Summer Smoothies

Summer smoothies – what can be more satisfying?  Seriously.  They’re cool.  They’re delicious.  They’re packed with protein.  And they’re delicious.  Here’s the first 6 Summer Smoothies.  And let’s not forget my all time favorite Birthday Cake Smoothie.  Today I’ve got twelve refreshing summer smoothies!

summer smoothies

As I’ve written before, smoothies are a fabulous way to start the day.  They’re filling and there’s a million combinations.  At home smoothies are usually much healthier than smoothies from stores as there’s not [usually] much added sugar.  As always, there are many add-ins I like to use, but don’t include in my ingredient list as itz optional and doesn’t affect the taste.  They include flax seed, wheat germ, chia seeds, and maca powder.

When I make smoothies, I very rarely measure (sorry).  I start with several ice cubes, then add my fruit, then protein powder and add-ins, and lastly the milk.  I know some people make them the opposite way (hard stuff on top), but I’ve found the most success by putting the hardest foods to blend at the bottom.  Whatever works!

summer smoothies1

  • Strawberry Cream: strawberries, vanilla protein powder, & milk
  • Apple Cinnamon: apple slices, vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, & kefir
  • Very Vanilla Green: vanilla protein powder, vanilla almond milk, & spinach
  • Chocolate Raspberry: chocolate protein powder, raspberries, & milk

summer smoothies2

  • Strawberry Banana: banana, strawberries, vanilla protein powder, & almond milk
  • Chocolate Banana: chocolate protein powder, banana, & almond milk
  • Coconut Cream Pie: vanilla protein powder, banana, unsweetened shredded coconut, & vanilla coconut milk
  • “Oreo” Cookie: recipe HERE

summer smoothies3

  • Tropical: mango, pineapple, banana, unsweetened shredded coconut, vanilla protein, & vanilla almond milk
  • Maple & Brown Sugar: maple & brown sugar flavored instant oatmeal packet, plain Greek yogurt (Chobani), & milk
  • Peach Pie: recipe HERE + whipped cream
  • Coconut Mocha: chilled coffee, chocolate protein powder, unsweetened shredded coconut, & vanilla coconut milk

There ya have it!

What’s your favorite smoothie?

Kids Snacks

Part of my summer school class that I am teaching to second through fourth graders entails nutrition.  I have been using My Plate as a guide, but also incorporating my own tidbits of information.

How do you keep kids engaged when talking about fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy?  Feed them snacks, of course!  I really wanted them to see how easy and tasty healthy snacks could be, so throughout the four weeks I have shared some of my favorites.

Watermelon:  The perfect summertime fruit.  Cool, refreshing, and loaded with water!

Fun to eat, too!  I cut the watermelon into round slices, then cut those slices into fourths.  It made it incredibly easy to cut, hand out, and eat!

Dark Chocolate Almond Milk:  I told them how dark chocolate has more antioxidants than milk or white, so dark is a better choice.  Like all treats, even dark chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation.  We also discussed how almond milk is an alternative to dairy.  The kids loved it!  I mean, how could you go wrong with chocolate?  You can’t.

Orange Pops:  Ideally, we would have squeezed our own orange juice, but for the sake of convenience, I bought a big jug of it.  I did explain how I chose a natural, not from concentrate, no sugar added container of orange juice.  All we did was pour some juice in a little dixie cup, stick in a popsicle stick, and let them freeze overnight.

The next day, you tear off the dixie cup (it comes off surprisingly easy) and wah-lah!  Homemade orange popsicles.  Another hit!

Cinnamon:  Cinnamon can be used as a natural sweetener (read: you don’t have to pour extra sugar on top of already sweet foods!).  I had one container of cinnamon and the kids LOVED using it.  I’m not sure if it was completely the taste, the idea that it sweetens, or the act of pouring some cinnamon and passing it to their friends that they loved best, but once they started with it, they couldn’t stop!

Coconut Milk:  Mild taste and another alternative to dairy, I let the kiddos try some coconut milk.  Some liked it, others didn’t, and some thought it tasted like water.

Apple Slices & Almond Butter:  Apples by themselves make great snacks, but pairing it with some healthy fats and protein is even better! Most of the kids had never tasted almond butter before, so I was happy to introduce them to that.  I gave each child half an apple with a dollop of almond butter.  Some children chose to sprinkle cinnamon on the apple slices, almond butter, or both!

