Healthy and Easy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I love blogs with beautiful photos of ridiculous things I might not ever make.  But truth be told, sometimes I want to see recipes I’ll actually make.

So recently, while I was brainstorming ideas for Peanut Butter & Co.’s Peanut Butter/Oat extravaganza, I decided to share a recipe I make all the time.

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I have an enormous sweet tooth.  I want to eat cake every single day.

No really.  Every. Single. Day.

But I also want to be healthy.  So sometimes I make compromises and find ways to tone down my sweet tooth and still be satisfied.

Peanut Butter + Oats + Banana is the perfect way to do it.  They’re not terribly sweet, but they do the job when I want a big fat cookie without all the extra fat and sugar.

Peanut Butter and Co. teamed up with Bob’s Red Mill to do what they are calling #Oatober.  I love both oats and peanut butter, so I couldn’t help but participate.

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I seriously made these cookies every other week in some variation or another.  Today I’m sharing an oatmeal, raisin, date inspired cookie, but I’m thinking I’ll try a pumpkin version later this month.

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Healthy and Easy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter
2 cups of oats, blended in a food processor
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips
5 dates, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  You’ll get a thick dough.  Form dough into balls and flatten slightly to form a cookie shape.

Lay cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake 15 minutes or until golden on the bottoms.  Allow to cool and serve!

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That’s it.  They’re super easy and perfect with a cup of tea.  I really do make them all the time.  Sometimes I omit the chocolate chips.  Sometimes I do raisins.  I also tried making this with Peanut Butter and Co’s new Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter and they were all sorts of awesome!

What’s your favorite Peanut Butter/Oat Combo?

 

Salad Spring Rolls

One of my favorite things about living in Orange County was the plethora of Vietnamese restaurants.

Fun Fact: Orange County, CA has the largest Vietnamese population in the US.  

And because of that we were blessed with delicious (and inexpensive) restaurants.

Over the last four years, I’ve become obsessed with the Vietnamese Spring Rolls.  It’s almost a rule that I must order them any time I go to a Vietnamese restaurant.

I’m sure there have to be amazing Vietnamese restaurants here in the Bay Area, and I will do my best to discover them, but in the meantime, I’m going to keep the memory alive with some spring roll inspiration.

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These aren’t really Vietnamese spring rolls.  They don’t include rice noodles or shrimp or pork.  They’re just vegetables, which is why I call them salad spring rolls.  Despite not being like the tasty ones I get at restaurants, this has become my new favorite way to eat salad.

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They pretty quick, easy and tasty.  The other wonderful thing is you can make them with whatever you have on hand.

Here are some suggestions for filling your spring rolls:

Thai Basil
Lettuce
Cucumber
Carrots
Red Bell Pepper
Bean Sprouts

For Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1-2 tbsp peanut butter, natural
1-2 tbsp sriracha
1-2 tbsp water

To assemble, cut your vegetables into match tickets (i.e. carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers) and wash your lettuce and thai basil.   You’ll need to get rice paper.  You can probably find it at any Asian grocery store (or on Amazon).

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Wet your rice paper by dipping it in water for about 3 seconds and you’re ready to go (do one at a time, don’t wet them all at once, because they’re very sticky).  I have a rice paper water bowl, but it’s not essential, and shallow dish to submerge the paper in will work.

Then you can start assembling your spring rolls.   Place some of the vegetables toward the bottom of the circle, like such:

springrollsteps

Fold the right and left sides toward the center, then the shorter side up and roll to cover.  I couldn’t take photos of this process because it requires two hands and I only have two, unfortunately (or fortunately).  But this blog has an awesome tutorial!  Check it out!  

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Once your spring rolls are rolled and ready, make your quick dipping sauce.   Combine hoisin, peanut butter, sriracha in a bowl.  Start with 1 tbsp of each, taste it and adjust to your liking.

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You don’t have to use this dipping sauce, you can also mix fish sauce with water, a bit of sugar and chili garlic sauce and dip!  Or since these are salad rolls, feel free to dip in your favorite salad dressing.  We’re not being authentic here, so anything goes.

