Sweat It Out With a Protein-Packed Snack Attack

There’s a 50/50 chance I might’ve *casually* mentioned once‚ÄĒmaaaaybe twice‚ÄĒthat I’m getting married in the near future. 160 days if you wanna get technical, but who’s counting?

Although I don’t buy into¬†that¬†stereotypical “wedding workout” mentality (fitness is a¬†lifestyle, not some¬†Must. Drop. Two. Dress. Sizes.¬†For. The. Big. Day. thing), exercise does¬†have a prominent¬†place in my routine. That would still be true regardless of this whole bride-to-be caveat…but¬†extra motivation a la¬†Alfred Angelo never hurts either!

post pure barre

That time I dragged¬†the (almost) hubs to Pure Barre…Couples who sweat together stay together, dontcha know!

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not just about¬†turning heads on your walk down the aisle or rocking that honeymoon bikini you’ve ogled for months. Exercise¬†relieves stress¬†(pre-wedding jitters, anyone?), boosts productivity (those guest lists¬†aren’t gonna write¬†themselves!), and influences even more healthy habits too.

Like eating. A.K.A. the other¬†part of this wellness equation.¬†In order to sustain¬†physical activity, our bodies need fuel. Mainly¬†protein-dense fuel which promotes muscular development, strength and endurance, so we can keep moving for longer periods of time. Fact: no¬†snacking repertoire‚ÄĒfor¬†pre-workout energy¬†or¬†post-workout recovery‚ÄĒis complete without this nutritional powerhouse.

Think¬†raw almonds, steamed edamame, roasted chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, plain Greek yogurt and nut butters, for example. Or,¬†need¬†some further¬†“nom”spiration?¬†(Just invented a new word. No biggie.) Check out my Sweat Sesh Snack Attack¬†go-tos¬†for your protein loading pleasure!

protein post-workout snacks

Whether you’re¬†#SweatingForTheWedding or craving a healthier alternative to Cool Ranch Doritos, these mindful munchies just reinvented snacktime. Yup…don’t underestimate the¬†power of protein. This bride-to-be has spoken.


*For even more ideas, recipes and tidbits to pack your diet with protein,  Nuts.com  has you covered!

Quinoa Quesadillas (now, that’s fun to say!)

It’s Saturday night. Yours truly isn’t exactly in the mood for anything that doesn’t involve Netflix. Thus, I’m gearing up for a low-key evening in the comfort of my own humble abode¬†[read: bed].

But…then hunger strikes. What’s a girl to do?

Crank up the stove and start experimenting, of course!

So, tonight’s creation features a mash-up of flavors a la¬†Mexico and South America. I submit for your culinary seal of approval, my friends:

…drumroll, please

Quinoa Quesadillas!!!

Yup. These vegetarian delights are overloaded with protein, whole grains, and essential plant-based nutrients for a meal that will satisfy both your appetite and taste buds.

To utilize my limited command of the Spanish language (because, you know, just keeping with our theme), they’re fantastico.

Legitimate Spanish-speakers: is that actually a word?

Well, regardless…enjoy this delicious and nutritious recipe from my kitchen to yours!

Ingredients:

quinoa quesadillas ingredients

  1. 2 Whole Wheat Tortillas
  2. 1/4 cup Quinoa
  3. 1/4 cup Mushrooms (chopped)
  4. 1/4 cup Red Onions (sliced)
  5. 1/4 cup Tomatoes (chopped)
  6. 1/4 cup Cotija Cheese (crumbled)*

* Make this recipe vegan by substituting the cheese for Silken Tofu.

