Meatless Monday: Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash

Told you guys I had a Meatless Monday post waiting for ya!

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And it involves mini peppers and mini potatoes…because mini is always cuter, right?

Despite the fact that I just called this dish cute, it’s actually a pretty hearty meal. Potatoes are pretty filling, but since they’re so starchy and carby, they’re not the kind of filling that will sustain you for many hours. That’s where the other components come in to save the day!

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I got really into beets this spring since my dad was growing them and they always looked so pretty at the Farmer’s Market. They stain everything, but I love their earthy taste and they are so pretty! Sweet mini bell peppers and onions add crunch, and pinto beans give this hash some bulk.

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Finish it all off with some fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon and you have yourself a perfectly light and refreshing, yet filling, summer breakfast! Or if you’re like me, you don’t really wake up until 10 or 11 on the weekend and there becomes a thin line between breakfast and lunch 🙂

I am proud to report that the basil plant I bought at the grocery store about a month ago is still alive and kickin’! However, we are currently on Day 3 of an 8 day streak of triple digit heat. 104, 107, and 106 degrees on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…and it’s only getting hotter. So who knows if the plant will last much longer.

This quick 1-skillet dish would be great for a hot day like today (108 degrees!), but I’ve chosen instead to do the 3 Day Peel’d Juice Cleanse. I learned about it from my friend Sarah who did their traditional 5-day cleanse last month (Hi Sarah!). Consuming only juice for 3 days isn’t exactly my cup o’ tea…However, in addition to the allotted 2 juices and 1 smoothie per day, Peel’d allows you to eat as many fruits and veggies as you want: “This process isn’t about depriving yourself, but feeding yourself large amounts of foods that will nourish, support and heal you.” Olives, avocados, and nuts are also listed as ideal “snacks”…win!

I will definitely be writing a recap later in the week, but until then, I’ll just leave this here…and dream about potatoes:

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Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash
serves 1

2 mini potatoes
1/2 small onion (about 1/2 cup)
2 mini red or orange bell peppers
1/2 medium-sized beet, cooked (I roast mine in a foil packet in the oven at 400F for about 45 minutes)
1/4-1/2 cup pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
juice of one lemon
salt & pepper
oil, as needed for cooking

Cut everything into similarly-sized pieces. Heat your choice of oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add onions, stirring to coat. Let them sweat for about a minute before adding the potatoes. Again, stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and let cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix in bell peppers and beets and cook for another 5 minutes. Add desired amount of pinto beans and lemon juice, and cook until heated through. Remove from heat, mix in basil leaves, garnish with lemon wedge (add more lemon if you’d like) and enjoy!

Politics and Avocado-Cilantro Hummus

What a crazy 24 hours for politics, you guys.

I’m sorry, I know it’s tacky to talk about religion and politics or whatever, but indulge me in this and I’ll indulge you all with POSSIBLY my best side dish recipe ever.

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{actually, considering the fact that I work in politics and live blocks away from the State Capitol, it’s a wonder that I don’t talk about it more!}

So first of all, Halle Berry was at the State Capitol yesterday. Yes, the one I live blocks away from.

She was testifying in support of a bill that would impose tighter restrictions against the paparazzi when it comes to photographing children [of celebrities]. Bill authors and bill sponsors get semi-famous people to testify from time to time, but I think Halle Berry takes the cake for most famous/fabulous in recent memory.

Next up: Wendy Davis is a BAMF.

source: NPR

She filibustered for 11 hours yesterday…while wearing fabulous pink sneakers of course. I actually listened to a good 2 hours of her filibuster at work, and then my roomie and I streamed the last 2-3 hours of it after we got home from work. The crazy/amazing thing about this is that during what seemed like every second of that time, old white dude after old white dude would try and bring up bogus points of order or interrupt her to get her all tripped up. She was advocating for a woman’s right to choose. And the men kept trying to silence her. What’s wrong with this picture?

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OK now LAST political thing before we get to this deliciousness:

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I have a picture to share.

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This is me and my family at my aunt Martha’s wedding in.. judging by my bangs…1994. It was me and my brother’s first wedding. Normal family picture, right? Happy family, happy to see our aunt joined in love with her partner.

