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Summer Smoothie Spectacular!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s getting HOT here! Like, H.O.T. hot! 😉 Do you know what that means? It means you’re going to want to cool down with some deeeelicious cold beverages. Now, I think the rest of you are with me when I say, “Ohmygod I love Slurpees, Frozen Yogurt, Italian Ice, Ice Cream” and all things just..freaking..amazingly cold and sweet!

But, sadly, as much as we want to deny it, those things aren’t healthy for us. They’re good, in moderation. Though, if you’re anything like me and swear that you’ll only have ONE SERVING and then eat it all anyway, that can be a *bit* of a problem.

This semester, with it being my last, and I have to say with it also being the hardest semester of my time in college, I have managed to just sort of stop caring. About me, about my body, about anything except homework. And it has had some consequences. I worked so hard to lose weight for my wedding, and I’ve gained back all but 7 lbs. Sitting endlessly in lectures, in front of the computer doing hours of programming, staying up late, snacking on whatever is nearby when I get hungry, giving in to my cravings….yeah. It has been a rough semester. Fall wasn’t too bad, but ever since Spring swung around, it has just been downhill.

So here I am, almost a week from graduating, and ready to get back on the horse and whip my butt into shape – literally! (sans the whipping, because…ouch) Plus, now that I won’t have homework anymore, I have time to go running, or take yoga, or do Zumba, or all of it! I can have a life!! I have downloaded an app called “Couch to 5k” by Active.com (the same people that sponsor the Color Run and other shenanigans), and also one called “Just 6 Weeks” that teaches you to do crunches, push ups, etc., in 6 weeks. I have started logging my food on MyFitnessPal again, and have, for the most part, stayed on the straight and narrow for the last week or so. I have lost about 5 lbs, buuut I think it’s mostly just water. I have also had a couple of bad days (can you say someone had a cookout and made bbq chicken, burgers, and grilled corn on the cob? Ohmygod), but I’m not terribly angry at myself over it.

What does this have to do with smoothies? Well, I was browsing Pinterest (because who needs to study statistics when there’s Pinterest?), and I kept seeing recipes for smoothies. Mean green smoothie, flax smoothie, glowing green smoothie, delicious smoothie, smoothie this, smoothie that. I pinned  bunch of the pins, but I wasn’t totally sold on any specific one that I thought I’d just love. So, I decided to kind of make up my own going off of other peoples’ recipes. And here we are. I don’t have anything to call it (like a snazzy name), but it IS good, and GOOD FOR YOU. I sat down and worked out all of the nutrition information (perks of taking a nutrition class, yaaaaay), and it’s loaded with nutrients. I’d recommend making it in the mornings, so you have a great way to start your day! My recipe includes green tea, which has caffeine in it. So there’s that benefit as well!

Are you ready? Let’s make a smoothie!

Yesterday, I went shopping for a bunch of fruits and some spinach (I’m taking baby steps – I know I like baby spinach, so I’m starting with that first), and brought them home and washed them. I usually just kind of scrub off my food before I eat it with water, but since I knew I was going to be slicing, freezing, and then storing my fruit, I figured I should give them a proper scrubdown. So I mixed 6 cups of water with 2 cups of white vinegar (3:1) and EWWWWWW! Check it out:

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That came off MY FOOD THAT I PUT IN MY BODY! When I poured it out there was brown sludge at the bottom of the bowl that looked like mud. Yeah, never just rinsing under water and rubbing with my hands again. Gross.

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Also, look how shiny everything was! 😀 I set my fruit out on the counter to dry and got busy with studying.

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I also made a container of green tea. It was exciting, because the first container I made, I just laid on its side in the fridge, but the hot water (I boiled water, steeped the tea, removed the bags, put on the lid, and stuck it in the fridge – but my fridge is stupid and things as tall as that container don’t fit, so I had to lay it down) caused pressure against the lid and BOOM! My kitchen and fridge were suddenly overflowing with green tea. It was amazing. T___T Not. Though, when I grabbed a nearby towel out of storage to clean up with, I found a $25 Bed, Bath and Beyond gift card, so all is not lost. I bought a serving bowl and a picture frame. Booyah. Anyway, I made this NEW container of green tea and left it on the counter all afternoon into the evening to cool down before I put it in the fridge. Lesson learned (for those of you wondering: one kettle full of water, 4 tea bags, steep 3 minutes, remove. Add a little honey if you want and mix).

