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Protein Orange Creamsicles (featuring Premier Protein)

Protein Orange Creamsicles (featuring Premier Protein)

They call this weekend the "unofficial" start of summer.

Damn that. I'm calling it. It's summer!

I mean after the winter we had? We deserve it. (Unless of course you don't like summer in which case...sorry...I love it so forgive my obnoxiousness over the next few months.)

Raise your hand if the highlight of your summer day as a kid was hearing the jingle of the ice cream truck? (Raises hand) Oh what a joyous sound that was! The first faint sounds were my signal to beg my mother (in the most annoying voice possible) for a few coins so that I could partake in my all-time favorite summer treat: Orange Creamsicles.

Today, I still eat Orange Creamsicles but - sorry, ice cream man! - I make them myself. Using the basic frozen treat instructions from my book, The Bariatric Foodie Guide to Perfect Protein Shakes, here's how I make this delicious summer treat!

Nik's Orange Creamsicle Protein Pops

Ingredients:
Directions:

Protein Orange Creamsicles (featuring Premier Protein)
So let's not talk about how I got this Nutri-Ninja like a year ago and I am just starting to use it regularly. 
Combine everything in a blender for two minutes, then pour into popsicle molds.

Protein Orange Creamsicles (featuring Premier Protein)


Protein Orange Creamsicles (featuring Premier Protein)

NOTE: The ones I used, I got at Family Dollar...for a dollar! For these I had to add about three additional tablespoons of milk (I use almond) to fill all 8 slots.

Protein Orange Creamsicles (featuring Premier Protein)

Freeze well. To remove, run frozen pop mold under cool (not cold, not hot, not warm but cool) water for a few seconds and try to coax it out. Repeat until pops dislodge from the mold.

TIP: For an extra protein boost you can add more protein powder before blending the first time (I'd recommend no more than one additional serving of protein powder that has at least 25g protein in it). Stick with vanilla. And DO use the lemon juice. Lemon juice brings out the fruitiness of fruit flavors. The pop will taste a bit flat without it. 

Outtake pics!

Protein Orange Creamsicles (featuring Premier Protein)
My attempt at creating a summer scene. I will concede there may have been a bit too much going on here.
Protein Orange Creamsicles (featuring Premier Protein)
I handle my popsicles with the utmost care.
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Yeah...being a food blogger is a tough job some days. But somebody's gotta do it!


And remember this recipe is just one of dozens included in The Bariatric Foodie Guide to Perfect Protein Shakes. The book not only gives you great shake ideas, but instructions on how to make your shakes into crave-worthy treats like this. Check it out on Amazon

No Sugar-Added Tropical Lemonade

Sugar-free Tropical Lemonade

So I know we live in this super high-tech, fast-moving world where everything is designed to be faster, easier, more convenient.

But every once in a while I like something that takes time, requires a little skill, and is a bit more involved. Good, homemade handmade lemonade is one of those things.

When I was an itty-bitty thing and my grandma was still alive (she passed away when I was five) she used to make lemonade. Helping her is one of my earliest memories. Now lemonade wasn't a quick-rush thing to her. No, no! You took your time with it. Because if you did, you got something really wonderful.

In my estimation, homemade lemonade is a great way to practice the old will-power muscle. It's not instant gratification. You get the very best results if you wait it out. But the moment you put that sweet nectar to your lips...ahhhhh. You realize it was worth it. Even if the waiting nearly drove you insane. :)

Nik's No-Sugar Added Tropical Lemonade
(The below recipe is what I used for this batch. Each batch can be different, the method of making it remains the same! This makes about 3 quarts of lemonade.)

Ingredients:
  • About 10 pineapple cores (see below)
  • 2 mango seeds after I cut the flesh off
  • 6 c. water
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • About 8 lemons, juiced
  • No-calorie sweetener equivalent to 3 c. sugar (use whatever kind you like but check the conversion chart on the packaging to make sure it matches up against sugar!)
  • Another 8 c. (64 oz.) of cold water
Directions:

Pre-Step: Fruit Cores

So I had these two pineapples, right? And I needed to cut them up because they were sitting in my fridge doing absolutely nothing. I know from experience nobody in my family will cut them. They will go bad first. (Yes, that is sad!) So I decided to cut them up along with a mango I had. I wanted to show you a super simple hack for removing the cores of pineapples. I'm sure there are other ways. Please share in the comments!

