, you gotta look your best but wouldn’t it be fab if you could baby your skin with natural products?  Big box stores often have a smattering of natural skin and hair care but Whole Foods Lincoln Park has trumped them by expanding an entire section of the store for your holistic beauty regime.  Men, don’t feel left out!  They have a section for you and your bearded self too.

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Last Thursday, we were giddy to experience a sneak peek of the extension of the department.  First, we indulged in some rooftop yoga with Moksha Yoga, Mamma Chia vitality drinks and Whole Foods staff.

Afterwards, we put on our pink hard hats and toured the new beauty section and sampled holistic products.  Here are some highlights!

Fit and Active:

Looking to protein it up but not ready to commit?  Whole Foods Lincoln Park will offer a new Active Lifestyle section with both plant and whey based proteins that avoid the dreaded artificial sugars, colors or hydrogenated oils.  A superfood bulk (think maca, mangosteen or moringa) and protein powder selection will be available as well so you can taste and try a small amount before shelling out protein bucks.  We tried vegan protein samples from Vega and even got to spin our recovery drink flavors out with a green energy blending bike.

 

Stopping by after a workout?  You can belly up to the new juice and smoothie bar to get a post workout boost or ditch the sports drinks and try Nuun, a fizzy electrolyte filled tablet to enhance your water.

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Let Your Inner and Outer Beauty Shine:

Whole Foods Beauty section doesn’t only include vitamins and supplements.  Check out natural mineral based makeups, paraben-free hair cares and lotions and formaldehyde free nail polishes (among 6 other chemical free ingredients) in the new widened glowing aisles.  Feel like getting some tips on where to start?  A beauty concierge will now be waiting to address your coconut oil curiousness or coral lip color consulting needs.  We smoothed some BB cream from Pacifica while meandering around the store.  Pacifica products are 100% vegan and many use coconut water or milk (can you say “hello, I smell like a heavenly tropical island”?)  We also love that the products aren’t expensive in comparison to department store brands so you can do good things for your body and your wallet if you have a tight budget.

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A Manly Regime:

Men, you have no excuse to not be metro…or just kempt and not dirty…with Whole Foods Lincoln Park’s exclusive men’s section.  No more digging through the aisles to find the sad men’s corner at the end.  This area of the store has face, hair and body care products free of gross chemicals and just for you.

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Ready for Action!

Whole Foods kicks off their beauty celebration with a bag o’ beauty goodies, “Ready for Action” Bags, valued at $50 bucks for only (Wait for It!!) $12!  Packed in a hand printed zipped active clutch (as we like to call it) printed by RIJI Green, a company that works to end human trafficking, you will find your summer survival kit!

  • Toms of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant, Natural Powder Scent (2.25 oz)
  • Aubrey Pure Aloe Vera (4 fl oz)
  • Boiron Arnicare Gel (.5 oz)
  • Amazing Grass Amazing Meal, Vanilla Chai (.88 oz)
  • Goddess Garden Organics Natural Sunscreen SPF 30, Everyday or Kids (1 oz)
  • Garden of Life Perfect Food Raw Organic Green Super Food, Real Raw Chocolate Cacao (.34 oz)
  • Nuun Active Natural Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tabs, Lemon + Lime (10 tabs)
  • Spectrum Essentials Seed Blends – Orchard Fruit, Savory, Tropical Fruit, or Warrior Vitality (.5-.7oz)

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Ready to become a natural beauty?  Visit Whole Foods Lincoln Park on Saturday June 27th to step into action.

Whole Foods Lincoln Park,1550 N. Kingsbury, Chicago, IL 60642

You can be extra cool like us and shop and do rooftop yoga this Sunday with this special charity event!

YOGA + CHEESE + WINE

SUNDAY, JUNE 28TH
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
ROOFTOP, $30
Experience the lighter side of yoga with YogaQuench!  After a 1-hour relaxing yoga session, sample wines and cheeses while learning about these pairings from our Certified Cheese Professional.