Trader Joe’s O’s: Toasted whole grain oats.  Cereal doesn’t have to be loaded with sugar to taste great.  I really emphasized choosing whole grains over refined, and wanted to prove to them that there is no difference in taste, or it’s better.  Of course they sprinkled cinnamon on, and we ate a small bowl for snack with some vanilla almond milk.  Another hit!

Whole Grain Pretzels:  Another “I told ya so” moment as kids realized that whole grain foods taste the same/better than traditional white stripped of nutrients.

Banana & Sunflower Seed Butter:  While some kids had tasted almond butter before, none of the students had ever eaten sunflower seed butter.  After they tried it (some were reluctant at first, I encouraged them to at least try), they commented, “It tastes like sunflower seeds!”  Oh, the innocence of children.  🙂

Half a banana for some stellar carbs and a spoonful of sunflower seed butter for some added protein and fats.  Fab snack!  Sunflower seed butter is a wonderful alternative for kids with nut allergies as sunflowers are seeds, not nuts.

High Fiber Fruit & Nut Multigrain Medley: Purchased from Trader Joe’s, a great “cereal” loaded with fiber, not sugar!  Again, kids had the option to sprinkle cinnamon, and we ate this with some vanilla soy milk (another alternative to cow’s milk that is packed with protein).

Banana Bar: For our end of summer school celebration, I set up a banana bar very similar to this one.  Kids LOVE having a choice and variety!  There is no picture because we are actually having the banana bar today.  Students will have the option to top their banana with strawberry/vanilla/blueberry yogurt, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, and dark chocolate chips.

Chobani Champion Greek Yogurt:  This was the highlight of our snacks at summer school!  Since I’ve reviewed Chobani greek yogurt before, I contacted the kind souls at Chobani to tell them about my summer school class.  They graciously sent an enormous package of each of their four flavors from their Chobani Champions line that is geared towards kids.

Chobani Champions are the perfect snack for kiddos!  Not only are each and every one of their flavors amazing, they come in just the right size.  Each cup packs 100 calories and 8 grams of protein.  The kids LOVED them!

Thank you, Chobani, for your generosity and for sharing your Cho Love with us!   Since we have good manners (aka: I ensure my students always display good manners when they’re with me), the kiddos wrote Chobani thank you notes that included lines like, “The verry berry was berry good!” And, “I’m going to ask my mom to buy me some Chobani!”

Those were all the snacks that we had during my Active Living + Healthy Eating = Happy Kids summer school class!  The kids would have preferred to snack everyday, but I did have a budget to stick to. 🙂  Eating snacks in this class reinforced what I already knew: Kids like healthy food.  It’s a matter of teaching them about it, letting them choose so they feel like they are in control,  and making healthy food available.

Annette just wrote a great post about how to cure obesity.  The bottom line is that parents need to educate themselves on what it means to eat healthy in order to instill a habit and patterns of making healthy choices.  Sure, bags of chips and cookies are convenient and inexpensive, but there is NO replacement for the nutrition that fruits and vegetables pack.  Not fruit juice, not fruit snacks, simply whole fruit!  Ah, I could go on and on about this, but I’ll stop here before my soap box continues.

Obviously, healthy snacks are not just for kids.  I chose these snacks because they are what I eat, too!  (Ok so maybe I have never made the orange pops before, but I think I will now! )  If you’re a parent, please please please fuel your child with the nutrients he/she needs to live a long, healthy, and active life!

You tell me: What is YOUR favorite snack?

Itz WIAW

And just like that, itz the last Wednesday in June!  Where does the time go?  Let’s get right to it and start this WIAW party with the others at Peas and Crayons!

Breakfast: Pancake made with oats, egg, applesauce, cinnamon, peaches, and vanilla almond milk.  Topped with more peaches, shredded unsweetened coconut, and Barlean’s Mango-Peach Omega Swirl Fish Oil.  Speaking of delicious fish oils, don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win a Pina Colada Omega Swirl ($25 value!).

So delicious.  The Pina Colada Omega Swirl would taste amazing with bananas and coconut.  The Omega Swirls are seriously better than syrup and way healthier!

Snack-time:  Tons of healthy banana bread bites!  A bite here.  A bite there.  Lotsa bites everywhere.

So many bites that now it’s gone.  Boo.

Lunch: Beast of a salad.  I started with a bag of broccoli slaw then diced up a green pepper, red pepper, yellow squash, part of a red onion, and added sunflower seeds, almond slivers, black beans, and corn.

For the dressing, I mashed up an avocado and added some lemon and lime juice, a few drops of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and spicy mustard.  Random combo, but it worked!  This made a gigantic salad, so I’ve been eating it all week.  I had the afterthought to dice up an apple or add raisins for some sweetness.  Maybe next time.

