Larabars are one of, if not THE, healthiest bars on the market. They’re vegan, and made with whole foods, like nuts, seeds and fruit. The problem is that they are low in protein and some flavors, like peanut butter, are dry and taste “healthy.” My favorites are Lemon (best cold, in the refrigerator) and Peanut Butter and Jelly (which is hard to find). My least favorites are Apple Pie and Cherry Pie, which don’t taste anything like pie. I am a sucker for new stuff and their new flavors sounded delicious, so I had to buy them.
The four new flavors I tried were Limited Edition Chocolate Hazelnut Swirl, which was dry and bitter and the little chocolate chips dropped on the floor as I took a bite (wah); Coconut Cream Pie, very sweet, but perfect when I crave candy; Banana Chocolate Chip, which tastes like a gluten-free, dry banana bread made without sugar, sprinkled in with a few tiny chocolate chips; and Pecan Pie, which has the perfect combination of cinnamon spice and crumble.
P.S. I have numerous healthy vegan desserts in my cookbook, Slimming Dairy-Free Desserts & Smoothies. Check out my Coconut-Oat Bars with chocolate chips and walnuts. The recipe is on page 44 and each bar is only 140 calories. You can order your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Slimming-Dairy-Free-Desserts-Smoothies-low-calorie/dp/0997665424/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8
We are all different, and we all eat differently, which means some people may lack certain essential nutrients. An all-in-one supplement may have too little of a something and too much of another. Here’s a quick guide based on certain dietary restrictions, but it’s best to get a full blood panel to see where you are defficient.
Consume the following supplements/foods daily:
- Vegan Diet: 1000 mcg Vitamin B12 dissolvable tablets in the form of hydroxocobalamin
- Gluten-Free Diet: 200 mg magnesium glycinate
- Dairy-Free Diet: 500 mg calcium and 1000-5000 IU Vitamin D3
- Nut-Free: sunflower seeds or a multivitamin
- Picky Eater Diet (one that doesn’t eat vegetables): beans, peanuts, whole grains, sunflower seeds, oranges, tomatoes, avocado, or 1000 mcg L-5 methyltethrahydrofolate, or Metafolin
- Fish-Free Diet: walnuts, flaxseed, hemp and chia seeds
*Source: McCulloch RD, Marsha. “Skipping that? Eat this.” Delicious Living March 2018. Pages: 25-29. Print.
Since I’ve found the chocolate and vanilla flavored vegan protein powders to be, well, awful, I decided to try SunWarrior’s Natural flavor (their chocolate flavored protein powder is really bad and the vanilla is overpoweringly sweet). What’s nice about a plain protein powder is, I can just add berries, or coco powder to make it taste like whatever I want.
Excited to try it, I put 1 cup coconut milk beverage, 1 frozen banana, a dollop of almond butter, ½ tablespoon of coco powder and ½ tablespoon of carob powder, and added the natural Warrior Blend in my Ninja. It was so thick, I had to stir it with a spoon, and it tasted like ground-up chalk. I couldn’t even taste the almond butter or the chocolate powders because their Natural flavor overpowered it. It was like drinking liquid sawdust. This was probably the worst vegan protein powder I’ve tried so far, and I think I’m going to give up on finding a good-tasting vegan protein powder; they’re like Unicorns…they don’t exist.
P.S. I’ve created a new drop-down, called protein powder reviews, on this site so you can find my reviews easily. On the right side, half-way down, under “Topics: Select below,” click on “Select Category,” and select “protein powder reviews,” or “recipes” for free printable healthy and dairy-free recipes, or “exercise” for exercise videos or tips, or anything in the other categories that you find interesting.
After watching the film “What the Health,” I went 100% vegan and felt great for two weeks, but by the third week, I felt ill…lethargic, tired, and weak. I couldn’t lift as heavy and my muscles were shrinking (I measured my quads). I had intense cravings for sugary and salty snacks, which is not normal for me. My stomach hurt, and I felt tinges of nausea come and go. I read that meat eaters who go vegan can go through a flu-like detox, which can take months to resolve. I’ve also read and heard that some people start losing their hair after cutting out animal protein.
