For the entire month of June, I’ve been participating in the Athlete Inside Challenge hosted by Ben Zorn Fitness and sponsored by Designer Protein (which is available at The Vitamin Shoppe). This challenge is all about finding the athlete in all of use, regardless of age, gender or fitness level – we are all made move! If you run, you’re a runner; if you strength train, you’re a weight lifter; if you practice yoga, you’re a yogi; if you climb in the mountains, you’re mountain climber – no matter how fast, how heavy, how flexible, or how high!
Read on to find out more about this fitness and nutrition challenge an how it can jump in – plus get my recipe for Raspberry Cheesecake Protein Spread.Continue reading →
Sometimes I stumble onto something while shopping and I’m all like “ooooh, I want that so bad. . . but I totally don’t need it right now, I have way too many.” Usually, I cave in . . . and quick! Case in point, the continually growing size of my already enormous running shoe, compression sock, flip flop, trucker hat, miniature bowl, exotic herb, flavored tea and protein powder collections.
Yeah, yeah, I have a stock pile of protein powder of all different ilks and ingredients . . . some of it I found, must most found me for review or recipe development. Naming a “best” protein powder is really so subjective, basically it boils down to individual nutrition needs, lifestyle, taste and tolerance. But, dang, some protein powders are definitely choices than others! My practical side tells me to use up all my stash before I actually BUY the product I prefer.But let me tell you, I recently found a protein powder that had me running to the trash with my mother lode of “meh” products – it’s the Organic Protein from The Natural Citizen. By the way, use coupon code THEFITFORK to get $10 off your purchase at TheNaturalCitizen.com
This new plant-based Organic Protein powder is totally on point to boost your next smoothie, but I’ve also used it for baking everything from pancakes and cookies – check out my Giant Cherry Almond Protein Breakfast Cookie recipe below! This protein powder is sublimely simple, and that gives me control over what I do or don’t put it my recipe. On its own, this powdered supplement has just four organic, whole food ingredients – hemp protein, brown rice protein, pea protein, and sacha inchi protein. One serving delivers 15 grams of vegan protein per serving along with fiber, omega fatty acids and amino acids – oh, and for only 80 calories! Plus, there are no added flavors and other undesirable “extras” so the taste of Mother Nature’s other wholesome food can shine through.
So, raise your hand if you want a cookie for breakfast but thing you shouldn’t?! Well, my single-serve Giant Cherry Almond Protein Breakfast Cookie will make you think you’re really splurging first thing out of bed, but actually its super healthy and balanced with 25 grams protein for sustained energy and muscle-making and 25 clean carbs to help power your body and brain for the morning’s tasks, workouts or whatever you do! In about 15 minutes from start to finish, you’ll be enjoying a super-sized, under-300-calorie cookie with your morning coffee – and that’s my cup of tea! It’s also gluten-free, if that is a concern.
The Natural Citizen has a full line of other wonderful products that are all non-gmo, organic, gluten-free and vegan including Organic Digest, Organic Greens, and Organic Energy.As a totally on-the-go person who probably doesn’t get as much sleep as she needs, I’ve fallen in love with the Organic Energy. This blend features maca, quinoa, green tea and Rhodiola rosea to offer truly balanced and uniquely simple energy support – no more getting jacked up on too much caffeine. I found the ripest, sweetest Texas melon yesterday and blended up this recipe for a Honeydew Natural Energy Smoothie.
This is how you make the Honeydew Natural Energy Smoothie:
Blend together and pour in tall glass (or melon bowl):
What is your go-to morning meal? Are you getting enough protein at breakfast (you need around 25g)?! What are your non-negotiables in a protein powder? What do you “collect”? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
Giant Cherry Almond Protein Breakfast Cookie (Gluten-free)
Oh, we all have those days when the dreaded bloat is out of control. Personally, sometimes my tummy can stick out more than my butt. I’ve reduced my family to tears of hysteria (and fear) on more than one occasion by sticking out my distended middle as far as humanly possible – I look like a skinny 6-month pregnant woman or have an awful basketball sized tumor! Maybe it’s too much salt, not enough water, low fiber intake, that time of the month . . . or all of the above. I think we can all agree that being bloated and retaining water is not only an uncomfortable feeling, but also a self-confidence shaker – even though we all know that by eating healthfully, this gut grief not a lasting situation. Can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’ll share pictures of me taken within a short period of time — before dinner and already bloated (left) and feeling fabulous early one morning (right)! .