Preparation:

quinoa quesadillas preparation 1

quinoa quesadillas preparation 2

quinoa quesadillas preparation 3

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  2. While the quinoa is simmering, prep the vegetables and cotija cheese (or vegan substitute).
  3. Pre-heat a small skillet over a medium stove top setting and coat with olive oil cooking spray.
  4. Remove the quinoa pan from heat and drain any remaining water, then set aside temporarily.
  5. Combine the mushrooms, red onions and tomatoes in the skillet, then saute them until softened.
  6. Remove the vegetables from heat after approximately 3-5 minutes and set aside temporarily.
  7. Re-coat the skillet with cooking spray and turn the stove top burner back to a medium setting.
  8. Place 1 tortilla¬†in the skillet and spread the quinoa evenly over it, leaving 1/2″ space along the edge.
  9. Add both the cotija cheese and sauteed vegetables, then place the second tortilla on top.
  10. Cook the bottom tortilla for approximately 2 minutes, or until it sizzles, then flip to the other side.
  11. Allow the second tortilla to cook for the same amount of time before removing from heat.
  12. Once the quesadilla has cooled slightly, cut it into 8 equal-sized wedges and ENJOY, of course!

quinoa quesadillas finished product

TA DA!!!

But wait…there’s more:

Serving Suggestion:

Cored avocado halves — mashed with a fork, drizzled in lime juice, then¬†dusted with just a hint of chili powder,¬†stevia and leftover cotija cheese —¬†make a fabulously bold side for this Latin-inspired dish.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts: Lots of Love to Go Around {Product Review}

I’ve recently had the privilege of participating in my very first product review through the Sweat Pink Ambassador community. So, here’s a quick¬†shout-out to the fabulous SPA founder¬†Alyse¬†for this opportunity. Much appreciated!

Now, onto the real business. Today, I’ll be reviewing hemp hearts¬†from Manitoba Harvest, a sustainable manufacturer of hemp-only foods, based in Winnipeg, Canada.

Confession Time:¬†Until about 20 minutes ago, I’d never tried hemp hearts before. Scratch that, I’d never tried hemp anything before. I thought hemp was just rope material that middle-schoolers use to make friendship bracelets. So, let’s just say…prior to receiving my free sample in the mail this morning,¬†I was a hemp virgin.

But, nevertheless, they arrived to put the breaks on my virginity, and I eagerly tore into the packaging.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

First Impressions:¬†Okay, they’re all natural: check. Each serving has 10 grams of plant-based protein and 10 grams of omegs-3s: check, check.

Moving right along, then…

*opens bag*

Well, they’re not exactly what I’d expected. To be honest, I’m not even sure what I was expecting, — maybe granola pieces in the shape of a heart? I don’t know! — but these disc-like things resemble lentils more than seeds. Hmm…intriguing!

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Seeds

The Taste Test: Nutty. Buttery. Tender. Just a slight crunch. Yep, I can get on-board with these little guys!

So far, hemp hearts get an A+ rating.

And that concludes our preliminary round. Time for the finals.

This company website features several tantalizing recipes, so component number 2 of this product review is to experiment with hemp hearts in one of these recipes.

I’m a sucker for superfood smoothies, so I chose to blend up my own twist on Manitoba Harvest’s¬†Cinna-Butter Bliss Smoothie. The original recipe has been copied below for your convenience:

  • Ingredients:
  1. 2 tbsp. Almond Butter
  2. 1 tbsp. Hemp Hearts
  3. 1 Banana*
  4. 1 Date*
  5. 1/2 tbsp. Cinnamon
  6. 1 cup Hemp Bliss Organic Beverage*
  • Preparation:¬†
  1. Combine all these ingredients together in a blender.
  2. Pulse until the mixture is thoroughly smooth (yields 1 serving).

* Notes:¬†I don’t particularly care for bananas, so I substituted roughly 1/3 cup frozen mangoes. I didn’t have any dates on-hand, so I omitted that ingredient altogether (although I’m sure dates would add tons of flavor). Instead of Hemp Bliss,¬†– because, if I barely knew what hemp hearts were, why would I just happen to have drinkable hemp lying around?! – I substituted coconut milk.*

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Smoothie Ingredients

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts SmoothieDespite these variations, the smoothie still tasted absolutely incredible. In fact, I can see it becoming my standard post-workout recovery fuel.

And now, for the overarching question: Do I recommend purchasing Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts?

110% YES!

This product has earned my seal of approval and exceeded whatever preconceived notions I had about hemp (which, by the way, is so much more than just a pre-teen fashion statement!).

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Seal of Approval

So, sprinkle the deliciousness on top of salads, oatmeal or yogurt. Toss them into a protein shake or smoothie, like I did. Cook or bake with them in your favorite dishes (or try a brand new recipe, like those displayed on the website). You can even enjoy a handful straight from the bag, as a nutritious and satisfying snack.

