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vega & smoothies

TGIF!  And, a 3 day weekend!  Yahoo!  The summer has begun. 🙂

We have a fun weekend planned, starting with a Red Sox game tonight, so I can’t wait to get out of work.

I wasn’t feeling all that great when I woke up this morning, so I sipped on some tea while I did some work.  When I was feeling up for it, I made up a smoothie.  A twist on the Chocolate Cherry Bomb:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen cherries
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 1 packet Chocolate Vega Health Optimizer

I love my smoothies!

For lunch, I grabbed another 13 Bean & Veggie Chili from my freezer.  I forgot to snap a photo, but imagine it looking like this…minus the crackers.

I also snacked on a homemade granola bar and a yogurt, which I put in the freezer to make it more cold and creamy!  Have you ever done this?  If not, you should!  It’s almost like ice cream. 🙂

Now, onto something fun…

I’m not sure if I have talked about Vega at all on the blog, so I’ll mention it again. 🙂  In a nutshell, Vega = Awesome!  They offer a few different bars and powdered protein that are 100% plant based.  The company was started by Brendan Brazier who is an Ironman triathlete.  He eats a vegan diet and needed vegan bars and powders to fuel him through the Ironman challenge.  So, he came up with a plant based protein powder, sports drink and bar.

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I have not had the bars or sports drink, but I have had the Smoothie Infusion and the Health Optimizer.  My favorite is the Health Optimizer, which they have in a few flavors including Vanilla Chai, Chocolate and Berry.  It includes a combination of protein from hemp, yellow pea, brown rice, flax and chlorella.  Together they combine to give your body all of the essential amino acids that it needs to thrive.  I could go on and on about how much I love the products and the concept behind them, but instead I will point you to their website so that you can see all of the wonderful features and benefits of vega – check it out here.

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Vega has been around for awhile, but I just found out about them recently from Gena’s blog, Choosing Raw.  Back in February, she wrote a post on her interview with Brendan Brazier which was awesome.  he made some great points that made me think about the way I eat now and how I fuel myself for my workouts and refuel afterwards.  This one part really caught my attention about refueling after a workout:

Really, exercise is nothing more than muscle tissues and cells being broken down.  And when you rest, the body grows back stronger — it overcompensates.  Good food provides the building blocks for this process. The body pools the resources you take in through food and helps you to grow muscle back.  If you eat poor nutrition, cells don’t grow back after athletic strain—they don’t have the resources—or they grow back abnormally (which can proceed to cancer).  So although lots of athletes load up on junk food after grueling performance—they figure they can afford to, or that they’ve earned it, now that a competition is over—it’s actually the worst time to eat junk food, because that’s when the body will assimilate most quickly and seriously.  If you want to eat junk, fine, but eat it later—not right after a workout, when the body will assimilate it directly, and be less likely to filter it out.

Brendan makes many great points throughout his interview, so be sure to check out the full interview if you have interest!

A smoothie would be a perfect post-workout treat.

Now, I just have to add that I do not think that protein powders should replace whole food protein in your diet.  However, I do think that after a strenuous workout, it is a quick and easy way to immediately get protein into your muscles for recovery.  It is a ‘quick’ fix when you are on the go and do not have anything else to fuel your body.  I do usually add a form of protein powder to my smoothies because it is a good way for me to get in some extra protein in the morning or after a hard workout, when I normally just want fruit and/or carbs!  I have stopped eating meat and do run alot, so some extra protein is good for me, but this may not be for everyone.  Make sure that you do what is best for your body.  I am just here to give you some tips along the way! 🙂

Have a great weekend!  I’m off to the Sox game!

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chocolate covered raisins

This morning I woke up early to get some work done, however, about 5 minutes into my work I realized that I could not concentrate!  I kept looking outside and seeing the trees blow in the cool breeze…I needed to go for a run!

So, I threw on some running clothes, laced up my sneaks, strapped on my Garmin and hit the pavement.  I ran my new favorite running loop around UMASS Boston.  It is exactly 5.6 miles from door to door.  Today it took me 53 minutes.

Once home, I decided I needed to lift some weights.  I kept it light and fairly quick since I haven’t lifted weights in what seems like months!

