Healthy Protein Bars

Some people know how to read nutrition labels and know what to look for when choosing out food. However, there are those either getting started on making healthy choices and they think just because it may say something like “high protein” or it comes from a commercialized diet plan (i.e. Slim Fast, South Beach, Atkins, or even something at your health store for that matter) it could be worse than a candy bar in some cases. I’m going to show you what to look for when picking out a good and nutritious protein bar, which macros are going to help you throughout the day. So here are some good bars I recommend along with a lesson about bars so you don’t think your being healthy and depriving yourself from a milky way when in all reality you may have just …well… ate the Milky Way. lol…. IDK about you, but I’d rather have the candy bar if that was the case! =)

*** macronutrients
                                 – carbs, protein, and fats.
Pure Organic
Pure Organic Bars (My favs: Cranberry Orange, Wild Blueberry, Chocolate Brownie)
Nutritional Layout: (used Chocolate Brownie for this example)
  • Calories: 190
  • Fat: 7g
  • Carb: 27g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Sugar: 16g
Upside and when to ideally eat: All organic with no artificial sweeteners, gluten free, non-GMO, minimal ingredients and made from all whole foods. Real food, nothing fake whatsoever.
Downside: I would not eat this bar at night that’s for sure, its more of a breakfast mid-afternoon bar. There is a high amount of sugar that could possibly spike your blood levels too soon before you head off to bed. Now, the sugar is coming from fruits, nuts and seeds so its good sugar but its still sugar. Eat it in the morning and keep a watch on other sugary things you consume throughout the day.
When looking at Calories:  You ideally want to shoot for anything under 200 calories per bar. Whole food based bars can be a little tricky when it comes to this since they usually are a little higher because a high amount of fruit and nuts. (these are good calories and kinda rules out the fact with the high calories.) But usually anything more than 200 would almost be a meal. And there are those bars like that out there and sometimes say to eat the bar and drink 8oz water with it…
quest
Quest Nutrition Bars (My favs: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Chip Cookie Chunk, White Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Peanut Butter … all of them lol. )
Nutritional Layout: (Used Apple Pie for Ex)
  • Calories: 170
  • Fat: 9
  • Carb: 24
  • Fiber: 18
  • Protein: 20
  • Sugar: 3
Upside and when to ideally eat: Any time. I love these bars! They are almost perfect… if they could make a plant based one I would be the happiest girl in the world because I have a hard time digesting any dairy (hint hint wink wink @QuestNutrition ) – but ive ironically gotten better at it through this contest prep Im in so that’s exciting!! I miss some dairy haha.
Downside: they use sugar alcohol which hasn’t shown anything bad as of yet, I wish they would start sweetening with stevia.. And only like 4 net carbs in most of them, some less. net carbs are the carbs you count because fiber technically is a carb, but you subtract the sugar alcohol and fiber from the carbohydrate and there you have your “net carbs”. <— little lesson right there! =)
When looking at Protein: Higher is ideally better since the protein will help keep you full. But you need to be aware where the protein is coming from too. Is it from nuts, whey isolate ect.  ??
power crunch
Power Crunch Bars: (My fav: Mint Chocolate, French Vanilla Cream, Wild Berry Cream)
Nutritional Layout:
  • Calories: 200
  • Fat:12
  • Carb: 10
  • Fiber: 1
  • Protein: 13
  • Sugar: 5
Upside and when to ideally eat: Another one that is pretty much ok to eat whenever. Since there is a bit more carbs in this one I wouldn’t ideally do them right before bed or anything. And the protein to carb ratio isn’t too huge compared to some other choices you can make. But these remind me of those wafer cookies I used to eat when I was a kid, I bet if you dipped it in almond milk it would be yummy…. hum ill have to try that.
Downside: lower protein. Higher carb. but still a good choice.
When looking at Carbohydrates: So let me clarify this, carbs aren’t “bad” … whether your trying to stay low or don’t care too much here is what you ideally look for in a bar when it comes to carbohydrates. Carbs can serve as immediate energy and sustained energy too. If your consuming the bar after your workout (which by the way, you should always have some protein and carbs right after your workout to fuel you muscles- this is called the anabolic window) I would shoot for 30g or less. And if there is more carbs in the bar than protein you might has well have a cereal bar…
victory
Victory Bars (my favs – fudge brownie, cookies and cream, peanut butter)
Nutritional Layout:
  • Calories:200
  • Fat:5
  • Carb:25
  • Fiber:20
  • Protein:21
  • Sugar:8
Upside and when to ideally eat: Whenever. These are along the same line as the quest bars. They do have more of a “protein bar” type of feel to them with them being mostly a solid bar.
Downside: Higher in sugar but still not bad at all.
 
