Simple Chia Pudding

Being dairy free, I sometimes really miss yogurt. I can buy the coconut or almond milk yogurts, but they just do not satiate me the way a thick Greek yogurt used to. The best alternatives to me are thick smoothies and chia pudding. Today I am sharing with you my simple recipe that can be enjoyed with whatever toppings your heart desires. I have this as a breakfast or even a dessert when I am trying to behave. After the amount of candy I consumed this past weekend on Easter I would say I am trying to behave. So here is what you will need for the pudding itself. This recipe makes 4 servings.

1/2 cup chia seeds
2 cups coconut milk, almond milk or cashew milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp maple syrup, more or less to taste

Mix the above ingredients together and let them soak for at least an hour. I usually just leave them in the refrigerator overnight. You can add fruit, nuts, granola, nut butters, chocolate chips, the list goes on. Pictured I have topped my pudding with almonds, walnuts, dried fruit, banana slices and fresh mango slices.

I hope you enjoy!

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Avo Maria Green Smoothie

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Avo Maria

Because it is that good! Creamy, filling and not too sweet (perfect post workout!)

Simply Blend:

1 cup of fresh pineapple
1 small banana or half a large banana
½ a large avocado or a whole small avocado
1 cup of raw kale or spinach
½ -1 cup of coconut water
A few cubes of ice

Blend and enjoy for breakfast, post workout snack or a light lunch :0)

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!

chocowhey-table

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!

 

From the Farmer: DC’s Best Farmers’ Market Delivered

Doc1A couple of weeks ago one of my clients told me about a new service she had subscribed to which delivered fresh, local produce to her door step once a week.  As a rabbit with a busy schedule, I knew it was something I would have to try.  Not only is From The Farmer convenient and sustainable, but it reasonably priced!  I signed up to receive half a bushel per week, which cost me $35.   The delivery is dropped off on your front stoop between 12 am and 7 am.   This morning I was welcomed by a insulated bag full of delicious local produce as I stepped out for my morning run at 6:15 am.  Here is what I got in my delivery:

• Pink Lady and Fuji Apples
• Asparagus
• Bunched Beets with Tops
• Spinach
• Asian Mustard Mix
• Spring Scallions
• French Breakfast Radishes

The great news is, a half bushel is more than enough to get me through the week.  I will definitely have plenty of greens for salads, sautes and green smoothies.  I love that this service provides where each piece of produce comes from along with suggested recipes (in e-mail form).  This will definitely help me mix up my diet, pulling me from my kale and sweet potato rut.  Below is an example of the preview e-mail I received three days prior to the delivery.

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While you do not choose the produce you receive, you can go in and modify your order 48 hours prior to delivery. If there is an item you do not particularly like, swap it out for something else available.  I personally love the variety offered and the opportunity to mix up my diet.  The company delivers to the DC and Baltimore Metro areas.  I live in Reston and was excited to see they deliver to my neighborhood.  Below is a photo collage of my morning delivery:

image (3)I unzipped the bag to find it packed full of fragrant, colorful fruits and veggies.  Bright pink radishes, yellow and red apples, deep burgundy beets and vibrant greens!  If you don’t need a delivery, there is no charge to you to skip a week.  You are billed at the end of each month after all your deliveries are tallied.  There is no fee to join or to cut off the deliveries.  This is a commitment free way to try a new avenue for receiving your weekly produce. It doesn’t hurt that the produce you receive is local and much more nutrient dense than anything you will find at a supermarket.

If you are in the DC or Baltimore area, sign up to receive your produce basket.  If you have a family to feed, order a bushel or two! You can even throw in a loaf of bread.

http://fromthefarmerdc.com/

From the Farmer LLC is a weekly farm-to-consumer delivery company with an emphasis on fresh, high-quality, local produce and an added dedication to connecting farmers with their consumers.

