Wellness Refocused Education: What Are Carbohydrates?

Did anyone else feel bad for Regina George when she was duped by Cady Herron when she asked if butter was a carb? I found myself laughing at the time the movie came out, but after a year of working with clients and more time talking with others, it’s clear that it can be hard for people to think about food in terms of their macro nutrients, especially carbohydrates.

So what is a carbohydrate and why is it important?

This post will talk about the what because it’s slightly more complicated that you think. There’s a little bit of the why in here, but that will mostly come in the next post.

Ok, so what are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the first source of energy for us. They are fuel for us when we are sitting, sleeping, exercising or thinking of doing all of those things.

The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) suggests that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65% of your diet…if you’re consuming 2,000 calories a day. We’ll talk about this more in the next post because I think it’s safe to say that most people won’t fit these guidelines.

The Institute of Medicine set the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)  for carbohydrate intake to a minimum of 130g a day. Obviously, this amount wouldn’t fit the AMDR – it would be too little based off a 2,000 calorie diet. The RDA number is set based off the estimated minimum use of glucose for the brain for an average body, which means it’s relative (Institute of Medicine, 2005). It might be slightly lower or slightly higher.

Since we have some of those basics out of the way, let’s start small, molecular small.

This is where biology and chemistry meet.

Carbohydrate means hydrated carbon (Reece, Taylor, Simon, Dickey, & Hogan, 2015). At the molecular level (and trust me this is helpful to know later) carbohydrates are made up of CH2O – 1 carbon, 2 hydrogen and 1 oxygen. In biology we actually learned a little upbeat rhyme of the abbreviates to memorize the molecular make up for carbohydrates, lipids (fats), nucleic acid and protein: CHO CHO CHOPN CHON, but you had to study so you knew how many of each were needed. Moving on…

The simplest carbohydrate is a monosaccharide – you’ll find these in glucose and fructose, which are sugars that carbohydrates break down to (Reece, Taylor, Simon, Dickey, & Hogan, 2015). You’ll find fructose in fruit. Glucose can be found in corn syrup and plants and found in the blood stream after certain carbohydrates are consumed and broken down. No your blood isn’t made of corn syrup.

Below are the chemical layout for glucose and fructose at the molecular level so you can see the difference.

Glucose and Fructose molecules

When you add two monosaccharides together, they form a disaccharide. For this binding to happen, water has to be lost. This is how we get maltose, which is used to make beer, malt whiskey and malted milk candy (Thompson & Manore, 2015).

Below is a picture of maltose, so you can see how glucose joins together. It’s like they’re holding hands if molecules had hands.

 

maltose

We also get sucrose when glucose and fructose join together. Sucrose is found in plants and it’s how we get table sugar (Thompson & Manore, 2015).

Below is a picture of sucrose. See more water is lost. Goodbye H2O!

sucrose

A longer chain, known as a polysaccharide are made up of hundreds of thousands of monosaccharides connected by water loss. Starch is an example, this is found in plants and contains glucose mononers. Glucose is stored in us in the form of glycogen in our muscles as a form of energy.

There’s a lot of ‘oses.

Here’s a few other ‘oses:

  • galactose – doesn’t occur alone in foods. It combines with glucose to create lactose.
  • lactose – “milk sugar”. A common disaccharide found in cow’s milk and breast milk.
  • ribose – five-carbon monosaccharide produced in our bodies from eating other carbohydrates. Can be found in the genetic material in our cells

Knowing the information above can be helpful for this next part. Carbohydrates are considered either simple or complex (Thompson & Manore, 2015). Like stated above the simplest carbohydrate is a monosaccharide and consists of one sugar; disaccharides are also simple and consist of two molecules of sugar. As you imagine, the most complex is the polysaccharide that is made up of hundreds of thousands of monosaccharides.

What is considered simple?

  • fruit (fructose)
  • vegetables (fructose)
  • milk (lactose)
  • fermented beverages (maltose)
  • sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, table sugar, brown sugar (sucrose)

What is considered complex?

  • starches including grains like rice, wheat, corn, oats and barley
  • legumes like peas, beans and lentils
  • tubers like sweet potatoes and yam

The digestion process is different for each macronutrient (fat, carbohydrates and protein), which means they breakdown at different rates (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2017). Carbohydrates breakdown the fastest out of the macronutrients with fat being the slowest.

There are a few enzymes that help breakdown carbohydrates.

