One of the big things that separates a good meal from a great meal is a sauce! If you like to eat out at nice restaurants like we do, that is something that they all have in common, a fantastic sauce pairing that goes along with the main course.
It can provide a balance of flavors, it can tie a dish together, and it can provide a needed level of moisture/fat with a leaner cut of meat. After years of watching cooking shows and a little experimentation myself I've learned some basics in sauce making and how to combine flavors. If you are novice learning some basic skills in this world will certainly help.
Here is a link to an article talking about the 5 French Mother Sauces. Might sound a little fancy but most sauces that exist in the world are a spinoff of these base sauces. From this you can play with flavors that pair with your main dish. Another thing I would recommend is a book that I pull out on occasion, The Flavor Bible.
This book is fantastic in that it allows you to look up a food, say pork, then it gives you a list of other foods, veggies, and spices that pair well with it. So combine that with the basics of how to make a sauce and you are pretty much set!
The cool thing about The Flavor Bible is that it highlights the ingredients that work best. For this Bacon Apple Butter, I knew we were making pork so take a look at pairings above...
East Meets West...
All the comfort of my grandma's homemade meatloaf combined with all of the flavor you would get from some of the best Indian curry dishes that I've had. Sounds about perfect, right???
This dish is pretty straightforward to make, nothing fancy, unless you want to make your own curry powder. If you do make your own curry powder with fresh roasted spices, please let me know how you do it or let me know where I can buy it. Even without your own curry powder this is one of those dishes that you can make and impress the heck out of some friends or family.
Don't take my word for it though. If you like meatloaf but love some ethnic food, this is a great combo. Pair it with one of your favorite veggies. We did some roasted asparagus but anything will work. Can't wait for you to try. After you do, we would for you to come back and let us know what you thought.
I know some people that begin to drive heave if they are threatened to eat a brussel sprout. A couple are in my immediate family. Growing up my mom on occasion would make them but they were usually either steam or boiled with some butter on them. Although I could probably stomach that now, at the time it was one of the most disgusting flavors. The smell was similar to what a Band-Aid smells like and I could only imagine what they taste like.
Had my mom prepared sprouts this way, I'm guessing there would have been a 50/50 chance that I would have actually eaten them. I mean they are still green and green food in our house was immediately met with rejection, unless it was Jello. That stuff was delicious! Just don't ruin it by putting fruit in it!
The process of roasting brussels is pretty straightforward. One key is making sure you start with fresh brussels not the frozen version. If you get the frozen ones, they will be more apt to just steam and bring you and I back to that Band-Aid flavor and smell. So start fresh! Then all you need to do is trim a little bit of the chewy stem off of them if there is some. We like to half or quarter ours from there depending on the size. You could roast them whole but they would take a LONG time so that's not advised. Once you halve them, spread them out evenly on a baking sheet. Drizzle with roughly 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per pound of brussels. Season generously with salt and I like a little pepper also but not always.
Once seasoned, put them the oven that was preheated to 425. Depending on the size they should take anywhere from 20-30 minutes and I like to stir them half way through. What you are looking for is for them to start turning slightly brown if not black. In the cooking world that's called carmelization! Do it! They aren't burnt, they are perfect that way. It will bring out some of the natural sugars that are in a plant that is inherently bitter and if prepared poorly can taste like Band-Aids!
Try it this, I bet you will like brussels for the first time! Or at worst you won't hate them.
Want to take this next week off from planning your own Healthy Meals? Let us do the work for you! Follow the link below and we will give you are 5 Day Meal Guide for free!
Simple. Delicious. Sweet. Spicy. Hearty.
If you've made soup before you've probably tried version of this soup. I see it on menus all the time especially this time of year. I've made it a handful of times and this version is by far my favorite. Call me a sucker for some good sausage. Or maybe just the simplicity and letting the fresh veggies and quality stock.
This recipe only has a few ingredients but it is built on a solid chicken stock. We have our recipe over here on how you can make your own. I think some of the keys to a good stock is getting a good pressure cooker, because who has time to cook stock for 48 hours. Also chicken feet! Yup I said it, chicken feet. The collagen from all the connective tissue in chicken feet add a richness that nearly impossible to get any other way. Just try and thank me later. You can find chicken feet at most groceries. I've seen them at every Asian market that I've ever been to also.
To make this soup even better and because we like pretty pictures, we added a maple crema. Sound fancy but it basically is just a dairy product mixed with something else that is liquid. Calling it that is just my inner chef coming out. Or maybe it is from watching too many episodes of Top Chef! Either way it is delicious and makes this dish well rounded. Sweet from the apple and maple, slightly smokey from the sausage, and a hint of spice from the cayenne. So good!
