Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Virgin Diet 4 Week Weigh-In Results and Progress Report

Before you jump into the Virgin Diet for your own fitness journey, read on so you can see the 4 week real life result of your good ol' pal Sara (and her hubby, Chris). She tells it to you straight... the good, the bad, the ugly!

If you missed my overall thoughts on the Virgin Diet regarding how difficult it was (or wasn't) to be on the diet or how I felt after about 3 weeks, check it out HERE. I will say that my thoughts have not changed much.
We are still going strong and to be perfectly honest, it is nice to have such a restrictive diet where if you eat anything out of the diet it will ruin the whole 7 weeks! This means I really don't have the option to cheat. It's like going cold turkey and that style works for me! Today I completely passed up my cookie, sun chips and pasta salad with my sandwich, easily, without thought. The virgin diet is a nice way to start a clean eating habit and after the diet is done, you can then modify it for your own lifestyle change. Overall, I am glad we went on the diet (and are still on it...4 1/2 weeks have flown by!) because it showed us that we CAN do any diet really and that you CAN feel satisfied, feel great and not starve while getting healthy and losing weight. I also think it is a great diet to do if you have autoimmune issues or other disease states so you can see if modifying your diet could help.
So without further ado...RESULTS!

Chest- 1/2 inch lost
Hips- 1 inch lost
Waist- 1 inch lost
Love Handles- 3/4 inch lost
Weight- 5.7 lbs lost (4%)

Sooo.... I didn't lose as much as I would have liked but this is progress and is not bad really. I just had my heart set on quicker progress because I have had quicker progress before on plant-based diets. Some of these measurements are so close that it could just be measurement error but we are going to say that these are real losses because my pants are feeling looser. We reintroduced dairy last week and I did react slightly with some throat/nasal congestion (sorry TMI) and some general sluggish feeling. I will be limiting dairy in my diet in the future but will not completely eliminate it. I will just weigh if it is adding something to my meal or if I could have it without it.... Or if it's ice cream... Or really good cheese...

Now, I'll show you Chris' in case you want to see how a guy can manage on the diet.
Chest- 1 inch lost
Waist- 2 inches lost
Hips/Love Handles- 1.5 inches
Weight- 18 lbs lost!! (9%)

Sooo.....this obviously has worked well for Chris. I think the real difference here is that I did not eat as bad as Chris did before so he had a more significant shift when changing to a healthy he's a boy. He did react to dairy more severely than I did so he will need to be more diligent in keeping it out. Dairy is a super common one to react to from what I have been researching. It can often be the cause of skin conditions such as acne and eczema, etc. He has changed his mindset on eating and is now actually getting into this healthy eating thing. :) I'm glad. It is much easier when everyone in the house is on board. I couldn't have done it without him.

So, why not give it a try? It could get you started on a new healthier path like it did for us! Lose some pounds. Eat some good food. Feel amazing every day. :)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bandits Restaurant Review

I found a diamond with this restaurant. I am excited to go there again and try other things. This doesn't happen all that frequently but this might be my favorite new restaurant. The funny part is we planned on going to Rustic Chicken but they were closed on a Saturday so I looked for the closest option where Chris and I could eat on our Virgin Diet and found this play. Boy were we glad Rustic Chicken was closed!
Let's get to it. I went to Bandits in Cottonwood Heights (Utah) with my grandma and husband. It is a Bar and Grill but is also kid friendly. The bar and restaurant area are separated. The ambiance has a rustic but classy feel. I can imagine it would be really fun at night. They had great music playing and it was just a really nice lunch.

 Here is what we had.

