Oatmeal Cookies, Five Ways

I really do believe that oats are one of the most versatile ingredients that you can have in your pantry.  They can be prepared as intended as oatmeal, and varied by adding virtually any mix-ins to make them either sweet or savory.  Or both!  [I’ll digress here for a moment and leave the menu for NYC’s Oatmeals as oatspiration – I dare you to tell me they’re are boring after seeing this selection.]

Another thing I like about oats is that they’re low maintenance AF.  They can be cooked on the stove, in the microwave, in the oven, or not even cooked at all and just soaked overnight in the fridge.  Talk about easygoing.

I also happen to love the way plain unflavored/unsweetened oats taste, though I know I’m the only person in the world to hold this opinion.  Welcome to the plain oats party, population me.

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Anyways, I decided to use the world’s most versatile ingredient and experiment with different flavor profiles in cookies.  Scroll down for the ingredients for my five of my favorite combinations.  In each of the recipes, all I did was mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and then spoon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper – prep time for each was literally 5-10 minutes.  Individual nutrition facts and baking time are listed for each.

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Banana Pepita

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Why they’re great: These are the OG oatmeal cookie.  They’re quick and easy, there’s no added sugar asides from what’s in the banana, and the batter is easy to work with and not messy at all.  They’re also really versatile – you can add almost any mix-ins (any nut/seed, or any type of chocolate/candy) and they will still be yummy.

Why you can skip them: I’ve got nothing.  If you make ONE of these recipes, it should be this one.

Ingredients: 

  1. 1 cup oats
  2. 1 banana
  3. 1 oz pepitas (pumpkin seeds) – you can swap this for any mix-in that you prefer
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. Cinnamon to taste
  7. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  8. 1/2 scoop protein (I used Rootz Nutrition – Use code LUXE for 10% off!)

Bake for 9-10 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit.  Yield for the ingredients listed above is 2 giant cookies, or 4 regular sized ones.

Stats Per Cookie (I made two giant cookies out of the whole recipe) – Calories 341 P15/C50/F9.

Maple Hazelnut

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Why they’re great:  These are simple, easy to make, and have a great crunch.  I actually didn’t think they’d hold together cause the batter looked more like granola than cookie dough, but they cooperated nicely.  They’re also pretty low in calories. They also photograph the best of all of the cookies that I made.

Why you can skip them: These aren’t very sweet and have a mild flavor.  If you’re trying to mask the flavor of oats, you’ll have to add more sweetener.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup oats
  2. 2 tbsp maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 tsp vanilla
  5. Cinnamon to taste
  6. 1 oz hazelnuts

Bake for 8 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit.  Yield for the ingredients listed above is 2 giant cookies, or 4 regular sized ones.

Stats Per Cookie (I made two giant cookies out of the whole recipe) – Calories 297 P10/C38/F11.

Pumpkin

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Why they’re great: I love the flavor of pumpkin, and adding the pumpkin seeds gave them great texture.  These were unconventional but really good!

Why you can skip them: Posting this recipe during the springtime is extremely out of season, and I understand if you’re not trying to incorporate this very typical fall flavor into your meal prep.  Asides from that, these were delicious.

Ingredients: 

  1. 1 cup oats
  2. 1/2 cup pumpkin (plain pumpkin puree, with nothing added)
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 oz pepitas
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 1 tbsp maple syrup
  7. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  8. Cinnamon to taste
  9. Pumpkin pie spice to taste

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit.  Yield for the ingredients listed above is 2 giant cookies, or 4 regular sized ones.

Stats Per Cookie (I made two giant cookies out of the whole recipe) – Calories 300 P11/C45/F8.

PB&J

[These were really under-photographed and I’m not sure why…]

Why they’re great: I really only kept this section here for consistency with the other variations.  No one should be questioning why these are great.

Why you can skip them: These were incredibly messy to make.  The batter was pretty difficult to work with, and was really sticky.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup oats
  2. 1 egg
  3. 3/4 c greek yogurt (I used full fat but you can use whatever you like)
  4. 2 tbsp PB2
  5. 3 tbsp jelly
  6. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  8. Cinnamon to taste

Bake for 14-15 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit.  Yield for the ingredients listed above is 3 giant cookies, or 5-6 regular sized ones.

Stats Per Cookie (I made three giant cookies out of the whole recipe – Calories 300 P16/C40/F8.

Chocolate

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Why they’re great: Chocolate.

Why you can skip them: These were also incredibly messy.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup oats
  2. 1 scoop protein of choice (I used vanilla)
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  5. 1 c greek yogurt (I used full fat)
  6. Chocolate (chips or a bar broken up)

Bake for 10-11 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit.  Yield for the ingredients listed above is 3 giant cookies, or 5-6 regular sized ones.

Stats (I made three giant cookies out of the whole recipe) – Calories 304 P22/C27/F12.

To those of you who read through to the end – Thank you, and I love you and appreciate your support.  Tag me when you try my recipes 🙂 @liftinluxe #liftinluxe !

Stay fit and fab, all!

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New Flavors of Enlightened ‘Better-for-You’ Ice Cream Review

2018 seems to be the heart of the era of alternative low-cal ice creams.  As someone who has always dreamed (literally) of the day it would be acceptable to have the whole pint in one sitting, I’m not complaining at all.  I love eating cold foods (even ones that are typically served hot), and I’m a sucker for sweets, so ice cream is obviously something that’s dangerous for me to keep stocked in my freezer.  I actually rarely have it, because I can’t be trusted around a pint of ice cream.  Until now!  I had the opportunity to try Enlightened’s newly released low-cal ice cream flavors, and I was not disappointed!

None of the photos in this post are edited to hold the integrity of the product.

TLDR: I was really impressed by these new Enlightened flavors, in both taste and texture.  I liked some better than others (and if you don’t feel like reading, I ordered my review from least favorite to most favorite, so just scroll down for my personal fave).  The pints contain sugar alcohols, but, when had in moderation, they don’t bother my stomach like some other low calorie ice creams do, and I am not sure why to be honest.  The ingredients are pretty clean, and overall this is a great product that I definitely recommend.  

Movie Night

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 90 calories P7/C18/F2.5.  Note that Enlightened (and many other brands) calculate their calories based on NET carbs, rather than total carbs.  If you calculate your calories based on total carbs, it comes out to 122.5 calories per serving.