  • Salivary Amylase is found in the mouth in your saliva
  • Pancreatic Amylase and Maltase are found in the pancreatic juices (yes, gross I know) that are released into the small intestine to breakdown maltose
  • Sucrase and Lactase are found in the small intestine and help breakdown sucrose and lactose, respectively
*side note: when your body lacks the ability to create enough enzymes you may find intolerances like lactose in tolerant – you lack enough lactase enzyme to breakdown lactose. This can result in bloating or other digestive issues.

This is important to know the rate of digestion for a couple reasons:

1. Simple carbohydrates are digested and absorbed more easily causing a quicker energy utilization, which is why you may feel a “spike” in energy after eating something high in sugar, but then feel a “crash” later. This is also why individuals who are diabetic are encouraged to eat low-glycemic foods – foods that will breakdown at slower rates causing less of an increase in blood glucose since their bodies can’t produce insulin at all or don’t produce enough.

2. Our bodies can’t utilize complex carbohydrates in their consumed state, they need to be broken down to glucose (Thompson & Manore, 2015). These foods also contain fiber, which impacts how satiety controlling hormones are released (Chambers, McCrickerd, & Yeomans, 2015). This is why these foods keep us fuller longer even though protein has the highest satiety effect out of all three macronutrients.

When there’s not enough carbohydrates for this process the body turns to fat. To learn more about that, please check out this post.

Understanding the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates can be helpful for a  couple of reasons.

1. You can create a meal plan that combines complex carbohydrates with other foods to not only provide energy in the immediate time, but help you stay feeling full longer. That’s why oats and peanut butter “stick” with you for a long time. Being satisfied for a longer period of time prevents snacking and can assist you in staying in  caloric deficit if you are seeking fat loss.

2. You can create a meal plan that prevents or lessens “energy crashes”. Like stated above, complex carbohydrates take a longer time to breakdown a, which means glucose enters the blood slower so feeling tired or fatigued are less likely or are less impactful.

Carbohydrates that aren’t easily digested and broken down into this simple state are classified as fiber.

What is fiber?

Fiber is also a carbohydrate and is considered a polysaccharide, but it’s not easily digestible so it doesn’t provide energy to us (Thompson & Manore, 2015). There are two kinds of fiber:

  1. dietary – nondigestible parts of plants that make the form of the plant like leaves
  2. functional –  nondigestible parts of plants that are extracted or manufactured in a lab that is added to foods for health benefits

Even though fiber doesn’t provide energy to us, fiber is important because it helps regulate blood sugar. It also helps prevent constipation when consumed in a moderate (relative to an individual) amount, however, it can also cause constipation when over consumption occurs (also relative to an individual) (Anderson, et al., 2009). Foods with fiber also help regulate satiety hormone leptin, which tells our brains that we’re no longer hungry.

Currently, the recommended amount of fiber daily is 14g per 1,000 calories consumed, however, this number is relative to an individual and may be a little more or less based on your own caloric intake, weight and activity level. You should listen to your body to determine true needs. I personally need a little less fiber or I get bloated and constipated #everyonepoops.

 

 

Ok, so we know carbohydrates are the first source of energy for us. We know they breakdown at different rates. We know they’re relative to each individual. We know that they are found in fruits and veggies just like they are found in cookies and pizza.

Before we get into why they’re important and what the do for us, think about the carbohydrate sources you consume on a regular basis. Do they make you feel energized? Do you crash quickly in the day? Do you feel bloated? Do you combine simple and complex in your diet? Do you get enough fiber?

 

 

 

References

Anderson, J. W., Baird, P., Davis, R. H., Ferreri, S., Knudtson, M., Koraym, A., . . . Williams, C. L. (2009). Health Benefits of dietary Fiber. Nutrition Reviews, 188-205.

Chambers, L., McCrickerd, K., & Yeomans, M. R. (2015). Optimising Foods for Satiety. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 149-160.

Institute of Medicine. (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2017, December). Your Digestie Syste & How it Works. Retrieved from National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works

Reece, J. B., Taylor, M. R., Simon, E. J., Dickey, J. L., & Hogan, K. (2015). Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections. New York: Pearson Education.

Thompson, J., & Manore, M. (2015). Nutrition: An Applied Approach. San Francisco: Pearson Education.

Advertisements

You Are Enough Blog Series: Post 4 “Together, But Separate”

This week was pretty great. I know as the days and weeks add up I’ve been saying that they’ve been getting better, but let’s be honest some of those weeks had shitty days. This week hasn’t had one bad day. I know that’s so optimistic it’s almost adorable. But it’s true.

