Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes

Brunch is totally mainstream these days, but I don’t think that was always true.  In the past ten years, we’ve become very familiar with brunch, sort of akin to how “googling” something or someone is totally normal.

I love brunch, the wonderful marriage of breakfast and lunch that often involves a tasty libation.  I’m totally on-board.  What I wish would gain great popularity is Brinner.  I have no idea if that’s actually a term, but let’s go with it.

Brinner, the happy marriage of breakfast and dinner.  AKA Breakfast for Dinner.  It should most definitely be a thing.

But you should probably know I have this thing where I think breakfast should be healthy.  It’s the first meal of the day and you should probably start it off on the right foot.  For me, it’s usually a smoothie with banana, mango, spinach, kale and protein powder.  I drink it on my way to work, and it keeps me full for a long time without feeling sluggish.

So if we’re having breakfast for dinner, that doesn’t mean we have to go crazy and eat tons of bacon, pancakes and eggs drenched in maple syrup.  That’s ok sometimes, but for days like today, let’s keep it light and full of protein.

Now, all that aside, what is more beautiful than a stack of pancakes?

pancakestack

Well… a stack of these pancakes…

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Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes

2 tbsp spelt flour
2 tbsp almond meal
3 tbsp protein powder (I used Garden of Life Raw Vanilla Protein)
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp chia seeds
1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
1 egg
2-4 tbsp almond milk

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Then add wet ingredients (start with 2 tbsp of almond milk and add more accordingly.  Every protein powder is different so to avoid getting batter that’s too thin, adjust accordingly) and stir together. 

Heat a pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour 2 tbsp of batter to form each pancake.  Cook a few minutes. Once it starts to bubble on top, flip and cook an additional minute or two. 

You’ll get exactly 4 pancakes if you measure (and use a spatula to scrape the bowl). Serve with you toppings of choice. 

I served it with some extra coconut and a maple syrup/yogurt combo (2-3 tbsp greek yogurt + 1 tbsp maple syrup + water to thin it out).  Deeeelish.

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Nutrition-wise, they’re not too bad either.

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There’s almost 30 grams of protein in there!  Note: these stats are only for the pancakes, not any of the toppings. The fat comes mostly from the almond meal and coconut.  But don’t be scared of fat!  It does a body good.

vanillacoconutproteinpancakes1

Ok so please tell me you’re going to help me make Brinner a thing and tell everyone about these protein pancakes.  Yes!

Do you ever do breakfast for dinner?  What’s your favorite Brinner item?

My Search for the Best Protein Powder

I read a lot of health and fitness blogs.  I’m definitely a fan, but one of the things that sometimes irks me is that their lives don’t seem real to me in the sense that many of my favorite blogs are run by full-time bloggers.  They work from home, and have a schedule where they can work out at a variety of different times and can prepare their meals just before eating them since they’re at home.  In that sense, I can’t really relate.  My breakfasts don’t normally look like this:

pancakebreakfast

Ok so they don’t have breakfasts like that everyday either, but doesn’t it seem like it sometimes?

During the week I don’t really have time to make elaborate breakfasts.  Most days sleep and convincing myself to get my butt to the gym are more important.  Consequently, most mornings are a little bit like this:

Rushing out the door with a smoothie in a jar, my purse and my lunch bag.  A smoothie for breakfast is great, because I can drink it in the car or at my desk when I get to the office.  Lately, I’ve been trying to add protein to my morning smoothies to help keep me fuller longer.  I’ve had a container of protein powder sitting in my cupboard for over a year and honestly, I hated the taste.

I decided to go on a mission: to find the perfect protein powder.

My criteria are pretty limited: calories and taste.  I don’t want something too high in calories or sugar, but I definitely want it to taste good and keep me full til lunch.  So I went to the store and found as many single serving protein packets as possible.  Let me tell you about some of the ones I tried.

