Good Eats: Vanilla Protein Whip

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I don't know about y'all, but I have a viscous sweet tooth. Honoring my sweet tooth is paramount to my personal dietary success-- I simply cannot ignore it. Enter, "protein whip". Light, fluffy, and oh so decadent. My fiance and I make this multiple times a week when we're craving something dessert like!
SERVES: 1
PREP TIME: 5-10 Minutes

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INGREDIENTS + PREP



Fat Free Greek OR High Protein Yogurt (1/2 Serving = 113g OR 1/2 Cup )
Fat Free Cool Whip (4-5 Servings = 45g OR 8 TBSP)
Vanilla Protein Powder (1/4th Scoop - 1 Scoop)
Vanilla Extract
Cinnamon
Liquid Stevia
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1 Bowl
Spoon
Food Scale / Measuring Cups

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1. ADD Your Yogurt


Measure out 1/2 CUP (113G) of yogurt  into your bowl. Use a food scale for greatest accuracy. 

Our favorite brands are :
Siggi's
Fage 0%.


*You do not have to use fat free yogurt-- I prefer to keep my fat content lower. Make adjustments as needed to fit your own macros.
 

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2. ADD Your Whip


On top of your yogurt, measure out 10TBSP (45g) of fat free cool whip.

More cool whip = fluffier whip!
I'll use anywhere from 4-10 TBSP depending on what i'm craving.
 

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3. ADD YOUR PROTEIN


On top of your yogurt + whip, add
 your vanilla protein powder.  
I use anywhere from 1/4 to 1 scoop depending on my protein needs. Experiment to find your preference.

I'm using Syntrax Nectar Sweets in Vanilla Bean Torte, one of my faves.

Protein powder makes all the difference here; get creative with using different favors. Make sure you're using a powder that you like,
 

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4. Add your flavors


Add 2-4 drops of vanilla extract
Add one squirt of liquid stevia
Add cinnamon to taste-- I like a lot!

This is the time to get creative with extracts and other spices! I love putting coconut extract in, for example. My fiance has flavored his with peppermint extract. Nutmeg, cardamom, pumpkin spice-the possibilities are endless.
 

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5. Mix well 


That's it-- mix thoroughly!

Stop here and enjoy your protein packed whip alone or take it to the next level with step 6!
 

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6. ADD TOPPINGS~!


My favorite thing protein whip is its versatility-- I can flavor it in SO many different tasty ways. Below I've listed some of my favorite go-to toppings:

FRUITS: 
Strawberries, Banana, Blackberries, Blueberries, Pineapple, Peaches,

SYRUPS + BUTTERS: 
Lite Chocolate Syrup, Peanut Butter, Powdered PB, Almond Butter, Walden Farm's Sugar Free Syrups

NUTS + TEXTURE: 
Almonds, Walnuts, Protein Granola, Unsweetened Coconut, Chia seeds, Flax Seeds, Raw Oats, Crumbled Rice Cake, Rice Puff Cereal, Pom Seeds

SWEET SOMTHIN':
Chocolate chips, Butterscotch Chips, Crumbled Oreos, Cookies, Chocolate Sprinkles, Rainbow Sprinkles, Sugar Free Pudding Mixes, Maple Syrup
(Be sure to measure accordigly!) 
 

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Vanilla protein whip + strawberries + chia seeds + lite chocolate syrup +
1 Dove milk chocolate miniature + Walden Farm's strawberry syrup

 

Did you enjoy your protein whip? What are you favorite topping combos? 

 

Comment your suggestions & recommendations below!

