Product Lovin’

Last night, I edited and resized these pictures while doing laundry at my parents’ house. The highlight?

shesallthat

Awwww yeah. Turned the TV on right at the best part of She’s All That. The 90’s high school rom-com at its finest. I was 10 years old when this movie came out…I remember really wanting to see it in theaters too, what was I thinking? What was a 10 year old doing wanting to watch a movie about 23 year olds playing high schoolers? Kids growin’ up too quickly, I’ll tell ya.

Um, anyway.

I mentioned that I’ve been depending a lot on bars lately. I also talk frequently about how I rely on a lot of quick soup cup lunches.

Well, I’ve been trying out all sorts of products lately and gathering my thoughts (and pictures) of them. Here are some of my faves, and not so faves… and to keep things interesting, I’ll even rate them on a scale of 1-5 🙂

Bars

Why I eat them: I eat bars (protein bars, fiber bars, nutrition bars) to supplement my meals in order to make sure I’m hitting my nutrition goals. I like my bars to be low-ish in calories, and high in good nutrition stats. I could be better at checking the ingredient list, but since I’m not aware of any intolerance or allergies I have, it’s kinda low on my radar. I try to never replace a meal with a bar, but sometimes on dodgeball nights when I have a game at an awkward time, I will have a Luna bar before the game to tide me over until I can get something in my belly after the game.

The goods:

Luna Protein Bars
bars

Pros: 12g of protein, stays filling for a while, high in calcium, and the mint chocolate chip flavor is deeelish!
Cons: High calorie for how small it is (170), pretty high in fat (6-8g), and the peanut butter and cookie dough flavors are bleh.
Final Thoughts: As long as Groc Out is still keeping these in stock for 50 cents each, I’ll keep buying them. But their high calorie count is a little guilt-inducing…. 3.0/5

Fiber One Chewy Bar

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Pros: TONS of chocolate! Really chewy texture, tastes great, and has a whopping 9 grams of fiber.
Cons: Kinda small for 140 calories. Prooobably has a questionable nutrition facts list.
Final Thoughts: I found this at a gas station to eat for breakfast this weekend, and I will definitely be looking out for it in the grocery store. 4.0/5

Luna Bars – Chocolate Dipped Coconut

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Pros:  I had never tasted this flavor before and, even as a coconut hater, I loved it. Kinda tasted like a Samoas Girl Scout cookie. Luna bars are somewhat high in protein (this one has 9g), can be low in fat, and are loaded with vitamins.
Cons: Not as much fiber as I’d hope for in a bar that’s usually 160-190 calories. Again probably questionable ingredient list.
Final Thoughts: I love Luna bars, but they could be more complete as a stand alone “whole nutrition bar”. I eat em weekly all the same! 4.0/5

Fiber One 90-calorie Brownies

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Pros: They taste like BROWNIES. I also love the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor. They are only 90 calories and have 5 grams of fiber, PLUS they taste delicious.
Cons: Not much other nutritional value besides the fiber.
Final Thoughts: These are one of my favorite products. I eat them with my yogurt in the morning to add some fiber to my breakfast, and I would snack on them all the time. 5.0/5

Quick Breakfast/Lunches

Why I eat them: I try to make my own lunch every day of the week, but sometimes that’s just not possible. And if I have to choose between eating out, or eating a $2-$3 soup cup, the choice is obvious for me 🙂 As for breakfast, I love making breakfast food on the weekend, but during the week, FAST is best! I have low bone density, so I try to incorporate either yogurt or some form of almond milk in my breakfast for calcium.

The goods:

Chobani Non-fat Greek Yogurt

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Pros: I prefer the consistency of Chobani over a lot of other Greek yogurts I’ve tried. It isn’t as tart and tangy. Each one has 20% of your daily calcium and upwards of 12g of protein! Also, live active cultures like Acidophilus…Which are good for the tum tum.
Cons: Expensive. They run $1/each or more at Safeway most weeks. I only get to spring for them when they’re on sale, or when I spot them at Groc Out.
Final Thoughts: Definitely worth the buy if you’re willing to pay more than $1 per yogurt. 4.5/5

PS. Check out the Chobani giveaway on the Blend Retreat blog!

