Post by Pamela Hernandez | April 4th, 2013
Having a supportive spouse or partner is so important when starting a fitness journey. I am so very lucky in this respect because I’ve had Brian’s support from the very first step.
Even today he is amazingly patient and supportive of my insane schedule, my random demands for the blog and, perhaps most importantly, my cooking experiments.
I’ve tried a couple of dishes lately that didn’t go over so well. All were Indian inspired yet none of them were hits. Being the great partner he is, he ate them when they were served for dinner. However, the leftovers remained for me, and me alone, to eat. That’s how I know what he likes - do the leftovers move.
I felt after 3 misses in a row I owed him one. My friend Kira had recently shared a recipe with me that I thought might do the trick.
Brian likes a treat after dinner. Most of the time a homemade apricot coconut granola bar or a Kashi bar will do. Sometimes he’ll reach for a piece of chocolate or defrost a chocolate chip cookie. (He bakes a batch and freezes them to enjoy one a time.)
Kira’s recipe for these mini Peanut Butter Fudge Pies are the perfect size to satisfy his treat craving. I made them last Sunday (Sunday he typically has his treat in the afternoon while he works on photos for his blog) and I think this time I picked a winner. How do I know? He went back for one later the same day. They didn’t even have time to become leftovers. If you need a little something creamy, a little something chocolate, but want to keep it reasonable with a little protein and lower in sugar, then give these mini pies a try!
Mini Peanut Butter Fudge Pies
- 12.3 oz Firm Tofu(Mori-Nu lite firm), cubed
- 4 oz Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips
- 1 tsp Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 c unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 6 tbsp PB2 in powder form (72g)
- Optional - Stevia, Xylitol, or sweeter of choice (I did not add any extra sweetener)
- Melt chocolate chips in the microwave till smooth.
- In a food processor, Ninja Blender, or Vitamix, add tofu, cocoa powder, PB2, vanilla, almond milk, melted chocolate, and sweetener if using. Puree until it is silky smooth. You will need to stop and scrap down the sides of the blender. The mixture should resemble a very thick pudding.
- I like to use foil cupcake liners, and portion out 8 servings into a muffin pan with an ice cream scoop. Alternately, pour entire mixture into your favorite piecrust of choice. Just be sure and add in the extra calories for the crust if you use one.
- Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. The longer it sets, the firmer (and better!) it gets. Serve chilled. Store leftovers covered in the fridge.
Yield: Serves 8
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 4 Hours to Chill
Per Serving: Calories 122; Total Fat 5.9g; (Sat Fat 3g, Poly Fat 0g, Mono Fat 0g); Protein 6.5g; Carb 13.6g; Fiber 2.6g; Sugars 8.9g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 117mg
Post by Pamela Hernandez | March 7th, 2013
I’m not a great baker. Unless I follow the recipe to the letter things usually don’t turn out well. Knowing that, I was a bit nervous thinking about veganizing one of my favorite recipes from Clean Eating Magazine: Sweet Potato Cinnamon Brownies.
These brownies are my “go to” sweet treat for open houses, holidays and potlucks. They are divine. But I decided to give it a go because it would be the perfect starter recipe for vegan baking because:
- I know how they are supposed to taste and look therefore I have something to compare with.
- There are only 3 substitutions to make, one of which I’ve made in the past.
And Brian was gone, taking pictures in Barcelona for his blog BatteredLuggage.com. I was home alone, craving some comfort in chocolate. Plus he wouldn’t be there to kindly taste something awful. If they turned out a mess, no one had to know.
The great thing was they turned out pretty yummy! So yummy that I had to make sure to not go overboard since I was home alone and had no one to share them with. But they made a nice post run treat the next day.
Here are the 3 ingredients that had to be changed and my substitutions:
Honey: I have never used honey in this recipe. I have always used agave nectar. I find agave does not spike my blood sugar the same way as honey, a plus for diabetics.
Cream cheese: I did not attempt to make my own. I bought Galaxy Nutritional Foods Vegan Classic Plain Cream Cheese. I found it creamier than traditional cream cheese, making it easier to mix.