But seriously, this hand-held salad options is awesome.  I served it with some mustard rubbed chicken and it was a hit (to Jesse and me, that is, but I think we have ok taste).  I think this is my new favorite summer meal.

What’s your favorite salad or summer meal?

Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Salad

I’m currently having a bout of I-don’t-want-to-cook.

It’s a chronic syndrome.  I haven’t quite found the cure, but I have a remedy.

The situation is this:  I want to eat healthy meals, but I’m just not in the mood to prepare them.

An unfortunate result of I-don’t-want-to-cook is a desire to eat bad things.  And thus, I also want to eat fatty sandwiches and burgers (because those are cheap and easy to pick up… but really I should mention Del Taco Bean and Cheese burritos because they’re my weakness).  Today, I almost gave in to a fatty sandwich for lunch, because I was too lazy to pack a lunch.  I got a salad at a local spot.  And while it was healthier than the fatty Reuben I also wanted, nothing beats the healthiness of a home-cooked meal.

So the solution to the chronic I-don’t-want-to-cook (or really I-don’t-want-to-do-dishes) is to get a boyfriend who cooks having lots of healthy leftovers.  I’m a fan of cooking in bulk for the week because I always know there will be a day when I don’t feel like cooking so I might as well be prepared.  My most recent creation is perfect for these days.  You can make it on Sunday and it’ll still be good for Thursday, since there’s no meat involved.

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Don’t worry, I didn’t go crazy with photoshop.  I used yellow cauliflower.  That’s why it’s so bright.  I’m currently making this again with purple cauliflower.  I’m going to bet that will look awesome as well.

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So if you’re like me and you’re having an I-don’t-want-to-cook (or do dishes) moment, this is your solution.  Very little work and lots of deliciousness and nutrients.  So get your cauliflower/lentil on…

 

Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Salad

3/4 cup lentils, dry
1 head cauliflower, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
garlic salt, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp)

1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 oz goat cheese (optional)

Cook lentils for 20 minutes (or until tender) in boiling water.  While the lentils cook, pre-heat your oven to 400F.  Chop cauliflower, toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, cumin, paprika, cayenne, garlic salt and pepper.  Roast for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, or until golden and crispy.

Next make dressing.  Whisk together 1 tbsp olive oil, mustard, vinegar and some salt and pepper.  Now combine all ingredients.  Toss together lentils, cauliflower, cilantro, and dressing.  Top with goat cheese and serve!  This recipe will serve 4.

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  Like I said, this recipe is super easy.  It only takes about 5 minutes of prep work.  The rest is pretty much just the oven and stove doing the work.  That means you can watch Orange is the New Black while you wait for it all to be ready, then take 2 minutes and throw it all together. RoastedCauliflowerLentilSalad4

Sounds like a great idea to me.  I have some cauliflower in the oven, now all I need is Netflix.

 

What’s your quick and easy, to-go healthy meal?

Zucchini Pasta with Avocado-Pepita Pesto

These days I pretty much only want to talk about vegetables.  As I mentioned last time, I’ve been over doing it with desserts/sweets recently so I’m going to get super excited about vegetables and tell you about my most recent vegetable-filled discovery: Zucchini Pasta.

I’m not the biggest fan of pasta and I’m partially convinced that I’ve talked myself into not liking it, because I just don’t feel like it’s amazing enough for the calories.  Bread, on the other hand, I’m happy to eat tons of bread, regardless of calories.  Pasta… I’m meh about pasta.  That said, I’m a huge fan of eating things in the shape of long stringy pasta.  I love spaghetti squash and when my co-worker gave me an extra spiralizer that she had, I was ecstatic.

Since then my brain has been churning with awesome zucchini noodle ideas.

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The inspiration for this recipe came from a raw, vegan cooking demonstration I went to a few weeks ago.  They served us zucchini noodles with pesto. So from there, I decided to make my own version with ingredients I had on-hand at home.  It was a complete success. zucchinipasta1

Zucchini Pasta with Avocado-Pepita Pesto

5 small zucchini squash, spiralized or julienned
1 small avocado
1/4 cup pepitas
1 cup fresh basil
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tomato, diced

Place avocado, pepitas, basil, lemon juice in food processor (or vitamix).  Pulse.  Stream in olive oil and water and continue to blend until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Toss zucchini noodles with some of the pesto, you can add more or less to your liking.

