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

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.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip (Dairy Free)

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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

Eggplant, Red Pepper & Spinach Farro

Rather than cook a pasta salad or even cook pasta & sauce, I generally reach for a less processed whole grain such as farro, bulgur, amaranth, or quinoa. They all provide so much more from a nutrient standpoint, they offer different textures for variety, and they are much more filling and satisfying. This farro dish could be a great addition to a Father’s Day cookout this weekend! Continue reading

Lentil Burger Recipe

Here’s a delicious recipe to help in celebrating National Hamburger Day! It’s a good idea to go meatless if only for one day a week, and after all the Memorial Day grilling that Americans enjoyed this past weekend, a meatless burger is a fantastic filling and nutrient dense option. Continue reading

Easy Homemade Guacamole Recipe

molcajete & ingredients

A couple of years ago, Tim and I would buy the Trader Joe’s packaged guacamole because it seemed easier than making our own. Well, being the spice loving foodies that we are we started to add chopped jalapeno because the store bought stuff just wasn’t enough. Then we thought it needed more garlic…then tomato…and then cilantro… and then we realized it was silly to not make the whole recipe fresh and from scratch!
Making guacamole is SO simple and should take no longer than 5-7 minutes. Avocados are very nutrient dense and are so delicious I end up adding guacamole or the avocado itself to meals close to 5 times a week. However, this recipe tastes great after it freezes and thaws too so, if you won’t eat it as frequently or don’t have enough people living with you, save half for next week.
We make guacamole so frequently and have become such food snobs that we just had to add the Crate & Barrel molcajete pictured above to our wedding registry last year. In addition to just looking really cool, it does make mashing all the ingredients together easier than doing so with just a fork.

Using avocados for the first time can be intimidating if you don’t know what to look for and when to use them. The California Avocado Board has a page on how to select and ripen your avocados here.

Spicy Guacamole


Simple Homemade Guacamole
(GF, V, DF)

Ingredients :

2 avocados
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 – 1/4 cup onion (I use red usually), minced
2 jalapenos, minced (only use 1 if you aren’t a huge fan of heat!)
1/4-1/2 medium tomato, diced very small (about 1/4 cup)
1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro**
2 dashes of cumin & garlic powder
Fresh ground black pepper & sea salt to taste
Juice of 1 lime wedge

molcajete guac ingredients

*If not purchasing organic for these items, at least choose Non-GMO Project Verified brands to ensure your food is free of genetic engineering.

Directions:
-Cut & peel the avocados and add to a medium sized bowl or molcajete. When not using the molcajete I generally make the guac in a large pyrex so I don’t have to transfer it for storage. Also via California Avocado, here are directions and even a video on how to cut & peel your avocado.
-Add the jalapeno, garlic, onion and tomato (once minced/diced) to the same bowl. Mash with a fork or even a muddler until the avocado is mashed and the ingredients are well distributed.
guac ingredients chopped

-Add the dried spices, cilantro and lime juice, and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula until all are well incorporated.

guacamole

Serving Options:

-Use as a dip with some Trader Joe’s “reduced guilt” baked tortilla chips, chopped bell peppers, or jicama.

-Use as a condiment for burgers, sandwiches and wraps.

-Top chili, taco’s or even chunky black bean soups with a couple of tablespoons for added flavor & nutrition.

Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Yes, avocados are technically high in fat. However, they contain 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 avocados are highest in are the carotenoids lutein + zeaxanthin which are associated with eye health, immune and antioxidant function.

Onions & garlic are part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Onions also provide Vitamins C, B6 and folate.

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 forgetten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.

Jalapeno peppers contain capsaicin which has long been used for decreasing joint pain and inflammation topically but in the body may aid in appetite control, metabolism and intestinal inflammation. Oh and you aren’t the only one who gets a runny nose from spicy food – these peppers can all help clear your sinuses!

Cilantro may be an herb but herbs have fantastic nutrient profiles too. Cilantro provides vitamins A & K and many antioxidants, especially quercitin. Quercitin is a flavonoid linked to respiratory (great for asthmatics and athletes) and heart health.

While cumin does contain manganese, magnesium, calcium and especially iron, you generally do not get high amounts of those minerals since it is used in such small amounts in recipes. We do know however that cumin is a potent antioxidant containing phenolic acids and carotenoids.

“Faux Joe’s” – Lentil Sloppy Joe Recipe

*Updated 11/11/2014 with slow cooker version

Sloppy Joe’s don’t have to be a high fat comfort food. In fact, the meal can be heart healthy, nutrient dense, fiber rich, and protein packed, all without sacrificing flavor. When I made my lentil version this past week my husband said it officially topped of his list of favorite home-cooked meals! What’s great is that you can have Sloppy Joe’s on a bun like they’re classically served, or on top of salad greens as I prefer 🙂

Dry lentils cook much more quickly than dry beans, but you can always save time by tossing all the ingredients in your slow cooker and setting on low for 6-8 hours.

