Peaches and Cream Protein Shake

I was having a hard time with the idea of choking down another combination of protein, peanut butter and bananas. You can only dress those up so many ways. This combination was light and tasty, and a welcome change of pace.

Peaches and Cream Protein Shake

peaches and cream protein shake

1 Scoop vanilla protein powder (I enthusiastically recommend Jay Robb Whey Protein- hands down the best tasting and only 1 carb to 25 grams of protein with no artificial sweeteners)

1 individual cup of no sugar added peaches

1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (less if you like a thicker shake)

1/4 cup of ice (more or less)

Add all ingredients to blender or Magic Bullet and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Approximate Nutrition Facts: 165 calories, 26g protein, 8g carbs, 2g fat

Fashion find: Must have for spring

I happened across this belt this weekend, and I’m in love! I didn’t give it a second look online, but I saw it in person I had to have it. In fact, I might grab it in a few more colors. This one is Coral, and I have my eye on the neon yellow as well!

Coral Belt

See? The picture online seriously doesn’t do it justice! Skinny Elastic Belt, $12.94 at OldNavy.com. Spring fashion on a budget!

elastic belt

 

 

Perfect Baked Brown Rice

Brown rice, while more healthy and nutritious than it’s white counterpart, is a serious pain to cook. Even when using a rice cooker I’ve had it come out tough and not cooked through. It takes ages on the stove and the hassle had me avoiding it completely for quite some time. When I started baking brown rice all that changed! It comes out perfect every time- fluffy, cooked through and very tender. Plus, it’s about the easiest thing. Put in in the oven and forget about it until it’s finished. The ingredients are basic, and can be adjusted based on your tastes. The recipe makes a big batch, and I keep it in the fridge for easy reheating through the week. Pro tip: This has been SO handy for my healthy meal-prep adventures lately!

Baked brown rice

baked brown rice

-1 cup brown rice (short, medium or long grain)
-2 1/2 cups broth

1. Preheat oven to 375, and boil broth.
2. Pour rice in an 8×8 glass baking dish.
3. Pour broth over rice, stir and quickly cover dish with foil completely.
4. Bake for one hour.
5. Remove foil and fluff rice with a fork. Serve immediately, and store leftovers in an airtight container.

NOTE: You can also just use water in place of broth, but you may want to add about 1/2 tsp of salt and about a tablespoon of butter or oil.

How to make iced green tea that’s NOT bitter

The health benefits of green tea are widely known, and have been for centuries. I’m sure I don’t have to sell you on why it’s good for you. Especially if you’re trying to drop a few LB’s, sipping on green tea is a particularly good idea- it has no calories (if unsweetened!) and gives your metabolism a boost with a low dose of caffeine.

Making a big batch of iced green tea is a great way to make sure you’re sipping it throughout the day- plus it’s way easier on the budget. A 16oz green tea at Starbucks will run you about $2, and when you make it at home the same size serving will only set you back about 20 cents- more or less depending on what grade of tea you decide to use.

One problem I’ve run into in trying to make iced green tea in big batches was it going bitter. This is something that happens easily, even when just brewing one cup. Here’s how I make a big batch of green tea and keep it tasting great.

green tea

1. Open about 15 green tea bags and rope them together by the strings. You’re going to make the tea stronger than normal to make up for the ice watering it down.

2. Measure out about 80oz of water- 10 8oz servings. This isn’t set in stone- you could adjust for taste, but this is the ratio I follow. Put the water in a large pot and put on the stove over medium heat.

3. Allow the water to heat up, but not too hot. You should be able to put your finger in and it not burn you. Don’t let the water boil! It should not even have bubbles forming on the bottom. This is very key to keeping the green tea from getting bitter.

4. Hold the tea bags by the paper tabs and dip them in the water. Swirl around and steep for no longer than two minutes. This is the second important step for maintaining the delicate taste- don’t over steep!

5. Remove pot from heat and remove tea bags. I always press the tea bags out over a strainer to get all the liquid out before discarding.

6. Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate. Allow to cool completely, pour over ice and enjoy!

Easy German Pancakes

This delicious dish is a traditional German breakfast, particularly for special occasions like Christmas! I was delighted making this dish this morning, as I had forgotten how EASY it is. And really, it’s not that bad for you. Since I was lacking a cast iron skillet, I opted to make Mini German Pancakes, and I actually think I might prefer them this way. They bake up into little cups, lending themselves well to filling. Applesauce is a traditional choice, but you could also do maple syrup, various fruits, or just a squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of powdered sugar. They can also be made savory by omitting the sugar and adding ingredients such as cheese or crumbled sausage.

