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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!

A Worthy Gain

What’s up.

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That would be me in my new personal training uniform. So unreal to be able to wear it now!! My client roster is slowly starting to fill and I can’t believe how lucky I am that I get to go to the gym, help people get in shape, and call that “work” :)

Mucho gracias for indulging me in my last post about Jagerbombs. Despite being an employed trainer now, my behaviour has been decidedly “un-trainer-like.”

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We’ve had people visiting these past few days, which should always be met with celebrations. When they said they were going to Smoke’s Poutinerie I had to go. I knew it was going to be bad. Real bad. But I seem to have this insatiable food curiosity that sometimes takes away from my better judgement.

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I know a few people would be horrified by their treatment of the classic poutine – a dish of fries, beef gravy and cheese curds. Smoke’s has a large menu filled with various toppings and varieties. We’ll agree to call it a “fry and gravy” place ;)

I went for the Country Style: slow roasted chicken breast, double smoked bacon, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions.

Not gonna lie, I was a little horrified upon seeing what I’d ordered.

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LOOK AT ALL THAT BACON!!!

I had to dig deep to find the actual poutine part…

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Omg, I can feel my arteries clogging all over again just looking at this. I think I finally have my This Is Why You’re Fat submission.

I arrived to the Poutinerie after a heavy weight-lifting workout, which in retrospect was perhaps not the best idea. My stomach was loudly growling and I polished off the whole thing. The whole thing! In terms of how poutines go, it was just alright. I think I liked the Elgin Street Diner in Ottawa better. I prefer shoestring fries and mushroom gravy :)

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We walked down to Trinity Bellwoods park to enjoy our greasy boxes. The same place as the blogger picnic, and my favourite park in Toronto!! Okay, the only park I’ve been to in Toronto…

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Chris got the triple pork poutine with pulled pork, smoked bacon and Italian sausage. A little something he coined “poutirnalism.” Eating mass quantities poutine for the sake of mankind.

I of course immediately regretted stuffing myself with such food as I had to go directly to a job interview (part-time job at a coffee shop – fingers crossed!), and then to a fitness assessment!

I offered to be the victim of a fitness assessment at my new gym to get an idea of how they go about doing them. Keep in mind, mine was much harder than what they do to the average person. The trainer I was working with obviously wanted to see what I’m made of ;)

I tried to explain to him that I’d just eaten a pound of poutine, and that I’ve been feeding on hamburgers and cake since travelling to Banff in June. I can’t say I was surprised when I stepped on the scale and discovered I’ve gained 6 lbs in the last three months. Every ounce of that gain is the result of good food and good times I wouldn’t trade in for the world. But there’s always something about that numerical value that seems to sneak out of the scale and slap you across the face.

You mean I can’t eat a pound of poutine on the daily?? :P

Yeahyeahyeah, I guess now that I’m settled in my new home, it’s time to settle back into my usual eating routine as well. Noted Mr. Scale. Noted.

Weight gain aside, I did pretty well on the fitness assessment. There were a lot of lateral raises, ab moves and lunges among other things. My core strength needs work, but my legs and back are waaaay stronger than I was expecting. My shoulders are still struggling a little, but I’m workin’ on it :)

Lunch was eaten at 1:30pm and I didn’t start to feel snacky until 9pm!!

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I reached for this Daryl’s All Natural Regular Elite Granola Bar. A Canadian-made protein bar that I spotted in the fridge section of a local natural foods store.

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Ingredients and stats are okay…

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But the taste? Meeehhh. Notsomuch. The texture was lovely and reminded me a lot of my own homemade bars. But I thought there was too much honey and the dried fruit was a little tart.

I awoke this morning with the determination to get back on the straight and narrow. This of course meant celebrating Waffle Wednesday!!

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I whipped up quite possibly my best protein waffle recipe yet:

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • several shakes cinnamon
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

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Made two medium-sized waffles. While they were cooking, I also cooked peach slices with cinnamon in a frying pan.

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Thrown on top with flaked coconut and sugar-free syrup.

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They tasted like real waffles!!

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The recipe has 270 calories, 3g fat, 25g carbs, 4g fibre, 0g sugar, 37g protein.

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It’s love!!

Even though I woke up incredibly sore from weightlifting and the fitness assessment the day before, I was still pumped for a noon-hour spin class.

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Pre-spin fuel was a few figs topped with my Easy Peasy Cream Cheese Icing.

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All I did was mix together a wedge of laughing cow cheese and a tbsp of marshmallow fluff. SO good!!

Unfortunately, I got my days all messed up and there was no spin class happening once I got to the gym. Instead I just hopped on various cardio machines while watching Sex and the City. Just as well!

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For lunch, I stir-fried every fresh veggie I had in the fridge and added tofu balls.

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I tossed the whole thing in Averie’s peanut sauce and it was divine. Stir-fries are becoming one of my favourite summer meals!

I’ve been trying to avoid the chocolate cake my roommie brought home, so I snacked on my own version later in the day.

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Deep Chocolate Vitatop with Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter.

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That right there, really is the stuff dreams are made of ;)

 

I will leave you with the above image to drool over. My dad, big sis and little step-sis are arriving in less than an hour and I’ve got things to do! I’m superduper excited to see them and show them my new city :)

A Challenge of Silence

Last night after hitting publish on my last post, I shuffled into my sister’s kitchen to whip up one of my favourite night-time protein snacks.

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Sara gave me this free sample of Dymatize Nutrition Elite whey protein powder. 

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Nothing fancy going on here – just the powder mixed with a little bit of cinnamon, coconut, and enough milk to dissolve into a thick batter.

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Topped with almond butter, of course ;)

I was quite excited to have protein desserts back in my life, but this powder just did not do it for me. Perhaps it would be decent in a shake, but if I don’t like it straight up, chances are I won’t bother trying to mask its flavour in something else.