This pint has a buttery popcorn ice cream base with chocolate chips and a caramel swirl.  I have to say, Enlightened totally nailed the swirls in every single pint that has them (which should be all of them, in my humble opinion).  The swirl is even and consistent throughout the whole pint, and gets melty and gooey and has a lot of really good flavor.  The ice cream really does taste like buttered popcorn, but the taste is a little bit artificial for my personal liking.  The texture of the ice cream is really good and creamy, and the chocolate pieces and caramel swirl add different layers of texture that make this pint really really good.  This one also thaws pretty quickly.

French Toast

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 70 calories P7/C17/F1.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 105.5.

This pint has a french toast ice cream base with a maple syrup swirl.  Similar to the movie night flavor, the swirl is probably my favorite part.  It’s pretty sweet but has a nice maple flavor, and goes really well with the french toast ice cream base, which really does taste like french toast.  The ice cream itself is rich and creamy, but doesn’t have any additional elements of texture asides from the swirl.  Overall, I enjoyed this flavor more than the movie night one.  This one also thaws pretty quickly.

S’mores

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 100 calories P6/C22/F2.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 134.5.

This pint blew me away.  the toasted marshmallow ice cream base was so true to what marshmallows taste like without any artificial after-taste.  The graham cracker pieces in the ice cream base added texture and that full bodied flavor of a graham cracker that’s so comforting.  The chocolate swirl was the icing on the cake, and you know by now how I feel about Enlightened swirls.  This pint tastes like the best camping trip you’ll ever have.  Unfortunately, though I’m not surprised, it has the most calories of all of the pints.  This one thaws quickly.  I think it might have something to do with the swirl.

Cookies and Cream

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 80 calories P6/C17/F2.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 114.5.

Throw away all of your other cookies and cream flavored ice creams and replace them with this.  The ice cream is extremely creamy, and you can hardly tell that the base is just a plain vanilla because there are so many “chocolate sandwich cookie” pieces in it.  Aka this pint is straight crushed oreos with some vanilla ice cream mixed in.  This one’s easily my favorite of all of the new flavors, even though there’s no swirl.  I think cookies and cream is such a classic that it’s easy to mess up by trying to do too much.  Enlightened didn’t make this mistake – they made a vanilla ice cream with crushed up cookie pieces, and I’m completely sold on it.  This one takes a bit longer to thaw, but it’s oh so worth it.  Don’t waste even one bite of this if it’s rock solid from the freezer.

These aren’t new flavors, but are definitely worth an honorable mention:

Chocolate

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 60 calories P6/C14/F1.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 93.5.

There’s really nothing to write home about here, chocolate is simply a classic.  The chocolate flavor is rich and the ice cream is creamy.  There’s no additional elements of texture in this pint, but it’s still very good.  I would recommend adding this to smoothies/protein shakes instead of ice to get that ice cold factor and make it more like a milkshake.  I’m also thinking about how great this would be blended up with some PB2 and a frozen banana….

Cold Brew

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 cups per pint) – 60 calories P6/C14/F1.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 93.5.

This pint has a really good coffee flavor.  It doesn’t taste artificial at all (not surprising, since coffee is the 5th ingredient), and is not too sweet.  There’s no texture asides from the creaminess of the ice cream, but it’s still good.  This is another good one to add to smoothies/shakes.  Give this one some extra time to thaw as well.

Snickerdoodle

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 60 calories P6/C14/F1.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 93.5.

This is my favorite of the older flavors.  It’s very creamy, and the yummy cinnamon spice is sprinkled throughout the whole entire pint.  I really wish this had a cinnamon sugar swirl… but in any event, the sugar cookie base is very distinguished from the standard vanilla and is delicious.

Good work, Enlightened!  These ice creams far exceeded my expectations and, dare I say, are overall my favorite of the low calorie ice creams currently on the market!  (Though each brand out there has its flavor[s] that it does the best).  Which one is your favorite?

Stay fit and full of [healthy] ice cream, all!

 

Color your Easter Eggs with NO Artificial Dyes and Chemicals!

Every year, my sister and I color Easter eggs together the night before the holiday.  It’s a fun little tradition that we started when we were younger and it just stuck even though we don’t live together anymore.  I never really gave too much thought to the artificial dyes and ingredients that are inherent in this tradition, but this year I decided to take a more natural approach.  I used matcha to make green eggs, and turmeric to make yellow ones.

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The Steps

First, you have to hard boil your eggs.  I’m notoriously bad at this, so you should probably just google this step instead of heeding my advice.

Next, you will need a jar large enough for 2-3 eggs.  Fill it about halfway with water (you can always fill it more later) and add about 1 tbsp of matcha or turmeric to the water and shake it well.  Add 1-2 tbsp white vinegar, and shake again.

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(Peep my repurposed salsa jar #mild ^)

Add the eggs to the jars (I put 2 in each jar) and carefully spin the jars around to mix it up without cracking the eggs.  Add more water if necessary until the eggs are completely submerged.  Place the jars in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to let the natural color of the matcha and turmeric seep into the egg shells.

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When you are ready to take the eggs out of the water,  all you have to do is dry them off well and set them up in a super pretty centerpiece for your Easter table!  It works best if you carefully rinse them, pat dry, and then allow to air dry for 5-10 minutes before handling too much.  If you rub them while they are fresh out of the jars, you can rub the color off.

You could probably try using beetroot powder to get a pretty pink color, or blue spirulina for that beautiful turquoise.  The turmeric worked really nicely, but the matcha didn’t achieve that rich green color I was hoping for – I might not have used enough, since I had used the bigger jar for these.

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In conclusion…

Was this more complicated than opening up a box of Paas like a normal kid and coloring Easter eggs the traditional way?  Absolutely.  It’s messier, takes longer, and you don’t have as much creative flexibility because the eggs have to be just one solid color.  You could probably crack the shell before dropping it into the dyed water to get a crackle effect (without having to worry about the die getting onto the egg whites because it’s totally edible!)  But asides from that, there isn’t much you can do the vary the design.  That said, I think there’s something to be said about simplicity, and I think it’s also important to be mindful of the dyes and chemicals that we handle on a regular basis and put into our bodies.  This is a fun way to take a popular craft and healthify it with natural ingredients.  I would recommend this method of dying Easter eggs!