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Step One: Making a flavored simple syrup


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This is usually how I get the non-lemon flavor into lemonade. You don't have to do it this way. You can also:
  • Infuse lemonade with flavor by adding fruits or herbs (like mint) to your final product and letting them sit for a long while
  • Pureeing fruit and straining out the flesh and adding it during step 4. (This method works especially well with strawberries).
But since I was using the cores of fruit, I incorporated it into my simple syrup by adding 6 cups of water to a sauce pan, dropping the fruit cores in there, turning the heat to high and letting it come to a boil. Then I dropped the heat to medium-low and let it simmer about 10-ish minutes before turning off the burner and letting it sit.

Step Two: Juice the lemons


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I personally do it the way my grandma did it, which is by hand. But there are lemon juicers out there that do the job very quickly with no mess. I will say, though, that nothing beats how your hands smell after hand-juicing lemons. Since I had lemons and limes on hand, I used both. In general, you need about 8-10 lemons to make a decent sized, share-able pitcher of lemonade. As you can see I squeezed mine into a separate bowl.

Step Three: Complete your simple syrup

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Remove the fruit cores from the sauce pan and turn it back on low heat so it stays warm. One at a time, add a cup of sweetener and whisk it in until it completely dissolves. NOTE: If you like less sweet lemonade feel free to use less sweetener than this recipe calls for!

Step Four: Putting it all together

Combine the lemon (and in this case lime) juice with the simple syrup then stir well. Then add that to a large pitcher. Then add the 8 cups of cold water and stir again. Give it a taste. Is it too sweet? Add more water. Is it not sweet enough? Add more sweetener. The tartness should be fine but if it isn't, you can always squeeze another lemon or two and throw the juice in there. I keep it a bit on the sweet side because I know I'll add ice when I serve it and lemonade is a social drink. You sip, you talk, you sip, you talk...I still want my lemonade to be sweet after the ice melts! But that's just me.

Refrigerate about two hours or until cold. Serve over ice. I serve it with bits of the fruit that's in the lemonade (shown are pineapple and mango bits).

Some other ideas:
  • If you want/need protein in this, once it's cold add some unflavored protein to your glass. I would say 1/2 serving for every 8 ounces.
  • My kids like to add soda water to this (actually the put it through their Soda Stream machine)
  • This makes a really great Arnold Palmer with the addition of some home-brewed iced tea (don't mess up the handmade momentum with the instant stuff - it's WORTH the effort!)
Outtake Photos

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Here's the thing that irks me. I spent good money on a good camera...and sometimes my iPhone simply takes the better photo! 
Sugar-free Tropical Lemonade
Obligatory direct overhead shot. Note to self: not appealing with drinks!
Sugar-free Tropical Lemonade
Doesn't that look downright SLURPABLE??? Yum.

Strawberry Cheesecake Pudding Parfait (featuring Premier Protein)

Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait

Long-time readers...I know what you're going to say, ok? I KNOW. Yes this is the gamillionty-seventh cheesecake-inspired recipe on this blog.

But Google Analytics says 90+% of you reading this have never been to this blog before so...hi. I'm Nikki. And I like cheesecake!

But as we all know cheesecake can be fatty and sugary and all sorts of things that can cause certain gut-death. I won't lie. At 7 years post-op I do enjoy a bite or two of the real thing every now and again. 

And on regular days I have this.

Nik's Strawberry Cheesecake Pudding Parfait
(Makes 5-ish servings)

Ingredients:
  • 1 box sugar-free instant cheesecake flavored pudding mix
  • 1 container (11 oz.) Premier Protein shake (Strawberry or Vanilla works best, in my opinion)
  • 6 oz. container plain Greek yogurt (Note: Do use plain, it cuts the sweetness of the pudding mix and the protein shake combined!)
  • 1 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened (it amps up the cheesecake factor…)
  • ¼ tsp. lemon juice
  • About 10 strawberries (or 2 per parfait), hulled and sliced
  • Whipped cream
  • Optional (pictured): sliced almonds
Directions:
  1. Place the instant pudding mix and protein shake in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed about 2 minutes. (You want to work out any powder lumps.)
  2. Add the Greek yogurt, cream cheese and lemon juice and mix again, until combined. Refrigerate at least two hours.
  3. To assemble: place a few sliced strawberries at the bottom of a cup or bowl. Top with ¼ c. pudding mixture, then a dab of whipped cream. Repeat.
If you like a little crunch, you can use high-protein granola in there too. These days I like to crush a bit of Fiber One and add it as a layer.

