Agogie Life Partnership

Agogie Life Partnership

I am SO excited to announce my partnership with Agogie, Wearable Resistance! I found this brand organically through a wellness email newsletter that I subscribe to. Ironically enough, the email this brand appeared in was an old one, and during the beginning quarantine, I had committed to catching up on ALL of my emails (don’t ask me if my inbox ever hit zero) . In another lifetime, I might have skipped over the headline advertising wearable resistance leggings, but given the fact that we are all trying to get creative with our methods of staying active and fit while gyms are closed and everyone is doing their best to stay home, I was intrigued by the concept. I wound up ordering the pants that week, and fell in love with them as soon as I put them on. I wrote an honest review on my Instagram, which the leadership at Agogie read and liked, and the rest is history!

Agogie has found a way to sew resistance bands right into the leggings, so there is added resistance with every single movement that you make. There are two levels of resistance available, +20lb and +40lb. One of the things I love about the concept of wearable resistance is that it works to activate your muscles and strengthen your natural movement patterns while you are just living your life, so the things you are already doing can simply be done with a little more oomph – cleaning your apartment just became your new favorite workout! As an added bonus, low impact consistent resistance helps strengthen stabilizer muscles, which can rehabilitate tendons and joints.

I will cut right to the chase and let you know that my discount code “MADDIE” will get you $20 off at checkout! I give you ALL the deets below, but check them out for yourself – they have options for both men and women!

It makes sense that Agogie will become a go-to for athletes when they train (to take an example, Agogie is to a track athlete what the baseball donut is to a batter warming up during a game to help with speed), but what about other people? Agogie wants to use its platform to not only enhance training for a variety of existing athletes of all levels, but also bring the concept of fitness to a community of people who wouldn’t normally indulge. I am so thrilled to be a part of this mission since it so closely aligns with my personal fitness goals through my blog! For example, for a long time I have been trying to get my mom into the gym with me. Whether the reason be that she doesn’t have time, she feels uncomfortable with other people seeing her while she works out, or that she doesn’t want to touch communal equipment, I have not yet been successful. Once I discovered Agogie, I decided that I HAD to get my mom to try them. I did successfully get her into the pants (I may or may not have had to bribe her with the promise that she would get a feature on my blog & Instagram), and we started with just a walk around my parents’ upstate house so she could get a feel for them. By the end of our walk, she was doing squats for fun! The pants solved a lot of the barriers to entry for her when it comes to the fitness world:

  • No need to worry about having extra time, because the pants give you the opportunity to add resistance to your day-to-day activity
  • No need to worry about the discomfort of entering the fitness world as a beginner and facing judgment from others in a gym
  • No need to learn and operate equipment, because the bands themselves effortlessly work without you having to do anything other than moving your body as you normally would.
  • *Less* of a need to worry about the the risk of injury that comes with heavy weight training and use of machines. The leggings are low impact, and are about as risky as body weight activity. I do want to stress that body weight activity is still risky! A wise person (I don’t remember) once said, “treat every weight like it could hurt you.” Whether it’s the 5lb plates that you are adding to your squat bar, or the weight of your own body – always take the responsible precautions because it is important for the health of your body!

After my momma tried the +20lb leggings, I asked her about her experience. Here’s what she said:

“When I first saw the leggings, I thought they might be uncomfortable, but boy was I wrong! I wore them the whole day and they felt like regular yoga pants! The support was evenly distributed and the placement of the resistance bands was so perfect that I couldn’t tell they were there at all. They also looked flattering, and no one could even tell they were different. The following day, after my walk with Madeline, a quick squat workout, and then wearing the pants the rest of that day, I could tell that my legs had been worked out, but not to the point of being uncomfortably sore. I put them in the washing machine and hung them to air dry and they still looked as good as new. I would definitely recommend these pants, and I can’t wait to try the +40 lb version!”

Here’s my review (on the +40 lb resistance):

Function – These do EXACTLY what they promise – create more of a challenge for body weight movements. I immediately noticed the added difficulty on my morning walk and run, but the effect was amplified when I did my stairs workout and body weight leg workout. The leggings are great for moves that have a lot of range of motion in your legs, and also when your leg straightens out entirely at some point during the move. Bonus, they proved excellent for abs (especially leg raises).

