Healthy Snacking My Way

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A while back, I blogged about the Graze Boxes that my mom and I order.  Today I’m going to talk about healthy snacking my way. There are so many options when it comes to healthy snacking.  I took a picture of my latest purchases.  As a dancer, I want to eat in the healthiest way possible without sacrificing flavor.  For me, learning to do so has been a journey. I love sweets and candy and often find them hard to resist!  I’m still eating from graze boxes, but I’m also looking for better variety.  There are so many choices and a lot of athletes have their favorites.  My sister’s boyfriend plays a lot of soccer. He recently bought me some pistachio trail mix, sweet potato tortilla chips, baked vegetable crisps and coconut water.  He loves coconut water and he said it gives him a change from regular energy drinks.  The coconut water tasted ok, but I didn’t love it.  The pistachio trail mix was pretty good and I liked the sweet potato chips. They had good flavor.

Gluten Free Chips and Crisps

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So the crisps, chips and trail mix I tried are all gluten free. So what does gluten free mean? Protein gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale. People with Celiac Disease can’t eat gluten. More than two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications from Celiac Disease.  Although I’m not allergic to gluten, these snacks are very healthy. Pistachio Trail Mix is  from 180snacks; Sweet Potato chips are from Food Should Taste Good; and Baked Vegetable Crisps are from Good Natured Selects.

Greek Yogurt

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Greek yogurt is one of the biggest health food sellers in the United States.  According to the website Statista, Greek yogurt sales have increased from 4% of the US market in 2008 to more than 52% of the US Market in 2014. Greek yogurt is different from traditional yogurt because it’s been strained to remove most of the liquid whey, lactose, and sugar. This gives the Greek yogurt its thick consistency. So compared to regular yogurt, Greek has more protein and less sugar.   So I bought two popular brands of Greek yogurt, Chobani and Oikos.  I tried both Greek yogurt brands with fruit already in them (pineapple and peach).  They were pretty good. Then I bought plain yogurt made by each brand.  Whether it be Chobani or Oikos, eating the plain yogurt is definitely an acquired taste.  So I decided to add some honey to help with the taste.  It sweetened it a bit. I’m going to try adding my own fruit to the plain yogurt as well. Since I love mango, I’ll start there!

Fruit

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Sometimes, fresh fruit and dried fruit is an easy snack that I like to grab on the go.  Apples, plums, and of course my favorite mango are easy to clean and eat. Until next time, I’ll talk about popcorn and granola bars.

Sew I Keep Sewing

Today I am sewing the ribbon on my pointe shoes. I didn’t realize how long it would take! My grandmother offered to sew the ribbons but I said I have to learn how to do it myself.   I did some more research about pointe shoes and learned a few more things….. Some dancers go through new pointe shoes almost every time they dance! Of course this happens when dancers are performing or dancing for hours.  Some dance companies spend thousands of dollars buying pointe shoes and the really big companies have staff that custom sew pointe shoes for their dancers. Pointe shoes are very delicate and made of silk and other materials. According to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the tip of a pointe shoe is a rigid box made of densely packed layers of fabric, cardboard and/or paper hardened by glue.  Just think, all my weight on just that? That’s why my teacher had me buy cushions and lambs wool to protect my toes!

As I said before pointe shoes have to fit as tightly as possible, while still being comfortable.  According to Pointeperfect.com, “pointe fitting is serious business” and I believe it! I urge you to go explore the site created by Lindsay. It has a lot of useful information.  I got the graphic below from her site.

Believe it or not, pointe shoe fit can have a true impact on the future of a pointe student. Are you in your best shoe?

As I stated earlier, I spent time sewing on the ribbon.

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It took longer than expected, but I did it! I also used a thimble. It made pushing the needle thru the shoe easier.
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I have to take them to class on Monday so my teacher can help with the final step, cutting the ribbon and lacing them up. But in the meantime, I slipped them on, like when you try on your new clothes before you wear them out …….

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And Sew It Begins

I have been in ballet at my new studio for about a year. Like I said, I am going to stop calling it my new studio because it’s not new any more. But what is new is now I have pointe shoes! I am super excited to begin dancing in pointe shoes. If you look at my Pinterest page you’ll see some really great pointe shoes like this one or this one. There are lots of websites, blogs and you tube videos on the internet about how to sew pointe shoes. Some of the tutorials are very detailed and some are not. My teacher helped me pick the area of my shoes that I am supposed to sew, but it’s up to me to get the ribbon and elastic in place.

