GNC PurEdge & Acai Protein Bowls

This post is sponsored by GNC PurEdge, as always for better or worse all opinions are my own.

The indulgent holiday season gives way to many New Years resolutions for health and fitness. Yup, it’s that time of year when I reevaluate my fitness and decide I don’t nearly get enough strength workouts in my life. Works well enough for a bit but slowly realizing that decreasing muscle mass is probably not that best for long term effects or avoiding injury and being healthy and strong.

However, unlike the prior years, I’ve decided not to wait until the “new year” to start and have even joined a gym with classes! So when GNC offered to let me try some of their GNC PUREDGE products into my wellness routine, I decided this is the perfect time. The line has set the new standard for quality whole-food-based nutrition without sacrificing the delicious taste or performance benefits you need for active lifestyle and a hectic holiday season.

The GNC PUREDGE line of whole-food-based supplements is formulated to help active, on-the-go adults perform at their personal best. The nature-based product line includes:
– GNC PUREDGE Complete Protein powdered formula
– GNC PUREDGE Complete Protein bars
– GNC PUREDGE Energy powdered formula
– GNC PUREDGE Complete Amino powdered formula

These products contain:

  • No Gluten
  • No GMO-Added ingredients
  • No Preservatives
  • No Wheat, Soy, Fish or Egg
  • No Sugar Alcohols
  • No Banned Substances
  • No Artificial Flavors colors or sweeteners

I tried all four and here’s my verdict….

The protein is great.  Although I mostly used it after workouts, it works well as a smoothie snack. It mixed well with water or milk depending on how lazy I am being. 

 The Daily Energy is pretty much a preworkout powder that I mixed with water. Helps on those days when I don’t have my coffee because the line was too long at Flour.

 The amino acids however are my favorite. I have this paranoia that all my running pretty much eats away at any strength I built. And since running is what makes me happy, I’m not cutting back. These amino acids provide essential aminos and muscle-support nutrients to deliver cellular energy and muscle recovery. Based on my complete non expert analysis, combined with the protein powder, it works great.

Eating just plain powders can be a bit dull so I am always trying to find more palatable ways of enjoying them. So my latest addiction have been Acai bowls and I decided to see if I could add the protein powder to them so make them a little more filling as a meal versus a dessert.

Acai Protein Bowls

Prep/Make time about 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen acai smoothie packs (The only place around me that sells these is wholefoods)
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup coconut water
  • 1 Banana cut in half
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries or berry mix
  • 2 scoops of GNC PUREDGE Complete Protein powdered formula – Chocolate
  • Homemade or prepackage garnola of your choice – I used Renola from Larabar

FullSizeRender (1)

Instructions

  1. First blend together the acai smoothie packs, GNC PUREDGE Powder, almond milk, coconut water, half banana and frozen fruit. I add almond milk first and add coconut water as I need more liquid to keep it as thick as possible. The goal is to make something I can eat in a bowl with a spoon and not a straw.
  2. After your acai is thick, frosty and blended, spoon it out into a bowl.
  3. Top it! Add the toppings in the recipe or add whatever you’d like! I used the other half of the banana and granola. I so put a few frozen blueberries in the mix. Unfortunately getting fresh (affordable) berries is a little hard in December in Boston so I kept this one simple.

IMG_6826

P.S. not that it matters, but the berries I used were from when Tony and family picked enough blueberries to equal our weight in Maine. We froze them and every time I use them I get extra happy. 

Where to purchase GNC PUREDGE
Products are available nationwide in GNC stores and at www.GNC.com. You can visit the store locator online at the GNC website.

Popchip Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Now I mentioned yesterday how a couple of KitchenSurfing chefs got together with Popchips to host a dinner party/competition a few weeks ago, but there was something missing.No it’s not the booze, we had plenty of that. DESSERT. Maybe it’s my childhood, but to me a meal is not complete without a little sweat something. So I decided to remedy the situation with some cookies.

PopChipshortbreadcookies

Pop Chip Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients – Creates about 32 cookies

2 sticks of butter (softened)
¾ cup Granulated Sugar
1  3.5oz bag of Original Potato Pop Chips, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt, divided
Extra Sugar (for dusting)
1 cup Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In food processor blend ½ the bag of Pop Chips into a fine powder. Measure out ¾ cup of ground Pop Chips and set aside. Hand crush the remaining Pop Chips and add ½ teaspoon of salt to mixture and stir until combined, set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add the ¾ cup of fine ground Pop Chips and mix until incorporated, and then add the vanilla, and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and mix until just combined — do not over mix the dough! Dough will be not come together completely but will look sandy.

PopChips Recipe 3

4. Use a spoon (or I use a small ice cream scoop) to scoop dough. Using your hands to compact the dough, form small 1-inch balls and place onto a lightly greased sheet pan, spacing them at least two inches apart. Lightly wet the flat bottom of a glass and press into extra sugar. Using the glass flatten the dough balls to about a ¼ inch. Continue to apply sugar to glass and until all of dough is flattened.

5. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown, and allow to cool.