When looking at Fats: Keep saturated fats at a minimum but it is ideal to have some fats in your bar. The fats are basically going to either make up some calories in he bar or it wont if its a lower fat. But fats aren’t bad either… its usually from nuts in the bar the fats come from.
kind
Kind Bars (my favs- Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, Carmel Almond and Sea Salt …. all of them hahha)
Nutritional Layout: These have a wide range between carbs and sugars… they are all kind of different .. but yet all good.
  • Calories: 180
  • Fat:12
  • Carb:17
  • Fiber:7
  • Protein:7
  • Sugar:11
Upside and when to ideally eat: Mornings or mid day. As you see they aren’t really a “protein” bar its more of a carb bar hahha or granola bar if you will. They have tons of flavors and different forms of kind bars now too. There is the Kind Strong, Mojo, Healthy Grains and they even have granola now! So you have lots of choices but like I said they are more of a breakfast bar.
Downside: Sugar is going to be higher in these since the sugar will be a natural form of sugar. I believe they are made with cane sugar but I might be wrong.
 
When looking at Sugar: This can go either way but .. lower the better. Some bars have natural sugars ( cane, stevia, tapioca syrup, ect) while some bars have sugar alcohols (xylitol, sorbitol ect. ) Now they haven’t shown any evidence saying that sugar alcohols are necessarily bad for you but some people have issues with them so try it  out and be your own judge. I personally know if I eat too much sugar alcohols (also found in things that are labeled sugar free or chewing gum) I retain water. . . . With natural sugar try not to have it be too high..
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Clif Bars (all if them. Blueberry Crisp, Mint Chocolate Chip, White Macadamia Nut )
Nutritional Layout: ( these range as well – used crunchy peanut butter for example)
  • Calories: 250
  • Fat:6
  • Carb:40
  • Fiber:5
  • Protein:12
  • Sugar:10
Upside and when to ideally eat: Another morning bar!! Love these, these can ideally be used as a meal if you pair it with some protein say a shake or something because of their high calorie content. They have tons of flavors (I love the holiday season because that’s when they come out with pumpkin spice and gingerbread!!! YUM) They are a higher carb bar so it will give you some sustained energy for your day. these are more like a granola bar as well.
Downside: Very high in carbs (which is fine, as long as your not eating these bad boys before bed hahha) and usually higher in sugar.
 
Everything else: Look at the ingredients, if its a HUGE list of 11000 things your cant even pronounce … don’t buy it. If sugar is like the second ingredient, then just go buy a candy bar instead. Look at the protein, then carbs, then calories and of course the ingredients. =)
luna
Luna bars ( all .. I like the peppermint stick a lot, along with Smores, Chocolate Fudge Brownie)
Nutritional Layout:
  • Calories:180
  • Fat:2
  • Carb:27
  • Fiber:3
  • Protein:9
  • Sugar:13
Upside and when to ideally eat: Morning, mid afternoon bar. By now I hope you can see the difference between breakfast bars and anytime bars. They have tons of fun flavors and even though they say a “woman’s bar” men can eat them too.. its just marketing and they have more vitamin B and folic acid in them.. whoooo what a difference right? hahha
Downside: lower in fats (which depending on your goals isn’t really a downside) and higher in sugar.
My favs:
 LOOOVVVEEE Quest bars they are probably my favorite when it comes to what they actually are. 20g protein low carb and a good amount of fat. That being said I don’t eat them all the time, they are not ment to be eaten as a meal replacement either so try to get your nutrition through actual food, your body will thank you for it!
Also love kind bars, kind bars are more of breakfast bar to me since they are more of a “granola” type of bar.
… I pretty much love all these bars hahha. I didn’t post any of the bad ones =)

Lemon & Garlic Kale Chips

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So with my diet being pretty limited to veggies and meat mainly haha, I’m always looking for new ways to spice it up!!! So I made KALE CHIPS! … (even my boyfriend liked them… which was a surprise! ) <— ps. I love when he likes my health food hahah.