As a control, I mixed all of these protein powders with: 1/2 banana, mango chunks, spinach, kale, water, ice.  I figured that’s what I normally would want to have it with, so if it tastes good with that, I’d be pleased.

Just a note: I bought all of these protein powders on my own, I was not compensated for any of this.  This is just my opinion based on my palate.  I’m not a nutritionist or any type of expert on protein powder, I’m just a consumer sharing an opinion.

1. Garden of Life: Raw Protein

gardenoflife

Flavor: Real Raw Vanilla (they also have a chocolate and vanilla chai, I believe)

Taste:  Good.  A little on the sweet side.  It’s sweetened with stevia, which isn’t terrible.  I guess if you just mixed this with water or almond milk it might be the perfect sweetness (since mango and banana I mixed it with are sweet also)

Texture:  A tiny bit gritty, but not too bad.

Price: the small packet I got was $2.79, which is kind of expensive for a single serving.  On Amazon, a 22oz (approx. 28 servings) container costs $25.83.  That comes out to about $0.92/serving.  Not too bad, price wise.

Calories: 90 Calories for 17g of protein.  Keeps the smoothie pretty low cal, which for me is great.

Overall: I really like this one.  The flavor is great.  It was a little grittier than the others but I didn’t mind it.  I definitely like that it’s vegan, raw and plant-based.  I’m considering buying the large container of this one.

2. Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake

vegaone

Flavor: French Vanilla

Taste: Super tasty!  It reminded me of a milk shake, but that makes sense.  This isn’t actually protein powder.  It’s like an all-in-one nutrition shake, that said it had 15g of protein so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Texture: Super smooth.  I was definitely a fan of this.

Price: Probably the most expensive one.  Roughly 22 servings for $55.99 on Amazon.  That comes out to about $2.55 per serving.  Priceyyyyy…

Calories: 135 calories for 15g of protein.   BONUS: 6g of fiber! 50% of your daily vitamins and minerals.

Overall:  This was really good.  Loved the flavor and the texture.  It kept me full for a long time, but honestly, the deal breaker for me is the price. Woh woh.

3. 100% Whey Gold Standard

Flavor: Chocolate. I’m not really a fan of chocolate protein powder but I gave it a try anyway. My Co-worker gave me a serving of this to try.

Taste: Ok, not too chocolatey when mixed with the fruit and greens.   My complaint is that it has that whey protein after taste that I’m not a big fan of, but that’s subjective and also sorta just the nature of the beast.  I found myself guzzling this as quickly as possible just to get it over with… womp.

Texture: Very smooth!  Not gritty at all.  Definitely a bonus.  If you like frothy (which I hate), this (like other whey powders) gets frothy in the blender (even just mixed with water).

Price: On Amazon, it costs $53.99 for 73 servings.  That comes out to about $0.73 per serving.  Can’t beat that.

Calories: 120 calories for 24g of protein, pretty darn good.

Overall: Not bad.  Don’t think I’ll get it just because of the after taste but I’d be curious to try the other flavors like banana or vanilla.

4. Designer Whey

Flavor: French Vanilla

Taste: Ok so this is the protein powder that started the search.  I bought this one at Trader Joe’s and at the risk of sound harsh.  I hate the taste of this protein powder.  I don’t like the after taste at all.  It’s really hard for me to even finish a smoothie with it, and I am definitely not a picky eater.  A lot of times I found myself adding scoops of unsweetened cocoa powder to my smoothies to cover up the taste.  No bueno.

Texture: Smooth, frothy, not chalky.

Price: On Amazon, 4lbs for $45.19.  Not bad in terms of price.  Comes out to roughly $0.72 per serving.

Calories: 100 Calories for 18g of protein.  Not bad.  I think I’ll take Garden of Life over this one any day…

Overall:  I just can’t stand this one.  I’m pretty much convince I just don’t like the taste of any whey protein powder.  If you mix it with water and chug it, it’s fine, but if you’re going to sip over the course of half an hour (like I do with my morning smoothies), it’s not pleasant.  This one is a no-go for me.

