About Lindsay

Lindsay Livingston is a Registered Dietitian from Columbus, Ohio. On her blog, she shares simple, healthy recipes, nutrition tips, workouts and snapshots of her life. Follow her on Twitter @LeanGrnBeanBlog and Instagram @TheLeanGreenBean and be sure to subscribe via RSS or email so you never miss a post!

SEO 201: How to Optimize Images, Alt Tags + Page Speed

Hi Friends!

You may recall a few months ago when my friend Danielle stopped by to share some of her SEO knowledge with you guys. Many of you found it helpful, so she’s back for round 2! Read on to learn more!

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Hi LGB readers! I’m thrilled to be back today with more tips on SEO and blogging. If you missed part one, I recommend checking that out first- SEO 101: How to Increase Organic Search Traffic for Blog Posts.

All caught up? Let’s dig in to part two.

You’ve installed an SEO plugin and fill out your title tags religiously. You spend time coming up with a catchy title and include at least one image with each post.

Now what?

alt text example SEO 201: How to Optimize Images, Alt Tags + Page Speed
Alt tags
Even if you made a pretty title image, Google can’t read the text. So if you want it to show up in search, you have to help the search engines by filling in the alternative text. I like to do this as soon as I upload the photo so I don’t forget. If you want to go back and fill in alt tags for old photos, you can either click on the photo in each post, or go to your media gallery.

Don’t stuff this area with keywords! Either use your post title or a relevant phrase or sentence.

If you use a share button for Pinterest, the alt text is often what will show up in the description for the pin, so this is another great reason to be filling it in!

Photo Name
This is an often overlooked area of optimization. Just like you want to optimize the URL for your blog post, you want to optimize the name of your photo, which turns into a URL of its own once it’s hosted on your blog. The name should be short, simple and related to your post.

Title + Description
What you fill in here will show up when you hover over the image or while the image is loading.

Caption
You only need to fill this out if you want a description to show up under your photo in your blog post.

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Compressing Photos

Images are one of the biggest culprits for slow page load time, which affects everything from reader retention and engagement to SEO rankings.

Here are three ways you can shrink your images and optimize them for the web:

Plugin options
Install the WP Smush.It plugin to optimize your images. This plugin will optimize each new photo you add behind the scenes, and you can also run all existing photos through the plugin in your media library.

smush it plugin SEO 201: How to Optimize Images, Alt Tags + Page Speed

Manual Options
Save your images as PNG files and upload to http://www.tinypng.com. Then download and upload to your blog. If you’re creating your image with Picmonkey, like many bloggers these days, you’ll see the formatting option when you hit “save.”

tinypng SEO 201: How to Optimize Images, Alt Tags + Page Speed

Save for Web
If you’re using photo editing software like Photoshop, you can choose the “save for web” option.

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Page Load Time

According to Kissmetrics.com, “40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.”

Test your load time with GT Metrix.
GT Metrix also gives you a detailed report of what you can do to improve your speed. I recommend having a developer take a look and help you make the changes. Some of them can be technical and require understanding code.

WordPress can install the WP-Cache 3 plugin.
“W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by increasing server performance, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.”

Here are 26 other tools to improve your site’s speed.

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What are your biggest struggles around SEO for your blog? Let me know in the comments so I can help further!

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Huge thanks to Danielle for stopping by today! Be sure to check out her blog for more helpful posts and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Enjoy!
–Lindsay–

Homemade Raisin Newtons

This post is sponsored by California Raisins. I was compensated for my time and received free samples of the California Raisins used in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Hi Friends!

I am SUPER excited to share today’s recipe with you guys!

As part of the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network, I was selected to have the opportunity to work on a campaign with California Raisins! We were asked to develop a recipe using raisins and as a life-long fan of this little fruit, I knew I wouldn’t have any trouble coming up with something delicious. Plus, you all said you wanted to see more snack recipes. So….I decided to tackle a homemade version of one of my favorite childhood snacks!

homemade raisin newtons  Homemade Raisin Newtons

First, a few fun facts about California Raisins:

  • They’re are an all-natural, dried-by-the-sun fruit you can feel good about sending with your kids as they head back to school, as an after-school snack, or to beat that 3pm craving. The ingredient list says it all: Raisins.
  • They come by their sweetness naturally and the nutrition label rocks: Zero fat, no cholesterol and no added sugar. Plus, raisins offer 9% of your daily fiber and potassium, and 6% of your daily iron. (per quarter cup serving)
  • They are a great value! According to the USDA, raisins are the most economical dried fruit.  

