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New yogurt blends make for a more satisfying snack

November 21st, 2013 No Comments

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Yogurt frustrates me to no end.  The grocery store stocks TONS of it, yet there are only a few that actually meet my criteria as a “healthy” snack.  I’m looking for at least 14 grams of protein, minimal sugar (no sugar is preferable), and no additives (starches).  These criteria leave me reading labels for at least ten minutes or picking up the same old stuff when I’m in a hurry.  If I have time, I seek out new brands and get my hopes up high that when I read the nutrition label, I’ll see tons of protein and no added sugar.  Tough bill to fill.

My frustration continues after I eat a yogurt and I’m STILL hungry!

On so many levels yogurt is simply unsatisfying…until now.

Big brands and more notably local producers are making an effort to create well-rounded and satisfying yogurt cups for those of us on the go.

Chobani was the first one I spotted.  The divided dish has slightly sweetened yogurt in one side and all of my favorite additions in the other: chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. From a nutrition standpoint, I have to compromise the 13 grams of protein and added sugar for the energy it delivers before a workout.  After eating it with half a bottle of water, I feel full and not weighed down when I have to move.  And it’s SOOO convenient to just flip one side over and mix…while I’m driving.  (It’s true!)

The Epic Seed is local and meets all of my standards for protein and carbs.  It’s lacking in fat (which is necessary to feel full) so I’ll eat a few almonds along with it.

The most “filling” feature of these cups are the chia seeds, which I’ve discussed before.  There are several brands making them now, you just have to pay attention to the protein and sugar source.

When I can, I make the mixture at home.  No measuring, I just throw what I want into the bowl.  Usually, to a small cup of flavored yogurt, I’ll add a couple spoonfuls of plain non-fat to bring up the protein.

 

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Best protein bars on the market. Both whey and vegan. Period.

October 11th, 2013 No Comments

Papa Steve's No Junk Protein Bar

 

 

Papa steve’s protein bars are about as clean and nutritious as it gets folks.  PLUS, they’re delicious AND filling.  Please note, I took the picture AFTER I devoured half of the bar :)

Papa Steve's nutrition facts

 

I sat down with Papa Steve a few weeks ago to discuss my Seedful Not Sinful granola.  The man blew my mind with his knowledge of food properties and how they work within they body.  He’s put all of that knowledge into his line of protein bars.  

He claims that Pea Protein is the best vegan protein out there.  You don’t see a lot of it because it’s new and in very high demand as it’s been deemed the best substitute for whey.  He had to buy tons worth to ensure he could continue to make these bars, which sell out almost instantly at his vendors.

In terms of protein in general, Steve is a fan of whey  because it is naturally complete, “containing all of the essential building blocks for muscle recovery and repair. Whey protein has the highest biological value of any protein, meaning it’s easy to digest and the body can metabolize and use it quickly but you must ingest it 10-30min after a workout to get maximum muscle uptake. It can help improve blood and liver cholesterol and enhances the body’s immune system.”

Read more of his thoughts on protein here.  He goes into great detail about the differences in whey proteins (concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate) and why whey is better than Soy Protein.

Papa Steve's Whey Protein v. Soy Protein Chart

He has several other bars I think you’ll love.  Browse the selection here.

I really can’t praise this product enough.  If you’re like me and insist on eating clean, you MUST try this.

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“How do I shred the pounds?”

September 30th, 2013 No Comments

Level10 Manhattan Beach

This was the question presented to me by Erika, a cute young actress at SoulCycle the other day.  It’s a small question, with a very large answer.  Losing weight and staying healthy isn’t an easy process.  You have to be METICULOUS with the details.  But here’s my first response: YOU’RE WORTH IT.  The better answer is you shouldn’t diet at all.  Instead, hit the reset button and put your eating and exercise regimen on the right track and create  a sustainable lifestyle.