Good Eats: Easy Zucchini Recipe

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I didn't realize how much I liked zucchini until I found a no-fuss way to prepare it. In general, I don't like to spend a ton of prep time on my food-- I've got so much on my plate, i'd rather not waste too much time preparing my own! Luckily, making tasty zucchini is a breeze.
SERVINGS: 1
PREP TIME: 10 Minutes
COOK TIME: 12-15 Minutes


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INGREDIENTS & PREP
 

1 Whole Zucchini
Whole Wheat Panko  (1/2 serving = 15g OR 1/4 Cup)
One Whole Egg (yolk included)
Pam Non-Stick Cooking Spray
Your favorite spices!
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Large Baking Sheet
2 Small Bowls
Fork or Small Whisk
Cutting Board + Knife
Aluminum Foil (regular or non-stick)
Oven

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1. Cut & Measure


Slice your zucchini to desired thickness. Keep in mind thinner slices will cook faster.

If you're counting your macros, weigh your zucchini after it's been sliced.  

In one bowl, crack your egg
+ whisk until blended

In the other bowl, measure out  1/4 CUP (15g) of whole wheat panko.
 

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2. PrEP YOUR PAN


I like to cover my pan with non-stick aluminum foil, matte side up.

Spray your foil lightly with pam

I've still struggled to get the zucchini off the pan in one piece using just pam or foil. Feel free to use one, or both as I do. Whatever works!
 

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3. DIp & Place on Pan


Dip each slice of zucchini into your egg mixture. Cover well. 

Place your coated zucchini on your prepped pan. Arrange them closely- keep 'em tight together. 

If you have leftover egg mixture after you're done arranging, drizzle the remaining over your zucchini.
 

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4. Add your spices


Now is the time to sprinkle on all that flavor! Feel free to use whatever spices you'd like. My favorites are: 

Black pepper, crushed red pepper, salt, garlic powder, & paprika
 

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5. add your panko

 


Lastly,  sprinkle your 1/4 CUP (15g) of whole wheat panko accross your zucchini. Be sure to keep the crumbs concentrated over the slices.

Hopefully by now the oven is hot, cause we're ready to get toasty!
 

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6. Bake 'em & wait


Slide your zucchini into the by now toasty oven, heated to 350 F.  

Bake for 12-15 minutes

Very thin sliced zucchini will need only 10 minutes. 
 

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7. Plate & enjoy!


We're done! Spatula a heap on to your plate with a protein, and you've got a balanced meal.

I LOVE to top mine with low fat cheese + tomato sauce + ground beef for zucchini Parmesan. 

Get creative & enjoy!
 

How did you enjoy your zucchini?

Comment your suggestions and tips below!

Part 4 | Protein Packed: Foods + Supps

Last but not least, Part 4, wherein we explore our supplemental protein options, snacks, and then some. This is a 4 part series. If you missed the other posts, check out the links below: 
( Part 1 | But What About Protein )
( Part 2 | Finding Your Protein Bullseye )
( Part 3 | Beefing Up Your Protein Intake )


PROTEIN SNACKS + SUPPLEMENTS

If your protein count is high, it can sometimes be difficult to meet your daily requirement through whole foods alone. I am personally in this boat. With 150 grams of protein to eat daily, i've got to get real creative to fit all my protein in. For me, snacks are super helpful to fill the gaps. I've compiled a list of high protein packed snacks, both general and brand specific. I'll only be listing a few brand examples in each category, but there are many, many more to discover! I encourage you to explore your local supermarkets for other hidden protein treasures. As always, review the nutritional information and keep yourself 100% informed about your nutritional choices.

High Protein Fortified Snacks

BEANS, CHIPS, + PUFFS
Beans, specialty chips/puffs, and nuts can help bulk up your total. Some crunchy, some spicy, some tangy-- all with a fair amount of protein.

CHEESE + DAIRY
Cheese, a deliciously dense nutritional combo of protein & fat! Be careful not to go crazy with this heavy hitting comfort food.

JERKY & MEATS
Jerky is one of my high protein go-to snacks! Be it beef, turkey, or even chicken, there are may brand varieties and flavors to explore. 


NUTS
Peanut butter is assuredly the fitness fan favorite! Be it whole, or smooth churned, nuts come with a healthy dose of fat and protein. 

