Jumping Into Protein Bars

If there is one staple of healthy food bloggers, besides smoothie bowls, I would have to say it is protein bars. My Instagram feed is full of so many I’m not surprised when one shows up that I have never heard of. Last year I was super into Luna bars, but I also knew that they weren’t the healthiest of the bars and also expensive, so I let that obsession fall off.

One of my biggest weaknesses is snacks, like all the time, so I have been trying to figure out a healthier way to satisfy my constant snack cravings. Last week I made these pickled cucumbers , but they only lasted two days and they were almost too good. If my snack is a large bowl full of something it probably isn’t the best. Now these were definitely healthier than my go-to Doritos or chocolate, I knew I couldn’t sustain the cucumber love.

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I ate much more than this at once

So I decided to make my first trip to my local Whole Foods to peruse the protein bar aisle. I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for, I was just winging it. I landed on trying three different kinds to see what I was in to — knowing that these are not my Chewy granola bars, I had a feeling this would take some trial and error. Here are my thoughts on all three:

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3. RX Bar-Coffee and Chocolate

This review warrants a disclaimer: I was hesitant to try this one because I haven’t been the biggest fan of date bars in the past, and this reaffirmed that feeling. I keep telling myself that I just need to get used to it, but I don’t know if that is possible. I could see where this would be appealing to people, but the texture and flavor was not working for me. The coffee and chocolate flavor seemed off as well, too bitter.

2. Square Bar-Chocolate Covered Coconut 

I decided to give this bar a go after seeing it all over In it 4 the Long Run’s Instagram. I was mostly not disappointed —its pretty hard to mess anything up that is completely covered in chocolate. The texture was a little off from anything I had had before, but it was doable. It reminded me a lot of an Almond Joy, which is never a bad thing. I will definitely be trying more of their flavors.

1. Pro Bar Meal-Peanut Butter

This was by far my favorite of three that I tried. It had that classic protein bar chewiness, but there were enough of the other ingredients, like sesame seeds, that I wasn’t focusing on that part of the texture. There was also little pieces of dried fruit, which were much welcomed sweetness. This one even had dates in it, but because it was not the main ingredient I was able to deal with it and like it. The peanut butter flavor also wasn’t too powerful compared to everything else going on in the bar, which was a lot. It may claim to be a meal bar, but I would definitely need to supplement it with some fruit or yogurt. This may be my new go-to snack. Does anyone have any flavor recommendations??

2 for 3 isn’t too bad for my first round!

A Little Bit of Health Goes a Long Way

Last year at this time I had completed a four month healthy journey of 90% cutting out white bread, pasta and rice, and working out 3 to 4 times a week. I reached a weight goal and felt like I was on top of the world. It was the first time I committed to making a health change in my life and actually stuck with it. By no means was it easy — there were plenty of breakdowns, cravings for bowls of french fries, and cheat days filled with some sweets — but I did it.

In following year I by no means stuck to that stringent of a diet, I love good food way too much, but I have mostly eaten decently healthy and worked out when I could. I think the most surprising part of my healthy journey is the consistency of my workouts. Even when I haven’t been eating the healthiest, I haven’t gone more than two to three weeks without some type of workout. If you had told me that in January 2015 there is no way I would have believed you. While I have been relatively athletic person the better part of my life, my actual desire to workout for any reason besides a sport has been extremely low.

Since officially moving to Brooklyn in January healthy choices have by no means been a priority. I have been consumed with applying to jobs, working, saving money and trying to maintain some sanity during this very stressful time of my life. In terms of eating, I have bought some veggies, and then they have proceeded to sit in my refrigerator, I have bought salads, but then I have also bought ice cream. Stress and comfort eating has always been my downfall and that has come into full force these past few months while trying to find a job. I spend a lot of time at home alone during the day — gotta love the restaurant world — which means plenty of time to eat just to eat.

And then working in a restaurant throws in a whole other curve ball — I am constantly surrounded by wonderfully tasting and smelling food. Some of it is healthy and then some it is heavy, greasy and full of rice. Our staff meals frequently involve rice and pasta, and because I am indirectly paying for it, I am eating it. It also normally tastes wonderful, which doesn’t help my ability to resist. I by no means overeat, but those four meals that I am eating at work could definitely be replaced by something healthier.

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To receive an expensive diploma one must wear a silly hat

Last weekend I attended my college commencement, and for whatever reason it gave me a little bit of extra motivation to be a little healthier this week. I made these bomb-ass buffalo chicken lettuce wraps, ate a salad for dinner, ate more fruit and went on two runs. While it may not seem like a ton, I can definitely feel the difference in the way I feel, especially my energy. It has reminded me why I started out on this journey, what feels like ages ago. I am looking forward to the abundance of fresh veggies and fruits as we enter into the summer months, and hopefully more motivation and inspiration to play around with some recipes.

