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Avocado Pudding with Chocolate Coconut Whipped Cream *Recipe*

This dessert is so decadent and just majorly hits the spot. If you haven’t heard of avocado being used as a pudding it probably sounds gross. I swear it works though.

Avocado pudding

Avocado’s provide such a great, creamy consistency and as long as you add a sweetener (and cocoa to disguise the green color), you’d never know the difference. Pudding? Avocado? I’ll never tell.

Let’s talk about the chocolate coconut whipped cream. This is good. It actually reminds me of chocolate mousse. It’s a light, fluffy texture with a really yummy chocolate taste. In the future, I may just make this and eat it as a dessert or over some fruit. The avocado pudding is great too, but I really loved the way this turned out. If you were to choose one thing out of this recipe, try the coconut whip!

Both recipes are great because you can customize them however you’d like. You could use different sweeteners, or even less sweetener, cacao powder if you want, try some extracts like almond or even mint with chocolate? There are lots of different things you could try. I would just recommend tasting as you go along!

Avocado Pudding

  • 1 avocado
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 banana
  • dash of cinnamon
avocado pudding mmm

avocado pudding mmm

Throw everything into a food processor (blender would probably work too) and process until smooth.

I used 3 Tbsp of honey but I think it could even use less. My banana was barely ripe so if you had a super ripe banana for example, you might use less sweetener since they provide quite a bit of sweetness. Again, I would just taste test along the way!

Chocolate Coconut Whipped Cream

  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder

Refrigerate your can of coconut milk overnight. Once you’re ready to use it, scoop out the firm part which will be sitting on top. You’ll be left with some liquid on the bottom- do not add this to your whip. I usually use it in my coffee or smoothies.

Anyway, once you have your coconut milk, add the honey and cocoa powder and mix on high (I use a stand mixer, but you could probably use electric beaters) until it has a whipped cream texture.

whipped texture

whipped texture

That’s it! You can serve both right away or refrigerate for a bit if you wanted it chilled.

I threw some Enjoy Life chocolate chips on top because everything could use a little crunch.

mmmm just so much goodness in one bite

mmmm just so much goodness in one bite. and pink toes

avocado pudding with chocolate coconut whipped cream

avocado pudding with chocolate coconut whipped cream

Enjoy!

Review: Jillian Michaels: 6 Week 6 Pack (Level 1)

I’m sure people either love or hate Jillian Michaels. I have to admit: I’m a fan. I’ve watched The Biggest Loser off and on over the years so I wasn’t necessarily a fan of hers because of the show, but more for her fitness DVDs. Of course, I’ve only tried a few (3 to be exact) but they’ve all delivered! I have Ripped in 30 (my favorite), No More Trouble Zones, and now 6 Pack Abs. In my opinion, she just creates good workouts. They’re all challenging but different, require little equipment if any, and are relatively short workouts (about 30 minutes).

Anyway, I ordered 6 pack abs shortly after giving birth to my second daughter. If you’ve ever had a baby, you know your core muscles are nonexistent. It’s actually sort of comical. There is like, literally nothing there. It is a bowl full of jelly..Santa style. But that’s okay, all part of the process. That being said, I wanted to gain some muscle back.

In general, I am not a fan of abdominal work. I think we all have a favorite body part or zone we like to work out and probably a spot we hate. Well, I hate doing abs. I guess because I never see much of a change. If I was the type who always had a 6 pack, I’d probably love working abs! Having a DVD workout is a great way for me to sort of force myself to work those muscles.

I absolutely realize that “abs are made in the kitchen,” but I can also recognize that mine are/were weak and need to be worked on. That’s where Jillian comes in!

Here’s some info. on the Jillian Michaels: 6 Week Six-Pack (Level 1):

Level 1

First of all, this DVD comes with 2 workouts: a level 1 and level 2 workout. The idea is, you complete the level 1 workout 5 days a week for 3 weeks, then move onto level 2.

Workout Style:

The workout is only 30 minutes long, which sounds like a long time for an ab workout right? Well, Jillian combines full body cardio moves with ab-centric moves, so the workout really works the entire body with a focus on abs.

Some examples of cardio moves she throws in there are burpees, mountain climbers, and plank jacks.