On Monday, JP went to work and I went to the gym. He had Starbucks for breakfast and I made myself pancakes. Pancake Mondays are what is right with the world.He did his usual on the way to work thing and I did my usual post-work out thing. We didn’t eat together and I didn’t see him until dinner time. We didn’t text all day – something that is 100% unusual for us. But when dinner came, we could actually say “Babe, how was your day?”

You see, when he was in Indiana we would text all day and night. Around bedtime we would get on Facetime and then fall asleep that way. I know, we’re crazy and thankfully there’s wifi. It was a “we live long distance, but are still dependent on each other in some kind of way” relationship. During work hours, we would sometimes switch to GChat because of poor cell phone reception. We were long distance for two years and I’ve already told you the story about the tree. If you don’t remember it, check out this Instagram post. Anyway, there’s a lot of stuff we’ve never had the chance to do, like spontaneous date night or vacation.

JP moved home at one of the best and worst times because everything came crashing down, and while he definitely added to it and I’m going to get to that, I don’t know what would’ve happened if he wasn’t home.

So this week was great because JP was gone. Because while I was so excited to have him home, I was dealing with everything else and we never had an opportunity to adjust to each other. Yes, he was home for about seven weeks during my recovery, but the us we where then, is different than the us we are now. You see, he moved home and was hit from all sides. After driving 16 hours, we had a family party to go to, where I heard multiple family members ask him how it felt to be unemployed. I’m not saying they meant harm, but what I am saying, is some people can fit both feet in their mouths. He had already been putting pressure on himself to find a job and then that happened, they piled on the pressure unknowingly. I know I added some too because we just couldn’t live the lifestyle he wanted on my salary.

As we were dealing with this, I was dealing with my own problems and while he knew what was going on, I don’t think either of us realized the extent of the damage everything was causing. From this to my car accident, to not having a car for about a week to medical leave – we have been by each other constantly. I wish I was kidding. I’ve told him he’s needy and boy he fucking is. I lay in bed and he immediately cuddles on me, it’s cute until you can’t handle the touching. And sometimes, with my anxiety, I can’t be touched. It makes me more upset – he doesn’t understand this. We would be playing cards at the bistro table and he would ask if I wanted to cuddle and I would blatantly tell him “no, I’m already out of bed and I don’t want to get back in bed.”

His need to help me was turning into suffocation.

On Monday when JP asked me how my day was, I said it was really good. He asked why and I was honest. I told him it was because for the first time in a few weeks I was able to get up and workout and then come home and relax. I was able to make breakfast and show, but then I could get back in bed and write or watch TV. I was able to go to a new to me coffee house and not have to worry if JP wanted to come or not. I just got in the car and went. I didn’t have to be concerned if he was interested. I looked at him and said, “I think you can go to the car show on Saturday alone with your friends. I don’t want to go, I’ll find something else to do.” He asked how come. I explained that before he had moved home going to the car show meant that I lost hours with him. Since he’s here I don’t feel like I need to follow him around. He said “you mean we can have separate lives?”

Yep, that’s what I’m saying.

So the last piece of this puzzle of feeling torn down I think was taken care of this week when JP went to work. I know that sounds terrible, but the past few weeks we really were smothering each other and now we finally can learn how to live together as a couple. That’s scary and weird and crazy, but we haven’t really had the opportunity to do that. We kept saving each other, supporting each other when we felt down. But we haven’t been able to just live with each other, enjoy each others’ company and just be together. This week we got to do that.

Tonight we’re going out for date night and we’re dressing up. We never get to do this.

I’ve told him about all of this, so writing this isn’t a surprise in this house, but it doesn’t make it easier to say or easier to read. This has been hard on both of us and still is. This is the first week I’ve felt more like myself, but I also recognize that I’m starting to get tired quickly and need to relax during the day. Yesterday, after I got out the apartment for dessert and lattes, I felt exhausted, but knew that if I went home I would just nap in the middle of the day and that would impact my night… so I kept myself out and went to Target to pick up a few things. Surprisingly, I didn’t go overboard with all the things pumpkin, but I did get a few things that were necessary… new colored pencils for example. I may have also had some fun in the dressing room…

