Thursday, December 28, 2017

Making an EMPACT!

EM + PACT is a company that makes energy bars. But that's not all they do.

They are on a mission to empower women to reach their goals and be the best version of themselves.

That's a lot for a little bar to do. 

They note that the protein bar industry is mainly geared towards men (which I personally feel is debatable) and want to empower women. Their intent in their business structure, ingredients and core values is to take into consideration what women need and want aka something that doesn't taste nasty or make me feel ill.

They use pure, simple ingredients that you can likely recognize. I enjoy understanding what I'm putting in my body so that's great!

They currently have three flavors: Maple-licious, Coconut Crave, and Chocolate Cherry Bling. You can tell they are marketing to women, even in the flavor names and packaging.

Features:

  • paleo friendly
  • 10g protein
  • Non-GMO
  • contain superfoods like flax, chia, etc. 
  • no artificial sweeteners
  • gluten free
So far, so good. 

The first two ingredients in each bar are dates, and whey protein isolate

So now for the taste test. I was not able to taste each flavor but I have tried the Coconut Crave. It was enjoyable and had a chewy, sticky texture that is to be expected with a base of dates. It was very dense. I compare it to an RX bar or Larabar type texture. They are similar to RX bars with the exception being that they utilize whey protein isolate, while RX bars utilize egg white protein. It didn't blow me away but it was enjoyable. I will try the Maple-Licious flavor next and update this page. Maple sounds amazing!

Macros for Coconut Crave: 160 cal 9f/13c/10p

Overall, I think these bars would be a great choice for someone on the go. Thanks to the dates, they will give you some quick energy and thanks to the nuts, seeds, and protein, somewhat satiating

My personal complaints: The wrapper indicates that two bars would be a meal substitute - I wasn't a huge fan of this being mentioned on the wrapper. Obviously using bars as a meal wouldn't be an ideal situation, though you may find yourself in an emergency from time to time, I don't feel this needed to be quantified on the wrapper. 

Also, I feel that making a product solely for women seems a bit silly. They mention that it is "purse-size". Is it possible that in their efforts to empower women, they may have done a little bit of the opposite. Perhaps I want a hefty snack bar to hold me over, or perhaps I don't carry purse or like polka dots or the color pink. Women are strong and fierce. 

That being said, I am simply being nit-picky with semantics. I wholeheartedly love what they are trying to do. I love the values and positive, empowering attitude they are endorsing. And they are a perfect purse size lol!

If you want a convenient, tasty snack that will fuel you and is made with wholesome ingredients, I encourage you to give these bars a try! You never know the empact it could have!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

January Whole∞

Are you ready for the new year? Where did 2017 go?!

2018, this will be my year. Who's starting strong with a January Whole30?

Well, I have a different proposition for you. A Whole∞. That's right infinity. I propose you pursue a lifestyle that fulfills you rather that a "reset" program or sugar detox or whatever trend you see popping up on the internet.

I personally have been tempted to do a Whole30. I read articles with people singing it's praises and I'm not shaming anyone who's done it or felt they benefited from it. Personally, however, I don't think it would be beneficial to me or to many others. Rather than just being a blog post about why I disagree with the Whole30, I thought I'd recommend a different approach. Whole∞. What does that mean?

It means rather than setting short term goals that may end up frustrating you, making long term changes to happier, healthier you.

Close your eyes and imagine how you want your life to be and how you want yourself to be. I imagine myself with friends laughing instead of stressing about what's going to be served for dinner, I see myself feeling strong and not weak or injured, I see myself feeling confident and having pictures taken that I don't loathe, I see myself working hard to do good for others and to give my best to my God. I see myself living happy, healthy, and free. Now how do I attain that?


  • Set progressive steps and challenges that will change your habits for good. I personally struggle with coping with anxiety, so I will set small goals to go out of my comfort zone in a social setting or to implement a coping skill such as writing, talking it out, coloring, etc. 
  • Understand that you cannot control every factor of your life, but you can control how you react and you allow things to affect you. 
  • Be kind to yourself. There may be setbacks but this does not mean you've failed. Keep pressing forward to the life that you desire. 
  • Before you do something, ask yourself: Does this serve me? Will it nourish me physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually? 
  • Put on a smile. Be a light in a dark world and you'll be astonished at how you happiness can be created. I cannot stress enough how important your attitude is. A positive attitude makes a world of difference. 
  • Do things that make you feel good. For example, I've found that certain diet drinks make me feel physically ill, so if I truly care about myself, I will avoid them. It's not a matter of an imagined intolerance, but rather, getting to know your body and caring for it because you are valuable. Maybe you take unplanned rest days, maybe there are food groups you avoid, but whatever you do, make sure it is for your overall benefit. 
I'm not anti-goals; I'm anti- short term thinking and challenges that may end up causing distress. These challenges may help some people to change their habits for the better, but for many, it can simply be a source of stress and result in an eruption of whatever was restricted. Let's pursue health, happiness and freedom, one step at a time, to infinity and beyond.  


