Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Foodie Pen Pals Reveal Day

Happy last day of July! I know, crazy right? Today's also Foodie Pen Pals reveal day, and I'm excited to share the awesome Foodie Pen Pals package I got this month. 


This was my fifth pen pal exchange (getting to be an old pro at this!) and my second month in a row. This time I was paired with Olivia from up North in San Francisco. Olivia doesn't have a blog, so she won't be sharing what I sent her but I'm excited to share her great package with you. 



-Fresh Cola Flavored Mentos: From China! Love unique Asian snacks and I've never tried these.
-Snapea Crisps: I'm a big fan of these and, funny enough, also included the Trader Joe's version in my box to Olivia! 
-Boom Chicka Pop: I'd had this lightened-up popcorn snack before but had never tried the slightly sweet flavor before and it may be my new fav.
-Madecasse Sea Salt & Nibs Chocolate: I'm a giant dark chocolate fan and this super fancy version was the perfect salty/sweet combination. Delicious! 
-Kettle Brand Potato Chips: Olivia actually used to work with the company (so cool, right?) and has the scoop on why these are healthier than normal potato chips. I just know they are yummy, and I haven't bought chips in forever so this was a nice treat. 

Thanks so much for the great package of snacks, Olivia!

I love Foodie Pen Pals and highly recommend it to anyone who's considering signing up for the next exchange. I'm signed up to participate again in August and I can't wait! If you'd like to join too, click here to learn more and sign up by August 4th.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The VB6 Cookbook Review

It's Wednesday which means I'm two days away from my first Fiesta in Santa Barbara! I'm not exactly sure what to expect besides a parade and city wide confetti throwing party but I'm pretty excited!

(Image Source)
Wednesday also means it's time for the Workout Wednesday (WOW) linkup hosted by Diatta Harris from Femme Fitale Fit Club, Sheila Simmons from The Frugal Exerciser, Natalie from Clean Eating Teen, Jenn from Comeback Momma, et moi.

As you probably know if you read last week's post or follow me on Instagram, I received a copy of The VB6 Cookbook for review from Blogging for Books and have been eating vegan meals before dinner for a week and a half. After spending some time following the diet and cooking the recipes in the book, I'm (finally) ready to share my full review with you.



Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for writing a review. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

The VB6 Cookbook is a companion cookbook to Mark Bittman's New York Times bestselling VB6 diet book. The concept behind VB6 is simple: eat vegan meals every day before 6:00 pm (or whenever dinner time is) and enjoy flexible meals including animal products for the rest of the time.


What does the cookbook include?

The cookbook starts with a brief overview of why the author decided to pursue the VB6 diet. This section is brief since Bittman did write a whole book about the theory behind VB6 already, but it's a good primer. 

Next, the cookbook presents the VB6 pantry,  which is basically a shopping list of what you need to follow the VB6 diet. "Unlimited foods," almost all fruits and veggies, are the backbone of the diet, while "flexible" higher calorie veggies, beans, whole grains, pastas, fats and plant-based proteins are eaten in moderation. Lastly, "treat" foods including meat products, should be eaten rarely and mindfully. The book even provides you with a month-long calendar example of how you can use all these foods to follow the diet.

Finally, Bittman presents his recipes broken down into 6 categories: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner, Dessert and "Building Blocks," basic recipes you can build off of for your VB6 meals. All the recipes except for dinner and some of the desserts are vegan, and even the dinner recipes use meat products fairly sparingly. The recipes are all pretty simple, although some do take a long time to cook, and include multiple variations. 

What recipes did I make?

I ended up trying five recipes from the cookbook, three vegan and two non vegan. The three vegan recipes were Phony Bologna (a kind of homemade tofu meat substitute),  Almond Quinoa, and Broccoli Scramble.


The Phony Bologna was a little bit of a disaster since none of the blending devices I had was capable of food processing the tofu and it took me so long I used muffin tins to speed baking time. It didn't really end up with a bologna texture, but the spices were nice. The Almond Quinoa was really versatile and was great for meal prep. The Broccoli Scramble was easy to put together too and pretty yummy, although it wasn't something I would normally eat for breakfast.

