Do you love almond milk? Make your own!

I recently bought a NutriBullet/Magicbullet and am hooked on that nifty thing. I’ve been having 2-3 green blended juices every day that are loaded with veggies and fiber. I love making a sweet treat at night with almond milk, dark chocolate powder and half a banana with ice cubes. I’ve researched recipes for almond milk since someone told me that you can make it easily in the NutriBullet. I came across this great description and wanted to share it with you. If you’ve been buying packaged almond milk, please check the ingredients. If it contains carrageenan, you want to switch brands or make your won. The refrigerated Trader Joe’s brand is great, as is the Silk brand. Here’s why carrageenan can cause your digestion and stomach quite some issues, so give the homemade natural version a go. This blog post is reposted from Frugally Sustainable. 

I love almond milk.
But you know what I love more…homemade almond milk.
You can absolutely drive out to your local store and buy almond milk – but once you’ve had it fresh, the rich taste will keep you coming back for more! And guess what? It’s super easy to make.
Let me show you how.
Homemade Almond Milk
Ingredients
-pure, filtered water for soaking
-1 cup raw, organic almonds
-4 cups pure, filtered water
Optional Add-Ins
-sweetener to taste (i.e. maple syrup, honey, stevia, or my ultimate fave…4-6 medjool dates)
-homemade vanilla extract (I like to add 1 teaspoon to the mix)
-carob powder (Chocolate almond milk anyone!?!)
-spices (i.e. cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cardamon…get creative)
Method
1. Allow the almonds to soak covered in pure, filtered water for up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. Overnight will do, if you’re in a pinch. But, I like to give mine a good couple of days.
2. After soaking, strain the soaked almonds and toss the soaking water.
3. Place your almonds, four cups of pure, filtered water, and any optional add-ins in a high-speed blender — I love my Vitamix for this — and blend on high until the mixture becomes frothy…approximately 1-2 minutes.
4. Pour the contents of the blender through a cheese cloth lined strainer — or if you have one, a nut milk bag — into a 1 quart glass canning jar. Squeeze to extract all the goodness of the almond meal.
5. Store the milk in the refrigerator. It should keep for up to 3 days. Shake the jar prior to use.
Note
I don’t like the idea of wasting all of that almond meal/pulp. Now granted, most of the nutrients are gone into the milk, but I still find it useful for recipes like these brownies…yum! Or you could dehydrate them for use as a coating for chicken and fish. Perhaps make almond butter. What about using them as a body or facial scrub?
The possibilities are endless really!  

Why am I not losing weight?

Hi Ariane,


As I told you yesterday I have been eating healthy for a long time but I can’t seem to lose any weight. Can you please take a look and tell me if there’s anything that’s preventing me from losing weight?


Here is what a typical day looks like for me. I wake up super early and am at work at 7 am. I am teaching 30 students now without a co-teacher, so it is hard to eat all the time, but I am trying to get my snacks in.  I hope this helps you figure out my mystery!

Thanks again for looking at this!

Judy

Breakfast: 0% plain fat free yogurt

Snack: quarter of quest protein bar

snack: veggies: sugar snap peas, jicama, peppers, and cucumbers.

Lunch: trader joes chopped veggie salad with “chik-n” fake chicken strips.

Snack: 3/4 apple

Snack: rest of protein bar or a handful of pretzels or a half of a graham cracker.
Some days, I will have a protein shake, others, I will have some cottage cheese. Some days just more veggies. 

Dinner: a lot of roasted veggies.


For dessert I eat another Greek yogurt and 1.5 cup berries, or cottage cheese and half of a baked apple. My dessert is immediately after dinner so I consider that yogurt or cottage cheese my protein a lot of times. Sometimes I will have a veggie burger, but recently, since I have not had much time, I have my protein with my “dessert”.

Sometimes i have 2 dried dates, or dried apples.


Hi Judy, 

your food diary looks quite clean, but there are a few things that you may consider ‘healthy’ that are not necessarily ‘fat burning’ foods. The 1.5 cups of berries can add up to about 20 grams of sugar at night. The fructose in fruit gets stored as fat much faster than other carbohydrates. Also, some people are very sensitive to dairy because of the lactose (milk sugar) it contains. It can cause your body to release insulin, which signals your body to store fat.