Lentil Sloppy Joe’s the classic way (w/ whole wheat sub roll from Whole Foods):blog 036
Lentil Sloppy Joe Salad (pictured w/ a slice of High Five Great Harvest Bread):lentil sloppy joe salad

Lentil Sloppy Joe on Avocado Toast – Food for Life Brand “Genesis” bread

(Added 8/1/16)


Faux Joe’s – Lentil Sloppy Joe’s
(GF, V, DF)


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

lentil sloppy joe ingredients

1 cup organic dried lentils – prepared with water as indicated on package
1 Tablespoon avocado or olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced*
1 medium- large onion, diced*
2 large whole carrots, finely diced or shredded*
1 15 ounce can organic diced tomatoes (I used the trader joe’s ones w/ green chiles)
or 15 oz can diced tomatoes + 2 oz canned green chili’s
4 oz tomato paste (2 oz if tomato paste concentrate)
1 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (depending on how much you like heat!)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

*Purchasing Tips: bagged organic onions are very economical from Trader Joe’s as are bagged organic carrots. Both can also be found for a good deal at BJ’s Wholesale, along with organic garlic.

Stove top Directions:
-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 stir for 1-2 minutes (do not let garlic turn brown).
-Add the onions and carrots, stir and cover for 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
-Add the cooked lentils, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir well.
-Add all the spices, stir well and let simmer, covered for 3-5 minutes.*
-Add the maple syrup, stir, and remove from heat.

*If mixture seems too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of water at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Slow Cooker Directions:

-Add the garlic, onions, carrots, uncooked lentils, water or broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, syrup at once.
-Set heat on low for 8 hours.
-Stir occasionally if at home/awake. If you do not stir, that’s okay, you may have a small amount of residue on the side of the crock pot though.
-Serve up your dinner that took virtually no time at all!

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Serving Options:

-Dish up 1/6 of the mixture onto bread or roll of choice
-Top mixed greens with 1/6 of mixture
-New idea (10/2013) from my husband: sloppy joe nachos. I don’t eat cheese but he does on occasion and I am aware most readers probably do. Opt for low-fat extra sharp organic cheddar for flavor.

lentils
*Sports Nutrition*
Post endurance workout: Serve with bread, potatoes, or whole grain rice to maximize carb storage.
Post strength workout: as above, but also mix lentils with eggs and scramble.

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Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Lentils don’t get as much attention as they should. Per 1/4 C dry serving, at only 180 Calories, lentils provide more protein and iron than beans with 13 g and 3.6 mg respectively. You’ll get lots of B-vitamins from this legume, especially thiamin and folate. They’re also a great source of choline, potassium and many minerals. Lentils are high in both insoluble and soluble fiber; soluble being the type that helps reduce blood cholesterol levels.

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 forgetten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.

Onions & garlic are part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Onions also provide Vitamins C, B6 and folate.

Carrots are most known for the role in eye health. This is because carrots have a high content of Vitamin A and other phytochemical carotenoids which not only support your eyes but also skin, hair and antioxidant systems. Carrots are also high in Vitamins C & K and the mineral potassium. Antioxidants work to keep your heart healthy and potassium is important for fluid balance and plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure.

Canola Oil is my go to when I am cooking. While olive oil has great flavor and a good fat profile, canola oil actually has much more omega-3 than olive oil and even less saturated fat. I don’t eat animal products on a daily basis and my fish consumption is low, so using canola oil in cooking helps me meet my daily needs of omega 3. Since most canola oil in stores is genetically modified, choose an organic brand – it will still be cheaper than conventional olive oil.

Cayenne & chili powder all contain capsaicin. 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. Oh and you aren’t the only one who gets a runny nose from spicy food – these peppers can all help 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.

Nutrition Information (without lettuce or other toppings):

Servings: 6 (*Athletes may want to split into just 4 servings)
Calories: 205
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: < 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 36.5 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sugar: 10 g
Protein: 11 g
Sodium: 320 mg 14 %
Potassium: 700 mg 15%

Vitamin A: 26% Thiamin: 20% Riboflavin: 13%
Niacin: 12% Pant Acid: 18% Vitamin B6: 25%
Folate: 20% Vitamin C: 20% Vitamin E: 8%
Calcium: 6% Iron: 22% Zinc: 22%
Magnesium: 15% Copper: 46% Selenium: 8 %
Manganese: 53% Phosphorus: 17% Omega 3: 0.3 g (20%)

**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

Updated 11/11/2014

Stuffed Bell Pepper Recipe

Stuffed pepper w/ top

I wanted to make a red dish last week to be festive for both Valentine’s Day and Heart Health Month, so red bell peppers were a no brainer for the base of the meal. Normally when I make stuffed peppers I prepare them Italian style with rice, spinach, ground turkey and home made marinara. But this time I wanted to try something a little different. Very surprisingly, even to me, the stuffing recipe was inspired by the back of a quinoa package! I made a few changes of course.