BYOM: Bring your own mat.  Proceeds benefit local nonprofit, Yoga for Recovery.  Register here.

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New! Top Picnic Picks for your Basket

Think fast!  It’s time to go to an outdoor concert with your friends or a park with your kids or a romantic al fresco dinner with your boo.  What do you pack for your picnic?  You need something light, portable, tasty and healthy… and a crowd pleaser cuz you don’t wanna be that person who brought the last minute convenience store cheese curls.

We recently were given some samples of new products guaranteed to liven up your summer adventures and omgee, we had to pack them for our own picnic!

For the sweet tooth:

Get your potassium on while satisfying the sweet cravings with Barnana.  We didn’t really know what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised and happy campers (even Monica liked it since she does not like any banana flavor products).  Simply, they are dehydrated bananas with a twist of treat.  Barnana offers 4 types of munchable banana bites which are Original, Chocolate, Coconut and Peanut Butter.  These are organic, gluten free, non GMO and non-dairy heart healthy snacks.  Barnana consist of minimal ingredients a.k.a you won’t find a mile long list on the side of the bag.

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For the purist, original Barnana is like popping mini banana chunks in your mouth.  The chocolate Barnanas felt decadent, with a coco shell surrounded the soft banana inside.  Tip: mix the chocolate with the peanut butter Barnanas and you will feel like you’re eating an extra healthy peanut butter cup (YES!).  The coconut Barnana seemed more like a homemade energy bite with a chewy texture and flakes of coconut.  We had guests over, ages ranging from 3 to 50, who quickly depleted our precious coconut Barnana supply.  The bites come in a compact package, perfect for backpack carrying.  You can purchase all flavors of Barnana online or search for a local vendor.

For the savory lover:

Ditch the greasy bag of potato chips and get classy with the back-packable Tuscan inspired Pasta Chips.  Made with semolina flour and sprinkled with Italian herbs, Pasta Chips pair well with the picnic classics like hummus, dips or the party favorite of Wisconsinites, CHEESE!

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On our summer picnic to the new Maggie Daley Park, our guests sampled 3 different flavors: Mediterranean Sea Salt, Spicy Tomato Herb and Spinach Broccoli Kale.  Spinach Broccoli Kale will please the veggie lover and go well with an artichoke dip.  The Spicy Tomato Herb wasn’t so much spicy as much as a pop of zesty tomato flavor.  The light flaky texture would be perfect with mozzarella, tomato, basil bites as an appetizer.  The Mediterranean Sea Salt could easily knock a potato chip out of the park with it’s crispy crunch and touch of salt.  Dab it with french onion dip or an olive tapenade to wow a crowd with your master picnic status.  You can purchase Pasta Chips online or we’ve spotted them at Chicagoland Mariano’s.

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Dear audience, you know there’s nothing like a picnic with your fave friends in a park on a warm summer day.  Load up your basket and get ready to Mangia! with Pasta Chips and the seductive yet not sinful Barnana.  Where’s your top spot to stop for a picnic?  We’ll bring the snacks if you bring the blanket and the boombox (or bluetooth speaker…but that’s not as fun *wink*).

Be Bold with Brooklyn Boulders and Luna Bar

It’s FITNESS FRIDAY and if you’re stuck in a fitness rut, we know just the way to climb out!  Try indoor rock climbing!  Being bold on the boulders not only challenges your body, it can also calm stress and amp up your brain.

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Last Wednesday, Luna Bar continued it’s #LUNAChiReveal with their Salted Caramel Protein Bar, Brooklyn Boulders and a host of talented and strong Chicago women to give us a chance to try indoor rock climbing.  Brooklyn Boulders Chicago is one of facilities in the U.S.  Not only can visitors try traditional bouldering, auto belay or rope climbing, but they can also sample fitness classes like Acro-Yoga, weight training or bring a laptop and get some work done in between climbing in the relaxing upstairs meeting space.

