Fall Harvest Salad– Thanksgiving Favorite!

IMG_9768

I hope everyone had a beautiful thanksgiving filled with lots of family, friends and food! (My favorite f-words). I was lucky enough to attend Thanksgiving with my own family and my boyfriend’s family so there was plenty of food to go around. I always start my Thanksgiving morning off with a great workout. This year, I chose to take a barre class followed immediately by a spin class at my gym. I came home to do some cooking and baking and threw together this salad that I’ve been saving to make for the right occasion.

For whatever reason, and it’s probably because I’m a bonafide nutrition weirdo, I thought about how cool it would be to make a salad with “sweet potato croutons”. Not the crunchy, carby, bread derived croutons we’re accustomed to but rather a really delicious sweet and savory kind of my own. This could’ve been either disastrous or amazing and I’m happy to say, it was the latter.

I love bringing salads to other’s homes when they’re entertaining because I find that I’m usually the pickiest person at the table and I hate calling attention to myself for it. I’d rather enjoy a delicious salad than the antipasto, seafood salad, stuffed mushrooms, devilled eggs, etc. And trust me, this was no “Jenny Craig” salad. This salad is the REAL deal. It has cheese, potatoes, sweet candied nuts and crisp pears. It was perfect to hold me over to the big turkey dinner. The best part was having it the next day with some turkey tossed in as a protein.

You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to make this salad–The ingredients are perfect for any time!  Enjoy

Fall Harvest Salad
Serves 12

Ingredients:

3 Romaine Hearts, Chopped
1 Cup Carrots, Shredded
3 Pears, Sliced
5 oz Chopped candied pecans
8 oz Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
3 medium Sweet Potatoes (Roasted Sweet Potato Cubes– See below for instructions)
8 oz Reduced Sugar Dried Craisins

Dressing:
1/4 cup Good Balsamic Vinegar (my favorite is Ariston– I refuse to buy any other brand now)
1/4 cup Champagne Vinegar
3 tbsp Olive Oil
Dash of Salt, Pepper, Oregano

Directions:
1) Prepare sweet potato cubes by preheating the oven to 350 F and washing/peeling 3 medium sweet potatoes. Cut sweet potaoes into small 1/2 inch cubes and place on a baking sheet. Coat in 1 tbsp olive oil and season with kosher salt, black pepper, onion and garlic powder and cumin. Bake in oven ~45 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fully roasted. About halfway through, I poured some water onto my baking sheet to soften the potatoes a bit.
2) Toss the rest of the ingredients in a large salad bowl. Here’s a great video if you’re not sure how to slice pears!
3) Prepare the salad dressing in a container (a mason jar works great). Combine all ingredients and shake!
4) When sweet potatoes are ready, allow them to cool before tossing them in with the salad.
5) Dress salad right before serving or allow guests to dress salad themselves.

My Homemade Italian-Jewish Chicken Soup

Growing up, my mom would always make either a sauce or chicken soup on Sundays. Now that I no longer live at home, I find myself missing that tradition more and more. With the temperatures dropping , the holiday season approaching, … Continue reading

How To Make Ginger Infused Vodka

Ginger Infused Vodka

If you know me, you know that my drink of choice is vodka. Usually I’ll just do a vodka soda (that’s if I’m trying to be simple), but I also really like coconut vodka with club soda and a splash of pineapple juice.

I’ve been obsessed with ginger lately and I just can’t get enough of the herb lately. I use it to make tea, to add zing to stir-fries, and always have a bag of ginger candies in my bag. (Check out Gin Gins). Ginger is not only great for adding flavor but a number of studies suggest that it could be beneficial for GI health. A study conducted at the University of Michigan found that when given a ginger root supplement, study participants experienced reduced markers of inflammation in the colon, which we know is a precursor to colon cancer. Other smaller studies have looked at how ginger supplementation can decrease exercise induced muscle pain but these studies were smaller scale and the jury is still out on this, but of course if you’re supplementing with ginger and you find it beneficial, there’s no reason not to continue it. (Unless of course you are under medical care and it’s contraindicated by a physician- always let your health care providers know if you’re taking any herbal supplements- you’d be surprised how many interactions they have!)

