Not Your Average Protein Bar

I’m always excited to receive mail, but last week a package arrived that I immediately busted open.

vega bars

The Vega Bar team was kind enough to send eight of their plant-based, gluten-free, non GMO protein bars. Sweet! Here’s the breakdown of my loot:

Vega One Meal Bars in Chocolate Cherry Almond and Chocolate Peanut Butter

Vega Snack Bars in Dark Chocolate Mixed Nuts & Sea Salt and Cranberry Almond

Vega Sport Protein Bars in Chocolate Coconut and Chocolate Mint

Vega Sport Energy Bars in Cherry Almond and Chocolate Coconut Almond

Let’s start with the Sports bars. I tried the Cherry Almond flavor for some pre-run fuel and was initially surprised by the texture. It was chewy and moist, but not sticky like some bars. The non-artificial flavoring was good, but I preferred the Chocolate Coconut Almond. That one? So good. I ate a whole bar before my run yesterday and I definitely feel that it helped me get my running mojo back. I felt full but not stuffed, and knowing that I’m putting clean fuel in my body makes it easier to concentrate on my workout.

Vega Sport Energy Bar

Later in the week, I used a Meal bars as snacks. What can I say? I’m a hungry gal. I love the fact that the wrapper has all these cool stats in easy to digest form (Hahah, get it? So punny.) While it wouldn’t suffice for an actual meal replacement for me, both the Chocolate Cherry Almond and the Chocolate Peanut Butter flavors were spot on. It was a bit weird seeing a chocolate pb bar without either discernible peanuts or that light brown coloring inside. I quickly got over it and scarfed the whole thing down 🙂

vega choc pb

As for the Snack bars? They’re delicious, too. I would have more in-depth notes on these flavors, but I tend to wait until the last minute when I’m snacking on the go or in the office. I can tell you that these bars are easily portable – I carried them around in multiple purses and are probably strong enough to sustain a tour or two in a stuffed gym bag.

Look at all those berries!

Look at all those berries!

I haven’t used the Vega Sport Energy Recovery bars yet, as I’m saving them for after my half marathon on Sunday. If they are anything like the other bars I’ve tried, I know that they’ll be tasty and effective. They’ll help my body recover in a natural way through the use of whole grain brown rice and pea protein. I can’t wait to try them out!

Vega Sport Bar

All in all, I’d highly recommend the Vega bar product line. The packaging is informative and interesting and you can’t complain about the flavoring and quality of the products!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary shipment of Vega bars as a Sweat Pink Ambassador. All thoughts and opinions of the product are my own.

Badge_Vega200

 

This post is part of my Try It Tuesday series. I review a variety of products/services and use this series to recommend only the best to you. Enjoy 🙂

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Five Things I’m Loving Friday

Hey-o! We made it to Friday! Time to kick back relax and enjoy the weekend.  Or, in my case, fret about how I’m going to fit my long run in when the forecast looks like this:

weekend weather 3-28

Grr.

I’m not going to let that get to me. In an attempt to lighten the mood, let’s talk about some things I’m loving this week:

1. Rimmel London’s Moisture Renew Lipstick in As You Want Victoria.  As I’ve stated before, I’m totally not a lipstick fan. But in an effort to try something new, I opted to receive this from Influenster and wore it all last weekend. Full review with pros and cons to come soon.

Rimmel Lipstick

2. These no bake berry butterscotch protein clusters. There were 25 on Wednesday night. There are 5 left. (Scratch that: 3 left. I had some for breakfast.) I want to make more, but the JA and I cannot be cooped in a house with them all weekend. They would be gone in an instant.

no bake protein clusters 1

3. This article about the traditional work day. My friend Renee shared this on her Facebook page and I immediately read it, shook my head in agreement, and passed it along.

The-Problem-With-the-Traditional-8-Hour-Work-Day

4. My new mug from Marshall’s. Whoo’s happy it’s Friday? This gal.

owl mug

5. Fresh fruit is back! My co-worker brought in fresh strawberries this week and was kind enough to share. They were as every strawberry should be – red, juicy, and sweet but not mushy. Perfection.

strawberries

What are you loving this Friday? 

