Without protein, smoothies are just fruit and liquid. Protein makes a smoothie a meal. It makes a smoothie more filling and aids in muscle recovery if enjoyed soon after a tough workout. You can add protein to your smoothie by including dairy milk, yogurt or even cottage cheese.
However, my favorite way to get some extra protein in my diet and improve its flavor is to use protein powder — whey protein to be exact. Most whey protein has anywhere from 18-22 grams of protein!
I've heard a lot of complaints about the taste of protein powder, so I recommend trying a few different brands to find the kind that you like best and finding a few smoothie recipes that you enjoy (more on that later).
Here are a few whey protein brands that I've tried and really liked:
Whey isn't for everyone. Some people are lactose-sensitive and have trouble digesting whey protein. However, if your stomach can't handle dairy, there are several brands that are lactose-free, like Biochem.
Whey is made from the whey isolate of cow's milk — a byproduct of making cheese, so it is not vegan-friendly. But there are a lot of options out there for those of you who still want to amp up the protein in your animal-free smoothie.
I wholeheartedly believe in the power of coffee. No convincing needed here. I drink a perfect cup of it each morning with a little cream and one sugar. From now on, though, I just might take my coffee with one part boxer pup and two parts teacher. Add a splash of hippie love and you’ve got Monk’s Groovy beans, a local brewer that goes above and beyond the normal wake-up call.
Monk’s Groovy Beans is a small coffee company that makes its home inside the Atherton Mill Market. Named after Monk, the boxer pup and “Chief Executive Muse” of Bill Register, co-owner of the coffee company, Monk’s prides itself on giving back.
On Wednesday, Aug. 29 (that's tomorrow!), the new Whole Foods Market will open at 8 a.m. with a FREE breakfast and an official bread breaking ceremony with Mayor Foxx at 8:30 a.m. The new store is located at 6610 Fairview Road, adjacent to Phillips Place in the SouthPark neighborhood.
I was invited to a special behind-the-scenes sneak preview yesterday and learned what makes this particular Whole Foods Market (WFM) so special. I've been a huge fan of WFM for years, making stops at their locations in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh when possible, and am thrilled that Charlotte will now have its very own. It's about time!
Like a lot of groceries, WFM puts out samples throughout their store like this hatch chili salsa. Samples were out in full force yesterday for the enjoyment of those participating in the sneak preview tours.
Besides food, my tour group learned that WFM isn't just about whole foods, but whole living. They support this through their Whole Body section that has an apothecary style station for soaps and other products for the body and a gardening section.
One of the things I am most excited about with the opening of WFM is their huge assortment of bulk bins. For those of you who are not familiar, customers can purchase anything from dried beans to nuts, exotic dried fruit and mushrooms to quinoa, whole wheat flour to stone milled grits. Bulk bins are often cheaper than the exact same food in a prepackaged container, better for the environment (because you can bring in your own containers), and allow you to purchase only what you need.
Purveyors of WFM will find a cooking and learning station in the bulk department called "Cooking Charlotte." Here, a part-time Cooking Coach is available to give cooking tips and answer all of your probing cooking questions, like "What do I do with a Fava bean?" And, "Is Himalayan sea salt worth the extra expense?"
My heart skipped a beat a little when we wandered past their GIGANTIC display of chocolate bars. I'm a self proclaimed chocolate fiend and love to savor one really good dark chocolate bar a little at a time. New-to-me flavors combinations (like chili + chocolate) and different brands are one of my favorite grocery store splurges. The selection at this particular WFM is extensive.
My tour group also got a chance to sample some of the chocolate truffles from various artisan chocolate shops, carried by WFM such as sea salt dark chocolate caramels and smoke sea salt milk chocolate caramels. Amazing.
Charlotte isn't lacking in Cajun restaurants, but there is a new kid in town. OK, so maybe this kid isn't brand-new, but he's had a bit of a makeover.
On Monday, Aug. 20, Bite Your Tongue Cajun restaurant opened its doors to the public at its new location in South End with a soft menu. (A soft menu means a small menu that is just a sampling of the much larger menu that will be offered to the public in the future.)
