Almond Meal Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

It’s getting colder out, which means… PUMPKIN!! I am not usually a huge fan of muffins and don’t bake nearly as much as I used to, but these are delicious for a snack or to have with breakfast and coffee. I adapted them from a fittipdaily.com recipe by slightly reducing maple syrup, adding more spice, swapping the eggs for flax, and obviously adding some toppings. How can you eat a muffin without toppings?

With a few of them I tested pumping up the pumpkin even more by adding some puree as filling and it was a HUGE success! Skip the fake pumpkin at Starbucks and in every processed food at the grocery store. Get festive this fall with this healthy recipe’s dose of good fats and antioxidant vitamins A and E! If muffins aren’t your thing, check out a list of some of my favorite fall recipes at the bottom of the post ;)

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Almond Pumpkin Muffins (V, GF, DF)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c almond meal or flour  (pictured below)
3/4 c pureed organic pumpkin (from home baked or canned*)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin spice (I use trader joe’s mix)
2 tsp organic cinnamon
3 flax eggs (need 3 tablespoons ground flax)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons pure organic maple syrup

Optional (but not really) toppings: I recommend finely chopped walnuts, coconut, and cacao nibs
*Purchasing tip: If I do purchase canned, I buy beans at Trader Joe’s because they do not contain BPA. A risk of using canned foods is that the cans are lined with the carcinogenic chemical BPA. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, click here for brands that are BPA free.
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Directions:
-In a ramekin or small bowl, mix 3 Tbsp flax with 8-9 Tbsp warm water and let sit
-Heat oven to 350* Fahrenheit
-Lightly grease muffin tin with olive oil or coconut oil
-Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
-I another bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients together, including the flax eggs.
-Add to the dry and stir until you have a smooth but damp consistency. Here is a pic in the mixing bowl:
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-Spoon even amounts into a muffin tin. I find to get a normal (not normal per dunkin donuts standards, but actually a normal serving size) that I can only get 10 muffins out of one batch, not 12. 
-Optional (pictured below): press down the very center of the muffins with a rubber spatula and add 1 more tablespoon of pumpkin puree
-Add toppings if you’d like!

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-Place in oven and bake 20-25 minutes depending on your oven’s personality :)
-Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes before taking out of muffin tins

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Enjoy! And try practice portion control as much as possible!

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If anyone makes mini-muffins, let me know how they turn out and how long you keep them in the oven for ;)

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Here are a few other fall recipes that I love to make once it starts to get cool outside!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi from Iowa Girl Eats
-I use half whole wheat flour and half almond meal, and olive oil instead of butter for the sauce

Raw Pecan Pie Tartlets from My Darling Vegan

Baked Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes from Seeded at the Table:
-I use whole wheat flour and almond milk for the donut as well as coconut oil and organic sugar for the topping

I cannot wait to try these no bake Pumpkin Raisin Peanut Butter Cups from MJ and Hungryman
or these no bake Pumpkin Pie Cookies listed on the Eat Local Grown site

And a few of my own fall recipes:

Pumpkin Buckwheat Oat Pancakes (make at least 2x/month)
Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts & Cranberries (perfect for Thanksgiving dinner)
Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Italian Style Spaghetti Squash w/ Roasted Seed Recipe
Maple Chia Roasted Pecans & Walnuts

Nutrition Information (plain without toppings):

Serving Size: 1 Muffin
Servings Per Recipe: 10

Calories: 125
Total Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: .5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 4 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 10 g
Fiber: 2.5 g
Sugar: 5 g
Protein: 4 g
Sodium: 130 mg   7 %
Potassium: 240 mg 5%

Vitamin A: 7 %             Thiamin: 7 %           Riboflavin: 13 %
Niacin: 5 %                   Vitamin B6: 3          Folate: <1 %
Pantothenic Acid: 3%   Vitamin C: 2%         Vitamin E: 28 %
Calcium: 8 %                Iron: 8 %                 Zinc: 11%
Copper: 25 %               Magnesium: 18 %   Phosphorus: 2 %
Manganese: 40%         Selenium: 2%

**Vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concerns

Peanut Cocoa Energy Bars

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I adapted this recipe right from my cashew cookie hemp energy bars because I wanted to make a nut free alternative for those with nut allergies! My brother is sadly allergic to tree nuts, but not peanuts, and in trying to find convenience energy bars for him, I had hardly any luck. These can give you a less sweet Reese’s like taste and are great for anyone who loves a PB + chocolate combo food (who doesn’t?). Like my cashew hemp and date/almond bars, these are a good, clean, snack to have in between meals or before a workout. I really like to make a batch of bars every week so we can easily add one to our lunch bag that we take to work.

For those of you who are still getting on your food prep game and might have a nut allergy, I was able to find several Clif Brand bars that per their website, are tree nut free (but not peanut free). Please note that while they do use more natural sources of sugar than most bars, these types of bars are best for physically active individuals due to their sugar content.

  • Clif (original) Bars: Apricot, Chocolate Brownie, Coconut Chocolate Chip
  • CLif Mojo: Peanut butter pretzel
  • CLIF kid zbar protein: chocolate chip, chocolate mint

If you are concerned with any other allergies such as dairy, eggs, soy or wheat, use Clif’s allergen table to see what convenience snacks are safe for you. Now for the recipe!

Peanut Cocoa Energy Bars (Veg, DF, GF)
Makes 12 bars

Ingredients (use organic whenever possible):

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1 1/2 Cups raw or dry roasted unsalted peanuts (I use whole foods 365 organic)
1 Cup raw pitted dates*
1/4 Cup hemp protein powder
1/2 tsp sea salt (omit if using salted peanuts)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raw cacao (or even cocoa powder if that’s all you have)
Optional: 1 tablespoon maca root powder
Optional: 1 tablespoon raw hemp hearts

*Both Medjool and Deglet Noor work. When using Deglet you may need to add a tsp of water for more moisture
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Directions:

-Add all ingredients to your food processor, dry first and liquid last.

-Pulse until all ingredients are pretty finely ground like in this picture, approximately 1-2 minutes.
If the mixture does not seem sticky enough add another 1/2 tablespoon of honey or even water.

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-Next, pour whole mixture onto a large sheet of wax paper. Fold the paper over the mixture and begin to flatten our with your hands or a rolling pin. I roll mine out to about 1/2 inch thick. Once rolled out to desired thickness, flatten out the edges with hands.

-Cut the pieces evenly into 12 bars. You can obviously cut to larger or smaller if you want, but nutrition info below is for 12.

-Separate the bars and cut the large sheet of wax paper to wrap the bars. Throw one in your lunch bag or purse & store the rest in the fridge for up to 10 days.

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Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Dates, in my opinion, are natures candy! They are a source of natural sugar which can be helpful to athletes before and during exercise when they need a quick absorbing energy source. They provide fiber and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and even some calcium. Instead of packaged products, I use dates as fuel during long outdoor workouts and even races.

Peanuts are a good source of most B vitamins, especially niacin. They also provide vitamin E, minerals like copper and selenium, and the phytochemical resveretrol (you may have heard of this because it is in red wine) They are known for their heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats.

Hemp protein is an excellent alternative to dairy proteins like whey and casein. Manitoba Harvest is my favorite brand for both protein powder and hemp hearts; they highlight amino acid content here. Other than its protein content, hemp also provides both soluble (great for your heart) and insoluble (excellent for your gut) fiber, potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium and lots of iron. In addition, hemp protein is a terrific vegan source of omega 3’s.

Maple Syrup is a source of added sugar but can have some benefits if it is 100% pure and is used in moderation. it actually provides teeny amounts of calcium, iron, mangnesium & zinc. One study in 2010 found Canadian Maple Syrup to contain over 26 antioxidant compounds (1)!

