Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekend Recap & Back to school

It's Monday today. Who loves Mondays?

I'm sure everyone loves Mondays. It's usually the day that most people go back to work or school after a great weekend. For me, it's the first day back to school. After a month and a half winter break, school finally started back up. I bet you guys are thinking, "Lucky! That's such a long break!"
In contrast, I'm thinking, "I'm bored. There's nothing to do. When is school going to start?"

Anyway, how I spent my weekend before the first day of school was fun! Here's what I did.

On Saturday, I went to my friend's birthday party. It was so much fun. Dancing, singing, walking/running with their dog, eating, it was so much fun. I made a fool of myself with dancing but at least I wasn't the only one. It was fun.
After the party, I went grocery shopping with the family.

The cereal tastes just like Honey Nut Cheerios. The almond milk is yummy and creamy. I have yet to try the ProMax Nutty Butter Crisp. It was on sale at the store, so I bought one to try. I'll have to buy more later on this week if I end up liking them.

On Sunday, I hung out with a few friends at Starbucks. It was nice to catch up. We talked for a few hours and walked and shopped at a nearby Target. I got the Skinny Vanilla Latte at Starbucks. And, at Target, I bought a can of black beans and a can of garbanzo beans.

So, school was alright. It's just like any other school day, basically. It was the same as last semester.  I only had one class today and it was my US History Class. My history professor seems pretty cool, even though we  have to read some of books he co-authored. He really knows his stuff and he's passionate about it.

And, now, I have to say some fitness stuff because I'm thinking about it right now. I've been doing HIIT on the treadmill for the past two weeks and guess what, I've gotten a lot faster! I'm so happy. It really does increase your speed. The HIIT was switching from the speed of 4 to 8. Before, I could barely continue running at a constant speed of 6. Now, I can do 7 (yea. I'm slow. Don't judge me).

Today, I went to my school's gym and I tried a new upper body arm workout. I want to gain some muscle (but not too much!). It was pretty intense and I can't believe your body can heat up from doing an upper body strength training workout. I also used the stair master for the first time. It gets sweaty! I mean, it reminded of China. It was humid in China and I stayed at my grandparents apartment while we were visiting my parents hometown. No elevators. We had to go up the stairs and I got really sweaty! That's why it reminded me of China.

Anyway, I guess that's it.

Do you guys like Mondays?
How was your weekend?

Friday, January 25, 2013

发糕 Fa Gao "Chinese Prosperity Cake"

Dajia hao! Hi everyone. Today's post is going to be more of a cultural one.
Chinese New Year is coming up pretty soon. It's coming in two weeks, February 10. It's on a Sunday. And, as you know, us Chinese make a lot of things to celebrate the New Year and do things to make sure that the New Year will be prosperous and good.
So, today's recipe is going to be the Chinese Prosperity Cake (Cupcakes), also known as Fa Gao (发糕). Fa go is a steamed cupcake. As you see, there are "petals". The more the petals have blossomed, the more prosperous you will be and the more wealth you will obtain in the New Year. I do have another recipe but this recipe is different from the other one. Here's the link to my other recipe. 
This recipe here is more traditional but if you are unfamiliar with the taste and texture of rice flour, then I suggest you use my other recipe. 

Servings: 6 cupcakes
Calories: ~ 140 calories

Recipe adapted from Random Cuisine.


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks brown candy sugar 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp water 

  1. Boil 3/4 cup of water and then add in the candy sugar. Wait until it dissolves. 
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flours. 
  3. Pour the sugar mixture into the flours and mix as you are pouring it in. 
  4. Combine the baking powder with water and then add it into the batter. 
  5. Pour into cupcake pans and steam for 15 minutes. 
  6. Enjoy!

The texture of these cupcakes are a bit dense but they would be denser if you used all rice flour (which I've tried before). I hope you guys enjoy these! Zaijian!

Do you guys like cupcakes?
Do you guys celebrate the Lunar New Year (aka CNY)?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Black Bean Salsa Quinoa and Super Healthy Banana Oat Cookies

Before I starting off this post, I want to say Happy National Peanut Butter Day! I love peanut butter. It's delicious, especially on sandwiches or with bananas. I even ate a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast today. It's full of protein and has heart healthy fats in it. Just make sure to choose the kind that have no trans fat!
Anyway, back to what I originally wanted to talk about. So, yesterday, I said that I'd be posting a quinoa recipe. Well, here it is (I'm also posting a super healthy cookie recipe). It's Mexican inspired because, of course, the salsa. I love salsa.  Just make sure that the salsa is lower in sodium than the other brands and that you can actually read and understand what ingredients are in it, meaning, make sure it's just plain regular ingredients you know. You can also make your own salsa instead of buying it from the store! Anyway, here's this delicious recipe.

