Homemade Healthy Bagels

Homemade Healthy Bagels

Try to tell me that bagels aren’t one of the top 3 most satisfying carbs and I will call bullshit on you immediately.  Maybe it’s the native New Yorker in me, or maybe it’s because bagels are life, but whenever there’s a bagel in my general vicinity I can hardly resist at least a piece of one with a smear (or slather) of cream cheese or butter.  My all time favorite go-to bagel order is either the OG BEC, or lox with scallion cream cheese.  If I’m feeling extra wild, a classic PB&J also hits the spot.

Unfortunately, for me at least, bagels haven’t been an every-day luxury since high school, and with all the yummy foods at my fingertips in NYC sometimes they don’t make it onto my cheat meal (day) agenda either.  I never thought to try to make them myself, but a friend of mine introduced me to the easiest recipe, and was pleasantly surprised when I tried them!  The recipe is, at its most simple, potentially only two ingredients – equal parts self-rising flour and Greek yogurt.  You can also customize it with whatever kind of flour you like, and top the bagels before baking them with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, everything but the bagel seasoning, and the list could go on.  I topped mine with nutritional yeast and sesame seeds.  I bet they’d also be really good with a garlic and oil baste!

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I kept the leftovers in the refrigerator and stored them for about a week.  They are best when toasted, and actually maintain that doughy consistency once heated up that I so love in a bagel, while still remaining crisp on the outside.  All week I brought them to work and heated them up with some Gouda as an afternoon snack, and then this weekend I slathered my last one in avo smash and ate it with my runny eggs.  Customizable and versatile, this recipe is definitely going to be one that stays in my rotation for a while.

Let’s get started!

Ingredients

(Basically, you want equal parts flour/Greek yogurt, and you can make this recipe with just these two ingredients if you use self-rising flour.  You can mess around with the types of flour that you use, but make sure to adjust the ratios accordingly.  This recipe made 4 mini bagels, and would make probably 2 regular ones, but on the smaller side.)

  1. 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2%, but you can use whatever % fat content fits your lifestyle)
  2. 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  3. 2 tbsp white flour
  4. 2 tbsp coconut flour
  5. 3/4 tsp baking powder
  6. Pinch of salt
  7. Nutritional yeast (to sprinkle on top)
  8. Sesame seeds (to sprinkle on top)

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Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add the Greek yogurt and mix until combined.  Don’t overmix, and you might want to switch to mixing with your hands once the greek yogurt becomes less messy
  4. Divide your dough into however many bagels you want to make (I made 4 minis with this recipe).
  5. Roll out the dough with your hands into a long skinny cylinder.  You are going to want to do this carefully, as the dough can be a little bit awkward to work with.  If you roll it out too roughly, it might collapse/break apart.  You can roll it with your hands to start and then once it starts to look like it’s getting brittle, you can stop rolling it and just start manipulating it with your hands to stretch it a bit more until you’re able to twist the cylinder into a bagel shape.
  6. Place the rolled out bagel onto the baking sheet and top with whatever toppings you like.  Press the toppings into the rolled bagels to make sure that they stick during the baking process.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, and then increase the heat of your oven to 450 and bake for another 3-5.  Baking time will vary depending on the size of our bagels and your oven, but generally the bagels should be golden/crispy on the outside while still being doughy and soft in the middle.
  8. The bagels should be ready to slice soon after coming out of the oven, but be careful because they’ll be hot! (Obvi..I know I don’t have to tell you that.)
  9. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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These bagels are the perfect treat, and you can eat them with your eggs, slather them with butter or cream cheese, or use them as the bread for any of your favorite sandwiches.  I would love to see how you guys customize these, so please try out this super easy recipe and tag me in your posts!  @liftinluxe #liftinluxe

Stay fit and full of bagels, all!