Sold, yet? Well, maybe this will persuade you:

During the months of October and November, you can score 20% off all products at ManitobaHarvest.com.

Use the promo code HHSweatPink14 before check-out (and send a cyber thank-you to the awesome folks over at Sweat Pink and Manitoba Harvest for making this special offer possible!).

* Reminder: This promotional discount will expire November 30, 2014. *

Satisfy that Sweet Tooth the (Almost) Vegan Way

I say “almost” because this recipe uses 1 egg, which qualifies as an animal by-product, but true vegans need not despair. Simply substitute 1/4 cup pureed banana, 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or 1/4 cup oil of your choice, and you’ve got a bona fide vegan party-in-the-mouth!

And, for all you other foodies out there, meet the answer to your ongoing dilemma: Do I eat dessert and regret it later, or skip dessert and regret it RIGHT NOW?¬†These¬†Avocado & Almond Butter¬†Cookies deliver all the indulgence¬†of your favorite guilty pleasure…only without that pesky guilt-part. Rejoice!

  • Ingredients:
  1. 1 egg yolk
  2. 1 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1/4 cup almond butter
  4. 3 tbsp. raw honey
  5. 2 packets Stevia
  6. 1/2 cup almond flour*
  7. 1/4 cup dates (chopped)
  8. 1/2 avocado (mashed)

*You can easily and inexpensively make your own almond flour by grinding 1/2 cup slivered almonds in a blender or food processor until finely powdered.*

avocado cookie ingredients

  • Preparation:
  1. Combine the mashed avocado, egg yolk, honey and almond butter together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the baking powder, Stevia packets and almond flour, then stir until the batter is smooth.
  3. Fold in the dates, then spoon the batter onto a greased baking sheet in the shape of cookies.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, or until the cookies have cooked thoroughly.

avocado cookie batter

avocado cookies pre bakingavocado cookies post baking

  • Serving Suggestion:

In addition to a sweet mid-afternoon snack or lighter after-dinner dessert, enjoy these tasty treats in the morning for an omega-3 and protein-packed breakfast.

avocado cookie taste test

(And, of course, I¬†was obligated to take these babies out for a test chew, now wasn’t I…?!)

It’s Meatless Monday. Make It Marvelous.

Even sworn carnivores won’t be asking “Where’s the beef?!” with this zesty twist on a classic Asian stir-fry. It’s loaded with protein (from the Edamame and Greek Yogurt), whole grains (from the Brown Rice), fiber (from the Sugar Snap Peas), and Vitamin D (from the Mushrooms). So, serve up a heaping helping of vegetarian deliciousness on this – or any – Meatless Monday. Going “green” never tasted so good!


Kickin’ Horseradish Stir-Fry (yields approx. 4 servings)

horseradish stir fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. Horseradish
  • 1 cup Sugar Snap Peas
  • 1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. Plain Greek Yogurt (non-fat)
  • 1/2 cup Edamame Beans (shelled)
  • 1/2 cup Shitake Mushrooms (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp. Soy Sauce (low-sodium)
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice (cooked)

Preparation:

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, boil the rice, according to the cooking instructions on the packaging.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, soy sauce, horseradish, and rice wine vinegar.
  3. When the rice has finished cooking, add the peas, edamame, and mushrooms then stir thoroughly.
  4. Stir the sauce into this mixture, then sautee the rice on low heat until the vegetables have softened.

Meal Prep: Learn It, Love It, Live It

When you plan ahead and prepare meals in advance, it’s simple to formulate a diet around whole foods and balanced nutrition.

Rather than calling for take-out, throwing together whatever’s been taking up space in your pantry or – worse yet – stopping at the drive-through window, just set aside a couple hours each week to whip up some easy-to-store-enjoy-anytime recipes. Then, simply heat your creations in the microwave as needed throughout the coming days.

I’ve compiled a list of instructions, along with corresponding visuals, to walk you through the steps of proper meal prep. The recipe below is just one example of a make-ahead meal that’s convenient, satisfying, and completely guilt-free – whether on its own as a filling lunch or as a tasty side dish for dinner.

