Super Swap: 7 Healthy Food Swaps for the 2020 Holidays
October 1, 2020

7 Healthy Food Swaps for the 2020 Holidays

Tips, tricks, and the best healthy snacks to satisfy your holiday cravings with whole foods – read on to find out our favorite 7 brands this season, and find a sweet deal, too!

The holidays – even during the COVID-19 pandemic – will happen in 2020, albeit a little differently. Office holiday parties will be held on Zoom (SOS), family gatherings will be more intimate (also SOS), and gatherings with friends will likely be limited and small. Even with limitations on how we celebrate, one thing’s for sure – the holidays are always a time for indulgence, cozying up, and enjoying our favorite foods. We love that about the season, but it’s helpful to have tips and swaps in your back pocket to ensure you stay on track with your wellness goals, and that you take care of your mind and body while still enjoying delicious foods.

So, we’ve assembled a list of 7 nutritious healthy holiday snacks and treats that we love to eat daily to satisfy all of our cravings, while taking in nutrients and unprocessed ingredients that do good for our bodies. Aka – no sacrifices over here. This is the perfect list of snacks and goodies to stock up on for the season, gift to your healthy foodie friends, and experiment within the kitchen. And you can use the code 15SUPERSWAP on any of their sites throughout October for a sweet discount.

  • Too much nut butter and Nutella on…everything?

Kween Foods makes Granola Butter, the first-ever spreadable granola; it has the texture and versatility of a nut butter but is oat-based and top 14-free, making it perfect for anyone with allergies or dietary restrictions. Use Granola Butter as a 1:1 replacement for nut butter in baking, protein bites, or freezer fudge. Slather it on toast, swirl it into a smoothie, or eat off the spoon. The chocolate is a great Nutella swap, too.

  • Too much sugar in baked goods and sweet drinks?

Just Date Syrup makes delicious, organic low-glycemic sweeteners from California fruits and nothing else, loaded with more nutrients than other natural sweeteners (even honey or maple syrup). Use Just Date Syrup 1:1 to replace sweeteners in baking, breakfast drizzles, beverages, and cooking, and use Just Pomegranate Molasses in salad dressings, savory marinades and sauces, cocktails, breakfast & dessert. Perfect for healthy holiday baking and healthy holiday cocktails.

  • Too much sugary granola?

Lil Bucks makes crunchy, adaptogenic snacks and toppings from sprouted buckwheat seeds! All of the products are a great source of fiber, plant-based protein, magnesium, and are low glycemic and gluten-/grain-free. Swap Clusterbucks and Lil Bucks for granola to add a protein-packed crunch to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal and more. Clusterbucks are also a great crunchy cookie replacement. Use Lil Bucks to replace oats to add a crunch to power balls and bars.

  • Craving easy baking, but too many ingredients you don’t love in baking mixes?

Simple Mills makes baking mixes, crackers, cookies and frostings that are free of gluten, grain, dairy, soy, GMOs, excessive sugar, gums, emulsifiers, and anything artificial. All products are made exclusively with real, whole-food ingredients that make healthy eating deliciously simple. The brownie mix is perfect as a base for holiday cupcakes, fun mix-ins, and that warm chocolatey craving.

  • Missing mac & cheese, but on a pasta overload?

Banza makes comfort foods we all know and love out of chickpeas! Their products are low glycemic and gluten free, high in protein and fiber, and have more health enhancing nutrients than the traditional versions. Swap Banza pasta, rice, and mac and cheeses in any recipe where you would use regular pasta, traditional grain rice or mac & cheese! They even have a vegan mac & cheese box.

  • One too many frappuccinos or themed lattes?

Rise Brewing infuses their cold-brew with nitrogen to create a stunning cascade, creamy head, and refreshingly smooth taste that sets them apart from all the other sugar-filled high calorie alternatives on the market. Swap out sugary lattes and frappuccinos for a RISE Oat Milk Latte with no added sugar and dairy free – it’s ridiculously creamy and delicious.

