Monday, July 25, 2016

Hiking the Glen Burney Trail

Hiking is one of my favorite recreational workouts! I also like rock climbing at indoor gyms but that's a lot more expensive! Recently, I re-hiked the Glen Burney Trail in Blowing Rock, NC.

The Glen Burney trailhead starts at the Annie Cannon Memorial Gardens. There's a small parking area and it's right near downtown! The trail is just a short 2.2 miles out and back. It features "Cascades" which are beautiful waterfalls that you hike down to. There is more uphill on the way back. I think this is a great short hike! We got very hot!



Obviously must take a selfie

The trail is classified as strenuous, most likely due to being technical (roots and trees to climb over) and there is a good bit of uphill on the way back. There's also a small bridge to cross. Interestingly, you will hike behind a large house and some piping? You also pass "ruins" which I believe are from old sewage workings? There are 2 more falls past the Cascades but remember after hiking down, down, down, you will have to get back up!

Blowing Rock is also a cute town so you can enjoy that after your hike (with a Kilwin's ice cream shop ;) Boone, NC is another cute mountain town nearby but it is a little bit of a drive. 

Do you like long hikes or short hikes? Let me know if you try this one and what you think! I'm not 100% sure on the length because I've found different distances from different sources.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Goals and Endurance

“Endurance: It is the spirit which can bear things, not simply with resignation, but with blazing hope. It is the quality which keeps a man on his feet with his face to the wind. It is the virtue which can transmute the hardest trial into glory because beyond the pain it sees the goal.”


― AnonymousCome Be My Follower


Endurance is more than just going through something. We have no control of what we have to go through many times. Consider people who are overcome with diseases, injuries, loss of loved ones, etc. These are all horrible things that, in many cases, were completely out of the control of the affected person.

 I broke my neck and suffered a spinal cord injury as I have mentioned before. ( Don't Break Your Neck) While I was in the hospital, many people told me I was so strong for enduring this. However, in the beginning, I don't believe this was true. I was merely existing through this experience. I cried, and even felt like I wanted to die sometimes. I came to realize, though, that this was my situation and I needed to accept it and make the most of my life. I had a hope and a goal beyond this trial. 

That hope is what pushed me to try my very hardest in physical therapy, to walk every single day, to think of others despite what I was going through, and to strive to have a grateful attitude. It's not easy, but now I can say I am enduring. The hope that I have is what continues to drive me today. Most people do not have an easy life with no problems, so it can be very easy to succumb to negative feelings. Keep your eyes on the goal and continue to endure with your blazing hope!

That being said, I have set up some short term goals for the month of July and for #slap90days2 challenge hosted by Slap Nutrition Supplements. Here's what they are:

1. Relax with macro counting - don't obsess. 
2. Drink more water - 3 bottles a day. 
3. Less caffeine - maximum of 2 caffeine drinks per day. 
4. Make gains - 3lbs up in body weight, 85 lb squat
5. Daily Bible reading and meditation.
6. Attempt to make someone smile each day. 
7. Show gratitude each day. 
8. Research career opportunities and take action. 
9. Enjoy life, be present, love and live. 
10. Embrace my future, but also my past. 

I want to look ahead but that doesn't invalidate what I've gone through. My past has shaped me into the person I am today and continues to affect me but it does not stop me. I like to reflect on these goals each night to see how I'm doing! Accountabilty is key!

Do you have any goals? Write them down and let's be #goaldiggers toghether!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Protein Cookie Dough Dip

I'm one of those people that likes cookie dough better than cookies. I'm one of those people that buys premade cookie dough for the sole purpose of eating it raw. I know, you are too. 

So, I present to you egg free, gluten free, (can be made vegan), super versatile and delicious protein cookie dough (dip). 


I made it a snickerdoodle cookie dough, but you could easily change a few ingredients to make Chocolate Chip, Double Chocolate, Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Macadamia, etc. Run wild. The cookie dough is your oyster..er...you know what I mean. 