Cacao powder is different from cocoa powder in that it is not processed with alkali which can remove some antioxidants and nutrients. When using cacoa, you are getting minerals like iron, magnesium and calcium which help regulate metabolism and keep your blood system and bones healthy. You also get some fiber, and phytochemicals theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamine which have been found to support brain health and promote well-being.

Maca root has small amounts of calcium, Vitamin C and iron as well as fiber, phytochemical antioxidants and plant sterols which are known to aid in reducing blood cholesterol levels. It is most sought due to claims to boost energy and endocrine function (particularly in females). Maca has been consumed in Peru for thousands of years for these reasons, but there is not a large body of conclusive scientific evidence for those claims. I tried Navitas Naturals brand mostly to see what the hype was about. I enjoy the taste and do feel it provides a small energy boost when I add it to my oatmeal and skip the morning coffee – but that is just my feedback, not a research study! Lot’s of studies related to endocrine function are linked to from a summaryhere and you can evaluate more research at examine.com.

References:

1. J Agric Food Chem 2011 Jul 27;59(14):7708-16. Further investigation into maple syrup yields 3 new lignans, a new phenylpropanoid, and 26 other phytochemicals. Li L, Seeram NP.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size: 1 Bar
Servings Per Recipe: 12

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Calories: 145
Total Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 17 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sugar: 10 g
Protein: 5.5 g
Sodium: 50 mg   5 %
Potassium: 220 mg 5%

Vitamin A: 2%      Thiamin: 10 %               Riboflavin: 5 %
Niacin: 3%              Vitamin B6: 6 %            Folate: 3 %
Vitamin C: 1%        Pantothenic Acid: 5 %
Vitamin E: 3 %       Calcium: 6 %                Iron: 12%
Zinc: 15%                 Copper: 35 %               Magnesium: 20 %
Phosphorus: 15 %  Manganese: 20%        Selenium: 6 %
Omega 3: 0.25 g  (12%)

**Vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concerns

Ditch the fad supplements and find a RD!

Looking back, while I didn’t think anything of it then, as early as I can remember, I have been living in a world of nutrition fads. As a child, at friend’s houses and family parties I would see the reduced-fat and fat free processed foods along with diet sodas. Then in high school my dad and other family members stopped caring about the fat and started going low carb (at least it was with real whole foods, not the Atkins shakes of today). Then working in a health food store and reading health magazines I noticed the supplement fixations and the stimulant trends. Commercials for Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and other delivery options all promised results. Then more recently, the juice cleanses, restrictive paleo, advocare, shakeology, etc etc etc. It’s always been obvious that these things don’t work – if they did, why would they fade out and new trends pop up? When thinking about fad diets and plans I will forever remember the student who told me “but weight watchers always works for me when I go on it”. If you need to keep “going on it” it clearly does not work at all! When educating, I always say, if you don’t think you could stay on the diet forever, it isn’t worth your time and energy. And I like to stress that everyone is different and there is no one diet for everyone.

What I don’t remember seeing throughout my life as a consumer or as a Dietitian is so many specific processed foods and supplements being marketed as healthy and “clean”… and people actually spending their money on them and believing it. Sure the slim fast shakes were a huge sell, as were Atkins bars, but most people used them to try to get skinnier, not because they were truly thinking they were being healthy (that is how I perceived it anyway).

Here we are in 2014. I have to try everyday not to let the supplement companies, advertisements and Dr. Oz claims that are brainwashing our nation drive me crazy. Watching college football last night, the FSU / OK State game was at AT&T stadium. Just as large as AT&T stadium on that field read “Advocare”, and they had plenty of commercials as well. The quest bars, shakeology, advocare, verve etc are some how persuading people to think “this is nutritious!” and “I am so much healthier now!”. Sure there are people using the products simply to try and lose weight quickly (and not to be healthy) but many really think they are doing good things for their body in the mean time. I know that Americans are smarter than this. I regularly hear clients, students and even family members complain about how expensive it is to eat healthy. But come on people, how expensive are the supplements, energy drinks, meal replacement shakes, and other “nutrition” gimmicks? Even if math wasn’t your strong subject back in school, if you can count points like weight watchers wants you to and count calories in your health app, you can count up all the money you’re wasting and could be putting towards real food and an actual lifestyle change.