I had Wood-Fired Grilled Shrimp with Dirty Rice and Green Beans.
This. Was. Remarkable.
I did not expect to have so much flavor packed into such a healthy meal. I could eat this for every meal. The shrimp was the lemon garlic option (you could also get BBQ) and had so much flavor in the spice rub. It had some kick but in an absolutely amazing way. (I don't normally like spice) I am still craving this shrimp. The dirty rice was the perfect texture and definitely rich (I am sure there is butter in it which I wasn't supposed to eat but there was really no option it was so good.) The green beans were crisp and wonderfully seasoned. It was honestly a perfect meal. This is on my top 10 favorite meals. Man, that shrimp...
 Chris had a 12 ounce prime rib with a shrimp skewer added on and mashed potatoes and asparagus. The prime rib was cooked perfectly as you can see in the picture. It was served with aux ju and a horseradish sour cream. The mashed potatoes were so flavorful and I LOVE red potato mashed potatoes. The asparagus was cooked perfectly and had a good crunch. I really want to know what is in their spice rub!
 My grandma had the pulled pork eggs benedict (they were serving lunch or brunch on Saturday at 1:00pm). It looked really tasty and she said it was very good. I tried her potatoes and they were bursting with flavor. I love these potatoes. It didn't have an English muffin but more of a flatbread. I look forward to trying this in the future because I am on a quest to find the perfect eggs benedict (or just try a lot of them :). 
The price was really not bad for how good the food was. The Eggs Benedict was $11.99. The Prime Rib was $24.99 + $6 for the Shrimp and the Shrimp Skewers plate was $16.99. The portions were rather large and there is something for everyone there as they had a lot of options.
Ultimately it comes down to this: This restaurant was amazing and we will definitely be frequenting this place (as much as we do... we don't eat out a lot). I highly recommend this restaurant to everyone. It is easily a 5 out of 5. So go out there and give it a try. Let me know if there is another dish you recommend. Mmmm...... I'm hungry.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day Meal- Virgin Diet with Dairy

Week 4 Day 3
I hope everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day with anybody you love!
Chris and I had a lovely dinner at home. I made Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara with a side salad, Martinelli's Sparkling Cider and some dark chocolate covered strawberries (from Mrs Cavanaugh's) for a special treat.
The pasta took two and a half hours to make! It made a HUGE amount of food!! I should have realized this as I was purchasing the ingredients but somehow it didn't even cross my mind that this would feed a small army. What's hilarious is that the serving size said 4! Well it was an Olive Garden recipe so maybe 4 olive garden portions makes complete sense.
Anyway! I used this recipe HERE.
I substituted a few ingredients and it still tasted great.
Here were my notes:
1- I used both chicken and shrimp
2-For my bacon bits, I made them fresh in the oven and it was from an organic farm and it was so tasty! You could tell a difference (probably not in the pasta) but let's be honest.... I didn't need the whole pack in the pasta.
3- Bacon base.... I didn't even know what this was and couldn't find much information about it so I used 1/2 teaspoon of chicken broth concentrate. I would actually add 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons next time to bump up that flavor.
4- I forgot to roast my red bell peppers so I just left them out...because it was my kitchen.
5- You need a HUGE pan and platter/oven safe dish!!! Make sure you are prepared!

So technically the bubbly was not ok on the Virgin Diet because you aren't supposed to have juice but since it wasn't a "forbidden" food we decided it would be ok for this special occasion since it is just carbonated apple juice. Also the dark chocolate strawberries weren't quite as dark as they should have been and they had some sprinkles I may have forgotten to brush off but other than that, this meal was Virgin Diet approved. It was made with Brown Rice Pasta (so good!), chicken, shrimp and a lot of cheese. This is obviously not a "Healthy" meal but you gotta live and we did it within the confines of our current food restriction.
Can I be completely candid with you? I didn't feel great after I ate it. It was kind of a let down. I felt heavy and blah. I felt like I missed out on a healthy meal that could have pushed me closer to my goal.

No reason to dwell. It was delicious and Chris absolutely loved it. Plus I love trying new recipes.
 Yumm..... I need this salad. Made with butter lettuce. It is so fluffy!

So.... some exciting news! Well sort of... Chris is having MAJOR congestion! This means that his issues he has had with long term congestion may in fact be caused by dairy! We will keep tracking this reaction to see if it continues and then goes away again when we go off dairy again. Luckily I have not had any major reactions besides I just feel heavy. I will be watching my congestion because I have also had long-term issues but haven't experienced any issues yet. Here's to hoping!

Another fun development... I have started weight-lifting and am doing some every day.
Here is the schedule so far.
Monday: Arms
Tuesday: Legs
Wednesday: Back/Core

So far so good. I'm getting sore (without injury)! That means progress! I'm trying to figure out this whole new way of exercising for me so it will definitely be a work in progress. Chris has been helping me so far. I bought a book that I will share with you when I get in that is essentially a beginner guide to weight-lifting. I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Week 4 Day 1: Weigh-in and Update

Sheesh! Look how time flies!
Ok, so I wanted to give you an update on my Virgin Diet adventure.
I wish I had better news regarding weight loss but unfortunately I don't.
After 3 weeks of being off all 7 foods (gluten, corn, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts and sugar) here we are:

Down 4.5 lbs (3% body weight)
Chest- down 0.5 inch
Love Handles- down 0.5 inch
Thighs- down 0.5 inch
Hips- down 1 inch
...these changes are so small that they may have simply been from a difference in measurement...
So this was good enough to make my pants fit a little better ( my fat doesn't hurt me now) but definitely not what I was hoping for from all the promised hype of the diet.