Easy Mini German Pancakes

Easy German Pancakes

6 large eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 425. Whisk together eggs, flour, milk, salt and sugar until yolks are incorporated. Don’t over mix- batter will be lumpy. Coat a muffin/cupcake pan with non stick spray. Optional- put a small slice of butter in the bottom of each cup f or a little extra flavor. Pour in mixture. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Be sure to check visually as cooking times can vary- they will puff up huge in the oven! They are done when the edges are a nice golden brown. They will decrease in size as they cool. Serve warm with your choice of toppings.

Uber car service launching in Phoenix

If you live in one of 17 select major US cities, you might be familiar with Uber. Maybe you’ve even gotten a ride from one of their shiny black cars. If you’re in one of the cities that they haven’t expanded to (yet) maybe you’re not familiar- let me fill you in: It’s an uber fast, uber clean, uber safe car service that you can beckon quickly from your smartphone and get text updates as your fancy black car nears your location. This high tech startup has modernized the concept of a personal driver.

Today I attended the press lunch for Uber Phoenix at the beautiful Saguaro hotel in Scottsdale and learned more about the company, and got to mingle with some of the minds that make it all happen.

I was first greeted by Gabe, the community manager for Phoenix and his wife Chanelle who was photographing the event. Warm and inviting as always, they welcomed me and gave me the lay of the land. The event was informal, food and drinks were at the perimeter and the Uber movers and shakers were working the room. A projector flashed images of maps of major cities, some already inhabited by Uber, others that were on their way. Gabe and I chatted about his role, which is basically the Phoenix area go-to guy. There isn’t a national “customer service” number, and it’s actually a term they shy away from according to Matt Atkin. He says that they prefer a more relaxed, personal and real approach to keeping their clients happy, and that’s where Gabe shines.

I chatted it up with Blaine Light, Operations and Logistics manager. We talked about number crunching and all the crazy analytics that go into determining the locations of the drivers and how many to keep on hand. Some of the methods were unconventional, but interesting- Freakanomics, anyone? He assured me the Uber Blog was a good read. He was right.

One of the brains I picked was that of Austin Geidt, who seemed to be the only Uber-lady in attendance- after seeing her twitter bio in which she describes herself as “Estrogen of Uber” I’d guess I was probably right. She’s also the Launch Manager and New Market Specialist. We got to talking about safety, and both agreed that taxi cabs sometimes were more than a little sketchy. I was happy to hear that the drivers contracted by Uber are interviewed, vetted and continuously user-rated for quality, adding an extra layer of safety and accountability. If a driver’s user reviews aren’t top notch, they don’t continue the relationship.  Geidt said that fortunately they haven’t had any safety issues with drivers and experience a very low number of fender benders. Definitely something to consider when contemplating the added expense of hiring an Uber driver versus dialing a traditional taxi.

Ryan Graves addressed the crowd from a pair of crutches. He thanked us all for coming expressed his excitement to enter our market. He also let us know his injury was from a surfing accident, which admittedly made him seem just that much cooler.

So now that you know how awesome the service is, I’m sure you’re dying to try it out. I don’t blame you. In honor of Uber’s Phoenix launch, which officially starts tomorrow, we have a little deal for you. Use this invite link to get $10 off your first ride. On that note, it’s not as expensive as I thought it was going to be. An airport ride I took using the service ran $35, and a taxi ride on the same route was about $19. Something to note is that the $19 taxi wasn’t a shiny black Escalade, they didn’t ask me what I wanted to listen to on satellite radio, they didn’t help me with my luggage and the taxi driver wasn’t in a suit. Plus, I didn’t feel like like a celebrity when I got out of the cab. Just sayin’.

 

Phoenix Event: Cupcake Love In 2012

 

A beautiful display by Gigi's Cupcakes- photo by Max of theomnom.com

Few things unite people as much as this adorable baked treat. It’s happy, welcoming shape has become a cultural icon of peace, love and good cheer. Cupcakes bring out the best in us all, and I was so happy to have not only gotten to attend the 3rd annual Cupcake Love In, but to also volunteer. Held annually at the picturesque Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, bakers from all around the greater Phoenix area join in celebrating the creative craft of the cupcake and they do it all for charity. As this year’s event was held on Veterans day- November 11, 2012. Appropriately, the charity chosen was Project H3:Vets. A local organization committed to getting homeless veterans off the streets and into permanent housing.

