Dark Chocolate Chips

The Low Down on Protein Powders

Good morning and happy Thursday! It seems like you guys liked last night’s Healthy Eggplant Parm! And with good reason, it was DELICIOUS! I’m reworking the leftovers for lunch today and can’t wait for it. There were several questions asked in the comments section, so I thought I’d address them here because I doubt many people look back to the comments section. A lot of people who don’t care for eggplant don’t like it for two main reasons. First, it can get slimy/soft when cooked, and second, it can taste bitter. These two reasons are where the salt on the eggplant come in. This process, called degorging removes the liquid from the eggplant, causing it to become more firm and less melty when cooked. Degorging also removes the bitter taste of eggplant, because it draws on the bitter tasting liquid that is in the seeds. So, if you have an eggplant hater that you’re trying to convert, just use the salting method to draw out the liquid, and they will love it.

Moving along, before the last few months, powders of any sort kind of scared me. I never thought of myself as someone who would use powders on a regular basis or even try them. But, when I saw the Breakfast Cookie on Gina’s blog, I needed to have it, and one of the key ingredients in it is protein powder. I went to Whole Foods and just bought the 365 brand of vanilla whey (which has 80 calories v. 110 in the chocolate) and went on my way. Since then, I’ve added it to pancakes, to oatmeal, to breakfast cookies, and to smoothies, and I have to say, it really does make a huge difference in how long it keeps me full. I usually only use 1/2 scoop, which has 40 calories and 8 grams of protein. You can barely notice a taste difference, but I feel a huge difference in staying power with my meals.

There are some benefits other than staying fuller longer with protein powders. Here are some:

  • Having it daily can boost your immune system
  • Help with healing wounds  after getting injured or surgery
  • Promote healthy skin
  • Foster muscle strength/development

Some other interesting protein facts:

  • The body needs protein second only to water.
  • The body has no where to store extra protein, which is why we have to eat it on a daily basis.
  • There are four basic sources of protein powder: whey (milk), egg, soy, and rice.

I thought that was pretty interesting, so thought I’d share. I’m not saying you should go out and buy protein powder, but don’t rule it out because there are lots of benefits. Especially getting to eat a cookie for breakfast.

This Breakfast Cookie has:

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 2 tbsp light soy milk
  • 1 tbsp dark chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 mashed banana

This morning I topped it with the other half of the banana.

I’ve officially decided that I do not like mashed banana IN my breakfast cookies. I tried it once before and added a whole banana, and it didn’t get very cookie-like, it stayed pretty soft. So today, I added just 1/2 a banana, but the same thing happened. I think using drier mix-ins is a better idea than using banana. It does taste good on top, though. You live, you learn.

Same Day Breakfast Cookie

Morning! I caved last night and went to Best Buy to buy a new charger for my camera. I was going to order it off Amazon.com because I found it for a bit cheaper, but with shipping it would have come out to about the same, plus I would have had to wait a few days to get it. So I decided to just buy it in person rather than online and Best Buy had a universal Cannon charger that was $41 instead of $50, so not as bad. I’m going to hold on to this for dear life though – – I still can’t believe the little charger costs that much!

I am feeling really good this morning! Everyone told me I was going to be so sore today, but I’m not really sore at all. I honestly cannot wait to go back and do it again. Soon, I hope!

Since I got home late from Bikram last night, I didn’t pack my breakfast or lunch until this morning. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make, so I just started throwing things into a tupperware and then realized I was adding all the ingredients for a Breakfast Cookie. I wasn’t sure how it would be since its supposed to sit over night, but I figured I’d give it a go and see.

Into the mix went:

– 1/2 cup rolled oats

– 1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

– 1 tbsp almond butter

– 2 tbsp almond milk

– 1 tbsp chocolate chips

– 2 tbsp coconut flakes

Here is the coconut that I used:

It’s finely shredded so its not as good as flaked coconut for a topping, but it works really well when you want coconut flavor spread throughout whatever you’re eating. It went great in the breakfast cookie, works well in oatmeal, and also was the kind I used in the granola. The stats are good on this too – 4 tbsp (1/4 a cup) which is a LOT only has 70 calories and 6 grams of fat. I used half that, so only 35 calories and 3 grams of fat, and lots of coconut flavor.

Presenting… The Chocolate Coconut Breakfast Cookie.

I’m happy to say it turned out PERFECT! It ended up sitting for about an hour between when I made it and when I ate it and tasted just as good as the one that sat overnight. The coconut chocolate combo really works here and adding the protein powder makes it a super filling and satisfying breakfast. Yum!

I can’t believe it’s already Thursday. Have a good one and be back after lunch!!

Bikram and Banana Ice Cream

Hi! I just got back from Bikram Yoga tonight for the first time ever and it was AMAZING. I have always been so scared to try it, but have wanted to go for so long. When things are new to me and I think I’m going to be bad at them, I am so hesitant to try them. But you never know until you try so I have to get over that! I did a bit of research over the last few days and I found Bikram Alexandria, where they offer your first class FOR FREE along with a free mat rental. There was a class from 7:30-9pm, so I just decided to go for it! And I am sooooo happy that I did. They even give you popsicles at the end! 🙂

In terms of the experience itself, every studio is different, but here’s how it went at Bikram Alexandria. I went in and told them it was my first time, so they had me sign in and then fill out a waiver with my information and sign away that if I get hurt its not their fault. After that, they give you a tour of the studio, show you where the bathrooms/shower are, where to put your shoes, where the yoga room itself is, and told me to line up my mat inside on one of the lines. There was black tape spaced out all along the floor indicating where mats should go so there was enough room between them. He said to make sure I looked up and that I wasn’t underneath a heat vent, because that’s too much for your first time. I picked a spot in the back near the door, which turned out to be pretty good. I liked being by the door because when it opened I got a quick cool breeze, but I would have preferred to be in the front so I was in the first line for the mirror. You have to observe yourself in the poses to figure out if you’re doing it right, and focusing on your image helps you stay steady. Next time I’ll definitely choose a spot closer to the mirror, but still by the door.