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No Cow Protein Cookies Review

No Cow Protein Cookies Review

If you don’t already know by now, I am always looking for new protein supplements to try, for the purpose of not only finding the highest quality products out there and sharing them with you guys, but to also to keep things interesting for myself!  I recently had the opportunity to try three of No Cow‘s (previously D’s Naturals) newest product, protein cookies.

I feel like I want to address early on the photos in this post – I know that they aren’t my best work.  Not that my photos are always really stellar, but I had some trouble with the lighting the day I was doing this review, and by the time I noticed how not ideal the photos came out, the cookies were long since eaten.  I also try to do the most minimal editing on photos for a review, so that the edits don’t distort the product at all.  The most I did on these photos was edit the white balance a bit.

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One more disclaimer – I want to preface my review with the fact that I am not vegan, don’t have any food allergies (knock on wood), and don’t currently practice any sort of restrictive dieting.  Even though I don’t really need to eliminate any specific ingredients or types of products from my diet for health purposes, I genuinely enjoy exploring products that are branded with such an angle (i.e. vegan), because I find that those brands are more conscious of quality of ingredients and are marketing to a more ingredient-focused type of person.

No Cow’s business model and strategy is that it offers products that are high in protein, free from dairy, gluten, soy, and GMOs, are vegan, and are low in sugar.  What a mouthful, huh?  The brand focuses not only on the macros of its products, but also the micros (which is something that I think often gets lost, especially in protein supplements, since a large emphasis is placed on the importance of macros).  No Cow prides itself in being a no bullshit company – a strong statement in my opinion, and one that I have a high respect for if it proves true.  I also appreciate No Cow’s story – It all started with a fitness enthused 18 year old looking for a protein bar that didn’t give him a stomach ache.  Sound familiar?  The difference between him and me, though, is that he solved his problem by creating a dope one.

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Let’s get into the review before I start to lose you.  There are a few things that are consistent across all cookies:

  • Consistency – The consistency of these are that of a firm but chewy cookie, somewhere right in the middle of the gooey/crunchy spectrum.  Basically, when you break it apart it breaks clean, but doesn’t make crumbs.
  • Sweetness – These cookies are not overly sweet.  If you’re looking for a product that’s pumped with sweeteners and mimics something you’d find in an Entenmann’s box, this cookie isn’t for you.  The sweetness is subtle, but definitely enough.

Here are the stats for each cookie:

 Flavor  Protein Carb Fat Calories 
Double Chocolate  12 19 16 240
Chocolate Chip 12 19 16 240
Peanut Butter 13 17 17 250

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Now for the more detailed flavor reviews, I’ll start with my favorite:

Double Chocolate

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This cookie has a very rich and deep dark chocolate flavor, which I absolutely love.  It’s not overly sweet, and the cocoa flavor really carries this cookie far.  I also heated it up for about 20 seconds, and this didn’t change the consistency but the chocolate chips did melt a bit and the cocoa flavor got even more rich with the heat.  There also wasn’t a protein aftertaste, which is a bonus when it comes to any protein supp in my opinion.

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Chocolate Chip

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This cookie was more plain than the double chocolate, but I still think it’s worth a try so you can decide on your own if you like it.  There wasn’t a dominant flavor in this cookie that really stood out, and it had fewer chocolate chips than in the double chocolate one.  That said, the flavor was still good, not overly sweet, and no protein aftertaste.  I think this one will really depend on your personal chocolate chip cookie preference.

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Peanut Butter

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This cookie, in my opinion, was a bit of a let down.  I was really excited to bite into it because it had so many actual peanut chunks and I was expecting a huge peanut butter flavor.  There’s definitely a salty and sweet peanut flavor, but the cookie doesn’t have that overwhelming peanut butter flavor that I look for when something is labeled peanut butter.  Also, I think this cookie would be better labeled as a peanut cookie, instead of peanut butter, only because it doesn’t have that velvety consistency I expected.  Overall, still a good cookie but if you’re trying to decide between this one or one of the other flavors, my recommendation goes with one of the others.