Look: I was the most concerned about this, but honestly, I think they look normal! They have a bit of a jogger look and the fabric scrunches, more so at the bottom. The stirrups at the bottom leave a hole by your achilles, and the rest of the pant travels into your show, so it felt kinda like a baseball uniform (not that I know what that’s like at all) (and this is also not a bad thing). You can also wear taller socks if you don’t love the look of the bottom of the pant.

Comfort: They’re obviously not as comfortable as your favorite pair of buttery leggings, but I didn’t find them particularly uncomfortable at all. The waist band is tight to help hold the pants up, but it is also thick enough to properly disperse the pressure so it was very comfortable. The leggings are designed very well. The ankles are also tight to keep them from riding up, and I found the elastic around the ankle to be the least comfortable aspect of the legging. Aside from that, once I had them on for a few minutes, I hardly even noticed the difference (until I started moving, obviously!) The fabric is also light and breathable, so I didn’t feel like I was overheating at all during my workouts.

Overall, I think that these leggings really do add enough resistance to make body weight exercise and day-to-day activity significantly more challenging. I think it’s great that Agogie makes two different levels of resistance, so the +20lb version can be worn all day, to add subtle challenge to daily life, and the +40lb version can be intentionally worn during a body weight workout, bike ride, run, or any other activity that utilizes primarily the lower body. In addition to the weight training that I already do, Agogie has already become another integral part of my lifestyle, and I find myself reaching for them every week as soon as I get them out of the wash!

Don’t forget that my code “MADDIE” will get you $20 off your order at checkout! I hope you love these pants just as much as I do, and are as excited as me to see what this brand continues to revolutionize in the future of fitness!

Urban Roots Veggie Side Kits Review

Urban Roots Veggie Side Kits Review

I love my veggies, and I especially love my cauliflower rice, but sometimes it’s difficult to put together a quick but really great tasting side (and let’s be honest with ourselves, making cauliflower rice is a pain in the a$$).  Enter: Urban Roots Veggie Side Kits! The brand reached out to me to see if I wanted to try their cauliflower rice kits, which provide two servings of veggies, complete with all the ingredients and instructions that you need to make them.  This was a no-brainer!  The kits require very minimal effort – some don’t even need to be cooked, some require a light chop (or none at all), and they’re ready within minutes.  The website even offers suggestions for what to pair each kit with in order to “make it a meal.”  Another thing I liked about the brand is that it does not require a subscription like so many other food prep kits/services do.  You can order these kits through grocery delivery services like Jet, Peapod, Fresh Direct, or Food Kick, and at grocery retailers like C-Town, Eataly, Fairway, FoodTown, Whole Foods, Key Food, and more!  Check out the website for a handy store locator.

I was able to try the Tabouli Style, Broccoli Fried, and Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower Rice Kits.  Each of them was stupid easy to prepare (10 minutes or less), came with very fresh ingredients, and was tasty!  Overall, I would recommend every single kit that Urban Roots offers and you should choose based on your own personal taste preferences, but here’s some more detail about each one (complete with my personal opinion):

Tabbouleh Style

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Requirements: Light chop, mixing bowl.

Taste – 10/10

Ease of Prep – 9/10

Overall – 10/10

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This is my favorite of all the kits I tried.  Personally, I love tabbouleh, so I understand that I am a little biased here.  That said, this kit was really easy because it required no cooking (and thus no reheating the next day when I had the rest of it for lunch at work) and the only reason it didn’t get a 10/10 for ease is because it required a rough chop of some tomatoes and the parsley.  I gave it a 10/10 overall because the flavor was great, the spices were a really good addition to the flavors in the tomato, cauliflower, and parsley, and it was about as easy to put together as Urban Roots could have possibly made it.

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Broccoli Fried

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Requirements: Pan for cooking

Taste – 10/10

Ease of Prep – 9/10

Overall – 9/10

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This one was VERY tasty, and the only reason why I gave it an overall 9/10 was because it’s a bit caloric with the sesame sauce being full of oil.  If you split the kit into two separate servings, it’s perfectly reasonable, however I sometimes just enjoy a ton of veggies with my dinner, so to have two servings of oil wasn’t ideal.  Aside from this, the sauce was delicious, and paired really well with the broccoli and cauliflower.  Also, broccoli and cauliflower is probably one of my favorite combinations, so I might be a little bit biased.

