Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chocolate PB Frozen Protein Bites

This did not start out to be a post about North Coast Naturals unflavored whey protein powder… honestly.  But since I have used it, I cannot quit raving about it.

I have been a fan of North Coast Naturals products since I first started using them during this past year. And every time I open something new from them, I am completely blown away. This unflavored whey protein is no exception there, that’s for sure.

I wanted to make a batch of my Frozen Protein Bites, and try using some PB2 instead of a nut butter, in order to keep the fat content down a bit.  I had picked up several jars of PB2 and Chocolate PB2 while we were on vacation in Portland, OR this past Summer, and then a few more on our way home from Colorado a few weeks ago. I love it.

I decided to try the Chocolate PB2 with some banana in my mixture, but didn’t want to overpower the peanut butter flavor with a chocolate protein powder… or make it too sweet tasting, which can happen with a vanilla protein powder, so I chose this unflavored version from the box of goodies that North Coast sent me a few weeks ago… I hadn’t tried it before and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give it a test.

And it came through with flying colors… why?  Because it has no taste. It truly is unflavored.  And it doesn’t alter the taste of any of the ingredients you put with it.  These bites are exactly what I wanted… just chocolate with peanut butter and banana. The fact that they are powered up with protein is just a bonus.  YAY!

Chocolate PB Frozen Protein Bites

Chocolate PB2 Frozen Protein Bites
Makes 8 bites
  • 1 small – medium banana, mashed
  • 1 scoop NCN unflavored whey protein powder
  • 2 Tbs Chocolate PB2 reconstituted with 1 Tbs water
  1. Mix the mashed banana with the protein powder till well-blended in a small bowl.
  2. Add the reconstituted PB2 to the mixture and stir altogether.
  3. Place about one tablespoonful of batter into each of 8 silicone muffin cups.
  4. Place in the freezer for a couple of hours.
  5. Store frozen and allow to thaw for a few minutes before eating.
Per serving of one bite.
Weight Watchers P+ = 1.
Calories 31; Protein 4g; Carbohydrate 4g; Fat 0g; Fibre 0g.

Frozen Protein Bites ingredients
Protein powder, mashed banana and Chocolate PB2 mixed with water… that is it!

Frozen Protein Bites mixture
Mix them all together…

Frozen Protein Bites in muffin cups
and spoon into silicone muffin cups and freeze.  I use silicone because the frozen bites just pop right out of them and don’t stick.

Do you like to have a little nibble before you work out?  

What is your favorite pre-workout snack?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup

Oh how I love Fall!  Even though our weather continues to be unseasonably warm and dry on the Island, local farmers are flooding the markets with fresh produce and the prices are very appealing!  Red peppers, squashes, potatoes, carrots, corn… all of the lovely and delicious foods that the word harvest brings to mind.  This Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot soup is a direct result.

I love the process of roasting red peppers… washing and drying them, and putting them on a baking sheet under the broiler element of the oven… turning them every few minutes until they are completely charred.  And then leaving them in paper bags to cool and I even like the slippery mess of removing the skins and seeds.  I wrote a post about it a couple of years ago (and a great recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Soup, too) if you are interested.

I actually prepared the peppers for this soup and left them in the fridge for a couple of days before I got around to making it.  It was all I could do to keep from using them up in omelettes and on salads and in sandwiches!  But I knew that they would mix so well with the carrots that I managed to refrain.

I didn’t add any spices or herbs to the veggies as they were cooking… I wanted the flavor of the roasted red peppers and the carrots to shine through…. and they do, very nicely, I think.
And this dish is chock full of Vitamins A and C, if that matters to you!

I used homemade turkey broth and followed my usual soup method to make up this batch of Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup. You could use purchased chicken stock, or even a vegetable broth if you would like to make it vegan. Use olive oil instead of coconut oil if you prefer.  It is easy and so tasty!   I hope you’ll give it a try.

Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup
Makes 7 servings, approx. 1 cup each
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 3 ounces onion, chopped (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup)
  • 20 ounces carrots (about 5 large, cleaned and cut into 2 inch lengths)
  • 3 cups stock of choice
  • 3 red bell peppers, roasted with skin and seeds removed
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Put coconut oil in large stock or soup pot on MEDIUM heat.
  2. Add the garlic and onions and saute till translucent and soft, taking care not to brown them.
  3. Add the carrot chunks and let cook about 5  minutes.
  4. Add the stock, cover the pot with a lid, and turn up heat till the stock comes to a boil. Turn heat down to LOW and allow to simmer 45 minutes.
  5. Add the roasted red peppers and any liquid from them to the pot, and heat through.
  6. Remove the pot from heat and allow to cool 10 or 15 minutes.
  7. Puree the soup with immersion blender till smooth.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve warm with cream or yogurt to garnish, if desired.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 67; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 13g; Fat 1g; Fibre 4g;

Sept 13 Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup 002
Just look how thick this is!

What is your favorite thing about the coming of Fall?