We would love to hear from you if and when you try this and what you think.
It wouldn't be fall if we didn't throw a pumpkin recipe at you. Since we love pancakes here you go! We've been making a variation of these pancakes for the longest time. However the texture on those other ones just wasn't quite where I would like it when it comes to a pancake. So just a couple little tweaks and we have this new one which I think will be our go to pancake recipe for a quite some time.
If you are wondering what the hell the broccoli is doing in the picture, I thought this was a pancake recipe, you aren't the first one to think that is a weird combo. This combo is a great a solution for a number of people that we work with on a regular basis. Two staples that people usually fall short of on a daily basis is protein and veggies. Why not start your day with a healthy dose of both?
Why are protein and veggies important? Particularly for people trying to lose weight these two things will likely be your biggest help in seeing measurable progress in a short period of time. By getting adequate protein, 20-40 grams, per meal you will fill yourself with bulk but with lower calories. Same goes for the veggies, due the high fiber in veggies you are adding bulk without adding calories. It's because of this that you are able to eat to the point of being full all while staying in a calorie deficit.
If you are curious how much protein and fiber you should specifically be eating head over to our Calorie Calculator page and submit some information and I will get you a customized plan to let you how much of each you should be eating. This will be based on your size, activity level, and your goals.
Otherwise enjoy the heck out of these pancakes, we sure did!
Protein: 10.9 g
Fat: 4.4 g
Carbs: 3.5 g
Sugars: 0.9 g
Fiber: 1.6 g
One of Laura's favorite things on the planet is a good meatball! One of my favorite things on the planet is some good pasta! Being gluten free now for almost 3 years I don't nearly get good pasta all that often. One item that didn't make the cut on things to bring in our RV was my pasta roller and cutter! So we have to stick to store bought GF pasta which isn't always the best. W'eve had pretty good luck lately with the Barilla GF pasta. It's a corn based pasta which obviously isn't health food but every once in a while we are all for having a good pasta meal.
I know you didn't come here to learn about GF pastas, so let's about this meatball!! One challenge with meatballs is they traditionally have breadcrumbs in them which unless they are made from GF bread is off limits in our house. Some things that I've used as that binder substitute in other recipes are sweet potatoes, quiona, ground up GF crackers. With this recipe I opted to skip the binder. It did make the meatballs a little stickier when rolling them into balls but is was manageable and still made a good meatball, texture-wise. If you want to alleviate that stick meat batter, go ahead and add a 1/2 cup of bread crumb or any other binder to the mixture.
We also like to find any opportunity to sneak greens into our food. Feel free to follow suit and add some like we did or leave them out. If it would have just been Laura and I eating these we would have likely added more. We were able to sneak these in and Eli still enjoyed the meatballs which is a big bonus.
We paired this meal up with our basic marinara sauce that you can find here, just leave out the ground beef since you are doing the meatball.
One food that I have yet to find since going gluten free is a fried egg roll...they just don't exist out in restaurants and we didn't opt for the RV with the deep fat fryer. We've had a number of our challengers post in our accountability groups about creating different versions of this dish. I finally got around to make some myself and have to say it hit the spot.
We were a little spoiled too, since the two days before this my aunt picked most of the veggies that went in this dish straight out of her garden. Fresh cabbage, fresh carrots, and fresh onions!!! The only thing we added to the dish was some red pepper, garlic and the pork. Oh and a few spices and some asian sauces!
Pizza... everybody loves it! Even those of us that are living a healthier life love to indulge in it. It's actually one reason why I bought the domain, www.healthierpizza.com. Don't try heading over there yet, at this point it is just an idea in my head. The idea came to me because a healthy life shouldn't be one that is absent of pizza.
Upgrading some of the ingredients is the place to start. We have other posts on upgrading the crusts with whole wheat flour or using cauliflower. We have a fun recipe where we eliminate dairy and add some extra veggies with this Thai pizza. We even love the pizza so much we incorporated the flavors into this lentil dish.
With all of these, I had yet to create a delicious and healthier option for one of the most basic components, a good red sauce. Last night while Laura was away, Eli and I decided to make some pizzas. We tried out a new premade gluten free crust from Mikey's. The crust is made from paleo friendly ingredients and was pretty tasty! We topped that with a homemade red sauce that took 2 minutes to mix up then just a little time to simmer on the stove.
Check it out and let us know what you think. If you end up tweaking it feel free to comment below with what you did. This is one thing I'm always playing around with and improving.