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After all the veggies and fruit were dried off, I chopped them up and stuck them in the fridge on a cookie sheet and cutting board to get hard enough to put in bags. I also bought and chopped three different kinds of pears and grapes. The nutrition info I will be providing is strictly for the recipe with strawberries and blueberries in it.

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Once everything was frozen, I put them in their own bag for later use. The smoothie is much more smooth if your stuff is frozen. 🙂

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Meanwhile, you will also need some delicious yogurt. I prefer Chobani because it has less sugar and sodium than other brands, more protein, and important probiotics for your digestive system. Plus I think it tastes yummy. You can use whatever you want, though.

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Finally, you’ll need some protein powder. I make The Ryan protein bars for his workouts, and we have this sitting around. We prefer soy to whey, but whatever you wanna do, do your thing. That’s the nice thing about smoothies – there’s really no wrong way to do it.

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(Yes, that’s a Game of Thrones cup. Yes, that’s house Stark. Winter is Coming; Though Tyrion is my favorite. I haven’t read all the books, don’t tell me if he dies, I would lose it!)

When you’re ready, combine:

  • 2 tbls agave
  • One serving protein powder (for us that’s 2 tbls)
  • 1 tbls ground flax seed
  • 2 cups baby spinach, tightly packed
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
  • 1 cup green tea

Throw it in the blender and process. NOMNOM. This recipe makes 4 cups, and I define one serving as 2 cups. Don’t worry, the other 2 cups will fit nicely into a mason jar. Add a little lemon juice to the leftovers and give it a whirl in the blender to help slow down oxidation, fill your mason jar all the way to the top to keep air out, and put a tight lid on it. VOILA, now you have one for later too! Stored in your fridge, it should last up to 24 hours. Check it before you drink it, though!

One serving of this smoothie as written contains:

  • 18.5g of protein
  • 31g sugar
  • 154mg sodium
  • 5.5g fiber
  • 57.5% DV of Vitamin A
  • 16% DV of Calcium
  • 108.5% DV of Vitamin C
  • 19.5% DV of Iron
  • 887mg of Omega-3 fatty acids
  • 287.3mg of Omega-6 fatty acids
  • 1% DV of Vitamin E
  • 24% DV of Vitamin K
  • 6% DV Thiamin
  • 1.5% DV Riboflavin
  • 2% DV Niacin
  • 3.5% DV Vitamin B6
  • 6% DV Folate (especially good for you if you’re pregnant!)
  • 3% DV of Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic Acid)
  • 28% DV Magnesium
  • 6.5% DV Phosphorous
  • 12% DV Potassium
  • 4.5% DV Zinc
  • 10.5% DV Copper
  • 44% DV Manganese
  • 2% DV Selenium
  • 12.5 mg Caffeine
  • And amazing antioxidants and probiotics!!

So there you have it, why wouldn’t you start your mornings with this from now on? What are you waiting for? Go get started!

(P.S. I would like to shamelessly plug my Ninja blender, which I got for Christmas. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE IT!! It makes things nice and smooth mmmm)

 

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Filed under Cooking, Fitness, Uncategorized, Wellness

Spring Break! Kind of…And Diet Hacks!

This week has been our ever-so-wonderful Spring Break from school…but don’t let the word break fool you, I have read three quarters of one book, took three pages of notes for a presentation, have another book to finish as well as another 120 pages or so to read for a different class…I have gathered resources for a research project (which I must now write a Precis for), researched for another paper I have to write by Tuesday, I have to find a topic for an additional research project, and I was really hoping to catch up on some extra credit in another class to potentially raise my grade..because lord knows I have no idea how I did on my midterms yet. I have also been working my normal schedule this week.

To add to that pile, the Ryan and I found a new place to live and will be moving in a couple of months. Hooray for more floorspace and a safer area! Not hooray to my commute to school being doubled and my work commute tacking on an additional 15 minutes..T__T; Also packing..packing sucks. BUT! It is what it is. At least I can decorate, (we can paint and everything!) which will make my heart smile.