Yup. Partner. The first wedding I ever attended was a gay one, y’all.

My mom retells the story about how a confused 8 year old me asked her, “Who is Aunt Martha marrying?” and was shocked when she replied, “Her ‘friend’ Michelle”. This early understanding that love can be found between two of the same gender has affected my outlook ever since.

That union eventually ended, and my aunt found her true soulmate a few years later. They were one of the first couples in line at City Hall in San Francisco to make it official when gay marriage was legalized. They have since moved to Connecticut, where they renewed their vows and made it official again when CT legalized gay marriage, this time with their young daughter by their side.

So you can see I am elated today that the Supreme Court essentially upheld the decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. It is an issue near and dear to my dad’s family: A regular American family who goes to church every week. No degenerates, no hoodlums, no drag queens. Just normal folk!

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It’s a very happy day, and you can bet you’ll find me celebrating at the Capitol this evening!

I got this bracelet from our friend Amanda, who is the Chair of the California Young Democrats LGBT Caucus (and who I met last year…at a gay wedding). I feel like it was my most appropriate jewelry to wear today!

OK, you have all been patient…and now you are awarded:

DSC_0609I bought Avocado-Cilantro Hummus from the Farmer’s Market two weeks ago and I have been dreaming about it ever since. But it cost $5 for a teeny tiny tub, so I decided to take matters into my own hands: I bought $2 of avocados and cilantro instead of the hummus, and got to work. It ended up just as great as the original, and the avocado made the texture of this homemade hummus thick and smooth. Probably my best hummus yet, and really, who doesn’t love avocado?

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[proof that my nails are rarely perfect. haha]

Avocado-Cilantro Hummus
makes about 1.5 cups

1- 16 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (reserve the liquid!)
1 small bunch cilantro, stems removed
1 tbsp tahini
zest and juice of 1 lime (2 if needed)
1 garlic clove
1 avocado
pinch of cumin
pinch of salt & pepper

If desired and if you have time, peel the skins off the garbanzo beans. Discard the skins.

Place garbanzo beans, cilantro, tahini, lime juice/zest, and garlic in bowl of a food processor. Blitz until everything is a coarse meal, stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally. To get things moving, add up to 3 tablespoons of reserved garbanzo bean liquid. Keep processing for a minute or two until mostly smooth, and all the cilantro is incorporated.

Add avocado and spices to food processor. Keep processing until completely incorporated and mixture is smooth…if needed, add more lime juice rather than more reserved liquid.

Will keep in fridge for up to 3 days. Like guacamole, it will start to brown after about 3 days.

Muesli Protein Bars

***Muesli Fusion chose these Protein Bars as a finalist in their recipe contest!! If you like what you see, PLEASE head over to Facebook and click on my recipe – Muesli Protein Bars (Blonde Ambition Blog)…all you have to do is click! Voting closes this FRIDAY, June 21st! THANK YOU!!!***

I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I have been really into overnight oats lately. This is in large part due to the fact that I acquired a bag of Muesli Fusion at Blend, and I l-o-v-e it.

When I heard Muesli Fusion would be sponsoring one of our breakfasts, I was actually pretty skeptical about the whole idea of muesli. I thought, “It has no added sugar, so it’s not crunchy like granola…it’s basically just oats and fruit??” whyyy would you eat raw oats and fruit?

Fortunately, Muesli Fusion totally proved me wrong. One beef I’ve always had with overnight oats is that it’s too mushy. I am a texture freak, I need to have SOME kind of crunch or chew in my oatmeal/overnight oats. And Muesli Fusion’s An-Ox totally provides that. It has walnuts, dried goji berries & blueberries, and cacao nibs. Perfect solution!

I’ve all but decided to eliminate plain oats from my grocery-staple list and replace them with muesli. Seriously, I love the stuff.

Last week, as I was approaching the end of my bag of An-Ox, I remembered that Muesli Fusion is hosting a recipe contest. The challenge: to create a recipe featuring Muesli Fusion cereal.

Challenge accepted!

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I really wanted to make homemade granola muesli bars, but every recipe I found used at least 1/2 cup and usually closer to 1 cup of sugar/maple syrup/honey/etc. One of the most advertised characteristics about Muesli Fusion cereals is that they have no added sugar, except that which comes from the added fruit, and I really wanted to keep a somewhat low level of sugar in my recipe.

