Personal Blog

  • MACA vs. CACAO. What’s the difference and what is better for your HEALTH?

    MACA VS. CACAO: Is one better than the other for our health?

    MACA VS. CACAO

    We live in a time where phrases like “Non-GMO” and “Holistic Nutrition” and “Clean Eating” are thrown around regularly. And if you spend time perusing fitness, health, nutrition and wellness content here, or on Pinterest (are you subscribed to our boards yet?) and Instagram you’ve no doubt seen these phrases, along with labels like “Organic”, “Paleo”, “Whole30” and more.

    Don’t feel embarrassed if you are familiar with all of these catch phrases and terms but deep down are confused and wondering….”what really matters??” and “what do all these catch phrases MEAN anyway?”. You aren’t alone!

    In the coming weeks, you’ll see new posts here doing deep dives on all of these phrases and topics, to help you better navigate the grocery aisles and make better choices.

    In addition- like today, we’ll be exploring in greater depth some popular ingredients that you’ve likely seen and probably wondered about. I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of reading articles or pinning something that talks about the benefits of turmeric or cinnamon or cacao (or something similar)- and then seeing that product at the grocery store, remembering “Oh wait, that was supposed to be really good for…..for….well, it was really healthy and good for me, so I’ll buy it and figure out how to eat it later.”-

    WHO DOES THAT?

    (raises hand)

    I found two lovely glass jars of dark powder in my cabinet, labeled (because I am THAT person that has my cabinets organized like Julia Roberts in Sleeping With The Enemy) “CACAO” and the other “MACA”. I found myself making a protein shake one morning going, “What’s the difference between MACA and CACAO?” and I was voxing with my dietitian  about the very detail. I did a poll of our community and was (pleased) to find that more than 65% of those polled had no idea the difference between the two or the benefits OR how to use the ingredients.

    So here we are. You’re welcome.

    Let’s start with CACAO. I figure we’ll go alphabetically so as not to show preference.

    ca·ca·o

    kəˈkou,kəˈkāō/

    noun

    beanlike seeds from which cocoa, cocoa butter, and chocolate are made.

    Let’s be clear. CACAO is not COCOA. Cocoa is made from CACAO beans.

    Cocoa is produced when cacao beans are treated with high heat, which does destroy many of its inherent health benefits. So while both ingredients can provide that chocolaty flavor, go with cacao to gain all those healthy bonus points.

    We found some fantastic information via an article on Nuts.com about the very healthy benefits of cacao:

    • Lowers the Risk of Diabetes, Hypertension and More – because it is a superior source of MAGNESIUM. (Yea, stay tuned, we’ll be publishing a post on MAGNESIUM coming soon, be sure you are subscribed!)
    • Reduces Inflammation and Supports Heart Health because of the abundant presence of flavonoids.
    • Provides a fantastic source of IRON. (My last doctor’s appointment, my bloodwork showed I was VERY low in IRON. No Bueno. This is a priority for better health, my friends. You need optimal iron levels.
    • Eating More Cacao Can Improve Your Mood “Cacao contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is sometimes known as a “love drug.” — essentially it creates elevated mood and higher energy levels.” (paraphrased from Nuts.com article)

    Friends – the more research I did, the more goodness I found on Cacao. Holy Smokes! This is the gift that keeps on giving.

    P.S. here is a great post on Cacao Nibs with some additional info comparing cacao vs. cocoa via Dr. Axe: CLICK HERE to read.

    Dr. Mercola also has a solid read on Cacao on his blog. CLICK HERE to read more.

    Let’s talk about MACA next. You’ll often see this written about or talked about as a “SUPERFOOD.” Hmmm.

    MACA is not, (as I thought…oops!) related to the cacao beans or any type of bean. It is the root of a vegetable found in Peru. It is sometimes referred to as “Peruvian Ginseng” and is well known for boosting both energy and libido.

    via GIPHY

    Well, hello.

    My initial research showed some correlation between consuming MACA and – resulting hormonal changes like raised testosterone or progesterone. Not all these studies are substantiated enough but- if you, like me, have any hormonal imbalance issues, I would recommend- and many of the articles and white papers I read for this piece said the same thing—avoiding consuming this until you review with a doctor you trust (I plan to discuss this with my doctor, and may come back to update this post based on what I find).

    This woman wrote a great post- and I highly recommend it – CLICK HERE.

    I read many blog posts where women shared reports of bad bad PMS when taking MACA and tender breasts as well as weight gain. As always, we encourage you to do your own research, don’t just take our word or our position on anything.

