Would Amanda Eat It? KICKSTARTER Edition.

Not to break any hearts here, but the product I am looking at for today’s Would Amanda Eat It? doesn’t actually exist yet – but with the success of its Kickstarter campaign, it looks like it will very soon!

My (very savvy and plugged in) cousin alerted me to Torani Plus Ups via text this morning – and it makes for a perfect review.  Check the basics:

The Torani Plus Ups are powders – they come in three flavors, Harvest Veggie, Green Veggie, and Green Coffee – that you mix with water or your favorite beverage for an extra nutritional boost.  The issue with my review today is that I can’t yet see the nutritional information and ingredients – but  I will do my best to offer up a decent review!

The good: 

  • these appear to be basically pared-down veggies, converted to shelf-stable powders that rehydrate and provide a heavy dose of nutrients (something like juicing, but dry)
  • there are no preservatives, additives, or artificial colors in any of the products
  • the coffee doesn’t taste like coffee per se, so it can add a “clean” caffeine boost to your regular green juice or smoothie

The bad:

  • do we really need another way to eat veggies more “conveniently”?  One might ask why one can’t just blend their veggies into a shake and get the full nutrient value…
  • similarly, do we really need another way to supplement caffeine?
  • again, I don’t know what all is in the powders so there may be some element of sugar content or caloric value that isn’t exactly clear yet

The verdict:

  • guys, I’d be way willing to try these – and may even support the Kickstarter in order to do so!
  • the fact that they are shelf-stable and portable means they’re really convenient for travel, which is a huge priority for me, and if they are in fact JUST veggies converted to powders – no problem!
  • the recipes they post on the Kickstarter sound amazing – and truly clean & healthy

The alternative:

  • well, again, if you want to eat more vegetables – how about just EATING MORE VEGETABLES?  You can easily blend a mixture of greens into a smoothie or shake just as “quickly” as you can scoop a powder into one, and a big salad at lunch will likely hit more veggie servings than a powder anyway – but again, if the buzzword is convenience, this product has it in spades – and powdered veggies are still better than none!

Would you be willing to try Torani Plus Ups?  How do you get your daily veggies?

Weekend Roundup: Sunday Edition

You know how the Sunday paper is bigger, thicker, and full of more stuff?  Well, this is kind of the opposite – a slightly shorter, lighter roundup for your lazy Sunday reading…

Nothing more gangsta than being owned by your girlfriend’s dad…on Instagram.

Training for a mud run or obstacle race?  Try these six moves in rapid succession.

I’m all about that frequent flier mileage right now – and here’s my fave way to get miles.

I am SO overdue for a “spring edit” of my makeup vanity.

Woke up too late this morning to get my Lilly fix at Target – but at least a girl can dream.

One of my closest friends IRL opened the most thuggish ruggish shop on Etsy – check it out and spruce up your digs with gangsta attitude.

I adore the old colorful shophouses in Singapore, and this photo essay does ’em right.

Speaking of Singapore, I love tips on packing – even though I consider myself a darn good packer already…

I think any girl who works out is continually on the search for the perfect black leggings – here’s one (albeit pricy) contender.

And finally, before I head to brunch  – a delicious, healthy grain salad you can batch prep over the weekend and enjoy for lunch all week!

What’s going on in your part of the blogiverse this Sunday?  Leave me a comment!

Would Amanda Eat It?

Here we go – the first Would Amanda Eat It? feature of the new year!  We ended off last year on a sweet note (Cookies N’ Cream Cookie Butter) – but let’s be honest – that stuff was a definite no on the healthy foods list.

Another Trader Joe’s product request came from a loyal reader, so I wanted to honor that.  The food item in question?  Trader Joe’s Panko Breaded Tilapia Fillets.

How can you go wrong with fish? You’d be surprised.  Let’s check out the stats:

The good:

  • it IS actual fish!  Heart-healthy, low-calorie fish!
  • you get 15g of protein per fillet, not too shabby
  • guys, I can’t even think of a third good thing.  You know that’s trouble.

