Resting is Hard Work (Vega Sport Performance Protein Review & Recipe)

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For as far back as I can remember I’ve suffered from seasonal depression. When winter hits, I basically retreat into my cave and overdose on Vitamin D supplements; occasionally exercising, not really doing anything to write home about. But as soon as the snow and bitterness of winter finally passes, I get back out on my bike and push myself. Fueled by the sun, fresh air and calming energy of the ocean water, I transform into an entirely different person. With this also comes my desire to workout and be active. I wasn’t always like this, though, until I changed my life last year by juicing, blending and going vegan. Through this new and exciting journey of health, I learned a very important thing (the hard way); you can easily overdo it! This is why I went out of my way to research more about nutrition in the first place. I discovered that it is a MUST to give your body proper rest and recovery time between workouts. Since our muscles actually become damaged from physical activity (in varying degrees), they need sufficient time to heal and rebuild themselves. In fact, contrary to popular belief, if you are trying to “build” muscle, this process occurs entirely when you are at rest (not while you’re in the gym working out). That all said, recovery is just as important than the workout itself. “Awesome! So I can just sit around drinking beer and eating tacos all day”? Ummm…no. 😉

For a proper muscle recovery, you do need a bit of a plan. Reduce your physical activity to some light activity such as walking, light cardio or stretching. Lots of rest and sleep. Stay off as much of the inflammatory and acidic foods as possible. Stay hydrated, alkalize your body and choose foods that are known to be helpful in repairing and building muscle. Filtered Water, Coconut Water, Berries, Nuts, High Glycemic Fruits, Leafy Greens, Cinnamon, Turmeric and Ginger are all very good. And what a better way to get some of these servings in than by blending them up quick and drinking them? That said, let me introduce you to Vega Sport Performance Protein. My friends at Vega sent me a large tub of the Mocha flavor and I had been completely floored to try this for a while now. Especially because this particular variety is specifically meant for recovery.

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 Learn More about Vega Sport

As stated on the product page, it’s a multisource, plant-based protein powder, featuring 25 grams of complete protein, 5,000mg of BCAAs and 5,000mg of glutamine per serving. Great, so what does all that mean? Well, for starters, 25 grams of protein per serving is pretty awesome! We all know that protein is a must for our muscles. As for the BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), these are essential for repairing and building new muscle; they can only come from a food source (your body does not produce BCAAs). Interestingly enough, BCAAs are also metabolized directly in the muscle tissue, not in the liver which gives the body immediate access to their benefits. Glutamine is also an amino acid known for repairing and building muscle cells, although it is not essential, as our bodies can already produce it on it’s own. That said, the added Glutamine in the powder is an extra boost to what you’ve got naturally; which is great since it is also a component of digestive and immune health. All in all, this is a great, clean protein powder to aid in your workout recovery. Drink it within 45 minutes after your routine to maximize the benefits.

But how does it taste? The quick answer is: incredible! I’ve tried it on it’s own with just some Almond Milk as well as mixed into more complex smoothies and it all around tastes great. It has a very smooth, chocolatey coffee taste (hence Mocha flavor) which seems to go well with nut milks, dates, berries, nut butters, Maple, etc. I’ve also added leafy greens and the taste is still on point. But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. Here’s an all in one recipe designed to give you everything your body needs to help recover after going hard. Coconut Water is known to aid in replenishing electrolytes, while Bananas, Blueberries and Kale are a power trio in helping repair and build new muscle tissue. On top of all that, its smooth, tasty, super quick and clean eats for post workout. Here’s to giving your muscles the love they need…Cheers!

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Mocha-nut Berry Recovery Smoothie

8 oz Coconut Water
2 Cups tightly packed Baby Kale
1 Frozen Banana
1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
1 serving Vega Sport Performance Protein (Mocha)
2 Tbsp Cacao Powder
1/4 Cup Coconut Flakes
1 Tbsp Flax Seed

Pour the coconut water into your blender and add the Baby Kale leaves. Blend on the high setting until the leaves have been completely broken down. Now add in all the remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth. Add some ice if you prefer a more “slushy” consistency in your smoothie. Garnish with some shaved Coconut and Cacao powder if desired. Drink up and enjoy!

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Want more info on how to prepare, sustain & recover? Vega has got some excellent FREE Running Training & Nutrition Plans here. Click on the banner and sign up now!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Hemp Milk, Carrot and Ginger Juice (extracted), Pumpkin Puree, Vega “Viva Vanilla” Protein, Justin’s Maple Almond Butter, Banana, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Chia Seed, Flax Meal and Ice.

It’s that time of the year again and for us “New Englanders”, that means we’re all going crazy with Pumpkins! And since I’ve been much healthier this year (than all previous years combined) I’m swapping out my Pumpkin Pies, Lattes, etc and trading them in for smoothies and vegan soups.

That said, I made this smoothie “on-the-fly” the other day and it was absolutely AMAZING! It totally reminds me of a liquid pumpkin pie but has some extreme health benefits to go along with the decadent flavors. Rich in vitamins a & c, protein, fiber, beta-carotene and potassium this smoothie is a weight loss starter, cancer fighter, immune booster and electrolyte replenisher all in one glass…so, drink up and enjoy!

8oz Hemp Milk (or other nut milk)
1/4 Cup Organic Pumpkin Puree (from can)
1 Frozen Banana
Extracted Juice of 2 Carrots (save pulp for soup!)
Extracted Juice of 1″ of Ginger Root (save pulp for soup!)
3 or 4 Ice Cubes
1 scoop Vega “Viva Vanilla” Protein
1 1.15oz packet of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Allspice
1 Tbsp Chia Seed
1 Tbsp Flax Meal

Pour Hemp Milk into the blender along with the frozen banana, carrot/ginger juice, Pumpkin puree and ice cubes. Blend on crush ice setting until cracking stops…then blend on liquify for about 40 secs. Add in the remaining ingredients. Blend again on liquify setting about 1 minute. Pour into a large, tall glass. CLEAN UP BEFORE DRINKING (this reenforces good habits and a new regimen). Enjoy!

Don’t forget to check out all of the great plant-based, whole food products from Vega. Their smoothie powders are delicious, nutritious, animal-free and are the foundation for all of my smoothie recipes. http://myvega.com/

Enjoy your smoothie w/ your favorite straw; although, for Earth’s sake, I recommend a glass one from Glass Dharma http://glassdharma.com.

Pre/Post Workout Juice

GOLDEN BEET, CARROT, GALA APPLE, MANGO, CELERY, ORANGE and LACINTO KALE

After dragging my daughter out of her dark cave and going for a nice, long walk recently, I whipped up some tasty “post workout” juice for us both. And boy, was it good! Although most folks would usually hit up some beet juice before their workout, as it has been known to boost performance, I also like it “post” workout for replenishing lost energy and helping the body recover.

The Beets, along with the Carrots, Apple and Mango help provide a powerhouse of re-energizing nutrients with their natural sugars. While the natural sodium in Celery and the Potassium in the Orange jack up electrolyte replenishment. AND…the Chlorophyll and Protein in the Kale help oxygenate the blood while repairing muscle tissue.

Next time you decide to workout, chuck the Gatorade and drink some real energy instead. Your body will be happy you did.

1 large Golden Beet
2-3 large Carrots
1 Gala Apple
1 large Mango
2 stalks Celery
1 large Orange
5 large Lacinto (Tuscan, Dino) Kale leaves

Wash and prep the Beetroot, greens, fruits and veggies. Juice all with your Juice Extractor (doesn’t really matter what order). Pour. Enjoy!

Makes about 2, 16oz servings.