Category Archives: How-to …

How to Choose the Best Sunscreen

Remember Magda from There’s Something About Mary? Yeah, I’m thinking she could have used a bit (or a boatload) of sunscreen . . . .

Summer is here, which means hot, sunny, sticky days (if you’re on the East Coast, that is. In Vancouver? We’re getting there . . .). But even if your summer is clouded by rain and grey skies, ultraviolet (UV) rays are still in force; in fact, up to 80 percent of UV rays bypass clouds. That’s why it’s vital to wear sunscreen every day (yes, all 365), to help prevent skin cancer and ward off wrinkles. The problem? Navigating the sunscreen aisle practically requires a PhD: so many choices, so many claims. Since my skin is fair (my family calls me Casper, if that’s any indication) and super sensitive, and I love to be outdoors, I am serious about sunscreen use. As such, I’ve made it a priority to learn the lingo and decode the labels—no easy feat!

Armed with the criteria below, you can head to the drugstore with confidence—and play safe in the sun (or lack of it!) year round.

Top 3 Tips to Choosing Sunscreen

Tip #1: Choose sunscreen labelled broad spectrum.

Products labelled broad spectrum contain active ingredients (see Tip #3) that protect against UVA rays (which increase skin cancer risk and premature aging but don’t cause burning) and UVB rays (which increase skin cancer risk and cause sunburn). So even if you aren’t prone to sunburn, it’s important to choose broad spectrum sunscreen. Given that skin cancer is the most common cancer among Canadians (81,300 new cases of nonmelanoma skin cancers are expected in 2012, and 5,500 cases of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, were diagnosed in 2011), UVs are no joke. Wrinkly, spotty skin is no fun, either: experts say 90 percent of skin aging (bye, collagen and elastin; hello, lines and sagging) is from UV radiation.

Tip #2: Pick products labelled SPF 30 (or higher).

SPF stands for sun protection factor. The number next to the SPF (e.g., SPF 15, SPF 30) indicates the product’s effectiveness at blocking UVB rays and preventing sunburn (there is no protection rating for UVA rays). So, if your skin normally becomes red in 10 minutes in the sun, an SPF of 30 would offer 30 times that protection, meaning you could theoretically be in the sun for 300 minutes without burning.

Keep in mind that no sunscreen blocks 100 percent of UV rays (SPF 30 blocks 97 percent, SPF 15 blocks 93 percent and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent), if they’re adequately applied in the first place: studies show most people apply less than half the amount needed to reach the listed SPF. And note that all sunscreens wear off, so reapply frequently (ideally every two hours) and avoid prolonged sun exposure, especially between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest. (Check the daily UV forecast for your city—above 5 is high.)

Tip #3: Opt for mineral sunscreens, if possible. 

Chemical sunscreens, such as those with avobenzone (Parsol 1789), oxybenzone, ecamsule (Mexoryl SX), salicylates, cinnamates or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), work by absorbing UV rays, thereby reducing UV penetration. Mineral sunscreens, which contain the minerals titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, reflect rays away from the skin. I find the latter, often called physical blocks, less irritating and more effective (studies show several chemical ingredients, such as PABA and oxybenzone, may actually cause sun sensitivity and allergic reactions). Plus, both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide offer UVA and UVB protection, unlike chemical ingredients. Moreover, I’d rather not put chemicals on my skin (which then get absorbed into the body). The only downside to physical blocks is the whitish “glow” they cast on skin (on second thought, maybe that’s why my family calls me Casper . . .), though newer formulations, particularly those labelled micronized, are more absorbent and clear.

My favourite sunscreen is Isa Sunguard, an SPF 30 mineral sunscreen suitable for ultra sensitive skin. It has no chemicals, parabens, lanolin, dyes or fragrance. Light and thin, it spreads and absorbs really well, with no white tint. It also contains green tea extract, which has been shown to protect against UV damage. (Interested in ordering? Email me for details.) It’s affordable, too–a 4-ounce tube is $20. (Just think of the cash you’ll save on Botox!)

