ANSI Gourmet Cheesecake Protein Bar

ANSI Gourmet Cheesecake Protein Bars

20131212_143703 I heard about these new bars on Instagram the other day and was immediately drawn to them because of the flavor choices and the stats. Here’s some facts about the bars from their website:

  • 20 grams of Isolate Protein
  • 100% All Natural
  • Gluten Free
  • High Fiber (17-19g)
  • Stevia Sweetened
  • No Soy Protein
  • No Gelatin
  • No Sugar Alcohol
  • No Hormones rBST & rBGH
  • Less Sodium (under 90mg)
  • Low Net Carbs

Similar macros to that of a Quest bar but claiming to be softer and more delicious? You KNOW I had to try them. I contacted the company and they kindly sent me a free bar to review! I got the “Strawberry Supreme Cheesecake” version. 20131224_181709 Taste: Initially, the bar’s taste was bursting with strawberry flavor but had a bizarre, and somewhat lingering, chemical aftertaste. 

Texture: The bars were chewy but semi-chalky. Like a microwaved Quest bar but not as dense.

Smell: Smelled just like a strawberry cheesecake. Very appetizing! 20131224_181635 Gluten-filled counterpart: A strawberry cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory but with a cough medicine-y aftertaste. 

Price: $28.99 per box

Nutrition: 20g of quality protein, lots of fiber, lower fat than a Quest bar, and much lower sodium than a Quest bar. More ingredients than Quest bars, but all quality and healthy. Nothing bad to say here! 20131212_143721 Ingredients: rBST/rBGH Free Isolate Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Corn and/or Tapioca Fiber, Inulin, Honey, Almonds, Organic Palm Fruit Oil, Cranberries (Cranberries, Sugar, Sunflower Oil), Strawberries, Yogurt Powder (Whey Protein Concentrate, Nonfat Dry Milk, Yogurt Cultures), Natural Flavors, Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Stevia Extract (Reb A), Monk Fruit Extract.

Overall: I probably wouldn’t buy this bar again. Although it had similar nutritional stats to a Quest bar and had an enticing smell, the aftertaste and price were subpar. amazing texture. I did like that they are handmade each week, so it makes it a bit more worth it. The other flavors may be better, so I can’t say I’m not a fan of them all. These Gourmet Cheesecake Protein Bars come in three delicious flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Strawberry Supreme Cheesecake and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake.

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Cinnamon Walnut Pecan Butter

Happy almost Christmas!

Being back home for the holidays, I have access to all of my mom’s kitchen doodads. I’ve been known to make a mess, so I’m trying to be on my best behavior aka bribe my mom with the treats I make mwahaha It sure is fun to experiment with new crazy concoctions! Nothing beats homemade nut butter, so that was the first thing I chose to whip up.

This nut butter tastes just like the holidays. Reminiscent of pecan pie and the Christmas-y scent of cinnamon, your tastebuds will leap higher than any reindeer. Heck, I bet even Santa will be jealous 😉

Cinnamon Walnut Pecan Butter

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Cinnamon Walnut Pecan Butter

What You’ll Need:

  • Food processor
  • Glass jar
  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • Cinnamon (taste preference, I used ~1/2 tbsp.)

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Instructions:

  1. Blend pecans and walnuts until smooth, creamy consistency (this takes around 5-10 minutes depending on the strength of your food processor’s blade).
  2. Once mixture is smooth, add in desired amount of cinnamon and blend again.
  3. Use a spatula to pour nut butter into jar and enjoy! Refrigeration is optional, but will make it last longer.

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Wanderlust Wednesday: Ayers Rock

Ayers Rock-Uluru

June 2010

wanderlust wed - CopyWelp, I survived finals week 😀 I can’t believe only one semester stands between me and a Bachelor’s in Marine Biology. Excited is an understatement! I can’t wait to finish those last 12 credits, travel, and enter the job sphere!

Speaking of travel, I wanted to get back in the habit of posting more “Wanderlust Wednesday” adventures. I probably should have posted this prior to my Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb post to keep things in chronological order, but whatevs 😉

Simply put, this Wanderlust Wednesday is extremely close to my heart. Traveling to Australia was an amazing experience in itself, but traveling to Ayers Rock was genuinely lifechanging. They say when you visit Uluru, the rock changes you. I was skeptical of the legend, but am now a believer.