The idea is to throw some cardio moves in there to raise your heart rate. Raising your heart rate torches calories, which of course, burns fat and reveals those bitchin ab muscles that may have been hiding.

Not only do you perform traditional ab exercises, but moves that target other large muscle groups like your legs and back.

squat with rotation

squat with rotation

squat with rotation

squat with rotation

The workout is face paced but she goes through the whole thing once at a “slower” pace. The second time through, the pace is much faster.

supermans

supermans

supermans

supermans

She also provides modifications if you needed the moves to be a little easier or harder.

The moves are easy to follow. I’m not saying they’re easy to do because they’re challenging especially at a fast pace, but it’s easy to follow along.

side plank with leg lift

side plank with leg lift

side plank with leg lift

side plank with leg lift

That move above is hard! Side planks are tough even without the leg lift but it’s like, once you lift the leg, you can feel every muscle in your core working. You also really feel it in your inner thigh.

Equipment Needed:

The only thing you will need is a weight (just one). I used an 8 pound dumbbell. If you don’t have a weight, you can still do the workout, it’ll just be a little easier.

Overall Pros:

  • Hard! It makes me sore every time I do it
  • Easy to follow
  • Short
  • Cheap (only 8 dollars on Amazon)
  • Little equipment needed

Overall Cons (not many):

  • Same workout for 3 weeks
  • 5 days a week (recommended amount you do it) is sort of a lot

 

I’ll write a review soon on Level 2. I’d say another great DVD by Miss Jillian!

 

Do you like Jillian Michaels? What’s your favorite workout of hers? 

Upper Body Barbell Drop Set Workout

So, I’m still loving the barbell! I’m telling you I just feel stronger using them.

Anyway, my goal is to increase my overall muscle mass and in order to do so, I have to increase the amount of weight I use when I lift. For me, it’s easy to kind of get stuck lifting the same amount of weight every time I go to the gym. That weight is typically somewhere between 8-25 pounds for my upper body. There is certainly nothing wrong with that weight, but to build muscle, I’ve got to venture out of my comfort zone and lift even heavier. The barbell is slowly becoming my go-to piece of equipment on weight training days.

There are lots of different kinds of drop sets. I chose a descending drop set method which meant I started with high reps (and lower weights), then decreased my reps and increased my weight. I typically did 12 reps followed by 10, 8, 6, and sometimes 4. With most of the moves, I increased my weight just slightly because my muscles were dead after each exercise. With some of the moves, I kept the weight the same. Here is a breakdown:

Upper body barbell

  • Triceps Bench Press (close grip bench press)- 12 reps, 10, 8, 6, 4. I started each move with the barbell only as a warmup just to kind of get my bearings. So, this is performed at the same station as a bench press but instead of hands out wide, hold the barbell basically straight out from your shoulders. When you bench the barbell, keep elbows in tight. This move works your triceps.

Super Set with Bench Dips- 15 reps, 12, 10, 8, 6

  • Bench Press12 reps, 10, 8, 6, 4.  Good old fashioned bench press! Again, I “warmed up” with just the barbell to get my positioning right.

Super Set with Pushups- 15 reps, 12, 10, 8, 6

  • Shoulder Press at Smith Machine- 12 reps, 10, 8, 6, 4.  This is a classic shoulder press except using the barbell at the smith machine. The smith machine is nice because you can try a heavier weight and not worry too much about dropping the barbell or hurting yourself.

Super Set with Plate Front Raises- 15 reps, 12, 10, 8, 6. I just grabbed a weight plate at the smith machine and lifted it straight in front of me.

  • Biceps Curls Wide Grip- 12, 10, 8, 6, 4.  I used an EZ Curl bar for these (they have the dip in them. They’re not a straight bar).

Super Set with Biceps Curl Narrow Grip- 12, 10, 8, 6, 4. My arms were dead after this.

 

I love it! Love feeling sore muscles the day after…or two days after :).

 

Do you use a barbell at the gym? Favorite workouts?

Squarebar Review

I am a snack monster, it’s official. I’m just so excited about all these (new to me) snacks I’ve been trying lately. I mean it when I say, none of them have disappointed me.

I reached out to the folks at Squarebar (Sarah and Andrew Gordon) and they were nice enough to send me a few of their bars to try. Like some of the other foods I’ve been trying recently, I first saw Squarebars on Instagram lookin damn good if I may say so myself (the powers of social media!).

