Shake Review: Jay Robb Egg White Protein

The latest protein shake I decided to try was Jay Robb egg white protein. I’ve heard great reviews on the whey supplement, but I’m trying to limit dairy and would rather not give up my yogurt ration, so I gave Jay Robb’s egg white protein a try.

One scoop contains 120 calories and 24 grams of protein and various amino acids. Jay Robb is purely a protein supplement, so you aren’t going to find added vitamins and minerals here.

It is easily mixed with water in a blender bottle, and has a great chocolate taste. The dowside, for me, is that Jay Robb contains stevia, so the great chocolatey flavor was followed by this sickeningly sweet chemically taste. This was the final time I was giving a stevia product a chance. No more stevia for me, I just can’t take it.

That said, I think that Jay Robb makes a GREAT post workout supplement, if you can handle the taste of stevia.

PBJFF Sandwich

PBJFF stands for Peanut Butter, Jelly, Fruit & Flax. My son loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and this adds an easy nutrition boost. Just add ground flax to the peanut butter (you can mix it up if your child is super picky) and finely slice up the fruit of your choice ( I used fresh strawberries here). Lightly spread jelly on your bread (I use Whole Foods 360 brand fruit spread and Limpa brad from a local baker) and add sliced fruit. Add peanut butter/flax mixture to other slice of bread. Slap the two pieces together and eat it up.

Rethink Breakfast: Israeli Inspired Breakfast.

I ate a little bit bad last night. I admit it. I had a piece of lasagna, some ice cream and about 3 glasses of wine. It was NYE and I couldn’t say no to bad for me eats. This morning I was determined to make my first meal of 2012 healthy. I love Isreali style breakfasts and I had enough veggies in the fridge to make it work. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A classic Israeli breakfast usually contains a salad of finely chopped fresh vegetables, scrambled or fried eggs, a soft cheese or yogurt and fresh bread. I was too groggy this morning to finely chop most of the vegetable aside from the cucumber, but here you have it myย  “California-style” version:

  • pickled tomato
  • slices of avocado
  • grape tomatoes
  • chopped cucumber
  • baby carrots
  • sugar snap peas
  • jicama
  • Wasa crispbread
  • 2 fried eggs
  • Greek yogurt mixed with garlic.

Very filling and very good for you!

Lazy Breakfast

What do I do when I don’t have the time or motivation to make myself breakfast? Sometimes I’ll make a protein shake, but when I feel like eating,ย  I’ll turn to a few trusty items in my pantry and fridge:

  • 1 small container Greek yogurt – Greek yogurt is a type of yogurt that has been strained, giving it a firmer consistency.ย  It is also higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate than non-strained “traditional” yogurt.ย  The brands Iย  like are Fage or Chobani 2%. I really tend to limit my dairy intake, but Greek yogurt does not give me any digestive issues. You can also use coconut yogurt if you prefer.
  • Ground Flaxseed – High in fiber and Omega-3. The taste reminds me of ground almonds. Very inexpensive to buy as well. I can find a container at the local Ethnic grocery store for about $2.50. This Spectrum package was $4.00 and will last me a very long time.
  • Honey – Normally I’ll buy from aย  local beekeeper that sells at my neighborhood farmer’s market, but I didn’t get a chance to get to the FM over the holidays.ย  Miller’s is a good brand though and local to me. I bought this at a nearby health foods store.
  • Fruit – Use whatever fruit you want. I had raspberries on hand. Bananas are great in this, especially with a little bit of PB2 powdered peanut butter mixed in.

Enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Rethinking Breakfast: Chia Seed Flan

Chia seeds have been making a bit of a comeback lately. My mom used to drink these seeds back in Mexico as a kid. Grandma would give this to all her kids, especially when they were sick. When you soak chia seeds in water, they take on a unique gelatinous consistency. This gel will actually help to keep you hydrated, which is great before or after a hefty workout…or if you are sick with fever. Chia seeds are also the richest in Omega-3’s and help with satiety, since they absorb water. They are also a decent egg substitute in vegan diets.

