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Hemp, hemp, hooray for Stonyfield and PrAna!

As a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club, I received products and coupons from Stonyfield and PrAna to write this post. All opinions are 100 percent my own.

Now that my mouth is pretty much back to normal, I’m adding back in some things that were off limits, like seeds. When you can’t eat things with chia seeds and hemp seeds, you realize just how many things you buy with chia seeds and hemp seeds.

Banana hemp yogurt labeled

I was inspired to make a little bowl of breakfast yum by a pair of prAna workout capris.

Chetan caprisHuh?

This month Stonyfield and PrAna are teaming up to celebrate #TheWholeYou, so I was sent a pair of PrAna’s Chetan capris, which are a blend of cotton and hemp (a ha!) They’re super comfortable and a little heavier in weight than my usual workout capris, so they’ll be great for wearing to more than the gym. They’re a warm charcoal gray and have cool diagonal piecing on the lower legs. They also have a handy little pocket sewn in the waistband. (Here's a detail shot of the capris at right. Are those my legs? I wish!)

I kinda live in workout clothes. Every morning I wake up and change into them because my goal is to get some work done, take a workout break and go back to work.

The past few weeks have NOT gone that way, what with dental surgery, vacation and IT band stuff, but yesterday I actually did that and it felt great to get back to my routine. Mouth doesn’t bother me, I’m caught up on work, I’m working through the IT band thing (curse you!) and I have a fridge stocked with Stonyfield yogurt, which REALLY came in handy when all I could eat was soft stuff.

Grassfed-greek-plain-24oz-1So what’s in my bowl this morning? Six ounces of plain whole milk Greek yogurt topped with a small sliced banana, a drizzle of honey and about a teaspoon of hemp hearts. I used to be really into flavored yogurts, but lately I'm all about the plain. You can add whatever you like, make it sweet or savory and use it in place of sour cream on things like tacos. It makes a great base for a super thick smoothie, too.

I was more than ready to celebrate #TheWholeYou, and you can, too.

PrAna is offering my readers 15 percent off using the coupon code WHOLES17GGG through the end of May.

I highly recommend the Chetan capris and may get a pair in another color!


Chocolate-Hazelnut Yogurt Dip

Chocolate hazelnut yogurt dip labeled

As a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club, I received products and coupons from Stonyfield and Justin’s to write this post. All opinions are 100 percent my own.

I have vowed to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to my diet because sometimes it's just too easy to grab a protein bar or a bag of pretzels when snack time rolls around.

"Protein and produce" is my mantra.

So while hummus and carrots or turkey celery rollups are perfectly acceptable snacks, there are times when you want something a little more indulgent feeling. This fits the bill. 

I hurried and made this Chocolate-Hazelnut Yogurt Dip as soon as I received the jar of Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter because I knew it wasn't long for this world. Have you tried this stuff? It's much tastier and better for you than that other hazelnut spread.

I mixed a tablespoon of the nut butter with some Stonyfield plain whole milk Greek yogurt, a little honey and a sprinkling of cacao nibs for added texture. Feel free to sub out your favorite nut butter. The dip is great with apple slices but would also pair nicely with bananas, strawberries or just a spoon. The entire dip recipe has 13 grams of protein for a little over 200 calories so it would make a light breakfast paired with a piece of fruit. 

Chocolate-Hazelnut Yogurt Dip

  • 4 ounces Stonyfield plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cacao nibs

Whisk ingredients together until smooth and sprinkle with cacao nibs.

 


Greetings from Planet Yogurt! (Stonyfield Grassfed review)

I am a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club. I received products and coupons to write this post, and all opinions are 100 percent my own.

We go through a lot of yogurt at our house, so much so that one of the produce bins has been reclaimed as the yogurt bin. It's usually filled with a variety of yogurts -- Greek, "regular," plain, fruit flavored and so on. There's usually a bottle of kefir in the fridge, too, (I'm a recent convert to plain kefir), and a quart of plain yogurt for recipes.

Got a lot of culture up in here!

Have you noticed that fat is making a comeback in the yogurt section? Hold up, dieters, it's actually a good thing. The past couple of years have seen the release of studies showing that America's fat phobia has come back to bite us in the ever-growing posterior. By taking out all the fat and replacing it with gobs of sugar, we're actually doing ourselves a disservice. The satiety that a little bit of naturally occurring fat provides works much better than sugar, which basically burns through you like jet fuel. For reference, HERE'S a study showing that people who consume full-fat dairy were actually leaner and had less cardiovascular risk than people who eat the fat-free stuff.