At Home Weight Session

  • 21’s (3 sets)
  • Squats (3 sets of 12)
  • Overhead Press on One Leg (3 sets of 12)
  • Deadlift with Upright Row (3 sets of 12)
  • Tricep Kickbacks (3 sets of 12)
  • Pushups (3 sets of 12)
  • YTA’s in Static Squat (2 sets of 12)

I could feel the burn!

After my workout, I made up some breakfast because I was famished.  We don’t have many veggies left in the house (except carrots and celery – which I normally keep on hand for juice!), so I knew that I wouldn’t be getting many veggies in at lunch and dinner.  I decided I needed a Green Monster for breakfast to pack in some green nutrients.

Served with 2 small slices of Fruit & Nut Manna bread with homemade Crazy Butter.

YUM!

For lunch, I didn’t feel like more chili or soup when I was packing my lunch last night (probably because it was so hot out!), so I filled up with Yogurt, Granola and a Mango.

Unfortunately, this type of lunch never holds me over and I ate a handful of chocolate almonds and some dried apple a few hours later which was the last of my snacks in my desk.  Why didn’t I pack some carrots and almond butter? Sometimes my brain is asleep as I pack my lunch…

I contemplated hitting up the vending machine, but everything in there is just gross, so I fixed myself some dinner immediately upon arriving home.

Leftover Coconut Red Lentil Soup!

With a small salad of pea shoots, Parmesan cheese and lemon vinaigrette (fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, salt, pepper).  And, some pita.

Mmmmm…

And then I made something wonderful for dessert.

Chocolate Covered Cherries & Raisins!

Angela over at Oh She Glows comes up with some pretty delicious recipes.  This one was no different.  She made these 3 ingredient chocolate covered raisins the other day and I obviously had to try them.

These may be the simplest thing you will ever make:

  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used a dark chocolate bar)
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1.5 cups raisins (I used a mix of dried cherries and raisins for fun)

Heat the chocolate and coconut butter together until melted and smooth.

Then, stir in your raisins and cherries and mix until evenly coated.

Once coated in the chocolate mixture, spread the mix on a parchment lined cookie sheet (so that they don’t stick to the cookie sheet) and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes until hardened.

Break the pieces apart and enjoy!

They came out more like raisin and cherry clusters, which were wonderful.

Enjoy!

how to open a coconut

We should all know by now that I love coconut.  It is great in stirfry’s, smoothies, oatmeal, trail mix, mixed with chocolate or anything else you can imagine.  I love it!

I buy unsweetened shredded and dried coconut in bulk, along with coconut water, coconut milk and coconut ‘ice cream’.

So, I thought it was about time that I try to open my own coconut.  I decided to go with a regular coconut over a young (baby) coconut that are so widely available nowadays.  Below is a step by step tutorial on how to open a coconut.

How to Open a Coconut

* you will need a coconut, hammer, nail and dish towel!

1.  Find the 3 ‘eyes’ on one end of your coconut.

2.  Take your hammer and nail, and make a hole in each of those ‘eyes’.

3.  Before smashing open the coconut, you’ll want to drain our all of the juice inside.  Tip your coconut over and place onto a cup, bowl, etc in order to drain.  (I ended up needing to shake the coconut a little bit in order to get the juice flowing.)

4.  You will end up with a cup of juice/water and your empty coconut.

**Unfortunately, at this point I realized that my coconut was bad!  I was so bummed considering that I just bought it a few days ago.  This goes to show what happens when produce needs to travel from Mexico!  But, I kept going with the process to show you guys what to do.

5.  Now, take your coconut and wrap it in a dish towel, or another towel you won’t mind washing!  At this point, I moved to my floor because I did not want to end up smashing my counter. 🙂

6.  Take your hammer and SMASH the coconut!  It took me a few good wacks until I ended up with this.

There you have it!  Delicious coconut meat!

See how it is a little brown in there?  Definitely a sign of a rotten coconut. 😦  I’ll try again sometime soon, though!

Do what you wish with the coconut meat – pop it in a smoothie, cut it up and eat it as is, dry it for trail mix – the possibilities are endless!