I looked up the company and immediately loved their story. They saw a need for a snack bar that had high quality, organic ingredients and eliminated dairy, gluten, soy, and processed/refined sugars. So, they solved the problem and made Squarebars. Literally, made the bars in their kitchen with real food.

Maybe I watch too much Shark Tank, but I really love to see these small companies succeed. It’s incredibly inspirational to me that two people, who are probably around the same age as me, created a company and brand by themselves. I’m sure it’s an overwhelming process, but how cool to actually get the job done AND create a product that is good. Kudos Sarah and Andrew!

Squarebar is Not For Sale

Not only do they make delicious bars with wholesome ingredients, they donate 2.5% of their sales to the Not for Sale campaign. Not for Sale is a San Francisco based non-profit organization fighting to end modern day slavery, human trafficking, and exploitation around the world. Here is more information on Squarebars involvement with Not for Sale.

Okay, I’m done ranting about my admiration for entrepreneurs. On to the bars:

One thing each flavor of Squarebar had in common was their yummy chocolate shell (each flavor is cocoa-something). That’s how I would describe it: a shell. When you bite into it it breaks off in this yummy, perfect way.

squarebars

Cocoa Cherry 

This was one of my favorite flavors. There is something about cherries and chocolate. The flavors just pair so nicely together.

cocoa cherry squarebar

my daughter approved of this one too. she took half!

my daughter approved of this one too. she took half!

Cocoa Mint

My second favorite! This had a great minty flavor. I think it could actually be a great replacement for York Peppermint Patties (which are my favorite things ever).  The chocolate shell with the mint flavor really reminded me of them. Great when you’re craving chocolate!

squarebars

Cocoa Coconut

Third favorite. Or maybe a tie with mint. I love coconut so the little pieces laced throughout this bar really hit the spot. If you’re a coconut lover you will definitely like this bar!

squarebars

Cocoa Crunch

This bar was good but out of all of them, was my least favorite. Tasted sort of like a chocolate protein bar (which is what it is). The other bars just had more flavor to them. You kind of forgot you were eating something healthy.

squarebars

Here’s some info on their nutritional stats:

  • Calories: 210
  • Fat: 9 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 14 grams
  • Protein: 12 grams

 

If you wanted to give Squarebars a try (I highly recommend it), use the discount code: “HealthyHungryHappy” when checking out on www.squarebar.com and you’ll receive 20% off your entire order.

Squarebar offers flat rate shipping to over 35 countries and FREE shipping in the U.S.

Let me know if you give them a try!

B-Up Bar Review

Ohhhh man. There is a new protein bar in town you guys.

I saw B-Up bars kind of floating around on Instagram, so I reached out to the company and asked if I could try a few. They were nice enough to send me lots of different flavors to try and let me tell you, they do not disappoint.

I hate to compare B-Up bars to Quest bars but I’m going to anyway. They are similar in that they’re both high in protein, low carb, and delicious. The biggest difference to me however is the texture.

I’m sure most of you have had a protein bar sometime in your life and a lot of the time, they taste like chalk. Quest bars are great. They’re especially great though, when you warm them in the microwave. B-Up bars are great when warmed too but they don’t have to be microwaved to taste great. 

Somehow these guys figured out how to make a protein bar that tastes light, fluffy, and soft. They are such a great texture I really can’t hammer on that enough. How did you do it Yup Brands?! Genius.

Here’s a little info on some of the ingredients in their bars:

  • 100% Natural Prebiotic Vegetable Fiber- This is basically the same type of fiber that goes into many fiber supplements.
  • Whey Protein Isolate and Milk Protein Isolate
  • Xylitol- A sweetener. About as sweet as table sugar but with less calories. 
  • Stevia Extract- Sweetener. Doesn’t have major effects on blood glucose so those on a controlled carbohydrate diet tend to favor it.
  • Monk Fruit Extract- A sweetener derived from the monk fruit plant.
  • Some also contain chocolate, cocoa butter, and almonds. 

The B-Up Bars come in a variety of flavors:

Sugar Cookie- Honestly tastes like a sugar cookie. I would describe it as a bland sugar cookie which doesn’t sound great…but even a bland sugar cookie tastes good. Not overly sweet. Just right.

sugar cookie

sugar cookie

Chocolate Mint– So yummy. The perfect amount of mint and chocolate. This is definitely a favorite of mine. Check out those chocolate chunks!

the softest protein bar ever!

the softest protein bar ever!

check out the chunks!

check out the chunks!

