Sep 30, 2013

{Product Review} Vega One Nutritional Shakes

Vega One was created by Brendan Brazier, vegan, professional Ironman triathelete and author. He wanted to formulate a plant-based nutritional protein shake that would adhere to his vegan diet.

Vega One Shakes come in a convenient packet and each serving contains 15 g of protein, 6 g of fiber, 50% of your daily intake of vitamins and minerals plus 3 servings of greens. A pack also has less than 150 calories. What Vega One does not contain is dairy, gluten, soy, added sugar, artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. To read more about the benefits or get more nutritional information, please visit the Vega One website here.

A few weeks ago, a Vega One Starter Kit arrived in my mail. The starter kit contains 5 packets of Vega One shake (2 chocolate flavored, 2 French vanilla and 1 berry) and a brochure with three smoothie recipes.

I have tried Vega One two times so far. I tried the French vanilla flavor as a shake with 1.5 cups of ice water as directed on the back of the packet. It can also be mixed with juice or any other beverage.

The first thing I noticed was that I really had to mix it a lot to get the powder to dissolve into the water. Once it was completely dissolved, you can see that even though the flavor is French vanilla, the shake is a green color. This was a little disconcerting to me, but I guess that's what happens with plant-based, non-artificial- colored shakes.

In terms of taste, I wasn't too huge of a fan of the taste. One of the ingredients of Vega One is stevia extract and I really find the taste of stevia to be unpleasant. With just water and the Vega One powder, I could really tell there was stevia in there.

I can say that I had much better luck with using Vega One in a smoothie though. I just used whatever I had around the house.

Here is Irene's Chocolate Banana Blueberry Smoothie:
- 1 serving Vega One Chocolate
- 1 cup cold soy milk
- 1 banana
- handful of fresh blueberries
Blend until smooth

As you can see from the picture, the blueberry skin didn't quite blend all of the way. I found the smoothie to be quite tasty, and I think the fresh fruits help to mask the stevia taste.

What's my take? Although I am not a vegan and don't have many dietary restrictions, I think it is great that those who are have different options available to them to fit their differing lifestyles. I like how Vega One is packaged in a way that makes it easy for someone who is on the go or on the road to have a protein shake without having to cart around a huge tub of powder. As far as my use of Vega One, I am definitely going to stick to making smoothies!

Disclosure: Vega One provided me with a complimentary Vega One Shake Starter Kit for the purpose of this review. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Week In Review (September 23-29, 2013)

This week has been rough. I'm not sure if it is because the sun isn't rising as early combined with the sun setting earlier or maybe it is because I got a flu shot on Monday and maybe that has made me fatigued. But I have been so tired this week. I even took a four hour nap on Sunday afternoon, which is totally unlike me. I hope I get over this soon! 

I participated in the Light the Way 5K on Saturday, which I will recap later this week. It was a lot of fun and can't wait to tell you about it. 

Light the Way 5K Finish Line

The rest of the week was pretty bad workout-wise. I had to stop a few times mid-workout because I was so drained.

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: BBL - Bum Bum (30 minutes)
Wednesday: BBL - Sculpt (didn't finish)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Light the Way 5K (recap coming soon)
Sunday: BBL - Bum Bum (30 minutes)

Total yoga this week: 0 times
Total mileage this week: 3.1 miles
Total mileage this year: 282.73

On Friday, I volunteered at the packet pick-up for a local race that happened on Saturday morning. It obviously wasn't a race I did because I was at the Light the Way 5K. During my volunteer shift, something occurred to me which made me think. I wondered if I felt that there was something wrong with me volunteering my time for a for-profit race. I have volunteered two times now at for-profit races and it didn't even occur to me the first time to ask myself why I was volunteering at an event for a business that was making tons of money. Anyway, to save myself from having to answer that question next time, I'm going to volunteer for not-for-profit events in the future.

On Saturday, Raisin Bread and I drove out to Annandale to try out a new-to-us Korean barbecue place: Kogiya. The wait was horrendous but the food was great. We had quite the spread. We ordered a seafood pancake, bulgogi and kalbi and of course, had loads of banchan. Yum yum! Kogiya seems to bring in a lot of bodies with their all-you-can-eat barbecue but we weren't sold on the cuts of meat, so we ordered a la carte.

