Chobani… Cafe? ya, it’s a real thing, y’all! it’s a big deal in New York, and i for one am ecstatic that Chobani chose the Woodlands, Texas for their 3rd cafe location. what an honor! i’m originally from the north side of Houston and even though i got hitched and moved out west towards Katy, it was worth the almost hour drive Kosi and i took to get there. hey, it’s a heck-of-alot closer than NY, right 😉this particular location is housed inside a super cool, high-tech, brand spanking new, neighborhood Walmart. providing healthy snack/lunch options before or after grocery shopping is a wooooonderful idea! as the young girls say, #ImHereForIt two of the sweetest, most gracious hosts, Lauren (l) & Blair, showed us around the new spot and fed my face!Lauren handles all the PR for Chobani, and Blair is the senior communications manager.so many amazing flavor combos and things to choose! they explained the menu thoroughly and urged me to try at least one option from every section. wut? music to my EARS. here’s what i went with:i started with the incredibly dreamy Citrus Ginger Carrot Drink (plain greek yogurt + fresh pressed juice) which is a blended combo of apple, mango, banana, carrot, fennel, ginger, turmeric, and lime. from the Sweet Creations section, this simple, classic fresh fruit + granola combo was calling my name! berries, granola, plain greek yogurt, and a drizzle of honey. someone got hungry watching me taste all this food! it was her turn to eat lunch, so i whipped out my Milk Snob cover and let her do her thing.it was the perfect time to step outside the box and try some savory yogurt. they swore by it and i see why! i devoured the Mango + Avocado from the Savory Creations section; it was served with blue corn tortilla chips. Simit Sandwiches!! it’s different and it sets them apart from the rest. it works. i’m a simit first timer and Laura described it as a larger, but thinner bagel. i went with another classic combo and all time fave of mine, avocado and turkey breast. they slather the toasted simit with a savory yogurt spread which ties the sandwich flavors all together. SO.GOOD. my girl my girl Adaeze lives in the area, so i told her to meet me at the Cafe so she could say hi to Kosi! Lauren and Blair were so kind and let her try out a few things on the menu too! these tables though! how about i need them in my home kitchen so when Dego spills his juice it won’t get all over the chair and floor! #genius it’s all coming together beautifully! they are scheduled to open very, very soon. they even sent us away with goodie bags!inside was some grape and strawberry yogurt for my boys, they threw in a few Turkish Nazars for my boys which are believed to protect one from the evil eye in Eastern Mediterranean culture. you wear them on your arm just like bracelet. cannot wait to come back and use that gift card!also, there was some clover honey,EVOO,and this cool fitted cap that i’ll never see again now that it’s in Chiso’s hands! spring break is almost over but we still have more stuff to cross off our list 🙂
cut off t-shirts…the secret to muscle gains 😉 . that’s it. a participant actually cut this shirt for me right before our Zumba half-time performance this past monday during the Rockets game (yeah haven’t gotten that post up yet, whoops) and now i want to do all my lifting shirts this way! will have to YouTube a tutorial for sure. after Barbell Strength class this morning i did back & biceps on my own before starting my day.
whenever i see these baby 1 lb weights on the rack i think about how cute they would be for my future mini me. baby fever strikes again! i’ve never seen anyone actually use them (other than for a door stop) but aren’t they adorable??
on my last grocery trip, i got a few of these StarKist Tuna Creations from Walmart. i devoured the Sweet & Spicy and Herb & Garlic flavors a few days ago and finished the Hickory Smoked tuna today. all three were tasty! love me some portable protein! someone on IG said they have a Ranch flavor and i sure wish i had seen it at my Wally World. i’m on the hunt for it.
they are already packed with a ton of flavor, but to the Sweet & Spicy one i added:
- boiled egg whites
- green onion
- Grey Poupon Mild & Creamy Dijon Mustard (calorie-free)
- cracked black pepper
- red pepper flakes
- sweet smoked paprika
and topped a few raw red bell pepper slices for lunch one day. again, it didn’t even need all the hoopla! i usually add all those ingredients to regular, unflavored tuna though. try it and lemme know what cha think.
