#MondayMotivation: Protein Power

I’ll be the first to admit that I am the QUEEN of yo yo dieting and go through stretches of being a workout warrior to being a strong supporter of the Netflix and Chill movement.

Recently I have been making a lot of healthier eating and lifestyle choices.  I ran my first 5k last year and this year I have already run two!  Next up, is my very first sprint triathalon in August!

With all this training, I have been doing my best to incorporate mindful eating habits into my daily life.  It’s still summer and yes I drink alcohol and have “bad” carbs sometimes, but life is about balance.  Eating hard boiled eggs and cottage cheese gets kind of old, so for anyone else looking to stay on track that needs some power protein finds, here ya go!  Here’s some of of my favorite go-to cleaner eating super powered foodie finds!

RXBar: Protein Bar, Coffee Chocolate (Box of 12 Bars/$25.99 at RXBar.com)
Nutrition Facts: 210 calories +12 grams of protein per bar; No Added Sugar, No GMO, Dairy Free, Soy FreeGluten Free, Paleo Friendly, Vegetarian Friendly
I recently discovered this amazing CLEAN eating protein bar brand.  RXBar’s motto is NO BS, and their bars are made with all natural ingredients like nuts, dates and egg whites.  What I like is that it doesn’t make your stomach do the crazy dance from all the chemicals that are present in most protein bars.  They come in 8 different flavors including this Coffee Chocolate made with REAL coffee for that extra boost of energy in your day!

PS: Use this link and get $5 off your first purchase of RXBars!

Think Jerky: Free Range Turkey Jerky, Siracha Honey (5 Pack of Bags/$24.95 at ThinkJerky.com)
Nutrition Facts: 90 calories + 17 grams of protein per bag; Grass Fed, Gluten Free, No Added Antibiotics, No Nitrites, No added hormones, Paleo Friendly
Jerky is becoming a thing… but not all jerky is created equal.  Think Jerky is like Jerky with a conscience.  It’s also kind of a foodie thing, because all of their recipes are created by well-known chefs!  I love the Siracha Honey Turkey Jerky, because it satisfies that need for a protein rich snack that’s got some pazzazz with that siracha spice.  The other flavors like Sweet Chipotle and Orange Ginger are beef instead of turkey jerky.  And of course, the Thanksgiving flavor is a turkey jerky, because yummo!

Halo Top: Ice Cream, Birthday Cake (Pint/Prices vary, Find a store near you at HaloTop.com)
Nutrition Facts: 70 calories +6 grams of protein per 1/2 cup; 280 calories + 24 grams of protein per pint; Low Calorie, Low Sugar, High Protein
Ice cream?  Healthy?  OH yessss.  So when you get the hankering for a sweet treat think twice before you reach for the generic brands, because you can treat yo’ self the healthy way!  Some of the more popular brands of ice cream like B&J’s or HD’s* packs 250 calories in a half cup serving alone.  By the time you’ve eaten the whole pint you’ve consumed over 3/4 of what you should eat for the whole day!  YIKES!  Halo Top comes in seven fun flavors including Birthday Cake!  If you’re PMSing, stressed or you’ve just plain had it with life, you can feel slightly less guilty about indulging in a whole pint of Halo Top, because it’ll only set you back 240 to 280 calories depending on your flavor choice.  Of course, you can also use restraint and have one serving which is a great less than 100 calorie treat!

*I won’t mention any ice cream brands, because I do love them!  But today’s post is about the healthy alternatives:) 

Mikey’s Muffins: English Muffins, Toasted Onion (Prices Vary, Find a store near you at www.MikeysMuffins.com)
Nutrition Facts: 103 Calories + 5 grams of protein per muffin; Paleo Friendly, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Grain Free. 
A few years ago a Dr. told me that I am “gluten-sensitive” so I’m not intolerant, but I know my body and when I indulge in tons of carby-gluten-filled foods it’s not good for me.  That said, I do still have gluten and carbs when I want, because life’s too short:-)  When I am seriously hankering from some toast or having a carbie barbie moment I discovered these paleo diet english muffins.  Not only are they grain free, they have way fewer calories than traditional English muffins!  There are three varieties: Original, Toasted Onion and Cinnamon Raisin.  I love using the Toasted Onion to make avocado toast with, because sometimes you just want avo toast at home and not just for the overpriced hype of being a #BasicBitch at brunch.

Thorne Research: Medipro Vegan All-In-One Shake Vanilla (44.6 oz/$69.00 at Amazon.com)
This is sooo not glamorous or cool sounding, but when it comes to protein powder it’s kind of okay to not be glammed out.  There’s so many fad diet powders and supplements out there that I trust this brand, because it’s actually been created by medical professionals. I have done my own tests and found this to have the most health benefits, protein power and yes, it even tastes great!  Mix this up with almond milk, spinach, banana and ice with a pinch of cinnamon and you’d swear you were drinkin’ a milk shake.  Okay maybe not quite, but seriously!  It’s so good and I drink it every morning during the work week.