Since vitamin B12 can only be obtained by eating animal meat, vegans are told to take supplements. If a vegan diet is what humans were meant to eat, why would we need supplementation? If meat is so toxic, then, shouldn’t we feel better, not worse after we stop eating it? There’s lots of people who were once vegan and reverted back to eating meat, because they didn’t feel good.
Celebrities who were vegan who went back to being carnivores include: Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman, film-maker Alex Jamieson, former president Bill Clinton, singer Carrie Underwood, celebrity trainer Bob Harper, and comedian Ellen DeGeneres. While their specific reasons for forgoing a vegan diet vary, their complaints are common and include: ending up with an eating disorder, loss of energy, difficultly finding quality vegan meals in restaurants, and struggling to consume sufficient protein (1).
While I am a big proponent of vegetables, fruit, greens, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, I do believe that we were meant to eat SOME animal meat. The problem is that the SAD, Standard American Diet, has ridiculously large portions of meat at each meal. I do eat fish, red meat, ground turkey and eggs, but much less than I used to, and I lost a few pounds.
There are many vegans who do just fine, but they also eat bread and pasta, which are fortified. (I stay away bread and pasta since they are high-carbohydrate, processed foods that spike my blood sugar, which is especially bad for a diabetic). I’ve also had low-iron levels my entire adult life, and was instructed by my doctor to eat red meat once a week. After I cut out meat, my guess is that my iron levels plummeted which caused my energy to drop. What works for one person, may not work for another.
I provide lots of vegan recipes on this blog because we don’t need to eat meat in every meal. I now consider myself “plant-based” and have great admiration for those that are vegan. We should make decisions, not just based on science because science it’s theoretical (remember when all fat was thought to be bad so manufacturers removed the fat and added sugar?). Your diet should be based on what works best for you, your lifestyle, and your goals. Being super strict with food is unreasonable and no fun. We can be healthy and happy!
Photo: Me. I need to find a “NOT” sticker to add to this shirt.
Starbucks coffee is so good, but the plastic-laminated disposable cups are so bad for the environment. “…they are almost impossible to recycle, meaning they don’t degrade for up to 500 years. In Britain alone, an astonishing 2.5 billion cups are discarded each year” (1).
Just like bringing your bags from home to the grocery store (you are doing this, right!?), you can bring your coffee mug or thermos to your favorite coffee shop.
- Source: Pilling, David. “GDP is choking us and the planet.” Los Angeles Times. 25 Feb. 2018: Page A17. Print.
Mint and Chip ice cream is one of my favorite desserts, but it’s full of sugar and fat, and who eats just ½ cup! I recreated it to make it healthy and high-protein, and is now my new breakfast.
- 1 ½ frozen banana chunks
- ¼ cup unsweetened, plain coconut milk (I use So Delicious)
- ¼ cup collagen protein powder (I use Great Lakes)
- 1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla extract
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 small piece mint chocolate
- 1 tsp cacao nibs
- 1 1/2 tsps unsweetened coconut flakes
Place small bowl that you are going to eat the sorbet in, the freezer. Leave the bowl in the freezer about 15 minutes. Put ingredients, except for the toppings, in a small food processor (see YouTube video below), until incorporated. Remove bowl from freezer, and add sorbet. Top with cacao nibs and coconut flakes. Eat right away since it melts really fast.
For more healthy desserts, check out my latest cookbook https://www.amazon.com/dp/0997665424/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507756038&sr=1-1&keywords=slimming+Dairy-free+smoothies+and+desserts
Mexican food typically doesn’t have a lot of fiber or vegetables; it’s usually beans, corn, flour, cheese, salsa and little bit of shredded lettuce. These tacos have lots of veggies, are low calorie, super tasty and 100% vegan. The best part is that they’re delicious!