Sunscreen Dos and Don’ts

  • Don’t skimp: use about two tablespoons to cover all exposed areas, including ears, hands, feet and lips.
  • Apply to dry skin at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors.
  • Even if a sunscreen is labelled water resistant (sunscreens can no longer be labelled waterproof), reapply after swimming, towel drying or heavy sweating.
  • Driving or flying? Slather it on! UV rays can penetrate glass, and solar radiation is more intense in flight (studies show pilots are at increased risk of skin cancer).
  • Note the expiry date: sunscreens’ active ingredients lose effectiveness over time. Store in a cool, dry place to ensure maximum efficacy.
  • To know the safety of your sunscreen, head to Skin Deep, Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic and skin care database.
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Grammar Girl: Three Tips to Better Writing

Although I love writing about health and nutrition, I have lots of other interests, grammar among them. This is expected, considering my job, but even if your writing consists of Facebook updates only, it’s still important to write well. That said, between texting and tweeting (oh, the verbs of the digital age . . .), it’s easy to forget (or even learn) grammar rules. I myself took a refresher course last year, and I’ve since become slightly grammar obsessed—I now notice errors everywhere, such as in ad copy, blog content, magazine articles and even media releases penned by “communications professionals.”

I often see the following grammar (and usage) faux pas, which are personal pet peeves (though I was once guilty of them, too!). The good news? A few tweaks are likely all it takes to transform your writing from sloppy to superb . . . in 140 characters or less.

Top 3 Grammar Gaffes

Gaffe #1: The Comma Splice 

When you use a comma (and only a comma) to separate what could be two sentences, it is a comma splice. For example: 

To separate the clauses correctly, insert a comma plus a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) OR a semi-colon OR a period. For example:

  • My coco-chia balls are a healthy sweet snack, and my protein bars are tasty and nutritious, too. (Comma + Coordinating Conjunction)
  • My coco-chia balls are a healthy sweet snack; my protein bars are tasty and nutritious, too. (Semi-colon)
  • My coco-chia balls are a healthy sweet snack. My protein bars are tasty and nutritious, too. (Period)

Tip: Use a semi-colon to link two closely related ideas, making sure each clause could be a sentence on its own. For example, the following sentence should take a period rather than a semi-colon as the two clauses aren’t really related. 

  • My coco-chia balls are a healthy sweet snack; kale is a superfood. (Not great)
  • My coco-chia balls are a healthy sweet snack. Kale is a superfood. (Best)

Gaffe #2: Jargon

Mignon Fogarty, the original Grammar Girl, refers to jargon as blechyuckyness, which is rampant in business and government writing. You know the words: facilitate, utilize, impact, communicate . . . ugh. I call them “big shot” words, used by people to appear smart or important. Most often, these words replace short, simple words (help, use, affect, tell) that better convey what you mean. For example:

  • She facilitated the cooking class. (Big shot)
  • She led (or taught) the cooking class. (Bingo!)

Although “big shot” usage is sometimes allowable (for example, stakeholders, jargon-y as it is, doesn’t really have a synonym), usually a shorter word can and should be used. (However, I object to utilize in any circumstance. Please, let’s banish that word altogether.)

Gaffe #3: The Misplaced Colon

The colon, my favourite piece of punctuation, is often called the “mark of expectation”: what follows the colon describes or explains what precedes it (see how I just did that?). Whether you use it in a sentence or a vertical list, make sure what comes before the colon could be a complete sentence. If not, don’t use a colon.

For example:

  • Plant foods high in iron include: lentils, spinach, tahini and tofu. (This is incorrect because what precedes the colon is not a complete sentence.)
  • Plant foods high in iron include these: lentils, spinach, tahini and tofu. (This is correct because what precedes the colon is a complete sentence. However, the next example is preferable.)
  • Plant foods high in iron include lentils, spinach, tahini and tofu. (Correct)

The same rule applies to a vertical list. For example:

Plant foods high in iron include

  • lentils
  • spinach
  • tahini
  • tofu

Because what precedes the list is not a complete sentence, no colon is used. (Yep, you can start a sentence with because. I know, it’s crazy!) Note that I did not use commas after each listed item nor did I insert and after tofu. This is a style thing; I think lists look cleaner without them.

Better Writing Resources

Bitten by the grammar bug and want to learn more? Of course you do! For a fun (that’s right, fun!), easy guide to all things grammar, I highly recommend Grammar Girl’s book Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (or any of her books). Check out these great websites, too.

Nutritional Yeast 101: The Superfood You Should Be Eating

Doesn’t nutritional yeast look appetizing? I promise it is tasty. I bought this at an IGA supermarket, but I’ve mostly seen it at health food stores (ask if you can’t find it).

