Time For A Protein Shake

This is going to be a short and rather boring post. It’s how I make my protein shakes. It’s a very simple recipe, but it’s low in calories with all the benefits of other protein shakes I’ve made in the past.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 – 8 ounces unsweetened almond milk, original or vanilla – 30 calories per serving
  • 1 serving of protein powder of choice – I like EAS Complete Protein, Vanilla 150 calories per serving
  • 4 – 6 ounces water
  • Blender Bottle, or something to mix/blend your shake together
  • Optional: peanut butter, flax seed, oatmeal, banana, other add-ins if you prefer, but keep in mind these add more calories

That’s it. I add the almond milk and water into my Blender Bottle to around  10 – 12 ounces, add the protein powder and shake it up! Shake well and chill for a few minutes before enjoying. This is so simple and it’s around 180 calories, a great breakfast or quick meal throughout the day. If you want to add in some other ingredients for a bit of flavor go for it, but be easy on them. Sometimes I’ll add a tiny bit of peanut butter or a banana. I also know some people that add oatmeal into their shakes, but that’s not something I would prefer. Also, I really recommend getting a Blender Bottle – I love mine and I have two! It’s great for traveling too! Mine have loops on the tops so I clip a carabiner to it and attach it to my backpack when hiking or traveling. Careful about dropping it though, I’ve broken one this way.

So that’s it! Try out this recipe and enjoy. Use different protein powders. I really recommend almond milk for anyone cutting calories or fat since it’s basically low in everything compared to regular milk.

Thanks for reading!

Add Some Spice to Your Life

I’ve never been a fan of spicy or hot foods. I never was big on Thai or Mexican cuisine simply because I always feared the food would be too spicy for me to handle. I remember growing up thinking my dad was a total weirdo for going to Kansas City and trying the hottest barbecue sauce that he could find, to the point where there would be tears coming from his eyes. Now that I’ve had time for my pallet to grow and I’ve expanded my cooking skills beyond the basic American diet, I’m starting to really enjoy a good kick in a lot of my foods. I know I’m not breaking any new ground by sharing my favorite ways to add some spice to my meals, but this is a new experience for me! I actually crave something hot and spicy to the point where that’s what I’ll tell Jake that’s what I want for dinner. Yes, my hormones are totally normal so please don’t jump to any conclusions.

Jake always makes fun of me and my “sauce collection” going on in the fridge, but I’ve finally discover sriracha and I need it in my life. Also, it’s cousin sriracha mayo – so good on tacos! I had some tofu tacos a few months back when we had a food truck at work and my coworker highly encouraged me to add sriracha mayo on for a little something, something. I’m blaming this new found addition on her. After that I made tacos at home just so I could buy sriracha mayo for my “sauce collection”. It’s great on top of normal tacos, fish tacos, tofu tacos, or these sweet potato and black bean slow cooker tacos. We made this recipe two weeks in a row at home and it’s a perfect dinner dish for fall! And it’s a slow cooker recipe, so it can’t get much easier – I highly recommend trying it. Adding a little sriracha or taco sauce on scrambled eggs or a breakfast sandwich will also fulfill my cravings as they come along.

Another great recipe for a little spice, and also so easy to make, is this easy lo mein dish from Damn Delicious. I added in a tablespoon of sriracha and omitted the sugar, and it turns out perfect. Like I said, this recipe is super easy to make and takes nearly no time to cook it. Jake and I are pretty busy and also work opposite schedules, so I don’t like taking a lot of time to make the meals we get to eat together. Another sriracha inspired meal is this 20-minute spicy ramen. I even did the poached eggs and ate it with chop sticks. I’d love to try out some more homemade ramen recipes for the winter months, so please leave suggestions if you have them!

I’m finally figuring out what I’ve been missing out on all this time. I want to go out and try some authentic Thai or Indian cuisine, play around with their spice levels. Maybe some good, authentic Mexican food too. I’ve already been trying out some new salsas to see how much I can handle; I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew – for now.

Weekly Planning

I am the type of person that needs to write things down on to-do lists to  remember that I have appointments and things planned.  I’ve never gotten into using the calendar app on my phone and every time I’ve tried I just hate it.  For 2015, I decided I wanted to be even more organized than I have been in the past.  This includes meal planning dinner for the week for two people and make all my lunches in advance.  I also plan my workouts for the week so I know what days I’ll rest and when to make plans outside of work.

I invested in a planner for the year, which I haven’t used since I was in college.  When I was in college I used this as a way to plan my homework for the weekend using color coordinated pens.  I’m not quite that far yet, but I’m not opposed to using multiple colors just for the heck of it.  I make to-do lists in my planner while I’m at work as opposed to sending reminder emails to my personal email or making lists in my phone.  Being able to cross items off the list make me feel more accomplished.

In addition to the planner, I purchased a weekly whiteboard that I mounted next to the door of my apartment along with a pen holder with whiteboard markers so that I always know what the plan is for the day.  I’ve been putting the workout for the day on the bottom of the whiteboard, including rest days, and the meal for dinner on the top, while all other appointments and activities go in between. Sunday is generally reserved for meal planning and errands since I work my part time job on Saturday mornings.  I’ve made sure to write down when to blog, whether the blog post gets published or not that day, to ensure I’m always working on my New Year’s Resolution.