The bad:

  • Two words: salt bomb.  One measly little fillet has 530mg, which is more than 25% of your daily recommended max – and on a low-sodium, diet, nearly 50%.
  • Another three words?  Fatty fat fat.  And not the healthy kind.  Each fillet packs a whopping 7g of saturated fat – over 40% of your daily recommended max – which is astounding since tilapia in its “naked” form has less than 1g (!).
  • Speaking of words, a word you shouldn’t have to worry about when eating fish is carbohydrates.  Yet this fillet has a lot of ’em – 27g, as much as two slices of Ezekiel bread – in its 320 calories.
  • And let’s not forget the preservatives.  Guar gum, tapioca starch, calcium carbonate – you don’t want this MSG-similar stuff in your diet, believe me.

The verdict:

The alternative:

  • It’s a no-brainer here, guys – how about good old-fashioned tilapia fillets?  Don’t worry, package-loving people – you can buy this tasty fish pre-portioned and ready to cook, just like Trader Joe’s sells it – just without the breading.  You’ll save yourself 220 calories, 6.5 grams of saturated fat, and ALL of the carbs (plain fish is carb-free, folks) – plus gain an extra 6g of protein per serving.
  • Not convinced?  Check out these non-breaded, low-sodium ways to prepare tilapia that taste just as good (or better!) than the junky stuff.

What food would you like to see featured in next week’s Would Amanda Eat It?  Comment here or on my Facebook page!

Battle of the Bite: Blue Apron vs. Plated

I am sitting here drinking a glass of Dry Riesling (from our amazing wine club, by the way) and digesting the amazing salmon I just had courtesy of Blue Apron.  What’s Blue Apron, you ask?  Well, let me tell you a story.

Those of you who know me “IRL” (in real life, Mom) know that I am somewhat resistant to new ideas that aren’t my own.  For example, when I love a product or service, I will recommend it to everyone I know – and sincerely hope they take my advice on it.  But when someone suggests something to me – especially if it involves any sum of money – I will almost always pooh-pooh it.  It’s like a reflex.  I’m not proud of it, but it happens.

Two of my clients and trusted friends suggested I try a recipe delivery service – in this case,  Plated or Blue Apron – and to both of them, I said “it sounds like a nice idea but I actually like to cook.”  To which they (in their obvious wisdom) responded, “then you are the PERFECT target audience!”

They were right.

The basic idea is this: with either service, you pay a delivery fee ($12-15 per plate for Plated; $60 per 6 plates for Blue Apron), you receive fresh, properly portioned, organic, whole ingredients to your doorstep (packed in individual, labeled packaging inside a cooler with ice), and you learn how to prepare it using a (detailed, full-color) recipe card.

Sounds like fun, right?  It is!

plated1 ba1We tried Blue Apron first, indicating that we were “omnivores” in our profile, and in the first week (all three meals get delivered on Tuesdays) we received Lamb Ragu, Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Kale Salad, and Rice-Cake Crusted Salmon.  The following week, with the same lack of dietary restrictions, we went head-to-head for comparison with Plated (two meals only), and received Redfish Roti and Asian Duck Tacos.

Before I reveal our winner, some points of note:

Blue Apron in Summary

  • More complicated recipes by far; mise-en-place took an average of 45 minutes
  • Creative ingredients – think preserved lemon, candy cane beets, or black garlic
  • Beautiful, full-color cookbook-worthy recipe cards, as well as a weekly letter explaining the origin/history of the meals and ingredients
  • Three meals (two plates each for us) costs $60 weekly

Plated in Summary

  • Easy recipes; mise-en-place took a maximum 30 minutes
  • Creative ingredients – we got duck as a protein which was a nice surprise
  • Very adaptable for dietary needs – can “deselect” nuts, dairy, spicy, soy, gluten, beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, pasta, or pork
  • Two meals (two plates each for us) costs $48 weekly, but you can order as many “plates” (for as many people) as you wish each week, a la carte

Let me say this – I am an experienced home cook, which means that I am always looking for a new challenge.  I love trying out ingredients that I’ve never worked with before, and I enjoy practicing my knife skills with different techniques (julienne, matchstick, etc.).  I am also a sucker for a beautiful presentation, cost is a consideration, and the people in my household have no dietary restrictions of any kind.  So in the end, we chose…

BLUE APRON! (applause)

What pushed it over the edge for me (besides price and recipe diversity) is that Blue Apron recently partnered with Top Chef, my favorite reality show, and offers a service wherein you can get the ingredients and recipe for the show’s winning recipe delivered to your doorstep two weeks after it airs.  How cool is that?

