Friday, July 31, 2015

Tropical Berry Mint Protein Smoothie {+Gnarly Protein Powder Review and Giveaway}

I've got a great new-to-me product to tell you about today!

I was introduced to Gnarly brand protein powder at Blend this year. Kindal was there representing Gnarly while simultaneously torchering us leading a fun bootcamp workout.  :)

I'll say right up front that I'm not a big fan of protein powders- my boyfriend on the other hand goes through many containers every year- but me? I don't use them too often except for adding them to our smoothies. 

I would just rather get my nutrients from food. Whole, clean foods. Most protein powders on the market either have questionable ingredient lists or are clean and plant based but the texture is not my favorite. There's a few out there that I like, but not to drink straight up. 

Gnarly, though, is different! I was really intrigued when learning the whey is sourced from grass fed cows in New Zealand. A major plus in my eyes! And something I would much rather my powerlifting, protein drinking boyfriend be fueling his body with rather than some other powders in the cupboard. 

The taste is great and the texture even better! I can mix this  with water and ice, shake it up and sip away. No weird taste, no chalky texture. I was actually really surprised at how smooth the texture was.  Really easy to get down and enjoyable to drink!

Here are my other half's thoughts: 

"Took approximately 2 scoops of protein after an intense workout in the afternoon.

First I mixed the protein with low calorie cold almond milk. (1.5 scoops and approximately 14-16 ounces of milk).

I didn't use a blender because I wanted to see how well it would mix in a regular shaker bottle. The protein mixed very well after shaking for one minute. I put a few pieces of crushed ice to help the protein mix better.

After mixing for one minute, I stopped mixing and took a sip of the protein. The consistency was very good as it mixed well and tasted smooth. The actual taste was pleasing. The protein had a naturally semi sweet taste. Very faint sweetness but enough to be pleasing when drinking. The protein did not taste grainy or overpowering in any way. I have frequently mixed most different proteins with fruit in order overcome the raw taste of the protein powder. I didn't have to in this case. Although taste wasn't overly bland, it did have a faint sweet taste in which taste perfectly fine by itself.

After about 20-30 minutes of drinking, I felt the drink take hold a bit. Felt more replenished. The protein has approximately 5.5 grams of amino acids and 4 grams of glutamine.  The "replenished" feeling is mainly due to the amount amino acids in comparison with the amount of protein per serving.

In comparison with other proteins I have taken, this protein mixes a lot better. The taste is above average. The amount of amino acids per servings is actually competitive to pricey, higher end protein powders one could find at your local nutrition shop. Usually the amount of amino acids is where most cheaper protein makers skimp to save money.

Overall this is a very good natural protein. A very good alternative to the leading nutrition shop brands with a much more natural composition. In order to give the protein more of fuller taste, I would suggest adding a half cup of natural vanilla Greek yogurt. Vanilla flavor will help amplify taste of the protein without changing how it tastes.

Would definitely recommend buying again."

He's a fan! Yay! Maybe he'll want to keep using this brand full of the good stuff and drop other brands he's used in the past! For him, getting enough protein is so important and he's so busy so a powder is a good option for him. But he ingests so much of it, I want it to be a high quality product. Gnarly fits the bill! He also mentioned this brand didn't upset his stomach at all. Some can and will. Protein can be hard to digest, especially if you are picking a lower quality option. This left both of us feeling just fine as far as digestion. 

My favorite smoothie recipe that I've put together using the Gnarly vanilla protein powder is one using lime and mint. So nice and refreshing for this time of year! My mint plant has really been thriving this spring and summer so I'm putting it to good use!

I attended a lunch and learn at my job this month focusing on smoothie making and it really helped to jumpstart me on the smoothie train again. And I'm loving the creation I'm sharing with you today! A fun blend of fruits, juices, and a couple other easy add-in's.

The recipe isn't precise at all but that's what's nice about smoothies. They're easily able to be customized and no need to follow strict measurements. Just make sure you have enough liquid to get all your ingredients blended up well.

Tropical Berry Mint Protein Smoothie

Juice from half a lime
Handful of mint leaves
Small handful frozen cherries
Handful of frozen strawberries
Handful frozen pineapple
Couple splashes lemonade
Few splashes coconut water
2 tsp (or more) of vanilla Gnarly Nutrition protein powder
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

Add all ingredients to blender and blend well until all fruit is all crushed up and mixed well.

Want to try Gnarly protein powder for yourself?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided with Gnarly products in return for e an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fresh Corn and Zucchini Salad {+ NOW Foods Giveaway!}

Have you tried anything from NOW Foods?

If not, definitely check out their website! There is so much to choose from! So much more than just food products. NOW Foods has been around for more than six decades; a family owned company that strives to provide high-quality, affordable, natural health and nutrition products to people all around the world.

A few other products I like from NOW or want to try is the vegetable glycerin. I have this to make my own essential oil bug spray. And the almond oil is on my to-buy list to make more homemade lip balms at home. I've used coconut oil in the past but want to try with almond oil, also. 