I work full time, sometimes more depending on my part time job schedule, and go to the gym around five times per week.  A couple of months ago, I found that preparing lunches and making meals in advance is the way to go. Cooking meals in the slow cooker or Crock Pot will save your life.  I have a smaller sized one since it’s just me and it rations about five to six servings, depending on the recipe.  The goal right now is start planning meals for two people and make sure that the meal accommodates both Jake and I.  I eat a mostly vegetarian diet with a few fish dishes here and there.  Years ago, I would have hated to read that, but then I decided that if I wanted to eat something, I was going to.  I always enjoyed salmon when I was growing up and it reminds me of my mom since she always made it so well.  I also enjoyed shrimp, mostly on salads or in a pasta dish early in high school.  These are the only two non-vegetarian foods that I incorporate into my diet.  Jake on the other hand is not a vegetarian at all so making dinner for two can be a challenge.  When I move in to Jake’s house in a few months, I’m planning on using our two slow cookers to prepare similar dishes, except mine won’t have meat.

The past few months I’ve really turned to Pinterest to find easy-to-prepare, healthy lunches and dinners.  Having a good amount of containers at home to pack lunches is important.  A few years ago I purchased EasyLunches containers* which are my favorite at the moment.  I’d really like to invest is some glass containers because I know heating up food in plastic isn’t the best decision, but I really enjoy the sections in these containers for keeping food fresh and portion control.  Having healthy snacks prepared to go with lunch makes mornings go even faster.  I peel and chop carrots in advance, but only by a day or two; this applies to broccoli as well.  Too many days in the fridge will cause the flavor of the vegetables to change or even go bad before getting to eat them.  Other snacks I enjoy are almonds and pretzels mixed together, yogurt, cottage cheese, and hard boiled eggs.  I also keep a lot of tea at my work desk to keep hydrated and to get away from plan water all the time.

Working full time, going to the gym regularly, eating healthy, and having a social life is possible.  It’s taken me a while to figure out how to make it all work, but I know that anyone can do it.  Planning meals and activities in advance may seem like a killer, but it’s taken a lot of stress off of my shoulders on weeknights when I want to relax or go out with friends.  Having lunches made in advance also allows me to sleep in a bit longer, which I know everyone enjoys!

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January Fitness Update

January is a popular time of year for people to get back into their fitness goals as well as for people to make New Year’s Resolutions to get involved with fitness or lose weight.  January is also the time when I re-evaluate my fitness goals and start preparing for the spring cutting season.  I know spring seams far away, but by the time it arrives the hope is that I have built up enough muscle to be able to cut and still maintain my strength levels.

A few weeks before Christmas, Jake and I started a new lifting routine which includes a basic three-day split.  I decided to invest in a pair of lifting straps at the advice of a coworker to improve my grip strength and overall improve my dead lifts.  For the past two years, I’ve used gloves for lifting but it’s not my hands that need the help anymore as I’ve built up some pretty good calluses.  Ladies, do not be afraid of getting calluses from weight lifting.  Mine aren’t even noticeable to the eye and most days no one is holding my hands to feel them.  In addition to our three-day split, my goal is run or do some form of cardio twice a week.  I don’t put a lot of emphasis on cardio during fall or winter, but moving into spring I like to keep it consistent.  I’ve never been one for doing ab exercises (I hate them), but this year I’d like to make it one of my goals.  Jake and I will probably add ab exercises onto leg day because generally that is our fastest moving day.  This weekend I’d like to find a basic everyday ab exercise that I can do in the mornings or evenings on a yoga mat, nothing intense likes those ad challenges I see rolling around on Pinterest.  Remember abs are made in the kitchen, not at the gym.

During the fall and winter months, I spoil myself with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, pumpkin cookies, holiday parties, and all weight lifting at the gym.  Right now at the turn of the year, I have decided to start tracking what I eat and count my calorie intake.  I have used the app My Fitness Pal in the past and I really enjoy it.  Not only does it allow my to track my calories, but I can also see the breakdown of the nutrition in the food.  The app can keep track of your exercises and how many calories you burn which are then negated from your daily caloric intake.  The one downside to the app is that it doesn’t know how many calories are burned during strength exercises.  One of my best tips to eating healthy is to meal plan.  I like to prepare my lunch and dinners every week, cooking on Sunday’s and packing everything in containers for busy weekdays.  I just ordered a weekly whiteboard so that I can better organize meals for myself and for when Jake comes over.  I love lists and organizing my thoughts and I have been wanting a whiteboard for over a year now.

I’d like to do these fitness updates every three to four months, during the change of the seasons and fitness routines.  Moving into spring, my diet will become more strict with less carbs and high amounts of vegetables and protein.  The most important part of my fitness routine is making sure I’m keeping hydrated: drink all the water.  Start with a glass right after to step out of bed and add an additional glass or two if you exercise that day.