What I ended up with not only has less sugar than a store-bought granola bar, but also, thanks to a few scoops of protein powder and crunchy quinoa, packs a good 8 grams of protein per serving!

Instead of tons of sugar, this recipe uses only 3 tablespoons of honey, as well as the natural sweetness of banana.

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Though An-Ox already has a bunch of good add ins, my inner texture freak came out and I added a few crunchy ingredients: chia seeds, quinoa, and almonds.

I maaaaay have also used chocolate protein powder and added chocolate chips…but doesn’t everyone love feeling like they’re eating dessert for breakfast?

These aren’t your typical crunchy granola bars, but I love them all the same. The version with chocolate chips that I made clocks in at around 200 calories, only 5g of fat, a whopping 7 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. This version has about 11.5g of sugar, which would be a fair amount lower if you omit chocolate chips.

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So will you join me in eating dessert for breakfast?

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PS. If these sound like something you’d like to try making yourself, please re-pin this post on Pinterest! I could get a prize if I get the most pinned recipe! Click this link to re-pin 🙂

PPS. If you aren’t feeling up to the challenge of creating a new recipe…try entering Muesli Fusion’s summer giveaway! No purchase necessary, no blog post needed. Just like their Facebook page!

(Chocolate) Muesli Protein Bars
makes 8 bars
pin this!

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (you can also use skim milk or any unsweetened non-dairy milk)
3 tbsp honey
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1 tsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups Muesli Fusion An-Ox
2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I used Onnit Hemp Force, but you can use any kind! Doesn’t have to be chocolate!)
1/4 cup sliced almonds, or full almonds roughly chopped (measure after chopping)
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa (or cooked. depends on what consistency you’re going for! i kinda par-cooked mine, haha)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional, will increase amount of sugar in bars)
1 tbsp flour (optional, if needed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium-large bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside. Mix remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl. When evenly mixed throughout, slowly add dry ingredients to bowl of wet ingredients, making sure everything gets evenly incorporated. Mixture should be pretty wet, but if you think it looks too wet, feel free to add about a tablespoon of flour.

Ideally you will use an 8×8 or 9×9 pan for these bars. Spray your pan with oil and press the batter tightly into the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking at the 20 minute mark to see how done they are. You will want them to be firm in the middle, and to look dry. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before removing from pan. Let cool completely to room temperature before cutting into bars…it should make about 8!

Keep in an airtight container, or individually wrap the bars in saran wrap, and keep in fridge. Should keep for about a week.

Lemony Brown Rice with Spring Veggies

Seems like every season, I make some kind of rice pilaf (or quinoa, couscous, etc) with the season’s veggies. It started in the SUMMER which included zucchini, bell pepper and tomatoes.. then continued into an AUTUMN version which featured an amazing mix of walnuts, dried cranberries, caramelized onions, and rosemary. Ohhh man both were so good.

I think, however, I may have topped it.

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I am lemon-obsessed, as you all know. Braided Lemon Bread, Skinny Lemon Poppyseed Muffins…it is definitely lemon season around here. Plussssss, spring produce is finally here! Color me excited. I went to my first seasonal Farmers Market last week and zeroed in on two things: peas and asparagus. It’s green central up in my fridge, folks.

So what better vehicle is there to transport those fresh, green veggies into my mouth than my favorite brown rice?

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Of course if I were really to be following tradition here, I’d be using Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend. I really wanted to make this into a quinoa salad, but thought I didn’t have any… Of course right after I finished cooking this dish, I found a box of quinoa that I bought on Saturday and completely forgot about in a mostly-empty grocery bag in my living room. D’oh. Regardless, I really do like TJ’s Brown Jasmine Rice. I buy a 3 pound bag every six months or so and make it all the time.

The other players:

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Farmer’s Market asparagus is really funny lookin’. Duly noted.

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Green!

This dish gets its lemony kick from a vinaigrette I added at the end. A little bit of honey balances out the zingy lemon, and it’s so easy to make; all you need to do is add ingredients to a jar and give it a shake!

