Monday, July 29, 2013

Homemade Quest Protein Bars

As most of you know, I am in love with Quest Protein Bars.  I cannot get enough of these amazingly delicious protein bars.  I end up spending a good amount of money on them because I am usually on the run.  So, you can assume that when I opened my email from Sweet Cheetah and read DIY Quest Bars, I was super-pumped!  You can check out her blog here for her DIY Quest Bar recipe.  I tried the recipe Sunday evening and made a few modifications to fit what I want and need out of my Quest Bar.

Jessica's Homemade Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Quest Bars

Ingredients

4 scoops Garden of Life RAW Protein Powder in chocolate
1/4 cup ground flax seed (or oat flour or fiber powder)
1/4 cup Once Again Organic Sugar and Salt Free Sunflower Butter (or nut butter of your choice)
1/2 cup local organic honey (or agave nectar or stevia)
medium-sized handful of cacao nibs
A few tbsp of water - depending on sweetener of choice

Step 1: Add 4 scoops of protein powder in a large mixing bowl

Step 2: Add 1/4 cup ground flax seed to bowl

Step 3: Add 1/4 cup sunflower butter to bowl

Step 4: Add 1/2 cup honey to bowl and 1 tbsp of water

Step 5: Add a medium-sized handful of cacao nibs and mix with a spoon - add more water as needed - I had to finish with my hands but too messy to take a picture!

Step 6: Flatten in a rectangular shape on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and place in fridge for 30 minutes.  Remove from fridge and cut 5 bar-sized pieces.

The bars are shaped kind of awkward - I think I flattened them a bit much.  I cut off the top of one bar for a taste test and I loved it!  The texture was very similar to the real Quest Protein Bar and the taste was wonderful.  My sister even liked the bars and she isn't a protein bar fan.  To store the bars, I folded the parchment paper to cover the bars and slid them into a freezer bag and they are sitting in the freezer now.  I am so happy that I will be saving money - I will still buy Quest Bars that I can keep in my desk and car for emergencies.  

Variations: 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: use vanilla protein powder and sunflower butter
Cinnamon Roll: use vanilla protein powder and add 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
Chocolate Brownie: use chocolate protein powder and add 1-2 tbsp cacao powder
Vanilla Almond Crunch: use vanilla protein powder, almond butter, and add 2 tbsp of almond pieces
Peanut Butter Supreme: use vanilla protein powder and peanut butter
Chocolate Peanut Butter: use chocolate protein powder and peanut butter
Coconut Cashew: use vanilla protein powder, cashew butter and unsweetened coconut 
Lemon Cream Pie: use vanilla protein powder, sunflower butter and 1 tbsp lemon juice
PB & J: use vanilla protein powder, peanut butter and add 1/4 cup dehydrated strawberries (thinly sliced strawberries placed on a cookie sheet and left in the oven overnight on the lowest setting)
Mixed Berry Bliss: use vanilla protein powder, sunflower butter and dehydrated blueberries and strawberries
Strawberry Cheesecake: use vanilla protein powder, sunflower butter and dehydrated strawberries
White Chocolate Raspberry: use vanilla protein powder, sunflower butter and dehydrated raspberries

I am pumped to try all of these variations in the upcoming weeks.  If they turn out just as good, I will gladly share :)  And if any of you try any of these Homemade Quest Bar recipes, please let me know what you tried and how you liked it!

Have a great night :)  It's time for some Zumba!








Sunday, July 28, 2013

Busy Bee Weekend

I hope I am finding everyone finishing up a fantastic weekend!  I had an awesome, but busy weekend myself.  I did not get much of  a break.  After leaving work on Friday, I headed straight to the Indians-Rangers game with some friends.  It was fireworks night - which are my favorite games to attend, I also like games with giveaways ;) The game went into extra innings - the Indians won in the 11th and then the fireworks began!
The fireworks were coordinated with Jimi Hendrix!  The Terminal Tower is always lit up and during they game the colors kept changing and I obviously had to take a pic when it turned purple ;)

I was up bright and early Saturday morning for the Wigs For Kids Walk/5k with my mom and sister, Ashley - we did the walk.  The weather was not what we would have preferred - cold and rainy :(  We did have a good time, though.  My mom found this event through 95.5 The Fish radio, so we received free shirts from them!  We also got a bag full of goodies at the registration table - Dick's Sporting Goods coupons, Lip Smackers Chapstick, a snack, zoo silly bands and a Wigs For Kids t-shirt - I had no idea we would get anything!  Chick-Fil-A was one of the sponsers and donated their chicken sandwiches, warm chocolate chip cookies and mini cows to the event.  There was also a table of donated cupcakes, fruits, granola bars, waters, bagels and many other items.  We all had a lot of fun at the Wigs For Kids Walk/5k and I can't wait to participate in the run portion next year ;)



