5 Diet Mistakes that a Protein Shake Can Help Solve

Protein shakes are quite popular these days. Whether you’re buying commercially made shakes from the grocery store or making your own, there are many benefits to incorporating protein shakes as meal replacements or snacks into your daily habits. In fact, including a protein shake into your meal plan can help prevent some common diet mishaps.

5 Diet Mistakes that a Protein Shake Can Help Solve

  1. Eating too many calories. The summer months serve as the host for county fairs, ball games, concerts and backyard BBQs, to name a few. While I see nothing wrong with the occasional ballpark brat, chronic indulgences in these types of menu items can quickly pack on the pounds during the summer. Having a protein shake can properly nourish your body and help control excessive cravings later on during the day.
  2. Skipping meals. There are many reasons why people skip meals and believe me I have heard them all! Skipping meals and even missing snacks is a sure-fire way to lower one’s metabolism. Ideally, you want to eat every 3-4 hours for a healthy metabolism and good blood sugar control. Having a protein drink for a meal or as a snack replacement is easy and convenient. First of all, it’s much easier and quicker to drink your nutrients than it is to sit down for a meal, especially if you are traveling or unable to take a break at work. I have also found with many of my breakfast-skippers that drinking a protein shake for breakfast was much easier than trying to have a bowl of oatmeal or eggs in the morning.
  3. Not eating enough fruits and veggies. The minimum recommendation for servings of fruits and vegetables is “5 a day”. I actually encourage more than this, but for some people, hitting the five servings can be quite the challenge. Blending fruits and even vegetables into your shakes can help you achieve the “5 a day” goal much easier, especially if you’re the type of person that is not fond of fresh produce. This is also a great tactic for getting your kids to eat an extra serving of fruits and veggies!
  4. Making poor snack choices. When you hear the word “snack”, most people generally think of pretzels, crackers, chips, popcorn, granola bars or sweet treats. In fact, most grocery stores put all these items in the same aisle and label it the “snack foods aisle”. The downfall of these menu items is that they are loaded with starchy sugars and preservatives and do not keep you feeling full for very long. Featuring protein in a snack can help keep you satisfied much longer and help control your portion sizes when you sit down for your next meal.
  5. Not eating enough protein. As a society, we are definitely not deficient in protein; however, we are nowhere near the optimal level of protein intake that we should be for outstanding health benefits. The average adult protein intake is typically about 50-70 grams of protein per day. New research indicates that intake levels at a minimum of 100 grams/day can help better control blood sugar levels, blood pressure and reduce muscle mass loss with the aging process. One scoop of protein powder typically contains 15-20 grams of protein and most commercial protein shakes contain at least 10 grams of protein.

Here is a quick go-to protein shake recipe that can get you started. Tune in next week as I help you decide which protein powder is best for you!

Chocolate Banana Protein Shake
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Ingredients
  1. • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  2. • 1 small banana (~4-5 oz)
  3. • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  4. • 2 Tbsp of dry peanut butter powder (Hyvee brand)
  5. • 3-5 ice cubes (may need more for preferred consistency of shake
Instructions
  1. Shake will contain about 255 calories and 25 grams of protein making it perfect for a light meal or a nutrient-packed snack.
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Preggo Potatoes

Since I’ve become pregnant, I have my good days and not-so-good days with eating. While I haven’t developed any crazy cravings, my taste preferences have certainly changed. Despite being a dietitian, sometimes you can only eat what will stay down. As painful as it is to admit, I had one evening where all I ate was half a bag of tortilla chips. Of course on my good days, I focus on nourishing my body with foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are especially important for baby. Sweet potato, spinach, bell peppers and apple make this dish a nutrient powerhouse, and the bacon…well, that’s just added in for fun!

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr 12 min
Total Time
1 hr 17 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr 12 min
Total Time
1 hr 17 min
Ingredients
  1. • 2-4 sweet potatoes (go for smaller ones, 5-6 oz. each)
  2. • ½ red onion, diced
  3. • 1 red bell pepper, diced (these are the highest in Vitamin C out of all the peppers)
  4. • 1 medium apple, diced
  5. • ½ cup dried cranberries
  6. • 8 slices of cooked bacon
  7. • 3 cups of spinach
  8. • Melted coconut oil
  9. • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Meanwhile, wash your sweet potatoes, then rub melted coconut oil over them and season with salt and pepper. The coconut oil will help your body better absorb the Vitamin A in the sweet potatoes.
  2. Wrap with foil and bake in oven for 45-60 minutes until soft all the way through.
  3. As potatoes are baking, heat a couple tablespoons of coconut oil in skillet. Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add peppers, apples and dried cranberries and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Add bacon and spinach last and cook and stir until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
  5. Once potatoes are done, slice them lengthwise. Use a fork to push down the middle a bit and spoon mixture into potatoes.
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The Easiest Salmon Recipe You’ll Ever Need

If you’re like me, then the two things you want most out of your dinner meal are: fast and healthy. We are encouraged to eat fish at least once a week. Salmon, in particular, is a pot of gold when it comes to the vital nutrients we need. The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon are great for eye health, brain health, and heart health, as well as reducing overall inflammation in the body. While the pre-cut fillets of salmon may be enticing since they are already perfectly portioned, you will often find that it is much cheaper to purchase the salmon whole and sliced by the pound.