Ok enough bibble -babble! On to the Recipe!!!!

Its suuuper simple too. YAY!

You’ll Need:

  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • A bundle or two of fresh kale, washed and chopped.
  • 6 Garlic cloves, chopped. (or more if ya want… I’m a garlic freak so if you ever ask me… you can never have enough garlic!!!)
  • 1-2 tbsp. Sea Salt (one if you use one bunch, 2 if you make 2 bunches worth)
  • 2 tbsp. Lemon juice or one whole lemon freshly squeezed.
  • 1 tbsp. Black pepper

 

How to:

  • Wash Kale bunches and chop off ends, and then chop into “chip” size pieces.
  • Pre-heat oven to 325
  • In a large bowl mix all ingredients. (Olive Oil, Lemon, Salt, Pepper)
  • Place chopped up kale into bowl and mix around so the oil gets all over it all and you can even let it marinade for a while if you’d like. ( I let mine marinade for about 15 min)
  • On a baking sheet, spread out kale pieces onto sheet and then sprinkle the chopped up garlic cloves on top.
  • Bake for about 15-20 min until the kale pieces seem crispy at the end.
  • Let cool, and ENJOY!!!

Note: it helps if you every once in a while toss the leaves so some don’t end up burnt.. ( you know the ones on the sides of the pan) . …. lol.

 

Things to Jazz up a Smoothie!

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I don’t know about ya’ll, but I like smoothies, especially when I can put all kinds of goodies in it and have it still taste AMAZING! They usually are grate for the morning when your in a rush to make something and you can just pour a bunch of berries into the blender add a little ice and almond milk and Ta-da !

Here are some ingredients you may have used before but there are also some others that most people wouldn’t think of putting into a smoothie! Happy Blending!! =)

Fruits – pretty much any but here are some favorites.

  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
  • oranges
  • grapefruit
  • cuties (tangerines)
  • pomegranate seeds
  • dragon fruit
  • kiwi
  • pear
  • pineapple

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Veggies

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Any greens
  • Carrots
  • Greens powder mixes
  • Algae
  • Beets
  • celery

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Fats

  • Chia seed
  • Flax Seed
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil or shreds
  • Nut butters – almond, sunflower, peanut, hazelnut etc..
  • shaved almonds or nut pieces (walnut, pecans, pistachios)

Protein

  • Protein powders (vanilla or strawberry is my favorite)
  • Tofu

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Other

  • yogurt
  • Almond / Coconut/ Hemp/ sunflower seed milk
  • cocoa or cocoa nibs
  • Spices – ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves
  • pumpkin puree ( unsweetened)
  • Stevia – this is a miracle worker lol… if something isn’t sweet enough this is a sugar substitute that’s calorie and carb free and its from a plant!
  • Oats or oatmeal
  • Cereal and granola
  • Grits and quinoa
  • Dates, dried fruit, cranberries, raisins.

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My Current Meal and Supplement Plan (Fitness Comp Prep)

A lot of people have been asking what my diet looks like, what I eat, when I eat and how they can get their metabolism running faster… the key is to eat super clean foods every 3 hours so your body doesn’t even have a chance to feel hungry. I also focus more on counting my macronutrients (protein, carb, fiber and fat) more than my calories..

meal prep

… so here it is!

I always make sure I drink 8oz water right when I  wake up.

Supplements at waking:

  • 200-300 mg caffeine (or a pre-workout, depending on my mood)
  • 500-1000 mg Green Tea Extract
  • 1-2 g Acetyl-L-Carnitine
  • 1000 mg White Kidney Bean Carb Intercept

Meal 1: (don’t wait more than 30 min to eat after you wake up)

  • 1/2 cup Steel Cut oats prepared with water.
  • Splash of almond milk
  • 1/2 banana cut up inside it for sweetness
  • sprinkle of cinnamon =)

***This is usually the time of day I workout (around 60-90 min)***

Meal 2: (Post-workout)

  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice. Mixed with 10 oz unsweetened Almond milk. 1 scoop glutamine powder, 1 scoop greens, 1 scoop carbohydrate blend, and 1 scoop BCAA’s.
  • With other 1/2 of banana.