Ingredients:
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and dried
  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon*
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened vanilla cashew milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp imitation butter flavor
  • 2 Tbsp Walden farms Pancake Syrup
  • Additional sweetener to taste
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon chips*

Directions:

1. Pour the rinsed and dried chickpeas into a food processor or blender. Add in the cashew milk and blend until smooth. 
2. Add in the protein powder and cinnamon and blend until thoroughly combined. 
3. Add in the flavorings, pancake syrup and sweetener and blend until smooth. 
4. Transfer the dough to a bowl and mix in the cinnamon chips. Optional: top with a sprinkle of cinnamon/stevia or cinnamon sugar! 






*Leave out the cinnamon for other flavor variations and substitute cinnamon chips for mix in of choice. Some ideas:

  • Use chocolate protein powder, substitue pancake syrup with Walden Farms chocolate syrup, substitue cinnamon chips for mini chocolate chips for a double chocolate cookie dough. 
  • Use vanilla protein powder, substitue cinnamon chips for mini chocolate chips for classic chocolate chip cookie dough. 
  • Use vanilla protein powder, substitute cinnamon chips for white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts for white chocolate macadamia nut cookie dough. 
  • Use peanut butter protein powder, substitute cinnamon chips for mini chocolate chips for peanut butter cookie dough. 
  • Use cinnamon protein powder (or vanilla + cinnamon), add 1/4 cup cashew milk, 1/4 cup oats, and raisins or mini chocolate chips for oatmeal cookie dough. 
Base "Dough"
The texture is thick and great! I didn't add much sweetener to mine, so you could definitely taste a little chickpea flavor but I didn't mind. Feel free to use as much or as little sweetner as you wish. 

Makes 4 servings. Macros per serving:
155 calories 2.3f/19.5c/12.5p

Have your cookie dough and eat it too. I won't tell. 

Vegan for a Day: FDOE

I like to try new things and some of my friends eat vegetarian, vegan,and gluten free diets so I decided to give a vegan day a try! I've done it once before. My goal was to eat entirely vegan but still hit my macros. Safe to say, the hardest one for me to hit was protein! Here's just a quick recap of what I ate to meet my protein goals without protein powder:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with D's Naturals Vanilla Maple Fluff Butter

 Snack: Nugo Slim Crunchy Peanut Butter Protein Bar and grapes

Lunch: Gardein Mandarin Chick'n atop Spinach Salad with Walden Farms Asian Dressing

Snack: D's Naturals Raspberry Truffle No Cow Bar
            Silk Strawberry Soy Yogurt with Purely Elizabeth Original Granola


Dinner: Gardein Chick'n 7 Grain Crispy Tenders, Sweet Potato with PB2, Broccoli

Night Snack: Cocoa Banana Nice Cream (2 frozen bananas + 1 Tbsp cocoa powder), Raw Rev Glo Creamy Peanut Butter Protein Bar, 2 Tbsp powdered peanut butter and NuNaturals Cocoa Syrup to top it off!

Protein Total: 125g

I honestly enjoyed all the foods I ate on this vegan day. The Nugo Slim bar was probably my least favorite of the bars but still pretty good. The D's Naturals bar had a really great flavor and decent texture but it did have an underlying grittiness/aftertaste? The Raw Rev bar tasted like peanut butter and health. They put healthy crunchy things in there, I don't know lol! 

Obviously, I ate a lot of processed foods which is not ideal but it was the easiest way for me to get my protein in, especially on  a tight schedule! It was a fun little challenge for me and I enjoyed trying different foods. 

P.S. Gardein chick'n substitutes are pretty good!

Do you have any food restrictions due to health issues or otherwise?
How do you deal with it? I'm grateful that my only issue is a very slight dairy issue - basically I just can't drink glasses and glasses of milk or my skin breaks out, yikes!










Monday, July 11, 2016

Product Review: Fatsbar

Now, when you think of an adjective you want to describe your snack, many people shy away from FATS! However, healthy fats are an important macronutrient for healthy bodies.

Fats are a main fuel source, they are vital to the absorption of many vitamins and antioxidants, they are important for brain, nerve and heart function. Playing into the benefits of this macronutrient, FATSBAR has created a unique nutrition bar and I was excited to try it.