Ever tried nutritional yeast flakes? Are you thinking, Why the heck would I want to eat yeast? I get it—nutritional yeast sounds gross (hence its nickname “nooch,” though I inexplicably hate that word, too). I first tried nutritional yeast while in nutrition school (we nutritionists love to try weird-sounding superfoods—the more obscure, the better) but had forgotten about it until a few months ago, when I went to make a recipe calling for it. Since then, it’s been a pantry staple, for its flavour (savoury and slightly cheesy) as much as its nutrition.

I’ve been forcing encouraging all my friends to try it, and I suggest you do, too. Find it at health food stores, in packages (Bob’s Red Mill is a common brand) or in bulk, where it’s often sold for cheaper. (It’s a bit pricey, but a couple tablespoons is all you need.) Still not convinced? Here’s the lowdown on what it is and why you should add it to your diet—stat!

Nutritional Yeast 101 

What is nutritional yeast?

Like baker’s and brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast is cultivated from the Saccharomyces cerevisiae species and grown in a lab. But unlike the others, nutritional yeast is rendered inactive through pasteurization (heat). More nutrients are often added to nutritional yeast during pasteurization, and then it’s dried, cut into flakes and packaged. Note: Nutritional yeast cannot cause a yeast infection nor is it related to the Candida albicans strain.

Why is it so nutritious?

As its name suggests, nutritional yeast is grown for its nutrient content. Most brands contain added nutrients, but check the ingredient list to be sure.

Protein: A quarter-cup of nutritional yeast boasts 24 grams of protein, and it’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all the amino acids needed for muscle growth. Plus, nutritional yeast is easily digested (many people can’t digest or are allergic to animal proteins, such as milk or eggs. Remember, you can’t use what you can’t digest!).

Fibre: Forget boxed cleanses; fibre is the best detox tool, pushing waste, cholesterol and toxins, including harmful estrogen, from our bodies. We need at least 25 grams of fibre per day; a quarter-cup of nutritional yeast provides one-third that amount (plus it’s far tastier—and lighter—than a bowl of All-Bran!).

B vitamins: Nutritional yeast is high in B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, which is otherwise only in animal foods (meat, fish, milk, cheese, etc.) or fortified cereals. Vitamin B12, which gets depleted during periods of stress, supports nerve health, fights fatigue and boosts metabolism. In fact, many people, not just vegans, get vitamin B12 shots for these benefits. Also, as we get older, our stomachs produce less hydrochloric acid, resulting in reduced absorption of vitamin B12 (from animal proteins); however, we still can absorb B12 from fortified plant sources, such as nutritional yeast.

Minerals: Nutritional yeast contains calcium and magnesium, which together strengthen bones. It also contains a host of other essential minerals, including potassium, zinc, iron and manganese.

Antioxidants: Nutritional yeast is high in the antioxidant glutathione and contains 30 percent of the daily recommended intake for selenium, the antioxidant mineral shown to help prevent some cancers, including colon cancer. Glutathione and selenium form glutathione peroxidase, the mother of all antioxidants. Free radicals, watch out!

Healthy fats: Nutritional yeast has lecithin, a fatty substance which keeps cell membranes strong and pliable, so nutrients can enter cells. Lecithin also helps to carry fats and cholesterol throughout the body so they don’t stick to artery walls.

What else? Nutritional yeast is low in fat, sodium and calories and is dairy-, gluten-, wheat-, and sugar-free. Unlike supplements, nutritional yeast is considered a food and may be added to all types of recipes, including my low-carb sandwich thins, crunchy kale chips and no-bake chocolate chip balls.

How to use nutritional yeast:

  • Add ¼ cup to casseroles, meatloaf or meatballs; lentil loaf; or beef, bean or salmon burgers.
  • Add ¼ cup to muffin, cookie or protein bar batter (you won’t be able to taste it).
  • Add a spoonful to a smoothie.
  • Mix with ground flaxseed and breadcrumbs for a coating for chicken or zucchini sticks.
  • Sprinkle on popcorn, salad, pasta, pizza, potatoes, cooked vegetables and scrambled eggs.
  • Stir into peanut butter; spread as usual!
  • Stir into dips (I like it in hummus), salad dressings and soup.
  • Whisk into eggs before making an omelette or a frittata.

For more recipes with nutritional yeast, check out these sites. 

Now go and get some nutritional yeast!