With all of this business, you’d think I’d be hard at work, right? Nope. I have definitely decompressed by spending countless hours on Pinterest and I even went out window shopping the other day. WHY had I never gone into Hobby Lobby before? There was definitely some extreme sensory overload there. All the colors! All the projects! All the different ways I could spend way too much money and not even blink. I am proud, though. I picked up one item in Pier 1 and then talked myself out of it. I did not buy anything anywhere…except groceries later in the day. That’s some self restraint, folks!

Speaking of self-restraint, I have managed to somehow lose 10 pounds on this diet thing I’m doing, and am finding myself having that problem where my pants are starting to get loose and feel weird, but they’re not quite loose enough to go down an entire size. Don’t you hate that? Annoying. Anyway, another problem I’m finding is that today, I was a dumbass and got on the food board on Pinterest (why did I do that? I must be hungry) and everything on there looked soooooooo bad for me in a way that made me want to binge eat all of it because it would be soooooooo worth it. At least during the time I was eating it…after that it would probably turn into a mountain of shame and regret. I was even bad and ate a Skinny Cow chocolate bar today. Bam, I’m a rebel! 110 calories be damned!

I’m also craving enchiladas verdes more than anything and for the life of me I cannot tell you why. I don’t even really like green sauce. No, I’m not pregnant….I’m just carb and cheese and deep-fried deprived! I want Doritos! I want tacos! I want enchiladas! I want deep fried, fatty goodness! So I’m going to make spaghetti tonight with turkey meatballs. And maybe tomorrow I’ll make enchiladas verdes because I have all of the ingredients (Pro Tip: corn tortillas are significantly less calories than flour). Maybe I’ll even blog that, because it is on my Pinterest board, and I did say I would blog some Pinterest recipes..right?

In the mean time, the pictures I have of myself in my wedding dress (conveniently located on my phone so I have a portable reminder of why I’m inflicting this torture upon myself) are serving as motivation, and it has worked. I have also picked up the hobby of growing orchids so that I can focus my free-time energy on NOT snacking mindlessly, but instead on nurturing something beautiful and rewarding. Orchids are pretty!

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But for those of you who are dieting, and are having a hard time, I will share a few cheats and tips and tricks I have learned in the last month or so:

1) The MyFitnessPal app is pretty damn awesome! It really helps you to visualize what you are eating and how many calories it is. WARNING: Double check the math! Just because something on the app says it’s X amount of calories doesn’t mean it is. The calorie amounts in the app are input by users, so they tend to vary..and not just by a little bit. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, put in your own. It helps. Trust me. It also tracks the calories you burn with exercise. Plus the little graph lets you track your weight over time and it’s such an awesome feeling to watch that line go down.

2) Popsicle Fudgesicle bars are a life saver. I have a serious addiction to chocolate. I tried that Pinterest recipe where you take the Greek yogurt and you put cocoa powder and Stevia in it…yeah, the sweetener didn’t really make it sweet, no matter how much I added. So then it just tasted like powdery, off-brand plain yogurt…plus it was still like 100 calories. It was gross. The Fudgesicles are the best thing since sliced bread – 2 of them for 80 calories, one of them for 40. It’s nice to have the sweet tooth and get the chocolate without feeling guilty. I can have three Fudge pops for the same calories as I can have one Skinny Cow treat..Plus you get about 20 fudgesicles in a box as opposed to 6 skinny cow treats for the same price if not slightly less depending on where you live…Think about it.

Choose THIS:Fudge

Not THIS:SkinnyCow

3) Stevia is your friend. I bought some organic Stevia after reading about all the fun controversy surrounding it, and if the Mayans could use it, I could too. I’m sure Stevia didn’t wipe out their civilization. If you want some healthier options to the Fudgesicles, try fruit with Stevia. I have been getting strawberries at the Amish market and have been cutting them up and putting some Stevia on them. They’re a delicious snack, and a cup of sliced strawberries is 52 calories.

4) BEWARE THE SALT! Sodium causes you to retain water, which makes you hold onto water weight and thus gets discouraging..it can make you look like you’re not losing weight even if you are. So many processed and canned goods contain ridiculous levels of it! What’s more, the recommended daily dose of sodium is ~1500 milligrams. According to the CDC, the average American consumes 3400 milligrams per day! WAY too much! Excess sodium can raise your blood pressure, and in turn can put you at risk for heart disease and other nasty diseases! If you want delicious spices without the salt, try Mrs. Dash brand. Yummy!

