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)

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Chocolate for Breakfast (V)(GF)

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1 Banana (the riper the better)
¾ cup peanut or almond butter
¼ cup flax ground
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup cacoa powder (cocoa will work)
Splash of almond milk
Drizzle of agave

Combine in blender

Bake on 400 for 15+ minutes. Keep an eye on them because it may very depending on your oven and cookware

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These are rich yet light and totally satisfying. Enjoy with organic local coffee 🙂

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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.

 

Gut Health Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Fall is officially here in Virginia.  The nights are in the low 40’s and Trader Joes is stocked with all things pumpkin.  I don’t usually like the taste of  most pumpkin flavored products.  They all taste artificial and not much like pumpkin if you ask me.  I remember trying the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks a few years ago.  It was so disappointing, I ended up taking two sips and dumping it in the trash before I left the store.  Now Starbucks is being slammed with criticism for using caramel coloring and other artificial ingredients.

So maybe pumpkin packaged goods are icky, but you can still celebrate fall by making delicious and healthy homemade recipes with fall squash.  Pumpkin is a super food.   So why not add it to everything?

Pumpkin Packs:

  • Lots of dietary fiber
  • Low calorie count
  • Antioxidants to improve skin and sight
  • Vitamins A& B
  • Folates
  • Minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus

Recently I have been on a quest to improve my gut health. Going dairy, grain, soy and legume free has made breakfast a challenge.  I have had to get creative to find things that keep me full when I don’t have time for eggs and veggies in the morning.  So let me present you with my Gut Healthy Pumpkin Spice Smoothie recipe.

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Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp organic honey
  • splash of unsweetened coconut milk (or as much as needed)
  • few dashes of cinnamon
  • 1 dash of nutmeg
  • 1 dash of ground cloves

Simply add all your ingredients together, blend and enjoy at home or on the road! Happy fall y’all 🙂

Super-Gut-Food Almond Butter

I have been dealing with Leaky Gut Syndrome for a while now, but my flare ups have become irregular and almost obsolete.  In fact, my gut has been fairly healthy in the past year and a half.  However, this past Monday I was completely blind sided by the side effects of this crap syndrome.  So for a few days I was consuming mostly liquids (coconut milk, kombucha, hot tea, and lots of water).  I eased my way to coconut milk yogurt, sauerkraut and mashed up bananas.  My stomach was inflamed and my energy level was insanely low due to a calorie deficit.

So now I am on a mission to repair my intestinal lining and get back to a healthy gut.  My diet for the next 2-4 weeks is going be restrictive, more or less Paleo with some extra rules.  I cannot eat soy, sugar, legumes, dairy, night shade vegetables, grains or anything processed by any means. Last night I had a dream I was eating Chinese food. I don’t even like Chinese food.  I have been Gluten Free for almost seven years and I remember in the first year I would have dreams I was eating sandwiches all the time.

It is not complete torment, I still get to eat most of the things I love.  I will be consuming lots of coconut products like coconut milk, coconut milk yogurt, coconut oil and coconut butter.  Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are great for gut health and I do love an excuse to splurge on kombucha.  I will be attempting my first bone broth this weekend which is supposedly deeeelish, I just hope I can find some chicken feet.  Another great food group for gut health is sprouted seeds (like flax seed, chia seed and hemp seeds).  Which brings me to my creation this morning.

Super Gut healthy Almond Butter

  • 2 tablespoons of Almond Butter ( I use Trader Joe’s Unsalted Crunchy)
  • 1 teaspoon of Chia Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of Ground Flax Seed
  • 1 teaspoon of Coconut Oil

Mix them all together and enjoy! I spread mine on apple slices for a mid morning snack.  This is a very filling spread so you might not need to eat the whole two tablespoons in one sitting, but it’s so good I cannot help but lick the bowl clean.

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!

 

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!

 

 

Gluten Free and Vegan Mug Cake

My latest kitchen experiment is another mug cake.  I am always attempting to make something easy and delicious when a craving strikes but it is usually a fail.  Yesterday I rummaged my pantry to see what I could come up with.  To my surprise my concoction was actually delicious! For some reason I had an open bag of gluten free yellow cake mix so I used that as the base.  I don’t even like yellow cake mix but I doctored it up with some creamy coconut peanut butter (by earth balance) and coconut oil.  I don’t consider baked goods a dessert until there is chocolate, so obviously I added a handful of semi sweet chips.  Here is what you will need:

Mug CakeYou obviously do not have to go with the brands I used, but I recommend all of them! Here is how to make your mug cake:

  • scoop your cake mix into a large mug or glass bowl
  • add in the peanut butter, coconut oil and stir
  • add 2 tablespoons of water (or more) and mix until your have a brownie batter consistency
  • Fold in a handful (about 2 tbsp) of semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Microwave from 1.5+ minutes (depending on your microwave). Watch it the whole time,  it is easy to overcook microwaved baked goods
  • Remove when it is still a little gooey, more like a blondie than a cake.  Since all of the ingredients are safe to consume raw you don’t need to worry
  • Let it set for a minute or two or mix it up while the chocolate chips are hot to create a ooey gooey chocolate cake (see pictures)