The main reason I went on the diet was more for the general health aspect though. This is where it did have a lot more benefit.
Overall I feel great but I have felt better and know that I can drop the extra weight too.
I sleep soundly and feel more rested. I have more energy first thing in the morning before breakfast. My brain wakes up quicker.
My congestion has decreased. I feel less stressed even thought I have no fewer obligations. I fit in my black pants again! (Wahoo!)
I am having a lot of fun cooking and making up recipes, trying new things. I have started to crave some foods like sugary things and creamy tortellini. I have been able to resist just fine though. I think my metabolism is kicking up because I am feeling hungrier even though my calories have been about the same this whole 3 weeks.
I can bounce up the stairs and have motivation and aspirations to do more things which is a miracle because before I just felt like getting through the day would be nice.
It is really nice to have this energy and stamina back in my life. It helps me enjoy it more. :)

My thoughts about the Virgin Diet:
I found this diet difficult in that it was restrictive regarding when you could eat and drink water. Not eating certain foods was not a big deal at all for me. It was for my husband but he is catching on to the healthy eating and even thought he won't admit it he is healthier, feeling better, more energetic and enjoying what we can eat (not always but most of the time). He has actually been eating much better since I've actually been cooking plus he can eat a lot in one sitting. My stomach is pretty small so only being able to eat 3 meals and a snack each day just didn't work for me because I couldn't eat enough calories in the day. My body has pretty much always wanted to eat more frequently so I am going to listen to my body and follow my gut...literally! I also had a hard time not eating within two hours before bed because I work full-time and by the time I get home and cook dinner, we are already past that point. Making sure to follow the Virgin Diet "plate" proved to be difficult as well. I did pretty well but even staying within the recommended meat amount guidelines I thought I ate too much. I have been eating so much more meat on the Virgin diet that I normally do that I think that is the part that is keeping me weighed down compared to previous ways I have eaten. I am also eating a lot more fat that I would normally.
Ultimately, this diet doesn't work for me but that doesn't mean that it won't be great for you. This diet may have worked had I been able to follow it to a T but I couldn't and I tried my darndest but if it isn't that user friendly, it's not going to be fit for my lifestyle. I am a firm believer that there is not one right diet for everyone. Find the one that makes you feel and look great for the long-term and run with it. Be self aware ad test your diet to know what makes you feel and function at your best. Everyone has a different body chemistry  and will process the same foods differently based on genetics, individual physiology and environment. There are some obvious bad choices out there and some obvious good ones but the balance of what you eat should be individualized.

I'm going to shake things up a bit. I want to keep up with the Virgin Diet inflammatory concept with the reintroduction of the 4 foods to see which I am intolerant to because I like this concept and am super curious to see if I am not tolerant to certain foods. Within the confines of these food restrictions I'm going to do what I have done before and felt great. I'm going to go back to my plant-based diet, eating whenever I want (I felt hungry in between meals or late at night on the Virgin Diet because I couldn't eat enough during my meals) and drinking whenever I want (I found I wasn't drinking enough). I will continue the exercise (I exercised 3 days last week- cardio and pilates style as well as lifting a big water jug to exhaustion!) but am going to start weight-lifting. I am going to continue the shakes because they are nutrient dense, pretty tasty and I like how they fill me up and I don't even have to think about breakfast. Plus, I like to drink my breakfasts so this works for me.