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Please note, this recipe will make more than enough pesto for 5 zucchini.  You can refrigerate the rest for another day (it’ll start to turn brown after 2-3 days). zucchinipasta3

 

What I loved about this dish was:
1. how easy it is to make.
2. how well it tastes the next day and
3. the fact that it doesn’t require you to turn on the stove or oven, with our recent heat wave and summer just around the corner, that was essential.

I’ll definitely be making this again.   I’m consistently surprised at how much I like raw zucchini.  It’s definitely an underrated vegetable.

 Do you have a spiralizer?  Any ideas on what I should try to spiralize next?

 

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Peanut Butter and Co. Bee’s Knees Giveaway to win two free jars of Peanut Butter!

Vegan Fusion Tacos

I don’t know about you, but I love fusion food.  My favorite is some sort of Asian cuisine combined with Latin. Food trucks are particularly good at this.   Kogi is the perfect example.  Their short rib taco is nothing short of amazing.  There’s another food truck around Orange County that has a banh mi taco.  Amazing.

I’m also a big fan of Taco Tuesday.  I wish I took advantage of it more often.  I really wanted to hit up my favorite taco spot today, but then I remembered I should probably save money (and calories).  Instead I made tacos at home with ingredients I already had, and thus this italian-mexican fusion vegan creation was born:

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Vegan Fusion Tacos

1 corn or flour tortilla
2 tbsp avocado pesto hummus
2 artichoke hearts, halved
a few sliced thinly sliced zucchini
1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Heat tortilla.  Spread tortilla with Avocado Pesto Hummus.  Top with artichoke hearts, zucchini slices, then sprinkle with nutritional yeast.  If you want to go crazy, squeeze some extra lemon on top.  You won’t be sorry.  Then devour.

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Note: If you make a full avocado pesto hummus recipe, you should be able to make about 6-8 tacos.

Do you see the fusion in here?  Italian ingredients: Garbanzo beans, Artichoke Hearts, Zucchini, Basil.  Latin/Mexican: Lemon, Avocado, Tortilla.

I think that’s pretty good.

So there you have it.  Tasty vegan dinner, ready in about 10 minutes.  Get your Taco Tuesday on.

Avocado Pesto Hummus

I’m loving the fact that it’s now light out until about 7pm.  What I’m NOT loving is that it’s still dark out when I go to the gym.  There’s nothing less motivating than waking up when it’s still dark out.

So while it’s still light out, I had all these hopes and dreams for magical creations I was going to make after work, photograph, enjoy and blog about.  Then I remembered that more cooking means more washing dishes and that suddenly sounded unappealing.  As much as I wanted to hit up Trader Joe’s for a box of Puffins for dinner, I decided to make something quick and easy.

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And seriously guys, this was all sorts of amazing.  You really need to make this, spread it on toast and stuff your face off.  That’s what I did.  Why should you?

Top 5 Reasons You Need to Make This:

    1. It’s healthy!  Lots of good fats from avocado
    2. It’s vegan! Let’s love the Earth a little bit more and eat less meat (especially if you’re in California.  There’s a drought folks!).  This spread still packs in the protein.  This whole recipe (which serves 4) has about 29g of protein!
    3. It’s crazy delicious.  Seriously.  So good.
    4. Avocado. Enough said.
    5. It’s ready in about 3 minutes, and you’re hungry so what are you waiting for?

BONUS REASON: It’s a great excuse to eat bread, not that you need one. Avocado Pesto Hummus 3

Avocado Pesto Hummus

1 can (15oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp nutritional yeast, heaping
1 small handful of fresh basil leaves (I used about 7 large leaves)
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or Vitamix (which is what I used).  Pulse until combined.  I wanted mine a little bit chunky so I didn’t pulse it too long, but if you want it smooth you can do that too.

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Spread on your favorite bread or serve with pita chips or raw veggies and enjoy!

Do you need any more convincing?  I’m not sure how else to tell you this is basically delicious and awesome for you.  Eat it up!