If you've followed us for a while you know we aren't big fans of counting calories. It's not that we don't think they matter because they do 100% when it comes to weight loss. The thing that people get confused about though is just doing straight up math with calories in versus calories out and if those numbers tip a certain direction your weight will also change. Your metabolism is a bit more complicated than what your fitbit tells you that you burned during your exercise session that day and what My Fitness Pal tells you that you consumed.
What's our approach then to help people lose weight! It comes down to nutrient density and calorie density. Our bodies are pretty intelligent and for most people they know when to stop eating in order to maintain our weight. The thing that happens when people eat processed foods, the triggers that tell us to stop eating don't get tripped. The other way that these triggers don't go off is when we consume food at a fast pace!
So our approach is to consume high quality, whole foods at a slow pace and stop when you are close to being full and you will likely lose weight. If you are trying to maintain, then you eat to being full. Yeah there is certainly some nuance that can come into play around macronutrients and timing but for the most part this strategy works.
This is where the question of, what weighs more... a pound of broccoli or a pound of nachos? Let's breakdown this comparison:
I took the challenge myself of eating both a pound of nachos and pound of broccoli in one sitting. Let's just say it was an interesting experience. Overall both "meals" filled me up equally and the rate at which I ate definitely slowed down towards the end of both.
I mentioned it was an interesting experience... what that means is I actually became physically ill by consuming one whole pound of broccoli. My stomach and GI tract just couldn't handle processing that amount of broccoli. The nachos, no problem... I was eating again in a few hours. Why this happened I don't know the exact answer. Fiber content maybe, but I've consumed 11 grams of fiber in one sitting before this. Vitamin or mineral overdose, possible but not probable. If you have an answer let me know, I'm curious.
To put things in perspective a bit on whether or not this is a lot of food. The average American eats between 3 and 5 pounds of food per day, we will call it 4 on average. So, a one pound meal probably isn't that unusual. To break things down a bit further, the average American consumes around 2,700 calories per day. So doing a little math the average pound of food that an American consumes is around 675 calories (2,700 calories divided by 4 pounds of food). Based on the nutrition facts, you can see that broccoli falls WELL below that average and the nachos a fair amount above that number. Can you see how eating whole foods and especially non starchy veggies can help a person consume fewer calories?
The reason a lot of diets fail I believe is because our body is naturally satiated by a certain poundage of food. If all you are doing is eating smaller portions of your current foods your body is going to crave more food to fill itself up. I wrote up a whole other post on this topic, Are You Smoking Shorter Cigarettes to Get Healthy? If you aren't filling your body with a certain poundage of food you either need to resort to some incredible willpower or you will likely binge a time or two.
If your goal is weight loss and you don't want to micromanage every gram of food that goes into your body here's what we would recommend:
Meatloaf... it was a staple in our house growing up! My mom would always make it with beef and slather on the ketchup sauce on top. It was actually quite tasty, except for the onions. I despised onions when I was a kid. Not the flavor as much as the crunch that you would occasionally get from one that wasn't cooked enough.
Times have changed quite a bit! The breadcrumbs that you would normally add to meatloaf would now make me breakout in a rash. The high fructose corn syrup in the ketchup, yeah... we are just going to avoid that if we can. That's the backstory on how this recipe got created.
I suppose with mushroom sauce this maybe is closer to the salsibury steak that we would occasionally have in our tv dinners. No matter what you call it, I hope you call it delicious! We certainly enjoyed it!
We are creatures of habit. When we find something we like we don't change. Brussel sprouts and the way we prepare them is a prime example. Our normal preparation is clean, cut, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and roast in the oven. If we are feeling crazy we might add a little bacon, balsamic or galic. I've learned to not mess with Laura's brussels!
This past weekend we did a Chrismtas dinner with my side of the family and my mom had found some beautiful brussel sprouts. I've tried exposing to my family to brussels before and other than my mom and sister in laws haven't had much luck. So I figured what the heck let's try something different in the hopes they will try it. It got a couple more to try but I don't know if I turned them to be brussel fans.
This recipe was simply inspired by what was in the kitchen. We had brought some fresh pecans home from Texas. We had an orange that we didn't eat on our flight up to Minnesota and I had saved some bacon grease from our breakfast that morning!
The orange definitely livened the dish up quite a bit and pecans added a nice texture contrast, so I would say this is a win and we would love to hear what you think if you make it yourself.
One variation you could certainly try would be to add bacon to the dish. We didn't since we had it for breakfast that morning. But if you wanted to, just chop and cook the bacon in your skillet until the fat is rendered out, remove the bacon and start the brussel sprout process listed below. Then just re-add the bacon pieces the same time as the pecans.
