Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tall, Dark and Delicious

There is a new love in my life, version, delicious, never disappoints me. No, friends this isn't a post about how I finally found that certain someone special. This is about my favorite jumpstart to the morning, The divine Dark Chocolate meal replacement shake.

When I heard about the Dark Chocolate Vegetarian protein shakes I just could not wait to try them. I have tried and tried and tried many a vegetarian protein and meal replacement shake and almost all of them make me gag. I know they are good for me and a good source of plant protein but omg...most of them are uh...well kinda nasty. I can't quite place my finger on what the funk comes from but its hard to gag them down. So, needless to say I didn't have that high of hopes for this version. But...I decided to give it a whirl...if nothing else I knew it would be great to make some balls with!

The first time I had the shake I shook it up in my blender bottle with some water. Although this is great for the regular MRS shakes...the Dark choc does not get justice this way. I'm a big believer that everyone and everything should get a second chance to make a first impression. So, I did not give up on the DCMRS soul!

I made some balls and they were wonderful. A few days later I decided to tackle the shake again. This time I put in the old Blentec with water and ice. Oh yum! this was the ticket. The plant protein doesn't thicken up much like whey protein and I like that. I tend to like my shakes on the thin side so this was awesome. It has a dark rich chocolate flavor that is just amazing. I was in love!

I decided to really play around with the shake and have now finished the whole box and will be opening a brand new box tomorrow. I have come up with some delectable flavor combinations, to me its just as versatile as a vanilla! Be creative, my friends.

Add in ideas (with added foods, note will add calories of course)

  • Add 1/2- 1 banana and some PB2 (this will make it thick and creamy option: freeze the banana first)
  • Add 2 cuties (or mandarins) plus the zest
  • Add 1/2 cup mixed frozen berries
  • Add 1/2 cup fresh pineapple
  • Add 2 Tbsp  unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Add 2 Tbsp PB2
  • Add 1-2 Tbsp almonds or almond butter 
Add in ideas (no added calories- perfect for 24 Day Challenge or Lean in 13)
  • Cinnamon (vietnamese cinnamon is best find it here)
  • Orange zest plus ginger
  • Cinnamon and Cayenne (heat it up and perfect aztec hot chocolate!)
  • Fresh Mint leaves or a few drops mint oil 
  • Grapefruit zest 
  • Mandarin zest
  • Mix with Berry Shake and split with a friend-Chocolate covered strawberry!  yum
The possiblities are endless and your imagination is the limit!  Go out and be delcious, my friends!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lean in 13!

The AdvoCare bug bites hard and doesn't let worries this is a good thing.  So its been about 2 months since the transformation has begun.  As of Day 24 of the Challenge I lost 11 pounds and 15.5 inches.  This morning, I weighed myself randomly and I have now lost 18 pounds.  WOW!  I am 2 pounds away from my halfway goal.  That is so motivating and exciting to me!

Today is Day 3 of Lean in 13!  I feel great, this program is quite different from The 24 Day Challenge, its a super challenge of will power and strength.  If you know me, you know I love my carbs.  Lean in 13 is a zig zag pattern of eating meant to really give your fat a good swift kick in the pants to get on and get going out of your body.   Days 1-3, 5-7,9-11 and 13 are protein and veggie based, As a vegetarian that means I have and will be eating a lot of eggs and tofu...thankfully I adore both of these, but non veggiesaurus types can enjoy lean meats as well!    Everyday features a meal replacement shake and muscle gain protein snack in the afternoon as well.  Days 4,8 and 12 you get to add in some carbs!  woot! I did some research and the *best* nut snack was almonds, best veggie, asparagus and best fruit to add grapefruit.  Score! I LOVE ALL OF THOSE!  I picked up some organic firm tofu to cube and bake / stir fry, some organic local eggs and yummy veggies.  I chose MNS Max E this go around for my super nutrition boost, stuck with my catalyst ( loooove catalyst)  Added in Thermoplus to burn some extra calories and nighttime recovery since I plan on doing some serious workouts.  Here is a sampling. 

Not gonna lie, I was a little worried going into this...I really love fruit so I knew Days 1-3 would be hard, but once I got into a pattern it wasn't so bad. I was also worried I wouldn't be eating enough calories so I continued track on spark people and found I was still hitting a 1200 cal minimum and staying with range for protein, carb and fat.  With the addition of MNS I knew I was getting all the nutrients I need, so that really eased my mind!  