So you may not care about the health benefits of ginger and that’s fine, but how about a really good cocktail? Now you’re listening.

If you’ve never tried infusing your own vodka, you really should try. It’s so easy and adds SO much natural flavor. Infusing vodka with ginger adds no additional calories (other than what’s already in the vodka) and has such a nice, interesting taste that you just can’t get from syrups or flavoring agents.

The process is simple and is outlined in the picture above:
1) Obtain a bottle of plain, unflavored vodka (I’m an unpaid dietetic intern so I like to stay under $20..Sky is a great mid range priced vodka but feel free to use whatever you like!)
2) Pour your vodka into some kind of jar or container. I love using mason jars because I pick them up at Michael’s for about $0.50 each and you can re-use them.
3) Wash and cut your ginger. You don’t have to peel it and you don’t have to do any fancy cuts. Just cut it into small pieces.
4) Put the ginger in your container with the vodka.
5) Let it sit for 3-5 days (the longer you let it sit, the stronger the flavor) and enjoy on the rocks or in your favorite cocktail!

Tips:
-You can also infuse your water! It works the same way!
– If you’re not a ginger fan, try any other ingredient you like (cinnamon, sage, rosemary, cucumber, fruit, etc)
-Mix with something low calorie to keep the sugar and calories low– try club soda, diet ginger ale

Enjoy!

Banana Mug Cake

Banana Mug Cake

 

If you’re not a full fledged nutrition/fitness junkie/internet crawler, chances are that you’ve never heard of or made a mug cake. Well, you’re missing out and I just can’t let you remain in the dark any longer.

Did you know it was possible to make a HEALTHY and low calorie, single person dessert in a mug? You literally mix and cook the entire recipe in one mug and microwave it. It’s SO easy! I personally love making banana mug cakes with a Trader Joe’s cookie butter sauce. It comes out to a mere 134 calories and a whopping 11 grams of protein, for DESSERT! You have to try this immediately!

Banana Mug Cake:
Recipe:

1/3 banana
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp protein powder (I like Dymatize Cookie’s and Cream Whey Protein Isolate, but I’ve also used Vanilla)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg white or 2 tbsp liquid egg whites
1 packet Truvia

Sauce:
1 teaspoon Trader Joe’s Speculoo’s Cookie Butter
1-2 Tbsp Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

1) Spray mug with zero calorie butter spray
2) Mash 1/3 of banana at bottom of mug
3) Add all other ingredients (without the sauce)
4) Stir to combine
5) Microwave for 60-90 seconds
6) To create sauce; stir to combine Cookie Butter and Almond Milk and pour on top of mug cake

Nutrition Facts: 134 Calories; 17 G Carbohydrate; 2 G Fat; 11 G Protein

Did You Miss Me?

Hi All,

First and foremost, I must apologize for my hiatus from the blog world. Things have been veryyy busy over here!

First, note the name change. What do you guys think? I wanted to buy a domain name and Fit Girl Fuel was already taken (she has a GREAT blog!) and I thought that Protein and Champagne perfectly reflected my attitude towards nutrition. To me, nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle is a mixture between fueling your body and celebration. Thus, the new name. Now I need a graphic… Anyone a graphic designer?

2) I started my dietetic internship in August. That’s probably the main reason that I’ve been MIA. I’m doing my internship through Long Island University, CW Post. Basically I spend a few weeks at a time on different rotations. Right now, I am finishing up my Food Service rotation at Saint Francis hospital and will start on Long Term Care next week!