Will you try it?  Tag me in your Easter photos with your naturally dyed Easter eggs!  @LiftinLuxe #LiftinLuxe

Stay fit and free from chemicals and dyes, all!  Have a wonderful Easter (or Passover, if that’s more your thing)!  🙂

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The Bar Shack & Macaw! Foods Review

TLDR (spoiler alert): The Bar Shack is a brand that makes custom protein bars where you can select each ingredient that goes into it.  The bars that I made were incredibly fresh, easy on the tummy, and really yummy.  Though pricey, I will order them again.  The Macaw! Foods bars I got to try were delicious, and there were two flavors that stood out to me that I would keep as a staple in my pantry (cookie dough and cinnamon roll).  I definitely recommend The Bar Shack and Macaw! Foods brands to anyone looking for a protein/snack bar (protein content for the bars is between 10-15g, so it’s not an incredibly high protein snack) that’s easy to digest, delicious, and contains clean and organic ingredients! 

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How many times have you picked a new protein bar off the shelf and generally like it, but have one tiny complaint about either the flavor profile or the type of protein used (whey vs vegan, anyone?)

This is me literally every single time I try a protein bar.  I’ll be honest – I can be really picky about prepared foods/snacks that I purchase, and this is why I make most of my meals and snacks for myself.  Making an on-the-go protein snack, however, is not really the easiest task, and nothing beats the convenience of a good protein bar.  That’s why I am constantly in the market for a protein bar that has clean ingredients, doesnt wreak havoc on my stomach, and has a decent macro spread.  Oh, and tastes great.  It seems as though it’s more difficult to find a standard go-to protein bar than it is to find a boyfriend – TBD, since I currently have neither.

I’m a step closer to finding the more important of the two – my perfect protein bar – because The Bar Shack has created a DIY portal where you can build your own!  From the nut butter base to the type of protein, all the way down to the flavor profile of the bar, you are in control of literally everything.  You also have access to the nutrition facts of the bar you’re creating, updated real-time every time you add/remove ingredients.

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Right off the bat, I will address the fact that the bars are pricey.  I was lucky enough to connect with the brand for a sample box, and figured that I would decide after trying the product whether it stands up to the price.  (It does).  I’m not saying I’ll have two of them a day, but I think a box (which comes out to $50 after taxes and shipping for 12 bars) could last me a month and be totally worth it.  I’ve spent that much on way less awesome and less functional things, is how I’ll justify it.

The Bar Shack brand grew out of a parent brand, Macaw! Foods.  Macaw! Foods was born when its founder, Owen, moved to Florida to pursue real estate, didn’t exactly succeed at that, and caught a break selling homemade protein bars at the local farmer’s market.  Owen’s story and dedication to creating quality protein bars is really amazing, and I urge you to check it out here.  I have a lot of respect for this brand which started from absolutely nothing, and grew to the point where wholesalers like Whole Foods wanted to stock its products in their stores.  Owen turned wholesalers down, however, in order to continue to evolve his brand and to promote the importance of living “free and wild,” a motto that speaks to me deeply.  Owen sent me a number of Macaw! foods bars to try as well, which I’ve included in this review.

Moving back to The Bar Shack, let’s talk about the protein bar building process.  The website is very user friendly, and my only complaint would be that there are so many options to choose from that it was a bit overwhelming.  I settled on a maple banana oatmeal flavored bar, with a soft and chewy base made of cashew butter and maple pecan butter, a plant-based protein, and various flavor and texture enhancers to achieve that perfect balance of flavors.

The Bar Shack Final Product

My Maple Banana Oatmeal bars came out REALLY good.  I think the trick is that you don’t get to choose the ratios of your selected ingredients – so if something doesn’t go really well together, there’s at least the ratios that the professionals can work with to create something tasty.  Here are the exact ingredients I chose (any my reorder code if you want exactly the same bar).

Bar Shack Ingredietns

Upon first taking a bar out of the box and packaging, I noticed just how fresh they were – which makes sense, because they were made custom for me literally that week.  They are super soft (and this might vary depending on the consistency you choose in your preferences) and chewy.  You can visibly see the ingredients that it would make sense for you to see (i.e. chia seeds).  Taste-wise, the maple shines through a lot more than the other flavors.  I didn’t get that earthy oat flavor that I was hoping for, but I am more than happy with the flavor profile of the bar as a whole.  The bars are also really easy on my stomach, and don’t bother me at all the next day, which is saying a lot for a protein bar.

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Overall, I wish the protein content of the bars were better (P-12;C-22;F-10), but I do think that they work really well as a snack.  They’re great for right before or after the gym because they have the carb content to give you good energy (though if you’re sensitive to fats maybe save it for after the gym), and are enough calories to keep you full for a while.  I think that these bars are worth the price, and I will likely make them a monthly or every two months thing – I am interested in trying out some new flavor combinations!

Who would try these bars?  Let me know what your ideal flavor combination would be – send me an email or comment my social media! @LiftinLuxe

Macaw! Foods

Special shout out here to the Macaw! Foods bars I also got to try.  I really liked these, though they were definitely different from The Bar Shack bars, and I plan on stocking up on these again.  I got to try every flavor except for the lemon poppy and mint chocolate chip varieties, and each one tasted delicious.  My personal favorites were the cookie dough and cinnamon roll, mostly because these flavors were the most unique.  The other flavors were really good, but in my opinion weren’t particularly unique from the two I mentioned, and didn’t hold perfectly true to their label.  Below I’ve included my comments on each bar with pictures, but in a nutshell these bars use really clean ingredients and they also have a great consistency.  They are a hard bar (very different from my Bar Shack bars which were so soft), but they have a really good chewy consistency and are full of deliciously creamy chocolate chips.  I am not sure why, but I loved the chocolate chips the most in these bars – they’re better than any other protein bar chocolate chip I’ve ever had.  They’re large chips, but also are smooth and creamy, a little bit melty, and not crunchy like most chocolate chips in a protein bar.  There were chips in every bar I tried, which I was totally fine with because I loved them, but sometimes I was confused as to why a chocolate chip would be paired with that flavor profile and sometimes overpowered the flavor in the bar (also not complaining about this, because the flavor was good).

Cinnamon Roll

This one might have been my favorite of all of the bars I tried.  It has a really strong cinnamon flavor, in the best way, and truly tastes like a cinnamon roll.  This was one of the ones that I wasn’t sure why chocolate chips were included, but they still added good flavor and an extra component of texture, so I’m not complaining at all about these.

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Cookie Dough

This OG flavor landed itself in my top two for this brand.  It paired so well with the chocolate chips, and though it wasn’t an overwhelmingly unique cookie dough flavor, it was satisfying and delicious.  Also, the consistency of these bars lent itself very well to the cookie dough flavor because they had a chew to them that I look for in a cookie.