Bite Your Tongue was originally a take-out and catering company in Louisiana owned by Lucius and Martine Johnson. When the couple was uprooted during the Hurricane Katrina evacuation in 2007, they decided to make Charlotte their new home and brought their business with them. Located in a medical building on Randolph Road, the couple served Cajun cuisine for four years. Now they have relocated to 222 E. Bland St., Suite E, in South End where they hope to expand their reach to more Charlotteans.
The new location of Bite Your Tongue is a small, streamlined modern restaurant with vibrant orange walls and accents of purple. The feeling is very lively, which doesn't come from just the decor.
On my first visit, I arrived at 11:45 a.m., just before the lunch rush. As I waited on my lunch date to arrive, the restaurant was soon flooded with people who were audibly excited about the new food venue. It was obvious that some of the diners knew the family, offering their congratulations for a job well done, but others had heard of the restaurant by word of mouth and were eager to try the few items from the soft menu.
The style of the restaurant is casual and very appropriate for lunch, although breakfast and dinner are both served. A New Orleans Jazz Brunch is soon to come as well.
Upon entering the restaurant, diners order at a counter, then help themselves to the soda fountain and to any napkins and utensils they will need. Diners are provided a number so waiters can identify where orders should be delivered. There is seating both inside and out (facing the light rail line).
Our order came out in about five minutes, despite people continuing to pour in through the doors while I waited.
Even though the weather in Charlotte has cooled down to a bearable 80-something degrees, I'm still loving smoothies for breakfast. They're especially wonderful those days that I do not have time to sit down and eat a proper breakfast at the kitchen table. They're so easy to sip in the car. I'm typically a sweet breakfast kind of girl. Even if I have eggs, I like to have some fruit alongside them. It would be great if I could get some vegetables into my breakfast. But how do I do that, when I wake up craving something cold and sweet every morning?
Green smoothies to the rescue!
A lot of people don't believe me when I say that you can add leafy green vegetables to your smoothie and can't taste a difference. I swear, it's like they're not even there. I don't have to tell you about the benefits of leafy greens, but here goes: They have a significant concentration of vitamins and minerals, are low in calories, and as my mama would say, "They make you pretty."
But let me assure you, one more time, because it bears repeating — if you add a cup of less of greens to your smoothie, you will not be able to taste them at all. Plus you'll reap all the benefits of eating a salad for breakfast.
And just to get you started, I'm giving you a two for one deal today — two recipes for the price of one blog post.
Check them out. They're incredibly delicious!
On my latest trip to the local grocery, I found myself in the frozen foods section, pausing to daydream about fudge chunks and caramel swirls, wantonly sampling each flavor in my head, when out of the corner of my eye was a new item I had never seen.
The vibrant packaging jumped off the shelf and there were unexpected flavors like rhubarb-lime, hibiscus lemon and milk chocolate chai. The ingredients were real too, no artificial ingredients to be found. I was holding a box of LunaPops, which just so happens to made right here in North Carolina.
I caught up with Jonathan Mills, seasoned entrepreneur and owner of LunaPops, on the phone. He was traveling between appointments at the same incredible speed that he spoke.
Jon Mills originally hails from Boston but cut his teeth in the international business world in Warsaw, Poland, where he met his wife, Dina Mills, whom he referred to as the “great American entrepreneur of Krakow.” In addition to her great entrepreneurial spirit, Dina Mills possesses a culinary background. She grew up in New Orleans and studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France. She’s also got experience feeding a crowd. Dina and Jon are a family of six with a set of triplets making up the majority.
Smoothies are one of my favorite ways to cool off in the summer and enjoy a healthy delicious treat. My homemade smoothies taste like dessert, but with the right ingredients, they can be super nutritious as well.
For the next few weeks, I'm going to share with you how I amp up my smoothies with nutritious powerhouses, starting today with chia seeds.
Chia seeds are an ancient food. It was regularly consumed by the Mayans and Aztecs. Take a look at the back of any package of the tiny seeds and you'll find that those guys were onto something good.
