fab food find: it’s quark, not twerk

Have you guys ever heard of Quark? It’s a cheese-based, yogurt-like product popular in Germany. Since I follow many fit/healthy living Instagram accounts, I found out about Quark from international posts.

quark

Source: http://www.elliquark.com/

Quark in a nutshell
-Low calorie (80 per container)
-Fat free
-High protein (14g)

When I found out about this stuff, I just had to get my hands on it! A high, protein, no fat, low calorie yogurt/cottage cheese food? It sounds great.

But, alas, after some research I found Quark is just now making its way to the states. I reached out to the popular Quark startup, Elli Quark, and inquired about their expansion to the states. Read how Elli Quark originated.

A representative said they’ve already started to sell products on the West Coast in Whole Foods, and are spreading toward the east coast over the next few months.

I CAN’T WAIT!

They have flavors like red velvet, pineapple and strawberry.

Once they’re here, you better believe I’ll be writing a review.

Until then, twerk –er I mean Quark–on!

Please note: I am in no way affiliated with Elli Quark. All opinions in this post are my own.

chia seed breakfast pudding

Chia seeds have been dubbed the ‘It’ food of 2013, according to this article from ABC News. They’ve been in stores for a while but just started gaining popularity the past few years and you can now find them in many forms, including chia seed butters/spreads and chia bars.

So what are the benefits of chia seeds, and why should we incorporate them into our diet?

-High in fiber. The seeds actually expand in your stomach, making you feel more full. In 1oz (2.75tbs) of chia seeds, you’ll get a serving of 10g dietary fiber. If you’re new to try the seed, take it slow as the high fiber may upset your stomach.
-Protein. A 1oz. serving offers almost 5g of protein.
-One of the highest sources of omega 3 fats. These fats are found in other foods like salmon, flax seeds and walnuts. Omega 3 acids maintain fluidity in cell membranes, reduce inflammation, improve the body’s ability to insulin properly and keeps blood from clotting.

Overnight Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding
-1/2 cup almond milk (or any time of milk)
-2 tbs chia seeds
-1/2tsp. vanilla extract
-1 packet sweetener (Stevia, Truvia, etc.)

Place in a container with a lid in your fridge overnight. What comes out the next morning is a bit of an odd, jelly pudding. But I promise it’s good! Mess around with different flavoring to see how you can tweak it. Taralynn from Undressed Skeleton made an eggnog flavored chia pudding!

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super thursday leg workout

I used to work out in the morning every day. Now I generally work out in the evening after work, but this morning I managed to hit the gym before work.

I worked on my legs with this workout. I already feel sore and know tomorrow I really will.

I encourage you to challenge yourself with weights on some of these exercises — especially if you already have form down.

thursday super leg workout

Don’t know what a superset is? Read my post on what they are and why they’re good for you.

Here were my weights for the workout:
Front squat – 25lb dumb bell
Back squat – bar (45lb)
Leg press machine – 90lb (45lb weight plate on each side)
Dumb bell dead lift – 30lb dumb bell
Leg extension machine – 65lb
Leg curl machine – 40lb
Power squat – 22lb bar

What’s a power squat? This is a great form of squats for women as it targets the inner thigh — a common trouble zone.

power squat
Source: One of my favorite Instagram accounts @fitnessexercises

Let’s talk a little bit about form while we’re at it.

I’m currently working on getting my form down for squats. I’ve done squats … many, many squats, but I was never getting low enough or practicing the proper form. The other day at my gym a trainer spent some time with me giving me pointers on how to squat properly.

The key points for proper squat form are:
-Get low, low, low
-Don’t let your knees go past your feet
-Push your feet and knees outward to help you balance when coming up from squat position
-It’s recommended to do squats with flat shoes, or even barefoot (I have yet to try this)

I think this image displays great squat form. You can see the person is low, yet her knees aren’t passing her feet.

Squat women
Source: http://www.happyhealthylonglife.com/happy_healthy_long_life/2011/04/bones.html

Think of yourself as a toddler. How do kids pick something off the ground? They squat at the knees right down to the ground to pick up their toys. That’s because they haven’t learned how to maneuver their bodies yet in the way older kids and adults can. We are often sitting down at our office desk, in our cars and constantly bending over to get something we dropped. Be a little kid and squat away :)

kid squat
Source: http://www.myfitclinic.com/2011/11/20/the-proper-squat-technique/

starbucks rewards program

So I’m sitting here in Starbucks, blogging away and sipping my free grande coffee. Wait, WHAT? FREE Starbucks?

sbux

You got it. I’m talking about My Starbucks Rewards™, a star-studded program offered by the elite coffee company.

When I say star-studded, I’m referencing the way in which you earn rewards, and therefore advance levels.

First things first, you’ll have to register a Starbucks card. Essentially you put money onto either a gift card or your Starbucks mobile app and register it for rewards. After that, you’re in and can begin earning stars!

You’ll earn one star each visit you make and pay with your registered card. After five stars, you’ve already hit the Green Level — that’s where I’m at now!