Dinner: Grill success!  After my latest grill disaster, I was determined to make it work on the grill.  I kept it simple with asparagus and tofu.  The asparagus was lightly sprayed with olive oil and just a dash of sea salt was used.  The tofu was marinated in Trader Joe’s Sweet Chili Sauce.

Avocado slices were enjoyed on the side for a nice dose of healthy fats.  Dinner was amazing.  Even Jonny said that tofu on the grill was “unbelievable.”  (His words, not mine – promise!)  The only minor mishap was that I forgot to spray the grill as directed by my wise father as well as everyone else on google, so the tofu didn’t flip as nicely as it should have.  Lesson learned.

Dessert: Papaya!  I love papaya and last weekend my dad bought me a giant one at the Farmer’s Market.  I do think the little seed/bally things on the inside look kind of gross, but fortunately they are super easy to scoop out.

The papaya was perfectly ripe, and I scooped it right out with a spoon.

That does it for this week’s WIAW!

Tell me about your favorites: summertime foods and/or grilled foods!

Healthy Banana Bread for the Win

You know how I jokingly referred to myself as a “grill master” after I prepared vegetables on the grill for the first time a few days ago?  Well, I decided to get ambitious… a little too ambitious.  I bought some lean ground turkey meat the other day and attempted to make them into turkey burgers.  But of course I didn’t just form them into patties.  I tried to get creative and make a new recipe even though I have never made turkey burgers before in my life.  I mixed the turkey meat with some red onion, a jalapeno, white beans, corn, oats, garlic, cayenne pepper, and some other spices.  It looked really good and smelled really good.

Upon the first flip, half of them started to crumble.  I salvaged the crumbled pieces and cooked them on the stove top (where I am much more comfortable!).  There were four burgers that survived and we ate them for our dinner along with brussel sprouts that I did [successfully] cook on the grill with a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.

When we finished eating, Jonny asked me what I thought of the burgers.  “They were fine,” I replied.  “What did you think?”  I questioned back.  “They were fine.”  Needless to say, I have some work to do on the grill.

Even though last night’s dinner didn’t turn out quite as I had planned, I am still proud of trying and taking the first steps to become a little more proficient with the grill.  Gotta start somewhere.  It is important to recognize our accomplishments, and for that I’ll give myself a high-five for this week’s High Five Friday with Meg.

I did have some success with a new recipe last night.  We had several overly ripe bananas that were in dire need of being used.  Banana bread sounded good, so after reading many different recipes, I got started on making my own healthier version.  Jonny and I were both impressed with the results.  Linz: 1.  Grill: 1.  We’re even.

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup NuNaturals More Fiber Baking Blend
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons Artisana coconut butter
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients together in large bowl.
  • Pour in sprayed 9 x 13 pan.
  • Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Most recipes suggest mixing particular ingredients together in separate bowls.  Not me.  I mixed everything together all at once, and it still turned out.  It looks like a lot of ingredients, but you probably have most items on hand.  The banana bread was thick and flavorful and delicious.  It is not overly sweet, but it is incredibly moist and soft.  Itz perfect.  There was actually no detectable coconut taste, for better or for worse, so for people who aren’t coconut fans, you could easily omit.

I had one lone banana left so I decided to really kick up the dessert factor.  I sliced the banana and cooked it on the stove (clearly not the grill!) with a little coconut butter and a pinch of brown sugar.

Oh baby!  The banana bread just got even better!  The warm bananas reminded me of bananas foster – a treat my dad used to make when we were little.  I’m already planning how many ways I’m going to eat this banana bread.  Like, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snack.  Overkill?  I think not.  Linz: 2.  Grill: 1.  Boo-yah!

*The winner of the Barlean’s Strawberry Banana Flax Oil giveaway is #54 StoriesAndSweetPotatoes!  Congratulations!  Please email me within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.  There is one week left of Barlean’s Omega Swirl June Giveaways!  The last bottle will be given away on Monday, and just wait until I announce the flavor.  It sounds beyond AMAZING!  Here’s a hint: You could very well make an adult beverage with it… Any guesses? 😉

For now… I’m off to eat more banana bread.

Fun weekend plans?  I’m having a girls night tonight and a date night tomorrow with my boo!  Hopefully a Farmer’s Market trip will happen, too!