So who's with me for the Whole∞?

Let me know! What are some of your goals?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Things You Might Not Know about Food!

Are there mysteries lurking in the grocery store or maybe even your cabinets? What is cacao and what mystery ingredient poses a threat to my canine friend?

Here are a few of my recent discoveries!


  • Cacao versus Cocoa
Cacao beans are dried, fermented and roasted at a low temperature which separates the fat whereas cocoa is roasted at a high temperature. Cocoa is considered "sweeter" and better for baking whereas cacao has more antioxidants and cacao nibs are high in fiber. 

Pro tip: Cacao Nibs do not melt! I ordered them in the heat of the summer and was happy to discover that they don't melt so I didn't need to pay extra for shipping. This may be a negative if you are trying to make a cacao coating in which case, you may need to turn to a different product. 

  • Xylitol 
Xylitol is a sweetener derived from some plants. It has 40% less calories than sugar and is found in many products from chewing gum to peanut butter. Certain studies indicate that it may have health benefits and it doesn't spike blood sugar or insulin. However, it can be fatal to dogs! They process it differently and it can lead to hypoglycemia and/or liver failure in dogs so be cautious when feeding things to your furry friends!

  • Why are my coconut based spreads hard?
Melting point is the temperature at which a substance melts or liquefies. Saturated fats tend to have a higher melting point than unsaturated fats. Coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning that under 76 degrees, it will solidify. I have found that some of my spreads containing coconut or coconut oil become solid in my home but never fear. You can either put the container in some warm water or a time saving hack I use is to remove the lid and put it in the microwave on defrost setting until my spread is spreadable or my oil is liquid. (Warning: make sure the container is microwave safe.)

  • Ghee versus Butter
Ghee is clarified butter meaning butter is melted, the water evaporates and the milk solids are separated out leaving only the fat - ghee. This means ghee is technically dairy free because the milk solids are removed. It has a higher smoke point than butter which can be useful for certain cooking methods. It also happens to be pretty dang delicious. I am not a scientist or dietitian but there are some that suggest ghee has potential health benefits. What I do know is that sauteing vegetables in ghee makes them irresistible!

  • There's sugar in my what?
Most processed or packaged foods contain sugar, even foods that you may not expect. A big culprit of hidden sugar is foods that are low-fat or fat-free versions. They often have sugars added to improve taste and/or texture. I don't view sugar as an enemy and I consume my fair share, but it certainly is surprising to find sugar in the ingredients list in everything from bacon to fat free cream cheese to popcorn. If you personally want to watch your sugar consumption, you may not even be aware where it is coming from. Also, full fat cream cheese tastes better in my opinion lol! 

Have you have any discoveries lately? Let me know! I love to learn new things. I still don't know what Maca is. Or matcha for that matter!




Friday, December 15, 2017

How to Prepare for Gains!

Gotta get them gains! Right?

There are a variety of reasons why someone might gain weight intentionally. However, even having this intention, it can still be a challenge. Here are some tips to conquer those fears and accept and love your body.


  • Be aware that your clothes will fit differently and you may want to buy some new clothes. 
It's inevitable that as you gain weight, your clothes will fit differently. I, personally, feel physically uncomfortable when I wear clothes that are so tight, they feel restrictive, so when I gained, I bought new clothes! It's a great excuse to go shopping and will help you feel confident if you're comfortable and happy with what you're wearing. 

  • Take people's comments with a grain of salt. 
I gained quite of bit of weight in a treatment facility for eating disorders, so when I finished treatment, I was quite obviously heavier. Certain individuals made comments about my weight gain but I had to remember that they truly had no malicious thoughts behind their comments - they were simply stating facts (think elderly family friends XD). In the rare case that someone is trying to hurt you with insensitive comments, remember your goals and your health and don't let them have control over you. 

  • Reject the diet mentality. 
This diet, that cleanse, this detox. It's all over social media, magazines, internet articles and it's often the talk among friends. If at all possible, avoid this talk. The diet mentality promotes an unhealthy relationship with food and body image. It seems that we are "supposed" to be dieting (whether they term it that or not) all the time. Learn to spot diet culture, but not accept it as fact. It is especially prevalent throughout the holiday season. Reject it!