Trader Joe’s Nonfat Greek Yogurt

TJsyogurt

Pros: Pretty much all the same health benefits as Chobani – protein, calcium, probiotics. And most of the flavors taste really good (I only didn’t like pomegranate). They’re also affordable at 80-90 cents per yogurt.
Cons: They’re only 110 calories, and leave me a little hungry. Also they blend the fruit into the yogurt instead of leaving it at the bottom.
Final Thoughts: A good alternative to Chobani, but probably not a favorite. 3.5/5

Dr. McDougalls Asian Entrees- Pad Thai

asianentree

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Pros: I usually LOVE Dr. McDougall’s products. They are all natural and usually vegan. The flavor in this cup was good.
Cons: WTF? The noodles only filled up HALF the cup! No wonder it was only 200 calories.
Final Thoughts: This was a tasty cup, but it was barely a snack. It was low in fat and calories, but I probably won’t buy it again. 2.0/5

Dr McDougall’s Asian Entrees – Teriyaki Noodle

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Pros: I bought two of the Asian entrees at once, so I sucked it up and gave this 2nd one a try. A bit more filling than the Pad Thai, and it was low in sodium compared to most store-bought stuff!
Cons: This may have been more filling than the Pad Thai, but not by much. It had a lot less flavor too.
Final Thoughts: I’d say this is a much healthier alternative to Top Ramen/Cup O Noodles…if you’re into that sort of thing. I’ll stick to Dr. McDougall’s Split Pea and Black Bean Soups, which are my favorite soup cups! 2.5/5

Et cetera

Tazo Teas

lotsoftea

Pros: Anyone else get a ton of Starbucks cards for Christmas? I love the Zen green tea and the new-to-me Vanilla Rooibos Parfait! (pictured below)
Cons: I’m actually not the only one who has said this, I think Starbucks is a little heavy handed with the cardamom in their chai tea. I think they have the same problem in their “Spiced Vanilla Latte”
Final Thoughts: Solid tea. Probably wouldn’t usually spend so much on it if I didn’t have a gift card. 4.0/5

rooibostea

Cupcake Vineyards- 2011 Red Velvet (Red Blend)

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Pros: More affordable than our standby red blends (Menage a Trois and Apothic Red)
Cons: Not as tasty.
Final Thoughts: This would probably be a good wine for someone who isn’t really into red wine. The bottle and name are cute though! 2.5/5

Maybelline Baby Lips lip balm in Peppermint

babylips

Pros: OK sorry, I veered away from food stuffs. Haha. But this lip balm with sunscreen is destined to become a standby for me now that Spring has arrived, since my beloved Burts Bees flavor doesn’t include sunscreen. This has a similar tingly minty feel! Also, hello, cute tube!
Cons: It’s not Burts Bees.
Final Thoughts: Definitely going into the rotation. 3.5/5

Do you eat nutrition and/or protein bars?

What are some of your favorite products?

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. All opinions shared are my own! I am also not a registered dietician – please speak with your physician before embarking on any diet/exercise plans.

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Week in Groceries

Calling all grocery shopping cart voyeurs!

Am I the only one who thinks it’s super interesting to see what other people buy during their grocery shopping trip? I hope not, because this post is allllll about groceries.

As I’ve mentioned before, where I shop for groceries is mostly a matter of convenience. I don’t have a car, so if the store in question is more than .5 miles away, I probably don’t shop there regularly. This is the same principle that keeps me away from Target (thank heavens) and, until Saturday, Trader Joe’s.

The funny thing is, both of these places are actually only 2 miles from my house. Could totally bike there if I wanted…but I don’t. So Safeway and Groc Out it is.

I decided to wander outside my norm this weekend. I batted my eyelashes at T-Man and asked if he’d drive me to Trader Joe’s…And I had every intention of just buying some “bulk” items at TJ’s, then biking the (gasp) 20 blocks, or 1.6 miles to get the rest of my produce at the Sunday Farmers Market bright and early the next day.