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Coconut Husk

The flavor here was good.  Didn’t get a ton of coconut – these reminded me of the cookie dough flavor.

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Banana Bread

Subtle banana flavor, the addition of walnuts was nice.

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Chocolate Brownie

Literally can’t go wrong here.  This was another bar where the chocolate chips were the MVP.

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Peanut Butter Cookie

This had a strong peanut flavor, but didn’t have any hint of the creamy consistency that peanut butter has, so I was a little thrown off.  The bar has peanut pieces in it that you can very clearly see and taste, which added a layer of texture to this bar.

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To the troopers who made it to the end of this lengthy post – thank you for your support and interest!

Stay fit and fresh, all! 🙂

Rhythm Superfoods Review

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It’s the ongoing joke among my family and friends that you’re more likely to find veggies and veggie chips in my fridge and pantry than actual potato chips or mainstream snack foods.  When hanging out on my turf, my friends are likely bringing their own snacks.  (Partial joke – I know how to accommodate my friends when I invite them over).  I can’t argue with this perception of me, though, because it’s absolutely 100% true, so when I had the opportunity to try out a couple of  the Rhythm Superfoods products, I was more excited than the average gal.

Rhythm Superfoods creates snack items made out of superfoods like kale and beets with the goal of creating snacks that are both tasty and healthy.  The website lists out each superfood ingredient the brand uses in its snacks and what the health benefits are of each.  I tried the beet chips (both the sea salt and naked versions) and the kale chips (both the original and zesty nacho versions).  In all varieties, the chips were so flavorful, crunchy, and satisfying, that it was hard to believe they were vegetables and not actual junk food!  The chips are dehydrated instead of fried, and there are a ton of interesting and unique flavors aside from the “Naked” or “Original” versions.

None of the photos in this post of the product itself are edited, to hold the integrity of the product being reviewed.  The photos of my food, however, are edited.  Because it makes them look more delicious.

Beet Chips – Naked

These chips are very obviously made of beets, once you take a bite.  As you can see from the packaging, there’s nothing but straight beets in here, so if you like beets, these are a no brainer.  Allow me to say “beets” one more time.  Beets.  They’re slightly sweet and have that subtle tang that this beautiful root veggie has (beets don’t have a ton of synonyms – bear with me here).  There’s a really good crunch in this chip, and they’re delicate, thin, and crispy.  These are a snack-on-while-watching-netflix safe option, since there’s literally no fat in them.  Your computer keyboard will thank you.  For 1 oz of chips, the nutrition facts are: P-3, C-22, F-0, 100 calories.

Recommended use – Crumble up and sprinkle over a salad for some crunch instead of croutons!

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Beet Chips – Sea Salt

This variation of the beet chip was a little bit more reminiscent of our favorite junk food  – the potato chip.  They were sliced a bit thicker than the naked chips (not sure if this is standard or coincidental of my batch), and there was a healthy dose of salt to balance out the sweet and tangy flavor of the beet.  These were less crispy and more crunchy than their streaking counterpart, and I honestly liked them better.  The ingredient list is only slightly different – these containing some oil and salt, in addition to beets.  Nutrition facts per 1 oz are: P-3, C-20, F-4, calories 130.

Recommended use – Eat these straight out of the bag.

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The sea salt version of the beet chips were also a lot darker in color than the naked version.  I am not sure if this was coincidental because each batch might differ, but you can see in the photo that the sea salt chip (on the right and in the plate) is much darker than the naked one (on the left).

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Kale Chips – Original

Moving on from beets to kale, I was really pleasantly surprised by these kale chips.  I never was a giant fan of kale so I never actually bought myself kale chips, but honestly you could not tell these were made from kale at all.  KALE.  They were delicate and crispy, and the folds in the leaves held onto the seasonings so well that each chip was full of so much delicious flavor.  It’s tough to pin down exactly the flavor profile on these, but they were slightly acidic, slightly sweet, well balanced, and salty.  Very good!  I need to emphasize how good the crunch is on these chips.  So satisfying.  Nutrition facts per 1 oz: P-6, C-12, F-8, calories 150.

Recommended use – Eat them straight out of the bag.

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Kale Chips – Zesty Nacho

These weren’t kidding about being zesty.  They’re very similar to the original version, but they have a pretty strong nacho kick to them.  There’s no actual cheese listed in the ingredients, but they actually do taste cheesy.  It looks like the only real difference in ingredients between the original and the zesty nacho is the addition of chipotle powder in the zesty nacho version.  I like this flavor, and they were really good crumbled over salad or runny eggs, but to just nosh on straight I prefer the originals.  Zesty nacho nutrition facts per 1 oz: P-6, C-12, F-7, Calories 140.

Recommended use – Crumble over eggs, salads, meat, or anything really.

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Overall, I was really impressed with this brand’s ability to take generally hated-on foods like kale and beets and make them into really tasty and satisfying “junk” food.  They’re versatile because you can crumble them over a meal, or eat them like potato chips straight from the bag.  I recommend, and I would love to know if you agree with me!  You can order them online, or find a store that carries them using the store locator feature on their website.  When you try this brand out for yourself, let me know what you think!  @liftinluxe #liftinluxe

Stay fit and superFoodie, all!

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New Recomposition Nutrition and Lifting Plan – Part 1

As many of you know, late September 2017 I had surgery on my shoulder to repair a torn labrum, an injury I had incurred in October of 2016.  My injury, journey through physical therapy to try to avoid surgery, and then coming to terms with the surgery and dealing with recovery is a long story in and of itself, so I won’t get into it here (but maybe I will write a separate post on it if anyone’s interested?)  Post surgery, however, I was in a sling for a month and a half, and once the sling came off I was able to get back into the gym but my workouts were very limited to basically only certain machines for the lower body.

Fast forward about 3 months from that point and I was finally able to start holding heavier weights in my hands and am starting to get back the mobility and strength in my shoulder to support a squat bar.  I was so excited for this progress that I had a burst of motivation to totally revamp my nutrition and fitness regimen to incorporate more variety and intensity in my lifts.  With great timing, one of my best friends also came to me asking for nutrition/fitness help and wanted me to build him a program where he would be gaining muscle but losing body fat “simultaneously.”  (Simultaneously is in quotations because fat loss and muscle gain wouldn’t literally be happening at the same time, but rather during alternating days based on calorie intake for that day.  More on this soon.)  I started my research with my go-to for fitness related help, On The Regimen.  This was actually where I had first heard about recomposition, so it seemed like a logical place to start.  My research took me a couple of new sites that I’ve since added to my “go-to” list, including Lean Gains and Barbend.  After a few days of research, I think I got a pretty good handle on the principles behind recomposition, and I’ve summarized some main points below.