Chewy Quinoa Bars

It’s been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It helps you boost your metabolism, sets the tone for your body to fuel correctly during the day, yada yada.

But for some people (like me), breakfast can be overlooked and undervalued. Especially if I run in the morning, it often gets pulled together last minute. This usually means that instead of a thought out, balanced, great looking and great tasting meal, I end up housing cereal and greek yogurt at my desk. Not so pretty, not so fun.

So I began the search for a quick, easy, filling breakfast recipe. I found a ton of quinoa breakfast bar recipes, and attempted to make these from Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean.  All was going well, until I realized that I left out the flour…and the cinnamon in her recipe. Oops. So I winged it and these were born. So yummy and easy for anyone on the go!

I have found myself grabbing for these before and after runs, as midday snacks, and even before bed. Now it’s time to share the recipe with you!

chewy quinoa bars

Chewy Quinoa Bars (adapted from The Lean Green Bean’s Quinoa Breakfast Bar recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 c. cooked quinoa
  • 1 c. oats
  • 1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 c. craisins
  • 1/2 tsp. – 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon (depending on personal preference)

Instructions
1. Combine applesauce, vanilla, egg, peanut butter and honey in a small bowl and mix well.
2. Add the remaining ingredients EXCLUDING CINNAMON and stir until just mixed.
3. Spoon into a greased 9×9 pan and sprinkle cinnamon over top.
4. Bake at 375 for 20 min or until golden brown.
5. Let cool and cut into 8 bars.
6. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes: For an easy measure, I use one single serve applesauce ‘cup.’ The JA has them on hand for a snack and so I snag one for the recipe! The cinnamon ones give an extra punch and can be used in conjunction or in lieu of the sprinkled cinnamon on top.

quinoa bars 2

I was also thinking about changing the recipe even further to include some chocolate. I’ll make sure to keep you posted if I do!

Breakfast – best meal of the day or something to get through?

Psst – for more deliciousness, check out my Recipes page!

10-Minute Vegetarian Nachos

The JA and I are big fans of meals that we can whip together in a pinch – especially when they are bursting with flavor. Our favorite go-to nacho recipe, up until this point, was How Sweet’s 20 Minute Turkey Taco Nachos. (Seriously, love them.)

Yet, with training for my upcoming half marathon, nachos aren’t necessarily the best fuel choice. However, when I received a lovely package from Sunshine Burger, a company committed to serving health-conscious consumers with delicious, wholesome, veggie burgers and products made with certified organic, whole-food ingredients, I figured why not give veggie burger nachos a try. I got six different flavors and decided that the Black Bean South West flavor would be perfect to test as a meat substitute.

I think we're set for a while.

I think we’re set for a while.

You guys, it rocked. Like, we ate these off the tray, standing in front of our oven good.

Here’s how we made them:

veggie nachos

10-Minute Vegetarian Nachos

3 Black Bean South West Sunshine Burgers
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 bag tortilla chips (we used blue corn chips)
1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup shredded lettuce
(avocado & greek yogurt can be used as additional toppings)

1. Heat olive oil & onion over medium heat.
2. Add veggie burgers and cook per package instructions, crumbling to fully mix with onion.
2. While burgers are heating, line baking sheet with foil.
3. Place a layer of chips on baking sheet. Top with cheese.
4. Set oven to broil.
5. Once burger/onion mix is finished, and place it evenly on top of cheese.
6. OPTIONAL: Place another layer of cheese on top of burger/onion mix.
7. Heat nachos under broiler for 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted.
8. Cover with salsa & lettuce, adding any other nacho-like toppings to taste.

As I said, these were phenomenal. They were even better knowing that the burgers themselves were of high quality.

veggie nachos 2

We tried out a few more recipes with the burgers, so stay tuned for more deliciousness! In the meantime, find other recipes of mine on my Recipes page.

To find a store selling Sunshine Burgers near you, click here.

Disclaimer: I was provided six boxes of Sunshine Burgers as an ambassador of the Fit Approach Sweat Pink community. All opinions are my own. 