I also made two of the non-vegan recipes: Steak Au Poivre with Mushrooms and Shrimp, Beans, and Fennel.


Both of these recipes were easy to follow and delicious. Indulging in these fancy recipes after a whole day of not eating meat definitely made dinner feel like a special occasion, which I loved.

Was the diet easy to follow?

I was a little scared about going vegan for so much of the day, but it turns out it was pretty easy to do. I did miss out on a couple baked-good treats in the office, but was able to eat plenty of delicious produce to make up for it. And, despite not having Greek yogurt or egg whites for breakfast like usual, I was still able to get in plenty of protein and I don't think I was hungrier than normal.

What's the final verdict?

The VB6 Cookbook is full of useful information for living a mostly-vegan life and has some great, easy to follow recipes. None of the recipes are super innovative, and some of them do take a really long time to make (I'm looking at you 1-2 hours Curry with Lamb. I don't care if you're "mostly unattended" I'm too hungry to wait that long for dinner). That said, I would highly recommend this book if you are a new vegan or for anyone who is interested in beginning to lower your animal product consumption and up the plant part of your diet.

To learn more, check out Mark Bittman's bio here or follow him on Twitter and Facebook. You can also click here to read a sample of the cookbook, including that yummy Steak Au Poivre with Mushrooms recipe, and visit Amazon to purchase your own copy.

Now enough about food. On to the party!


Point & Purpose: The purpose of this link up party is to mix and mingle and support each other’s sites by visiting, subscribing and/or leaving a comment. Please do not drop a link here, disappear and not follow through by visiting other party goers’ sites. 

Theme: We are linking up blog posts, Google+ posts or Facebook posts related to FITNESS, RUNNING, HEALTH or WELLNESS.


Simple Rules:
1. Follow, Like and/or Subscribe to your hostesses and co-hostesses:
2.   Don't be a wallflower.  I can not stress this enough.  Show some comment luv and support to other party goers of this link up by visiting their blogs and either leave a comment on a post, subscribe or both!  Visit at least others who have joined the party.
3.  Also join our WOW Link Up Pinterest Board (http://www.pinterest.com/curleedst/workout-wednesdays-link-up/ ) so you can PIN your post to it.
4.  Invite your like-minded friends!  We love finding and reading new blogs so spread the word so we can increase the size of our parties every week til we make the walls sweat!!!!  I told ya we party hard!  :-)
5.  Use hashtag #wowlinkup when you comment on someone's post for easy identification.
6.  Last but definitely not least, HAVE FUN!  This IS a party.

GRAB OUR BADGE CODE: 

<div align=”center”><a href=”http://femmefitalefitclub.com/?page_id=5741″ title=”Femme Fitale Fit Club”><img src=”http://femmefitalefitclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/10411245605_4348135958_m.jpg” alt=”Femme Fitale Fit Club” style=”border:none;” /></a></div>


Monday, July 28, 2014

Fuel Your Better: Vega Sport Performance Protein Review

Happy Monday! I'm happy to report that I survived my week as a part-time vegan. In fact, I ate lots of yummy food and did NOT have any crazy bacon binges. Although there was a close call with a pear tart.

I liked the whole vegan before dinner thing enough that I'm going to continue it for at least another week. I'll have a full review of my experience and the cookbook up soon, but today I wanted to share one of the secrets to my success at living a mostly plant-based and very active life: Vega Sport Performance Protein.

Disclosure: I was provided this product free of charge for review. I was not compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are all my own. Obvs :)

As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I was super excited to get the chance to join the Vega Sport Fuel Your Better Campaign. We got to pick from a bunch of different Vega products and I chose the Vega Sport Performance Protein for recovery. 