This week we introduce dairy back into our diet for one meal each day for Monday through Thursday. I am reintroducing the thing that I am most likely to eat in my diet and that it cchhhheeeeeesssseeee! Mmmm.... So I had a revelation. I had cheese on my Smothered Chicken from Texas Roadhouse with sauteed onions and mushrooms (Very good) and didn't really taste it. There was no point in even having it on there. I could only taste all the other ingredients. If I am going to eat cheese I want to have a chunk of cheese plain and let it melt in my mouth.. yummm...
We purchased some Winder Dairy Milk and I am excited to try it. The people at the store said that it is really good milk, plus they recycle their glass bottles so how can you argue with that. I love it. I have never been a real big milk drinker in my adulthood and probably won't go back to it as I am happy with coconut and almond milk but here and there I might throw in some winder milk. We will see. I don't really miss it. This milk is going to be for a cheese sauce for Valentine's Day... I can't wait!
First things on the table we can't have!
 But alas. Smothered Chicken from Texas Roadhouse. Grilled chicken with sautéed onions and mushrooms with jack cheese, broccoli and a sweet potato. I liked it a lot. It was tasty.
So I am really excited to get back into exercising. Generally I feel broken right after I start due to my hip and back injuries that I have had. It's always important to ease back into it rather than going full bore the whole time. Don't break yourself. It is so important to strength train (safely) if you have back pain because you need muscles to help fix the problem. Muscles hold your body in the shape it is supposed to be in, like a natural spandex. This helps with pain due to decreased pinching of nerves and better posture in general. It's remarkable really that our body can do what it is supposed to when we give it the resources to do it. 
I ordered the Big Book of Exercises for Women put out by Women's Health. It has a lot of good info. I'll let you know if it's good.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Random Green Smoothie Tip

Hey everyone, I have a random green smoothie tip for you.

The longer you wait to drink your smoothie... the more it will taste like the greens.
So, don't make them ahead unless you are ok with that and don't wait too long to drink it. Drink them within about 30 minutes (especially if you use Chia as well).
That's all! See ya!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Immune Response 101: Macrophages are Like Assassins. Eat the Darn Popcorn Off the Floor!

**Disclaimer: This information relates to relatively healthy individuals, NOT immunocompromised individuals.**

I just finished another interesting book called:
The Diet Myth: Why the Secret to Health and Weight Loss is Already in your Gut
By Tim Spector

I will say that it was interesting and entertaining (to me). It was packed full of studies as evidence with his interpretation and how it relates to the microbiome of your body (microbiome = the bacteria in your body whether good or bad). Not everything he said was accurate (inconsequential things mostly) however there was a lot of truth to it as well and a lot of new information I hadn't heard before.
I give at a 4 with a caveat that it is for nerds as it explains a lot of studies and evidence. It is more of a scientific discussion and he will prove and disprove the studies and theories. If you just want the overall concept, it is this "Your microbiome balance (bacteria in your body) keeps you healthy and changes can affect every aspect of your health. Eat a variety of as many foods as you can, starting young, and take care of your gut flora by eating raw healthy things (not restricting certain foods) and staying away from the refined processed things. This will make your bacteria happy and healthy."

Remember my rating scale:
5- Everyone should read this book!
4- This is a good read and I would recommend this to others
3- This is a good read but wouldn't necessarily mention it to others
2- I wouldn't read this book again
1- I would recommend NOT reading this book

The reason I liked this book is because it opens up your mind to start thinking in a different way about bacteria which is something everyone could use. In agreement with Tim and in my humble opinion, these days many people are too concerned with "germs" and how we might be touching them or heaven forbid, eating them. Our bodies were built to handle this and it is natural, however if we do not expose ourselves to germs, our immune system remains week so when we get overwhelmed with a type of bacteria, which will happen in our lifetime, our body is not prepared and we get hit by the proverbial bus and our immune system gets overwhelmed and we display the symptoms of a severe illness. Our immune system gets boosted and "body builds", as a way of putting it, when we are exposed. Exposed to anything and everything. Here is how. It's pretty freakin' cool.

Your Immune Response 101 (A Simplified and More Entertaining Version)
Before we jump into our immune response story I want to give you a little background about the type of immune reactions that happen and the type of cells that come into play here.
There are two main types of reactions:
1- The Non-Specific Immune Response happens when your body has NOT been exposed to a bacteria or foreign substance before.
2- The Specific Immune Response happens when you HAVE been exposed to a bacteria or foreign substance before. This is the immune response we think about when we have antibodies to foreign substances.

Your immune system primarily consists of white blood cells. There are three types of white blood cells we are going to be talking about in our story: B Lymphocytes, T Lymphocytes and Macrophages.

The B Lymphocytes live in your body fluids and are produced by your bone marrow (pretty cool). These cells start out as naïve B cells (think a little baby cell that has no direction in life). Once they get called to action they mature into a Memory B Cell that serves you for life for a particular purpose....more later.

Now for the T Lymphocytes. They are produced in the bone marrow but matured in the Thymus gland that sits above our heart. They are part of the immune military. The "Helper-T Lymphocytes" act as the Generals, coordinating the whole battle and activating  "Killer T cells", which are the soldiers with bazookas. They will kill any cells of ours that have been infected by a virus. They are essentially the zombie-cell killers.