And now, the recipe! If I’m being honest, this recipe is a little tedious. You need to plan ahead to make sure you have time for the dough to chill and rolling/shaping the actual cookies takes a bit of time…but I think the end result is worth it! I actually had to make two batches of these because when I went to write up this post, I could barely decipher my own chicken scratch so I thought I should re-test to make sure I got it right for you guys icon smile Homemade Raisin Newtons

raisin newton 3 Homemade Raisin Newtons

Anyways, the second batch was a success as well. I actually increased the amount of raisins from 1 cup to 1.5 cups so that I could get a little more filling in each one and I liked it better that way.

So here’s what you do:

Homemade Raisin Newtons
 
Cook time

Total time

 

A homemade version of a favorite childhood snack!
Author:
Serves: 16-18

Ingredients
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ cup nut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1½ cups California Raisins
  • 1½ cups hot water

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter, nut butter, honey, vanilla and egg and mix well.
  3. Stir in the cinnamon, baking soda and flour and stir until combined.
  4. Freeze for 45 minutes or refrigerate for 2 hours until dough is well chilled.
  5. Put California Raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot water.
  6. Let sit for 20 minutes, drain water and transfer to a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth and set aside.
  7. Divide dough in half, leaving one half to chill while you work with the other half.
  8. On a piece of parchment paper, roll into a long rectangle, approximately 5 inches wide, using additional flour as necessary to prevent sticking to the rolling pin.
  9. Trim the edges so you have a neat rectangle.
  10. Spoon half the raisin paste down the middle of the rectangle.
  11. Lift one side of the parchment paper and fold dough in towards the middle, using your fingers to gently peel the edge of the dough off the paper.
  12. Repeat with the other side.
  13. Transfer dough log to the fridge to chill while you repeat these steps with the other half of the dough.
  14. Cut into newton-sized pieces (I got about 8 per log).
  15. Flip onto baking sheet so the seam is face down and peel off parchment paper off the top. Separate newtons slightly to bake.
  16. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
  17. Let cool completely.
  18. Bake

 

I know the directions sound a bit complicated. Hopefully these pictures will help:

raisin newton Homemade Raisin Newtons

If you have a lot of extra scraps after trimming, let them chill for a bit then re-roll and make a few extra!

raisin newton 4 Homemade Raisin Newtons

I stored these in a ziploc bag. They stay nice and soft but they’re also kinda moist so after a few days I just left the bag open so they wouldn’t get moldy.

raisin newton 6 Homemade Raisin Newtons

 

PS…I made these a few weeks ago and when I shared them on Instagram you guys went CRAZY! Here’s to hoping you enjoy them!


 

Enjoy!
–Lindsay–

White Plum Giveaway

This post is sponsored by White Plum. I was compensated for my time and sent items to review free of charge. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and my own.

Hi Friends!

I’ve got a special treat for you today! We’re taking a little break from food and fitness today and talking FASHION! As you may have guessed, I haven’t been buying too many new clothes lately as I’m trying to wait until baby arrives. However, Fall is my favorite time to go shopping, and it’s been hard to resist! So, when the lovely folks at White Plum reached out to see if I would be interested in reviewing some of their items, I immediately hopped on their website. I was thrilled to find a huge selection of clothing, shoes and accessories that I loved. Even better, there were tons of options that I knew would be able to accommodate the bump!

logo White Plum Giveaway
White Plum is a family-owned company started by a busy mom who was looking for a way to make great products available at a great price to people who were just as busy as she was, but still wanted to be fashionable and fun! I love their motto: “We believe the best deal for you is the best deal for us.”

