The Coffee vs. Smoothie Dilemma [JAVAPRO Review]

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The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of JAVAPRO.

Aside from water (and possibly almond milk), coffee and smoothies are two of the beverages that I consume more often than anything else. I am most definitely one of those people that doesn’t feel truly awake until I’ve had my morning cup of coffee. I also can’t drink coffee before my morning workout (that would not sit well on my stomach while teaching Spinning class!) but immediately want a cup when I’m home from the gym. However, I also like to have a smoothie right after a workout. This is the dilemma that I often face: should I make a cup or coffee or make a smoothie? As you may already know, I love smoothies…

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I’ve attempted to make my own version of a coffee smoothie many times- whether it’s from using cold coffee, coffee frozen into ice cubes or adding instant coffee to the mix. Some of my attempts have turned out to be okay- but none have really blown me away. When I was presented with the opportunity to review JAVAPRO through my ambassadorship with Fitfluential, I felt like someone had been reading my mind! I’m a fan of coffee flavored anything and thought that a whey protein powder that has coffee in it might be just what I’ve been looking for!

I had actually been noticing the bags of JAVAPRO at my gym for a few weeks – the packaging is certainly eye-catching and separates itself from the standard tub of protein powder I’m used to buying.

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The Peanut Butter Showdown

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We go through a lot of peanut butter in our house.

Greg uses it in his smoothies every day and I have a spoonful every now and then, and I probably buy a new jar every 7-10 days. Of all of the nut butters in the store, peanut butter is probably the least expensive and it’s still one of my favorites (right along with almond). I started making my own nut butters a while ago and kept it up for a while- swearing that I’d never buy another jar again. That didn’t last very long, because really- it’s just easier to pick up a jar from the grocery store. That being said, there’s nothing like the taste of fresh, homemade peanut butter!

As I was putting a near-empty jar of Justin’s back into the cupboard yesterday I thought about getting back to making my own peanut butter again. So, instead of picking up a 16 oz. jar of peanut butter for $6.00 I bought 3 1/2 lbs. of unsalted roasted peanuts for $7.00 from the bulk section at Sprouts.

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While it definitely is cheaper to make your own peanut butter-  it’s a lot more work (mostly because of the clean-up). The majority of the clean-up has to do with the appliance that you use to make your nut butter in. I have used both my Vitamix and my Cuisinart food processor in the past and decided to have a showdown between the two when making the latest batch to see which one really makes the better nut butter.

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Hold onto your seats folks, it’s going to be a wild ride!

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This Week

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Whoa- this has been one long week. Now, of course I know that it’s been the same amount of time as any other week- but the days have just seemed to move a little bit slower. Originally Greg and I had planned on taking a Colorado-cation (I think that’s a Lynne term) this weekend but some events from earlier in the week have caused us to change our plans a bit. Our plan was to head down south (to either Steamboat Springs, Crested Butte or Durango) for a couple of days but that will have to wait until another time. Instead, we’re going to take a day trip (finally!) to Wyoming and hit up some breweries in Ft. Collins on the way back home. I’ve actually never been to Wyoming and the border is only about 90 minutes from my house. It’s about time I step foot in that state!

The week started out with some drama (which is why we decided not to go away this weekend) and it’s all because of this little guy…

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WIAW 55: Hiking to 14,265′

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Happy hump day, friends! If you haven’t already – go check out this COOL giveaway from a GoodPop!

Last weekend I hiked my fourth 14er- Quandary Peak!

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Hiking at 14er is a whole different ballgame than going on a day hike around Boulder. The elevation here is around 5,300′ which seems low in comparison to the 14,000+ feet at the summit of these very tall peaks. Most of the hikes start above 10,000′ and there is a considerable difference in the oxygen at that elevation. There’s also a big difference in how much energy it takes to just walk up the street! I like to wear my heart rate monitor when I hike 14ers to see just how much harder my body has to work (and how much energy it’s using). Just take a look at my stats from my hike to Quandary Peak:

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I can’t remember a time that I’ve ever burned over 4,000 calories in less than seven hours. That’s just crazy!

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NuttZo: The “Powerhouse” of Nut Butters

Forgive the title of this post- WordPress has a habit of not letting the whole thing show.. It should say: NuttZo: The “Powerhouse” of Nut Butters.

Of all of the things in my kitchen that I love to eat, nut (and/or seed) butter ranks right at the top of the list. Peanut, almond, sunflower, hazelnut, cashew… I’m not picky. It’s one of those things that I make a beeline for at the grocery store and always notice if there’s a new brand of it on the shelf.

I’ve been eying NuttZo brand nut butter for quite some time now, but just hadn’t yet taken the plunge. I think the timing’s just been bad- I have a rule about how many open jars of nut butter are allowed in my house at once (and always have way too many!). I was recently given the opportunity through my ambassadorship with Fitfluential to review a variety of NuttZo and (of course) I jumped at the chance!

NuttZo is a 100% organic 7 nut and seed butter that is gluten and soy free and contains no added sugars, oils nor preservatives and is available in 3 flavors: Original, Chocolate, and Peanut Free.

I received a jar of the Creamy Original Seven Seed & Nut Butter:
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One thing that I noticed right away is the new design of the label and the glass jar! NuttZo has always caught my eye because of it’s unique “upside down” jar (which is GREAT for any natural nut butter to help prevent oil separation!) and I love the look of the new label and packaging.

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PB Banana Oat Energy Balls

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I’m very particular about the time of day that I like to exercise. There are some people that like to wake up early and do it first thing in the morning, and there are others that prefer to go at night.