Here's hoping for more energy this week!

Kogiya Korean BBQ
4220 Annandale Road 
Annandale, VA 22003

Sep 27, 2013

{Product Review} NeoCell Collagen Sport

Back in the summer, NeoCell reached out to me and asked if I wanted to try out their Collagen Sport Ultimate Recovery Complex protein powder. You may recall, in a previous post, I talked about NeoCell's Beauty Burst Soft Chews, which I received as part of my May 2013 Bulu Box, so I was happy to try out another one of their products.

Collagen Sport contains 30 grams of protein per serving, consisting of 15 grams of whey protein isolate and 15 grams of Super Collagen™ 1 & 3 Protein. It is also a good source of L-Glutamine, multi-vitamins and antioxidants from pomegranate extract. 

Additionally, Collagen Sport has:

  • No Gluten
  • No Wheat
  • No Sugar
  • No Lactose
  • No artificial sweeteners or flavors
  • No fillers or synthetic ingredients 

Here is a look at the nutritional facts on the back of the container. 

To read more about the benefits of collagen or more product information, please go here.

NeoCell sent me a 1.5 lb. container of Collagen Sport in the French Vanilla flavor, and so far, I have been using it in a variety of ways. First, I tried it just mixed with water. I have also tried it blended with soy milk. But by far, my favorite thing to do with it is to sprinkle it onto my Greek yogurt.

Here I made it with 1 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt, fresh mango cubes and slivered almonds. I have also added chia seeds on occasion.

This is my favorite breakfast at the moment. I'm hoping that my next concoction will be to use Collagen Sport in a protein ball recipe. 

As recommended, I typically have it in the mornings or after a workout. Unlike some protein powders that I have had in the past, Collagen Sport is easy to get down even just mixed with water or milk. It dissolves quickly and doesn't have a horrible after taste. 

What's my take? Although I can't attest to the fact that Collagen Sport has made my recoveries easier, I love having it as an extra source of protein and vitamins. And of course, having it taste good is definitely important to me. Otherwise, I wouldn't continue to take it! Now, where is my shake? 

Disclosure: NeoCell provided me with a 1.5 lb container of Collagen Sport Ultimate Recovery Complex for the purpose of this review. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Sep 25, 2013

Albuquerque: Settling In and Driving the Turquoise Trail

After five days in Colorado, we flew to Albuquerque, where we spent the second half of our vacation.

If you missed any of my Colorado posts, check them out first:
A Day at the Pack Burro Races in Leadville, Colorado
Exploring Colorado's Great Outdoors + Is the Dwight Howard?
Colorado Gold Rush Towns: Georgetown, Central City and Black Hawk
- Denver Trip Report: Art Museums, Botanic Gardens and a Phoenix Concert  

We arrived in the late afternoon and checked into the house we rented for the duration of our stay. The house was amazing! I loved it so much. It was the perfect size, in a great location and had everything we could ask for, except for a good internet connection. It was spotty, but that was seriously my only complaint. 

We spent some time watching tv in the living room and cooking lots of meals at home. We don't have cable at home home, so it was a treat for us to be able to watch all the American Pickers episodes we wanted! 

We enjoyed our meals at this beautiful wooden table or outside on the patio. Every morning and around dusk we would have a ton of hummingbird friends visiting us outside. It was so serene.

The bedroom was comfy with lots of storage space so we could unpack and feel at home, plus there was lots of natural light.

The updated bathroom was a calming blue and had a beautiful clawfoot bathtub. 

On our first night in Albuquerque, we took it easy. We bought groceries for the next few days and made ourselves some marinated chicken strips and roasted asparagus for dinner. 

The next morning, we prepared some breakfast burritos at the house. I couldn't believe how pleasant the weather was. I guess I never knew what "high desert" meant because I assumed the weather would be like Joshua Tree or Phoenix, but nope, it was so comfortable and sunny every day.