Honestly, I had a hard time narrowing down the items I wanted. I have no doubt you’ll have the same trouble after you check out their site, so to help with that, they’re offering all of you 20% your entire order if you use the code “LEANGREENBEAN” between now and September 26, 2014! As for what I picked? After much deliberation, here’s what I chose:

tshirt White Plum Giveaway

V-neck Boyfriend Tee

This shirt is the best. I love a good v neck and this one is loose enough that I could wear it comfortably at 35 weeks pregnant. But it’s stylishly loose, not boxy, so I know I’ll be able to wear it after baby is born as well!

green sweater White Plum Giveaway

Shasta Open Cardigan

Fall is the time for sweaters and they have tons of options that are open and loose enough that I could wear them while pregnant, but will also be just as stylish and comfortable when I’m back to regular clothes. I love the color of this one- works great with black pants or jeans!

leggings White Plum Giveaway

Diamond Tricolor Leggings

Guys, they have SO MANY LEGGINGS! I love leggings and there are so many fun patterns to choose from. The best part? They’re one size fits most…so they were comfortable when I put them on at 35 weeks pregnant and they’ll be comfortable during my journey back to my pre-pregnancy size! And they’re so soft. SO SOFT. I have a feeling these will be getting a lot of wear this winter!

boots White Plum Giveaway

Portland Booties

I love boots! However, most of mine are tall and I’ve been searching for a pair of ankle boots for a while now. I was thrilled to find these cute little guys. Unfortunately, my swollen pregnant feet are saying “no thank you” to them right now…but once baby comes, they’ll be great to throw on with leggings when I need to run errands! I got the brown ones but also love the gray!

two necklaces White Plum Giveaway

Chevron Charm Necklace
Into The West Necklace

Because a girl can never have too much jewelry right?! Bonus- the chevron charm kinda looks like the state of Ohio! I love the long length of the chevron necklace. It’s great to throw on with tank tops or t shirts and I wore the Into The West necklace with a maxi dress when hubby and I went out to dinner the other night!

white plum White Plum Giveaway

So, in case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I absolutely loved all the items in my White Plum order. I already have several other items on my wish list, including a few more sweaters and some dresses that were a bit more form fitting and will be better for after baby arrives.

But enough about me. Let’s move on to the best part of this post!

White Plum is offering a $100 store credit to one of my lucky readers!

And don’t forget – from 9/16 – 9/26, you can use the code “LEANGREENBEAN” to get 20% off your order!

Pretty awesome, right? Enter the rafflecopter giveaway below for your chance to win! Open worldwide!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

–Lindsay–

Bean Bytes 107

Hi Friends!

Hope you had a great weekend. It’s Monday so it’s time for another round of Bean Bytes!

BeanBytes1 Bean Bytes 107

link love Bean Bytes 107

Monday

Check them out:
13 Podcasts To Inform & Inspire via Eat Spin Run Repeat
Best Shoes For Weightlifting, Metcons & Life via Guilty Kitchen

Helpful:
Managing Your Blog With A Full-Time Job via Freeing Imperfections
How Much Should My Kid Be Eating? via Eating Made Easy
27 Tips For A Great Race Day Photo via Run to the Finish
71 Ways To Write Engaging Social Media Updates via Buffer

Good reads:
Why Having Bad Workouts Is Awesome via Feminine Muscle
Speaking Out Agains Perfection via Journey of a Dreamer

Tuesday

Need these:
6 Yoga Poses For Tight Shoulders via Keep it SimpElle

Helpful:
Household Winterizing Checklist via Back To Her Roots
What Is Deloading & How Can It Benefit You via Fit Knit Chick
5 Unhealthy Health Foods via Hummusapien and She Rocks Fitness
3 Tips For Being Authentic In Your Newsletters via Sensual Appeal

Great tips!
9 Tips For New Parents via The Avid Appetite

Important allergy info for cafes starting to serve nut milk
Dear Melbourne Cafes via What’s For Eats

A good read on blogging:
Feelings via Young House Love

Lots of great info in one place:
Meal Planning Posts Roundup via Gabby’s Gluten-Free

Wednesday

Good reads:
I’m A Grown Woman, I Can Do What I Want via Medium
I Stopped Counting Fat Grams & Calories- You Can Too via The Sweet Life
Two Words for College Freshmen via Medium

Yes:
3 Easy Ways To Find Positivity via Wildly Fit
A Fitness Update: Post Baby Body via Enjoy Your Healthy Life

Blog Stuff
5 Investments Worth Making In Your Blog via The Healthy Maven <– I’d add Vaultpress or some blog backup to the list
What Is A Good Key Word via The SITS Girls

On allergies and intolerances:
Finding Our Way To An Allergy Friendly Diet via The Pretty Bee
Food Intolerances in Athletics via Run to the Finish