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Moroccan Spiced

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Requirements: Pan for cooking

Taste – 6/10

Ease of Prep – 8/10

Overall – 8/10

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This was my least favorite kit, only because I think the Moroccan spices just aren’t my jam.  They have a very strong flavor, and there were a lot of spices in the spice pack.  If I try this one again, I might just use half of the spices and see where that leaves me.  Ease is 8/10 because this one requires cooking (though no cutting/chopping required so minimal dishes were dirtied).  Overall I gave it an 8/10 because I think it wasn’t objectively as good as the tabbouleh kit, but I also don’t think it should be penalized for my personal opinion of Moroccan spices.

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Urban Roots makes a ton of other products, so check out their website for some more variety!

Stay fit and eat fried [cauliflower] rice, all!

Mind Fish Co. Tuna Fish Review

Mind Fish Co. Tuna Fish Review

When you think “high protein, high quality” snack, you never really default to “canned meat.”  At least, that’s not typically my go-to.  I got the chance to try out Mind Fish Co. canned tuna, and am so glad I did because this isn’t something I have ever bought in the store.  Mind Fish Co. is an interesting company because it supports sustainable fishing practices in an effort to preserve and manage the fish in the ocean.  The brand is partnered with the Marine Stewardship Council (MCS) and adheres to its principles and criteria for sustainable fishing.  Mind Fish Co. has also collaborated with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program which supports healthy oceans and minimal environmental impact from fishing.

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The products I tried were the pole and line caught wild Maldives Skipjack Tuna in both spring water and olive oil.  When I opened the cans, the meat didn’t look like cat food, so that was an immediate plus.  The fish looked and tasted incredibly fresh, and I fell in love with the tastiness and convenience of this meal option.  And, as an even more added bonus, the macros are exceptional.  One can of the tuna in spring water is P30/C0/F1, and the olive oil option adds 16g of fat.

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I tried a few different ways of eating this.  Here are my favorites:

  1. Mixed with greek yogurt, paprika, cayenne, and salt&pepper, and used as a dipper for veggie sticks (or crackers/chips). This came out similar to the consistency of buff chick dip (depending on how much greek yogurt you use), and you can also add buffalo sauce or regular sriracha to make it even more spicy and like buffalo dip.
  2. Mixed with mashed avocado, paprika, chili powder, and salt&pepper for a healthy tuna salad.  You can add celery or cucumber or anything else in the mix for a nice crunch.  What I did instead was layer some cucumber or zucchini on a Joseph’s Lavish Bread and then put the tuna mixture on top and wrapped it up.  I still got the crunch without having to chop up the veggies and mix them in.  This is a weekly staple in my meal plan now – it’s so tasty, full of healthy fats from the avocado, protein from the tuna, and is very satisfying.

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Mind Fish Co. products are now sold on Amazon, so purchasing them is super easy!  I’m so interested to see how you can incorporate this tuna into your meal prep!  Message or comment my your ideas, and tag me in your posts @LiftinLuxe #LitfinLuxe !

Stay fit and friendly to the environment, all!

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New Flavors of Enlightened ‘Better-for-You’ Ice Cream Review

New Flavors of Enlightened ‘Better-for-You’ Ice Cream Review

2018 seems to be the heart of the era of alternative low-cal ice creams.  As someone who has always dreamed (literally) of the day it would be acceptable to have the whole pint in one sitting, I’m not complaining at all.  I love eating cold foods (even ones that are typically served hot), and I’m a sucker for sweets, so ice cream is obviously something that’s dangerous for me to keep stocked in my freezer.  I actually rarely have it, because I can’t be trusted around a pint of ice cream.  Until now!  I had the opportunity to try Enlightened’s newly released low-cal ice cream flavors, and I was not disappointed!

None of the photos in this post are edited to hold the integrity of the product.