And then of course, there’s people who prefer not to exercise at all…

I’m definitely a morning exerciser. I will get up as early as I need to in order to fit my workout in and have it done and overwith before I have to do anything else in my day. For me, exercising in the morning sets the tone for the whole day. It gives me energy to get through the whatever is on my plate for the day and I don’t it looming over my head to do in the afternoon. Back when I was living in Maryland, I taught classes as early as 5:15 am. Call me crazy, but that was definitely my time to shine! There’s something great about having a great workout already done by 7:00 am – and having to only shower once a day is an added bonus.

Now I teach a few classes at 7:00 am during the week, but I’m usually at the gym around that time anyway. I definitely need some sort of fuel before working out, but can’t stomach a whole lot that early in the morning. My go-to was usually a half of a banana, but lately I’ve been enjoying these little guys. I’ve shown them on the blog before, but finally buckled down and wrote out the recipe!

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Pickles + Nut Butter [Things I Don't Buy Anymore]

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TGIF! I hope you’re staying cool wherever you are- we are certainly having a heat wave here in Maryland! I’m all for hot weather, but anything over about 90˚ is where I draw the line. The temperature has been hanging out 100˚ for what seems like forever- but fortunately the forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-80s all of next week! I will be really happy to escape the excessive heat (and humidity!) very soon!

I’m really looking forward to this weekend- I have some really fun stuff planned! I’ll be wrapping up my Friday teaching my Spinning and Bodypump classes later this afternoon, and come home to our weekly pizza night afterwards. I usually take a rest day on Saturday, but volunteered to cover the 8am Spinning class (let’s face it- I need the money!) and then will be celebrating Ashley’s wedding in the afternoon/evening! I’m so excited, and can’t believe it’s finally here! On Sunday I teach Spin class in the morning (again!) and then have one last Bodypump practice session (before the launch!) with some of the other instructors in the afternoon. After that, I’m meeting up with my friend Krista to see MAGIC MIKE. :)

Whew!

Ever since school ended, and I’ve had a bit more time on my hands, I’ve found myself making more things in the kitchen. I have had a “to do” list for simple recipes forever- things that I just didn’t make time for during the school year- and I’ve been tackling it one by one. And from that list there are two things that I’ve become slightly obsessed with making: pickles and nut butter. And no, I don’t eat them together (although I did know a girl in elementary school that would each pickle + peanut butter sandwiches!).

It all started when I bought some pickling cucumbers at the farmers market last month. Look how cute they are!

We are big pickle fans in my house, so I figured that making my own pickles would be a great idea. I remembered that I had pinned a pickle recipe from Ashley’s blog and used her “Simply Pickled” recipe to make my first batch. I was so excited to see how that first batch turned out- I couldn’t even wait a day to try them! Even after a few hours, the cucumbers started to “pickle,” and kept getting better as the days went on.

I’ve tried a few of the other recipes from Ashley’s pickle post, and am completely stocked up on all sorts of pickling spices. I’m also excited to try pickling some other vegetables like green beans, cauliflower, onions… maybe even broccoli!

As I said above, I’ve also had an obsession with making nut butter recently. I’ve been making my own peanut butter for a while now- it’s easy to do and you can’t really mess it up. I usually just throw a few cups in the Vitamix and let it go. It literally takes less than 2 minutes to make! As much as I love peanut butter, it’s not my favorite of the nut butter varieties- that title goes to almond butter.

I had tried making almond butter several times in the past, and just couldn’t get it right. I would do the exact same thing as I did with peanuts, and would end up with nothing but almond meal. But then, magically last week, I finally figured it out! There are two factors that contribute to successful almond butter making: #1: roast the almonds beforehand (thanks again, Ashley for that tip!) and #2: Let it GO. If you’ve ever tried making your own almond butter before, you’ve probably noticed that steam/smoke starts to come out of your food processor/Vitamix after a while. This always scared me, and made me shut off the machine. What I didn’t know is that it’s actually a good thing- the nuts need to heat up to release the oils and get soft enough to turn into nut butter. When I applied both of these factors to a batch I whipped up last week, it finally worked! I was beyond excited- finally I was able to get drippy, perfect almond butter!

I’ve developed a preference of using my food processor instead of my Vitamix to make nut butters- mostly because it’s easier to get every last drop of it out of there. I even made my own sunflower seed butter yesterday, which also turned out perfectly!

I used 2 cups of roasted sunflower seeds from Whole Foods (I also roasted them for a few extra minutes before using) that already had salt added, which yielded about 1 cup of sunflower seed butter.

I will definitely buy unsalted next time, as these were way too salty for my liking.

The great thing about making your own nut butter is that you can also flavor it however you want. Obviously, plain (with just a little salt) tastes great on its own. I have personally fallen in love with the honey/vanilla/cinnamon/sea salt combo. I’ve made varieties of peanut and almond butter with that combination, and it’s really hard to keep my spoon out of the jar! And, obviously, there are a bunch of other nut/seed varieties to experiment with aside from the three of these.

Salad dressing and jam is another thing that I enjoy making myself (it’s so darn easy to do), and I want to start tackling other condiments next: mayo (which is super easy), mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce… I’m seeing a few hours of browsing Pinterest in my near future.

OH- and one more thing (or three). I’ve finally gotten with the times and gotten a Facebook page and updated my Twitter and Pinterest accounts. If you’d be so kind to “Like” Oatmeal after Spinning on Facebook, I will be very thankful! And if you want to follow me on Twitter on Pinterest, please click the hyperlinks. :) And as always- thanks for reading. You guys ROCK!

If you haven’t entered the NuNaturals giveaway yet, there’s still time!

What are some of your favorite foods/condiments that you prefer to make at home, rather than buy at the store? Any good tips/recipes to share?