  • Craving crunchy, salty snacks?

Rhythm Superfoods helps solve that, with vegetables. They make delicious, organic snacks made from real vegetables and fruits. Each bite is packed with benefits like fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals that work in harmony with your body. They make great replacements for fried and low-nutrition chips – the beet and kale chips are great alone or used for dipping into your favorite hummus, guacamole or dips.

Curious to try any of these brands? For the month of October, you can use the code 15SUPERSWAP at checkout on any of their websites to get 15% off sitewide! Stock up on stocking stuffers, gifts, hosting treats, and snacks for…yourself. *Rhythm Superfoods code available on Amazon.

Beet Salad Featuring our Beet Chips
May 7, 2020

Chia Seed Pudding Featuring our Pineapple Chips
April 3, 2020

Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe Featuring our Cauliflower Bites
February 5, 2020
Our Sustainability Commitments
December 20, 2019

At Rhythm Superfoods we’re passionate about fostering food education, encouraging healthy habits and positively impacting the environment, both at our headquarters in Austin, Texas and our manufacturing plants and farms in Mexico. Our impact begins and ends with our products and mission to bring nutrient-rich snacks to consumers. We realize that there are many areas of sustainability where we can have a positive impact. We’ve chosen to focus our sustainability initiatives around farming, manufacturing, packaging and community involvement.

The below provides an outline and brief overview of our sustainability initiatives:

More specifically, our farmer scorecard mentioned holds our farming partners accountable for the following organic and regenerative agriculture practices:

  • Cover Crop: A cover crop is a plant that is used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases and overall increase the biodiversity of farms. Farmers can receive the highest score in this area when at least 90% of the farmed land is covered by a cover crop.
  • Crop Rotation: Farmers can receive the most points in this area if the following is adhered to:
    • They participate in crop rotation in more than 80% of their growing acreage
    • The crops used for rotation are well adapted to the climate and help improve the long-term productivity and health of the soil.
    • The crop used minimizes erosion, pests and possible disease to the land/crops and adds organic matter to the soil.
  • Shipping: Through our farmer scorecard, we ask that our farmers ship our produce in reusable plastic crates (RPCs) and ship full loads.  
  • Irrigation: We ask that our farmers implement drip irrigation and rainwater collection systems. A rainwater collection system is a tank or cistern that stores rainwater for later use. To receive the highest points, farmers must grow crops that are native to the land and can grow naturally with the climate.
  • Nutrient Management Plan: Being USDA Organic Certified is a requirement to the mission and ethos of Rhythm Superfoods, and thus we make it a priority that our farmers only use USDA Organic approved nutrients and follow the 4 R’s of nutrient stewardship described below:
    • Right Source: Fertilizers match the type the crop needs.
    • Right Rate: Fertilizer amount matches what the crop needs.
    • Right Time: Nutrients are available when the crop needs them.
    • Right Place: Nutrients are placed where crops can use them.
  • Integrated Pest Management: All pesticides must be justified and follow the list of allowed and prohibited pesticides for USDA Organic Certification.
  • Soil Sampling: To ensure that the soil is in good health, we conduct independent soil sampling tests with our farmers at least once a year and always before planting a new crop.
  • Wage: To positively impact the families, communities and employees of our farmers, we ask that all farmers pay a living wage.

We are committed to work with our Farmer Partners so that by the end of 2020, all our farmers will score an 85% or higher on our sustainability scorecard. We will work with our farmers who are currently below the 85% to help them achieve the 85% score in regenerative agriculture practices and make improvements to their sustainability processes.

In addition to farming, the three other areas we focus on for our sustainability initiatives are: manufacturing, packaging and community involvement.