 

Two of our volunteers

Two volunteers posing with Nathan, the reigning cupcake eating contest champion

Amazingly, this entire event is thrown by unpaid, hardworking volunteers so that 100% of the proceeds are able to be given directly to the charity. This event continues to inspire with so many amazing sponsors, vendors and volunteers giving of their time and goods to make sure everyone has great time and the charity comes away with a sizable donation.

 

Lindsay of Yelp Phoenix, manning the Log In Lounge

Lindsay of Yelp Phoenix, manning the Log In Lounge

Along with getting to sample creations from about 20 local Arizona bakeries and restaurants, there was a photo booth courtesy of Snap Booth, face painting for kids by Candy Face Painting, and awesome custom T-Shirts by Brand X.  Yelp hosted the “Log in Lounge” where people could stop, eat their cupcakes and have a relaxing space to check in, tweet and Instagram. They also were awesome enough to have spare chargers for people to power up their phones.

 

Cupcake Eating Contest

Cupcake Eating Contest- photo by Max of theomnom.com

Tons of door prizes were given away along with some pretty amazing raffle items. One of the highlights was the cupcake eating contest, where the defending 2011 champion Nathan (@Natron602) managed to eat 6 full sized cupcakes in one minute- maintaining his title for another year.

Check out all the instagrams here- http://statigr.am/tag/cupcakelovein/

Take a look at the great pictures by Phoenix New Times- http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/slideshow/cupcake-love-in-2012-at-hotel-valley-ho-38155001/

For more information about the event, visit www.cupcakelovein.com. See you there next year!

 

Recipe: Bob Harper’s Chicken Salad

Bob Harper's chicken salad

How can that this entire beautiful, bountiful plate of food only have 300 calories? I wasn’t even able to eat the whole thing. That’s weird, because I have no problem putting away a half pint of Ben & Jerry’s if left to my own devices. Fiber, people! Fiber, and lean, low fat protein. Healthy carbs. No refined sugar. This dish has it all. Plus, I can’t even tell you how delicious it is. I modified it slightly from sexy ass Bob’s original version, but be sure not to skimp out on the red wine vinegar. it makes ALL the difference in the flavor.

Bob Harper’s Low Calorie Chicken Salad

4 oz chicken breast (I have used both organic canned chicken and regular grilled chicken. Both work)
2 tablespoons plain fat free greek yogurt
1 1/2 Tablespoons raw walnuts, chopped
1/2 apple, chopped
1/2 celery stalk, chopped finely
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
Pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper

Mix all ingredients together, and serve in leaves of butter lettuce.

Calories: 250, Protein 30g, Carbs 14g, Fat, 8g
(Carrots, blueberries and apricot make up the remaining 50 calories in the photo)

Gardening with Confidence: SproutRobot

Plants want to grow; it’s how they’re engineered. I don’t have a degree in Biology, but I did take a Horticulture class that year I was on scholastic probation. So, I feel credible in giving that first statement.

We’ve been consistent gardeners for several years now, from small containers to raised beds. Typically I plant what I can turn into pasta sauce, salsa or mojitos.

We’ve been working with a professional landscaper on our backyard. We decided to splurge and take this route, so we can have guidance in building our perfect space. It’s going to be awesome.

Next year, we’ll put in a larger garden, until then it’s back to small container gardening.

I did come across a site this week that totally caught my eye, SproutRobot. It’s a site that tells you when to plant seeds based on your zip code.  I spent $5 a few weekends ago on a Cilantro plant, and I read this week that now is the time to plant Cilantro from seeds for my Austin, TX area. A whole packet of seeds is like $1.

So, really?

I really do like it! I immediately feel more confident in choosing what to plant when, rather than wondering through Lowe’s trying to figure out which plant wants to live the most.

 

Gadget Love: Waze

We love gadgets and social technology. This is a regular feature of the newest things that are getting our attention.

Waze

Waze is an application that was developed to help you outsmart traffic. Waze socially sources information about traffic and reports it back to you. So, if you’re curious about traffic on a new route, Waze might have information that’s been submitted about traffic, speed traps and accidents. Their Navigate (directions to) feature gives great directions, features a nice map and even audio directions. This application is available for iPhone and Android.

So, really?

So, really, Waze has become my default navigation tool. I love the maps, the voice guided directions and the extra stuff is fun, although I don’t use it that much as a driver, I do use it when I’m a passenger.