TLDR: I was really impressed by these new Enlightened flavors, in both taste and texture.  I liked some better than others (and if you don’t feel like reading, I ordered my review from least favorite to most favorite, so just scroll down for my personal fave).  The pints contain sugar alcohols, but, when had in moderation, they don’t bother my stomach like some other low calorie ice creams do, and I am not sure why to be honest.  The ingredients are pretty clean, and overall this is a great product that I definitely recommend.  

Movie Night

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 90 calories P7/C18/F2.5.  Note that Enlightened (and many other brands) calculate their calories based on NET carbs, rather than total carbs.  If you calculate your calories based on total carbs, it comes out to 122.5 calories per serving.

This pint has a buttery popcorn ice cream base with chocolate chips and a caramel swirl.  I have to say, Enlightened totally nailed the swirls in every single pint that has them (which should be all of them, in my humble opinion).  The swirl is even and consistent throughout the whole pint, and gets melty and gooey and has a lot of really good flavor.  The ice cream really does taste like buttered popcorn, but the taste is a little bit artificial for my personal liking.  The texture of the ice cream is really good and creamy, and the chocolate pieces and caramel swirl add different layers of texture that make this pint really really good.  This one also thaws pretty quickly.

French Toast

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 70 calories P7/C17/F1.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 105.5.

This pint has a french toast ice cream base with a maple syrup swirl.  Similar to the movie night flavor, the swirl is probably my favorite part.  It’s pretty sweet but has a nice maple flavor, and goes really well with the french toast ice cream base, which really does taste like french toast.  The ice cream itself is rich and creamy, but doesn’t have any additional elements of texture asides from the swirl.  Overall, I enjoyed this flavor more than the movie night one.  This one also thaws pretty quickly.

S’mores

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 100 calories P6/C22/F2.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 134.5.

This pint blew me away.  the toasted marshmallow ice cream base was so true to what marshmallows taste like without any artificial after-taste.  The graham cracker pieces in the ice cream base added texture and that full bodied flavor of a graham cracker that’s so comforting.  The chocolate swirl was the icing on the cake, and you know by now how I feel about Enlightened swirls.  This pint tastes like the best camping trip you’ll ever have.  Unfortunately, though I’m not surprised, it has the most calories of all of the pints.  This one thaws quickly.  I think it might have something to do with the swirl.

Cookies and Cream

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 80 calories P6/C17/F2.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 114.5.

Throw away all of your other cookies and cream flavored ice creams and replace them with this.  The ice cream is extremely creamy, and you can hardly tell that the base is just a plain vanilla because there are so many “chocolate sandwich cookie” pieces in it.  Aka this pint is straight crushed oreos with some vanilla ice cream mixed in.  This one’s easily my favorite of all of the new flavors, even though there’s no swirl.  I think cookies and cream is such a classic that it’s easy to mess up by trying to do too much.  Enlightened didn’t make this mistake – they made a vanilla ice cream with crushed up cookie pieces, and I’m completely sold on it.  This one takes a bit longer to thaw, but it’s oh so worth it.  Don’t waste even one bite of this if it’s rock solid from the freezer.

These aren’t new flavors, but are definitely worth an honorable mention:

Chocolate

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 60 calories P6/C14/F1.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 93.5.

There’s really nothing to write home about here, chocolate is simply a classic.  The chocolate flavor is rich and the ice cream is creamy.  There’s no additional elements of texture in this pint, but it’s still very good.  I would recommend adding this to smoothies/protein shakes instead of ice to get that ice cold factor and make it more like a milkshake.  I’m also thinking about how great this would be blended up with some PB2 and a frozen banana….

Cold Brew

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 cups per pint) – 60 calories P6/C14/F1.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 93.5.

This pint has a really good coffee flavor.  It doesn’t taste artificial at all (not surprising, since coffee is the 5th ingredient), and is not too sweet.  There’s no texture asides from the creaminess of the ice cream, but it’s still good.  This is another good one to add to smoothies/shakes.  Give this one some extra time to thaw as well.

Snickerdoodle

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Stats: Per 1/2 cup serving (4 servings per pint) – 60 calories P6/C14/F1.5.  Calories calculated based on total carbs is 93.5.

