There’s these amazing chickpea flour banana bread muffins I made a few years ago. They’re now one of the most consistent posts I get traffic from via search engines, and they’ve been turned into amazing cupcakes and gingerbread muffins, too. Despite their deliciousness and nutrient density, I was still a bit uneasy about the added sugar if they’d be a regular part of Cooper’s diet, so I set out to adapt them to be added sugar free. Now I present to you, Mommy & Me banana muffins!
I am a huge huge fan of chickpea flour but used to limit my use of the ingredient to thickening soups and making pizza crust or flatbread. I saw Ambitious Kitchen’s banana bread recipe and was inspired. After several tests on my own, I landed on this muffin recipe!
Disclosure: I received free samples from Snap Kitchen while at the event as well as meals to take home. All opinions stated are my own.
I had such a great time checking out the brand new Old City Snap Kitchen location in Philadelphia last week before the grand opening! Local bloggers and IGers were invited to not only try whatever foods we wanted but also snap blog-worthy photos with the picture station they had set up that you can see below – so much fun! I’m sure you can still see a collection of the pics on Instagram by searching #snapkitchenphilly. Continue reading →
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 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%
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.
Here 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 Multi-Seed Mix(GF, V, DF)
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.
Simply toss each ingredient into an old nut butter jar, pyrex or other container…
Shake well and store until use. I keep it right next to my nut butters since I think they pair together fantastically!
Now, what to do with the mix? I’ve been loving adding it to my oats in the morning, as you can see here:
But, 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!
While 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):
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%
*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.
Spinach and artichoke dip has become a very popular appetizer whether at restaurants, parties or just at home with family. While spinach and artichokes are healthy veggies, the average dip contains so much cheese and saturated fat though that you can hardly call it healthy. I’ve attempted several times in the past to make a healthier version and finally on Super Bowl Sunday, I got it right! This easy lightened up version has great flavor and a creamy texture without shocking amounts of fat and sodium. Continue reading →
Spaghetti squash was actually not on my grocery list this past week. I only purchase it in season and always classify it as a fall/winter food. But there in Whole Foods was a display of local Lancaster, PA organic squash. I couldn’t resist and am happy I didn’t! I have made a variety of different pesto in the past with avocado, cashews, walnuts and of course pine nuts, but had never combined the creamy avocado fruit with the crunchy texture of the nuts. Definitely a winning combination!
Spaghetti Squash with Peas and Avocado Walnut Pesto(GF, V, DF)
Ingredients(see below for beneficial properties of these ingredients):
1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
1 Medium-Large avocado
1/3 Cup Walnuts (chopped or in pieces)
5-6 cloves garlic (we love garlic, you might want to halve this!)
1/2 Cup packed basil (about 1 ounce on the food scale)
1.5 cups green peas, cooked from frozen (I used Whole Foods Organic-not pictured)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
-Take your spaghetti squash and carefully cut in half lengthwise. The first cut may seem difficult but once the knife is in its a lot easier to cut the rest of the squash.
-Dig out the seeds & pulp (pictured w/out seeds on left below)
-Save the seeds for the roasted seed recipe that I posted in November with my Italian Style Spaghetti Squash.
-Set the squash cut side down in a large glass baking dish & add 1/2-3/4 C water
-Place in the oven and cook about 40 minutes (may vary depending on size of squash & oven)
-While the squash is cooking, you can make your pesto and cook your peas
-Get out your food processor, bullet blender, or other blending tool
-Add all ingredients except for the peas and pulse until most of the mixture is smooth but you can still see tiny pieces of walnuts for texture
-Cook the frozen peas in a pot according to package instructions (I just cook over low-medium for about 5-7 minutes)
-When the squash is done you should easily be able to stick a fork in through the skin
-Remove it from the oven & carefully flip so the flesh side is up
-With a fork, you’ll basically want to “rake” from one side to the other to remove the “spaghetti”
-We used all of the pesto mixture and peas with about 2/3 of our squash to yield 4 servings. This will vary since your squash probably won’t be the exact same size. The leftovers can be used on a salad, in an omelet, or you can top it with any sauce.
-You can either stir your pesto mixture & peas right in with the squash, or keep separate for each dish that you plate and add the mixture on top.
-We also chopped up an heirloom tomato to add a little color and sweetness to balance out the delicious but strong garlic and basil.
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Spaghetti Squash isn’t going to provide you with tons of one specific nutrient but it will contribute a balanced amount of most vitamins and minerals to your diet especially Vitamins C & B6. What shines for spaghetti squash is the fiber & healthy carbohydrate content as well as the carotenoid antioxidants.
Avocadoscontain mostly the healthy mono-unsaturated fat that your body needs for heart health, brain function, joint protection and immune function. Avocados are also a good source of fiber,potassium, vitamins E, C, and K, as well as the B-vitamins folate and B6. Another compound this fruit gives us is beta-sitosterol. Just like we get cholesterol from animals, we can get plant sterols from certain plants. Sterols like beta-sitosterol help block cholesterol absorption in the small intestine, enhancing heart health. The phytochemicals that avocados are highest in are the carotenoids lutein + zeaxanthin which are associated with eye health, immune and antioxidant function.
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.
Did you know that 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.
Basilalso packs a lot of vitamin K as well as some iron, calcium, and Vitamin A. The phytochemicals in basil have been found to be anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, and anti-bacterial.
Garlic provides the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health.
Tomatoespack 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.
I am not at all ready for summer to be over but have to admit I’m getting excited for fall foods!
