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Three reasons to be mindful of your protein intake


How important is protein? Aside, from it being a major macro-nutrient in our daily diets, why is it a big deal to make sure you are consuming enough?


First, let’s define protein.

Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in building and maintaining the body’s tissues and structures. It is made up of amino acids that are necessary for the growth and repair of muscles, bones, and other tissues like skin and hair. In addition to being our body’s primary building block, protein can have an impact on hormones within the body, including insulin, estrogen, and testosterone, just to name a few.


While protein plays roles in just about every function throughout our bodies, here are details on three main reasons to make sure you are consuming enough protein daily.


Number one:


Thermogenesis by way of digestion. Thermogenesis is really just a fancy word for heat production within the body either through movement or digestion.


When we consume protein, our body requires more energy to digest it than it does for carbohydrates or fats. This means that consuming protein can help increase this process, which can lead to a higher metabolic rate and increased calorie burning. YAY!

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a high-protein diet increased thermogenesis by up to 100 calories per day compared to a moderate-protein diet.


Additionally, consuming protein (especially first thing in the morning) can help reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness throughout the day.


Number two:


Protein makes us strong, literally. It is essential for building and maintaining the body’s tissues and structures. It is especially important for the growth and repair of muscles as we age but also for those who workout regularly, especially regarding weight training.


Unlike carbohydrates and fats, amino acids from protein are not considered a primary source of energy. This is because there is no place for protein to be stored in the body. And if there is not enough protein consumed the only other way to supply the body with the amino acids sourced from protein is by breaking down non-fat bodily tissue (muscle, bones, etc).


Yes, you read that right. Your body will literally break down itself to ensure that the most vital functions in your body are provided to keep you alive. So, if you don’t want your body to “borrow from Peter to pay Paul ” consuming enough protein is a must.


Number three:


Protein effects your hormones. Protein can have a big impact on hormones within the body, including insulin, estrogen, and testosterone. Insulin is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, and consuming protein can help regulate insulin levels. Estrogen and testosterone are hormones that if operating high or low can have major symptoms and physical effects. Consuming protein can help regulate these hormones.


Now, with all that said, like anything the key is moderation and consuming the right amount based on age, weight (lean body mass), sex, physical activity, disease or illness. If you are not sure what you should be eating based on your goals, I am always available to help.


To keep it simple, focusing your meals around a lean, quality sourced protein is the secret to hitting an optimal amount of protein daily.


Here is an example day of protein sources at each meal. Amounts will vary based on individual needs, and of course, there are many forms of protein sources. So, be open to trying new sources and incorporating both meat and plant based proteins within your diet.


Meal 1: 2 eggs + 2 egg whites + 1 cup spinach, onions, peppers, grape tomatoes, 1 cup of oat meal + 2 tsp of coconut sugar and cinnamon


Meal 2: Greek yogurt + granola/seeds/nuts + berries


Meal 3: 96/4 Lean ground grass fed beef/Tofu (taco seasoning)+ Rice/lentils and black beans + avocado + Vegetables + 4 TBS salsa =taco bowl


Meal 4: (pre workout): ½ Sweet potato


Meal 5: (post workout): Full amino Protein powder (whey or plant) + choice of milk/water


Meal 6: Wild caught salmon + Vegetables + Baked potato topped with Greek yogurt and Beef Tallow or Grass Fed Organic Butter


If you’ve read this far and still need help calculating your nutrition needs, I am available to help!

strong women working out

By Kaitie Neratka


How many times have you started a new diet?? Everything starts out great but then at some point you find yourself falling back into old ways, making poor nutrition choices, and once again you are lost as to what happened.

First off, you’re not alone.

Secondly, “diets”.  Yes, people can get great results on diet plans in the beginning and in some cases they are necessary for immediate change.

But for the average person looking to change their eating habits, “eating for life” is the best plan.

Diets confine you to a box. They typically want you to cut something out completely or they define one or more foods as bad or you have to cut a large amount of calories too soon when your body is used to something much higher.

This creates a mentality that food is not our friend and thus a bad relationship with food is created.