Peanut Butter– This has chunks of peanut butter which was a nice surprise. It reminds me of a peanut butter cookie or Nutter Butter cookies. The chunks kind of melt in your mouth.

peanut butter b-up bar

PB&J– Tastes pretty good. Not my favorite. Tastes mostly like peanut butter with a little hint of raspberry jam?

pb&j b-up bar

Vanilla Peanut Butter– I would describe it as a cross between sugar cookie and peanut butter. Not too much of either flavor…just right!

vanilla peanut butter b-up bar

 

Cinnamon Roll– Great cinnamon taste! Would be especially yummy warmed up.

cinnamon roll b-up bar

My favorite flavors are chocolate mint and sugar cookie!

The one thing each bar had in common was the soft texture. I love that about these bars.

B-Jammin’ Bar (Cherry Vanilla Pie)

b-jammin bar

Their B-Jammin bars are a little different than the B-Up bars. They come in 3 flavors: PB&J, Cherry Vanilla Pie, and Apple Pie a-la-Mode. I tried the Cherry Pie.

I would describe these bars as their ” healthy treat” bars. They have less protein and fiber (still 12 grams), and more sugar (11 grams compared to the 3 grams in the other bars).

The bar I tried was so dang good. It has a fruit filling so it literally tastes like a mini-cherry pie. These would be great to have around to satisfy a sweet craving.

b-jammin bar

Conclusion 

So, overall, I think these bars are great. They’re delicious and have great nutritional stats. They are so light and fluffy it’s kind of incredible.

The bars are expensive though (about $27 dollars for a box of 12 from GNC) but they’re priced about the same as other protein bars.

I would buy these bars if I was feeling particularly rich…ha! I go through phases with protein bars. Sometimes I try to save money and  so I don’t buy any, other times I buy some. So, depends on the day! They taste great though so I’d love to have them around.

I have seen a few bars at a local GNC so I’m sure you can find some there. If not, you can always order off GNC or the Yup Brands site.

 

*The folks at Yup Brands were nice enough to share some bars with me, but my opinion of the bars is 100% mine.*

 

(Almost) Paleo Banana Superfood Muffins *Recipe* PLUS Buff Bake Review

Paleo banana muffins

Honey, I baked! I swear I would bake all the time if someone else in my house would help me eat the finished product. They might actually. Maybe I just eat everything too fast so no one else stands a chance. It’s certainly possible.

Anyway, I noticed I was starting to accumulate quite the overripe banana surplus in my freezer so I figured I’d better start using them for something.

overripe bananas

I sort of enjoy when my bananas “go bad” because I know that equals baked goods sometime in the future. The future is now, baby! Here’s the recipe I used:

(Almost) Paleo Banana Superfood Muffins

  • 4 overripe bananas, mushed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Buff Bake Protein Almond Butter (or regular almond butter)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp cacao nibs
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt
Buff Bake, Chia Seeds, and Cacao Nibs

Buff Bake, Chia Seeds, and Cacao Nibs

First, I combined the bananas, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and almond butter. I didn’t really need to mash the bananas since these were basically mush already. Does anyone else hate the smell of overripe bananas? It’s weird but it totally grosses me out. I just have to concentrate on the end product. Mm.

banana

Next, I added the remaining ingredients and mixed thoroughly. Then I spooned batter into a lined muffin tin. I baked the muffins for 25 minutes at 350 degrees (use the toothpick method to check if done. Insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean, muffins are done!).

paleo banana muffins

I ate one and my daughter had one too. They were great! Perfectly spiced and actually pretty fluffy! Most Paleo baked goods I’ve made in the past come out a little flat but these were “normal” looking. I was worried they’d be too sweet with the bananas and maple syrup but they were just right. If you wanted sugar free, you could omit the maple syrup.

We both had a muffin then into the freezer they went! This is how I keep myself in check. If they’re out, I’ll eat like, 6 in one day so I have to hide them away in the freezer  :).

my daughter stole one...

my daughter stole one…

paleo banana muffin

paleo banana muffins

Buff Bake Almond Butter 

Let’s talk about Buff Bake . I love their concept! Delicious flavors of almond and peanut butters mixed with whey protein, chia seeds, and flaxseed.