Now I feel like a baller whipping up the meals that pro chefs create – without the fear that I am messing up or wasting expensive ingredients.  It’s a win-win for amateur but creative cooks like myself.

Have you ever tried a recipe delivery service?  If you’re an avid home cook, where do you find new ideas for recipes/ingredients?

A Day in the Life

A loyal reader asked me to break down a day in the life of a personal trainer – when I wake up, what I do all day, and how I stay fit.

Those of you who are also independent consultants like me know this: there is no typical day.  Each one is different, and plan as we may, days tend to take very different courses depending on cancellations, traffic, and a host of other “unpredictables” as the hours roll by.

That said, because my days are so varied and (perhaps) somewhat interesting, I figured I’d combine that reader request with today’s Blogging 201 assignment, which is thus:

B201 – Day 6 – Make the Most of Events

Create a recurring blogging event on your site, and/or make plans to attend a blogging conference.

Besides looking up blogging conferences in my area (not too difficult seeing as I’m in Los Angeles), I am hoping to draw some inspiration from my daily life to create a recurring but meaningful blog event (think World Fitness Day, or American Clean Eating Month [don’t take my idea – this may happen!], or something we can all participate in for the greater food).

Until I figure that all out, here’s a breakdown of what my #dayinthelife looks like this lovely Tuesday:

5:00am– alarm goes off; I groggily walk to the coffee pot and brew up some DD

5:15am – take my temperature (for fertility tracking), take my Biotin (for hair growth), and get ready (using my fave sweatproof products by it Cosmetics)

5:30am – coffee in hand, drive out to my first (outdoor) client while listening to Kevin & Bean, my absolute favorite morning radio show

7:00am – first client done, drive back to Fox Studios to teach CycleSculpt class

8:30am – class over, client at Fox

9:30-11:00am – bathe and prep for wellness presentation; breakfast of two hard boiled eggs, leftover arugula salad, and 1/2 whole wheat pita

11:30-2:00pm – give back-to-back wellness presentations at Fox (title: Exercise Intensity – The What, The Why, and the How-To)

2:30-4:00pm – work with online clients (all 89 of them!) over on FitOrbit.com; nosh on leftover Winter Day chili and pumpkin cornbread from last night

4:00-8:00pm – train more clients (both at Fox and outdoors)

8:30pm – receive Amazon Fresh and Blue Apron deliveries, prepare delicious meal (tonight: caramelized pork and congee); watch Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, Tosh.0, and/or House Hunters International with the fiance

10:30pm – after a couple chapters of Lena Dunham’s new book, hit the sack

What does your #dayinthelife look like?  If you blog, what’s your favorite blogging event and/or conference?

Weekend Roundup

It’s been a lovely week – not as stressful as last week, and full of exciting events (Disneyland!  Blue Apron!  Family in town!).  That said, I’ve got fall and Halloween fully on my mind – as I’m sure many of us do – so the roundup reflects some of the best parts of the season – with some DIY surprises along the way to boot (get it?  BOOT?  ROUNDUP?  Ok, I’m done):

What kind of party host are you?  Unsurprisingly, I’m a BYOB hostess.  You can always come over with beer in hand.

Who doesn’t need more easy $10 homemade meals in their recipe arsenal?  I sure do.

Sick of wrapped-up licorice and tiny Snickers?  Try these grown-up (and very indulgent) Halloween treats.

Ever just done a stone-cold Pinterest search for the word “pumpkin?”  Now you have.  You’re welcome.

You guys know I am obsessed with bathing.  These easy drugstore and at-home detox mixes are making it worse.