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FYI – there is another flavor, Snickerdoodle, that I will add to this post if I can get my hands on one.

Overall, these cookies are a great product!  They have a very good macro spread, a satisfying but not overly sweet flavor, and a good cookie consistency.  I’d love to know what you think about them.  Do you agree with my reviews, or are my tastebuds all wrong?

Stay fit and flavorful, all!

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Banana Oat Trail Mix Muffins

Banana Oat Trail Mix Muffins

My banana oat muffins have returned – and with a twist! Over the holidays my sister and I have always gotten really yummy candy and treats as stocking stuffers, which I’ll admit to have always eaten most of before New Year’s Day. This year was no different, but come the universal January 1st resolution to get back on track, I still hadn’t touched a little pouch of trail mix that was laced with dried fruit, peanuts, and various little chocolate candies – aka, everything I love to snack on. The pouch itself was about the size of one of those individual nuts packets you can find in vending machines, but since there was also dried fruit and candy within, the package was labeled to contain 4 servings and a whopping 680 calories total.

I had two options – open up the package in the hopes that I don’t nosh my way through the whole bag, essentially having half of my calories for the day in one fairly small snack; OR figuring out a way to use (but not actually eat) the whole bag in one sitting so it wasn’t sitting in my pantry opened, tempting me. I decided this was a perfect opportunity to revive my banana oat muffins, which I’d retired for a while during my days on keto (which, side note, I don’t think I’m done with for good), and the trail mix would replace the chocolate chips that I would normally include in the recipe. I’ll point out here that a substitution like this works with really any leftover candy/snacks you have lying around post-holiday-season (and really with any baked good recipe). Just remember that when you’re adding sweet mix-ins to a recipe, reduce the amount of actual sugar/sweetener in that recipe. And, if safely possible, before you incorporate your eggs into your batter give it a taste to see if it’s coming along as you envisioned.

Overall, this recipe substitution was a win-win for a few different reasons, and I’m excited to share this little leftover hack with you guys!  Normally I wouldn’t add nuts to these treats because I was never a big fan of nuts in baked goods (mostly because walnuts are in so many baked goods and I really just don’t like that flavor combination). However, I think the addition of peanuts gave the muffins a really great flavor (especially when paired with the banana), and also a great additional element of texture and crunch. I also normally wouldn’t have used a coated M&M type candy in these, but the candy coating bled into the oat mixture and actually gave the muffins a rainbow swirl, which was a pleasant surprise as far as I’m concerned.

Without further adieu, here’s everything you need to know:

Ingredients:

  1. Two cups oats (I used rolled oats, and not instant)
  2. Two bananas, mashed (Mine were medium sized, and very ripe)
  3. Two eggs (I used large)
  4. One cup Greek yogurt (any amount of fat is fine, I used 2%)
  5. 1.5 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 1/8 tsp salt
  9. Cinnamon to taste
  10. Mix-ins of choice (I used a trail mix that contained peanuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, M&Ms, and raisins [which I picked out because I don’t like raisins])

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Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly grease a muffin tin (you can use liners as well, but you still might want to grease them).  Mix all ingredients together (order doesn’t matter much, but I usually do the following:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl
  2. Mash the banana and combine mashed banana with eggs and greek yogurt
  3. Mix in the dry ingredients to the wet
  4. Fold in the mix-ins

Divide  batter among the muffin tin/cups (fill about 3/4 of the way).  Depending on your oven and size of your muffin tin, these will bake for 10-15 minutes.  I would recommend checking them after 10 minutes with a toothpick – when the toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are done!

