High Protein, Low Carb Brownies

Alright, folks, I’m on day three of my low-carb, high intensity workout regimen and, amazingly, I haven’t caved and scarfed down my stockpile of Cadbury Creme eggs …yet.

I have, though, suffered from some pretty intense sweets cravings, which has led me on an internet search to find something sweet that won’t break the carb bank.

I found a few low carb recipes, but nothing really blew me over and most of them were RIDICULOUSLY high in fat and calories (basically pure-butter blocks!), so …I decided to improvise and make my own!

Tori’s High-Protein, Low-Carb (grain-free/gluten-free) Brownies!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Splenda (it is low carb, after all)
  • 4 oz of unsweetened, pure dark chocolate (melted)
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter or ghee
  • 2 full scoops of your favorite low carb Chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup of egg whites (or egg substitute)
  • 1/2 cup Walden Farms brand sugar free chocolate syrup (aka, nectar of the gods)
  • 1/2 cup Walden Farms brand sugar free caramel syrup (tastes like melted dulce de leche ice cream!)
  • 1 cup of fat free cream cheese, softened (but NOT melted!)
  • 1 dash chili powder
  • 1 dash sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil Spray (a godsend!)

Directions:

I’m the first to admit that I’m not much of a baker, so I definitely am not one to “sieve” this, or “whisk,” that, and –by some miracle of the pastry heavens– this recipe came out perfectly by just combining ALL of the ingredients in one giant bowl and beating it into a creamy oblivion.

Hint: the harder and longer you whip, the fluffier the brownies will be.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and spray your pan (use a brownie dish for THICK, moist brownies, or a COOKIE SHEET for thin, crispier brownies – my preference) well to ensure nothing sticks.

Pour in well-beaten batter and gently rock pan to get the better evenly spread out.

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Tiny little cream cheese lumps survived the beating, but they didn’t impact the flavor or texture at all!

If using a smaller pan, bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 MINUTES. For a cookie sheet or larger pan, bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes. I baked mine for about 18 minutes in a cookie sheet and thought they turned out a little well done, but still SUPER delicious.

And, seriously, don't these look perfect?! Hard to believe they're completely flourless.

And, seriously, don’t these look perfect?! Hard to believe they’re completely flourless.

I could barely wait for them to cool, and managed to cut this tray into TWENTY FOUR giant servings (think 2×2″ brownies!).

Calorie/Nutrient Content for one brownie (assuming 24 servings in total):

  • 81 Calories
  • 5.3g fat
  • 2.2g carbs
  • 4.6g protein

I’m going to keep playing with the recipe to see if I can boost up the protein a bit more (maybe Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese? more protein powder?) and reduce the fat a tiny bit, but only 2.2g carbs for a solid 5 bites of brownie is a win-win in my book!

On that note… bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Low Carb Diet Underway

OK, OK. Let me start this post off by saying this: I’m a bit of a hypocrite.

I’ve been very good about not stressing my weight for several weeks, and just eating well (for the most part) and exercising, trying not to pay attention to the scale but focusing on how my body feels instead.

Well, after a weekend of binging on junk food and drinking copious amounts of Tequila, the scale was NOT my friend this morning.

And, coincidentally, I’m just 12 days away from my 31st birthday/.

Yeah, so, about that “peace with my body thing” …it’s crunch time.

My husband and I agreed to hold one another accountable to a low carb, moderate-to-high fat diet between now and Friday, July 10th to see if we can undo some of the damage (aka, spare tire chub) caused as a result of our weekend-drinking for the past few months.

We grilled a bunch of lean meats (chicken breasts, turkey burgers, etc) to get us through the work week, and stocked up on spinach, kale, and broccoli to make our meals as healthy as possible.

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STACK ‘O MEAT!

Between now and July 10th, we’re aiming to eat under 25g carbs per day (easier said than done, by the way — EVERYTHING has carbs!) and stick to 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day.

My lunch pal at work has 4 cups of broccoli, 3 chicken breasts, spicy deli mustard, and 2 cups of spinach.

For breakfast, I actually made my go-to egg muffins, which are just egg whites, whole eggs, turkey bacon, and broccoli mixed together and baked in a muffin pan:

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Just five minutes of prep and then 15 minutes in the oven to get a dozen of these little beauties, which are roughly 70 calories each and taste amazing!