This is my favorite of the older flavors.  It’s very creamy, and the yummy cinnamon spice is sprinkled throughout the whole entire pint.  I really wish this had a cinnamon sugar swirl… but in any event, the sugar cookie base is very distinguished from the standard vanilla and is delicious.

Good work, Enlightened!  These ice creams far exceeded my expectations and, dare I say, are overall my favorite of the low calorie ice creams currently on the market!  (Though each brand out there has its flavor[s] that it does the best).  Which one is your favorite?

Stay fit and full of [healthy] ice cream, all!

 

The Bar Shack & Macaw! Foods Review

The Bar Shack & Macaw! Foods Review

TLDR (spoiler alert): The Bar Shack is a brand that makes custom protein bars where you can select each ingredient that goes into it.  The bars that I made were incredibly fresh, easy on the tummy, and really yummy.  Though pricey, I will order them again.  The Macaw! Foods bars I got to try were delicious, and there were two flavors that stood out to me that I would keep as a staple in my pantry (cookie dough and cinnamon roll).  I definitely recommend The Bar Shack and Macaw! Foods brands to anyone looking for a protein/snack bar (protein content for the bars is between 10-15g, so it’s not an incredibly high protein snack) that’s easy to digest, delicious, and contains clean and organic ingredients! 

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How many times have you picked a new protein bar off the shelf and generally like it, but have one tiny complaint about either the flavor profile or the type of protein used (whey vs vegan, anyone?)

This is me literally every single time I try a protein bar.  I’ll be honest – I can be really picky about prepared foods/snacks that I purchase, and this is why I make most of my meals and snacks for myself.  Making an on-the-go protein snack, however, is not really the easiest task, and nothing beats the convenience of a good protein bar.  That’s why I am constantly in the market for a protein bar that has clean ingredients, doesnt wreak havoc on my stomach, and has a decent macro spread.  Oh, and tastes great.  It seems as though it’s more difficult to find a standard go-to protein bar than it is to find a boyfriend – TBD, since I currently have neither.

I’m a step closer to finding the more important of the two – my perfect protein bar – because The Bar Shack has created a DIY portal where you can build your own!  From the nut butter base to the type of protein, all the way down to the flavor profile of the bar, you are in control of literally everything.  You also have access to the nutrition facts of the bar you’re creating, updated real-time every time you add/remove ingredients.

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Right off the bat, I will address the fact that the bars are pricey.  I was lucky enough to connect with the brand for a sample box, and figured that I would decide after trying the product whether it stands up to the price.  (It does).  I’m not saying I’ll have two of them a day, but I think a box (which comes out to $50 after taxes and shipping for 12 bars) could last me a month and be totally worth it.  I’ve spent that much on way less awesome and less functional things, is how I’ll justify it.

The Bar Shack brand grew out of a parent brand, Macaw! Foods.  Macaw! Foods was born when its founder, Owen, moved to Florida to pursue real estate, didn’t exactly succeed at that, and caught a break selling homemade protein bars at the local farmer’s market.  Owen’s story and dedication to creating quality protein bars is really amazing, and I urge you to check it out here.  I have a lot of respect for this brand which started from absolutely nothing, and grew to the point where wholesalers like Whole Foods wanted to stock its products in their stores.  Owen turned wholesalers down, however, in order to continue to evolve his brand and to promote the importance of living “free and wild,” a motto that speaks to me deeply.  Owen sent me a number of Macaw! foods bars to try as well, which I’ve included in this review.

Moving back to The Bar Shack, let’s talk about the protein bar building process.  The website is very user friendly, and my only complaint would be that there are so many options to choose from that it was a bit overwhelming.  I settled on a maple banana oatmeal flavored bar, with a soft and chewy base made of cashew butter and maple pecan butter, a plant-based protein, and various flavor and texture enhancers to achieve that perfect balance of flavors.

The Bar Shack Final Product

My Maple Banana Oatmeal bars came out REALLY good.  I think the trick is that you don’t get to choose the ratios of your selected ingredients – so if something doesn’t go really well together, there’s at least the ratios that the professionals can work with to create something tasty.  Here are the exact ingredients I chose (any my reorder code if you want exactly the same bar).