what did i end up doing with this overripe bunch of bananas? i found a WINNER:
Vegan Coconut Banana Bread Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Bars
say that 3 times fast! soooooo, vegan desserts have completely won me over. i have committed myself to creating way more of them. i’ve had a handful of moms contact me about making tasty food for their kiddos with specialty diets, and dairy-free is usually at the top of their list (for the parent’s diet too). i understand completely cause bloating = 🙁 . i found Minimalist Baker surfing the net one day and saw about a quadrillion recipes of theirs i wanted to try. most vegan dessert recipes i’ve come across contain a bajillion ingredients, like forreal. i get discouraged myself just scrolling through them. that’s another reason i like Minimalist Baker though, hence the name! simple, tasty, and they use as few ingredients possible. busy moms appreciate that too! i know i do. anywaaaaaay, this recipe is oil-free, egg-free, wheat-free, diary-free and still tastes freaking AMAZING. that’s always my first concern when all the ‘good’ stuff is missing from a recipe, ha. i found and adapted this recipe from another healthy site i came across during cardio recently, Ambitious Kitchen. these do NOT disappoint your taste buds or your waistline. now that’s my kinda dessert!! all things in moderation though, yall.
go ahead, get PIN-happy! i’ll wait 🙂
ok i’m done. ready?
Vegan Coconut Banana Bread Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Bars
- 2 cups gluten-free oat flour (make your own…i used rolled oats + Ninja Blender)
- 1/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats, un-blended (just for texture)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup honey or light agave nectar
- 3 medium ripe bananas
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 heaping tbsp unsweetened toasted coconut flakes
- 1/3 cup dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- 1/2 tsp coconut oil, melted
- 2 tbsp dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chunks, melted
- 1 heaping tbsp toasted coconut flakes (optional…but that crunch and toasted flavor is everything)
- pre-heat oven to 350 degrees & coat baking pan with non-stick cooking spray
- oat flour: place oats into blender or food processor and blend for 1-2 minutes until oatmeal resembles flour.
- transfer oat flour to a medium bowl and add: 1/4 rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon
- throw bananas, vanilla, applesauce, and honey into blender; blend 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy
- add wet mixture to oat flour mixture and mix until just combined
- gently fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chunks
- pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly with rubber spatula
- bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean
- let cool for 10 min.
- prepare drizzle by adding 2 tablespoons of chocolate chunks + coconut oil in microwave safe bowl. microwave on high 30 seconds; stir well to combine then drizzle over the top of bars. sprinkle toasted coconuts over bars. cut into 16 bars and serve it UP!
***NUTRITIONAL STATS( per 1 bar): 98 calories, 18g carbs, 4g fat, 2g protein, 10g sugar***
LOVE AT FIRST BITE!
Q: what are some of your favorite IG accounts to follow for recipes? please share!
‘i want to be healthier.’
you do? ok, read!
first off, breathe. don’t over-complicate things. this process does not go from 0-60 in 3 seconds and you won’t either. it’s a gradual thing. a lifestyle thing. one that you will see and feel the effects of if you just stick with it. little by little, a little becomes a lot. we know by now that proper nutrition and physical fitness is a package deal. can’t have one without the other. i will be focusing on the nutrition part of the equation for now as this is where your journey begins:
here is a staple starter grocery list to save, print out, and take with you to the grocery store. i go into detail about each section below and provide some of my favorite brands and where to get’em. keep reading.
WF = Whole Foods
SFM = Sprouts Farmers Market
WM = Walmart
TG = Target
TJ = Trader Joes
HEB = HEB Pantry (local)
K = Kroger (local)
ALL = available at all listed stores
grains / cereals / breads
- Ezekiel brand breads and tortillas WF, SP
- Ezekiel cereal varieties WF, SP, WM, K, HEB
- Alvarado Street Bakery brand bread WF, SP
- La Tortilla Factory tortillas & wraps WF, SP, WM, K, HEB
- Nature’s Own Double Fiber Wheat Bread WM, K, HEB, TG
- Sara Lee 45 Calories & Delightful brand bread HEB, WM, K, TG
- Trader Joe’s whole grain breads TJ
- Sprouts Farmers Market whole grain breads SFM
i find that rolled, quick oats, oat bran, rice, quinoa, and couscous are cheapest when bought in bulk. whip out your calculator and do the math if you must and compare the price per lb to whatever way you previously purchased these items. yeah, those Uncle Ben’s single serving rice pouches are DELICIOUSLY easy to prepare and taste so good, but they just aren’t cost-effective and you know it! buy your rice in bulk and season it yourself.