The dried fruit is very high in sugar – sometimes even higher than candy. You said you’ve been pretty consistently clean like this for a while, so what I would do at this point is step things up to an even cleaner diet so that your metabolism kicks in a notch. Keep in mind that you have a very lean frame, so you need fewer calories than other people and that means keeping clean requires just a bit more effort.

For the next seven days only, cut out the yogurt, the protein bars, graham crackers, pretzels and fruit. Keep eating your protein and veggies and drink lots of water. Also, skip alcohol. Just for a week go completely clean. Then, add one thing back in, such as the dairy or the fruit. Pay attention to how you feel when you add that type of food back in. Any digestive issues, allergic reactions, congestion? Then, after another 3 days add another food back in and see what happens to your energy, your weight, your cravings, concentration.

During this “detox” week you are forcing your body to go into fat burning mode and once that’s done it will burn body fat more readily for energy. Also, you’re making your body more sensitive to foods you eat on a daily basis and you can find out whether you have sensitivities. An elimination diet is the best way to see what foods can be causing issues. 

Let me know how it goes!

How late is too late for dinner?

Hey Ariane,


I have been on day 4 without any sugar and that’s crazy cause I LOVE sugar but I haven’t had the cravings as much as I thought I would.  I remember telling you that this was going to be the hardest challenge for me. I may try something sweet for my cheat meals and hopefully it will taste super sweet so I won’t crave it as much.  I am going to write down what I eat daily and see if I feel any changes such as the mid-afternoon slump or any cravings that may arise.

I wanted to find out the latest time to eat my meal or snack. If it’s dinner, it should be really light. I ask because I wake up around 8:30am, have breakfast around 9, I try to squeeze in 2 snacks but then I feel like dinner or my snack ends up being around 9 pm. But when it’s that late like last night I have a protein shake because I usually just finish a workout class at that time. 
Thanks, Blanca

Blanca,
I’m glad to hear you’re not craving the sweet stuff anymore. It usually only takes 2-3 days without sugar for cravings to subside.

Regarding your question – the timing of your dinner isn’t as important as what you eat.

You can eat right up until bedtime – as long as it is protein. If you were to eat more than 30 grams of starch or sugar (aka the Ben & Jerry nightcap), then that would likely result in fat storage overnight. If you load up on sugary and starchy carbs right before going to bed, then you’re not going to burn it off because you’ll be sleeping. Keep in mind that food is fuel for your body. If you overload your body with energy from food, it gets stored away. Another drawback of eating a load of carbs at night is that you’ll likely wake up feeling tired and hung-over because your blood sugar dropped overnight. Waking up with a low blood sugar will make for a cranky, tired and unmotivated morning.

If you eat a light dinner consisting of protein and veggies (think grilled salmon and asparagus or roasted chicken and broccoli) or you have just a protein shake then that’s your best bet to promote fat loss. If your dinner is at 9pm and it consists of veggies and protein then that’s fine because you’re getting fibrous carbs from the veggies that won’t weigh you down. 



If you don’t feel like eating or aren’t massively hungry, then a shake is perfect. As long as you eat about 20-30 grams of protein within the hour of finishing your workout, you’re feeding your muscles the amino acids needed for repair and rebuilding. In fact, having a protein shake right before going to bed ensures that your muscles feed on protein throughout the night and don’t run on empty. 

Believe it or not, some body builders get up in the middle of the night to down a shake to ensure they’re not going into catabolism (muscle breakdown) in the weeks before competition. Your body needs protein every few hours, so they set an alarm to ensure proper protein timing. When Hilary Swank was training for her role in Million Dollar Baby, she would get up and drink protein shakes that had tuna mixed in them because she put on about 20 lbs of muscle to get that ripped for the role. 


That required quite a bit more protein in her diet and she went all out to ensure she’d get that, including getting up at all hours of the night. Here’s an interview with her about the training and diet regimen. I think you’ll find it as fascinating as me. 


So to sum it up: eat dinner, no matter how late, and make sure it consists of fiber and protein. Skip the sugar and starch at dinnertime and if not hungry, a protein shake will do the trick.

Do I HAVE to eat after my workout?

Hi Ariane–

If I’m not hungry (just sore) after the workout, is it ok to just keep drinking water, or should I eat something to prevent feeling lethargic later? I don’t presently have access to any protein shakes, and I don’t want to eat anything that will undermine the fat burning!