I originally published this recipe on ObesityHelp.com and I did something unprecedented. I posted nutrition facts! (Dear folks new to Bariatric Foodie. I do not generally post nutrition facts for my recipes. Here's why.) But I'm going to make you head over there to get that information. It's a great site if you've not been there before...plus I can't be starting habits over here at Bariatric Foodie.

One habit I will keep, though, is posting outtake pics! Here you go:


Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait
There isn't a particular reason I didn't use this one at the top. I just didn't.


Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait
I usually use a slatted bench on my front porch to take photos (my porch is the only place in the ENTIRE house that gets good light!). But every once in a while I mix it up. This is actually my porch floor. I didn't like the pic because the right glass seemed skewed. #PerfectionistProblems

Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait
As I've said many times...direct overhead shots are my "comfort zone." I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone. Plus...it's a parfait. You gotta see the layers!

Premier Protein: Simple Protein for a Complicated Life. (Product Review)


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This review was sponsored by Premier Protein, and I was provided with free product for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.


I sorta feel like I'm preaching to the choir about Premier Protein. So many of you already use it! In fact, the sheer number of you who use it prompted me to want to give it another try. I tried the shakes at the very beginning of my post-op life and I liked them well enough, but then I started playing with protein powder and making recipes and...we all know where that went

So here I am again trying Premier Protein. If you all follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know they sent me a lot of product. Like...a lot. I think it's because they want me to share it with you. I intend to! After the grad school semester from hell ends. Until then all you'll get is procrastination and empty promises and, really, who needs that? 

Anyway, let's get on with the review!


Premier Protein
This review will cover the shakes. They sent me lots of bars as well and I think that may need to be its own blog review! Look for it coming soon. 

So the shakes come in three flavors: Strawberry, Chocolate and Vanilla. The stats on them are pretty much all the same:


Here's some other important information:
  • Premier uses a blend of whey isolate and whey concentrate
  • It also contains sucralose (an artificial sweetener used to in Splenda)
Packaging

Yes, I start from the beginning, Foodies! But I think Premier's packaging is worth talking about. It's very convenient for a few reasons. Firstly, the shakes are shelf-stable so you don't have to keep them in the fridge. For those of you who work in places where you don't have a fridge, that might be very convenient. It also has a sturdy, "twist on/twist off" cap. As I was reviewing these shakes I can't tell you how many times this saved my shirts! 

Taste/Texture/Yadda

Like I said in the title, it's simple protein for a complicated life. One thing I like about Premier Protein is that they keep their flavors clean. Each flavor tasted like what it was supposed to taste like. I was a bit put off by the fact that the strawberry was an off-white but then as I thought about it, that means there's no red dye in it, which is a good thing! But just to give you my initial impression (I actually wrote these phrases down as I tasted these):
  • Chocolate: "Tastes like a Yoohoo." (Do they still make those, by the way?)
  • Strawberry: "Takes me back to elementary school and those little cartons of strawberry milk." (Do they still make those, by the way?)
  • Vanilla: "Must Triple X this...would make an awesome thick vanilla shake!"
Which brings me to my next point. The shakes aren't super thick. (Newbies may disagree.) They pour easily. There are a few bubbles when you pour but nothing too serious. For the pics above I fanned the cups with a piece of paper and the bubbles dispersed. In all reality, most of you will drink this from the carton anyway. I will admit I didn't shake them first. They seemed fine even still.

So...was there an aftertaste? For this one I had to go outside myself. I've been on artificial sweeeteners and protein supplements for so long I don't think I could tell you even if the aftertaste tapped me on the shoulder and introducted itself. I had my oldest daughter (the "Picky One") taste it (I had to pay her to do it - the little extortionist!). She said there is no aftertaste. Then she asked if she could have the rest of it. Ba-da-bing.

Final Verdict

Well you all know me. I like to play with my food.


Here's one way I played with my Premier Protein Shake. Click here to get the recipe. There will be other ways!

