Vega Bar Review

Standard

As part of my relationship with Fit Approach, I was given the opportunity to review the new line of bar’s from Vega.  While the bars were sent to me to try, as always, the review and opinions are my own.  

When I found out that I was going to be given the opportunity to review Vega’s new line of bars, I was really excited.  Not only are the ingredients clean; there’s nothing artificial, they’re gluten free, non-GMO AND they are also plant based. The fact that they are made with plant based protein really drew my attention.  I am not a huge fan of whey protein, as it upsets my stomach and have long been using different kinds of plant protein powder, but have never had the opportunity to try out a plant based protein bar!

I was sent two different kinds of each of the four new bars and I couldn’t wait to try them when they arrived in the mail.  In fact, I was extra hungry when they were delivered so I devoured one right away!

Vega Snack Bar

photo 5-4

The first bar I tried was the Dark Chocolate Mixed Nuts and Sea Salt Vega Snack Bar and it was really good! These snack bars are perfect for when you’re on the go, have a snack attack at work or just want to grab something yummy and satisfying as an afternoon snack while you’re at home.  Each bar has superfood ingredients and also comes in four other flavors including: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Dark Chocolate Cashew Cherry, Coconut Cashew and Cranberry Almond.  The Cranberry Almond flavor was also sent for me to try, which I thought was pretty yummy but I’m a sucker for anything that combines nuts & chocolate 😉

Vega One Bar

photo 4-3

The next bar that I tried was the Chocolate Peanut Butter Vega One Bar following an early morning run.  I had gotten up before the crack of dawn and attempted to run a few miles but only made it about 1.25 miles before I turned around because it was FREEZING out! When I got home the last thing I wanted to do was make myself breakfast because I could barely feel my fingers (I wasn’t smart enough to wear gloves). Thankfully, I had these bars on hand and it was honestly better than I expected.  They are designed as an all-in-one meal bar that include 12 grams of plant protein, an entire serving of greens, fiber, omega-3, dairy-free probiotics and a host of vitamins and minerals. The best part is that it actually tastes amazing.  I’ll let you in on a little secret; I strongly dislike the combination of chocolate and peanut butter (yes, I know I’m weird), but I loved this Chocolate and Peanut Butter Vega One Bar so much that I ate it in a matter of a minute and wanted more.  It wasn’t dense or too heavy but left me feeling full and satiated for several hours.  I honestly was pleasantly surprised! These also come in two other flavors; Chocolate Cherry Almond (which I was sent to try and enjoyed as well) and Chocolate Coconut Cashew which I’m dying to try because that just sounds AMAZING!

Vega Sport Protein Bar

photo 2-7

When I originally knew I was going to receive these bars, the Vega Sport Protein Bar was the one that I was most excited to try.  Although I have gotten into running, most of the time that I work out I am doing functional-type training with kettlebells, my sandbag, equalizers and battling ropes.  I often drink protein shakes afterward but lately I have been wanting something like a protein bar that I can just grab and go and don’t have to spend the time making a shake or smoothie.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to find anything that was a plant based protein bar and met all my other requirements (nothing artificial, non-GMO, gluten free, etc.). I really am very picky with what I choose to put in my body so when I heard about the chance to try these sport protein bars and they met ALL my requirements, I jumped on it! Out of the three flavors that Vega makes, I was sent to try the Chocolate Coconut and the Chocolate Mint.  Out of those two, the Chocolate Coconut was my favorite and definitely met the high expectations I had.  The other flavor this bar comes in is Chocolate Peanut Butter and while I would have never picked that to try before, after eating the Chocolate Peanut Butter Vega One Bar and LOVING it, I want to try it ASAP! 🙂

Vega Sport Energy Bar

photo 3-1

The last bar out of the bunch that I tried was the Vega Sport Energy Bar.  These are designed as a mid-workout energy bar and contain a balance of carbs, omega-3’s and Saviseed oil to provide the fuel your body needs to sustain a long endurance workout.  They are also really moist so that it is easier to eat while you are in the middle of a long workout such as cycling or hiking, or in between workouts- think triathlete training.  Now, I am no triathlete (nor will I ever be, I suck at swimming), BUT these bars will come in really handy as I train for my first half marathon.  On the days where I am scheduled to run a shorter distance, I plan to follow it up with a bodyweight workout session and these energy bars will be perfect for that.  They come in two flavors; Chocolate Coconut Almond and Apple Cherry.  The Apple Cherry was pretty good but the Chocolate Coconut Almond was DELICIOUS, and I’m not exaggerating with my capital letters, it was that good!