I want to preface the rest of this post with a reminder that I am not a trained nutritionist or personal trainer, and I encourage everyone to do their own research when trying to decide how to best exercise and fuel their body.  Also, and even more importantly, listen to your body because it will always tell you when something is/isn’t working for it.

What is a recomposition plan?

A recomposition plan, in a nutshell, is one in which you eat higher calories and higher carbs on lift days (refeed days), and lower calories/carbs, and higher fat on rest days.  By alternating higher calorie days with lower calorie/deficit days, your body cycles through muscle gain and fat loss, resulting in either a slow cut or lean bulk.

What are the benefits?

A recomposition plan allows you to lose body fat without compromising too much muscle gain, or gain muscle without also gaining too much tag-along fat.  If one of these two things isn’t a priority for you, a recomposition plan might not be worth it, plain and simple.  It also allows for refeed days, which are good for people who have difficulty eating a caloric deficit all week and waiting for that one (usually anticlimactic) cheat meal, aka #brunch.

What makes recomposition difficult?

In my opinion, what makes this type of plan so difficult to follow is that it requires a lot of planning – you have to have a variety of different food items on-hand to be able to get the correct spread of macros on any given day, and you can’t just eat the same stuff every day because your macros change daily.  You have to pay attention to whether it’s a lift or rest day before deciding your day’s meals, and once you start eating for the day it would be difficult to switch your day from lift to rest and vice versa.  If you’re really committed to your regimen, don’t often eat meals out, and are fairly efficient at counting macros (or are willing to take the time to learn), then I would suggest this type of plan if it fits your goals.  This type of plan is similar to iifym in the sense that there aren’t any foods that are strictly off-limits, but it takes it a step further because there are some things that it would be pretty difficult to in practice actually fit your macros.

Slow Cut vs Lean Bulk

Body fat revolves around a very simple calories in vs calories out equation.  If you start a recomposition plan that overall has a weekly deficit, you’ll be on the road to a slow cut.  If your plan has an overall weekly surplus, you’ll be geared more towards a lean bulk.  The choice is yours.

Deficit days vs Refeed Days

The recomposition program is built around the idea that a caloric deficit burns fat, and a caloric surplus helps build muscle.  By eating maintain/surplus calories on lift days, you’re providing your body with enough fuel to build muscle, and by eating in a deficit on rest days, you are putting your body into a temporary period of fat burning mode.  Deficit days deplete the body of the hormone leptin, which regulates energy balance by communicating to the brain that we are satiated and can metabolize energy as normal.  Refeeds replenish leptin.  The macro spread you eat on deficit/refeed days matter, too.  Due to the thermogenic effect of food (essentially the energy it takes for the body to break down food), a refeed with a high percentage of calories from protein will yield the least amount of fat storage.  Protein has a higher thermogenic effect and it causes the body to expend more energy to break down and use/store.  In other words, if you’re eating a surplus amount of calories, proteins take the longest to break down and are therefore the least efficient macro for the body to store as fat.  By also eating higher carbs on refeed days, you have the energy you need to sustain your workouts, and you’re fueling your body with the macronutrient that’s most easily broken down by the body for energy.  Since you are eating higher calories on these training days, fats are kept to a minimum to decrease the chances of the extra calories being stored as fat by the body (since fat is the easiest macronutrient for the body to store as fat).  Increasing healthy fats on deficit days makes it easier to achieve well-rounded nutrition, and the likelihood is low that any of these fats will be stored by the body because you aren’t providing enough calories to have a surplus that would require storage.

Refer to the article I referenced for most of this information here.

Regarding “Cheat Days”

As of now, I haven’t incorporated a traditional “cheat day” into my plan.  My “refeed” days, or the higher calorie lift days, contain enough calories to sustain a day in which I am not hungry, and allow for enough carbs to have something sweet if I so desire or to have a starchy carb like potatoes or pasta.  The only issue I have with not having a cheat day built into the plan is that it makes it tough to enjoy a guilt-free meal out, or a real baked good.  Since the high carb days are low fat, you’re forced to be very conscious of the tag-along fats that are often present in baked sweets and restaurant meals.  For now, I am managing fine.  Undecided yet on whether I will incorporate a real cheat meal into the plan.

On Intermittent Fasting

After you eat a meal, insulin and fatty acids are elevated in the body and your body is in the “fed” state, during which the body is primarily relying on glucose oxidation for energy and fat burning is placed on hold.  After 12 hours (and if you don’t eat again), the body begins to run out of fresh glucose, and is more likely to switch to fat storage for energy, and you are thought to be in fat burning mode.  During the 12-16 hour time interval of a fast, your body is considered to be in the golden age of fat oxidation, and low intensity activities (i.e. incline walking on the treadmill, cycling, etc.) will selectively use fatty acids to fuel activity.  In contrast, higher intensity activity (i.e. sprints, spin class) will cause your body to seek glucose for a big burst of energy.

Now that the technical information is out of the way, I want to say that I am a huge fan of intermittent fasting, especially on rest days when I am eating fewer calories.  I find that BCAAs in the morning give me the boost I need to get through my workouts without having the calories to break my fast.  Ever since I started intermittent fasting (7-ish months ago?) I find that I am less bloated and I feel more satiated after my 1.5-2 standard meals for the day because each one has more calories in it.  That said, if there’s a day that I am really hungry before the time that I wanted to break my fasted state, I eat.  Although it took a little while to really get used to intermittent fasting, by no means do I feel like I am depriving myself or starving myself, and I actually find now that I don’t start getting hungry until later in the day.  Intermittent fasting certainly isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s worth trying for a bit until you get used to it, and seeing if you can benefit from it.

How do I get started?