flours / nuts / oils
- Bob’s Red Mill flour varieties WF, SP, HEB, K, WM, TG
- flours & nuts from the bulk bins of WF, HEB, or SP
- choose unrefined, virgin, and cold-pressed oils ALL
- roasted & unsalted mixed nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans) in bulk WF, SP, HEB
- fresh & frozen are best. if you must do canned, look for a low/no sodium option. these are veggies that are carbohydrate rich, higher in sugar content, have an adverse affect on blood glucose levels, and load you with energy. any on the list above will do; pick your fave. if unsure about how to classify a particular veggie, use this helpful list of starchy veggies. ALL
- fresh & frozen are best. if you must do canned, look for a low/no sodium option. these are veggies that contain fewer calories and carbs, lower sugar content, and have little to no effect on blood glucose levels and are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals. any on the list above will do; pick your fave. if unsure how to classify a particular veggie use this helpful list of non-starchy veggies. ALL
- fresh & frozen are best. beware of packaged and canned fruit which can contain crazy high amounts of sugar. read your labels! don’t forget avocado is a fruit and high and good fat. we know fruit is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and natural sugar, but the sugar content does vary per fruit, so choose wisely. here’s a chart of some of the most popular and available fruit choices that gives you an accurate depiction of the sugar content for a 1 cup serving. ALL
here’s a more detailed list:
- Lactaid brand milk & cottage cheese ALL
- Greek yogurt brands: Fage, Chiobani, Oikos, Trader Joes ALL
- Laughing Cow Spreadable Cheese Wedges ALL
- Mini Babybel light cheese ALL
- Blue Diamond, Silk unsweetened vanilla and original almond milk ALL
- Lisanatti Almond Cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella) WF, SFM
- Tofutti non-dairy cream cheese spread WFM, TJ, SFM, HEB, K
- Trader Joe’s canned light coconut milk TJ
meat / seafood / protein
- boneless & skinless turkey and chicken breast ALL
- 97-99% extra lean ground turkey, chicken, and beef ALL
- choose cuts of beef with the least marbling
- leanest beef cuts: eye of round, sirloin tip and steak, top & bottom round roast & steak ALL
- shellfish: scallops, mussels, lobster, shrimp, crab ALL
- choose low sodium canned beans and rinse beans under cold water before cooking: navy, kidney, black, lima, chick peas, pinto, black-eyed peas. ALL
- HEB & Crystal Farms egg whites ALL, HEB
- fish: cod, salmon, tilapia, flounder, trout, halibut, mahi mahi, perch, snapper, sole, tuna (canned and packed in water) ALL
seasonings / sauces / sweeteners
- Bragg’s Liquid Aminos WM, WFM, SFM, K, HEB
- Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar WM, WFM, SFM, K, HEB
- all fresh herbs (sage, cilantro, oregano, basil, dill) ALL
- any salt-free standalone spice or seasoning blend (Mrs. Dash, McCormick, Trader Joes, Generic brands ALL
- use fresh lemon / lime just for natural seasoning, flavoring & marinating ALL
- liquid smoke WM, TG, K, HEB
- Heinz low carb ketchup ALL
so do you just go buy the entire list at once? no! remember, i spoke with Tiara in HEB the other day and here’s that grocery shopping advice i gave her in a nutshell: ‘depending on how ambitious you feel, pick 2, or 3 recipes you know you’ll be making in the next 2 weeks or so and do your grocery shopping based on those ingredients. else, there’s a good chance you may not use everything you purchased and have to throw it away. we know some items have longer shelf lives of course, but the majority of what is thrown away is spoiled produce.’ i try to limit my store visits to 2-3 times a month. i make large batches of a recipe at a time, and we have those meals/leftovers for the next 2-3 days before switching to something new. sometimes i’ll cook two large batches of two different recipes at a time and alternate those meals for more variety.
grocery shopping tips:
- buy fresh AND frozen produce
- only buy produce in-season and on sale to save $
- make a list first and stick to it
- don’t shop when you’re hungry
- set a monthly or bi-weekly budget and don’t go over it
- buy meat in bulk and freeze what you don’t use immediately
- buy generic brands whenever possible
- shop the perimeter of the store (fresh meat, bread, produce, dairy). processed foods tend to rule those isles.
Q: questions? FIRE AWAY! what would you like to see MORE of? what wasn’t covered or covered in enough detail? i need your feedback. email me or comment below.
my featured FITzee meal of the week:
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anybody else used to buy those tiny wheatgrass shots from Jamba juice? i did it more than a handful of times. seeing this wheatgrass powder at Sprouts Farmers Market reminded me of my frivolous spending days.
maple wheatgrass pancakes:
the stuff: ?
- 1/2 cup oat bran ?
- 2-3 heaping tbsp wheat grass powder ?
- 1 tsp maple extract ?
- 1 tsp vanilla ?
- 2 egg whites ?
- 1/2 tsp baking powder ?
- 4 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or more if batter is too thick)
- 1-2 packets stevia ?
- 2 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
combine real good and cook up like cakes in your no-stick cooking spray coated, medium heated skillet! 3-4 minutes each side. top however you like – i chose pecan pieces and Walden Farms zero calorie pancake syrup.