Supplements :

  • 1 Multi-vitamin
  • 1-2 g L-Carnitine
  • 1000 mg White Kidney Bean Carb Intercept

Meal 3:

  • Medium size salad with 2oz grilled chicken/shrimp or turkey (usually cut into chunks)
  • 1 cup brown rice or quinoa. (or 1/2 baked sweet potato)
  • 10 almonds.

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Supplements :

  • 200-300 mg caffeine
  • 500-1000 mg Green Tea Extract
  • 1-2 g Acetyl-L- Carnitine

Meal 4:

  •  1 scoop protein powder of choice. Mixed with 10 oz unsweetened Almond milk. 1 scoop glutamine powder, 1 scoop greens, and 1 scoop BCAA’s.
  •   1/4 avocado
  • 1 cup of  carrots or 3 celery sticks (or both haha)

Meal5:

  • 3oz Grilled Salmon/Tilapia (seasoned with Ms. Dash – no salt)
  • 10 spears of Asparagus
  • As big of a dinner salad as I want! …. (Dressings I use are all oil based – usually Newman’s own or Annie’s Brand.) about 2tbsp. I also add salsa sometimes too (its healthier than dressings…)

Supplements:

  • 2-3 g CLA
  • 2-3 g Fish oil

Meal 6:

  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice. Mixed with 10 oz unsweetened Almond milk. 1 scoop glutamine powder, 1 scoop greens, and 1 scoop BCAA’s.
  • 1/2 cup nuts or seeds (almonds, cashews, pecans, pumpkin, sunflower)

Supplements before bed:

  • 2-3 g CLA
  • 2-3 g Fish Oil
  • 2-3 g Glutamine

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WATER WATER WATER ALL DAY!!!!!! DRINK UP

**The supplements and meal plan that I’m on is geared towards my goals for preparing for the fitness competition. I’m not stating that people should take these supplements because everyone is different and have different goals. This is just what I do one a every day basis and it works for me. **

Simple tips to help you lose weight

  • You have to be ready. (mentally, physically and emotionally) – Once you decide you want something more than you’re afraid of it is when the magic happens. You have to have a plan and a sense of determination. You cant just “want” it, you have to live it.. its not about a diet, or a quick fix it truly is a lifestyle change. You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself in the uncomfortable.  But I am here to tell you, once that light switch comes on, you know, and never turn it off. Get a friend or a spouse to do it with you, this makes it easier and you two can keep each other on track. And always be prepared for some temptations as well as comments from others …because they do and WILL happen.

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  • Seriously…. no matter how much you workout…DIET IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS. – yes working out will help but if you really want to be fit, and feel fit and super healthy… diet is the answer. When you eat the way our bodies were designed to eat you’ll notice a ton of different things happening with your overall health. Not just weight loss but metabolism actually speeding up, the feeling of fullness before the plate in front of you is empty, maybe some inflammation is gone or starting to fade, more energy, better sleep, and the list just goes on. An easy way to make sure you are keeping track of your food and what your eating, is to keep a food journal.. Which I have  a link on how to do that here:Keep a Food Journal! – How to When you keep a small journal with you its easier to see where your successes are and where you can improve. Also, when you thin about food and what’s healthy and what’s not it can be a little hard if you don’t know what your looking for. My motto is … if it doesn’t come from the ground, grow on  a tree or isn’t relatively “natural” don’t eat it… Shop the outside of the supermarket, that’s where you’ll find your produce, lean meats, whole wheat breads, low fat dairy and this way your skipping going every isle that has the bad things that obviously DO NOT grow on trees .. (ahem… Cheetos) ….