Bar Shack Ingredietns

Upon first taking a bar out of the box and packaging, I noticed just how fresh they were – which makes sense, because they were made custom for me literally that week.  They are super soft (and this might vary depending on the consistency you choose in your preferences) and chewy.  You can visibly see the ingredients that it would make sense for you to see (i.e. chia seeds).  Taste-wise, the maple shines through a lot more than the other flavors.  I didn’t get that earthy oat flavor that I was hoping for, but I am more than happy with the flavor profile of the bar as a whole.  The bars are also really easy on my stomach, and don’t bother me at all the next day, which is saying a lot for a protein bar.

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Overall, I wish the protein content of the bars were better (P-12;C-22;F-10), but I do think that they work really well as a snack.  They’re great for right before or after the gym because they have the carb content to give you good energy (though if you’re sensitive to fats maybe save it for after the gym), and are enough calories to keep you full for a while.  I think that these bars are worth the price, and I will likely make them a monthly or every two months thing – I am interested in trying out some new flavor combinations!

Who would try these bars?  Let me know what your ideal flavor combination would be – send me an email or comment my social media! @LiftinLuxe

Macaw! Foods

Special shout out here to the Macaw! Foods bars I also got to try.  I really liked these, though they were definitely different from The Bar Shack bars, and I plan on stocking up on these again.  I got to try every flavor except for the lemon poppy and mint chocolate chip varieties, and each one tasted delicious.  My personal favorites were the cookie dough and cinnamon roll, mostly because these flavors were the most unique.  The other flavors were really good, but in my opinion weren’t particularly unique from the two I mentioned, and didn’t hold perfectly true to their label.  Below I’ve included my comments on each bar with pictures, but in a nutshell these bars use really clean ingredients and they also have a great consistency.  They are a hard bar (very different from my Bar Shack bars which were so soft), but they have a really good chewy consistency and are full of deliciously creamy chocolate chips.  I am not sure why, but I loved the chocolate chips the most in these bars – they’re better than any other protein bar chocolate chip I’ve ever had.  They’re large chips, but also are smooth and creamy, a little bit melty, and not crunchy like most chocolate chips in a protein bar.  There were chips in every bar I tried, which I was totally fine with because I loved them, but sometimes I was confused as to why a chocolate chip would be paired with that flavor profile and sometimes overpowered the flavor in the bar (also not complaining about this, because the flavor was good).

Cinnamon Roll

This one might have been my favorite of all of the bars I tried.  It has a really strong cinnamon flavor, in the best way, and truly tastes like a cinnamon roll.  This was one of the ones that I wasn’t sure why chocolate chips were included, but they still added good flavor and an extra component of texture, so I’m not complaining at all about these.

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Cookie Dough

This OG flavor landed itself in my top two for this brand.  It paired so well with the chocolate chips, and though it wasn’t an overwhelmingly unique cookie dough flavor, it was satisfying and delicious.  Also, the consistency of these bars lent itself very well to the cookie dough flavor because they had a chew to them that I look for in a cookie.

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Coconut Husk

The flavor here was good.  Didn’t get a ton of coconut – these reminded me of the cookie dough flavor.

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Banana Bread

Subtle banana flavor, the addition of walnuts was nice.

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Chocolate Brownie

Literally can’t go wrong here.  This was another bar where the chocolate chips were the MVP.

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Peanut Butter Cookie

This had a strong peanut flavor, but didn’t have any hint of the creamy consistency that peanut butter has, so I was a little thrown off.  The bar has peanut pieces in it that you can very clearly see and taste, which added a layer of texture to this bar.

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To the troopers who made it to the end of this lengthy post – thank you for your support and interest!

Stay fit and fresh, all! 🙂

Rhythm Superfoods Review

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It’s the ongoing joke among my family and friends that you’re more likely to find veggies and veggie chips in my fridge and pantry than actual potato chips or mainstream snack foods.  When hanging out on my turf, my friends are likely bringing their own snacks.  (Partial joke – I know how to accommodate my friends when I invite them over).  I can’t argue with this perception of me, though, because it’s absolutely 100% true, so when I had the opportunity to try out a couple of  the Rhythm Superfoods products, I was more excited than the average gal.

