Caribbean Style Rice & Beans

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Ingredients:

  • Long Grain Rice – 2 cups; thoroughly rinsed until water runs clear
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbs
  • Red Onion – 1/2 medium; diced
  • Garlic Cloves – 4-5; minced
  • Mushroom Caps – 4 small; sliced
  • Bell Pepper – 1/2; diced
  • Fresh Bay Leaves x 2
  • Fresh Thyme – 1 tbs
  • Vegetable broth bouillon cube x1
  • Coconut Milk – 19oz can
  • Water – 3 cups
  • Red Kidney Beans – 190z can; drained & thoroughly rinsed
  • Creole Seasoning – 4+ tbs
  • Salt & Pepper – a few dashes

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Instructions:

Heat a large sauté pan or skillet with on medium/ low heat. Wait a of couple minutes for the pan to heat up, then add the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. After the oil has time to heat, toss in the red onion and minced garlic. Shortly after, include the bell pepper, mushrooms, and fresh thyme. Stir it all around and add a dash of salt and black pepper.

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Now its time to add the long grain rice that you have washed extremely thoroughly. Even it all out then pour 3 cups of water into the pan. The coconut milk is then added along with the vegetable broth bouillon cube, 4+ tablespoons of creole seasoning (I love this seasoning so I don’t hold back), and the rinsed red kidney beans. Finally, add the 2 fresh bay leaves and bring it to a simmer.

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Cover and reduce heat, stiring freuquently to prevent burning, adding water if necessary. It takes about 20-25 minutes for the rice to cook and water to evaporate, at which point you’ll be left with a creamy rice thats not only delicious and nutritious, but also free of animal products. Do not forget to remove the bay leaves prior to serving.

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Creole Seasoning Blend: 

  • 2 tbs Onion Powder
  • 2 tbs Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbs Dried Basil
  • 2 tbs Dried Oregano
  • 1 tbs Dried Thyme
  • 1 tbs Black Pepper
  • 1 tbs White Pepper
  • 1 tbs Cayenne Pepper
  • 5 tbs Paprika
  • 3 tbs Salt

creole seasoning

In a small bowl, combine all of the above ingredients. Store in an air tight container.

You may be able to find this seasoning already made up at your grocery store, likely in the international isle. I did not have such luck, but easily picked up all the herbs and spices at bulk barn.

 

 

 

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Is it necessary?

Having little money/ being broke ever since I left home has forced me to put things into perspective in terms of what is necessary when it comes to my personal fitness.

Things were simple when I first started exercising about 12 years ago. I worked out at home and scaled back my calorie consumption. I wasn’t paying for a gym membership and I was consuming little calories that came from food my mom bought. I dropped -too much- weight and found myself having to re-evaluate the angle I was taking.

I later joined a gym located around the corner from my house. It was one of the half dozen weight rooms ran by the city of Brampton in their recreational department. In addition, I eventually smartened up when it came to nutrition — or so I thought.

Fast forward a little futher and I am paying for a gym membership and have begun picking up my own groceries; because eating copious amounts of lean chicken and turkey with rice and broccoli is the only way to get fit (rolls eyes so hard they almost fall out). A couple of decent chicken breasts are easily 10 bucks; which adds up mighty quick when that is the bulk of your diet.

My time spent on fitness websites were at an all time high, gawking over all the amazing physiques telling myself I will look like that one day. Heck! I may even compete. Before I could even think about that however, I needed supplements, lots of glorious supplements!!!

Of course whey protein was the first to be added, then branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), followed by L-Arginine, Beta Alanine, creatine, and caffiene. I even wrote a post about it all. My once zero dollars spent on supplements easily became 100-130$ every 4-5 weeks.

Wake up call

At the end of fast tracking a second diploma in early 2016 I found myself with a lot of debt, and jobs that paid me little or offered few hours. I couldn’t spend money unnecessarily without it coming back to bite me in the ass. There were days where I had to decide to put gas in my car or groceries in my fridge. I remember pulling to the side of the road one afternoon and cried as I fought anxiety and tried to figure out how the hell I am going to keep it together.

