Monday, April 30, 2012

Lemon Poppyseed Balls Recipe and Giveaway

I have been using NuNaturals products for about a year and love the Vanilla flavored liquid. So when they emailed to ask if I'd like to try out their new flavors, orange and lemon, I couldn't wait! While these are both great for making flavored drinks, I also wanted to try them in recipes. Here's one I made up for a snack the other day.
Lemon Poppyseed Balls 

1/2 cup oats (I used 1/4 cup quick and 1/4 old fashioned)
1 Tbsp almond butter
1 Tbsp protein powder (I used vanilla Spiru-tein)
 6-8 drops Lemon Flavored NuStevia Liquid
1 tsp poppyseeds
 2-3 Tbsp milk (I used almond milk but any milk will do, or even water)

Mix together to great a dough and shape into 6 balls.  I like to mix the oats and nut butter first, then add milk and other wet ingredients to loosen it up a bit.  Then I use the protein powder to dry it up a bit so it won't be so sticky when rolling the balls.

I also made a killer breakfast dish with the orange flavor.  I basically made Running to the Kitchen's recipe for  Orange Infused Overnight Steel Cut Oats except that I cut the portion size down to 1/4 cup oats and in place of the maple syrup and orange extract I used 8 drops of Orange NuStevia liquid.  And it was SO good!  Both the lemon and orange flavors are so vibrant and natural, really fruity and not artificial at all.

So now I get to give some away!  Four readers will each win one bottle of each of the Lemon and Orange Flavored Stevia Liquids. I'm going to make it easy and give you 3 ways to enter, but you can only win one set of Stevia drops even if I draw your name out 2 or 3 times.  Be sure and leave your email if it's not in your profile.

#1-Leave a comment here with an idea for a recipe you're use either lemon or orange stevia in.
#2-Visit the NuNaturals Facebook Page and like them.
#3-Follow my blog via Google Friend Connect.

Enter by the end of Friday (May 4).  I'll pick four winners and email them on May 5th.

If you want to buy some for yourself, they are offering a discount at . When they get to our checkout page, enter the DISCOUNT CODE ; BLG0612 and receive a 15% DISCOUNT on your ENTIRE ORDER. This discount remains EFFECTIVE UNTIL JUNE 30, 2012 . Online ordering customers may also receive FREE SHIPPING to the CONTINENTAL U. S. on all orders exceeding $ 35.00 after discounts.

*NuNaturals sent me free product to try out, but these opinions are all my own!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Protein Powder Review #8 Sun Warrior

Sun Warrior-For my April Vegan Experiment, I needed vegan protein powders!  Sun Warrior is sweetened with Stevia so it's is a pretty low carb, high protein raw vegan powder. Do not let those vegans fool you though, this stuff mixes up CHALKY!  I would NOT drink this (straight-up OR in a smoothie), I would hide it in something to mask that chalkiness. Something like a protein muffin or in oatmeal. Calories per scoop:70
Protein per scoop: 15g
Carbs per scoop: 4g

Vanilla-Ok vanilla taste, not too sweet. But mixed with water or even almond milk it has a pretty terrible texture.  Not drinkable on it's own.
Chocolate-I had this in a smoothie and still thought the chalkiness came through too much despite fruit, almond milk and guar gum additions.  The flavor is very light chocolate.

$48.95 for 47 servings=$1.03 per serving or 7 cents per gram of protein (I've seen this on sale for around $40)

Overall Rating: Puree (5 out of 10)  I would probably would have rated this a little higher if I hadn't read so much hype about it on vegan blogs.  Everyone seems to love it but I just can't hack it.  The flavors just not that great and it's super chalky as well as kind of pricey compared to the fairly similar Nutribiotic Rice Protein.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Vegan for April update