We arrived to Ayers Rock by plane from Cairns on May 31st. It was SO bizarre to peer out the plane window and see a monstrous orange slab of rock emerging from the flat, Mars-like dirt. I didn’t snag a picture of it unfortunately–guess it’s just another reason to return 🙂

After landing, we had to ride a bus out to our lodging. Our driver was a funny British guy named Nathaniel and he made my dad and I crack up nonstop. It was about 60*F, so we Texans were in heaven.

My dad and I unpacked and explored the lodge area once we were dropped off. There are a lot of different hotels clustered around central giftshops/grocery store, ranging from high class fancy hotels to tents. We stayed at a place called Pioneer Lodge–not super snazzy, but better than living in a tent. It was really cozy and nice!

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While exploring, we saw a ton of birds and then watched the sunset with some other lodge guests before returning to our room.

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The next day, we watched the sunrise in the brisk wintry air at “Imalung lookout.” The moon was still out and it was really peacefull–super weird to see our breath in the cold during June, though! After breakfast, we hiked and explored our lodge area, did some giftshopping, and looked for wildlife and creepy bugs.

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That afternoon, we had a local aboriginal sunset tour at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, right by the iconic rock.

Riding in the bus over to the Park, the driver told us some fascinating facts about Uluru. The land used to be covered by ocean and during that time, the rock was originally vertical, like a giant pillar, but it fell over millions of years ago. Also, it’s like an iceberg, so the majority of the rock is located underground.

We were so excited when we finally arrived to the Anagu tribe cultural center. There, we found our group and met with our Aboriginal guide, Rebekah, and her translator.

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Rebekah led us on paths around the rock and told us the Anagu tribe’s story of creation with the Kuniya “Woma python.” She also shared some facts about the tribe: girls have to cut off all of their hair when they reach maturity and wear it as clothes for awhile and they have no number over 4.

We learned some funny aboriginal vocabulary as well– “Palya” means thank you, hello, bye, and please, but if you pronounce it “Paya,” it means “beat it punk, get out of here!” haha

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We then walked over to the sunset viewing area. There were lots of local Aboriginal artists dispersed in the area, selling their trinkets and crafts. I bought a cool hedgehog!

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As the sun dipped below the horizon, the rock literally started changing colors: deep purples, bright reds, vibrant oranges, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen! The color of the rock contrasting with the blue sky left everyone speechless.

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After getting back to our lodge, we ate dinner and did some stargazing. The outer edges of the Milky Way lit up the sky! The utter silence of the territory in addition to the brightness of the stars nearly made me start crying–it was just so amazing to feel so close to nature. I wish I could capture that feeling of humbleness in a jar and re-live it over and over again. 🙂 It started getting really cold, so we didn’t stay out for very long.

We headed out to Sydney after our brief stay in the Outback, so it was definitey a contrast going from living on the land to big city life. Leaving Uluru, I felt humbled. Learning about a tribe’s way of life, seeing the power a rock can have on a group of people, and feeling so close to nature truly changed me. As we took off from the airport, “when can I return?” repeated like a mantra in my head as I watched the Mars-like scenery disappear into the clouds.

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Krave Protein Bars

Krave Protein Bars

I’m a Quest bar addict, I admit it. But whenever I see new bars that compare nutritionally and claim to be better than Quest bars, I HAVE to try them.

After hearing about Pure Fitness’ new high fiber Krave protein bars on Instagram, I contacted the company and they graciously sent me two free samples to review. I got Banana Nut Chocolate Chip and Raw Cookie Dough. Let’s just say these took me by surprise! 😀

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Before I start the review, here’s Krave’s mission statement and a few facts about the bars themselves:

Our Krave Natural Protein Bars are freshly made each week in our kitchen in Lantana, FL with healthy natural ingredients, giving them an impeccable nutritional profile. Each bar has 20 grams of protein, no more than 7g of non-fiber carbs, and they all are gluten free! The most important features of our bars are their delectable taste, unique soft texture, and chewy feel, unrivaled by all protein bars. Our Krave natural protein bars are a new enjoyable experience from the first to last bite, we guarantee!

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Taste: The banana nut chocolate chip had the flavor of a banana split–nuts, chocolate, and banana all combined into one bite. I thought I was eating a hot fudge sundae or one of those frozen chocolate dipped bananas! The cookie dough was different than I was expecting; sort of chemically tasting, but not bad. I think I may still like the Quest chocolate chip cookie dough better.

Texture: THIS is what won me over. The bars were SO SOFT. Like a microwaved Quest bar without being microwaved. Krave definitely knocked this out of the park. The pliable, almost gooey texture made me want to go back for more. The raw cookie dough had flecks of real milk chocolate dispersed throughout, and the banana nut chocolate chip had banana chips, too.