At this point my purchasing of supplements days were long gone. After 3-4 years of taking supplements I had no choice but to put it to rest until I was in a more stable financial situation. My days of eating chicken and turkey breasts were also behind me. Meat had always grossed me out, I just got it in my head that it was the best way to be lean and fit. Now, without a bunch of money to waste on dead carcasses; I began eating more beans, lentils, rice, pastas, and even bread.

Funny thing is, my strength did not deteriorate; if anything it increased. Is it possible the supplements weren’t doing much and I simply wasn’t giving my body what it needed from food? Yes, yes it is. Is it also possible that eating a plethora amount of animal products isn’t the optimal diet for a weightlifter? Yes ma’am, thats what I have come to believe.

Now I know this post comes with no hard core facts, just personal opinion. Take from it what you may. Im simpy suggesting you don’t waste your money on a bunch of supplements. If anything supplement your deficiencies, while considering the time of year. For example, I take Vitamin D3 drops in the fall/ winter because of the lack of sunlight.

As for the meat — I honestly believe it’s not good for us humans. Maybe 1-2 times a week; but not every meal, every day. Without getting into the science and health facts, to me eating more plant based foods just makes sense. From my experience I feel better, my skin looks better, and I carry the most muscle mass I ever have, all while spending less on groceries.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

If the food doesn’t kill you; the packaging might

greasy fast food

The other day I caved and bought myself fast food. The usual guilt I feel when putting hydrogenated deep fried shit into my body started to occur about a quarter the way into eating. Only recently however has this guilt found a partner; one that equally concerns me – the packaging thats used to contain the food.

PFCs/ PFASs

“PFCs” can be an abbreviation for perfluorinated chemicals; or a subset of perfluorinated chemicals called perfluorcarbons; or it can also stand for perfluorinated compounds.
The abbreviation PFASs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) is used alternatively to collectively describe PFOAs and PFOSs and other chemicals in this group (www.epa.gov, 2016).

Fluorine

If you’re familiar with the periodic table, you may recall the chemical element fluorine.
Fluorine is a dangerously reactive univalent poisonous gaseous halogen, it is pale yellow-green and is the most chemically reactive and electronegative of all the elements (lenntech.com, 1998-2017).

PFC’s are an organofluorine compound, which means it contains only carbon-fluorine bonds. They are used because of their hydrophobic (water-repellant) and lipophobic (oil/ fat resistant) properties. Their carbon-fluorine bonds makes them highly resistant to degradation (Schaider et al., 2017).

Pizza box

PFASs have been extensively used in water-, stain-, and oil-resistant consumer products, cookware, paints, waxes, fire-fighting foams, and polishes (Wu et al., 2015; Renner, 2001; Seacat et al., 2002). They have also been discovered in carpeting, carpet cleaners, upholstery, outdoor apparel, and food contact materials (FCMs) (Schaider et al., 2017; Kotthoff et al., 2015; Liu et al., 2015; Guo et al., 2009).

Certain PFASs and PFOSs and other chemicals were phased out voluntarily by major US manufacturers due to concerns of adverse health effects. However, these chemicals are still produced globally and continue to be imported to the U.S. (Schaider et al., 2017; U.S. Environmental Procession Agency., 2010/2015).

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, scientists detected PFASs in over 98% of the thousands of blood samples collected. Unfortunately for us, these chemicals are bioaccumulative and remain in our bodies for a long period of time.

crazy kid eating fast food

PFCs bind to proteins and are distributed mainly to the blood serum, kidney, and liver (Lau et al., 2007). Numerous studies have found correlations between exposures to PFASs and kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, low birth weight, decreased sperm count, immunotoxicity in children, and pregnancy induced hypertension (Schaider et al., 2017; Barry et al., 2013; Fei et al., 2007; Stein et al., 2009; Joensen et al., 2009; Lopez-Espinosa et al., 2012; Grandjean et al., 2012; Vested et al., 2013). These chemicals have also been associated with high cholesterol and uric acid, as well as neurological effects, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among children (Wu et al., 2015; Hoffman et al., 2010).