Therapy

So many people have asked me how I’ve gotten over mental health issues, but if you’ve been paying attention, I haven’t. I’m working through them every day. I’ve been journaling on my own. I’ve been keeping myself busy and trying to get out so I don’t feel confined within my apartment. Just because I don’t have meetings every day doesn’t mean I should stay shut away. I’m also going to therapy and working with someone who specializes in trauma and disorders that are an extension of trauma. It’s the same therapist that I saw this summer about body dysmorphia – which turns out is just a coping mechanism for my anxiety. Most of his clients have PTSD and other disorders that are connected, like me with anxiety and binge eating disorder. I’m clinically diagnosed. These aren’t terms you through around lightly. These aren’t terms that you joke about. There’s a difference between over eating and binging. There’s a difference between indulging and binging. Yes, you can eat a little too much when indulging, but looking down at the bowl and realizing you ate all the popcorn versus binging the popcorn intentionally. There’s a difference in mentality. When I’m going through a binge episode I’m hunting. That’s how I feel. I feel like I’m searching for what I’m looking for without truly knowing what I’m looking for. I know it when I’m eating it because I then feel satisfied.

This week we talked about the adventures I was going on. I mentioned JP starting his new job and how relieved I felt. We talked about some of the triggers that started this whole ordeal and the original events the created those triggers… childhood. Some things you just can’t truly escape. I felt good during the session and after I felt like we accomplished what I wanted to, so until next session.

That gym life

My workouts this week were really good. I started the PH3 program by Layne Norton that is on bodybuilding.com. You can find the program here. It’s a new lifting structure for me and focuses on strength. I was skeptical at first because the first few days don’t seem like a lot, but as more volume was added throughout the week I started to feel myself really pushing through the workouts. I’m working the muscles differently than I’m used to, so this week was the first time in a while that I was sore, but in a good way. My shoulder after Sunday was pretty sore from benching… something I don’t do often or heavy or really like doing at all, but as the week continued it definitely got easier and my shoulder became less sore the day after the lift. Since I’m trying something new I figure this was a perfect time for new gloves… mine are falling apart. Literally ripped at the seams. I also bought a lifting belt because I feel as I want to get heavier in my lifts, I want the support. I don’t want to rely solely on it, but I feel like it may help prevent my form from weakening as I increase. One thing I did that the program doesn’t really do is to make sure I’m hitting my steps by walking on the treadmill for about 15 to 20 minutes after my lift. While lifting works the body, you’re not moving a lot, walking on the treadmill after my lift let’s me stretch out (sometimes I do long stride lunges), but I can still hit my step goal for the day without exerting too much energy or over working my muscles. So one week down, three more to go with this lifting phase.

Sunday’s lift Big 3

Tuesday’s lift lower body emphasis

Wednesday’s active rest day

Friday’s lift – lower body emphasis

Checking in

This morning I checked in and I was down .6 pounds from last week and I’m really happy about that. I feel like chemically, my stress levels are going down and settling so cortisol is going down. Most people don’t realize that stress increases cortisol, which prevents other processes in the body to occur and weight gain can occur or weightloss can stall. This paired with the binges resulted in a dramatic weight gain in a short period of time. I’m happy to say that I’ve lost 5.4 of the 10 pounds that I did gain through binges.

Physically, I’m feeling better. I mentioned earlier in the week that the gain was pulling at my abdomen around my scar. I was pulled so tight in surgery so bloating can be painful and well, that also means that kind of weight gain can be too. So 136 – I was 126 about a month ago, is a lot for my body. Today I was 130.6 and that feels pretty good. I’m hoping to keep my fluctuation between 128 and 130.

Mentally, I’m getting comfortable with this weight and how my body is looking since developing a range of macros to stay within. The range allows me to have some wiggle room in case I want to eat more one day, but I don’t want to eat as much another day. I’m loosely tracking and below are some of the things I ate this week that weren’t easily trackable, but still allowed me to loose .6 pounds.

