Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vanilla-Orange Protein Muffins

We're coming at you again with another original post-workout recipe! Sweet and filling, these weigh in at 145 calories, 6 grams of fat and 16 grams of protein. This snack is ideal for just after a strenuous session of weight lifting or yoga, or for a healthy grab and go breakfast. If you don't have orange water, don't fret. Just use 1/3 cup regular water and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract for extra vanilla goodness.

Vanilla Orange Protein Muffins
6 eggs (or 9 egg whites)
1 1/2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 1/8 cup UMP vanilla protein powder
1/3 cup orange water
2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 425F.  Line a muffin tin with baking cups. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, orange water and plain water. In a separate bowl, mix together chia seeds, coconut flour, protein powder and baking powder. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth with no lumps. Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each baking cup. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned. Let cool completely before storing in the fridge in an airtight container.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Breakfast Cookie

Packed with protein and healthy carbs with the option to be sugar free, this is the perfect grab-and-go breakfast, hiking snack or post-workout treat. Each cookie boasts less than 200 calories, 10 grams of protein, and healthy fat and carbs to keep you satiated and fueled-up. Oh yeah, and there's chocolate in it.

Post-Run Protein Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Work Time: 30 min
Total Time: 3.5 hours
Makes 15 palm-sized cookies

1 cup almond flour

¼ cup xylitol (or Truvia, Splenda, or granulated sweetener of choice)

½ cup protein powder (we used plain pea protein)

1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt (or applesauce to make it dairy-free)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla

20 drops stevia (or 2 to 3 packets to taste)

4 egg whites

½ cup water

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix together all dry ingredients except for oats. Add in wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Fold in rolled oats, then fold in chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 3 hours to let dough set. Roll into 15 balls on lined or lightly sprayed cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until cookies begin to brown on top. Let cool and store in the fridge in airtight container.


Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Smoothie

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In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we're offering up a few tasty additions to your smoothie that all happen to be green. Bonus: green smoothies make amazing hangover cures. Really. The electrolytes and water in the fruits and veggies will keep you hydrated, and the fiber will decrease the irritation on your digestive system from the alcohol.

Spirulina is chock full of B Vitamins for energy, Vitamin C, protein and iron. It's a blue-green algae that's often sold in powder form and has a mild, grassy flavor. Add a spoonful to your smoothie for an extra burst of vitamins and energy.

Wheatgrass has a great vitamin profile and is also a wonderful source of potassium, which helps relieve muscle cramps. A serving of dried wheatgrass is the same nutritional content as about 3-4 servings of leafy green vegetables. It's fairly easy to sprout wheatgrass at home, but you can buy it powdered or frozen for convenience too.

Avocado is a healthy source of saturated fat, is great for cardiovascular health and is an anti-inflammatory food. It's also a great source of Vitamin E, which promotes silky soft skin and hair. Use avocado in place of milk or yogurt in your smoothies to make it thick and creamy.

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Baby Greens
Of course, there's always the classic method of greening your smoothie with leafy greens. Baby greens are harvested early in life and are small and tender, but still chock full of nutrition. Because of their tenderness they're smoother in smoothies than when they're full-grown. You can find baby spinach, baby kale, baby collards, or baby green mixes at most grocery stores. A serving size is about one handful.

Have fun with the St. Paddy's festivities, and let us know how your green smoothie works for you. Until next time, keep it clean!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Building Credit History

This post originally appeared on this blog on 8/30/2012, but it's such an important topic we felt we should revisit this one.

Even if you are not in the market to get a loan, having and building a healthy credit score in the United States can be beneficial and even fundamental for managing your bills. Your credit score is a complex algorithm designed by lending agencies to allow lenders to quickly and easily judge how likely you are to pay your bills and manage the amount of debt you request to borrow. Your credit score can earn you discounts and perks, even on basic utilities like electricity (or washer and dryer rentals!), or it could prevent you from being able to obtain loans in the future, all depending on how you spend your money over your lifetime. Though it takes years to build credit, don't feel intimidated! There are a few simple things you can keep in mind to build a good score.

