Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Carrots ‘N’ Cake + The Fitnessista Ultimate Fitness & Nutrition Program

Hi, friends!

If you’re looking for real results and an approach that works for YOU, I want to tell you about a very special offer that I’ve put together with my good friend and certified personal trainer Gina (aka The Fitnessista).

We know that nutrition paired with a high-quality workout is even more powerful for getting you to your goals. But as busy women, we also know that these meals and workouts have to be super effective, quick, and done without 800 steps/ingredient or fancy equipment. It’s ALL about keeping it simple, right?

So, for a limited time, you can sign up for the ultimate 12-week plan for just $147 that includes:

  • Weekly meal plans from me, designed to help you prep and make meals at home that are healthy, delicious and pair perfectly with an at-home workout. My 12-Week Meal Prep Ninja Plan includes a variety of whole food recipes, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack/dessert, each with nutrition and macronutrient information included.

  • Daily workouts from The Fitnessista, including a workout calendar so you can plan ahead and mark your progress

  • Exclusive bonuses including grocery shopping lists, printable meal plans, a How to Track Macros Quick Guide, a Macro Cheat Sheet, and Fitnessista workout videos

  • Access to private Facebook groups with my Carrots ‘N’ Cake Nutrition & Accountability Group and Fitnessista Fit Guide clients

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*** Please note that the $147 is a pre-sale price. It will go up after March 11th at 12pm EST, so be sure to hop on it!

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Ultimate Guide to Non-Dairy Milks

Some people just don’t do milk.

There are many reasons why. Maybe you have a dairy intolerance. Maybe you don’t like the way cow’s milk tastes. Or maybe you think cow milk is unhealthy.

I won’t contest the reasons why. That’s another topic for another post, and I’ve already covered the most common anti-dairy arguments. If you want to read about my stance on the healthfulness (or lack thereof) of dairy, read what I’ve written about raw milk, cheese, yogurt, and dairy in general. If you want to learn how to identify dairy intolerance, read this.

But the fact is, lots of people either need or want a milk alternative. Water is great to drink, but it’s not the right smoothie substrate, and it can’t replace milk in recipes or coffee drinks. You need something vaguely white and thick enough to pass as milk.

Normally in a post like this, I’d cover all the different varieties and what sets each apart—their strengths and weaknesses, their nutrient profiles, their unhealthy ingredients. And I’ll certainly do that today, but first there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that there are plenty of good choices available. If you want something to drink, use in smoothies, or add to coffee, there are many different plant-based milk that avoid overly offensive ingredients.

The bad news is that most non-dairy milks are usually very low in nutrients. The parent food to these plant-based milks—the almonds, the cashews, the hemp seeds, and so on—are extremely nutrient-dense in and of themselves. Just check out my posts on nuts and seeds to get the nutritional lay of the land. But almond milk isn’t almonds, cashew milk isn’t cashews, and hemp seed milk isn’t hemp seeds.

This isn’t surprising when you think about how nut milks are made: by blending the nuts with a bunch of water and straining out the solids to try to extract some of the nut-ness. It’s pretty inefficient. If you could press an almond to wring out the almond milk, then you’d have something interesting. But that’s not how it works. Most non-dairy milks are superficial mirages of the real thing.

To illustrate this, let’s look at the most popular non-dairy milks and compare the nutrients in the parent nut/seed/plant to the nutrients in the nut/seed/plant-milk (when applicable).

Nutrient Profiles Of Popular Non-Dairy Milks

Almond Milk

This is the go-to option for most strict paleo eaters starting out. It sounds like a great idea. Almonds are a nutritious nut, high in magnesium, copper, vitamin E, and manganese. They have a decent amount of protein, some nice prebiotic fiber. In your head, almond milk is fantastic. Unfortunately—and this goes for most of the other nut milks out there—the average jug of store-bought almond milk contains no more than a handful of almonds.

In an ounce of almonds:

  • 163 calories
  • 6 g carbs: 3.5 g fiber
  • 14 g fat: 8.8 g MUFA, 3.4 g linoleic acid (LA), 1.1 g SFA
  • 6 g protein
  • 50% vitamin E
  • 22% vitamin B2
  • 31% copper
  • 18% magnesium
  • 28% manganese

In a cup of almond milk:

  • 36 calories
  • 1.4 g carbs
  • 2.6 g fat: 1.7 g MUFA, 0.6 g linoleic acid
  • 1.4 g protein
  • 45% vitamin E (added)
  • 17% vitamin A (added)
  • 25% vitamin D2 (added)
  • 4% magnesium
  • 4% manganese
  • 39% calcium (added)
  • 8% copper

Not great carry over. No prebiotic almond fiber. Almost no protein, magnesium, manganese, or copper. The richest nutrients are all the ones they added after the fact.