Monday’s coffee shop adventure at Sweets and Java in Holden: butterbeer latte + chocolate chip cookie

Wednesday’s coffee shop adventure at Crema Cafe in Cambridge: black coffee + cashew butterscotch cookie

Wednesday’s dinner at Boston Burger Company in Cambridge: half a  Vermonster – apples, onions, bacon, maple mayo and cheddar

Wednesday’s dinner at Boston Burger Company in Cambridge: half a King burger – bacon, cinnamon sugar banana and peanut butter

Thursday’s adventure to Birchtree Bread Company in Worcester: black coffee + white chocolate cranberry cookie

Thursday’s dessert split with JP: jumbo peanut butter cup from Lolli and Pops

Friday’s adventure to Bean Counter in Worcester: pumpkin, chocolate and marshmallow latte + chocolate raspberry tart

Friday’s dinner at Nu Cafe in Worcester: Southwest Salad with chicken, no tortilla chips and dressing on the side

Yeah I know, here I’m like let’s balance out our weight, and then I’m like ooh latte’s and cookies. But for me, being able to fit these into my daily life and still loose or maintain or whatever the goal at the time is truly is balance for me. Tomorrow was a little more indulgent than normal, latte and tart, but both were excellent and there were no regrets.

Class because I still have that going on

I got my grades for class this week and I got a 100% on my quiz, homework and discussion. My grades slightly slipped when all of this started, but I was honest with my professor about what was going on and she said if I needed extensions to let her know. I told her I didn’t need that, but I wanted her to know that the quality in my work wasn’t normal and I wanted her to know why.

I’m excited for the upcoming week. It’s week two of the lifting program. JP is at work and I’m figuring out my adventures.We have a wedding next weekend and the rehearsal dinner on Friday. I’m hopeful it’ll be a good week all around like this week was, but if not every day is perfect, it won’t be the end of the world.

We’re watching movies and lounging in the living room until it’s time to get ready for date night. So I’ll talk to you guys later.

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Breakfast “grilled” cheese

As a lover of food, I am constantly searching for new recipes and ways to use ingredients I want to get rid of quickly. Most of my ideas come from having a small amunt of something left over that I don’t want to throw out. However, sometimes my ideas come from tweaking recipes that I have come across.

I may be guilty of purchasing the Food Network Magazine every time it comes out. So much so that for my birthday JP bought me a year subscription. Well, before he did that. I found an issue that had a number of sandwiches in it. Here’s the link for the online slideshow that has the 10 spins on grilled cheese. I definitely want to try the apricot and brie grilled cheese!

Here’s how I made my grilled cheese.

What You’ll Need

  • 2 slices of whole wheat cinnamon bread with raisins, somehow this has less macros and sugar than their regular cinnamon raisin
  • a serving of soft cheese – I’ve used vanilla blueberry goat cheese, cinnamon cranberry goat cheese, cream cheese with pumpkin pie spice and maple pecan goat cheese
  • baking sheet
  • oven

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Measure out a serving of the cheese of your choice and gentley spread it on both sides of bread. The most recent cheese I used was maple pecan goat cheese, which is a soft cheese, but also tough to spread without ripping the bread. So treat your bread nicely, ha!
  3. Put your bread together, place on the baking sheet and place in the oven.
  4. Bake on each side for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melty/bread is toasty.

That’s really it. I know many of you know how to make grilled cheese. Some use butter on each side to help with the toasting and creation of the perfect crunch. Some use mayo – don’t make a face, some do! If you wanted to do this stove top you could use butter or cooking spray to cut down on fat. I prefer mine baked so I don’t have to worry about the grease or added fat. I also care more about creamy, melty cheese.

 

Create your own spread

When I’ve used plain cream cheese I’ve added spices and seasoning to it. A serving of cream cheese is 2 tablespoons and I’ll add 1 teaspoon of whatever spice I want. Here are some of the spices you could add:

  • Pumpkin pie seasoning – if you don’t have this on hand, mix: cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg
  • Flavor God Chocolate Glazed Donut Seasoning
  • Italian Herb spices – if you don’t have this on hand, mix: oregano, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, garlic

Picking a bread

I prefer my breakfast “grilled” cheese to be sweet, but you could play with pairings. if I want savory, I typically make a yolky egg to dip my sandwich in.

Here are breads I’ve used when creating in the kitchen:

  • Cinnamon raisin
  • Whole wheat
  • Olive and herb
  • Italian

Let me know what kinds of pairings you think may be good to try. Are there any cheeses that you think would be perfect this way?

❤ Cristina

 

Recipe: Cheeseless buffalo chicken quesadilla

I’m always looking for new recipes. I think the ones I search for the most usually include the ingredients: chicken, tomatoes, eggs, sweet potato and ground turkey. I do a bulk of my meal planning on Sunday’s, which means I’m probably scanning through cookbooks, magazine’s and Pinterest for about an hour sometime in the afternoon before I hit the grocery store.

This week as I prepared my grocery list and added the usual suspects, I looked in the fridge to see what I had in there that I knew I wanted to consume this week, either because the food was going to go bad or I just wanted to make room.