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This is my one snobbish foodie thing – I don’t use any store-bought dressings or marinades. If you have oil, vinegar, and mustard/honey in your kitchen, you will always have the makings of a delicious and cheap homemade dressing.

Mix mix mix.

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DSC_0498LEMON!

I split this batch into two tupperwares for lunch. It is about 300 calories, lots of fiber, and nearly 10 grams of protein thanks to the peas (that apparently have lots of it!).

DSC_0503I didn’t get a chance to food prep this weekend (being that I was too busy drinking tequila and playing kickball and whatnot), but luckily (unluckily?) I was feeling ill Monday and Tuesday and didn’t have an appetite for much beyond avocado toast or almond butter + toast. I made this on Tuesday night hoping I’d regain my appetite in time to eat it for lunch on Wednesday and Thursday……wish granted!

Except that my stomachache promptly got worse after eating it, so I went to the doctor and the reason my stomach was acting up was because of acid indigestion-related issues. So yesterday morning I got a strict “no caffeine-alcohol-dairy-spicy-or-acidic-foods” order from the doc. Which means one of these is still sitting in my fridge at work, waiting to be eaten.

Any takers?

Lemony Brown Rice with Spring Veggies
serves 2, or 3-4 as a side dish

1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 cup chicken broth, veggie broth, or water (for cooking rice)
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
~10 asparagus spears (this was about 1/2 my bunch)
1/2 medium zucchini, about 1 cup when sliced
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 tsp oil, or as needed for sauteing

FOR DRESSING
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp oil (I used sunflower oil)
pinch of dried basil
pinch of dried thyme

Prepare brown rice according to package instructions using your choice of broth or water.

While rice is cooking, prepare veggies. Dice the onions and mince the garlic. Snap or cut off the woody ends of the asparagus then cut each spear into 3-4 bite sized pieces, shuck the peas (if using fresh ones still in the pod), and slice the zucchini into bite-sized slices.

Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Next, add asparagus, stirring to coat. Let asparagus cook for about 4 minutes. Once the asparagus starts to get tender, add zucchini slices and garlic, stirring again to combine. Cook for another couple of minutes. Add cooked rice and peas all at once, mixing everything thoroughly.

While waiting for the veggies to cook, combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

After peas and rice are added, let cook until everything is heated through and then add dressing, stirring well. Turn heat down to low and let everything simmer until ready to serve, being sure to not let the veggies overcook.

Would be great served with fresh crusty bread, or with chicken!

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What is your favorite season for produce?

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Skinny Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins

Yup, I went there.

Two lemon recipes in one week.

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I actually made these muffins a couple of weeks ago, when I was on this muffin + yogurt for breakfast kick. But I really don’t have a huge appetite for breakfast, and I was feeling like a 140 calorie yogurt and a high fat 200+ calorie muffin was a bit much for breakfast.

So I set out to make the lowest possible calorie muffin I could. And guess what? These puppies are not only virtually fat free, and only 112 calories a pop…but they’re also delicious. Whaaaaaat?

That’s right. You didn’t think I could possibly post two lemon recipes in one week without mentioning my favorite Lemon, did I? Much love, LL.

Anyway, back to these muffins.

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I think it was last spring or summer that I bought these poppyseeds – I was seeing so many lemon poppyseed recipes and I needed to make something of my own RIGHTTHISMINUTE. And then they sat in my cupboard for half a year.

I used the same white whole wheat flour that I used in the braided lemon bread, except this time I used it exclusively – no all purpose. (Healthier source of carbs/fiber? Check!) Instead of oil or butter, I used plain nonfat Greek yogurt. (Replacing fat with healthy protein? Check!) Add in some lemon zest & juice, poppy seeds, blueberries, and vanilla, and you’ve got your flavor factor.

I was super scared when I put these in the oven. I was looking at 2-3 different “skinny” muffin recipes to guide me, all of which included bananas or apple sauce, which I didn’t plan on adding. So I was really winging it.

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me when I took these muffins out of the oven

Apparently I did something right! The texture was as close as you can get to a traditional full-fat muffin. These puppies are light and fluffy, lemony and fresh, and they’re perfectly moist inside! They’ve got about 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein per muffin. Not too shabby.

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Not too shabby at all!