Thank you,

Tessa

Hi Tessa,

the hour after your workout is your window of opportunity to refuel your body and help your muscles rebuild and repair. Eating nothing at all would be detrimental to your muscle growth. Even if you’re not hungry, drink at least a protein shake or eat a cup of Greek yogurt. Eat two hard boiled eggs or a few slices of turkey. It is important that you refuel your muscles with about 20-30 grams of protein (depending on how much muscle you have) so they can get started on repairing and rebuilding themselves. If you don’t have any protein coming in, then they will over time actually break down, rather than build up. You’re not undermining fat burning by eating as long as you’re not loading up on sugar and starches), but you’re actually slowing muscle growth by not eating. 

The key is to pair your protein with some carbs (the good kind) because the carbs help raise your insulin just a bit, which is key in driving the protein to the muscles. A perfect post-workout snack would be a cup of Greek yogurt with a few oats and berries on top, or grilled chicken with broccoli. If you are already at your goal body fat and goal weight and just want to work on maintaining your weight, then you can refuel by eating more carbs after your workout, such as brown rice or sweet potatoes. These carbs will be shuttled to your muscles and liver and when you work out the next day you will draw the energy from the muscles.

See you Tuesday!

Cheers, ariane

Let the Detox begin: Preethi’s 2nd Day

Here’s Preethi’s second day of Detox: 
So, I got through Day #1 just fine. Last night was our first meeting with Ariane about how our bodies work and deal with the food we put in it (this is the 3rd time I’ve done this class – so I think I have it down.)
I had fantasized that my husband would make all his ‘sugar and life’ arguments to Ariane and she’d totally take him down. But he didn’t say a word. Even though I kept turning to him and nodding, trying to speak volumes with my eyes, “Go ahead. Make all those lovely arguments you would normally make. Challenge her! Tell her how it’s stupid to cut out cookies.” But he just sat there looking like a sweet, honorable student.
So here’s the deal with our 21-day detox:
Yes
Unlimited non-starchy vegetables and one serving (equivalent to the size and thickness of your palm) of fish, chicken, eggs or turkey at every meal. Coffee – not more than 3 cups, tea – unlimited, I think. Water, of course. Soda water with lemon at a bar.
No for the first week
Starchy vegetables, all good grains (brown rice, whole wheat breads, lentils, beans except green beans), dairy – all cheese, all yogurt, milk if possible
No absolutely
Alcohol, grains (white breads, pasta), sugar – meaning pastries, candy, etc., processed food (think anything that comes in a box or wrapper), soda, ‘energy drinks’ like Gatorade and the like, all juices, sweetened teas.
Which brings me to today (Day #2). I already feel lighter and I look better because I’m not bloated. I was craving a glass of wine last night but distracted myself on Pinterest and I was good.

By the way, you can follow my 21-Day Detox Food Diary board on Pinterest. If you’re not on Pinterest yet, get on it! It’s loads of fun. My board there is more of a visual diary and so a very quick read.

Anyway, this is what I had yesterday:

Breakfast:
Tea and a protein shake (½ cup skim milk, ½ cup water, 2 scoops whey protein from Whole Foods, 1 tsp natural peanut butter from TraderJoe’s)
Snack #1:
A skim cappuccino from Colombe (no sugar)
Lunch:
Baked salmon, squid and mussel salad, seaweed salad, peppers picked out from one salad option, a single piece of tomato, a piece of feta picked out from another salad option, and 2 pieces of cauliflower picked out from a steamed veggies plate.
FYI, lunch was from a food/salad bar and so I went a little nuts. I was literally flitting around from one dish to the other thinking, “that’s healthy… ooh look over there – that’s healthy, too… mmm, squid – that’s good… oh, but fish – the right choice….do I have enough vegetables? Maybe I should add this crap…Eat the rainbow… Eat the rainbow…” and on and on. Which is how I ended up with this:

 

Snack #2:

15 roasted, unsalted almonds
Dinner:
Baked chicken with roasted broccoli and green beans (courtesy of husband!!!)
Water:
Total fail. I think I had a ½ liter all day. Supposed to have 2 liters. I was kinda thirsty all day but just too lazy to drink water.
Will have a better day today.

The Slim & Strong Detox Challenge is conducted by Ariane Hundt of my favorite Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp. You can visit her site for more info. I should be bitching about it plenty over the next 3 weeks as well.