At Bucks, I teach from The Science of Nutrition by Thompson, Manore, and Vaughn. This text defines food perfectly: “the plants and animals we eat”. Period. That’s it. Not the food component that was processed with chemicals in a lab and shoved in a chemical filled plastic bottle or aluminum container that people are consuming as actual meals. How can we post a picture of the Quest bar or meal replacement shake that was made in a factory God knows how long ago, was shipped to you or on a store shelf for months, that we took out of a plastic package, could never make in our own kitchen, and add “#cleaneating #nutrition #healthylifestyle” etc? I would rather someone eat fast food consciously knowing it is horrible for them than to consume this garbage thinking it’s healthy for them.

Trust me, I understand that it’s not super easy to prepare every single meal from scratch all day long. But that’s why we food prep (see my posts and The Lean Green Bean‘s) and choose convenience foods with real ingredients and a list that’s not a paragraph long (like Clif KITS). Making a healthy lifestyle easier is honestly all about habits. As Americans, we collectively have a lot of bad habits and quite frankly are just afraid to make an effort to change them. Stop being comfortable making excuses and evaluate what really needs to change in your current lifestyle. I just posted a newsletter about this last week but, how can you slowly and gradually alter your normal routine so that you instinctively just have healthy habits?

There is a reason most of you have health insurance and that the companies cover you seeing a Registered Dietitian (aka a real “nutritionist”). Because if they invest in your health now, they won’t have to help you treat a chronic, life-threatening disease later. What you put in your body today has an effect on you tomorrow and 5, 10, 50 years down the road. Health is not about looking for a quick fix to get skinny. There are plenty of skinny people that are so far from healthy. Instead of going on a 3 day processed shake cleanse to get rid of bloat that will just come back, meet with a Registered Dietitian. To attain their credential, an RD has gone through extensive education, supervised clinical and counseling hours, has passed an exam, and maintains their credentials with continuing education. They didn’t just sign on as an advocare rep to have an easy side job and make money off of you. Instead of a blanket program or plan for everyone, a RD helps each individual person they meet with make lasting changes for their personal health that also happens to result in weight loss if it is needed.

The RD you choose should specialize in whatever health issues or goals you may have. If they claim they know everything, find someone else! For example, I specialize in sports nutrition, weight management, plant based nutrition, and food allergies & intolerances. If someone came to me with kidney disease or cancer, I would refer them to an RD with that specialty. Talk to a couple of RD’s before meeting so you know you picked someone who will look at you as an individual and help you set attainable, personalized goals for life long health. I am available in Bucks and surrounding counties in PA (or even skype), but you can find an RD near you via the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website: eatright.org .

Before I am done, in true Professor fashion, it is quiz time.

Which of the following pictures is a nutritious meal?

A.  
lots of processed ingredients stuffed into a bar

B.  
Food components converted to powder in a bag

C. Sweet Potato with Garlicky Poblano Black Beans & Wilted Kale

Baked Sweet Potato w/ Garlicky Poblano Black Beans, Wilted Kale & Fresh Guac

 

If you answered C, congratulations! :)

Attaining Health While Enjoying Real Food

This post is a re-formatted version of the 8/21/14 Wellness Newsletter I wrote for Bucks County Community College. I hope you can use the tips here to help kick start your health at work or school this fall! For more detailed tips on meal planning and organizing a meal schedule, see my posts on Food Prep: Fall Food Prep and Spring Food Prep as well as my Real Food Budget Tips.

Enjoying Real Food as Fuel with Small Lifestyle Changes

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Are you always tired and unmotivated? Do you get headaches and body aches? Have you tried countless diets that don’t work? I’ve got the solution for you!