Manufacturing:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by way of Solar Panels – By the end of 2020, 15% of our electricity used will be powered by solar panels. We will continue to add more Solar Panels annually to continue to increase this percentage.
  • Water Usage – By the end of 2020, we will increase our water recycling program by 15%
  • Carbon Footprint – In order to continuously monitor and improve our sustainability practices, we will annually measure our carbon footprint and reduce it by at least 5% each year starting in 2020.
  • Social Audit – By the end of Q3 2020, we will have conducted social audits at all of our manufacturing plants ensuring that our plants are following fair labor, health and safety regulations as defined by an ethical audit.

Packaging:

  • We have yet to find a recyclable or compostable film packaging option that protects our products from light, moisture and oxygen, which is what keeps our products safe and shelf-stable. We will continue to look for a recyclable or compostable packaging options that fit our products.
  • We will continue to use corrugate shipping cases and displays that are 100% recyclable.

Community Involvement:

  • Currently we partner with St. Elmo Elementary School in Austin, Texas where we help to foster food education by way of building gardens with the students and faculty and help to teach and encourage healthy habits of the community. By the end of 2020, we will have added another school garden partnership.
  • We will continue to support the Central Texas Food Bank through 120+ volunteering hours per year (20,000+ meals per year), product donations and social media support.

We’re excited for this next year and to see the positive impact we can have in the many communities we touch. Stay tuned on our blog as we will be updating our community regularly on our progress towards our goals.

Meet Kate – Our Garden Expert
May 30, 2019

Recently, we sat down with our garden expert Kate. We’re so appreciative to have found an Austin community member who is so passionate and experienced in building community gardens. Kate has been a tremendous help in spearheading our garden partnership with St. Elmo– a local elementary school within a mile of our office. Our goal through this partnership is to provide opportunities for students and the local community to learn how to grow fresh fruit and vegetables and develop a connection to healthy eating. See below to learn more about Kate’s involvement in the Austin community, our partnership with St. Elmo Elementary School and tips for starting your own garden!

Q: How did you first become involved in community gardens? 

A: I started front yard gardening about 20 years ago and shared the bounty with friends and neighbors. In 2012 a few things happened. The City adopted the Imagine Austin Master Plan and embarked on a community engagement process that lasted 18 months. There was an incredible interest in protecting our green spaces, improving access to our greenbelt and trails, and for growing food locally. Food was always #1. During that same period of time, Austin was experiencing an explosion in population growth and development, and our community’s green spaces were disappearing at an alarming rate. And personally, I ran out of sun in my yard. 🙂

One Saturday, my husband and I built and installed 2 raised bed gardens at the front of our neighborhood at South 1st and Emerald Wood on City-owned land with a sign that read “Food is Free.”

Eventually, we installed a water tap, secured The Sustainable Food Center as our fiscal sponsor and gained City-approval. The Emerald Wood Community Garden currently supports at least 20 families, if not more. We don’t fence it because we were founded on a core believe that food should be free if you need it.

Q: How can a school community garden impact the livelihood of the students – and the broader community?

A: St. Elmo is a Title 1 School which means that 70% of the student population is eligible for free or reduced lunch. Most of the students live in two Foundation Communities properties, a progressive apartment complex system, which provides stable and long-term affordable housing. Residents have access to dry goods like beans and rice through a food bank in their apartment, but they don’t have access to produce. Now they have a small farm stand that opens one afternoon every other week, but they don’t have a place where they could go out every day to harvest.

We have a lot of land at St. Elmo. It’s our destination park for our community and it seems that engaging the community (especially 1st generation immigrants who aren’t that far removed from agriculture) and giving them the opportunity to grow their own food works because many remember gardening in their home country. That was part of it and then the new principle at St. Elmo – Mr. McCormack just secured funding for all St. Elmo students to have free breakfast and lunch starting in the fall. He envisions a garden to café model. The goal is that we start to utilize the food we grow to feed our kids and that all the supplemental food is for the families or for an affordable farmers markets for the families.

Q: What’s your grand vision for St. Elmo Elementary School?

