What I [Snacked On] Wednesday

I haven’t been sticking to the Tone It Up meal plan very strictly, but one thing I did learn from the 7 day slim down was that I need more snacks during the day, rather than at night. (Contrary to what my mouth believes, I don’t actually need mounds of peanut butter at 11pm. Weird, I know.) So I’ve been eating snacks throughout the day, to prevent that “oh-my-gosh-I’m-starving” feeling by the time I sit down for a meal. It seems to be working quite well.

 

Breakfast

I’m still doing the 12 day Good Belly Challenge, so I kick my morning off with a shot of probiotics and a glass of water. Chased shortly after with a chocolate smoothie, with PB2 and a little coconut for fun.

breakfast good belly

Morning snack

Usually this is an apple, but yesterday it was a Kashi Go Lean bar, because that’s what I had in my bag. I also like to drink a giant glass of water with lemon slices. It tastes so refreshing.

lemon and apple

Lunch

It’s slightly ridiculous how I can eat the same thing over and over and not get sick of it. I’ve been eating this salad since summer and I can’t stop. I’m obsessed. But the edamame and feta keep me full!

picmonkey_image-7

Seriously, can I just eat this forever?

Afternoon snack

Despite what it looks like from the day of eats, I generally try not to eat a lot of packaged food. But it was a busy day, so sometimes you gotta do it. I tried this new FiberPlus protein bar, and I was impressed.

fiber bar

It doesn’t win the award for fewest ingredients, but for 170 calories, 7g fiber and 10g protein, it’s not a bad snack. And the taste was amazing. Especially if you like peanuts.

Dinner

On my way over to a friends house, I stopped by Whole Foods, and filled up a couple of trays from the hot bar for us.

whole foods hot bar

I tried a little of everything (except the chicken) and I really liked a lot of it. The wheat berry salad reminded me of the one from Ellwood Thompson and I loved the chickpeas, of course. We had leftovers because everything was super filling. I did snack on a few chocolate covered pretzels later… but hey. Gotta end on something sweet, right?

What are you snacking on?

5 Ingredient Potato Soup

It was a bit of a snowy weekend here in Richmond, so it was the perfect excuse to make a huge batch of soup. It had been awhile since I had made any, and after discussing how potato soup was a college favorite… we just had to make some on Saturday.

The last time I made potato soup, I made this vegan loaded baked potato soup. (To this day, it’s one of the most popular recipes I’ve ever posted.) So if you’re vegan, or trying to make a healthier type of potato soup, I’d head over there.

But if you want to make really easy (and cheap) potato soup… then try this recipe. You only need 5 ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand. (I didn’t have any of this stuff and we bought it all for less than $7 dollars.)

Potato soup

Easy Potato Soup

Serves 6-8 people

  • 3lb bag of potatoes
  • 1 pint milk (we used 2%, you could use soy or almond)
  • Spices to taste (We used salt, pepper, and garlic)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 12 green onions

Peel and wash the potatoes and then cut into slices, then halved. Fill a pot of water to just cover the potatoes, and bring to a boil. Let these boil until the potatoes are soft. Pour out most of the water (don’t fully drain them) and then add in the milk. Bring back to a boil and stir until the potatoes start to break down. I like my soup chunky, but if you like it smoother, you could use a potato masher. Next, I added in about 1 tbsp salt, 2 tsp pepper, and 2 tsp of a garlic powder + pepper blend. I ended up adding in more garlic and pepper after serving, but you can adjust to your liking. Then top each bowl with a little cheese and green onions.

When I was eating the leftovers, I actually topped mine with nutritional yeast instead of cheese. It still gives it a cheesy flavor, but nutritional yeast is packed with protein and B vitamins.

It’s the perfect way to warm up if you’ve been outside making snow people.

6beef116678411e28b9422000a1f8af5_7

What did you eat this weekend?

The Good Belly Challenge

Apparently I just love challenges. Or I love trying new things. Or both? Either way, when the nice folks at Good Belly offered to send me some samples so I could take the 12-day challenge, I figured why not?

Good Belly has a range of dairy free, vegan probiotics drinks, and I actually think they’re pretty delicious. I’ve mentioned them before here and although I didn’t drink it on a consistent basis, I enjoyed starting my day off with a shot of probiotics.

I thought it would be fun to actually do the full 12 day challenge, so I stocked up my fridge with these (adorable) probiotic shots.

 good belly

While digging for some more informations about probiotics, I came across this on the Good Belly website:

In order to have a properly functioning immune system, one must have a healthy digestive system. Because nearly three quarters of your body’s immune system dwells in the digestive tract, it has the most profound effect on overall health out of all the internal organs.