    MACA – is also a cruciferous vegetable- (think, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) and it has some good macros: 28g of MACA powder has 20g carbs, 4g protein, 1g of fat.

    Generally speaking, there are some good benefits to be obtained from MACA for better health. MOST of the claims I read about were vague “…may increase better performance in sports….” Or “….may provide clearer thinking…” or “….may aid with energy….”- well, so does water. It just seemed to ME that after doing a lot of reading up on this food—it was a whole lot of speculation vs. overwhelming proof backed up by lots of data that MACA does any one specific thing. This is – again – my personal opinion. Most of the findings tended to refer to benefits specifically for men in regards to libido and sex drive. Guys- have at it.

    via GIPHY

    It is my feeling after doing the reading for this blog post- that I’ll be incorporating CACAO – like I have been- in protein shakes (recipe below) and in other recipes. For now, I probably will not add any MACA in to my diet until I discuss with my doctor—and I’ll share his opinion as well in posts to come.

    Please note: This post has affiliate links.

     

    My Favorite Chocolate Protein Shake

    Chocolate Protein Shake

    Kelly’s Current Favorite Paleo Protein Shake

    (I use a Nutribullet blender and highly recommend it!)

    Into the Nutribullet container, add about ¼ cup crushed ice and about ¼ cup filtered cold water.

    Add:

    • 1 Cup Cashew Milk (or Almond Milk or Coconut Milk. I’m currently avoiding dairy and in general cannot tolerate regular milk, but you could use regular milk too—go for grass fed cows/organic etc.) Current favorite brand is the Califia Cashew Milk, available at most grocery stores and on Amazon.com.
    • 2 TBS Cacao
    • 2 TBS PBFit Powder
    • 1 Scoop Undenatured Whey Protein from ISAGENIX (CLICK HERE TO BUY— send me a note if you’d like me to help you pick out other nutrition products from ISAGENIX I am now an independent rep for the brand because I’m obsessed!)
    • Optional: Add sweetener of choice (Sometimes I’ll add Torani Sugar Free Syrup like Salted Caramel– just a splash will do!)

    Blend well, drink immediately.  You’re welcome.

    What do you think? Have you used MACA or CACAO? What is your favorite way to incorporate these ingredients?

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  • Why You Will LOVE Vacation in Park City, UTAH.

    Vacation in Park City

    You need a BREAK. You need a vacation. Seriously. It matters for your health! Hence, why we’ve launched FitFluential Explorer. This travel series will showcase amazing places to visit all over the U.S. and then globally – why? To encourage all of you to take more VACATIONS and more TIME OFF. You will reduce your STRESS and improve your well-being.

    According to Project: Time Off, “More than half of American workers (55%) left vacation time unused in 2015. This adds up to 658 million unused vacation days. … U.S. workers forfeited 222 million of the 658 million unused vacation days. These days cannot be rolled over, paid out, or banked for any other benefit—they are purely lost”

    People- our workaholism situation is NOT doing us any favors. The cases of Adrenal Fatigue are rising dramatically- and while people are not using vacation days, they are using SICK days. We need balance. We need a break. It’s time to make it a priority to take vacations!!! Get out and see this country. Do it for your health. 

    Today’s FitFluential Explorer post is showcasing PARK CITY, UTAH. What a place.

    I had been to Park City numerous times for business over the past years and fell in love. This past Fall my man and I headed out there for 2 glorious weeks, spent a fabulous time in a Homeaway home (hello what did we DO before Homeaway? We are OBSESSED.) and recorded all the favorite things we did, so YOU can see why you should head to Park City, UT for your next getaway. 

    NOTE: In our view there are two times to see Park City– summer months and then snow/ski season. NOTE: The Sundance Film Festival takes place from January 23rd, 2020 to February 2nd, 2020- and so typically, December and January can be very busy and booked months. BOOK AHEAD. 

    We went the last 2 weeks of August and it was perfection. The weather was typically 70 degrees during the day and at night it was build-a-fire night weather around 45-50 degrees. Look up weather before you go as winter arrives EARLY for Park City but it’s BEAUTIFUL. We are planning to book our HOMEAWAY home for this August and for New Year’s Eve way in advance. 

    So, read on and see what we love about Park City. GREAT food, GREAT cocktails, GREAT crowds, very laid back vibe, fun shopping, tons of hiking and when it’s winter, SKIING galore, plus many other outdoor sports and activities. 

    It is an epic place to get OUT and enjoy nature then head inside by a fire with a toasty beverage and meet some new friends. 