Hammock Lovin’

I know I haven’t posted about my workouts lately, but I promise, I’ve been movin’!  Three weeks ago, my friend began following the LiveFit workouts that I completed earlier this year.  Whenever I met her at the gym recently, I do the same workouts, but on days she is unable to meet, I am usually not lifting weights.  I’ve lifted here and there, but I haven’t been very motivated to follow the plan exactly as I did before.  I think I need something new.  Suggestions?

However, I have been keeping up with my RWRunStreak challenge!  Itz mostly just been a mile per day which is the minimum of the challenge, but at least I’ve been getting it in.  And usually it is completed on the treadmill followed by incline walking.  Yesterday, I decided the weather was too perfect in the morning to stay indoors.  I jogged a slow and steady two miles through my neighborhood and was reminded how cool, peaceful, and quiet it is so early in the morning (5:30 a.m. to be exact).  So this morning I set out to do four.

I’d be lying if I said those four miles were easy.  When I run around my house I do an out and back.  To the top of my neighborhood is a mile, so when I do two miles I turn around there.  There are different points on the main road where I know to turn around at in order to complete 3 or 4 (or more) miles.  This morning, it was rough and I wanted to stop at three, but the point to the turn around was just a matter of a half mile, so I decided to go for it.  It didn’t get any easier, but I know that changes to your workout routine produce the best results and changes don’t come easy.  I powered through the four miles.  My time wasn’t awesome, but at least I finished.

Sidenote:  Two years ago for our birthdays, my parents gave Jonny and me a hammock.  (Our birthdays are five days apart.)  The hammock required some assembly, so we stashed it away for a later date.  Well, almost two years went by with several thoughts of, “Man, I wish our hammock was set up!” without the action of actually taking it out and putting it together.

My dad was in the area today and stopped by.  Randomly, I asked if sometime he could set up the hammock.  He went straight to the shed, dragged it out, and got that bad boy up!  It actually didn’t take as much assembly as I anticipated, but I didn’t know that since I never tried. #fail  Needless to say, I think we will be spending much more time outdoors in our backyard now.

Zoey wasn’t loving the hammock as much as my dad and I were.  The hammock is in the perfect location.  It is towards the side of our yard, the side that gets shaded as the sun goes down.  I love spending time outside, but our patio furniture got destroyed by the recent hail storm.  I think the hammock will soon become my new favorite summer spot; well, besides the pool, of course.

Do you have a hammock?  Where do you hang out outside?  Any workout suggestions?

Dreamsicle Smoothie & A Giveaway

Happy Memorial Day! A very sincere thank you goes to everyone, past and present, who serves our country and protects our freedom.  Thank you.  We went to the Cardinal’s game yesterday during the lovely St. Louis 100 degree weather.  In observance of Memorial Day, all military personnel were asked to stand so they could be recognized.  It definitely gave a nice sense of community to be cheering for so many wonderful people.  And again, we brought home a winner.

There was no fro-yo involved, so maybe we’re just the Birds lucky charm?  We went with some of our best friends, Diana and Andy (aka DiAndy) who are getting married June 16, 2013.  Can’t wait.  🙂  Itz also Diana’s birthday today, so a very happy birthday goes out to her! xoxo

With summertime here, some of my food choices change based on the warm weather.  I definitely like lighter meals, citrus flavors, and refreshing drinks and treats.  When I first discovered NuNaturals, I was hooked.  Then, they went ahead and came out with two new flavors which are absolutely perfect for the warm summer months.

Lemon NuStevia and Orange NuStevia.  I have been playing around with both of these and have found great success in many new recipes and a summer spin on some old recipes.  My favorite would have to be a Dreamsicle Smoothie I created.  Jonny loves going to Lion’s Choice and getting the dreamsicle milkshake.  Of course, I don’t love all the nasty sugar that even a small size packs.  I made a much better alternative.

Dreamsicle Smoothie: ice, 1 banana, 1 orange, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 scoop vanilla Sunwarrior protein powder, 1 dropper full of Orange NuStevia, and ground flaxseeds. Makes 2 smoothies. Seriously tastes like a dreamsicle and much, much healthier.  (Not to mention the protein punch it packs!)  Dee-lish!

I’ve also been loving the orange and the lemon sweetener in my tea or water.  It naturally sweetens drinks without any artificial sugar or flavor.

The orange and the lemon are great for people who get tired of drinking plain water all day long.  My grandma loves adding sweet n low and lemon to water, but when I had her try the Lemon NuStevia, she approved!  I’ve also really been liking adding the lemon to water when I use apple cider vinegar.  It makes for a very refreshing drink.

