Caramel is typically made from sugar, dairy and vanilla, and contains a lot of calories. I found Sweet Drops, which is a zero calorie, zero carbohydrate sweetener, made from stevia, and have been adding this to my smoothies and oatmeal. I’ve tried vanilla too, and that’s also yummy. My husband adds a squeeze of the caramel to his coffee with a little bit of So Delicious coconut milk beverage.
If you’re looking to cut back on dairy, or eliminate it, want to reduce calories, and/or trim unhealthy foods, give this sweetener a try.
If you can’t find it at your local market, it’s available on Amazon. Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/STEVIA-SWEET-DROP-CARAMEL-1-7OZ/dp/B01B0488QM?th=1
I was so excited when I found So Delicious brand frozen mousse in Sprouts so I bought four different flavors. What’s extra special about these is not just that they are vegan, they are low-calorie, at around 300 calories for the whole pint! Typical vegan ice cream is about 150 or more calories for just ½ cup, so if I devoured a pint of vegan full-fat ice cream, that would be over 600 calories! Since I have very little control when it comes to sweets, this is great for me.
I tried Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Strawberry and Lemon…all delicious. Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip are my favorites out of the four. The remaining flavors I haven’t tried yet are mango, salted caramel and cranberry. I’m hoping they come up with a raspberry/almond swirl.
These frozen desserts don’t have the richness of ice cream, it’s the consistency of whipped cream; which is not a bad thing; it’s just different.
Do I recommend these? You bet! Just buy one at a time. I ate the whole pint of each flavor, one day after the other.
Low-calorie vegan mousse: http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/product_groups/dairy-free-frozen-mousse
I was trying to create quick grab-and-go healthy nut bars, but I was pleasantly surprised that these taste like banana bread, but without any sugar (except for two tablespoons of honey in the entire batch). The sweetness and moisture (these are nice and moist) comes from ripe bananas. There’s no flour, butter, dairy, added fats, wheat or gluten. Don’t omit the quinoa, which adds a wonderful unique crunch. These are really easy to make too.
- 2 large ripe bananas
- 2 T brown flax seeds, whole
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2 T honey (or maple syrup, if vegan)
- ¼ cup Hunza golden raisins (or mini, dark chocolate chips)
- ¼ cup quinoa
- ¼ cup almond butter, creamy, unsalted
- ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut parchment paper to line inside of an 8×8-inch glass baking dish. Pour quinoa in a small sauce pan, and cook on medium heat for 2 ½ minutes. Grind flax seeds in a coffee mill (or buy pre-ground. It’s fresher and less likely to get spoiled if you grind them yourself right before you use them).
While quinoa is toasting, put bananas, honey, ground flax, cinnamon, salt, and almond butter in a large mixing bowl and mix with a large spoon. Toss quinoa inside the sauce pan so the other side gets toasted, and continue heating (toasting) for another 2 ½ minutes. Add oats, quinoa, raisins or chocolate chips, and walnuts, and stir until incorporated. Spoon dough into the baking dish, and level out with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25 minutes in the oven. Let cool for 1 hour, then cut into 16 squares (4×4). Keep in refrigerator, covered.
makes 16 squares
1 square: 119 calories 16 gross carbs 5 grams fat 4 grams protein
The USDA recommends that everyone eat certain portions of all five food groups daily, but the government is highly influenced by large companies that give donations to help re-elect government officials, so, keep that in mind when taking their advice.
The five food groups the USDA categorizes are fruits, vegetables, protein (which they lump beans, eggs, soy, nuts and seeds [nuts and seeds have protein, but are mostly fats], grains (which do contain protein), and dairy (2).
While a lot of people are eliminating grains, even whole grains from their diets to lose bodyfat, this is not necessary. Grains should be limited, but not eliminated, unless you’re allergic to them, or they cause you inflammation.
The one food group that should be removed from the USDA’s list is dairy. Dairy is high calorie, high in salt (cheese), high in cholesterol (butter), high in sugar (lactose in milk), causes stomach distress (typically from lactose, or from whey protein), and is totally unnecessary. You don’t need to get your calcium from dairy products. Calcium is naturally occurring in other foods, like beans, figs, soy, fish, seeds and nuts (1).
If you need testimonials about how cutting dairy helps lower bodyfat, watch this YouTube video from bodybuilders, models and bikini competitors.
- 1) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-calcium-rich-foods
- 2) https://www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods
While bulking is a tactic to increasing muscle size, adding extra calories adds fat too. Unless you’re underweight, it’s not necessary to increase calorie intake for the sole purpose of muscle gains. Not only does excess fat cause inflammation and increases estrogen, that extra fat reduces testosterone; “…low testosterone levels make it difficult to significantly increase muscle size” (1). If you want muscle gains, you’ll want your body fat in the teens to show off those muscles (otherwise they’ll be hidden under a layer of fat).