They sent me their snickerdoodle almond butter and it is good. They sweeten the butter with coconut sugar which I really like. I don’t love completely unsweetened nut butters. I tend to buy them with good intentions then they sit in my fridge for 6 months and eventually end up in the trash.

My favorite thing about the butters is the addition of whey protein. Personally, I’m always trying to find ways to add more protein to my diet, so I love this! It doesn’t have a protein powder taste either which is great. I’m pretty sure you’d never know it was an ingredient unless you read the label. In 2 tablespoons of the almond butter, there are 11 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 190 calories.

I only tried the snickerdoodle flavor but they also sell cookie almond butter and coffee bean (sounds amazing!). Their peanut butter flavors are chocolate chip, cinnamon raisin, and cranberry coconut. I want them all!

Finally, I just love the business. I think they created an awesome product with a great name and beautiful packaging. The product tastes great so it will sell itself, but they just did a great job with overall execution. I love that it’s made by two young women entrepreneurs. I will definitely remain a customer and supporter!

You can buy their products straight off their website, from Amazon, or vitamin shoppe (not sure if it’s in all locations).

Buff Bake

Buff Bake

Buff Bake Ingredients

Buff Bake Ingredients

I can’t wait to try their other flavors! I think chocolate chip peanut butter or coffee almond butter is next on my list!

 

(Buff Bake sent me their almond butter to review. All opinions are mine. I genuinely like the product :) ).

Facing Your Fears in the Gym

I am really enjoying weight lifting these days. I just love that tiny little muscle pump I get after lifting. I always think my muscles look so big so I snap a pic to capture the moment, then I realize, nope still pretty small. Ya gotta start somewhere though, right?

Typically, I use free weights. Even if you’ve never touched a weight before, free weights are pretty easy to pick up (literally and figuratively). By all means, if you’ve never lifted weights before, try free weights! Start with a light weight and just get used to the feeling and motion of using weights. Soon you’ll be a pro!

I’m pretty comfortable with free weights but have stayed away from barbells. For some reason, barbells have always been intimidating. It’s like I think if I pick one up, I’ll lose control and accidentally impale an innocent bystander. I’d really like to avoid killing anyone if possible. That or (and I think this is more likely), I’ll drop the barbell, which would be so embarrassing that I may never go back to the gym.

The squat rack in particular is a piece of equipment I always want to use but never pull the trigger. I want that booty to grow, so lifting heavy is a necessary evil. I’ve walked by the squat rack several times, even looked closely at it, but then kept walking. I was never sure how to change the height of the bar so I’d keep chickening out.

don't mind me creepin around the squat rack...can you tell i didn't want anyone to know i was taking a pic?

don’t mind me creepin around the squat rack…can you tell i didn’t want anyone to know i was taking a pic?

Well, I decided to get over it.  I passed all the meat heads and headed to the squat rack. I played around with it for a minute and guess what? I figured out how to use it!

Since the barbell was new to me, I squatted with just the bar first then slowly added weight. I can see now why people hit the gym with buddies (spotters). I’m still not totally comfortable adding tons of weight but I think with practice, I’ll get there.

I swear just using the squat rack gave me the confidence I needed to grab a barbell and try other exercises. Here’s what I did:

Barbell Workout 

squat 5×5 in squat rack – started with barbell, then added 10lb plates, then 10 more

deadlifts 5×5- used 25lb plates

clean and press 5×5 <— love these- used 10lb plates

row  (underhand grip) 5×5- used 15 lb plates

bench press 5×5- started with barbell, then added 5lb, then 10lb

I stuck to basic moves that work large muscle groups. My goal is to master these moves with the heaviest weight I can use, then increase the weight. Gainz baby!

little barbell corner

little barbell corner

look at that weight!! beast.

look at that weight!! beast.

I tried the bench press! It was a big day for me apparently. The bench press is another piece of equipment I need more practice with. I can see it being challenging to bench heavy weights if you’re benching solo. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when (or if) I get there.

If you’re like me and scared of barbells, here are a couple ways to face those fears:

Try Itgrab a barbell and play around with it- without weight at first. get used to how it feels before adding weight. When you add weight, start slow!