And here’s more fabulous news: all you need to pull this off are a few basic, fresh ingredients!


  • Step 1:¬†Chop your vegetables of choice (any veggies you have on-hand will work; I used onions, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, and corn).

food prep step 1

  • Step 2:¬†Transfer the vegetables into a Tupperware container and store in the fridge while you continue with the remaining prep work.

food prep step 2

  • Step 3:¬†Assemble your seasonings (I used olive oil and garlic) and whole-grain carb (lentils are my go-to, but quinoa or couscous will work too).

food prep step 3

  • Step 4:¬†Rinse off the grains, transfer them into a Teflon pot, and allow them to soak in water for approximately 10 minutes.

food prep step 4

  • Step 5:¬†Place the pot on a stove-top burner and turn the heat on high until boiling, then lower to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally.

food prep step 5

  • Step 6:¬†Add the seasonings (1 tsp. garlic and 1 tbsp. olive oil), then re-cover and let the mixture simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

food prep step 6

  • Step 7:¬†Once the lentils (or another whole-grain of choice) have softened, add the vegetables you prepped earlier and stir thoroughly.

food prep step 7

  • Step 8:¬†Allow the vegetables to simmer for approximately 10 minutes, then strain this mixture to remove any excess liquid.

food prep step 8

  • Step 9:¬†Transfer the lentils (or another whole grain of choice) into a Tupperware container and store in the fridge until your next meal.

food prep step 9

***¬†1 16-oz. package of lentils yields at least a week’s worth of lunches/dinners. ***

15 Snacks to Get You Through the Day Without Undoing Your Diet

Need an afternoon pick-me-up halfway between lunch and dinner? Well, next time you find yourself poking around for the Cool Ranch Doritos, nibble on these guiltless goodies instead:

1. Frozen Grapes: put approximately 30 (1 cup) red or green grapes in a large Ziploc bag and store inside the freezer for a minimum of 2 hours

2.¬†Apples & Nut Butter:¬†core 1 apple and cut horizontally into thin slices, then spread 1 tbsp. nut butter (I suggest almond) on 2 slices and press them together to make a “sandwich”

3. Carrots & Hummus: peel and slice 2 large carrots into fourths or simply grab 10 pre-cut baby carrots and serve with 2 tbsp. organic hummus

4. Edamame & Sea Salt: boil approximately 10 (1 cup) edamame pods, then shell the individual beans and sprinkle with a few pinches of sea salt

5. Greek Yogurt & Honey: swirl together 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt (preferably nonfat) and 1 tsp. organic honey, then top with fruit slices or a dash of cinnamon

6. Green Tea Smoothie: put 3/4 cup of green tea, 2 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt, 2 tsp. agave nectar, and 6 ice cubes in a blender and puree until smooth

7. Baked Kale Chips: slice the stems off 1 bunch of kale and tear into bite-size pieces, then drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil and cook in the oven at 400 degrees until crisp

8. Toasted Almonds: place approximately 20 (1/4 cup) whole almonds in an ungreased skillet and sautee over medium-heat until golden brown

9. Avocado & Lime Juice: peel and thinly slice 1 avocado, then coat the slices with 2 tsp. lime juice and top with a few dashes of organic stevia powder

10. Oatmeal & Berries: boil 1/2 cup of whole grain rolled oats in 1 cup of water, then mix with an assortment of fresh berries (I suggest blueberries or raspberries)

11. Spiced Orange: slice 1 orange in half horizontally and sprinkle with a mixture of organic stevia powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves

12. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: lightly brush 1 tsp. olive oil over 2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds and cook in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown

13. Tomatoes & Feta: dice 1 medium-sized Roma tomato and mix with 1 tbsp. feta cheese, then top with a few squeezes of lemon juice or 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

14. Dried Mango: peel and slice 1 mango and brush with 2 tsp. agave nectar, then bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 185 degrees, flip each slice and cook for another 30 minutes

15. Egg White Scramble: sautee 1/4 cup raw spinach and 1 clove of garlic in a skillet on low heat, then add 2 egg whites and scramble until fluffy