Sound familiar? In the fast-paced, media driven society we live in, its often easy to fall victim to advertisements from supplement and food companies and books on fad diets that want you to think their products  are the miracle you’re looking for. You know you are smarter than this!

Instead of drinking meal replacements and protein shakes and spending your hard earned money on supplements, consider  getting back to basics with your diet, and enjoying food as you attain better health.

I am sure you’ve all heard it before, but the better you eat the better you feel. This does not mean counting calories, being restrictive, and eating bland food though. It does mean …brace yourself… making small lifestyle changes . As creatures of habit, change is scary. However, did you know it takes only 2-3 weeks of effort to change a bad habit into a good one?

In the nutrition textbook we teach from at Bucks, Nutrition is defined as “the plants and animals we eat”.  Consider how much of your diet doesn’t fall into this definition! Then consider why… What are your go to excuses for why its just so hard to eat well?

When making changes, always remember you don’t need to, and shouldn’t, go on an all-or-nothing diet. A healthful diet is flexible where you make healthy choices most of the time and don’t feel guilty for having a treat or going out for dinner once in awhile.

Examples of small habit changes:

Grocery shopping rules:

  • Always have a list
  • Limit the amount of packaged foods purchased
  • Reduce amount of meats purchased
  • Read the ingredient list on a packaged food first,  not the calorie information!
    Fall Food Prep

Make daily checklists for what you need more of

  • Fruits & veggies (work to 5 servings)
  • Water (without additives) 9-13  8 ounce glasses

Prep food ahead of time

  • Pick 2 days per week to plan and prep dinners ahead
  • Pack lunches for work early in the week
  • Have emergency snacks (see below)
  • Make a large batch of oats for a quick breakfast
  • Hard boil eggs to add to meals/snacks

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Make meal rules for your family

  • Always eat breakfast (something is better than nothing)
  • No eating while standing up
  • No eating in front of the TV or computer
  • Eat as a family at least 2 times per week (or more if its already 2)
  • Limit meals that aren’t homemade to 2x per week

Emergency Snacks for Work or School

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  • Whole grain/flax crackers + jar of nut butter & real fruit preserves
  • Plain Instant Oat Packets (add below)
  • Nuts or Trail Mixes
  • Roasted Soy Nuts or Chickpeas
  • Unsweetened Dried Fruit: raisins, dates, mango
  • Real Fruit & Nut Bars: Clif Kits, Larabar, KIND, ProBar, Raw Revolution
  • Homemade energy bars like these:

wrapped date nut bars or 20140118-203227.jpg

 

 

Cooking Tip:  Fall is a great time to get out your crockpot so warm meals are ready when you get home!
Add ingredients for any soup, chili or stew recipe at once and set on low for 6-8 hrs.
{ Try my spicy 3 bean chili, potato leek & kale soup, veggie & bulgur soup, sweet & spicy white bean soup}

 

 

Maple Chia Roasted Pecans and Walnuts

Let’s be honest, it does NOT feel like August. I have woken up with temperatures below 60 in the past couple of weeks and my brain is saying it should be 90 outside. While I am not quite ready for fall and would love a few scorching days on the beach, I have been freezing all week and craving fall foods. I should still be enjoying fresh tomatoes, green beans, and bell peppers. Though I won’t cave in and have pumpkin anything for a good month, I had to cope with this abnormal weather. This week I made oven roasted candied nuts. While I have made this recipe before, my recent addition is the chia seeds. So long as you eat an actual serving size and not the whole bowl, this is a healthy way to indulge in this type of treat. With the walnuts and chia seeds, this snack is an omega 3 powerhouse too. More and more research is popping up on the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega 3’s.

Keeping inflammation at bay is crucial to athletes who are constantly beating their bodies down. Boosting dietary intake of healthy fats is an important component of injury prevention and recovery. Make a triple batch before heading back to college or send some to a friend or relative that is a college athlete (or just a typical college student)!