Rhythm Superfoods creates snack items made out of superfoods like kale and beets with the goal of creating snacks that are both tasty and healthy.  The website lists out each superfood ingredient the brand uses in its snacks and what the health benefits are of each.  I tried the beet chips (both the sea salt and naked versions) and the kale chips (both the original and zesty nacho versions).  In all varieties, the chips were so flavorful, crunchy, and satisfying, that it was hard to believe they were vegetables and not actual junk food!  The chips are dehydrated instead of fried, and there are a ton of interesting and unique flavors aside from the “Naked” or “Original” versions.

None of the photos in this post of the product itself are edited, to hold the integrity of the product being reviewed.  The photos of my food, however, are edited.  Because it makes them look more delicious.

Beet Chips – Naked

These chips are very obviously made of beets, once you take a bite.  As you can see from the packaging, there’s nothing but straight beets in here, so if you like beets, these are a no brainer.  Allow me to say “beets” one more time.  Beets.  They’re slightly sweet and have that subtle tang that this beautiful root veggie has (beets don’t have a ton of synonyms – bear with me here).  There’s a really good crunch in this chip, and they’re delicate, thin, and crispy.  These are a snack-on-while-watching-netflix safe option, since there’s literally no fat in them.  Your computer keyboard will thank you.  For 1 oz of chips, the nutrition facts are: P-3, C-22, F-0, 100 calories.

Recommended use – Crumble up and sprinkle over a salad for some crunch instead of croutons!

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Beet Chips – Sea Salt

This variation of the beet chip was a little bit more reminiscent of our favorite junk food  – the potato chip.  They were sliced a bit thicker than the naked chips (not sure if this is standard or coincidental of my batch), and there was a healthy dose of salt to balance out the sweet and tangy flavor of the beet.  These were less crispy and more crunchy than their streaking counterpart, and I honestly liked them better.  The ingredient list is only slightly different – these containing some oil and salt, in addition to beets.  Nutrition facts per 1 oz are: P-3, C-20, F-4, calories 130.

Recommended use – Eat these straight out of the bag.

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The sea salt version of the beet chips were also a lot darker in color than the naked version.  I am not sure if this was coincidental because each batch might differ, but you can see in the photo that the sea salt chip (on the right and in the plate) is much darker than the naked one (on the left).

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Kale Chips – Original

Moving on from beets to kale, I was really pleasantly surprised by these kale chips.  I never was a giant fan of kale so I never actually bought myself kale chips, but honestly you could not tell these were made from kale at all.  KALE.  They were delicate and crispy, and the folds in the leaves held onto the seasonings so well that each chip was full of so much delicious flavor.  It’s tough to pin down exactly the flavor profile on these, but they were slightly acidic, slightly sweet, well balanced, and salty.  Very good!  I need to emphasize how good the crunch is on these chips.  So satisfying.  Nutrition facts per 1 oz: P-6, C-12, F-8, calories 150.

Recommended use – Eat them straight out of the bag.

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Kale Chips – Zesty Nacho

These weren’t kidding about being zesty.  They’re very similar to the original version, but they have a pretty strong nacho kick to them.  There’s no actual cheese listed in the ingredients, but they actually do taste cheesy.  It looks like the only real difference in ingredients between the original and the zesty nacho is the addition of chipotle powder in the zesty nacho version.  I like this flavor, and they were really good crumbled over salad or runny eggs, but to just nosh on straight I prefer the originals.  Zesty nacho nutrition facts per 1 oz: P-6, C-12, F-7, Calories 140.

Recommended use – Crumble over eggs, salads, meat, or anything really.

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Overall, I was really impressed with this brand’s ability to take generally hated-on foods like kale and beets and make them into really tasty and satisfying “junk” food.  They’re versatile because you can crumble them over a meal, or eat them like potato chips straight from the bag.  I recommend, and I would love to know if you agree with me!  You can order them online, or find a store that carries them using the store locator feature on their website.  When you try this brand out for yourself, let me know what you think!  @liftinluxe #liftinluxe

Stay fit and superFoodie, 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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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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A Review of Max’s Protein Bars

A Review of Max’s Protein Bars

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My biggest passions are fitness and food, and when the two overlap I find myself on a insatiable quest for the most wholesome meals, snacks, and supplements.  Something that I am constantly looking for is a go-to protein bar that I can nom guilt-free and bloat-free.