5. Plant Fusion

Plantfusion

Flavor: Vanilla Bean

Taste: The package says “Amazing Taste.”  It’s good but I’m not sure I’d call it amazing.  It was a little sweet for my taste (sweetened with stevia).  To be honest, the taste was sorta “meh” for me.  Maybe I’m raising my protein powder flavor standards?

Texture: Smooth, not chalky or gritty when blended up.  I was a little concerned because there seemed to be a lot of powder in the packet, but it all smoothed out.

Price: On Amazon, it’s $30.31 for 2lbs, that’s about 30 servings.  So about $1 per serving.  Price isn’t terrible.

Calories: 120 calories for 21g of protein.  That’s pretty good in my opinion.  Up there with the 100% Gold Standard Whey, which probably had the best calorie to protein ratio, but I will say I much prefer the taste of this one.

Overall: This one is not bad.  It’s probably my second choice in terms of protein and price.  This one is a blend of pea protein, artichoke protein, amaranth powder and quinoa powder.  I’m definitely a fan of the fact that it’s plant-based.

I think so far, Garden of Life Raw Protein is the winner for me.  I love that it’s plant-based (we love the Earth, right?) and it tastes pretty darn good.  The fact that it’s low calorie just sort of sweetens the deal.

I’m going to keep trying more to find what I like but this was a good set I tried so far.  I’m really interested to try egg white protein powder.  I think I just need to stay away from whey.

Do you use protein powder? If so, what’s your favorite kind?  Suggest away because the search continues for me (maybe)!

30 Day Paleo Challenge: Days 9 & 10

So after my Monday freak out, I was ready to quit this challenge.  Thanks everyone for your supportive comments.  They were very encouraging and I truly appreciate it!

I decided to tough it out a little longer.  During the week, Paleo isn’t that hard.  I’m used to making my own lunch and bringing it to work, so that’s not anything new.  I used to bring salad, soups and beans a lot.  Now I’ve just replaced the beans with meat (which I’m not a huge fan of).

I think the challenge will remain the weekends.

On the hunger front, things have also been better.  This is potentially for 2 reasons:

1. I’m busy at work so I don’t think about food as much as I would on the weekends.

2. I’ve started packing enormous lunches that are guaranteed to keep me full.

Day 9 Lunch:

paleospaghettisquash

It looks small, but there is literally half of a spaghetti squash in that container, with spinach, marinara and two pieces of chicken.  Ordinarily I would consider that to be two meals, but now I eat it at once.  I’ve had this two days in a row and it has kept me pretty satisfied.

Later that night, I had dinner at my sister’s house.

paleodinner

We had salad, sweet potatoes and tilapia.  I had a bit of non-paleo mayo (with the sweet potato).  Not the worst slip up on Earth.  I’ll survive.

Day 10:

I decided to switch it up.  Everyday I had been eating a Paleo Pancake with a green smoothie.  Today I had this:

baconavocadoscramble2

Bacon Avocado Egg Scramble

1 slice of bacon
1/4 avocado, dice
2 eggs

Cook bacon in a skillet until crispy.  Remove bacon from pan (once cooled, chop) and wipe off some of the bacon fat with a paper towel.  I think a lot of people would have kept the bacon fat but it just looked like too much to me.  In a bowl, beat 2 eggs.  Add eggs to pan with remaining bacon fat, add bacon and scramble.  Just before the eggs are done, add avocado and mix around.  Serve with coffee for a super breakfast or a great dinner.

This one is pretty easy to scale up.  You can add salt and pepper too.  I didn’t, but I won’t stop you from doing so.

baconavocadoscramble

This was pretty tasty.  It was a great manly breakfast after my manly feeling crossfit workout (clean & jerk, 15-12-9!).   I won’t lie my black coffee was a little less enjoyable without my paleo pancake.