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Maple and Chia Roasted Pecans and Walnuts (GF, Vegan, DF)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C raw pecans
  • 1 C raw walnut halves
  • 4 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I use Trader Joe’s)
  • Optional: a couple dashes of salt

Some brands I like to use are pictured below but to be honest, organic walnuts are now cheaper at our Whole Foods than Trader Joe’s. Our super fresh pecans are sent to us each year via Tim’s Aunt in Oklahoma – store bought will never be good enough again. Not pictured, I used Bob’s Red Mill Chia seeds, but any non-GMO chia is fine.

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Directions:

  • Set oven to 275º Fahrenheit
  • In a medium bowl, after measure or weigh out the nuts
  • Add the syrup & vanilla to nuts and stir to coat well
  • Add the cinnamon and chia seeds at once, again stirring well to coat
  • Spread in one layer (do not overlap nuts, they will take longer to cook) on a non-stick cookie sheet or baking dish lined with aluminum foil (buy recycled foil and re-use when you can!)
  • Pour any excess liquid/seeds from the bowl onto the nuts
  • Bake in oven for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes
  • Transfer to serving dish and enjoy!

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If you have a type A personality like me, you’ll be frustrated that yes, some of the chia seeds end up sticking to the baking dish instead of the nuts. Take a deep cleansing yoga breath, move on, and enjoy some of your new crunchy snack! You could also chop and add to salads, quinoa dishes or pancakes :)

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Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Walnuts have been pinned as the most heart healthy nut by many researchers due to their high omega-3 content (discussed here at walnuts.org) and their vitamin E and antioxidant phytochemical content. Omega-3′s support heart health by helping to regulate inflammation, Vitamin E is heart protective by protecting cells and fatty substances in the body, and the phenols present are thought to support a healthy metabolism and healthy blood vessels.

Pecans contain a lot of fat but the good news is its mostly monounsaturated which is great for heart health. They contain oleic acid, also found in olive oil. Pecans are also rich in B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and the nut’s antioxidants include vitamin E, ellagic acid, and carotenoids all shown to protect the body from diseases of aging.

Maple Syrup is a source of added sugar but can have some benefits if it is 100% pure and is used in moderation. it actually provides teeny amounts of calcium, iron, mangnesium & zinc. One study in 2010 found Canadian Maple Syrup to contain over 26 antioxidant compounds (1)!

Cinnamon has been found as a heart healthy spice that can improve circulation. Just its scent may even enhance brain function and attentiveness. Studies have also been published since 2003 highlighting potential blood sugar lowering effects when consumed in high amounts (2).

Chia seeds are an excellent vegetarian source of omega-3 and calcium. They also provide protein, fiber and many other minerals. They are super filling because they soak liquid up in your stomach and 2 tablespoons dry contain about 120 calories, 4 grams of protein, and exceeds your daily omega-3 requirements.

References:

1. J Agric Food Chem 2011 Jul 27;59(14):7708-16. Further investigation into maple syrup yields 3 new lignans, a new phenylpropanoid, and 26 other phytochemicals. Li L, Seeram NP.

2. Diabetes Care 2003 Dec;  26(12): 3215-18. Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes. A Khan, M Safdar, M Ali Khan, K Khattak, R Anderson.

Cacao Coconut Multi-Seed Mix

I was inspired to make this mix by Nature’s Path Qia. Qia is simply hemp seeds, chia seeds and buckwheat groats. Despite its name, buckwheat is actually gluten free for any of you Celiac or gluten intolerant readers out there. I love Qia because its so easy to use and super filling with lots of nutrients, especially omega 3’s! However, I also found I loved adding some cacao powder or nibs to whatever I was eating it with (especially oats) and sprinkling some shredded coconut on top. So I decided to start making my own ready to use mix. Sorry Nature’s Path, I still love you.