IMG_9393

3) I moved out of my parent’s house and into New York City with my boyfriend. This wasn’t exaclty something I was expecting to do (I had applied to a dietetic internship in Long Island so that I can live at home to save money while I worked for free) but we decided it was something we wanted to do and it’s been really amazing. I love coming home to my best friend every night 🙂

4) I’m currently working 4 other part time/freelance jobs on top of the full time internship and going to school to finish my Master’s. So as you can tell, things have been busy!

I am SO glad to be back to blogging and I will try my best to post regularly. If you know anyone who does graphic design, I’d love suggestions for a logo!

Of course, I’ve been cooking and eating healthy (and sometimes not so healthy) treats up a storm and I have SO many exciting things to share with you. Stay tuned!!

 

I’m back!!!

I’m back!!!!

Did you miss me?

You probably didn’t even realize I was gone….Anyway, I just got back from an 8 day cruise with my boyfriend on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas (their biggest ship to date). We started in Fort Lauderdale and sailed to Nassau Bahamas, St Thomas and Saint Maarten before we returned to Fort Lauderdale then finally back to New York. This was my first cruise (and also really my first true vacation) and I had the most amazing time. It was 8 straight days of relaxing, eating, drinking, having fun and spending quality time with my boyfriend.

Here’s a picture of us in front of the monster Oasis of The Seas. (This is when we got to the Bahamas)

1

In the Bahamas, we spent some time at the pool at the Atlantis, swam in the ocean, drank pina coladas and got massages on the beach.

In St. Thomas we explored, shopped and went on a sunset catamaran champagne cruise (which led to plenty of rum punch):

24

St. Maarten was probably our favorite island. Not only was it absolutely gorgeous, we started our day with breakfast on our balcony with this gorgeous view:

5

Then we went on an excursion where we rode these motorized inflatable boats called “rhino riders” . We took them to a private beach where we did some snorkeling and then got back on and rode back!

36

We did PLENTY of eating and drinking on the cruise. Remember, cruises are generally all-inclusive (the only thing we had to pay for was alcohol, and believe me…there was no shortage of that).

12

Sharing a vanilla milkshake at Johnny Rockets

11

Breakfast on the top deck of the ship

10

Bahama Mama’s in the jacuzzi

9

Chocolate Souffle, Vanilla Ice Cream and Creme Brulee

8

Cooking chicken/veggies on a 575 degree hot stone

7

Pineapple drinks filled with pina coladas!

I definitely indulged and didn’t deprive myself of anything I wanted. We did work out every day except two (one missed workout due to hangovers, the other due to an early flight). We actually discovered that our ship had Flywheel on board which we were thrilled about

14

First place for the girls!

13

Proverbial mirror selfie

Did I come home feeling a little more puffy and flabby than I normally do?…yeah. Did I care? Maybe a little…but once I hit the gym the next day and had one day of my usual healthy eating, I felt totally fine. I still haven’t weighed myself and I got back on Saturday but I don’t feel the need to. I’ve gotten in a bunch of really great workouts this week thanks to my favorites at Equinox (shout out to Dana, Damian, Assia) and everything fits fine so what’s the point of beating myself up over a number?

Admittedly, it’s taken me a long time to get to this point of self-acceptance but I couldn’t be happier. Of course I work out, watch what I eat, and 80% of the time pick the healthiest/lightest option. But as I’ve grown, I’ve allowed some dietary leniency into my life and I’m certainly the better for it.

I feel so lucky to have had such an amazing week with my amazing boyfriend. Can’t wait for the next one 🙂

Let’s Be Honest…You Didn’t Eat That

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 4.31.25 PM

As a nutrition student and blogger, when I’m not writing about food and nutrition, I’m reading about food and nutrition. This means that I’m constantly scouring the interwebs looking for things that may inspire me. This runs the gamut from obsessively repinning every recipe that appeals to me to spending hours on Grub Street and NY Magazine reading about the latest foodie happenings in my city to going through every academic journal I can get my hands on and looking at all of the latest research studies. I say this with the internet equivalent of a really secretive voice…I can sometimes spend multiple hours on instagram in a day….Shhh.