We are currently parked in a campground in central Texas between Houston and San Antonio. There isn't anything super fancy about this park or its location. One upside though is that there are pecan trees everywhere and it's pecan season! If I had the patience I could easily fill up a 5 gallon bucket in less than hour. We've been snacking on them a bit but decided to try to use them the other morning in combination with a new pancake recipe.
If you follow us you know that we love our pancakes and they are a weekend tradition. You also know we need gluten free options since I can no longer eat anything glutenous! I wouln't consider these pancakes health food but they are close. The flax in them provide a ton of Omega 3 fats which are super good for you. You also get a decent dose of protein and fiber too!
The sauce/sryup that I made is the thing that turns a fairly healthy pancake into a bit of a treat! Enjoy it though because it's delicious and a much better way to enjoy pancakes then use a boxed premix.
Cooler temps equal soup season! Although we are staying in warmer climates this winter we have still seen temps dip into the 40's at night and not get much past 60 during the day. I know, I know it could be so much worse. This year I guess it is all about perspective and it is cold to us!
We are also in a season of trying to save some money and our food budget is one area where we can save some money. Soups are a great way to stretch your dollar, get loads of nutrition, all without starving yourself.
Just in case you aren't convinced on soups yet, they are also super easy to make. This one could easily be a crockpot meal where you just throw everything in and forget about it. Also when we make soup, we always have leftovers, which means even easier, healthy meals for days.
I've tried a couple dozen different ways to make baked sweet potato fries and most of them haven't turned out until now! The two things that have typically happened are either horribly burnt fries or soft squishy fries. Been there?
I wish I could remember where I saw this trick but it made all the difference. I know I saw it on some Facebook cooking school type page. They talked about the differences in sweet potatoes vs regular white potatoes. The thing that separates the two is the starch to sugar ratios. White potatoes are higher starch less sugar and sweet potatoes are just the opposite. If you are somewhat experienced cook you know that sugar burns. It's because of this and this balance that makes sweet potato fries harder to get that nice crispy texture without burning.
You could approach this problem a few ways. Cook them incredibly fast so they don't have time to burn, aka fry them. Not the worst thing in the world if you are using a quality oil like coconut oil, but that becomes a pretty expensive batch of fries if you are using a whole jar of coconut oil to make them. The next option is to reduce the sugar content, that's not really an option as far as I know. The last one would be to up the starch content. That can be done!
The process of adding starch is pretty simple. You could use a number of different starches to do this but I would recommend tapioca, arrowroot or corn starch/flour, I used tapioca. You create a slurry of the starch plus a little water and toss the potatoes in the slurry while they are warm and slightly softened from boiling. That way the starch mixture gets absorbed into the potato.
I'm going to continue to experiment with this process and hopefully fine tune it a bit more. For now, we hope you enjoy this little tip. I would also love to find the perfect fry seasoning to add to these. If you have any suggestions drop them in the comments.
I don't know why I don't always have a batch of this soup in our fridge. So good!!! Five years ago I would have laughed at you if you would tell me that soup can be an entire meal. I guess I was used to terrible canned soups or the tiny cup of soup that you get at restaurants. Oh how the times of changed.
Now my view of soup is basically it is liquid salad! Seriously though if you make a good soup it should resemble a salad. So if you don't like to eat salad, I suggest you try soup instead. This version of chicken tortilla soup is loaded up with veggies, quality protein, and of course some amazing chicken stock.
When I make soup I love to make a huge batch because it tastes better the next day! Feel free to scale this recipe up or down but it makes about 6 large bowls of soup. Also as a little bonus here is a how I like to make my chicken stock at home which is super simple.
Homemade Chicken Stock
Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
Ladies if you need a way to get your husbands to eat a salad, start with this one. I mean what guy doesn't like steak, then you combine that with mushrooms and gorgonzola cheese, it's a win! The asparagus and tomatoes are there as a way to sneak in some more veggies! The dressing is super simple and adds a fun punch of flavor. It's crisp, it's herbacious, it's delicious.
We would love to know if you try this one out! Leave us a comment below. If you love it don't forget to Pin It so you can save it for later!
One thing we really encourage a lot of our clients to work on is to be more veggies, especially greens. One of the easiest ways to get more greens in is to eat more salads. We love our salads, and try to it one 5 days a week. We aren't just talking about a little side salad with dinner. We are talking full on, stuff my face and stomach salad that is loaded with greens and veggies. We see a lot of people that grasp that concept which is awesome, but then they douse all those quality veggies with some low quality salad dressing.