You all know how I love my protein pancakes, so naturally I wanted to use the lemon and orange in them.  Mission complete.

Lemon Coconut Protein Pancake: 1 scoop of vanilla Sunwarrior protein powder, 3 eggwhites, a dash of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds, several drops of Lemon NuStevia, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and some shredded unsweetened coconut flakes.  For the frosting, I used half a scoop of vanilla protein powder, almond milk, coconut, and Lemon NuStevia.  Definitely a summertime breakfast!

Now itz your turn!  Leave a comment telling me one way you would use the Lemon or Orange NuStevia and be entered to win a bottle of each.  Four lucky winners will be sent both bottles of the lemon and orange.  (No P.O. boxes.)  Don’t stop there.  If you wish, become a fan of Itz Linz on Facebook and NuNaturals on Facebook.

For additional entries: subscribe to Itz Linz, follow Itz Linz on twitter and tweet the following, “Summertime is here! I want to win a bottle of Orange & Lemon @NuNaturals from @ItzLinz! Enter here: http://wp.me/p264zq-wn

Plus, if you would like to order any of the NuNaturals products, go to the NuNaturals website and when you get to the checkout page, enter the discount code BLG0612 and you will receive a 15% discount on your entire order. This discount remains effective until June 30, 2012.  Online ordering customers may also receive free shipping to the continental US on all orders exceeding $35.00 after discounts.

This giveaway will be open until Friday, June 1st at 6:00 pm CST.  Four winners will be randomly selected and announced on Saturday, June 2nd.  Winners will have 48 hours to contact me to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.

*I was not compensated for this post beyond being given the NuNaturals products to try.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sweat Monster

I love summer workouts.  I love having the time during the morning, day, and evening to workout, sometimes more than once.  Yesterday, I ran some errands after having lunch with my grandmother for her birthday.

When I was headed home, I noticed a first for the summer in my car:

100 degree weather, baby!  Despite my mini gym session and 5-mile walk yesterday morning, I had a genius idea.  I had the urge to run outside, so I laced up my sneakers and out the door I headed.  Because of the heat, I intended on running just three short miles without caring about the time.  I finished the three miles, and it definitely wasn’t easy!

It was certainly no 26:10 time for a 5k, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good workout.  I was dripping from head to toe when I finally returned home.

Attractive, eh?  🙂  Running or exercising in the heat can be dangerous, so it’s important to be mindful when doing so.  Here are my tips.

1.  Dress accordingly.  Wear light clothes that absorb moisture, but don’t weigh you down.  (Avoid cotton!)  For you people who love to sweat: that’s cool and all, but in the summer months you don’t need to layer up to sweat.  Sweating is your body’s way of cooling off, so hindering that process can be dangerous.

2.  Lather on the sunscreen!  Not to be anyone’s mom, but this should be a no-brainer.  Find a sweatproof sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection and reapply as needed.  (source)  Looking like a lobster is not cool.

3.  Hydrate before, during, and after.  Another seemingly no-brainer, but this could really save you.  You should be drinking water hours before going into the heat.  Chugging fluids right before is not the way to go.  (Have you ever run on a belly full of water, sloshing around?  Not fun.)  Hydrating during, and especially after is equally important.  Click here for hydration tips.  I love consuming coconut water on a hot day after a massive sweat session.

I had coconut water infused with a splash of mango leftover from this foodie penpal, and it was the perfect refreshment when I was parched!  (Benefits of coconut water)

4.  Don’t overdo it.  Was 32:34 a good time for three miles for me?  No, but I knew I couldn’t push it in the extreme heat. Respect the heat and your body will thank you.  You can still get in an awesome workout, but don’t expect to run as fast or as long as you usually do.

5.  Protect your face.  I always wear sunscreen, a visor, and sunglasses when I run outside.  My face is pretty and I don’t wanna ruin it.  😉  Just kidding, but seriously.

That’s it.  Now go drink some water, put sunscreen on, and get your booty outdoors!  On a sidenote: I was really feeling that aqua blue color because I picked up a new bottle of nail polish.  I’m usually always a pink polish kind of a gal, but not yesterday.

Katie always pulls off the prettiest nails and she’s really been rockin’ some fun summer colors lately.  I tried to copy and painted more of my fingers than my actual nails.  And shortly after, I badly smeared two of them.  Painting my own nails is just not a skill I possess.  They’re fixed now and blue nails is what I’ve got.  Happy summer! 🙂

Do you exercise in the heat?  Any important tips I missed?  Are you a crazy colored nail painter?