After the race, my mom and I made a Whole Foods trip and coincidentally it was the same day as their Ice Cream Social to promote the Non-GMO Project - non-project organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices.  There were tables set up everywhere with different ice cream samples!  My favorite sample was the ice cream sandwich designed by Whole Foods.  There were also some local ice cream vendors handing out samples - Jeni's, Ruggles - low-fat Greek frozen yogurt, Mitchell's Homemade and Cowhaus Creamery Artisan Ice Cream.


 Enjoying a Boston Cooler - So Delicious vanilla ice cream and ginger ale 
Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich - So Delicious No Sugar Added Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Fatboy's Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough - the best thing I have ever tasted!!

We also made some purchases :)  And of course we bought the items needed to make the Whole Foods ice cream sandwiches!





When I got home from our amazing Whole Foods trip, I had to make the second half of my Christmas in July gifts - a few of my girlfriends and I were supposed to exchange Christmas gifts for Christmas and it just never happened...  We decided to exchange them during Christmas in July instead and I had to remake the second part because it is perishable.  I made mason jar cakes - they are sugar-free and I didn't use oil or whole eggs (recipe to follow sometime this week).  

I also received an amazing gift from Alisia!  I love my personalized glass :)

Our Christmas in July took place at El Carnicero - a newer mexican restaurant that is actually related to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.  I was super pumped to try this place out!  We started with my favorite guacamole and a new salsa.  We also shared one of their tamales - their specialty - and a taquito.
 Goat cheese guacamole - goat cheese, tomato and chile poblano. I also added their habanero sauce to it - I love the heat! And Sikil Pak - toasted pepita and chile manzano - delish!
 hongo (tamale) - wild mushroom and zucchini - one with salsa verde and one with a mole sauce
 Pescado (taquito) - horseradish-chile glazed salmon - very spicy :)

And my sister also got her Christmas in July on - I bought her gift super early because she is extremely difficult to buy for and her favorite shoes are on their death bed..  It also helped that Zulily was having an amazing Toms sale!  The sale was so great that I even treated myself to a pair - I don't like paying full price for anything

 Tiffany's new Toms - this is a real appreciative smile - very different from her "oh, you shouldn't have smile" haha

Sunday was also busy - church, lunch, springboards, bike ride and making my own Quest Bars!
 My mom, Ashley and I shared the buffalo chicken flatbread, grilled chicken skewers, steak skewers, and ahi tuna appetizer at TGI Friday's.

We stopped at this cool little bridge on the towpath

DIY Chocolate chocolate chip quest bars :) I love these!  I will be saving so much money!
And I will be sharing this recipe later this week :)

Enjoying some So Delicious - any purchase of this ice cream and Three Twins and a $1 donation would be made to the Non-GMO Project.  I bought two of each - it was buy one, get one!!

Well, I am not ready for the week to begin - I didn't have enough down time this weekend :(  I am looking forward to all of the workouts I have set up this week, though!

Have a great start to the week :)











Friday, July 26, 2013

A Little Taste of Summer

So, this has been a busy week and I think yesterday was the longest day this week.  I am just so happy that it is Friday :) I feel like I find myself wishing for the weekend every time Monday comes around haha  Even though yesterday was terribly long, I was able to break up the day with a little trip to the Metroparks at lunch.  I hate being inside when there is such beautiful weather right outside my window.  So, when my mom asked me what I wanted to do for lunch I told her I am grabbing two Quest Protein Bars, grab to unsweetened iced teas from Starbucks and enjoy them in the Metroparks.  We found a perfect spot right under the sun!  And there was a cute, little old man who offered to take our picture :)
 
 
The rest of work was just long and boring - I had to keep getting granted access to different areas of this program I was working in.  And once 5:00PM rolled around, I was a very happy girl!  Except I spent about five minutes looking for my mom to leave and then I realized she drove herself and had already left - I don't know how she snuck past my desk!
 