A couple of tips if you do buy store bought dressings;
If the idea of eating more veggies and cleaning up your eating sounds like something you would be interested in, we will be hosting a special group on Facebook in a little over a week. The group will revolve around having a salad a day for week. We will provide recipes like the one above and some more tips on how to put together an amazingly healthy salad. If you are interested click on the image below and RSVP.
Laura loves curry!!! So what do you do when your wife loves curry, you make curry for her. Sometimes I'm all about doing things from absolute scratch. In the case of curry, it would be fantastic to toast my own spices then grind them fresh and use my mortal and pestle to make a paste. But let's be honest that takes time and energy.
Instead we found a pre-made curry paste, added in some fresh veggies and fish and a couple other ingredients and we had a delicious dish in under 30 minutes. This was my first time ever using fish in a curry and it turned out pretty great. If you are completely scared of fish or don't like the flavor, too bad, try it anyways. I think you will be surprised that the curry is the dominate flavor and not the fish, so it is a good way to give fish a try.
Feel free to add your favorite veggies to this dish. You don't have to use what we used, we just had these on hand and that is why we love curry dishes so much, because they are so versatile. You could also sub out the quinoa for rice or even zoodles or sweet potato noodles if you want to go grain free. The possibilities are endless. We hope you enjoy this one as much as we did.
So unless you are living under a rock you've most likely heard of the program 21 Day Fix. The concept behind the program is that you combine exercise with a portion control system using color coded containers. The difficulty that some of our customers have had is how to you go from ingredients to meals using the containers. Fixate is the answer to that.
Fixate is a cooking show that will air on Beachbody On Demand. The show will be a cooking show where Autumn's brother who is a professional chef will teach you how to put together meals in a healthy way using the container system. I'm a sucker for cooking shows so I'm pretty excited about this plus I know it will help so many people have more confidence with the container system that is proven to work if it gets used. Each episode/recipe will be 4-7 minutes long and include downloadable instructions and grocery lists. This is scheduled to go live on August 19th, 2016.
“It’s so easy to get stuck in a cooking rut,” Autumn explains. “We designed Fixate to help people get more creative with their healthy, portion-controlled eating plans, so they can try new recipes as well as learn to make and containerize the foods they already love.”
We want to help people get healthy and lose weight and we know sometimes a little incentive is a great way to get people started. Let me explain in a little more detail what we are offering. If you purchase any Challenge Pack (workout + month's supply of Shakeology) you will also receive a free copy of Autumn's cookbook, Fixate. With this Challenge Pack purchase you will also receive a free 30 Day membership to Beachbody On Demand which will give you access to Autumn's new cooking show! Oh and over 400 different workouts if you feel like dabbling with something else.
The other option if you aren't sure if any of this is right for you is to sign up for a FREE 30 Day Club Membership. For 30 days you will have access to 400+ workouts, Autumn's new cooking show, and some other great resources. If on day 30 you haven't used it or didn't like it you can cancel no questions asked. Well we might actually ask you why you didn't like it but just for feedback purposes... :) If you choose this option you will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Autumn's cookbook Fixate!
We believe in these products and know that they can change lives but they can only do that if you have them and use so hopefully this will be that little push to get you started.
Laura almost didn't let me make these for her. Apparently she has a thing about eating chia seeds because they get stuck in her teeth. I get it... kind of. I was able to twist her arm and get her to try them and I'm pretty sure she was glad she did. We all loved these pancakes, even Eli. Another bonus: zero chia seeds stuck in her teeth too. Talk about having your (pan)cake and eating it too!
Seriously if chia seeds aren't part of your diet you need to consider adding them. Even if a few stray seeds end up in your teeth the benefits far outweigh any social anxiety from being caught with something in your teeth. Even if you do get caught it also gives you an excuse to share this amazing seed story with someone new!
I think I first heard of Danielle Walker on one the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis. She has a pretty incredible story of beating an auto immune disease, ulcerative colitis, through dietary changes she made. It's a great story that really shows the power of food. I would encourage to check out her blog or book Against All Grain.
Danielle has a recipe for this same dish that was my inspiration for making this. It was super simple and even Eli ate it. You can pretty easily scale the spice up or down depending on if you are feeding kids or you just don't like spicy food. Eating healthy food doesn't have to be flavorless which I think a lot of people fear. You just need a well equipped spice cabinet. You could easily sub out the ground beef in this recipe for ground turkey, shredded chicken or beef if you happen to have those on hand instead.
This dish was totally inspired by leftovers. To be honest a lot of the meals we make are throw together at the last minute. We try our best to just keep healthy ingredients in our fridge, freezer and pantry. Then I (Dan) find inspiration either from Pinterest, Google, a random cooking show or something I've made before to dictate what we eat. I'm not the most creative person when it comes to other things, but food, that's my jam - pun intended!
