Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Is This Legal? A Jerky Review

I'm a jerky lover. Who's with me?


It's such a convenient snack that I like to take on hikes or on trips! It lasts a long time and I personally think it tastes delicious.

I first tried Lawless Jerky from SnackNation, and I have to say it seemed a bit dry. I know it's dried meat but this was a bit tough. The company told me this was not right and they sent me a new batch!
It was mailed from the company and it was noticeably better! It was chewy and tender and so delicious! I love the fun flavors they have. They have:

Sweet Sriracha Beef Jerky - this one is pretty spicy, true to it's name!

Aloha Teriyaki Beef Jerky - tastes like your typical teriyaki flavor, a classic.

BBQ Spare Rib Pork Jerky - okay, this one is so delicious! It really tastes like it's namesake and it was so tender!

Mango Habanero Beef Jerky - This one is probably one of my favorites because I love how the sweetness perfectly balances out the spiciness. (They have a heat rating on their website if you're interested or sensitive to spicy things - I have high spicy tolerance! lawlessjerky.com)

Pho Beef Jerky - I have yet to try this flavor but it says it has herbs (cilantro, mint, basil) and spices (star anise, cinnamon, cloves and the kick of jalapeno) for Pho on the go. I've never had Pho either but this certainly sounds delicious.

Honey Chipotle Beef Jerky - The final flavor offering is another I have yet to try. This Mexican - inspired flavor is another sweer-meets-spicy flavor that sounds delicious. It has ingredients like smoked chiles, paprika, garlic and honey!

Why Lawless? It's called Lawless because it was founded by an attorney who left his practice to pursue his passion for crafting delicious jerky for people's enjoyment. Lawless breaks the "laws" of jerky by using no added chemicals and tasting like real meat!

Lawless Jerky is:

  1. 100% grass fed beef and hormone free, antibiotic free pork
  2. No added nitrites/nitrates, MSGs or corn syrup 
  3. Made with quality ingredients and made in small batches 
  4. Convenient 
  5. Delicious
  6. Great source of protein and iron (important to me as I'm iron deficient anemic)
Which flavor sounds best to you? Do you like jerky?





Monday, May 8, 2017

Eating my Way through Italy!

Normally, I try to eat a lot of whole foods, vegetables, fruits, etc. I honestly can't remember the last time I had pizza or spaghetti and I rarely eat non-"diet" ice cream (but seriously, Enlightened and Halo Top is so good anyway...).

However, when in Rome...

Hazelnut Gelato in Florence




















Did I go completely crazy and eat everything in sight? Just a little at the end! XD

In all seriousness, I did try to be somewhat conscious of getting in some nutrients, and water. Thankfully, my travel companion was alright with hitting up the local markets to have meals that we weren't eating out. I got yogurt and fruit for some breakfasts and snacks, along with popcorn and chocolate because, well, I love chocolate.
Shrimp and melon salad in Rome

Sometimes, when we went out, I got salad, or fish and vegetables, etc. Then, in Naples, I had to get pizza! They invented it! I finished my entire pizza myself, but if you looked around the pizzeria, everyone, young and old was finishing their own pizza. Also, I could tell the ingredients were so fresh and I didn't feel greasy and disgusting after eating it. Full, yes, but not greasy and gross.

Cookies and Caramel Gelato in Cinque Terre
I did eat gelato almost every day but I'm a huge gelato lover. Portion control is pretty easy when you're paying a pretty penny. I also indulged in a traditional Sicilian cannoli when we went to Taormina, Sicily. It was hands down the best cannoli I've ever had.

Coffee and I forgot the second flavor! Florence, again. 
It was a very fast paced trip as we started in Florence, then moved on to Cinque Terre, where we hiked along the coast from town to town (only partially because part of the Blue Trail is closed due to rock slides and erosion so you can't hike to each town). From Cinque Terre we went on to Taormina, Sicily which is hilly but beautiful! Then we took a long train ride to Rome where we saw the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, among other things! It's truly an amazing city full of history and architecture and culture and good food! We took a little day trip from Rome to go to Naples. Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of Naples outside the pizza lol! I truly love traveling and trying the different foods! There's no need to feel guilty for "going off track" or indulging in less nutritious foods than normal while on vacation. It's short term and I would really regret letting guilt over gelato ruin my precious travel memories. So the lesson is, eat, experience and enjoy. Be balanced.