Rather than staying swollen up like a balloon, you can stop the suffering and get on the path to that slim and trim you with my Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothie. Packed with all sorts of healthy ingredients that promote healthy digestion and hydration, this green smoothie recipe is also very light, so you don’t have to fret about overdoing the liquid calories.
For under 120 calories, you get a 20-ounce glass of goodness that has no added sugar, progresses you towards your daily fiber needs, and even has a touch of protein from the dandelion (surprise!) It’s also rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin K.
Here’s a rundown on the ingredients and how they can tame your tummy troubles.
Cucumber: Not only is this veggie is loaded with water (95% to be exact) which helps improve hydration, it also is a good source of a flavonoid antioxidant called quercetin that help reduce inflammation and puffiness – that’s why we have all long-loved to put slices over our eyes.
Coconut Water: High in potassium and other electrolytes, this watery juice from inside the coconut helps to flush sodium out of the body and restore healthy hydration levels. For convenience, I love to have this Coconut Water Powder on hand.
Banana: Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps manage fluid levels in our bodies and can assist in shedding salt-related water retention. Also, this dietary fiber in this popular fruit keeps things moving along in your digestive system.
Ginger: This root is a wonder when it comes to health benefits, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, migraine relief and more. It also contains an enzyme that optimized the absorption of proteins and Lessing protein-related bloating and gas in the process.
Dandelion Greens: Dandelion greens (as well as the root) are a fantastic detox food that cleanses the liver, flushing toxins and excess water out – perfect if you have lots of water retention. Dandelions have a surprising amount of protein for a “green” and even more calcium than spinach. You can also use the greens (mainly found in the early spring) in salads or sautés or reap benefits from drinking a dandelion tea or taking a dandelion root extract or supplement.
Wild Blueberries . . . I’m, well, just wild about them. I stir them in my oatmeal, toss in my salads, and blend up in smoothies – like this recipe for Wild Blueberry Coconut Pie Smoothie I’m sharing today. This smoothie is super yummy, and yes it tastes like a coconut cream pie and blueberry cheesecake collided! In one tall glass, you get natural energy and antioxidants from Wild Blueberries, hydration-balancing electrolytes from coconut water and satiating, muscle-making protein from low-fat cottage cheese. I love to make this vibrant Wild Blueberry smoothie for a quick breakfast, as post-workout or long run refueling or as a healthier dessert option after dinner or before bed.
So, back to the berries. Did you know Wild Blueberries aren’t the same thing as regular cultivated blueberries? I was already stalking the frozen aisle to buy these special berries for their intense sweet-tart taste long before I came to learn of all the healthy attributes. For example, Wild Blueberries have double the antioxidant capacity of regular blueberries and recent research is suggesting that they may play an important role in gut and brain health and also lower the incidence of diabetes and certain cancers. Talk about small but mighty!
Wild Blueberries are primarily grown in Main and Eastern Canada and date back more than 10,000 years! About 99% of the crops today are individually quick frozen to lock-in nutrition and taste – it also means you can cater to blueberry cravings anytime of the year just by grabbing a bag out of the freezer. There are many “brands” of Wild Blueberries, and I don’t prefer one over the other — just look for the word “Wild” on the package to ensure you’re getting the most potent and powerful blueberries around!
So, have you ever eaten WILD blueberries? What is your favorite ingredient to put in a smoothie — surprise me, I’m always looking for creative new things to try. Share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
Disclosure: I was compensated for my time as part of the @CocoaVia Supplement #HeartMonth campaign through the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network.
Does it sound strange to say the favorite part of my day is working out? Some people hate exercising, but I love it. It’s a time to forget about everything that stresses me, focus on achieving personal goals, and cater to my competitive side while still having fun with friends. But, more often than not, it’s hard for me to get my rear in gear for a run or workout. However, I’ve found that the right nutrition about 30 minutes before I head out to the gym, trail or track helps me win the day.