PFASs and FCMs

In 2014 and 2015, 407 samples of food packaging at U.S. fast food restaurants were collected and tested for detectable fluorine (F) concentrations by Schaider et al., 2017. The samples were divided into 6 categories: food contact paper (e.g. sandwich wrappers an pastry bags), non-contact paper (e.g. outer bags), food contact paperboard (e.g. boxes for fries and pizza), paper cups (e.g. for hot or cold drinks), other beverages (e.g. milk and juice containers), and miscellaneous (e.g. lids and applesauce containers).

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Of the 407 samples, 33% had detectable total F concentrations, ranging from 16 to 800nmol of F/cm2. However, consider this – 16nmol of F/cm2 is equal to 30µg of F/dm2. This is the acceptable level of detection (LOD) according to the US guidelines. This acceptable LOD is buzz lightyears above the Danish Ministry of Environment and Foods guideline of 0.35µg of F/dm2 for total organic fluorine (Schaider et al., 2017; Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark., 2015). With that said – they detected PFASs in 100% of the samples collected with total F concentrations below the LOD.

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The amount of PFASs that migrates from FCMs into our food is dependant on the amount, type, and chain length of PFASs used, the type of food (water -vs fat-based), the temperature, and the contact time. (Schaider et al., 2017; Begley et al., 2008; Yuan et al., 2016).

Presently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves more than 90 unique monomer and polymer PFAS’s for use in FCMs, including 20 PFASs to impart oil, grease, and/or water resistance.

Conclusion/ Summary

To conclude, food contact materials (FCMs) consist of perfluoronated chemicals (PFCs) -alternativey called PFASs. They’re used because they are highly resistant to degradation, as well as their water-, stain- and oil-resistant properties.

These chemicals make their way into food and there are numerous concerns of adverse health effects, including kidney cancer, and ADHD. Exposure to PFASs is especially relevent for kids since 1/3 of U.S. children consume fast food daily (Vilkraman et al., 2015).

Schaider et al., 2017 collected over 400 FCM samples from various fast food restaurants in the United States. 33% had dectedable fluorine levels above the U.S. standards of 30µg of F/dm2. However, this standard is undeniably greater than the Danish standard of .35µg of F/dm2. With that said, all of the samples tested had detectable levels of fluorine.

 

References

Barry, V.; Winquist, A.; Steenland, K. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) exposures and incident cancers among adults living near a chemical plant. Environ. Health Perspect. 2013, 121 (11-12), 1313-1318.

Fact Sheet: 2010/2015 PFOA Stewardship Program; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Washington, DC (http://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-manging-chemicals-under-tsca/fact-sheet-20102015-pfoa-stewardship-program) (accessed July 9, 2016).

Fei, C.; McLaughlin, J.K.; Tarone, R. E.; Olsen, J. Perfluorinated chemicals and fetal growth: A study with the Danish National Birth Cohort. Environ. Health Perspect. 2007, 115 (11), 1677-1682.

Fluorine-F.; Lenntech, B.V, 1998-2017 (www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/f/htm) (accessed July 4, 2017).

Guo, Z.; Liu, X.; Krebs, K. Perfluorocarboxylic acid content in 116 articles of commerce. EPA/600/R-09/033; Office of Research and Development, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Research Triangle Park, NC, 2009.

Grandjean, P.; Andersen, E. W.; Budtz-Jorgensen, E.; Nielsen, F.; Molbak, K.; Weihe, P.; Heilmann, C. Serum vaccine antibody concentrations in children exposed to perfluorinated compounds. JAMA, J. Am. Med. Assoc. 2012, 307 (4), 391-397.

Hoffman, K.; Webster, T. F.; Weinberg, J.; Vieira, V. M.; Weisskopf, M. G. Exposure to polyfluoroalkyl chemicals and attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder in US children 12-15 years of age. Environ. Health Perspect. 2010, 118, 1762-1767.