For the athletes:
How To Be An Athlete Your Coach Will Love via FitAspire
One Powerful Tip For Better Workouts via Lift Like A Girl

Thursday

Love this:
Adoption: Does He/She Feel Like Yours via Delights and Delectables

Need to be better about this:
How & Why To Care For Your Contact Lenses via Slim Sanity

Guilty of #3:
8 Health Foods You’re Saying Wrong via Sinful Nutrition

Good ones:
10 Wellness Hacks for Moms via Jeanette’s Healthy Living

Stay busy with baby:
Baby & Toddler Activities via The Wise Baby

Great ideas!
Making Online Workouts Your Own via Fit Knit Chick

Friday

Love these:
Tips For Grabbing Life By The Balls via The Skinny Confidential
10 Things Moms of Boys Must Do via Scary Mommy
All the Comments On Every Recipe Blog via The Toast
The Happiness of Pursuit via Run To The Finish

Good tips:
How To Make Oatmeal More Satisfying via Fannetastic Food
5 Rules To Keep Your Lunchbox Healthy via Craving Something Healthy

Amen:
I Wish Red Delicious Apples Would Just Go Away via Real Mom Nutrition

 

yum Bean Bytes 107

CajunGarlicShrimpNoodleBowl3 Bean Bytes 107

Cajun Garlic Shrimp Noodle Bowls
Grilled Veggie Sandwich w/ Pesto & Garlic Yogurt Sauce
Cherry Ginger Lime Smoothie
Southern Cheddar Corn Muffins
Lighter Chocolate Chip Banana Cake
Spicy Salmon Sushi Bowl
Easy Veggie Packed Mexican Casserole
Vegan Squash & Corn Chowder
Apple Cinnamon Crumble Muffins
Thai Lentil Lettuce Wraps
Beet Crust Breakfast Pizza
Stove Top Roasted Garlic <– brilliant
Skinny Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip
Greek Dip
Steak, Kale & Goat Cheese Tacos
Spicy Tuna Avocado Cakes
Tart Cherry Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Bites
Apple Pico de Gallo
Caprese Fettucine with Italian Sausage
Single Serving High Protein Pumpkin Pancake
Turkey Burgers with Grape Shallot Chutney
Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
Creamy Apple Cider Slush
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
25 Decadent Yet Healthy Pumpkin Recipes
Apple Crumb Coffee Cake
Chai Spiced Pear Baked Steel Cut Oats
Everything Scrambled Eggs
Homemade Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers
Lentil Flatbread Sandwiches
Pumpkin Spiced Iced Coffee
PB & J Rolls
Chocolate Cherry Almond Butter Apple Rings

  scenes from the week Bean Bytes 107

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How amazing are these onsies Kylie sent me?! Her mom is an artist and I just about died when I saw the one with the faces of all our animals on it!!!! I love them.

Hubby made me this amazing magnetic bulletin board to hang over my desk! We bought an open wood frame and he cut sheet metal to fit in it. Then he glued a piece of hardboard to the back to make it sturdy and glued some fun beer caps to magnets so I can hang things. It’s so perfect!

Ohio proud.

Love a good sunset!

IMG 7436 e1410748343876 Bean Bytes 107

We got our Honeycrisp! We decided to go Friday after work and we picked a big bag full. We ended up getting 23 pounds of apples for $30….which works out to only about $1.30 per pound! Way cheaper than buying them in the store. It’s a good thing we went Friday because I woke up to an email Saturday morning saying they were pretty much all gone!

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I ran right home and made some crockpot applesauce. Just apples and a little water, skins on, chunky, with lots of cinnamon. The best!

Hubby got some rings for his bday from friends to add to our basement gym. Marcus loves them.

Best friends.

Baby fun at the Gap. I bought a pair of maternity jeans so I’d have something to wear for our photos on Sunday.

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Sneak peek! I can’t wait to see the rest!

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We had some crazy clouds here in Ohio on Saturday. So pretty!