So to summarize my overall consensus about the new Vega bars, I will tell you that they were all pretty good.  If I had to pick my favorite based on flavor alone, it would probably be the Chocolate Peanut Butter Vega One Bar OR the Chocolate Coconut Almond Vega Sport Energy Bar …it’s kinda a toss up! That’s just a matter of personal taste preference though and obviously everyone would have a different opinion.  What I love most about this new line of bars is that they are made of clean ingredients with nothing artificial, they’re gluten free and are plant based which makes my belly happy 🙂

Advertisements

Weekly Recipes Worth Sharing

Standard

Hola! Guess it’s that time of the week again…time to round up all of the recipes I made this week that are worth sharing.  Unfortunately, the list is a little short this week as I was out of town Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and then Sunday was Easter so no cooking for me 😉

Instead of belaboring the post with a long explanation of what I ate when and all that jazz, I will just get to the point and share the few recipes that I have.  First up:

Asian Turkey & Quinoa Muffin-Burgers

photo 4.PNG

 

So this recipe is similar to the one I shared last week in the sense that I used ground turkey and baked the meat in a muffin tin, I simply just changed up the flavors and added quinoa!

 Ingredients:

– 1lb ground turkey

-1 cup of cooked quinoa (follow box instructions)

-1 teaspoon of sesame oil

-garlic powder to taste

-onion powder to taste

-1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (I didn’t measure)

-1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and tablespoon them into a greased muffin tin.  Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.  I ate mine on a gluten free muffin tin with a drizzle of pre-made ginger-sesame sauce.  I usually am against using store bought sauces but I happened to have this in my fridge and I didn’t think about making it homemade until the last minute.  I also accompanied the burger with homemade fries tossed in sesame oil and chili powder.

To make the fries I simply cut them into strips, tossed in the sesame oil, chili powder, salt and pepper and then baked them at 400 degrees until they were crispy (I didn’t time it, I really just kept an eye on them).  I also made steamed green beans and sprinkled them with sesame seeds so there was an all around sesame infused flavor.

Next up is a vegetarian/vegan dish that I made on Tuesday.

Zoodles Marinara Topped with a Grilled Portobello Mushroom

photo 3-3.PNG

Ingredients:

-2 whole zucchinis, spiralized

– 1 small can of tomato sauce

– 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with jalepanos

– 2 portobello mushrooms

This was really simple so I will just provide some quick directions.  Take the zucchini and use a spiralizer to make zoodles (place in bowl or on a large plate).  On the stove top, combine the tomato sauce and the can of diced tomatoes.  Season the sauce to your taste (maybe some salt, pepper, garlic and/or onions and red pepper flakes).  Grill the mushrooms but make sure they are brushed with an oil of sorts beforehand so that they don’t stick to the grill.  Once sauce is seasoned to your liking and the mushrooms are done (like 7 minutes or so on each side), place on top of the zoodles and enjoy!

Grilled Steak with Tri-color Pearl Couscous and Rainbow Swiss Chard

photo 2-5.PNG

Ingredients:

For the steak-

– 1 big piece of steak (any cut you like) grilled to your desired temperature ( I like mine medium-rare or so)

For the couscous-

– 1 cup of tri-color couscous

-1 1/4 cup of water

-salt (dash or two)

-pepper (to taste)

-fresh or dried parsley (just shake, shake, shake it or if it’s fresh a few leaves will do)

-sprinkle of black truffle salt (to give it a mushroom flavor, skip if you don’t have any or don’t enjoy the taste of mushrooms)

Instructions:

Boil the 1 1/4 cup of water then add the cup of couscous.  Once couscous has absorbed most of the water, add the rest of the ingredients and flavor to your liking.

For the Rainbow Swiss Chard:

-1 bunch swiss chard, chopped including stems

-2 tablespoon of oil

-1 clove of garlic, minced (or a few dashes of garlic powder)

-1/2 onion, diced (or a few dashes of onion powder)

-1/2 cup of dry white wine

-1 tablespoon of lemon juice

-salt to taste

Instructions:

In a large pan, heat oil and cook garlic and onions.  Once they are cooked (or if you just used the powder, once the oil is hot), add in the Swiss chard and cook down a bit.  Add wine, lemon juice and salt.  The Swiss chard will be done once it is wilted.