I’ll sometimes post some of my healthy creations on my personal instagram account, or from time to time, I may even post a picture of my running shoes or my favorite neon sign at SoulCycle to signify a completed workout that I’m proud of. I realize this annoys some people, and I think part of it is just that people really love to find things that others do annoying, especially if it involves the other person getting to the gym, killing it, and following it up with a healthy meal… all in the time it took them to sit on Facebook and think about how much they hate when other people post gym selfies.

So I must admit that I am one of the few that love seeing people on instagram post snapshots of their healthy lives. If anything, it serves as a source of inspiration for me (hey if they’re doing it, so can I) and it also is a really great way to crowd source ideas (Wow, why did I never think about freezing fruit in an ice cube tray to add some flair to my water?!)

Something that interests me though, is the “food porn” trend that has been popping up all over social media. Like regular porn, you feel somewhat guilty looking at it (that nutella smothered crepe probably has like, a GAJILLION calories), you don’t really want others to find out you do it, and most of the time, it’s really freaking unrealistic. Who are these people that day after day can eat thousands of calories in decadent food without gaining an ounce?! Where do they come from?! It almost seems to good to be true….

When I saw that NY Magazine published an interview with the anonymous curator of the You Did Not Eat That instagram account, I was thrilled. I almost jumped up and down….and then I realized I was on the stair master, pouring sweat that had the faint scent of last night’s 16 handles trip and that jumping up and down would be a really bad idea…. You can read the article for yourself, and I really suggest that you do, but basically “You Did Not Eat That” is dedicated to calling out all of the blogger/instawhores who post picture after picture of  calorie laden delicacies, 99% (roughly) of who never actually take more than a bite. Her mission statement is:

Speaking the truth in this mixed up world of too many macarons and ice cream cones. Because really…#youdidnoteatthat. Youdidnoteatthat@gmail.com”

I find media criticism to be such an important part of being an informed viewer of content. Part of this is due to my undergraduate studies in Media and Culture, and the other part of this is due to my intense interest in nutrition and most importantly, cultivating a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

I’ve never been one of the “lucky” ones who could eat anything they want and not gain an ounce. I never claim that eating well and working out comes easy to me, because it doesn’t. I make the conscious decision everyday to wake up and workout, to eat clean (most of the time) and manage my weight. I believe this honesty is part of my responsibility as a future dietitian. I firmly believe that perpetuating the idea that health comes easy and that a borderline emaciated figure is natural is dangerous in many ways.

I am not talking about the rare few that can eat whatever they want and not gain weight, who can smoke a pack of day and never get lung cancer, or who can never run a step in their life but show not a sign of cardiovascular distress. Let’s leave these people out of the conversation here.

What I am talking about is the people you see all over social media, creating an image of a perfect life complete with the designer clothes, the perfectly primped hair and makeup, a size zero body and of course the towering cone of full fat ice cream with every topping you can think of. But what if we were to look further into the picture, only to find that the designer clothes still had the tags on them and were on their way back to Bloomingdale’s to be returned and that she didn’t wake up with her hair and makeup like that, but it took her two hours to perfect. Then what if we delved even further and found said size zero waif holding the 800 calorie ice cream cone actually ate nothing else but that ice cream cone that day, and punished herself for hours at the gym after. Or maybe after the picture was taken, she went to the bathroom, got on her knees and stuck her finger down her throat.

I am not saying that everyone on instagram has an eating disorder. That would be absurd. What I am saying is that we need to take these images with a grain of salt. View them with a critical eye. Do not let them make you feel badly about your own life. I very much like the saying by Regina Brett (NY Times Bestseller) that says “if we all threw our problem’s into a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back”. We often think of how much better our lives would be if only we had that Birkin, or if only we could lose 10 pounds, or if only I didn’t eat that cupcake…but the truth is…the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and not everything is always as it appears to be.

