Saturday, October 21, 2017

Muy Bien Snacks!

Who here likes to snack?

I'm raising my hand and I hope you are too. Sweet, salty, munchy, creamy - give me all the snacks!

Typically my snacks include things like non-GMO popcorn, fruits and vegetables (baby carrots are my jam), protein bars, yogurt, etc. Once upon a time, I roasted some chickpeas with cinnamon and stevia and it was delicious. However, the time involved in rinsing, drying, and roasting proved to be a bit arduous to become a common occurrence. Hashtag lazy.
BienaSnacks.com
In comes Biena Snacks to save the day! Biena Snacks makes a line of chickpea snacks in a vast array of flavors. Whether you're craving sweet or savory, they have a chickpea for you! If you're thinking: "What the heck is a chickpea?", you may have heard them called garbanzo beans. They're the same thing and they are a legume with many health benefits (high fiber, gluten free protein/carb, iron, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, vitamin K, vitamin B6, choline, selenium, need I go on?).

I'm always intrigued by reading how companies started and love when they share their story. Poorvi Patodia, founder and CEO, began experimenting with roasting chickpeas when she was pregnant and looking for a healthy way to satisfy cravings. I can confirm she hit the nail on the head, because the light, crunchy texture of Biena Snacks is way better than my one time kitchen experiment!

A great sweet and crunchy snack!
All the snacks are non-GMO and all natural. Their flavors include: Classic Roasted: sea salt, rockin' ranch, honey roasted, habanero, barbecue, cinnamon and sour cream and onion. Wait! There's more! They have chocolate covered chickpeas: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Caramel.

So the important question is: How do they taste?

The Sea Salt Caramel Coated Chickpeas on a "Low Cow" Sundae!

The answer: De. Lic. Ious. Seriously. I am loving the light, airy crunch. The chocolate coated snacks make a great sweet treat. The salty-sweet combo of the chickpea with the chocolate is so great. I would recommend you check out Biena Snacks! You can order online BienaFoods.com or check their product locator to find a store near you that carries their products.

Have you ever tried roasting chickpeas? Team Chickpea or Garbanzo Bean? Let me know!

Disclaimer: I received these products free but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Creative Snacks! Pumpkin Everything!

The pumpkin craze of fall 2017 is going strong and I'm no resister. I'm embracing all things pumpkin, salted caramel and apple.

Creative Snacks Co. makes delicious snacks and treats while staying away from high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, artificial flavors and other potentially harmful ingredients. Their product line ranges from coconut snacks, trail mixes, granola, coated pretzels, sweets and confections, veggie snacks and more!

What I want to talk about is the seasonal items! I got my hands on the Pumpkin Spice coated pretzels, the Apple Cider coated pretzels, and the pumpkin granola.

Oh my yum! I already love yogurt coated pretzels so I was especially excited about those! These pretzels were not a disappointment. The pumpkin spice ones had a great spicy flavor without being overbearing. I haven't tried the Apple Cider flavor yet but I look forward to it!

The Pumpkin Pecan granola is a granola lover's dream. It has good clusters and a sweet and spicy flavor. Can you believe it's made with real pumpkin!? Check out the ingredients:

I really enjoyed these seasonal goodies and want to incorporate them into some fall recipes! I also noticed peppermint yogurt coated pretzels are a seasonal item for the winter *swoon*. I'll be munching on pumpkin spice until then!

Pumpkin Spice Pretzels sitting pretty on Protein Fluff!
What are your favorite fall treats?  Team Apple, Pumpkin or both?


You can find out where Creative Snacks Co. products are sold here: http://creativesnacks.com/retailers. Happy snacking!



Monday, October 16, 2017

Do You Know Better?

Know better about what? Know about Know Foods, of course!

Keep up, people. Know Better Foods is taking the world by storm.

Their products are geared toward a ketogenic lifestyle but anyone can enjoy them. They make so many different foods ranging from waffles, croutons, muffins, wraps and much more. So far, I've only had the pleasure of trying the cookies and waffles but let's just say, I'm glad to be in the know.

Their products have NO GMOS, gluten, grains, wheat, soy, dairy, peanuts, yeast, preservatives, added sugar, or trans fat! Whew. So basically, whatever diet or lifestyle you choose, Know Foods can probably fit your restrictions or preferences. Oh, and the cookies are near zero on the glycemic index too. The more you know...

Though I personally don't follow a ketogenic diet or have any known intolerances, I do love finding and trying new foods made with quality ingredients sans the unnecessary added sugar. Their foods are sweetened using the natural sweetener, allulose. They also incorporate "superfoods" like almonds, chia seeds, flax seed, coconut, etc.

Like I mentioned above, I've only tried the waffles and cookies, but I am impressed!