Are you an avocado lover? Please tell me you are!

Arugula Salad with Lentils and Spiced Butternut Squash

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a very happy Christmas, ate lots delicious food and spent time with family.

With my family, our holidays revolve around food and this Christmas was no different. We ate tons of tamales

and the only times we weren’t eating were the short walks we took to hang out with the neighbor’s llamas, ponies and donkeys.

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No, I’m not back in Peru.  People in LA County have pet llamas.   But other than llama sighting.  We mostly ate.

I don’t know about you, but after Christmas eating, I need vegetables.  Well really, I just think I need to eat normal, so that’s what I’m trying to do, but adding a few extra vegetables in there for good measure.

This morning, I finally tried Kodiak Cakes.  If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Like Foodologie on Facebook, you’ll remember that I won a few boxes of Kodiak Cakes through their 12 days of giveaways.  I decided to make some this morning

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Along with their red raspberry syrup.  Overall, they’re super tasty! What I especially love is that they use all natural ingredients (and not to mention easy! You just add water!).

Then for lunch, I had this amazing salad.

Arugula Salad with Lentils and Spiced Butternut Squash1

It might not look that magical, but I promise it is.  It’s light but hearty enough to be a meal on its own. The mint makes it taste fresh and clean.  I’ve been making this salad for years so to be perfectly honestly, I can’t remember where I discovered it.  Someone deserves credit, I just can’t remember who.

Arugula Salad with Lentils and Spiced Butternut Squash

adapted from somewhere I can’t remember…

1/2 butternut squash, diced
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 to 1 cup lentils, dry
6 cups arugula1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
4 oz (or more) goat cheese

Pre-heat oven to 375F.  Toss diced butternut squash with paprika, cumin, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet at bake for 15 minutes. Toss and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until crispy and cooked through. Please note: this cooking time may vary depending how how big you diced the butternut squash and how intense your oven is, so check it every so often and toss to make sure it doesn’t burn.

While the butternut squash roasts, cook the lentils.  Cover in water and boil about 20 minutes (or until tender).  Once cooked through, rinse and set aside.

Once the lentils and squash are ready, assemble the salad.  In a large bowl, toss together arugula, mint, 2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Scoop some of the salad on a plate, top with goat cheese, lentils and butternut squash. Serve and enjoy!

Feel free to made adjustments. I love mint so I’m a fan of tons of mint.  Don’t love mint? Omit it.  Out of goat cheese or hate its guts? Replace it with manchego! If you don’t like manchego, then we just can’t be friends.  But if you want to make it vegan and omit the cheese, I’m a-okay with that.

I have a feeling this is going to be salad week for me.  Be on the look out for some healthy eats and New Years resolutions in the days to come!

How was your Christmas?  What was the best thing you ate?

Mushrooms in Red Wine over Polenta (with a poached egg)

Today was the first day I cooked in about 2 weeks.

For me, that’s unheard of.  Literally the last thing I made was these Mocha Protein Cupcakes.  No a single thing has been made other than microwaving soup from a box and veggie patties.

I’ve been busy, but let’s not concentrate on that.  Today, I knew I needed to cook.  I needed comfort food.  Usually for me, comfort food is a cookie, but lately, all I’ve wanted is lamb stew.  Umm… random? Yes.

Lamb is a little out of my price range right now, so I went to the store and bought some beef.  I started making beef stew with a bottle of cabernet a friend gave me not too long ago.

With half a bottle of wine and my stew on the first of many hours of stewing, I had a bright idea.

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I enjoyed this with a glass of wine while listening to Boleros.  Boleros is a genre of Spanish music, popular with people my grandmother’s age.  I have the musical taste of an 80 year old hispanic woman.  If we’re being honest, it’s probably my most listened to Pandora station.  It makes me think of my grandmother, who loves to wake up and put on music to listen to with breakfast.

So tonight, with my boyfriend across the country, I listened to sad music, think of my grandma, drank wine and ate a tasty comfort meal.

I’ll stop sounding so melodramatic, because despite the obvious missing of the boyfriend, it was a pretty relaxing meal for me (which was much needed because I’ve felt like I’ve been on the go for the past three weeks).

