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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Clean Eating & Eating Out!

Yesterday was my besties birthday!  To celebrate, we went out to eat at one of the best restaurants in town.  Normally, I would have just scheduled this event as a planned cheat meal.  But, I'm in the midst of prepping for my first NPC bikini competition of the season and since we're getting so close, it's 100% clean eats from this point on.

Personally, I kind of dislike going out to eat because I know that any food I cook at home will be a million times healthier and tastier than something I order out at a restaurant.  It's disgusting how unhealthy they prepare meals and I can't stand not knowing what they are doing to my food and having to worry if the kitchen is clean or if they are using quality produce and products.  Remember, FOOD IS FUEL and NOURISHMENT to your body!

But the reality is, most people eat out at least once a week.  Sadly, during one evening at a restaurant  you may very well consume an entire day (or twos) worth of the recommended calorie, fat, and notably sodium intake in just a single sitting.  It's okay to have the occasional indulgence but it's important to establish and stick to specific goals you have set for yourself.

It can be very overwhelming and complicated to choose the cleanest, healthiest option when dining out.  So, let me help you subtract the stress and share with you some of my helpful tips for eating clean while eating out!

Clean Eating & Eating Out

Know before you go!  Go online and look at the restaurants menu and nutritional information.  Now a days, most large restaurant chains have the nutritional data posted on their website.  From there, you will be able to choose what meal meets your dietary requirements and know exactly what to order ahead of time.

Order H2O.  Why guzzle down hundreds of empty calories on cocktails and soda?  These drinks are loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners and will do nothing but pack on the pounds.  Also, you'll be saving yourself a pretty penny when you bypass the brewskies.

Most eateries supply you with endless baskets of bread and biscuits, which we all know do nothing but add bulge to your belly.  Do yourself and your waistline a favor and avoid the appetizers which typically have more fat and calories than an entree and generally have no nutritional value.  Start with a small salad, hold the croutons, and have the dressing delivered on the side.

Portion sizes at restaurants have seriously sky rocketed.  Most meals are enough to feed an entire family!  Ask for your dinner to be cut in half and doggie bag it.  By taking a to-go box home not only are you cutting calories, you're saving time and money you would have spent on another meal.

I suggest keeping it simple.  Grilled, baked, or steamed is the way to go.  Opt for chicken or fresh fish!  Read the entree description, if it has gravy, sauces or dressing, ask for it on the side or not at all.  One of the biggest problems I have with restaurants is the excessive amount of sodium they use.  It's absolutely ridiculous how they incorporate salt into literally every dish.  For example, the pecan crusted salad at Applebee's sounds harmless enough, but it's loaded with 1,360 calories, 80 g of fat, 17 g of saturated fat and 2,640 mg of sodium.  Seriously!? That's more than a days worth of sodium in just one salad.  Always ask for no (or light) salt, it's just not necessary!  Also, be sure to ask for no butter or "dry".

We all know that fried foods are completely unhealthy, so forfeit the french fries and make way for a small baked potato or even better, a sweet potato!  If your dish comes with rice, substitute white for brown.  And of course, don't be shy about ordering a large helping of delicious and nutritious steamed vegetables

You're sweet enough already :) But seriously, just say no those extra calories, fat, and sugar.  It may taste good for the moment, but it will be over in a matter of minutes and you'll regret it later.  Consider having fresh fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth without setting yourself back.

Don't be afraid to ask the waiter questions, remember, this is YOUR BODY, in order for it to function at it's peak you need to provide it with the proper fuel.  Most waiters are understanding, but if you should get one that gives you a hard time for any reason, don't be afraid to explain to him/her your situation.  You may even influence them to make better choices the next time they dine out!


Hopefully this post has provided you with some helpful tips and thoughts to consider when ordering your meals the next time you dine out.  Please know that it is OK to indulge every once in a while for special celebrations and occasions and you should not feel guilty doing so.  But, keep in mind your true desires and know that you need commitment and consitency to achieve your goals!

*Additional Fit Tips*
- Add fresh lemon or lime to your water, on your salad, or on fish for added flavor and to promote proper digestion.
- Start your meal with a small salad packed with veggies to help control hunger and feel satisfied sooner.
- Ask for salad dressing to be served on the side so you can add only as much as you need.
- Order foods that do not have creamy sauces or gravies.
- Add little or no salt & butter to your food.
- Keep it simple.