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Needless to say, the Farmer’s Market never happened.

I was really surprised at how cheap TJ’s in season produce (cauliflower, broccoli, oranges) was. Soo I piled it in.

It had been over a week since my last grocery haul, and this was a big “stock-up” trip for me, as I recently ran out of essentials like rice, quinoa, lentils, etc. Even T-Man found a couple of things he liked (he has been RAVING about their lobster ravioli that he found in the refrigerated section).

So here’s what I got:

TJsgroceries

Produce: Cara Cara oranges, kiwis, onions, a russet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, bag of baby lettuce mix, and a bag of pre-cut kale (this stuff is amazing. So much more tender than full leaf kale)

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Bulk items & Dairy: lentils, quinoa, hybrid corn/flour tortillas, brown jasmine rice (this 3 lb bag lasts me over 6 months!), a can of beans (I already had black & garbanzo beans at home) plain Greek yogurt, flavored nonfat Greek yogurt (I tried 1 so far which wasn’t fantastic, but the price was right), and eggs.

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These are two new-to-me products I was really excited about because I’m a food nerd I’ve never spotted them at Safeway before: red lentils and quinoa! I always get green lentils, or plain old quinoa. I haven’t tried the lentils yet, but the quinoa was yummo 😀

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Miscellaneous: tortilla chips (these are DELISH), Luna bars, almond butter, chicken broth, peppermint tea, and light coconut milk

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I spent a lot of time looking through all the protein and nutrition bars, and settled on my tried and true Luna Bars. So many bars are too high in calories and fat, or don’t have enough overall nutrition for me to justify buying them. And the ones that did were all superexpensive. So Lunas it is! I haven’t tried the Chocolate-dipped Coconut or Peanut Butter Cookie before. YUM!

And my grand total (which I’m predicting will last me nearly 2 weeks) only came out to: $54.28!

I was really surprised at how little I spent for so much stuff! Lots of things (coconut milk, tea, yogurt) were actually cheaper at TJ’s than Safeway. And I probably saved a lot by avoiding the frozen/refrigerated aisle.

Also, I had another one of my famous “weird illogical theories” (dubbed so by T-Man of course :-P), I was convinced it would be cheaper to make almond butter than buy a jar.

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I quickly ditched my 1 lb, $6.99 bag of almonds for the MUCH cheaper $5.99 jar. Those almonds would have hardly made one cup of butter!

So what have I made with these groceries?

I made a vague meal plan for the week. Check it:

Breakfast: Used the plain yogurt I bought, and frozen fruit and granola I already had, to made a batch of Lindsay’s Frozen Yogurt Bars. Those bars plus my yogurt cups and Fiber One brownies will suffice for two weeks worth of breakfasts! And if I run out, there’s always oatmeal at the office. 🙂

Lunch and dinner:

Monday: burrito bowl for lunch (black beans, broccoli, hot sauce & tortilla), Kale & Broccoli pasta dish for dinner

Tuesday: leftover pasta for lunch, happy hour & drinks for dinner {I ended up having fries & wine, haha, so I supplemented it with fruit & a Luna bar!}

Wednesday: burrito bowl for lunch (with chicken this time), some kind of lentil + coconut milk dish for dinner

Thursday: lunch with a friend, leftover lentil dish for dinner after dodgeball game

Friday: Wing it! Bike home for lunch, or if not enough time, have emergency soup cup at the office. Make nice dinner with T-Man?

While this isn’t a full list of what I eat every day (there’s been at least one snack of leftover crackers + cheese from my office’s reception each day, plus dessert and other random snacks), I usually stick to a plan much like this…e.g. make dinner Monday and Wednesday, eat leftovers for lunch the next day.

Since I’m just about over my cold, my workouts have been pretty scattered. Usually, I plan my workout days first, then my meals…That way, I know to plan for protein-packed meals on workout days. This week, I’ve just been cookin’ with what I have, and supplementing my meals when I should.