Cacao Coconut Seed Snack Mix // EatRealLiveWell.comHere is how delish it looks in my oats (I add it while they’re cooking on the stove… and sometimes add more on top):

Cacao Coconut Seed Mix & Oats // EatRealLiveWell.com

  Cacao Coconut Multi-Seed Mix (GF, V, DF)

Ingredients:

The brands I like to use are pictured below, but as I do with cacao and buckwheat (not pictured), you can get all of these from the bulk section at Whole Foods, Wegmans etc.

5 Tablespoons Cacao Nibs

5 Tablespoons Hemp Hearts/Seeds

4 Tablespoons Chia Seeds

5 Tablespoons Buckwheat Groats

4 Tablespoons Unsweetened Coconut

Seed Mix Ingredients

{From top left clockwise: Edward & Sons “Let’s Do Organic” shredded coconut, bulk cacao nibs, Bob’s Red Mill Chia (non GMO), and Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Hearts }

Simply toss each ingredient into an old nut butter jar, pyrex or other container…

Cacao Coconut Seed Mix // EatRealLiveWell.com

 Shake well and store until use. I keep it right next to my nut butters since I think they pair together fantastically!

Cacao Coconut Seed Mix Stored // Eat Real Live Well

Now, what to do with the mix? I’ve been loving adding it to my oats in the morning, as you can see here:

Cacao Coconut Seed Mix w/ Oats // eatreallivewell.comBut, the mix has also been perfect for travel with all the long weekend trips Tim and I have been taking this summer. Just put some in a small bag or glass container, and bring along a banana and some nut butter. Dip the banana in nut butter and then the mix and you’ve got a delicious, nutritious and filling raw breakfast on the go!

cacao coconut seed mix travel meal // eatreallivewell.comWhile I don’t consume dairy, if I still did I would for sure be adding this to yogurt & berries as another meal option. For dessert it’d be perfect on some fro-yo and I see myself adding to some banana ice cream in the very near future! Enjoy this protein, omega 3, mineral and fiber rich snack mix :)

 

Nutrition Information* (per 2 tablespoons):

Servings: 10
Calories: 95
Total Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 8 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sugar: 1.5 g
Protein: 4 g
Sodium: 0 mg   0%

Thiamin: 8%           Riboflavin: 8%
Vitamin B6: 4%     Folate: 6%
Calcium: 6 %           Iron: 10%
Zinc: 8%                   Magnesium: 8 %
Phosphorus: 6%
Omega 3: 1.4 g  (this meets estimated rec. daily value)

*Nutrition information for vitamins and minerals is incomplete as companies nutrition facts panels do not include all micronutrients. This mix likely contains much higher amounts of B vitamins and minerals.

Summer Soup – Sweet and Spicy White Bean

Out of your weekend food prep rhythm because its summer? Add this soup to your list and get back on track! It doesn’t have to be freezing outside to enjoy soup! Even in the summer, soups are a great meal to prep ahead for the week so you have an easy lunch to bring to work,  or dinner ready to go once you’re home after a long day. I used white beans and peas as a protein source and brown rice as a grain. The sweetness of the yellow bell pepper and tomatoes tone down the spice of habenero, and both flavors blend perfectly with some fresh rosemary! And since we eat with our eyes first it’s a good thing all of the ingredients look gorgeous together – all of these colors mean lots of different antioxidants too :)

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Sweet & Spicy White Bean Summer Soup (GF, V, DF)

 

Ingredients (see below for beneficial properties of these ingredients): 

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 – 1 habanero pepper, minced (amount depends on how much spice you like)
1 large red onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1- 1 1/2 cups)
3 C fresh beefsteak tomatoes, diced (or 1 can organic diced tomatoes)*
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 C dry organic brown rice (Trader Joe’s has a quick cook done in 10 min!)
1 C dry white cannellini beans prepped (or 2-2.5 Cups canned)*
1-1.25 Cups fresh or frozen peas
4 Cups (1 container) organic low-sodium vegetable broth (if you like broth-y soup add 2 C water)
-note: Trader Joe’s “organic low sodium hearty vegetable broth” is THE best pre-made broth you will find!
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
3/4 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
fresh ground black pepper to taste

*Purchasing tip: If I do purchase canned, I buy beans at Trader Joe’s because they do not contain BPA. A risk of using canned foods is that the cans are lined with the carcinogenic chemical BPA. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, click here for brands that are BPA free – recently, Muir Glen tomatoes also went BPA free.