I'm really hoping to rock out Lean in 13.  I will keep you updated.  I absolutely cannot wait to eat a grapefruit tomorrow!!  Wish me luck and Keep on Keeping on!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spicy Chocolate Popcorn with Quinoa

I found this to die for recipe on while trolling one of my favorite sites on facebook, Healthful Pursuit and just had to re create it!   I did a little tweaking to the recipe to remove the sugar and add some extra protein and nutrition brought to you by my favorite products!

I started by air popping a batch of popcorn, removing 6 cups and keeping the rest tucked away for some snacking later on.  I love air popped popcorn with a little sesame oil ,Chinese 5 spice and sea salt or coconut oil and cinnamon...mmm a bet a little mandarin orange spark mixed would be divine.. There are endless flavor combinations so play around with your favorite oil and spices, or the old stand by, olive oil and sea salt.  yum.

The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of sugar...but we are doing things the clean advocare way so I decided to sub a 1/4 cup of chocolate muscle gain.  I used raw mixed nuts for my nuts, and I had some pistachio walnut butter on hand from some protein balls I made recently.   

I used my handy dandy pampered chef chopper to chop up the nuts into small pieces.  I plan to make some nut butter out of this delicious combo real soon, so stay tuned. 

Next grab a small sauce pan and on low heat melt the coconut oil.  Depending on how warm your house is yours may already be liquid...My house is on the cool side so mine was solid.  Add cocoa powder, spices (to taste) and nut butter, cook on low until combined and smooth about 2 minutes.  Oh this is looking sooo good.  Makes me wish that google smell wasn't just a April fools prank and you could smell this.

Spread popcorn on parchment paperlined baking sheet, top with chopped nuts then drizzle with chocolate.  Use your hands or a spatula to cover the popcorn as best you can.  Next sprinkle the magic...err quinoa over top of the popcorn.  Bake at 300 for 30 minutes, stirring half way through.  I don't think it would be the end of the world if you didn't stir at 15 minutes sit back, relax and drool for a bit.

Stick the pan in the fridge to cool for about 15-30 minutes to allow chocolate to firm up and ENJOY!  I immediate had to portion mine out into small baggies for fear of eating the entire batch.  This is not super sweet and if you need or want sweet add some splenda or stevia to the mix.  Sit back and watch a movie and chill.

Spicy Chocolate Popcorn with Quinoa ala Queen of Quinoa (adapted)


  • 6 cups popped popcorn
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts of choice (I used raw mixed nuts, but this would be awesome with any kind)
  • 2 tablespoons whole quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Hershey's cocoa powder
  • 1  scoop Chocolate Muscle Gain 
  • 2 tablespoons nut butter of choice ( I used pistachio-walnut)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (start with less and work your way up if you're not a fan of heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees . Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Add the popcorn to the baking sheet, then sprinkle with nuts making sure they're evenly dispersed.
  3. Heat the coconut oil over low heat in a small saucepan until it melts. Whisk in cocoa powder, coconut sugar, nut butter, cayenne and salt. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes until everything is fully combined and it has thickened only slightly.
  4. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the popcorn-nut mixture and gently mix all the ingredients together.
  5. Sprinkle the quinoa over the mixture.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring the mixture once during cooking.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Put in fridge to firm up for about 15-30 minutes
  8. ENJOY!! 
Makes 12 1/2 cup servings
Nutrition:  120 calories | Fat 9.5g | Protein 4g | Carb 7.5g | Fiber 2.5g

Adapted from Queen of Quinoa/ Spicy Chocolate Popcorn with Quinoa

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fajita Taco Salad Swap

One of my all time favorite meals is Taco Salad.  I love a good taco salad, warm veggies on a bed of lettuce topped with gooey cheese, flavorful salsa and mounds of sour cream and guac and I'm in heaven.  Until I log onto spark people to track my calories and bam that deliciousness just cost me almost my entire days worth of calories.  For a gal that loves to eat that is so not cool.  I have taken to making my own taco salads. 