Our plan for the day was to take the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, which is along NM Highway 14, to Santa Fe, where we would spend the majority of the day.

We stopped in the town of Madrid, which is a now recovered ghost town with lots of galleries and cafes. We walked around the main drag and visited some of the shops. One of my favorites was Cowgirl Red, a store that specializes in vintage cowboy boots.

One of Cowgirl Red's doggies

We stopped for an early lunch at The Hollar

Both Raisin Bread and I ordered buffalo burgers. I had mine with a side of spicy cole slaw. Um, this burger was soooo delicious. It was one of the juiciest I've ever had.

We wanted to continue on to...

so we had to say good bye to Madrid!

It was around another 40 minutes before we would reach Santa Fe. The Turquoise Trail is the scenic route and this landscape is the reason why we chose to drive this way. 

Next up: Our day in Santa Fe! 

The Hollar
2849 New Mexico 14
Madrid, NM 87010

Sep 24, 2013

{Product Review} BAMR Bands

One of my must haves on runs and while working out is a headband. I hate it when my hair falls into my face or sticks to my forehead after lots of sweating. For these reasons, I have an ever expanding collection of workout headbands.

I recently learned about BAMR Bands. BAMR stands for Bad A** Mother Runner, and Katie Heddleston is the woman behind BAMR Bands. As you can guess from the name, she is both a mother and a runner. Not only that, she is also a fellow blogger and fellow Sweat Pink Ambassador and a seamstress! Talk about wearing many hats.

Katie started her headband business in January 2013 as a way to stay at home with her son while building her own business. Katie recently sent me one of her BAMR Bands to try out. The design I received is the super cute "Owl in the Morning."

Since receiving my BAMR Band, I've worn it running, working out, and (I've gotta be honest with you) around the house. I love how the bands are functional and cute! The bands are 7/8 of an inch wide and lined with velvet ribbon, which makes them non-slip. This is one of the key features I am always looking for in the perfect headband, and my BAMR Band did not slip one bit! 

Katie also donates $1 from every headband purchased to Every Mother Counts, a non-profit founded by Christy Turlington Burns with the mission to end preventable deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth around the world. 

What's my take: There is so much I love about BAMR Bands. They come in a ton of different colors and patterns. The headbands are quite affordable at $10 each. Most importantly, they work! If that isn't enough, I love being able to support a woman-owned business and one that gives 10% of each purchase to an important cause! 

Disclosure: I received a headband from BAMR Bands for the purpose of this review. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Sep 23, 2013

Week in Review (September 16 - 22, 2013)

I'm pretty sure that this is something I haven't mentioned on the blog before, but this is one thing that I have been plugging away at all year long. What am I talking about? Well, one of my goals this year was to complete the 13 in 2013 Challenge. That is to complete 13 races of any distance this year. You can also do a set distance, but I chose to do a variety of distances including 5K, 10K, 10 miles and half marathon. So far, I have completed nine of the 13 runs. You can see what I've done to date on my Race Results + Recaps page.

That means I have four more runs left to reach my goal, but I went a little overboard and have eight more runs on the schedule. I had better not sign up for anymore! This is partly due to the fact that I accidentally signed up for a series instead of one race back in May, so by the end of the year, I'll finish another four 5K's, one 10K and three half marathons. Most of them are virtual so they won't be officially timed.

The weather in DC is finally comfortable and I have been enjoying being outdoors more. This is what the week looked like. I'm still having fun with the Brazil Butt Lift DVDs and put in some runs this week after my week off.

Monday: Brazil Butt Lift (BBL) - Sculpt (50 minutes)
Tuesday: BBL - High & Tight (35 minutes) and Tummy Tuck (20 minutes) + ran 3.1 miles
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: BBL - Sculpt (50 minutes)
Friday: BBL - Cardio Axe (30 minutes)
Saturday: BBL - Sculpt (50 minutes) + walked 4 miles
Sunday: ran 5 miles

Total yoga this week: 0 times
Total mileage this week: 8.1 miles
Total mileage this year: 279.63 miles

Happy Monday!