I decided to shake things up with my April vegan experiment because I felt like I was stagnating. After a few rounds of Body for Life, I felt like the massive amounts of dairy and eggs were creating nothing but toxic waste (gas and intestinal upset) and I wasn't seeing any changes in my body even though I was eating for what should have been muscle-building and at least a little weight loss. I was craving sugar (FRUITS!) and finding myself taking my "free day" a little overboard because I wasn't really enjoying having to pay such close attention to the make-up of every other meal I ate each week. I don't even particularly think I believe it matters that much, the protein-carb-fat ratio, the timing of before or after a workout, etc. If you are eating healthy foods that your body wants and needs, it will make the best of whatever you give it, whenever you eat. Now nearly 3 weeks in, I feel like my body has turned back on! I feel well-rested, energetic, less foggy and scattered. I feel motivated and jazzed and well-nourished. I won't say I completely credit my specifically vegan diet, but just the increase in fresh vegetables and fruits (FRUITS!! Fruit had really been lacking when I was doing the high-protein thing because it was so sugary but it is also SO full of vitamins and fiber and lovely things that I am happily chomping on it now! In large quantities!), the decrease in dairy and the fact that I finally looked into supplements I should be taking as a vegetarian. After (hopefully) thorough research, I started taking B12, Vitamin D and DHA supplements. How hard was it? Not hard in the least. The one thing I thought I'd miss was my nightly greek yogurt with toppings but I easily replaced that with a fruit and vegetable smoothie and haven't even thought about yogurt. I did think of pizza once and tacos once, but both of those could easily be made vegan if I really wanted them. But I haven't gone to the trouble of making them so obviously I didn't want them very badly. What have I been eating? TONS of fresh produce in the form of salads, confetti salads, and lots of steamed veggies with different sauces like cashew cheeze, lentil dal, salsa, no-oil pesto and mustard-vinegar dressing. I've been cooking up big batches of beans in the slow cooker, along with big pots of soup, cabbage casseroles, roasted veggies, quinoa and brown rice. Occasionally I add tempeh or tofu but I don't want soy to be a mainstay of my diet. Breakfasts have been mainly fruit and oatmeal/quinoa/buckwheat cereal, green smoothies, veggie leftovers from dinner, or sometimes scrambled tofu with veggies. My afternoon snack is usually fruit and nuts or some sort of oat-protein powder concoction like cookie dough or a homemade larabar. And of course my evening snack has been a green smoothie or chia seed pudding. YUM! It became pretty clear to me that I was working way too hard trying to "get in" dairy or eggs at every meal. Now meals are so easy, I look in the fridge and see what vegetables I have, I whip up a salad dressing or sauce and I eat a ton of nutrients without having to try and plan different protein sources. Since this isn't really a planned "diet" I don't have a scheduled free day or free meal because I don't need it. If we go out and I want a splurge, I have it but in general I've eaten tasty, healthy food. Will I keep it up? Absolutely! Why wouldn't I? I'll keep it flexible, and I won't call myself a vegan because if I want a slice of pizza with cheese some day, I might just eat it! And when we are on vacation this summer, I WILL be having some ice cream! But I think I'll keep the focus on nutrient-dense, mainly vegan eating for a while. For the record, I am the same weight as when I started which is just fine by me. I'm sure I could cut out the snacks and loose a little weight but for now I'm happy right where I am and I really ENJOY snacks!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Does every overweight person need to lose weight?

I'm still working on writing my weight loss story. I'm not the best writer and it's a long, complicated story so I've been procrastinating. But I'll get to it because I really enjoy reading other people's stories! Reading the Future PriorFatGirl applicants, it is amazing the variety of motivations people have for losing weight. Along with this post from Shawn at 344pounds I got to thinking, are there reasons for every overweight person to aspire to lose weight? That's a really hard question and there are so many aspects to consider.

Shawn's post regarding extrinsic forces is a good one, though a bit jarringly written. (And certainly, it was purposefully written in that tone.) Those factors are what a lot of the applicants for PriorFatGirl have written about so far. Family, especially their own children or the desire to have their own children someday, is mentioned quite a bit. That's a great benefit of losing weight but I'm as dubious as Shawn when it comes to whether you can rely on someone else to motivate you, even if it's your own children. I like Liz's post for it's honesty about how it felt to not be picked and how she has moved on from needing that push from outside to a motivation within herself!