She refers to the amount of mascara she wears as a “shedload,” so clearly we are kindred spirits.  Love her daytime look.

I can never “do” a white button-up in the way the fashion kids do.  But this slideshow makes me want to try.

I’m feeling SUPER lazy about Halloween this year.  Maybe something like this is my equally lazy solution.

Have you found THE quintessential pumpkin recipe yet?  What’s buzzing around your corner of the virtual world?

Power-Packed Paleo Macaroons

**full credit for this recipe, both its creation and concept, go to Paleo Expert Nell Stephanson at The Paleoista blog**

So my girl over at The Paleoista was looking for recipe testers for a few new endurance-athlete approved fixins, and I wanted to give one of them a whirl – and in true blogger fashion, I actually took pictures and did it (score one for the newcookie1bie).

The ingredients could not have been simpler – 4 eggs, separated (I put the yolks inone bowl and whites in another), 2 cups of grated carrot, 1 cup of shredded coconut, and 2 TB coconut oil.

If you want to count the “dusting” of nutmeg as an ingredient, knock yourself out, but know that you can eat these perfectly well without it (or go nuts and add something savory, like cayenne, or supersweet, like cocoa, to punch these little guys up a notch).

All you need to do is mix the carrot and coconut together in a medium-sized bowl and fold in the yolks and coconut oil (room temp, so it’s mostly liquidy).  Beat the egg whites for about a minute and add them immediately to the mix, then scoop ’em in rounded tablespoons (my recipe made 16, you could probably push to 20 if they were “true” tablespoons) on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, sprinkle with your spice of choice, and voila – your totally Paleo, totally veggie-packed, and totally tasty macaroons are ready to eat!

cookie2If you ask me, this would be the perfect thing to make as a Halloween “cookie” substitute – they’re bright orange, super healthy, and pack a nutrient punch to boot (did you know carrots are packed with Vitamin A and beta-carotene?).

Hand ’em out as gifts if you don’t want to be stuck with all 16 (believe me…you can’t eat just one!) and you’ll be the most popular Paleo proponent in your proximity (ok, I’m done).

What’s your favorite low-carb or  Paleo recipe?  How do you like to “hide” veggies in your snacks/desserts?

Pumpkin Power

Call me a bandwagoner, but I love pumpkin.  Like, love it.  My fiance and I keep a pumpkin pie in our fridge and freezer all year long – one ready, one on deck.  It’s a very serious relationship.

But come this time of year, everyone starts kicking into high-cal pumpkin mode – those insanely chemical-ridden pumpkin spice lattes, the Pinterest-worthy pumpkin baked goods, and even the occasional pumpkin-shaped cheese ball (say what?).  Sure, I’d love all of these treats, too.  Thing is, my waistline wouldn’t.  And so each fall I seek ways to get my pumpkin fix without completely losing the calorie battle (especially before the holiday season even kicks in!).

First of is my daily treat – the pumpkin pie oatmeal.  True story: if you put pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice in just about anything, you can convince yourself you’re having a treat.  And guys – canned pumpkin is super healthy!  The plain stuff (not the canned pie filling – steer clear!) is only 50 calories a half cup and packed with fiber.  Pumpkin IS a veggie, after all.

Need a snack?  Pumpkin mixes gloriously well with Greek yogurt for a kind of faux-cheesecake effect, which you can savor anytime of day (just watch the added sugar – you rarely need as much as the recipes suggest, and you can always sub Stevia or even raw maple syrup for a healthier, lighter sweetness).

While you have your Greek yogurt out, might as well throw it in some batter for these amazing protein-packed pancakes – seriously guys, it’s like a little piece of heaven on a Sunday morning, and combined with a healthy syrup option, you can pretend you’re having a crazy indulgent meal but staying completely on track.

And finally – I get it.  You need the whole pumpkin spice latte thing to make it through the season – I’m not gonna hate.  This one – which, yes, takes a bit of commitment but for a huge payoff – is worth your time.  You can make a batch and heat ’em up all week!

Do you have any go-to pumpkin recipes for the fall season?  How do you enjoy your pumpkin in a healthier way?