A: What’s really awesome about St. Elmo is that there was nothing there when we started our partnership. I believe there are 7 acres co-owned by the city and the school district. We are putting in 10 raised bed gardens. We won a Bright Green Future School Grant for large scale rainwater collection. We’re looking around a 3,000-gallon capacity and an outdoor watershed education classroom.

There are two different areas where we could have small orchards – we’re looking at 14 fruit trees going in two different areas. There’s also an area where the kids are not allowed to play, as it’s too close to South 1st. It’s over half an acre and the principal loved the idea of that being our farm. Ideally, we will install the micro-farm in the fall and the 5th graders will run a farm stand. We don’t know the details; we’re hoping to work with Farmshare and the Central Texas Food Bank.

When we participated in the Imagine Austin community engagement process, one of the other things that came up repeatedly was the desire for more places to see music and other forms of creative and artistic expression. Austin is the Live Music Capitol of the world and what a better place to build than a neighborhood school! St. Elmo was on everyone’s radar because there is so much space and it’s completely underutilized at this point. The plan is to build an outdoor stage on the backside of the music portable with a painted mural backdrop. We’ll plant trees to protect from the west sun. We have already expanded one fence line to capture more green space for the school and we’re expanding another one so that we have more places for people to sit for live performances.

Q: What other Austin community sustainability projects?

A: Currently I’m working on a lot; I’ll pick the big ones. The Emerald Wood Community Garden is the one that we started about 7 years ago. Across the street from that is an early childcare center and we started a gardening and outdoor classroom program 3 years ago. The children in the Early Childhood Care Center garden at the community garden and on site.

All of this sits on the Williamson Creek and we’re working on the Williamson Creek Greenway Visioning project. Once complete, the Williamson Creek Greenway will connect McKinney Falls State Park in far East Austin to far West Austin separate from auto. There are hundreds of homes along this stretch that have been demolished as part of a flood buyout and are now open green space. They aren’t all together, they are in little pockets. We have 5 distinct pockets that we can create park amenities, trails, community gardens, orchards and places for people to congregate in the greater St. Elmo Elementary attendance area.

Q: What tips do you have for someone wanting to start a garden at their home? 

A: It’s easy to start. It’s a little bit harder to be successful. We do a lot of raised bed gardens because we have so much drought here and it’s a really good way to keep your plants watered. We use ollas, a sunken terra cotta pot that’s unglazed, filled with water. The roots tap underneath the surface. That allows us to not do much top watering and lose it to evaporation. When you top water in that kind of environment it helps weed seeds germinate. It keeps the weeds down and it keeps the plants growing from the roots.

At a school raised bed gardens using the Square Foot Gardening Method is awesome because it’s very mathematical. A 4’x8’ garden box is 32 cubic feet and so if you were to run string you would have 32 squares and 32 individual crops in every garden box, planted at different density levels. We’re going to have 10 garden boxes so we’re looking at 320 different crops if we wanted to. It’s a way to grow very intensely without a lot of water.

I would start with a garden box with untreated wood, you don’t want it to leach into your soil. My favorite has been rough cut cedar, like first cuts of Ash Juniper, but 2 x 6 cedar works well too. Bermuda grass is an Austin gardener’s nemesis for gardens, so we put down 3-4 inches of cardboard. It is a natural weed barrier that will break down in about a year and provides habitat in the process. We’ll put down about 3-4 inches of cardboard allowing for a one-foot border, lay the box on top, place the ollas where they reach as many plant roots as possible. If we have bagged leaves, those go in next. Add a good quality garden soil, something that fluffs it up a little, either a peat moss or a vermiculite, and finish the project off with 3-4” of mulch outside the box, covering the cardboard.

Then we plant them and give them some love and compost tea. The following season will be much better, it really takes about a year for the soil to settle in. At this point now you have your garden box, and it should be filled all the way to the top. All you need to do is top compost and lightly mix it two or three times a year. You never need to till. Some people don’t even pull their plants when they’re finished, they’ll cut them because there’s so much nutrient value in the roots.