Baked Sugar Dusted Chocolate Chip Donuts

Did everyone miss me? It’s been quite awhile since I posted on here. I’m sort of getting my life in order and just enjoying the spring! Adjusting to my new job(s) and trying to get into the flow of working primarily from home is harder than I thought it would be but I’m loving it! I’ve finished 3 out of my 4 finals so now I’m just kind of hanging on ’til the end.

I was wandering around Michael’s as I tend to do and I ventured into the baking aisle where I saw this adorable donut pan and just hadddd to have it. It seems like such a frivolous thing to spend money on but it was $9.99 and I had a 40% off coupon so I was able to get this really random/cool thing to add to my baking collection for only about 6 bucks…totally worth it. This is the second donut recipe I created and I’m obsessed. (Check out my Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts here!)

For only 213 calories, you get a big, warm, sugar dusted chocolate chip donut. I used mashed bananas and nonfat greek yogurt and just a littttttle bit of light butter in place of oil or full fat butter and let me tell you, you won’t even notice!

Enjoy!

IMG_7505
Baked Sugar Dusted Chocolate Chip Donuts
Serves 12

Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup sucralose for baking
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup light butter, melted
1/2 cup egg beaters
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Topping:
2 tbsp light butter, melted
1/2 cup sucralose

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2) Combine mashed banana, sugar, sucralose and yogurt and mix until combined.
3) Add melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Mix.
4) Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until combined (do not over-mix!).
5) Fold in the chocolate chips.
6) Spray a donut pan with zero calorie nonstick spray.
7) Fill a ziploc bag or a plastric pastry bag with the batter and close, cut a small piece off the corner to create a piping bag.
8) Fill the pan 3/4 of the way in each mold.
9) Bake ~12 minutes or until donuts turn slightly golden. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
10) For the topping, use a pastry brush to coat each donut with the melted butter and dip in a bowl with sucralose.

Nutrition Facts (per 1 donut): 213 calories; 34 grams Carbohydrate; 7 grams Fat; 5 grams Protein; 2 grams Fiber

Review: The New Vega Bars are Here!

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about my opinion on a great plant based protein bar. I’m constantly getting asked by the vegans in my life to suggest a high quality vegan protein bar that doesn’t contain a bajillion calories and taste like the inside of a wood chipper. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly an easy task. Most of the vegan bars I’ve found that taste good have tons of sugar and not a lot of fiber, while the bars with minimal added sugar, higher fiber and protein counts taste less than desirable. When Vega hit me up to let me know that they were going to be releasing a whole new line of vegan bars in May of this year, I couldn’t be more excited! Lucky for me, I arrived home to a box of delicious bars to try so that I could let you in on the new launch before they even hit stores! I’m sharing with you all the important deets and stats on Vega’s new bars and letting you in on my personal favorites in terms of nutritional stats and taste. I’ll break it down for you by bar type, give you the macro breakdown, talk about some of the highlights of each bar and finally, share with you my personal favorites!

Vega Bar Family Shot

Vega One Bar

Vega One Bar- ALl (1)

Flavors I Tried: ‘Chocolate Cherry Almond’ and ‘Chocolate Peanut Butter’
Flavors I Did Not Try: ‘Chocolate Coconut Cashew’

Calories: 260-270
Total Fat: 9.5-11 g
Saturated Fat: 3.5-5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 65 mg
Carbohydrate: 34-35 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 12-13 grams

Highlights: 
-Protein Source: Brown Rice Protein and Pea Protein
-Omega 3’s: From chia seeds, hemp seeds and saviseeds.
-Sweetener Sources are less refined than typical bars. Vega One bars contain Dates, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Whole Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Raw Agave, Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar which are lower on the Glycemic Index which translates to a smaller spike in blood sugar, lower insulin response, and increased satiety.
-Non GMO
-Gluten Free
-Contains 1/3 of the Vitamin A and Vitamin C you need for the day and 50% of the Vitamin B12 you need for the day-1 bar is equivalent to the protein in 2.2 eggs, the fiber in 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 1 serving of greens, 1 billion probiotics (same as 1 cup of yogurt), same omega-3 profile as 2 servings of salmon, same antioxidants as 1.4 cups of blueberries
-Contains 25 vitamins and minerals

Vega Snack Bar

Vega Snack Bar

This is the updated version of the Vega Vibrancy bar. It has higher quality ingredients, better mouthfeel and improved taste.