First step, ditch the crunchy shell...its hundreds of empty calories.  For some extra crunch bake a corn tortilla and crumble on top, if you choose.  Next I cut up about 1 cups worth of assorted pepper strips.  I used red, yellow, orange and green.  I always keep a bag of mini peppers on hand, they are super easy to grab and go and much easier to chop up.  But use what you have.  Chopped some onion and some grape tomatoes and put them into my preheated pan with some chili infused olive oil on medium heat to get soft and delicious.

Once my veggies were nicely on their way to be perfectly soft yet still crunchy, I added a little taco seasoning.  I buy mine from a local shop, Crystal and Spice that has with no added fillers or salt and is super fresh.  Its devine! .  Add some pinto beans and mix everything together til warm.

While the goods were heating up I chopped up some lettuce.  I used a blend of red leaf and escarole, but use what you have.  I recommend a sturdy lettuce like romaine or iceberg.  We want a lettuce that can bring it to the recipe. Spinach has its place for salads, but baby its not here.

Next I diced 1/2 an avocado, shredded 1oz of cheddar cheese. (Note:Always, always buy cheese that is made without use of growth hormone, organic if possible, we don't like extra hormones in our food it messes with ourselves!)  Top with some salsa as the dressing, a little lime juice and crushed red pepper.  YUM.  I like to add a little Greek yogurt as a sub for sour cream, but I was fresh out today.  My favorite is Windcrest Dairy.  If you are local you can find it here.  Otherwise, Chobani is a great choice too.  

YUM!  To make this 24 Day Challenge friendly, ditch the cheese.  Add hormone free chicken for added protein.  Omit the cheese, use 1/3 avocado...make it your own, play around.  Enjoy and its 1/3 the calories of many popular restaurant styles.  Look at you saving calories, you'll be a slim and trim in no time! 

Fajita Taco Salad
Nutrition:   Calores: 450 | Fat 24g | Protein 19g | Carb 48g | Fiber 17g 
  • 1 cup pepper strips
  • 1/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 oz grape tomatoes, halved (about 3-4)
  • 1/2 cup pinto beans, rinsed
  • 2 cup lettuce, torn into strips
  • 2 Tbsp Salsa
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp taco seasoning (more or less to taste)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, plus more for garnish

  1. Heat olive oil in pan with chopped garlic and crushed red pepper
  2. Add onions, tomatoes and peppers, cook til almost soft 
  3. Add beans and taco seasoning cook til beans warm
  4. Add mixture to lettuce and top with cheese, avocado and salsa.
  5. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spinning and Balls!

Spinning and Balls.  They go together like peas and carrots.   If you know me I not only love a good spinning class but I love my protein balls.  I love to eat them, I love to create new and fun flavors, I like to talk about them.  I just love them, love them, love them.  So whats better than to have a pre-spin ball?  It would be a crime not to.

Tonight was my first night back at spinning in a long time.  I ran into a good friend at the Y last night after swimming who twisted my arm to come spin tonight.  Since the old shoulder injury a bit over a year ago, I've shied away from anything that may remotely irritate my shoulder.  But...remember a little thing called the 24 day challenge and my super progress?? Yea!  I went for it, I spinned, I spun, I rocked it and no pain. NONE!  whaaaa??  That is huge, I still can't believe how wonderful I am feeling lately.  It was great to see friends I haven't seen in awhile, sweat up a storm and torch some calories.  After my ritual morning workout and a lunchtime walk, I'm expecting to be sore tomorrow.  Thank goodness I have some nighttime recovery to help ease my muscles tonight, these poor gams will need it!

Oh..right.  The Balls.  Gotta talk about the Balls.  Balls are a great pre-workout snack.  I knew I would be torching some calories and needed a little snack, so I made sure to pack some leftover balls I had made for a mixer....oooh baby they powered me on through.   Lucky you, 2 Bonus Ball Recipes!  

Vanilla Pistachio Balls
Chocolate Almond Balls
  1. Combine all ingredients in Blendtec or Food processor til combined
  2. Form Balls about 1 Tbsp.  
  3. Enjoy!

*use store bought, natural no sugar added nut butters or place nuts in Blendtec and pulse on speed 1 til combined, then pulse on speed 6 several times to reach consistency desired, you may need to add a bit of oil to reach desired consistency, consider using coconut or hemp oil for an added boost!