4) Measure EVERYTHING!! I mean it. Seriously. Portions, portions, PORTIONS!! 35 calories for a Tablespoon of creamer? I stir my coffee with the tablespoon. 200 calories for 2 oz of uncooked pasta? Weigh it on a scale. (Also, 2 oz may not seem like a lot, but once its cooked its actually a good portion)

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5) Substitute whenever possible! When I make pancakes, I use Stevia instead of sugar and I use apple sauce instead of oil. Why? Because one tablespoon of oil is 120 calories and one tablespoon of applesauce is like 40. Check out this list of things I sub on a regular basis:

  • Need chips? Choose Special K Chips. 110 calories for 27 chips. Count them. Portion them into baggies and take them with your lunch. It actually makes you feel like you’re getting more, and you probably are. We all know that a Doritos bag, which is 175-200 calories for the snack size, is half full of air and probably doesn’t have 27 chips in it. Also, White Cheddar Cheetos are 150 calories for 1 ounce (the bag says about 32 pieces) where the traditional Cheetos are 150 calories for 21 pieces. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my Cheetos, I’ll totally eat 11 more pieces for the same price.
  • Like sandwiches? Arnold brand Sandwich Thins are 100 calories for the entire thin. They come pre-sliced so you don’t have to, and not only are they darling (who doesn’t like to eat tiny food?) but they cut the bread calories in half. So I can have a whole sandwich AND a couple snacks and still fit within my calorie limit for lunch. Bam! Plus, they make good toast (the Ryan had me make him an egg sandwich on one this morning ^_^). BONUS: No high fructose corn syrup.
  • Wine! I am simmering spaghetti as we speak, and instead of using legitimate wine in my sauce, I am using Holland House “cooking wines.” Yes, I know they’re notorious for having a lot of sodium in them. But it’s less than 200 mg of sodium, and I’m cool with that. 1/2 cup of this wine is 80 calories. 1/2 cup of a drinking wine used for cooking, let’s say a Merlot, is about 123 calories.
  • Choose your condiments wisely! Did you know that yellow mustard has no calories? Light mayonnaise is 35 calories per tablespoon, which is totally more than enough for a small sandwich. Traditional mayonnaise has 57 calories per tablespoon.
  • Instead of Olive Oil, use PAM whenever possible. One tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories…that means that 1/2 cup of Olive Oil, used for some recipes, is 960 calories!! Obviously, you can’t use PAM under some circumstances – last night I made roasted boiling potatoes (the super cute tiny ones!) and I coated them with 1 tbls of olive oil before putting them in the oven. PAM would not have worked. But for cooking a sunny side up egg or sauteeing chicken, it works just fine.
  • Go sugar free where you can. I bought sugar free syrup by Spring Tree. 1/4 cup of syrup is 30 calories. Log Cabin syrup (my favorite brand!) is 100 calories per 1/4 cup. On top of the substitutions I make in my pancakes, I don’t feel guilty at all eating them for breakfast.
  • Instead of sour cream or cream cheese, use Greek yogurt. Instead of butter, use avocado – you still get fat, but you get the GOOD fat. In place of oil, use applesauce where possible.
  • Go lean: The general rule of thumb is that chicken is about 40 calories per ounce. Beef is about 72 calories per ounce raw and ground, and pork is about 62 calories per ounce. Turkey is 38 calories per ounce roasted and 67 per ounce ground (probably because of the added fat). I have made turkey chili (when you have 16 oz of meat, the 5 calorie difference adds up to about 80-100 calories saved) and it tastes great! Two Bob Evans turkey sausage links are 60 calories for two, while the traditional sausage links are 93 for two. Additionally, I have switched to turkey meatballs instead of beef. (It may not seem like a lot, but throughout the day saving 30 calories here and 40 there can add up to an additional treat for you later in the day if you so desired (saved 100? Have two fudge bars!)).