I got some inspiration for this recipe from a Chia Seed Pudding recipe at whatscookinggoodlooking.com. I really liked the recipe, but thought it would be fun to make into a flan. ๐Ÿ™‚

Makes 1 six ounce flan (Make as many as desired)

  • 6-oz ramekin or custard cup
  • 1 1/2 – 2 heaping tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 4-5 oz of Vanilla Almond or Coconut milk – sweetened
  • raw honey (or sweetened condensed milk)
  • cinnamon, to taste

Add honey to the bottom of your ramekin/cup. In a separate bowl, whisk milk, chia seeds, and cinnamon together until seeds are separated and not clumpy. Pour mixture into ramekin. dust with cinnamon. Cover with saran wrap and put in refrigerator for 4 hoursย  or overnight (preferable). The seeds will soak up with milk and take on a custard-like consistency. Just run a knife around the ramekin to loosen and serve or just eat it straight from the cup. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is also great with raisins added. Next time I’m going to add some cocoa powder and see how it comes out.

Tomato & Cucumber Salad

This is a quick and easy side dish or meal to help you get your veggie on an dalso get a good amount of fiber in your system. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sorry for the blurry picture. I’m not the best photographer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tomato & Cucumber salad

  • 6 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons flax oil (can subsititue with EVOO or a mixture of the two)
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar (add as much as you like)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • Freshly ground pink Himalayan salt (or sea salt), to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Chia seeds

(Serves approx 3 people or 1 HUNGRY person)

Mix all the ingredients, except Chia seeds in a bowl. Once mixed, place on serving dish and sprinkle Chia seeds on top. This dish is refreshing and will give you at least 6 grams of fiber per serving and a good dose of Omega-3’s.

You can serve this on top of salad greens or along side grilled chicken or roasted lamb. You can add a bit of crumbled feta cheese as well.

 

Enjoy!

Shake Review: Vega Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer

In my quest to find a great protein shake, I give you my thoughts on Vega Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer – Chocolate flavor.

Vega is definitely more than just a protein shake, it’s filled with a bunch of supplements that will help to give you a boost throughout the day. Similar to Spirutein, Vega gets it’s protein from plant sources, notably hemp, pea, brow rice and flax proteins, but it also contains a blend multivitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics, and maca root for energy. Here is a snapshot of the nutritional info.

In my opinion Vega tastes really, really bad. It’s gritty and tastes like grass and mud with an sickeningly sweet after taste – that comes from the Stevia. In my opinion, two scoops of this powder is too much unless you are planning on running a marathon. 1 scoop will knock it down to 130 calories and 13 grams of protein. The fat intake is high – 3.5 grams (for 1 scoop) of which .75 is saturated, but the whooping 7.5 grams of fiber inย  1 scoop cancels out that bad in my opinion. Mixing Vega in juice helps to mask the flavor, but that instantly makes a 130 calorie shake at least 250 calories – not good if you want to use Vega as a snack, but ideal as a meal replacement.

On the plus side, the supplement does give you energy, most likely due to the maca root. I really and truly felt great after taking it, but actually getting myself to willingly drink Vega is the problem. Vega reminds me a bit of Shakeology, but cheaper (approx $42 for 15 servings or $84 a month) and worse tasting.

Vega – Drink at your own risk. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Rethinking Breakfast: Ceviche

In trying to squeeze even more vegetables into my diet, I’ve begun to rethink what I eat first thing in the morning. Breakfast is definitely my starchiest, veggie-barren meal of the day. I started wondering why that is and it is probably due to American culture. We were raised on a breakfast of grains and eggs, most likely born out of English customs when this country was founded. This might have worked well for working class, active Americans back in the day, but it isn’t the best for my stationary, chair-sitting self.