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Smell: The banana nut chocolate chip bar didn’t really have a strong smell, but the cookie dough smelled like the real thing. I had to do a double take and make sure it wasn’t real cookie dough!

Gluten-filled counterpart: Three Musketeer’s Bar in texture

Price: $28.99 a box

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Nutrition: These bars boast a whopping 20g of protein and 16-17g fiber, leaving 4g-7g non fiber carbs. They’re a bit high on sodium at around 250mg per bar, but not bad compared to other protein bars on the market. They’re gluten free, vegan, low sugar, and have no preservatives, too.

Ingredients:

Cookie Dough: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Blue Agave Inulin (100% Natural Prebiotic Fiber), All Natural Peanut Butter, Purified Water, Unsweetened Chocolate Chips, Erythritol. Contains 1% of less of: Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Sucralose.

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Blue Agave Inulin (100% Natural Prebiotic Fiber), All Natural Peanut Butter, Purified Water, Unsweetened Chocolate Chips, Dried Banana Chips, Erythritol. Contains 1% of less of: Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Sucralose.

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Overall: I would definitely buy these again. Out of all the Quest competitors, these give them the most run for their money. With similar nutritional stats, amazing texture, they’re amazing. While their price is higher (although cheaper than Quest if you consider shipping), they are handmade each week, so it makes it a bit more worth it. They have a lot of other flavors that sound AMAZING: French Toast, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Baked Apple Pie, Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch…you can check them all out here. I can’t wait to try them!

Wanderlust Wednesday: Goosewing Dude Ranch 2007

Goosewing Dude Ranch 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Summer 2007

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Before I begin though, I just have to say a MAJOR thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. You guys are the most supportive, welcoming, and friendly community of people I’ve ever come across. Seriously, why can’t I meet more of you in the real world?!?! 😀 I really appreciate your kindness so much!

Now…ONTO THE WANDERLUSTING! 😀

For this week, I’m going WAY back to 2007 when my parents and I went to Goosewing Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Like every other teenage girl, I was obsessed with horses. I collected model horses, took riding lessons, and jumped at any opportunity to be near an equine. So when my parents said we’d be going on a “different” kind of vacation to a dude ranch, I was thrilled.

Landing at Jackson Hole’s tiny airport, one memory sticks in my mind: gawking at the monolith overtaking my plane window. The monolith otherwise known as the Tetons. To this day, I have never seen mountains more majestic and beautiful.

It took us awhile to drive out to the ranch, but after getting lost once or twice and refusing to ask for directions (shhh don’t let my dad know I said that), we finally made it to the secluded, stunning dude ranch: Goosewing.

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We headed to the main house and checked in; eventually making our way to our cabin (pictured above). It was cozy and decked out in rustic furniture–making it feel like we went back in time to the old frontier.

After getting situated, we met some of the staff, other guests, and were assigned to the horses we would ride during trail rides. I can’t remember my mom’s horse’s name, but my dad’s horse was Pepper, and mine was Louie. Louie was a meanie though, he bucked multiple times and was a bully to the other horses haha

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Over the course of the three days we stayed there, we did a variety of activities: trail rides, painting some of the horses like Indians, fly fishing, playing with the ranch dogs, hikes, square dancing, camp fires, cookouts, you name it. It was incredible to live that lifestyle and unplug from the real world. Being with nature and focusing on what really matters in life was the most soothing feeling! I remember my mom and I joking about how my dad was having withdrawals from electronics/email/TV/phones haha as an electrical engineer, I guess it’s hard to step away sometimes 😉

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I loved how Goosewing involved every guest with activities as well–we did most things as a group and formed a lot of friendships. In addition, all of the meals were cooked by the staff and we had a “family-style” lunch and dinner with the other guests at the ranch. Boy, was it some good eatin!!

One of the things I’ll never forget was walking out on the porch of our cabin and star gazing at night. There were no sounds of the city, no pollution, just the sound of crickets, horses, and the occasional crackling of firewood. Never before had I seen stars so bright and vivid. I almost felt like I could reach out and grab a handful to keep in my pocket. Truly humbling.

We left Goosewing heavy-hearted and wanting more. Although we explored Yellowstone in the days following, I couldn’t shake the spell Goosewing had placed on me.

To this day, I miss that peacefulness and calm. I would love to return, or just have my own ranch to experience that solitude on a daily basis! One day, one day 🙂

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Embracing Challenges and Vanquishing Limits

Happy Monday and Happy December!