Ask someone for help if you’re not sure how a piece of equipment works, ask someone who just used it or better yet, someone who works at the gym.  I know that’s kinda scary, but I promise whoever you ask will be flattered and not irritated by you asking. You’re basically implying they’re a pro in your eyes so I swear they’ll be flattered.

Watch some videos and have a plan– First of all, take videos with a grain of salt. Just because something’s on YouTube doesn’t mean that person knows what they’re doing. That being said, there are lots of good videos and explanations on exercises. Watch some videos to familiarize yourself with the exercises before hitting the gym. Then face your fears and grab that barbell!

legday

One thing I can almost guarantee with barbell workouts are you will feel like a badass. Even with teeny tiny muscles, you suddenly feel like the baddest of bodybuilders. Lifting heavy feels pretty good. It’s a great confidence booster I swear!

 

Do you use barbells at the gym?

 

Paleo Mug Cake *Recipe*

 

I have no idea who came up with the concept of a “mug cake” but I like them a lot. So, whoever you are, thank you. The mug cake is pretty great because it’s easy (few ingredients, easy clean up), it’s usually delicious (um, cake), but it’s small (portion control, baby!). All good things, all good things.

Typically, when I make Paleo baked goods, I use some coconut flour which tends to suck the moisture out of anything so it’s a little risky.  I used a tablespoon in this recipe and I would recommend even using slightly less (so like, barely a Tbsp.)

Mug cakes are those kinds of things that you may need to play around with in your kitchen. You can add whatever you’d like: chocolate chips, banana, maple syrup, cocoa powder, blueberries, etc. Whatever flavors you like. I think next time I’ll try some banana and chocolate chips! I would also recommend testing your microwave the first time. Maybe microwave for a minute, then 30 seconds, then 30 more seconds, etc. since all microwaves are different. Anyway, here’s the recipe I used:

Paleo Mug Cake

  • 1 Tbsp almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp of coconut flour (barely a Tbsp)
  • 1 sprinkle cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 Tbsp (or more) of honey
  • 1 tsp of almond milk
  • sprinkle of cacao nibs

I sprayed a little coconut oil in a mug then added the egg and beat it.

paleo mug cake

 

Next, I added the rest of the ingredients and mixed thoroughly. After everything was mixed, I just microwaved for 1 minute and 30 seconds (again, take it 1 minute at a time or even 30 seconds since all microwaves are different).

 

paleo mug cake...nom

paleo mug cake…nom

 

paleo mug cake

Let cool for a couple minutes, then enjoy!!

 

Have you tried mug cakes? Any good recipes?

The Difference Between Cacao and Cocoa

Let’s flashback to 5 years ago: my husband and I were living in Cleveland and I was attempting the Paleo diet for the first time. I received some Paleo “granola” and one of the ingredients was cacao. I paid no attention to the spelling and assumed it was cocoa (ko-ko). My husband pronounced it ka-cow and I laughed in his face! I loved that he was wrong because it so rarely happens (that is hard for me to admit). I seriously relished in this moment until he pointed out that he was actually right and I had just never ever heard of cacao. Ugh. Right again!

So, in case you’re like me, yes, cacao and cocoa are two different things. Confusing, right? Let’s talk about the differences:

Cocoa

First of all, cocoa and cacao come from the same tree so they start the same way. These trees grow pods on them and inside the pods are cacao beans. The difference comes in the way they are processed after being plucked from the pod.

Cocoa is what you grew up drinking during wintertime and what you (probably) bake with. Cocoa powder is made from extracting cacao from the cacao pods on the tree and processing it at a very high temperature. Because of the high temperatures it’s exposed to, cocoa powder loses some of the nutrients it would otherwise have in its’ raw form.

Cocoa powder is by no means unhealthy for you unless you’re buying a sweetened version. If you’re looking for the healthiest option though, raw cacao powder may be the way to go.

Cacao

Cacao is the raw, relatively unprocessed form of the cacao bean. Whether you’re using cacao powder or nibs, both are high in antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats, and protein.

cacao nibs

cacao nibs

cacao

I bought Viva Labs Organic Cacao Nibsfrom Amazon. They were highly reviewed and a good price.