If and when you’re ready, here are my suggestions on how to train your body to burn fat.  Click the links for more details and use the navigation above to find exercises and recipes and nutritional help along the way.

1.  CHOSE YOUR SUGAR WISELY.

Easier said than done, I know.  However, I’m not telling you to cut out carbs. Carbohydrates – fiber and sugar – found in fruits, veggies, and whole grains, are good for you.  What you need to cut out is the raw sugar, honey, agave, alcohol, etc.  When your body craves sugar, eat sweet fruits you love (like a banana, peach, or even dried mango) instead of cupcakes or vino.  You’ll find you mellow out as your blood sugar rises.  Over time, the intensity of your cravings will decrease and you’ll drop the fruits too.

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Click the chart to learn about how to choose carbs.  Read more here.

A cleanse can be a great way to kick the sugar to the curb quickly.  More on that here.

Bottom line: the sugar you don’t burn during the day gets stored as fat.  Hence the following:

2.  SET UP A WORKOUT SCHEDULE.

When you’re starting out, the actual exercise doesn’t matter.  Just do something, or rather, 3 different things you love to get your body in gear and your mind motivated.  Cross-trainging builds muscle while ramping up your metabolism.  My recommendation:

As I said earlier, the key to success is being METICULOUS.  So once you get going, buy a heart rate monitor and be smart about your workouts.  YOU HAVE TO KNOW YOUR HEART RATE ZONES IN ORDER TO TRAIN YOUR BODY TO BURN FAT.  If you don’t get your heart rate into the proper zones, you might not actually be hitting your fat burning heart rate zone.  For more on heart rate monitors, go here.

Weight lifting is usually a sticky spot for women, but we need it.  If you’re unfamiliar with how to use machines and set up a workout, HIRE A TRAINER.  In two to three sessions, they can teach you what you need to know and at least get you started.  Remember, YOU’RE WORTH IT!  And since you’ve cut back on the booze, you’ll have some extra cash to play with.

Beware of group fitness classes for your weight lifting days.  Usually they are better for your cardio days.  When you lift weights, you need to be using substantial weight, not 3-5 lb dumbbells.

3.  EAT MORE PROTEIN AND FAT.

On their own, carbs fill you up instantly and leave you hungry within an hour (an example of “healthy” meal that left me starving here).  Protein and good fats are what satisfy your hunger for at two to three hours.  In every meal, an active women needs 20-30 grams of protein, preferably from lean meats, eggs, or powders (cold pressed whey, pea, or hemp).  Because the protein is lean, you need to add a little bit of fat (about 6-9 grams):  almonds, olive oil, cheese, avocado, coconut oil, seeds.  If you don’t have the fat, your body won’t be satisfied and you’ll be reaching for food within the hour.

The goal is for each meal and snack to have the same amount of protein, fat, carbs, and calories.

It’s the part that sucks, but works!

For me, the breakdown looks like this:

  • 300 calories
  • 9g fat
  • 20-30g protein
  • 25-30g carbs

I eat every two to three hours so that my metabolism is constantly working.

Read more about being meticulous in creating your portions here.

4.  EAT WHEN YOUR BODY IS HUNGRY.

This point speaks to your metabolism.  If you’re hungry, your body isn’t satisfied.  When you don’t eat, your metabolism slows down and your body starts to feed upon itself.  Not a good situation.  For goodness sakes eat something.  Stock your purse and car with healthy snacks so you reach for something good instead of sweets.

Now, if you’ve JUST eaten your full meal and you’re still hungry.  Drink water.  Most of the time we’re dehydrated and your body is thirsty.

5.  OPT FOR QUALITY OVER CONVENIENCE.

In your food and exercise, you need to be efficient.  If you spend an hour in the gym and don’t know what you’re doing, you’ve wasted the hour.  If you feed your body processed food instead of natural goodness, you are pulling your body backwards instead of fueling it forward.