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  • Get to know portion sizes!- So many people think portions are supposed to fill the whole plate. We go out to eat  at a restaurant and if the waiter brings us some “tiny” portion we automatically think…crap! I’m paying $15 bucks for this plate?! Whereas if they bring us a huge plate of food, we are satisfied because were getting our “moneys worth”. The sad thing is that we’ve grown so accustom to having these huge portions that now we don’t know what an actual portion is. Here is a quick reference guide to what portions are supposed to be. And next time you go out or even make your own plate, remember you don’t have to eat everything they give you, you can always take it with you =) hey… 2 meals for the price of one.. sure!!
  1. Your whole fist or a baseball = 1 cup (pasta, rice)
  2. Your palm or a deck of cards = 3oz (meat, fish, poultry)
  3. One big handful including some finger space = 1/4 cup (Nuts, Seeds)
  4. 2 small handfuls not including finger space – 1 0z (popcorn, pretzels, chips)
  5. Your thumb or a shot glass  = 2 tbsp. (nut butters, cheese slices)
  6. Tip of your thumb = 1 tsp.. (condiments, mayo, ketchup, sugar, honey etc.)
  7. And when it comes to fruits and veggies, always fill 1/2 of your plate with those (mainly veggies). 1/4 protein and 1/4 complex carbohydrate.

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  • Fruits and Veggies are your new best friend! – You can pretty much eat as much fruit and veggies as you want and loose weight.. plus they are full of nutrients, water, vitamins and minerals so they will actually keep you full! .. Now I know some of you are probably thinking ” I eat a salad and I’m still hungry!” … Now answer this, are your salads a legit salad.. like if you were to order a salad at a restaurant where it takes up the whole plate? or is it some dinky ass salad the size of a baseball and smothered with ranch dressing? haha. There is a difference between eating a side salad and then eating a SALAD… (this is the only time you are pretty much allowed to eat as much as your want, and not have to worry about portion control. ) When you make your salad make sure you have a mix of greens (preferably no iceberg since it is about 99% water), a lean protein added in like some chicken strips or black beans, as many veggies as you want, think COLOR! and a oil or vinegar based dressing. I do have another link here:The Salad Bar – Building a Kick-Ass Salad! =)  on  how to make a wonderful salad.

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  • DO NOT SKIP MEALS! – I swore if I hear that eating less will make you lose weight one more time I’m going to scream! You ideally want to eat every 4-5 hours to keep your engine running. when you skip meals or eat very little your body goes into starvation mode and stores the fat on your body because its saving it for when it will need it for other times you my not be eating. This messes up your metabolism and throws it out of whack confusing it and it tends to not work the way it was designed to work. (THIS IS HOW I GOT TO OVER 200LBS… don’t make the same mistake !!! please!)    But I do have good news, you can fix a slow metabolism by simple diet changes and eating a healthy diet. Annnd if you start working-out on top of those diet changes, it will speed up even more. Our bodies and humans in general weren’t made to sit at a desk or on the couch all day, we also weren’t designed to eat things like fake sugar and fillers and food colors.. we were meant to be active and eat things from the earth, things nature intended us to eat. I like to eat 6 smaller meals a day, this way I’m NEVER hungry, or “hangry” as my boyfriend likes to call it (hungry +angry = hangry) plus my metabolism soars when I eat this way =) just try it… but remember, those smaller portions should consist of veggies a complex carb and a lean protein…..

5tip5 Always keep nutrients in mind, think of how eating a certain food will make you feel after eating it … will you be disappointed? will it make your stomach hurt? will it make you have a sugar crash towards the afternoon? yes sure it will be tasty… but is it worth it? 10 min of a sugar high or realizing you don’t need to be putting that crap in your body. I think you’ll be more proud of yourself if you just say no thank you =)

Green Mango Tango Smoothie

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Made this the other day! so good and couldn’t even taste the spinach!

You’ll need:

  • 2cups almond milk
  • 1 scoop protein powder (I used Vega’s Mango Tango Smoothie flavor… but vanilla would be good too)
  • 1 tbsp. almond butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of frozen mango chunks
  • 2 cups of spinach

blend all together and voilà!! yum . great for a mid day pick-me-up or even for breakfast!

Benefits of Plantains.

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Some may be asking ‘ What us a plantain?”  A Plantain is a banana-like vegetable, sometimes mistaken for a banana. The cool thing about this veggie is that it can be eaten at 3 different stages.

1st stage is green, its more of a hard starchy vegetable (like a potato). 2nd stage is yellow, which is kind of up to you what your looking for. They are sweeter now, but yet still have a crunch factor to them.. and lastly.. 3rd stage is black, which are most like a banana.

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Why they are so great! …

One cup cooked can have up to 3.5 grams of fiber, good source of vitamin A and potassium. Helps aid digestion, enhances your vision and skins glow. Has good antioxidants and helps with your immune system.

EAT UP

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