I did some research and found that in 1681, women began to dance ballet. The modern pointe shoe is attributed to a Russian Prima Ballerina from the 20th century named Anna Pavlova. Ballerina was once a rank given only to the most exceptional female soloists. In opera, the informal equivalent is diva, which means a distinguished singer. There are two types of ballerinas, prima ballerina assoluta and prima ballerina.  To be recognized as a prima ballerina assoluta is a rare honor and it is reserved for exceptional dancers. The title is so rare that since 1894, there have only been 12 dancers named prima ballerina assoluta!  The second highest title given to dancers is the prima ballerina. There have been about 132 women named as prima ballerinas.  I will talk more about ballerinas in a future blog.  Now, on to the sewing……….

The Materials

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A needle, thread, elastic, ribbon, lambs wool and cushions.

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Cut the ribbon and elastic.

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Sew the elastic into the back of the shoes.

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You have to sew the elastic on both sides of each shoe.

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 Now the shoes are ready for the ribbon…..

Well, it took me longer than I thought it would! My teacher said with practice I will be able to sew both shoes with elastic and ribbon in less than 30 minutes.  Tomorrow, I’ll sew the ribbon and tell you more interesting facts about pointe shoes!

Oh, Happy Day!!!

Hey everybody,

I’m back just as I promised, sooner rather than later.  I need to catch everybody up on what I’ve been doing over the last month or so.  Between going to my cousin’s college graduation from nursing school and my other cousin’s high school graduation, I managed to survive my first year of middle school.  School’s out and sixth grade is officially over!  Oh yeah!  It wasn’t such a bad year after all.  I was challenged by the honors classes and Pre-Algebra.  I managed to get used to using a locker, go to seven classes a day, learn to play the clarinet, and navigate the mean girls and lunchroom drama!  I’m rather proud of myself.  At the end of the year awards assembly, I got two awards – one was for Best Western Hemispheres Geography Student (I had a class average of over 100%) and the other was for Best Peak Student (Peak is the gifted class).  Also, I made straight A’s this last quarter.  Usually, I make all A’s and a B.  And whenever I make an A in Pre-Algebra, I end up making a B in Science or I make an A in Science and a B in Pre-Algebra.  This time, it’s all A’s.  Woo!  Hoo!

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Now for dance, I have some big news!  But first, let’s talk about my first dance recital at my new studio.  I think I’m going to stop calling it my new studio now that I’ve been there for an entire year.  Anyhow, it was a great recital, so much less stressful and frantic.  It was actually calm and kind of relaxed.  It was low key.  My mom didn’t have to buy a bunch of expensive costumes that I wear a couple of times and then hang in my closet for years.  They actually have a costume room that the teachers choose costumes from for their different class dances.  We didn’t have to wear all the heavy stage makeup and false eyelashes either.  I’ve been dancing for seven years now.  The first year or two I was just starting out, so I only had a few dances in the year-end recital.  Then when I joined my previous studio’s Company and started doing competition dances, I ended up in more and more dances at the year-end recital.  Last year I had eleven!  This year, I had two!  Big difference!  Also, the recital was an hour and a half total.  Last year, we had two recitals that lasted two hours each and we didn’t even do the exact same dances in each performance.  If you wanted to see every dance, you had to attend both recitals.  Again, big difference!

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Recital Flowers

But, on to my big news!  I got my pointe shoes!  Yay!  That was my goal in moving from a recreational/competition studio to a ballet technique focused studio.  I wanted to improve my technique, strength, flexibility, and to achieve my goal of going on pointe.  Yesterday, my mom took me to the dancewear store to be fitted for pointe shoes.  Well, it was quite an ordeal!  We were there for over an hour and tried on fifteen pairs of shoes.  I have super narrow feet, tapered toes, and a super skinny heel.  Oh, and my right foot is just a bit longer than my left!  At one point the lady who was fitting me suggested to my mom that we buy two different pairs of shoes in two different sizes!  Pointe shoes are quite expensive and my mom was not happy about that!  The shape of your feet has everything to do with being fitted for pointe shoes and it is super important to get a good fit.  If you get shoes that don’t fit properly, then you can damage your feet – break toes, break an ankle – and it could threaten your ability to dance on pointe permanently.  Well, after trying on all those pairs of shoes, the lady who was helping us called another store in the town that my mom went to college in.  It’s about 45 minutes and 40 miles away.  We actually had to go to that store to get my shoes.  The lady there was a Russian ballerina with 25 years of experience.  She was very helpful and knew just by looking at my feet exactly which brand of shoe would work for my type of foot (Aleksandra).  I had the perfect fit after I tried on the second pair.  I am super anxious to get to work learning to dance on pointe.

