Each year my life gets busier – which is a good thing professionally (and personally since I love what I do)! But, it also means I am relying a lot more on prepping ahead and when I don’t have time to make my own energy bars from scratch, I’m finding minimally processed, whole food based convenience foods. I already have a post on some great convenience snacks, but here I want to talk about convenience for my favorite meal: BREAKFAST. Continue reading
I realize I should have posted this pre-Thanksgiving but if you are like me and continue eating pumpkin through the rest of winter, you can enjoy this recipe for the rest of the holiday season!
We traveled to Jacksonville, FL for Thanksgiving this year to spend the holiday with my in-laws. While everyone is very supportive of my dairy allergy and choice to not eat meat, I hate to ask for dishes to be altered – it makes me feel too high maintenance. While we had plenty of dairy free side dishes, I didn’t want to feel left out during appetizers and dessert. In addition to packing some pistachio stuffed dates and Treeline cheese spreads, I thought I’d make a dairy free pumpkin pie. In my searches I continually saw tofu as an ingredient. While I hated it just a couple of short years ago, I have grown to love tofu and am better at cooking it on my own but, using it in desserts has never worked well for me. So, I scrapped any recipes I had found and threw together a cashew base and sweetened with dates with a little cocoa added in for fun! Continue reading
Chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven. But most products and recipes are loaded with tons of sugar, meaning you feel you can’t have this pair any old day. Not with this recipe! Nutritious, delicious and super filling, this oatmeal has no added sugar with all the flavor 🙂 And let me tell you, it was perfect this morning to warm me up on a snow day! As most people know, I am not a big supplement fan but the Garden of Life brand Raw protein is an excellent option every so often when you need a little boost in a carbohydrate dense meal for balance or after a workout. Another great protein is Manitoba Harvest Brand’s new Hemp Pro protein powders. Enjoy this healthy breakfast that seems like a treat 🙂 – there is even a slow cooker option if you think you don’t have the time!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Oatmeal (V, GF, DF)
Ingredients for 1 serving:
Just double, triple, quadruple as needed!
1/2 cup oats (40 g)
1 tsp chia seeds
1/2 scoop Garden of Life Raw protein (original)
1.5 tsp cacao powder
Optional: 1/2 tsp maca root powder
Optional: 1.5 tsp unsweetened coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 banana, sliced
-In a small saucepan, boil 6-7 ounces water (or non dairy milk)
-Add the protein, cacao, maca, vanilla and stir well
-Pour into serving bowl and top with peanut butter, sliced banana, and coconut
-Quadruple above recipe
-Use steel cut oats instead of rolled or quick oats
-Add all ingredients except banana and coconut to glass bowl that will fit into slow cooker basin
-Place bowl in slow cooker, fill slow cooker with water up to 1 inch below top of bowl
-Set on low for 6-8 hours, wake up and enjoy!
Nutrition information per serving:
Total Fat: 14 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 49 g
Fiber: 11 g
Sugar: 9 g
Protein: 24 g
Sodium: 76 mg 5 % Potassium: 375 mg 8 %
Thiamin: 4 % Riboflavin: 6 % Niacin: 20 %
Vitamin B6: 21 % Folate: 7 %
Vitamin C: 7 % Vitamin E: 10 % Vitamin A: 1%
Calcium: 4 % Iron: 37 % Zinc: 12 %
Magnesium: 21 % Phosphorus: 18 %
Omega 3: .65 grams (recommended intakes 1.1-1.6g/day)
**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
Too busy to make healthy meals & exercise?
Make a list of things more important to you
than your health and the health of your family.
Have you been using the “I’m too busy” excuse a lot lately? I could be too… but I know I would feel more stressed and even more tired if I was eating poorly and not making time to exercise. In this post I want to help you tackle 2 barriers to healthy eating: busy schedules and running out of fresh food (cause you’re too busy to get to the store, of course).
