The Scoop on Healthy Skoop Powders

Product Review: Healthy Skoop Powders

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I feel like the hunt for the perfect protein powder is ongoing.  I certainly have my go to whey and plant based powders, but I love to experiment with new brands.  If you follow my posts you probably have seen my favorite whey powder, Warrior Whey by Defense Nutrition.  When it comes to plant based protein powder my current favorite is Phood by Plant Fusion.

That being said, I have never tried a greens mix, which is something that Skoop offers.  Skoop sells powders for different nutrition goals, but advertises the product lines as an all encompassing package. While for the most part I consume plenty of greens and antioxidants, there are days where many of my meals are on the go.  I was grateful when Skoop offered to send me a generous sample package.  I hope you enjoy my review!

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Skoop a variety of powders: A GAME, B STRONG & B LOVELY.  All three powders are gluten-free and GMO-free.

Skoop A Game Is a powder you can wake up with. Phytonutrients, micronutrients, and adaptogens are said to help increase your energy level.  Since I don’t drink coffee I saw this as a great early  morning option.  The contents of A Game allow you to start your day with fiber and probiotics.  In my mind A Game stands up against my usual powders with its ORAC equivalent of 10 servings of fruits and veggies. Some days I am on the go all day. The ability to get my greens and antioxidants with just a shaker and some cold water is a huge plus. There are two A Game flavors, Chocofresh and Supergreens.  I have been shaking both with just cold water, but also adding them to my smoothies. I add Chocofresh to my chocolate protein powder along with a frozen banana, almond milk and chia seeds.  I add the Supergreens powder to my green smoothie.

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Overall, I liked having A game as part of my regimen.  I did feel a bit more energized when I included the powder in my first meal of the day.  The flavor took a little getting used to, its a bit bold.  I was adjusted to the taste by day five.  A Game is 50 calories per scoop and only 2 grams of sugar.

B Strong is the Protein powder.  It is plant based, soy-free and dairy-free as well as gluten-free and GMO-free.  The great thing about B Strong is it’s prebiotic fibers that assist your gut in breaking down and absorbing the protein.  This will allow you to use the 16 grams of protein and additional fatty acids to build muscle and recover quickly.

I tried the vanilla powder, which makes it harder for me to compare because I usually go with chocolate protein powder.  I do feel that my Warrior Whey is a bit smoother, but it is also whey protein.  There could be a compromise due to the extra prebiotics and antioxidants in Skoop.   If you are looking for a clean plant based protein powder I would certainly recommend Skoop.

Last, we have B Lovely.  This is actually a skincare product you consume.   B Lovely contains natural herbs, antioxidants and fiber.  You can help combat oxidative stress, repair damaged collagen and promote circulation with just 20 calories of this powder.  I cannot tell you if it works, I only tried the powder twice, but I can tell you how it tastes.  I was not a fan.  I am a tea drinker, so when I added the powder to my warm water I was expecting it to taste like a floral tea, I am sure it I could hide the taste in a smoothie or protein shake, but I only need one shake a day.

Overall, I found Skoop powders to be clean and easy to digest.  I suffer from a lot of stomach and GI issues, and I am easily irritated by many powders.  I had absolutely no issues with Skoop.

 

Product Review: Powdered Peanut Butter

NUTS. I love nuts.  Filling, satisfying, crunchy, whats not to love? Nut butter? I’m obsessed.  I often have a big spoon of almond butter and call it a snack or dessert.  It’s indulgent, delicious and satisfying.  I bitch and moan at Trader Joes when the Raw Unsalted Crunchy is out of stock.

Now with peanut butter, I’m a little picky.  Any “Jif like” product contains hydrogenated oils and has a weird filmy texture.  My dog loves it, but it’s not for me.  I do enjoy a good, all natural peanut butter from time to time–mostly in desserts 🙂

Nut butters are high in fat, which for me is a good and a bad thing.  I maintain a pretty plant based diet and sometimes I really need the fat in nuts to satiate my hunger and keep me satisfied.  However, I am a junkie for sweets, so any way to naturally reduce the fat and calories in my sweet treats is worth a try.

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Enter Powdered Peanut Butter.  I saw this product (Just Great Stuff  the Original Organic Powdered Peanut Butter) when I was picking up my dog’s peanut butter yesterday and bought it out of curiosity.  Just Great Stuff is Organic, Non GMO, Gluten Free, Corn Free and Low Glycemic–wohoooo! I also love the short and simple list of ingredients: Organic Peanuts, Organic Coconut Sugar, Sea Salt.