Servings: 4
Calories: ~260 calories
Protein: ~ 11 grams of protein


  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 can 15 oz black beans, drained 
  1. Cook the quinoa with the water. 
  2. Once the quinoa is done cooking, mix in the salsa and black beans. Make sure the black beans have no salt added or low sodium. Even though draining and rinsing the beans removes some of the salt, it's better that it says low sodium or no salt added. 
  3. Serve and enjoy. 
If you guys want to make it non-vegan, you can add 1 cup of shredded cheese and some cut up cooked chicken breast. It'll up the protein a lot. For vegans, you can add tofu or non-meat protein you want. 

Super Healthy Banana Oat Cookie Recipe

So, this recipe is from blogilates. Cassey, the creater of blogilates, created this recipe and it's alright. I have a similar recipe on my blog that I like better. Here's the link

These cookies were a bit dry but I guess it's because I used a smaller banana. Anyway, here's the recipe. 

Servings: 12
Calories: ~44

The entire recipe has 530 calories. 


  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup craisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  2. Mash the banana and the oats together. 
  3. Mix in the craisins. 
  4. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and place on a baking pan. 
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Enjoy. 

They are really healthy and filling. You guys might enjoy it (along with adding dark chocolate chips to it!). 

And, now I have one more food review. It's the LaraBar Chocolate Coconut Chew. 

Texture wise, it's like any other larabar. I like how it had real pieces of walnuts in it. The downside of this bar is that it barely had any sweetness to it. It was a bit bitter and I barely tasted any coconut. I did taste the walnuts though. Not my favorite. But, I would choose this over the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor. 

What types of food do you guys like? 
Have you tried quinoa before?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Do Athletes Really Need More Protein?

Picture source: Amazon

Muscle milk. Protein shakes. Protein bars. You see people drink them after their workouts. It's become "the thing" to drink these after workouts as a recovery drink. These drinks also tend to have protein (hence, the name protein shakes and muscle milk).

Picture source: Target
But, do athletes really need more protein? In short, yes, athletes do need more protein than the average person who's inactive BUT they don't necessarily need to consume more than they are right now. Well, why? As it turns out, most Americans already consume twice the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein. Surprising? I think not. The American diet is rich in protein. Think eggs, beef and chicken. There tends to be at least one of those present in a meal. Then, you add legumes (beans), nuts and dairy!

The RDA for protein is  0.8 grams of protein per kg body weight. So, if one person was to weigh 50 kg (110 lbs), they would need 40 grams of protein. If one weighs 70 kg (154 lbs), they would need 56 grams of protein. To convert your weight from pounds to kg, divide your weight by 2.2.

Well, why do athletes need more protein? Exercise increases the transport of oxygen to body tissues, requiring changes in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. To carry more oxygen, we need to produce more protein that carries oxygen in the blood (hemoglobin). We directly use a very small amount of protein during intense exercise. We also need protein to make glucose to maintain adequate blood glucose levels and to prevent low blood sugar during exercise.

In addition to that, exercise stimulates muscle growth and tissue damage, which must be repaired by protein. Strength athletes need 1.8 to 2 times more protein than the RDA  while endurance athletes need 1.5 to 1.75 times more than the RDA.
Picture source:

Strength athletes refer to people such as body builders while endurance athletes refer to people such as distant runners.

Well, even though people may think that protein stimulates or promotes muscle growth but guess what, it doesn't. Sure, they could drink a protein shake but it's not necessary. They already consume enough protein in their diet. There are better sources of protein than just protein shakes anyways, such as chicken or turkey breast or even nonfat Greek yogurt (almond/peanut butter on 100% whole wheat toast if you're vegetarian/vegan).

What's the risk of eating too much protein? For one thing, protein has calories. It contains the same amount of calories per gram as carbohydrates, 4 calories per gram. Eating too much calories for your activity level can lead to weight gain.