I know you’re all busy right now… so am I. I’m actually writing this post at 9:00 PM on the train ride home from a Junior League of Philadelphia meeting in the city (yay for multitasking). Between teaching, advising, office hours with students, meeting with clients, grading diet analysis projects, holiday volunteer work, exercise and attempting to relax, it can seem there isn’t much time to cook healthy meals. But then I remember my slow cooker!
This past weekend after traveling to New England for the Thanksgiving holiday, I didn’t return home until Sunday evening. This meant I had no time to prep food for the week and for Monday and Tuesday, Tim and I were relying on pantry and frozen items before I could make it to the grocery store later today. For us, because we stock our pantry & freezer with the right things, this doesn’t mean microwave meals and take out! We use the ingredients at hand and pull out the trusty slow cooker. It’s one of my best friends during the holidays and when I have an overly busy week. Here is a sample of how it was used to make healthy meals Monday and Tuesday, as well as other ideas when your pantry is looking bare and you’re pressed for time.
Monday & Tuesday breakfast: Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats with Pumpkin and Peanut Butter.
Simply add the following ingredients to the slow cooker and set on low for 6 hours:
1 cup of steel cut oats (aka old fashioned oats-rolled/quick won’t work)
4 cups non-dairy milk or water
1 can puréed pumpkin
6 tablespoons peanut butter (or other nut butter)
Optional: 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Tip: less will stick to the sides if you put all ingredients in a glass bowl and fill the crockpot up to 1 inch below the top of the bowl.
Monday lunch: Lentil Wrap
Leftover lentils were in the freezer that I thawed overnight with some frozen spinach. I added some seasoning (garlic powder, cayenne and black pepper) and put them in an ezekiel brand tortilla wrap for lunch and added an apple and some carrots as snacks (they keep in the fridge for a while).
Monday Snack: Smoothie
Frozen banana, and frozen strawberry/mango/pineapple mixture with a ½ cup of almond milk
Monday dinner: Pasta & Veggies
I am loving black bean pasta right now! If you haven’t seen it yet, I first found it at Organnons on Durham road in Wrightstown, but have since seen it at Giant and recently got a bulk package at Costco! It is a great pasta replacement with the same calories as normal pasta but 25 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber, many minerals, and one ingredient: black beans. I threw sauce together with garlic, a large can of organic diced tomatoes*, a can of tomato paste*, and dried basil, oregano and crushed red pepper. I sautéed up some frozen kale and broccoli and there you have a balanced dinner!
*When buying canned tomatoes I choose Muir Glen or Trader Joe’s as they are not lined with BPA. Low sodium is best!
Tuesday lunch: leftover black bean pasta & veggies
Tuesday Snacks: Apple, Roasted Soy Nuts, Clementine
Tuesday dinner (and lunch today!): Slow-Cooker 3 Bean Vegetarian Chili (modified from my original recipe).
My husband and I always have dried beans and lentils on hand. They are less expensive and don’t have tons of sodium, or a risk of BPA lining the cans. When I woke up in the morning I boiled 1 cup each of dried black, pinto, and kidney beans and let them sit while I got ready. Before leaving for work I threw the following in the crockpot and set on low for 8 hours.
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 chopped onion
½ – 1 additional cups water
1 large can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup frozen corn
1.5 tablespoons chili powder
1 tsp cayenne powder
1/2 tsp: oregano, cumin, black pepper
When I got home I added half a bag of frozen spinach, stirred and it was ready for dinner!
If you don’t have one, a slow cooker is a great addition to your Christmas list… or something to treat yourself to while you are shopping for everyone else 🙂
Still nervous to try one? Here are 7 answers to common slow cooker questions from Real Simple Magazine!
What are your favorite healthy recipes when your low on time and resources? I am always looking for new ideas!
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):
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
-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.
-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.
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.
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.
Serving Size: 1 Bar
Servings Per Recipe: 12
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
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). Continue reading
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 🙂
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.
-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!
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.