Protein powder review and smoothie recipe

I enjoy drinking a smoothie as a meal replacement. I think they are yummy and easy and it helps me not to make bad food choices when I don’t the motivation to eat leftovers. Is a shake the healthiest option for a meal? Maybe not, but I’m not sure. It works for me and I like it. I’m not a health professional and everybody is different, but drinking a smoothie for breakfast or lunch helps me out.

My husband Marc is getting into power-lifting and gaining muscle-mass, so he is very interested in using protein powders. I like getting enough protein in my diet and protein powder is an easy way to do it. Marc came across True Nutrition’s website (through a variety of blog sources he follows) and we wanted to give it a try. A lot of protein powders (probably most of them) have undesirable ingredients like bad oils and preservatives and the like. It can be hard to find a protein that is “clean,” but True Nutrition seems to be pretty clean.

I went to pick the protein I wanted, and there are a million different choices. You can choose what type of protein (they have all sorts of different kinds) and you can mix them if you would like. You can also customize your mix with carbs, fats, or supplements. Then you can choose a flavor and sweetener from a very long list of options.

I’m breast-feeding and my little guy has issues with dairy, so I wanted to try a vegetarian protein source. I chose a pea protein, but because I really like whey, I made it 20% grass-fed whey protein as well. Marc chose the 100% grass-fed whey protein in double-chocolate mint, mine was orange creamsiscle. There was 54 flavors to choose from! The unsweetened chocolate or vanilla, or the plain, are the cleanest flavors, but we decided to go with the artificial flavorings. We aren’t perfect.

Trying out 2 of many flavor and mix combinations

Trying out 2 of many flavor and mix combinations

The Double Chocolate Mint? AMAZING. It is really tasty. The mintiness of it actually reminds me of the taste of too much Torani chocolate syrup. I know that sounds weird and not really all that great, but it does taste good. I find that a lot of chocolate protein powders taste like minty hotdogs (which I do not like)… but that could just be me. The point is, this protein does not taste like hot dogs and I like the flavor.

I can actually mix this protein in my banana and almond butter smoothie and it doesn’t give off a minty taste, it’s more of the chocolate syrup taste.

The other protein was the Orange Creamciscle flavor, 80% pea protein, 20% whey.

It was disappointing. You can actually taste the peas, and the orange doesn’t come through as much as you would hope. If I ordered it again, I would get the flavor “heavy” (you can specify the concentration of the flavor; light, normal, heavy). When I made my smoothie I ended up adding orange oil to it, which made it much better. I think adding the juice of an orange would make it pretty tasty as well, but by itself, I wasn’t a fan.

What is my favorite way to use protein powder? A smoothie! Or shake, whatever you would like to call it.

Here is my favorite recipe:

almond butter banana chocolate shake

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk or milk substitute – I use 1 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp almond or other nut butter
  • 1/2 banana (better if frozen in chunks)
  • 1/2 or 1 scoop chocolate or vanilla protein powder
  • 1 or 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • A few ice cubes
  • Optional additions – greens, avocado, coconut oil

I use a hand blender now, so I no longer freeze most of the milk. Because only my banana is frozen, it is not a very thick consistency. If you want a thick, frozen-shake consistency, freeze half of the milk in ice cube trays and use that.

I also blend all the ingredients, except the ice, until completely blended. I then add the ice and blend it last.

Enjoy!

Note: I am using this as a meal-replacement. This is not a 100-calorie shake. Nor am I a dietician. Make sure you find out what works for you, even if it includes talking with a professional.

*I am in no way, being compensated for this review. I bought the protein myself and I am sharing my experience.

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This week’s meal plan (1/21- 1/25)

This last week I added delicious Strauss milk back into my diet… and then removed it because it caused a rash (allergic reaction) all over my little guy’s face. I also over-cooked the grass-fed sirloins.

Also, the starter on our second vehicle died and Marc is working long hours. I think I might be able to bribe my dad into taking me grocery shopping! I better make sure my grocery list is extremely thorough. We really should have gone grocery shopping yesterday, but it was my husbands only day off and the championship game was the only priority (this is 49er Country, just don’t tell the Raider fans)!

Despite all of that, we managed to really clean up our diets this week and rid our body of all that sugar and junk. So that’s a win!