How to Make SMART Resolutions—and 8 Motivation-Boosting Websites

So it’s “resolution time,” huh? The time to resolve to do the things we resolved to do last year, such as get in shape, save money, climb a mountain, strengthen relationships, quit smoking, stress less or sleep more. Statistics are stacked against success—by January 31st, most gyms are as empty as the Kardashian brain pool. Why? Most people make too-general resolutions that require an immediate, radical shift in behaviour; few take the time to define goals and to create step-by-step plans to meet these goals. For example, resolving to lose weight is noble, but without a plan, it’s just a wish. Goal-setting gurus, such as Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy and Chalene Johnson, advise making SMART goals, meaning specific, measurable, achievable, rewarding and time-sensitive goals. Experts also recommend writing goals down; studies show putting goals on paper hugely increases the likelihood of achieving them.

My health goal for 2012 is to become more flexible. My hip flexors, which have always been tight, have become increasingly so, and this tightness is turning into pain and affecting my daily life and athletic pursuits (how ironic is it I am finding it difficult to do yoga because of tight hips!). Though I’m reasonably fit and strong, I now feel how important it is to be flexible. I always think of a former client who often said, “First you get stiff, then you get old.” So true. However, “become more flexible” isn’t a SMART goal, so I’ve made it SMART by considering the following principles. I encourage you to make SMART goals, too. Here’s to meeting our goals in 2012!

MEG’S SMART GOAL: DO THE SPLITS BY JULY 1st

S = Specific

Just like the goal of “losing weight,” my goal of “increasing flexibility” is too vague. So I’ve made my goal specific: do the splits (on one leg at least!). The “S” in SMART can also stand for “small”: as I work toward my goal, I’ve given myself mini goals of increasing my hamstring flexibility each week, which will enable me to hit my target goal. For those looking to shed pounds, mini goals could include losing a pound a week or 2% body fat a month; for those wanting to run a marathon, mini goals could include running 10 minutes longer twice weekly; for those seeking 8 hours of sleep a night, it could be to go to bed 15 minutes earlier. Small changes add up, and accomplishing mini goals boosts motivation to hit target goals.

M = Measurable

Can I assess my progress in some way? Yes—by not being the least flexible person in yoga class! And, more importantly, by being able to stretch further (without wincing!) and by having less hip and hamstring stiffness. It’s also important to identify your starting point before creating an action plan. For example, just like knowing your current financial situation is critical to improving it, those wanting to lose weight should measure their body weight, fat and inches at the outset. This will help you gauge your progress, and tracking your progress will help you stay on course.

A = Achievable

Is my goal attainable? I think so, considering I was “this close” to doing the splits last year, when I was doing hot yoga a few times a week. To reach my goal, I’ve committed to doing a yoga class, either at a studio or at home, four times a week and to stretching/foam rolling for 10 minutes daily. Ask yourself whether your goal is not only possible, but probable. That is, do you have the time, resources, and above all, the desire and determination to commit to your goal? If not, consider setting a smaller goal or revising your goal. Maybe your goal isn’t as important to you as you thought. I mean, just because others have resolved to run a marathon doesn’t mean you should, especially if you have bad knees or (c’mon, admit it) hate running!

R = Rewarding

Will reaching my goal positively affect my life? Yes. I’ll have less pain and stiffness, and increasing my flexibility will safeguard against injuries. It’ll also allow me to do my favourite activities (and try new ones) with more ease. To determine whether your goal is rewarding, ask yourself how achieving it will benefit you. As children we learn to expect rewards for our efforts, and this “eye on the prize” mentality doesn’t disappear in adulthood! Without a reward, it’s tough to put in the work and discipline necessary to achieve challenging goals, gratifying as the end result may be.

T = Time-Sensitive

Ask any editor: most of us work best (that is, we quit procrastinating and get s*it done) with a deadline, so be sure to attach timelines to your mini-goals and target goal. Just make sure they’re realistic, since failing to meet impractical deadlines is a sure set-up for abandoning your goals altogether. For example, giving yourself a month to lose 20 pounds is not realistic (nor healthy), but losing a pound a week is. Again, I’ve set a goal of doing the splits by July 1st, with mini goals of improving my hamstring flexibility each week.

Note: As we often hold ourselves accountable to others more than to ourselves, consider telling people (lots of people!) about your goal. And know it’s okay to change or refine your goals at any time. Manage your expectations and—pardon the pun—be flexible!