Once the class begins, the instructor walks you through 26 poses. The first two are breathing exercises, and then the rest vary in difficulty. Some were so hard that I couldn’t hold them at all, and some I had no problem getting into and could hold it for the full 40 seconds. The instructor talks you through the whole thing, and as you look around the room, especially during hard poses, people around the room are in all different stages of the poses. I was worried I was going to be the worst one there, but I was really just average which made me happy. You do each pose twice, and the second time you try to go a bit deeper in if you can manage. There’s several rest periods built in, and you can just lay down on the mat during any time if you need to take a break. The instructor also said we were free to walk out if we couldn’t stand the heat/thought we’d pass out, but I was able to stay in the room the whole time and didn’t have to lay down once (except when I was instructed!). Overall, it was an amazing experience. I seriously cannot wait to go back.

Here’s a few great tips for first timers, some that I knew going into it, and some that I learned once there and wish I knew before I went!

1.) DON’T BE SCARED TO GO! Seriously, I am the most unflexible person there is, so if I can do it, you can too! I’ve always heard people say that you don’t have to be flexible and everyone is really focused on themselves and not looking at you, but I didn’t believe it until I was there. It is very intense, and people are so focused on themselves that no one is looking at you or cares if you fall out of the pose! I also thought that everyone who was there was going to be long and lean and that I would feel very out of place, but there were people (women and men!) of all shapes and sizes there.

2.) BRING A CHANGE OF CLOTHES – My friend Emily told me this one, and I am so happy she did. As I’m sure you can imagine, you sweat so much since the room is 105 degrees, and after you get out, the last thing you want to do is stay in your sweaty clothes to drive home. I wore shorts and a tanktop with a built in sports bra, and wore capris over the shorts. I just brought a change of underwear and a new tanktop and I was perfect.

3.) BRING WATER – And lots of it with ICE. Ice is a must. I filled my entire bottle with ice and just a little water and it was perfect because it stayed cold the whole time. I brought in that bottle and one regular bottle, and drank them both during the class. I don’t usually drink any water while running or biking, but you need it during Bikram because the room is so hot!

4.) BRING AT LEAST TWO TOWELS – You want one to lay on top of your mat (because you are literally dripping sweat) and another smaller one to wipe you face off while you’re between poses when necessary. I was so thankful to have a little hand towel with me!

5.) BRING A PLASTIC BAG – You will want to have something to put your clothes and towel in once you are done with the class because you are dripping wet. I brought a plastic shopping bag with me and it was perfect.

6.) REMOVE ALL YOUR MAKEUP OR BRING MAKEUP REMOVER/FACE WASH – This one I didn’t figure out until after it was too late, but you sweat so much and you don’t want to have black makeup running down your face. I noticed some of the women washing their faces before class started but I didn’t have any face wash or makeup remover with me! By the end of the class, my makeup had dripped all over my face. Not cute.

7.) BRING A SNACK FOR AFTER CLASS – You’re not supposed to eat for a few hours before the class, so by the time I got out I was pretty ravenous. Luckily, I had a PURE Bar in my car, and ate it on my drive home.

8.) LOOK FOR FIRST-TIMER SPECIALS – Most Bikram studios offer specials for first time students. Not everywhere offers a free class, but a lot of them do a discounted week or buy one get one free for new students. Check it out so you can try different studios out to find one that you like.

9.) JUST GO – Really, I am soooo happy that I went and now I’m plotting when I can go again already even though I just got back. If you’ve been toying with the idea and are scared like I was, just do it and you’ll be so happy you did!

Any other tips for first timers that you can think of??

Onto my eats!

Before I left work, I had a Blueberry Chobani with a chopped up apple and crushed Weetabix biscuit.

Loved this combo. After I got home (around 5:45p when the class started at 7:30), I had a slice of whole wheat bread with some almond butter that I didn’t take a picture of. That was the perfect pre-Bikram snack for me because it sits well in my stomach but was enough to hold me over.

On my way home from Bikram, I had the PUR bar in Cherry Cashew.

I’d never tried this flavor before and it was goood. In case you’re curious what the bar looks like inside the package, here it is:

Then, I made some Banana Ice Cream! This is so simple, but so delicious. All you do is take frozen banana and put it in the food processor for about 2-3 minutes. I had chopped up the banana before I froze it which made it easier to get into my mini food processor and to mix up.

Scrape down the sides as needed, and then it turns into a wonderful, creamy consistency, that is the best frozen yogurt/ice cream you will ever taste. I topped mine with dark chocolate chunks.

And it was sooooo good. You won’t even believe how creamy and delicious this gets with bananas at the only ingredient.

Seems counterintuitive, but you can’t even really tell its bananas! It just is creamy, flavorful, deliciousness. So good!

I’m off to relax. See you tomorrow!