Quinoa and Walnut Stuffed Peppers
(GF, V, DF)

Ingredients :

4 medium-large organic red bell peppers, tops carefully removed and seeded.
1 Tablespoon avocado or other cooking oil
3 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 Cup low sodium vegetable broth + 1 Cup water
1/2 Cup chopped walnut halves (you can buy walnut “pieces” to make this easier!)
1 Cup quinoa
1/4 Cup fresh or 1/8 cup dried parsely
1/4 Cup fresh or 1/8 cup dried oregano
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
-Pre-eat oven to 400 degrees
-Place peppers (with tops – they’re great for making the dish look pretty & you don’t want to waste any of the pepper) in either 1-2 loaf pans or another baking dish. What really matters here is that they won’t tip over when the quinoa is added. Place in oven while you prepare the quinoa to cut down on baking time later.
-Add the oil to a saucepan over low-medium heat. After 1 minute, add the garlic and stir.
-Just before the garlic starts to brown, add the onion, carrots and celery. Stir, then cover for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-Add the 1 cup of quinoa, 1 cup of low sodium vegetable broth and 1 Cup of water and bring to a boil.
-Reduce to a simmer and cover for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa is fluffy and has expanded and absorbed all of the liquid.
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-Remove from heat, add walnuts and herbs.
-Stuff the peppers with equal amounts of the quinoa.
-Place back in oven for 10-20 minutes, until peppers are wrinkled and fully roasted.
-Carefully plate and dig in!

Stuffed Bell Pepper Quinoa

Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Quinoa has become my go to grain. It is considered a complete protein source for vegetarians meaning it contains all the essential amino acids. This is a big deal for vegetarians and especially vegans. While its protein powers are the key benefit of this food, you’ll also get iron, potassium, magnesium & zinc and many B vitamins in good amounts. It’s soluble fiber content means it is associated with lower cholesterol levels. Try one of my oatmeal recipes to get more soluble fiber and help get those cholesterol levels down.

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.

Peppers are providing you with tons of Vitamin C (even more per serving than citrus!), lots of Vitamin A and fiber as well as Vitamin E, B6 and potassium. Phytochemicals include lycopene (associated with reduced risk for prostate cancer & heart disease) and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (discussed below with carrots).

Onions & garlic are part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Onions also provide Vitamins C, B6 and folate.

Carrots are most known for the role in eye health. This is because carrots have a high content of Vitamin A and other phytochemical carotenoids which not only support your eyes but also skin, hair and antioxidant systems. Carrots are also high in Vitamins C & K and the mineral potassium. Antioxidants work to keep your heart healthy and potassium is important for fluid balance and plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure. Celery contains many of the same nutrients.

Canola Oil is my go to when I am cooking. While olive oil has great flavor and a good fat profile, canola oil actually has much more omega-3 than olive oil and even less saturated fat. I don’t eat animal products on a daily basis and my fish consumption is low, so using canola oil in cooking helps me meet my daily needs of omega 3. Since most canola oil in stores is genetically modified, choose an organic brand – it will still be cheaper than conventional olive oil.

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.

Warming, versatile, nutritious oatmeal recipes

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?”.

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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.

 

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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!

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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…)!

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Nutrition information per serving:
Calories: 359
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 %

Thiamin: 20 % Riboflavin: 20 % Niacin: 9 %
Pant Acid: 13 % Vitamin B6: 30 % Folate: 10 %
Vitamin C: 12 % Vitamin E: 26%
Calcium: 7 % Iron: 15 % Zinc: 20%
Magnesium: 45 % Copper: 41 % Selenium: 27 %
Manganese: 130 % Phosphorus: 30 %

**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

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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 of hemp 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!

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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 %

Thiamin: 24 % Riboflavin: 6 % Niacin: 9 %
Pant Acid: 7 % Vitamin B6: 10 %
Folate: 4 % Vitamin E: 7%
Calcium: 3 % Iron: 22 % Zinc: 25%
Magnesium: 42 % Copper: 21 % Selenium: 26 %
Manganese: 140 % Phosphorus: 51 % Omega-3: 0.94 g (60%)


Option 3: Blueberry, Pecan & Cinnamon

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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 %

Thiamin: 25 % Riboflavin: 9 % Niacin: 5 %
Pant Acid: 10 % Vitamin B6: 6 %
Folate: 2 % Vitamin E: 5% Vitamin C: 10%
Calcium: 2 % Iron: 13 % Zinc: 20%
Magnesium: 30 % Copper: 40 % Selenium: 24 %
Manganese: 120 % Phosphorus: 16 % Omega-3: 0.16 g (10%)

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The possibilities with oats are endless – add whatever sounds good to you (other than just butter and sugar of course).