I recently stumbled upon Max’s Protein Bars on Instagram (@MaxsProteinBars), and I was immediately drawn by the profile headline – ‘Naturally Powered Protein Bar.’  I’m listening, Max.  Tell me more.

In one of his posts, Max explains his frustrating search for a protein bar that would fit his wholesome diet regimen while also delivering enough protein to fuel his active lifestyle.  As a result, Max’s Protein Bars was born.  The ingredients in each of the three available flavors are all unprocessed and recognizable, and the mix of macros very favorable.  I obviously had to try them.

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Let’s get to it, shall we?

Dark Chocolate and Cranberry

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Macros – P 17; C 23; F 8.  Ingredients – Whey protein concentrate, honey, cranberries, coconut oil, dark cocoa powder, gluten free oats, apple juice concentrate, dates, and flaked almonds.  

When biting into this bar, I first noticed the very rich flavor of the dark chocolate.  The cranberry flavor takes a bit of a back seat to the powerful cocoa, but it’s definitely still noticeable, adding a nice layer of flavor.  There’s also no protein flavor or aftertaste, and you can taste the honey a little bit.  Regarding composition and texture, you can see cranberry bits and the almond flakes dispersed throughout the bar. The bar itself is dense and smooth, and most of the texture in the bar comes from the almond flakes.   I would say it falls right in the middle of a wet bar and a dry/crumbly one.  The bar crumbles a little bit when you bite it, but for the most part holds itself together.  Lastly, you’ll get some coconut oil on your fingers if you touch the bar directly.

Apple Oat and Cinnamon 

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Macros – P 17. C 23; F 8.  Ingredients – Whey protein concentrate, honey, gluten free oats, coconut oil, dried apples, apple juice concentrate, dates, cinnamon, and flaked almonds. 

I was definitely most excited for this one because it’s a unique flavor that you don’t often see in a protein bar.  The flavor that shines through is primarily apple, with nice undertones of oat and cinnamon.  I think there could be some more cinnamon flavor, but I am also obsessed with cinnamon so I might be slightly biased.  Similar to the first bar, there’s no protein flavor or aftertaste.  This bar had more texture than the dark chocolate and cranberry one, with both almond flakes and apple pieces adding layers of texture.  It is also more chewy, and a little more sticky when chewing it.  The bar is still in between a wet and dry bar, with a slightly crumbly texture.  This one also doesn’t have so much residual oil (but it still has the same fat content as the dark chocolate cranberry).

White Chocolate Raspberry 

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Macros – P 17; C 14; F 10.  Ingredients – Whey protein, Honey, White Chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, emulsifier [soya lecithins], natural vanilla flavor), dates, coconut oil, apple juice concentrate, desiccated coconut, beetroot juice powder, raspbery powder, gluten free oats.  

I was pleasantly surprised when I bit into this one.  It’s probably the sweetest of the three, and the strongest flavor is the rasberry.  You don’t taste much of the white chocolate.  Similar to the other two, there’s no protein flavor or aftertaste.  The texture is similar to the texture in the dark chocolate and cranberry bar – smooth with not a lot of variety.  The coconut is visible, and this adds most of the texture in the bar.  The bar is soft, but not as chewy as the apple one.  The consistency feels similar to the consistency of a cookie or brownie (more cake-y and less dense).

In conclusion… 

Overall, I definitely recommend these bars.  The ingredients are all things that I am comfortable fueling my body with on a regular basis, and the taste is really delicious.  The texture and consistency of all three were similar, and I definitely like the consistency better than most other protein bars – it feels like you’re eating a soft cookie rather than a hunk of dense protein mush.  My favorite was hands-down the white chocolate raspberry one, with apple oat and cinnamon being a close second.  This surprised me because fruity protein bars are usually my least favorite (probably because they usually taste so artificial).  Definitely check out Max’s social media and get yourself a 3-pack sample box so you can try these bars for yourself!

Did I address all of the elements of a protein bar that you find important? Let me know in the comments, and I will answer any of your additional questions!

Stay fit and fueled, all!

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