Did you get it...? B for Bone. T for Thymus.... ;)

So the last type, Macrophages, are like assassins. They are searching your body for any foreign substances, killing them on-site and sending signals to the Generals (Helper-T cells) to start their response.

Another thing you should know is that any bacteria or virus or foreign substance is called an Antigen in this setting so I will be using the term antigen a lot. Antigens have specific proteins on its surface that act as a unique identifying fingerprint so we can identify it. Our bodies react a bit differently to viruses vs bacteria but this is the general idea.

Ok, so there is your background. Let's get going!

Let's say your child (or you) goes out and eats mud. Don't deny it. Every child has eaten mud. So little Johnny now has had bacteria introduced into his body, assuming this bacteria survives the acidity in the stomach somehow. The bacteria can also get in through the eyes, nose, nether regions, a cut in the skin, etc.
The game starts when bacteria or a virus, the intruder or "antigen", meets your macrophage assassin. Your macrophage assassinates the foreign substance by eating it. Haha. For real. ;) So the macrophage eats the antigen, digests it and then displays the antigen's identifying protein (its fingerprint) on its own surface. The T-Helper cell (The General) then comes in and will record the shape of the specific protein fingerprint. This fingerprint has a unique shape for each antigen.
The T-Helper cell then pulls the intruder alarm by communicating with three other teams.

1) First, it shows this fingerprint to the naïve baby B cell. The naïve B cell then becomes a "Memory B cell" designated to producing millions of antibodies for that specific antigen its whole life. It also takes some of those antibodies and displays them on its own surface. An antibody is a protein that essentially looks like a "Y" with the top two points having the shape of that antigen's fingerprint protein. The Memory B cell produces these antibodies constantly and sends them out into your body. The antibodies will then attach to the fingerprint proteins located on the surface of other antigens that have the exact same protein acting as a beacon or flag that there is another intruder. This is the key that gives you life-long 'immunity' to this specific antigen.

2) Second, it activates more macrophage assassins to go find more antigens.

3) Third, it activates the Killer T cells (the zombie soldiers) which clone quickly and get sent into battle, initiating the Zombie extermination order to go and kill any of your own cells that have been infected.

The Student Room has a nice rendition of what we just saw happen.
Note: Plasma Cells= Memory B Cells
Cytotoxic T Cells = Killer T Cells

So, this cascade of events initiates the battle and so it begins! Generally, those symptoms you experience when you have a cold is actually your body's immune response to the virus, not the virus itself. Your immune system not only wipes out the current intruders effectively but also creates a proactive defense system that makes it faster for you to identify them in the future if they were to come back. The virus would more quickly be recognized as intruders and be assassinated so you won't have the same immune response as last time and won't feel as sick.
This process is happening constantly. When it fails, it could be because the system got overwhelmed quickly either due to not having a defense system already in place for that bacteria or virus or simply because you had waves and waves of bad guys dumping into your system so quickly that your immune system couldn't activate fast enough so now you need help with antibiotics or antivirals.
This is why it is so important to be exposed to small doses of a lot of everything! (Within reason)

This is how vaccines work. If you get vaccinated (and I highly recommend you do) you are doing exactly this: Body Building your immune system to become rough and tough the next time they see those bugs and especially when they come in higher numbers; your body will be ready. A vaccine is made up of the fingerprint protein of a specific bacteria or virus such as measles or influenza. Most vaccines are dead and will not replicate so you will not feel the immune response as much as you would if you had gotten that true infection. However, your body is still mounting an immune response because it doesn't know that the bacteria is actually dead so it is normal to feel under the weather for a few days. This is normal and a good sign! Very few vaccines are live and do mount an infection-type of immune response but in a small controlled dosage. These vaccines are not recommended for pregnant women or immunocompromised.
If you don't prep your body and you throw your immune system and a bad chicken leg into the ring, you could have some major issues. Your immune system may not be able to react in time and you could become severely ill and need assistance from antibiotics or this can even result in death if severe enough.