PROTEIN BARS +
Bars can be a great way to get a heaping dose of protein in, especially on the go! Bars can vary a lot nutritional, so always check the info.

PROTEIN POWDERS
Easy, convenient, effective: protein powders can take the guess work out out of increasing your protein intake.


BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE... 
In addition to bars, and powders, the supplement industry has come up with lots of protein puddings, protein chips, protein snack cakes, protein juices, and more. Start exploring!


Grocery Shopping + Fortified Foods

These days you can almost find protein fortified foods with relative ease. Good thing too-- it makes getting hitting our total protein count that much easier. This list features protein packed products to add to your grocery list on your next trip!

  • High Protein Yogurts:
    (Siggi's, Chobani, Fage...)
  • Low Fat Cottage Cheeses
  • Fat Free/Low Fat Cheese
    (Sargento, Kraft, Lucerne...)
  • Fat Free/Low Fat Milks
  • Liquid Egg Whites
  • Chicken Breast
  • Turkey Breast
  • Lean Ground Beef

Whew, you made it to the end! Thank you for taking the time to read this 4 part series. Hopefully you feel more equipped than ever to meet your daily protein intake and crush your goals!

Part 3 | Beefing Up Your Protein Intake

Welcome to Part 3. Let's learn how to make increasing your daily protein intake less complicated. 
If you missed parts 1 + 2, check out the links below:
( Part 1 | But What About Protein? )
( Part 2 | Finding Your Protein Bullseye )
 


INCREASING PROTEIN TO MEET YOUR GOALS

Building muscle is a time game… so are dietary adjustments, especially when it comes to adding or taking away calories. If you find your current protein intake is a far cry from the protein required for your goals, starting small is best.

The last thing you want to do is suddenly stuff your body with nutrients it’s not used to processing on the reg. A sudden increase in protein, especially without adequate fiber & water, can lead to gastrointestinal distress. Let's be real, nobody likes being glued to the porcelain throne. Additionally, protein is a dense macro nutrient: It takes your body significantly longer and more energy to break down 1g of protein than it does to breakdown 1g carb. This can translate to feeling full or "stuffed". Ever notice how satisfied you feel after eating a decent portion of quality meat? That's isn't by accident-- it's protein's density! If you're new to the protein game, suddenly increasing your intake can leave you feeling bloated and over-stuffed as your body works to process greater quantities than it's used to. If your current intake is low:

Start by increasing your daily intake by 20-30g.
Adapt for 4-7 days before increasing another 20-30g.

Additionally, increase your water intake
& eat plenty of fibrous foods and vegetables.

This is a general recommendation. If you need to progress slower, or find you adjust quicker, by all means! Pay attention to how you feel and watch how your body reacts to your increase in protein each week, especially in your workouts!

 

GETTING MORE PROTEIN INTO YOUR DIET
 

1. Set a protein target for meals, snacks, & post workout

I prefer to start getting my protein intake up early in the day as I find it is the hardest macro nutrient to consume all of (remember, protein is dense!). Having a lot of protein left at the end of the day can create some serious issues for your tummy and protein goals. I generally feel "stuffed" after eating about 40g; if I have tons of protein left over by evening time, I end up eating so much protein that I feel too stuffed to eat another bite! That, or I miss my protein target all together because I literally can't eat anymore. Save yourself the forced protein binge and make protein your most important macro to distribute evenly throughout the day. Assign protein target ranges to every meal and be sure to hit them! Here is a good place to start from:

General Meal Protein Targets:

  • 20-40g of protein per meal
  • 10-20g of protein per snack
  • 10-20g following your workout

These ranges are based on my personal guidelines to achieve my protein count, but I feel they are a good range to begin from. Experiment with your own meals/snacks and adjust accordingly!