According to the product website, Vega Sport Performance Protein is, "a complete multi-source, alkaline-forming, plant-based protein powder blend" that you take 30-90 minutes post workout or throughout your day. It's formulated to "improve strength and exercise performance, repair and build muscles, and reduce recovery time between training" which all sound like things I definitely need. Plus the fact that it's totally vegan coincided nicely with my foray into part-time veganism. 

So how have I been using it?

I've been going to 6 AM hot yoga as part of my July goal to get in more morning workouts and it's been rough. Not gonna lie, sometimes instead of feeling all zen and awesome after class I feel sore, sleepy and HUNGRY. And since we all know hungry me quickly turns into hangry me, I need some fuel ASAP. Luckily, this Vega protein powder mixes really easily in my blender bottle for a super fast post-workout shake that keeps me satisfied until after I shower and heat up breakfast. And, even better, the vanilla flavor goes great with coffee so I get my post-workout recovery and pre-work caffeine all in one!


The individual serving packs have been really easy to use on the go. I took a pack with me to my first ever California Beach Volleyball Association tournament on Saturday and it was nice to have such a convenient way to get the vegan protein I needed to play 4 matches of beach volleyball. We didn't make it out of our pool, but it definitely wasn't because I ran out of energy. Maybe I need to get my partner on the Vega train next time :)


I also made pancakes using this recipe from Vega for a delicious post-yoga Sunday brunch. It was a great way to recover from a long week of workouts and get ready for another active week ahead.


But how does it taste?

I've tried a few protein powders, and the thing that I hate the most is when it has an overly fake or sweet taste. I'm happy to report that stevia-sweetened 
Vega Sport Performance Protein does NOT have that problem. The vanilla flavor had just the right amount of sweetness and tasted very natural. That said, when mixed with straight water it definitely tastes a little earth-y and plant-y. This didn't really bother me, but if you are used to a more flavored protein powder you'll definitely notice. This taste also totally disappears in a fruit-based smoothie or baked good like the above protein pancakes.

The second most important thing for me in a protein powder is texture and blend-ability and this Vega protein powder blends really well! I didn't get any large clumps even when I just shook it with water in my blender bottle, although it did form some sediment at the bottom. And it's really easy to mix into something like pancake batter without being too lumpy.

So what's the final verdict?

I would highly recommend Vega Sport Performance Protein if you're in the market for a plant-based protein. I love the taste, texture, and that it's made up of ingredients I can feel good about. Definitely a great way to refuel post-workout.


To learn more about all the Vega Sport product line and how you can use it to fuel your training, check out the Fuel Your Better Campaign.

Q: What do you use to fuel your training? How do you speed up your recovery? Rest? Foam rolling? Magic?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Favorite Reads from Around the Web

Happy Friday! I'm linking up with Eat Pray Run DCMar on the Run and You Signed Up for What?! for the Friday Five LinkupThis week's theme is "Goals" but I'm on a monthly goal schedule and I NEED these remaining 6 days to check everything off. So I'm breaking the rules (surprise surprise) and sharing my favorite reads from around the web. In 5 categories. Guess I'm not THAT much of a rule breaker.



Vegan Recipes

That vinaigrette sounds amazing! Spelt Tabbouleh with JalapeƱo Vinaigrette
Breakfast or dessert? Doesn't matter. Sweet Potato Oatmeal Breakfast Casserole
Mmm even chili can be vegan! Vegan Slow Cooker Caramelized Onion Chili

Food and Diet

So refreshing! Why I Won't Diet for My Wedding
Am I just eating this because it’s here? ‘Situational Eating’ and How It Keeps You Struggling

Fitness

I'm OK (mostly) not being an American Ninja Warrior. Why It’s Okay to Say NO to Extreme Fitness
Can we please put this to rest already? The Biggest Myth in Women's Fitness

Transformation Stories

LOVE her story and her attitude! Monday Motivation: Meredith’s Story
From covering-up to competitive bodybuilding. So inspiring! Featured Fitale – Tisha Harrell

LOL



Q: What have you been reading lately? 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday - Vegan Before 6 Edition

Happy Wednesday and happy 37th (holy cow!) Workout Wednesday (WOW) linkup with Diatta Harris from Femme Fitale Fit Club, Sheila Simmons from The Frugal Exerciser, Natalie from Clean Eating Teen, Jenn from Comeback Momma, and yours truly!