Joensen, U. N.; Bossi, R.; Leffers, H.; Jensen, A. A.; Skakkebaek, N. E; Jorgensen, N. Do perfluoroalkyl compounds impair human semen quality? Environ. Health Perspect. 2009, 117 (6), 923-927.

Kotthoff, M.; Muller, J.; Jurling, H.; Schlummer, M.; Fiedler, D. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances in consumer products. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. 2015, 22 (9), 14546-14559.

Lau, C.; Anitole, K.; Hodes, C.; Lai, D.; Pfahles-Hutchens, A.; Seed, J. Perfluoroalkyl acids: a review monitoring and toxicological findings. Toxicol. Sci. 2007, 99, 336-394.

Liu, X.; Guo, Z.; Folk, E. E.; Roache, N.F. Determination of fluorotelomer alcohols in selected consumer products and preliminary investigation of their fate in the indoor environment. Chemosphere 2015, 129, 81-86.

Lopez-Espinosa, M.-J.; Mondal, D.; Armstrong, B.; Bloom, M. S.; Fletcher, T. Thyroid function and perfluoroalkyl acids in children living near a chemical plant. Environ. Health Perspect. 2012. 120 (7). 1036-1041.

Renner, R., 2001. Growing concern over perfluorinated chemicals. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2001. 35, 154-160.

Schaider, L.A.; Balan, S.A.; Blum, A.; Andrews, D.Q.; Strynar, M.J.; Dickinson, M.E.; Lunderberg, D.M.; Lang, J.R.; Peaslee, G.F. Fluorinated Compounds in U.S. Fast Food Packaging. Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2017, 105-111.

Seacat, A.M.; Thomford, P.J.; Hansen, K.J.; Olsen, G.W.; Case, M.T.; Butenhoff, J.L. Subchronic toxicity studies on perfluorooctanesulfonate potassium salt in cynomolgus monkeys. Toxicol. Sci. 2002, 68, 249-264.

Stein, C. R.; Savitz, D. A.; Dougan, M. Serum levels of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate and pregnancy outcome. Am. J. Epidemiol. 2009, 170 (7), 837-846.

Vested, A.; Ramlau-Hansen, C. H.; Olsen, S. F.; Bonde, J. P.; Kristensen, S. L.; Halldorsson, T. I.; Becher, G.; Haug, L. S.; Earnst, E. H.; Toft, G. Associations of in utero exposure to perfluorinated alkyl acids with human semen quality and reproductive hormones in adult men. Environ. Health Perspect. 2013, 121 (4), 453-458.

What are PFCs and how do they relate to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)?; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2016 (https://www.epa.gov/pfas/what-are-pfcs-and-how-do-they-relate-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfass) (accessed July 2, 2017).

Wu, X.M.; Bennett, D.H.; Calafat, A.M.; Kato, K.; Strynar, M.; Andersen, E.; Moran, R.E.; Tancredi, D.J.; Tulve, N.S.; Hertz-Picciotto, I. Serum concentrations of perfluorinated compounds (PFC) among selected populations of children and adults in California. Elsevier Environmental Research 2015, 136, 264-273.

 

Recipe: Curry Chickpea

Basmati Rice – 1 cup+
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
Red Onion – 1 Small or Half a Medium; diced
Small Garlic Cloves – 3 Large or 5 to 6 Small Cloves; minced
Bell Pepper (red, yellow or green) – Half; sliced
Salt and Pepper – a few shakes
Curry Paste (red, yellow or green) – 2 tbsp
Coconut Milk – 1 can
Tomato – 1 small; diced
Cumin – 1 tbsp
Crushed Cayenne – 1 level tbsp *optional
Soya Sauce – 2 tbsp
Brown Sugar – 2 tbsp
Lime – 1; juiced
Chick Peas – half a can; drained and thoroughly rinsed
Basil Leaves – 3 Leaves; dried or fresh

Curry Dish
Not the best photo, but I promise it tastes awesome.