Let's get science geeky!

If those cows are fed 100 percent grass, instead of the corn, distillery waste and gummy worms (I AM NOT KIDDING) that many get, their milk is much higher in omega-3 fatty acids (good for lots of things) and conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. What's so great about CLA? It may help people lose body fat. Hilarious, huh? 

OK, science geek - how's the yogurt?

Stonyfield grassfed yogurt
I like to play with my food.


Stonyfield recently sent me a variety of its new 100 percent grassfed whole milk yogurts, and I'll admit, at first I was a little freaked out. We've been programmed for so long to believe that fat is the enemy that it's unsettling to see the words "whole milk" on a label. 

But soldier on I did!

The yogurts I was sent were "old school" thinner yogurt, instead of thicker Greek yogurt, so these are lower in protein than strained varieties. Looking at the plain container, it has 120 calories, 5 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs and 7 grams of fat in a 6-ounce container. See? That's not scary at all. Grassfed is also organic, non-GMO and made without artificial hormones.

My husband's favorite combo is cereal and frozen berries topped with a container of yogurt. He appreciated the thinner texture of these yogurts as he mixed up his big bowl of yum. The flavored ones -- vanilla, strawberry and blueberry -- are 140 calories per container.

What did I do with the plain? Lemme tell ya: 

  • I subbed it for the milk and butter in boxed macaroni and cheese, and the teenager thought it was great. The tang of the yogurt gives the cheese powder some needed sharpness.
  • I used it in place of the liquid and fat in a boxed cornbread mix, giving the cornbread a little tang and moisture.
  • I mixed it with ranch dressing powder to make a super simple veggie dip. 

I know what you're thinking: Where's the smoothie recipe? Sure, you can make a smoothie with yogurt, frozen berries, crushed ice and a little stevia, but I wanted to give you some ideas you might not have thought of. But go ahead and make an awesome smoothie with it. The added fat will help with satiety, something that people often complain of when subbing a smoothie for a meal.

If you're wondering where to pick up Stonyfield grassfed yogurt, you can check the bottom of Stonyfield's product page HERE for a store locator.


What's in a Bulu Box?

 I was chosen by Sweat Pink to review a Bulu Box in exchange for my honest opinion of the service. 

Monthly subscription boxes can be nice little monthly gifts in the mail. From clothing to jewelry to snacks and supplements, there are boxes for nearly everyone, including dogs.

BuluboxI checked out Bulu Box, which is a wellness-focused subscription service. Every month, you get a box filled with a new mix of four to five samples to try. Every sample should be sufficient enough to decide if the product is right for you.

My box contained Runa Focused Energy ginger-citrus guayusa tea, Movit Energy Gummies, Simple Being Simple Diet weight-loss supplement, Earth’s Care anti-itch cream, and Fusion chicken jerky.

The chicken jerky was the first to disappear -- the husband and I split the 3-ounce bag of lemon pepper flavored jerky, which was nicely spiced and chewy but still soft enough to sink your teeth into. The bag of jerky retails for $6.99, so that's quite the premium sized sample.

The teenager snapped up the energy gummies for band camp. While he said he didn't feel any palpable jolt from the gummies, which have a small amount of caffeine plus B vitamins, he said they tasted good. 

image from assets.bulubox.comThe anti-itch cream has camphor and menthol, so the minty cooling felt great on my gym boo-boo. (Who scrapes their arm on the locker-room locker latch? Me.) It wasn't necessarily itchy but I can see how it'll soothe bug bites and minor eczema.


The tea was smooth and citrusy and had a green tea vibe, but I didn't try the weight-loss supplement because green coffee beans and their ilk haven't been proven to do anything and I don't want to go down that road again.

Interested?

The cost for a box is $10 per month, and readers get 50 percent off a 3-, 6- or 12-month subscription with the code SWEATPINK on BuluBox.com


Stuff I Love: Flapjacked protein pancake and baking mix

Carrot pumpkin flapjacked waffles
Do your waffles have 20 grams of protein? Hmmf. Didn't think so.