As I mentioned in Monday's post, I received a copy of The VB6 Cookbook for review from Blogging for Books and am doing the whole vegan before dinner thing for at least a week. Going mostly vegan sounded a little crazy to me (no bacon?1?) when I first read the book, so I thought I'd give you a look at what I ate for my first day on the diet.

Breakfast was super easy since I meal prepped a giant batch of Almond Quinoa from the cookbook. All I did was pop it in the microwave and top with some bananas and yummy passion fruit from a coworker's garden.


Lunch was a big mixing bowl salad with meal-prepped VB6 Phony Bologna, mesclun, green beans, fresh peas, avocado and salsa. Pretty easy and similar to a normal lunch for me, minus the cheese

Snacks were the hardest thing to keep vegan. Someone brought a yummy homemade tart in to work. I walked by it about 20 times through the day, which made me want to cry/eat an entire mini watermelon by myself. I also had some dairy free dark chocolate, but it just wasn't the same. Later in the afternoon, I needed something with more sticking power. My go-to is normally Greek yogurt, but instead I ate the last of my almond butter out of the jar. 


I came home starving and ate a protein shake while I made dinner. Being consciously vegan the whole day definitely had me looking forward to making a super yummy non-vegan dinner with animal products galore. I cooked up a Trader Joe's wild salmon burger, topped it with a delicious runny fried egg, and served it over stir fried Cruciferous Crunch with sesame oil, amino acids, and vinegar. Definitely worth the wait until 6!


After dinner I was (surprise surprise) craving something sweet, so I ate a bowl of cherries with a little more dark chocolate.


So far the whole vegan before dinner thing hasn't been too bad (except for that tart incident). We'll see how the rest of the week goes!

But enough about food. On to the party!


Point & Purpose: The purpose of this link up party is to mix and mingle and support each other’s sites by visiting, subscribing and/or leaving a comment. Please do not drop a link here, disappear and not follow through by visiting other party goers’ sites. 

Theme: We are linking up blog posts, Google+ posts or Facebook posts related to FITNESS, RUNNING, HEALTH or WELLNESS.


Simple Rules:
1. Follow, Like and/or Subscribe to your hostesses and co-hostesses:
2.   Don't be a wallflower.  I can not stress this enough.  Show some comment luv and support to other party goers of this link up by visiting their blogs and either leave a comment on a post, subscribe or both!  Visit at least others who have joined the party.
3.  Also join our WOW Link Up Pinterest Board (http://www.pinterest.com/curleedst/workout-wednesdays-link-up/ ) so you can PIN your post to it.
4.  Invite your like-minded friends!  We love finding and reading new blogs so spread the word so we can increase the size of our parties every week til we make the walls sweat!!!!  I told ya we party hard!  :-)
5.  Use hashtag #wowlinkup when you comment on someone's post for easy identification.
6.  Last but definitely not least, HAVE FUN!  This IS a party.

GRAB OUR BADGE CODE: 

<div align=”center”><a href=”http://femmefitalefitclub.com/?page_id=5741″ title=”Femme Fitale Fit Club”><img src=”http://femmefitalefitclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/10411245605_4348135958_m.jpg” alt=”Femme Fitale Fit Club” style=”border:none;” /></a></div>

Monday, July 21, 2014

VB6 Mostly Vegan Meal Prep

Happy Monday! My weekend flew by, mostly because I spent half of it not getting to San Diego. Long story short, we had crazy car trouble, drove in circles, spent the night in LA, took 4 hours driving back to Santa Barbara, and didn't get home until Saturday evening. Oh well, that's life for you.