Recently, I made a shrimp and octopus ceviche for a Christmas party and remembered that this is a typical breakfast meal in South America. The next day, I had some ceviche for breakfast and I felt invigorated. Now It is going to become one of my breakfast staples ๐Ÿ™‚

Shrimp and Octopus Ceviche

  • 1 pound de-veined shrimp
  • 1 pound cooked and chopped octopus
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped oregano
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or flax seed oil (optional)
  • 1 minced jalapeno (optional)
  • 1 avocado, sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Lightly blanch the shrimp in boiling water to make them pink, If you prefer to let the citrus juice “cook” the shrimp, cut the shrimp into smaller pieces and let it marinade for at least 4 hours or overnight (and it will be ready for breakfast :)).ย  If you blanch the shrimp, a two hour marinade time is sufficient. Let the shrimp cool in an ice bath before mixing with other ingredients.

Now mix all the ingredients together, minus the avocado and let it marinade for at least two hours, or overnight, If you want it for breakfast. When you are ready to serve, slice some avocado on top. You can eat this alone, on top of salad greens,ย  with a crispy tostada or a warm corn tortilla.

My IBS Story

This topic is about poop and bowel movements, just warning if you decide to read on, but it is a subject that has taken over my life for the last couple of months. We have all suffered from gastrointestinal ailments in our lifetime, whether it is a mild upset stomach or a full blown bout of gastroenteritis. I think we can all agree that problems involving your digestive tract are no walk in the park. Well, here is my story.

Shortly after I had my son (5 years ago), I started suffering from constipation. I didn’t think anything of it, just chalked it up to not eating enough fiber and needing to up my fluid intake. I had bouts of queasiness, constipation, diarrhea, you name it, especially during that time of the month. The problem persisted and after a couple of years, I mentioned it to my doctor. She would recite the routine talking points about getting enough exercise, eating fiber and drinking water. That it. I thought it was bullshit because I did all those things and it didn’t help, though my diet wasn’t as good as it should have been. Nevertheless, I became more strict with my diet and exercise routine.I became almost militant, yet despite this, I was gaining weight – all in my belly. I wondered how could have lean muscular legs and arms, yet, have this flabby, bloated middle, but, again, I chalked it up to the “abs are made in the kitchen” mentality (which isn’t untrue). I was unwilling to further refine my diet at this point. I was tired, I was stressed and I was baffled at my new body shape – I never had this body type before, I usually gained in the hips, not in the midsection. My own clothes started fitting differently on my body and it depressed me. Why was this happening? At this point, I had enough and thought all my hard work was a waste of time.

The situation took a turn for the worse in September, on my son’s first day of Kindergarten. My husband and I were rushing around all morning and now it was time for him to go to work. We had approximately 1/2 hour to eat before he had to leave, so we decided on an unhealthy option, McDonald’s. Right before I entered the restaurant, I felt queasy. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and it wasn’t sitting well with me at all. I thought it was because I hadn’t eaten fast food in awhile, but deep down, I knew that wasn’t it. When I got home a few minutes later, I was on the toilet. At this point, I was certain I had a bout of the stomach flu that was circulating around my office. Funny thing about this is that this particular “flu” didn’t go away. After a couple of days, my abdomen came very distended and uncomfortable making it hard for me to eat. After a week, I was at the doctor asking what the hell was going on. I got the usual spiel about gastroenteritis and to give it time, which I did, but I was getting progressively worse instead of better. I had pretty severe pain in the left side of my abdomen accompanied by spasm. It almost felt like a baby kicking, but when you know that there isn’t a baby in there…it’s not a warm and fuzzy feeling. I kept my diet bland because if my tummy had to do any work, it was like World War III was taking place in there.

Ultrasounds, CT Scans and numerous blood test didn’t show anything abnormal. That floored me, I was at my wits end. My digestive system was paralyzed. I hadn’t had a bowel movement in 7 days, yet everything was somehow normal. I tried taking probiotics and laxatives, but my stomach would laugh at me. I wasn’t laughing back. My abdomen became even more distended, to the point where no one would question me parking in the “Expectant Mothers” parking. (No, I never did that!) One doctor finally prescribed me a major amount of laxatives. That worked, but the pain persisted and my bowel movements were accompanied by blood (due to hemorrhoids, which most likely became inflamed when I was pregnant, but were now super noticeable under my present condition.)