Egg whites: This was the one ingredient I was worried about. Trusting The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, I decided to use two ingredients to substitute for the 6 egg whites. For binding, I wanted to use agar agar. However, it says not use for more than 2 egg whites. Therefore I also used 1/2 cup applesauce to make up for the other 4 egg whites. The combo was worked well but it did leave them a little dry. That was fixed with ½ cup of unsweetened almond milk.
My brownies turned out deliciously moist but didn’t fall apart. My craving was satisfied and my confidence in my baking abilities was propped up a bit. And I made sure to leave plenty for Brian to sample when he returned. The best treats, after all, are shared treats.
Are you a vegan baker? What’s your secret substitute ingredient?
Post by Pamela Hernandez | February 21st, 2013
I love the taste of whey protein powder. Is that weird? After a hard workout I crave a cold protein shake. My personal favorite combo is one scoop Designer Whey Gourmet Chocolate, 2 tbsp PB2 and vanilla almond milk. It’s a little like a Reese’s in a cup?
Designer Whey has been my go-to protein powder for as long as I can remember. I have added a plant based protein powder to my rotation to get my DHA, but it's taste isn't nearly as pleasant as my Designer Whey. Designer Whey actually tastes like a treat. A 100 calories a scoop – and 18 grams of muscle building protein – kind of treat.
Even just a scoop of Gourmet Chocolate mixed with water does the trick. Most protein powders can't say that. Many others taste horrible and are chalky without some form of milk and added ingredients to create a palatable consistency and give them sweetness and flavor. Designer Whey, with it's natural stevia sweetness, tastes great with nothing at all. When I mix it with a little water to create the topping for my Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal I lick the bowl because it tastes so good!
Just because the flavors do taste so good on their own, however, doesn't mean you can't get fancy with it. Here are some of my favorite shake recipes – all using Designer Whey:
- The Iron Woman Smoothie – featuring spinach, Vanilla Praline Designer Whey, mango and butternut squash.
- The Almond Joy - one scoop Designer Whey Gourmet Chocolate and 8 oz of coconut water.
- Thai Chai Shake – my love of tea knows no bounds. This one is a combo of chai tea, French Vanilla Designer Whey, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Carrot Cake Protein Shake – You want a treat, this is dessert in a glass! Designer Whey Vanilla Praline with carrot juice, cinnamon and ginger.
But protein powder isn't just about shakes. I use Designer Whey products for so much more.
- Every Sunday is Pancake Sunday! Have you tried my Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes? Designer Whey Vanilla Praline protein powder and coconut oil are the secret ingredients.
- Speaking of breakfast, sometimes I do oatmeal for dinner. Steel cut oats are a breeze with the refrigerator method. I put ½ cup water and ¼ cup steel cut oats in a glass bowl that I let sit for 6-8 hours in the refrigerator (all day in my case). When it’s time to eat I add one scoop Gourmet Chocolate and 1 tbsp milled flaxseed. Then I heat in the microwave for about 35 seconds.
- I love making my own protein bars. Oxygen Magazine has a great no bake protein bar recipe. When you use Gourmet Chocolate they taste a little like no bake cookies! Vanilla works great too. If I don't have time to make my own (which happens quite often) Designer Whey makes a protein bars too. My favorite - Peanut Butter Crunch.
- Technically it’s a shake, but have you tried Protein2Go? This product saves my life during long training days, conferences or traveling. Protein2Go is a single serve packet of protein powder that pours into your water bottle. It's only 50 calories but the 10 grams of protein keeps me feeling full and satisfied. Although they've recently made some changes to their flavors (I miss you Pomegranate!) the Lemonade flavor is a nice substitute.
I say that you can’t live on shakes alone. But protein powders and bars can be an extremely useful and satisfying tool for any busy lady.
Post by Pamela Hernandez | February 7th, 2013
I am not vegan. I am vegetarian. There is a difference, one that most carnivores don’t get. Especially since I have my own rules of vegetarianism:
- I don’t eat it if it had a face. (Someone who calls themselves a vegetarian but eats fish is a pescetarian.)
- I love eggs. I eat them all the time and any way you want to give them to me (except raw).
- I don’t eat much dairy due to its effects on the immune system. I do drink whey shakes, put Greek Yogurt in my Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes and splurge with a little cheese now and again. I would say I’m 85% dairy free.
