How to Make a Healthy Version of Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

It’s no secret that I love coffee. It is very rare that a morning goes by without me enjoying a cup or two. I also live in the coffee capital, the birthplace of Starbucks. They are on almost every corner & as you probably know, they are constantly launching new seasonal drinks. The lastest one that caught my eye was the vanilla sweet cream cold brew coffee.

my Starbucks version of the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew
my Starbucks version of the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

I usually order very ‘boring’ drinks. I get a black americano, iced coffee or cold brew. Last week I was in Starbucks between personal training clients at the gym and wanted something more than black coffee.  I decided to give the vanilla sweet cream cold brew a try. I asked for very light vanilla sweet cream. I just wanted a splash. Even with the light sweet cream, it was too sweet for me. As I sat there sipping on coffee, I realized that this drink could easily be ‘re-made’ in a healthier version to save on calories & sugar!

My healthy version!
My healthy version!

This healthy makeover also saves you some money & makes it a diary-free drink. I actually liked this healthy version much better than the Starbucks drink. Best part – it’s really easy!!How to make a healthy version of

Healthy Version Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

Ingredients

  • cold brew coffee concentrate
    • my favorites: Chameleon Cold Brew (available at Costco or Target) OR Trader Joe’s Cold Brew (my favorite is the new French Roast – blue label)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
    • my favorite:  Silk unsweetened Cashew Milk
  • vanilla flavored liquid stevia – try this one 
    • OR substitute 1 packet stevia + 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup ice (add more or less according to your preference)

Directions

  • Mix up cold brew according to directions. Usually they have to be slightly diluted with a little water.
  • Add in 1/4 cup of unsweetened cashew milk & a few drops of vanilla stevia OR 1 tsp vanilla extract & stevia to taste
  • Add ice 
  • ENJOY!!!

This makes a 16oz beverage. Increase amounts to 1/2 cup cashew milk,  1.5 tsp of vanilla extract and 3/4 cup of ice for a 20-24oz beverage. You can also play with amounts according to your taste preferences. IMG_5240

In the graphic below, compare the nutrition facts for my healthy version to Starbucks. No sugar in my version and only 12 calories! 

Starbucks Version

With this recipe you can enjoy a delicious coffee that doesn’t pack a ton of calories. Perfect for summer or to change up your daily coffee routine! 

Amphipod Hydraform: The First Handheld Bottle I Like!

Disclaimer: I received a Amphipod Handheld to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

If you have been reading my blog for sometime, you know that somehow I managed to survive half marathon training last summer without a good hydration strategy. I tried a hydration belt & didn’t like the bounce. I desperately wanted to use a handheld water bottle, but I didn’t like the feel for long distances. This winter, I found hydration packs, which I love; however sometimes you don’t need a pack, but you still want to bring water on your runs. Enter Amphipod Hydraform – the first handheld that I love! IMG_4868

Amphipod Hydraform

The Amphipod hydraform is the first handheld water bottle that I like to use. The other handheld water bottles that I tried were awkward and uncomfortable to carry and didn’t have any storage. The Amphipod bottles are ergonomically shaped, which makes it very comfortable to carry for short to long distances. The design allows it to fit better in your hand and the thumb/hand strap is very comfortable. You won’t get a hand cramp carrying this bottle! IMG_4903
 
The water bottle cover has a huge pocket that holds my iPhone 6 with enough room for keys, a snack & some tissue. I tried putting a iPhone 6 Plus in the pocket and it fit too! I love all the storage the bottle has. You can take this on your run and not have to bring anything else with you. I love that I can take this water bottle with me & leave my running belt at home. I stay hydrated & can carry all my running essentials. 

How I use it

I have taken this water bottle with me on short 3 mile runs, middle distance 5 to 7 mile runs, and I even ran a half marathon with it!

crossing finish at half marathon!
crossing finish at half marathon!
 
It was so pleasant to use during the half. I carried fuel, my phone, keys & Ultima (electrolyte powder) along with my ID and some cash. So convenient and easy! I was glad I had the handheld with me that race as there were not as many aid stations as I would have liked. IMG_4984

Why Iโ€™m in love! 