  1. The first thing that has to be done is calculate, to the best of your ability, your best estimate of your maintain calories.  This is going to help because then you’ll have a good idea of what your deficit and refeed day macro spread should be.  I used the On The Regimen calculation to get a base, but I also compared that with the average calories burned per day that my fitbit estimates.  Once you’re into your program for a few weeks you’ll be able to calculate more accurately how many calories your body burns daily and you can adjust your plan accordingly (i.e. if you are losing body fat more rapidly than you originally thought you would, maybe you burn more calories than you originally calculated.  Likewise, if you aren’t losing body fat but thought you built a plan that would cause you to do so, maybe you overestimated how many calories you burn daily.  These estimates are fairly intuitive if you pay attention to your body).
  2. Next, decide whether you want to have a slow cut or lean bulk plan.  This will determine how steep your caloric deficit will be on rest days, and how you will structure your refeed days (i.e. maintain, or surplus?)  I am creating a Part 2 post to get into the details of my lifting plan that I will post shortly!
  3. Determine your macro spread.  First, you’ll need to decide how many calories you want to eat per day (training v rest) and then compartmentalize your calories into macros.  I stick with the idea that you should have about 1g protein for each lb of body weight, and then your carbs and fats are fairly negotiable based on the things you like to eat.  My protein intake doesn’t change much between training and rest days, however, my carb/fat macro spread basically switches.  On training days, carbs are about 57% of the day’s calories, and fats are about 15%.  The rest is protein.  On rest days, carbs are about 15% of the day’s calories, and fats are about 45%.  The rest is protein.
  4. The last step is meal prep!  Plan ahead with your weekly shop and meal prepping – it will make this type of plan so much easier and less stressful.  List out the sources of protein that you like and have available to you, and then figure out how much of them you’ll have to stock up on to feed you for the week.  Getting enough protein during this type of plan is important because since you will be in a caloric deficit for certain days out of the week, you don’t want your body to start breaking down its own muscle.

Once you’ve figured out your maintain calories, decided on your macro spread, and got down some sort of meal prep plan, you’re as ready as you’ll ever be!  Are you considering starting a nutrition plan like this, or do you need more information before you can get started?  Let me know in the comments, or email or DM me with your questions!

Part 2 to come soon, which will detail my fitness regimen to go along with my new spread of macros.  Stay tuned!!

 

I Cooked Dinner After Work For Myself Every Day For A Week…

I love doing my grocery shopping every week, and I love doing a weekly meal prep, but I don’t always love coming home from work and then having to cook something.  I don’t cook every night, but I also don’t cook everything I need for the week on the weekend either (unless I’m anticipating a very busy week with work).  Most often, I will cook 1-2 times per week, cook extra, and have leftovers the rest of the nights.  Sometimes I’ll throw together something like a salad that I don’t have to do any cooking for.  Though I don’t often have a freshly cooked meal every single night, a couple of weeks ago I decided I would give it a try and cook myself a fresh one-serving meal every night (Monday-Thursday).  For the week, I had at my disposal plenty of avocado, frozen raw chicken, eggs, brussels sprouts,  cauliflower, and a variety of noodles/pastas.

A few things before I start.  I don’t have a dishwasher, so I did spend a significant amount of time doing dishes.  This would have been a LOT easier if I had a dishwasher to help with the cleanup.  Second, I have been practicing intermittent fasting for a while now, and depending on my schedule at work sometimes dinner is my only real meal.  That said, I am not going to really comment on my portion sizes, because I think everyone’s dinner is going to look different depending on the type of diet they follow, and their goals at the moment.  The real purpose of this post is less to show you how much dinner I am eating, and rather to show a few meals that can reasonably be thrown together after a full day at work.

Monday -Brussels sprouts, spaetzle, chicken, and a fried egg 

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I am always on the fence about committing to making brussels sprouts.  I love the way they taste, but they’re pretty tedious to prepare because you have to cut them if you want them to cook quickly and evenly, and to prevent me from chopping my fingers off I cut them up one by one.  For this meal I decided to go for it, and I sauteed the brussels sprouts in chili powder, salt, and pepper, boiled the spaetzle, and then combined the spaetzle with the brussels in the pan and sauteed that all together.  I cooked the chicken in the same spices, chopped it up, and then tossed that together with the spaetzle and the brussels.  Lastly, I fried up an egg and laid that on top of the assembled plate.  I didn’t use any oil in this meal, and the spices and juices from the chicken and brussels sprouts helped to give more flavor to the spaetzle, and then I let the runny egg get all over everything before I dug in.  This was delicious, and pretty easy clean up because it was just one pot, one pan, one bowl, and a knife and cutting board.

Tuesday – Brussels sprouts, spaetzle, avocado, and chicken 

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I enjoyed the spaetzle so much on Monday that I made it again on Tuesday.  I didn’t combine the spaetzle and brussels sprouts in the pan this time, but plated it all separately (but then mixed it all together in my bowl before I ate it anyway).  This meal is basically the same as Monday’s, except for the fact that I swapped out the fried egg for avocado smash.  I again didn’t use any oil while cooking, but the avo smash helped to make a sauce for the rest of the dish when I mixed it all together in the absence of the runny egg.  This was equally as delicious as Monday’s meal, with similar cleanup.

Wednesday – Chicken, and Barilla Plus high protein pasta with brussels sprouts 

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I sauteed the brussels sprouts in a little bit of butter, boiled the Barilla Plus pasta, and used some butter to dress the pasta as well.  I mixed the brussels sprouts in with the pasta, and laid the chicken (cooked with just salt and pepper) on top.  This was simple, easy, buttery, and delicious.  I really love the Barilla Plus high protein pasta because it helps me meet my protein goals without sacrificing any taste or texture.

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Bonus – I also had a snack before my meal of scrambled eggs and Mikey’s bread.  It was delicious.  I honestly learned how to cook scrambled eggs correctly from Frankie Celenza (Frankie Cooks) on a SnapChat discover video, and it changed the way I look at scrambled eggs.  Basically, you cook them on a very low heat, very slowly, and constantly move them around with a rubber spatula in circular motions as they cook.  They come out smooth and creamy, and almost look and taste like they have a ton of butter and cheese in them, but they don’t!  They take almost 3x as long to cook this way, but I highly recommend trying it.  Also, I really like the Mikey’s products.  My favorite are the english muffins, but they also make slices (pictured here), tortillas, pizza crust, and muffin tops! (And potentially more things, check their website!)  They’re a bit pricey, but they have very low net carbs if that’s your thing, and I think they’re worth a try.

Thursday – Chicken, cauliflower, edamame noodles, and a fried egg 

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This was my last day of cooking for the week, and I was honestly relieved.  I couldn’t back out of cooking this day even if I wanted to because I didn’t have any leftovers, and I had nothing that I could really throw together cold.  I sauteed some cauliflower in chili pepper powder, salt, pepper, cumin, and turmeric, and cooked my chicken in salt and pepper.  I boiled some Explore Cuisine edamame pasta, and plated it up.  Lastly, I fried an egg and laid that on top.  This dish was the least saucy because I used so many spices on the cauliflower that the runny egg wasn’t really enough to juice up the dish.  Lesson learned!  Overall, this was tasty, and I love the edamame pasta because it provides more protein than it does carbs!  And the texture of it is more like pasta than any other carb-friendly pasta I’ve ever tried.