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is in the same boat: mostly water, not too much cashew.

In an ounce of cashews:

  • 156.8 calories
  • 8.6 g carbs: 0.9 g fiber
  • 12.4 g fat: 6.7 g MUFA, 2.2 g LA, 2.2 g SFA
  • 5.2 g protein
  • 10% vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 69% copper
  • 24% iron
  • 20% magnesium
  • 20% manganese
  • 15% zinc

In a cup of cashew milk:

  • 25 calories
  • 1.4 g carbs: 0.2 g fiber
  • 2 g fat: 1.1 g MUFA, 0.4 g linoleic acid
  • 0.8 g protein
  • 2% vitamin B1
  • 11% copper
  • 4% iron
  • 3% magnesium
  • 3% manganese
  • 2% zinc
  • 17% vitamin A (added)
  • 25% vitamin D2 (added)
  • 18% vitamin E (added)
  • 37% calcium (added)

Coconut Milk

Traditionally, you make coconut milk by pulverizing fresh coconut flesh, blending it with a little water, and passing it through a cheesecloth or fine strainer. This produces a very rich, very high-fat milk that runs about 550 calories per cup. This is the coconut milk used in cooking that comes in cans and cartons. A second pass with the coconut solids produces a thinner, less-rich coconut milk that runs about 150 calories per cup. This is often called “Lite Coconut Milk” and can be used to cook or to drink.

Besides the abundance of medium chain triglycerides and a lot of manganese, neither thick or thin coconut milk are nutrient-dense. A cup of rich, full-fat coconut milk gives decent amounts of magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, and iron, but you have to realize that it takes 600 calories to get those nutrients. That’s not exactly nutrient-dense; the micronutrient-to-calorie ratio is skewed.

They do sell jugs of thin coconut milk as a milk replacement. Except for the fortifications they add (vitamin D, calcium, riboflavin, and the other usual suspects), these are

Flax Milk

In an ounce of flaxseed:

  • 151.4 calories
  • 8.2 g carbs: 7.7 g fiber
  • 12 g fat: 2.1 g MUFA, 6.5 g ALA (omega-3), 1.7 g LA, 1 g SFA
  • 5.2 g protein
  • 39% vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 38% copper
  • 20% iron
  • 26% magnesium
  • 31% manganese
  • 13% selenium
  • 11% zinc

In a cup of flax milk:

  • 25 calories
  • 1 g carbs
  • 2.5 g fat: 1.2 g ALA (omega-3)
  • 5% iron
  • 63% B12 (added)
  • 25% vitamin D2 (added)
  • 17% vitamin A (added)
  • 25% calcium (added)

The main standout is the omega-3 content. Flax milk has a little over a gram of alpha-linolenic acid (the plant form of omega-3) per cup.

Hemp Milk

I’m not talking about the oncoming wave of high-THC cannabis milks. This is hemp milk, produced by blending non-psychoactive hemp seeds with water and straining the solids out.

In an ounce:

  • 149.1 calories
  • 7.8 carbs: 7.8 g fiber (all fiber)
  • 10.1 g fat: 1.1 g MUFA, 2.2 g ALA, 4.8 g LA, 0.8 g SFA
  • 7 g protein
  • 24% vitamin A
  • 63% copper
  • 50% iron
  • 33% magnesium
  • 86% manganese
  • 13% selenium
  • 18% zinc

In a cup of hemp milk:

  • 70 calories
  • 2.2 g carbs, all fiber
  • 6 g fat, 1 g ALA (omega-3), 3 g omega-6
  • 2 g protein
  • 18% copper
  • 13% iron
  • 10% magnesium
  • 24% manganese
  • Plus all the usual fortifications (calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12

That’s not too bad, actually. It picks up some decent mineral levels, and hemp fat is one of the only fats to contain stearidonic acid, an intermediate omega-3 fat in the conversion pathway from ALA to EPA that increases the EPA content of red blood cells in humans (a very good thing).

Macadamia Milk

There’s a product called Milkadamia. Great name, disappointing result.

