Peanut butter Granola bars

I know I said the last granola bar recipe was going to be my last granola recipe, but I wanted to really show the versatility in making these.  So THIS is my last granola bar recipe.  I promise.

For this recipe, I replaced the coconut oil with peanut butter and almond butter.  Because all you really need is a fat of some kind.  (You could use butter, bananas)

I soaked my chia seeds this time because I was having an issue with the ones on the outside of my bars falling off.  I seem to have solved that problem this time.

Not only did these come out really crunchy, but they are also the cheapest granola bars I have made to date.  I just kind of threw them together with whatever I had on hand.  (Time to food shop!)

Peanut butter Granola bars

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (nothing but peanuts)
  • 2 tbsp natural almond butter
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds, soaked for a minute
  • 1 1/2 cup nuts, dried fruits (I used a combination of pepitas and dried cranberries)

Pre heat an oven to 350 degrees, and oil a baking pan.  8×8 is a good size.  Mix all the ingredients in a bowl (I did this by hand) and then lay it all into the oiled pan, pressing it in flat making sure its even all around.  Cook for 20-30 minutes (it should be nice and browned on the top)  and then let it cool for at least 2 hours.  Cut into bars.

 

 

 

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Chocolate Pistacio Snack Balls

chocolate pistachio nut balls

 

These little guys pack a punch, and its as easy as throwing things into a food processor, and then rolling them into a ball.  They are basically raw, except the pistachios I used are roasted…but use sesame seeds or coconut on the outside instead and you have yourself a healthy raw snack.  This is another one that is really versatile.   I think next time I’ll use almond butter and walnuts, with sesame seed on the outside.

There’s no added sugar in these, being naturally sweetened by the dates.  They are also filled with healthy fats, lean proteins, and healthy carbohydrates for energy.  Plus pistachios are natural mood boosters, so eat and enjoy!

Chocolate Pistachio Snack Balls

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 15 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios,

For the outside:

  • ground up shelled pistachios

Process everything in a food processor until it becomes a thick paste.  Roll them into  palm sized balls and then roll them in the extra pistachios to coat them.    Place them in the freezer to set for a half hour.  Enjoy!

These stay good for a up to a week in the fridge, and up to two in the freezer.

Strawberry Pistachio Granola Bars

strawberry granola bars

Okay, so I may be a little obsessed over Granola bars.  I’ve made 3 more batches since my last blog post.  I even ordered a bar pan from pampered chef.  It isn’t here yet, but I’m super excited about it.  I promise, this will be my last post  with a granola bar recipe because I think after this one you guys will get the point about how to make them, and how  customizable they are.  But this one is REALLY good, and I had to share.

I used coconut sugar in this recipe, which has trace amounts of nutrients, and a lower GI then regular sugar, so its at least a tiny bit healthier for you then using brown sugar but it  tastes about the same.  There’s also flax and chia seed in here for added omega 3’s and some weight loss boosters.   The preserve I used are natural, grape juice sweetened preserves, so make sure you read your ingredients,  you don’t want anything with high fructose corn syrup.  And of course, buy organic whenever you can!

Oh and my normal camera’s battery is dead so I had to take pictures with my cell phone, sorry about that.  These guys really deserve better photos.  I’ll take other ones later when the battery charges =)

strawberry granola bars

Strawberry Pistachio Granola Bars

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup nuts, dried fruits (I used a combination of pistachios, freeze dried strawberries, flax seeds, and chia seeds)
  • Strawberry preserves

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 8×10 pan with oil.  Mix all the ingredients together, except the preserves.  I do this by hand.  When its all nicely combined, press most of  it into the pan, reserving about 1/4 of it for the top.  Spread a thin layer of the preservers over the top of the granola mix in the pan, I used the back of a spoon to do this.  Then top with the rest of the granola.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Let it cool at least 2 hours, I stuck mine in the fridge over night. Its much easier to cut into bars after it has cooled off.

 

Cut into bars and enjoy!  These freeze great too.