Credit is based mainly on your borrowing history.
Even if you have a bank account and pay your apartment rent on time and have never had a credit card or been in debt, you may not have an established credit history. Having no credit can be just as detrimental as bad credit because lenders don't have any idea about how likely you are to pay your debts. The credit bureaus recommend that you have somewhere between 4 and 6 accounts that report to credit agencies to have a healthy score. A credit line could be a student loan, a car loan, or even as simple as a card that you buy groceries with and pay off at the end of each month.

You don't have to start off with no credit when you turn 18.
Parents can add their children's names to credit accounts when they are of age, usually around 16, to begin building credit. Your teenager does not have to use the card or even make payments, just having her name on the card will piggyback off of your credit score. However, keep in mind that if your credit is bad and you do this, your child will inherit bad credit too.

The amount of time you keep a credit line matters.
Having long-standing accounts that are paid on time for several years helps to build your credit. This is another great reason to start early when building your credit. Even if you pay off your debts, try to keep at least one card around that you have a long history with.

Keep a low balance on your cards and low overall debt.
Try to keep the amount of debt used on your credit line below 30%. A heavy determinant of your score is how much debt you have compared to how much you make each year. But just having a maxed out credit card can be damaging to your credit. Try spreading out your debt over a couple of cards and try to be as pragmatic and conservative as possible when judging how much you need to borrow. Just because you can borrow a lot doesn't mean that you should.

Hard inquiries to your credit do effect your score, but not by much.
Any time someone other than you checks your credit -- that is, any time you show interest in taking on more debt-- lenders see this as a potential risk factor in lending to you, which can potentially damage your score. However, the actual debt you have compared to your income and whether you pay your bills on time is far more weighty than an outside agency checking your credit. To limit the number of checks, check your own score regularly so that you have your rating in mind. Then whenever you are interested in dealing with a company who checks credit, be sure to ask what general score range they look for to get the best rate. This will help you judge how likely you are to be approved at the budget line you are looking for without adding unnecessary dings to your score.

Checking your credit score is free!
Though all of these factors are very important, the best way to keep on track is to check your score and your detailed report. Credit scores vary so much from person to person because everyone's financial needs are different. You can check your score as many times as you want, as well as obtain at least one annual detailed report from each of the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) at no cost. Credit monitoring sites such as are a great free resource for gaining insight into your credit history. If at any time you see major changes in your score and you're unsure why, get a detailed report from each of the bureaus to make sure your affairs are in order. Big unexplained changes can point to errors in reporting or even identity theft.

Remember, knowledge is power! Keeping your credit rating in mind when you're budgeting can give you an edge in the future. Though credit scoring can seem scary and mysterious, it's just another factor in balancing your finances that you can use to your advantage. So keep an eye on it every month, just like your bills and your bank account. And until next time, keep it clean!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How to Make the Perfect Easy Cup of Coffee

There are a lot of people out there who have reported knowing how to make the perfect cup of coffee, how to perfectly brew your espresso, how to avoid the Starbucks line. In my opinion, most of these people have over-complicated the matter with machinery and manifestos. Today we'll show you how to make a perfect cup to turn your morning from all right to great. And we'll do it for cheap. No buying crazy beans, contraptions or special filters.

Pick Your Beans
Last time you went to the supermarket, I'm willing to bet there were about 50 different bags of coffee to choose from. And so many promises, too. Dark Chocolate, French Vanilla, Italian imports, a few made-up Starbucks terms. And freeze-dried instant? Put that stuff down! You're better than that. You know how coffee smells so wonderful and you think it should taste that way too, only to find it's bland and watery and bitter? Yeah we're going to banish that disappointment. With the right bean, there's no worry. Look for:
  • Whole bean (not pre-ground or instant)
  • Breakfast blend if you like a lighter flavor or a little extra caffeine
  • Espresso or French Roast if you like stronger flavor or less caffeine
  • Fair-Trade/Organic if you can afford it (Costco has a great fair trade espresso for cheap)
Get Your Gear
I'm willing to bet that someone you know has a poor, neglected coffee grinder lying around. Grab it up. If not, you can find them for about $10-$15 brand new. Same goes for a French Press, at about the same price. Lastly you will need either a kettle or a pot to boil water in. Whatever you prefer.