As humans we are creatures of habit, we like what makes us comfortable, and we want instant gratification. These three things are part of the psychology of change. And all three need to be considered when you are looking to make changes to the way you eat permanently. 

Because of these human characteristics, there is a constant battle of the mind to go back to what we know and what is easy. So going into your new plan needs to begin with the right mindset.

If you are someone that  has the “All or Nothing” mindset, you tend to feel either you must follow your diet perfectly or just quit entirely. There is no grace.

This mindset is probably the most common one I hear people describe in one way or another when trying to stick to their nutrition goal. This mindset, in my experience, is typically a result of years worth of bad information. Being told carbs and fats are bad, you have to eat less to get results, only eat good foods not bad food (insert eye roll).

Let me clear something up. Categorizing food as good or bad becomes stressful and stress doesn’t help anyone do anything. Yes, there are more nutrient dense foods that when consumed in appropriate quantities your body will benefit better than those of lesser value. But when you are just starting out you must remember, there is an adjustment period, a learning period, and most importantly it is impossible to do anything perfect.

Read that again.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to do anything perfect.

This includes your nutrition. So if you are trying to follow a “diet” or any form of better eating habits, go into it with an 80/20 mindset. Give yourself the weekend to not worry about tracking, or allot yourself 3 hours one day a week to consume or drink anything guilt free.

I’m not saying gorge yourself with every “treat” you can think of, I’m saying, if your buddy invites you out for beer on Saturday then have the beer or two and the burger and relax. If your kids birthday party is this week, have the cupcake AND THE ICECREAM with them and celebrate your baby guilt free.

The only way to be successful in creating new habits especially when it comes to food is developing a healthy relationship and a healthy balance with your food. You have to live and enjoy your life. You can’t do that if you are literally afraid of food. I know this because I’ve been there. And it sucks and it’s stressful and it’s not fun. And I promise… you can enjoy the cake (within reason) and get fit too!

Next, having an idea in mind regarding body image is another very common reason people decide to change their eating habits.

And to be clear there is NOTHING I repeat NOTHING wrong with wanting to improve the way you look that makes you feel confident, beautiful or good in your own skin. Everyone has a version of themself that they feel is their best self. It’s ok to want that version.

However, if you link the way you look to self worth, compare your body type to other body types, or hold on to the body you “used” to have this can definitely play a role in unhealthy eating habits. The number one thing I see is under-eating.


Stop comparing yourself to others and other body types!  Stop chasing a body that you used to have before your babies or when you were 25 years old.

First, No one is designed like you and that’s a good thing. Your goals and eating habits should be focused on what works for you and your lifestyle. Changing your eating habits should be specific to you.

Every year your body changes, AKA it’s getting older. And that’s not accounting for anything that happened to your body in addition to aging. So be mindful to meet your body where it is and then set goals that are realistic.

Decide on your “WHY”. This should be one that is very strong and very specific. This can help keep your focus on you and what is a manageable, achievable and a healthy goal. Change is not easy, and as I stated before, we are constantly fighting the want to go back to what we know and what is comfortable despite if it’s good for us or not. Furthermore, comparing your plan and progress to someone else can be defeating, and that can push you out of your own lane and off track all over again. Reminding yourself of your why and accepting YOUR journey as the right one, can help to stay on track and keep moving in a forward direction.

Finally, the fear of failure. WOOF. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “I don’t know if I can stick to it”.

Guess what?? You may not stick to it the first time or the second or the 10th time. That’s. Oh. Kay. But that’s the difference between dieting and eating for life.

Eating for life may be slower, it may take longer, but folks, it’s healthier and it allows for error without feeling like you failed. You just pick up where you left off. Crash diets, yo-yo diets, fad diets ARE. NOT. HEALTHY.

Not physically. Not mentally. Not emotionally. 

The best way in my experience to overcome the mind block of not being able to stick to or achieve your goal, is to not focus on the end goal itself. Instead, set up little mile markers that are easier to hit. Setting smaller goals are less overwhelming and still keep you moving closer to the end goal.