 

Bombay Potatoes and Chickpeas

Bombay Potatoes and Chickpeas

 

I was at the grocery store, and I saw a pre-packaged dish called Bombay potatoes and chickpeas.  Its an Indian dish where the potatoes and chickpeas are cooked in a rich tomato sauce.   It looked so good, but of course the sodium was 28% of the recommended daily allowance, so I passed it up.  (Not to mention all the added preservatives and whatnot that are also lurking in it!)  But I had to try it, so this is my attempt to make bombay potatoes.  Amchur powder is a bitter mauve powder made from green mangoes, and it goes really well with potatoes.  The chili pepper that  I used is from Kashmir (hence the name), a place in Northern Indian.  It is VERY hot, so only use a pinch of it in recipes, or exclude it completely if you don’t like spice.   So I have no idea if this dish tastes anything like actual Bombay potatoes and chickpeas, but its really good regardless.    To my credit however, I did research a bit  before attempting to make this and found many different recipes.  The basics are all here, cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic, ginger and onions….if anyone has ever had this dish before I’d love to hear from you to see if I hit the mark!

Waxy potatoes are always better to use then regular russet potatoes because they are less starchy, plus their glycemic index is less.

Bombay Potatoes and Chickpeas:

  • 4 tbsp vegetable broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 inch of ginger, grated
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Kashmir chili pepper
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp amchur powder
  • 3 waxy potatoes, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • salt

In a wok heath the broth till it steams, then add the garlic, ginger and onion, cover and cook for 4 minutes.  Uncover it, add the  cumin, coriander, turmeric and chili pepper, stirring constantly, cooking another 2 minutes or until its fragrant.  Add the crushed tomatoes, and the amchur powder, and stir it up so the sauce mixes with the spice mixture.  Add in the potatoes, cover it back up and cook 30 minutes over medium-low heat.   The smaller you dice the potatoes the less time it will take to cook.  They are done when they are easily pierced with a fork.  After 30 minutes add the chickpeas, stir it up, and cook, covered, another 10 minutes.   Season to taste with salt.

This dish would be really good with some chutney and naan bread.

Indian Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup

Indian Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup

Its a cold rainy day today, the kind of weather you would expect in Autumn, or maybe even later winter, definitely not the type of weather you would think of in late June.  Honestly, though, nothing surprises me in Washington anymore.  This soup is a comfort food of mine, full of protein and fiber, and chock full of nutrients.    Make this over rice for a more filling meal, or eat it as I am, as a soup.

Indian Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup

  • 2 cups cooked Lentils (I used Green Sprouted Lentils from TruRoots)
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Broth
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 can diced tomotes
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 can coconut milk

Heat the broth in a pan and when it starts to steam, add the onions, cover and cook 3 minutes.  Uncover and let it  cook another minute, adding the garlic and ginger and stirring until it becomes fragrant.  Drain a little bit of the liquid off the tomatoes, and add them into the onions.

While that’s cooking through, add the coconut milk to the cooked lentils, and heat it up over medium heat, about 5 minutes.

Add the onion/tomato mixture to the lentils/coconut mixture, and continue to cook over medium heat, uncovered, another 5 minutes.   Season it with salt.

Eggplant and Zucchini Indian Stir Fry

Eggplant and Zucchini Stir Fry

 

I learned to cook this dish from an Indian family that I used to work for as a nanny.  It was my first meal I cooked without oil before I even knew that cooking without oil was a way.  The eggplant and zucchini in this dish cook in tomato juice, and it is simply spiced with just a bit of turmeric, a hint of ginger, and a bit of garlic.  I make this dish over brown rice, and eat it as  a main course, but it could of course be a side dish as well.  One zucchini with the skin has about 2g of protein, 2g of fiber, and a ton of vitamin A.  Since it is a low energy food, it keeps you feeling fuller longer and helps manage weight.

I could only use half the zucchini in this recipe, it was so huge!

I haven’t mentioned what allicin is in a while, so just a reminder as to why we let the garlic sit for 5 minutes:  when garlic is cut it releases healing enzymes called allicin.  These enzymes are antibacterial and help to ward off germs.  Usually these enzymes would be released when we chew but since most people don’t chew thoroughly, it is best to let the knife do the work for us.  Many studies have been conducted on garlic and its healing properties and they have concluded that people who consume at least 6 cloves of garlic a week are much less likely to get sick.  Taking garlic extract pills is also very useful…but why take a pill when you can just make delicious meals with fresh garlic and get the same effect!