What are some of your favorite protein powered foodie finds? Comment below, hit me up at NorthandRed@gmail.com, or on social media.

M - Signature - Meghan Phillipp - North and Red

Starbucks Holiday Drinks: Decoded

If you’re like most people, your official healthy eating plan won’t be in affect till January.  With all the tempting holiday treats, I thought it’d be helpful to share some ordering tips for when you’re craving more than a dark roast coffee at Starbucks.

1. Size Matters.

From the right: sample, short (8 oz), tall (12 oz), grande (16 oz), venti (20 oz).

Starbucks employees are always happy to help you translate the size of your drink.  When picking a size, I’m going to suggest thinking about how to order in ounces.  If you were to have a can of soda, you’d have a 12 oz can, which translates to a tall in Starbucks lingo.  I’m sure you’re thinking, but I want more caffeine which is why I order a larger size.  Depending on the size you order, there may not actually be more caffeine. Here’s the breakdown of how much coffee is actually in your latte.

How many shots of espresso are in your latte?

Size Espress Shots
Short: 8 oz. 1
Tall: 12 oz. 1
Grande: 16 oz. 2
Venti: 20 oz. 2
*Iced Venti: 24 oz. 3

Please note: Iced Venti drinks have more shots, because the cup is larger, and ice dilutes the drink.

When you order a Venti Gingerbread Latte (GBL) with 2%, it’s 400 calories.  If you order the same drink as a Grande it’s 330 calories, which means you’re saving 70 calories but still getting the same amount of caffeine/coffee from two shots of espresso.

If you’re in need of a coffee boost, try ordering an extra shot of espresso, which adds more caffeine and coffee flavor to your drink without the added milk and sugar calories.  Try a triple grande (adds one shot to a grande size) or double tall (adds one shot to a tall size) and see if it gives you the boost you need!

2. Customize with milk.

photo cred: link

Did you know that the default at Starbucks is to make your drink with 2%?  If you prefer dairy, try nonfat instead of 2%.  A Grande Chestnut Praline Latte (CPL) made with 2% milk is 330 calories, but if you swap your milk for nonfat you save 50 calories. They offer soy and coconut milk as non dairy options, but if you’re looking for the lower cal version, go with coconut.  It’ll save you 40 calories in a Grande CPL if you go with coconut milk over soy.

In the end, milk is a preference and you should choose based on taste, nutrition, and dietary needs.  Besides, all the good stuff can be had in moderation.  So maybe you have nonfat or coconut milk holiday latte Monday-Friday, but on the weekends you order yourself that whole milk latte you crave.

3. With whip or no whip? That is the question.

photo cred: link

Whip cream comes automatically on most holiday beverages, which means an additional 80 calories is added to your drink no matter what size or milk you choose.

If you can’t live with out it, tell your barista to go easy on the whip (cuts it down to approx. 40-50 calories per serving) or just eliminate the whip (saving you 80-100 calories per serving). This is especially true if you order a holiday latte drink every day.  Save your whipped cream topped days for Mondays as a reward for getting to work on time, or as a treat for getting through the week on Fridays.

If you think about those added calories on a daily basis for 5 days, that’s an additional 400 calories for the week.  Those are calories you want to save for the inevitable holiday drinks you’ll have at the office happy hour!

4. Choose your holiday flavor!

Peppermint Mocha (PM)
What a treat! It’s like a Peppermint Patty in a cup!  But, how about all that sugar?  Most of the time, you’re drinking a Starbucks drink in the morning or as a pick me up in the afternoon, so you don’t want to crash the same way you would after a candy bar, right?  The peppermint mocha recipe is different than other drinks at Starbucks, because it’s made with two different flavor syrups–peppermint syrup and mocha syrup. In a tall peppermint mocha there’s 3 pumps of peppermint AND 3 pumps of mocha.  In other tall drinks there’s only 3 pumps of one flavor syrup.  Here’s my suggested amounts for reducing your sugar intake if you choose to order a PM (or WPM–Pepperimint White Mocha).  This way you can enjoy the flavor without as much guilt or the inevitable crash from all the sugar.

Size Starbucks  Measurements for the Peppermint Mocha Recipe My suggestion to have less sugar and calories
Short 2 Pumps Peppermint,
2 Pumps Mocha
1 Pump Peppermint,
1 Pump Mocha
Tall 3 Pumps Peppermint,
3 Pumps Mocha

2 Pumps Peppermint,
1 Pump Mocha

Grande 4 Pumps Peppermint,
4 Pumps Mocha
2 Pumps Peppermint,
2 Pumps Mocha
Venti 5 Pumps Peppermint,
5 Pumps Mocha
2 Pumps Peppermint,
2 Pumps Mocha

Please note: You can always reduce or add pumps to change it up.  ie: more pumps of peppermint if you like it more minty or less pumps of mocha to save more calories. 