Chocolate Chip Waffle
Macros: 152 calories 8f/20c/12p (4g net carb)

Chocolate Chip Waffle with coconut butter, cacao nibs and
Nunaturals Cocoa Syrup

The waffles were so delicious! They had a great texture, dense but without being heavy. They were also very satiating! I didn't get hungry for hours!

Chocolate Chip Cookie
Macros: 395 calories 32f/42c/18p (4g net carb)
Do you see how thick this cookie is?!
Mother of Cookie, this thing was huge! It was very dense and tasted great. I could definitely tell it was not your ordinary, grandma's gluten filled cookie, but good nonetheless. I could tell in the texture that there were nuts and seeds throughout but it didn't bother me. I think it would be great warmed up! It's also pretty cool that I KNOW everything listed in the ingredients list!

So if you didn't know, now you know! Check them out here: knowfoods.com!

Have you tried Know Foods? What's your favorite product of theirs? I have so many left to try!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Boost Your Workouut!

Are you constantly on the go? Are you trying to thrive and grow? Are you a poet and didn't know it? I digress.

Give me a boost! EBOOST is a supplement company that states they are for people who are on the go, creating products that help power you through a workday, workout or whatever task you have at hand.

I'm a firm believer that supplements are completely optional, however, sometimes, the convenience is a great help for me. What I really love about EBOOST is that they use quality ingredients, non GMO, no artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors and are soy free.

I had the opportunity to try their Prime Protein Powder in Chocolate. Fast Facts:

  • 25 grams grass fed whey protein
  • 5g prebiotic fiber
  • tart cherry powder (anti-inflammatory)
  • 1 billion CFU probiotics + digestive enzymes
  • 5.5 grams BCAA
  • 4 grams of glutamine and glutamic acid
  • Macros per serving (46.5g): 170 calories 1.5f/18c/25p 
Quite impressive, am I right? But the taste test is the ultimate test. 

I thought it tasted very good! It had a rich, milk chocolate flavor. I used it in my classic Protein Fluff recipe and it worked flawlessly. The fluff was thick and creamy, just the whey I like it. (Pun intended!) I look forward to trying the Vanilla next!
Chocolate Protein Bliss

They provided me a code for a discount to share with you: MOsborn20. (You can now find all of my discount codes in the upper right hand corner.)

Their full line of products includes: Super Powder (mind and body energizer ), POW (pre-workout powder), Shot (energy and vitamins shot), Spruce (daily green powder), Culture (daily probiotic) and the Prime Protein Powder. 

All their products are non GMO, gluten and soy free, no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners, low in sugar and made with high quality ingredients. Check them out here: Eboost.com!

Do you use supplements regularly? Which ones? I most often supplement with pre-workout, protein, and creatine. 

Disclaimer: I received this product for free but all opinions are my own. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

How's that Working Out for You?

Do you even lift, bro?

Seems like it's been a minute since I talked about anything fitness related! Here's what's been going on!

Running

My running continues as normal - I like to keep myself conditioned for 5k races throughout the year so my regular running routine is 3-4 miles, 3 times a week. I've considered trying out a half marathon with my mom, but we haven't committed to the idea of training for one lol! Let me know if you think we should do it!

Lifting

I actually took the plunge and purchased a lifting program from Mind Pump Media. I purchased their Anabolic program which is designed to increase overall strength. I completed Phase 1, one time through. This was vastly different from my former routine. This Phase implemented low reps and long rest periods. I felt like I wasn't doing anything but apparently I was because I got sore (not an good indicator of a good workout, by the way). I'm now in Phase 2 which is more muscle hypertrophy. I think I may have increased my upper body strength a little and my mom commented that my shoulders and biceps looked bigger! I've also noticed more protrusion of my abdominal muscles when I'm not bloated or full of food. I'm excited to see what Phase 3 has in store!

https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/store/BbLRnLFi
What does your current fitness look like? Hiking, biking, running, lifting, keeping up with a toddler? 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday Finds! October 2017

Heyyo! Here's some recent finds/obsessions:

Food Items:

  • Cacao Nibs - Can you believe I've just recently tried these? They are little nibs of cacao. That's it. Cacao is less bitter than cocoa so they're like nature's chocolate chips. I bought the Navita's Organics brand from LuckyVitamin.com
  • Coconut Butter - This. Stuff. Is. Addictive. If you like coconut, you will love coconut butter. It's creamy and delicious. At first, I didn't know what to do with it but that's really not a problem. I used it on sweet potatoes, oatmeal, ice cream, or just by the spoonful! I bought Nutiva "Coconut Manna" from LuckyVitamin.com for under $7.00! The only ingredient is organic whole coconut puree. Bliss. 
You can get a discount at LuckyVitamin.com here: http://refer.luckyvitamin.com/s/eflrw 

Podcasts: 