 

Eggplant and Zucchini Indian Stir Fry

  • 2 tomatoes, cubed
  • 2 tbsp vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and let to sit at least 5 minutes to release the allicin
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 green zucchini, diced (you can dice them larger then normally if you are having this as a main dish)
  • 1 eggplant, diced (again, you can dice it bigger)
  • (optional) 1 yellow squash, diced
  • salt to taste

Heat the vegetable broth in a large wok with  a lid, and when it begins to steam, add the diced tomatoes and cover it up for 5 minutes, cooking over medium heat.  The tomatoes will begin to break down.   After 5 minutes, add the garlic and the ginger and cook until it becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the onions, cover it back up, and cook another 3 minutes.  Add the turmeric and stir it all up until it looks yellow.  Next add the zucchini and the eggplant, and the squash if you’re using it, cover it up and cook 15 minutes.  You might not even need to cook it for the full 15 minutes,  depending on how large you made the chunks, how crowded your pan is, or in my case how large the zucchini is!  (I had to cook mine for longer then 15 minutes because the zucchini was so  big that at first it didn’t all fit into my wok!)  Every so often check on it, give it a stir, make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom and the eggplant and zucchini aren’t over cooking.

You want the vegetables to become a bit translucent, but not wilt so much that they fall to mush when you stir your dish.

When its done, season it with a bit of salt, and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Tempeh Wraps – Vegan, gluten free

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***Edited, I forgot to include the sriracha sauce I used in the BBQ sauce.  Of course, its completely optional, if you don’t like spicy things, you can exclude it.

Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soy beans that have been formed into a patty.  It is an excellent source of protein, (just 4 grams is the 41% of the daily value for protein) while helping to lower cholesterol and normalize blood sugar levels.  Along with protein, tempeh has manganese, copper, phosphorous, vitamin B2, and magnesium.  Tempeh, along with soy, is also awesome at helping women get through menopause because of the  isoflavones that bond with estrogen receptors.  But fear not guys, the same isoflavones that help women, also help men prevent prostate cancer!  Plus, the fiber helps everyone prevent cancer, while helping gastrointestinal issues.  Speaking of gastrointestinal issues, tempeh is another one of those gut healing foods, it is full of probiotics, so it should be included in your diet along with yogurts, and tofu and other fermented foods.

Please remember that most of the soy beans grown in the US are GMO.  Please buy organic as its the only way to guarantee you aren’t getting GMO soy.

The first time I made tempeh, I didn’t really like it too much but since I’ve changed my eating habits and livened up my taste buds, I’ve grown quite fond of it.  The recipe I’m going to share with you is wonderful for those who are unaccustomed to eating this low fat, powerhouse food.

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This is Tempeh, find it in your produce section in large groceries or in health food stores. Read the ingredients, some tempeh contain fillers like barley, which is NOT gluten free.

These are the brands of organic ketchup and mustard that I use.  The ketchup has NO high fructose corn syrup in it. I highly suggest throwing out any ketchup that you have around that has this ingredient in it.

These are the brands of organic ketchup and mustard that I use. The ketchup has NO high fructose corn syrup in it. I highly suggest throwing out any ketchup that you have around that has this ingredient in it.

This is the gluten free wrap that I use, its not organic, but its quite soft and it holds it doesn't break when you bend it like some other brand's I've tried.

This is the gluten free wrap that I use, its not organic, but its quite soft and it doesn’t break when you bend it like some other brand’s I’ve tried.

BBQ Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp Organic Ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Organic mustard
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp white agave
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce (or more if you like it spicy)

Heat all ingredients in a saucepan over low heat and stir it up, about 1 minute.

Wrap:

  • 1 package Organic Tempeh – sliced into 3/4 inch thick slices
  • 1 gluten free wrap
  • vegan mayo
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • vegan cheddar cheese (I use daiya brand)

Put the tempeh into the bbq and let it marinade for at least 20 minutes.  I let mine marinate for 2 hours.

Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a pan, and cook the tempeh on each side for 3 minutes.  Lay the mayo out on the wrap, the cheese, two slices of the tempeh, a peice of tomato and the lettuce.  Wrap it up and enjoy!

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Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

 

I recently bought about 5 jars of green olives because they were on sale.  I now Olives stuffed with peppers, olives stuffed with garlic, olives stuffed with onions, and then the regular pitted olives that I used in this salad.