Friday Five – Exciting Eats & Treats

Over the past few weeks, we’ve experimented a bit more than usual with our food. I’m hoping to make this a normal feature here on the blog, and it will provide us incentive to keep things exciting in the kitchen!

Here are a few of our exciting eats & treats from the past week:

Pesto Pasta, Broccoli & Chicken – the JA originally made this just for us, but then repeated the recipe when we had family over on Sunday. It was a big hit both times!
pesto chicken pasta

Smoky Crockpot Chili – Fall has definitely arrived in Baltimore, and Mother Nature’s brought the rain. Last night we defrosted a container of chili; it was a perfect dreary day dinner.
smoky crockpot chili

Klondike Dark Chocolate Bars – Not the healthiest dessert to choose, but sometimes you need an easy, one-handed treat.
klondike dark chocolate

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes – We have four family birthdays that happen within a span of three weeks. The only way to celebrate is with cupcakes! They turned out a little dry, so I’m going to tweak the recipe before sharing with you 🙂
cookies n cream cupcakes

KIND bars – An impulse buy at Trader Joe’s that paid off (Surprised? Me either.) I was looking for a new bar to have handy in my purse/desk that could also be used as a pre-run snack in the morning. I tried the Almond Coconut, Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew, and Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate. My only regret was that I wish I had bought more!

image from KIND Bar website

image from KIND Bar website

Any exciting eats/treats in your world? Feel free to share a link!

Berry Merry

With spring right around the corner (after at least one snow day – fingers crossed), it’s time to bust out the berries.

Fresh fruit is one of my favorite parts of the spring/summer, but many of my staples are not yet in season and a bit more expensive than I’d like them to be. That’s why I’ve started making my smoothies with a frozen berry mix. It works for now.

smoothie

In that same vein, I’ve been on the lookout for berry-flavored treat. I’m not a big pie person, mainly because I don’t make them myself and I have an aversion to syrupy-coated bits of fruit. (Side note: as a red meat lovin’ American, my husband was shocked that I didn’t like apple pie. I’ve since come around…a bit.) Spring leads into summer, so I’m also conscious of calorie content without sacrificing taste. That being said, I was super excited when I discovered Special K pastry crisps. Similar to a pop-tart, but smaller, better for you and lighter, these snacks are great for a person on the go or to just keep in your desk.

click image for source

click image for source

As illustrated, they’re thin with a ribbon of icing on top. They snap when bitten into, but aren’t brittle. And at 100 calories per serving, they won’t ruin your waistline. Thank heavens they come in pre-packaged sets of two, because otherwise I’d eat a whole box!

I was in no way compensated for this post. As part of my Try It Tuesday series, I review and recommend products to my readers. Check it out on my thoughts on everything from food to face cream!

Gluttony Be Gone

Happy Mardi Gras! With today being known as Fat Tuesday, I wanted to present a product to you that you can enjoy today and everyday without feeling guilty.

It’s no secret that I enjoy sweet/salty combination snacks. (I mean, just look at the list of snacks I’ve reviewed.) I’m also a sucker for interesting packaging. Therefore, when walking through the chip aisle in the grocery store, this bright guy caught my eye.

boomchickapop-lightsalt-bag

With only 120 calories for a serving size of 3 1/4 cups, this snack has won over my heart. Light and flavorful, it’s everything I could ask for. In fact, it reminds me of the freshly popped kettle corn that my family makes a special stop for when we make our annual trip to the Central PA Festival of the Arts. (SO delicious and you can smell it from a mile away!) However, not everyone loves it as much as I do. (Exact comment from the JA? ‘It tastes like air.’ He’s more of a pretzel/heavy snacker.)

Angie’s Popcorn comes in seven other flavors and is touted as ‘naturally simple.’ This means that they don’t contain high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, or artificial flavors or preservatives. Angie’s Popcorn is sold in each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, United Kingdom and South Korea.

The website also states that the founders would like to think the A is for awesome. I’d have to agree.

This post is part of my Try It Tuesday series. I was not compensated for this review – just picked up the product, liked it, and thought I’d share my find with you. If you have suggestions of other things I should try, gimme a shout at justcallmejanks@gmail.com!