Do you meal plan?

Do you create a weekly fitness plan?

Do you like Trader Joe’s, or do you like Trader Joe’s?

Fitness Friday

How strange it is to be blogging in the PM hours! The three-day weekend kinda threw off my blogging schedule, but I wanted to fit in a Fitness Friday post before the “Friday” title no longer applied, and plus I was in no mood to do anything but sit on the TV/computer tonight anyway.

I had a couple of non-eventful days at work, but the week ended with two crazy crazy days. I was pretty much ready to dance out of my office today, but alas, it was one of those days where I was given a dozen fires to put out in the last 2 hours of the day. Woe is me! I was definitely happy to leave (albeit 15 minutes after the scheduled time), and ended up stopping at Groc Out (Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, to the uninitiated) to buy cheese, crackers, and wine. I was pretty good about eating well this week, so I figured I deserved it!

Garlic jack and jalapeno havarti…. MMMMMM.

Now that that is out of the way, this is what I’m watching whilst I type:

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“I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it…I’m swamped!”

Best. Movie. Ever.

Anyhow, on to the fitness stuff.

Here’s my workouts for the last two weeks:

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I’m not sure why I logged this week’s dodgeball game and not last week’s (though it might have to do with the fact that we played a really good team this week and I actually hustled!)…ha. But I kept close to my 3x per week schedule, despite essentially taking a 5 day break over the three day weekend 😛

I was particularly proud of last Monday’s run, as it was my fastest and furthest since late NOVEMBER, right before I had my stomach illness.

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I was hovering in the 9:45 min/mile pace for the last few weeks, and decided to just go for it. I felt pretty good, but the rest of the week I was feeling kind of ill so I didn’t get to keep up my mileage. I’m still hoping to run a 5K next month…we’ll have to see if I get up to speed in time!

NO PRINCESS BUTTERCUP! DON’T KILL YOURSELF!

Erm…not sure where that came from 😉 Anywho, I think most of my other workouts are self explanatory. Except maybe the “rows” I referred to – those would be these.

My biggest challenge/goal at the moment is to make sure I eat enough protein in general, and especially on the days that I’m working out. My aim is to maintain my weight (I lost 5 lbs without trying at the end of last year and want to avoid losing any more), and I think protein is a big part of that. I’ve been doing a pretty good job at eating a minimum of 45g per day, but getting up to 60-70g on workout days is still pretty difficult. SO, I’ve been eating a lot of chicken:

leftover lentil stew

leftover lentil stew

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a surprisingly well-balanced dinner for me. chicken breast (protein), Alexia sweet potato fries (starch), and spring mix with homemade balsamic! (veggies)

I’ve also, unfortunately, been relying on a lot of bars lately for protein and fiber. Mostly for lunch (I experimented with a few new soup/noodle cups that were really not filling enough to last all afternoon so I had to supplement them), but also sometimes on dodgeball nights, since my games are often right around dinner time.

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MY NAME IS INIGO MONTOYA. YOU KILLED MY FATHER. PREPARE TO DIE.

Ahem. Sorry. That picture is my collection of bars in my desk at work.

I have the Fiber One brownies with my Greek Yogurt at breakfast, while the Luna bars and Luna Protein bars usually accompany not-quite-complete meals, especially on workout days. I’m actually planning on doing a post soon on all the products I’ve been trying lately- soup cups, protein bars, and what have you…keep a lookout 🙂

Luckily, the weather has been pretty great lately for exercising outside:

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There have been a few times that I haven’t felt well enough to go for a run outside, but have geared up anyway just to sit in the grass in my comfy leggings, soak up the 60 degree sun, and stretch a bit. That was actually going to be the case for me today, but I felt so good after a good 5-7 minute stretch that I just went for it and took a really easy, slow 2.2 mile jog. It totally perked me right up and helped me feel great the rest of the day. Plus, I switched things up and listened to a Podcast instead of music to keep me distracted from how crappy I felt:

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Any other Wait Wait fans out there?

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!