In terms of benefits to you: This is a super easy meal. It’ll be ready in roughly 15 minutes and it’s pretty healthy and the egg is totally optional, meaning this can be totally vegan.

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Mushrooms in Red Wine over Polenta

1/2 cup corn meal
2 cups chicken/vegetable broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, sliced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1-2 tbsp fresh herbs (I used Rosemary and Sage)
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs (optional)

In a saucepan, mix together cornmeal and broth.  Put on medium heat.  While it comes to a boil, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat and add onions cook a few minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook another few minutes (about 5), stirring occasionally.

If you’re not good at multi-tasking, you can do each one at a time, but I’m a fan of multi-tasking so while the mushrooms and onions cooked, I stirred the cornmeal/polenta.  Once the polenta is thick and starts to come off the side of the pan when you stir, divide onto two plates, like so:

polenta

By now the mushrooms should be about ready.  Add garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for a minute. Add wine and stir.  It’ll bubble, steam and reduce.  Once the majority of the liquid is gone, turn the heat off.  Try a mushroom to make sure you added enough salt, adjust accordingly.  Then divide the mushroom mixture over the polenta.  You can serve it just as it…

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Or you can be a rockstar and add a poached egg, for extra protein and deliciousness.  If you don’t know how to poach an egg… google it?

Just kidding.  Check out this blog post from Smitten Kitchen.

Place your poached eggs on top of your mushroom-polenta creation.  Sprinkle with paprika, cheese, pepper, whatever else you like and enjoy!

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This recipe is perfect for two people, but it’s easy to make for one (which is what I did and just had leftover mushrooms for tomorrow).

This might be my new comfort dish of choice, because 1. easy, 2. delicious, 3. warm and 4. wine.

What’s your comfort food of choice? 

For me, Ice cream is probably my ultimate comfort food, but if we’re talking about meals: thick fatty soups (think creamy tomato) with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Life After the Paleo Challenge

A few months ago, I was frustrated with my body and how I felt.  I’m a firm believer in the idea that your diet can affect how you feel about yourself. So I decided I wanted to try to do a 30 Day Paleo Challenge.

30daypaleochallenge

Remember that?

Yeah I had a terrible time and ended the challenge after 14 days.  It’s funny because I was miserable but that post has become one of the most popular posts on my blog (after Samoas Bars and Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash).  Paleo really wasn’t for me, and I came to terms with the fact that I need to listen to my body and NOT force a lifestyle on myself just because it’s popular.

Today, I went to lunch with some co-workers to 118 Degrees.  It’s a raw, vegan restaurant.  Afterward, another co-worker who didn’t go with us, asked me what I thought.  I said it was tasty.  He suggested I try a vegan diet for 30 days.

I said no thanks.

I’m not against vegans.  As a former vegetarian, I’m ok with meat-free meals.  But the real reason I said no is I think I’ve finally figured out what works for me.  So I figured I’d go ahead and tell you a little bit about how I figured it out.

Note: this is just what I’ve found works for me.  I’m not a nutritionist or advocating you eat the way I do.  I’m just sharing what works for me in hopes it’ll help you figure out what works for you. 

It’s All About Balance

This is going to sound cheesy, but what works for me is balance.  I know you’ve heard it a million times, but really, being able to have everything in moderation keeps me sane.  So just to give you a little bit of a breakdown, this is what an average day look like:

Breakfast:

greensmoothie

Green Smoothie: 1/2 frozen banana, 5-6 frozen mango chunks, handful of spinach, handful of kale, protein powder, water and ice.

After I did my search for the best protein powder, I bought some Garden of Life Vanilla protein.  Then Garden of Life was nice enough to send me some Raw Fit to try, it has more protein and green coffee bean extract and a bunch of other stuff.  That stuff is seriously amazing.  Flavor-wise, the vanilla raw protein is better tasting, but Raw Fit seriously keeps me full for 4-5 hours.  And that’s even after crossfit.  I’m amazed.  I hate to sound like an ad for Garden of Life, but I’m definitely buying the Raw Fit as soon as I run out.