In an ounce:

  • 203.5 calories
  • 3.9 g carbs: 2.4 g fiber
  • 21.5 g fat: 16.7 g MUFA, 0.4 g LA, 0.1 g alpha linolenic acid (ALA), 3.4 g SFA
  • 2.2 g protein
  • 28% vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 24% copper
  • 13% iron
  • 51% manganese

In a cup of mac nut milk:

  • 50 calories
  • 1 g carbs
  • 5 g fat
  • 1 g protein
  • 125% vitamin B12
  • 17% vitamin D
  • 25% vitamin A
  • 38% calcium

Despite having the best product name and the most potential for being a creamy milk substitute (has anyone tried adding mac nuts to a smoothie?—incredible!), the nutrient profile is low, and there’s not much going on.

Oat Milk

I’ve written about oats before. They have some interesting properties, some beneficial fiber, and a decent mineral profile. Adding oat beta-glucan fibers to fiber-free instant oatmeal reduces the postprandial glucose response, so at least in the context of refined starch, oat fiber can be helpful.

The most popular and widely-available oat milk is called Oatly. The website explains the process: mill raw oats with water, add enzymes to extract the starch, separate the beta-glucan from the bran, discard the bran, pasteurize it, bottle it. This retains the beta-glucans (2 grams of fiber per cup) and starch (16 grams carbs per cup). The only micronutrients they advertise are the ones they add, including calcium, potassium, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin D, and vitamin B12; there’s no indication that the normal oat-bound minerals like magnesium, manganese, and zinc make it into Oatly in significant amounts. To top things off, they add canola oil for texture and mouthfeel.

Rice Milk

Rice milk is made by blending water with cooked rice, brown rice syrup, and brown rice starch.

Like the others, its only real micronutrients comes from the ones they add to it. It’s higher in carbohydrates than any of the other milks I found.

Soy Milk

Believe it or not, of all the popular non-dairy milks out there, soy milk contains the most nutrients and is probably the closest to cow milk. It’s high in protein. It contains a nice balanced selection of minerals. A review comparing soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and rice milk to cow milk found that soy milk was the closest—mostly because it actually featured measurable nutrients.

In a cup of soy milk:

  • 74 calories
  • 3.6 g carbs; 2 g fiber
  • 4 g fat
  • 8 g protein
  • All the usual additions, like calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, riboflavin, and vitamin A
  • 10% magnesium
  • 15% manganese
  • 6% folate
  • 6% potassium
  • 19% copper
  • 10% selenium

It’s not ideal though. People who regularly drink soy milk tend to end up with micronutrient deficiencies. Kids who drink cow milk are less likely to have atopic eczema, while soy milk drinkers have no such protection (and may even have increased risk). The protein in soy milk can help people build muscle, but milk proteins work better and also provide other benefits to the immune system.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t use non-dairy milks. They are inoffensive and helpful for recipes. Just don’t expect any incredible health benefits from them.

3 Notable Brands With Extra Benefits

But there are a few specific non-dairy milk products that deserve a closer look, especially if you’re going to go this route.

Vita Coco Coconut Milk

Instead of blending coconut meat with water and filtering out the solids, Vita Coco mixes coconut cream into coconut water to produce a milk-like product. I haven’t tasted it myself, but the nutrient profile is pretty compelling.

  • Moderate levels of fat (5 grams per cup), primarily from saturated medium chain triglycerides.
  • Low carb (5 grams per cup). Naturally sweet from the coconut.
  • Decent mineral levels (RDIs: 45% calcium, 15% magnesium, 10% potassium, 10% zinc).

Some of the calcium, magnesium, and zinc is added, some is natural (coconut water can be a good source of all three). Still, it’s cool to see magnesium added because so many are deficient and supplementary magnesium is well-tolerated and effective.


Back when I was toying with the idea of getting a significant amount of my protein from plant sources for a quick experiment (long story short: I didn’t do it, I like animals too much, and I found myself relying too heavily on processed powders), I got a bottle of something called Ripple. Ripple is pea-based milk, fortified with extra pea protein, algae-based DHA, calcium, iron, and vitamin D. It has as much protein per serving as milk (8 grams), using a type of protein that can promote muscle gain, and it tastes quite good. It uses high-oleic sunflower oil for fat, which is low in polyunsaturated fat. If I truly couldn’t have dairy and desperately wanted something to drink or make smoothies with, I’d probably do Ripple.

Tempt Hemp Milk

I’ve never tried this brand, or hemp milk in general. But just like the generic hemp milk analyzed above, Tempt Hemp Milk has a far better nutrient profile than most of the other nut or other non-dairy milks I ran across. If it tastes anything like hemp seed, which has a nutty, subtle flavor, I can imagine hemp milk having a pleasant taste.

Tips For Making Your Own

You’re all an enterprising bunch. Why not make your own non-dairy milk?