  •  Extremely comfortable to hold & run with
  • Insulated sleeve, keeps water colder longer
  • Huge, expandable pocket to hold phone and other running necessities 
  • Squeeze & squirt cap makes for easy drinking while running! No need to open or close the bottle to get a drink. 
  • Very easy to carry despite size & storage. Holds 20oz of H20!
  • BPA free bottle (no chemicals leaching into water)
  • Dishwasher safe for easy cleaning
  • Wide opening on bottle for easy filling + adding ice
  • Lots of storage!
  • BONUS: they are made in Seattle!!!

Hands down, this is the best handheld water bottle I have ever used. There is enough room for storage & plenty of water. IMG_5086

Where to Buy

Amphipod makes several different sizes of handheld water bottles. The one that I have is the Hydraform Ergo-Lite Ultra. It holds 20oz of water and has the extra large pocket. They also make a 16oz bottle – the pocket is still supposed to be able to hold a iPhone 6. 

IMG_4940
super easy and comfy grip!

They have plenty of other water bottle options available on their website as well. Check them out HERE or use the store locator to find them at a running store near you!

Friday Feels: Nerves + Playlist for My First Marathon

My first marathon is tomorrow. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t freaking out a little bit.  Today I am sharing with you my playlist I use while running! Music can make or break a run. Before, I could not fathom running without music. Now I can run without it, but I rarely do as it definitely adds some extra mojo and fun to the runs.marathon playlist

As you will see from this playlist, I love to run to mostly upbeat music. There is a mix of top 40 hits as well as a few old school jams in the mix. Music makes any workout, including a run, more fun! You can run to the beat, zone out and enjoy the song, or head bang and lip sync while you run. (yes I have done that!!) 

We all have experienced how music can instantly improve our mood or take a workout to the next level. In my playlist, I like to have a good mix of ‘fast songs’ that inspire me to run faster as well as some good tunes to make the run fun. 12c3e22b57bf46e7139d1c9ade584c2b

This playlist is what I will be listening to during the marathon tomorrow. You may notice this is not a 4 hour playlist haha. I plan to just cycling thru these songs. On long training runs or in half marathons, I normally listen to a Pandora station. However, tomorrow I feel that there are so many unknowns that I want to be able to count on my music. 

I'm coming for your Seattle!
I’m coming for your Seattle!

Marathon Playlist

Click the song to view on iTunes. Or use the search below to find your favorites! 

Or search iTunes for your fav song(s)!

 

What songs would you add to this list? 

This afternoon I’m heading to Seattle to the Rock N Roll Expo to get my bib, have some expo fun & see all my running friends at the We Run Social Meet Up. I cannot wait!  FullSizeRender

I feel both nervous and excited for tomorrow. I am really familiar with 13.1 miles, I kinda know what to expect for 20 miles, but the last 6.2 miles is unknown territory. I know I will finish, I just am not 100% sure how I am going to get there. b6a61c52def53b113b7830901a446254

Follow along for all the marathon & race day fun on Instagram (@sweetblondesfitlife) and Snapchat (@sweetblondefit)!! 

How I Eat Healthy Even With a Crazy Schedule

Disclaimer: I received Luvo meals to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

My schedule has been CRAZY lately. I am not the kind of person that prides themselves on being busy. However, there are seasons of hustle, and right now is one of them. Between training clients at the gym, working with online training clients, prepping to teach stand up paddle board classes this summer (more on that later), working some events for Quest & training for the marathon this weekend… life has been crazy! 

I am ready for it to settle down a bit. The good news is, I really enjoy all the things I’m doing, so while things get hectic at times, it’s fun. One thing that can be challenging whether you are training for a marathon/half marathon or juggling a busy schedule at work is healthy eating and good nutrition. When you are pressed for time, cooking and preparing a healthy meal can easily fall to the bottom of the list. luvo #2

One thing that works very well is preparing a bunch of food ahead of time – meal prep style. Cook a bunch of chicken breasts, bake some fish, make some quinoa & steam veggies. Then you throw it on a plate & warm it up for a quick meal. I love doing that, it makes lunch and dinner a breeze. However, I know that sometimes it is hard to find the time to prep food ahead of time. My back up plan for those types of situations is Luvo frozen mealsIMG_4747Luvo has literally saved me this last week! I have been able to maintain my nutrition and marathon training even during one of my busiest weeks. All I have to do is open the freezer & I have dinner! 

Not only are they delicious, they are also the healthiest frozen meal I have ever found. Many of them have at least 20g of protein & everything is cooked/steamed in a pouch. These do not taste like a frozen meal! When you transfer it from the pouch to your plate, it looks like a professionally plated meal. Who doesn’t love eating beautiful food?! 

