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..
cliff2 cliff1
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 =)

Baked Garlic & Herb French Fries (no oil)

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Story time first! … (recipe is below if you don’t want to hear my story lol… but I think it was kinda funny personally)  Ok so my boyfriend actually has been doing pretty good through this whole “I want to do a competition” thing. Hes been helping with food prep, supporting me when I lose my shit and dealing with my low-carb mood swings haha. I’m very blessed, that’s all I have to say! … so anyways…..We were driving around and it was becoming dinner time soon for him anyways ( I still had like 2 more meals to eat) But for the most part he’s been eating what Ive been eating give or take some extra carbs or something for him… So the other day he was like “I’m gonna get Good Times” and kind of gave me a look of “please don’t hate me … and is that ok?” lol and I understand … I’m not going to deprive him from things just because I have a goal… its not his goal he can eat/do what he wants… So we order it and he gets the bag and puts it in-between himself and the driver-side door so its not staring at me in the face (aww so considerate)…. So I’m all “you can put it on the center console so it doesn’t fall and spill everywhere” so he does…

I literally looked out the window because all I can smell is those fries… (and if you know me, I’ve never really been a fry fan anyways … but ohhhh Good Times fries just sounded good.. ) .. so I looked down and there is seriously a little fry sticking out of the bag, I swore it was like mocking me. hahha.

So I looked at him and was like .. ” yeah put this back over to your side and we need to go home NOW, so I can make my chicken and asparagus” lol… he just laughed at me and headed  home…. So that’s my story.. I think it was funnier in person, oh well… but anyways I made these and they weren’t “Good Times” fries, but they definitely curbed that craving!!!  ENJOY!

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Recipe:

You’ll need:

As many potatoes as you want ( I used Red Gold for this and I only used 2 potatoes total… but then again I can only have so many carbs right now … so keep that in mine, One potato this size measures out to be about 1 cup)

and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Seasonings …

THATS IT! BOOM!  ( p.s. I love minimal ingredient recipes!!! )

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How to:

  • Put potatoes into desired shapes or slices
  • Pre- Heat Oven to 345
  • Lay a piece of parchment paper onto a baking sheet and spread out the potato chunks evenly on the baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle Ms. Dash seasoning onto the pieces – jut enough to lightly cover them (it helps if you flip them too so the seasoning gets everywhere)
  • Bake for about 20-25 min depending on how fast your potato cooks. … (I did turn on the broiler for out 5 min just so they came out a little more golden and crisp! )
  • Let cool and Enjoy!

nom nom nom

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Side note: You can basically do this with any potato and any seasoning, no need for oil which helps save on calories!! =) – I might try a southwest Chipotle seasoning next time!

Also, I found a lower sugar Ketchup that’s not too bad either!  But different flavored mustards are delish too!

kats5 cal per tablespoon – 1g sugar! BOOM

Breakfast Oats

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You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 cup dry instant oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup Blueberries
  • 1/4 cup red Raspberries
  • 1/8 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup Almond Milk
  • Chia and/or hemp seeds to sprinkle

Annnnnnd any other goodies you’d like to add would be juuuust fine!

Prepare oats to package, add goodies and milk and enjoy – cool thing about oats it you can pretty much put anything on it …

Other goodie ideas:

  • any fruit (blackberries, apple slices, banana, pear slices, pineapple, peaches, strawberries, ect)
  • Spices (pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, stevia, vanilla extract. )
  • Milks (cows, hemp, almond, rice, soy)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, walnuts, chia, hemp, flax, pecans)
  • chocolate chips – yep! you just read that right hahaha

 

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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.

 

Benefits of Cucumbers

Since I’m eating an entire cucumber right now… lets talk about the benefits =P

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  • Very high in water. (95% water actually) So they are good for hydration and eliminating toxins that are in your body.
  • High in vitamins, and almost all vitamins that you need for the day. Remember to eat the skin (which is high in vitamin C)
  • Since its high in vitamins (Including vitamin B) they can be eaten as a snack to help pick you up when you’re body starts to feel tiered. . . . (any food will do this that has a good source of vitamin B by the way…. vitamin b is a mood and energy lifter!)
  • Good for you party people out there. . . eat a few cucumber slices before you go to bed after a night of partying and since it has a good source of water, vitamins and electrolytes …. its none to help with hangovers… (haven’t tried this, just heard about it.)
  • Can be used as a skin soother for sunburns… like aloe does.

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  • Not only on the outside does it help with burns though, its a natural heartburn reliever too.
  • Good source of silica which can help with joint pain.
  • High in fiber so helps aid digestion and keeps ya regular 😉
  • Helps with bags under your eyes. (eat it or put slices on your eyes like they do in the movies… )
  • cancer fighting food. YAY
  • Helps with weight loss because since its a super food (very high-density, high vitamin, and full of fiber and nutrients) you’ll actually feel fuller and wont eat as much.

 

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Clean Eating 101 – Its a Lifestyle not a Diet!

English: Healthy eating pyramid similar to tha...

English: Healthy eating pyramid similar to that of the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health. Temporary image as original is non-commercial use only. If you have a better image please replace this. Thanks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So some of you might not know what I mean when I speak of “clean eating”, so here I’m going to kind of go through what it entails and what it all means to “eat a clean diet”. (basically my diet- give or take some cheats here and their =))

What is Clean Eating??

