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Simply Switch: Protein Bars

Back in the day, I used to work a 9-5 office job. The same rigid office schedule many of you are familiar with. Five days of work followed by two days off. During that period of time, I became accustomed to doing all of my week’s food preparations on Sundays. Three, four, five dishes would come out of my kitchen. It was my favourite day of the week :)

But then I moved to Toronto, got two jobs that have me working any of the seven days a week anywhere from 6am to 10pm. Suddenly, my neat little food ritual fell by the wayside. I found myself grabbing anything and everything that would settle my rumbling belly.

Well no more.

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In those days, I made a batch of homemade protein bars every single week. Old readers will remember flavours like dark chocolate s’mores, PB&J and apple cinnamon. But lately I’ve been relying on store bought bars to fuel me through my day.

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At the start of the month, I laid out four Simply Switches I’ll be making in the New Year. But it goes beyond just those four. I want to consciously make healthy switches all year! Starting with being a little more conscious of the processed snacks I put in my body.

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I opted for a batch of my Maple Cinnamon Oat Bran Protein Bars. I like these because they’re baked and stable at room temperature.

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I picked up a canister of InterActive Absolute Vegetarian protein powder today. Unflavoured, so all it contains is isolated soy, pea and hemp protein with bromelain.

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I tweaked the original recipe a little because I apparently also have issues following even my own recipes.

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I got this two-sided rubber scraper at the Foodbuzz Festival and LOVE it! One end is teeny-tiny and the perfect size for scraping out peanut butter jars. Butter knives never get it all.

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The pivotal moment is when you add the water to the mix. I add it a quarter cup at a time, until the mixture is juuuust sticky enough to stick together. You’re better off stirring away and getting an arm workout in to get all the dry bits mixed up.

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I add raisins for fun. But if you’re scared of raisins, you can add any dried fruit you fancy! I bet dates or coconut would be good too.

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Maple Cinnamon Oat Bran Protein Bars:

  • 2 cups oat bran
  • 1 cup protein powder (anything but whey. Preferably unflavoured, can be vanilla, just add less sweetener)
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup sugar free syrup (I do this to keep the sugar down, but you can omit and add 2 extra tbsp of maple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup water (it varies depending on the protein powder you use)

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Directions:

Mix together the oat bran, protein powder and cinnamon until combined. Add peanut butter, egg whites, syrups, vanilla extract. Slowly add water 1/4 cup at a time while stirring until mix is sticky but not goopy. Flatten into a square baking pan and bake at 350F for 25 minutes or edges are slightly browned.

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They’re a little denser in calories (230), so you could always cut them down to 10 pieces for lighter bars. Each one of the eight bars also has 23g carbs, 5g fibre and 20g protein. They also make part of a great grab-n-go breakfast!

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Feels nice to have homemade bars on hand again. Not to mention much cheaper! I may not be able to prepare all my food on Sundays anymore but it’s nice to know I’ll have snacks to power me through my next Sunday shift at the running store ;)

 

Question of the Day: What’s one healthy simple switch you’ve done lately? Share your Simply Switch here and you could win a really nice gift basket!

Sweet Endings

Happy happy weekend friends!!

My weekend is off to a good start! It actually began last night when I saw my first ever 3D movie with my dad and little step-sister. I know, I’m like a bazillion years behind the times. I normally don’t go to movies because they are so frickin’ uncomfortable. But the theatres here are larger, thus nice cushy seats. Shrek was pretty entertaining – the fat Puss in Boots stole my heart ;)

After the movie I finally watched Lost!!! Wow. So many hours of my life have gone into watching that show…

Moving on!

In case you have not yet noticed, I’m sort of off the oatmeal. I ate hot cereal every single day for a month while trying to clear out my pantry before moving. I haven’t really re-established my taste for it.

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Yup, lately I’m all about the breakfasts I grew up on – eggs, toast, pancakes, freezer waffles and… french toast!

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Syrup is a must for many of these items. In these cases, I prefer table syrup over maple syrup. Both of which are quite sugary for the morning.

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So I rely on sugar-free syrup. I am not a splenda addict, or Diet Coke guzzler, but I do love my sucralose syrup. We all have our weak spots, and at 10 calories a tablespoon, this stuff is mine.