- Corn tortillas, warmed in the oven (two per person)
- Chunky salsa (mild or hot, your choice)
- 5.3 oz plain coconut yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Green or red hot sauce
Taco filling ingredients:
- Green bell pepper, seeded, cored and chopped
- Yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped
- 1-15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup frozen white corn
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Sauté onion, bell pepper and zucchini in olive oil in a large fry pan until onion is translucent and bell pepper is softened. Add herbs and spices, black beans, and corn until warmed through. Place two warmed tortillas on a plate. Then, in the following order, add guacamole, taco filling, your favorite hot sauce (only if you like it spicy), salsa, and lime yogurt.
To re-heat, warm tortillas in the oven, and heat taco filling in the microwave for 60 seconds.
P.S. You can also follow me on Instagram @FitGirlUSA and check out my two cookbooks: Slimming Dairy-Free Desserts & Smoothies and The High-Five Diet.
It seems like no matter what people do, they cannot get rid of belly fat. Exercise burns only so many calories, which is why exercise doesn’t always work to eliminate unwanted belly fat. The real reason why belly fat is so hard to get rid of is that a low bodyfat percentage, usually in the low teens or, from some people, the single digits, is what it takes to get that stomach really flat.
Not all of us have the same body types, which is why some people hold fat only in their mid-section, and people like Kim Kardashian, hold fat in their buttocks and thighs. For example, a man who has a large stomach and thin legs isn’t a thin man with an extended belly; he’s an overweight man that doesn’t use his legs much. He needs to go to the gym, squat with weights to build muscle in those quads, eat better, and eat fewer calories.
The truth that no one likes to hear is that, for a super flat stomach, calories need to be reduced. The human body just doesn’t need many calories for survival. I’ve found that tracking what I’m eating, and what time I’m eating, really gives me a clear picture of what I’m doing right and wrong.
You can order my tracking worksheets, which are $9.95 for a 3 month supply, (click here for info: https://www.thehighfivediet.com/products.html) or you can use a free on-line tracker like My Fitness Pal, just make sure NOT to log in your activities in that app, because it will deduct food calories, which gives a skewed picture of calories eaten, burned, and how much is left so people end up eating more than they should.
When I saw a recent TV commercial with celebrity fitness trainer Bob Harper explaining that he’s now on medication because he had a heart attack; I was shocked. How can someone who’s so fit, only 52, who exercises all the time, and eats a clean diet, have a heart attack at 51? While, his mother died from a heart attack at 70 (1), and likely passed on a hereditary heart condition, because a high number of lipoproteins (A) were found in his blood (2), was that the definitive cause, or was it caused by his so-called clean Paleo diet (4)?
That makes me feel like no one is safe no matter what precautions they take, but a “clean diet” is not necessarily a healthy diet. A clean diet is typically one in which lean meats, whey protein shakes, mostly low-carbohydrate vegetables, sweet potatoes or yams, grains (typically rice-except this is not allowed on a paleo diet), some fruit, a little bit of oil, and a few nuts and seeds are consumed regularly. Not only is this diet limiting, but it’s really high in animal protein. In 2015, Bob Harper…”told Rachel Ray that he eats two to three eggs for breakfast each morning because he “wants the protein and the fat.” Even when you don’t eat fatty animal protein, “…there’s reason to believe that diets that are too high in protein lead to the formation of arterial plaque…” which increases the risk of plaque buildup (1). Bob Harper told NBC: “I was a big carnivore before. I worked with my cardiologist and what we came up with for me was to be more plant-based, leaning towards a Mediterranean lifestyle. I am really aware of the fats that I consume, even the good fats. Since my heart attack I haven’t had any red meat at all” (3).
But, what’s interesting is that he didn’t go back to being a vegan, or even a vegetarian. Maybe that’s because, if we cut meat out of our diet completely, we will be void of vitamin B12. If we don’t eat any animal products and don’t take supplements that fill in the gaps, the chances are likely that iron levels will be low, there will be hair loss, low energy, and illness will ensue.