IMG_2592Most of the meals take 5-6 minutes to cook. 5 microwave minutes can feel like an eternity when you are hungry haha! Unless I have ‘meal prepped’ some, I cannot make dinner in 5 minutes. With Luvo, you have a quick and healthy meal that you didn’t have to prep. Such a lifesaver! What more can you ask for? 

I loved this tandoori chicken! It was spicy but oh so good!
I loved this tandoori chicken! It was spicy but oh so good!

I always have a few of these in my freezer so when life is crazy by choice or because of something that is out of my control, I know I can maintain my healthy eating habits. These are also great to curb post run ‘hanger’!! Just pop it in the microwave and within 6 minutes you are chowing down on a gourmet meal. 

Due to my allergy, all the entrees I tried are gluten free, however not all Luvo meals are. The gluten free ones are clearly labeled on the box, so be sure to check for that if you have an allergy.

Chicken Chili Verde is my all time favorite!
Chicken Chili Verde is my all time favorite!

There can be some shady things in the frozen aisle, but Luvo is in a league of it’s own. They use real, quality ingredients, don’t add preservatives or anything fake, and focus on making nutritious meals. Use the store finder to see where you can find Luvo meals near you.IMG_5043

Luvo is a stand up company that makes delicious food with great nutrition. Since I have had the chance to work with them, I have seen what an amazing company they are. They care about where food comes from and won’t sacrifice quality or do anything that harms the environment. I love it when I find a company like Luvo that you feel good supporting and they make amazing products!IMG_4744

That time I decided to run a marathon…

This Saturday, I am running my first FULL marathon. 26.2 miles. This was not a last minute decision, I have been planning on doing this for some time. If you follow me on social media, you have noticed I’ve been running longer distances and more days a week. I have mentioned it a few times, but I never really formally announced it. I’m not sure why I wasn’t shouting it from the rooftops. I am excited about it, but I think I avoiding announcing it because I was worried that I might not succeed. I wanted to see how the training went before making it official. I also wanted to keep in mind the real reason I am running this race. I’m doing this for myself, not for anyone else. I am all for sharing goals on social media & using it for accountability, but I also think that sometimes it can lead to forgetting why you are doing something. So, it’s official – on Saturday we RUN! 

IMG_4237.JPG
I am going to attempt another finish line photo like this on Saturday!

Why Run a Marathon?

I wanted to run a marathon to prove to myself that I CAN run a marathon. I wanted to challenge myself. I had gotten really comfortable with the half marathon distance, and decided that 2016 was going to be the year a ran a marathon. I may not run another full marathon after this, but I need to at least try it and see how it goes. IMG_4315

Which Race?

The marathon is this coming weekend, 26.2 miles of rockin’ miles at Rock N Roll Seattle. I choose Seattle for a few reasons. First, I think it would be extra awesome to run my first whole marathon in Seattle. Second, I will be running this race with a TON of my friends.  Lots of them are running the half marathon, but running with amigos makes the experience that much better. Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.30.36 PM

How is Training Going?

Training has been going okay! There have been a lot of fun races and a few grueling training runs along the way. Honestly, the long runs are what I was dreading the most. The thought of running anything over 15 miles is intimidating, but they have not been that bad. The worst part about them is how time consuming they are. In half marathon training the most you run on a weekend is 10 miles. Taking 2-3 hours to run on a weekend can be harder to schedule than you might think. 

IMG_4432
9 miles on a weeknight!

Unfortunately I have skipped a few runs along the way due to trips or other plans. I tried to prioritize running as much as I could. I feel like I’m going into this marathon prepared enough to finish, but not prepared enough to run it strong the whole way. I feel okay about it, but I know I could be more prepared. 

IMG_5046

If I run another marathon, I want to find a plan that allows for more cross training and other workouts besides running. I do love to run, but lately I feel like that is ALL I have been doing. I like more variety in my training, it feels more well rounded & my body is happy. Don’t get me wrong, I love to run and have enjoyed this marathon training journey, but I’m ready to run a little bit less and have more time for the other workouts that I love. 

Race Day Goals

I have two goals for race day. The first goal, which I am 99.9% sure is going to happen, is to finish the marathon. I feel ready to do this! The second goal, which I am less confident about, is to finish in 4 hours and 30 minutes. I am not sure that I’ll be able to maintain that pace, we will see how things go on race day. 