Additionally, get someone who can help you stay accountable. This can be a coach, a fellow goal chaser, a group of like minded people (Cough Cough, Crossfit Iron Legion). A good support person(s) will encourage you to get back on track if you wander, they will celebrate your wins when you don’t feel like they mean anything, they will remind you of your why (if you shared it). Support always makes the difference.

If you read this far, I hope you took something away as you begin your new way of eating. I could truly go in so many directions and make so many points regarding negative thoughts and information about “eating right”. It just gives me more topics to write about.

No matter what, set yourself up for success, by giving yourself grace, have patience, and get your mind right.

Here is your first goal of 2022 regarding your eating habits —“eat real food, not too much, mostly plants”. It’s not always easy but it really is simple.

If anyone ever has questions or needs some nutrition guidance I’m always available.

Take Aways:

  1. Perfect doesn’t exist. Follow the 80/20 rule. You can hit your goals and enjoy life too.
  2. Know your “why”
  3. Find a support system and create a plan specific to you.
  4. Forward is forward. Even 1% improvement is better than going backwards.
  5. Eat for life and overall well being not instant gratification.


Kaitie Neratka is a CF-L1 and Head Coach at CrossFit Iron Legion. She manages the Iron Legion Nutrition Program and helps athletes reach their nutrition goals with 1-1 coaching. Nutrition and fitness are her passion.

The Myth: If I starve myself I will lose weight.

Fact:  It takes energy to burn energy.

What this means is that if you eat too few calories your body will start to break down muscle tissue to feed itself.  The problem with this is that muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.  Our goal is to increase our muscle tissue, not burn it up.

Never run on fumes

Like a car, you never want your gas tank to be empty.  We want to keep our blood sugar levels up so that our bodies have plenty of fuel to maintain muscle tissue.

In order to increase our energy we need to make sure we are eating enough calories and there are plenty of apps to help you figure out the amount of calories that you should be eating (or you can always ask a coach to help you).  Again, I use MyFitnessPal, but there are many others out there.


Regular vs. Premium

Also like a car, the better the  quality of fuel you feed your body the better it will run and the longer the fuel will last.  Once you know how many calories you should be eating you can start concentrating on the quality of these calories.  Concentrate on complex carbohydrates, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lentils.  Chicken, turkey, fish , and lean red meats are great sources of protein.


Avoid high fat food

Lastly, avoid meals high in fat.  Fat stimulates the production of serotonin which may cause you to feel less energized and ready for a nap.  You should divide your fats up between meals and snacks and eat healthy fats like eggs, nuts, avocados, and cheese.  Cook with olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower, or coconut oil and avoid corn and soybean oils


A combination of healthy, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats at every meal should give you the burst of energy needed to keep you running at peak performance every day.


Get back to the beach (and beach body) with this delicious, but still good for you, Pineapple Banana Smoothie Recipe.


Don’t let winter, life, or quarantine 2020 keep you from enjoying the tropics

We are all missing the beach these days (for future readers it’s Quarantine 2020 as I write this recipe) so why not bring the beach to you.  Sometimes it just takes a smell or a flavor that reminds you of something you love.

As soon as I smell the pineapple and banana in this recipe I can feel the calm of the ocean, the sun in my face, and the sand in my toes (obviously the kids are at Grandma’s when I go to my special place LOL).

Pineapple Banana Protein Smoothie Recipe

 Watch me make this recipe here


½ c almond milk

½ c yogurt

1 scoop Phormula 1 Vanilla Milkshake Protein

4-8 oz of pineapple chunks W/ juice

1 banana

½ c ice (See tips to eliminate ice)


Combine all ingredients in a blender or Nutribullet

Blend until smoothie consistency (about 20 seconds)

Pour in a glass



  1. I froze the pineapple chunks the night before so that I did not have to use ice to give it a nice smoothie consistency
  2. Use a Yogurt that is low in sugar (Greek may be too bitter) because we are using it for protein and consistency, not for flavor. This will help keep the calories down.
  3. You can use coconut milk, cashew milk, regular milk, etc. Using an unsweetened nut milk will also help cut calories down.




Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day, so why not start the day right with a nutritious & delicious Mixed Berry Protein Muffin.

A healthy on the go breakfast even the kids will enjoy!