Saturday, January 19, 2013

Banana Coconut Protein Pancakes

Unfortunately for me I have been bitten by the flu bug and so I stayed home from work yesterday just bumming around the house.  Fortunately for you all, I can't sit still for long and of course I became hungry but my throat hurt :(  Then it hit me... warm, soft, and sweet... PROTEIN PANCAKES!!! I haven't made protein pancakes in quite some time so I just grabbed what sounded good to me and this is the result :)

Banana Coconut Protein Pancakes

- 1 scoop of Vanilla Whey Protein Powder (I used VPX SRO)
- 1/2 cup Egg Whites
- 1/4 cup Organic Oats
- 1/2 small Banana
- 1/8 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
- 1 tbsp Organic Coconut Flour
- 1/8 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp Baking Soda

- Blend all ingredients in a blender (I use my Magic Bullet) until mixture is of pancake batter consistency (this should take less than 30 seconds).
- Coat a non-stick pan with Organic Coconut Oil.
- Pour 1/3 of the mixture into pan and cook on Medium-Low heat for about 2 minutes on each side.

*Tip* When air bubbles form on top that is a good indicator that you should flip your protein pancake!

This recipe produces 3 medium sized protein pancakes which is one serving.


I topped my Banana Coconut Protein Pancakes with a tbsp of Walden Farms Syrup because they were perfect on their own, but if you'd like some options, below I have listed healthy topping suggestions :)

My Topping Suggestions:
- Fresh Fruit; Banana, Blueberries, Strawberries, etc.
- All Natural, Unsalted Nuts; Almonds, Walnuts, etc.
- All Natural Organic Nut Butter; Almond Butter, Peanut Butter, Sun Butter, etc.
- Organic Coconut Flakes

Nutritional Information:
295 calories, 2.8g fat, 383mg sodium, 515mg potassium, 31g carbohydrates (6g fiber, 6g sugar), 36.2g protein.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fruit & Veggie Protein Smoothie

I made this smoothie with my mom the other day before we ventured out for a long hard day of... shopping!  Lol!  Basically, we just went through my mom's fridge and grabbed whatever fruits and veggies we could find, threw it in the VitaMix blender, and voila!  It turned out excellent; a perfect consistency and really yummy!  So, I figured I'd share it with you.  This is a great energizing smoothie to have pre or post workout due to the fact that it contains protein, quality carbohydrates, and natural sugars.

Fruit & Veggie Protein Smoothie
Serves 4

- 2 scoops of Vanilla Whey Protein Powder 
(I use VPX SRO Zero Carb)
- 2 cups of Organic Spinach
- 2 medium Carrots
- 1 medium Organic Apple, cored
- 1 small Banana
- 1/2 cup Celery
- 1/2 cup Strawberries, frozen
- 1/2 cup Blueberries, frozen
- 1/4 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

Blend all ingredients in a VitaMix blender until smooth.

You will need a high performance blender in order to emulsify the carrots and apple!

Nutritional Information:
Per Serving
111 calories, 0g fat, 100mg sodium, 343mg potassium, 
19g carbohydrates (4g fiber, 13g sugar), 12g protein.

But wait!  Before you chug down your delicious smoothie why not read up on how healthy it is!  You know I don't like to give you a recipe without some information on the ingredients :)  Below I have listed some of the key nutritional facts about the fruits and vegetables used to make this Fruit & Veggie Protein Smoothie.

Almond Milk: Almond milk is great to add to any smoothie because of its richness and creaminess.  It is lower in calories and fat than cow’s milk yet high in vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin E and Calcium.

Carrots: Carrots are a good source of a variety of vitamins such as A, C, and K. They promote good eye health, a strong immune system, and are rich in fiber which supports bowel regularity and help control blood sugars.

Spinach: Low in calories and high in vitamins, spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence.  It is packed with cancer fighting antioxidants, protects against aging, and promotes improved cardiovascular health and brain function.

Celery: Celery has been known as a staple diet food due to the fact that it is incredibly low in calories and carbohydrates.  But, did you know that celery is packed with powerful antioxidants?  Recent research has illustrated celery's anti-inflammatory health benefits, including its protection against inflammation in the digestive tract itself.