6) Eat breakfast! Studies have shown that eating a good breakfast will boost your metabolism and give you energy throughout the day. Also, breakfast should be your largest meal of the day. I generally have two eggs, a cup of oatmeal with a tablespoon of brown sugar, coffee with creamer and a clementine. The protein gives me energy and keeps me full, as well as the oatmeal, which is less soluble so my system feels fuller, longer because it takes more time to break it down. Coffee I can’t live without, and the fruit is nice and sweet and makes me feel like I’m eating extra with my breakfast.

7) Get enough sleep! Studies have also shown that the less sleep you get, the more your body will crave snacks that are bad for you! I know, who knew? This is because when you don’t get enough sleep, certain chemicals in your brain cause you to a) not feel full after you eat and b) stimulate your appetite. This may be the body’s way of craving more energy since it didn’t get it from sleeping. For information related to this study, click here.

8) Most Importantly: Don’t deprive yourself!!! Outback Steakhouse is one of the Ryan and I’s favorite haunts! We went there a few weeks ago and since I knew we were going ahead of time, I looked up Outback’s menu online. The 6 oz filet with grilled shrimp on the barbie and steamed fresh green beans is 474 calories. If you eat the bread without butter, that’s an additional 200 calories for one loaf. So I ate my meal and half the bread, and it was sooo delicious. I ordered unsweetened iced tea, and I was good to go. This past weekend, I am fairly certain I ate about 6 mini brownies with Bailey’s buttercream frosting, as well as way too much spinach dip on bread and Tzatziki on pitas and some Carne Asada (it was a multicultural St. Patrick’s!). I also had a giant green cocktail. I gained 3 lbs overnight and then lost it again the next day (can you say SALT?). Your body can’t process a badrillion calories in a day, so every once and a while you just have to let yourself eat! Just be aware – the Ryan’s insides (and mine) were extremely unhappy. That will start to happen once you clean up your eating habits.

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Now, not just dieting will get you where you want to go. We all know you have to do exercise. That said, I have lost 10 lbs and all I really do is walk around school all day and I speed walk for 30 minutes during my lunch break on my days at work. On my days not at work, I do exercises like squats and lifting small weights and ab stuff, but it’s not cardio. I will jump rope, though, and I always take the stairs. Mostly, I just want to slim down and tone up so that I can do my sleeveless wedding gown some justice. Also, another tip: take advantage of special offers! My office building has a gym in it that members can pay $28 (I think) a month to use. Since I am only there 2 days a week, I didn’t want to join, but I recently saw a “Fitness Challenge” that our gym is hosting that is specifically geared toward non-members. For $25, I can come in during my lunch for 8 weeks and work with a personal coach who will help me set and achieve goals, and I have access to all of the machines. Additionally, they’ll measure my progress by taking body fat measurements. If I complete the 8 weeks successfully, I will get my $25 back. Unfortunately, I will not complete the 8 weeks because in the 7th week, my summer field school will start, but it’s still $25 well spent – it breaks down to $1.25 per day to use the gym and receive coaching during the days I am there. I’m cool with that. Another cool thing is that I pay out my butt in mandatory fees (those aren’t so cool) in my tuition at school. One of those fees is an “athletic fee.” What does that mean? I dunno, something to do with jocks, I suppose. That said, I can use the school gym (which isn’t a gymnasium, it’s an actual gym with machines and everything) for free. Be aware of options like this in your surroundings, and definitely utilize them!

Don’t like the gym? Don’t worry, I don’t either! But there are plenty of fun things you can do at home with no equipment! For instance, the Ryan is big into doing Cross Fit type stuff, but it’s about $250 a month for him to join a center. He has ordered a few kettle bells of varying weights, and through intense study and talking to folks who used to be in the military (they use Cross Fit in their training), he has done a bunch of exercises here at the house..and let me tell you, his arms look sexy. 😉 He may not think so, but I sure do. Another thing is to make it fun! My mom wants to look good in her Mother of the Bride pictures, and she has lost 12 pounds so far (I’m so proud of her!) doing Zumba with a friend! And of course HAVE A BUDDY! Buddies will keep you motivated and give you someone who you can count on. Early in the game, I hit a wall for like 6 days and I was so discouraged and wanted to give up…but the Ryan was insistent that I not give up, and suddenly I lost three pounds over 4 days! It was so awesome!

And last but not least: DON’T GIVE UP! You can do it! 😀

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