My grain staples aside from oats are flax and oat pitas, English muffins and tortillas. I had two tortillas left in the fridge and to me that’s a sign that I need to do something more than a wrap at lunch. So bring in Pinterest!

 

I had found a bunch of quesadilla recipes, but I wanted something a little more simple and I knew that if I wanted guacamole, I wasn’t going to be willing to have cheese as well – just not worth the macros since I had planned peanut butter for later in the day. I mean, we all have our priorities. Mine are typically around peanut butter. So I decided I could still make something similar, but I needed something that would add some flavor and keep the meal interesting.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 tortilla
  • 4-6 ounces of cooked, cut up chicken
  • 2 tablespoon’s  of Frank’s Red Hot
  • 1 – 100 calorie pack Wholly Guacamole
  • 1/4 cup of jalapenos (optional)
  • McCormick Fiesta seasoning
  • cooking spray
  • sauce pan
  • baking sheet

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Cut up raw chicken into small pieces.
  3. Heat sauce pan and spray with cooking spray. I recommend cooking spray to cut down on fat also you don’t want to make the chicken crisy or fried-liked, which can happen if you use oil.
  4. Add chicken to the sauce pan and let cook on one side. Add Fiesta seasoning, or any spicy- seasoning that you like. I have sriracha garlic powder that could have been used for this too.
  5. After you add the seasoning, flip chicken to cook on the other side.
  6. While your chicken cooks, get out a baking sheet. This is to prep and bake your tortilla.
  7. Spread the guacamole all over the tortilla. I used a 100 calorie pack from Wholly Guacamole, this is my preference because of portions and sale prices.
  8. Going back to your chicken when it’s completely cooked add your hot sauce and make sure sure chicken is completely covered. I recommend 2 tablespoons, but again this will be preference depending on how hot you like your food.
  9. Add chicken to one half of your tortilla. Make sure that it’s evenly spread out so that there are no piles of chicken. This could prevent the tortilla from staying closed while baking.
  10. Optional: to finish add 1/4 cup of jalapenos.
  11. Fold tortilla in half and bake for 7-10 minutes or until crispy.

 

I used 4 ounces of chicken. 1/4 cup of jalapenos and the whole 100 calorie pack. Macros for this recipe using my specific ingredients:13f/31c/35p

**Macros may differ when changing ratios and brands.

 

 

Step 7

Step 8

After step 8

Step 9 and 10

 

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate + PB overnight oats

For my refeed I planned some things that I don’t typically get to eat in the same day or get a chance to eat often. I had mentioned before that I’ve been adding oats into my diet as a way to change up my breakfast and this morning I made Mexican hot chocolate overnight oats, but I added peanut butter because peanut butter makes everything better.

I used my basic overnight oats recipe that I shared a few weeks ago, but here’s what I added.

2 tablespoons of chocolate PB2

When the oats were still dry, I added the PB2 so I could mix it in thoroughly.

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

I add cinnamon to my basic recipe as well, but it’s more of a dash. For this recipe I added an exact amount to get the spice that I wanted.

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Mexican hot chocolate is hot cocoa with a kick and aside from cinnamon, the kick comes from peppers. Historically, cocoa wasn’t eaten and to drink it herbs and spices need to be added so it wouldn’t taste so bitter. I added cayenne pepper on top of my oats for this kick. Some recipes I’ve seen for from scratch Mexican hot chocolate call for chile pepper.

Mixed in, the oats are spicy without making your mouth burn up. I know some people say they can’t handle spicy foods, but this is just enough and with Trader Joe’s PB cups this was a perfect way to start my refeed day.

 

Enjoy!

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Overnight Oats

The only thing that I can say about overnight oats is that I wish I had made these sooner. I started making them last month. I believe it’s because I was nervous about having too much nut butter in the container and going out of my macros. Well, I won’t lie, to ensure that I got all of the cashew butter mixed into my oats that I made last night, I scrapped the last bit of the container and weighed it. The put it back in the container. Obviously, not the point of using the jar, but overnight oats can be measured or not. It’s your preference.

This is my basic recipe for overnight oats. You can add whatever you want, just remember that macros and calories change as the brands or ingredients change, but you’re smart enough to figure that out.