(Image Source)
On the plus side, unexpectedly getting my Sunday back gave me time to meal prep for the first time in weeks! And, as an added bonus, I got this awesome new cookbook in exchange for a review from Blogging for BooksNothing like free stuff to brighten your day!



Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for writing a review. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

The VB6 Cookbook
is a follow up to the #1 New York Times bestselling VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health...for Good
The concept presented in VB6 is pretty self explanatory: eat vegan meals every day before 6:00 p.m. and then enjoy a variety of foods for dinner. The cookbook has shopping tips, meal planning suggestions, and hundreds of recipes to help you stick to the plan.

I love the taste of meat but I've been trying to eat more of a plant based diet for health, environmental, and budget reasons. Especially since moving to California, I eat vegetarian meals pretty regularly and have a lot of vegetarian recipes in my repertoire. But since most of these meals rely on plenty of eggs, cheese, and Greek yogurt for protein, going VEGAN seems way more difficult.

Luckily, The VB6 Cookbook starts by breaking down the foods that make up a mostly vegan pantry. So, after consulting the helpful tables in the book, here's what I came home from the grocery store with:

As you can see I ended up with a ton of vegetables and plan on getting my protein from quinoa, beans, nuts, and tofu. For my "after 6" animal products, I picked up some egg whites and will probably also eat some eggs and salmon burgers I already have. In fact, this is pretty much what I would buy any other week, except without the cheese and Greek yogurt.

After my shopping trip, I made two recipes from the book. For breakfast, I made the Almond Quinoa.


It was fairly simple to make since all it consists of is toasted almonds and a big batch of quinoa cooked in almond milk. Really similar to a lot of my normal meal prep breakfasts, but a little lower in protein since I didn't add egg whites or Greek yogurt. We'll see if I notice any difference in how long I stay full.

I also attempted to make Phony Bologna for a lunch protein. I made the recipe in muffin form instead of loaf form since I wanted to cook faster and my blender would not blend the tofu mixture, so I'm not exactly sure how these turned out.


I'm definitely going to try a few of the dinner recipes throughout the week as well (time-permitting). I have my eye on the Beans, Shrimp, and Fennel and this yummy looking Steak Au Poivre with Mushrooms.


I'll post a full review of the book after trying more recipes and seeing if it's easy for me to stick to this whole VB6 thing for a week or if I have a crazy bacon binge break down.

Q: Do you always, sometimes, or never try to eat vegan food? Do you think I'll go into crazy animal-product withdrawal?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five Favorite Spotify Workout Playlists

Happy Friday! I'm linking up with Eat Pray Run DCMar on the Run and You Signed Up for What?! for the Friday Five LinkupThis week's theme is "Friday Favorites" but I'm pretty indecisive and have a lot of favorite things. So to narrow it down, I decided to share 5 of my current favorite workout playlists.



I don't know about you but music can totally make or break a workout for me. But I have the attention span of a toddler and hate spending time crafting the perfect playlist, plus I get sick of music quickly. Spotify is perfect for me because there are TONS of free playlists that someone else spent the time making. Genius. Here are my current top Spotify exercise playlists.

Billboard Exercise Songs

Super eclectic and hard core, this playlist is just what I need to get pumped up for a tough run or lift. 

 


Revolve Run

This list is put together by my favorite Spin studio in DC, Revolve Fitness. It has more of a variety of song tempos and I like it for long cardio sessions.



FitSugar 90s Workout Jams

The 90s are totally back in a big way (have you SEEN all the sunflowers at Forever 21 lately) and there's nothing like some oldies but goodies for adding an extra burst of happy to your workout.



Filtr US' Ultimate Make You Sweat Playlist

This playlist is super pop-y and is over EIGHT HOURS long, giving you plenty of music to listen to without getting bored.



FitSugar Cardio: Hip-Hop

I really love the mix of songs on this list since they aren't ones I constantly hear on the radio now. As an added bonus, the included songs are all the clean radio versions so it's good to go if you need music to play out loud.



Q: What's your favorite music to exercise to? Are overalls and REALLY back? Do I need a pair or am I too old for that?