  1. You can make your own nut milk. There are thousands of recipes out there, but they generally seem to involve soaking nuts in water and a pinch of salt overnight, draining them, and blending the nuts with fresh water, straining out the solids, and sometimes adding a date or a dab of maple syrup for sweetening. The higher the nut:water ratio, the richer, more nutritious the milk.
  2. You can also make thicker, more nutrient-dense nut milk by blending nut butter and water until you reach the desired consistency. You aren’t discarding anything with this method.
  3. You can avoid nuts altogether. One scoop of MCT powder, one scoop of collagen peptides, whisked into water makes a decent approximation of milk. Use 3 tablespoons of water to make creamer for coffee. This isn’t a nutrient-powerhouse, but it provides medium chain triglycerides (which boost ketone production) and collagen.
  4. Or how about making a kind of nut broth? The usual audience for non-dairy milks is obsessed with consuming raw foods. They make a point to prevent their food from ever getting warmer than the hemp-clad crotch of a Trustafarian hitchhiking through Joshua Tree in the middle of summer. But consider that applying heated water to pulverized nuts will extract even more nutrients from the nut and deliver them into the water. Then you strain the solids and refrigerate the broth, producing “milk.” I bet that’d be quite tasty and more nutritious than a cold water nut wash.

The Bottom Line on Nut Milks…

Nothing on the market or that you cook up in your kitchen is going to rival the nutrient density of cow’s milk. From the protein to the healthy dairy fats to the dozens of micronutrients we know about and the dozens we have yet to catalogue, actual milk packs a real wallop that your basic almond, cashew, pecan, or flax milk simply can’t defeat. So, you’ll have to shift your view of “milk” as a whole food. Don’t give your kid four glasses of hemp milk and think you’re replacing cow dairy. Don’t wean your infant off the breast and fill a bottle with hazelnut milk instead; it’s not the same. Don’t eat a dog bowl-sized serving of cereal with some rice milk. The only nutritious part of cereal is the milk, and non-dairy milks do not qualify. Don’t rely on non-dairy milks for your nutrient intakes. Those are shoes they’ll never fill.

Instead, use non-dairy milks to make nutrient-dense smoothies. Use them in your coffee. Make protein shakes with them. In short, use these non-dairy plant-based milks to make it easier to eat more nutrient-dense foods.

Before you run out to buy cashew milk or pea milk or something similar, I will say this: I’m a fan of dairy. It’s a nutrient-dense source of bioavailable protein, healthy fat, calcium, vitamin K2, and other important and helpful compounds. If you can eat it without tolerance issues, you probably should. And if you can’t, you may be able to tolerate other animal milks, like goat’s milk. Many people who can’t do cow dairy can handle goat. It’s worth a try.

What about you? What’s your favorite non-dairy milk? Do you have any plant-based milks that you swear by?



Onuegbu AJ, Olisekodiaka JM, Irogue SE, et al. Consumption of Soymilk Reduces Lipid Peroxidation But May Lower Micronutrient Status in Apparently Healthy Individuals. J Med Food. 2018;21(5):506-510.

Hon KL, Tsang YC, Poon TC, et al. Dairy and nondairy beverage consumption for childhood atopic eczema: what health advice to give?. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2016;41(2):129-37.

Babault N, Païzis C, Deley G, et al. Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12(1):3.

Wolever TMS, Jenkins AL, Prudence K, et al. Effect of adding oat bran to instant oatmeal on glycaemic response in humans – a study to establish the minimum effective dose of oat ?-glucan. Food Funct. 2018;9(3):1692-1700.

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7 Things Tuesday

Good morning!

I’m just popping in with a quick post to share some recent happenings and favorites. I didn’t write my usual weekend recap because, well, we didn’t do all that much. We got a bunch of snow, so we basically hung out around the house, which, for me, made me a bit stir crazy. It’s typically tough for me to sit still and relax (but I’m working on it), but I got a lot done around the house with regard to cooking, cleaning, organizing, etc. At least I was productive, right? 🙂

First, let’s pick a winner for the CAVA giveaway. Thank you to everyone who entered! And if you haven’t visited a CAVA yet, please make it a priority on your To Do List. It’s so darn delicious! Here’s your winner:


Ok, now onto this morning’s blog post… here are some “things” for your Tuesday!