My doctor finally gave me a blanket diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome with internal hemorrhoids. She said that I needed to reduce my stress level. My reaction to this was “How in the world am I, a working mom, that was to battle a horrible Los Angeles commute, get my son to school, go to work, pick up my son, battle the commute home and then once home have to do EVERYTHING since my husband works most evenings…Just how the heck am I supposed to “reduce my stress level?” Like it’s just that easy. As if! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Well, I had to find a way. My first step was accepting that my situation wasn’t going to change and that I just had to go with the flow. This isn’t always easy, but believe it or not, it helps. My 2nd step was making sure I was taking breaks at work. I now get up every hour, just to stretch. At least twice a day, I’ll go into our quiet room (We are blessed enough to have one) and do 15 minutes of yoga. I also take a 20 minute walk in the afternoon. During these times, I try to focus on my breathing and to make sure I’m really getting into a relaxed zone.

I also changed my outlook on exercise. Working out is something I did to stay healthy and in shape. It wasn’t something I did to actually “relax,” so in essence, my workouts were stressful. I had a slotted amount of time to do a cardio sculpt or zumba class, but in the back of my mind I knew I had to get home to get my son bathed and tucked in to bed. I would hit the beach to play volleyball, but I didn’t allow myself to fully enjoy what I was doing, because I knew I had work waiting for me at home. I have incorporated more yoga into my routine without worrying about what my heart rate monitor is reading and how many calories I’m burning. I also do more workouts from home, so I don’t have to worry about the clock, and having enough time for making dinner. ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, working out at home does provide some challenges and distractions, but it is working for me right now. At this point, I have added a bit more intensity to my routine, through bodyrock.tv workouts now that I’m feeling a bit more zen.

I also made changes to my diet. The main thing was adding the right balance of fiber to my meals. I aim for at least 30 grams of fiber a day and I try to balance the soluble (rice, squash) and insoluble (beans, berries, raisins) fiber with each meal. At first, I had cut out wheat and dairy, but I didn’t have major issues when introducing them back into my diet, but I eat them sparingly, especially refined breads. I consume a tablespoon of whole psyllium husk in water or a protein shake twice a day. This provides me with more soluable fiber and also regulates my blood sugar, which keeps me satiated throughout the day. I drink 64 ounces, minimum, of water. This was a tough one for me before, but now I’m keeping myself in check. (I’ll get more into diet specifics in another post)

With all these changes, I feel better. However, this is a long recovery process, so I’m not going to worry about how I look or how fast the weight is coming off. I just want to be as healthy as possible on every level – physically, emotionally and spiritually. This whole ordeal has taught me that the stomach/brain connection is no joke, that I don’t have to carry the world on my shoulders, that I need to be aware of my state of consciousness and not get trapped in illusion and toxicity. I need to be me and I need to be happy being me.

Shake, Shake, Shake…

I have been trying to watch what I eat lately. I don’t eat much processed junk, but I take a very lax approach to dieting. Usually, if I see a food and it looks delicious, I eat it. The end result is primarily me feeling guilty for eating whole bag of trail mix (major weakness of mine) and working out hard at the end of the day to burn it off. That is *if* I have the time to work out, because sometimes I don’t. More often than not, I have an extra long commute on the 405 freeway with a hungry preschooler in tow wanting to listen to Raffi or other various soul-sucking children’s songs. Once I get home, I just want to hide under the covers due to post-traumatic traffic stress syndrome. At this point,ย  I begin to I feel extremely guilty, head straight for the mirror, start looking at my behind and asking my husband if it’s too big (It is, it ALWAYS is). ๐Ÿ˜‰