Flavors I Tried : ‘Cranberry Almond’ and ‘Dark Chocolate Mixed Nuts & Sea Salt’
Flavors I Did Not Try: ‘Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup’, ‘Dark Chocolate Cashew Cherry’ and Coconut Cashew

Calories: 180-220
Total Fat: 8-14 g
Saturated Fat: 0.5-7 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 80-125 mg
Carbohydrate: 20-26 grams
Fiber: 2-3 grams
Protein: 3-5 grams

Highlights:
-Sweetener Sources are less refined than typical bars. Vega Snack bars are sweetened with organic tapioca syrup, organic raw agave and organic evaporated cane sugar.
-Non GMO
-Gluten Free
-Wholesome ingredients: almonds, organic cashews, organic peanuts, cherries, coconut, dried cranberries, buckwheat, brown rice crisps, chia seeds, hemp seeds

Vega Sport Protein Bar

Vega Sport Bar- All
Flavors I Tried: ‘Chocolate Coconut’ and ‘Chocolate Mint’
Flavors I Did Not Try: ‘Chocolate Peanut Butter’

Calories: 240-260
Total Fat: 8-11 grams
Saturated Fat: 3-4.5 grams
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 40-150 mg
Carbohydrate: 27-30 grams
Fiber: 3-4 grams
Protein: 15 grams

Highlights:
-15 grams of protein per bar from whole grain brown rice and pea protein sources
-2.5 grams BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) per bar. BCAA’s help to rebuild muscle after a strength training workout.
-2 grams glutamine per bar (rebuilds muscle tissue & supports immune system
-Great for a post-workout snack during the anabolic window
-Informed Choice Certified (contain no banned substances, safe for athletes to use)
-Contains 1 gram Omega 3’s from Saviseed Oil
-Non GMO
-Gluten Free
-Sweetener Sources are less refined than typical bars. Vega Sport Protein bars contain Dates, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Whole Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Raw Agave, Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar which are lower on the Glycemic Index which translates to a smaller spike in blood sugar, lower insulin response, and increased satiety.

Vega Sport Energy Bar

vegasportenergy
This is a reformulation of the Vega Sport Endurance Bar
Flavors I Tried: ‘Apple Cherry’ and ‘Chocolate Coconut Almond’

Calories: 200-230
Total Fat: 9-14 grams
Saturated Fat: 1-4 grams
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 10-30 mg
Carbohydrate: 27-29 grams
Fiber: 3-4 grams
Protein: 4 grams

Highlights:
-Contains 1 gram Omega 3’s from Saviseed Oil
-Non GMO
-Gluten Free
-Great for endurance workouts (1 bar for every 45 minutes of cardiovascular endurance exercise). Especially great for cyclists and hikers.
-Easily digestible carbohydrate sources: organic dates, organic agave, dried cherries, dried apples and coconut palm sugar
-Informed Choice Certified (contain no banned substances, safe for athletes to use)

The Bottom Line:  In terms of Vegan sport, protein and snack bars, I was very impressed with the selection Vega has to offer. I love that all of their bars are both vegan AND gluten free. I probably would choose the Vega One bar as a meal replacement rather than a snack because they’re a little bit higher in calories than some of the others. As someone who does a lot of strength training, I found the Vega Sport Protein bars to be most appropriate for my needs. I personally really liked the Chocolate Coconut flavor (I’m not much of a mint person) and I actually replaced my post workout protein shake with this. Because the ingredients are so clean, I don’t think that GI intolerances will be a problem for most people but of course, every one is different. I love that I now have an option for vegan friends and clients looking for a really high quality protein bar!