Also, depending on the source of protein, it could lead to a higher risk of Cardiovascular diease (CVD). Increased risk of CVD happens if the protein source is also rich in saturated fat (such as beef/steak). Saturated fat, as you guys know, is bad on cardiovascular health.

Picture source:

There are other sources of protein that are better for you and could help those that don't consume meat. Some foods include soy, nuts and legumes. Soymilk, tofu. Almonds, peanuts. Red beans, black beans, garbanzo beans. Those are other sources of protein. Oatmeal and whole wheat/grain products also have protein in them. Quinoa is also a good source (and has all the essential amino acids. Same with soy products).

What I am trying to say is that, yes, protein is very important. But, for the most part, we're consuming enough (or more than enough) protein that we need. Even with elevated activity levels, most of them are consuming enough protein.

My next post will be a vegan quinoa dish that's rich in protein! You guys will enjoy it. Stay tuned.

Do you take protein supplements (protein shakes, protein powder)?
Do you think they're necessary or do you take more natural forms of protein through food?

Monday, January 21, 2013

蕃薯糖水 Chinese Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

Hey hey everyone! How are you guys doing today? As you know, I just finished my health challenge and I have to say, I learned something from it. I mean, I already knew it but it was reinforced after completing the challenge. What I learned is that you should eat things in moderation. If you have a chocolate craving, have a little chocolate. Just don't go overboard. What I also learned is that you don't have to eat super clean to be healthy. Sometimes, it's just not possible to eat 100% clean, due to the environment you live in such as money and the people you live with. It's just better to make healthiest choice possible depending on the situation. Also, my weight pretty much stayed the same (I lost about 2 lbs).
With that being said, here's the recipe for the sweet potato soup I've been talking about lately. It's mainly healthy and nutritious (except for the added sugar). I love this sweet potato soup. Well, actually, when I was little, I loved it. Then, as I was in my elementary school and middle school years, I didn't want to touch it. Now, I love eating it again. It's weird how our taste bud changes, huh? Anyway, here's the recipe. I'm sorry that there's no exact measurement but that's how my parents make things. They eyeball the amounts.


  • 3-4 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • about 8 cups water
  • 5 -6 sticks Brown Sugar Pieces , depending how sweet you like it
  • ginger (optional)
  1. Peel the skin off the sweet potatoes. Then, cut them into small chunks. 
  2. Pour the water into a pot and place the sweet potatoes in. Boil and cook the sweet potatoes until it's soft. 
  3. Then, take it off the heat.  Pour some water out of the pot into a huge bowl. Using a huge spoon, mash the sweet potatoes. Then, pour the water back in. 
  4. Add in the brown sugar pieces. Cover and heat it until it boils. Then, add in the ginger. Let it sit for a few minutes. 
  5. Serve and enjoy.
It's great to serve on a nice cold day. I absolutely love it. Also, if you do not have the brown sugar pieces, you can use brown sugar. You will need about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup, depending how sweet you like it. Adjust it to your taste buds! 

Now, I just ate my new Alpine Valley Multi Grain with Omega-3 Bread. I tried one slice with the PB& CO Dark Chocolate Dreams and another slice with Crunch Time. 

Doesn't it look delicious? I love how the Dark Chocolate Dreams was nice, smooth and creamy. It had more of a peanut butter taste to it but it was still good. You definitely could taste the chocolate too. I love the combination of peanuts and chocolate. 

As for the Crunch Time, I was pleasantly surprised with how much peanut pieces were in the peanut butter. I loved how it gave it a crunch in contrast to the peanut butter. It was sweet but not too sweet. 

As for the bread, I have to say that I'm surprised on how generous they were with the seeds and everything they put in it. The bread had seeds within it too. The bread was chewy on the outside, nice and fluffy in the inside. I enjoyed it. It had a natural sweet, whole grain taste to it. 

What I'm not so happy about are the ingredients. Yes, the first ingredient is Organic Whole Grain Wheat Flour but then the next ingredient is Organic Wheat Flour. Do you notice the word "whole" is not there with the wheat? I'm disappointed that it all the flours they have isn't 100% whole. At least the Organic Whole Grain Wheat Flour was the first on the list, making it the predominant ingredient. It's also good that it's organic. Each slice has 3 grams of protein and 65 calories. Not bad. 

Anyway, reading labels is important. 

What type of bread do you guys like? 
Do you like sweet soups?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day 7 Health Challenge Update (Last Day!)