Besides the fact that cacao packs a nutritious punch, there are claims it does a million other things like reduces blood pressure, reduces stroke risk, boosts mood, is the fountain of youth, etc. You get the point. I don’t know about all those claims-they may or may not be true. But I do know it has lots of great fiber, good fats, and protein.

Raw cacao is definitely more expensive than cocoa powder, but you get more of a nutritious bang for your buck.

Cacao powder or nibs can be used however you would use cocoa powder or chocolate chips. Keep in mind though chocolate chips have added sugar, cacao nibs do not. They are not sweet. I would describe them as bitter? Which makes them sound terrible but they’re not I swear. Are chocolate chips better tasting? Yes, of course. Not gonna lie. But then of course you get a ton of added sugar…

I’ve never used cacao powder only the nibs. I like the nibs because they’re a great way to add a little crunch to an otherwise crunch-less dish. I typically put them in smoothies or sprinkle over fruit at night for dessert. They would also be great in oatmeal or in baked goods you were trying to healthify a little bit.

dates

Ignore the close up of the date. Dates and peanut butter and amazing by the way. So are cacao nibs on top of smoothies!

 

Have you tried cacao? Thoughts?

Quest Nutrition Protein Powder (Chocolate Milkshake) Review

I love Quest protein bars. They are just so delicious. Like, too delicious. They almost border on I-can’t-keep-them-in-my-house-because-I’ll-eat-them-all-in-one-day delicious.

Quest Protein Powder

Quest Protein Powder

Anyway, I was pretty pumped when the Quest folks came out with protein powder. Seems like a natural transition for them.

I follow the company on various social media platforms and they often have mini giveaways of new products. About a week ago, they gave away 2 individual packs of their chocolate and vanilla protein powder and I was one of the lucky few who received them. Yay!

**Quick disclaimer, these opinions are my own. Quest sent out samples to like, 1,000 people (whoever responded first I think) so this is not a sponsored post…I just thought you’d be curious how the powders taste!**

I haven’t tried vanilla yet. When I do, I will do a separate post on that. On to chocolate milkshake!

Stats

Protein Powder Stats

Protein Powder Stats

  • 110 calories per serving (which is a scoop if you have the powder)
  • 4 grams of carbs in 1 scoop
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 23 grams of protein
  • less than 1 gram of sugar

Pretty good stats! Lots of protein, fairly low in calories (some powders are much higher with similar amounts of protein), and low sugar.

The powder is made up of three different types of proteins: whey protein isolate, micellar casein, and milk protein isolate. Whey protein isolate has minimal lactose and almost zero fat content (more info here). Micellar casein protein is a slow digesting protein. This makes it great to consume before bed or when you know you won’t be refueling for a long time (more info here). Finally, milk protein isolate is a concentrated form of protein found from milk sources. I honestly couldn’t find much info on milk protein isolate so I’m not 100% clear on how it’s different than whey. Anyway, it has protein in it.

Taste

I’ll keep it simple: I liked it. It was good! I’m always skeptical to try new protein powders because, let’s be honest, a lot taste like chalk. Or other things I don’t want to eat.

questproteinpowder

I made a smoothie with the Quest powder, half a banana, and a little PB2. At first, I thought I’d just make one with only powder and water so I could really taste the powder. But then I decided I would make it exactly how I would make it had I bought the powder like a normal human being. I also added some cacao nibs for a little crunch!

Quest Protein Powder Smoothie with Cacao Nibs

Quest Protein Powder Smoothie with Cacao Nibs

It tasted nice and chocolatey- not too sweet or “fake sweet” tasting. The more I drank my smoothie, the more I liked it! It had a good chocolate taste, just what I wanted. All good things, all good things (anyone recognize that from Frozen? Olaf? Ha!)

Price

It’s a little pricey. They are $39.99 for a 2lb. canister ($19.99/pound). To compare, you can find a great 5lb. whey protein powder for about $57 ($11.4/pound) dollars. If you like to try different products, then give it a shot! But, by all means, if you feel like you found your “one and only” protein powder, then maybe save a few bucks and stick to what you know and love.

 

I feel like I’m biased to like their powder only because I love their protein bars. The bars are just greatness. They are pricey too but they suck me in every time….

Anyway, I’ll review their vanilla flavor in a few days!

 

What is your favorite protein powder?