Keep It Clean
We like to say that a lot around here, but in this context it is truly vital. That bitterness and weird oily residue you see in your office coffee cup? That's because someone's not cleaning the electric coffee pot very well. Coffee beans are oily, and in time build up gunk and burn bitterness into every pot made. Don't just rinse off your stuff or throw it in the dishwasher. Scrub it out with a sponge and rinse it with vinegar from time to time. Especially if you got your gear second-hand. Your taste buds will thank you.

Brewing Your Cup
  1. Measure out enough water to fill your french press to the line plus a cup or two more, and put on the stove to boil.
  2. Put in just enough whole beans into your grinder for the pot. The amount varies depending on pot size and individual taste, but start with about 1/3 cup. I do about 2 small handfuls.
  3. You're looking for a "coarse" or "medium" grind for a french press. Fine grind is when the beans are the texture of soft sand, and is usually what you'll find pre-ground at the store. If you get that, you've gone too far. Medium grind looks like small gravel.
  4. Put your ground beans into your press.
  5. Once the water boils, take it off the heat for a few moments. Give it 10 seconds or so for the boiling to stop, then slowly pour the hot water in.
  6. Let the coffee steep for 5 minutes.
  7. Put the top on your french press and slowly press down on the plunger to move all the grounds to the bottom of the pot.
  8. Pour and enjoy!
I like to add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to my coffee, but you can, of course, dress it however you like.

That's it! The simple, no-frills way to brew an amazing cup of coffee. Enjoy your joe, and until next time... Keep it Clean!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Keeping Fruit Flies and Gnats out of Your Home

It's happened to all of us. You bring home a bunch of overripe bananas or overlooked a weird tomato at the grocery store and a few days later you're finding tiny flies everywhere. You may notice one flying past you as you watch an evening TV show, and then start finding them dead in your bathroom sink. Where are they even coming from?!

Unfortunately, you can't completely avoid them coming into your house altogether. But there are some surprisingly easy steps you can take to get rid of them safely and naturally, with items you probably already have in your home.

Clean Your Home
Make sure you've gotten rid of anything that could have brought the bugs in or could still be attracting them. Throw out old food, put your produce in the fridge, wipe down the counters, mop the floors. Make sure there aren't any food spills on the floor or an old piece of fruit that rolled to the back of your fridge. Take out the garbage when you're done. Any homemade food that would normally be left out (yogurt, pickles, vinegar) should be well sealed, covered or moved to the fridge.

Clean Your House Plants
Fruit flies and gnats are difficult to distinguish from each other because they're so small. Though you might have gnats on your fruit, you'll find that they prefer to nest in the soil of your houseplants. You might not even notice the bugs when you water your plants. Go up to a plant, lift the leaves and give them a shake from the bottom. If bugs come out, you know where they're living.

There are a few options for killing gnats and preventing them from living here. One issue is that you may be overwatering your plants. This is especially common in the winter months. Give the plants a week or two to dry out. Gnats like to nest in moist places. If waiting that long is too much for your breed of plant, you can try spreading a layer of sand or coffee grounds on the top layer of soil to repel the gnats.

The easiest way to get rid of gnats on plants is by getting a spray bottle with about a cup of water and adding a tablespoon of dish soap and a teaspoon of vinegar. Stir to mix, then spray the mixture on the soil of the plants. Repeat once or twice a week for a few weeks as needed. You will continue to see flies around your home for a few days while they search for a new place to nest, but when they can't find one they will eventually die off. Continue to spray your plants after the bugs are dead to make sure any leftover eggs or larvae in the plants are gone.

Make a Trap
Traps are pretty simple and easy to make. Just set out a shallow dish of beer with a teaspoon of dish soap mixed in. The smell of the alcohol will attract the flies, and the soap will make them sink to the bottom of the dish. Leave the trap in places where you commonly find the flies-- in the bathroom, by the kitchen sink, etc.

The traps also work well if you shine a light above them. The light attracts the flies when it's dark, just like moths. A desk lamp or a night light both work well. Just set one up next to the trap before you go to bed.

That's it! With a little time and persistence, your home will be a no-fly zone in no time. Until next time, keep it clean!