  • If scales trigger you, avoid the scale. 
It seems silly that such an inconsequential number can have such a great affect on us, however, it really can. Easily seeing a number I didn't expect or approve of could greatly upset me. I learned to simply stop weighing myself. I get weighed periodically at the doctor's office and that's it! 

  • Be aware that you will gain body fat and that is okay!
Some choose to make a conscious effort to gain weight to gain muscle. You will gain fat too. That's okay. Human bodies require fat. You are not fingernails - you have fingernails. Likewise with fat. You are not fat. You have fat. I have fat. Everyone that is alive has fat. Accept that this is normal and healthy. 

  • Don't compare yourself or your journey to others. 
You know that Instagram famous girl who went on the bulk and she gained tons of muscle? It all went to her glutes and her stomach stayed super shredded? Remember that girl who gained weight in recovery from an eating disorder and she gained weight in all the right places and is now curvy and beautiful? First of all, you don't know everything behind the pictures - from posing to lighting to possibly posting old pictures, people have a lot of tricks to getting that picture. Secondly, we are all unique. You may hold your weight very differently than that girl on Instagram, so don't compare yourself. Also, others in your life may be on a different journey at the time. Perhaps they are trying to lose weight and that may discourage you IF you compare. You are on a separate journey so don't lose sight of your goals. 

  • Learn to love yourself at every stage. 
Wow, Megan, that's a great tip. Now trust me, this is hard. It will probably not be achieved very quickly. I have been working at this for a long time. Recognize that you have been given the gift of life and you do not need to earn it. There are people who love you for the person you are, not the body you're in. Associate with people who are a positive power in your life. Be kind to others and you'll be surprised at how great it makes you feel. You are a beautiful person at every stage in your physical journey. Think of babies and elderly ones. We love them deeply not because they are lean and muscular, not because they are curvy and attractive, but because they are humans deserving of love and so are you. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The All Time Best Nut Betters and Spreads!

Wowza. That's quite a mighty claim considering the massive market for nut/seed butters and spreads.

Now, if you simply walk into your chain grocery store and meander down the peanut butter aisle, you may see a good number of options, however, if you expand your search to farmer's markets, the internet, and beyond, you will be absolutely astonished at the number of options. 

I consider myself a bit of an expert. I have tried many a nut butter, some good, some not-so-good. I decided to attempt to compile my top 10. It's difficult because some brands offer a wide array of flavors and some may be amazing while others fall short. Some brands are made fresh on a small scale so one batch may be a little better than another, but I'll do my best. I took into consideration taste, consistency and ingredients. 

Top 10 Nut Butters and Spreads

  1. Epic Spreads 
This stuff is truly EPIC. I actually first came across Epic Spreads by winning it in a giveaway a few years back. I fell in love and have since made many purchases. 

Epic Spreads
Why do I love it? The flavors are incredible and hit the nail on the head. The texture is perfect for swirling, drizzling, melting in oatmeal or whatever your heart desires. It uses a combination of peanuts and cashews. My personal favorites are Birthday Cake, Toffee, and Mocha. You can use my code: epicmeg for a discount if you order online at EpicSpreads.com or you can find it on Amazon or at several locations in California. 

     2. Crazy Richard's Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter is two words but the ingredients list is just one. That's right. Peanuts. That's it. If you like peanuts, you'll go crazy for Crazy Richard's. It drizzles like a charm and who can compete with the purity of that ingredient "list"? Pro tip: Store it upside down and in the fridge to prevent oil separation problems! Check them out here: CrazyRichards.com

Crazy Richard's in Oatmeal
*Side note: I recently tried Spread the Love which is also made with just peanuts so it's a comparable product. It's made in small batches with love in California, however I've never seen it in stores locally. You can check them out here: https://spreadthelovefoods.com/

     3. Legendary Spreads

What makes these nut butters so legendary? They taste amazing with no added sugar! Just look at these flavors: Pecan Pie Almond Nut Butter, Apple Pie Almond and Cashew Nut Butter, Blueberry Cinnamon Bun Nut Butter, Peanut Butter Cup Nut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Nut Butter. 
 They have no artificial flavors, no sugar, and are made with ingredients found in nature. You'd never guess it. My favorites: Peanut Butter Cup (think melted chocolate peanut butter candy) and Pecan Pie. The texture is a bit thicker but that makes it better for eating by the shovel-ful. Check out these spreads here: LegendaryFoodsOnline.com

    8. Cocoa Bar in a Jar

I was recently introduced to this stuff, and wow! I was hesitant to add it to my top 10 because it's relatively new to me, but I love chocolate so it made the cut. It's peanut butter cup flavor and certainly is reminiscent of a peanut butter cup in spread form. There's no artificial sweeteners or flavors, it's low in sugar, vegan, GMO free and gluten free. It contains coconut butter so mine hardens up in the winter, but just a few seconds in the microwave and I have a delicious, peanut butter cup spread! You should definitely try this! Check them out here: CocoaBarInAJar.com.