IMG_4748
my 20 miler! more stormy than I would have liked but it turned out just fine

Running predictions are tricky; so many factors go into how things pan out on race day. When I did my 20 mile training run, I took plenty of walking breaks and maintained about a 10 minute pace per mile. My legs felt like they were going to fall off at the end, but overall it wasn’t so bad. However, this last weekend, by the end of the half marathon I couldn’t imagine running 13.1 more miles. 

So, honestly I have no idea how things are going to go on race day. All I know is I’m nervous, excited and ready to ROCK! This week I will be sharing more about the marathon, like some must have accessories and the playlist I plan to use. Stay tuned for those posts & let’s connect on social media as I’ll be posting updates there first!

 Twitter // Instagram // Facebook

The countdown is on… 4 days!!!

rock n blog red

Want to join me at a future Rock N Roll race! Use code SWEETBLONDEFIT to save $15 on registration! 

How to Make My Favorite Breakfast: Protein Pancakes

Y’all know that my favorite meal of the day is breakfast. I look forward to it the night before; I love breakfast food! Pancakes are one of my all time favorite things to eat for breakfast, or any time of day, especially protein pancakes. You will find that these protein pancakes are easy to whip up on a morning when you have more time and are great to make ahead of time for the week – meal prep style. IMG_4929

When I found Natural Citizen products on Twitter, I instantly wanted to try them. They are a company that believes in quality ingredients and giving back – two things that I’m all about too. They were kind enough to let me try their Organic Digest ‘smoothie booster’. While it’s called a smoothie booster, you can use it to boost baked goods too like I did here. I have also tried it in smoothies and it makes them super smooth & delicious. IMG_4926

As you may be able to tell from the name, this ‘booster’ helps support digestion and keeps things ‘regular’. I love that it tastes good and that it does its job in a gentle way – if you get my drift ๐Ÿ˜‰ Be sure to check their products out! I highly recommend PLUS you can save $10 on your order with code SWEETBLONDE ๐Ÿ˜€ You can buy with confidence as they guarantee their products, so if you don’t love it, they will give you your money back. IMG_4924

You can jazz these pancakes up however you want. I love to throw frozen blueberries into the batter or top with some fruit. They are packed with protein and make a great breakfast. My favorite time to eat this is post long run with a cup of coffee! IMG_4927

One more thing – you can use any kind of protein powder in the recipe. I have tried several different ones and my favorite is Quest Protein as it bakes really well. If you are looking for a plant based protein powder, use the Natural Citizen proteinIMG_4933

Organic Digest Protein Pancakes
delicious, protein packed pancakes!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Dry Ingredients
  1. 1 scoop protein powder
  2. 1/2 cup gluten free oats
  3. 2T flax seed meal (ground flax seed)
  4. dash of cinnamon
  5. 1 scoop Natural Citizen Organic Digest powder
Wet Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  2. 2.5 egg whites (about 8 Tablespoons)
Instructions
  1. Blend all of the dry ingredients. (I used my NutriBullet)
  2. Transfer dry mixture to a bowl.
  3. Stir in liquid ingredients.
  4. Spray skillet lightly with coconut oil & cook in skillet like pancakes!
  5. It makes ~4-6 pancakes, sometimes more, depending on size of pancakes you make.
A Sweet Blonde & Her Fit Life http://sweetblondesfitlife.com/

North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon [Race Recap]

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the North Olympic Discovery Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
NorthOlympicDiscovery Half thatmakesmyday
As I have mentioned before, June is a super busy race month for me. The North Olympic Discovery half marathon kicked everything off with a bang. The race takes place in Port Angeles, WA which is about a 2.5-3 hour drive from Seattle. I had a busy weekend with a baby shower and tickets to a soccer game on Saturday, so originally I thought I would drive over on Saturday night. I procrastinated on getting a hotel, and then looked into the drive times and found out that in the early morning it only takes about 2 hours to get there. So I decided to wake up (5:30am) and drive over on race morning. I was really looking forward to this race, and it did not disappoint!! 

the start line

north olympic discovery marathon
start area

This course is a point to point, so you do not start at the finish line. They had options to park at start or park and finish and get shuttled to the start line. I choose the latter. Since we arrived race morning, I did not get to attend the race expo. Bibs would be available for pick up at the corresponding start line. I arrived at the half marathon start and got my bib with zero problems. If you picked up your bib on race day, they gave you your shirt at the finish line. I loved that because then you didn’t have to find a place to stow your shirt while running! 

