Remember the Dancing Raisins? Well, Did You Remember They're Good for You Too? talks about California Raisins.

They're a great snack to stay slim and trim.

Did you know California raisins:

Are fat- and cholesterol-free and low in sodium

Are a convenient and portable source of all-natural energy

Just 1/4 cup of raisins provides one fruit serving.

A State Marketing Order in 1998 created the California Raisin Marketing Board and it is 100 percent grower funded. Its mission is to support and promote the increased use of California-grown raisins and sponsor crop production, nutrition, and market research. For more information about the California Raisins and to browse delicious recipes, visit

A new year brings new motivation to millions of Americans to better their fitness and financial status. That's why California Raisins and celebrity fitness trainer Valerie Waters have come together to create simple solutions for trimming your body and your budget.

"Getting in shape requires will power not spending power," said Waters. "There are many simple ways to attain fitness goals through diet, exercise and simple planning that will slim your waistline without slimming your wallet."

Following are Water's six simple solutions to buff up without breaking the bank:

1. Eat breakfast every day. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast are thinner than those who don't. Starting your day with a nutritious meal jump starts your metabolism and sets you up for eating right the whole day. Plus, it will keep you from spending money on an unhealthy vending machine run.

Healthy breakfasts that don't take much time:

-- 1/3 cup of liquid egg whites scrambled with veggies (just about any

will do) with one piece of whole grain toast

-- 1 packet of plain instant oatmeal with 1 scoop of chocolate protein

powder plus a 1 tablespoon of California raisins or a handful of mixed


-- 1 piece of whole grain toast with 1 tablespoon of all natural peanut

butter and banana slices

-- 1/2 cup of low fat yogurt topped with 1 tablespoon California Raisins

and 1 tablespoon of sliced almonds

2. Bring your lunch to work. One of the best things you can do for your waistline and your pocketbook is to pack your lunch. Fast food is notoriously unhealthy but even the deli sandwich can do you in. They are generally loaded with hidden sodium and fat, and throw in chips and a soda and you've just added a bunch of empty calories. If you pack your lunch the night before you can not only get out of the house quickly in the morning, but you will eat better all day. Don't forget to pack your snacks too! California raisins are a wise choice since they are fat- and cholesterol-free and just a quarter cup equals a full serving of fruit.

3. Learn to cook a few good things. When you make your own food you know exactly what's going in to your body. You don't have to be a master chef by any means, but by learning a few basic recipes you'll be better equipped to make healthy food that still tastes great. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to have dinner on the table faster than it takes the pizza delivery guy to show up. For recipe ideas go to:

4. Make a grown-up play date. Instead of meeting friends for dinner or drinks, make plans to go for a hike or take a boot camp class together. You will get fit and stay connected at the same time.

5. Skip the gym. You don't need a fancy gym membership to get in shape. You can create a home gym by simply moving the coffee table. The key is to focus on body weight exercises that use a lot of different muscles, and then do them in a circuit for maximum calorie burn. Below is one of my favorite heart pumping circuits. Repeat the circuit three times for a great at-home workout.

-- Squats

-- Reverse Lunge

-- Forward Lunge

-- Push-ups

-- Dips

-- Crunches

-- Reverse Crunches

To view simple, follow-along fitness videos, visit

6. Get rid of unhealthy temptations. Cut soda and other unhealthy temptations out of your grocery bill and keep them out of the house. Instead, keep healthy, nutrient dense food visible. For example, a bowl of fresh apples on the table, a jar of homemade trail mix of almonds, walnuts, and California Raisins on the counter, and sliced veggies in the fridge. This way, when hunger strikes, you're not eating through a bag of chips.

"California Raisins are a natural and economic way to add delicious flavor and nutrition to your diet," said Larry Blagg, senior vice president of marketing, California Raisin Marketing Board. "Convenient and healthy, California Raisins are high in antioxidants and an excellent source of energy, which is perfect for healthy snacking on the go."

Nutty Raisin Energy Bars: Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 1 hour

-- 2 cups raisins

-- 1 cup chopped walnuts

-- 1 cup slivered almonds

-- 2 teaspoons almond extract

-- 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 200°F. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor, pulsing on and off until raisins and nuts are finely chopped (don't puree or mixture will be too sticky). Press firmly into a 10 X 4-inch rectangle on a parchment lined baking sheet and cut evenly into twelve bars. Separate to allow air to circulate and bake for 1 hour; let cool and wrap individually.

Variation: Chocolate: Add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons honey.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories: 220, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 0mg, Potassium: 312mg, Carbohydrates: 25g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 1g, Protein: 5g, Vitamin A: 0%, Vitamin C: 2%, Calcium: 6%, Iron: 8%.