I was a little late in finding out that January has been deemed “National Oatmeal Month”. It didn’t make a difference though as I could probably eat oatmeal twice a day all year long and never get sick of it- it’s my answer to “if you were stranded on a desert island and could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?”.
There are different types of oats you may run into. You want to stay away from oatmeal packets. They are much more processed and often contain less fiber & protein and much more sugar. The “low sugar” varieties almost always have artificial sweetener added – there’s no reason for that!
The least processed oats you’ll see on the shelves are steel cut. They have a little more of a gritty texture compared to what most people are used to and do take much longer to cook (about 30 minutes). I make steel cut when I have a lot of time on my hands and I generally add extra water and cook for longer so they’re a little more mushy in texture. Rolled Oats are essentially steel cut oats that have literally been flattened by rollers; they cook much more quickly (less than 5 minutes) and can be eaten raw too. Quick oats are rolled and/or cut into smaller flakes and can cook in as little as 1 minute.
There is a lot of hype about how much better steel cut oats are for you but other than digesting a little more slowly, the nutrient content is virtually the same as rolled or quick oats. Below I used rolled oats in all of my recipes but plan to make crock pot steel cut apple oats in the near future and will post that too.
Other than tasting amazing there are many reasons to eat oatmeal:
Oats contain soluble fiber which is known to bind to and excrete cholesterol from the body
They offer more heart benefits due to the antioxidants that prevent damage to the “bad” LDL cholesterol in the body. One serving also has virtually no fat and 0 grams of cholesterol.
A compound in oats called beta glucan has been found to benefit the immune system and is associated with better blood sugar management in type II diabetics
Because of the minimal processing compared to other grains in our food system, oats retain a lot of the mineral selenium which is a powerful cancer fighting antioxidant that also benefits the heart
You can find oats labeled “gluten free” if you have celiac disease or a wheat intolerance*
Oatmeal is one of the best breakfast options for athletes pre-competition (or practice/workout). It provides sustained energy from carbohydrates since they are absorbed slowly. Eat one serving (1/2 cup dry) with 1/2-1 banana (depending on your calorie needs) 45 minutes-1 hour before a race.
A half cup serving also contributes 5 grams of protein to your diet
Other nutrients you’ll get in high amounts include zinc, potassium, iron and folate
Inexpensive! I buy organic oats from the bulk section at Whole Foods for next to nothing. Sometimes I switch it up and have Country Choice organic multigrain oat cereal. There are often $1 off coupons on mambosprouts.com.
Quick & convenient to cook
*All recipes below are gluten and dairy free & vegan. Be sure to purchase oats labeled as “gluten free” if you have celiac disease. While oats are naturally gluten free, there is possibility of contamination with gluten in the processing facilities.
Oatmeal Prep Basics
One serving of rolled or quick oats is a 1/2 Cup or if you have a food scale, measures out to 40 grams.
*After boiling about 1 cup of water, add the 1/2 cup of oats and reduce to a simmer.
Leave uncovered and stir frequently. When the oats are at the desired consistency remove from heat.
Instead of adding sugar or sweeteners, I generally add a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract for a flavor boost.
Jazz up the oatmeal with one of the options below.
*If you need to double, triple, quadruple the recipe, follow directions on the container as the more servings you make, the less water you may need.
Option 1 is my favorite way to have oatmeal; with almond butter & a banana.
My favorite almond butters are either the “raw creamy unsalted” version from Trader Joe’s or the grind your own option at Whole Foods. Obviously the latter is the most fresh & least processed but the creaminess of the T. Joe’s one gets me. These 2 options are also very economical at about $4.99/lb versus other brands which can run from $10-15 on average. I saw one brand at whole foods last week that was $34.99! Crazy!
Most of the time I weigh out fats on the food scale. Even healthy fat sources are very Calorie dense and that can sneak up on you easily! This includes oils, earth balance, nuts & nut butters.
I usually weigh out 1 tablespoon of almond butter which is 16 grams and stir it into the oatmeal well. Top with a small sliced banana and drizzle a teaspoon of honey and you have a delicious, filling and energy boosting breakfast – or even afternoon pre-workout meal (cause we know athletes should never eat just 3 meals…)!
Nutrition information per serving:
Total Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 7 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 58 g
Fiber: 8.25 g
Protein: 10 g
Sodium: 2 mg 0 % Potassium: 625 mg 13 %
**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
Option 2: Hemp hearts, chocolate & peanut butter
Hemp Hearts add crunch to the oatmeal and provide healthy fats, protein & omega-3. I first tried hemp hearts after the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) when I picked up a free sample from Manitoba Harvest. I am a big advocate for plant based diets and after trying hemp hearts, they’ll stay on my grocery list.
For this recipe, I add 1 Tablespoons ofhemp hearts, 1/2 a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter (I use Whole Foods or Wegmans brand organic creamy PB), and 3 squares of Green & Blacks brand 70% chocolate bar, chopped.
Mix well and eat up!
Nutrition Information Per Serving Calories: 314
Total Fat: 15.5 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 34 g
Fiber: 6.5 g
Protein: 12 g
Sodium: 38 mg 3 % Potassium: 195 mg 4 %
After cooking I added 1/2 Cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons pecans (14 grams). I just break apart the pecan halves myself and add them to the oats. I sprinkled some organic cinnamon on top for added flavor & antioxidants.
*This is a fairly low calorie breakfast. To have an adequate meal you can have an egg on the side, or cook with soy or almond milk instead of water.
Nutrition Information Per Serving Calories: 275
Total Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 40 g
Fiber: 8 g
Protein: 7 g
Sodium: 2 mg 0 % Potassium: 250 mg 5 %