6. While cooling, melt chocolate in microwave in glass bowl in 15 second increments until melted, stirring frequently. Or melt chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Dip each of the cookies in melted chocolate. While the chocolate is still soft, roll the cookies in crushed Pop Chip and Salt mixture. Set the dipped cookies on wax paper over a wire rack until chocolate sets.

Cookie FInale

7. Try not to eat 10 of them at once like I did

Now this would complete a meal =). A perfect blend of sweet and savory to keep me satisfied.

If you like the recipe, please visit BlogandTweetBoston starting Wednesday and vote for me! If you can’t tell by the shameless begging, I really want to win =).

PopChips Recipe

Easy Simple Lentil Soup

It’s snowing and snowing and will be snowing for days, okay maybe just two days, but it feels like DAYS! I’m working for home, and with the car snowed in (okay I’m just lazy), I’m trying to figure out how to feed myself in comfort and warmth. One problem, my fridge is pretty much empty since I’ve been living of leftovers for a while. So I busted through the cabinets to see what I can find. Behold, Trader Joe’s Green Lentils!!

And that’s when I knew, I was all set. A perfect excuse to whip out the dutch oven.

I looked through a bunch of recipes and none of them appealed to me, so I went with my own based on what I had around (not much).

Easy Simple Lentil Soup

Lentil SOup

Ingredients

3 Yellow Onions
5 Garlic Cloves
1 Orange Pepper
About a cup of cut up baby carrots
1 Pack of Trader Joe’s Green Lentils (About 1 pound and only 1.69!)
1.5 Tablespoon Thyme
1 Tablespoon Cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1 Can diced tomatoes (6oz)
5 Cups of vegetable broth

Lentil soaking – I’m not an expert but I read somewhere that any soaking is better than no soaking. Therefore, I rinsed and let them soak for about 40 minutes while chopping vegetables and gathering what little ingredients that I had.

Lentil Soup (2)

I sauteed the chopped up onions and garlic with spices and olive oil for about 15 minutes, and 10 more minutes after adding chopped up carrots and orange pepper. Added broth, diced tomatoes, drained lentils and waited til all reached a boil. I lowered the heat, closed the lid and let it simmer away for 45 minutes.

Lentil Soup (3)

And then proceeded to eat 2 bowls!

Is it snowing where you are? Boston is expected up to 14 inches!

Favorite Dutch oven recipe? I’m looking to try more real recipes, so link me up!

Sunflower Butter Oatmeal Power Balls & ViSalus GIVEAWAY!!!

This post is sponsored by ViSalus

While I thought training for a 50 miler would make me hungry, training for a triathlon, even an itty bitty sprint one is making me HUNGRY! I guess my energy burning for running has become quite efficient.  I’ve gotten used to running twice a day, often straight after work before dinner.

Swimming on the other hand… well first let me explain where I stand.  I have swum probably less than 10 times in my life and most of that was doggy paddling.  My speed at swimming is equivalent of a stroll in the park speed at a 5k.  I’m slow, very slow.  At this very slow speed, I swim for about 20-30 minutes after work in the evenings. (I can’t swim in the morning, the showering process is too overwhelming for me).  As slow as I am, for me its a HUGE effort and makes me starving before and after.

However, you can’t swim on a full stomach.  Once you eat, you need to wait and wait.  Some people have to do similar for running, but I’ve become a pro at running 10 miles straight after wolfing down several tacos.  Iron stomach I thought.  However, sadly these “skills” are not transferring over to swimming.  So instead I had to come up with a snack, that was filling but not FILLING in the stomach so I could swim at my slower than grandma speed, and then stuff my face with dinner.

These sunflower butter oatmeal energy balls are perfect! They’re tasty, filling, and give me the energy I need to get through the evening workout but still leave room for dinner afterwards.

Sunflower Butter Oatmeal Power Balls

Ingredients 
1/2 Cup Vi-Shape Sweet Cream Nutritional Shake Mix
2/3 Cup Old Fashion Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup sunflower butter
1 Tbsp. flax seeds
Cinnamon to taste & make pretty
1/4 Cup water

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. I usually mix the dry ingredients first, then wet ones and afterwards combine
2. Batter into 1″ balls and place on wax paper so that they don’t touch.
3. Refrigerate uncovered for about 30 minutes or so until harden
4. Eat and enjoy but refrigerate those you don’t eat, because they’re not pretty after sitting on the counter for 2 days 😉

If sunflower butter or peanut butter isn’t your thing, you should try Running Hutch‘s coconut oatmeal bites instead!

Giveaway

Because you guys are so awesome, ViSalus has offered to let one of my readers experience ViSalus for themselves with a balance kit which contains the shake mix and a few more goodies.

The Vi-Shape Shake Mix is gluten-free, lactose free, low fat and low in sodium. You can learn more on their fact sheet.  Check them out on the web, facebook and their blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Do you ever cook/bake with protein powder?