To be clear, I’m not a health professional, and I’m not even endorsing these claims, but I did think that was an interesting fact! One of the other touted benefits of probiotics is a smooth digestive system, meaning less bloating. Who doesn’t want that?

Regardless of how you feel about probiotics, there are awesome some great foods you can munch on, which help banish the bloat:

  • Nut butters
  • Greek yogurt
  • Quinoa
  • Grapefruit

Also, drinking lots of water when eating foods with a lot of fiber (read: beans) can help with bloating. So there you go, fun fact of the day.

I might even just toss a shot of this into this strawberry shake…

strawberry-shake1

Click the photo for the recipe. And yes, despite the freezing temperatures, I’m still enjoying smoothies for breakfast ;)

I’m excited to see how I feel after 12 days of the challenge!

Have you tried taking probiotics?

Frozen Food Favorites

There’s nothing better than fresh fruits and veggies, but sometimes I have to rely on frozen food to get me by. Not only is it super convenient, it also tends to be cheaper, and it keeps for a lot longer. The issue is usually navigating through the freezer section, to find things that aren’t loaded up with artificial ingredients and preservatives.

So I made a quick little list of some of my frozen food staples.

Frozen Foods I Love

frozen foods I like

Frozen Fruit 

  • Berries last longer and they’re much cheaper, especially when they are out of season! I also like to freeze my bananas when they start getting too ripe. (Peel them first!)

Ezekiel bread (or any sprouted grain bread)

  • It keeps longer in the freezer, and a few minutes in the toaster brings it right back to life!

Vitatops (and VitaCakes)

  • They’re kind of expensive, but they’re pretty tasty! You could also just make these apple pie oatmeal  muffins and freeze them.

Frozen dinners (without the weird stuff)

  • Amy’s makes some of my favorites, but I also like Kashi and Lightlife.

Frozen dinners can come in handy if I need to pack my lunch, or I don’t have time to cook something. I like that the sprouted grain bread keeps in the freezer (really, any kind of bread would) so it doesn’t go stale before I can finish the loaf. And I actually prefer frozen berries for yogurt and smoothies! Vitatops make a great dessert when you just need something sweet.

 

Things I Don’t Love

  • Steamed broccoli- I just don’t think this tastes great. It’s not bad in a stir fry, but fresh is so much tastier
  • Frozen meals with 10,000 ingredients- Take a look at what’s in there… and watch out for strange preservatives and chemicals
  • Soy crumbles- I really wanted to like these, but I used them in this vegetarian chili and I just hated the texture

 

What are some of your favorite (or least favorite) frozen foods?

BodyMedia Armband Review

Happy Monday!

I finally got around to recording my first vlog. Am I the only one that feels super awkward on video?

I wanted to post a video review of the BodyMedia Link Armband, because it has some really great features, and I think it’s an awesome tool, if you’re trying to count calories.

 

In a nutshell, I think the armband is totally worth it, if you want to take your calorie tracking to the next level. It’s relatively comfortable to wear, it’s easy to sync, and it allows you to see exactly how much you’re burning. For $120, it’s definitely an investment, but I did really enjoy the data it gave me.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, but all opinions are my own. 

Have you ever tried a calorie tracker?

Quick Bites: Protein Bar Reviews (Round 1)

January has been a bit of a blur. I can’t say I don’t know where the time is going… I know exactly where it is. I’ve got 10 million activities going on. But that’s how I like it, so I’m not complaining :)

That said, it’s a little tricky to stay on track with healthy eating, when there is barely time to stop and eat, much less prepare something. I’ve been snacking on protein bars in the afternoon, to carry me between lunch and dinner, since sometimes dinner is later than my stomach would prefer.

Let me start by saying I’m not generally a big fan of protein bars. I feel like most of them have too many calories, too many weird ingredients, and not enough protein and fiber. I’d much prefer a bowl of Greek yogurt and some fruit. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exactly travel well. Anyways, I’ve accepted that protein bars can be necessary, and even tasty. These are some of my favorites (and least favorites) that I’ve tried recently.

kashi go lean bar

Kashi- Go Lean Crisp!

160 calories, 5g fiber, 8g protein. Less calories and a great taste. It’s the perfect bar to tide you over before dinner, but it won’t necessarily keep you full for hours. The cinnamon flavor was great, and it didn’t have that artificial flavor that some bars do.

clif

Clif Builder’s Bar

270 calories, 4g fiber, 20g protein. This one packs in lots of protein, but also a lot of calories. Again, the ingredients list isn’t my favorite, but more importantly, I didn’t like the taste at all. It had that chalky protein powder taste. I won’t be getting this one again.