6.  LET YOUR BODY RECOVER.

Take one or even two days off of exercise so your body can rest.  If your muscles are exhausted, they can’t build strength.

 

Please note, I’m NOT an expert.  I have worked with experts in fitness and nutrition and this is the system I’ve found works for me.

(First photo I took at Level10 Fitness in Manhattan Beach.  My favorite circuit training….in the world ;)  Meredith is truly one of a kind!)

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How to make almond milk

September 12th, 2013 No Comments

As promised, here’s the DIY video.  It’s a little long, but I feel like the process is less intimidating when you see each step.

What you’ll need:

  • Vitamix blender (or something equally powerful)
  • 1-3 cups of raw almonds
  • Water of your choice (bottled, filtered, etc)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Dates (your choice on what kind)
  • Nut Milk Bag
  • Glass jars

Leven shot this for me so she’s got a little cameo comment at the end :)

LMK if you have any questions.  Mary@MoreThanMary.com

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Summer substitutions + the benefits of chia seeds

August 29th, 2013 1 Comment

Summer foods

 

I get tired of eating the same things day in and day out.  But! I’m not one to seek out alternatives; they have to be offered on a menu or by a friend for me to try something new.  My short stint in NYC earlier this year gave me plenty of opportunities to eat outside of my box.  I had ramp for the first time (to my knowledge) and I fell in love with chia seed pudding.  Now with the farmer’s market around the corner I’m going nuts with new combos! (See my zucchini recipes here.)

Above are a few of my favorites.  Nothing crazy, just a quick switch to keep me intrigued.

  • Chia seed pudding (my recipe below) instead of yogurt.
  • FRESH mandarin oranges in my salad instead of grapes
  • Blueberries (any fresh berry) instead of jam
  • Chic peas instead of rice or potatoes
  • Delicious yellow tomatoes instead of red
  • Quinoa with roasted peaches instead of oatmeal with blueberries.

Don’t get me wrong, I love jam and potatoes and the rest of it, but I just needed a change.

Chia seed pudding is SUPER simple to make, which is preferable over buying it.   I’ve found that the ones in whole foods have addititves you don’t really need.  So here’s all you need to do to whip up your own.

Chia Seed Pudding

  1. Pour one cup of fresh almond milk in a bowl (my DIY almond milk video coming soon, I promise!)
  2. Add one half of a 1/4 cup of chia seeds, a little vanilla (about 1 tspn), and cinnamon if you feel like it.  Stir.
  3. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.  You’ll find the next day the seeds have created a gel to thicken the milk and it’s a nice little pudding.  If you want it to be thicker (I like mine thin), then add more seeds next time.

There are many benefits to eating chia seeds.  

  • Best source of Omega-3s (even moreso than salmon)
  • Controls blood sugar by slowing conversion of carbs to simply sugars
  • Make you feel fuller faster by forming a gel that is 10x their weight in water
  • Chia gel is hydrating

Some say it helps with weight loss which is due to the fact the seeds make you feel fuller faster.

 

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The benefits of hemp protein v. whey protein

May 30th, 2013 2 Comments

As someone who is constantly moving these days, I find it hard to sit for more than one meal a day.  Fruits and veggies are easy to take with me; sources of protein, not so much.  I can’t tell you how many hard-boiled eggs cracked in my purse before I realized I should put them in a plastic bag….I know, I know, it’s silly….In NYC, hard boiled eggs have actually become a new trend and high-margin item for the coffee/bagel street venders, so I can grab a couple for $1/an egg and be done with it.

Of course an easy option is a protein shake so I get greens, fruit, and protein all in one shot.  The question is: what kind of protein do I use?  Hilary, my nutritionist in Atlanta, argues whey is the only true complete protein.  However, after some consideration and research, I’ve been giving hemp a shot.