I rarely eat meat, and I do my best to limit my intake of dairy products. With that said, while I wouldn’t consider myself vegan, I do try to avoid animal products as much as possible. This leaves me searching for nutritious and satisfying meals that are easy to make and won’t empty my wallet. Thankfully this hasn’t been hard to do and I have managed to master (I think so anyways) a few solid recipes.

The recipe I want to share today is a Chickpea Curry Dish. I have listed the ingredients in the order in which they should be added to a large skillet; except for the rice, which should be cooked separately – ideally in a rice cooker.

I find it easiest to dice, mince, and slice all of the veggies, and have all the ingredients ready to go before starting the cooking process. You can heat up the skillet on medium / low high heat while cutting your vegetables, adding the oil after it has been heated.

After adding the extra virgin olive oil, toss in the diced red onions and minced garlic cloves. Let this fry for a couple minutes, then add the sliced bell pepper. I prefer to use green bell peppers but its completely up to you. Add a few shakes of salt and pepper on top of the veggies and make sure to stir/ flip it around.

Next step is to add the curry paste. Please note the word paste – not sauce! I like to use red – but again it is up to you what colour you want to incorporate. Toss in 2 tbsp and stir it around the pan and the vegetables. Shortly after, add the can of coconut milk and continue to stir until the colour become homogenous.

Toss in the diced tomato and add a tbsp of cumin. I love cumin and it certainly couples well with the curry paste to add even more flavour. On that note, I also recommend adding some crushed cayenne or chilli flakes to add some heat; but how much, if any, is your choice. Afterwards, add the soya sauce, brown sugar, and the juice from 1 lime into the mix. Give it a good stir then finally add the half can of chickpeas (I find a full can to be way too much) and 3 basil leaves. Let this sit, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes.

Serve in a bowl with a side of rice and enjoy!

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

ACV 1

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

ACV is a delicious addition to salad dressings, homemade pickles and marinades; but I have reason to believe its benefits well exceed that of taste. I find myself recommending ACV to friends for a variety of reasons, and I too make the up-most use of this type of vinegar.

AVC – What is it?

Apple cider vinegar is produced from cider or apple must (crushed and aged apples), which are fermented until the sugars turn into vinegar. The unfiltered cider contains the “mother of vinegar”, which is the part that contains the most benefits.

ACV is a natural bacteria fighter containing minerals and trace elements such as magnesium, phosphorus, chlorine, sodium, sulfur, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, silicon and fluorine. It is brown-yellow in colour and has been said to hold many benefits including weight loss, acne, digestion, acid reflux, cholesterol, constipation, heartburn and possibly even help fight diseases.

AVC – What I use it for:

DIGESTION

One reason I use ACV is for digestion. Simply put, it makes my stomach feel better. I mix one tablespoon in a small glass of lukewarm water and drink it prior to a meal and/or after eating.  ACV can help stimulate Hydrochloric Acid which is responsible for breaking down food. The better you breakdown food, the more your body can absorb and make what it needs from that food. In addition, if you are someone who suffers from an underactive stomach and experience bloating, cramps, gas, belching or get the feeling of being “over full” after a meal, try ACV. Mind you, if you experience those symptoms after eating an unhealthy meal, I strongly recommend you clean up your diet first.

FAT BURNING

Another reason I choose to swig back this bitter substance is to help my body burn fat. Do I think this will help someone who is clinically obese reduce body fat? Yes, but only if it’s part of a bigger picture; coupled with exercise and healthy eating. Myself, I eat well and for my goals. Without any particular ACV 4change to my diet I noticed an improved body composition after a few weeks of drinking ACV daily. With that said, it may just be that punch in the face your metabolism needs to shake that last couple pounds. Scientifically, ACV’s acetic acid has been shown to suppress the accumulation of body fat and liver lipids. It’s also believed that its pectin may slightly reduce your body’s ability to absorb fat. If I want a real kick, I’ll add a few shakes of cayenne pepper to my water and ACV – probably better, safer, cheaper and more effective than those terrible “fat burner” pills.