I thought I'd kick off a new category today -- Stuff I Love. Most of the time it'll be things that are regulars in my kitchen, gym bag or closet. Sometimes they may be sponsored posts but I'll make sure to label those. This week is not sponsored because I've been buying the stuff for quite awhile now. 

I'm sure you've seen plenty of recipes for protein pancakes. Many are simply things like egg whites, mashed bananas and protein powder, and many are (sorry!) pretty gross.

FlapjackedI first discovered Flapjacked protein pancake and baking mix on a smoothie run at Smoothie King. They sold the 12-ounce bags at the store but I figured I'd Google around and find the best deal on it, which I actually found at the Flapjacked website (they have great sales). Amazon also has really good prices, too, if you do a Subscribe & Save deal. (Pro tip: You can schedule those subscriptions as far apart as every 6 months, so it really does pay to sign up.)

Instead of dipping my toe in the Flapjacked pool, I jumped in head first by buying a sampler pack of all the flavors -- Cinnamon Apple, Buttermilk, Banana Hazelnut, and the newest, Carrot Spice. I started out simply making pancakes but quickly found that you can make a lot more great baked goods with the mix, including waffles, muffins and quick breads.

The line has recently been reformulated and now every flavor has 20 grams of protein per 200-calorie serving. You also get 5 grams of fiber. The mixes are low in sugar, non-GMO and wheat free. 

Still working off my dozen cans of pumpkin that I bought at a Whole Foods moving sale, I added some to the Pumpkin Spice mix and came up with some fantastic waffles.

Carrot-Pumpkin Protein Waffles

  • 1 cup Carrot Spice Flapjacked pancake mix
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons currants or raisins

Mix everything together (mixture will be pretty thick) and let it thicken even more while your waffle iron heats up. I cooked the waffles just a touch longer than regular waffles because they're really substantial.

Makes 2 servings of 2 waffles each.

 


More almond joys from Blue Diamond: New smoothie and mini nachos

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk and Blue Diamond Nut Thins.

Peach mango breeze smoothie

So I was all set to do a Whole30 challenge this month but at the last minute I dropped out. I'm sorry, I just can't give up smoothies! Or a little organic half and half in my coffee. Or beans. Or quinoa. 

That said, the new Whole30 book is gorgeous and full of lovely recipes that I will try. But I've cleaned up my diet so much over the past few months and right now I'm not about restriction and a diet mentality. 

So!

Here are a couple of recipes I whipped up with Blue Diamond products. I'm a Blue Diamond Tastmaker, and the company sends me products to try and write about and lately they've been really generous with products so I'm going to double up on the reviews today.

First up is that smoothie up there, which uses Almond Breeze Hint of Honey vanilla almond milk. The milk is sweetened with a blend of honey and sugar and has the same calories as regular vanilla almond milk. It's great if you want your almond milk  to have a little added sweetness -- it's great in an iced vanilla almond latte. 

I used it in this nutritionally packed smoothie, which I just enjoyed this morning. It's full of protein, fiber and will keep you humming throughout the day.  The ginger and cinnamon are metabolism boosters, make your tummy happy and the cinnamon keeps your blood sugar stable.

I made mine in my Nutri Ninja blender cup so add the ingredients in the order listed for best results. If you're using a regular blender, flip the order of the ingredients. 

Peach Mango Breeze Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 70g frozen peaches
  • 70g frozen mango chunks
  • 1 serving vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon oats
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoons hemp or flax seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup Almond Breeze Hint of Honey vanilla almond milk

Add ingredients to blender cup or blender, process and enjoy!

Blue diamond mini nachosThis second recipe is what I call "stupid easy." 

I was sent some Blue Diamond Nut Thins crackers, which are rice crackers infused with almonds. They're gluten free, crisp and a great blank canvas for any dip or snack.

As you can see from the photo, this was a late-night snack. I'm getting much better at my late-night snacking and this is one way I'm working on it. Instead of indiscriminately grazing, I busy myself making a little creation, which is far more satisfying than a handful of cereal.

I call these Mini Nutty Nachos and they're simply a dollop of refried black beans topped with a dollop of chunky salsa on a Nut Thin. That's it! Of course, you can switch up the refried beans, toss on some cheese, perhaps a pickled jalapeno -- make it yours.

The crackers are great for toppings because they don't get soggy and won't crack under pressure. 