  • Nut Butter Radio - This is a podcast where two Instagram influencers (Holly and Hannah aka @eating_peanut_better and @wholesomelyhannah ) help listeners to overcome the diet culture that we're surrounded by. They dissect articles that encourage potentially harmful habits under the guise of promoting health. They also answer listener's questions and they are so down to earth and relatable as they do it. Check them out here: Itunes - NutButterRadio
  • UpliftFit Nutrition - I had been following Lacey Dunn aka @faithandfit on Instagram for a while so I decided to subscribe to her podcast. Her goal is to make fitness and nutrition an uplifting lifestyle. She approaches subjects very well, often taking a look at the scientific side of things. She interviews great guests and is a pleasure to listen to! Find her podcast here: Itunes - UpliftFit Nutrition

Other



  • The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon is a captivating novel set in the not so distant future. It's a scientific dystopian thriller (according to Wikipedia) that faces a world where the printed word becomes extinct - not a far cry from our current reality. It was a little tough for me to get into but once I did, I really enjoyed it. I liked the story line and was hooked on finding out what was going to happen next. Give it a read!










Images from luckyvitamin.com and book cover image from: https://kmn04books.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/wishlist-wednesday-the-word-exchange/

What are you loving lately? Any seasonal goodies?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

In light of...

I didn't plan this blog post, but seeing so many people hurting over the recent events, I thought I would share what helps me.


August 25, 2017 Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas, USA as a Category 4 storm, devastation occurs, thousands are still in shelters over a month later
August to September 2017: Hurricane Irma (Category 5) wreaked havoc in Barbuda, US Virgin Islands, Cuba, Florida, etc.
September 12, 2017: 8.1 magnitude  earthquake in Mexico
September 19, 2017: 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico, deaths in the hundreds, combined damages estimated at 2 billion dollars.
September 20, 2017: Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico
October 1, 2017: Las Vegas Shooting, hundreds injured

So much bad news. People are truly becoming disheartened. While this is not meant to be a religious blog, the Bible is truly where I find my hope. The Bible is not just a book of stories; it has a real message of hope for a better future. I have faith that God will intervene when His time comes and set matters straight. Revelation 21:4 states: "And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away."

Here are some articles I found helpful:

For when disaster strikes: When Disaster Strikes - Steps That Can Save Lives
Distressing world events: Is the World Out of Control?

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Protein Pizza!

Hashtag Pizza is Life. Hashtag National Pizza Month!

I own more pizza paraphernalia than should be allowed. Seriously. I have pizza socks, a pizza necklace, a pizza pool float (I do not have a pool), and copious pizza t-shirts.

That being said, I actually don't eat pizza all too often but when The Protein Pizza sent me some to try, I was excited to try the cheesy goodness.

This pizza is made with real, Non-GMO ingredients like real cheese, olive oil, and a crust made with whey protein isolate. The entire pizza (about 8 in) has 40 grams of protein! The pizza is pretty hefty so I probably won't be eating the entire pizza at once but it is still a decent dose of protein in half of the cheese pizza.

Macros for 1/2 pizza: 370 calories 13f/42/20p

I popped in the oven and gave it a try! I also added some Italian seasoning because I like to get fancy!
Before the Oven!
I baked the pizza for about 9 minutes (the instructions directed to bake it for 8-10 minutes). Then I snapped a few pictures and dug in. The pizza tasted pretty good. I'll be honest, it didn't compare to Italy, duh. In my opinion, it tasted like a frozen pizza. I didn't notice anything weird or off-putting as a result of the protein so I would say it was pretty successful. I'm also a fan of pepperoni so I would have enjoyed that option as well. Another thing to note is that my cheese was cold. I was told by the company that I should bake it until the cheese shreds don't look like shreds, so it's possible I undercooked it and then it cooled even more as I snapped the pictures. The cheese was delicious, the crust was thick and the sauce had a light sweetness to it.

Overall, I would like it to have a more complex flavor profile and I will have to try cooking it longer next time, however, for a frozen protein pizza, it's pretty good. 

Cheese please!
What's your opinion on frozen pizza versus pizza chains? I've always preferred chains to a Digornios lol!

If you're looking for pizza packed with protein, check out The Protein Pizza.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Pumpkin Protein Cheesecake

Hopefully you've seen my Original Protein Cheesecake? It's one of those recipes I make over and over again because it's just so good!

Cue the angels singing in the background.




So, with Fall being here, naturally, I had to pumpkinfy it. Naturally. I made a few simple changes to create a Pumpkin Cheesecake that is super simple to make, has no added sugar, high in protein and most importantly, it tastes delicious! Give it a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 (8 oz) package fat free cream cheese
  • 1 scoop protein powder*
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 2-3 tbsp stevia sweetener**
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper. 
  3. Mix pumpkin, softened cream cheese, egg and egg white with a mixer. 
  4. Add in the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. 
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 250 for 20 minutes. 
  6. Increase the temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. 
  7. Remove from oven and cool. Store in the fridge. 
Yields 4 slices. Macros per slice: 125 calories 1.7f/7.8c/16.2p

So creamy!
* I used Protein Milkshake brand in the Pumpkin Pie flavor. Nutrition will vary if you use a different protein powder. I think it would also work well with cinnamon, salted caramel, or even vanilla flavors of protein. If you used vanilla, you could simply increase the cinnamon you add it. 