Bananas: Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, magnesium, fiber and many vitamins and minerals. They are a terrific addition to any smoothie because they’re filling, nutritious, and contain natural sugars which are a great source of energy.

Berries: Berries give sweetness to the smoothie and contain high levels of nutrients and fiber. They are also rich in antioxidants and support healthy skin.



Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cabbage Slaw Salad

Today I was blessed to spend the day with my mom!  Whenever we get together, we always have a great time :) Our activities usually consist of shopping, crafting, and of course... cooking!  A lot of my clean eating ideas stem from things my mother makes.

Currently, my mom and my stepdad are gradually transitioning into the Paleo lifestyle.  In fact, I even bought them a Paleo cookbook for Christmas.  So today's lunch is 100% Paleo approved!  We made made a delicious grilled chicken breast topped with a strawberry, mango, clementine salsa and on the side, an amazingly healthy cabbage slaw salad.  I knew immediately I had to share this with you all because it is incredibly easy and SO yummy!  I'm glad we made a big batch of it because I'm going to take some home with me to eat with my lunch tomorrow :)

Cabbage Slaw Salad
Serves 8

- 3 cups Coleslaw
- 3 miniature Bell Peppers (red, orange, & yellow)
- 2 medium Organic Gala Apples, diced
- 1 medium Cucumber, diced
- 1/2 cup Green Onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup Walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup Raisins
- Lemon (squeeze on diced apples to prevent browning)

Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl!

How easy is that?!

Simple. Healthy. Delicious.

My mom and I went shopping before lunch and picked up some organic hazelnut oil and organic walnut oil.  We tried both oils on separate slaw to see which one we preferred.  I liked the walnut and my mom liked the hazelnut!  So everyone has their own preference of flavor of course.  You could also use organic olive oil or your own dressing.  I think a light raspberry vinaigrette would be a great choice.


Nutritional Information:
Per 1 Cup Serving
71 calories, 2.5g fat, 8.1mg sodium, 108.6mg potassium, 11.1g carbohydrates (2g fiber, 8g sugar), 1.4g protein.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Strawberry Cinnamon Casein Treat

I've had to increase my protein intake by quite a lot in order to build and maintain muscle for my next NPC bikini competition.  In order to do so, I have been making some very delicious casein treats before I go to bed.  This one in particular is under 150 calories, provides 17g of protein, and is beyond easy to make!

If you are not aware of casein protein, like whey, it comes from cow's milk.  Casein is unique in that it has the ability to gel and glob. During digestion, casein thickens as it contacts stomach acid.  This reduces digestion rate and allows for a slower, more continuous release of casein's amino acids (the building blocks of protein).  Although casein does not provide whey's peak anabolic response, it does provide a more sustained amino stream.  Casein can be consumed any time of the day, however, due to it's slow digestion and amino acid release, casein is commonly taken when you might be without food for a long period of time (at night, before bed).

So, now that I've provided you with a little information on casein protein, let's eat it!

Strawberry Cinnamon Casein Treat

- 1/3 cup Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
- 1/3 scoop Vanilla Casein Protein Powder
- 1/4 cup Strawberries (fresh, diced)
- 1/8 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/2 of an Organic Cinnamon Graham Cracker Sheet (crushed)
- 1 tbsp Fat Free Cool Whip

1) Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
This doesn't have to be exact.  The longer it chills, the firmer the consistency.  Most of the time I don't even put it in the freezer at all because I just want to gobble it all up! :)
2) Sprinkle crushed graham cracker and top with a spoonful of Cool Whip or all natural Truwhip.


Nutritional Information:
143.7 Calories, 1.5g Fat, 110.5mg Sodium, 230.2mg Potassium, 15.8g Carbs (1.4g Fiber, 6.4g Sugar), 17g Protein.

*Fit Tip*
Add whatever nutricious and delicious health foods you like to suit your dietary desires!
Some suggestions include:
- All natural, unsalted nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or cashews.
- Organic fruit; apple, berries, banana slices, orange, mango.
- All natural cocoa, carob chips, or dark chocoalte chips.
- Any nut butter or PB2.

Why strawberries?
Strawberries provide numerous health benefits!  Strawberries are nutrient-rich and packed with antioxidants like Vitamin C; which boosts your immune system, promotes younger looking skin and eye health and reduces inflammation.  So remember the three As: Antioxidant, Anti-Aging, Anti-inflammatory.