On a strictly health-based analysis, general consensus is that obesity increases your risk for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc. You may check out just fine today but these are cumulative diseases so after years of needing to pump just a little harder, your heart will start to show signs distress. Your joints will sustain greater impact due to extra weight and could become arthritic. You liver, gallbladder, spleen and other organs can also suffer. I doubt you can find a doctor who wouldn't advise a patient with 50+ extra pounds to lose weight. So is there at least one reason for every overweight person to lose weight? Yes, if they value health and a quality long life.

If an overweight person is truly content and comfortable with their body, happy and confidant that weight loss wouldn't add anything of value to their lives (including the possibility of more years), then certainly that is reason to stay just as they are. I was not. I don't want to give the impression that every waking hour of my overweight life was misery or that I dwelled on my weight significantly each day. I was happy, I enjoyed life! If you asked me, I would have said I was fairly content with my life. But deep in my mind I felt like others had more fullness in their lives and that I was missing out on opportunities because of either my physical size/coordination/abilities or because of the way I thought people perceived me/how they would perceive me if I tried certain activities. This was a block in my own mind and no amount of confidence-building efforts by others could have any affect until I made up my mind on my own what needed to be done to allow me to experience everything life has to give. Example: In order to feel confidant enough to tackle a dance class, I needed to be ABLE to tackle a dance class at a level that I felt confidant while doing it. How circular is that? For me, this meant losing weight in order to improve my cardiovascular power, my balance, coordination and flexibility. And when those things improved and I was able to do the things I wanted to do, my self esteem, my sense of self-worth and my comfort in my own body improved not strictly as a result of losing weight but also because I was in charge of my life, making all those decisions.

Does every overweight person need to lose weight? No. And I sometimes struggle with that, judging other and thinking "How can that person eat like Paula Deen, doesn't she know how bad that is for you?" or "Why doesn't that lady on the treadmill take her workout seriously?" You know what? They could be perfectly content just the way they are, doing just what they're doing and why on earth do I feel the need to comment in my own head about their choices? So one of my goals is take the advice fit girls like Jill, Angela, and Shelly and not judge anyone for anything! I am only an expert on my own life.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bathing suit pics. Of me!

Ok, I'm being brave here! I bought a 2 piece bathing suit and I am posting pictures! It was one of my bucket list items: wear a bikini. Ok, so yes, this is a VERY modest tankini, but still 2 pieces!
And now for the really brave picture. This is from 2002, I probably weigh around 230 pounds in this picture. And the suit is horrendous but I seriously didn't think I deserved anything better and actually wore this skirted wonder to the pool.This picture was taken around the time I started working out at the gym. I had Mike take this picture as a before shot to put on the fridge for motivation. I found it when I was going through old pictures looking for some to add to a timeline post about my weight loss. I'm still working on that post, like most weight-loss stories it's a long and complicated story with ups and downs. It doesn't help that I have the memory of a goldfish but looking at old pictures like this one helped jog my memory a bit.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How Much?

Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating 1 pound of raw vegetables and 1 pound of cooked vegetables every day. But just what does 1 pound of raw vegetables look like? How about 1 pound of cooked vegetables? Let's take a look!

RawThis bowl is filled with a large handful of spinach, a small broccoli crown, a quarter of a green bell pepper, a quarter of a small cucumber, 8 baby carrots, 6 celery sticks and a handful of snow peas. This is equal to 1 pound.

CookedThis bowl is filled with cooked baby bok choy, broccoli, yellow summer squash, and broccoli rabe and also weighs 1 pound!

Another example of cooked vegetables, this is a stir fry blend of baby bok choy, broccoli rabe, snow peas, mushrooms, onions, celery, yellow and orange peppers and yellow summer squash. 3.5 cups (with no sauce, just the veggies) equaled 1 pound.