**  Depending on your personal preferences and your sweetener of  choice, this may vary. For instance stevia is much stronger than erythritol so use your own discretion but feel free to use any sweetener you like. I have used both stevia and erythritol successfully!

Have you embraced the pumpkin craze? If so, this cheesecake is for you! Let me know if you try it out!

Monday, September 25, 2017

"The Bagel that Won the West!"

Have you heard of Western Bagel?

I first came across the brand of bagels on Instagram and I was immediately intrigued because people seemed to love them, yet they are "macro friendly". Could they really be good with those macros?

Then, I peered into their website and I was even more interested. I loved reading about the history and origin of their company. Here's a short synopsis: Louis Ustin settled in the Bronx, escaping the Russian Revolution. He began work in a bagel shop and his son followed in his footsteps. Hearing a complaint that there are no good bagels in California, he set out to change that. He noticed the tastes of Californians were different so he created a chewier, less dense bagel and opened his first bakery in Los Angeles. His son continued the family business. In 2002, they created a lower carbohydrate bagel to meet the health concerns of consumers, thus the birth of "The Alternative Bagel™". The company now has 11 retail locations along with national and international distribution! Woah!

So obviously, I was dying to try them! I was sent a great package to try of a variety of the bagels. The first one I tried was The Perfect 10 - Healthy Grain.

This bagel is packed with flax seeds, wheat bran, sesame seeds, oat flakes and millet seeds. But wait, 19 grams of protein. That's right. 19. And 19 grams of carbs with 10 grams of fiber. So how does it taste?

I really enjoyed this bagel! It's definitely nice and chewy. I found it to be satisfying without sitting like a rock in my stomach. It rivals Thomas' bagels and with this nutrition, I say it comes out victorious. I've been topping them with cream cheese and Trader Joe's "Everything But the Bagel" seasoning. Delish!
Macros: 150 calories 2f/19c/19p
Perfect 10 from me!
The next one I tried was the Onion Alternative Baglette. These are teeny, tiny bagels. They are 1) very cute 2) make a great little side to your breakfast or just a small snack and 3) delicious!
Macros: 60 calories 0f/14c/4p with 5g fiber and zero/zilch/nada sugar.

I hope to try many more of their varieties and products (pitas, english muffins!) and update on here.  I can see why they are so loved and why their family business continues to thrive. I highly recommend trying them out!

Let me know: How do you top your bagels? Have you tried Western Bagel or do you plan on it?

Check out Western Bagel!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Healthy Sour Gummies!

First they're sour, they they're sweet!

Sour gummy candies > regular gummy candies, in my opinion. 

However, this recipe could be easily altered if you just want the sweet side!

I actually purchased beef gelatin for a different recipe (stay tuned) but needed something else to use it for. The answer: healthy gummy candies. I perused several recipes and finally tweaked it to make my own take on healthy gummies. They are so quick and easy to make, you'll be amazed!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp beef gelatin (I used NOW foods brand, inexpensive and quality products, non GMO)
  • 1-2 large packets of True Lemon Raspberry Lemonade (this packet is designed for a pitcher of the lemonade, 8 servings)
  • 3 tbsp honey 
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. First decide what you will use for a mold and prepare it. (You can use a silicone mold, straws, or simply line a pan with parchment/wax paper and cut into pieces after it sets.)
  2. Mix 1 packet of True Lemon Raspberry Lemonade with 1 cup water. Pour lemonade into a nonstick pot. 
  3. Add honey and bring to a low simmer. 
  4. Finally, add the gelatin and whisk until completely dissolved. 
  5. Remove from heat and pour into mold. Place in freezer for 20-30 minutes or until set. 
  6. As an option, you may sprinkle the mold or simply sprinkle the candies with an additional packet of lemonade for the sour dust effect!
  7. Enjoy!
Can you believe these have only 3 ingredients (plus water) and take no time at all!

Approximately 12-24 servings depending on mold used
Based on 12 servings, each serving is: 28 calories 0f/6.2c/2.3p

Benefits of raw honey: antioxidant properties, soothes throats, if local - it may help with allergies!
Benefits of beef gelatin: improves gut health and digestion, improves skin and heart health, protects joints and relieves joint pain, helps with sleep quality, maintains strong bones and the list goes on!

With all these benefits, I guess you better start eating more candy!

Let me know if you try this recipe! Do you prefer the sour or non-sour gummy candies? 