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That includes dipping dried apricots in it ;)

I was in bed early last night in anticipation of my sister’s 6:30am alarm. You see, she’s out of town this weekend, but forgot to turn the alarm off on her blackberry. I don’t know the code to get on and change it! At least it’s had me up and being productive these past few mornings…

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A “light” breakfast, although still calorie dense. Two servings of Liberte Mediterranee strawberry yogurt with a banana and a dash of granola for good luck.

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Dare I say it?? Mediterranee yogurt is quite possibly better than Greek yogurt!! It’s true. Its thickness doesn’t come from straining, and it’s not high in protein. But mygosh, that 7% milkfat makes for the best taste and texture.

The light-er breakfast was in preparation for two things! First:

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My first ever Yin Yoga class!! I’ve done Yin Yoga postures at home before, but never in a classroom environment. I’m not one of those people who does yoga for a workout, I do it more for that whole mind-body thang. So the idea of holding poses for up to 5 minutes at a time really appeals to me.

Funnily enough, for the first time ever – I fell asleep in yoga!! I’ve never been one to just doze off in Savasana. My mind is always racing by the end of class (usually about what I want to eat when I get home). But today, I was dozing off the whole time. I even fell asleep doing half frog pose:

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I don’t know if I should blame this on my sister’s 6:30am alarm, or that maybe for once I was finally calm enough to let myself go… We’ll see I guess, I got a two-week pass at that studio for only 25 bucks ;)

Ohyes, and the other reason for the light-ish breakfast??

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A bloggie meet-up for brunch!

One reason why I love blogging is that I feel like I have an extended friend network all over the world. Wherever I go, there is always a kind, smart and funny blogger to get to know in person!

Today, I met up with Darryn of Brio Gusto fame and her friend who is a fellow Maritimer :) Darryn is only in Ottawa for a little bit longer before she heads back to Vancouver to do her PhD. Darryn also just returned from a 7-week stay in India for a yoga teacher training course. Amazing. Check out her blog for all her recaps on it!

Funnily enough, Darryn chose this little pub called The Manx for brunch. My sister showed it to me the other day saying it’s got the best food on Elgin Street, and is therefore always packed.

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But we got a table!

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Note: this is not the full brunch menu. I believe there was also a “bruncher” and “brunchist?”

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That would be the Eggs Zucchini: two poached eggs with grilled zucchini and spinach-feta pesto sauce on an english muffin.

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It came with smashed potatoes! I call them “smashed” because they weren’t whipped and still had skins, my favourite way to have them. The best part however, was the spinach-feta pesto on top. I need to make this for myself!

After the wonderful brunch, I went shopping. And not the clothing kind.

Is it strange that I’m mildly excited to not have a car anymore?

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Perhaps I’ll spend less on groceries now that I have to walk home with them. P.S. If anyone has a recipe I absolutelymust try with those artichokes, do share.

It feels like ages since I last baked (11 days maybe?) so I picked up a few choice ingredients to turn my sister’s black bananas into high-protein goodies.

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This is where I would usually google “protein banana bread” or the likes, but I was feeling reckless.

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I mean, maybe this baking thing isn’t so hard afterall?? The recipes do start to all look the same after a while…

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Here’s what I came up with:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup soy protein powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk

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Put it in a 375 F oven for 30-35 minutes, then mixed up a topping.

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1/4 cup walnuts, 2 tbsp shredded coconut and 1 tbsp maple syrup. Spread on top and broiled for just a couple of minutes to make crunchy.

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It smelled divine coming out of the oven, and dare I say… edible??

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I cut them into 12 little triangles for no reason other than it made for a fun serving size.

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These are definitely good, or else I wouldn’t have shared the recipe. But you want to know the funny thing about baking?? A quarter cup of butter would have made these fantastic ;)

In other news, I’m making up for lost time on my greens.

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I barely had a serving a day while in Alberta last week. Not only have I not eaten meat since arriving in Ottawa, but I’ve been loading my belly with fruits and veg.

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It’s not a guilt thing. I just give the bod what it wants :)

Speaking of which!

*segue*

 

A Challenge of Silence

Okay, so this is more of a challenge for myself, but I encourage anyone else out there to participate!!

First, let me explain.

So, I’m reading the book Eat, Pray, Love. I bought it in Banff for some airplane fodder based on Holly’s high praises. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s the true chronicles of a recently divorced 30-something who went to Italy to experience decadence, India to experience devotion, and Indonesia to find a balance between the two. I’m at the India part.

Last night I read the chapter on the author’s experience with meditation and how she learned to quiet her mind, or “ego.” Then today in yoga, our instructor was talking about the same thing. Then I fell asleep.

Ellie mentioned meditation to me today, and I responded that I wanted to try it. She asked, “What’s stopping you?”

Good point.

So this is a roundabout way of saying I am committing to A Challenge of Silence. Starting tomorrow (Monday) I will take 20 minutes out of my day to sit or lay still and meditate. Twenty minutes can either be a short period of time for some, or an eternity to others. I’m going to attempt to do it each morning as soon as I wake up. I want to quiet my racing mind and inner ego while learning to listen and feel my body. It may sound new-age hippy-dippy, but nothing is too silly if it means good health and happiness.

I don’t really have a set period of time for this. Ideally, it will be something I find beneficial and practice indefinitely. But for now, in the sake of “challenges” I’ll settle for every day for 30 days ;) I’ll update you on any progress or revelations along the way!!

 

Last but most certainly not least, Happy Fathers Day!!!

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My dad doesn’t read my blog. I’m pretty certain he only uses the internet to stream the Tour de France when it’s on. But I love the old man just the same ;)

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