ACV – What I recommend it for

Apple cider vinegar is an amazing natural substance that has said to been used to effectively treat and heal many common illnesses/ailments. Luckily for me, I don’t suffer from most if any of these illnesses, so I can’t guarantee its effectiveness. However, I have had clients and friends with some common issues and I quickly recommend ACV to relieve the following:

ACID REFLUX

An older woman whom I’ve been training for the past couple of years pops Tums like it’s her job. I keep telling her to stop the Tums and start drinking ACV! The acetic acid in ACV lowers stomach acidity; increasing its pH, which may help relieve conditions such as heartburn and acid reflux. Unfortunately, this client has yet to take my advice and continues to eat those useless chalky tabs. So please, if you suffer from acid reflux, try this and get back to me!

PSORAISIS

Psoriasis is an extremely common skin condition that causes skin to be dry, itchy, red and flaky. I’ve had friends complain about it, so I recommend ACV. Diluting a couple tablespoons of ACV in a spray bottle full of water, and then lightly spraying the affected area(s) has been said to clear up psoriasis quickly and effectively. Why go to your doctor for some expensive, smelly cream when help is available naturally and for less than 7 bucks? One friend got back to me after trying this and said the psoriasis on his scalp was gone after a couple treatments.

ACV – Other Uses

Although there isn’t much solid, scientific proof of the following, I have no doubt that AVC can also help with:

  • Acne
  • Athlete’s Foot
  • Heart Health
  • Kidney Stones
  • Nails
  • Rosacea
  • Sunburn
  • Vaginal Irritation
  • Animal Care
  • ArthritisACV 3
  • Blood Pressure
  • Gout
  • Hair Loss
  • Sore Throat
  • Menopause
  • Acid Reflux
  • Pink Eye
  • Salad Dressings
  • Toner
  • Weight loss
  • Moles/Scars/Lesions
  • Cleaning
  • Energy!

ACV – How to take it

Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is the only way to go! That stuff you see floating around in the bottle is the “mother vinegar” and it holds almost all of its health benefits. Shake well before using.

Start by taking 1 tablespoon of ACV diluted into a 12 ounce glass of lukewarm water. You can slowly increase that dosage to 2-3 tablespoons per day if needed. Consume prior to eating or during times of stomach discomfort.

Yes, it has a distinct smell and tastes sour. If you can’t handle it, I say stop being a suck and drink it for your health.

Cheers!!

References:

Roberts, Jeff. “12 Reasons Why Apple Cider Vinegar Will Revolutionize Your Health.” Collective Evolution. 2 June 2014. Web. 20 May 2015.

Kondo, T. “Acetic acid upregulates the expression of genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes in liver to suppress body fat accumulation.” Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 2009. PubMed.gov.

Obese Canadians should be granted legal protection from discrimination, professor says

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Obese Canadians should be granted legal protection from discrimination, professor says

Interesting read!

I 100% agree that no individual should be discriminated against because of their physical appearance, ever. However, I think considering an obese person as disabled is pushing it; unless there are physiological or medical reasons contributing to their inability to lose weight.

What do you think?

SHAKE IT UP BABY – Revamped Shake Recipe

Back in September of last year I posted a shake recipe. Since then I have added to my concoction and wanted to share it here on Shape180. I have to give it up to Costco for providing these ingredients in bulk for a fair price, thank-you!!

Ingredients:

  • 140g Irresistibles Berry Cherry Fusion – Mixed Fruit
  • 122g Kirkland Frozen Mixed Vegetables – Normandy Style
  • 1c Spinach
  • 12 Plain Natural Almonds
  • A few shakes of Cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Plain, Dry Quaker OatsShake
  • 1tbl Chia Seeds
  • 1 scoop Muscle Pharm Combat Powder – Cookies and Cream

Nutritional Info:

  • Calories: 563
  • Carbs: 61g
  • Fat: 15g
  • Protein: 40g

You may notice that this is just a jacked up version of my previous recipe. I use this as a meal replacement -breakfast or lunch- and it keeps me full until my next meal. It offers a great source of each macronutrient, and you get the benefit of consuming a couple serving of vegetables without even tasting them. Give it a try 🙂