    A View of Main Street in Park City, UTAH

    This is downtown Main Street in Park City. This street goes on for quite a way and as you hike up and down, you’ll get your walking steps in for sure. Look up how to deal with the elevation situation because first timers, it WILL surprise you how out of breath you’ll feel. Our Homeaway home was like 3 minutes up the mountain from here so it was perfect. Main Street is full of restaurants and shops and real estate brokers: don’t kid yourself, you WILL want to buy a place here until you see the sticker prices. Gulp.

    Not pictured, but there is a FANTASTIC BOOKSTORE here called Dolly’s Bookstore– you must go if you are book reader like we are. So charming. Follow them on instagram HERE

    Also not pictured but a MUST visit- Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory OMG THE CHOCOLATE!! Pure heaven. 

    This is a view on a street OVER from Main Street looking UP the street, actually this was our view sitting outside for brunch one day at Harvest Park City. OH LET ME JUST TELL YOU  you have to go here. More pictures of our brunch meal below. 

    As you can see- you are surrounded by mountains and — obviously- ski lifts. And tons of cute shops and restaurants everywhere. Below is a picture of this killer pizza bread we had at Red Banjo Pizza Parlor – we went there on our last day to sit up on the balcony and have some beer and pizza. The Yelp reviews are not great, but the food is, and while the service was slow, we LOVED sitting out on that balcony.

    Red Banjo Pizza Parlour. YUM with a view.

    Below is a “I am a tourist” shot of me on the balcony at the pizza spot, so you can see the view. Tons of restaurants have balconies, FYI! So awesome. 

    Java Cow Cafe & Bakery. Heaven on Earth.

    Now. I must shout out my MAD LOVE for Java Cow Cafe & Bakery. What a FUN place. The best coffee and lattes and cappuccinos you can imagine. GREAT shopping inside- really unique, hysterical gifts you don’t see just anywhere. We literally came here every day for almond milk cappuccinos and gluten free muffins. 

    This is inside the shop– tons of pastries, made to order sandwiches and bagels, just everything your hungry heart could desire. Get here. Thank me later. 

    There is no shortage of sweets here for your sweet tooth. BAE had a chocolate covered almond sprinkled croissant that almost made him weep for joy. I had a gluten free muffin that had me speechless.

    This is the outdoor seating area where we sat and had our coffee and breakfast like every day. Seriously. 

    Main Street Deli. OUTSTANDING food! And dogs.

    This deli was our first stop on our first day. It delivered delish food, tons of choices, a super fun staff, and a massive selection of hot sauces. We were hooked. Main Street Deli you had us at hello.

    Park City in general is very dog friendly and this guy was sitting outside several days in a row. Don’t worry, he was fed and petted WELL. 

    Another cheesy tourist pose (and yes, I’m having a diet soda, chill.) to show the have not only tables but a fun window bar where you can people watch. So worth it.

    I wasn’t kidding about the hot sauces. We are big time into Sriracha and all other forms of hotness to add to our foods. Are you?

    Next up is a super fun bar, the No Name Saloon. I’d say this is not as much a place to bring kids, it’s much more a BAR and restaurant vs a restaurant with a bar. We LOVED IT. 

    No Name Saloon.

    You will have the best time at No Name Saloon, trust me. The food and drinks are amazing. Can we say TATER TOTS extraordinaire? Oh heck yes. Below is the outside. 

    This is what you’ll see right when you walk in. Awesome fireplace and note: they do card so if you are under 21, good luck with that. 

    See the mountain lodge vibe? We dig it.

    This (below) is the bar upstairs. 

    Another Tourist Photo!! Yay! This is the upstairs balcony where you can eat and chill and mingle. So fun. 

    This is the main bar downstairs– such a great group of bartenders too. 

    Grappa Italian Restaurant.

    Oh heavens, if you want SUPREMELY delicious food with an atmosphere you can’t dream up, you must make reservations at Grappa Italian Restaurant.

    Heaven on earth. Service is great, food is outstanding and your biggest challenge will be where you most want to sit– all the views inside and out are AMAZING.  

    Above is outdoor seating– complete with heat lamps if it gets cool, and it does. And below is a view of the upstairs inside dining.  

    This is the downstairs inside dining room. Wonderful wine list and they also know their thing when it comes to dirty martinis. Just sharing. 

    Hiking in Park City, UTAH

    Went hiking about every day. BAE would look up different parks and we’d head out. Do your research and let me tell you this — plan for wearing layers and bring food and water. These photos are from the day we confidently attacked Lake Blanche Trail. 