My hope is to go from today’s weight (133.2 – yipes) back down to 127-128 in time for my birthday on July 11th.

Now, before you go saying, “Heyyyyy, you can’t safely lose that much weight in 10 days,” please know that I’m expecting to lose 2-3 lbs in the next two days purely from water weight.

My husband and I had a lot of salty and decadent foods this weekend, and it’s pretty normal for me to drop 1-3 lbs between Monday and Wednesday just from the shedding of the salts from my system. So, realistically, I’m aiming to lose about 2-3 lbs in the next 10 days, which is doable with moderate exercise and a clean diet.

I’m not going to go to any extremes; my goal is just to tighten up a bit between now and then to ensure I can enjoy my weekend on the beach, which has become a birthday tradition.

Wish me luck!

~ Tori

Paleo Stuffed Peppers!

OK… everyone has been raging about stuffed peppers in my office this week. For three days in a row, it’s all anyone can talk about.

“Ohhhh, my wife made these ground andouille sausage and quinoa stuffed peppers last night and they were amazing!”

“I saw a recipe on Pinterest for these brown rice and ground pork cheesy stuffed peppers I can’t wait to try!”

“Have I said stuffed peppers yet today? Stuffed peppers! Stuffed peppers! STUFFFFFFED PEPPPPPERS!!”

OK. I get it, Paleo gods, I get it. I need to make some Paleo-friendly stuffed peppers.

However, I work full-time and hate the thought of coming home at 6pm to clean, prep, and bake stuffed peppers for an hour …because, damn it, I’m starving when I get home from work. I want to CHOW DOWN!

So… it’s crockpot time. Time for the magic.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 bunches of pearl onions
  • 8 large bell peppers
  • 1 cup raw button mushrooms
  • 2 cups of Trader Joe’s organic marinara
  • 1 cup red wine (of your choice)
  • 6 tbsp ground garlic
  • 6 tbsp ground chili powder
  • 4 tbsp dried onion flakes (if you haven’t noticed, I add these to everything I cook)
  • Non-stick Coconut Oil spray (I prefer Trader Joe’s)

Directions:

In your crockpot, spray a thin layer of coconut oil to prevent searing/sticking. Clean your bell peppers, chopping the tops off and removing the seeds/insides. Place the bell peppers into the crockpot.

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Now, in a large pan (I used a wok), spray your coconut spray (to prevent sticking) and put it on medium-high heat. Gentle saute your mushrooms (I chopped mine small), pearl onions, pepper caps (why waste them? dice ’em and add it in!) until they were nice and soft. Once tender, I added the raw ground turkey and seasoning.

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After the turkey was cooked through, I added 1 cup of the marinara, mixing well.

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While that cooked down, I mixed the remaining cup of marinara and the wine and poured it IN BETWEEN the peppers in the crockpot. The hope is that the fluid would help to poach the bell peppers, making them soft and sweet.

Once the meat mixture cooked down, I used a big spoon and (quite clumsily) stuffed the peppers in the crockpot.

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Don’t those look AMAZING? Who needs grains? Not this girl!

Since the meat is cooked and I won’t be home until after 8pm tonight, I set the crockpot to LOW and to cook for three hours, then reset to “warm” so it would still be steamy warm when I get home.

Now, since my husband isn’t devout Paleo, I sprinkled a little low fat mozzarella and Parmesan on four of these to make them extra tasty for him, and I plan to enjoy mine with some freshly mashed avocado.

Needless to say, I can’t wait for my work day to end so I can go inhale these!

Bon appetit, my friends, and I’ll let you know how they turned out tomorrow!

~ Tori

Best Paleo Shake, EVER!

In an effort to eat clean (i.e. as much natural and fresh fruit/veggies as I can) as well as stick to a mostly Paleo lifestyle, I’ve been making myself a fresh Paleo protein shake for breakfast every morning.