197 cals, 4g fat, 160mg sodium, 39g carbs, 8g fiber, 5g sugar, 16g protein. ???????????????
i took a FULL rest day yesterday and did some grocery shopping . Walmart was planned. Whole Foods was not.
after sacking 43 lbs of sweet potatoes in Wally World, my eyes caught ahold of a big end cap of these One Step French Fry Cutters. *jaw drops* and then i saw the price directly below them: $9.88. *jaw drops lower*. i threw the cutter as well as all the skepticism ‘as seen on tv’ products come with in my buggy and kept truckin’.
i’d say it worked pretty well, wouldn’t you!? great investment. i like to chop my veggies by hand, but you can use this thing to chop up a bunch of other stuff too (garlic, shallots, etc). here’s an IMPORTANT TIP though: nuke your potatoes for 1.5 minutes or so (really depending on size) AND cut them in half so it will fit in the gadget (think hamburger style, not hot dog). and be super careful not to over cook them! it will create a huge mess. don’t ask me how i know. ugh.
i tried it out on my Spicy Smoky Sweet Potato fries from my ebook!
so about Whole Foods… it never fails. i always come out with extra stuff and a biggER bill. i went to get some Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour which i could not even find (nor could the store associate) so i got some from the bulk bins. and on the way out i found these two gems:
vegan, gluten-free, organic Sprinklez by Let’s Do Organic (cause they DO exist apparently), and vegan (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free) Chocolate Chip cookie dough by Eat Pastry. why did i even bring this up in my house 😯
i entered a crazy fluffernutter (marshmallow fluff) challenge on IG last night at the last-minute using what i had and made a big fluffernutter pazookie pie!
ok back to my cookie dough 🙂
i put my grill pan to work today. this morning’s breakfast was slow cooked oats over grilled bananas and dusted with cinnamon. putting heat to a banana always helps it release more of its natural sugars. i might not ever use brown sugar again! it was so good! course i had my eggs too with fresh cilantro and some dijon mustard.
i woke up feeling very loose in my mid-section…definitely not as tight all over as last week.
not being funny or insensitive at all. as you know, i started carb cycling monday and i’m going to bed tonight like a kid at Christmas cause tomorrow is my HIGH CARB DAAAAAY!!!!! this explains my bloated/loose feeling and why when i used to skip meals in order to fit in a dress (long, long time ago when i didn’t know any better), it never really worked for me. ever. when your body doesn’t know the next time it’ll get some food after an extended period of time, it begins to store whatever is left in there as fat. thus, reversing the very thing you are trying to do! restricting meals creates slowed metabolism, cravings, and ultimately, weight gain. just a bad, bad domino effect. so, when i did finally eat, i was SO HUNGRY and always ended up eating way too much. well, by then my metabolism had crashed and it couldn’t work fast enough to burn all the food i just straight stuffed my face with which just makes everything worse. again, sad situation. don’t do that! OK?
off by more than 100 cals! my hr watch never tells me such lies, hmph!
per my trainer, by tomorrow, (after adding a higher amount of carbs back into my diet and after my weight workout of course) my muscles should be popping out and waving HELLO, and i’ll appear ‘bigger’ and more defined. well we’ll just have to see then, won’t we. will post my after pic then to see if we can spot the differences.
i hit up Sams on the way home for some sirloin and they only had the really thick cuts, so i went with that. got my grill pan out again for dinner tonight and put the burner on as high as it would go. meanwhile,
my steaks were marinating in more liquid aminos, green onion, fresh cilantro, and black pepper. i trimmed the fat beforehand.
sprayed my grill pan (found at Walmart for 17 bucks) with Pam first, and cooked it for 7 min on one side,
and 6 mins after flipping. far from dry!!! are you kidding me?? so much flavor and tenderness just after a few minutes. key things- HIGH heat, and marinate it for at least 30 min first and you won’t go wrong.
Instagram sirloin collage:)
i did some mid-week prepping after dinner tonight and cooked up a vat of brown rice and mixed it with some fresh chopped cilantro and lime juice.
i also baked some chicken breasts with those McCormick seasonings (smokehouse maple, lemon pepper, garlic and herb, and montreal chicken), and some dried parsley.
in conclusion, i should really stop complaining cause my low-carb days could be NO-carb days 😆 about those- no-carb diets are often associated with lack of focus, low metabolism, uncontrollable cravings, and low energy levels. carbs are so NOT the enemy when it comes to weight-loss, so bump what you heard!!! ever wonder WHY you don’t have the energy to workout and feel terrible when you try to cut carbs completely? cause you NEED them. so don’t do that either!
heading to bed to dream about CARBS.