Most days having enough time to get my kids dressed is a challenge, let alone feed them and myself!  I love having options for us to eat in the car as we head to school/ work.

I know there are plenty of options that are pre-packaged for on the go breakfast, but let’s be honest, they are not great for you.  Most have a lot of added sugars, preservatives, and all the extras we are looking to avoid.


Mixed Berry Protein Muffin Recipe!


1 cup Kodiak Protein Pancake Mix

1 Scoop Cinnamon Cookie Batter Protein*

1 c Mixed Berries

2 T Coconut Sugar

1 T Agave Syrup

1 egg

¾ c Almond Milk

1 T Coconut Oil



Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine all ingredients except berries and 1 T coconut sugar

Sir until thoroughly mixed.  Batter should not be clumpy

Fold in berries

Pour in lined or greased muffin tin

Sprinkle remaining coconut sugar evenly over muffins

Bake for 16 minutes (until inserted toothpick come s out clean)

Allow to cool before serving

Store in an airtight container


Makes 12 Mini Muffins


Enjoy your breakfast to go!

I stored my muffins in the refrigerator because I wanted to make them last as long as possible (no preservatives=less shelf life) and heat them in the microwave each morning to warm them up.

Mornings are better for everyone when we have had a great breakfast in our bellies!


This Strawberry Protein Ice Cream is full of protein, real strawberries, and it tastes AMAZING.  A perfect dessert that won’t wreck your waistline.

I love Ice Cream!  A LOT of Ice Cream

I will admit I have been known to indulge in some….err. a lot of ice cream.  Sometimes it is a reasonable amount, and others it is an entire container…..insert face smack emoji.  Unfortunately after these indulgence I not only feel horrible physically, but mentally too.

So, I had to come up with an alternative.  This Strawberry Protein Ice Cream recipe was my answer.

Now I can eat ta serving or the whole recipe and I do not feel bad (mentally or physically)


It’s a win, win, win!


Watch me make the recipe here

Strawberry Protein Ice Cream Recipe


1 c Vanilla Yogurt

1 scoop Strawberry Milkshake Protein

1-2 T Coconut sugar



Combine all ingredients

Mix thoroughly (I use a manual food processor, but if you chop the strawberries finely you can hand mix)

Pour in a bowl of choice


Freeze at least 2 hours



Easy to make and you can make multiple batches at one time.

This is an easy recipe to make, but because it takes a little time to freeze I like to make larger quantities.  Making bigger batches gives me several days of Ice cream or I can share with the kids.  Fun little trick for the kids……eating ice cream that is good for them (because healthy…..yuck, LOL)



Are you craving something sweet but you do not want to mess up your progress?  Me too! Then I made this Chocolate Protein Mousse Recipe….GAME CHANGER!

I love Dessert, but unfortunately they love me too

I will admit that I am a dessert junky (that’s the first step, right?).  But as much as I love dessert I love being comfortable in my skin too.

Can’t have both, right?

Sort of.

We just have to find healthier, but still tasty alternatives to the things we love.  This Chocolate Protein Mousse Recipe does just that.  It is full of protein, but lower in sugar than a traditional mousse recipe.

You can watch me make this recipe here

Chocolate Protein Mousse Recipe


1 c Vanilla Yogurt

1 scoop 1st Phorm Level 1 Milk Chocolate Protein Powder

1 T Cocoa Powder

1 T Coconut sugar

½ t Vanilla extract



Combine all ingredients

Mix thoroughly

Pour in a bowl of choice


Refrigerate 1 hour



Fast & Easy makes this recipe perfect for the sudden onset cravings (let’s call them SOC, lol)

This recipe takes very little prep time and the ingredients are easy to keep on hand.  One bag of coconut sugar will last a long time and yogurt is a great staple to keep in the refrigerator.  When SOC strikes whip up a batch of Chocolate Protein Mousse and you live to fight another day…..and so do our loved ones that suffer the wrath of our sweet tooth mood swings.



These protein balls are an easy snack that is packed full of energy. They are great for a busy day when all you can do is grab a couple and run out the door.