    After 5 1/2 hours of hiking and over 1K calories burned, we were DESTROYED. Seriously- our mistake was not packing enough FOOD and WATER. Learn from us. 

    Bad lessons aside, this hike is amazing- it is STEEP people. We are healthy adults who work out regularly and we had to stop for breathing every 10 minutes. My heart rate was in the 125-135 zone the whole time. 

    This is BAE and us about an hour up. Little did we know we had 2+ more hours to go! LOL.

    Words cannot describe this wrong turn we took. That’s me trying to hike up these monstrous rocks without dying. Please pay attention to the signs guiding you where to go. If you reach this wall of stones, you are heading the wrong way! LOL

    Davanza’s Pizza and More. Perfect for After Hiking.

    After our almost 6 hours of the death walk or that hike on Lake Blanche, we called in pizza to go from Davanza’s. So amazing we got it the next day too. 

    Fun spot with outdoor and indoor seating, good for kids, great bar, amazing food. Really friendly staff too. 

    DO YOU FEEL THIS?

    Harvest Park City. AMAZING breakfast/brunch/lunch.

    We walked by Harvest tons of times – always saw it full of people eating outside and usually a line– before we finally came for brunch on a Sunday. This food is PHENOMENAL. You must go here. 

    Above is the “Nourished Toast” that BAE ordered. Below is the “Buddha Bowl” that I got. TO DIE FOR.

    You gotta order their Paleo Banana Bread. Thank me later. 

    Old Town Cellars for the Whiskey and Wine Lovers.

    We decided in Park City to begin our Whiskey adventure. It’s a great place to do so. The Old Town Cellars Winery and Lounge is a cool hangout- we ordered Whiskey with these iced glasses that just made the whole tasting thing that much more delightful. 

    The inside is a very chill lounge with couches and some tables with chairs. Great photos on the wall with historic Park City imagery– you’ll want to buy them all like we did. 

    High West Distillery. Awesome Food. Great Cocktails

    We loved the High West Distillery so much, we came here 2x for dinner. What a cool place– GREAT service and fun crowd. We sat outside and then later headed to the bar where we met some new friends. 

    Deviled Eggs. Need I say more?

    Words cannot describe the level of delish for these Jalapeno Popper things. HEAVEN.

    Truly you must go here. Their menu is exquisite, the service is outstanding, the cocktails are superior and the view is epic.

    Five 5eeds Restaurant

    This Five 5eeds Restaurant is tucked into a strip mall by a grocery store. Well worth the visit. The food is AMAZING. Note; you will wait. Secondly, the service is good, but not what I’d call attentive. We waited a long time for coffee and food but it was soo good we overlooked the less than attentive server. 

    We saw the person next to us order this and we did the same. HEAVEN.  Shakshouka is thy name.

    Sundance Resort

    In my opinion, if you are at Park City, you gotta make the drive (about 45 mins max) to Sundance Resort. Founded by Robert Redford, this place is heaven. You can hike, ski, host a wedding, dine, and more. We ate at the restaurant, look at some items below. AMAZING FOOD. 

    Try to sit outside if you can — the surroundings are breathtaking. Below is the bread they bring to the table. heavenly.

    Brussel Sprouts to die for.

    We went horseback riding through the mountains- an hour long tour– it was so incredible. We had a local guide leading the way and he’s the one that took our picture. Are we not so cute?

    710 Bodega. Fantastic Dinner in Park City UTAH

    Trust me when I tell you, you have to visit 710 Bodega. It’s a fast walk from the Old Town Cellars so you can head there for cocktails first then do dinner here. Above are the Fried Brie Bites. HOLY HEAVEN.

    Words escape me with these Lamb Lollipops. We were licking the plate I think.

    If memory serves, these are the Piquillo Peppers – delightful. 

    Sammy’s Bistro. INCREDIBLE FOOD. A MUST-SEE.

    We stopped in Sammy’s Bistro on our way home after renting bikes and cycling for several hours. We had not read that Guy Fieri had been here – but we don’t blame him for loving the place. The food is INCREDIBLE!!!!! Seriously we still talk about the shrimp dish. We think it’s the Coconut Shrimp.

    Above is the Salmon and below is the Savory Chicken Bowl- we added lots of hot sauce and LOVED every bite.

    Glitretind Restaurant at Stein Eriksen Lodge. OMG.

    Our last night we had dinner at the Glitretind restaurant in the beautiful Stein Eriksen Lodge.