For lunch, I packed a mighty salad of lettuce, spinach, mini bell peppers, pickles, and avocado, along with a chicken breast.

paleosaladandchicken

Again, I was full for a long time.  I’m glad the hunger levels are going down.   That makes it all a little more manageable.

Unfortunately, I am still pretty much always up for a cookie.

I’m starting to think that won’t ever change…

30 Day Paleo Challenge: Day 2

It’s only been two days, but I think during the week, this challenge won’t be that bad for a few reasons:

  1. I have a schedule, and I’m busy at work.  That means I’m not sitting at home boredom eating.  Most days I look at the clock around 12:30 and think How is it past noon already?  Time flies.
  2. I’m totally ok with eating the same thing everyday for breakfast and lunch.

I had yogurt, banana and almond butter every single day for months.  Having a paleo pancake and a green smoothie is perfectly fine by me.  You’ll probably get tired of reading about it before I get tired of eating it.

paleopancake

Day 2 lunch was pretty similar to Day 1, and Day 3 (today) will be exactly the same as Day 2.

lunch

Ground Turkey with leftover sweet potato “home fries” and cabbage with lime and salt (I love this combo! My mom made it all the time when I was little and I’ve loved it ever since).  I also packed an apple, some strawberries and some cuties.

My strategy is to overpack snacks to avoid having one of those moments where I feel like eating the world but there’s nothing healthy/paleo to eat.  So far it’s been fine, I ended up only eating one of the cuties and had the apple after dinner.

For dinner, I was at my sister’s house, because my nephew is just so stinkin’ cute it was time to pay them a visit.

After Graham had his dinner of breastmilk (or formula? I actually have no idea), we had shrimp with butternut squash.  Pretty tasty.

So that way Day 2.  Let’s hope Day 3 goes as well as the past two.  I have a potentially EPIC dinner planned tonight.  Or it might be meh.  I’ll keep you posted!

30 Day Paleo Challenge: Day 1

Today is Day 1 of the 30 Day Paleo Challenge!

30daypaleochallenge

I’m psyched.  I’m sure my family, friends, co-workers, twitter followers, etc. are tired of hearing about it already, but I’m into it.

This morning I felt a little unprepared to begin the challenge.  Not because I wanted a hamburger, but this morning after I made my green smoothie and paleo pancake for breakfast…

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I realized I was out of vegetables.  I put away an entire bag of Costco spinach by myself in less than a week.

Womp. But I made due with what I had.

day1lunch

Last night I cooked some ground turkey with onions and peppers.  Today I mixed it with frozen peas and carrots then topped it with avocado (ended up eating 1/4).  For a filling, paleo-friendly lunch.  I also had a carrot and some strawberries.  I packed some cuties in case I got hungry, but I only had 1 (wasn’t even hungry just wanted something sweet).

Looking at my lunch, it reminded me of when I was in grad school and I was too busy to cook and too cheap to buy lunch so I would pack a clif bar, a carrot and an apple and call it a day.

Today was slightly different.  My lunch today was definitely more filling.

Around 6pm, I thought it’d be a good idea to get dinner started.  If there’s one thing I’m realizing it’s that this paleo challenge is going to make me have an actual dinner.  Ordinarily, I’m used to just sort of having snacks for dinner (i.e. tortillas with beans and cheese, or random bites of left overs with a handful of chocolate chips… not my finer moments).

So today I decided to keep up with the use-what-you-have trend.  Over the weekend, since I baked a million pies (or 3), I had 5 egg whites that needed to get used.  So dinner was themed around that…

dinner

Scrambled Egg Whites with Peppers and Onions and Spicy Sweet Potato “Home Fries”

Now these home fries aren’t really home fries.  They’re just super quick sweet potatoes that I think are tasty.