What You’ll Need:

  •  1/2 cup rolled or steal cut oats – I used rolled oats because nutritionally there’s not much difference 
  • 5 ounces of almond milk – I had vanilla Almond Breeze on hand
  • 1/2 scoop protein
  • cinnamon – optional 
  • vanilla extract – optional 
  • container

Directions:

Measure out a 1/2 cup of oats (or a serving according to your label) in your container.

Add 5 ounces or 2/3 cup of almond milk (you can use any milk, I have a dairy sensitivity to certain products). To measure I used a liquid measuring cup.

Add a little cinnamon to taste and vanilla extract. Stir until cinnamon appears to be well mixed. Add protein powder if desired. 

Place in fridge for overnight because you know, they’re overnight oats. I’m sure they could sit for a few hours if you wanted them for later in the day, but overnight allows them to really absorb the milk.

morning after

This is the basic recipe that I follow every time I make over night oats. Most oats I will add a nut butter. I keep a million different kinds and flavors in my pantry, and they all have very different nutritional value. So it depends on the day as to which one I use. Below are some photos of oats I have made in the past few weeks. I’ve listed the extra ingredient and the macros for them.

Side note: I add half a scoop of whey/casein blend to my oats for more protein. This makes them thicker, you may need to adjust liquid for protein powders. I have found 2/3 cup is enough for thickness.

Have fun with your flavors!

1T Salted Caramel Nuts and More +7 mini PB cups from Trader Joe’s 15F/48C/12P

Same as above

Oats in the actual cashew butter jar

2T Caramel French Toast Cashew Fit + FF Whip and Cinnamon 17.8F/42.5C/15.5P

❤ Cristina

Found: microwave muffins 

I have a sweet tooth, but I try to keep it tame. I had been researching protein mug cakes on Pinterest because where else would I look for recipes like that. In my time searching I found two different pre-made, buy it now microwave muffins. The first is made by the fabulous people who bring us Power Cakes and Kodiak Cakes Pancake mix.

With a number of flavors on the shelf, my basic white girl came out and I immediately grabbed the pumpkin muffin… I may have also grabbed double chocolate because YES. Keep in mind this isn’t a type muffin that you bake in the oven. It’s much more dense and wayyy more moist. Add a little water, stir and microwave for 1 minute, give or take a few seconds and viola! Perfect pumpkin muffin and it’s only August.

Makers of Kodiak Cakes now make muffins!

The second muffin is one I actively sought out because it’s from Flap Jacked the makers of protein pancake mix that I buy religiously. These take 30 seconds in the microwave and are super fluffy and moist. They’re a lot more filling than you would imagine, but I suspect all that protein has something to do with it. Now if only they had a carrot cake one or pumpkin one with that much protein and I would be in heaven. These are new to their product line up, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for new flavors in the future!

❤ Cristina

Protein Chocolate Cupcakes

Admittedly I stole this idea from my friend Sarah when I saw her IG post. I did add 1 ingredient – protein. 

The original recipe is 1 can of pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, but just pumpkin and 1 box of desired cake mix. This alone with a low fat, solid carb snack. They’re super moist and really guilt free, without frosting. 

My addition, was 2 scoops of Cellucor’s Cookies and Cream Whey protein. I figured the carbs were great, but you can never go wrong with a little protein. After mixing all the ingredients together, I used a quarter cup measuring cup for even cakes. I was able to get 15 even cupcakes. 

  

For the future, I might add a third scoop of protein and a little water to balance the consistency. I believe I could get 16 cakes with that. 

I used olive oil cooking spray for the baking pan so j wouldn’t have to amuse baking papers. I baked the cakes at 350 degrees for about 5-7 minutes. My oven runs hot so k really have to baby baked goods so they don’t dry out and over cook. 

These were fantastic! You can’t taste the pumpkin at all and I paired a similarly tasting protein to cake mix, so you couldn’t taste it either! 

    

The macros were solid with the added protein! Like fit girls dream. 

Calories: 129

Fat: 1.9g

Carbs: 23.8g

Protein: 5.1gEdit

I had one as an afternoon snack yesterday, and tonight I’m pair one with chocolate peanut butter arctic Zero and PB2. I mean a sundae that’s guilt-free? That’s my kind of Saturday night treat! 

Do you have any treats that you’ve changed up to make healthier? What were some successes? Any failures?