Q: What’s your favorite Rhythm Superfoods snack? 

A: I love kale chips – pretty much any flavor; I was surprised how much I liked the Zesty Nacho. The Sea Salt Beet Chips are my other go-to when I want something a little sweet.

Thanks Kate! Stay tuned for more exciting updates on our partnership with St. Elmo Elementary School.

Meet Team Rhythm – Featuring the Accounting & Finance Crew
August 31, 2018

While you may think Rhythm Superfoods is run by robots, we promise that’s not true. We’re moms and dads (that includes fur parents too!), brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, food enthusiasts, adventure-loving, music-loving, superfood gurus.

So basically we’re not much different from you!

We’re passionate about what we do, the people we do it with, and want to share a little behind the scenes about us so you can feel like family too.

Our Accounting & Finance Team is all about numbers! Whether they’re processing orders, forecasting or ensuring our customers are always happy, they’re an amazing part of the Rhythm Superfoods team that keeps us running on a daily basis!

Meet the Team!

Allison – Chief Financial Officer

Allison White - Rhythm Superfoods CFO

  • What’s your favorite Rhythm Superfoods snackMy favorite Rhythm snacks are nostalgia-driven.  Ranch dressing was not a thing in my life until I came to The University of Texas.  And then I put ranch on everything!  I love Rhythm’s Kool Ranch Kale Chips and Ranch Carrot Sticks.
  • How do you get more plants into your diet? My favorite ways are to replace pasta with veggie noodles and to puree veggies into sauces.
  • What do you like to do in your free time? Any favorite hobbies?  I would spend my life on the golf course with my husband and kids, if I could.
  • Favorite restaurant spot that has vegetarian and/or vegan options?  Matt’s El Rancho!  It’s an Austin, TX institution!
  • What’s your favorite plant-based food/recipe?  Ratatouille – I love the movie, too!
  • Best place you’ve been on an adventure OR dream adventure destination? I would love to visit The Galapagos Islands.  I love nature and unusual animals; it would truly be an adventure of a lifetime.

Dan – Controller

Dan Hayes - Rhythm Superfoods Controller

  • What’s your favorite Rhythm Superfoods snack? Mango Habanero Kale chips
  • How do you get more plants into your diet? Load up the homemade pizza with spinach!
  • What do you like to do in your free time? Any favorite hobbies? Running, traveling
  • Favorite restaurant spot that has vegetarian and/or vegan options? Any pizza place.
  • What’s your favorite plant-based food/recipe? Current favorite is Shalane Flanagan’s “Can’t Beet Me Smoothie”
  • Best place you’ve been on an adventure OR dream adventure destination? Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Elizabeth – Staff Accountant

Elizabeth Stone - Rhythm Superfoods Staff Accountant

  • What’s your favorite Rhythm Superfoods snackRanch Carrot Sticks. The flavor is great and I love the fact that they are high in dietary fiber and potassium!
  • How do you get more plants into your diet? The quickest way that I get more plants into my daily diet is by drinking cold pressed juices.  Especially when I’m taking a road trip and it gets difficult to find healthy food options, juices are portable and convenient and packed with goodness.
  • What do you like to do in your free time? Any favorite hobbies?  Baking and landscape photography.  Baking is something I’ve always loved to do for people and I find the process to be a stress release.  Photography provides me great opportunities for adventure and being outdoors, seeing new places and meeting new people.
  • Favorite restaurant spot that has vegetarian and/or vegan options? Casa de Luz in Austin, TX. I love what they create for dishes—and especially enjoy the sauces that they make from plants and nuts.
  • What’s your favorite plant-based food/recipe?  Honestly a really amazing salad with a variety of veggies and fruits and nuts and texture, topped with a simple but delicious dressing. Basically, if all the colors of the rainbow are in the salad, it’s going to be good.
  • Best place you’ve been on an adventure OR dream adventure destination? To travel to Norway and see the land and the people.