Sep 19, 2013

Denver Trip Report: Art Museums, Botanic Gardens and a Phoenix Concert

And now back to telling you about my trip around Colorado and New Mexico! 

By the way, if you missed my previous Colorado posts, check them out first:
A Day at the Pack Burro Races in Leadville, Colorado
Exploring Colorado's Great Outdoors + Is the Dwight Howard?
Colorado Gold Rush Towns: Georgetown, Central City and Black Hawk

Raisin Bread and I rounded out our trip to Colorado by spending some time in the city of Denver, which, for us, meant visits to some of its cultural institutions.

We spent a good portion of one day visiting the Denver Art Museum. We were lucky enough to catch the Nick Cave: Sojourn exhibition. Nick Cave is one of my favorite contemporary artists, so I was super excited to see some new works by him as well as viewing some of his old films. I loved it. While we were not able to photograph anything in the exhibit, I was able to "make" my own soundsuit. Hehe.

My Soundsuit

We visited some other exhibitions and galleries before heading to lunch.

Here we are in Ernesto Neto's Walking in Venus Blue Cave

For lunch, we walked across the street to Civic Center Eats, which takes place every Tuesday and Thursday during the summer months. It is basically a food truck festival for all of the downtown Denver's workers and visitors. There were so many options. 

After much deliberation, I ordered the Peyton Manning burger (grass fed beef, mushrooms, basil mayo and I switched the Swiss cheese to cheddar) from OG Burgers. It was actually one of the best burgers I've had recently. For dessert, I had a watermelon popsicle from Aiko Pops. Also delicious and refreshing! 

We headed back to the museum for the afternoon and explored the permanent collections and tagged along on a guided tour. 

We stopped by the giant broom and dustpan before heading back to the apartment for a nap and to make dinner. 

We ended the day at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I was pretty unimpressed by the exhibits here and I'm glad we came at night when it was free. We didn't spend more than half an hour here, but there were a couple of cool things to see like The Bubble Garden and Tatiana Blass's Electrical Room.  

On our drive home, we saw this crazy blue sky. Beautiful, isn't it? 

The next morning, we headed to the Denver Botanic Gardens. Unfortunately, it was raining on and off all day, so it was rather a wet day to be wandering around the gardens. We still had an enjoyable visit though and there was plenty to see. 

Japanese Garden

Monet Pond

My favorite flowers were the huge lotuses and the water lillies.

Halfway into our visit to the Gardens, we got an unfortunate notice. Due to the weather, the concert that we were planning on attending that night was being moved indoors. While we were planning our trip, we checked out the calendar for Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Both of us have always wanted to see a show at this venue, which is one of the best outdoor venues in the country. We saw that Phoenix was playing while we were in town and quickly procured tickets. 

So you can imagine our disappointment when we learned that we wouldn't be going to Red Rocks after all. Instead, we were going to a run of the mill arena to see the show. 

The atmosphere wasn't the same, of course, but Phoenix was amazing live. I also forgot how many great songs they have. It was a fun show, but I also was reminded how old I feel going to concerts now. 

We were scheduled to leave Denver the next day. Our last stop before heading to the airport was lunch at Pho 95. At our usual pho shop, we always order the large size. Raisin Bread decided to order a large here and immediately regretted his decision! Haha...Don't do it. He couldn't make a dent. I ordered a medium and that might have been enough for the both of us. It would have been nice if the waiter had given us a heads up, but it was our fault for not asking. C'est la vie. 

Next up, adventures in New Mexico! 

1401 South Federal Boulevard
Denver, CO 80219

Sep 18, 2013

{Product Review} Kona Kase - July 2013

Kona Kase is a subscription service designed to "fuel your active lifestyle." Every month a "kase" of eight nutritional products is delivered to your door for you to try.

Month-to-month subscriptions cost $15 per month. Kona Kase also offers multi-month discounts for subscriptions of three, six or twelve months.

I got to try out July 2013's Kona Kase. Unfortunately, I only received seven of the eight samples. One item that was listed in the product description was not included in my box, which I thought was super lame, especially since there was no explanation as to why it was missing.