Olives have amazing health benefits, and although the oil is usually what is concentrated on, recent studies have shown that olives help prevent bone loss because of a phytonutrient called Hydroxytyrosol.    On top of that, olives are anti-inflamatory, having been used in traditional medicine (the fruit and the leaves) for centuries.    They even help with allergies!  “New research may help explain how olives work to provide us with anti-inflammatory benefits, especially during circumstances involving allergy. Olive extracts have now been shown to function as anti-histamines at a cellular level. By blocking special histamine receptors (called H1 receptors), unique components in olive extracts may help to lessen a cell’s histamine response. Because histamine is a molecule that can get overproduced in allergy-related conditions and can be a key player in the inflammatory process, it’s likely that the anti-inflammatory benefits we get from olives involve this anti-histamine pathway. It’s also possible that olives may have a special role to play as part of an overall anti-allergenic diet.”  (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=46)

Although olives are a high fat food, it is the good fat.  Remember, it isn’t fat that makes us fat, its sugar!   Olives are full of oleic acid, a monosaturated fat which reduces heart disease, and lowers bad cholesterol.  Olives are really another one of nature’s gives, and along with the raw garlic, and the protein and fiber from the chickpeas, they lyposene from the tomatoes, and the  vitamin A from the  cucumber, this dish simply is amazing healthy.  Not to mention its alkaline, and its filling, and its super fast to make.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and let to sit 5-10 minutes
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 12 green pitted olives, drained, rinsed, and diced.
  • 1 tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt (not too much, the olives are already salty)
  • and pepper

 

Mix all ingredients in a bow well.  Let chill for an hour in the fridge. Serve with an extra slice of fresh lemon. Enjoy!

Spicy Cold noodle salad (vegan, gluten free)

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So I had a lot of leftover pasta from the pancit, so I took them and made a cold noodle salad.   Its really fast to make, and really tasty.  I always try to use up leftovers, there’s usually always something you can do with them if you get a little creative.  And if you hadn’t noticed, I really love noodles.

The red chili peppers contain capsaicin,  which is known to help boost metabolism and aid in weight loss.  Additionally, eating chili peppers is said to boost your endorphins which can make you feel happier and promote serotonin which can enhance your mood and your memory.  If that’s not enough, sriracha can also help the body’s ability to dissolve blood clots, fight inflammation, improve circulation, and help you fight a cold by acting as an expectorant.

There’s also vitamin A from the cucumbers and  carrots, antioxidants, protein from the amino acids and sesame seeds, plus its low in calories.

Spicy Cold Noodle Salad:

  • 1  cup cooked mung bean noodles
  • 1  cup cooked rice stick noodles
  • 1 tbsp amino acids
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce (use less if you don’t like things spicy)
  • 2 dashs stevia
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 3 roughly chopped green onions
  • sesame seeds (you can use slivered almonds, or crushed cashews, any kind of nut or seed would work here)

Mix the amino, oil, vinegar, hot sauce and stevia together in a bowl.   Put the rest of the ingredients together, mix them up well, and then pour on the sauce.  Toss to coat it all well and let it chill, covered, in the fridge for an hour.  Enjoy!

Protein and You

Everyone needs protein.  Its the building blocks of life.  It rebuilds our muscles, organs, skin, hair, and even certain hormones rely on this essential macro nutrient.   There are many ways to get our protein and although athletes need more, there is no evidence to support the claims that eating more protein will help build muscle mass.  All protein does it help rebuild muscle.  In fact, eating too much protein, especially too much protien from animals, is actually very harmful to our health, which I’ll go into later.    The pictures are taken out of my school text book.  Even though I am going to school for holistic health, the basic nutrition class is the same for me, or any other person going to school for a graduate degree in Nutrition.  We use the same book.  The  difference is what we do with that information.  So I’m going to start with the dry stuff, the calculations and the intakes.  Then I’m going to go into why I’m vegan, and show you that even a body builder can thrive abstaining from consuming animal protein.

From Nutrition, an applied Approach

From Nutrition, an applied Approach

 

So how do we figure out how much protein we need?  First, you need  to take your body weight in pounds, and convert it to kilograms by dividing it by 2.2.

weight(lbs)/2.2 = Weight(kg)

Then you need to take your weight in kg and multiply that by the RDI for protein.

weight(kg) x protein recommendation = protein intake per day.