they even brought in a flag!
they even brought in a flag!
I ran into Emily, a fellow BibRave Pro, and we chatted it up before the half started. It was so great to meet her! Check out her recap here.
There were no corrals or waves with this race, however there were pacers so you could line up with them if you wished. 

me and the beautiful azsungoddess, aka - Emily!
me and the beautiful azsungoddess, aka – Emily!

the race 

I was very excited about this course, and it did not disappoint. You run along the North Olympic Discovery Trail (hence the name of the race) which is beautiful! Despite it being a trail and the race not having corrals, there was no congestion on the course. Because it is point to point, the organizers have worked it out perfectly so that everyone has enough room from the marathoners to the 5K runners.
IMG_4824
this was the most crowded it got
The trail is very scenic and beautiful to run on. It is paved, so you get the feel of a trail run with the surroundings, but not the terrain. You run past fields, over bridges and thru forests.
IMG_4866IMG_4828
You get views of the mountains and then of the water. It is so beautiful, it really lives up to it’s reputation!  
this award was well deserved
this award is well deserved
I looked at the elevation chart and knew there would be some hills, but I have to say I was not expecting them to be so intense. They are fairly steep which is good news and bad news. Good news because they are over quickly, bad news because they are so steep! 
IMG_4829
Sunday was also an uncharacteristically hot day in Washington. When we started the race at 8:30am, it was already in the 60s. While I was on the course it said it was 70, but it felt hotter. The temps just kept going up. Thankfully there was a lot of shade on the course and breezes along the way, but the heat made the hills more difficult and slowed my pace down.

IMG_4833
such a sweaty running selfie!
Thankfully they were prepared and had plenty of COLD water along the course. They even had some damp towels and people with spray bottles so you could cool off.  The aid stations were the best of any race I have run. Each had a theme and very enthusiastic volunteers. My favorites were the Star Wars stations. It made  for a lot of fun along the course and a few great photo opps. I had never seen this done at a race before & I loved it! 

guys, I found Chewy & the droids!
guys, I found Chewy & the droids!

IMG_4826

Despite the heat and the hills, I really enjoyed the course. There was tons of community support & spectators. The scenery was beautiful and the race organizers paid a ton of attention to details. Great aid stations, each mile was clearly marked, sidewalk chalk enragement on the pavement & plenty of port-a-potties!IMG_4834

about the cross the finish, enjoying the view!
about the cross the finish, enjoying the view! 

finish line

 Crossing the finish line was so glorious. The ocean was to my right and the smell of salt water was in the air.IMG_4862 I got my medal and had my own personal volunteer that escorted me to get water, asked if I needed medical attention and then direct me to the post race snacks. At first I thought I was in way which is why they were escorting me around, like “let’s get this girl moving” (haha) but it turns out they do it for everyone that crosses the finish line. How cool is that!? Anything you need, they will get for you. Took me a minute to figure that out while I was catching my breath haha. It was very nice, like finish line valet! 

more races need a foam rolling zone
more races need a foam rolling zone
Now onto the post race snacks…. OMG YOU GUYS – they had a full on buffet. I didn’t have enough hands for what was about to come at me!!! There was tons of cut fruit, muffins, croissants, chips and salsa, yogurt parfaits, yogurt, warm soup, NUTELLA, popsicles and tons of beverages. They had lemonade, coffee, iced tea, water bottles, vitamin water & chocolate milk. I was so thankful as I was hungry and it helped replenish after the 13 miles. IMG_4844 IMG_4845 IMG_4846
 
One last thing… 
The age group awards for this race are BEAUTIFUL. How do I know? There were awards for the top 3 in each age group for each distance. While I didn’t do horrible in my age group, I didn’t place in the top 3. However, Andy did!!! (go figure) He ran the 5K and finished 6th overall and first in his age group. I honestly don’t know how the guy does it. I super super proud of him, but can’t help but be a lil jealous. 

IMG_4841
most beautiful race award I’ve ever seen

Run it OR Skip it?

RUN IT! Well organized. BEAUTIFUL course. Finish line buffet. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Great swag. PNW gorgeous-ness. Just a short trip from Seattle. What else could you ask for? Definitely a must run race. IMG_4857