Seriously this soup was so easy to make and you could easily scale it up if you wanted to make it for a larger group. Like most soups the key to flavor is using a flavorful broth/stock and letting it simmer for a long time. I recently made up a batch of chicken stock in our pressure cooker. Homemade stock makes a huge difference in my opinion both in flavor and quality of ingredients. I probably need to write up a post about our stock recipe. Very simply we just add water, old chicken bones, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, apple cider vinegar, peppercorns and a little salt into our pressure cooker. We pressure cook it for about 3 hours and it turns out great!
We hope you enjoy this soup! We always love to hear if you try out our recipes, so if you give it a try, drop us a comment on the post or shoot us a message.
Citrus and summer go hand in hand in my book. I know it isn't technically summer yet but the weather in South Alabama has felt like it is the middle of August. I'm sure if you were to talk to locals they would tell you how great the weather has been. For this Minnesota boy it's a different story. Temps were in the 80's everyday and the humidity was above 90% everyday. That's hot!
Being in South Alabama we had the benefit of getting some really good shrimp and it was cheap. This has definitely been one of the things that I've enjoyed about traveling so far, local food! Getting to eat food that was picked, farmed or fished recently is so fun and adds so much more flavor. We've tried to take in local markets wherever we are and get some fresh veggies and proteins, then fill in the gaps with some food from the big box stores.
I made this while in Gulf Shores, Alabama and it was super light and perfect for a warm day. We hope you enjoy it!! If you have a shellfish allergy you could easily leave out the shrimp and do a piece of baked whitefish.
Due to formulas changing and requests for additional shakes, we've updated this post as of 9/18/17.
This subject comes up ALL THE TIME with people we work with and the coaches in our community. People are always trying to compare different shakes that are on the market. There is so much skewed information since the people that are usually telling you the benefits of a particular shake are also selling that shake. Full disclosure: we are Beachbody Coaches, drink Shakeology daily and also sell it. BUT...unlike a lot of other posts that attempt to compare these shakes, I want to share the facts: calorie information, macronutrient information, nutritional information, added ingredients, cost and let YOU decide what makes the most sense for you situation.
The only bias that might show up in this post is that I put a huge emphasis on long term health over short term weight loss. I believe lasting weight loss and finding your ideal weight is a side effect of being healthy. I also don't believe that meal replacement shakes should be used as a way to restrict calories. They should be used to give you quality, convenient calories that promote health. If you want to know why I don't believe in calorie restriction we have a couple other posts about that, Calorie Deficit Diets, The Truth Revealed and Stop Eating Less and Exercising More. I also have a bias towards restricting artificial foods, flavors, and preservatives.
I compared the chocolate shake from the following companies:
Calorie and Macronutrient Information
When I first started looking at these numbers I originally didn't include the serving size. I then realized that it is needed to accurately look at nutritional density. The idea is to compare gram for gram, which shake packs in more nutrients. When looking at all of the numbers keep in mind the serving size. For example if you look at total carbs and compare IsaLean to the Herbalife Shake you would think that Herbalife is way better but the serving is less than half, so gram for gram, IsaLean has fewer carbs.
A few other things to pay attention to in this graphic:
Calories. Like I mentioned earlier, shakes shouldn't be a way to restrict calories, so I like to look at the shakes that contain slightly higher values, 150+. All of these shakes if made without adding any extra ingredients would still be pretty low in calories to "replace" a meal, in my opinion. Obviously meal size will be determined by the size of the person but I usually recommend 400+ calories per meal.
Carbohydrates... these have a bad reputation in the weight loss world. I would say the average person probably does consume too many calories from carbohydrates, but that doesn't mean you need ZERO to lose weight. The main idea when it comes to carbohydrate management is to avoid carbs that quickly gets transformed into blood sugar or have a high glycemic load. The lower the total carbohydrate, the higher the fiber, and the higher the protein will all lower the glycemic load of a food. One thing you will want to cross reference regarding carbs is whether a shake is artificially sweetened. If they are artificially sweetened the sugar to fiber ratio will be skewed and as I mentioned earlier, I'm not a fan of artificial sweeteners. Keeping that in mind the shakes that I like based on their carbohydrate content and sugar to fiber ratio include; Vega One Nutritional Shake, DoTerra Trim Shake, Beachbody Shakeology, Isagenix Isalean, Garden of Life. I like these because of the higher fiber content and lower % of sugar in regards to total carbohydrates.