I'm not super thrilled to be home, but I do enjoy routine. I had this Monday off work so I went to the gym as usual and am getting prepared for the rest of the week!

What's your favorite part of vacation? How much pizza would you eat in Italy? LOL!



Cannoli in Sicily

Magherita pizza in Naples

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Brief Synopsis of my Journey

 A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC

During my high school years, one of my friends challenged me to a contest to get a six pack of abs. As silly as it sounds, this sparked my research online as to what it took for a female to achieve a six pack of abs. What I read indicated that women would need to be at a very low body fat percentage and to limit carbohydrates, so that's what I began to do.

At this point, I did not count calories - I simply began to cut carbohydrates from my diet, with the exception of fruit. The six  pack challenge with my friend came and went (neither of us really achieving a six pack either), yet I was now on an unhealthy path. My weight began to drop. My parents and I both noticed it and noticed the need for me to make an effort to gain weight. This is when I began to count calories. It's ironic that I began to count calories to gain weight but this led me to an obsessive, unhealthy relationship with food and tracking my intake. When my weight continued to drop, I felt a sickening pride. I knew it was twisted, I knew it was wrong but I couldn't help it. I was warring with my own mind. I knew that it was not good for me to be losing weight but it pleased my eating disorder very much.

Finally, my weight got so low that my parents were telling me to seek treatment. We approached several different facilities. Due to liability reasons, no facility would accept me for an outpatient program and we had complications with insurance and finding an open bed for an inpatient program.

In July of 2014, I was admitted to the hospital for extreme iron deficiency and treated with three rounds of iron infusions. The medical staff no longer had any "reason" to keep me there so I was discharged, still with no treatment options available to me.

Soon thereafter, insurance approved a residential program about an hour from my home. This was an experience I will not soon forget. It was not completely enjoyable and I felt very humbled being required to count while I used the bathroom. However, I do believe that treatment was good for me. They helped me to restore my weight relatively quickly and safely. At this point, I wanted to recover. I had already begun to gain weight on my own and even believed that I could do it on my own, but treatment was a safer option. It saddened me so deeply, though, to see the other patients who were not committed to recovering, still enslaved to their eating disorder and blinded to the fact that they were killing themselves.

I left the program AMA because insurance was not going to cover it any longer, I had been weight restored and I felt that I was ready to move on with my life. I maintained my weight for a while but as calories dropped (I had been consuming about 4000 calories in treatment - not sustainable) and activity increased just due to my active lifestyle, my weight began to drop again.

Around the time when I began to see a need to make a conscientious effort to gain weight again, I experienced a traumatic injury. I was attending a concert and a stage diver landed right on my head. I was on the ground. Everything was a blur. I felt as though I was being trampled but I was unsure. Finally, someone slung me over their shoulder and got me out of the crowd. The security thought I had simply passed out. I couldn't talk, couldn't move, couldn't feel. When they realized it was something more than just passing out, they called an ambulance and laid me in the dirt outside the venue.

When the ambulance came, one of the EMT workers assured me that I was just stunned and I would be surfing the next week as I had planned. Some part of me believed him. When I arrived at the hospital, I was taken immediately to the trauma center. So many things were happening, needles, tests, and scans. At one point, the nurse tried to give me morphine and then I went unconscious and she was afraid that she had killed me.

I believe it was the next day (it's quite hazy) I underwent a neck surgery where they put a metal cage in my neck. I had suffered a broken neck and a spinal cord injury (Central Cord Syndrome) that affected primarily my upper body. The doctors could not say if I would walk or walk normally ever again.

It was a very slow process and again, I was humbled as I relearned the simplest of tasks such as walking and writing. My hands were probably the most affected and I still do not have full feeling in them to this day. It was not easy and I spent many nights in tears wondering how I could ever live a normal life when I couldn't even use the bathroom on my own.