Here is a bonus recipe that has nothing to do with dinner but I made it for breakfast and thought I would share.  It’s not really revolutionary or anything but it was quite tasty.

Crispy Kale topped with a Pan Fried Egg and Bacon

photo 5.PNG

 

Ingredients:

-1 egg

-handful of chopped kale

-drizzle of oil

-salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder (just a dash of each)

-1/2 piece of bacon

Instructions: 

Heat oil up in a frying pan and add the handful of kale.  Once the kale has softened a bit add the salt, pepper, onion and garlic and stir around making sure to keep it in a bunch in the middle of the pan.  Crack the egg on top of the kale and let it cook until it is no longer runny then remove from the pan with a spatula onto a plate.  Cook the piece of bacon in the pan if you desire or heat it in the microwave for 90 seconds to ensure that it is extra crispy then top the egg and kale with the bacon and enjoy!

So that is it for the week as far as recipes go, unfortunately I wasn’t around to cook more.  I promise that next weeks post will be a little more creative than this 😉

 

 

Breakfast Cookies

Standard

20140414-231108.jpg

I can’t remember what site I saw it on but in the last week or so I came across a recipe for cookies that used quinoa with oats! I thought it was pretty brilliant so I took a stab at making my own cookies using quinoa. I call them a breakfast cookie because the only other brilliant name I could come up with was Buffet Breakfast Cookie. They have a little of everything (except bacon) that you might eat for breakfast in them…including coffee 😉

Ingredients
-1 cup of quinoa cooked in coffee (I’ll list those directions below)
-1 1/2 cup of oats
-2 ripe bananas
-2 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp of cinnamon
-1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup of nuts (any kind you desire)

For the quinoa:
Bring 1 cup of fresh brewed coffee & 1 cup of almond milk with 1 cup of quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, simmer for about 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.

Directions:
Mash bananas and then mix in eggs and extract. Next mix in the coffee cooked quinoa, oats & cinnamon then fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon a generous tablespoon size for each cookie. Stick them in the oven & bake at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. The amount of cookies this recipe makes will depend on how small or large you make them. My recipe yielded 20 breakfast cookies.

Let cool & enjoy!

Spiced Banana Protein Muffins with a Cinnamon Cashew Cream Spread

Standard

Last week I posted a recipe for cinnamon cashew cream spread and different ways to enjoy it. One of the ways I suggested was on a muffin. I didn’t think it was fair just to suggest it without a recipe to accompany the spread so I decided to post a muffin recipe that I feel pairs very well with it!

These muffins are really quick to whip up & really tasty!

Spiced Banana Protein Muffins

Ingredients:
-2 cups oat flour (or make your own oat flour by putting GF oats in a processor)
-1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Plant Fusion)
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-2 tbsp cinnamon
-1 tsp nutmeg
-3 ripe bananas, mashed
-1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
-2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately then combine. Once thoroughly mixed, spoon into greased or lined muffin pan.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes (maybe less depending on the oven). Check for doneness by sticking a toothpick through the middle of a muffin, they’re done if it comes out clean!

For the Cinnamon Cashew Cream Spread recipe click here .

I think they taste phenomenal together, I’m craving it right now actually!

20140408-091910.jpg
GET IN MY BELLY!

Sweet & Savory: Cashew Cream Cheese Two Ways

Standard

I’m really not vegan but I tend to make a lot of vegan recipes and I follow a lot of vegan blogs. I even use vegan protein powder. I’m not entirely sure when or why I started gaining such an interest in vegan recipes but I love the idea of finding healthier alternatives for yummy foods that can be bad for you.

One of those is cream cheese. It’s not that I’ve ever loved cream cheese per say, but I love the idea of a super healthy and tasty alternative to it. Enter cashew cream cheese, I had been dying to try it to see what all the hype is about and recently I had some time to make it two different ways; one savory and one sweet.

Here are the two recipes I made and some different ways to eat them!

Sweet:

Cinnamon Cashew Cream Spread

20140404-103858.jpg

Ingredients:
-1 cup of soaked cashews (for at least an hour
– 1/2 cup of almond milk
-drizzle of raw honey
-splash of vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp of cinnamon
-1/8 tsp nutmeg

Blend all the ingredients together and viola, you’re done.