Lunch:

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I rarely ever buy lunch.  Honestly, most weeks I eat the exact same thing for lunch everyday, just because I cook once per week and eat leftovers.

When putting together my meals, I try to keep this ratio in mind: 2 parts vegetable, 1 part whole grain, 1 part protein.

So here are some examples of lunches I’ve been having recently:

  • Tilapia with cumin and paprika, with Quinoa Salad
  • Kale salad (just kale with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper) with ground turkey cooked in spices with bulgur wheat
  • Kale salad with rotisserie chicken and rice
  • Kale salad (can you tell I’m obsessed) with a veggie patty

Honestly, I eat a lot of kale salad because it holds up well and there’s no cooking involved.  I can throw it together in the morning, put dressing (really just olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper) on it and it’s not soggy and gross like other salads would be by lunch.  Also, I just think it tastes good, which is important.  Lunch should be fun, even if it’s healthy.

Dinner:

meatsauceoverpolentaOk I wish this was my dinner all the time but yeah right.

Especially now that it’s been hot, the last thing I want to do is cook, but I’ve been trying.  Either way, the fact that breakfast and lunch were so healthy makes me feel better about eating a banana with peanut butter and ice cream for dinner.  Not that I recommend that, but baby steps right?

But I’ve been working on it.  Recently I’ve made:

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  • Grilled Pizza and grilled corn
  • Grilled Tilapia

Now that it gets cooler, I’ll concentrate on making more stews (which I’m a huge fan of). Like:

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Caldo de Pollo

coconutcurrystew

Coconut Curry

In a Nutshell…

Overall, I feel better about life.  And honestly, making sure I go to Crossfit at least 3 times a week really helps.

But in terms of diet, I’ve found a few key things:

1. More protein early in the day helps keep me fuller longer.  Raw Fit has 28g of protein per serving.  That’s a lot.  I’m thinking of trying two scoops of the raw protein when I run out of Raw Fit to see how that tastes/feels (that would be 32g of protein, woah! too much?).

2. Whole grains help keep me full and satisfied.  I still try not to eat too much bread, because that’s processed but I’ve been having of whole grains like quinoa, bulgur, and barley.  But even then, I usually only have about 1/2 cup at a time.  Moderation is key.

3. I like eating a lot of vegetables.  If I concentrate on having 4-5 servings of vegetables per day, I feel great and usually end up eating pretty healthy.

4. Snacks aren’t essential and actually discouraged.  I can’t really snack.  Once I start, I have a hard time stopping the consumption process until I’m full.  I’d rather just eat meals.  Might not work for everyone but works for me.

5. Nothing is off limits.  I’m more likely to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full when I don’t feel like I can’t have a certain food.  On the Paleo challenge, I remember I was constantly thinking about what I could eat.  Lately, I just haven’t found myself worrying about that, which is great.  I mean, let’s be honest, as a foodie, I constantly think of food, but now it’s things I want to make, as opposed to thinks I want to eat.  That said, I am conscious to not over eat certain things.  I always want to eat 3 pieces of cake and 4 slices of pizza, but I stop myself because I can always have more later when I’m hungry if I still want it.  So while I can have everything, that doesn’t mean stuff my face to the point of feeling ill.  I’m definitely guilty of doing that at times, but I’m trying to keep it under wraps.

In retrospect, I’m still glad I tried Paleo for a few weeks (despite how miserable it was).  I still think if you haven’t found what works for you, you should definitely give it a try, because it could be amazing for you.

I just found that lots of vegetables with some grain and protein is the best strategy for me.  No labels, just real food.  Overall, I try to eat well 70-80 percent of the time.   That helps keep me happy and healthy.

The other 20-30 percent of the time involves things like this…

IMG_8958Oh wait, that was only true when I lived in Italy.  Now it looks more like this…

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Because Bacon = ‘Merika!

I’m sure I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to eat less of that stuff, but I guess that’s the lifelong struggle of a sugar addict?

Have you figured out what works for you? Do you love paleo? Is a vegetarian or vegan diet what keeps you happy or healthy? Are you still figuring it out?  Tell me where you’re at!

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)!