Overall, fat is pretty negligible across the board. Protein strictly by the numbers, most of these shakes have a good percentage of their calories coming from protein. The only one that is pretty terrible is GNC Lean Shake. We will talk about quality of ingredients later.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
This first graphic shows the percentages of the vitamin content in each shake. One thing to consider with this graphic is nutritional density in relation to total grams consumed or total calories. A shake like Thrive Lifestyle Mix is a pretty low calorie shake at 123 calories but has a number of RDA values of 50% or more, so overall pretty nutritionally dense.
The 4 shakes that standout as the ones containing the highest concentration of vitamins per calorie would be IdealShake, Shakeology, Vega One, and IsaLean in that order. Invigor8, Advocare, Arbonne and DoTerra shakes would rank among the worst when it comes to nutritional density.
This second graphic shows the percentages of the mineral content in each shake. The top 4 shakes from a mineral density are IdealShake, Thrive Lifestyle Mix, Shakeology, and Sanford Profile Meal Replacement.
The other thing to consider when it comes to vitamin and mineral content would be where those vitamins are coming from. Are they synthetically created and added? For example if you read IdealShake's ingredient list it would say Niacinamide and Potassium Chloride. Those things aren't bad for you. However, when you get vitamins and minerals from whole food ingredients your body is able to absorb those nutrients more effectively. So when you read your ingredient list, make sure you look for ingredients that sound like foods rather than chemicals. If you are getting these nutrients from food, you are also benefiting by getting the phytonutrients that come along with those foods. These are lost entirely when you are consuming a shake that was made using lab created vitamins and minerals.
Shakeology, Garden of Life and Vega One are the three shakes that have the most comprehensive list of foods that go into their shakes. Isalean, Thrive, Invigor8 and Arbonne include some whole foods that make the vitamins and minerals more easily absorbed. The remaining shakes from what I can tell use synthetic vitamins and minerals to get their nutrient content.
Pre and Probiotic Content
If you are new to the world of prebiotics and probiotics let me explain what they are very briefly. Probiotics are bacteria that populate your gastrointestinal tract. We have about 10 times the number of bacteria living in our GI tract than human cells. So essentially we are more bacteria than we are human. These bacteria provide a whole host of benefits to our bodies from metabolic regulation, immune function, cravings, and improved digestive issues to name a few. The science is still pretty new around how our gut health affects the health of our entire body but we know it is important to have a healthy gut.
Prebiotics are essentially food for the probiotics to eat and therefore survive. Nearly all the shakes include prebiotic fiber in them. It's important to feed the good bacteria in our gut the stuff it needs, rather than feed the bad bacteria which can lead to conditions like SIBO and candida overgrowth. Only 7 of them contain probiotics, so it makes it pretty easy to pick out the best ones in this category.
Staying on the theme of gut health, let's talk digestive enzymes next. Essentially what these can do is help break down our food into smaller pieces so our body can more easily process it.
There are a few standouts when it comes to this category. Isalean and Garden of Life have the most comprehensive mix of enzymes. After that Thrive and IdealShake have a pretty good mix. Shakeology has a heavy focus on carbohydrate enzymes but lacks protein and lipid enzymes. All the other shakes fail in this category. (Make sure to click on the image to enlarge)
Adaptogens and Herbs
This category might seem a little strange to the average health conscious person. Adaptogens are foods that "adapt" to their current environment. Things like ashwagandha and astragalus are herbs that can regulate your immune system. If your immune system needs help fighting off disease, these will ramp it up. If your body is having an auto immune response and it needs to calm down, these herbs will slow it down. They adapt!
Other items on this list help with energy production at the cellular level. Things like schisandra and maca are great for this. Many of these adaptogens also have a incredibly high antioxidant properties like reishi and cordyceps mushrooms. Antioxidant rich foods are powerful for your immune system and reducing inflamation throughout your body.
I won't go into a ton of detail about these specific ingredients, but the clear winner when it comes to adaptogens is Shakeology. A few other shakes have included a single adaptogen which is great that they recognize the value in them.
Additional Ingredients and Certifications
This is one of the most important graphics I think when comparing shakes. Like I said, I have a few things on my non-negotiable list, especially when it comes to something I would be consuming daily. First, I'm gluten sensitive and therefore this is a must. If you are also I would recommend testing any of these shakes out or running it past your doctor. There are only a couple that are "certified" gluten free but a lot that claim that they are but just don't have the certification. After that I prefer to avoid products that contain GMO's, soy, artificial anything and hydrogenated oils. I don't claim to be perfect with all of these but I certainly don't consume anything daily that contains any of these items.