This could be used as a spread or even as a frosting! I spread it on a homemade muffin like this:

20140404-104616.jpg

Another way to use it is with a baked sweet potato! I kind of did a twice baked version like this:

20140404-141950.jpg
(Those are pecans on top)

Savory:

Herbed Cashew Cream Cheese

20140404-210946.jpg

Ingredients:
-2 cups soaked cashews (for at least an hour)
-1/4 – 1/2 cup of water (depending on how thick or thin you want it to be)
-1/8 cup lemon juice
-1 chopped green onion
-1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
-1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
-1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
-2 tbsp nutritional yeast (gives it that cheesy flavor)
-drizzle of olive oil

First blend the cashews with the water until they are the consistently you want it to be. Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend. Add more water or lemon to taste or if the cashew cream is too thick!

I used this as a spread to replace cheese on a portobello “burger”.

20140404-211057.jpg

It’s just two portobello mushrooms with a piece of lettuce, tomatoes and the herbed cashew cream cheese spread on it.

20140404-211211.jpg

You can also just use it as a dip with crackers or with bread. Anything you can imagine really!

20140404-211334.jpg

It would even be a quick & tasty dip to whip up before a party and serve with veggies!

With either recipe just double or halve the ingredients if you need less or more of it.

So there you have it! A super tasty, super healthy alternative for cream cheese that you can just throw in a blender and have ready in no time!

Have you ever tried cashew cream cheese? If you have, what did you think?

Weekly Dinner Recipe Round up 3/23 – 3/28

Standard

At the beginning of the week I had written up a menu plan for dinner each night.  I have to say I pretty much stuck to it with the exception of Saturday (3/29).  We were supposed to make shrimp fra diavolo but we decided to go to the mall and out to dinner at Cantina Laredo instead.  I ate healthy for the most part sans a skinny margarita or two 🙂

Anyway, here are the recipes (or descriptions for some rather), for our dinners from Sunday through Friday 🙂

Sunday:

Homemade Chicken Soup

photo 1.PNG

This was actually made by my husband and to tell you the truth, I’m not entirely sure how he makes it.  I know that he uses a whole organic chicken and cooks it in chicken broth with fresh cut up carrots, onions, garlic and escarole.  Once the chicken has cooked thoroughly, he takes it out and shreds it then discards the unusable parts and puts all the meat back in the soup and lets it cook for a bit more before we eat it.  It’s really quite delicious and I swear it’s our cure to any cold or ailment!

Monday:

Chili Rubbed Wild Caught Cod served with Rainbow Swiss Chard

photo 2-2.PNG

To prepare the fish, I squeezed fresh lemon then seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder, thyme and chili powder.  To give it a bit more lemon flavor I grated fresh lemon over the top and drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil.  I baked the fish at 375 degrees for about a half hour (I think).  I honestly wasn’t paying that close of attention to the time and this was a HUGE piece of fish so if I recall it took a bit longer than normal.

For the Swiss chard, I chopped up a bunch including the stems.  I then sautéed it in a large pan with olive oil, lemon juice, a little bit of water, lemon zest, salt, pepper and a dash of red pepper flakes.

I served the fish over a bed of brown rice (at the request of my husband) alongside the Swiss chard!

Tuesday:

Chicken Stir Fry

photo 3.PNG

I realize this isn’t the best photo but really this dish is not only simple but it’s super tasty. To prepare, I just cut up a few chicken breasts so that they were bite sized and cooked it in a large wok style pan.  Once the chicken was cooked I added fresh broccoli, carrots, snap peas, onions and garlic and let that cook until the vegetables were soft.  For the sauce we used a tiny bit of soy, tiny bit of sesame oil, some red pepper flakes, ground ginger, salt  & pepper.  My husband had his with some brown rice, I chose not to have any with mine.  This meal is kind of our “I’m too lazy to be fancy, lets cook something quick and yummy” dinner.  Nothing crazy or complicated about it but it’s pretty satisfying!

Wednesday:

Pot Roast with Kale and Roasted Golden Beets

photo 1-1.PNG

Ok, I really disliked the picture I took for the stir fry but this is just plain ugly and doesn’t do the meal any justice.  I tried my hardest to make this look pretty but there was not getting around it.  I slow cooked this meat along with the kale in the crockpot and this is just how it came out.