Caramel Brulée Latte (CBL)
Inspired by creme brulée, Starbucks has managed to create a drink to taste much like the french dessert. The CBL is made with a sauce and not a syrup, making it a bit more rich in flavor and ultimately more sugar too.  So to curve the calorie intake, but get the flavor, try ordering it with only one or two pumps.  Consider skipping the whip cream or going easy on this one, because it’s already sweet.


Chestnut Praline Latte (CPL)
This nutty, roasty, toasty drink is in it’s second year on the roster of holiday faves at Starbucks.  What’s great about the CPL is that it’s one of the most low cal holiday drinks you can order, because it’s made with a syrup–Starbucks Chestnut Praline syrup. There’s still a good amount sugar in this drink with approximately 12 grams per pump. A Tall CPL has 3 pumps, but if you request only 1 pump you save calories and eliminate 26 grams of sugar.  There’s less sugar, less calories, but you can still enjoy the nutty holiday flavor!


Here’s a few more recipe combinations for healthier-ish holiday beverages! 


Ginger Bread Latte (GBL) Try it iced!  Perfect for when global warming kicks in for a few days!  This version is approximately 140 calories and vegan (made with soy milk)!  I like using soy as a base for iced drinks, because the soy milk Starbucks uses is vanilla flavored, so it’s already naturally sweet and you don’t need a lot of added sugar.

Iced Grande 1 pump Gingerbread Soy No Whip GBL

Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) 
Pumpkin is not just for fall, but a holiday drink for Thanksgiving and all season long! For an afternoon indulgence try a short (8 oz.) PSL for approximately 180 calories and indulge in that whip cream while you’re at it:)

Hot Short 1 Pump Pumpkin Spice 2% Milk W/ Whip PSL

Peppermint White Hot Chocolate (PWHC) 
You can order decaf for any latte drinks, but any of Starbucks mochas and white mochas can be coffee free and made as a hot chocolate.  If you’ve got a real sweet tooth, but want to curve your sugar intake try this lighter version of the Peppermint White Hot Chocolate with approximately 170 calories. 

Hot Tall 1 Pump White Mocha, 
1 Pump Peppermint,
No Vanilla
Nonfat No Whip PWHC

Note: Have your barista prepare your White Hot Chocolate drinks with no vanilla, because the White Mocha sauce used is much sweeter than the regular mocha sauce when ordering Starbucks traditional Hot Chocolate.

Egg Nog Latte (ENL) 
I’m not going to sugar coat anything about the ENL, it’s probably the worst thing you could possibly have as far as calories and fat in a drink at Starbucks.  However, as all drinks and eats this holiday season go… everything in moderation.

If you order a Grande ENL (default is with 2%) it’ll set you back 470 calories.  That’s practically a meal!  Let’s get real with your craving for egg nog by satisfying your thirst with a short nonfat version for 230 calories.  That’s a little more than half the calories and fat.  Takes you down from 20 grams of fat to 9 grams, while packing in 8 grams of protein!

Hot Short N/A Nonfat N/A ENL

Christmas Blend Brewed Coffee (BC)
Are you feeling overwhelmed by all this latte talk?  Are you just a coffee kinda gal or guy?  Feeling a bit bored with your Christmas Blend coffee?   Maybe adding a couple of pumps of gingerbread instead of your usual white sugar could give your holiday coffee a little pizazz!  Let’s go for it with a Venti coffee, add 2 pumps of gingerbread and a little half and half and you’re still gettin’ out of there under 100 calories and big holiday flavors!

Hot Venti 2 pumps Gingerbread 1 Ounce of Half & Half Xmas Blend BC

Joy Tea
If you’re not into any concoctions and just want to get straight to the good stuff, Joy Tea is one of my favorite limited edition teas from Starbucks.  This tea is blended with Black tea, jasmine green tea and oolong tea for a festive blend that is bold enough to stand on it’s own with no milk or sugar.  Although adding a little honey for those days you’re feeling a little under the weather is always a great idea!  Joy Tea calorie count without honey is 5 and with honey it’s 90.

Hot Grande N/A N/A 2 packets of honey Joy Tea

There’s so many versions of holiday drinks from Starbucks, I could go on for days.  If you need help or want to chat more about what to order at Starbucks, feel free to comment or drop me a line at NorthandRed@gmail.com. I like to think of myself as the Holiday Barista Whisperer!  Cheers!


Photos were all courtesy of Starbucks.com unless otherwise noted.

Please note: I am not a certified dietitian, I recommend consulting your doctor for any additional questions about any dietary restrictions you may have.  Sources I used to figure out calories, sugars and other nutritional information are:
Calorie Counter
My Fitness Pal
Spark People 

As a reminder, all opinions expressed in this post are my own and no content was sponsored.  I just LOVE Starbucks Holiday drinks and wanted to share!