    5. Buff Bake

So many flavors, so little time. Buff Bake is a protein boosted nut butter/spread that comes in many decadent sounding flavors. I haven't tried them all but the ones I have tried, tasted great! They also have a thick, spreadable consistency! They use all natural whey protein also have chia and flax seeds in some flavors and are low in sugar. They make almond and peanut spreads for any nut lover! Check them out here: https://buffbake.com/

    6. GButter

GButter Brownies make a great ice cream topping! 
 GButter is truly a unique spread that is packed with protein, no added sugars and non GMO. I call it a spread rather than a nut butter because have quite a different consistency than your typical nut butter. It's more, for lack of a better term, gooey. It's sweetened with stevia and seriously tastes delicious in every flavor. Here's the truly magical thing about Gbutter - if you scoop out two tablespoons and microwave it for about 20 seconds it turns into a delicious brownie, cookie, etc. etc. So gooey, warm and yummy. The macros are incredible too. A 2 tbsp serving, varying by flavor, is 100-120 calories and about 10-14g protein! You can use my code "gbuttermeg" for your purchases on https://www.gbutter.com/. I rated it a bit lower because I find it not quite as versatile due to the texture. 

    9. Abby's Better Nut Butters

I've only tried one flavor, so again, I was hesitant to add it to the list, but alas, here we are. Why did I choose to include it: the texture is great! I've tried the Coconut Cashew and it was thick, creamy and spreadable. What more could you ask for. Another reason is the simplicity of the ingredients. Each flavor is made with all natural, simple ingredients. Another reason is that I'm super impressed by the young girl behind this company. She is just 15 years old and already doing amazing things. Check out her nut butters here: https://abbysbetter.com/.

     8. Peanut Butter & Co.

Here's one that is more prevalent at grocery stores. It has a texture similar to your average Peter Pan or Jiffy, however, the taste is great and it melts so perfectly in oatmeal. Every ingredient they source is Non-GMO project verified, contains no hydrogenated oils, no cholesterol, no trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup, gluten free and vegan (with the exception of "The Bee's Knees - honey). Check them out here: ilovepeanutbutter.com

9. Reginald's Homemade Nut Butters

Reginald's has peanut butters, and other nut butters in a variety of flavors. They are ultra creamy which is something I love because I love to drizzle! They use the "finest" all natural ingredients and this pays off. I love this nut butter in my oatmeal. Check out all their fun flavors here: https://reginaldshomemade.com/

Reginald's in Oatmeal
    10. SunButter

This one is only for sunflower seed lovers but I love the uniqueness. I also love that there is a "No Sugar Added" Variety. The ingredients are just sunflower seeds and salt! It's non-GMO and free from the top 8 allergens, so it's great if you're bringing food into an allergen-free environment like certain schools, or if you, yourself have allergies or  an intolerance. I like to melt it and drizzle it! I buy mine from LuckyVitamin.com because they usually have good prices on a lot of products.

So who didn't make the list?

Justin's and Maranatha - tried and true, these brands are easily accessible at stores like Walmart and Target. I simply didn't see anything outstanding about them.

Nuts 'N' More - I've only tried one flavor (Toffee) of this protein boosted spread and it certainly tastes delicious. I debated putting it on the top 10 but something had to give and since I have limited experience with this spread, I booted it. The toffee flavor, though, was great with toffee chunks throughout and a great drizzling consistency!

Monkey Butter - I haven't had this brand in quite some time but I remember it being delicious. It's artisanal peanut butters made in small batches in Canada and they use all natural ingredients - no hydrogenated oils. http://monkeybutterpb.com/ I simply left it off the list because it has been years since I tried it.

5150 Nut Butters, Bliss Nut Butters - These are both smaller brands and quite good as all nut butters are, however, consistency was not perfect to my liking,

PBCrave - They came very close to making the list but I'm not a huge fan of fruity flavors. They have no hydrogenated oils, nothing artificial, and are Kosher certified. I recommend the Cookie Dough flavor.