This past weekend, I got to go home for Thanksgiving, and boy did I enjoy every minute of it. Family time, good food, and a chance to take a breather from studying = heaven.

Now I have 6 class days, 2 lab practicals and 3 final exams left until Christmas break. You’re looking at a chick who is SO READY.

Because then? I’ll only have one more semester until GRADUATION!!! 😀

But, I’m getting off track.

Instead of doing the regular ol’ recap of “what I ate and did” for thanksgiving, I thought I’d recap the 5k my dad and I ran after turkey day to kick off the Christmas season!

As you all know, I ran my first 5k less than a month ago.

Well…I think I may be developing an addiction to 5k’s…

Since this race took place within walking distance from my house, my dad and I couldn’t resist signing up. My mom isn’t much of a runner, but she still cheered us on.o the morning of the race (Saturday), we woke up early, did some stretching, and walked down to the event in the freezing cold. Yes. 38 degrees. We were basically decked out in Alaskan parkas. TEXAS, HOW COULD YOU?!?!

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Since we arrived early, we did some exploring downtown. My town throws a little Christmas festival each year and this race happened to fall on the same weekend, so there were tons of attractions about, like bounce houses, stages for music, and petting zoo. We couldn’t resist taking a few kooky shots by a carousel haha

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My ankle was bugging me, but I figured the pain would subside as I warmed up and got jogging.

Soon, it was time to line up and get ready to begin. So, we ditched our coats by a rogue tree and walked over to the start.

As we began, I was shocked at the amount of people jammed into this race. My dad and I practically had to dodge strollers, dogs, and crazy Gu-spiked women, just to keep a steady pace. It must’ve been a record-setting year because it never really thinned out like we were hoping.

The course was hilly (definitely not something I’m used to in the Gulf Coast for college) but I liked it. My ankle hurt like daggers going up the hills, but I kind of ignored it. I have to be honest and say it was kind of an ego-boost to pass people as you climbed hills, not to mention the relaxation of going down the hills.

We warmed up really fast despite the 38 degree temp and my ankle started feeling better!

Nearing the end of the race, my dad and I turned on the turbo jets, ignited our “kicks,” and throttled toward the finish line.

Crossing that line felt SO GOOD! The combination of people cheering, running next to my dad aka running buddy, my own voice telling me “you got this” and my lungs burning with the cold air was such a rush! I think that’s is why I enjoy running 5k’s–the pay off, the feeling you gave your all, the endorphin rush hitting you like a freight train!

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Going into the race, I wanted to beat my previous running time of 34:22 (yes I’m a snail). When we looked up our chip times, it turned out I shaved off a considerable amount; ending at 32:52.

Is it a new world record? No. Will I be recruited for a Kenyan racing team? No way.

The old me would’ve probably started playing the comparison game; beating myself up for how slow I am compared to other runners. But the new me chucks those old, negative thoughts in the trash.

Why? Because it was MY personal best. Not yours, or my dad’s, or an Olympic racer, but MINE. 

I’ve known for quite some time that I’m prone to never giving myself enough credit. So, instead of dwelling on the “should haves” and “could haves,” I took a moment to put some things into perspective.

Reflecting after the race, I realized a few things that made me proud of myself and my finishing time:

  • I’ve only ever raced twice
  • My “training: for this 5k was running once a week for 35ish minutes
  • I gave it my all

Those realizations made me also see how any race is simply an act of breaking the barriers your mind places in front of you.

I beat a girl who hates running with a passion. I beat my inner voice yelling, “you can’t do this.” I beat doubt. I beat myself. And I think that’s truly what racing is about: you vs. you. This race was a chance to challenge myself and beat my previous time and I did it. I conquered my goal and it felt SO good!

And now, since I’ve reached a new pinnacle, I only want to keep improving. My next aim? 30 minutes. And after that? Under 30 minutes. Then a 10k, or a 15k, or even a half marathon.

I’m not limiting myself with anything. We only silence our full potential when we put up roadblocks like that. Imagine the possibilities stemming from setting aspirations that have no absolute maximum. These past months, I’ve integrated this idea of saying goodbye to “can’t” and embracing “can” and “will.” Just the simple step of believing in myself and realizing that no goal is unattainable has changed me for the better.

………I kind of went on a little rabbit trail with this post rather than just a race recap haha but it’s truly how I feel. I encourage you to start living in such a way and realizing that you can overcome the limitations your mind sets up. 🙂

And so I leave you with a quote:

Ralph MarstonHave a great first week of December!