Inspirational quote from a fellow UCLA Bruin! 

My Kona Kase included: 

1. Caveman Cookies - "Caveman Cookies are just like your great, great, great...great grandmother used to make! Made with simple ingredients (just honey, nuts and berries!), they are all natural, grain-free, dairy-free, preservative-free, naturally sweetened, delicious, and make a great post workout snack!

I received two Caveman Cookies, and they weren't my favorite. I didn't like the taste or consistency of the cookies. 

2. Garuka Bars - "Garuka Bars is named after one of the few remaining mountain gorillas ranging the volcanic forests of the Virunga Massif in Rwanda. Garuka needs protection and you need all-natural energy. We're working on both. Our bars are packed full of simple, wholesome ingredients, and a percentage of each sale goes towards gorilla conservation.

I really liked the bar. I think the thing I liked the most was the taste from the raw honey they use. I am assuming that is the taste that is shining through. I also like that it only contains six ingredients.

3. Barbara Llewellyn Granola - "Enjoy artisan granola at its best from the kitchen of award-winning California caterer, Barbara Llewellyn. Rolled oats, sliced almonds, sesame and pumpkin seeds, honey sweetened and spiced for the perfect breakfast treat or snack to keep you going throughout the day, on the trail or at the office." 

Sounds good, right? Alas, this was the item that was missing from my box so I was not able to try it.

4. Body Glove Surge Gel - "NEW Body Glove SURGE is an energy gel that delivers rapid and sustained natural energy and is incredibly easy to use whether you're in the water, on a bike, or running. Each gel contains 150mg of caffeine."

This is the only item from my box that hasn't been consumed yet. I use similar types of energy gels pretty often, so I am looking forward to trying this one out soon.

5. Perky Jerky - "Perky Jerky is an all natural, premium jerky that is unlike any other! It's made with a seven ingredient marinade, which includes Guarana. It is low fat, low carb, and high protein without any preservatives, nitrites or added MSG. It's great for a quick pre-game boost or a mid-mountain hike snack. Satisfying and portable, it's the perfect fuel to do whatever it is that you do."

This was my favorite item from the box. I love beef jerky, but I really liked the flavor of Perky Jerky. I will definitely be purchasing more of this!

6. Enjoy Life - "Salty, sweet and crunchy, Enjoy Life's Seed & Fruit mix is great for on the trail or on the go! This portable protein-packed snack features a blend of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit! Enjoy Life products are always Gluten Free and free from the top 8 allergens. The Seed & Fruit Mix is also verified Non-GMO and Vegan!"

I wasn't a fan of this item. I found it to be pretty bland.

7. Pro Bar - "Bolt organic chews step up your game right when you need it. They're loaded with electrolytes, B vitamins, antioxidants and complex carbs that last through the home stretch of a long workout.

This was my second favorite item. I also use energy chews on a regular basis as fuel on long runs. I actually used these chews during the Disneyland Half Marathon. I loved the citrus flavor and how easy they are to chew. I could pop one in my mouth and pretty much just keep going.

8. Health Warrior - "Health Warrior Chia Bars are the best way to "Chia" on-the-go. The ultimate superfood, Chia has more omega-3's than salmon, more fiber than oatmeal and loaded with antioxidants and plant-based protein. Each bar has 100 calories, and just 5g of sugar, perfect for a snack or pre-workout energy boost."

The Chia Bar I received was the coconut bar and I pretty much hate anything coconut flavored, except for pina coladas for some reason. Raisin Bread, on the other hand, loves coconut, so he had the pleasure of trying the bar. He also loves chia, so the bar had two things he loves. He gave me his opinion of the bar after he ate it and said he enjoyed it.

What's my take? Despite missing an item from my box, overall, I thought my Kona Kase was pretty good. I liked most of the items I tried from the box. I also didn't mention that if there are items that you really like, there is usually a discount code for you to use to purchase more, which I think is great. I love trying new nutritional foods and Kona Kase provides a great service that allows you to do just that. 

Disclosure: Due to my affiliation with Fit Approach, I received a complimentary month of Kona Kase. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here.