Morning is my problem time for dieting. Cooking is not an option as I am in zombie mode in the AM. Eating brains involve some form of cooking, so unless you want to gamble with your life, it’s a no go for this zombie. Cereal is not filling enough. I wind up hungry right after I consume it, then I look to cookies from the work vending machine…no bueno. Oatmeal works, but I don’t love it. I do have a veggie egg scramble with whole wheat toast at least once a week, but my Dad makes that for me (bless him), so I can’t have that everyday.ย  A successful weekly breakfast plan for me would consist of oatmeal, veggie scrambles, but what else? I needed something else to add to the mix, so I decided to add a protein shake to my diet regimen.

I went into this with trepidation. A shake for breakfast reminds me of someone desperately trying to lose weight by just drinking sugary Slim Fast all day, then pigging out at night. I wanted a mix that wasn’t sugary and had some form of vitamins and minerals,ย  so off I went in search of a good mix. The first stop was our local Trader Joe’s. I picked up the vanilla soy protein powder, looked at the label and found it contained a good amount of vitamins and protein, so I decided to give it a try for $10. The next morning, I mixed it with 1% milk and frozen mango, but found the taste a bit chalky. I wasn’t a fan. Sorry Trader Joe’s!

I went googled around a bit and got recommendations to try Isopure’s whey protein and purchased some at a local nutrition store ($40 for a big container). I tried the chocolate and preferred this over the Trader Joe’s brand. It blended really well and did a GREAT job of keeping me satiated in the morning. I didn’t feel starving by 10am and could eat a healthy snack that would keep me going until lunch.ย  Isopure does not have as many vitamins as the TJ’s brand, but still had 25 grams for protein and tasted better. My only problem is that I only had chocolate flavor at home. One day I’m going to buy the vanilla or Mango Peach…ohhh!!. ๐Ÿ™‚

A friend of mine is a Team Beachbody coach and recently sent me a couple of samples of Shakeology to try. I was really excited because I have looked at the nutritional info for Shakeology and it has lots to offer (see nutritional facts at bottom of post). Shakeology has less protein, 17g per serving compared to 25g in the other brands, but includes probiotic and enzyme blends in addition to 3 grams of fiber. It is also very costly in comparison to the other brands at approx. $120 for a 30-day supply. I received a sample of the chocolate and greenberry flavors to try. I opted to try the chocolate first since I was told that the greenberry flavor takes some getting used to. My friend said to blend with lots ice, which I did. The consistency was decent, with a good chocolatey flavor. There was a bit of an after taste that wasn’t too bothersome, so I was able to enjoy my drink on the way to work. The problem that I encountered was that I was hungry within an hour. I found myself staring at the nutter butter cookies sitting at my co-workers desk and started craving a peanut butter and banana sandwich desperately. I finally broke down and had some graham crackers, but was left wondering if I should have doctored up the shake a bit more. Maybe use milk instead of water, or add lots of fruit next time?

Yesterday morning I tried the greenberry, with lots of ice, milk and plenty of frozen mango and blueberries. I was tempted to try the drink straight up without the fruit, but zombie mode was in full effect, so I didn’t try it. The taste was decent, the mango masked the greenberry flavor quite well in my opinion. I thought the added fruit and milk would help curb my hunger, but I was ravenous by 8am. I had played volleyball the night before and was going to go to the gym later that day, so I allowed myself to eat trail mix…which lead to me eating too much trail mix.

I thought, perhaps, I was just extra hungry this week, but this morning I had an Isopure shake and had not dealt with any hunger issues. So as much as I wanted to switch to Shakeology, I don’t think it’s going to work out for me. I do like the extra nutrition, but because of the cost and the fact that I still need to doctor it up to suit my needs, It’s a no go for me. Bummer. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Here is another decent review unbiased review: http://supplement-geek.com/shakeology-review/

Trader Joe's Vanilla Soy Protein Powder

Shakeology

  • Isopure Chocolate Whey Protein