Hey hey everyone. It's night time for me now and I've finished eating my meals for the day. Here's what I ate today:

Day 7:
Breakfast:  multigrain round, turkey breast sandwich meat (from Costco), sriracha, oranges   300 calories
Morning Snack: my mom's chinese sweet potato soup (I'm guestimating the calories. recipe coming soon!)  200 calories
Lunch:  veggies, chicken/shrimp patty on tofu 200 calories
Afternoon Snack: nonfat froyo from ikea 100 calories
Dinner: quinoa, veggies, turkey sausage, V8 Sparkling Tangerine Raspberry 360 calories
Night Snack:  larabar 220 calories

Total calories: 1380 calories

This does make sense that I ate less today because my exercise was lighter today. But, I was busy all day too. I went to Sprout's today, IKEA and Wal-Mart. 

At Sprout's, I bought this: 

Score! I bought PB& Co Peanut butter. I had a buy one get one free coupon. And, guess what, they had 55 cents off the Dark Chocolate Dreams. Savings! I also got the Crunch Time because I sometimes like to eat crunchy peanut butter too. The Dark Chocolate Dreams is something that I hope tastes like Nutella but healthier!  I also bought Alpine Valley Organic Multi Grain with Omega-3 Bread. It's all natural and the ingredients are good. The nutrition stats are good too. I also like that it's only 65 calories a slice! I can't wait to try these. 

At Ikea, I bought a container to put my lunches in for when school starts back up. Then, after shopping there, my family got hungry so we bought some food to eat from their food court. I got the nonfat froyo (in a cup). 

It was pleasantly delicious. Sweet, creamy, it was good. I didn't get  cone because the cones they use aren't my favorite. I only like sugar cones with ice cream. If it's not sugar cone, I'd rather eat it in a cup. I was surprised that they put it in a cup after I asked. 

We didn't buy much at Wal-Mart. We remembered we were low on milk so we bought a gallon of fat free milk. 

So, the turkey sausage I ate for dinner was Butterball's Polska Kielbasa Turkey Dinner Sausage . 

I enjoyed it. Usually,  my parents buy either beef or pork sausage, so I can't eat it. I don't eat pork and rarely do I eat beef ( I need red meat once in a while. It's rich in iron and protein). 

The Sparking V8 Tangerine Raspberry Sparking Juice? It was like any other sparkling juice. It was good. It was tangy, carbonated (of course) but it was good and full of flavor. It didn't taste artificial. 

picture from
Well, I guess that's it for now!

How was your day?
Do you like sparkling juice?

Supplements: Are they Necessary?

You walk into the pharmacy section of a grocery store and you're confronted with this:


Right. It's a whole section dedicated to dietary supplements. Dietary supplements are making the market now-a-days. Protein powder, fish oil, Vitamin D, Multi-Vitamins, Calcium, oh, and my favorite: Gummy Bear Vitamins. Those are the few of the many supplements out their in the market. All of these supplements make some sort of health claim. Examples include: "May Reduce the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Risk" (in fish oil tablets), "May Reduce the Risk for Osteoporosis" (Calcium supplements)  or "Helps Lower Cholesterol" (fiber supplements).

 What is scary is that manufacturers don't necessarily have to register their products to the FDA. Even though they may have to register their facility, their products aren't necessarily regulated. So, only after something serious happens does the FDA remove the product from the market. Scary, right?

Fish oil may help reduce the risk of heart disease since fish are rich in omega 3's. Omega 3's, aka alpha-linolenic acid, is shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. The are one of our essential fatty acids since our body cannot produce this. Omega 3's are precursors to important biological compounds which are produced in early every cell in our bodies. They regulate cellular function. Examples include blood clotting, blood pressure and the permeability of our blood vessels to fluid and large molecules.

However, you do not know the source of how manufacturers obtain this. For all you know, it could have come from the liver, which is toxic. It's better to consume the actual fish than consuming the fish oil supplements.

That is what I am trying to say. Supplements aren't necessary (for the most part) as long as you're consuming a balanced diet. Do you want to reduce your risk of heart disease by consuming the essential fatty acids? You might as well consume fish, flaxseeds, leafy greens, walnuts, nut oils, canola oil instead of taking supplements. I'm sure it's tastier too.