Since I’m typically in a rush tying up work and family obligations, I need an easy pre-workout snack that I can stash in my gym bag. Personally, I prefer a drink over food because it’s easier for me to stomach before a workout — unfortunately, many beverages need refrigeration. However, I came up with a delicious recipe for Dark Chocolate Espresso Pre-Workout Shake that can be prepared right on the spot with no blender, fridge or heating appliances.
The workout friendly ingredients include canned espresso for a caffeine boost, honey crystals for some quality, quick-energy carbs, chocolate whey powder for sustained energy and CocoaVia® Daily Cocoa Extract Supplement for a dose of cocoa flavanols, which are scientifically proven to promote a healthy heart by supporting healthy blood flow†.
I didn’t have any trouble finding taste-testers at my CrossFit gym!
Seriously easy, all you do to make the “recipe” is bring along a mason jar filled with a bit of dry honey crystals and a half-scoop of your favorite chocolate protein powder. Before drinking, just add your 8-ounce can of espresso, 4 ounces of water and a packet CocoaVia® Daily Cocoa Flavanols Extract Supplement (Unsweetened Dark Chocolate). If you don’t want to use the canned espresso (or can’t find it), you can just add black coffee to the Mason jar brought from home – however, I do recommend the 8-ounce can of High Brew Double Espresso because it’s convenient and is made with just a light touch of cane sugar. Whole Foods usually carries it.
Shake, shake, shake up everything in the Mason jar and enjoy – this pre-workout shake isn’t too filling, so it stays down even if burpees are on the whiteboard. Another thing, and GENIUS, if I might add – if you are in a situation where there might be multiple “mason jars” hanging around or if you want to differentiate concoctions in your own fridge, those cheapie rubber bracelets fit perfectly around the rim – everyone gets a different color! Scroll back up and look at the photo for my orange bracelet!
I think you’ll love this pre-workout beverage – it provides heat-healthy cocoa flavanols, sustaining energy thanks to the protein powder, and tastes great at any temperature. You’ll also really appreciate the CocoaVia® Daily Cocoa Extract Supplement that delivers the highest concentration of cocoa flavanols you can find. The use of cocoa flavanols, like those found in CocoaVia®, are supported by two decades of scientific research that suggest these powerful plant-derived nutrients may play a valuable role in cardiovascular health. It’s pretty much impossible to get enough of these cocoa flavanols through chocolate treats (you’d surely get sick!), the traditional cocoa processing, which includes drying, fermenting and roasting of beans, destroys many of the naturally-occurring flavanols. However, CocoaVia®supplement isolates the “good stuff” and packages it up for use in a convenient, versatile form, without all the calories and fat – my heart and I love them for that! For more information, visit www.CocoaVia.com
†This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Are you a chocolholic? What do you eat before a workout? Did you run a race or have a competition this weekend? I’d love to know, please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
Dark Chocolate Espresso Pre-Workout Shake
Win your day and your workout with this easy-to-make pre-workout shake featuring the benefits of cocoa flavinols, caffeine, quality carbohydrates and sustaining protein. No blender or refrigerator needed.
Win your day and your workout with this easy-to-make pre-workout shake featuring the benefits of cocoa flavinols, caffeine, quality carbohydrates and sustaining protein. No blender or refrigerator needed.
School may be starting, but that summer weather will be around these parts for a while — and that means I can count on good watermelons through October here in Texas. Yeehaw! When chopping up fresh watermelon for my kids’ lunchboxes, I always hide set aside a bowlful in the fridge to use as the superstar ingredient in in one of my salad creations. This weekend, “Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad was inspired by a dish I could both serve outdoors for al fresco dining (squeezing out the last few drops of summer pleasure before vacation ends) and also to package up during the week to take to school and work.
“Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad lives up to its name – it’s super beautiful in shades of red made with ripe watermelon, shredded fresh beets and red onion. In addition to all the gorgeous nutrition these super food veggies offer, this quick and easy salad recipe offers enough protein to make it a meal thanks to hearty red quinoa and sprouted pumpkin seeds. Yes, you CAN eat watermelon seeds contrary to the old wives’ tale that eating them might make the fruit grow in your belly!