 

2. Identify Protein Dense Foods
 

Having a mental list of protein dense foods makes hitting your protein target much easier. Get into the habit of reading nutritional information for anything you put in your shopping cart. If it doesn’t come with a nutritional label, google it or use a food tracking app to find the information. Learn what main protein dense foods you actually enjoy eating, and which ones are easiest for you to incorporate into your lifestyle. Put them on the top of your grocery list, and you’ll be more likely to put them into your cart, and in turn, in your body. This is a general list. You will certainly find things that aren’t on it but could fit right in.
 

PROTEIN DENSE CHEAT SHEET

  © Amanda Prather Studio

© Amanda Prather Studio

Keep in mind that most of your protein should be coming from real whole foods. Protein powders and bars are acceptable in moderation and should only supplement part of your intake.

If you’re a vegetarian, examine your protein dense food choices closely. Many vegetarian friendly protein options also come with a fair dose of fat and/or carbs. Find your favorite sources and get creative in how you use them for your meals. 
 


3. Focus on Easy Protein Additions


One of my favorite ways to sneak in more protein, is simply seeing if I can “buff” up my current snacks and meals with a dash or two of a protein dense addition! If you do this every time you eat, it quickly adds up throughout the day. To me, a protein buffer is a super fast addition: it’s gotta be easy to prepare and throw into my food. My current favorite go-to buffers:

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EASY PROTEIN "BUFFERS"

Egg Whites
Fage 0%
Fat Free Cheese
Reduced Fat Cheese
Protein Powder
Nuts + Seeds (watch fat)
Powdered Peanut Butter
Nutritional Yeast (not pictured)
Chicken Bacon (not pictured)

Making some eggs? Toss in 4 slices of diced chicken bacon for an extra 10 grams and half a serving of cheese for another 5. Blending up a protein smoothie? Instead of using 1 cup of almond milk, try 3/4 cup with some protein packed fage 0% yogurt instead. Heating up your oatmeal? Throw some powdered peanut butter and protein powder in there for up to 30 additional grams! Simply switching from almond milk to fat free milk will boost you  9 grams. The point? There are so many ways to get creative and add extra protein to your meals. Find a few sweet and savory protein buffers to garnish your meals with. Trust me-- they will certainly add up!

  • Mix protein powder into yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, jello, pudding, or cottage cheese
  • Mix a few servings of egg whites into your oatmeal
  • Mix a few servings of egg whites into soups, crumbled over a salad, or in a stir fry
  • Mix powdered peanut butter into yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, pudding, or cottage cheese
  • Blend powdered peanut butter into your smoothies
  • Blend Fage 0% or other protein dense yogurt into smoothies
  • Blend cottage cheese into your smoothies
  • Use fat free, reduced fat, or lower calorie protein fortified milk as your liquid in smoothies
  • Use a protein dense bread or wrap, like P28 or Joseph’s Lavash Wraps
  • Use protein fortified cereals or pastas
  • Add an extra fat free/reduced fat cheese to salads, wraps, eggs, or melted on meats
  • Add lean chicken, canned tuna, or turkey bacon to salads, wraps, eggs, or stir frys
  • Add nutritional yeast to savory recipes
  • Add nuts and seeds to your yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, or salads (watch the fat content)

Next, we cover supplementation & protein fortified snacking! Carry on, dear reader: 
( Part IV | Protein Packed Foods + Supps )

Part 2 | Finding Your Protein Bullseye

Welcome to Part II, wherein we learn how to target your protein goals for physique success! If you missed part 1, click below: 
( Part 1 | But What About Protein? )


FINDING YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE +
ADJUSTING IT TO MEET YOUR GOALS

Building muscle and hitting regular gym sessions requires a butt load of discipline, dedication, and drive. Unfortunately, you need more than that to fully realize your fitness goals: lifting is only one part of the equation and, in reality, a very small part of your day (yet one we look forward to hopefully!). Poor nutrition--among other variables-- will only make this process longer and more difficult. Generally, this is the opposite of how we want to progress through our transformation journeys! The reality is: for most of us, transforming your body takes a long time. If you really want to get serious about changing your body from the inside out, you must accept that this process hinges on three things:

1. Very long term commitment-- seriously, like years…

2. Structured progressive loading-- solid training programs with a goal of progress over time

3. Supplying your body with adequate building material to grow-- getting enough protein!

First things first: figuring out how much protein you’re currently eating daily. Yes, you will have to track your protein intake at the very least. If you’re committed to building muscle, read on!
 