Vanisha – Customer Service Representative

Vanisha Patel - Rhythm Superfoods Customer Service Rep

  • What’s your favorite Rhythm Superfoods snack? Ranch Carrot Sticks
  • How do you get more plants into your diet? I like to juice! I’ll throw in some beets, spinach, carrots, kale along with some fruits for sweetness!
  • What do you like to do in your free time? Any favorite hobbies? I love to workout and go boating, spending time with my friends and family, traveling and catching up on the latest movies, and taking my pups on an evening stroll.
  • Favorite restaurant spot that has vegetarian and/or vegan options? Tarka Indian Kitchen (Austin, TX), and True Food Kitchen (Austin, TX).
  • What’s your favorite plant-based food/recipe? Veggie Burgers. Also, I’ll mix up rice, quinoa, mushrooms and onions with some spices!
  • Best place you’ve been on an adventure OR dream adventure destination? I would love to go to Bora Bora!
Rhythm Superfoods Team Mini Retreat
August 3, 2018

On July 24th the Rhythm Superfoods team stepped away from our desks to enjoy some of our favorite parts of Austin and beyond. Our mini retreat was filled with great food, team bonding and learning more about some of our favorite superfoods!

We started the morning off at the Rhythm office enjoying breakfast tacos from Torchy’s Tacos before driving to our first stop, Boggy Creek Farm. Located in East Austin, Boggy Creek Farm is one of the country’s first urban farms and home to one of the oldest existing homes in Austin. Fun fact, Austin use to be the spinach capital of the U.S.! Our friends at Boggy Creek Farm generously gave us some okra and cucumbers to enjoy in the office. We also learned that many Austin restaurants source their produce from Boggy Creek Farm. It’s great to be reminded that the community of Austin shares our passion for fruits and vegetables and a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

After our morning stop at the farm, we headed to CB’s Lounge at Stubb’s to dive deeper into what it means to be a part of the Rhythm Superfoods team. The team tasted some exciting new snacks while thinking about how we can better ourselves individually (challenging each other to improve our gardening skills with a gardening challenge) and as a team. Of course, our next activity also involved food because our team loves to eat. We watched (and later tasted) a fun and informative cooking demo from The Naked Bite, an organization focused on teaching and catering “plant forward” meals. Chef Amber taught us how to make raw cacao nut truffles and spicy tropical cauliflower ceviche with coconut milk and peanuts – both delicious vegan items!

Next we hopped on a duck boat for a tour of the city by land and water as we learned about the history of downtown Austin on our way to the water. The heat didn’t stop us from seeing some of Austin’s greatest sights including the Historic Sixth Street, the State Capitol Building, the Governor’s mansion and the beautiful Lake Austin.

Back on land, we headed out of Austin to Dripping Springs Hill Country Casitas. We continued our theme of learning about growing produce with a trip to Hawk’s Shadow Winery. Our curious team had lots of questions on the process of making wine. We enjoyed great views of the Texas Hill Country with our wine tasting and appetizers from Gourmet Gals. I especially enjoyed the beet & hummus bruschetta featuring our Naked Beet Chips! The team enjoyed a delicious dinner and catching up with old (and new) team members.

The next morning over breakfast we brainstormed innovative superfood snack products and flavors and ways to make our current products even better. We are so grateful that our team shares a passion for eating right with snacks that are both flavorful and nutrient dense. We are already looking forward to learning more about growing produce and enjoying great food and company at our next retreat!

Written by: Katie, Marketing Coordinator @ Rhythm Superfoods

My Health Journey Part 2 – by CEO Scott Jensen
July 20, 2018

…a  follow up to “My Health Journey“.

 

It’s been over 90 days since Rhythm Superfoods CEO Scott Jensen went back on Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet so we followed up with him to find out how things were going.

 

Q: How do you feel? Did you lose weight?

A: I feel really good! I think most people who go through a fitness or health commitment needs reinforcements early on to keep them going before it becomes habitual. Someone who works out all the time has made it a habit: wake up, workout, etc. versus someone just starting workouts who has former habits they need to break.