I had a free evening - which doesn't happen quite often - so, my sister, Ashley and I decided to head over to Tremont for some ice cream.  Tremont has this adorable ice cream shop called Churned.  Churned was actually created by the owners of A Cookie and A Cupcake - a pastry shop that also provides gluten-free and vegan options.  Anyway, Churned only uses local fresh ingredients that practice the "organic way of life" and obvioulsy I appreciate that very much.  Ashley and I decided to share a two scoop ice cream dish - we could have gotten the four scoop, but we weren't that hungry.  We each picked a flavor and they were both delicious - but, I liked mine a little more!
 
Top scoop: Ashley picked the Mexican Hot Chocolate - chocolate ice cream with hints of cinnamon, orange and cayenne topped with marshmallows
Bottom scoop:  I picked Vegan Coconut Brownie - organic coconut milk and coconut yogurt with a creamy dark chocolate, mixed with their vegan brownie bites
 
After ice cream, we decided to talk over to A Cookie and A Cupcake to buy a cupcake for Tiffany because she missed out the last time we were there.  They have so many amazing flavors and we didn't know what to chose - we ended up buying the assortment of twelve mini gourmet cupcakes. 
I just love their logo!
We wanted a taste and couldn't wait, so Ashley and I decided to split the coconut one last night.  Coconut cake, crushed pineapple and fraiche cream - so scrumptious and a half was the perfect amount :)
 
After all of those tasty treats, I obviously ended the night with some Zumba!  I have been upping my cardio lately and Zumba is one of the only ways I will actually do some cardio - the wii is the best thing in my living room ;)
 
Well, it looks like it is going to be another beautiful day - hopefully I can get outside :)
 
Have a great weekend!

 
 


 

 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WIMBW

It's WIMBW!  I love celebrating getting through the first half of the week with a delicious baked oatmeal recipe.  Today was amazingly filling and full of so much goodness - which I needed because I basically had a 13-hour work day: cheer practice 7-8:30AM, work 9-4:30PM and cheer camp 5-8:30PM.  Today's baked oatmeal really gave my the energy I needed to kick-start the day and was able to hold me until I finally had lunch at 2:00PM!  It was a crazy day!

Anyway, today I chose to tweak the Juicy Berry Baked Oatmeal recipe from Jenny Grothe's 75 Ways to Love Your Oatmeal.  The recipe called for a few items I wouldn't use: Raspberry Torani Syrup, granulated sugar and brown sugar.  I also added a few ingredients that I normally put into my oatmeal: chia seeds, ground flax seeds, unsweetened coconut, hemp seeds, quinoa, honey, peanut butter and a banana.  

Jessica's Juicy Berry PB&B Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients
1/2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 tbsp unsweetened coconut
1/2 tbsp quinoa
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 tbsp Garden of Life RAW Protein in chocolate
1/4 tsp baking powder
sprinkle of cinnamon
drizzle of honey
4 large strawberries - cut into chunks
10 blueberries
1 banana
2 egg whites
1/2 tbsp peanut butter

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 350

Step 2: Put 1/2 tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 tbsp ground flax seeds, 1/2 tbsp hemp seeds, 1/2 tbsp unsweetened coconut and 1/2 tbsp quinoa in an oven-proof bowl

 Step 3: Add 1/2 cup oats to bowl

Step 4: Add 1 cup So Delicious Unsweetened Almond Plus 5X to oats

Step 5: Add 1 tbsp Garden of Life RAW Protein, 1/4 tsp baking powder and sprinkle of cinnamon to oats

Step 6: Add a drizzle of honey to oats and mix

Step 7: Add strawberry chunks and blueberries to oats

Step 8: Add sliced banana to oatmeal and mix

Step 9: Add two egg whites to oats and mix

Step 10: Top with 1/2 tbsp peanut butter

Step 11: Bake oatmeal mixture for 30 minutes

I had a nice, cold glass of So Delicious Unsweetened Almond Plus 5X that went along perfectly with My Juicy Berry PB&B Baked Oatmeal.  I really enjoyed all the different flavors included in this oatmeal.  The berries gave a fresh, summer flavor with a bit of tartness and the honey and banana gave the oatmeal a subtly sweet addition.  The egg whites provided an extra boost of protein, which greatly contributed to my staying full for most of the morning and afternoon.  I will definitely make this oatmeal again and will experiment with raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, elderberries and whatever other berries I discover at the local farmers markets.

I unfortunately didn't have a whole bunch of time to eat today...so for lunch I had some high-protein Greek yogurt with more blueberries and strawberries and some Jessica's All-Natural Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Granola.  Delicious!!

And for dinner I had my second favorite Quest Protein Bar: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - I ate that on the car ride from work to cheer camp.