Lose Fat in 24 hours

In the past weeks quite a few boot campers have taken on a new challenge to increase their fat burning. It seems the word is spreading as every week I see more and more people trying it out for themselves. They take the Monday 6.30am class, then the 6.30pm class, then come back 11 hours later on Tuesday at 6.30am. Some have even dropped into the Tuesday 6.30pm class for a 4th workout in 2 days. How did this all start? I think I have to blame Preethi for this, who writes an educational and fun blog called “The Skinny on Manhattan”. Preethi has been taking Slim & Strong on and off for ages and she’s a true convert when it comes to taking care of her fab physique and eating clean. In her blog she writes about how to enjoy Manhattan without getting fat (yes, really that’s possible). In an effort to lose fat fast, we developed an approach that she would take when she had to work of a few extra pounds fast. You can read about her approach here, which she calls the “Quickie Blubber Burn“.
Here’s how it works: You work out for 3 hours in 24 hours and keep your carbohydrate intake very low. When you have little energy coming in from carbs, and when you burn off stored energy in your body with workouts, then your body is forced to shift to fat burning mode. The fat will come from stored body fat and that’s when the shape of your body changes. 
source: www.allposters.com
You can do this on your own by simply eliminating all foods that contain sugar and starch. What’s left is 5 daily meals – balanced with a decent amount of protein (about the size and thickness of your palm) from fish, turkey, chicken, eggs, protein powder, low-fat diary (the latter in moderation) and pair it with loads of veggies. It’s hard to overdo it on veggies because they are very low in carbs, so eat your heart out. 
The result is a balanced blood sugar level which creates balanced energy, reduces food cravings, and keeps inflammation at bay. You’ll also notice you’ll sleep better throughout the night, no longer have energy roller coasters throughout the day and your mood is more balanced. In the long run your skin is clearer and your concentration better. Need I list more good things or are you convinced yet this isn’t just all about vanity? 
A balanced blood sugar level also means that you are allowing the hormone glucagon to kick in, which signals your body to burn body fat. If you feed on sugar and starches frequently, then you’re preventing this hormone from doing its job. 
Here are a few suggestions on how you can structure your meals during this Fast Fat Burning Day. 
Eat breakfast within an hour of getting up, 2-3 hours later a snack, lunch 2-3 hours later, then another snack 2-3 hours later and for dinner drink a protein shake only. 
Breakfast:
  • 3 eggs with veggies (omelet or fritatta) or 
  • Protein Shake with whey protein, water, ice and a little bit of fruit, or 
  • Greek yogurt non-fat with berries
Snack: 
  • Protein Shake or 
  • Greek yogurt or 
  • Turkey rolled up with celery or
  • Carrots and hummus or
  • Veggies (bell peppers, carrots, snap peas, celery)
Lunch:
Mixed green salad with tuna or salmon or grilled chicken or
Grilled chicken with veggies or
Grilled fish with veggies or
Soup (clear broth) with veggies and chicken
Dinner:
Protein Shake mixed with water, ice and protein powder. Add half an avocado to stay full longer. 
If you have blood sugar fluctuations you’ll benefit from drinking a casein protein shake. Casein is the type of protein in cottage cheese, which forms a curd in your stomach and slowly releases protein over time. Thus keeping you full longer. You can also buy the Probolic Whey Protein, which is a protein blend of fast releasing, medium-speed releasing and slow-releasing proteins. That means that some proteins will get to your muscles fast, while others take hours to get there. This one’s ideal before bedtime. 
Taking in very little carbs at night ensures that your body turns to stored body fat for energy throughout the night. When you wake up in the morning, you have used up your glycogen stores in the muscles and liver and will be running on empty for the most part. When you then work out you will use body fat for energy. You may feel a bit low on energy at first but you can train your body to become efficient at fat burning if you do this on a regular basis.
This approach is not recommended for anyone with low body fat. If there is little body fat to burn the body turns to muscle for energy, which is detrimental. Also, if you are a distance runner and plan on running for longer than an hour, then this approach is not recommended either as with distance training your body will likely also burn muscle as energy and not much body fat. 
Give it a go and see excess bloat disappear and feel lighter just within a day.

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Are you wasting your time in the gym?

