Thursday, March 1, 2018

Hacking My Way Through Two Meals a Day With Protein Shakes

They say work smarter, not harder. If that were a t-shirt, I'd probably wear it everyday. Working smarter is the way I do everything in my life, constantly looking for hacks to save time, money, energy, and, quite frankly, keep me from loosing my shit!

Anyone who knows me or follows me on Instagram knows one way I do this is by participating in an intensive meal-planning regimen. Ok, intensive in the fact that I strictly follow a calendar for the days I cook, what I cook, what's in season, when to order groceries, how much to spend and how many carbs are in each meal. But laughably, there's a non-intensive part that includes a magnum of champagne, a ridiculous apron that says "Edgar Allen PoeBoy" and dancing around the kitchen with my sister, beating eggs to the sounds of Nelly.

My family says I cram more into my life than any person they know. Though flattered, I'm sure that's not accurate, but I appreciate that I make a few people dizzy. Simply put, there's one way to accomplish more with less: the hack. There's a hack for everything. A quick search on Pinterest will show you, you can hack housecleaning, social media, recipes, kid's birthday parties, beauty routines...there is literally a hack for everything.

So, given the hack master I am, and the ever-glorious side effects of middle-aging, I was prompted to find a hack for the first two meals of the day (because, as stated previously, I already hack dinner with meal planning).

I hate breakfast. Eggs make me squirm, I don't eat grain, lactose bothers my stomach and bacon is too messy. So, my normal routine used to mean a Kind bar and cup of coffee with flakes of chocolate falling down my shirt while eating on my way to drop off the kids at school. Lunch is not much better. It's a unproductive adventure to find something low carb, satisfying and quick so I can get back to work before my next meeting. The fact that my diet is inconsistent has wrecked havoc on my weight. But then my sis came up with a meal hack: let's do protein smoothies!

 Ok, things I love about the idea of shakes for breakfast and lunch:

  1. Cheap. A tub of protein powder $30. I split that with my sister and we use about 1 tub every two weeks. Add the fresh ingredients (which I also split with my sis) and the Almond/Coconut Milk and it's only about $10/week more.
  2. Quick. We premake our smoothies by combining the powder, fruit, yogurt and mix-ins in giant mason jars every Sunday. Then, in the morning and afternoon, I simply add ice, one cup of Almond or Coconut Milk and the contents of the mason jar to the blender, blend for a minute then dump it back into the mason jar for a portable, on the go breakfast or lunch.
  3. Variety. Because we pre-mix and measure the shake ingredients, we are able to come up with unique recipes and each one has a significantly different taste with absolutely no thinking required when I'm ready to mix one up.
  4. Weight Loss. Ok, would I do this if I didn't lose weight on it? Heck no, let's be real! I'd eat sliders, bacon, French bread every day of the week if weight wasn't an issue. But since I find breakfast and lunch pesky anyway, and since I get to eat normal at night, supplementing two meals with two shakes doesn't really bug me.

Five Things I've Learned About Protein Shakes:

If you decide to give this hack a try, let me make a few suggestions based on what I've learned (you know, because time is money and information is knowledge and it's not a hack if it takes too much time or investigation).
  1. Choose a protein powder wisely. They are not created equal! Our first go at it we used a Vegan knock-off powder and the cheap ingredients tore my stomach up in the most embarrassing way! Check the ingredients for any allergies or irritations you have and stick to ones that suit your current diet. I'm currently using the Vega Vegan powder and like it a lot, but every person is different!
  2. One or two scoops? The first week, we put two scoops in every shake. Turns out it was too much protein and we couldn't finish the shakes and ended up not losing weight. The second week we did one scoop but found some days we were too hungry. The consensus was to do one scoop in the morning and one to two scoops for lunch, depending on the other ingredients. For example, if a recipe calls for yogurt, nuts, peanut butter or something filling, one scoop is fine. But if the recipe is just milk, protein powder and say, cinnamin, two scoops is better.
  3. Pre-making is key. I've found that people stick to what's easy. So, by picking up all the ingredients on Sunday, then packing them into mason jars for a quick blend-and-go meal, I stick with the program because I don't have to think about it. Plus, I know I have everything I need and buying everything at one time reduces cost and ensures I use everything I bought. (Tip: we always hold off on adding the milk and ice until the day off, and stack the mason jar ingredients as follows: fruit & veggies, soft foods, dry foods, spices, protein powder)
  4. Supplement if you are super hungry. Some days, the shakes just don't cut it. I don't believe in starving myself, so if I'm having a hungry day, I eat 1-2 snacks under 100 calories. I personally like a cup of arugula with a dash of avocado oil and salt (the crunch and fat is very satisfying).
  5. Dinner is SO FREAKING GOOD! Nothing makes you appreciate solid food like holding out for it all day. I literally made a roast the other night and it tasted like a filet. Holding out for dinner, as it turns out, makes me truly savor and enjoy food for the first time in along time.

My Favorite Protein Shake Recipes

  • Orangcicle Shake: Vanilla powder, oranges, 1/4C plain greek yogurt, 1C almond milk, ice
  • Vanilla Mint Shake: Vanilla powder, fresh mint, mint extract, cocoa nibs, 1C almond milk, ice
  • Green Shake: Vanilla powder, 1C spinach, berries, 1C coconut or almond milk, ice
  • Pina Colada Shake: Vanilla powder, 1/2C pineapple, 1/4C fresh coconut, 1/4C plain greek yogurt, 1C coconut milk, ice
  • Chocolate Berry Shake: Chocolate powder, 1/2C berries, 1C almond milk, ice
  • Ibarra Chocolate Shake: Chocolate powder, 1t cinnamin, 1t cayanne, 1C almond milk, ice
  • Almond Joy Shake: Chocolate powder, 2T almonds, 2T coconut, 1C almond milk, ice
  • Frosty Shake: Vanilla powder, 2T unsweetened cocoa powder, 1t of agave nectar or natural sugar supplement, frozen banana, 1C almond milk, ice (also good with iced coffee in it!)
So, there you have it. A mommy hack for two meals a day. Gotta go, my Almond Joy shake is calling!