What You’ll Need to serve 1-3 people:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1 mini sweet pepper or 1/4 red/yellow bell pepper
  • Salt, Pepper, Cumin, Chili Powder, Paprika, Cayenne

Step 1: Microwave sweet potato until cooked (depending on size 5 mins ish? I think mine took 6 minutes)
Step 2: Chop some onions and peppers and add to a pan with a bit of oil.
Step 3: Chop the sweet potato into chunks and add to the pan with some salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika and cayenne (all to taste).
Step 4: Turn up the heat, once the sweet potatoes are browned and sort of crisp, serve with your scrambled egg whites!

spicysweetpotato

Ta-da! Dinner!  I ended up topping it with the 1/4 of the avocado that I didn’t eat earlier.  Pretty tasty.

I won’t lie.  I really wanted to add ketchup to this mix, but alas, not paleo friendly.  Also this was a HUGE meal.  5 egg whites is a lot of egg.  Just saying.

How about you?  Did you make dinner tonight?  What’d you make?

30 Day Paleo Challenge: The Countdown and a Paleo Pancake

It’s Friday!!!

The challenge officially starts on Monday

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But the last few days I’ve been easing into it.

Breakfast was full paleo this morning.

paleobreakfast

Green Smoothie + Paleo Pancake+ Almond Butter + Coffee

Let’s talk about the Paleo Pancake.

paleopancake

I discovered this on Carrots N Cake a while back and have been eating it for a few months.  I’ve seen it around the web as well, but I finally found the combo (and method!) that I think is the tastiest.

Paleo Pancake

3/4 of a banana large banana (or 1 small)*
1 egg
splash of vanilla extract

Slice the banana and put it in the magic bullet cup.  Crack the egg in there as well.  Add the vanilla.  Blend until smooth.  Alternatively you can mash the banana and just mix it in a bowl, but I found that the magic bullet really made it smoother and tastier.

Heat a small skillet (sprayed with a bit of cooking spray) over medium heat.  Add the batter and turn the flame to low, cover with lid.  Cook about 3-4 minutes until you shake it and it no longer giggles (it takes a bit of time).  Flip and cook for an additional minute or two.  Turn onto a plate and slather with almond butter!  Delish!

*the other 1/4 of your banana can just be sliced on top or used in a green smoothie!  I found that if you put too much banana then your banana to egg ratio is off and the pancake breaks.  I’ve also tried with 2 eggs and that just tastes too eggy to me, but try it if you’d like!

I used to think my Magic Bullet was totally useless, but now I’m finding new uses for it!

Also I should note… Please please please don’t expect this to taste like a regular pancake.  That’s just impossible.  But it is tasty and definitely worth a try!  Not to mention that it kept me full for a really long time.

For lunch, I packed some spinach salad with peppers, pickles and avocado, left over rotisserie chicken, and cuties.

paleolunch

There were food trucks parked outside my office building

But I passed that up, not only in anticipation of the Paleo Challenge but because…

For dinner, I’m headed out.  I semi-feel like I’m going out of mainstream eating with a bang.  This week is OC Restaurant week.  So I’m going to dinner to celebrate some friends’ birthdays at Newport Landing.

Surprisingly the thing I’m looking forward to is NOT dessert!  This Potato Wrapped Atlantic Salmon sounds aaaa-mazing.

What’s on your agenda for the night?

30 Day Paleo Challenge: Prepping

So I’ve realized I eat more dairy than I thought I did or maybe that’s just what’s left in my fridge to consume.  So I’m finishing out my non-paleo foods before the 30 Day Paleo Challenge

30daypaleochallenge

I know you’re just as psyched as me.

I’m used to eating yogurt for breakfast.  So today was pretty typical…

breakfast

Green smoothie (1/2 banana, 6 chunks of frozen mango, lots of spinach, and water) + the other half of the banana and a Chobani.