❤️ Cristina  

Bikini Body Guide Week 1 Completed

Today I completed the first week of Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Istines. It has been a great week in the gym and in the kitchen. When I first decided to purchase the 12-week program, I really had no idea what to expect. I honestly thought it was going to be a joke, but I couldn’t be any happier with my decision to try it. Since I had decided to not compete this spring because of the cost, I was feeling really lost. I’m very goal oriented and I like structure in my routine. My friend Sarah (fit_badger15 on IG) suggested I try BBG because it would give me the structure I wanted, but it would be also allow me to get some of the lifting in that I like. Lifting was my biggest concern. I love picking up heavy things and putting them down, I wasn’t really sure how weights would fit into this routine.

Here’s what I have learned about the program and what I like:

It kicks your butt if you put in the work.

When I work out, I want to be challenged and lately I hadn’t been feeling challenged in the gym. I was changing it up, I was increasing weight and mixing up the number of reps, but I wasn’t feeling the way I wanted to in my workouts. With BBG program every day is a designed as circuits, except for steady cardio days. The circuits are intense and have forced me to push myself harder than I had been. Monday was leg day and I can’t remember the last time I had really felt leg day the day after, day after.

They’re time efficient.

I work two jobs and can’t remember the last time I ate dinner on a plate, instead of in tupperware. I needed something that I could without feeling like I spending hours in the gym. This week I have gotten up every morning at 530 and dragged my booty to the gym with coffee in hand. Some mornings were harder than others, but I felt amazing when I was done. The best part, I was done in 30 minutes and then home in time for a shower and breakfast.

I’ll actually get results, it’s not some gimmick.

My mind is probably messing with me, but I can already feel a difference. Slightly see one too. I was down half a pound on Wednesday when I weighed myself and it was a pretty good feeling seeing the scale move. It was an even better feeling when I went to buy new jeans today because mine are too big. Sarah’s results from doing both sections of BBG (week’s 1 to 12, and week’s 13 to 24) have been awesome. Obviously, everyone’s results will be different, but it makes me hopeful that busting my butt over the next few weeks will bring some serious progress. I’m sitting at 153.5 pounds and the goal at the moment is 149.5. I think it’s reasonable and definitely possible.

I’m able to do my own exercises on top of BBG.

I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to continue heavy lifting during the program and I have learned a couple of things. 1. I don’t want to do my own leg lifting on leg day because circuits are enough. I mean crawling would be more than likely if I did extra. 2. I can do extra on arm day and 3. I can throw in an extra leg day on Thursdays when I do cardio.

I can follow IIFYM.

I don’t need to follow her nutrition guide. I can still flex diet, which has been solid all week and has contributed to my half pound loss this week as well. I’m able to make the decisions I need to without feeling like I’m not going to have results. I can look at cake and eat it too.

I’m excited for the next 11 weeks because this is something I can follow and something I look forward too. There are millions of women also following these workouts so I can easily ask questions or talk to others about their progress. It’s a huge sense of community.

Stay tuned for more updates. I’m going to do a weekly update on BBG and every few weeks post a new photo with my progress. I’m ready to get out of my funk and get moving along!

Have a great weekend :]

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Protein Pancakes with Kodiak Cake Mix

I’m a huge pancake fan and I’m always looking for new recipes. Yesterday, when I was shopping at Target I found Kodiak Cakes flapjack and waffle mix. I’ve heard from a ton of people that it’s really good and packed with protein. They do make a protein pancake mix as well, but I couldn’t find it. I figured with some adjusting, I could increase the protein in these bad boys. After looking at Pinterest and seeing what some people used in their recipes it was pretty easy to create my own.

So for Easter we celebrated with protein pancakes so I could give the recipe a go!

What You’ll Need

  • 1/3 cup Kodiak Cake mix
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons of Cellucor Whey protein (I used Cor-fetti Cake Batter)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Directions

  1. In a bowl mix all ingredients until blended smooth. I used Cellucor’s Cor-fetti Cake Batter whey, but you can use any flavor. If you use a different brand it will change the macros.
  2. Add sprinkles if desired.
  3. Grease pan lightly. I used olive oil cooking spray.
  4. Using a 1/4 cup measuring scoop add batter to pan. Using a scoop this size will give you 4 pancakes.
  5. Cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.
  6. Serve.

 

Macros for 1 serving:

2g of fat

29g of carbs (5g of fiber)

27g of protein

As someone who can’t just have plain pancakes, I added 2 tablespoons of fat free Reddi whip and a dash of Easter sprinkles, which only added 3g of carbs to the stack.

I hope everyone has a great Easter filled with tasty carbs!

❤️ Cristina