  • Clean Eating is based off of eating whole and natural foods. It cuts out all processes man made products for the most part and focuses eating mainly things that come from the Earth to feed your body. (Nuts, Fruit, Veggies, Lean cuts of meat, and Legumes). It gives your optimal nutrition to function property and when done correctly can leave your feeling amazing!
  • Realistically there really isn’t fitness or weight loss goals that can be achieved without it. Its the basics of most nutrition and diets (with out cutting out natural sources) and it doesn’t leave you feeling deprived or hungry.
  • Feeling health, being healthy and loosing weight or maintaining a good weight is mainly based around nutrition. People seem to think that weight loss ideally comes from working out and spending hours at the gym, yes it does help but nutrition is about 80% of the battle, whereas, fitness and physical activity is 20%

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What are the basic Principles?

  • Avoid all processed food. Whole grain bread and natural cheeses are ok, its the stuff with 80 ingredients that you cant even pronounce.
  • Eat Whole Foods. Things that haven’t been messed with like veggies, fruits, grass-fed meats, natural nut butters and milk, and unsalted and processed nuts and seeds. Herbs and Spices will become your best friend, so will natural oils.
  • Get used to cooking your own food! This way you know what’s in it, how it was prepared and you don’t have to second guess whether or not its healthy or not. Makes it SO much easier! Pre-made meals does not count as “clean eating” even if its a lean cuisine meal haha.
  • Eliminate the sugar! sugar and fake sugar really isn’t good for us. You will use very little natural sugars in  this diet because you wont need them! (stevia, honey and agave nectar are some you can use)
  • Include Protein, Carbohydrate and fat within every meal- Your diet will mainly consist of lean meats, a healthy starch (such as a sweet potatoes or brown rice), a ton of veggies and fruit here and there. You’ll fell more satisfied with this way of eating because you will be eating for optimum nutrition. You’re giving your body what it needs and once you get past the food addictions (things like craving sugar and bad carbs) you wont really have any trouble eating this way for the rest of your life.
  • Eating 6 smaller meals a day! – eating 6 smaller meals revs up your metabolism because your constantly giving it healthy foods, therefore its receiving its proper nutrition, but then again your pretty much eating every 3 hours so there is either no time to even get hungry or have your body “feel” hungry because you wont be going hors without eating.
  • Drinking Calories is a Big Fat NO- sugary drinks are obviously a no-go. Make water your first choice by far (if it get boring you can add fruits to it) but you can also have unsweetened tea, and coffee with little skin milk and stevia, low-fat milk, and nut milks.
  • Physical Activity becomes apart of your day- yes just like any other diet you read or see, you have to ideally get moving. No it doesn’t have to be 3 hours at the gym everyday but even a walk around the block is better than nothing.

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What to Expect from Eating Clean:

  • More energy and alertness
  • Clearer skin, whiter eyes, and stronger hair and nails
  • Provides a natural detox
  • Weight loss (if there is weight to loose)
  • Leaner body
  • Motivation and a sped up metabolism
  • Feeling more healthy all around and more happy as well.

clean eat

Tip of the Week #12 Eat 6 Smaller meals a day!

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So some people swore by it, some people are totally against it. So let me tell you how it can be amazing and work and you will never be hungry again and then I’m going to tell you in return, how it can have a negative effect and honestly probably hurt you.

The Good :

It is known that frequent smaller meals can not only curb those hunger pains we often get in between our average “3 meals a day” but also speed up your metabolism. Eating more foods (ideally cleaner foods) helps get you the nutrients you need and keeps your energy levels up as well . Here are some examples of how to do this correctly, and what is considered a “small meal”. Each meal (of the 6) should consist of a lean protein, Lower carbohydrate, high fiber, and low fat snack/meal. Always include veggies and fruits in at least 4 if not all your meals.

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Some examples:

  • Half of turkey sandwich on 100% Whole Wheat bread with light mayo or mustard. Side of Veggies and hummus.
  • Big Spinach Salad with fruit and a tablespoon of almond butter on the side.
  • Grilled chicken breast with steamed veggies
  • Protein shake
  • Lean meat with sweet potato and veggie
  • Medium apple with string cheese
  • Hardboiled egg on a slice of whole wheat bread. 1 half of grapefruit
  • Lean meat with 1 cup brown rice and steamed broccoli and cauliflower

Key pointers: Make sure you keep your portion control in check and make sure you aren’t only eating a lot of one key nutrient (i.e.. Grains)

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The Bad:

Eating 6 smaller meals can go back when you either don’t watch your portions (this isn’t grazing all day kind of diet its a cut your meals in half and eat them every 3 hours). Also, it can go back when you aren’t getting a balanced meal every time you eat. Make sure your getting the cleanest forms of foods ideally. You don’t want to have every snack you have to be a protein or granola bar, you need to mix it up.

Also if your eating out all the time. (cheeseburgers, fast foods and processed foods, ) these are not considered cleaner foods… If your eating these at every 3 hours, this will not work either.

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Some examples of how this Wont work:

  • Cheeseburgers all the time. With fries
  • Granola bars and fruit bars for every snack
  • Foods with too much sugar constantly throughout the day (gummy snacks, too much fruits with added sugar)
  • Not a balance of nutrients  (of anything)
  • Too many sandwiches throughout the day or week. (mix it up!)
  • Prepared Salads and meals at fast food chains (sorry but they are ideally not the best but ok when only in a time crunch or you drop your prepared meal or something.)
  • Energy bars and drinks. Some are ok, but usually the ones everyone likes have more sugar than a snickers bar!
  • Pre-made smoothies – your better off making your own.

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