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Stats:

  • Yield: 12
  • Protein per Muffin: 6g
  • Carbs per Muffin: 19g
  • Fats per Muffin: 6g
  • Total Calories per Muffin: 154 Calories

I also realize that I’ve been calling these treats “muffins” for this whole post, but they look more like a cookie in the photos.  When I first started making this recipe, I was making them in a regular sized/shaped muffin tin and they were indisputably banana oat muffins.  I have since purchased a different tin, which is more shallow than a regular muffin tin and the muffin rounds have a larger circumference.  When I bake using this tin, the muffins are wider and flatter, and take the shape more of a cookie.  Either way, the batter is the same and you can fill up the muffin tin/cup more to have them look more like muffins, or you can fill them up less and they will look more like cookies.  Remember that if you fill the tin less, you will have to cook each batch for less time, so check them sooner!

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I hope you give these a try, and I would love to see how you get creative with your mix-ins!  Tag me in your posts (@liftinluxe #liftinluxe) and as always, DM or email (liftinluxe@gmail.com) with any questions or collab requests!

Stay fit and festive, all!

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Quest Protein Bars Review – All of them

Quest Protein Bars Review – All of them

Quest Nutrition has been one of my favorite supplement brands ever since I started weight training and being conscious of my macros/diet.  I remember the brand when it first offered protein bars, peanut butter cups, and pasta.  Now, there are so many more products to choose from, including Hero Bars, Beyond Cereal Bars, Protein Chips, and (recently) Protein Cookies.

I decided that it was time to try more of the OG protein bar flavors, as well as the newer Cereal and Hero bars, since I typically have always stuck to the same popular flavors.  Overall, I learned that the popular flavors are the most popular for good reason, but I was also pleasantly surprised with some of the other ones I had never tried before!

Side note: none of the photos in this post are edited at all, as I didn’t want to distort the product.

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First off, I want to give a shout out to the newest protein bar flavor, Birthday Cake, which has definitely landed itself in my top 5 favorite list.  The bar itself has the same consistency of the other Quest protein bars, and is smooth (no chunks or additional texture).  It’s one of the coated bars, and the coating is speckled with funfetti.  The coating itself is pretty sweet, smooth, and melts in your mouth.

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The bar itself is not nearly as sweet as the coating, and has a good birthday cake flavor.  There are some undertones and aftertaste of the erythritol sweetener, but not an overwhelming amount that takes away from the overall experience.  I definitely recommend this flavor to all of my fellow birthday cake enthusiasts, as it’s a great dessert-like item that’s very easy to fit into your daily macros!

Stats – P 21, C 25, F 5; Fiber 14, Erythritol 6, Net Carbs 5

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Next up, I want to talk about the Beyond Cereal Bars and Hero Bars.

Beyond Cereal Bars – I was pleasantly surprised by these.  They come in three flavors – waffle, cinnamon, and chocolate.  I didn’t really like the waffle flavor, as to me it tasted the most artificial.  Each bar has 110 calories, 12g protein, 4.5g fat, and 2g net carbs.  The chocolate and cinnamon flavors are great as a snack bar on their own, but are also yummy broken up and eaten as actual cereal in a bowl with milk.  I would recommend these as a lower calorie, lower protein, quick snack bar.  The macros aren’t as favorable as the other Quest products, but I would consider them good for the occasional snack.

Hero Bars – I had high hopes for these because I had heard such good things about them, and was NOT disappointed.  They come in three flavors – chocolate caramel pecan, blueberry cobbler, and vanilla caramel.  All three flavors are tasty, and are very true to their names.  Also, Quest mentions use of allulose in these bars, which is a natural low glycemic sugar which is not processed by the body, but still tastes sweet, and is subtracted from the carb content to get net carbs.

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The bars are coated, and they each have a crunchy layer and then a gooey filling layer beneath the coating.  The macros of each bar are slightly different, and stats are as follows (there are also photos below):

Calories  Protein  Carb  Fat  Net Carb
Vanilla 180 16 29 9 4
Chocolate 200 15 27 11 4
Blueberry 170 17 30 7 4

Chocolate:

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Vanilla:

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Blueberry:

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I think my favorite was the chocolate flavor, with the blueberry coming in as a close second.  The vanilla one was good, but had a little bit too much of an artificial flavor for my liking.  Similar to the cereal bars, the macros aren’t as favorable as the other Quest products, but these are a good dessert-like snack.