Need more motivation? Check out these websites for ideas. Best of all, they’re free!

  • Yoga Download: No time (or money) for yoga? No problem. YD has amazing classes, and most of the 20-minute sessions are free! My favourite 20-minute classes include Detox Yoga #1 and Core Yoga #1. I’ve also heard rave reviews of My Yoga Online.
  • Spark People: This site is more of an online weight loss community; register to access tracking tools and calorie counters, support groups, recipes and more.
  • All Recipes: The mother of recipe databases, this site features thousands of reader-tested recipes and tutorials. Be sure to scan readers’ reviews for tips and modifications.
  • 8Tracks: Music is a powerful motivator, and this site features tons of awesome playlists.
  • Oxygen Magazine: The magazine is pricy, but the website also features great workouts, recipes and articles.
  • Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer: Fitness competitor Jamie Eason has designed a comprehensive, 12-week training program. It’s like having a personal trainer! (Read a review of the program here.)
  • Fitness Magazine: This site features easy, healthy recipes and exercise slideshows and videos. I recently bookmarked Brooke Burke’s and Alison Sweeney’s workouts.
  • Meditations for Women & Meditations for Weight Loss: Sign up to receive inspirational quotations and articles. (These apply to men, too!)

How to Prevent a Hangover (& Fat-Burning Detox Shake Recipe)

‘Tis the season . . . for the hangover. Though I feel most people use the “It’s the holidays!” excuse to scarf shortbread, swap cookies (“I’ll trade you four dozen rum balls for rugelach”), spike everything with Bailey’s, and take a month-long hiatus from any exercise that doesn’t involve trolling the liquor store for more Cabernet, chances are good this free-for-all, “holidays are but once a year” attitude ain’t gonna change anytime soon. I mean, Jesus would want us to celebrate his birth with chocolate martinis, right?

So to keep feeling festive through January 1, use these preemptive strategies during the holidays (and throughout the year). And if—despite your best intentions, of course—you overimbibe, I’ve included some “morning after” remedies.  Hey, it’s the holidays!

Meg’s No-Hangover Tips

Before the Party:

  • Eat a nutritious meal or snack containing lean protein and healthy fats (e.g., turkey and hummus wrap; Greek yogurt with chopped apple, cinnamon and almonds; my Skinny Egg Muffin or Detox Shake) before imbibing will help you metabolize alcohol more slowly; fat- and oil-containing foods (e.g., nuts, nut butter, flaxseed, avocado, olive oil) also buffer the stomach lining, helping to prevent intestinal irritation and nausea. (Bonus: A preparty snack will help thwart a buffet binge.)
  • Drink . . . water. Or eat water-rich fruits or veggies, such as apples, oranges, cucumber and celery. A hangover is primarily caused by dehydration, thanks to the ethanol in alcohol which increases urine output (layman’s terms: makes you pee). Keeping hydrated will offset most of alcohol’s inevitable aftereffects (cue dry mouth, fatigue and a POUNDING headache . . . ).

Party Trivia: The ethanol in alcohol breaks down in the body to acetaldehyde, a potent carcinogen more toxic than alcohol itself. Congeners, toxic byproducts of alcohol fermentation, can also affect the severity of a hangover. Red wine (especially cheaper plonk) and dark liquors (e.g., bourbon, scotch, whiskey, tequila) have more congeners than white wine and clear spirits (e.g., vodka, gin, white rum).

At the Party:

  • Pace yourself and—wait for it—don’t drink to excess. Remember, the key to avoiding a hangover (aside from not drinking!) is to stay hydrated, so alternate an alcoholic drink with a large glass of flat or sparkling water.
  • Nibble wisely: for every drink, nosh a few nuts, a couple of cheese cubes or a smoked salmon crudite to moderate alcohol absorption.
  • Keep it clean. That is, mix spirits with club soda or sparkling water only; not only are juices, pop, punches and drink mixes laden with sugar and calories, but many contain artificial preservatives, sweeteners and other additives, which can cause or exacerbate headaches, nausea and allergies.

More Trivia: Many alcohols, including wine and beer, contain preservatives such as sulphites, which Health Canada ranks as one of the nine allergens most likely to cause a severe reaction. So if you’re sensitive to sulphites in foods, you’ll likely react to sulphite-containing alcohols, notably red wine.