    You have no idea. The scenery is so breathtaking, truly, and then you add outstanding service and truly exceptional food….You must get the Toffee dessert- thank me later. This place is wonderful. At night they have fire pits lit and will bring you blankets so you can sit by the fire with dessert and wine and just love life. GET HERE.

    We love Park City. And here are some places we recommend that we sadly did not get on camera.

    Flying Sumo Sushi. Fantastic.

    The Back Door Deli. 

    Others to follow. 

    Why don’t YOU tell the boss your dates, book a Homeaway in Park City and go there!!

    Tell us where you’d like to see FitFluential Explorer go next!

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  • The Best Acai Protein Bowl Recipe EVER.

    Acai Protein Bowl Recipe

    Acai Bowl Recipe

    Once you’ve had an Acai bowl at a local juice or smoothie bar, you are likely obsessed. Me too. I mean, what can be bad about a bowl of deliciousness like that? The health benefits of the superfood acai are endless and there are so many tasty combinations of flavors…..but, oh how the price can add up if you go OUT to get an acai bowl every day. This post will show you how to make an acai protein bowl with coconut at home. This recipe for an acai bowl can easily be altered up to make 2 acai protein bowls, and you can vary the toppings as per your personal preference. I love the convenience and both my man and I love the taste. Just track your ingredients as you add them, as an acai bowl with protein AND toppings can get calorically dense so just be mindful. My biggest problem has always been making a smaller portion- I usually end up making enough for TWO acai bowls so — just note that as you begin.

    Ingredients for the Acai Protein Bowl With Coconut

    You’ll need the following ingredients: 

    • Acai Powder
    • almond milk
    • Frozen Berries (we get a big bag that has frozen strawberries and bananas, and another bag with frozen blueberries and raspberries)
    • Banana
    • Optional: Honey or sweetener to taste
    • Shredded coconut
    • Fresh berries for toppings
    • Granola for topping
    • Vanilla Protein Powder (we use Isagenix Undenatured Whey Protein- ping me if you want to order: it’s sucralose free which is why I started using it)
    Sunfood Acai Powder

    I wanted to make an ACAI bowl badly one night– and I had no time to run to the grocery store and pick up frozen ACAI so I ordered from Amazon Prime Now and got this ACAI Powder. I strongly recommend it– it’s a little pricey but so worth it. CLICK HERE to buy on Amazon.com. 

    I pull out a Nutribullet large cup — and seriously, if you don’t have a Nutribullet yet, get one. It’s truly one of the most used appliances in my kitchen. I even pack my Nutribullet for business trips– for bulletproof coffees or to make smoothies/protein shakes in the room. #diva 

    Nutribullet

    So in the picture above, I use one of the tall cups. I first put in one frozen banana or a non-frozen one if I have them handy. Then I add in a serving of frozen mixed berries (we buy big bag of blueberries/raspberries/blackberries/strawberries) and sometimes I add in a serving of frozen mango too. No rules here, you’ll learn to experiment. 

    NEXT UP– add a serving of the ACAI powder, I think it’s 2 TBS. I add a scoop of my favorite protein powder- it’s undenatured whey protein from Isagenix (you can order from me, and I’m happy to make other recommendations on their other amazing products, I’m obsessed. The highest quality nutrition you can imagine).

    Then I add Almond Milk, I use Blue Diamond 30-calorie almond milk. THIS IS A KEY THING TO CONSIDER. I add a LITTLE BIT OF ALMOND MILK AT A TIME- AND BLEND A LITTLE BIT AT A TIME. Why? If you put in a lot of almond milk, you get ACAI SOUP or an ACAI SMOOTHIE– maybe you are ok with that but I like my ACAI bowls to be THICK. Just personal preference. If you want your ACAI bowl to be thick — add little bits of almond milk, then blend, then open the Nutribullet and – you may have to use a sharp knife to chop up the frozen chunks of berries and banana to mix better– then blend again and add just a little almond milk as needed. When it’s done, it should not be in my opinion, soupy– you should need to use a spatula to spoon it out in a bowl. 

    Let’s be real. If you goof up and make it too runny, IT STILL TASTES AMAZING.

    Top the acai bowl with layers of fruit– I do banana then berries- other folks add seeds– I add Paleo Granola on top- my favorite brand is below: 

     

    Gluten Free Granola

    You can buy 100 bags of this stuff on Amazon.com by CLICKING HERE. I am obsessed with them you have no idea how good this stuff tastes. 

    You may also want to try topping off your ACAI bowl with shaved dark chocolate or coconut!! What are your favorite toppings?? 

    ENJOY!!

    Please note: this post contains affiliate links. 

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