You’re on a mission to lose body fat. Have you wasted hours in the gym by doing the following:

Before you start your workout you eat a snack because you think you need the energy. You eat nuts or granola, energy bars, dairy or fruit and then spend an hour doing cardio on the treadmill or elipticial or take a conditioning class.

What’s wrong with this approach? Well, the issue is that fat loss only happens when your body runs out of energy from carbs. If you eat lots of carbs every day you will burn only carbs and never body fat. What constitutes lots of carbs? For the average 150 lb woman that would be more than 150 grams per day. For the average 180 lb guy about 180 g of carbs per day.

http://jennyandtheband.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/fit-woman21.jpg

The only way you will ever change the shape and look of your body is by burning off the body fat that covers your muscles. Unless you drop to a body fat of about 20% for women and 16% and below for men you are not going to see any muscle tone because the muscles are hidden underneath a layer of fat. Take a look at the pictures below, which illustrate the level of definition based on your body fat percentage. 


http://frigginlaser.com/2012/01/25/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-fat/


How do you expose the muscle and show tone and definition? You need to burn off the fat that covers them. Here’s how:

When you work out your body uses energy initially from the carbs in your blood sugar. That might last you about 20 minutes – depending on how long ago you had your last meal and how many carbs you ate. (Just imagine that your first 20 minutes running on the treadmill might not even burn any body fat – but only carbs!). Once the blood sugar resources are used up, your body turns to carbs stored in your liver and muscle. These carbs are called glycogen. The muscles can hold up to about 450 grams of carbs if you have a lot of muscle and much less if you have little muscle (that’s why you want to strength train. The more muscle you have, the more glycogen they can hold without making you fat!). The liver can store about 100 grams of carbs. Both muscles and liver can store about 2,000 calories worth of glycogen, which can provide you with about 3 hours of energy during an endurance event or last you for about 2 days if you keep a moderate carbohydrate diet. Only once those stores in the muscles and liver are used up will you burn fat .
So, make sure you reduce your carb intake throughout the day to about 30 g per meal to allow your body to use energy from body fat instead of energy from carbs. Once the time for your workout comes, you’ll burn through your blood sugar energy and muscle and liver glycogen stores quickly and then draw energy from your fat stores. Did you know that the average person can live for several weeks without food because your body becomes ultra-efficient at burning fat as fuel? That’s how much body fat we all carry on our bodies. 

If you have reached your goal weight and body fat already, then snacking before a workout can help you push yourself harder and make your workout more productive. Here’s a few pointers for snacking before working out:

Dairycan make you congested so reserve it for refueling after your workouts or skip it entirely. Nuts are too high in fat and that can make you sluggish during your workout. Granola is loaded with sugar and 1/3 cup has about 40 grams of carbs. You might have to run on the treadmill for about 30 minutes to just burn through the food you ate to fuel your workout – that’s a total waste of time. Use the fuel stores in your body.
Fruit converts into fructose, which is used by the liver, but not your muscles. The muscles will only use it for energy if nothing else is available, so save yourself the fruit sugar. If you want to lose fat and maintain muscle, then do your workouts on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. If you work out at night them have a snack or protein shake about 90 minutes before your workout. A non- carb/low-carb protein shake is best since it will allow you to maintain muscle while promoting fat burning. And, the best fat loss trick of all is to finish your day with a protein shake instead of a heavy dinner. Not only will you wake up feeling energized and refreshed but also quite a bit lighter. 

Eggs & Kale – and more breakfast options

In my quest to avoid bread for 30 days I have had my serious struggles. After all, it’s called “the Daily Bread” for a reason. I grew up in Germany and if I ever had to live up a German stereotype then it would be to eat bread every day.
this could have been me had I not left in time…. 

I’m not talking about the kind of stuff you get in the supermarket that’s wrapped up in plastic and is really just soft toast. I mean the dense, grainy, dark kind of bread that Germany is known for. I remember my weekend grocery shopping trips with my mom. We’d stop at the butcher for the meat, we’d go to the coffee shop for freshly ground coffee (I loved the smell even when I was only 5 years old) and then we’d make our rounds to the bakery. We’d always take home a fresh loaf of bread, often still warm, and sometimes I would get scolded for breaking off a piece of the warm corner because I just couldn’t wait to get home and put a slab of butter on it. Yeah, that’s how you raise a sturdy kid!