After the Party:

OK, so you didn’t take my advice, and twinkling tree lights now resemble a spinning disco ball. Seek relief (and relieve your liver) with these hangover remedies:

  • Rehydrate with water first thing. (Sorry, the “hair of the dog” “cure” is anything but!) Skipping coffee will probably exacerbate a throbbing head, so drink an extra glass of water to counter caffeine’s diuretic effects.
  • Pass on greasy breakfast fare, but make it sunny-side up: eggs are full of cysteine, a protein that binds to and removes hangover-inducing acetaldehyde from the body. Or sip my detox shake, which contains whey (also high in cysteine) and mineral electrolytes.
  • Get out for a walk and fresh air; exercise and oxygen raise the body’s metabolic rate, which will assist the liver in eliminating alcohol’s toxic metabolites. Sweating in a sauna or hot shower or bath will also speed detoxification.

Hangover No-No: Don’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for a hangover; the combination (alcohol + acetaminophen) can cause liver damage.

Drink Responsibly: Alcohol can be addictive, and it may raise the risk of some cancers; the maximum recommended intake is one to two drinks per day. (A standard serving is five ounces of table wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1½ ounces of spirits.)

Megan’s Detox/Fat-Burning Shake

This delicious shake is full of alcohol-depleting mineral electrolytes, including calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also contains vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, and metabolism-boosting B vitamins, including vitamin B12 and vitamin B1 (thiamine), which may reduce brain accumulation of glutarate, a compound linked to headaches. Bonus: Studies find whey protein is a proven fat burner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • ½ cup frozen peaches or strawberries (can also sub ½ cup ice)
  • 1½ scoops vanilla whey concentrate powder (I used 1 scoop IsaLean Shake and ½ scoop Isapro)
  • ½ tsp orange-flavoured powdered vitamin C/electrolyte powder (I like Energenix by Isagenix)

Directions: Add ingredients to blender in order listed. Blend until smooth. Drink immediately. Serves 1.

  • Delicious and detoxifying - give that liver a break!

    Delicious and detoxifying – give that liver a break!

How to Make Skinny Coffee Drinks

If you know me, you know I am frugal (which means using coupons at Whole Foods, so it’s all relative) and I hate spending money on things I could easily make myself, such as protein bars. As such, I almost never buy coffee drinks, but I am, unashamedly, a coffee addict. I got into drinking iced coffee last summer, when I got my teeth whitened (coffee, black tea and other acidic drinks can weaken and stain enamel, so my hygienist advised sipping coffee through a straw), and now I prefer it to hot coffee, even as temperatures plummet. Though coffee has bonafide health benefits (studies show caffeine may protect against stroke, some cancers and Alzheimer’s disease), to sleep easy, I drink one (huge) glass in the morning, then switch to decaf green and herbal teas.

Making your own coffee drinks is super easy and will save you buckets of cash and calories. Exhibit A: A 16 oz. Starbucks frappuccino (no whipped cream) can pack 300 calories and 60 grams of sugar—14 teaspoons worth!

Meg’s Skinny Iced Vanilla Almond Coffee

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups cold brewed coffee*
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (or other milk) (I prefer Almond Fresh; the Almond Breeze brand tends to curdle in drinks.)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla or other extract (try peppermint or almond)
  • 1 packet stevia, or to taste (I like Sugaresque—it tastes and mixes like sugar and has no aftertaste)
  • few shakes cinnamon, optional
  • coffee ice cubes*

Directions:

In a shaker bottle or jar, add coffee, milk, vanilla, stevia and cinnamon. Shake! Pour into a tall glass over ice.  Enjoy with my 2-Minute Banana Bread or Pumpkin Spice Pancakes for a better-than-Starbucks breakfast! Serves 1.

Per serving: 25 calories, 2 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g trans), 97 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 0 g sugar, 1 g protein

Tips & Variations:

  • Keep a pitcher of brewed coffee in the fridge. I use 1 heaping tablespoon dark roast ground coffee to 1 cup water.
  • Fill ice cube trays with cold coffee and freeze. This way you won’t dilute the coffee.
  • Mocha version: Use chocolate almond milk or add 1-2 teaspoons cocoa powder before blending; sweeten to taste.
  • For a pumped-up shake, add ½ scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder before blending.
  • Like it hot? Whisk hot coffee, steamed almond milk (heat in microwave) and desired extras.

Meg's Skinny Iced Vanilla Almond Coffee