My #SoleStory: Ice, stim and good shoes

This is a promotional post for Vionic Shoes' #SoleStory campaign. I was provided a pair of Vionic sandals.

This is my post-aerobic life for the time being:

Ice and stim

I'm coming off a month of physical therapy for IT band inflammation and patellar tendinitis so I'm trying to ease back into aerobic activity (I kept doing the strength training the whole time because that didn't bother me). But me being me, I tend to push myself probably a mile too far, so I've been doing the post-walk "ice and stim" that I got every time at PT. Under that towel are the electrodes to my mini electrical stimulation device and my thigh and knee area zapping away.

As I ended my walk last week, there was a box waiting for me at the front door from Vionic, which contained the lovely Floriana flip-flop sandals. I immediately put them on, because SHOES!

Vionic FLORIANA

(You really don't need to see any more of my goofy feet.) Just take a look at these in all their bejeweled glory. The toe post is fabric, so they're super comfortable, and the teal goes great with my uniform of jeans, jeans, and more jeans.

Sure, they may look like flip flops but they're much more. Vionic shoes are podiatrist-designed for orthotic support, so your feet are realigned in a natural position. I have super flat feet, so I need extra help in the arch department. I have a pair of custom orthotics, but I'm a flip-flop girl and orthotics just don't work with sandals. That's why I love Vionics. I have a couple other pair and they're great for post workout, or really anytime. 

My sports med doctor (and I'm guessing all orthopedists) are not fans of super-flat flip flops because of the lack of support. But I LOVE being barefoot or darn near it, so I really appreciate Vionic for the added support.

So that's my #SoleStory -- making exercise an important part of my life and making sure to take care of myself before, during and after.


I'm on sugar patrol

Had another meeting with my dietitian and I handed over a few days of My Fitness Pal logs. I've been using it the past week just so I can see how my food intake is shaping up, calorie and nutrient wise.

(I'm still all about my Fitbook but periodically I need to do a geeky spot check.)

While I'm doing better, my sugar content is still a bit too high. I had highlighted some areas where I knew I should have eaten something else, but Meryl found even more. 

Those date-sweetened protein bars? Too sugary. Gluten-free granola? Too sugary. That smoothie I grabbed while running errands? Yep, too sugary.

She gave me a guideline: If a food has 5 grams or less of sugar per 100 calories it's considered low sugar. Ten grams of sugar or more per 100 calories is a high-sugar food.

"So if I keep my total sugar grams below ..."

That's when she stopped me and corrected my thinking. I was figuring that as long as I kept my sugar grams below a certain amount a day I'd be fine. 

Wrong. 

With that thinking I could eat spinach and jellybeans all day and come out just fine.

What she wants me to do instead is to look at each food and make a judgment whether it's low sugar. Now of course, I don't have to do that with things like protein or fat or non-starchy vegetables (remember, we're breaking me of my diet mentality). It's mostly for packaged foods. And seriously, I didn't really think about all those dates in the protein bar because I figured it wasn't "added sugar." But for the most part, sugar is sugar is sugar, and the bars are kinda high. 

Blue diamond dark chocolate almondsLet's take these almonds for example. (And I need to interject that this post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds.)

While the words "Oven Roasted Dark Chocolate Almonds" might sound totally decadent, it turns out that these babies get a big thumbs-up as a low-sugar snack. 

An ounce of the almonds is 160 calories and 4 grams of sugar, not to mention the 5 grams of protein and 13 grams of healthy fats. You also get 30 percent of your vitamin E, 6 percent calcium, 8 percent iron, and 15 percent magnesium. 

And, no, there's no artificial sweeteners. the almonds are sweetened with a blend of sugar and stevia extract. 

Most importantly, they're delicious.

I've tried other cocoa-flavored almonds and the icky aftertaste kept me from trying them again. But there's no aftertaste at all with these, and an ounce is a great afternoon snack.

There's also an Oven Roasted Sea Salt flavor with only 1 gram of sugar per ounce. And while those are really good, these dark chocolate ones are my new faves.

So my homework for the next two weeks is to be more sugar aware and look for ways to flip the script when it comes to my old go-to's. I need to think vegetable before I think fruit. Hard-boiled eggs instead of protein bars. Hummus and bell peppers instead of popcorn.

Wait, popcorn is a sugar?