P.S. I bought my gelatin from Luckyvitamin.com and it was a really good price! I love Lucky Vitamin because they always have great deals and prices. Check out LuckyVitamin.com and you can save $5 on your first order $49+ with code 5OFFU. Even better, orders over $49 always ship free (US only). Happy shopping!







Thursday, September 14, 2017

Real Good Pizza - How good is it?

Real Good Pizza is making a splash in the fitness and low carb communities! But just how good is it?

First of all, they stand by using real ingredients. The crust is made from chicken and Parmesan that is hormone free and antibiotic free. The vegetables are non-GMO. They have five star reviews across the board! So far, so good!

I recently got my hands on the "Large" Pepperoni pizza. While this pizza is labeled large due to having two servings, it's really not very large. One half of the large pepperoni pizza is 260cal 16f/4c/25p. Not too shabby unless you're trying to eat a lower fat diet, in which case cheesy, pepperoni pizza is probably not your friend lol!

Dat cheese pull 
The taste test! I went into this knowing that the crust was made from chicken and Parmesan so I was not surprised that the texture was pretty different from a traditional pizza. It was pretty dense and had a bit of a cheesy flavor. However, it was more crust-like than seems possible given the ingredients. I thought it was pretty good, overall, especially if you're following a specific diet such as gluten free or low carb. It tasted like a frozen pizza to me! I will note however, that my dad, who was unaware of the lack of gluten, tried it and did not like it, so you may not be fooling your friends if you serve this under the guise of a regular pizza.

I would eat it again but what I really want to try is the breakfast pizza!

Have you tried the Real Good pizzas? What do you think of them? What's your favorite pizza chain? I'm caught between Pizza Hut and Papa John's. I'm looking at you cheesy bites crust!

Check them out here: https://realgoodfoods.com/

Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: Revele Whipped Gelato

I am an avid consumer and lover of ice cream/frozen yogurt/custard/gelato, you name it!

When I went to Italy, I ate gelato almost every day! However, at home, I typically steer towards lower sugar/calorie varieties simply because I eat it so much! It seems that new brands are popping up all the time now! My first discovery years ago was Arctic Zero, then I found my love, Halo Top, then I found my next love Enlightened. (Check out my Fit Frozen Faceoff! to see which I like best). I still haven't tried CoolWhey, ProYo, Breyer's new low calorie pints, or the new Skinny Cow pints. One new brand I had the honor of trying was Revele Whipped Gelato!

I suppose I had high expectations since they call it gelato. In my experience, gelato is thick, creamy and ultra sweet. It melts in your mouth. Let me stop before I start salivating.

They state that they use premium gelato ingredients and whip it so it's naturally lighter in calories and fat. Some things that make them different from other low calorie options: No artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners (no, not even stevia!), no sugar alcohols - made with real cane sugar, lactose and gluten free. These are definitely some unique benefits, especially for people who have digestive issues or bloating issues, often brought on or worsened by sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners.

The array of flavors: Vanilla Symphony, Cake Batter, Strawberry, Coffee Toffee Crunch, White Chocolate Raspberry and Belgian Chocolate. Macros per pint: 320-360 calories 16gf/44-48c/4-8p 

The first flavor I tried was Vanilla Symphony!
The good: the flavor was spot on! It was a rich and full bodied vanilla flavor. However, the texture was a bit strange. It's like my spoon sort of just mushed it down instead of scooping it up. It was very light but not melt in your mouth. It sort of broke off in crystal formation, however, it wasn't icy. It was hard to describe, but not what I expect from something marketed as "gelato".

The second flavor I tried was Coffee Toffee Crunch!
I encountered the same scenario as I did with vanilla. The flavor was very good but the texture was a bit disappointing. This one didn't seem to bother me as much but I'm not sure if it was actually creamier or if it was because I was eating it after a hot run! lol! This flavor also had the added perk of toffee pieces! The toffee tasted very good and complimented the coffee flavor nicely.

Those are the only two flavors I have tried so far but I look forward to trying the others. They do a great job at capturing the flavors! I will update this post as I try more so stay tuned! Also, note that I receive these shipped on dry ice so I don't know if that may have caused a difference in texture! If you've tried them, let me know what you thought of the texture!

Gelato, frozen yogurt, ice cream or custard? What's your top pick?

Want to try Revele or learn more about them? Check them out here: http://revelegelato.com/









Thursday, August 24, 2017

Road Trip and Travel Tips!

Summer is full of adventures for a lot of people!

It's funny, I'm not in school or a seasonal job but I still find that I do more trips and travel during the summer. One trip that I take annually is to upstate New York to visit family. I also enjoy beach trips, camping trips, etc.

I do also, however, like to have a good fitness routine and try for decent nutrition. So how can these things work together?

Tip 1: Relax. Chances are, you are still home more than you are away so chill out.