I’ve become such an ADDICT to this particular flavor concoction, I just had to share it with my fellow yo-yo dieters. 🙂

Tori’s Fruity Paleo Protein Shake:

  • 1 scoop Paleo Protein Powder (pictured below). I prefer using a MIX of both the Vanilla Almond and Triple Chocolate flavors, but you can do a solid scoop of either flavor if you don’t have both options!
  • 2 cups raw spinach. (I promise, you won’t taste it once blended!)
  • 1.5 cups of mixed frozen fruit. (I use a blend of mango, strawberries, pineapple, and peaches, but you can use a berry blend or bananas, too!)
  • 2 cups unsweetened cashew milk.
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional, but it’s great for digestion).
  • 1 tbsp bee pollen granules (great for boosting immunity and energy).
  • 1 cup of ice (to make it both large and extra thick).

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I start by putting the spinach into the blender first. This ensures it’s chopped VERY well, and guarantees there’s no green chunks floating in my smoothie.

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Next, I layer on the fresh fruit. Again, I use a pre-mixed bag of peaches, mango, pineapple, and strawberries, but you can use any mixed blend you prefer. I really like blueberries and strawberries when I use just the Triple Chocolate protein powder.

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I add a full scoop of protein powder on top (I blend my Triple Chocolate and Vanilla Almond), then add a tablespoon of chia seeds and a tablespoon of bee pollen granules. We happen to have a farmer’s market that sells local bee pollen granules (best for combating allergies!), but you can find it at Whole Foods or any health food shop if there isn’t a convenience farmer’s market nearby.

On top of the powders, I add roughly 1 cup of ice (make sure you still have about 2 inches from the top of your blender to ensure proper mixing), and then I pour 1.5-2 cups of unsweetened cashew milk on top. I like Silk’s unsweetened cashew milk, as it’s just 25 calories per cup and has added calcium.

Blend until well mixed, which is about 2 minutes for my crochety old blender.

It tastes so good, I often just toss a straw right into the blender and drink it straight:

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Nom, nom, Paleo goodness!

And, yes, I do drink the entire thing… over 36 ounces and roughly 350 calories! I stay full for HOURS thanks to this baby!

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Whole Foods = Health

For the last week, I’ve really been putting my focus on whole, natural foods. Fresh fruits. Raw veggies. Minimally processed, organic when possible.

And, though I haven’t been weighing myself, I’ve noticed some differences already.

Skin is clearing. I don’t need my morning coffee. Hair feels softer, and more manageable.

Just by reducing my consumption of processed foods –especially sugars– I’ve noticed a major improvement on my physical health. My nails are growing faster, and the bags under my eyes are finally starting to recede.

Even if my weight never moved an ounce, I think I’d still feel confident that this is the way I’m supposedly to eat for life.

On that note… bon appetit!

(Just a small sampling of what I ate over the last week)

~ Tori

Tiny Breakthrough!

OK, I know I promised myself I wouldn’t weigh-in daily (trying to do just Monday/Wednesday/Friday), but I woke up this morning and felt smaller. I’m not sure if it was the ridiculous cardio yesterday or the fact that I couldn’t stop going potty (seriously, I felt like I was going to dry up like a prune, but it never ended), but I just knew the scale would be good to me, so I did it.

Today’s weight?

131.2!

That’s down 4 lbs since Monday morning (135.2), and much closer to where I expected to be after my trip to New York.

I’ve set a “soft” goal (translation: won’t beat myself up if I miss it) of being back under 127 by January 31st, and back under 125 by February 28th. I think this is very moderate and achievable, especially given my rate of exercise.

My long term goal is under 118 (please keep in mind I’m only 5’2″, so this is a very healthy weight for my size), but I don’t anticipate hitting that until closer to the summer.

So …today’s off to a great start with a positive weigh-in! I’ve packed only healthy foods (homemade fruit salad, non-fat Greek yogurt, a big salad with salmon, and carrots with hummus for a snack), so temptations won’t be an issue. All in all, it’s under 800 calories for the whole day, and that means I get to have a fun dinner (and a glass of wine)!

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Monday Accountability Report

I had class tonight, so I wasn’t able to start my Monday off at the gym as I would’ve liked.

That being said, I was EXTRA diligent about my diet. Check out today’s calorie summary:

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Unintentionally lower than planned for calories, but the high protein nature of my meals today REALLY filled me up!

Check out the nutritional breakdown:

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Not too shabby! I’m hoping to hit the gym hard tomorrow and I will post photos/measurements on Wednesday.

Total exposure, total accountability.

Hope everyone has a great evening and, if it’s dinner time for you: Bon appetit!

~ Tori