No, but it's a starchy food and I need to keep an eye on those as well. When I first started with Meryl I drastically cut back on my starches because I was all gung-ho on cutting out sugar, dairy and wheat. In the ensuing months, I've been sliding back into old habits, albeit wheat-free ones. Starchy carbs and sugar tend to hold onto water and spike insulin, creating bloat, extra weight and cravings.

So my complex carb servings will be twice a day, ideally earlier in the day.

As you may have guessed, I haven't been focusing on the scale the past month because I've been focusing more on my digestive health, and lemme tell you, I am so much better!

I won't go into particulars but I will say that I haven't had to reach for the Rolaids in a month, and I am far less "irritable" than I've been in ages. My stomach doesn't make weird noises and tummy aches are gone.

So now that we have healed my gut issues, I can focus back more on getting the rest of this weight off. 

The gameplan is to stick to around 1,600-1,700 calories but not to obsess over those calories. If I'm eating the right way (for me, not for you or Gwyneth Paltrow or anyone else) and sticking to that range, the scale should start moving again.


A nutty apple pie smoothie

Nutty apple pie smoothie labeled
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

Right now I am all about the smoothie.

(OK, I've always been all about the smoothie.)

I started going to a dietitian a couple months ago, and she initially had me using smoothies for two of my three meals a day, which is totally fine with me because I love smoothies.

But when you make all those smoothies you need to switch things up – and not just for boredom. My dietitian (Meryl Brandwein, RD) suggests that you switch up the ingredients at each meal to get a variety of nutrients. If you’re using hemp seeds at breakfast, use flax seeds at lunch. Blueberries for breakfast? Peaches at lunch – you get the drift.

After I exhausted the variety of frozen fruit at the grocery store, I spied a can of apples on the closeout shelf (I love the closeout shelf!). Specifically, it was a can of Comstock sliced apples packed in water, and yes, they’re pretty darn bland. But here’s what I did – I drained the can and spread the apple slices on a foil-lined cookie sheet and stuck it in the freezer. After a few hours, I put the frozen apple slices in a plastic bag and had another fruit to play with for smoothies.

I also had another “alt milk” to play with when Blue Diamond sent me its unsweetened Almond Coconut Almond Breeze. Unsweetened milks aren’t great for drinking straight up but they’re fabulous for smoothies because you’re also putting lots of other ingredients in the mix. The combination of coconut and almond is a creamy, slightly coconutty milk that goes with pretty much anything you dream up for your next smoothie.

Since I had my frozen apples, I came up with an apple pie-inspired smoothie that was a welcome change from my usual.

Nutty Apple Pie Smoothie

  • 1 cup Almond Breeze unsweetened Almond Coconut Almond Breeze
  • 1 scoop vanilla or cinnamon protein powder (I used Perfect Fit Cinnamon Roll protein by Tone It Up)
  • 140g frozen apple slices
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • ½ cup crushed ice

Blend and enjoy!


A Ginger-Peach Smoothie to perk up your day

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. Almond Breeze sent me product to use for this post. All opinions are my own (and delicious).

Ginger peach smoothie

UnsweetenedVanillaAlmondBreezeI love it when a product that I love and use regularly lands on my doorstep. I'm kind of picky when it comes to reviews because I say "no" more than "yes." But when I was asked to come up with a smoothie recipe that uses Blue Diamond unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, I was all "Duh! Of course!" Not only do I use it regularly, I'm really relying on it for this 2-week dietitian-prescribed eating plan that calls for two smoothies a day. Unsweetened almond milk is one of the nut milks that is on the list, so it was super easy to come up with a recipe.

I had this for lunch on Monday, after I got home from the gym. I had just bought a whole bunch of different frozen fruits because I was tiring of blueberry smoothies. Frozen peaches are less sweet than a lot of frozen fruits, so I added a packet of stevia. I also added some fresh ginger, which pairs beautifully with peaches. You can use whatever protein powder floats your boat -- usually I use whey protein but I'm using the pea protein powder that's part of the plan. The ginger adequately hides the beany flavor of the protein powder. Depending on the protein powder, this smoothie is around 225 calories with plenty of protein and fiber.

Ginger-Peach Protein Smoothie

  • 1 cup Blue Diamond unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze
  • 1 serving (140g) frozen peach slices
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 1 serving protein powder of choice
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice

Place all ingredients in a single-serve blender cup, process and enjoy!