KIND Apple cinnamon bar

KIND Apple Cinnamon

180 calories, 5g fiber, 3g protein. I absolutely love the taste of KIND bars and the ingredients list is awesome. It’s less protein and fiber than some of the other bars, but I think the trade offs for ingredients and taste are totally worth it. It didn’t keep me full forever, but it did taste awesome. (And they have them at Starbucks, so that’s a bonus!)

 

Which bars should I try for round 2?

Eats of the Week

As I mentioned, I’m still trying to follow the Tone It Up meal plan, more or less, which basically means lots of protein and vegetables, and less starchy carbs and nighttime snacking. It sounds simple, because it is, and it’s actually working pretty well for me. My clothes are fitting well, and I’m feeling energized!

Now let’s just hope I can keep up this meal plan ;)


Breakfast

I’m usually in the mood for a simple smoothie, but I switched up my usual recipe, so there is a little more protein, and a little less calories. Not that I was trying to drastically cut calories from my breakfast, but it gives me an excuse for a morning snack, so it works.

peanut butter shake

The PB2 makes it taste 10X better than just plain protein powder, without the need to add in nut butter. I’m not saying you shouldn’t add fats or nut butters to your shake. I think that’s totally delicious. But in the spirit of trying to get my peanut butter addition under control… this is what’s working for me. (Let’s not talk about the spoon-in-the-jar incident from Monday night…)

My morning snack has just been an apple and some tea. Nothing exciting.

Lunch

Making things like this chickpea salad has been an easy way to pack my lunch. I just throw some in a container, and toss it in my work bag. I love that I don’t have to heat it up or anything. I’ve been eating it with lots of veggies and salad.

simple chickpea salad

Afternoon snack

These have been a protein bar of some sort. I think I’ll do a whole post on my favorite protein bars. I’ve been trying lots of new ones, and I’m loving Think Thin and the Kashi Go Lean bars. An afternoon snack with protein has definitely helped me snack less when I get home from work.

Dinner

I think I’ve hit up the Ellwood Thompson’s hot bar more in the last month than I did all of last year. I’m addicted to this raw kale salad, with sundried tomatoes and pine nuts. It’s so delicious!

ellwood thompson hot bar

The hot bar always has so many delicious vegetarian options. I love the wheat berry salad so much, I recreated it here.

I’m still trying not to snack a lot after dinner. I find that I’m not actually hungry (just bored) so keeping myself busy is a good way to prevent mindless snacking. Being more aware of what I’m eating has helped me determine when I’m truly hungry, and sipping on tea, or hanging out with friends is a perfect distraction!

What are you eating?

Simple Chickpea Salad

Last week, I wrote about finishing the 7 day slim down and I was really happy with the results! The Tone It Up plan has a slightly less intense longer term plan, so I’ve been trying to loosely follow that. It’s a lot of the same principles (planned out meals, less starches in the evening, etc.) which I think have been working well for me.

In order to stay on track, I’ve tried planning out my meals a little better. Not only does that make grocery shopping easier, but it prevents me from having to eat something I don’t want (or isn’t so great for me) simply because I don’t have things on hand. Breakfast is usually just a protein smoothie, and lunch is often a salad from the cafeteria but dinner can be a little trickier.

I picked up a few packages of frozen veggie burgers, to use in a punch. And I also grabbed plenty of black beans and chickpeas, which can easily be transformed into a protein and fiber packed dinner. Since I had chickpeas on hand last night, I whipped up this super simple chickpea salad, which I’ll throw together with a kale salad for dinner tonight.

 simple chickpea salad

Simple Chickpea Salad

(makes 4 servings)

  • 2 cups chickpeas (about 1 can)
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • Ms. Dash seasonings (optional)

Rinse and drain your chickpeas and set aside. Peel and dice a red onion (I used a mandolin slicer for tiny shreds) and dice a green pepper. Mince a clove of garlic, and toss everything into a large bowl. Coat with olive oil and lemon juice, then sprinkle with salt and seasonings. I love Mrs. Dash seasonings because they’re packed with flavor, without salt. If you don’t have any, you can substitute whatever you have in your spice drawer. Cumin + paprika. Basil + parsley. Even a little lime juice would probably be delicious! It’s hard to go wrong with this one.

Mrs. Dash Seasoning

I’m thinking this dish would also be good with crushed red pepper and  paprika. Basically, I don’t think you can mess this up. I love eating this on a bed of spinach, but it’s also delicious on it’s own. And hey, if you’re not into cold chickpeas, you could always roast them instead.