Skippy, Jif, and Peter Pan - While there's nothing wrong with these classics, they just seem mediocre to my high nut butter standards XD. I often use Peter Pan in baking.

YoufreshNaturals Muscle Butter - I hate to say it, but I've had some less than favorable experieces with this company and finally decided to stop wasting my money. The good jars are good, but the not-so-good took a dive in the trash. 


Brands I want to try: Wild Friends, Artisana, Teddie Peanut Butter, Vermont Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Principle, Nuttzo, and Meenut Butter, Julie's Real, JEM Organics and Nut Butter Nation.

What's your favorite? Have you tried any on my list that I need to try and what do I need to add to my list! Let me know!





Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Finds!

Heyyooo, It's Friday again.

It comes every week. Aren't we blessed?

So with it being Friday, here are a few things I've been digging lately!


  • Squash
I did not previously know the wonders of winter squash. Butternut to spaghetti to pumpkin and beyond. Winter squashes are so comforting and many of them have a sweetness to them. I've been roasting and enjoying squashes more than ever before and finding new uses for them. Some favorites are using butternut in healthy desserts, using acorn as an edible dish, or using spaghetti squash in place of pasta. I love to smell them roasting! I haven't been able to find Delicata or Kabocha but I'm on the hunt!
Acorn Squash stuffed with an egg scramble!


  • Brooks Ravenna 8

So I can't say I'm in love with them because they haven't even arrived! I currently run in the Brooks Ravenna 7 and have had no issues with them. I rely on a more stabilizing shoe because I am prone to injuries due to my imbalances from my spinal cord injury so these have worked great in helping me. I've only ever run in Brooks and hope my new pair is just as amazing! I also love their motto: Run Happy!
photo from Dickssportinggoods.com


How cute is this?!
  • Candles!
I don't know why but in the winter, I just love to have a sweet smelling candle burning! There's something so cozy and comforting about that. I was so excited to get a Vellabox in the mail! Vellabox is an artisan candle subscription box. They follow strict guidelines when choosing the candles they include in their boxes so you get only the best. I received a Burn Candle Company Pumpkin Pie candle and it smells so good! It also came with a cute little snack all wrapped up in my cute box. It just made me want to chill and read a book! Check out Vellabox here: https://www.vellabox.com/ - it could be a good gift idea!

Monday, December 4, 2017

So you want to start running?

Do you ever see someone running down the road and think: "Wow, that looks so fun, but I don't know where to start"?

Maybe you just think you're not a runner. That's totally fine - we all enjoy different things, however, I believe that anyone can become a runner if that's what they truly want! Here are some tips that can help you to get started!
  • Find a running buddy! This is not just for motivation, because if you truly want to start running, you have some intrinsic motivation (though it can be challenged on chilly/rainy days lol), but when you start running, you're going to talk about running. Trust me, your non-running friends won't really care to hear about your pace or distance or those hills you conquered. You could join a running group or club, find a friend who wants to start running as well or maybe you already have a friend that runs!
  • Start slow! When I started running, I could not run a mile without stopping and that's true for many people. Don't get discouraged! You can look up programs like couch to 5k or any run/walk programs online. You can also just try to listen to your body. For example, when I started, I would run for a while and then when it felt too hard, I would walk for a bit, then when I felt ready I would run again. I ran the same route on a regular basis so I was able to gauge my progress. 
  • Use an app! I use the Nike Run Club app and I love it. You can set it to tell you your pace at different intervals (mine is set to 1/4 mile) and you can even connect with friends, view your previous runs and more!
    Nike Run Club App
  • Find something to listen to. I used to listen to music which is great and a lot of people enjoy that, but in the past year I started listening to podcasts and I really love it! Other people enjoy listening to books! I recommend the podcast: Marathon Training Academy. I love listening to it and it's so encouraging whether you want to run a marathon or not!
  • Set goals! I love to participate in 5k races and just better my self. Sometimes, I'm trying to have a better pace, or increase distance or conquer a big hill. Whatever the case, it's fun to change it up. I find races to be very fun with the camaraderie and exhilaration! 
  • Be prepared. Good running shoes are absolutely essential. Along with this, you will want comfortable running clothes, headphones that stay put and an armband if you plan on listening to something, good running socks, gloves and headbands if needed. If you're dressed appropriately, it will make running that much more enjoyable!
  • Don't neglect recovery! Take care of yourself. Running is a very repetitive movement and runners often get tight hips. I enjoy doing different runner's yoga routines I find on Youtube. Foam rolling can also be very beneficial for recovery. 
5ks are great for runners of all levels!

Most importantly, HAVE FUN and don't forget to be safe and smart!