Chocolate:

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Vanilla:

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Blueberry:

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Ok, now it’s time for a quick one-liner on each of the OG protein bar flavors.  Let’s start with my favorites, in ascending order (i.e. I like each one more than the previous one listed):

  1. Lemon Cream Pie – I was surprised that this one made it to even the bottom of the top for me because I generally don’t like fruity protein flavors, and I also don’t particularly like lemon cream pie in real life.  However, the consistency of this bar with the hint of lemon really worked
  2. Chocolate Brownie – It would be difficult to screw up anything designed after a brownie, and the only reason why this one is low on the list is because, compared with the other flavors, it’s just a bit boring.  Not a disappointment, though
  3. Double Chocolate Chunk – My thoughts on this flavor are very similar to my thoughts on the Brownie flavor
  4. Mint Chocolate Chip – Similar to the Double Chocolate Chunk and Brownie, but the addition of mint is really tasty
  5. Mixed Berry Bliss – I was surprised that this one made it so high on my list, but the berry flavor didn’t taste very artificial (which is my number 1 complaint of most fruity flavored protein bars) and the texture is good
  6. White Chocolate Raspberry – My thoughts on this flavor are very similar to my thoughts on the Mixed Berry flavor
  7. Rocky Road – There’s no universe where this could be bad
  8. Smores – See Rocky Road
  9. Cookies and Cream – I have a soft spot for anything cookies and cream.  Quest nailed it with this one
  10. Blueberry Muffin – I really wasn’t expecting to like this one, but it’s really well done with pieces of actual blueberry and also chunks of what feel like an actual muffin.  A+ for texture on this one, and the flavor isn’t artificial, either
  11. Chocolate Chip Cookie – This is the ultimate OG.  One of my first experiences with Quest products was this flavor and, like a first love, it will always have a special place in my heart
  12. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip – This wasn’t one of the original Quest flavors, as I believe it debuted mid-2016,  but it quickly became a favorite once I tried it.  There’s some seriously good texture in here from the giant chocolate chunks, and the flavor is that of yummy cinnamon oatmeal

It should be noted that some of these flavors are really elevated when microwaved for 30 seconds, or actually baked in the oven like cookies.  I would recommend trying any of your favorite Quest bars heated up to see whether you like that flavor in bar form, or hot and ooey gooey from the microwave/stove.

And now for my least favorite:

  1. Apple Pie – This was very sweet and kind of artificial tasting.
  2. Vanilla Almond Crunch – There isn’t anything really wrong with this one, but it’s a bit boring and bland.
  3. Strawberry Cheesecake – Very sweet and artificial tasting
  4. PB&J – This one has pretty decent texture with chunks of peanuts, but the flavor was just OK for me.
  5. Banana Nut Muffin – Didn’t like this one because it’s artificial tasting
  6. Coconut Cashew – I didn’t really like this flavor combination
  7. PB Supreme – This one’s not terrible, but I would expect more of a peanut butter flavored bar
  8. Chocolate Peanut Butter – Similar thoughts as the PB Supreme
  9. Mocha Chocolate Chip – I thought I would like this one, but I found the flavor to be a bit too strong, and artificial tasting.
  10. Cinnamon Roll – I thought this tasted too artificial.

There we have it!  At this point I think I’ve tried 95% of the products made by Quest, and I really can say that I’ve enjoyed most of them.  Everyone’s flavor profiles and preferences are different, so go ahead and try a flavor for yourself even if it didn’t make it onto my favorites list.  Do you have a preferred Quest product or flavor?  I’d love to hear from you, so message or comment below your thoughts!

Stay fit and #OnAQuest, all!

FYI – No Quest bars were harmed in the making of this post!  After photos, each one was packaged up in an airtight container and put into the fridge to maintain freshness 🙂

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