Even though you want to increase muscle size, don’t train at 100% all the time, or lift more than six days a week (four is typically plenty though); doing so will lead to overtraining. By overtraining, the immune system is suppressed and testosterone levels fall, “…making gains in muscle size impossible.”
Lift heavier, focus on form, and reduce reps to 12 (those last few reps should be challenging). Sets should range from 4-6, prioritize whole foods and complex carbs with the highest nutritional value over calories, vary training intensity, take rest days, and you’ll see improved strength with consistency.
Photo: Kasey Housmans, Fitness Trainer
(1) Source: Fahey, EdD, Thomas. Strength and Conditioning. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pg. 90, 94.
Finding a good-tasting vegan protein powder that doesn’t have sugar, or a funky texture, is definitely a challenge. Target Stores sell Tone It Up Vegan protein powder in tubs. I bought the Coconut, and the Café Latte protein powder flavors for $22.99 each.
Unlike other Tone it up protein powders, these two aren’t very sweet, or very thick. The problem is that they needed extra sweetness, and a bit more thickness, so you may want to add honey or stevia, and your favorite vegan milk instead of water. They also have a chalky, grittiness I couldn’t get past.
The café latte flavor is on-point. I found that if I add 1 tablespoon of the café latte with my plain collagen protein powder by Great Lakes, it’s actually really good. The coconut flavor doesn’t taste like coconut, and I can’t even describe what it tastes like, other than bland.
The bottom line is that these flavored protein powders have an off-putting texture, and are not items I plan to purchase again.
This high-protein breakfast drink is light, delicious, packed with nutrients, and is the perfect morning pick-me-up.
- 1 cup So-Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 banana, frozen, broken into 1-inch chunks
- 1 squeeze of Sweetleaf sweet vanilla drops*
- ¼ cup plain Great Lakes collagen protein powder
- 1 T café latte Tone-it-up protein powder**
- 1 Tablespoon carob powder
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened, toasted coconut flakes
- ¼ teaspoon raw cacao nibs
Put all ingredients in a blender in order above, and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
300 calories 24 grams protein 30 grams net carbohydrates
*This zero calorie sweetener can be found from: https://thrivemarket.com/p/sweetleaf-sweet-drops-vanilla-1-7-oz-bottle?utm_source=google&utm_medium=pla&utm_medium=pla&utm_source=google&utm_
**Here’s where to get this protein powder flavor: https://www.target.com/p/tone-it-up-plant-based-protein-powder-cafe-latte-11-36oz/-/A-53164790?sid=296S&msclkid=26b64cb7f46e1a17873910ed0da86387&ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=bing_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Health%2BBeauty%2BShopping&adgroup=SC_Health%2BBeauty&LID=700000001230728pbs&network=s&device=c&querystring=tone%20it%20up%20coffe%20late%20protein&gclid=CM3CuO6yp-ACFTyXxQIdNugB4A&gclsrc=ds
You want to eat more, or maybe you want to shed some bodyfat, so you’ve decided to lift in order to gain muscle. While exercise burns calories, and the process of breaking down and building muscle burns calories too, the amount of calories one pound of muscle burns daily is a mere 4-6 calories. So, even if you put on an additional 10 pounds of muscle, that’s under 100 calories those muscles eat up.
Adding muscle takes time too. For a beginner lifter, a pound of muscle gained per month is ideal (maximal). After about a year, those gains taper off.
If I’m in the gym weight training, I’ll burn over 300 calories in an hour. If I’m training clients for three hours, and I lift for an hour that same day, I’m burning about 600 calories. That’s not too shabby for a tiny female like me (I’m 5 feet tall).
If you want to eat more total calories, or lose bodyfat, adding more daily activity, in addition to adding muscle, is the way to go.
My clients asked me to provide a workout they can do at the gym on days they aren’t training with me. You can do this same workout twice a week for a month, after that , switch up the workouts. If you can do more than 15 reps, increase the weight.
People who eat just two meals per day tend to be overweight and deficient in nutrients. Studies have shown that the human body can only utilize 20-25 grams a protein at a time, so that extra protein is wasted, and the extra calories gets converted to fat.
The frequent breakdown process of foods is calorie burning it itself, so it’s good to eat frequently. When you wait over three hours between meals, your body thinks it’s starving and can slow your metabolism. For all of these reasons, it’s much better to have four small meals, or three small meals and one snack, spread throughout the day. When you eat several times a day, it’s less likely you’ll overeat at dinner.
While eating more frequently is not a guarantee that you’ll lose extra body fat, it’s a move in the right direction. The next step is to make sure those portions are appropriate for your age, height, and activity level.