Enjoy.

feeling dehydrated

It sure is a hot one out there today!

I started out my day feeling so dehydrated.  This weather will really do that to you before your body adapts to it.  But, I was determined to get out there and run so I chugged some water and ate a few dates as pre-run fuel and set out for a run.

I ran along the water and enjoyed the cool breeze!  I ended up running 6.5 miles in 60 minutes.  It felt great to run.  Next week is the start of a new month, and therefore, a perfect time for me to kick my butt back into gear.  May has been a pretty slow month…

After my run, all I wanted was a smoothie.  I was so hot, that I couldn’t possibly think of eating anything else, except maybe ice cream. 🙂

I know I eat (drink) a lot of smoothies, but be prepared to see even more now that the summer is upon us!  They are definitely a favorite of mine.  Now, if I could just get a Vita Mix. 🙂

In the pink smoothie (a twist on the Vivacious Princess):

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 2 tbsp vanilla spice hemp protein powder
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 scoop chocolate Amazing Grass
  • 1 tbsp raw cashew butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup water
  • topped with chocolate banana granola

Just what I wanted!

Mid-morning, I chugged some more water and had a homemade Maple Granola Bar.

Lunch was leftover Bean Chili with Dr. Krackers.  Like I said before, this week is ‘eat up your freezer foods’, so I grabbed a chili on my way out the door this morning.

Not the best lunch for a hot hot day, but I work in air conditioning, so I’m usually freezing.  Served with a super juicy pear.  Hot weather = I crave juicy fruit all day long!

Mid-afternoon, I broke out a juicy grapefruit, yogurt and a new flavor of coconut water (which I have been sipping on since lunch).

Zico came out with 2 new flavors of their coconut water – Lima Citron and Pomberry.  I tried both of them at the NYC Half Marathon expo back in March, but it was just recently that they hit store shelfs.  I saw them on Sunday and was psyched (obviously!).

I tried the Pomberry today and liked it.  It contains coconut water and natural pomegranate and berry flavors…nothing else.  Nothing artificial.  It has just the slightest a hint of flavor.  I still prefer plain coconut water over anything else, but these hints of flavor are a nice change once in awhile.  It would be great after a long workout on a hot day!  Each bottle contains 14 ounces, which is one serving and contains 60 calories.

Who knows what dinner holds…maybe a veggie burger on a sprouted bun with a salad?  We shall see what leftovers we break out. 🙂

Edited to add: Veggie Burgers for dinner!  With a slice of american cheese and ketchup.

On a sprouted bun with farmer’s market greens mixed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

green monster

I love this weather!  I would prefer a few degrees cooler, but I will take it.

I started yesterday with a Green Monster.  I have felt so dehydrated and tired the past few days, so I needed a pick me up.

Green Monster Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 frozen peach
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1.5 cups frozen spinach
  • 2 tbsp vanilla spice hemp protein powder
  • 1.5 cups water

Don’t you love the color?!

The fruit helps to mask the spinach taste.  I swear you can’t taste it!  But, the addition of spinach helps my body on so many levels.  I start my day off with some greens, and it helps my skin, hair, nails, etc become stronger and clearer.

For lunch, I had some more greens.

Whole wheat pita filled with kalamata hummus, tabouli, romaine, peppers, cucumers, tomatoes.

This was heard t o eat, but so good.  I prefer a light lunch on such a warm day.  Not everything fit into my pita, so I had the rest of the veggies on the side.

Yum!

I was snacky today, even though I didn’t feel hungry…lots of dried fruit later and I felt sick!

I tried to set out on a run after work, but it was just so hot that my body didn’t want to cooperate, so I went on a brisk 45 minute (3 mile) walk instead to get my legs moving.

We kept dinner simple by pulling out some frozen homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi.  It is days like today, when I am so happy I have something healthy and homemade to pull out of the freezer!

We cooked the gnocchi in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then sauteed it in a skillet with a little butter, maple syrup and dried thyme until a little brown.  Served over our farmer’s market Pea Shoots!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Maple Butter sauce, Parmesan Cheese and Pea Shoots!

Mmmm…a delicious dinner!