I buy sprouted watermelon seeds to put on this salad and eat as a snack right out of the bag. Why “sprouted” seeds? Not only does the sprouting process make them easier to eat and digest than the big black seeds, they are high in protein and a good source of iron and heart-healthy fats. Sprouting seeds “wakes up” dormant seeds and kick starts the germination process that unlocks all their nutritional benefits. You could make sprouted watermelon seeds at home, but busy-me prefers to buy – you could also substitute sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds in the recipe if you can’t find them.
Over the course of #LivingOnTheWedge this summer, I’ve received lots of reader comments and questions about watermelon. I’m sharing what I know with you inquiring minds of melon – another great resource for all things watermelon (including nutrition, recipes, and fun facts) is Watermelon.org.
What’s the best way to store a watermelon and for how long can you keep it?Storing watermelons at 55° F is ideal, according to Watermelon.org. However, whole melons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature – any longer and they’ll start they’ll lose flavor and texture. After cutting, store watermelon in refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. After cut, wrap watermelon in plastic or keep in an airtight container at 36° – 39°F. Also, I’ve noticed if you let watermelon sit in the juice that collects at the bottom of the container for too long, it loses the signature crisp texture – so I always drain off (and drink or save) the juice every time I get into my stash. Another strategy to maintain freshness is to keep melon stored in big chunks or slices as opposed to little bites. This cuts down on the amount of juice that drains out in the bottom of the container.
Do you know why watermelon helps alleviate morning sickness while pregnant? The high water content in watermelon (92 percent) along with magnesium and potassium helps keep pregnant women from getting dehydrated, a dangerous condition that can also make nausea worse. Additionally, the cool, mild, lightly sweet flavor of watermelon is easy to tolerate when queasy, especially when paired with other known upset tummy tamers like ginger, lemons or limes. Check out my recipe for Watermelon Ginger Limeade — take a few sips every 10 minutes until you feel better!
Is it safe to eat a watermelon that was accidentally left in the car overnight in the summer? My first reaction to this question was – “yes, don’t watermelons grown in the hot sun anyway?” But experts say to abide by the “when in doubt, throw it out” rule. So, I would say if the outdoor temp was close to “room temp” then eat, if hotter, throw it away (as horrifying as that is).
Is it okay to swallow watermelon seeds? One reader said she remembered swallowing her share of seeds during watermelon eating contests as a kid, and was worried about the consequences. Unlike the fear that our mothers instilled in us as young-uns, watermelon seeds are 100 percent safe for consumption. There is nothing at all harmful about them and a watermelon won’t even sprout in your belly! Today’s recipe for “Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad even uses easier to digest “sprouted” watermelon seeds (which can be grown or, easier, bought at a health food store) – they are actually good source of protein and alternative for people with nut allergies.
How many kinds of watermelon are there and which is the best? There are more than 300 varieties of watermelons grown around the world, although not that many are readily available in your local market. The Crimson Sweet is a popular choice that is reliably sweet –check out this link that sums up some of the best from Saveur. And, if looking to pick the BEST watermelon out of the bin, check out these Tips for Picking Watermelon.
What are you packing in lunchboxes this week? Aside from “don’t swallow watermelon seeds,” what other superstitious advice has your mother given you? Do you have any unanswered watermelon questions? Please share and/or ask in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
BTW, this post was sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board — however, unless otherwise noted, all recipes, editorial content, and enthusiasm for watermelon are all my own.
Super Red Watermelon Quinoa Salad
This delicious Watermelon Quinoa Salad is packed with nutritious benefits and is great f or Labor Day entertaining, summer parties and lunch boxes!
Place watermelon in blender and blend for about 1 minute, or until flesh is broken down. Pour watermelon through fine mesh strainer, collecting juice in a glass measuring cup. Collect 1 ½ cups of watermelon juice, reserving 1 cup for quinoa and ½ cup for dressing.
Rise uncooked quinoa in fine mesh strainer and place in saucepan with 1 cup of watermelon juice. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until juice is absorbed. Pour cooked quinoa in bow and let cool in fridge for 30 minutes.
While quinoa is chilling, make dressing by adding ½ cup of reserved watermelon juice to bowl. Wisk in jalapeno, salt, pepper, stevia, olive oil and cilantro. Set aside.
Pull quinoa out of fridge. Add beets, red onion, green onion and spouted watermelon seeds to quinoa and toss with watermelon vinaigrette.