Tip 2: If you want to workout on your vacation or trip, you can do bodyweight exercises, take resistance bands, or do park workouts at your location. Another great option is to just be active! When I visited NY, we all went hiking as a family, another day several of us went for a walk together and enjoyed good company, and another day we all went swimming! Fitness doesn't always need to be "the grind".

The Best Flavor!




Tip 3: Take breaks in long car trips to stretch and walk around. You'll get there when you get there. It's very hard on the body to sit for hours on end so be kind to your body and mind and stop at rest stops to stretch!

Tip 4: Find good roadtrip snacks! One of my favorite snacks is popcorn. I can only find Sinfully Thin brand of popcorn at Sheetz gas stations which we pass on the way to NY! How perfect! I also like to pack fruits, veggies, protein bars and chocolate.

Tip 5: Enjoy yourself. The more you stress about food or exercise, the less you will enjoy your trip and the company around you. The gym will be there when you get home!

Balance!




















What trips have you taken this summer? Do you exercise on vacation?














Popcorn photo from: http://store.openroadsnacks.com/category/Sinfully_Thin/1428.aspx

Monday, August 21, 2017

Keto Meringues! Sugar Free!

I recently had the idea to make Meringue cookies and my curiosity was piqued at the idea of making sugar free meringue cookies. I wondered if it would work! 

3 calories a piece?! I'll take 10! 

I took to Google, and to my surprise there were recipes with Splenda, erythritol, stevia and beyond!

I decided to try my hand at sugar free meringues with an erythritol based sweetener I just purchased recently. The brand is Swerve and I purchased it from Luckyvitamin.com. It claims to have no aftertaste!

Meringues can be a bit tricky to set up due to humidity and given that it was a hot August day in North Carolina, I think they turned out pretty well! The texture was good on most of them but a few of them were still a bit soft in the middle. 

Factors working against me:

  • I didn't have enough egg whites
  • I didn't have cream of tartar
  • I was attempting sugar free
  • I didn't have parchment paper
  • Humidity
You may be thinking, why even bother? Well, I don't know. I just had the idea in my head and couldn't let it go! All in all, I was pleased with my results and look forward to trying again with less humidity and real egg whites. 

The cookies came out to about 3 calories a piece which includes the small amount of calories in vanilla and 0 calorie sweetener (it is listed as 0 calorie due to the serving size - if a food is less than 5 calories per serving, they can list it as 0 despite having a small amount of calories). 

Ingredients:

  • 8 tsp meringue powder (I used Wiltons brand)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp sweetener (aka 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. 
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whip with a mixer until stiff peaks form. (You may use 4 egg whites in place of the meringue powder but note that meringue powder contains cream of tartar in the ingredients so you may want to add cream of tartar or vinegar or lemon juice if you use egg whites.)
  3. Spoon or pipe the mixture onto the baking pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes. 
  4. Reduce temperature to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for an additional 20 minutes. 
  5. Turn the oven off and open the oven door. Allow the cookies to cool in the oven with the door open for 2 hour. 
  6. Peel the cookies off the parchment paper and enjoy!
Trust me on the two hours of cooling time! I thought my cookies were a complete fail because the texture was so off until I let them cool for two hours in the oven and they transformed!

Let me know if you try these! What is your thought on Meringue cookies? Have you ever tried to make them before?
Crispy, yet melt in your mouth!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Product Review: NeuroGum

I don't know about you, but I almost always consume some sort of caffeine or energy booster before a run or a workout. I'm sure its 97% placebo effect, but I continue to do it nonetheless.

Pre-workouts can be hard to find one that works for you and tastes good. Energy drinks can be full of sugars or artificial ingredients (not to say I don't use these things XD).

In comes NeuroGum! It's the #1 Nootropic Energy Gum engineered to give energy, clarity, and focus. It contains caffeine (40mg), L-Theanine - the major amino acid in green tea, vitamin B6 and B12 for a combination that is supposed to give you sharp and focused energy 5 times faster than other methods of energy. It's also Non-GMO, vegan, gluten free, soy free, aspartame free and sugar-free clocking in at 2 calories per piece.

So how does it hold up under test by a self-proclaimed caffeine junkie? With only a meager 40 mg of caffeine, can this gum actually do anything for me?

I put it to the test first at work. I work a desk job and was really dragging. I decided to chew a piece of Neuro gum and it definitely helped perk me up and keep me focused. I also feel like the mintiness and chewing help stimulate me.

The second time I tried it was before a run. I have recently been dealing with shin splints and took time off of running but I decided to try a fairly flat run and see how it went so I wasn't expecting my fastest pace. I have to admit, I had my morning caffeine along with the gum before my run and I can't say I noticed any additional enhancement. I actually chewed it  throughout my run and was pleasantly surprised that it didnt A) become hard as a rock, or B) completely dissolve.
My first run in weeks, with Neuro Gum to help!