 

twitter favs Bean Bytes 107

Low Fat vs Low Carb- The Winner Is Neither
Why Walking Helps Us Think
Making Time For Your Health
On Feeling Left Out
4 Ways To Survive Weeknight Dinners
25 Ways To Tighten Your Writing
10 Hacks For Efficient Cooking
The Consumerism Trap
Advice Nutritionists Give But Don’t Follow
Why You’re Never Failing As A Mom
Why You Shouldn’t Set Your Rower On 10
Why Millenials Are Rejecting Credit Cards
3 Reasons To Lift Weights During Pregnancy
This Is What An Athlete Looks Like
4 Tips For Leaving Quickly With Baby In Tow
Mom Guilt & Exercise- Is Your Guilt Flawed?
Drink Soda? Take 12,000 Steps

That’s all for today!

Enjoy!
–Lindsay–

Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 82

Hi Friends!

It’s food prep day. Here’s a look at what I prepped last weekend:

IMG 7352 Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 82

 

 Here’s what some of you have been up to:

Nora at A Clean Bake

This week, I prepared:
  • Roasted brussels sprouts, steamed green beans, snap peas, salad mix, grape tomatoes and baby spinach for lunch salads
  • Marinated pork and chicken, oven-baked hard boiled eggs, chicken salad, and jerk chicken (holy cow we are going to eat a lot of chicken this week) for lunch and dinner proteins
  • Stir fry, which freezes and defrosts easily, so I always make some for quick lunches or dinners
  • Pumpkin quinoa bars, eqq white frittata and oatmeal banana cookies for breakfast
  • Chocolate hazelnut cookies and washed and cut grapes for snacks and dessert.
  • Grapefruit cardamon beer bread for sandwiches (it goes great with the chicken salad)

Food Prep Week of 831 Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 82

Mary at Flavor RD

  • A big undressed spinach salad to green up our dinners
  • A batch of my standard DIY vinaigrette
  • Diced watermelon for snacking and packing for work
  • A pitcher of iced green tea to keep refreshed and hydrated
  • A pan of lasagna with finely chopped chicken breast, spinach, tomato sauce, and smoked mozzarella – yum!!!
  • 3 half-pint jars of steel-cut muesli for quick weekday breakfasts
  • A batch of sweet chili tofu – half is pre-packed for work lunches with brown rice and sauteed kale, and the other half was tossed into a veggie stir fry for dinner Sunday night
  • And finally, a jar of “hippie nutella” (dark chocolate almond butter!) to spread on anything and everything!

flavorrdfoodprep Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 82

Amanda at Ready for Change -

Breakfast: Yogurt with Fruit & Granola
- Here I used chobani vanilla greek yogurt, blueberries and organic granold, but you could use so many combos here. It doesn’t take but a couple minutes to put this together in the morning, but when I’m running late, it allows me to be tempting my more grab-n-go carbs. This way I have no excuses!
Lunch: Tuna Mixed Greens Salad
- Mixed greens, packet of tuna, crumbled goat cheese, dried cranberries, sliced almonds and lemon vinaigrette. This is my go to lunch and I never get sick of it!
Dinner: Crockpot Turkey Picadillo over Brown Rice
- I browned the meat and got everything in the crockpot on Sunday night. All I had to do Mondaymorning was take it out and turn it on low while I was at work. Best thing to come home too!
- I get so impatient cooking rice, because it takes so long! This is definitely a make ahead. I like to cook extra as well, because I can always find things to use it in.
Food Prep 9.9 Lean Green Bean Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 82

Are you food prepping this weekend? Send me your pic! I’m out of submissions!

Here’s what I need from you:

Email me the following:
1. Your Name
2. Your Blog URL (if you have one)
3. A photo of your food prep
4. A short description of what’s in the photo. Tell me what you prepped and how you’re going to use it during the week!

Every Sunday, I’ll post a roundup of the photos I received that week so that you guys can see what others are preparing and hopefully get some inspiration and ideas! I’ll keep this series going for as long as I receive photos, so send one every week if you want to!

Send to: theleangreenbean <at> gmail <dot> com

Tweet and Instagram your pics as well to inspire others!! Use the hashtag #sundayfoodprep . Remember that in order for a pic to be included in the post, you have to email it to me! If you have more than one pic, please make them into a collage before sending!

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Want more inspiration and tips? Read these:

Top 10 Foods for Sunday Food Prep
How to Prep Food on the Weekend

Weekend Prep for Easy Weekday Meals
How to Eat Healthy in College
How to Eat Healthy During the Week

And check out the Food Prep Tab for links to all the previous Sunday food prep posts!

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Let’s chat: Are you prepping food today? Whatcha makin’?

Enjoy!
–Lindsay–