Posts tagged ‘protein’

June 3, 2013

Bedtime Snack

This could be you!

This could be you!

Good morning, friends! It’s Brooke, here. I know a bedtime snack is probably the last thing you’re thinking of right now, but sooner or later, the idea of a little nighttime nibble will cross your mind. And when it does, will you be prepared? A bedtime snack need not completely dismantle your whole day’s progress up to this point. In fact, you can harness the power of food for good and not evil—just choose wisely! Here are some tips to avoiding a complete meltdown in front of your open fridge.



1. Keep your snack light (under 200 calories): As you prepare for sleep, the last thing you need is something heavy sitting in your stomach. You want a snack that is small and easily digestible, that will usher you into dreamland. A cup of warm, fragrant herbal tea is a low-calorie way to help you relax and take the edge off of a late-night craving. If you’re like me, however, you may want something a bit more substantial to nibble on.

2. Include a complex carbohydrate and a low-fat protein: You’ve always heard that a cup of warm milk before bed helps you sleep, right? Turns out, it’s true! Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid notoriously associated with turkey dinners and post-dinner naps. Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that figures largely in the body’s ability to relax, regulate mood, and maintain a sleep cycle. All animal proteins contain varying amounts of tryptophan (turkey, chicken, seafood, eggs, animal milk, cheese, and yogurt), as do nuts, seeds, and legumes. Complex carbs, such as whole-grain bread or oats, help your body digest tryptophan more effectively. So, when you are choosing your snack, think complex carb (or maybe a simple carb, such as fruit) + low-fat protein. Some great snacks include:

  • Whole-grain cereal with milk
  • 1 c. yogurt topped with granola, berries, and/or fruit
  • Almond butter sandwich
  • Small apple or whole grain crackers with almond butter
  • 1 graham cracker sheet with milk
  • Small bunch of grapes with 1 oz. cheese
  • Handful of pistachios or pumpkin seeds with ¼ cantaloupe


3. Eat a more substantial snack if you are building lean muscle: The nighttime snack is almost a given if you are on a muscle-building mission. As you know, if you are trying to sculpt sexy muscle, eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day is essential, and this snack may be part of your plan. The time between dinner and breakfast is a long time to go without nutrition, so this snack is an excellent way to promote anabolism, or the building of muscle tissue, while you sleep. Bodybuilders need to add more protein to their snack than the amount shown in the examples above. Lean protein like eggs, yogurt, milk, and protein powder are great additions. Research has shown that casein protein is even more effective than whey protein in providing slow-digesting nutrition as you sleep. Casein protein can be found in animal milk, cottage cheese, or in powder form. Here are several good options for you if you are interested in building lean muscle:

  • 1 cup cottage cheese with 2 sliced strawberries
  • Protein shake with milk
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies
  • Oatmeal with protein powder added

4. Avoid snacks that are spicy, sugary, and caffeinated: This advice seems pretty obvious, but we’ll run through it anyway. Hot and spicy foods can contribute to heartburn and reflux, which does not make for peaceful rest. If your bedtime snack is high in sugar, your blood sugar levels will be affected, which will also make catching those ZZZs a challenge. And if your snack of choice is hot tea, be sure it’s herbal (such as peppermint or chamomile) and not just decaffeinated black tea—there’s always a bit of caffeine lingering in those leaves, even those marked decaf.

Happiness!! (or My Favorite Yogurt Snack)

Here’s my favorite way to fix yogurt—this makes an excellent pre-workout snack, provided I’ve eaten enough complex carbs throughout the day, but as a bedtime snack, it’s wonderful! It always makes me feel full, relaxed, and happy.

  • 1 c. low-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ c. low-fat cottage cheese
  • Small mix of berries (sliced strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries)
  • About 10 raw almonds or 5-7 walnut halves
  • 1 packet Truvia (stevia) for sweetness

Mix everything together in a bowl, and enjoy.



Friends, have a wonderful week, and happy (healthy) bedtime snacking!


April 1, 2013

My Fast Food


Morning, everyone! This is Brooke, and yes, I’m struggling today. It really feels like a Monday today, which works out well, since it IS Monday. But surely I’m not alone here. Here in North Texas (Dallas to be exact), spring has sprung forth joyfully—the tulips are gorgeous, the redbuds are crowned with purple-pink blossoms, and yellow-green pollen is beginning to coat everything. And while the weather may feel like California for the next few glorious weeks, allergy sufferers (like me) are likely sucking it up, mainlining eye drops and Kleenex for the foreseeable future. But at least it’s spring!