Final Thoughts: 

This was a lot of work, but mostly because of having to wash pots every single night.  It was definitely nice to have so many freshly prepared meals, and I think I will try incorporating more cooking after work into my plans.  It’s really not so bad once you get into the swing of the routine, and as long as you don’t let the dishes get backed up.

What do you think? Will you try to incorporate more cooking into your evening routine? Let me know in the comments, and tag me in your freshly cooked meals @liftinluxe #liftinluxe !

Stay fit and freshly cooked, all!

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Homemade Healthy Bagels

Try to tell me that bagels aren’t one of the top 3 most satisfying carbs and I will call bullshit on you immediately.  Maybe it’s the native New Yorker in me, or maybe it’s because bagels are life, but whenever there’s a bagel in my general vicinity I can hardly resist at least a piece of one with a smear (or slather) of cream cheese or butter.  My all time favorite go-to bagel order is either the OG BEC, or lox with scallion cream cheese.  If I’m feeling extra wild, a classic PB&J also hits the spot.

Unfortunately, for me at least, bagels haven’t been an every-day luxury since high school, and with all the yummy foods at my fingertips in NYC sometimes they don’t make it onto my cheat meal (day) agenda either.  I never thought to try to make them myself, but a friend of mine introduced me to the easiest recipe, and was pleasantly surprised when I tried them!  The recipe is, at its most simple, potentially only two ingredients – equal parts self-rising flour and Greek yogurt.  You can also customize it with whatever kind of flour you like, and top the bagels before baking them with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, everything but the bagel seasoning, and the list could go on.  I topped mine with nutritional yeast and sesame seeds.  I bet they’d also be really good with a garlic and oil baste!

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I kept the leftovers in the refrigerator and stored them for about a week.  They are best when toasted, and actually maintain that doughy consistency once heated up that I so love in a bagel, while still remaining crisp on the outside.  All week I brought them to work and heated them up with some Gouda as an afternoon snack, and then this weekend I slathered my last one in avo smash and ate it with my runny eggs.  Customizable and versatile, this recipe is definitely going to be one that stays in my rotation for a while.

Let’s get started!

Ingredients

(Basically, you want equal parts flour/Greek yogurt, and you can make this recipe with just these two ingredients if you use self-rising flour.  You can mess around with the types of flour that you use, but make sure to adjust the ratios accordingly.  This recipe made 4 mini bagels, and would make probably 2 regular ones, but on the smaller side.)

  1. 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2%, but you can use whatever % fat content fits your lifestyle)
  2. 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  3. 2 tbsp white flour
  4. 2 tbsp coconut flour
  5. 3/4 tsp baking powder
  6. Pinch of salt
  7. Nutritional yeast (to sprinkle on top)
  8. Sesame seeds (to sprinkle on top)

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Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add the Greek yogurt and mix until combined.  Don’t overmix, and you might want to switch to mixing with your hands once the greek yogurt becomes less messy
  4. Divide your dough into however many bagels you want to make (I made 4 minis with this recipe).
  5. Roll out the dough with your hands into a long skinny cylinder.  You are going to want to do this carefully, as the dough can be a little bit awkward to work with.  If you roll it out too roughly, it might collapse/break apart.  You can roll it with your hands to start and then once it starts to look like it’s getting brittle, you can stop rolling it and just start manipulating it with your hands to stretch it a bit more until you’re able to twist the cylinder into a bagel shape.
  6. Place the rolled out bagel onto the baking sheet and top with whatever toppings you like.  Press the toppings into the rolled bagels to make sure that they stick during the baking process.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, and then increase the heat of your oven to 450 and bake for another 3-5.  Baking time will vary depending on the size of our bagels and your oven, but generally the bagels should be golden/crispy on the outside while still being doughy and soft in the middle.
  8. The bagels should be ready to slice soon after coming out of the oven, but be careful because they’ll be hot! (Obvi..I know I don’t have to tell you that.)
  9. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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These bagels are the perfect treat, and you can eat them with your eggs, slather them with butter or cream cheese, or use them as the bread for any of your favorite sandwiches.  I would love to see how you guys customize these, so please try out this super easy recipe and tag me in your posts!  @liftinluxe #liftinluxe

Stay fit and full of bagels, all!

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No Cow Protein Cookies Review

If you don’t already know by now, I am always looking for new protein supplements to try, for the purpose of not only finding the highest quality products out there and sharing them with you guys, but to also to keep things interesting for myself!  I recently had the opportunity to try three of No Cow‘s (previously D’s Naturals) newest product, protein cookies.

I feel like I want to address early on the photos in this post – I know that they aren’t my best work.  Not that my photos are always really stellar, but I had some trouble with the lighting the day I was doing this review, and by the time I noticed how not ideal the photos came out, the cookies were long since eaten.  I also try to do the most minimal editing on photos for a review, so that the edits don’t distort the product at all.  The most I did on these photos was edit the white balance a bit.

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One more disclaimer – I want to preface my review with the fact that I am not vegan, don’t have any food allergies (knock on wood), and don’t currently practice any sort of restrictive dieting.  Even though I don’t really need to eliminate any specific ingredients or types of products from my diet for health purposes, I genuinely enjoy exploring products that are branded with such an angle (i.e. vegan), because I find that those brands are more conscious of quality of ingredients and are marketing to a more ingredient-focused type of person.

No Cow’s business model and strategy is that it offers products that are high in protein, free from dairy, gluten, soy, and GMOs, are vegan, and are low in sugar.  What a mouthful, huh?  The brand focuses not only on the macros of its products, but also the micros (which is something that I think often gets lost, especially in protein supplements, since a large emphasis is placed on the importance of macros).  No Cow prides itself in being a no bullshit company – a strong statement in my opinion, and one that I have a high respect for if it proves true.  I also appreciate No Cow’s story – It all started with a fitness enthused 18 year old looking for a protein bar that didn’t give him a stomach ache.  Sound familiar?  The difference between him and me, though, is that he solved his problem by creating a dope one.