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Besides, the the light syrup allows for more egg-drenched bread to be consumed, and in my books, that’s good :)

Wait, did I say I watch my sugar in the morning? I take that back. I forgot about breakfast dessert.

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Finding this in my mother’s fridge was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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I have been on a huge milk chocolate kick lately, and I would say this stuff is la creme de la creme.

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Hello lover.

My morning was spent puttering around. I didn’t get to the gym until noon, so I popped a couple giant medjools to keep my lunch hunger at bay.

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I know a lot of people don’t do fats before working out, as it can cause digestive and abdominal distress during intense activity. That thankfully does not happen to me, and peanut butter is always my go-to snack before exercise.

My legs are still sore from the full-body workout I did on Wednesday. So I kept today to an upper-body workout. I haven’t been getting as sore upstairs as I used to, so I switched it up to high weights, low reps, extra sets. I went up at least a good 5 lbs for all my weights then completed 6 reps and 4 sets of each exercise. Because I was doing such heavy weights, I kept it to straight sets and rested for about a minute between each set. I also threw some cardio spurts in there to keep my heart rate up and keep it fun :)

20 minutes high intensity intervals on the treadmill

Length Level
1 minute 8
2 minutes 10
1 minute 17
2 minutes 10
1 minute 17
1 minute 30 seconds 10
1 minute 17
1 minute 10
1 minute 17
30 seconds 10
1 minute 17
1 minute 10
1 minute 17
1 minute 30 seconds 10
1 minute 17
2 minutes 10

Strength:
Romanian deadlift to row 
Reverse fly
Incline dumbbell fly 
Reverse push up

Cardio:
5 minutes on the rowing machine

Strength:
Dumbbell shoulder press 
Cable pushdown 
Barbell curl 

Cardio:
10 minutes on stairmaster

 

I didn’t do any abs, but if you want some suggestions for ab moves, here are all the ones I got in yesterday’s comments:

All awesome. I did decline bench sit-ups a couple weeks ago and it hurt to laugh for a few days!

Came home from the gym to yet another ginormous salad.

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Highlights being massaged kale, leftover roast chicken, shredded cheddar and leftover cider vinegar/oil dressing.

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For my fellow big salad eaters – it is important to own the size of your salad. When people come up to you, googly eyed by the sheer enormity of your bowl, do not flinch. Be it boss, mother or step-brother (not that I’m speaking from experience here) do not be scared to say “yeah, and I’m going to eat it ALL.” They are just amazed by how many veggies you can consume in one sitting, and do not know how to properly express this jealousy ;)

Mommy dearest whipped up her famous spaghetti sauce this evening using buffalo meat.

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My mom and I plumped up our noodles with spaghetti squash. We also cooked a garlic bread for the kids, and I enjoyed a special cheese-free piece for myself :)

Such a fantastic dinner needed a fantastic dessert though. The household was slightly bitter that Rudy (aka the gut-weiler) ate a whole box of Lindt special dark chocolates today. Not to mention, tomorrow is Mark’s birthday. Dessert needed to be extra special.

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I finally, finally, made Heather’s famous Maple Nut Oaties!

I followed her recipe and directions to a tee:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup toasted rolled oats.  I just toast them in the toaster oven set on 350° for a few minutes.  Watch them as they burn easily.
  • 1/2 cup nut butter almond butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup chocolate/carob chips or dried fruit (One really good combo is cashew butter with dried pineapple.  Yum!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted nut butter)

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 325°.
  • Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • Scoop cookie dough by TBSP (I actually use a melon ball scooper) onto parchment lined or greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes.
  • Let cool for a minute or so, and then I just pick them up and form into balls before placing on the cooling rack.

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I was weary of toasting the oats in the toaster oven after The Great Fire.

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Thankfully, my mother’s kitchen is still intact. I let the dough chill just as instructed, then enlisted the help of my little step-brother to form the oaties.

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He didn’t care for getting his hands dirty. When I told him getting messy is the best part, he replied “No, eating them is the best part.” Touché.

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They smelled heavenly (ie maple-y) coming out of the oven. We all wanted to gobble them up right away, but good things come to those who wait.