According to several credible sources, hemp is one of the best sources of protein.  It proves to be “complete” because it contains ALL of the essential amino acids we need as well as other nutrients not present in our bodies.   Made up of edestin and albumin (the latter resembles the protein in egg whites), the protein is easily absorbed and assimilated (which makes it a great choice for post-workout consumption to help your muscles recover).  Also contained in those little canibus seeds: calcium, iron, vitamins C, E, B1, B2, and carotene.  Finally, hemp also has fiber!

Generally, whey and soy protein powders contain more protein per scoop, but they are both heavily processed and difficult for the body to digest.  Neither contain vitamins and minerals unless they are added.  As a dairy product, whey can be high in saturated fats; hemp is not.  The fatty acids in hemp actually aid in the absorption of the vitamins and minerals.  Soy protein contains inhibitors to absorption (and I flat out just don’t eat any processed soy products with the exception of some occasional soy sauce).

Now, which hemp protein powders should we use?  Good question!  I’ve been loving Vega One “Natural” flavor protein, but it’s not all hemp and it’s a little too sweet for me.  An all hemp protein can be difficult to find. I can’t stand the Garden of Living Raw Protein, but from a “natural” standpoint it seems to be the best.  Click here for an extensive discussion for EVERY vegan protein powder that’s on the market.  I want to sample them all first and then asses my options based on what I can stomach.  I will say I think having a Vitamix blender helps in this process.  That thing makes every smoothie so, well, smooth, a little banana is all you need to conceal the taste of protein.

If you’re still want to go your own whey (pun intended), Hilary suggests Whole Food’s 365 vanilla or chocolate protein powder, a Think Thin bar, or one of these new Swanson organic protein shakes.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL WHEN CHOOSING YOUR PROTEIN:

  • 15 to 20 grams per serving/scoop/pouch
  • source of sweetness and carbs (less is more! you can add sweetness with fruit)
  • source of fat (should be a “good” fat/oil)
  • additives (less is more! except when we’re talking vitamins)

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Here is a quick guide to the favorites from the blogger with the extensive review list.  Maybe we can start here on our mission.  If you find one you love, please leave it in the comments below!

Resources: NaturalHealth365, Livestrong, HealthyEating, ChoosingRaw)

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Juice bars, cleanses, raw food EVERYWHERE! How do you choose?

May 9th, 2013 1 Comment

Green Juice from dtox juice bar atlanta

When I was living in The South – aka the part of the country that is always 5 years behind – I was hard pressed to find fresh pressed juice (terrible joke intended).  Coffee culture is infiltrating quite nicely, but juice not so much.  Whole Foods finally capitulated and started selling an unpasteurized** juice with a green tint, but it’s mostly derived from apples.

Since I’ve moved back to LA (and NYC for a New York minute – I can’t help myself), I see now there is a juice bar on EVERY corner. Literally, there are so many I don’t have time to try them all!

So that leaves us with several questions:

  • How do you determine which hot spot  serves “the best” juice?
  • What do I do if I don’t like all of the ingredients?
  • How much is too much to spend on juice?
  • Do I NEED to do a cleanse?
  • Which cleanse is right for me?

Thankfully I think I have come up with an easy answer for you.  My solution is actually in sync with most answers in the food industry: GO LOCAL!

The BluePrint Cleanse was a pioneer in the juice biz and for that we paid good money and still give mad respect to Erica and Zoe. But you have so many other options now, take them.

Mary Rambin and Shannon from dtox juice

This lesson was driven home for me in Atlanta when I discovered Shannon Sliger’s dtox juice bar tucked away off Roswell Road in Buckhead.  After all of the cleanse brands I’ve tried, hers has been my favorite thus far.  I got to customize the ingredients (no ginger please!) and quantity of each kind of juice (I added a cranberry grapefruit).  Plus, the fresh pressed juice over a cold pressed juice is so much more flavorful and satisfying.  She also includes a wheat grass shot and an aloe elixer (to help with digestion).  On the menu there is also a 7 day liver cleanse people rave about and my favorite coffee substitute, the Puerh Latte with fresh frothed almond milk.