Perks of the Green Level
-Free coffee and tea refills in the store
-Birthday drink

After you accumulate 30 stars within 12 months, you’ve hit the Gold Level.

Perks of the Gold Level
-Sounds cool
-Personalized Gold card (snazzy)
-Free drink or food every 12 stars after hitting Gold level
-All Green level benefits
-Special offers via email and text if you sign up

I’m so mad I didn’t know about this program sooner. I am a sucker for a good rewards/loyalty program, especially when it involves anything FREE. I just keep thinking of all the free refills I could have received by now since I love camping out at Starbucks for hours.

Moving forward, I have a goal to hit Gold level. I’m currently 23 stars away — and I really just started a couple weeks ago.

sbux rewards

I also love paying for Starbucks with my phone via their app. It’s so convenient and easy. Maybe a little too easy to spend :)

Starbucks’ site is a little vague when explaining some of the perks like free refills in-store. The Starbucks Melody does a great job of going in-depth into the ambiguity on her blog. She also mentions a few perks I didn’t know existed like free syrups! Check it out.

Please note: I am in no way affiliated with Starbucks. All opinions in this post are my own.

creamy florida avocado mango smoothie

As a follow up to my post on the Florida avocado, I still had a second half of the large avocado to eat.

Since I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste in my salad the first time, I decided to mask it a little bit in a smoothie. It was the perfect ingredient. The avocado replaced any yogurt I would have normally used and gave my smoothie a delicious, smooth, thick and creamy texture. It reminded me of the smoothies at the mall! You know what I’m talking about … the claimed ‘healthy’ fruit smoothies that sometimes are everything but healthy.

Creamy Florida Avocado Mango Smoothie
-Half a Florida avocado
-1 cup of frozen mango
-1 cup of Skim milk
-1 ice cube
-1 tbs Agave syrup
-3/4 Stevia packet

Blend it all together! You should get a heaping serving of a creamy, green smoothie. Enjoy!

avocado mango smoothie

This smoothie is great for breakfast. It packs about 16 grams of protein and fills you up.

Have you ever tried to make a smoothie with avocado? How did it turn out?

florida avocado

Hit the Rochester Public Market Saturday morning with Dave. The last time I was there the market was filled with Fall items, this time it was all Christmas! Plus, we got a lot of snow Wednesday night so it really felt like the holidays!

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Have you ever heard of a Florida avocado? I hadn’t until I noticed a larger-than-usual avocado at the market. I asked the vendor what it was and she said it was a Florida avocado, that it tasted similar to California avocados (most common), but isn’t good for guacamole.

I bought my Florida Avocado for $1, brought it home and did some research.

So what’s the deal with Florida Avocados, and how do they measure up to the more popular California (Hass) ones?

The Nutrition Diva offers great insight into the two types.
-Calorie count: Hass avocados are more calorie and fat dense, but smaller. The Florida avocado has been branded by the state of Florida as a “light” avocado because it has less of a fat density. The calories in an average Hass avocado are 300 and the calories in an average Florida avocado are 200.
-Recipes: Hass offer a creamier, richer taste for recipes like guacamole whereas Florida avocados are better as an accent in dishes like salads, and the ever-popular Floriday avocado and graprefuit salad.
-Nutrients: In general, both Hass and Florida avocados offer fiber and monosaturated fats, which are claimed to reduce heart and artery disease. The Florida avocado also offers 7g of protein per whole avocado, and the Hass has around 2.7g per whole.

Like I read, the Florida avocado does have a different taste than I’m used to with Hass. I put half an avocado in a salad with Panera’s Asian Sesame salad dressing. I usually get an Asian Sesame Salad from Panera with Hass avocado, so perhaps it wasn’t good for me to taste-test my favorite salad with a new ingredient.

The avocado was good, but had an aftertaste I wasn’t used to. I want to keep experimenting with the fruit to see how I can work it into recipes that call for Hass avocados. I want to try to make guac with it, too!

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It also had a really weird pit!!

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fab food find: cookie butter

Have you ever tried Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter? If not, you’ve been missing out.

I’ve read about this product before, and it’s addictive nature. I got to experience that myself first-hand after buying a jar at Trader Joe’s. This stuff is so popular that there was a shortage of it over the summer and customers were capped at 2 jars per person, per visit.

It tastes exactly like ground up Biscotti cookies from the airplanes. The addictive quality is definitely there and I probably won’t get another jar just because it’s so easy to eat by the spoonful.

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Cookie Butter is not very nutrient dense with 6g fat, 8g carb and zero protein per tbls. But you can eat just one tablespoon!? Not me …

The flavors are traditional Cookie Butter and Cocoa Swirl.

I ate mine by the spoonful (ugh), topped on rice cakes, and I tried it on a banana (not good — better by the spoonful). I also made a few Cookie Butter quesadillas on some low-carb Trader Joe’s tortillas. Amazing.

Give it a try if you dare, or at least have some sort of self control (not me).

Please note: I am in no way affiliated with Trader Joe’s or Speculoos. All opinions in this post are my own.