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I can totally see why these are famous on the interwebs. SO good! The best part though, is the stellar ingredients. I really can’t feel guilty for one of these guys when I know each is made out of few and quality ingredients. HEAB also claims they’re calorie dense, but I got 23 little balls, at 112 calories a pop. It’s all about the small serving sizes. I just dare you to stop at one ;)

 

Well friends, it is much past my bedtime (whatever that is these days). I just finished watching Sherlock Holmes with the fam and would definitely recommend it. That Robert Downey Jr. is just so damn charismatic. Tomorrow is shaping up to be a busy day with a long run, a short hike and who knows what else! See ya then!! xoxo

 

Question of the Day: Is there one special treat you always request on your birthday? Or, a specific treat you really want to request this coming birthday? I’m different every year, and I think this coming birthday I’d really like to go out to an old-school diner for greasy fish n’ chips and a giant slice of chocolate pie ;)

The Perfect Protein Bar- One Step Closer

It was close, but crunchy nut butter won out over smooth 9 to 7 ;) These are important global matters people!

I was up early with a growling belly again today. Whyyyyy.

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Something quick and speedy – egg, laughing cow, smoked salmon breakfast sandwich.

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Ever since destroying my toaster oven I’ve been making my toast under the broiler. It’s a tricky process!

As a side note – I dropped an oven mitt on the oven element today and it caught on fire. Thankfully I was able to grab the mitt and fan it out. But I lost another year off my life from the moment of panic. I’ll be lucky if I make it to 50 :\

What was I making??

Homemade Maple Cinnamon Oat Bran Protein Bars

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  • 2 cups oat bran (I like Quaker)
  • 1 cup unflavoured soy protein powder (I use “Purely Bulk”)
  • 1.5 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 packets stevia
  • 1 tsp maple extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free table syrup
  • 4 tbsp almond butter (crunchy!!)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup water

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Mix it all up until the powder is dissolved, but mix is still crumbly. Flatten into a 9×9 pan and bake at 350F for 15 minutes.

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Makes 8 decent-sized bars.

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My third attempt at a baked bar and my best one yet!! The extra cinnamon and maple really added some flavour. The best thing about the baked bars is that they’re stable at room temperature, so they’re much easier transport :)

I didn’t stop there though! Maple Pecan Peanut Butter.

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Threw 2 cups roasted peanuts, 2 cups roasted pecans and 2 tbsp pure maple syrup into my food processor.

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The processor gave out on me just as it was about to turn into that wonderful creamy consistency. Still pretty freakin’ good though.

Dinner put a dent on my overflowing cupboard!

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Cooked up one cup dry bulgur and one cup dry green lentils. Then added some chopped carrots, crumbled tofu, feta, hummus, garlic, parsley, dill and turmeric.

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This was definitely one of those meals where I just kept adding things to the pot with no forethought. It was good though! I think I may try to make patties out of the leftovers tomorrow. I didn’t feel like doing that extra step tonight.

Kept me full for a while, but not so much that I went without a bedtime snack ;)

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Microwave protein cake made up of 1/2 cup soy protein powder, cinnamon, stevia, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 cup applesauce, 2 tbsp egg whites. Microwaved in a mug for 4 minutes.

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Topped with some of that Maple Pecan Peanut Butter ;)

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While eating this, I was amazed by how large it turned out. That’s when I realized I used half a cup of protein powder when I meant to use a quarter!! Oops. I contemplated putting the other half in the fridge for later, since I usually stick to a regular serving size for snacks. But then I realized I was being silly, and that maybe it would be nice not to wake up hungry tomorrow :)

 

Food aside, today was my first day of unemployment! Eek! By 8:52am I was already restless and unsure of what to do with myself. I ended up being fairly productive though. Packed up all my clothing, which I’ve downsized to just two laundry hampers. Donated the rest (3 garbage bags worth). Also started throwing out some old junky decorations and things no one will ever need. Felt good to purge it all!

I also hit up the gym with an old co-worker to run through what I plan on doing for my practical exam on Wednesday for my personal training certification. We had to go figure out how to use the weight machines – I’ve never used them at my gym before!! Hopefully I sound like I know what I’m talking about come test day :\

And with that, I leave you today’s Archie picture.

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Yesterday it was one running shoe, today he cuddled up with three :)

 

Question of the Day: Bloggers – do you listen to music when you blog? Watch TV? Do it in silence? I always used to blog with the TV on in the background, but lately I’ve been listening to music and it makes the process a lot more fun. Tonight’s post was brought to you buy the new George Harrison “Let It Roll” cd :)

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