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Finally, I wanted to share some more exciting news about what I’ve been doing lately.  On Instagram I follow an organization called Brown Girls Do Ballet.  They have a website at http://browngirlsdoballet.com/.  The mission of Brown Girls Do Ballet is to help increase participation of underrepresented minority populations in ballet programs through organizing and arranging ballet performances and providing resources and scholarships to assist young girls in their ballet development and training.

According to the website:
Brown Girls Do Ballet began in 2013 as a personal photography project by TaKiyah Wallace. Mrs. Wallace wanted to highlight underrepresented Hispanic, African ancestored, Asian, East Indian, and Native American girls enrolled in Ballet programs across the state of Texas. Initially, photographic casting calls were opened to girls ages 3 to 18 enrolled in ballet in Dallas, Houston, and, Austin, Texas.

Soon, the parents and ballerinas alike were overwhelmed with excitement to finally have a spotlight on people of color in the world of ballet. However, something else happened. The casting call information was spread outside of the initial target area.

As countless inquiries rolled in from all over the United States, Mrs. Wallace’s photography project was transformed into something larger. Every inquiry captured a shared passion beyond imagination and a greater purpose was unearthed. The project was then redefined as a movement in performing arts and its website set to become the premier information source for ballerinas of color.

Well, I saw on Instagram that Brown Girls Do Ballet was coming to my city to do a photo shoot, and of course, you know who signed up.  So, the week before school was out, on a Sunday afternoon, TaKiyah Wallace, came to town and my parents brought me to the botanical gardens downtown where we took pictures for her website and Instagram.  There were other girls there getting their pictures taken as well – one from Kansas and another was from Texas.  It was great fun!  I am waiting for her to post the pictures she took to Instagram and her website.  Stay tuned and if you love dance or the arts in general, please support Brown Girls Do Ballet.

2015 OKC Ballet

This is my dance picture from this year.  I am in Division 3 and we wear uniforms at this school, so the color of the Division 3 leotards is Royal Blue.

In this year’s recital, I performed in a ballet dance called “Festa” to the music of La Travia by Giuseppe Verdita Act II – Libiamo ne’lieti calici (Brindisi), composed  by Giuseppe Verdi.

I also performed in a jazz dance called “Rumours” to the song “Rumour Has It/Someone Like You.”  It’s actually a song by Adele, but our version was sung by the cast of Glee.

Graze Your Way to Healthy Snacking

I dance three times during the week and on Saturdays.  When I come home from school, I have only a short period of time to eat something, change into my dance clothes, get my hair into a bun, and get to dance.  I eat a lot of fruit, but sometimes that gets old.  And it’s hard to keep fresh fruit from going bad.  So, I also eat canned fruit, fruit cups, salads, and snacks like veggie chips.  Because I dance, I try to eat enough to get me through my classes until dinner time, but I also want to eat healthy foods that taste good.  My mom and I have tried a lot of different types of snacks for after school.  Some of them have been good and some of them not so much.  Then we discovered Graze.

Over 100 different types of snacks to choose from, delivered to my mailbox, once a week for $6.99 per week.  That’s a Graze Box!  The food my box is selected based on what I listed as my favorites when we signed up.  They asked me about different kinds of foods and what I like, love, or would like to try.  Then the people at Graze put together my box based on how I rated these foods, pretty much making sure that I always receive the foods I like.

It’s been about four weeks since we started receiving our Graze Boxes, and I think I’m going to like it.  I chose the sweet treat box, so each week I get four small squares of healthy snacks containing dry fruit, nuts, seeds, and granola.  They have a pretty creative mix of flavors and most everything that I’ve received so far tastes pretty good.  Some of it is better than good.  Their slogan is “don’t just snack, graze.com”. Go to www.graze.com and sign up to receive your healthy snacks today.

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