The problem is many clean eating focused recipes (like the ones from Tosca Reno and Clean Eating Magazine) often contain meat, fish and/or dairy. Even Tosca’s Eat Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook has a whole chapter of seafood. So what’s an ovo occasionally lacto vegetarian to do?
Do a VEGAN RECIPE REVAMP!
I recently found this great new book called The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. The Guide not only has amazing meal recipes (like the Denver Quiche) but also DIY versions of subs to your favorite animal derived ingredients (like the Walnut “Parmesan” sprinkles). I’ve also been learning the ins and outs of how to sub out animal based ingredients for vegan ones. The book is full of amazing tips to help you make any recipe vegan. For example, did you know:
- 2 ½ tbsp of milled flax seed and 3 tbsp warm water make a great substitute for one beaten egg when baking?
- Portabello mushroom caps can stand in for a hamburger patty or chopped to take the place of steak?
- Soymilk is better for baking than almond because of its creamier consistency?
I’ve been experimenting with this new found knowledge on a regular basis. I made my own vegan bacon bits to add to eggs and I made the Homemade Sorta Yogurt to sub for Greek Yogurt in Clean Eating Magazine’s Quick Beef Stroganoff (found in their Quick and Easy Meals special edition). I’ll admit the Beef Stroganoff was an easy recipe to start with since the Greek Yogurt and beef were the main subs (I used seitan in place of the beef). It tasted good, but not great. But I'm not sure if that was the recipe or the veganizing since it didn’t have a lot of spices in the original recipe – not even salt or pepper.
My second revamp was Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Stew. Again, the only subs were seitan for chicken and vegetable broth for chicken broth. But I had no idea if seitan would stand up in the slow cooker. Surprisingly, it did quite well. The stew was again okay. It didn't make Brian go WOW but we both ate it. I want to try more chili recipes, substituting the beef with seitan or tempeh. I think the key going forward will be replacing the savory flavor or the fat that one might get from the meat product. I may try the barley stew again, adding a nice dose of nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast can provide that “umami” flavor plus it is often fortified with a healthy dose of vitamin B, a plus for anyone on a vegan diet.
Speaking of cheese – you need to accept vegan cheese is NOT going to taste like real cheese. It can taste good but it is very different in both flavor and texture. I made the No Cook Cheesy Sauce from the Guide for our Super Bowl Nachos. When I did a quick taste test out of the blender I was a little worried. However when blended with refried beans, onions, jalapenos and served on blue corn chips it turned out okay. My favorite cheese is from La Dolce Vegan! called Cheryl’s Faux Cheese. It shreds well for pizza and tastes great on a black bean burger.
The next challenge – baking. I am not a good baker anyway. Baking is precise, I like to freestyle a bit when I cook. Vegan baking is a whole new adventure. Be on the look out for a baked goods recipe revamp next month!
What’s your favorite vegan substitute – homemade or store bought product?
Post by Pamela Hernandez | January 10th, 2013
Presenting your personal trainer with a Christmas gift can be a challenging task. First of all, it’s NOT necessary. The etiquette around holiday gifts can, after all, be quite fuzzy. Gifts are certainly appreciated but not expected. Second, the gifts that one traditionally gives during the holidays seem a little inappropriate.
Cookies? Nope, I don't really eat sugar.
Wine? Not a drinker.
Popcorn? Way too many starchy carbs.
One client this year got creative. The box she presented to me looked like it might hold a bottle of wine. It felt about the same weight. She giggled as I opened it. Inside I found not alcohol but instead carrot juice. 100%, no sugar added, nothing - but - carrots juice. She said she liked to enjoy it with a scoop of protein powder.
I thought I would take her inspirational gift one step further. Let’s make it taste like some yummy carrot cake. By adding ginger and cinnamon, two common carrot cake ingredients, we give the body a post workout boost by helping decrease inflammation. Add that to the repair work of the antioxidants from the carrots and protein and you’ll be ready to go again tomorrow.
The recipe is simple:
- 8 oz carrot juice
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Vanilla Praline from Designer Whey)
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Shake or blend with ice. Drink immediately.
Yield: Serves 1
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 0 Minutes
Per Serving: Calories 172; Total Fat 2g; (Sat Fat 1g, Poly Fat 0g, Mono Fat 0g); Protein 20g; Carb 18g; Fiber 1g; Sugars 16g; Cholesterol 60mg; Sodium 150mg