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Luna Bar mixed it up with 3 stations for us rookie climbers:

Bouldering

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing sans a harness or ropes.  Ob-v, Brooklyn Boulders loves safety so there’s a crash mat waiting for you in case you can’t find your way down.  There are various routes, called problems in the rock climbing world, with easy level climbing and ultra hard climbing.  First, BKB staff had us practice falling.  We call it the upside bug technique.  Basically, the goal is to land face up with the impact on your cushiony butt and your extremeties curled in like a insect that’s been flicked over.  Next, we scurried our way up the simpler routes.  Monica is a natural as she made her way to the top and back no problem (or maybe she’s part squirrel).

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Auto Belay Certification

The auto belay, an automatic rope connected to a harness that supports the climber, is a daunting yet thrilling. BKB instructors demo-ed the proper way to connect the auto belay to the harness as well as how to descend (although none of us Luna participates did it quite as gracefully).  Once connected, you freely ascend up the problem of your choice and when you feel you can’t move up any longer, you let go.  The auto belay catches and lowers you safely.  Once certified by staff, visitors of BKB are allowed to move about different courses with auto belays.

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Dream Space

We named this ourselves but Luna put together some inspirational crafting, delish new Salted Caramel Protein Bar samplin’, and blogger minglin’ in the upstairs work space.  Postcards with antique style ink stamps were set up in a cute mailboxes and we were encouraged to write encouraging words to our selves!  There was also a colorful chalkboard set up to channel your motivational side by writing when you feel the most strong.

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We highly recommend rising (ahaaa) to the challenge of indoor climbing.  BKB staff are friendly, professional an truly made us feel safe as first timers.  Step up to Brooklyn Boulders with a Salted Caramel Protein bar to replenish yourself after a grueling but rewarding advance!  Has anyone else been to Brooklyn Boulders?  What do you think!?

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Give Some Good with Outshine Frozen Snacks

We have a unique chance to give a little this month with a new first of it’s kind charity effort, the “Give Some Good” campaign, situated at one of our major transportation hubs, Union Station.  Outshine Frozen Snacks, maker of fresh fruit and yogurt bars, is spearheading a creative movement to reduce food deserts.  National attention was drawn to the concept of a food desert in 2006 when Mari Gallagher’s research illuminated a lack of access to healthy and fresh foods in areas of poverty.  The gap is closing but we still have a way to go.  In Chicago alone, over 383,954 Chicagoans were living in a food desert as of 2011.

So how can you help?

A charity promoting billboard (that is secretly a superhero robot…jk), is currently located in the BNSF tunnels of Chicago’s very own Union Station through June 9, encouraging travelers to get involved with reducing hunger!

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It’s easy to give!

  1. Simply do a secure swipe of your credit card straight down the middle of the billboard and $1 is donated to hunger.  That’s a 4th less than your daily latte habit!
  2. Each swipe starts a film sequence on the billboard screen that shows a bounty of fresh produce falling into the hands of a girl (symbolizing your awesome charity efforts)
  3. Each $1 swipe supports Feeding America in donating 9 POUNDS of fresh produce to hungry families.

Outshine Frozen Snacks is teaming up with Feeding America, one of the nation’s top hunger combatants, to help bring produce to those in need, with the goal of donating two million pounds of fruits and vegetables (we kinda feel like Dr. Evil saying “one million dollarsss” but this is for GOOD!!).  Even if you aren’t in Chicago, you can help during June and July by purchasing specially marked boxes of new Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars in stores.  Made of 100% frozen yogurt blended with real fruit like Strawberry Banana, Mango and Pineapple, they are perfect for your next summer BBQ.

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Each time you buy a promo box of Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars, you help the Outshine brand and Feeding America provide one pound of fruit and vegetables to those in need.  Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars are available at major retailers like Target, Mariano’s, Walmart, Jewel and more.

So what are you waiting for, after all Fro-YOLO (fro-you only live once so feel great by helping others)!  Snack or swipe to help Chicagoans get the fresh food they need with the #GiveBrighter campaign.

*Full Disclosure: We are being compensated by Nestle to promote the GiveBrighter campaign*