1. We got a lot of snow over the weekend – one storm on Saturday and then another on Sunday night. The boys (minus Murphy) were especially excited about it! 🙂

2. I tried the gluten-free brunch menu at Davio’s in Braintree, and it was delicious! The restaurant invited Mal and me for brunch, so we one a day date on Sunday afternoon. I ordered the salmon burger followed by the pistachio creme brulee – and, my gosh, I was impressed. We don’t typically dine at Davio’s, but now that I know they have such awesome gluten-free menus (for dinner and lunch too), we’ll definitely visit more often. The food and service were excellent! 🙂

3. Mal and I watched the Free Solo documentary last night – Guys, it was incredible and a bit insane. My hands were SO SWEATY watching Alex Honnold as he climbed Yosemite’s 3,000 ft high El Capitan wall – with NO ropes or safety gear. NONE AT ALL, PEOPLE! It’s crazy. The documentary is definitely worth a watch, and I heard (from Mal, obviously) that there’s an awesome Joe Rogan podcast with Alex on it.

4. Beautycounter is offering a super discounted enrollment fee for new consultants – If you’ve ever thought about becoming one, NOW is the time. Just sent me a message to learn more!

5. I loved this post: 4 Healthy Vegetarian Slow Cooker Freezer Meals! I definitely want to try some of these recipe and freeze for later!

6. The last 2 nights, Quinn fell asleep on me, and it was amazing. He’s growing up so fast, so I’m embracing all of these moments like it’s my job. I just see him being 12 years old and not wanting to cuddle with his Mumma. Mal assures me that Quinn will always need his Mumma in some way, but I just feel like the time is flying by.

7. We’re loving RightRice lately! High-protein rice made from vegetables? Sign me up! The nice people from RightRice sent me some samples to try, and we are instant fans! It’s delicious, nutrition, and only takes 12 minutes to make! You can buy it online (no, seriously, just Amazon Prime some right to your house), Whole Foods, and other locations.

Question of the Day

Got any things to share this morning?

P.S. Check out all of the awesome sales this week!

ZELLA Erica Twist Cowl Neck Pullover (40% off)
LL Bean Soft Cotton Rugby, Hoodie Pullover (10% off)
ZELLA Bright Side Pullover (40% off)
Athleta Skinny Crop Jean Granite Wash ($49.99)
Patagonia Better Sweater Full-Zip Hooded Jacket (40% off)
Athleta Herringbone Metro High Waisted Legging ($33.99)
Athleta Flurry Scuba Hoodie Long Sleeve ($49.99)
ZELLA Twisty Turn Tee (50% off)
Gibson Cozy Ribbed Cardigan (25% off)

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Banana Smash Toast

All over the internet I see photos of toast topped with peanut butter and sliced bananas. Good…but I have something better. I like to call this “banana smash toast.” Smashed bananas have the best texture underneath creamy peanut butter. And this toast makes a perfect pre-workout breakfast.

Why Smash?

Not only does smashing your banana make this toast slightly easier to eat (no more bananas falling into your lap!) but the smashing breaks down the banana cells in such a way that (in my opinion) it’s sweeter and softer. Or you could say “fluffier!”

How To

A lot of people on the internet put their peanut butter down first and put banana slices on top, but I think the peanut butter gets hidden in there! So I start my banana smash by literally mashing half a banana into my *very well* toasted toast with a knife. (Obviously soft bread might tear, but toasty toast stands up well to the smash knife.)

Next comes the peanut butter on top – usually 1.5 tablespoons or so. This way you get peanut butter flavor to the max.

Next I add something crunchy like chia seeds and coconut flakes. Granola works well too!

And finally a drizzle of something sweet. Honey is the obvious choice, but I used my bourbon maple syrup from Great Harvest and fell out of my chair.

My Favorite Pre-Workout Breakfast

This is my favorite breakfast to have before my morning treadmill run because it is very energizing and satisfying. I plugged it into a recipe calculator and found it to be 330 calories, 12 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber and 15 grams of sugar (mostly natural from the banana.)

The Recipe

Banana Smash Toast

This power toast with banana, peanut butter, chia, coconut, and maple syrup will both energize and satisfy you! It’s ideal as a pre-workout snack or quick breakfast. 

  • 1 slice whole wheat bread
  • 1/2 banana (Ripe is best! Green bananas don't smash well.)
  • 1.5 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup or honey
  1. Toast bread until nice and crisp.

  2. Smash banana into bread with knife. 

  3. Top with peanut butter.

  4. Sprinkle on chia seeds and coconut and drizzle with maple. 

  5. Cut into four pieces to enjoy bite by bite. 

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Clean Eating Twice Baked Apple Bread Pudding Recipe

This clean eating twice baked apple bread pudding is totally worth the bake time!

Apple bread is delicious stuff! But if you bake it, break it up and turn it into bread pudding (bake it again), it’s… Read more →

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