So, in essence, my love for bread must be in my genes. I remember telling my mom once that I wasn’t eating bread anymore (that was years ago) and her response was something like “What do you mean, no bread? Your body needs it. What are you going to eat? You’ll be depriving yourself, darling.”

Enough said, right? You can’t be German unless you eat bread. Cutting out bread for a month is more a quest to open up my breakfast options and live up to a challenge that truly is one and less about cutting down on carbs. However, in that regard it’s an effective thing to do. Also, grains can cause various digestive issues and have even been linked to sinus issues and allergies. I know I feel better without grains but that doesn’t mean that applies to everyone.

I’ve had my range of emotions in the past few weeks – from truly feeling sad when going to a bakery to get a coffee (what was I thinking) and not being able to buy anything to feeling utterly tempted to just go for it every time I look at that frozen loaf of bread in my freezer. Oh yeah, there was also the time I made my dog  a peanut butter toast just so I could have some myself. She wasn’t so happy about sharing!

Yes, I have cheated but this challenge was not an attempt at being perfect. I wanted to see how creative I could be and what would happen in the process. I learned that I truly have an emotional connection to bread that goes beyond nourishment. While it makes me feel warm and comfortable, especially in the winter, it really doesn’t make me feel great in the long run. There are huge differences in bread and whenever possible I would go for the real deal rather than the plastic packages or even frozen stuff.

In the process though I found a few really great breakfast alternatives. I’ve shared with you the Bubble & Squeak recipe and yesterday I made Eggs on Kale. I’ve had massive cravings for kale over the weekend and yesterday I steamed up a big batch with garlic and put 3 eggs sunny-side up on it. It tasted amazing. It’s a breakfast that makes you feel healthy and full. You get plenty of protein with a whopping dose of fiber. You’re ready for the day. The rest of the kale was thrown in the oven for some crispy Kale chips. 

Another great bread alternative are the Masala Burgers from Trader Joe’s. Each burger contains only 12 grams of carbs, which is less than most slices of bread. Add a few eggs and you have the perfect breakfast.

Greek yogurt is a great choice for someone on the run. A cup of Osikris, Chobani or Fage Greek Yogurt contains roughly 18 grams of protein. Add cinnamon for blood sugar control or a few berries and oats and you have a meal.

Omelets are ideal because they combine the protein from the eggs with veggies. Load up on the veggies and this breakfast will keep you full for hours – a sign that your blood sugar is stabilized and you’ll be in fat burning mode.

Protein Shakes are perfect when you’re on the run. Many gyms have juice bars or your local health food store can whip up a shake with whey protein powder, water and ice. Add half an avocado for extra good fat and to fill up. Keep in mind, however, that liquids don’t keep you full nearly as long as solid food. Liquids don’t require much digestion, whereas food needs to be broken down – hence you’ll be full longer.

With more breakfast options on my hand the realization that life is in fact possible without bread (even though my mom would probably still challenge me to the core on that one :-) I will continue trying out new foods that incorporate lean protein and veggies galore.

If you’re been running into the same old hurdle with your diet, why don’t you pick just one thing that will make a big difference and give it a fair chance for a change. Whether it’s drinking 3 liters of water a day, eating a lean protein at every meal, or eating veggies every day – it all can make a big difference in your energy and health. Small changes go a long way. What will be your challenge?

What’s the better protein – whey or egg white?

Q: Jay Robb’s Shakes- What is the difference between the Whey Protein & the Egg White shakes? Which is better to eat at which time of day? I find that they really fill me up if I blend them up with ice cubes and milk. – Andrea
Andrea, there is no difference between the shakes with regard to their nutritional content.The whey shakes are absorbed quicker by the body than egg whites. Egg whites are better for those who have lactose allergies as some whey shakes have a certain amount of lactose in them that  can upset digestion. Whey protein can increase blood levels of glutathione, an antioxidant, which is important for a healthy immune system. As we get older these levels decrease and supplementing with whey protein is ideal. 


I don’t find there’s a big taste difference but notice that the whey is a bit more filling. Mixing them with milk is fine (use skim) but you can also use water if you want to reduce your lactose/sugar intake. Or, you can add a small piece of fruit (bananas or berries) to add more flavor. Keep in mind, however, that fruit sugar (fructose) leads to fat storage much faster than any other carbohydrate because only your liver metabolizes it  - not your muscles.