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Let’s get into the review before I start to lose you.  There are a few things that are consistent across all cookies:

  • Consistency – The consistency of these are that of a firm but chewy cookie, somewhere right in the middle of the gooey/crunchy spectrum.  Basically, when you break it apart it breaks clean, but doesn’t make crumbs.
  • Sweetness – These cookies are not overly sweet.  If you’re looking for a product that’s pumped with sweeteners and mimics something you’d find in an Entenmann’s box, this cookie isn’t for you.  The sweetness is subtle, but definitely enough.

Here are the stats for each cookie:

 Flavor  Protein Carb Fat Calories 
Double Chocolate  12 19 16 240
Chocolate Chip 12 19 16 240
Peanut Butter 13 17 17 250

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Now for the more detailed flavor reviews, I’ll start with my favorite:

Double Chocolate

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This cookie has a very rich and deep dark chocolate flavor, which I absolutely love.  It’s not overly sweet, and the cocoa flavor really carries this cookie far.  I also heated it up for about 20 seconds, and this didn’t change the consistency but the chocolate chips did melt a bit and the cocoa flavor got even more rich with the heat.  There also wasn’t a protein aftertaste, which is a bonus when it comes to any protein supp in my opinion.

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Chocolate Chip

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This cookie was more plain than the double chocolate, but I still think it’s worth a try so you can decide on your own if you like it.  There wasn’t a dominant flavor in this cookie that really stood out, and it had fewer chocolate chips than in the double chocolate one.  That said, the flavor was still good, not overly sweet, and no protein aftertaste.  I think this one will really depend on your personal chocolate chip cookie preference.

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Peanut Butter

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This cookie, in my opinion, was a bit of a let down.  I was really excited to bite into it because it had so many actual peanut chunks and I was expecting a huge peanut butter flavor.  There’s definitely a salty and sweet peanut flavor, but the cookie doesn’t have that overwhelming peanut butter flavor that I look for when something is labeled peanut butter.  Also, I think this cookie would be better labeled as a peanut cookie, instead of peanut butter, only because it doesn’t have that velvety consistency I expected.  Overall, still a good cookie but if you’re trying to decide between this one or one of the other flavors, my recommendation goes with one of the others.

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FYI – there is another flavor, Snickerdoodle, that I will add to this post if I can get my hands on one.

Overall, these cookies are a great product!  They have a very good macro spread, a satisfying but not overly sweet flavor, and a good cookie consistency.  I’d love to know what you think about them.  Do you agree with my reviews, or are my tastebuds all wrong?

Stay fit and flavorful, all!

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Banana Oat Trail Mix Muffins

My banana oat muffins have returned – and with a twist! Over the holidays my sister and I have always gotten really yummy candy and treats as stocking stuffers, which I’ll admit to have always eaten most of before New Year’s Day. This year was no different, but come the universal January 1st resolution to get back on track, I still hadn’t touched a little pouch of trail mix that was laced with dried fruit, peanuts, and various little chocolate candies – aka, everything I love to snack on. The pouch itself was about the size of one of those individual nuts packets you can find in vending machines, but since there was also dried fruit and candy within, the package was labeled to contain 4 servings and a whopping 680 calories total.

I had two options – open up the package in the hopes that I don’t nosh my way through the whole bag, essentially having half of my calories for the day in one fairly small snack; OR figuring out a way to use (but not actually eat) the whole bag in one sitting so it wasn’t sitting in my pantry opened, tempting me. I decided this was a perfect opportunity to revive my banana oat muffins, which I’d retired for a while during my days on keto (which, side note, I don’t think I’m done with for good), and the trail mix would replace the chocolate chips that I would normally include in the recipe. I’ll point out here that a substitution like this works with really any leftover candy/snacks you have lying around post-holiday-season (and really with any baked good recipe). Just remember that when you’re adding sweet mix-ins to a recipe, reduce the amount of actual sugar/sweetener in that recipe. And, if safely possible, before you incorporate your eggs into your batter give it a taste to see if it’s coming along as you envisioned.

Overall, this recipe substitution was a win-win for a few different reasons, and I’m excited to share this little leftover hack with you guys!  Normally I wouldn’t add nuts to these treats because I was never a big fan of nuts in baked goods (mostly because walnuts are in so many baked goods and I really just don’t like that flavor combination). However, I think the addition of peanuts gave the muffins a really great flavor (especially when paired with the banana), and also a great additional element of texture and crunch. I also normally wouldn’t have used a coated M&M type candy in these, but the candy coating bled into the oat mixture and actually gave the muffins a rainbow swirl, which was a pleasant surprise as far as I’m concerned.

Without further adieu, here’s everything you need to know:

Ingredients:

  1. Two cups oats (I used rolled oats, and not instant)
  2. Two bananas, mashed (Mine were medium sized, and very ripe)
  3. Two eggs (I used large)
  4. One cup Greek yogurt (any amount of fat is fine, I used 2%)
  5. 1.5 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 1/8 tsp salt
  9. Cinnamon to taste
  10. Mix-ins of choice (I used a trail mix that contained peanuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, M&Ms, and raisins [which I picked out because I don’t like raisins])

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Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly grease a muffin tin (you can use liners as well, but you still might want to grease them).  Mix all ingredients together (order doesn’t matter much, but I usually do the following:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl
  2. Mash the banana and combine mashed banana with eggs and greek yogurt
  3. Mix in the dry ingredients to the wet
  4. Fold in the mix-ins

Divide  batter among the muffin tin/cups (fill about 3/4 of the way).  Depending on your oven and size of your muffin tin, these will bake for 10-15 minutes.  I would recommend checking them after 10 minutes with a toothpick – when the toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are done!

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Stats:

  • Yield: 12
  • Protein per Muffin: 6g
  • Carbs per Muffin: 19g
  • Fats per Muffin: 6g
  • Total Calories per Muffin: 154 Calories

I also realize that I’ve been calling these treats “muffins” for this whole post, but they look more like a cookie in the photos.  When I first started making this recipe, I was making them in a regular sized/shaped muffin tin and they were indisputably banana oat muffins.  I have since purchased a different tin, which is more shallow than a regular muffin tin and the muffin rounds have a larger circumference.  When I bake using this tin, the muffins are wider and flatter, and take the shape more of a cookie.  Either way, the batter is the same and you can fill up the muffin tin/cup more to have them look more like muffins, or you can fill them up less and they will look more like cookies.  Remember that if you fill the tin less, you will have to cook each batch for less time, so check them sooner!

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I hope you give these a try, and I would love to see how you get creative with your mix-ins!  Tag me in your posts (@liftinluxe #liftinluxe) and as always, DM or email (liftinluxe@gmail.com) with any questions or collab requests!

Stay fit and festive, all!

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