I find it easy to eat this much, I was eating this much before my April experiment, just with eggs and dairy added. But let me tell you a little story about a harmless side effect. My doctor retired and at my routine physical this year I had a new doctor. She asked me if I applied any products to my skin, like self tanners. I said no and she pressed the issue, "Are you sure you don't self tan or using a bronzing lotion?" Long story short, after a consult with another doctor and some clarification about my diet, I have carotenosis. Completely harmless, common in vegetarians and people who eat healthfully, basically I am turning orange from excess carotene. My doctor noticed it mainly on my torso and I have noticed it on my fingers. Do I look orange? (This is me with my Penguin in the Park medal from March's 5K. WHAT a great race, the weather was gorgeous, the crowd was super friendly and I really enjoyed it! My time was 31:44, not bad for only running once a week.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

March Goal Review Days 21-31

And the last 10 days were FULL of activity! Throughout March, I didn't have a "new" thing planned out for each day, some days it was about noticing and recalling new experiences that happened that day. I liked that March's goal gave me a reason to contemplate each day and examine any interesting events that made that day special.

21-I fell for the very first time during a run! Not a very good "new thing" I know. I tripped on the sidewalk and got roadrash on my hands, and bruises on my chin and leg. Luckily another runner was nearby and asked if I was ok. I was!

22-Ordered new spring gym gear! I took advantage of SkirtSports HUGE spring sale and got these super cute pieces. My spring theme must be pink and gray. I know this is a silly girl thing but the shirt is a size Medium! I don't think I've ever worn a medium in my whole adult life!So far I've made two outfits with these pieces so far:Post-turbokick picture, please excuse the sweat and stringy hair. The skirt is one I got at Meijer and while I like that it was cheap and the shorties underneath don't ride up, it doesn't have any pockets! I forgot I was wearing earrings, wiped some sweat and one came out and I was left scrambling to put it back in since I had no place to put it. That is just one of many ways SkirtSports skirts are better than budget skirts, they have pockets!I should really try and remember to take pictures BEFORE heading to the gym! This is a technical shirt I got at Target with the skirt I just got.


24-We had family trivia night. We normally play trivia in the car so this was sort of a cheat, but I made a big scoresheet and Mike wiped the floor with me (as usual). We also put together these new benches for the front porch. Now I need to find a table to go with them and a large plant or something to hide that hose caddy.

25-Attended a new-to-me church, University Place. AND we had the Sunday brunch at Silvercreek. Oh MY GOSH!! It was really super! I pigged out on some tasty breakfast goodies like waffles, eggs, and such, along with several green veggies, and decadent desserts! There was also a lot of meat, but I was surprised at just how many green veggies and fresh salads and fruits there were!

26-My Dr. retired so for this year's annual exam I had to choose a new Dr. I loved my old doctor so I dreaded choosing and seeing a new one. But she was great, I was really pleasantly surprised!

27-I walked to work and back home for the first time. I've run to work on the weekend before, and I've ridden my bike to work before but I've never walked. It took nearly 40 minutes to get there, which is too long to do regularly, but I think I might try to walk every once in a while. It was interesting that even though I run and don't have any leg problems, my shins were sore for a couple of days after walking! Walking is definitely different than running, and if I ever want to hike the Swiss Alps or the Appalachian Trail, I will need to practice walking, not just rely on physical stamina from running!

28-I took advantage of Aldi's double guarantee for the first time. Ever since our Aldi moved from their sketchy old building to a brand new one, I have been a loyal shopper. Can't beat the produce bargains or the awesome weekly specials! But I bought some garlic that molded and basically disintegrated within a couple of weeks so I took it back, got a new bunch of garlic AND got my money back! Fantastic!

29-One goal for March was to cross at least one item off my bucket list (either general of fitness). Since my chin-ups are still stalled at about the same level of non-completion, I crossed off a general list item: write a letter to myself to open in 10 years. This was a challenge because you want to be very deep and meaningful but you also don't want to embarrass yourself in 10 years when you open it and see just how goofy your "deep" thoughts really were. :) I also watched the free premiere of Hungry for Change, which was good though I wasn't down with everything that was said. Juicing? I like my fruits and veggies with the fiber, thanks. But I get what they're saying, the standard American diet just doesn't include that many vegetables and if juicing gets those servings of nutrients into people who wouldn't sit down and eat mainly veggies then I guess it's better than NOT getting them.