I think this would probably be a good substitute for grabbing that energy drink from the gas station. However, if you already consume stimulants on a regular basis, I wouldn't expect any more of a boost than an energy drink.

Overall, I like this product and will probably continue to use it when I feel sluggish at work!

How would you use this? Do you have caffeine regularly?

 Check it out at NeuroGum.com




Monday, August 7, 2017

Mental Health: Endurance

from Pinterest.com

Endurance. What does it really mean?

In the past, when I was in the hospital, my friends and family would tell me I was so strong. I was enduring so much. However, I didn't feel strong or brave. I felt helpless and simply without choices. What could I do?

“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

I needed, and often still need to, adjust my perspective. 

Yes, right now, things may seem horrible. Things may be horrible. But it is not the end. There is always a hope. I personally find hope in the Bible but no matter who you are or what you believe, every cloud has a silver lining. Change your perspective. 

I often think of a small child who drops their ice cream. They might cry or scream and seems to be the end of the world. In their eyes, it truly is horrible! If they could see that there will be more ice cream in their life, that a dropped ice cream cone is not that bad, that some children don't even know what it's like to have such a luxury, then they would be able to endure it. This is not to invalidate their feelings. Their disappointment and upset is very real and genuine. 

It's the same no matter our age. Whatever we're going through is, in our eyes, horrible and not without merit. However, when we reflect on our hope, on the grand future, we can bear up under hardships with JOY. Can you imagine it?


“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”


― Anne Frank

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Quest Hero Bars Review!

I can be your hero baby. I can kiss away the pain.

Too far?

Can Quest live up to being a hero??

I've been a long time fan of Quest bars. I liked (and still do) the original style protein bars they made that are chewy and chunky and can be baked into cookies. They've definitely improved on having consistently good texture and chunkiness. The newer flavors are fantastic too! But they didn't stop there. Quest recently came out with a "Cereal Bar". This bar was a lighter bar with a crunchy cereal type texture. Many people really enjoyed these bars, myself included. At about 100 calories, these are a nice light snack that packs a pretty good protein punch. (Alliteration much?)

THEN, Quest did it again. They came out with the Hero bars and they really hyped it up on social media. Could it live up to the hype?

I, personally, really enjoy them! The interior of the bars is just like the cereal bars. It is layered with a caramel, or blueberry coating and then finally a chocolate or vanilla coating all over the entire bar. So basically, it seems like a candy bar.

Blueberry: 170 calories 17p/7f/30gc (4g net carbs)*

The center tastes like the waffle cereal bar which basically tastes like a sweet waffle. It has a nice crunchy texture. Then, it had a very sweet blueberry gooey middle and was finished off with a very sweet white chocolate protein coating. I noticed no weird aftertastes. I think the combination of gooey, crunchy and sweet coating makes a really good combination. I really liked it, but beware, it's very sweet!

Vanilla Caramel: 180 calories 16p/9f/29c (4g net carbs)*


The center cereal bar in this one also tasted like the waffle cereal bar. Instead of the blueberry filling, it has a gooey caramel layer. This is also very sweet. It also has a white chocolate protein coating. I felt that this and the blueberry were quite similar. According to the description, there are almonds somewhere in there, but I honestly haven't noticed. I still enjoyed it though!

Chocolate Caramel Pecan:  200 calories 15p/11f/27c (4g net carbs)*

Snickers, watch out. This bar has a chocolate crunchy cereal bar center with pecans studded throughout, layered with ooey, gooey caramel and finished off with a chocolate protein coating. This bar is still pretty sweet, but I find chocolate things are often less sweet than vanilla things, in my opinion. I actually noticed the tiny pecan pieces in this bar (versus the almonds in the vanilla caramel) and I think it was a really tasty bar overall.

Overall, I think Quest did a great job coming out with something new and very different from their original type of protein bars. These are similar to a candy bar alternative, can satisfy a hardcore sweet tooth, and provide a symphony of textures!

Have you tried the new Quest Hero bars - which is your favorite flavor? Do you prefer the OG Quest bars, cereal bars, or Hero bars?

Endnote: These bars are sweetened with a combination of allulose and erythritol. Allulose is a new sweetener that has .4 calories per gram (1/10 the calories of sugar). It is found in small quantities in nature in things like maple syrup, figs, and raisins. The FDA requires all sugars be listed in the sugar section on the nutrition label despite it having 1/10 the calories. The net carbs provided by quest subtract the erythritol, allulose and fiber.



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rainbow Falls Hike, NC

I finally went on a new hike!

Rainbow Falls - 150 ft falls
I really enjoy hiking but sometimes it's hard to find new places to hike within driving distance to my house. Last weekend, my mom and I took a little trip to Asheville, NC. We started our day with paddle boarding on the French Broad River which I highly recommend. The river was peaceful and it was so much fun! After paddle boarding, we decided to go for a hike! We quickly took to Google to find a relatively close hike. The tricky thing is, if you google hikes near Asheville, websites list hikes up to 100 miles away! Um, no thank you, Google.