Won't you consider sharing this recipe if you like it?  Thanks so much.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bacon and Tomato Sauce

Doesn’t everything just taste better with bacon on it?
I don’t eat regular pasta anymore, preferring zoodles or spaghetti squash strands over wheat flour or even brown rice noodles.  But The Captain does like his pasta so I threw this together for lunch on Tuesday after we came home from the tennis court.

I was hungry, and hoped this might be quick. I already had some zoodles prepared and waiting in the fridge, so I put some water on to boil for The Captain’s linguine noodles while I made this sauce. It all came together in about 20 minutes.

I always keep some cooked, crumbled bacon in the freezer. It is just so handy to add a spoonful or two for a little flavor boost.  I also keep peeled garlic cloves in the fridge, too. If you don’t have crushed tomatoes on hand, use diced, or even fresh.. and you could also use your immersion/handheld blender to puree them if you like.

Bacon and Tomato Sauce

Bacon and Tomato Sauce
Makes 2 servings.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 3/4 cup white onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh or dried basil for garnish and flavor punch
  1. Warm the olive oil in a skillet or saucepan over MEDIUM heat.
  2. Add the garlic and onions and saute about till softenened but not browned, about 7 or 8 minutes.
  3. Add the bacon and mix.
  4. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and mix again. Allow to heat through.
  5. Remove from heat and then ladle sauce over noodles of choice on serving plates. Garnish and season before serving.

Per serving, sauce only.
Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
Calories 132; Protein 8g; Carbohydrate 10g; Fat 7g; Fibre 2g.

Printable Recipe

If you like this recipe, won't you please consider Pinning it? Thanks so much.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kate’s Bright Green Lettuce Soup

Do you have any friends with whom you like to swap recipes and talk food?  One who gets as excited as you over a new find at Costco, or a new spice she has tried?  One who sends you flavored vinegars in the mail because she knows you will love them as much as she does?

Well, I do...  and I am so thankful for her.  My friend is Kate, and she has been the source of many of the recipes and ideas I have shared here with all of you.  When she told me about her Bright Green Lettuce Soup I thought it best to just turn things over to her.  And she is much, much too modest.

Here’s Kate's story:

I am so excited to be asked by my dear friend Elle to guest post on her blog! She’s very adventurous to ask a newbie to give it a whirl, don’t you think?

I have shared recipes with Elle in the past and frequently look for her input. About a year ago I started sharing photos of my creations so she could see what my end result looked like and compare her results to mine (hers are usually better!). So when I sent her the photos of this bright green soup she was very intrigued.

Getting back to the beginning. This year I purchased a half share CSA (community share agriculture). In my first delivery I received a HUGE bag of spring mix – the farmer calls it Spicy Mesclun Salad Mix. After eating it just about every day for lunch the first week, I still had 3/4 of a bag left and received another bag in the second delivery. {Picked up week’s 6 delivery, and there has been a bag of this Spicy Mesclun Salad Mix, each week.}

I was making chit chat with a patient (I am a mammographer) and was talking about gardening, and juicing. So I mentioned my CSA and my spring mix dilemma. She suggested making soup out of it and said David Rocco had a recipe for one.

Well, I couldn't find the recipe she mentioned but I perused these ones:
And this is what I came up with:

Kate's Bright Green Lettuce Soup

Bright Green Lettuce Soup
Serves 5

  • 3/4 cup onion chopped (about 1 medium)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 10 oz cleaned and dried spring mix
  • 900 ml Campbell's vegetable soup broth (or make you own)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (I found little 160 ml cans; about the size of tomato paste cans)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Parsley for garnish if desired
  • Chives for garnish if desired
  • Greek Yogurt for garnish if desired (this will add an additional element of creaminess)
  1. Preheat the coconut oil in a heavy bottom soup pot.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Add the stock to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered for 5-10 minutes to more fully cook the onions.
  4. Turn the heat down and add the lettuce, cook until wilted. About 3-7 minutes more.
  5. Remove from heat and carefully puree the mixture with an immersion blender, or cool completely and use a regular blender to puree.
  6. Return to heat and stir in coconut milk. (** You could use cream, sour cream, or yogurt).
  7. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley and chives.
Per serving without garnishes.
Weight Watchers P+ = 1.
Calories 47; Protein 1g; Carbohydrate 5g; Fat 3g; Fibre 2g.

It smells delicious as it is cooking!!

The verdict:

It’s kind of like a cream of spinach soup, but probably not quite as thick.

I brought some to work the next day to share with my co-workers and they all had positive things to say....tasty, refreshing, exotic were some descriptors they offered.

This is a tasty and healthy soup. You could add some red Thai chili if you would like some extra zing, or a touch of arrowroot powder/cornstarch to make it a bit thicker if you like (of course adding more spring mix would also thicken it.)

Oh, did I mention it freezes really well and keeps it bright green hue?

Kate's Bright Green Lettuce Soup2
Onions sauteed till translucent in the coconut oil.

Kate's Bright Green Lettuce Soup3
Mixed Spring Greens, washed and dried.

Kate's Bright Green Lettuce Soup4
Mmmmm.  Coconut milk.

Kate's Bright Green Lettuce Soup6
Puree the soup...