As you can see, the bar is a bit oily and mine was crumbly (I carried it around with me all morning). It had a very rich, dark chocolate flavor that reminded me of a dark chocolate brownie. It wasn't overly sweet. The biggest issue was durability because mine was crumbly and melty, however, I still enjoyed it! It's hard to travel with a spoon of nut butter so I'd say this is a convenient way to have a fatty snack on the go. It would be great for those following a keto diet!

I'd rate it 7/10

Macros: 180 calories 12f/16c/7p

Oh, and they're organic, grain and dairy free and made primarly from cashew butter!


Monday, July 4, 2016

Product Review: Raw Rev Glo Bars - Cookie Dough and Dark Chocolate Espresso

Raw. Rev. Glo. 

What does it mean? 

Raw - Raw and wholesome ingredients 
Rev- Revolutionary!
Glo-Full of omega rich superfoods that keep you GLOing!

So here's the low down on the new Raw Rev Glo bars. They're "high" protein and fiber, low sugar, and organic. They contain sprouted superfoods in every bite. They're vegan, kosher, and non GMO.

Wow, that's a lot of "health" claims. So the important question is: How do they taste?!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 


The first one I tried was Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, naturally. I apologize for the poor picture quality but hopefully you can tell how freakin' amazing that melty chocolate was. The chocolate chips were a bit melted due to the lack of A/C in my house and the hot summer weather. However, I think this really added. The chocolate chips were very good - I would never have guessed they were vegan. The bar itself is tiny but dense. It was soft and chewy with a bit of an oily coating. I have a feeling they don't travel that well but it was delicious! As a plant based protein bar, it has lower protein than a whey based protein bar but still decent macros.

CCCD Macros: 180 calories 10f/21c/10p

Dark Chocolate Espresso atop a pint of Cappuccino Arctic Zero and smothered with love, I mean Mocha Epic Spreads.

The second flavor I tried was the Dark Chocoalte Espresso. This flavor also had amazing chocolate chips and actual espresso beans. MUST LOVE ESPRESSO. The espresso flavor is very prominent. Thankfully, I love both espresso and dark chocolate so this bar was a win for me. Simlar to the CCCD, this bar was also very small, had an oily coating and a soft, dense, chewy texture. It also had similar macros.

DCE Macros: 180 calories 10f/21c/10p

Another positive note about these bars is that they're priced very reasonably in comparison to other vegan, organic brands and products. I give them 8/10! I still have to try the peanut butter flavors! Yum!




Friday, July 1, 2016

Holy (Protein) Cannoli

If you haven't already figured it out, I have a major sweet tooth! One dessert I love to get from real NY pizzerias is a cannoli! I just love them!

The other day, I bought some fat free ricotta cheese to make a calzone, and had a ton of ricotta left over. Obviously, my mind immediately went to cannolis! How could I make them "healthy"? 

I ended up simply mixing the ricotta with protein powder and sweetener for the filling and made a crisped crepe type shell. I'm not 100% pleased with the shell because it didn't have that crunch and crumble that a real cannoli shell has. Perhaps I will do some more experimenting in the kitchen. However, since it was still pretty darn delicious, I'll share my recipe with you!



Ingredients: 

Shell: 
  • Approximately 3 tbsp Kodiak cakes mix 
  • 3 tbsp (equal parts) water 
Filling:
  • 1/4 cup fat free ricotta cheese 
  • 10 grams protein powder (about 1/3 scoop) 
  • 1/2 tbsp chocolate chips
Directions: 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set it to broil. 
2. Mix the shell ingredients and cook in a pan as one large crepe. 
3.  Using a cannoli tube (or create a cylinder using aluminum foil like I did) wrap the crepe around the tube. I used a toothpick to secure it on the aluminum foil tube. 
4. Spray the crepe with cooking spray and broil for about 5 minutes, until it is golden and retains its shape. 
5. Let the shell cool. 
6. In a bowl, combine the ricotta and protein powder. Beat with a hand mixer. 
7. When thoroughly combined, spoon it into a piping bag with tip and chill in the fridge. 
8. When both the filling and the shell are cool, pipe the filling in both sides of the shell. 
9. Adorn with chocolate chips and nunaturals Cocoa syrup for an authentic feel! 
10. Devour and be amazed. 

Macros: 174 calories 2.6f/19.4c/18.7p