Lunch consisted of more leftovers…

lunch

An apple for a snack.  Then random boxed Potato Leek soup + cottage cheese with tomatoes and hot sauce on a tortilla.  That combo was wayyyy more delicious than I thought.  Since I still have a ton of cottage cheese left, that will be lunch tomorrow too.

After work, I headed to Costco to stock up on some stuff.

groceries

Bananas, Almond Butter, Marinara, Spinach, Eggs, Clementines, Mini Peppers, Rotisserie Chicken, Ground Turkey, Avocados.   I wish that box was filled with Stella Rosa, but no, that’s how I brought home my chicken…

Honestly, the list wasn’t that different from what I normally buy.  The only difference is ordinarily I would buy Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese and probably some other type of cheese instead of any type of meat.

One of the criticisms I hear about  Paleo is that it’s expensive.  I spent $56.  That might be a little more than I would normally spend at Costco, but I’m thinking that ground turkey will last a while, and it was the most expensive item (4 packs for $17).

I’ll hit up the grocery store for some spaghetti squash later this week, but other than that, not a whole lot more.

I’ll keep track of the costs just out of curiosity.

How much do you normally spend on groceries?

 

The EBA: Egg Bacon Avocado Breakfast Sandwich

I love breakfast.  It’s seriously the best meal out there.  If I could have brunch out every day, I’d be totally happy.  But sometimes you need to save money and calories.  Tomorrow, I’m having Sunday Brunch out with friends.   So making something special at home that hits the spot was the right way to go.

This says it all.

According to Facebook, you all love runny yolks as much as I do. So tomorrow morning… or really right now… save yourself a few bucks and make this delightful breakfast creation.

EBA: Egg Bacon Avocado Breakfast Sandwich

1 slice of bacon
1 egg
1/4 avocado, sliced
2 pieces of bread

Fry the bacon in a small skillet over medium flame until desired level of crispiness.  In the meantime, toast your bread and slice your avocado.  Remove bacon from pan and place on a paper towel, once cooled, break in half so you have two pieces.

Wipe off some of the bacon grease from the skillet.  Turn flame on med/low and crack egg into pan.  Once the white part has set enough for you to flip it, flip the egg and cook an additional minute (or more if you’re blasphemous and don’t like runny yolks).  Transfer egg onto 1 slice of bread.  On the other side, lay slices of avocado then bacon.

eggbaconavocadosandwich1

Put together and enjoy!

eggbaconavocadosandwich2

I swear the runny yolk is what makes this so amazing.  Or maybe it’s the bacon.  Or the avocado…

You’d think that based on the number of desserts I made I would be all about sweet breakfast items, but no.  I generally prefer savory breakfast foods.

What about you?  Do you prefer savory or sweet breakfast?  What’s your favorite breakfast/brunch menu item?

Some Meal Inspiration… or What You Should Be Making ASAP

Hi Guys.  I’m moving again.

So while I try to eat the entire contents of my shelf in the fridge and cupboard, I need to live vicariously through you.

I just ate celery and a hunk of cheese for dinner.  I’m considering supplementing it with some tortillas and… peanut butter.  Hmm maybe not the best combo.

Really, I’d like to be eating this Zucchini Goat Cheese Omelet.

Breakfast is totally appropriate at all times of the day.  Make it.  Tell me how it is.

Oh wait, I know how it is.  Absolutely delicious.  Just make it.  I’m already jealous.

Oh yeah, and I’d serve it with a slice of this Challah the side.

Don’t be shy.  It’s less complicated than it seems but just as tasty as it looks.

If I were in my new place, I’m make Bananas Foster Creme Brulee for dessert.

Wouldn’t you?  Yeah, you should probably head to the kitchen now.  I know I would if I could.

Be back soon with more new recipes from my own kitchen!

You Were Missed

Green smoothies

Drip coffee and English Muffins with PB and Banana

I had missed you all these months.  Welcome back to my life.

Ahh exit project defense in less than 2 hours!

Remain calm.