PROTEIN INTAKE: Tracking With A Food Log

My favorite method for monitoring my protein intake --among other things--is tracking everything I eat by weighing my food on a scale, then plugging it to a food tracking app. There are lots of different food tracking apps available for your smart phone these days. Find one that works for ya and start plugging your food in. You can measure your food out with cups and spoons, but I highly recommend a scale for greater accuracy. 

YOUR MISSION:  Log everything you eat, and pay attention to your protein intake for at least 3-4 consecutive days. Don’t adjust your eating too much-- eat as you normally would. After 3-4 days, do the following equation:

HOW TO FIND YOUR CURRENT PROTEIN AVERAGE

Step 1
: Add the protein total of all 3 or 4 days
Step 2: Divide your total protein intake by 3 or 4, however many days you tracked

 A snapshot of one day in the food tracking app Fat Secret

A snapshot of one day in the food tracking app Fat Secret

Imaginary Amanda's Protein Log:
Day 1 - 60g,
Day 2 - 53g,
Day 3 - 39g,
Day 4 - 78g

Step 1: 60 + 53 + 39 + 78 = 230
Step 2: 230 / 4 = 57.5
Imaginary Amanda eats around 57.5 grams of protein daily

And there ya go, that’s your current daily protein average. Time to see how that stacks up against what you should be in-taking for your fitness goals!
 

PROTEIN INTAKE: Tracking With Your Hand

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If you don’t want to track your food-- I didn’t for years, let’s be real--you can use the palm of your hand as a portion size guideline; or imagine the size of a deck of cards.

1 inch thick palm full OR 1 card deck size
= 1 SERVING OF PROTEIN
or 15-30 grams (generally)

The major con of this method is you can only really use it on protein dense foods. Mixed foods don’t apply as accurately to this specific measuring method. What's a mixed food? Foods with more than one ample macro nutrient. French fries are a great example! They have tons of carbs, but they also have tons of fat too. Be mindful of what you measure using this method.

YOUR MISSION: Keep an eye on how many “palm fulls” of protein dense foods you eat daily. How many protein dense palm fulls are you averaging in a day? Here’s a beginning list to get you started. I did my best to single out protein dense sources only, meaning most of the foods on this list aren't going to contain many carbs or fats.

PROTEIN DENSE FOODS YOU CAN MEASURE WITH YOUR PALM

POULTRY/MEATS | Chicken breast, Turkey breast, Pork, Lean beef, Top round steak, Lean bison/buffalo, Lean game meat
SEAFOOD | Salmon, Tuna, Trout, Halibut, Talapia, Other white fish (lean), Lobster, Oysters, Shrimp, Other shell fish
DAIRY/OTHER | Fat free/low fat greek yogurt, low fat/fat free cottage cheese, 

Tracking your food will give you the most control and flexibility, but this is a great exercise to start developing more nutritional awareness! 
 

FIND YOUR PROTEIN BULLSEYE

You've diligently tracked and monitored to discover your current protein intake! How'd ya do? Let's take a minute to flashback to that example from before, featuring Imaginary Amanda:

Imaginary Amanda's Daily Protein Average is 57.5 grams.
Imaginary Amanda's main goal is to build lots of muscle and gain strength.
Imaginary Amanda lifts hard 5-6 days a week, but has been struggling with lifting heavier.