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Directions:
-Wash the carrots and peppers and prep all of your ingredients as listed above.
-Place a large saucepan or stockpot over low-medium heat and add the oil. Spread w/ rubber spatula so that it coats the bottom of the pan.
-Add the garlic and habanero and stir for 1-2 minutes (do not let garlic turn brown)
-Add in your rosemary, oregano and pepper (I like to do this early so the flavor infuses better)
-Add the chopped onion, carrots, bell pepper and tomatoes (If using canned tomatoes, wait on those)
-Stir well and cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally
-Add the broth and bring to a boil
-Add your rice, and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. If you did not buy the quick cook brown rice like me, you’ll have to wait about 30 minutes – clean the mess in your kitchen from the prep and do some squats while you’re waiting :)
-If using canned tomatoes, add them now and stir the mixture
-Add your white beans and peas
-Add 2 C water if desired. I personally like soup more thick so I leave the extra liquid out. Let simmer another 5 minutes or so and then you’re done!

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While not pictured, I have found I love this most with some diced avocado. It gives it even more of a fresh summer taste and adds even more color. With a side salad this is a perfect lunch at home or work!

 

Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Beans are a great source of  potassium, thiamin, vitamin B6, iron, copper, magnesium & manganese. They also provide a little calcium. Phytochemicals include lutein, epicatechin, quercetin and proanthocyanidin these benefit your eyes, reduce inflammation, and support the immune system.

Rice provides a good amount of Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Vitamin C, Riboflavin & Manganese. You can also get phytochemicals like quercetin (great for your immune system and lungs) & several carotenoids. Purchase organic rice as it is not as likely to be contaminated with inorganic arsenic.

Bell Peppers provide you with tons of Vitamin C (even more per serving than citrus when fresh), lots of Vitamin A and fiber as well as Vitamin E, B6 and potassium. Phytochemicals include the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are great for eye and cardiovascular health.

They’re finally becoming more known for it but peas are a good source of plant protein! Per 2/3 Cup serving you get 5 grams! As a reference, an egg contains 7 grams. Peas are also an excellent source of Vitamins K, C, A, B1, and folate. They contain the phytochemical coumestrol which has been found in research to reduce stomach cancer risk as well as other phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory properties.

Carrots and are most known for their role in eye health. This is because they have a high content of Vitamin A and other phytochemical carotenoids which not only support your eyes but also skin, hair and antioxidant systems. They are also high in Vitamins C & K and the mineral potassium.

Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. It is often forgotten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.

Garlic and onions are all part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin, quercitin, and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Both onions & leeks provide Vitamin C. Onions are also a great source of vitamins B6 and folate while leeks contribute vitamins A & K in great amounts as well as the mineral manganese.

The heat level of habenero peppers directly relates to their high capsaicin content. Capsaicin has long been used for decreasing joint pain and inflammation topically but in the body may aid in appetite control, metabolism and intestinal inflammation.  In addition they have been found in research to be anti-bacterial, and even anti-allergy due to nutrient content including vitamins A and C, some B vitamins and potassium – and yes its normal for them to clear your sinuses :)

Oregano actually contains manganese, iron and Vitamins A & K. It can also benefit your immune system as its phytochemicals thymol and carvacrol are anti-bacterial.

Rosemary contains carnosol which has been found in studies to be an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory compound and carnosic acid that has neuro-protective (brain &nervous system protective) properties. Some studies show it can aid the GI tract too and as an oil, it has also been used for centuries to improve circulation! Per weight it has a high content of nutrients but since we consume small smounts of it, it provides a little folate, riboflavin, and vitamins A & C as well as the minerals iron, calcium and potassium.