One tiny little tablespoon of chia seeds has 150% of your recommended daily value (DV) of Omega-3s
and 4 grams of dietary fiber (16% DV).
And all of this comes in a tiny , (mostly) tasteless, easy-to-digest seed. Some people describe the flavor as "nutty", but I can't taste them at all. Also, unlike flax seeds, you don't have to ground them to reap the nutritional benefits. While our bodies can't absorb the benefits of whole flax seeds, we have no problem digesting whole chia seeds.
Bristling with desire yet? Anticipation may be the heart-achiest of foreplay, but your days of wandering despondently through aisles of preservative-laden food-like products are soon coming to a close: Charlotte's first Whole Foods Market will be open for business on Wednesday, Aug. 29.
"But, Laura," you whimper through mouthfuls of the "buy 10, get 10 free" saccharin sweet treats you shamefully stuff your gluttonous gull with as you anxiously await the chain's arrival, "whatever will I do with my artificial coloring afflicted self until then?"
Fear not, my humanely raised lambs. Sneak preview days are here.
On Aug. 26 &27, a $5 donation to benefit Friendship Gardens gets you a behind-the scenes-look at the store,
located at the corner of Sharon and Fairview Roads in SouthPark. Attendees must register in advance for a time slot.
There's no actual shopping on the tour, but participants will be the first to learn about some of the 42,000 square-foot store's highlights and features, like the in-house smoker with North Carolina pork, gelato and smoothie bar, children's play area, and bar serving wine and beer. Taste samples in each department, and you also get a goodie bag.
In a press release, Whole Foods Market Charlotte’s Store Team Leader, Trevor Barhydt, said, “We are looking forward to giving the community a sneak peek of our first store here in Charlotte. We’re also thrilled to partner with Friendship Gardens, since their vision really aligns with our commitment to our community and to healthy eating. It’s really a great organization.”
The term "granola" never looked so good.
Fern, Flavors from the Earth is excited to present a very special event — a completely vegan dinner with white wine pairings from Carmel Road Winery on Monday, Aug. 20. The event will begin with kombucha cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at 6 p.m. and the vegan feast will begin at 7 p.m.
Vegans and non-vegans alike will be impressed with Chef Alyssa Gorelick's ability to transform animal-free foods into hearty delicious dishes. If you have ever dined at Fern, you know their menu offerings have the ability to win over carnivores and omnivores alike. This meal is sure to do the same.
Check out the menu and be prepared to salivate. Details for reserving your spot at this incredible meal follows.
VEGAN WEISSWEIN DINNER WITH CARMEL ROAD WINERY
Lenny Boy Lost Cove Kombucha Cocktails
Chilled Apple, Melon & Fennel Soup
Crispy Bread, Cream Cheese Schmear, 'Smoked Fish,' Onion & Tomato Powder
Monterey Pinot Grigio
Smoked Chickpea-Stuffed Baby Eggplant
Ginger, Cayenne & Maple Glaze
Mustard Greens, Baby Tomato Salad
Olive Oil Cake
House-Made Vegan Ricotta, Grilled Peaches & Summer Berry Sorbet
Monday, Aug. 20
Cocktails at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m.
$60 per person
Reservations by phone only, call 704-377-1825
Opening this Saturday, Aug. 18, the shop will be a smaller express version of NoDa's Salud, focusing on N.C. beers and seasonals from renowned breweries like Bells, Dogfish Head and Founders. Owner Jason Glunt has been handling the main store and is partnering with brother-in-law Dalton Espaillat, co-owner of Three Amigos, for the second.
"We decided it was a great opportunity, especially with the DNC coming to town in the short term, but in the long term for people Uptown to get good craft beer. 7th street is right off the light rail, so it's convenient," says Glunt.
The new store is just one way Glunt plans on moving his business forward. "We're going to try to get some rare, regional stuff in from places that don't distribute to Charlotte, including places in Asheville." An e-commerce site, with all Salud's inventory online and available for shipping or delivery, is also in the works.
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