Why is this 57g of protein daily a big problem? Grab a calculator and check out the chart below.
Can you figure out why 57 grams of protein is too little for Imaginary Me?

  *Based on National Academy of Sports Medicine's current recommendations & my own personal experience

*Based on National Academy of Sports Medicine's current recommendations & my own personal experience

LET'S WRAP THAT ALL UP.

If Imaginary Amanda weighed 57lbs and was a bodybuilding Hobbit, this protein number might be adequate! However, Imaginary Amanda is just like me, 150lbs, 5’6’’, and decidedly not a Hobbit… 57g of protein daily for the goal of muscle building + strength gains is far too little. Imaginary Amanda should really be eating about 150 grams of protein daily! That's a 100 gram increase to what Imaginary me was eating! YIKES!

If you’ve done the math, you may be wondering how in the heck you’re gonna squeak in all that extra protein. Good thing I got a whole 3rd post dedicated entirely to that! 

Read on!
( Part ||| - Beefing Up Your Protein Intake

 

Part I | But What About Protein?

“Am I eating enough protein?”

This, by far, is one of the greatest concerns among my clients. With good reason! Getting enough more protein in your daily diet can seem like a mystifying quest by itself. Getting enough protein for your personal fitness goals? Now that can seem impossible! I have more than a few clients who are shocked to discover their protein intake is not only low, but waaaay off the mark when it comes to realizing their physique goals. Weight lifting is already difficult and requires insane amounts of mental and physical effort to stay the course. Combine loads of physical effort with low protein intake, and you’ve got a recipe for THE STRUGGLES.

  • By why the heck is protein so important anyway?
  • How do I know if I’m getting enough for my fitness goals?
  • How can I get more protein into my daily diet?

Well, dear readers, that’s what this four part series is all about!


Why the heck is protein so important anyway?


Did ya know that you can build more muscle simply by increasing your protein intake? You don’t even have to pick up a weight! Protein is literally the building block of lean muscle tissue. Read that again. If your muscles were a brick house, then protein are the bricks! If your main goal is to BUILD lean muscle tissue (hence, the term “bodyBUILDING”), then you absolutely must be supplying your body with enough building material! Every time you lift, provided you are lifting with the intention to progress in some small way each session, you are literally ripping your muscle fibers apart. This is partly where muscle soreness post workout comes from. After the workout, your body uses your dietary protein to “patch up” and repair all those teeny tiny rips. This makes the muscle denser, thicker, stronger, and more resilient. Overtime, these various “protein patch jobs” result in an increase in muscle size, aka: mass! That bigger booty you want? It’s made outta protein, not just squats!

Now think about it: if you’re goin’ in and tearing your muscle fibers apart lifting hard and then depriving your body of the nutrient it NEEDS to sufficiently repair those muscles… well… the struggle will be real as heck! Let this go unchecked long enough, and you will surely hit a wall in terms of gaining size, strength, and your physique goals will suffer.

Unless you measure and log everything you eat in some way, it can be difficult to know if you’re getting enough protein. Let’s start with some more obvious signs:

PHYSICAL SIGNS YOUR DIET MAY BE LACKING IN PROTEIN

  • Feel lethargic or tired often
  • Stalling muscle gains
  • Workouts may feel lacking or “heavy”
  • Lifting weights for exercises may lag or even decrease
  • Struggling with weights you used to be comfortable with
  • Feeling hungrier more often/ getting hungry quickly between feedings
  • Hair/skin/nails may be brittle, lack luster, or weak
  • Being consistent, but feeling like your workouts “aren’t working”
  • Not seeing any results over a long scope of time (3-12 months)

If you’re a badass babe OR fella and building muscle is your goal ( examples: a bigger butt, bigger biceps, ripped quads, thick lats, etc), you need to start paying attention to your daily protein consumption. Period.

Next up, figuring out your magic protein number for your goals:
(  Part II - Beefing Up Your Protein Intake )