As a mother of 3 I understand all too well how quickly a day can go by and I have not had enough to eat.  Unfortunately everyone suffers, not just me.  Yes, I get a little cranky, LOL. On top of a great pick me up snack they are very quick and easy to make, which is perfect for those of us with very little spare time.


German Chocolate Cake Protein Balls (GF)

Servings: 24
Calorie content per ball: 173 calories (Carbohydrates: 12.5 grams Protein: 6 grams Fat: 11 grams)

*Macro information is based on the ingredients I used.  If you are changing up the recipe in any way you will need to recalculate your macros.  If you have no clue what I am talking about but want to, read my blog What Are Macros?


¾ cup coconut flour
¾ cup almond flour
½ cup 1st Phorm German Chocolate protein powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup honey
¾ cup natural peanut butter
¼ cup coconut oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon butter extract
*Optional: coconut flakes and cocoa powder for topping


1. Mix all ingredients together except the coco powder & Coconut Flakes.
2. Stir until all ingredients until completely mixed.
3. Put mix in the refrigerator for 30 minutes
4. Once chilled roll dough into 1 ½ inch ball
5. Place on wax paper or in mini muffin papers
6. Refridgerate in an air tight container until ready to eat.
7. Optional: lightly dust the balls with cocoa powder and sprinkle with coconut flakes before serving


I hope you enjoy this Recipe as much my kids and I do!



Multi Vitamin

Many of us are familiar with Macro nutrients (aka Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat), but what about our micronutrients? Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that are essential for maintaining good health.

How do we get micronutrients?

Like with our macronutrients, a well-balanced diet gives us a good foundation for our micronutrients.  But, even with a good diet we may be deficient in some vitamins and minerals.  These deficiencies can lead to health problems.  This is where a multi vitamin comes in.  Taking a multi vitamin daily can fill the gaps in our vitamins and minerals.

Are all multivitamins the same?

Taking any multivitamin is better than not taking one at all, but not all vitamins are the same.  Some multivitamins contain 100% or more of the recommended daily amount while others may contain only 25%.  Some vitamins will have a more quality source for the vitamins and minerals they contain.

Multivitamins can come in different forms as well.  Most multivitamin are in a pressed tablet form (very hard to digest completely), others are capsulated, gummies, or even liquid.  The easier they are to digest the more you will get out of the vitamin.  We carry several Multivitamins at Brick & Iron Cafe for Men and Women specific, for everyone , and even for kids.

Can’t build without a good foundation

Think of your multivitamin as a foundation.  You could not build your house without a foundation or it would not hold up.  Having the time to eat all our nutrients perfectly every day can be challenging for anyone, especially when we have the busy schedule of kids, work, school, etc., taking a multivitamin gives you a good foundation to build on every day.

Iced Caramel Latte Protein Coffee Recipe


How to make a Caramel Latte Iced Protein Coffee that is not just great for you, but great tasting too!

Ditch the high sugar and chemical filled creamer!

I will be the first to admit, I love creamer!  The more the better.  My husband would always ask “Do you want some coffee with that creamer?”.  My response “Just a splash” LOL.  Unfortunately, my waist line did not love the creamer as much as I did.

I had to come up with an alternative.  I tried so many different ways to quit the creamer and failed miserably.  Until I found 1st Phorm Caramel Latte Protein

Finally, I had found something that was sweet enough to curb my cravings for creamer and had the bonus of being a great protein supplement.  I am a busy mom of 3 (two still in diapers) so getting some nutrition with my coffee keeps me from getting hangry first thing in the morning……or later in the afternoon when I am running on fumes.

Watch me make this recipe here

Caramel Latte Iced Coffee Recipe


4 oz Unsweetened Almond Milk

6 oz Iced Coffee

½ scoop Level 1 Caramel Latte Protein


Combine all Ingredients in a Shaker Bottle

Shake until blended

Pour over ice


Why is protein important?

You may have noticed up above that I said I liked that I was getting a great Protein Supplement, but you may be wondering why that is so important to me.

To put it in simplest terms, muscles help burn fat and we need protein to build muscles.  Most of us struggle to get proper nutrition every day let alone get our daily requirements, so a protein supplement helps.