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Hottest days of year so far, and I decide its a good idea to run outside

This week I proved to myself that I still have it in my to keep this journey going, and that all it takes is one week of a couple extra good choices to make a huge difference. I am ready to keep these choices going and to continue to better my life. Here’s to a super happy and healthy summer!

Let me know what you do to keep yourself motivated when you feel like you are in a slump or need to be reinvigorated!

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

It is no secret that I can’t get enough buffalo sauce in my life. I put it on things that I probably shouldn’t. I even had my family send me Anchorbar buffalo sauce because I can’t buy it in Brooklyn. In order to indulge in my buffalo love in a healthier way I decided to concoct some buffalo chicken lettuce wraps to keep it healthier than classic wings.

This dinner is BY FAR one of the best things I have made in months. It was the combinations of fresh veggies, juicy chicken and a little bit of spice that set my taste buds a flurry. My boyfriend and I devoured everything that I made, to my dismay because once I started eating I was hoping I would be able to enjoy in some leftovers. Good thing ground chicken was on sale and I bought two packs — it won’t be long before I am making these again!

Keep reading for this super easy recipe!

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Spring Means…

Farmers Markets!

Today I made it out to one of my many local famers markets for the first time this spring. While there isn’t a ton of stuff in season yet I was on a mission for one thing: ramps. Up until this year I had missed the boat on the wonders of ramps, but I was introduced to them at work — Go Sunny and her tasty banchan!

For those of you that are also in the dark about ramps, they are a cousin of the leak that have a garlicky/oniony tasty. So pretty much it can’t get much better. The only problem is they are only available for a few weeks, so you have to jump on them if you want to enjoy what they have to offer — and be willing to pay a pretty penny for them. I got one bunch at my farmers market and spent $5, as in $16/pound. I don’t think I have ever spent that much on produce or meat, but it was oh so worth it.

For my first attempt at cooking them I went simple. I did a simple sauté with butter, salt, pepper and a dash of red pepper flakes. To quote my boyfriend (who I could tell was skeptical of them at first): “I could eat ramps all day!” The flavor was like nothing I had ever had before, but very tasty. I will definitely be savoring what I have left, not knowing if I will be able to get any more this season.

If my first farmers market venture of the season is an indication of how the rest of the spring/summer will go, I can’t wait! Here’s to buying local and fresh produce!

Veggie Veggie Chili Recipe

It is not secret that I love a good crock pot recipe, so this past weekend I decide do experiment with a veggie chili. I am a big meat fan — my go-to chili normally includes ground beef AND Italian sausage, but my boyfriend tends to stray away from red meat whenever possible. I am not opposed to a meatless meal, so I went ahead with making a meatless chili, and it ended up working out.

The biggest change I made compared to other veggie chilis I have seen was using sweet mini peppers instead of bell peppers. I’m not a huge bell pepper fan, but for some reason I can’t get enough of the sweet mini peppers. They definitely added a new dimension of sweetness and flavor to the chili.

Keep reading to find my first recipe of 2016!

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Food Woes

So in theory, not have a job means I would have all the time in the world to try out new recipes and really amp up this blog? Right. However, that doesn’t take into consideration the cost of all those fun recipes with all of the expensive food. I had all of the intentions of amping up this blog, but my grocery budget has not allowed for it like I planned.

Instead of new recipes and fun cooking times, I have been sticking to my staples: potstickers, grilled chicken, tilapia and the occasional quesadilla. I can only share things about the same recipes so many times.

Being at home most day everyday has also brought me to another aspect of this post-college life — food is around me to eat all the time. The whole reason this blog was started was because of my bad relationship with food. I didn’t really think about what I was eating, I didn’t think twice about having some fries and a burger, or dessert, and the inclusion of fruits and veggies was minimal. I feel like I am starting to veer down a not so great path, which is not where I want to head, but it’s hard for me to resist a good french fry (potatoes are cheap).

Food has also been there as a comfort in this time of nothingness. I would definitely qualify myself as a stress eater and an emotional eater, so my spoon has found its way into the ice cream more times than it should have. I know its not bad to indulge every once in a while (I couldn’t go without my cheat day way back when), but I have probably been indulging more than I should be.

I think the only saving grace in during this my experience has been finding Blogilates. Cassey Ho is a pilates instructor who does Youtube workouts and creates calendars to follow. I have been follow the beginners calendar, while not perfectly, it has given me some consistency and a way to work out without spending money on a gym membership. I have also gone for a few runs in my new park because NYC doesn’t know what winter is this year.