The truth about this is that not all that bacteria that we think of as "foreign" is dangerous or "bad". It's about balance in our microbiome. Did you know that we all have E-coli in our guts? It is true! It is part of our Normal Flora in our intestines. Normal Flora is the bacteria that naturally resides in our body in specific areas. The balance of the different bacteria crowds out the bad bacteria kind of like a garden. Your good plants can crowd out most of the weeds however if you have an open patch of dirt, guaranteed it will get completely filled with weeds. This scenario can happen when you are given an antibiotic that is not specific to the bacteria/infection you are trying to kill. The antibiotic can wipe out so many different types of your gut bacteria that your microbiome becomes unbalanced and almost 'empty' in a way. The bacteria that does not get killed by that specific antibiotic will continue to grow and since it has all this spacious room, it keeps growing and soon your gut could be overrun with a lot of a single bacteria. Once good, this bacteria can now pose a threat to your health because of the large quantity it has grown to. This can produce diarrhea due to the imbalance and a true gut infection such as clostridium difficile or C.Diff. So, long story short, take care when deciding to use antibiotics. It is not harming only that infection. It is harming your bacteria balance in your body. Antibiotics are absolutely a good thing when they are necessary and when our body needs help but if your body can overcome an infection without help, that is optimal as it will boost your immune response afterwards and will allow your body's normal flora to continue to thrive therefore keeping other potentially harmful bacteria at bay. I am a health-system pharmacist and I have seen both the positive and negative effects of antibiotics. It's all about appropriateness of their use.

So the balance of bacteria in your body is what keeps you healthy and if you have a wide variety of healthy bacteria, it is thought that this will improve your overall health and immunity. However, if that bacteria goes somewhere else that it shouldn't be, such as gut bacteria leaking into your blood or that E Coli getting into your urinary tract, it can cause problems and infections in those regions because it is not used to those specific bacteria.

Keep in mind that all this information applies to the average relatively healthy person. Infants, elderly and immunocompromised individuals are a different story as their microbiome is different and their immune systems often do not function this effectively or at all. More caution should be taken with this group.

Notice that I said "infants" above (which is up to around 1 year of age)...
God is cool and here is why (not the only reason of course...)
Right around the time babies start crawling and learning to walk and sticking a lot more things in their mouths is when the immune system has developed pretty well. Before then their immune system is still immature and learning, for lack of a better word, how to do what it does and develop. Nature's way of helping infants develop their immune system and microbiome is by exposing them to their mom's microbiome. So, Moms, keep using you spit to lick your baby's face clean and suck their binky clean when it falls out of their mouth ( long as you aren't sick of course). It will do your baby and you some good!

So get out there and eat popcorn off the ground! Please keep in mind the risk level though. MythBusters did a great segment on the 5 second rule and they are just hilarious so you should watch it. Haha. While the experiment itself was pretty flawed (take that into consideration), they did accurately show that the type of food that falls on the floor matters, specifically the moisture content.
Ultimately, if your piece of bologna falls on the floor of let's say a hospital where a bunch of sick people should probably throw it away. Even better...don't eat bologna. ;)
Use your common sense but don't fret.

Can I just tell you how fun this article was to write?! Thanks for giving me a reason to have fun today!
Happy floor eating and microbe breeding.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Delicious Protein Shake Recipes and My New Nutribullet!

So we totally wore out our Vitamix with all these protein shakes we have been making so we have to send it in for repair. Bahh. It is 5 years old.  But on the bright side we added a new member to our family in the meantime! Meet Nutribullet. :) I'll let you know how well it works for the type of shakes I'm making.
I got this one at Costco but there are some less expensive ones on amazon. I'm not sure how well those work but this looks heavy duty. Anyway, I'll give you a review after I use it.

In the meantime, I have two shake recipes for you. These are our go-to recipes that we use every morning.

Sara's Strawberry Shake
1 cup Strawberries
1 cup Spinach
1 cup Coconut Milk
2 Scoops Vanilla Protein Powder (I use Orgain)
1/2 Tablespoon Flax Seed
1/2 Tablespoon Chia Seed
The picture of the fruit below actually shows some mixed berries with strawberries but I prefer just plain strawberries.
I prepare a full weeks' worth at a time (without the milk) and keep it in the freezer in ziplock bags. It makes mornings so fast and delicious! Just measure out your milk first using the graduations on the side of the blender and then poor your zippy in and blend!

Chris' Chocolate Shake
1 1/2 Cups Strawberries
1 1/2 Cups Spinach
1 Cup Coconut Milk
2 Scoops Chocolate Protein Powder (We use Orgain)
1/8 Avocado
1 Tablespoon Cashew Butter (or other nut butter)
2 Teaspoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
1/2 Tablespoon Flax Seeds