30-Talk about nutrients! I made fruit salsa and cinnamon pita chips to take to a work potluck. This was my inspiration, but of course I left out the sugar (it's fruit, it doesn't need sugar!) and just sprinkled my whole wheat pita pieces with cinnamon before baking them.And to make it I used this thing, which may look like a child's toy but it is the BEST apple peeler I have ever used. You turn the crank and it smoothly peels the apple in one long piece, doesn't get stuck or take any effort at all! It comes with extra blades but I haven't had to change it yet and I got it for Christmas several years ago.

31-I attended my niece's wedding. I've been to weddings before but this was my very first wedding of a relative! Probably the first of many as nieces and nephews grow up and get to that age!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

March Goal Review Days 11-20

The next ten days I didn't skip a single day!

11-Met new people at the church potluck. I have been trying to meet (and remember!) people at church so this was a great opportunity to do just that.

12-Made granola using a new recipe (the secret to HUGE clusters is egg whites) and put together a St. Patrick's Day surprise for coworkers.

13-My birthday! I went to the bakery which makes my all-time favorite cake (Swedish princess cake) and THEY STOPPED MAKING IT! Shows you how often I eat it. So I was forced to try something else. I had their raspberry jelly roll since I figured it's the same cake and raspberry filling, just minus the custard, whipped cream and marzipan. It was NOT a good substitute, it had some really terrible frosting on the outside.

14-Attended food pantry training at the only food pantry in town with evening hours. This is really important because there are a LOT of food-insecure people out there who do work jobs, they just don't make enough to cover all their expenses. So now that I'm trained, I'll be volunteering at the Thursday night food pantry once a month.

15-I sold some broken gold and silver jewelry at a pawn shop! I kept seeing the cash for gold commercials and I was determined to try it! I was a little nervous how it would go but they were super professional, looked everything over and I left with money I didn't have before I went in! (and I put it to good use, as you'll see on the 17th)

16-Bought almond butter. I know, the internet is in love with almond butter but I had never tried it so I bought some! It's ok. I'm not about to give up peanut butter for it, though!

17-Took a birthday roadtrip to Beachy's Bulk Foods. Beachy's is an Amish-run store that reminds me quite a bit of U-Bake. They have TONS of ingredients in bulk, as well as general grocery items, candy and frozen items. And we also stopped at another Amish-run store called Family Health Foods, which has a lot of the same things like nuts and flours and such, but also has a TON of health items and vitamins. So at both of these places I stocked up on my favorite goodies like dried cranberries, almond meal, pecan meal, flax seeds, wheat bran, mejool dates and raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I also got some things I'd never bought before: chia seeds, whole oats, cranberry beans, a new-to-me brand of peanut butter, dairy free mini dark chocolate chips and some new flavors of Spirutein protein powder.

18-Attended Prairie Zen Center's intro to Zen meditation. It was really interesting and not exactly what I thought it would be, it was much more about focusing on your senses and staying aware. I thought it would be more about clearing your mind and not focusing on the outside world, but it made sense to open up your mind to what you were hearing/feeling/smelling/etc. in order to become grounded and more in tune with the world instead of being focused on yourself as we are most of the day.

19-Made up some ratatouille. And when I say made up, I mean I made it up as I went along because only ONE of my gobs of cookbooks had a recipe and it was a stovetop one and I wanted to bake mine. So I plopped yellow squash, onion, greens, carrots and white beans into a tomato sauce base, then topped it with a little bit of breadcrumbs and nutritional yeast and baked it. Delicious!

20-Voted in the primaries. I've voted before sure, but I can't remember ever voting in a primary. Is that horrible? Should I be embarrassed to admit that?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 Garden

It's really spring! I'm most excited to see my rhubarb coming up. This is the third home for this rhubarb, the other two spots just didn't suit it so I hope it likes this one!
Of course it's nice to see some flowers shooting up, like the hyacinth and tulips.Soon we'll be seeing big alliums blooming in the courtyard.
And my little dish garden is greening up. This bowl sits on the brick patio in the courtyard on a side table and I have plans this year to make it more scenic with some miniatures, maybe a frog statuette and some pebbles. A little mini garden in my garden.