I spent about a month total in the hospital and the hospital's physical therapy unit before being discharged. I did not feel ready. I had made a lot of progress but still couldn't dress myself and to make matters worse, I had lost even more weight during my hospital stay. I began to do outpatient therapy and I followed my therapy exercise program religiously. Every day, I went through my exercises and my mother and I would go on a mile long walk. My mother and my faith in God helped me through this time so much. I cannot fully express my gratitude.

As I was recovering from my spinal cord injury, I also struggled mentally with my eating. The physical therapist recommended 3000 calories to facilitate healing and recovery. As I was in a neck brace, and very limited as to my physical activity, this was very hard for me. I managed to get up to 2500 calories and to restore my weight.

I continued to make progress and now I appear almost normal to the unknowing spectator. My gait is still not quite normal but I run and hike again. My hands still don't have feeling but I can dress myself and even type (which is vital to my job!). I am so grateful.

After the spinal cord injury, all my muscles had completely atrophied. I could not even lift a dinner plate. A lot of this was helped by my physical therapy exercises but this led me to the desire to become strong. I began resistance training after my neck brace came off and in January of this year, I joined Gold's Gym. I love the feeling of getting stronger both mentally and physically.

Sometimes, the destination of a journey is not in sight, but that's okay. I believe it's important to enjoy the journey. I will continue to change. I will grow mentally and physically. I will persevere.
2013- Pre Eating Disorder Treatment



2014 - Post ED Treatment

2015 - Post ED Treatment
2015 - Post Spinal Cord Injury

Left - After getting out of neck brace (2016) Right - Current, resistance training, 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Clean.Fit Box Review

Clean. Fit.



Pretty simple. Clean.Fit Box is a monthly subscription box full of products for people who want to live a clean and fit lifestyle! Sign me up!

They included a note in my box stating that they started out of a passion for healthy: eating well, staying fit, and practicing self-love. I love that! The products in the clean.fit box never include artifical preservatives, flavors or colors, trans fat or partially hydrogenated oils, fake sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup.

I love what the clean.fit box is promoting here because so many "healthy" or "fitness" products do not keep these high standards. Some snack that may be promoted as a diet/health food may very well be loaded with artifical sweetners, flavors and who knows what else!

Clean.Fit Box provides products that promote sustainable fitness, health and overall wellness!

Let's see what was in the March Box:


  • Evo Hemp Bar: a snack bar made of fruits, nuts, seeds and tumeric, I can't wait to try this one!
  • Buff Bake: Rocky Road peanut spread with hormone free whey, I love Buff Bake spreads but I haven't had the chance to try this flavor yet.
  • Leap Smoothies: organic fruits and veggies for smooth-ease
  • Salad Power: a drinkable salad? I admit, I'm a little bit skeptical of this one!
  • Natural Citizen Organic Vegan Protein: non-flavored makes it easy to add to anything, I've tried bad vegan protein so I'm curious to try this. 
  • The New Primal: Free range cilantro lime turkey stick, this sounds like a slim jim's healthy cousin and I'm stoked about it. 
  • MRM: 100% natural pre workout!
  • Motion Matcha: green trea powder with a great tropical taste, excited to try this as well!
Overall, I think there are some great products in here and I think the clean.fit box is a neat way to discover brands that align with these standards. I also think it's neat that they included a vegan supplement to try!

I will update as I try the products inside!

Do you have any subscription boxes? What kind? 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Healthy Peanut Butter Blondies

What is a blondie? It's the nonchocolate counterpart to a brownie, duh!

Blondies have more fun. Topped with NuNaturals Cocoa Syrup (0 cal)
I know that blondies still don't seem to be as popular as brownies, but these babies are pretty tasty! Don't worry, I added mini chocolate chips because chocolate is necessary.

Now what makes these "healthy"?

  • No refined sugar (aside from chocolate chips)
  • No refined flours
  • No oil 
  • Extra protein and fiber 
How? Chickpeas. Bean there, done that, back again! My father taste tested it and after I revealed that they were made with no flour, rather, they were made with chickpeas, he said he couldn't tell! Success!