Lean Lunches

A friend (and technically, “client,” since I wrote her a workout program way back when!) of mine requested a blog post dedicated to what trainers actually eat for lunch – and how she could adapt some simple recipes to make multiple lunches throughout the week.  

I am happy to oblige – and for the record, like your favorite radio DJ, I DO take requests for post topics – so always feel free to ask via comments – or email thisfitblonde@gmail.com!

Back to lunches.  Lunch is an odd meal; it sits right in the place where you can make or break a healthy day.  I know a lot of folks that can easily suck down a healthy breakfast, but then they go off to work and grab a burger.  Or stay at home and snack off their kids’ mac n’ cheese.  Or skip the meal entirely and go on a mad candy binge at 3pm.  Any of these sound familiar?

The first key point here is that yes – you will have to prep your meals.  Sorry, non-cooking people.  If you don’t want to prep your meals, you will have to spend mucho dinero on healthy prepped options (think Trader Joe’s Just Chicken or Organic Cooked Quinoa Bowls) – and even then they’re not always convenient (and are often laced with more sodium than a true clean eater should have).

So what’s a busy person to do?  BATCH COOK ON SUNDAYS, BRO.  With just a few chicken breasts, a couple cans of tuna, a bag of your favorite whole grain, and a couple bags of salad, you have the basics for healthy meals all week.

I’m not really in the business of creating my own recipes – I wish I was that creative.  Moreover, I just “combine” the foods in ways that meet my preferred macro ratios while ensuring that I get enough veggies to count toward my 7-9 daily produce servings.  Some examples:

Egg Whites on a Tortilla.  I mean, if you put the egg whites IN the tortilla, this bad boy becomes a burrito, but I kind of like to tear up the tortilla and scoop my egg whites with it.  Make sure the tortilla is Ezekiel brand, the egg whites are cooked without extra oil or butter, and you integrate at least 2 veggies into the wrap – my faves are spinach and broccoli.  Throw some Sriracha on that bad boy and it’ll keep you full for a good long while.

Yogurt Parfait.  Fage Total 2% Greek Yogurt (yep, I keep the fat – keeps you full longer than 0%) with old-fashioned rolled oats, berries (your choice – up to a full cup!), a teaspoon of Manuka honey, and some slivered almonds or walnut pieces is awesome for those days you don’t really feel like a more “savory” lunch but want to make sure you’re getting a full meal.

Chicken Tabbouleh Salad.  Bulgur is the traditional grain in this salad but whatever you have on hand is fine – chop everything small and diced to make the texture most pleasing.  Common ingredients for me include chicken breast, cucumber, chopped spinach, tomato, bulgur, olives, mint, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes, stirred up with lemon juice and a shake of olive oil – and sometimes tossed in with harissa and an ounce of crumbled goat cheese.  I’ll make a HUGE batch and eat it all week.

Curry Tuna Salad.  Another use for the Greek yogurt; mix it up as you would mayonnaise with a can of tuna, some slivered almonds, curry powder, cilantro, red onion, and spicy mustard.  You can throw this bad boy in a tortilla, smooth it over a slice of Ezekiel bread, or eat over greens (my preference is arugula) and again – it gets better overnight as the flavors marinate, so make a big serving.

The Salad.  I call this “the salad” because for me, it is my definitive go-to salad – for those times when I literally just feel like eating a salad (disclaimer: I am not a “salad girl” by nature so just throwing down the protein and greens is a big effort for me).  The key to my version of deliciousness is arugula, walnuts, chicken, apple, goat cheese, fig jam (or if you have access, chopped fresh figs) olive oil, and white pepper.  It’s a little spicy, a little sweet, and a lot filling – for hours and hours.

My main point here is that keeping a few simple ingredients ALWAYS on hand will mean that you ALWAYS have lunch options for when hunger strikes – and you won’t be stuck ordering in or munching on junk when you know how to combine those simple ingredients in ways that are varied enough to be interesting but healthy enough to be mainstays.  So eat up!

Are you a batch cooker or do you go day to day?  What are your favorite healthy lunches?