 

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As you can see from this chart above, animal protein is not the only source of protein.  There is a book called The China Study which contains the largest comprehensive study of human nutrition ever conducted. It was launched via a partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. The groundbreaking results from the study (and other influential nutrition research) recommend the best diet for long-term health.  Its a long book, and I’ve found a synopsis online which I’m going to share with you now.     Pay close attention to #2, 9, and 10.

The China Study

The China Study (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. American health statistics are scary. You may feel fit as a fiddle, but the country is unwell. Almost a third of adults over 20 are obese; one out of thirteen people have diabetes; and heart disease kills one out of every three Americans. We also pay more for our health care than any other country, and we don’t have better health to show for it.

2. Animal protein promotes the growth of cancer. The book author T. Colin Campbell, PhD., grew up on a dairy farm, so he regularly enjoyed a wholesome glass of milk. Not anymore. In multiple, peer-reviewed animal studies, researchers discovered that they could actually turn the growth of cancer cells on and off by raising and lowering doses of casein, the main protein found in cow’s milk.

3. Pesticides are gross, but none switch on cancer like poor nutrition. The food you eat affects the way your cells interact with carcinogens, making them more or less dangerous. “The results of these, and many other studies, showed nutrition to be far more important in controlling cancer promotion than the dose of the initiating carcinogen.”

4. The study findings are bulletproof. After years of controversial lab results on animals, the researchers had to see how they played out in humans. The study they created included 367 variables, 65 counties in China, and 6,500 adults (who completed questionnaires, blood tests, etc.). “When we were done, we had more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet, and disease variables.” In other words, there’s no arguing with the findings, Meat Council of America. Sorry.

5. The results are simple: Eat plants for health. “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest.”

6. Heart disease can be reversed through nutrition. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., a physician and researcher at the best cardiac center in the country, The Cleveland Clinic, treated 18 patients with established coronary disease with a whole foods, plant-based diet. Not only did the intervention stop the progression of the disease, but 70 percent of the patients saw an opening of their clogged arteries. Dr. Dean Ornish, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, completed a similar study with consistent results.

7. Carbs are not the enemy. Highly-processed, refined carbohydrates are bad for you. But plant foods are full of healthy carbs. Research shows that diets like the Atkins or South Beach can actually cause dangerous side effects. While they may result in short-term weight loss, you’ll be sacrificing long-term health.

8. Plants are powerful. It’s not just cancer and heart disease that respond to a whole foods, plant-based diet. It may also help protect you from diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, bone, kidney, eye, and brain diseases.

9. You don’t have to tailor your diet for specific health benefits. Eating healthy can seem segmented—broccoli will prevent breast cancer, carrots are good for eyes, did you get enough vitamin C today? “Nutrition that is truly beneficial for one chronic disease will support health across the board.”

10. Plants do it better. “There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.” Protein (YES, PROTEIN!), fiber, vitamins, minerals—you name it, they’ve got it, and the health benefits. —Lisa Elaine Held

Eating too much animal protein has some serious side effects, some of which are immediately noticeable.  It leads to sweating and insomnia, not to mention a loss of calcium, bone loss, and kidney stones.  On top of that, animal protein is acid forming, and when our bodies PH balance is thrown off we become lethargic, our skin sags, and we have a hard time loosing weight.    Eating a plant based diet is alkaline along with all the other benefits that go along with consuming more seeds, nuts and legumes.

While we need complete proteins to survive, it is not necessary to eat a complete protein in one meal.  You can eat a bowl or rice at breakfast, and then have beans at lunch and your body will convert it to a complete protein throughout the day.  The only sources of vegetarian  complete proteins are Tofu and Quinoa.

While I’m not  trying to convert anyone to vegan-ism, I do believe it is the best way to feed our bodies, keep the planet healthy, and live long fulfilling lives.    Of course, diet is a very personal decision.  However, it is really hard to deny the facts.  There are plenty of (really good looking) vegan body builders out there.  Eating meat is not the only way, it is not a good way, and it is definitely not the most healthy way.

.  vegan athlete

 

 

Thompson, Janice, and Melinda Manore. Nutrition: An Applied Approach. San Francisco: Pearson/Benjamin Cummings, 2012. Print.

Well Good NYC.” Well Good NYC RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2013.