Here's 2012's garden plan so far. I rotate each of the four quadrants every year so this year the tomatoes are where the squash and eggplants were last year, etc.

What have I planted so far, in the neat rows shown above:
Most of the NW corner-Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Carrots, Turnips, Radishes and Peas. Just before it rained so I didn't even have to water them in! Oh, and I sprinkled some green onion seeds in the herb garden because my green onion patch was starting to look a little...ratty. You know, when your green onions have been there too many seasons and they've got all those dry outer leaves? Time for new onions!

Ubiquitous seed starting shots:
What I've started indoors:

Seeds started so far:
Pepper-Las Cruces
Pepper-Green Bell
Pepper-Grand Bell
Pepper-Santa Fe

Eggplant-Little Fingers

Tomato-Chocolate Cherry
Tomato-Big Rainbow


Brussels Sprouts

And now for a story of resilience and tasty greens. This kale has fed me all winter! I'd go out and crunch off some stiff, frosty leaves and then when the day got warmer it would put out new ones! Yes, it looks a little sad, but it's been steadily producing leaves throughout our mild winter, and now it's coming on strong again, I just can't bring myself to rip it out until I need the space for squash later this spring.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Edible Books 2012

Today was the University Library's Edible Books Festival! I participated last year and was excited to join in again this year. But I was stuck for a book to create an edible version of until Friday when it hit me! Watermelon looks kind of like Corduroy the bear's overalls! So I got to work!His body is a watermelon with the shoulder area carved out and covered in kiwi skin. I made the corduroy texture with a zester.His head is a purple cabbage, covered in kiwi skin. I used a combination of corn syrup to glue it on and toothpicks to hold it in place. His ears, snout and paw pads are apple, his buttons are yellow squash, his facial features are cut from avocado skin, his feet are kiwis and his arms are potato. That was my husband's brilliant addition because I was just going to use kiwis for arms but they looked SO stubby. This morning he had the brilliant idea of a potato and I just happened to have the perfect potato in the pantry!Here we are at the event. Corduroy won the award for Best Visual Presentation AND the People's Choice award! I couldn't believe it!I couldn't bring myself to chop him open so I served up his legs. You'll be able to see pictures of all the other entries on the website soon.

March Goal Review Days 1-10

March's goal was to try something new EVERY SINGLE day! An ambitious goal to be sure, but I set the bar pretty low, willing to consider a new recipe, outfit or route to work my new thing if I had to in order to make it 31 days. Did I make it? I tried to make it a priority but I did end up forgetting on a couple of days. On a couple of days I had multiple new experiences so I think I'm considering it a win!

Here's the rundown of days 1-10:

1-New workout at Fit Club

2-Met with a new person who is interested in volunteering with 4-H AND ran a new route on my morning run

3-Tried this herbal water which was pretty tasty and met and chatted with some new-to-me people at the gym. You know the people at the gym who you see and say hi to at class but never really have time to chat with? Well, we had a Zumba party and afterward with tea and snacks which was the perfect opportunity to learn those people's names! And where they work and what they like to do when they're not at the gym!

4-Made polenta using the "cereal" method (as the Bob's Red Mill package calls it, which is super easy and super quick (which is why I did it, I didn't have much time to make dinner but wanted a little dab of polenta under my veggies) and made gym towels for our basement home gym. This basically entailed sewing little ribbon tabs to small towels so they can hang on the pegboard.

5-Tried Bon Appetit's recipe for marinated tofu. It was good but nothing to write home about. Did I tell you I won a subscription to Bon Appetit from one of my favorite blogs, The Lunch Tray, last thanksgiving? I did! It's not a magazine I would pay for because it is VERY meat-heavy and also a little bit of a hipster mag but a few recipes from each issue pop out at me.


7-forgot! and it wasn't even a weekend

8-Skyped for the first time. I popped in to my husband's weekly Skype session with his parents!

9-Tried out a new restaurant that just opened-J. Gumbo's. It's a chain that has mainly cajun food. It was ok, probably won't go back. Lots of rice, with your choice of gumbo/etoufee/chili etc on top.

10-Met some new people at Mike's work holiday party