Powdered peanut butter is basically dehydrated peanuts with salt and sugar (sans oil).  This is why the powdered version has 90% less fat.  Since the majority of peanut butter’s calories come from fat, the powdered version has about a quarter of the calories.  A popular powdered brand on the market is PB2.  I saw this product but decided to spend the extra money for organic and GMO free.  Peanuts are a highly sprayed crop, so it is worth paying extra for organic and GMO free peanut products.

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So I mixed up one serving of powdered peanut butter (2 tablespoon dry) with one tablespoon of water to do a taste test after lunch yesterday.  Sadly, two tablespoons dry yields a little more than 1 tablespoon wet, so in reality I would double the calories and fat if you are looking for two tablespoons of creamy peanut butter. The taste is very similar, but the texture and mouth feel cannot compare to a nut butter with natural oil.  I do foresee myself using the powder in desserts, mixing it in my Greek yogurt and adding to protein shakes and smoothies.  I’ve even pondered mixing it with coconut oil for some healthy fat.  Stay tuned, there will be a powdered peanut butter concoction on the blog next week!

In addition to the lack of creamy mouth feel, you miss out on all the healthy fat that clean eaters need to stay energized! This society has a fear of fat, when the real culprit in  Americas’ diet is sugar.  The powdered version yields the same amount of sugar as creamy peanut butter (which is relatively low).   Powdered peanut butter has half the protein when compared to it’s creamy & oily counterpart, another reason to keep the real thing in your pantry.

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If you have not tried powdered peanut butter yet, i recommend giving it a whirl. If you have already added it into your recipe repertoire, tell me how you use it!

Delicious Gluten Free Quiche

quicheI love all things eggs, so when I came across this quiche recipe with a sweet potato crust I had to try it. Saturday night I summoned my partner in crime and the kitchen to help me test and taste.  It’s much more fun to cook when you are drinking wine with a pal while listening to “Buy U A Drank” radio. We have proven this over the past two years. This recipe was tested on a whim so we just used what we had.  Below is our spin on the quiche.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • 5 spring onions
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of shredded garlic & herb grass fed cheddar

How to

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray/grease a casserole or pie dish with olive oil
  2. Thinly slice the sweet potatoes then place them at the bottom of the dish and around the edges, fill the gaps the best you can
  3. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. When finished reduce heat to 375 degrees
  4. While the crust is baking saute the garlic, spring onions, spinach and bell pepper for about 10 minutes. Set aside
  5. Whisk together eggs and mix in 3/4 of the cheese then set aside
  6. When the crust is out and the oven is reduced to 375 degrees, mix together the sauteed vegetables and egg mixture
  7. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for another 40 minutes
  8. Sprinkle your remaining cheese (and maybe some extra) on top. Don’t burn your tongue!

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Our quiche came out perfectly when cooked for 40 minutes.  We served the quiche with an ear of corn and roasted crispy asparagus. The sweet potato crust was way more flavorful than your basic quiche crust. It really made the dish.  The sweetness of the potatoes really balanced out the herb-y and savory egg mixture.  If you have left overs, it is still yummy the next day! Amanda heated her left overs up in the microwave the next day and I ate it cold, it’s tasty either way.  It’s really good with red wine, just try not to drink at breakfast.

This is a great post workout meal, especially if you are not much of a meat eater.  Eggs are packed with protein and amino acids, and you will stay full thanks to their omega 3-fatty acid content.  Did I mention all the vitamins found in yolks?  Give it a whirl, it’s cheap and easy!

In this recipe the spinach, asparagus and spring onion all came from From the Farmer Dc which you can learn more about on last week’s blog post! My grass fed cheddar cheese was picked up at Reston’s Smart Market.  If you have not been yet this year, I recommend you go.  They have a few new vendors (two of which who offer gluten free goodies) and the produce is great!

If you have an questions, leave a comment!

Choco Whey: The World’s Premium Whey Chocolate

 

milk__18159.1390364143.328.245A candy bar that delivers 9-11 grams of whey protein with no added sugar, it sounded too good to be true.  So of course, I had to try it. Luckily Defense Nutrition was able to facilitate my taste test by sending a sample.  I should have specified my chocolate preference.  I am a dark chocoholic.  Not to worry, there are several different variations of Choco Whey.    I tried the Cacao Nib Milk Chocolate and Whey bar. See the nutrition facts below:

ChocoWhey-CacaoNibs-Milk-Bar-1.5ozBefore we even talk about the nutrition facts, lets take a look at the ingredients.  NO SUGAR ADDED, NO SUGAR ALCOHOL, NO FRUCTOSE, NOTHING ARTIFICIAL . Did I mention it is GMO FREE? You cannot really beat that in a candy bar.  I also think calling this bar candy is a stretch.  It is nutritious and a great serving of Whey protein (9 g per bar), but if you are looking for the taste and melt in your mouth texture of a Hershey’s bar you will not get it with Choco Whey.  It tastes, well, healthy.  I think this particular bar tastes just like their Chocolate Whey Protein Shake in solid form. It was pretty good with a smear of almond butter and a medjool date on top.  According to Defense Nutrition, it outperforms your everyday protein bar and is made without syrups (sugar, fructose, sugar alcohol, agave, rice, malt, etc.), which is always a plus!

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If you have read my blog before, you know I do not look at calories or fat when assessing a natural product’s nutritional label.  I go straight to the sugar, fiber and protein.  This product passes in all three categories! For a chocolate bar, this bar is super low in the sugar department.  Compared to a Nut Delight Kind Bar, this particular flavor packs three more grams of protein and and three more grams of fiber all while containing three grams less sugar.

The bar is full of antioxidants , great for muscle recovery and I am honestly dying to try some of the other flavors! When you purchase Choco Whey you can choose from Milk or Dark chocolate.  They also have a ChocoVegan bar. Milk and dark chocolate have the following varieties:

  • Plain
  • Cacao Nibs
  • Almond
  • Coffee
  • Macadamia
  • Super Crunch
  • The vegan chocolate is not available in Macadamia or Super Crunch

The nutrition facts change slightly for each variety of milk and dark chocolate bars.  Overall, the dark chocolate has less sugar and a little more fiber.  It looks like the Super Crunch variety packs the most protein coming in at 11 grams per bar.  The ChocoVegan bars have less than half the protein overall, ranging from 3-4 grams per bar.  I would recommend sticking to the ChocoWhey bars unless you are a vegan.  Go here to compare nutrition facts across flavor variates.

I would recommenced this product to active chocoholics looking for a way to get their fix and up their protein.  I love that all the artificial sweeteners and mystery syrups are left out and only quality products are put in.  The taste is much more natural and not super sweet like traditional candy bars. The Milk Chocolate Cacao Nibs bar had a bit of a nutty flavor. It was not sinfully delicious, but it tasted like all natural milk chocolate.  The cost definitely reflects the quality. A box of 12 chocolate bars costs you $47.90 with shipping included for those in the U.S ($3.99 per bar).  If you decide to purchase the bar individually, it is going to cost you $4.95 per bar.  Protein bars are typically $1-3.  I usually get kind Bars 4/$5 or Lara Bars 3/$5.  Perhaps with a little popularity and increased demand, the price will go down.  I DO want to try the dark chocolate.  If you have tasted it before let me know your thoughts!

Click here to purchase this product!

 

What To Eat Pre-Workout

One of my clients recently asked me what and when she should been eating before our sessions to keep her from feeling exhausted and/or nauseous. So hear I am, singing the praise of carbs carbs and more carbs.  You cannot efficiently burn fat and build muscle without adequate carbohydrate intake.

One of my favorite quotes actually came from my NASM text book.  I memorized it when studying but find myself using it as a reminder in my own nutrition choices.  It goes like this: “Fat burns in a carbohydrate flame”

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Basically, maximal fat will not be utilized without enough carbohydrate.  Carbohydrates serve as our most vital source of energy for all bodily functions and muscular endurance.  This is because our bodies depend on muscle glycogen during exercise.  But enough with the scientific blabber, what you need to know is that without sufficient glycogen stores available, you may hit a wall during your workout, burn less fat and build less muscle.  As an athlete, you want to save your protein for building muscle, rather than use it for energy.

2-4 hours prior to working out, you want to consume a carbohydrate rich meal with some protein as well.  A common carbohydrate to protein ratio is 2:1 when exercising for an hour or less.  If you are an endurance athlete you can up your carbohydrates to a 3:1 ratio.  If you workout in the mornings, just get something in your system that will cause little distress on your belly and will digest easily.  Read this short article highlighting the importance of pre and post workout nutrition  from Equinox’s blog.

In order to recover and replenish those glycogen stores after a workout you need to eat at minimum a small snack within 30 minutes of completion.  If you are able to consume a full meal within 30 minutes of working out, you can do so with a carbohydrate and protein rich meal.

Now this does not mean you should eat pasta for every meal.  Sometimes we forget that fruits and vegetables are also carbohydrates.  Also stick to whole grains like quinoa, brown rice or oats.