The calcium claim does make sense. It is essential to our bone health. However, our body can only absorb so much calcium at a time. The rest is excreted in our feces (poop). It can cause mineral imbalances, which may interfere with the absorption of other minerals and it may lead to kidney stones. It's mainly only due to calcium supplements that one can overdose on it. It can also lead to hypercalcemia (high blood calcium levels), which can result in accumulation of calcium deposits in soft tissue (liver, kidneys) which can cause failure of these organs.

There are risks when taking supplements because overdose can be fatal. We will get all our nutrients, vitamins, minerals as long as we consume a balanced diet. Which is why supplements ARE NOT necessary, for the most part.

Of course, there are certain conditions that may make them necessary. If you have certain health disease, it may require you to take a supplement. If you have cancer or just gotten out of surgery, they are necessary.

It is true that some vitamins are very hard to consume. One example is Vitamin D. There are very few food sources for vitamin D. Of course, foods are now fortified, which makes it less necessary to consume supplements. One example is milk. Milk is rich in calcium but they are FORTIFIED with vitamin D. It's added to it and it doesn't naturally occur in milk. Another example is our cereal. Have you checked the nutrition label? One of the vitamins they fortified it with is vitamin A.

Also, it is known that Americans don't consume a balanced diet and do not meet consume the recommended servings of foods they are suppose to eat. Take for example, fruits and vegetables. If they were to eat them (and the recommended servings), they would be consuming the nutrients they need. For now, they could benefit from multi-vitamins but they should still be consuming a balanced diet. After getting their levels back on track, they don't need the vitamins anymore.

The best way is to consume foods to get all the nutrients you need. It's much tastier, don't you think? 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day 6 Health Challenge Update

Hey hey everyone.

I did very terrible today at eating. Here's my meal breakdown:

Day 6:
Breakfast:  1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup protein powder, 1/4 cup pb2, stevia, ground cinnamon, water   235 calories
Morning Snack: Orange  50 calories
Lunch: brown rice sushi 300 calories
Afternoon Snack: almonds, peanut butter chocolate chip larabar, 1/4 cup oats, pb2, stevia, water  540 calories
Dinner: quinoa, tofu, veggies, shrimp 400 calories
Night Snack: oats, truvia, ground cinnamon, pb2, dark chocolate, orange, 2 slices of japanese cheese cake that was actually only 230 calories 700 calories

Total calories: 2225 calories

I can't believe that I ate the Japanese Cheesecake. It had 12 grams of fat, 4 of which were saturated.  It's ok to indulge once in a while, so I'm not too mad at myself. With my exercise level, the calories make sense. 

That's it for now. I'll have an article up tomorrow about supplements. 

How many calories do you consume? 
What's your favorite dessert? 

Day 5 Health Challenge Update + pb2 cookie recipe + pb2 protein oats recipe

Hey everyone! How are you guys doing today?

I'm doing fine, thank you very much. I went for a nice run around the creek and the park today with my dad. It was nice. The weather is cold but it's also sunny too. I love sunny weather (except when it's humid or burning hot).

After my run, I ate a delicious breakfast. It's something I created myself. I mixed together:

  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 cup PB2 
  • 2 packets of stevia 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup water
Serving: 1 recipe
Calories: ~ 235 calories
Protein: at least 23 grams of protein

I'm sure that if you leave it overnight, the mixture will become thick. I made it right after my run so it wasn't as thick. I was too impatient to wait even 10 minutes for it to thicken up even more (I was hungry!).

Now, here's my update on my health challenge yesterday:

Day 5:
Breakfast:RiseBar Crunchy Cranberry Apple  160 calories
Morning Snack: Orange and coffee 50 calories
Lunch: PitaPit Sandwich (whole wheat pita, spicy black bean burger, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, cilantro, shredded lettuce, craisins), unsweetened black tea 300 calories
Afternoon Snack: BumbleBar Chocolate Crisp, craisins 350 calories
Dinner: brown rice sushi, steamed veggies 422 calories
Night Snack: oats, truvia, ground cinnamon, pb2, dark chocolate 275 calories

Total calories: 1557 calories

This is how my night snack looked. It's suppose to be a pb2 cookie:

It actually tasted pretty good. I also added in a little vanilla extract to it. Here's the recipe:

  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 2 tablespoon pb2
  • 2 packets stevia
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a dash of ground cinnamon
  •  2-3 tablespoon water
Just mix it all  together and it's ready to be eaten.