Did you hear what I said: ENJOY the juice!

There are so many things you have to tolerate or “do for your own good.”  Green juice is delicious once you get over the stigma of it. And if you don’t like, try another brand or shop.  All green juices are not created equal.  You don’t want to be paying upwards of $8 for something you’re sucking down.

Just beware of the added sugar please.  There is usually something in green juice that makes it sweet and “tolerable” like green apple.  You want to make sure the juice isn’t all apple and only a little green.  The only thing that will do for you is send your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride.  Consider adding beets or carrots to your juice to make it sweeter instead of apples or citrus.  Both are high in vitamins!

I digress, but you know I don’t go on rants often, so this must be important.

REASONS TO BUY JUICE/CLEANSES FROM LOCAL PRODUCERS:

1.  There is no doubt it’s fresh.  They make it to sell out daily.
2.  They don’t have to cold press the juice to last for days so you get more bang for your buck.
3.  Cold pressed juice is great for keeping in your fridge and a cooler in your car.
3.  Often you can customize the juice’s ingredients (I like extra greens) AND your cleanse.
4.  It’s cheaper in general and no shipping costs!
5.  Locals compete so they’re more creative with their recipes.
6.  You can get an education from the owner about what their recipes and what your body needs.
7.  Whole Foods fresh juice bars suck. They don’t care about the “recipe.”
8.  Juice is good for you.  It allows your body to absorb all of the nutrients of veggies without having to work too hard.  Feel free to drink it with nuts, eggs, or chicken so you’re digestive system has time to absorb all the goodness and your tummy is full.

You know I travel a lot, and I’ve been able to find a fresh juice bar and raw food restaurant in EVERY city I’ve been to. NO EXCUSES. One of my readers/followers actually called the juice bar I posted on Instagram in El Paso to say hello! (Made my day :)  The El Paso guy was surprisingly legit with his recipes.

Bottom line: Vegetable Juice – UNPASTEURIZED** juice (read the label) – is good for you.  Drink it alongside eating a protein and a little fat like a “does-a-body-good” meal.  Cleanse for 3-5 days as a way to hit your sugar-addict reset button.

**When fresh fructose is pasteurized it’s properties change to be like that of sugar like you see in a bag in the grocery store.  Put the Tropicana down (even for your kids) and pay the money for the real, fresh deal.  Your body will thank you.

If you’re considering a cleanse, click here for a post that includes links to all of my tips and cleanse reviews.

(Full disclosure: 3 day dtox cleanse was provided for free in exchange for a review.  However, I don’t want to check my bank statement to see how much money I spent there while in Atlanta.  Obsessed with her green smoothie and kale salad is an understatement!)

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5 Tips for sugar detox – my article in JEZEBEL!

March 3rd, 2013 No Comments

Sugar article JEZEBEL March 2013

Click the image to enlarge!

After a 3 day juice cleanse, eating vegan 2 days before and after, and abstaining from bread, dairy, coffee, and sweets for the duration, I feel great! Apples taste as sweet a cake now.

I’m going to ride the clean eating, nothing processed, sugar-free wave a long as I can. Cutting out dairy is hard because I rely on yogurt for protein often….and I miss the taste of a cappuccino but thankfully not the caffeine. It was a pleasant surprise to discover I’m not addicted to caffeine. I will admit I splurged on wedding cake last night and it was DELICIOUS, but I don’t feel like I need more. The only thing processed I’ll ingest is in my wine glass. Unfortunately white wine tastes too sweet so I opt for red, a healthier choice anyway. A this point, one glass is enough to get me tipsy so I’ll be a cheap date for a while.

After practicing what I preach in the article regarding water, I’m also fully hydrated for the first time in my life. I can’t say it makes me feel any different overall, but the water is very filling and surprisingly satisfying after a meal.

More on the cleanse, sugar, and my new coffee substitute when I return.

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