After I made a batch of this, I immediately portioned it out into little containers, so I can grab them on the go if needed. (It also helps with portion control. Always a good thing.)

So that’s what I’ll be eating this week!

What meals do you have planned this week?

 

Cooking Demo @ Kitchen Thyme

Kitchen Thyme and Relay Foods hosted a cooking demo for a group of Virginia Bloggers, and the menu was full of vegetarian food, so I was pretty excited! (Vegetarian food and blogger friends. What’s not to love?)

I learned a lot of handy tips such as:

  • If you use too much salt, you can neutralize it with lemon juice
  • To save half an avocado, moisten a paper towel with tap water, and cover it with the paper towel and a rubber band. Apparently that will keep it from turning brown!
  • Oil and vinegar won’t mix… but mustard can bring them together!

Chef Tammy cooked up lots of food, giving us tips and tricks a long the way, which was super helpful. And getting to eat everything was pretty awesome, too ;)

chef tammy

This recipe below was one of the most interesting to me, because I loved the veggie burger, yet I don’t generally like olives or mushrooms. Something about this combination of flavors was great though.

lentil burger

You can find the recipe here on the Relay Foods website.

I also really enjoyed these carrot pineapple muffins! They were really hearty, and I think they’d be a nice filling breakfast.

carrot pineapple muffins

The chunks of pineapple added a really nice sweetness to the muffins, and they’d be a great breakfast on the go! You can find the recipe here.

The Relay Foods people are so nice, and Chef Tammy and Kitchen Thyme were awesome! It was so fun hanging out with some other local bloggers, and getting to try so much delicious food. I can’t wait to try some of these recipes! The last cooking class I took had a lot of recipes with meat…. so it was nice to have one that was all vegetarian food!

Have you ever taken a cooking class?

7 Day Slim Down Recap

I made it! The first 7 days of the Tone It Up meal plan were pretty intense, since I decided to do the 7 Day Slim Down to kick things off. While the diet was pretty strict, I can honestly say I didn’t feel hungry, and I had plenty of energy. I did cheat a little here and there (had to have a little wine on Saturday, what can I say…) but overall, I followed the plan pretty closely.

So here’s what a typical day looked like:

Breakfast

Tone it up protein pancake

I tried protein shakes and egg scrambles, but I think my favorite was the protein pancake. It was a little dry, as is to be expected, but not bad. If you want a really good protein pancake, try these. Not exactly the same as the one in the plan, but pretty close, and less dry.

Morning snack

I always munched on an apple. Technically the plan suggested grapefruit, but I wasn’t about to try eating one of those at my desk ;)

Lunch

Tone it up lunch

This wasn’t too far from my normal lunch, but instead of adding feta to my salad, I added a better source of protein. I tried tempeh, tofu, and black bean burgers. I think my favorite was Twin Oaks tofu, sauted in liquid aminos, with a little teriyaki sauce. This was eaten with a little fruit.

I was always surprised at how satisfying the lunch was, considering it was fairly low in calories. I guess it was the protein!

Afternoon snack

Typically this was a Think Thin bar. I’d never tried these before, but they tasted pretty good for a protein bar. They’re higher in calories (about 240) but pack in 20g of protein, so definitely kept me full! I liked the creamy peanut butter flavor a lot.

Dinner

The goal was to avoid starches after 2pm, so dinners were usually lots of veggies and protein. (Are you noticing a theme here?) Since I didn’t want to be stuck eating at home every night, I had to find some places I could go for dinner, that had healthy options. Ellwood Thompson’s is a definitely favorite.

tone it up dinner

I went there more than once over the course of the 7 day plan, and had lots of greens tofu, and kale salad. Their raw kale salad is one of my favorite things. The tofu salad was interesting. I loved the dill seasoning.

Evening snack

The plan didn’t encourage a lot of snacking after dinner, but there were a couple of times when I hadn’t had a chance to eat much dinner, where I’d have some plain greek yogurt or something like that. But overall, I really cut out evening snacking, which was a big change for me. I found that I wasn’t actually hungry. Most of the time, I had been snacking just because I was bored. I often had a mug of tea or something to keep me distracted, but I didn’t actually snack much.

Even though the 7 day slim down is over, I’m still planning on following the regular Tone It Up meal plan for awhile, because I’ve noticed how their meals have been keeping me full and energized throughout the day. The regular plan gives me a little more flexibility, and I’m sure I’ll have meals that aren’t “on the plan” but overall, I think the focus on veggies and protein is exactly what my body has been craving!

So far, this new years resolution is going well!

If you made any resolutions, how are they going?