Simple Dill Salmon
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Ingredients
  1. • Salmon (fresh preferred)
  2. • Mayonnaise (I prefer my homemade mayo or you can use a store-bought olive oil mayo variety)
  3. • Fresh dill, chopped
  4. • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450oF. Meanwhile, gently season salmon with a sprinkle of salt. Use a spatula to spread a thin layer of mayo over top of salmon. Complete recipe by adding an even layer of fresh dill on top.
  2. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Serve with your favorite healthy side dishes and enjoy!
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Caprese Avocado Salad

Some days, you just want a healthy meal that only takes seconds to prepare. That day for me was Saturday. This fresh salad was the perfect balance of healthy fats, protein and crunchy greens that my body needed that afternoon. Avocados and olive oil are some of the best fats to feed your body. Tomatoes and arugula are great sources of antioxidants, and the fresh mozzarella cheese is low in sodium and adds calcium and protein to the dish. My body requires more protein than others, so I added 2 hard-boiled eggs on the side. If you are not familiar with arugula, I highly recommend it. It has a distinct crispness that aids in the balance of textures from the soft mozzarella and avocado in the salad. The dressing is quite rich, so you only need a small amount for the flavor to go a long way!

Caprese Avocado Salad
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Ingredients
  1. For the Salad
  2. • Arugula
  3. • Fresh basil, about 2 leaves, cut into thin strips
  4. • Tomatoes (I used Campari tomatoes)
  5. • Fresh mozzarella (soft)
  6. • ½ small avocado, sliced
  7. For the Dressing
  8. • 1 tbsp olive oil
  9. • 1½ tsp balsamic vinegar
  10. • Pinch of sugar, salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Arrange salad ingredients to your liking. Remember there’s no textbook way to make a salad!
  2. Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl. The dressing is strong so I recommend dipping your fork in the dressing and sprinkling it over the salad versus pouring the dressing over the salad.
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Hawaiian Chicken Sausage Kabobs

Figge on Wheel Of Fortune

I have a confession. I am a Wheel of Fortune fanatic. You could even go as far as calling me an addict with a serious problem since I hardly miss an episode. I have lost count how many times I have applied to be on the show. My husband sometimes has to leave the room because I become so angry with the contestants’ letter guesses and lack of strategy. A thrilling part of the show is to watch the “prize puzzle” and witness what tropical location Pat Sajak will send off the winner of the puzzle to. It is my lifelong dream to be on the show and win that prize puzzle. Then, my husband and I could finally enjoy our tropical vacation to Hawaii. Since my patience is wearing thin for being accepted as a contestant on the show, I decided to bring Hawaii to our dinner table. Enjoy!

Hawaiian Chicken Sausage Kabobs
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
18 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
18 min
For the skewers
  1. • Pineapple chicken sausage (I purchased the nitrate-free kind from HyVee)
  2. • 1 fresh pineapple (cut into large chunks)
  3. • 1 8-12 oz package of whole mushrooms
  4. • 1 red bell pepper, cut into cubes
  5. • 1 green bell pepper, cut into cubes
  6. • ½ red onion, quartered
  7. • 10-15 wooden skewers (soaked in water for at least 15 minutes)
For the marinade
  1. • Juice of one 15-oz can of pineapple ( ½ - 1 cup of pineapple juice)
  2. • ½ cup coconut aminos (gluten-free alternative to soy sauce, also with less sodium)
  3. • ¼ cup olive oil
  4. • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  5. • 1 tsp garlic powder
  6. • 2 tsp ground ginger
  7. • 1 tsp dry mustard
  8. • ¼ tsp ground pepper
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan, combine all marinade ingredients and bring to a slight boil. Reduce to simmer, stir and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, chop all vegetables, chicken sausage and pineapple so that they are all similar in size. Place vegetables only in a large bowl. Set chicken sausage and pineapple to the side.
  3. Pour cooked marinade over vegetables and let sit for 30-60 minutes.
  4. Alternate veggies, chicken sausage and pineapple on soaked kabobs. Cook over medium-high heat on the grill for 8 minutes. Flip over and cook an additional 8 minutes or until slightly charred.
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Dietitian-Approved Shamrock Shake

Figge's Shake title

If we were talking about baseball, this shake would be a grand slam! This version is an exact replica of the McDonald’s version but it uses natural ingredients and packs in a lot of nutrition. The fact that this recipe uses avocados and spinach to get its green color (instead of food dyes) makes it a powerhouse for potassium, Vitamin K, folate, antioxidants and heart-healthy fats. The scoop of protein powder can even help this shake to serve as a great snack to share with someone or count as a quick meal on the go! This shake is perfect for:

  • kids who won’t eat green fruits or vegetables.
  • individuals needing to increase their protein intake.
  • picky eaters who lack a variety of nutrients in their diet.
  • anyone wanting a delicious and healthy treat.

Figge's shakeFigge’s Shamrock Shake

  • ½ cup fresh spinach
  • ¼ medium avocado or ½ small avocado
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • ½ cup light coconut milk (from the can)
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp pure peppermint extract
  • 1 packet of Stevia
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 ¼ cup ice*

Put all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend and enjoy!

*You can use more or less ice to create a thinner or thicker shake, if desired. Recipe makes about 16 ounces.

Nutritional facts: Calories: 289. Fat: 15 gm. Protein: 22 gm. Carb: 18 gm.

Thank you so much, Dietitian Cassie, for the inspiration for this recipe!