Here is what I suggest my clients consume before a heart thumping session to avoid early exhaustion:

  • Banana or apple with nut butter ( I prefer Raw Unsalted Almond Butter)
  • Steel cut oats with half a banana, some blueberries or raisins (get creative and use what you have)
  • A hard boiled egg with a piece of fruit
  • Whole wheat crackers with hummus (I love Mary’s Gone Crackers)
  • Carrots and Hummus
  • A bowl of quinoa (Ideas here: I’m dying to try the “bagel bowl”)
  • Brown rice cake(s) with avocado (I need more than one, but I have a lot of body to fuel so keep your personal needs in mind)
  • Baked Potato with salsa and a sprinkle of black beans (so good and such a great endurance carbohydrate)
  • Baked Sweet Potato with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some ghee or coconut oil

Post Workout I usually grab a banana and a handful of nuts or make a protein shake if it is not meal time. If I am running around I also really like Zone’s Perfectly Simple line.  You can find them at most large grocers and target too. They are not as pricey as some other brands on the market, and they are gluten free!

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GF oatmeal with blueberries, half a banana and half a handful of almonds

Most days I time my workouts to come before a balanced meal.  If it’s breakfast time, try an egg and vegetable hash or a bowl of breakfast quinoa with Greek yogurt (which when combined is a complete protein). If you want some egg and vegetable ideas, check out my blog post Green Lunches.  When it’s dinner time, have nutrient dense veggies, whole grains and proteins.  I am not a big meat eater, so I combine foods to create whole proteins and incorporate eggs into meals.  For example, rice and beans when combined create a whole protein and provide you with adequate carbohydrate replenishment!  Above is my post workout breakfast from this morning, this is also a great pre-workout meal, especially for those long runs during spring training.

Just keep in mind I am not a nutritionist and everyone has slightly different needs depending on their body, exercise habits and dietary restrictions.

Green Lunches

I am not a nutritionist or even close to one (disclaimer), but I love to prepare and devour nutrient dense food.  Above are six Green Lunches that I have made in the past week.  I am not a recipe person.  I just buy whatever is on sale (usually what is in season) and roast, saute or enjoy raw.  From the top we have….

  • Sunny Side Up Kale: Sauteed kale with a sunny side up egg and half a banana
  • Green Bowl: 1/2 frozen banana, 1/4 mango, 1 pear, 1/2 fuji apple, 1/2 avacado, 2 kale leaves in the blender. Topped with banana chips, coconut ribbon and raisins
  • Sauteed Kale and Roasted Japanese Sweet Potato: I use Himalayan sea salt, basil leaves and ground peppercorn to season
  • Kale, Brussels and Alfalfa Sprout Salad: Chopped and tossed with avocado, pumpkin seeds and my homemade vinaigrette (Dijon mustard, EVOO and balsamic)
  • Cabbage and Brussels Sprout Scramble: Cabbage and brussels sprouts sauteed with one egg scrambled in and served with half a banana
  • Mashed Delicata Squash with Lentils, Quinoa, Cannelloni Beans and Brussels Sprouts: This is kind of a “Hodge Podge”. I happened to have the lentils and quinoa already cooked so I mixed them in with my Delicata.  Delicata can be microwaved for 5+ minutes and scooped out of the skin for a mashed consistency.   I will make a batch of lentils in the beginning of the week so I can just throw them into dishes to add bulk and a nutty flavor.

I don’t plan my meals much more than a couple hours (or minutes in advance). This is because my mood and my physical state determines what I eat.  I suffer from a lot of stomach issues and sometimes I lack an appetite for certain foods or any appetite at all.  I hope my green meals give you some lunch time inspiration! Feel free to comment with questions or your own lunchtime suggestions!

Here are some fun nutrition facts on some of my most used winter foods:

KALE

  • High in fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin K, A and C
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Anti inflammatory and Cholesterol (LDL) lowering properties
  • Great Detoxify-er

CABBAGE

  • Contains Folate for women of child bearing age
  • Natural Electrolytes
  • Great Detoxify-er

LENTILS

  • Folate: Lentils contain more of this B vitamin than any other unfortified plant food. In addition to protecting against coronary artery, folate helps prevent birth defects
  • Fiber: half cup of lentils provides around a third of your daily requirements. We absorb the energy from lentils slowly, which helps keep blood-sugar levels even
  • Iron
  • Lentils are a significant (and virtually fat-free) source of protein

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

  • Great Detoxify-er
  • Antioxidants
  • Improves Digestive Health