With that, there are only 7 shakes that meet my criteria and would benefit a person's health; Shakeology, Isalean, DoTerra, Vega One, Arbonne, Invigor8, and Garden of Life. This is actually where I would personally start, and then work my way back up the blog post looking at these shakes as my options for a daily shake. That's why I've highlighted them in this graphic. If you aren't as strict as I am when it comes to these added ingredients then by all means use all of this information however you would like to find the right shake for you.
I should note that all of these shakes are priced out at the retail value. A lot of the companies that sell these shakes have member options that get you reduced pricing but to keep it consistent I wanted to share the retail. If you decide to drink one of these shakes regularly I would encourage you to look into some of those discounts.
Hopefully by now you've realized that comparing a lot of these shakes isn't an apples to apples comparison and the price reflects that. The price of these shakes tend to reflect the ingredient list in them. For the most part I would say as the price of the shakes go up so do the nutritional benefits and quality of ingredients. For the shakes on the higher end with a higher nutritional value, you are still coming out ahead of what it would cost you to order a healthy meal at a restaurant and would be very comparable to making a healthy meal at home. For some of the cheaper shakes I would argue that you are just buying calories. It's something to consume to hold you over until your next meal but they aren't making you any healthier.
Unfortunately a lot of people will begin their decision making process with this chart. I would encourage you to look at all the other categories above and pick the shake that will help you in the way that you need it. Then figure out a way to make that dollar amount work in your budget. It might mean giving up a night out a week at a restaurant, or forgoing the daily Starbucks trip or giving up cable TV. Your health is like an investment that you can start building up a positive or negative balance at a young age. Most people don't see the benefits or the negative side effects until they are much older and often it's too late to make big changes.
I hope I've laid out enough information that you can make an educated decision on your own and not have to sort through a bunch of crap out there on the internet to get a straight answer on what is included in these shakes. I also hope I presented the facts in a fair manner and highlighted the things that you would want to know before choosing a shake. I'm happy to answer questions about any of my views and why we have chosen to drink the shake that we do.
I'll close with this thought... A lot of people scrutinize the safety of these shakes which is great and is why I put this post together. I would also encourage you to use that same level of care and concern when it comes to the other foods you eat regularly. None of these shakes are either toxic enough to make you sick on their own or nutritious enough to keep you healthy on their own. It's a combination of everything you put into your body.
Thanks for reading!
Currently we are in New Orleans. When we travel we like to eat what the locals eat. We avoid chain restaurants and try to find the off the beaten path places to grab some food. A couple places we checked out while we've been here are Blue Line Sandwich Co. We did breakfast here last week and it was really good. Definitely was a local hangout. Cochon was another place we checked out which I believe is in the Uptown area. This place was great, we shared some oysters and their traditional dish and namesake, the Cochon. Both were great!
We also checked out John Besh's restaurant Lüke for breakfast yesterday. A little bit on the spendy side but the food was fantastic. I had the southern breakfast and instead of the grits they gave me some roasted potatoes that were just awesome! Laura had the egg white frittata which was also delicious! We also made a stop at Cafe Du Monde and had some coffee and Laura and Eli had some beignets.
As you can see a big piece of what we like to experience when we travel is FOOD!!! Both of us would rather spend $100 on an awesome dinner, then go to a concert or a show. We don't mind those things but we just love food and experiencing the different preparations and flavors is so fun. This has definitely helped me in the kitchen too. I get to see how dishes are made and assembled. I get to taste different combinations of that I would never have thought of on my own. In the traditional version of gumbo, you make a roux from wheat flour, so I had to modify that a bit and I think it worked pretty well.
My goal with a lot of the food we come across is to find great local ingredients, do a little bit of research on what the base of a dish is, then make it your own! For those of you that follow us on Facebook you might have actually seen me make this entire dish on a Live Broadcast. If you want to watch that you can click HERE, then go the videos section. We've also had a lot of people ask about how they can Live Subscribe and get notified when do our live videos. I finally figured it out! If you click on the image below, it will take you to our page, from their click on the videos section, then then in the upper right hand corner click the arrow then choose Turn On Live Notifications. This works if you are on your desktop. From a phone, go to our page, The Cook and the Coach, the select to Follow Us, not just Like our page, then scroll down a few posts and find our last live broadcast and in the upper right hand corner you should see an option to Live Subscribe.
From a Computer
From a Phone or Tablet
So finally the recipe! If you are like me, you probably just skipped to this section! Hope you enjoy this recipe. If you want, you could certainly modify it to your taste, by adding things like shrimp or crawfish. You can also tailor the spice level to what you like and how spicy your andouille is that you buy.
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.