The habit breaking is hard, but you feel it quickly when the weight starts coming off – which right now I’m hovering around 9 lbs. less than where I started. You physically feel that and it’s a reinforcement to keep going. My belts are looser, you start looking through the closet for those old pair of jeans you might fit in again.

And the other side is when you’re carrying weight, you feel it too: getting out of bed, walking, running, or at the end of the day the compression on your knees. Believe it or not, when you are heavier you feel those things. You hear these clichés about being “in tune” with your body and when you are heavier than you want to be, you don’t talk about it as much, but you do feel those things.

Then suddenly you start shedding the weight and you notice there are less aches and pains. I feel more agile when I’m kicking the soccer ball with my kids. And I feel that with just 9 lbs. off…I want to lose another 20lbs.

The first couple of weeks, I was way more tired particularly from the change in the diet. I found myself unprepared for protein solutions, so the carbohydrates are giving you these quick ups and downs and adding the workout part of it meant I wasn’t prepared for how tired I was going to be. But you do see a swing where you figure things out and the workout energizes you and you start feeling more energy later in the day. So…it takes a commitment and a belief system that you’re going to see it on the other side of the tunnel. And that’s happening.

 

Q: Did you experience any challenges besides tiredness like you mentioned in the first question? Any hiccups along the way? And with your schedule and travel – how did you deal with that?

A: I’m really busy and keep a very full schedule. Trade shows, customer meetings, broker meetings…all that stuff is part of my life and those are habits too. Your calendar is what it is, and you’re involved in all these things, and you realize 85% of places that you’d normally grab a bite don’t have the things that you’re going to need. I don’t want to say that it’s not there. But because it was a habit, I’d look at the menu and not even realize that a ton of places have a vegan menu – even if it’s a separate menu, particularly in Austin and other larger cities. I found it difficult to be prepared with plant-based protein sources during travels. Whether it’s almonds or a No Cow Bar, you need the protein to level out your energy. Vega Protein Powder with rice milk has been a quick fix when I’m at home, but it’s hard to travel with. Also, I just didn’t prepare for that and wasn’t sure which powders I’d like so I tried several things over the first few weeks that I didn’t like.

Meals in the house were something I was accountable for, so the challenge was “what do I like that’s available?” Compared to when I first did this diet 7+ years ago, there weren’t many vegan options for quick meals versus how many options are available now. Rip’s focus is on cooking meals yourself, but because I’m on the run a lot I needed solutions that were quicker. I needed to adjust and find the things that were going to give me lasting energy throughout the day, so I found my favorites and stuck with those.

 

Q: What are your favorites? Any specific brands?

A: No Cow Bars, VEGA Protein Powders, Amy’s Kitchen, Gardein, and an Instapot for cooking up some beans and lentils. Trader Joe’s frozen veggie meatballs are also great! I’ve probably only tried 10% of what’s out there, honestly.

 

Q: Have you gone back in to get bloodwork done? New results?

A: Besides the average 9 lbs. lower in weight, the bloodwork markers I discussed with my physician are all in a very good direction.  LDL down 14%, Glucose down 10%, A1C in the “good” range.  Triglycerides didn’t improve, but that could be an anomaly, so we’ll check in 3 more months.

 

Q: Did you stick to your exercise goal of 2-3 days per week?

A: Yes! It wasn’t until ~2-3 weeks in because that also needed its own kick-start. My wife started going to Orange Theory Fitness so I started going with her for early morning workouts. I had been a member of an awesome gym, but this just comes down to efficiency. The workout has got to be really close to home. I love the technology of Orange Theory Fitness – heart rate monitor, you see your numbers on the screen, you have splat points, etc. It’s fitting and motivating me. They have some great music too during the 55min workouts. No socializing, just hard work and that’s what’s working for me. Occasionally with a busier travel schedule, I have to shift focus away from workouts at times. When I’m not traveling as much I have more time to get in my workouts.