I also ate a sample of a green protein bar at Sprout's yesterday. It was like 1/10 of the bar, at most. The pieces were so tiny. It was really good though. I think it was the Greens Plus Chocolate-coated Peanut Butter Protein Bars.

Anyway, that's it for now. I have so many nutrition topics I want to talk about. Here's a list of a few that I will write posts on:
  • Electrolytes
  • Do athletes really need more protein?
  • Are supplements necessary?
  • What does low-fat, low-calorie, reduced fat really mean?

That's it for now.

Have you ever been tempted by samples at food stores?
What's your favorite protein food?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 4 Health Challenge Update

Hey hey everyone. I've had such a busy day today but I know that I should update you guys about yesterday.

As you know, this was my meal plan for yesterday.

Day 4:
Breakfast: protein powder, cocoa powder, stevia, milk (chocolate protein donuts and pb2) 245 calories
Morning Snack: Orange 50 calories
Lunch: multigrain rounds, boca burger, sriracha 210 calories
Afternoon Snack: almonds sprinkled with stevia and cocoa powder, craisins 300 calories
Dinner: Quinoa, baked salmon, steamed veggies 422 calories
Night Snack: nonfat Greek yogurt, truvia, ground cinnamon, pb2 175 calories

Total calories: 1402 calories

However, it changed a little. 

Day 4:
Breakfast: protein powder, cocoa powder, stevia, milk (chocolate protein donuts and pb2) 245 calories
Morning Snack: Orange 50 calories
Lunch: multigrain rounds, boca burger, sriracha 210 calories
Afternoon Snack: almonds sprinkled with stevia and cocoa powder, craisins (I ate an extra serving of craisins) 430 calories
Dinner: Quinoa, baked salmon (ate half the serving along with some shrimp), steamed veggies 350 calories
Night Snack: nonfat Greek yogurt, truvia, ground cinnamon, pb2 (I also ate some dark chocolate) 375 calories

Total calories: 1610 calories

I know. I craved dark chocolate again. I really need to control my cravings. I love craisins too. 

So, today, I went to PitaPit for lunch with mi primo. I ordered the Spicy Black Bean pita with a whole wheat pita. I added shredded lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, cilantro, carrots and sriracha. I even added craisins. It was so good. The black bean burger itself was delicious too. I drank some unsweetened black tea along with it. 

We went to Sprout's after eating. Me and mi primo like to eat healthy, which is a good thing since no one else in the family shares my love of nutrition like he does. By the way, this may sound strange but I love grocery shopping. I like it better than clothes shopping sometimes (I know. Surprising!). It's just that current styles aren't my thing. Anyway,  I bought some LaraBars and this cool organic salsa. It's Sprout's Organic Chia, Quinoa & Flax Salsa, their own brand. I can't wait to try it out!

For breakfast, I ate one of the breakfast Risebars. I ate the Crunchy Cranberry Apple. I was pleasantly surprised with the size of the bar. I thought that it would have been small. It was a little dense too. It was chewy and it was sweet but not too sweet. There were whole almonds in the bar, which I enjoyed and added crunch to the bar. I would eat this again. I like it. I also love its short ingredient list. 

For one of my snacks, I ate one of the Junior BumbleBar Chocolate Crisp. It was really small but it was pretty tasty. Maybe it's because I love sesame. But, you do taste a hint of chocolate too. It was pretty chewy for a bar but it was good. 

My dad bought this. I haven't tried it yet but it isn't as bad for you as regular soda. 

It's Sparkling V8 Juice. 

At work today, I ate some oranges and had 2 cups of coffee. Finally, coffee. I don't get to drink it often but I drink it every time I get a chance to. They also had cinnamon rolls too, which I was so tempted to get. But, I had self-control and didn't eat it. =)

I guess that's it for now. 

What's your favorite granola bar? 
Do you like shopping?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cocoa Covered Almonds, Overview of Vitamin E, and Day 3 Health Challenge Update

Almonds provide a lot of nutrients to our body. You know what? They also taste great too!
I can talk all about almonds, including that they are high in calcium, magnesium, folate, Vitamin E, protein, fiber and fat (healthy fats). But for now, I'll give a basic overview of Vitamin E before giving you guys the recipe to Cocoa Covered Almonds. I'll eventually  talk about the other nutrients in later posts.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin made of:

  • Tocotrienol—biologically inactive form
  • Alpha-tocopherol—biologically most active form

Functions of Vitamin E include:

  • Primary role as an antioxidant
  • Protects polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)
  • Protects low-density lipoproteins (LDLs)
  • Protects white blood cells
  • Enhances immune function
  • Improves absorption of vitamin A
I'm sure you guys have heard of antioxidants. But, what are they really? Antioxidant are chemicals that protect cells from damage from oxidation. Oxidation is the loss of electrons from a molecule. Many metabolic processes involve oxidation reactions and can produce free radicals.