Of all the flavors, I'd likely do the chocolate and vanilla most often. I'm not a big fan of strawberry anything, although I didn't mind testing out this flavor at all. I see that they are available all over. Check out this page to locate them near you. So they are convenient, affordable and not a special purchase.

So I think my final verdict would be to give them a try. It's good protein, for a good price, and easily accessible (check out the "Where to Buy" page on their website to find it near you). Especially if you are a person who doesn't need a fancy shake, you just need a good shake, with good flavor, and a good protein count, Premier has got you covered.

#PWYF

Panera Knock-Off: Nik's "Something Chicken Stew"



"This looks fancy..."

That was my youngest daughter's reaction when she looked at the contents of the slightly modified bowl I presented her this past weekend. (I'll tell you why the modification in a sec.)

Now to her, "fancy" is a good adjective. With the elder girl, not so much. I was quite pleased how this recipe turned out, mostly because it was just so darn easy!

Backstory (because you know there always is one!). A few months back I went to Panera Bread and had their Spanish Chicken Stew. Oh. My. WORD! (As Pam would say.) That stuff is delicious! It's a combination of chicken, herbs, spices, vegetable, broth and there is some brown rice on the bottom. What made it unique and delightful for me was the sprinkling of sliced almonds on top. It did feel fancy!

Fast forward to this past weekend, when I wasn't feeling that great and didn't feel like standing over a stove to cook. I hadn't tried out my new Ninja Kitchen cooking system (it's like a crockpot plus four other things I've not figured out yet), and I had some almonds left over from another recipe I'd captured earlier in the week, so I decided to experiment. 

Now if you've been following the blog for a while you know I am not a big fan of looking at other people's recipes before creating my own. I mean...where's the fun in that? Rather I like throwing stuff together and seeing how it comes out. Risky? Yes. But good!

I call this "Something Chicken Stew" because I'm not sure it's particularly Spanish, per se. It's something. And that something would be good. And easy. And good!

Nik's "Something Chicken Stew" (Panera Knock-Off)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large pre-marinated chicken breasts (I get them in my local meat or frozen section. These are breasts that have already been marinated for you - big time saver! I got Garlic & Herb.)
  • 6 c. of any assortment of veggies you like, chopped. I used:
    • Tomatoes
    • Asparagus
    • Red Peppers
    • Zucchini
    • Onions
  • 1 tsp. additional chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. Mediterranean seasoning (I used Lawry's Mediterranean seasoning salt)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 c. water
  • 1-2 tbsp. tomato paste (depending on how thick you want your broth)
  • 2 c. cooked quinoa or 1 box of couscous (I used the latter in Parmesan flavor. If you've never cooked quinoa before, here's my super-easy tutorial!)
  • Sliced almonds, to finish
Directions:

Put everything exept tomato paste in the crockpot and set it on low for about 4 hours. Then go do something fun (yes, this is a legit part of the recipe).

By the time you come back your chicken should be cooked through. With a pair of tongs, move it to a cutting board and dice it into pieces of your desired size. Put the chicken back into the crockpot. 

Taste the broth and adjust the seasonings as you see fit (I added a dash of oregano at this point but otherwise the seasoning was spot on). Stir the tomato paste into the hot liquid until incorporated. Let that go about another 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook your quinoa or couscous. Now at this point I'll say a word on this. It's up to you what grain you use in this recipe, if at all. Here are a few options, if couscous is not your thing.
My point here is you have choices. Play with your food!

To serve: place a small amount of couscous/quinoa/rice/whatever in a bowl. Ladle some stew on top of it (for your portion, you get to choose how much broth, as I know some folks worry about taking in liquids and solids together). Top with sliced almonds and enjoy!

After these pictures were taken I got the inspiration to add sliced olives, which just made this all the more delicious. Now I modified this for my younger daughter because she eats a pescetarian diet (she eats seafood but no other type of animal protein), so I made another little pot of this stew with just the veggies and broth. Still wonderful and yummy!

Here are the outtake pictures of this dish. 



Don't ask me why, when given a choice, I always go with the direct overhead shot. I just always seem to like it better. But this is a good one too!
I just didn't feel like this captured the full essence of this dish. Not a bad picture though. Please note I have two places I can take pictures with sufficient light: on top of my microwave oven (which is where the photo directly above this one was taken) and on a bench on my front porch (and yes, my neighbors do think I'm crazy, thanks for asking). 
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