I know we’d all like to have everything under control, but I’m just going to be honest—I’m kinda sleep-deprived most of the time, including today. So when I have these draggy kind of days, I think what would help me feel more nourished and less depleted? Good food and fresh juice, of course! Thankfully, I have the perfect place for fresh, fast food strategically placed between work and home—Whole Foods! I swear I hear heavenly melodies every time I turn into the parking lot.

car pic w juice_cropped

My first stop is the juice counter to order the Sweet Tooth—a scrumptious mixture of apple, pear, beet, carrot, and ginger. A little of that ginger will clear your sinuses right out. Wow! Then onto the rainbow spread of the salad bar and prepared food—not only are the choices abundant, but they are (for the most part) healthy and conscientiously made. It makes my heart happy to partake of these delicious dishes, and the very best part is that I didn’t have to think about them or cook them. They are special for me—fast food that’s a little bit fancy. I load up on some starchy carbs as well as veggie carbs and tasty protein. Here’s a fun tip: If you need a nice, crunchy little salad and you’re in a hurry, pick up a Salad Shooter. It’s a small container with 5-6 layers of crunchy, tasty salad fixings, and when you add the little container of dressing, you put the lid back on, shake the whole thing up, and magic! Instant salad perfectly dressed.

whole foods_cropped

You can still make healthy choices for your fast food, even if you don’t have a Whole Foods or Central Market nearby. Find a lean protein, some slow-digesting healthy carbs (whole grains, sweet potato, quinoa, etc.), as much salad and green veggies as you like, and of course lots of water.

feeling great

Have a super week and happy eating—you deserve to feel great!


February 19, 2013

Snack Time!

hummus and veggies

Hi, there! It’s Brooke here. Let’s talk about something fun . . . snacks! Now, before we go too far, let’s demystify something. Food and nutrition can be loaded topics—some people have a great relationship with food, while others may think of eating as a confusing, guilt-ridden, boring, or necessary evil. Then we throw in snacks, and craziness breaks out! Snacks are often given a bad rap, mainly because many people choose munchies that are WAAAAY too full of calories, sugar, unhealthy fats, and sodium. Think of those tasty treats in vending machines and gas stations (not to mention your local grocery store, Aisle 17). We’ve all been there. I’m not proud of how much I love the taste of a kosher dill potato chip, but hey, I’m human. I avoid the siren song of this devilish dill delight because I know better—and my body deserves better, as does yours. Snacks will save your rear, in more ways than one.

apple hearts

Healthy gals and guys know one of the most important ways to reach their fitness goals is to eat 5-6 small meals a day, including snacks. Your body is an amazing machine, and it needs to burn quality fuel regularly throughout the day to keep you going strong. If you start thinking of food as fuel instead of something you have to deal with just to survive, your world will be rocked and you’ll become your body’s most powerful ally. Think of your nutrition schedule like this:

Meal 1: Breakfast

Meal 2: Mid-morning snack

Meal 3: Lunch

Meal 4: Mid-afternoon snack (or pre-workout snack)

Meal 5: Dinner (or post-workout snack)

Meal 6: Snack (or dinner)

Notice how you can incorporate pre- and post-workout snacks into your daily plan. You can also shift this structure to the morning if you like your workouts early. To keep your fire burning bright, eat every 2.5-3 hours. For your snacks, try to shoot for at least 10 grams of protein and 25-35 grams of carbohydrates by including 1 or 2 complex carbs (whole grains, veggies, most fruits, beans, brown rice, or oatmeal) and a little healthy fat (nuts, seeds, almond butter, low-fat dairy, or avocado). High-quality protein, carbs, and fats are going to keep you feeling satisfied and give you energy.

Nutritious Nibbles

  • 1 c. raspberries with ½ c. Greek yogurt
  • 1 small apple with 1 Tbsp almond or peanut butter
  • ½ c. cottage cheese with ½ c. mixed berries
  • 1 or 2 eggs (hard-boiled) with 2 whole-grain flatbreads
  • 2 Tbsp almond or peanut butter spread on 2-4 celery sticks
  • 6 carrot sticks with 1 low-fat mozzarella string cheese
  • 4 natural whole-wheat honey graham crackers with 10 red or green grapes
  • 1 c. low-fat milk (or almond milk) with 1 scoop chocolate (or other flavor) protein powder (can be whey or plant-based protein powder), along with a banana
  • Quick Basic Smoothie: 1 c. low-fat milk (or almond milk) with ¼ c. frozen or fresh berries with ½ fresh or frozen banana (Hint: Frozen fruit makes the smoothie thick and icy!)
  • 3 c. air-popped (or unsalted and unbuttered!) popcorn drizzled with 2 tsp flaxseed oil, 1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese, and dash of cayenne pepper, along with 1 apple
  • 6-10 veggie pieces: celery, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, zucchini, or yellow squash dipped in 2 Tbsp hummus or low-fat vinaigrette dressing
  • Homemade Trail Mix: 2 Tbsp dried fruit, 1 Tbsp sunflower kernels or pumpkin seeds, 1 Tbsp unsalted nuts, and a pinch of unsweetened coconut flakes

If you need a basic snack, an apple and some nuts or maybe even a protein shake and a banana are great options. However, if you are headed to the gym, be sure to grab something rich in slow-burning carbs and lean protein (like oatmeal and scrambled egg whites) to fuel your efforts. Here’s one of my favorite recipes that I love to fix before working out. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!



Banana Blueberry Power Snack

  • 1 whole-wheat English muffin
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • ½ banana
  • Small handful of blueberries
  • ½-1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • Small drizzle of honey

Toast both halves of the English muffin. Spread 1 Tbsp almond butter on each half of the muffin. Slice the banana into small slices, and then arrange the slices flat on each half. Place the blueberries around and in between banana slices (the berries tend to roll off—trust me!). Sprinkle ground flaxseed across each muffin half, and then drizzle each half with a little honey. Yum!!


Keep fueling that beautiful body of yours, and have a super week!