Why cinnamon?
Many studies have found that cinnamon regulates blood sugar; making it a great choice for diabetics, hypoglycemics, or anyone seeking to stabilize their energy levels.  Also, research has shown that cinnamon may cause an increases in metabolism, thus aiding in fat loss.  In addition, cinnamon has also been shown to reduce the harmful LDL cholesterol and reduce arthritis pain.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Grocery List

"Let's start of the new year right with a grocery list full of delicious and nutritious health foods so you can start cooking and eating clean!"

The other day, my friend Stephanie asked me what my grocery list looks like when I go shopping, so I figured I would post an outline of the things I normally purchase when I'm stocking up my fridge and pantry.

I'm sure you've heard it time and time again... "Abs are made in the kitchen!" But, that's because it is SO TRUE!  You can do a million and one sit ups but unless you lower your body fat percentage through clean cooking and eating you will not be able to see the results of all your hard work in the gym!  Plus, when you clean up your diet, not only will you start to SEE changes in your body, you will FEEL it as well.  You'll enhance your brain function, you'll have increased energy, and I guarantee you will be performing your daily activities and tasks much better.  Now what's not to love about that?!  All things positive come from clean eating :)

I tend to buy what is in season because that's usually what's the freshest and cheapest.  Also, I try to use coupons to cut costs and look for anything that is on sale of course!

Candy's Clean Cooking - Grocery List

Macronutrients are the structural and energy-giving caloric components of our foods that most of us are familiar with.  These are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that are essential for good health!

Processed foods tend to have more macronutrients than natural foods at the expense of micronutrients.  This is because processing food strips the foods of many of the vitamins, and minerals to give the food a longer shelf life.  So much of fast foods and other processed foods give you tons of calories without much micronutrient content – which is why we have so many health problems in America today.  I personally recommend eating a balanced diet composed of high-quality natural foods from the earth.  Skip the stuff that comes in packages that can sit in your pantry for months and not spoil!  Eat lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and lean meats. 
Macronutrients are the structural and energy-giving caloric components of our foods that most of us are familiar with.  They include carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that are essential for good health.
- See more at:
Macronutrients are the structural and energy-giving caloric components of our foods that most of us are familiar with.  They include carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that are essential for good health.
- See more at:
- Asparagus
- Arugala
- Broccoli
- Brussel sprouts
- Carrots
- Celery
- Cucumber
- Garlic
- Green beans
- Kale 
- Mushrooms
- Onions
- Peppers
- Salad 
- Spinach
- Squash
- Tomato
- Zucchini

- Apples
- Avocado
- Bananas
- Berries
- Pineapple
- Pomegranate 

- Bison
- Chicken breast
- Lean ground turkey
- Mahi Mahi
- Salmon
- Steak
- Tuna

- Cottage cheese 
- Eggs
- Egg Whites
- Greek yogurt (plain)

Dairy Substitutes
- Almond cheese
- Unsweetened almond milk

(all natural, unsalted)
- Almonds
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Cashews
- Chia
- Coconut oil
- Flax
- Nut butters
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower seeds
- Walnuts

Complex Carbohydrates
- Brown rice
- Gluten Free Oats
- Quinoa 
- Sweet Potato
- Whole Wheat bread/wraps

Canned Goods
- Beans
- Lentils
- Low-Sodium Tuna

- Green Tea
- Honey
- Lemon/Lime juice
- Mrs. Dash seasonings
- Spices

Since I shop at Costco and buy in bulk most of these items last me for quite some time so I do not have to buy them every single time I go grocery shopping.
Remember: Buy what suits you and your lifestyle; choose clean products that fit your dietary needs and tastes!  I'm always learning about new health foods so many of my shopping trips include me trying out something new!  This list is just a helpful outline from me to you :)

  • Don't go to the grocery store when you're hungry!  Make sure you consume a good clean meal before stepping foot into the store, this way, you'll be less inclined to buy junk food or purchase products you really don't need.
  • Shop the perimeter of the store.  If you haven't noticed, this is the area where the majority of healthy products are placed; fruits, veggies, meats, dairy, etc.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time, make a grocery list beforehand, and STICK TO IT.
  • READ LABELS!  The first 5 ingredients are the main ingredients.  If you can't pronounce the ingredients then you probably shouldn't be eating it.  Also, make sure you're aware of the PORTION SIZE.