Kate's Bright Green Lettuce Soup7
till quite smooth.

Kate's Bright Green Lettuce Soup8
Freeze the leftovers if you like…

Kate's Bright Green Lettuce Soup9
The beautiful bright green color won’t disappear!

Have you ever made soup with lettuce?

Now what to do with the rest of the greens? Pesto perhaps?

Thanks so much to Kate for her lovely, delicous recipe, and for taking over the blog today... if you like this recipe won't you consider Pinning it or Tweeting it via @WeCanBegin2Feed. Thanks so much!

Friday, September 05, 2014

My Strawberry Coffee Protein Shake

We spent a fun and active week in Portland, OR at the end of July  to celebrate The Captain’s birthday.  It was hot… 90°F and upwards… and so much drier than we are used to. I had forgotten how we take our cooling, moist ocean breezes for granted here on the Island.
We left the car in a Park and Ride lot early one morning and rode the speedy MAX commuter train into downtown so we could spend the day exploring the the city core on foot.  At one point in the afternoon we stopped at  nice-looking Starbuck’s, and decided to splurge on a pair Frappucinos to cool us down and also give us a bit of a caffeine boost to power us through an afternoon of shopping… tough, I know.

I cannot for the life of me remember what I ordered… probably something with vanilla and skim milk, no whip.. but I do remember what The Captain ordered… a Strawberries & Creme Frappucino with an extra shot of coffee… because the barista came over to tell him that their Strawberries & Creme Frapps don’t actually have any coffee in them, and asked if he really wanted some… which he certainly did… 2 shots.  And gosh, it was pretty delicious, and looked amazingly like the picture on their web site although it came in a plastic container.
Starbucks Strawberries & Creme Frappucino

Now this drink has been on my mind a lot ever since… and today I decided to give it a try.. with a bit of a twist... and no whip.

We did a strenuous Metabolic Aftershock workout this morning that really worked our legs hard, then stretched and then went out for our usual half-hour walk… and when we got back, we were both quite hungry.  There were some fresh strawberries in the fridge at their peak of ripeness so I put together a few ingredients in the immersion blender and came up with these drinks.

You could use any milk you like, and any vanilla protein powder, too. I happen to love the North Coast Naturals 100% ISO whey. Halve the ingredients if you want to make a single shake. 

Unfortunately my pictures are not pretty, but the drink was delicious!  There is no need to add any sweetener, but if you wanted more color, you definitely toss in a few more berries!  This was a real pick-me-up after our workout and walk, and gave me enough fuel to last several hours.

Strawberry Coffee Protein Shake

Strawberry Coffee Protein Shake
Makes 2 servings
  • 3/4 cup cold coffee
  • 1-1/4 cups cold vanilla Almond Breeze
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
  • 6 fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  1. Put all the ingredients into a container and then whizz for a couple of minutes with your immersion blender.
  2. Pour into 2 glasses and enjoy!
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 4.
Calories 144; Protein 25g; Carbohydrate 5g; Fat 3g; Fibre 1g.

Strawberry Coffee Protein Shake2
Toss it all together and blend!

Do you ever add protein to your coffee drinks.. or coffee to your protein drinks?

If you like this idea I hope you will PIN it or share it on Twitter via @WeCanBegin2Feed... thanks!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Back to Normal After Our Vacation

We had a wonderful vacation in Colorado. Our hosts couldn’t have been more gracious and it was really fun getting to know them better and see where they live and learn more about their lives on a day to day basis… these people are long-time boating friends but we have only ever seen them in social settings on our respective boats… never in our own ‘home’ environments, so flying to Colorado to spend a week with them in their home was very fun and interesting… their lives are so different from ours.

We ate every meal except one in restaurants.  I got very good at selecting nice salads with grilled chicken or other lean proteins on them.  And for the most part, the greens were either iceberg lettuce or spinach leaves.  I think I did pretty well overall though. One evening I had the best Cobb Salad at a small restaurant… and one day at noon I had a wonderful homemade veggie and beef soup at a golf course.  I even splurged and had a giant gluten free chocolate chip cookie, half dipped in chocolate, from a lovely cookie shop in Fort Collins.  Wonderful!

Breakfasts were a bit more of a challenge.  After the first couple of mornings of having scrambled eggs with crispy bacon, I realized I didn’t want to start each day that way. I had packed some protein powders, raw almonds, and fresh fruit in my bag for emergencies… so I dug into that stash, and made myself a little brekkie in our room each morning before going up to greet our hosts and going out for breakfast. That way I could manage to have just coffee in the restaurant and stay happy till noon.  Sneaky, but a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do to take care of herself, right?

Since we have been home, I have been enjoying some of my favorite breakfasts… such as:

High Protein Breakfast Puff

and also some scrambled egg whites/egg and fruit, with runny PB2 and cinnamon on top.

Egg whites and egg with banana, PB2 and cinnamon

I have also been experimenting with a new microwave cake that is looking and tasting pretty good as well… recipe soon.  This one is chocolate…. MMmmmm.

Chocolate Protein Cake

Are there any foods you particularly miss when you travel?

What is your favorite breakfast?