However, we found a hike about 50 minutes away which is doable! The hike was Rainbow Falls! I love a good waterfall hike. This actually had two sets of waterfalls!

Rainbow Falls is the larger set of falls, about 1.5 miles from the parking area at Gorges State Park. The hike is mostly downhill and stays pretty close to the Horsepasture River. There are a lot of places you could probably get down to the river and sneak a peek at the falls or a dip in the river.


When you arrive at a platform, you have a great view of the falls and we felt a much-needed mist! We took our selfie and moved on to the smaller, second set of falls.

Turtleback Falls is the second set of waterfalls, about .25 miles further. This portion is mostly uphill but nothing too hard. People slide down the falls and jump into the swimming area below. It looked really fun but we weren't equipped for that. I would recommend taking water shoes, a towel, and wearing a bathing suit. You could even bring some snacks or picnic to relax because there are a lot of places to sit and swim.

Turtleback Falls and Swimming Area
Since the way there was mostly downhill, the return is mostly uphill. There are only a few stairs in the whole hike and I didn't think it was crazy difficult anywhere, although I certainly worked up a sweat.

Overall, I would definitely do this hike again and hopefully remember swim shoes!

Do you like hiking? Would you slide down those falls?


Just watching today!



Between the Falls
 P.S. I didn't see a rainbow. :(
Check out this site for directions and details about this hike: https://www.romanticasheville.com/rainbow_falls.htm

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tips and Tricks for Awesome Daytrips!

I absolutely love just taking off for a day trip! I often don't have the time or money to spend the night and make a whole vacation out of a trip but that doesn't mean I can't explore new places and travel often.

I have the benefit of living in the Piedmont region of North Carolina so the coast is 3-4 hours away and mountains are 2-4 hours away so both options are feasible for day trips! I also enjoy visiting different urban cities! You'll find them to be full of culture, cuisine, entertainment and sometimes, history!

So just how do I prepare for successful day trips? Well, my mom and I have it down to a science! Here are a few tips and tricks for your next day trip, whether it be spontaneous or more planned out:

1. Pick your location based off of weather and your main activity.

This can be tricky because the weather can change on a whim but try to avoid massive disappointment if at all possible. Choosing based off of main activity is fairly obvious but if I want to hike, we head for the mountains, if I want to soak up the sun, maybe the beach. If I want to explore and shop, maybe a city! But you have to pick one! Sometimes, trying to be spontaneous, we can't decide where we want to go and we waste time. Be decisive! It may also be helpful to review directions beforehand in case of bad signal for your GPS.

2. Check public parking, entry fees, etc. 

It's nice to know where you can park, what the cost is, where the most central location is, etc. It's also good to know the fees of places you may go to such as state parks. Keep in mind that these places may have seasonal rates and may only accept cash. 

3. Pack food and water!

Jerky, dried fruit, nuts, and protein bars make great on the go snacks. Fresh fruit and cheese sticks, etc are great snacks if you're bringing a cooler (recommended). Be sure to also pack plenty of water and any other drinks you may want. Gas stations have a hefty price tag for convenience so be prepared. Also, you will need to decide if you want to take meals, eat out, or try to be there and back with no meals, just snacks! We often visit a chain sandwich shop for dinner on our day trips because it's a fairly quick and inexpensive option. If we leave before lunch, I'll typically take something to eat in the car. Don't overthink it or you'll waste precious time!

4. Bug sprays, sunblock, first aid, etc. 

Be prepared for anything! We go hiking often so we have these basic items stored in our hiking backpack. Use your judgment what things like these will be applicable to your destination. For instance, I wouldn't take bug spray to explore a city!

5. Pack spare clothes and think of places to change. 

Weather can change on a dime. You can get sweaty as all get out. The crusty swimsuit can start to chafe. I ALWAYS bring an extra set of clothes. Maybe I want to wear something nicer to dinner or perhaps I want to be more comfortable on the ride home. Spare clothes come in handy. I also usually bring extra layers (i.e. jackets, flannels, hats, gloves, etc.), especially in the winter just in case I should feel cold! On the same note, you don't need to pack for a week. It will be a pain to lug around unnecessary baggage so be moderate but be prepared. 

6. Have a basic plan. Check hours. Have fun!

Overall, just have some sort of plan as to where you're going and why. If you plan to visit a specific park, specific thrift shop, a specific restaurant, etc. make sure to check their hours. Nothing is worse than planning on going somewhere, driving several hours only to find out they are closed for repairs. Most importantly, have fun! Relax, ride the roller coaster of the unknown, be it getting lost or getting rained on. The fun is in the journey. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you're sure to make lasting memories and experiences!

Do you like to take day trips? What tips do you have?