Skinny Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour {or combination of all purpose and regular whole wheat flour}
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp poppyseeds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup nonfat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
juice and zest of one lemon {about 3 tbsp of juice and 1 tbsp of zest}
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/3 cup milk {start with 1/4 cup and add more as needed}
1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen-then-thawed

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside. I don’t recommend using paper liners, as these muffins have very little fat and will stick to the paper.

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, and poppyseeds). Set aside. In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients (brown sugar through milk) and mix with a fork, whisk, or handmixer until thoroughly combined. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing only until combined – do not over mix. Fold in blueberries. If the mixture seems too thick/dry, add a tablespoon or 2 of milk as needed. It will be rather thick though, so don’t add more than 2 tablespoons.

Scoop spoonfuls of batter into the muffin tins and place in the oven to bake for 12-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out mostly clean.

Let muffins cool in tins for about 5-7 minutes, then remove and place on cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Mine kept best when refrigerated (then reheated for a few second in the microwave).

Final step: eat one of these muffins fresh out of the oven and you’ll feel like this:

LEMON OUT!

Meatless Monday: Chickpea & Red Pepper Veggie Burgers

Last summer, I was obsessed with 1) grilling vegetables and 2) veggie burgers.

It’s not quite time to break out the grill just yet – as long as it’s still cool enough in my apartment to use the oven without getting heat stroke, I will take my veggies roasted, thank you! But last week after seeing veggie burgers on both Ashley and Jessica’s blogs, I started getting a craving for them.

Last summer I tried a few different chickpea patties: one that was curry flavored, and a pesto variety. None were quite burgers though…maybe small patties, or fritters. I’ve always had trouble getting them to stay together any time I tried to make a patty bigger than a mini slider. My best ever attempt is my spicy black bean burgers, which happens to be one of the most viewed recipes on my blog.

When I got a craving for veggie burgers last week, the only legumes I had on hand were chickpeas. Inspired by the red pepper present in both Ashley and Jessica’s recipes, I was determined to make it work!

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Last summer, I didn’t have a food processor when I made my chickpea patties. This may have been the missing link!

The result was extremely flavorful, and the texture I got from adding crunchy red pepper and chewy brown rice was awesome. For the most part, the burgers stayed together, but they had their crumbly moments. It’s definitely easier to eat them with a fork, but if you’re really opposed to that, a bun will work nicely too 😉

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Next time I make them, I may try an egg as a binder instead of my usual tahini to see if that works better. But this time? I have no complaints!

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No bun? No problem!

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Chickpea & Red Pepper Veggie Burgers
makes 4 burgers

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed {if you aren’t using a food processor, you may want to peel the beans as well if you have time!}
1/4 cup onion, diced {about 1/2 of a small onion}
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup quick oats {many people blend oats into flour for veggie burgers; quick oats aren’t full flakes but aren’t as powdery as oat flour}
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chile powder
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
salt & pepper
about 1 tbsp oil, for frying

IF USING FOOD PROCESSOR:

Chop onion, bell pepper, and garlic into smaller pieces and put in the food processor. Pulse until everything is finely diced. Add about half of the garbanzo beans and pulse to combine. Once broken down a bit, add the rest of the beans and continue to pulse. You do not want this to turn into hummus, just pulse until most of the beans have been broken into pieces. See photo above. Then follow remaining instructions below.

IF NO FOOD PROCESSOR:

Dice onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Add to a medium-sized bowl. Add half of beans to the bowl and mash with a potato masher or (my favorite) a soup ladle. Add remaining beans and use a fork to combine everything, lightly smushing the beans together as you do.

NEXT STEPS:

Add remaining ingredients (rice through salt & pepper) and mix gently with a fork. Mix until ingredients are evenly distributed throughout. Gather about 1/2-3/4 cup of the mixture and shape into a patty, being sure to mold the outside edges so that it’s all compact and will stay together.

Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add first two burgers. Cook for 4 minutes on each side. For best results, keep saute pan covered while they cook. Repeat with remaining burgers. Serve with or without a bun, crumbled onto a salad, or however you please!

Notes: Patties reheat best in the microwave, but in a pan or the oven may work as well. Try and let me know how it goes!

Product Lovin’

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

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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
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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

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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

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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)

photo 2

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?

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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.