This week’s grocery list:

  • Monday: Chicken with basil and prosciutto, salad greens and snap peas
  • Tuesday: Taco salad (with no tortillas or with sprouted corn tortillas, over mixed greens instead of lettuce)
  • Wednesday: Oven baked pork chops with green beans and onions
  • Thursday: Crock-pot whole chicken with garlic broccoli
  • Friday: Roast, carrots, and sweet potato

Lunches: Leftover dinner from the night before, almond butter and protein smoothies

Breakfast: Eggs and bacon, cheese omelet, eggs and linguica

When do all of you go grocery shopping? What’s on your meal plan?

First 5 Days of Paleo and Whole30

We are 5 days into Whole30 and it hasn’t been bad at all. We generally eat grain-free anyways so the transition wasn’t too bad. Marc does miss dairy and I do want butter, but overall the only other thing I’ve wanted is junk food and that’s not good for me anyways. Actually I’ve missed chewing gum, which isn’t allowed on the food challenge because it can still cause insulin spikes.

Why are we doing the Whole30? My husband has been having some abdominal pain that has been diagnosed first as gas, then as reflux but nothing has helped and 2 years later he wants it gone. An elimination and no-cheating diet to jump start good eating habits seemed like a good idea. Whole30 (correct me if I am wrong) is a strict paleo diet – no grains, no legumes (which includes peanuts!), no sweeteners, and no dairy.

After the Whole30 we are going back to more primal-style of eating; we are fans of butter, raw milk, whole and cultured yogurt, and unprocessed cheeses in moderation.

You aren’t supposed to weigh yourself during this diet, but we have been. Marc has lost about 5 or 6 pounds, I think I’ve lost maybe 2 (I’m a woman with less to lose).  I think this diet has me craving exercise though! We’ve gone walking and I do weights and exercises at home (I’ve been craving lap swimming though).

Problems or issues with the diet? None, except Marc developed a small rash middle-way on his left side of his back. Some kind of die-off maybe?

Here’s what we  ate this week:

Monday:
Breakfastcoconut almond butter smoothie / 3 eggs with spinach and 1/2 avocado
Lunch – guacamole with 1/2 avocado and 2 tsp salsa, handful of snap peas
Marc had galinha guisada without the root vegetables
DinnerCrock pot roast beef with lemon-pepper green beans

Tuesday:
Breakfast – Coconut almond butter smoothie / 3 eggs with beef neck from beef broth preparation
Lunch – 1/2 can low-sodium tuna with 1/4 cup blended roasted red pepper with 1/2 avocado
Marc had leftover roast and vegetables
Dinner – Ahi Tuna with garlic broccoli and spinach salad and paleo hummus

Wednesday:
Breakfast – Coconut almond butter smoothies – made with 1 more tbsp of almond butter, less banana, and some cocoa
Lunch – guacamole and snap peas and 1 cup grapes
Marc had leftovers from dinner and some extra salmon
Dinner – Crock pot chicken, kale, mashed sweet potatoes and tomato

Thursday:
Breakfast – coconut almond butter smoothie / 3 eggs with beef neck and tallow
Lunch – Salad with Tuna, red peppers, and hummus
Dinner – Chicken taco salad

Friday:
Breakfast – More eggs and more smoothies
Lunch – Leftover chicken taco salad
Dinner – Out to eat – Chipotle (we ordered meat, veggies, salsa, lettuce, and guacamole. The guacamole could have sugar in it, but we decided to risk it)

Snacks
Grapes, cantaloup and other fruit, raw nuts, carrots and snap peas dipped in hummus and guacamole, kombucha, and tuna and avocado.

Thoughts:

  • We need to find bacon and beef jerky without sugar!
  • I should be eating more vegetables – I’ve been relying too much on fruit and nuts

Brunch in Berkeley

Marc and I like going on day trips. We like food and new places, so exploring the areas around our home is a great way to experience both. We are lucky enough to live in California and be a couple of hours or less away from the mountains, foothills, coast, or wine country. Our last day trip was up to gold country, this trip we decided to have lunch in Berkeley.

Even though we have been to San Francisco too many times to count, Marc had never been to Berkeley and I had been there once; to eat dinner with a friend. Oh, and we explored UC Berkeley for school but had little memory of the trip.

With little planning, we drove up to the coast and parked ourselves at downtown. The day was beautiful and the weather was perfect, but it was Sunday and a lot of the restaurants were either closed, or about to close. After visiting the used bookstore we stopped off at Venus to enjoy a local beer and decide what to do for lunch.

Enjoying a beer on the patio

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