While we can take vitamin B12 in pill or liquid form, omitting animal meat completely, just doesn’t work for everyone, but we can all benefit from limiting how much animal products we eat, and this is exactly what Harper did. He says, “Not only have I had to change my diet, which is much more balanced and plant based, I have changed the way that I workout, which is more balanced too. I don’t rely on super high intensity workouts any longer” (4).
Too much of anything is hard on the body. I hope that more people take to heart what Bob Harper has gone through; just because a gym rat looks healthy one day, doesn’t mean he’ll be alive the next.
Photo: Chose the vegan cheesecake over that cheat meal. Your heart will thank you.
- Ossola, Alexandra. “How Could Someone As Fit As Bob Harper Have a Heart Attack? If the Biggest Loser host can’t hack it, what the hell does that mean for the rest of us?” 27 Feb. 2017. Tonic (blog). https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/jpnea7/how-does-someone-as-fit-as-bob-harper-have-a-heart-attack
- Chen, Joyce. “Bob Harper completes cardiac rehab four months after near-fatal heart attack” 25, June 2017. Today (blog). https://www.today.com/health/bob-harper-completes-rehab-after-near-fatal-heart-attack-t113113
- Steinhilber, Brianna. “What we can all learn from Bob Harper’s shocking heart attack. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. Here’s how to protect yourself.” 7 Feb. 2018. NBC. Better (blog). https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/what-every-single-person-needs-know-about-heart-health-ncna844881
- Aol.com Editors “Bob Harper reflects on the year since he suffered a heart attack. 9 Feb. 2018. Aol.com (blog). https://www.aol.com/article/entertainment/2018/02/09/bob-harper-reflects-on-the-year-since-he-suffered-a-heart-attack/23357918/
- Ayuda, Tiffany. “What Bob Harper Learned from His Heart Attack (And What You Can, Too)” Daily burn life. Health (blog). 2 Feb. 2018. http://dailyburn.com/life/health/bob-harper-heart-disease/
Lifting weights isn’t just for the strong, the young, or the muscular, everyone should weight-train! When people think of weightlifting, an image of a strongman may come to mind, but you don’t have to lift heavy weights to gain the many benefits of weight training. Those 3-lb and 5-lb weights that people use for warm-ups, are totally acceptable to use for a workout. The trick is to do anywhere from 15-25 repetitions, and do four sets. Give yourself 1-2 minutes rest between each set. Go slowly and really pay attention to what you’re doing.
Make sure to work each and every part of your body, not just the arms! On Mondays, I do lower-body lifting. Wednesdays I strengthen back and biceps. On Fridays, I train chest, triceps, and shoulders.
Still apprehensive? Use the machines; that way you can be seated and you don’t have to worry about losing your balance or dropping the weight.
Benefits of Lifting weights:
- Strengthens muscles & ligaments which maintain balance, which means fewer falls
- Stronger bones means a stronger heart
- Prevent or reverse osteoporosis
- Strong muscles frequently challenged lowers glucose (great for pre-diabetic/diabetics)
- Lifting weights means weight loss, lower HDL, and better blood-flow
- Weight lifting results; toned body, less flab, a more youthful appearance, feeling happy, aches and pains are lessened, or go away completely
From the list above, weight-lifting is really important, but so is daily movement. It’s rare, maybe even weird, to see an adult play hopscotch or tag, jump rope, do wheelies on a bike, run through sprinklers, swing on a swing set, or chase each other around the neighborhood (for fun). Active kids are usually agile and underweight. Older adults are typically weak, stiff and overweight, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
While I don’t jump rope anymore, since it makes me dizzy (and I hate it), I lift weights, practice yoga, stretch, walk, and make sure to move around as much as possible, which makes me feel good and look younger than my actual age (which I’m keeping secret).
Photo: Me at the gym, lifting weights to strengthen my back. Please note that you will not get big muscles from lifting light weights! My muscles only pop like this when I’m doing an exercise that really challenges me, and I tend to lift heavy weights.