Free radicals cause damage to:
  • Cell membranes
  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs)
  • Proteins in the cell
  • Genetic material (DNA. Damage to DNA may cause cancer, depending on which gene is affected)
They are linked to diseases such as:
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Cataracts
  • Kidney Disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
One of the main concerns is heart disease. How does it reduce the risk of heart disease? 
  • It prevents oxidative damage to LDL
  •  It acts as an anticoagulant to prevent blood clots (vitamin E is an anticoagulant)
The oxidation of LDL marks the beginning of clogged arteries. 

So, now you know a little more about Vitamin E. Now, here's the recipe for Cocoa Covered Almonds. By the way, cocoa has a lot of benefits too! 

Serving: 1 recipe
Calories: ~180 calories

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 packets stevia (2 tsp)
  1. Place almonds in a small Ziploc bag. 
  2. Pour in the cocoa powder and stevia. 
  3. Seal the bag and shake it. Enjoy! 

That's such an easy recipe, right? It's also delicious and healthy. 

 Here's what I ate for day 3:

Breakfast: protein powder, cocoa powder, stevia, milk (I made chocolate protein donuts with this) 250 calories

*By the way, cooking protein powder does not diminish its benefits. The proteins are just denatured, just like cooking egg whites. Either way, before proteins reach your muscles and other parts of the body, it has to be digested. Before even leaving the stomach, the proteins are denatured due to the stomach's acidic environment. Then, it gets broken down to its amino acids. 

Morning Snack: (4) Orange 200 calories
Lunch: 2 Nori Sushi Sheets, salmon, sriracha (I ate it with tuna/hummus instead of salmon and I ate an avocado salad) 273 calories
Afternoon Snack: LaraBar 220 calories
Dinner: Quinoa, baked salmon, steamed veggies (This totally changed. I ate 5 pieces of brown rice hawaiian sushi roll, some tofu, chicken, shrimp patty and some vegetables) 400 calories
Night Snack: nonfat Greek yogurt, truvia, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon (I added some pb2 and I didn't add the cinnamon. I also ate some dark chocolate) 370 calories

Total calories: 1713 calories

I know. I ate the brown rice sushi! I can't believe it. I gave in. Oh well. We all have slip ups. My slip ups could have been worse. At least I didn't eat a calorie, carb, fat loaded pizza.

For today, here is what I plan on eating. I already have eaten my breakfast, morning snack and lunch.

Day 4:
Breakfast: protein powder, cocoa powder, stevia, milk (chocolate protein donuts and pb2) 245 calories
Morning Snack: Orange 50 calories
Lunch: multigrain rounds, boca burger, sriracha 210 calories
Afternoon Snack: almonds sprinkled with stevia and cocoa powder, craisins 300 calories
Dinner: Quinoa, baked salmon, steamed veggies 422 calories
Night Snack: nonfat Greek yogurt, truvia, ground cinnamon, pb2 175 calories

Total calories: 1402 calories

Hopefully, I can stick to it the rest of the day. Wish me luck!

I also did a new HIIT treadmill workout today. It was really hard. I was so tired at the end. It was good to try a new workout. It challenges the body.

I also have a LaraBar Review. I finally ate a Peanut Butter Cookie LaraBar.

It tastes like a real peanut butter cookie! The texture is a bit chewy too, which I like! You can't tell that these have dates in them. I was so surprised. This is one of my favorite LaraBars (surprisingly, I hate the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough LaraBar). What I like more about this bar is that it only has 3 ingredients. Can't you believe it? Dates, Peanuts, and Sea Salt. That's it.

Here's the PB2 that I've been talking about. I poured it into jars since I knew it wouldn't stay fresh for long in the bag.

Also, here's how the donut looked with the PB2 and how it looked in Greek Yogurt. 

This is how it looked by itself:

Do you guys like almonds?
~I love dark chocolate covered almonds

Do you guys like peanut butter? Or do you prefer almond butter?

Have you tried HIIT workouts?
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