And at the end of this post I have the chance for you to get lucky and win a huge prize pack with everything pictured above! 

I put the avocado oil to good use with a fresh summery salad featuring some seasonal favorites: fresh sweet corn, zucchini, and fresh herbs straight from my patio.

Fresh Corn and Zucchini Salad

6 ears fresh corn, cut from the cob
1/2 large zucchini, chopped
1/4 medium red onion, chopped
chives, 1 handful, chopped
basil, 1 large handful, chiffonade
2 tbsp avocado oil
few dashes of smoked paprika
fresh cracked sea salt, to taste
fresh cracked pepper, to taste

1. Cut and chop all veggies and herbs and add to a large bowl.
2. Add avocado oil and mix well.
3. Add a few dashes of paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

A few of my favorite things in the package that I'm loving or stuck out to me:

Tis the season to soak yourself in bug spray for those mosquito filled evenings. And even better that it's not filled with toxins. I really hate bug bites, but I think I hate the thought of covering myself and my family in nasty chemical-laden sprays even more.

And I've heard great things about Vitamin D cream. This will come in handy in the winter.

This bag of goodies, raw nuts, pumpkin seeds and raisins has become my afternoon at work some days. A great option for a little something in the afternoon but still getting lots of nutrients. I feel good reaching for this bag rather than other trashy snacks.

Coconut oil? Yes! Coconut oil with garlic?? YES!! This will be a great addition to our stir fries I make occasionally.

I love to throw hemp seeds into yogurt or smoothies. Now I've got a good supply!

I'm loving this avocado oil. A mild taste and so versatile. And a great oil to use for cooking as it stands up to high temperatures.

Who wants to win this whole package of goodies?!? Enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Soybu Active Fashion Apparel {Review and Giveaway}

At Blend this year, I was introduced to a new workout clothing line, Soybu. We found some gray leggings in our swag bags! And while I didn't try them on while in Colorado, many other did and loved them! All I heard was good things. Even so much as "the most comfy leggings I've ever worn!'

I was more than excited to try mine on when I got home. My reaction? Very comfortable! Love them! At the top with my other favorite leggings- maybe even at the very top.

I was happy to jump at the chance to review another outfit from Soybu. And Kaydin got to try some of the line, too!

Browsing through the website to choose just a few pieces was hard! So many cute options to choose from! Kaydin had kind of a tough time choosing as well. Although, I'm super happy with what ended up at our doorstep!

There are so many bright color schemes to choose from, but I decided to stick with my always trending, black, white and gray. I do have lots of other colorful workout gear, but I was really drawn to the black and white stripes of the jacket and leggings. They are both so comfortable!  Breathable, moveable, pretty lightweight, but still keeps all my stuff in place. :) I love the material cuz it keeps everything looking tight and sleek but isn't tight fitting at all. The waistline of the leggings do not cut in at all. A major win for leggings if you ask me! 

I went with my trusty black and white but Kaydin on the other hand choose some nice color. And it looked great on her! She was so excited when we opened up the package. Kaydin is an active little thing always participating in lots of activities and not often sitting still. All her picks really fit the bill for her ball of energy. 

If you've got an active little girl, I would recommend the Soybu Girls Line. It's definitely not cheap, but it's great quality that will stretch and move with your little athlete and stay in place. No hiking up the leggings a hundred times a day. Plus, it will last unlike other brands that just don't hold up to active little kids that was always on the move.

Everyone that knows me well, knows that I do not spend a lot on clothes, I'm always shopping the clearance racks and enjoy finding cute things for Kaydin and I at Wal-mart and K-mart even. So the price of a few of the pieces left me a little wide-eyed, seeing prices that were more than I would normally pay. But to get a couple options that will hold up and last? That I can deal with. I've washed all of our outfits multiple times already and they're still in great shape, just like when we took them out of the box! And check out their sale section, too! Lots of great deals!

The jacket is my favorite, I think. The pattern just looks really great on. It may be black and white, but definitely isn't plain and boring.

Kaydin had lots of fun showing off her new outfit, she didn't stop posing! She's so cute, I was happy to keep clicking away! :) 

Giveaway time!

Who else would like to try out Soybu? Enter below for a chance to win my black and white striped jacket and Kaydin's pastel striped capris!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway only open to US residents.
Color/style may vary depending on availability.

Disclosure: Outfit for myself and Kaydin were offered for free in return for an honest review of the line. All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Join in the The Color Run~Des Moines, IA 2015

The Color Run is once again heading to Des Moines this summer!

And I'm so excited to be participating for another year and with some family members again! Plus it's fun for all ages! It's one of Kaydin's favorite events of the year.

It's everyone's favorite event of the year! I mean, what's not to love? Loud, energetic music, excited people, neon color clouds, and family and friends to run and walk the course with!

And this year will be even better! The Color Run is celebrating the Shine Tour featuring a new Sparkly Zone! Getting covered in neon color and glitter?!?! #bestoneyet

Plus with registration you will also receive a Shine Tour Participant Kit including a custom race t-shirt, gold finisher's medal, multi-color headband with silver stitching, shine packet of your own to throw and shiny tattoos!