Quinoa Chicken Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

I’m a huge fan of stuffed peppers but for some reason they always seemed complicated with too many steps.  It also takes about an hour of prep/cook time which usually is too much time for my hungry stomach.  However, today I was craving something cheesey and I also happen to have ground chicken I didn’t know what to use for (it was on sale so I stocked up).  I could have made tacos, but I figured why not get a little more adventurous.  I looked at a few recipes, then realized I want to use different ingredients in different quantities because well what I had available wasn’t the typical beef and rice and beans. I’m also a spice addict and the recipes I saw mostly called for too much salt with too many steps so I decided to go rogue.  Luckily, this actually worked out and I think is a winner for a repeat.

Stuffed Peppers Recipe

6 bell peppers
1 pound ground chicken
1 medium size onion
Several cloves of garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup chicken broth
Pepper, salt, oregano, red pepper flakes, paprika to taste
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the tops off the peppers, and remove the seeds. Cook peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes; drain and put to the side
  2. In a large skillet, saute garlic first for 3 minutes, add onions and saute for 5 minutes.  Add chicken and saute until cooked (took me about 8 minutes).
  3. Stir in the tomatoes (I drained the water), quinoa, 1 cup chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce, pepper, oregano, paprika, red pepper flakes. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.  I used weight waters Mexican cheese because it’s what was in my fridge but I think sharp cheddar would have been yummier
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C). Stuff each pepper with the chicken, quinoa mixture, and place peppers open side up in a baking dish. I had some juices left in my pan from the mixture so I put a little bit in each pepper to make them juicier.  I sprinkled a little cheese on top and cover the pepper with the top that I cut off earlier
  6. Bake  25 minutes – I baked uncovered

Munching away!

Healthy Mashed Vegetable Potatoes

As a fan of someone who loves crunchy, savory foods being on a liquid, soft foods diet has been an absolute nightmare.  The pain of having my wisdom teeth extracted is nothing compared to the pain of not being able to crunch down on a salty snack while Tony munches on in front of me.

At first I celebrated with a diet of pudding and ice cream but after a few days I wanted substances and something healthier.  People recommended mashed potatoes as something I can eat while my jaw and gums heal.  However, I really missed the green stuff.. the vegetables, so I decided to try to integrate them into this recipe.  I’m sure the concept is nothing new but here’s my take on a healthy and super easy mashed vegetable potatoes

Healthy Mashed Vegetable Potatoes

Prep Time – 5 Minutes Cook Time – 30 Minutes Total Time – 35 Minutes
About 8 Servings

Ingredients
3 russet potatoes
2 Organic Carrots
1/2 Cup Frozen Cauliflower Florets
1/2 Cup Frozen Broccoli Florets
1 tablespoon of butter
Garlic Salt
Oregano
Pepper

Directions
1. Peel potatoes and carrots, put into a giant pot with water and garlic salt that fully covers potatoes and carrots.  Wait until water boils and then simmer 15 minutes
2. After 15 minutes of simmering add the defrosted cauliflower and broccoli.  Return to boiling and then simmer 10 more minutes.
3. Add a tablespoon of butter and mash!  I use an old school manual masher.
4. Add some oregano, pepper and serve

Healthy Mashed Potatoes

These ended up being great because it was easy to make, didn’t require anything I didn’t already have in the house and used minimum amount of kitchen devices.  Food processors are great and all but cleaning them is a pain and I hate cleaning so manual mashing is the compromise.

Russian Salad (Olivier) Recipe

How to make Russian salad

Being on a mostly plant-based diet, I can’t say I normally enjoy most Russian food but, every once in a while I get homesick and crave some of my favorites. A week ago we hosted a party for Tony’s dad’s birthday and while I love his family (they’re wonderful and have fully accepted me into their homes and lives), it always makes me miss mine. In an ideal world I would love to have parties with both our families there. One problem, they’re 5 hours away in Brooklyn, NY while we live in Malden, MA. As I was planning the dishes for the party, I decided to make one of my favorite zakuska. I have fond memories of always eating tons of Russian salad growing up made by various members of my family (probably explains while I was a chubby kid).

I first started by gathering the ingredients

  • 1/3 lb of turkey bologna (most people usually use regular bologna and probably more of it)
  • 1 can (15 oz) of sweet peas
  • 3 middle size potatoes
  • 4-5 middle size carrots (I used more because I got these smaller organic ones from the farmer’s market)
  • 5 eggs
  • Green and red onion to taste (I used 4 green onion stems and 1/4th medium red onion)
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh dill
  • 6 middle size pickles (I started with 4 but added 2 after tasting)
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of light Mayo

1. Peel the potatoes and boil the potatoes and carrots and let them cool to room temperature. Hard boil the eggs as well and let them cool down to room temperature. I peeled the potatoes before and the carrots after boiling.

2. Dice and cube potatoes, carrots, bologna, eggs, onions and pickles.  I use this handy contraption that my mother got for me a few years ago when she realized I’m more likely to chop a finger off than an onion. I used the big one for the potatoes and eggs and the smaller one for everything else. If you’re old school or just not a complete moron like me you can chop them with a modern invention called a knife.

3. Add all the chopped potatoes, carrots, eggs, onions, sweat peas, pickles, bologna and dill together and mix!

4. Add 1 tablespoon of mayo (or more if you love mayo) and pepper to taste and keep mixing!

5. Serve and enjoy!