It was really easy to prepare, I just threw the roast in the crockpot with onions, salt, pepper, garlic powder and about a third cup of dry red wine.  I added the kale later but it still managed to get a bit mushy because we ate a lot later than I had intended.  Oh well, it was still pretty yummy in my tummy.

The golden beets were a lot easier to prepare than the red beets that we ate last week.  Since they don’t bleed red everywhere you can just simply peel them, dice them and toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.  Then you roast them in the oven for about 20 mins or so (depending on the size you dice them) at 400 degrees.

Thursday:

Roasted Pork Loin with Dandelion Greens and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

photo 2-3.PNG

To prepare the pork loin I just seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and topped with sliced onions and baked at 400 degrees for about an hour, took it out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes then sliced it thin.

For the sweet potatoes, I just cut them up into small wedges, tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in the oven for the last 20 minutes while the pork was cooking.

While the pork and sweet potatoes were cooking I prepared the dandelion greens.  First I boiled the greens in some salted water for about 10 minutes then drained and cooled them by running under cold water.  I then sauteed them in with olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  I just cooked them long enough to take on the flavor.  They can be really bitter but I actually enjoy that flavor and think it paired well with the pork and sweet potatoes.

Friday:

Quinoa, Mushroom & Black Eyed Pea Stuffed Collard Greens with BBQ infused Tomato Sauce

photo 3-1.PNG

Ok, so this wasn’t exactly dinner for my family but it was a dish that I brought for dinner with my book club and it took me like an hour to make but it was totally worth it.  I found the original recipe here.  It called for just the black eyed peas, mushrooms and collards with a homemade bbq sauce.  I thought it could use something like quinoa to bulk it up a bit and who the heck has liquid smoke lying around to make their own bbq sauce anyway?!?

I will give you a quick recap of what I used to make the recipe but for exact measurements refer to the recipe above.  I  started with two bunches of collard greens.  I picked out 15 of the biggest and whole leaves that I could find and gently rinsed them.  I then chopped the remainder of the greens to be used in the stuffing.  I sliced up roughly six cremini mushrooms and had about a cup of quinoa that I had prepared beforehand to use for the stuffing as well.

While the water was boiling to soften the collard leaves to be used for the wraps, I cooked the mushrooms and greens until they were soft then added the can of rinsed and drained black eyed peas.  Once the water was boiling, I submerged the whole collard leaves and let boil for about six minutes or so.  While they were boiling I took an chopped onion that I had prepped while cutting up the mushrooms and greens and cooked them in a sauce pan. Once they were no longer opaque, I added a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes and seasoned with some salt, pepper and garlic powder ( I could have added real chopped garlic but at this point in the game I was running late and I was short on time). I then added maybe 2 tablespoons of bottled bbq sauce to the tomato sauce and let that simmer while I removed the collard leaves, rinsed and let cool.

While they were cooling I stirred in some of my sauce to the stuffing mixture (just enough to give it some flavor, not so much that it was saturated). Once the leaves were cooled it was time to stuff and roll these bad boys.  You have to be delicate because the leaves are fragile but somehow I pulled it off, made it look pretty and used the rest of the sauce to pour over the leaves.

Phew! It was a process then and that just took me way to long to type up since I provided the original recipe anyway.  I just wanted to give you a true idea of how much of a process this dish was.  It looks easy but it takes a lot of prep work and I think I probably dirtied 5 pots in the process!

Ok, that’s it for and I probably have a variety of spelling and grammar errors but I’m too tired to care 🙂 Hope everyone is having a great weekend!!!

Cookies N’ Creme Protein Balls

Standard

I’m reluctantly posting this recipe because I’m not 100% satisfied with it. I really think it has room for improvement and by all means if you have a suggestion as to how to make it better, please let me know!!!

20140326-091127.jpg

Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup almond butter
– 1 scoop cookies n’ creme protein powder ( I used Plant Fusion)
– 1 tbsp maca powder
– 1 tbsp coconut flour
– 1 tbsp almond milk
– 2 tbsp cacao nibs
– 2 tbsp chia seeds

Combine all of the ingredients into a food processor, roll into tablespoon size balls (or larger if you please- pretty sure a few of mine varied) and stick ’em in the fridge or freezer!

My batch made about 10 balls but it all depends on the size you choose to make them.

Again, any suggestions are welcome!!! 🙂