See the recaps of my last Color Run events here:

Will you be joining me this year?? Sign up now with my code MLC172563.

Disclosure: I was offered two free registrations in exchange for promoting the race. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What I Ate Wednesday {Blend 2015}

This year I decided to highlight the foods I ate during Blend through What I Ate Wednesday, just like last year!

This year was just as great as all the others! Maybe even the best yet! And the eats were on point! My favorite is having a fully prepared breakfast and this year's were awesome! Lots of choices from some great companies.

First though, I wanna talk about my most favorite meal in a really long time. I think about this meal and long for it. Crazy, right? But it was so delicious! I want to tag along with Tim when he goes back to Colorado this July just so I can get this meal again.

So anyway, Laura hosted Julie and I on Thursday night and we went to Louisville for dinner. To all you locals reading, get to The Empire Lounge and order this now! The pork ricotta meatballs were perfectly tender and flavorful, the sauteed greens the best by far that I've ever had and the polenta in the bottom was salty, creamy and the perfect base for the meal. All that topped with a tomato sauce. Mmmm! And while you are at it, order the kale salad, too. It was a tough decision when it came to ordering a meal but Julie decided on my second choice and it bomb! Kale massaged and tossed in citrus juice topped with toasted breadcrumbs and parmesan. I would absolutely love to get my hands on these recipes!

This drink from Julie was much needed as it had been a crazy few weeks at work and I was glad to be relaxing with some friends! Something like Olivia's in a Pickle I think was the name. A salt and dill rim was what pulled me in.

And to end the night we headed down the street to Sweet Cow. Laura took Kaydin and I here last summer, too, and their ice cream is so good, especially the Oatmeal Cookie flavor.

The next morning Julie and I headed to Snooze on Pearl Street in Boulder. another place we visited last summer I was SO excited to go back! The blueberry danish pancake with a lemon cream cheese filling may have been the favorite pancake of my life. And the corned beef hash was the perfect opposite of the pancake to satisfy my want for a savory option as well. Tell the server you can't decide between sweet and savory and they'll let you know that you can halve the options and do both!

Once at Chautauqua we got our stuffed swag bags and milled around to talk to the many vendors and fill my bowl for trail mix offered by General Mills. So many options to choose from my mix was a definite mash of everything.

Quest was also in attendance during this time handing out bars of every flavor!

I've never been much of a chai drinker but the Bhakti Chai was really good! Only wish I could get it in my area :(

Next up was cocktail hour followed by dinner. Sizzlefish and 34 Degrees had an awesome appetizer spread. I would like a request a fruit, cheese and nut spread like that for myself everyday! Can anyone make that happen??

pic from Jayne

Dinner was a variety of lots of things- dinner roll, chimichirri grilled beef shoulder tender, roasted chicken with peppers and onions, baked polenta with pesto and mushrooms, roasted brussel sprouts and fingerling potatoes and my absolute favorite, the salad of argula, raisins, smoked almonds (at least I think that's where that smoke flavor was coming from) and a citrus vinaigrette. smoked almonds on a salad= #nextlevel

Dessert for the night was brought to us by Arctic Zero. Give me brownies, hot fudge and caramel to add to my ice cream and I'm a happy girl!

The next morning we had another full spread breakfast to fill our tummies. Sponsored by Justin's, FlapJacked, and Love Grown Foods we had some great options to choose from. And of course I choose pretty much all of them! :)

On our hike, Amanda and I split a Detour bar at the turnaround point on our hike. Like a candy bar but better for you!

I heard from multiple people that had visited the nut butter booth at the Boulder Farmer's Market on Saturday that the walnut butter was like Heaven. And they were not exaggerating! So good I had to bring a jar home with me! The sunberry butter made a trip home with me too. So unique. If you have the chance to try these, they're both game changers in the nut butter world!

Dinner with a fun group of women at Aji, a Latin American restaurant on Pearl Street was our meeting place on Saturday night. The empanadas I choose were on point with all the other food I was eating all weekend- delicious!

Sunday morning's breakfast was another huge spread featuring BaoBest, Barbara's, The Epic Seed and Good Belly.

I've now got a new favorite granola cereal, the Oats and Honey Granola from Barbara's. Now to see if I can find it in stores in the Des Moines area! My favorite thing from the meal were the oatmeal bars pictured above using that same granola. I found the recipe on the Barbara's website and can't wait to make a batch at home. So chewy and caramely! Yum!

This brand of yogurt is making its way into more Targets in my area and hopefully Hy-Vee very soon! A great yogurt choice that's lower in sugar than its competitors.

Before Julie and I headed to the airport on Sunday afternoon a few of us hung out at Laura's house and she was a gracious host and fed us lunch. A bean and tomato chili. So good! Thanks for hosting us, Laura, and making it so I didn't have to find any airport food while waiting for my plane to take off! :)

And those were my many eats during Blend 2015. Have I convinced you of the deliciousness of this event so you'll be attending next year?? ;)

Linking up with Megan for the weekly WIAW link-up.