 

Q: Was there anything you missed eating?

A: I fancy myself as a chef more than a foodie. I’m pretty good in the kitchen and the grill and I love doing it. The atmosphere of pulling different soup stocks together and creating different meat/protein-based meals, and the deglazing and creating sauces in a pan…I miss that. I miss the flavors. I think with some of the vegetable base stocks that I’ve got, I’m getting that “umami-ness”. There’s an umami mushroom powder that delivers on the savory flavor that you generally get with those other protein-based meals. But I’ve found some solutions, and there are ones that come really close and are satisfying. I also want to try the Beyond Meat Burger and Sausage to see how those compare.

 

Q: Did anyone help to keep you accountable?

A: Myself with food and my wife Cyndie for the workouts.

 

Q: How will you continue to stay on track?

A: I’m now committed for another 6 months on this.  I’ve had a couple of episodes at restaurants that weren’t on the Engine 2 Diet, but I’ve been able to get back on track immediately thereafter.

 

Q: Any advice for those looking to take that step to better their own health?

A: I still think there are dozens of resources available to motivate people to change their habits. There’s simply not one single way to go about it, so you have to let people find what works best for them and what motivates them. If it’s the infomercial guy, or a doctor letting you know it’s time for a drastic change, or even your friends at work committing to a Whole 30 program together – just find what works for you! There are many habit-changing triggers out there. Be open to the message. There is, however, no miracle pill to fix your health overnight. A moderation of calories (healthy calories) combined with a consistent moderation of exercise activity (in that order) has the greatest effect on most people’s health.

 

See you in a few months!

-SJ

Snacking 101
May 16, 2018

Contributing Writer: Mary Ellen, MPH, RDN, LD of Milk & Honey Nutrition, @milknhoneynutrition.

Have you ever had just a truly mind-blowing snack? Like, it was so good and tasty, and filling, and energizing, that you just thought… “Man, that was one crazy good snack!” No? Just me? (I do have a tendency to go a bit over the top with food… check out my Instagram feed for more details on that…)

Well, maybe you’d change your mind, if you knew what exactly a snack was supposed to do for you. Have you ever thought about that? Why do we eat snacks? Is it because we’re hungry? Need fuel? Are about to workout? Are bored? Really, why do we eat them? Whether it’s mid-morning, late afternoon, or bedtime… everyone enjoys a good snack. ESPECIALLY if it’s tasty and gets the job done.

But what exactly do I mean by “gets the job done”? There are many reasons we eat snacks (many I listed above), but the primary reason is we need something to get us from one meal to the next without us starving and feeling tired.

So, basically snacks keep us full (or at least keep our stomachs from growling) and energized. But how do they do that?

To really understand that, we need to do a brief review of our MACRO nutrients: carbs, protein, and fat.

These three things are the only things that provide calories to our bodies. (The exception to that is alcohol, which also provides calories, but isn’t considered a nutrient.) They each serve different functions in our bodies and are absorbed at different speeds. Carbohydrates are processed the quickest. This means they leave our stomachs and get absorbed in our intestines faster than protein and fat do.

Carbohydrates give us quick energy.

Protein and fat take a little longer to digest, with fat taking the longest. Protein and fat, help keep us energized over longer periods of time. This is why an apple by itself (mainly carbs) only keeps you full for an hour, but an apple with peanut butter (protein and fat) keeps you full for 2-3 hours.

So, whenever I’m working with clients, I always give them my “perfect snack” formula…

Carbs + protein/fat = sustained energy and fullness.

There are so many great carb and protein/fat combos to pick from:

  • Apple and peanut butter
  • Carrots and hummus (I especially love Rhythm Superfoods new Carrot Sticks with Lantana Foods hummus!)
  • Avocado toast
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Beans
  • Beet Chips and cheese

So, next time you’re wanting something to munch on between meals, make sure you’re giving yourself everything you need to keep you both energized AND satisfied!