This “Easy as Breeze” post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. For more “Easy As Breeze” recipes made with five ingredients or less, visit Almond Breeze on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Summer should be a laid back season where kicking back, relaxing and living the easy life is top priority – but, DANG, I’m busier than ever. Between juggling work projects, shuttling kids to far-away camps, getting my workouts accomplished (that’s a non-negotiable) and lots of organizing and shopping getting my oldest ready to head off to college, I need a break. If I can’t get a break, I at least need things to be easier – like no make-up, breakfast-for-dinner, do-your-own-laundry easy.
One way to keep life easy is to make uncomplicated yet healthy meals and snacks with five ingredients or less – and especially with ingredients that can be stocked in the pantry so there’s no rushing off to the store. I also have a little secret, when the stress starts piling up, I turn to chocolate (gasp). But, I’ve found several healthy ways to satisfy my sweet tooth without completely falling off the semi clean-eating wagon. One of my treats is a carton of plain Greek yogurt with a bit of flavored Stevia chocolate syrup mixed in along my favorite cereal on top for crunch, don’t worry it’s gluten-free, bean-blend Power Os!
But, HELLO, chocolate! The Chocolate Almond Breeze Almondmilk, is pure heaven. It’s rich and creamy and only has 120 calories per 8 ounce serving – plus, it boasts 50% more calcium than milk. Even though I don’t have any dietary restrictions, this beverage is ideal for vegans and those with food allergies – there is no dairy, soy, lactose, cholesterol, peanuts, casein, gluten, eggs, saturated fat or MSG. Plus did I mention you can buy it either on the refrigerated dairy section or shelf-stable on the cereal aisle? It’s just super yummy to drink by the glass full!
Shelf stable means I can keep a carton on hand at all times to curb my chocolate needs – and along with a snack pack of Mandarin oranges, mini chocolate chips and pistachios, I’ve created an “Easy as Breeze” Chocolate Orange Pistachio Bowl simplify and sweeten my summer. Check out the printable recipe below!
If you love smoothie bowls and exotic spices, you’ll love this Coconut Chai Smoothie Bowl I whipped up earlier in the season with the Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk from Almond Breeze along with chai spices, cacao nibs and hemp seeds.
Other ways I’m keeping summer easy-breezy and as stress-free as possible is by avoiding rush-hour traffic, taking a break from cleaning the house, living in my workout clothes (oh yeah, that’s nothing new), and making meals that don’t require an oven.
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.
The sun is out for summer and my blender is back in action making smoothies nearly every day for a quick breakfast, healthy dessert or post-workout refueling. I have so made so many crazy, creative smoothies in my day along with all the tried-and-true classics, I’m sure my family sometimes wonders if I can come up with a new flavor combo. But, fear not my friends of blended beverages, I can! Today I’m serving up a Cherry Vanilla Root Beer Float Smoothie, so line up at the counter in an orderly fashion please.
I know that a Cherry Vanilla Root Beer Float Smoothie sounds sort of decadent, but this one is super healthy. It’s made with Almond Breeze Almondmilk (Hint of Honey Vanilla flavor), frozen dark cherries, ice, root beer extract and protein powder. The whole, huge serving has just 250 calories, 22 grams of protein, 87% daily value for calcium and loads of vitamins and minerals – especially vitamins D and E from the almondmilk and vitamin C from the cherries.
Use Almond Breeze Touch of Honey Almondmilk in your cereal.
Hint of Honey Vanilla Amondmilk from Almond Breeze is the perfect creamy foundation for any smoothie creation – it’s also ideal for drinking cold right in a glass or pairing up with your favorite cereal, oats or granola. Made from real almonds and sweetened with honey, this alternative to diary milk contains medium chain fatty acids; is lactose, soy and gluten-free; is an excellent source of calcium; and works with vegan and kosher diets. I also love how it has no added processed sugar and only 60 calories per one-cup serving. Another great thing – Hint of Honey Vanilla Amondmilk from Almond Breeze is available in a 32-ounce, shelf-stable version which means that I can keep my pantry stocked for impromptu smoothie making or take along for travel without worry of refridgeration. Of course, you can also get the original in the dairy section.