They're pretty simple, but word to the wise: My blender is not a high powered food processor so the batter became pretty warm as I blended to a good consistency so when I folded in the chocolate chips, it turned the batter a bit brown as some of them melted. They were still delicious but if you're going for aesthetics, you may want to cool the batter before folding in the chocolate chips!
So fudgy and dense!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used a natural variety)
  • 1/4 cup honey 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp imitation butter flavor
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cashew milk (or milk of choice)
  • additional sweetener to taste (I used NuNaturals No Carb blend stevia packets - I used 6 if I remember correctly)
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 8" baking pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. 
  2. Rinse, drain and dry the chickpeas. Most of the "skins" came off as I dried. 
  3. Combine the chickpeas, peanut butter, honey, milk, and sweetener in a high powered blender or food processor.
  4. Blend until smooth. 
  5. Allow batter to cool and fold in the chocolate chips. 
  6. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the edges pull away and/or the top is golden brown. 
  7. Allow to cool and dig in! Store in the refrigerator. 
My dad described these as "rich" which he attributed to the peanut butter. He's been known to strongly dislike my "healthy" recipes so I counted this as a success and I enjoyed them a lot myself! How can you go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate?? 

Let me know if you try these! Have you ever made a dessert with beans? Can you believe I still haven't tried black bean brownies?

Recipe adapted from Joyfoodsunshine.com

Monday, March 20, 2017

LiveLovePop Review


If you know me, you know I love popcorn. I've tried many brands, even skinless popcorn! I can't really say I've hated any! However, I do have my favorites. One brand that caught my eye taking the social media world by storm is LiveLovePop! 
What's really awesome about this brand is that they're a mission based brand so each flavor gives back to a different charity. You can learn more about their mission on their website: livelovepop.com.
They also use simple, wholesome ingredients for healthy snacking you can feel good about! 
Not to be forgotten is the medley (yes, cornucopia, if you will) of flavors! The current flavors are honey bbq, lime fresco, sea salt, truffle salt, and salt and vinegar. So far I have tried honey bbq, sea salt and truffle salt but lime fresco may be my next victim!
Mix up of Honey BBQ and Sea Salt
The truffle salt flavor has a nice subtle truffle flavor lightly salted. At first bite, I will say I wasn't blown away but it definitely is addictive. The more I ate it, the more I liked it! 

The sea salt, again did not astound me, and is comparable to other brands that offer a sea salt flavor. There's really only so much one can do with sea salt but it's a classic flavor that I'm glad they offer! 

The honey bbq is a different story! I have never tasted popcorn like this! The flavor hits the nail on the head like a honey bbq chip but in the form of popcorn! I loved it so much, but sadly, so did my dad! lol! 

I can't wait to try the other flavors! 

Have you tried this brand of popcorn? What's your favorite popcorn? Sweet or salty?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Mini S'mores Bites!

Want a s'more?

S'more what?

"You're killing me, Smalls!"

-The Sandlot

If you haven't watched the Sandlot, I recommend you go do that right now and then come back, read this recipe, and make some (healthier) s'mores bites!

They are seriously so easy, I'm not sure it even counts as a recipe! These little bites have all your basic components of a s'more: graham, chocolate, and mallow - without packing a calorie punch!

Here's how:

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp imitation butter flavor
  • 1-2 packets stevia or sweetener of choice
  • 5 tbsp graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbsp brownie batter Gbutter spread (the gbutter spread is a very unique spread so may not be substituted - learn more about it: gbutter review)
  • 18 mini marshmallows (I used My Dandies vegan mini marshmallows but you may use any brand)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a mini muffin pan (you will only use six compartments). 
  2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, egg white, butter flavor* and sweetener. Press this mixture into six compartments of the mini muffin tin. 
  3. Scoop half a tablespoon of gbutter spread on top of each.**
  4. Place three mini marshmallows on top of each. 
  5. Bake for 5 minutes, then broil until the marshmallows puff and become golden. 
Enjoy!

*If a richer base is desired, you may use melted butter in place of the egg white and butter flavor. 

**For an alternative, you could try mini chocolate chips. 

Macros per bite:
68 cal 2.1f/8.9c/3.4p

Let me know if you try these! What's your favorite way to have a s'more? Are you a marshmallow burner?