This weekend I should be trying out a new recipe, but in the meantime I plan on sharing a little bit more of my experience with Blogilates — still about being healthy! For anyone else who may be falling off the wagon: you aren’t alone, and it happens, but we gotta remember how good it feels when we stay on and see the results we want — mental, emotional and physical!

Week 15: Day 2

After a weekend filled with tasty brunch at Agava in Ithaca, New York and homemade black bean burgers, I have entered my final week of classes. Hallelujah! I just have to keep trucking through and the light of the end of the tunnel will finally be visible. I started this week off right with a tasty dinner. Hopefully time is in my favor and good cooking continues.

Dinner

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Now that is one beautiful looking pile of food. I started the week out easy with a vegetarian burrito, but easy does not mean skimping out on flavor. I piled my tortilla shell high with a brown rice/quinoa blend, black beans, salsa, roasted red peppers, jalapeños, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, corn and salsa. I may be forgetting something, but it all blended together to a scrumptious combination in my mouth. Side note: I think I have eaten more tortilla shells this semester alone than I did all of last year. Mexian can be easy and healthy — my two favorite things.

Week 14: Day 4

I’m still trucking along. The end of the semester is really kicking my butt, but I am making my way through. It’s hard to believe I only have one semester left and then I will be graduating. It seems like this semester just started and now it is coming to close. If only the weather would catch up to how I am feeling about Spring, we would be all set.

Dinner

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Like I mentioned before I am going slightly vegetarian, so this dinner was cauliflower nuggets, to replace chicken nuggets. Not that I have eaten chicken nuggets in a very long time, these were a nice replacement. It’s pretty amazing how how versatile cauliflower is and how it is pretty much thrown in everything. I followed this recipe, but instead of frying them I baked them to keep out the excess oil. About 10 minutes on each side at 400 degrees. Definitely something I will be making in the future.

Week 13: Days 1, 3

So I may have disappeared again, and for that I apologize. However, that has not swayed me from my healthy eating habits. I have even been pushed toward even more veggies because my boyfriend is sort of trying to be a vegetarian. He isn’t completely there, but we have both been eating significantly less meat. Therefore, I have two meatless meals to share. Despite the lack of meat, neither meal was lacking in flavor or satisfaction.

Day 1

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I am a sucker for a good chili or soup, so I was completely willing to give a vegetarian chili I try. I feel like this is a good starter food of eliminating meat because there are so many different flavors going on. I mostly followed this recipe, but did not follow the cooking directions. One of the best things about the chili is not actually having to do any cooking. Hence, I just threw all of the ingredients in the crock pot and let it go all day. I also didn’t include the asafetida (I don’t even know what that is) and probably tripled the recommended amount of chili powder. It had the perfect amount of spice.

Day 3

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Big surprise, buffalo sauce makes another appearance.  These were our vegetarian alternative to boneless wings. Instead of chicken it was cauliflower, and they were fantastic. Definitely on the spicy side, but bearable. Even my boyfriend, who I can rarely get to eat cauliflower, loved them. I was so excited about eating them, I neglected the 15 minute cool time. I only burned by tongue once, so it was definitely worth it. Only alteration to this recipe I made was using regular flour instead of garbanzo bean flower. The batter also didn’t cover my entire head of cauliflower, but we still had plenty to serve two people as the main dish.

Week 12: Days 1-2

April 5-6, 2015

Week 12 is off to a solid start, and I am proud of the decisions I have made. Granted this is coming post-East brunch, but holidays only come around once a year. And I totally could have eaten more, but I restrained myself. I also just can’t eat as much as I used to which is a plus. I am extremely lacking on groceries, so we will see how well I continue this week. Hopefully I don’t go to off track.

Dinner 1

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If someone could show me how to take a good picture of a quesadilla I would be forever grateful. Mine aren’t too aesthetically pleasing. The taste of this, however, was very pleasing. I went all veggie on this one with cheddar cheese, spinach, black beans and roasted red peppers. I went sparingly with everything and nothing was too overpowering. I complimented it with some ranch dressing, because what is a meal if it doesn’t include ranch?

Dinner 2

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So I had taken a hiatus from tilapia because I just couldn’t get it too have enough flavor. Well, I found one of my new favorite dinners. I took inspiration from this recipe, but then completely changed up the spices. Instead of parsley I used italian seasoning and instead of paprika I used crushed red pepper. I also added in some garlic powder. I used about a 1/2 tsp of the crushed red pepper flakes and it gave the fish quite the kick. I also broiled my fish for a couple minutes to get it golden (I have a bad oven though). This will definitely will be making a regular appearance in the recipe rounds. I also made lemon-mayo-garlic sauce to go with the fish. Excellent choice on my part; especially because it helped tone down the spiciness.