Well, I am exhausted and still need to get a workout in - I am thinking either a booty ballet routine or some Zumba or maybe both!

Have a great night!!

What other berry combinations can I try in my oatmeal?


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Busy Birthday Weekend!


Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend!  I had an awesome weekend hanging out with my both of my sisters for Ashley's 23rd birthday :)  not only does she share her birthday with the City of Cleveland, but now with the new royal baby!  Haha

Anyway...her birthday celebration began Saturday.  After my 8AM barre class, I took her for mani-pedis - Groupon had a fantastic deal for a cute little place in Tremont called Addictions Salon and Spa.  The salon was super cute and offers a variety of services, from hair and nails to massages and waxings.   This was the first Shellac manicure for both of us and we both loved it!  I would definitely enjoy getting another one.  My nails have not chipped yet and whenever I paint my nails, they don't even make it through the day.  I will definitely be back again :)
 The birthday girl enjoying her massage chair during her pedi
 Ashley's red hot shellac manicure
My favorite color!

After our mani-pedis we stopped next door at Lilly Handmade Chocolates to grab a box of specialty chocolates.  They are as delicious as they are beautiful!  Definitely check out the shop if you can - they do wine and beer pairings with the chocolates and they even sell the wine and beer and they have a lot to choose from!
Clockwise from top left: Sweet Cheeks - salted caramel; PB Monsters - fresh peanut butter, clover honey, feuilletine crunch, Himalayan pink salt; Jimmie - triple chocolate ganache, vanilla bean, salted caramel; Red Planet - red wine soaked strawberries, freeze dried raspberry powder.

These chocolates are the best chocolates I've ever had in my entire life!  We actually ate two of them before we even drove off, but I did find the pictures on Lilly Handmade Chocolates Facebook: Cheers - rose champagne, blackberry powder, confectioners sugar and Sour Flower (ingredients below)

So, we've had manis, pedis and chocolates and our day still wasn't over... Ashley, Tiffany and I got ready for a sisters-only birthday dinner.  
Me and the birthday girl - Tiffany changed right when she walked through the door

I wanted to go somewhere we haven't been before, after some research I realized the Flats are coming back and my sister picked Lago - one of the new three restaurant choices. Lago is an Italian restaurant and has an amazing menu!  We decided to get appetizers so we could try a few different things.  Everything tasted phenomenal and we cannot wait to go for what sounds like would be an awesome happy hour :)
Formaggio
taleggio, valle d'aoste and gorgonzola 

White Bean Puree

Salerno Family Meatballs

Sofia - Pizza Classico
oyster, cremini, shittake, taleggio, chive, truffle oil on a whole wheat crust - also have gluten-free, but was not available that day

And we just had to get dessert - it was a birthday celebration!  The creme brulee was wonderful and made with real vanilla bean :)  Delicious!

My sister wanted to make s'mores later that night...indoor s'mores ;) I usually use a banana, cacao nibs and whole wheat pita 

On Sunday, we went to a tea house for high tea - Ashley has always loved tea parties and it has become a tradition to go every year for her birthday.  We went to the Emerald Necklace Inn - a 150 year-old tea house and bed and breakfast.  The tea house is so cute with mismatched tea cups and lace everywhere.  The food selection is wonderful - tea sandwiches, scones, pastries, etc.  And the tea menu is never-ending!  I ordered the Cream Au Caramel Rooibos - sweet toffee notes building to a full symphonic caramel - I think this is my favorite tea now :)

 I am in love with this awkward center-piece 

 Celebration champagne tea - Tiffany liked off all of her pink sprinkles

 Summer berry salad
 Our beautiful tea pots and my dad's boy-coffee pot

 I just love this chandelier so much - I am putting it in my room ;)

 strawberry-blueberry scone, Irish soda bread, cucumber sandwich, egg salad sandwich and chicken salad sandwich
 vegetable quiche and fruit salad
lemon curd and devonshire cream
lemon madeleine, brownie, chocolate-covered cherry, mini cheesecake and some rainbow cake
 The family  :)

Later that evening I made gluten-free almond blueberry crumble bars - love them!  I also made cherry ones not too long ago.  I made my own blueberry jam for the bars...I will share the recipe later on :)


Well, this weekend was awesome and super busy!  I am happy that Ashley had a great birthday and it was a lot of fun spending most of the weekend with her and the family.  Now I am ready for the next weekend :)  And I really need to get to sleep...cheer practice bright and early :/ yay..


Have a great night!!