Product Review: Smart Bar

1001555_611192732307519_882851334_nIf you don’t live in the Virginia Beach area, you have probably never heard of Smart Bars.  I only came across these hand made bars while scanning through WordPress myself.

Being a personal trainer means I am always on the go,  my dinner often consists of protein bars, green smoothies or whole fruit.  Over the years I have become very picky when it comes to the protein and snack bars I chose.    Many products marketed as healthy are filled with sugar, chemicals, and non food ingredients with a name more than 3 syllables long.   I have my “go-to” snacks, but I am always looking for something new–for myself and to recommend to clients.

When I am looking for a nutritious snack, I look  at the ingredients first.  You want to make sure you can pronounce everything on the list.  In addition I like to keep sugar under 8 g when choosing a snack or protein bar.  If the sugar is relatively low and the bar is made with all natural ingredients, you are usually in a good place.  Protein is always a plus. One sneaky nutrition fact to be looking out for is Sodium, which fills so many “health” foods.  I don’t worry about the fat content. If the bar is filled with healthful and natural ingredients like almonds and walnuts, it’s good fat and will keep me full through all my evening sessions.

Lets talk about Smart Bar now.  Smart Bar is created by Matthew May, a chef in Virginia Beach.  He makes the all natural granola bar by hand with whole food ingredients.  The round granola bar uses only 9 ingredients and contains no preservatives.  It’s also gluten free! The snack bar is advertised as “perfect for breakfast”, “perfect for lunch”, for “before or after your workout” and as an “anytime” snack.  Take a look at the label here:

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I had half of a bar this morning and it is very tasty.  You can pick out all the ingredients as you nosh.  It is a chewy vs. crunchy granola bar, like a bowl of steel cut oats without the nuisance of dishes to clean.  I had a bowl of fruit around 8 am and half a Smart Bar around 9:30 am and I was full and satisfied until 1:00 pm.  All the ingredients in this product are things I enjoy on their own (dried fruit and chocolate are my weaknesses), so it is no surprise that I enjoyed the flavors and texture of Smart Bar.

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I love the round shape, you trick yourself into thinking it is a cookie

I was a little surprised by the sugar content.  This all natural snack bar has 2 g more sugar than a snickers bar.  I would like to see honey  further down on the list of ingredients.  However, dried fruit is pretty high in sugar as well, so that could be another culprit.  I would not recommend this bar for anyone who is watching their carbohydrate intake.  On the other hand, this is a great pre workout snack for endurance athletes.  I will probably save the rest of these bars for a snack prior to a 10 miler.

1510987_619496081477184_148302298_nOverall, this is a tasty all natural snack or meal replacement.  I love that you are not ingesting any sketchy hidden preservatives.   I would recommend Smart Bars to endurance athletes (runners, cyclist and triathletes), who have the need for the 45 g of carbohydrates that his product pacts.  While the bar is very wholesome and delicious, I don’t think I could recommend it to my everyday clients who are looking to lose and maintain weight.  I would love to see a lower glycemic version of this product with less honey and maybe some more nuts.

I absolutely love the packaging.  Each bar is individually hand wrapped in wax paper.  I can tell the labels have been put on by hand.  It is refreshing receive a quality product from a small business. If you are in the Virginia Beach area I recommend making an order for pick up, just to give them a try.

If you are interested in purchasing Smart Bars you can do so here.

In addition, I want to share with you my current “Go To” Bars.  You can find them all at most grocers.  Chia Bars by Health Warrior are a little new to the mainstream grocery market but I saw them at Harris Teeter recently and I know you can get them at Whole Foods.  Chia Bars are great for in between meals.  They contain just 5 g of sugar and only 100 calories.  This is great for anyone looking to lose or maintain weight.

A good tip is to avoid anything that tastes like dessert.  If it is low sugar and tastes like a snickers, it is probably packed with unnatural, non food ingredients.

What is your “Go To” snack/meal bar? Leave a comment, I am interested!