Love a Loaf | Herb Whole Wheat Monkey Bread Recipe

you hate me breadBread is not necessarily the enemy. True, some people have Celiac disease and legitimate allergies to gluten and really cannot consume it without serious health repercussions leading to malnutrition. I understand. Recently though, I’ve noticed a wave of worriers, let’s call them gluten alarmists, who won’t touch traditional bread, pasta or other foods containing gluten with a 10-foot pole – in public, anyway. These folks might truly believe they are taking the healthy and virtuous high ground, but little do they realize that some (not all) of the processed gluten-free products marketed to them are filled with more calories, sugars, fillers and carby stuff.  You’re better off just eating the bread or making your own gluten-free goodies (check out this chocolate chip cookie I make for a special kid with allergies).

litehouse jennifer fisher bread and iitalian herb butter panini 700I also don’t have a problem with “carby” stuff – people always think I’m no-carb, low-carb, Paleo diet, Atkins, the Zone or whatever. True, I do typically eat a lower carb and higher protein diet, but not exclusively. I eat a what seems like an elephant’s portion of complex carbs daily in the form of vegetables and fruit, but when I want a sandwich, I eat it on bread. When I eat a burger, I have it on a bun. Okay, sometimes just one side of the bun, I’ll admit – but that’s so I can enjoy the sweet potato fries too! Plus, as an athlete, I require carbs as a quick source of energy – when the book The Paleo Diet for Athletes: The Ancient Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance came out, the authors finally acknowledged that the right carbs have a time and place.

Unless it’s a medical concern, let’s not worry so much about the gluten or the carbs. Instead, the best bet for a long life of living well focuses on a balanced diet that includes an allowance of carbs . . . and this means bread! When choosing breads, select whole grains whenever possible – whole grain products are higher in fiber and other nutrients that their bleached white counterparts and have been shown to play a role in the reduction of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic issues.  I was shocked to find out that only 3 percent of adults and 8 percent of kids are getting the recommended 3 servings of whole grains per day. Even though I already was a fan of whole grain bread, I completely switched over to serving whole wheat pasta and brown rice about five years ago and this just seems normal to the kids now.

Here’s one of my favorite easy, weekday bread treats:

jennifer fisher litehouse herb parm monkey bread

 Herb Parmesan Whole Wheat Monkey Bread Recipe

  • 2 14-ounce cans “grand” or “jumbo” style refrigerated whole wheat biscuits*
  • 3 Tbsp. Italian Herb Blend*
  • 2 Tbsp. finely diced red onion
  • 1 Tbsp. finely diced fresh garlic
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¾ cup butter

1. Cut each biscuit into quarters and separate pieces.

2. Mix all herbs and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Add dough pieces and toss around to coat evenly.

3. Layer pieces in a 9” x 9” baking dish or Bundt pan.

4. In microwave-safe dish, melt butter on and pour over dough pieces.

5. Bake in 375 F degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown.

 *Granted, these are only made with “some” whole wheat flour – but still a good compromise to scratch baking or going with an all bleached and enriched convenience product.

 **I am fond of Litehouse Food’s Instantly Fresh freeze-dried line of herbs and herb blends.

Batch o’ Hatch Green Chile Stuffed Mushrooms & Other Filled Fungi

mushroom loveI came to love mushrooms later in life. Why I avoided them for so long, I’ll never know. Well, actually I do know – I found these fungi that pop up from decomposing organic material to be disturbingly earthy. A playground friend reinforced my concerns by telling me that mushrooms grow in the spots where frogs pee (this is NOT true) and too many childhood stories ended with a sympathetic character dying at the hand of a poisonous mushroom.

SAMSUNG

But, now that I’m (ahem) more mature, my taste buds finally won out over my worries – although, you’ll still never find me foraging through the woods popping wild mushrooms in my mouth, willy-nilly.  What I do love about mushrooms, however, is their meatiness and amazing umami taste. Umami is our fifth taste receptor which sends off sirens of delicious, savory satisfaction when foods rich in naturally-occurring glutamates and ribonucleotides co-mingle (this is science, people). The reason why mushrooms, beef, red wine, Parmesean, blue cheese and Worcestershire sauce all go together wonderfully in one combination or another is that they get the umami action going exponentially.   Mushrooms are also like little sponges that soak up the flavor profile of any given recipe – mild and mellow, bright and lively, exotic and unexpected – you get the idea!

mushrooms stuffed with pepper jack, hatch green chile and kale

Today, I’m sharing an easy recipe for mushrooms stuffed with kale, pepper Jack cheese, green chiles and a sprinkling of queso fresca. It will be raining Hatch green chiles (from New Mexico) here in Austin for the remainder of August and my recipes for Hatch chiles keep popping up like (errr) mushrooms.  I originally made these Hatch Chile Stuffed Mushrooms to serve as a side with my Strip Steak with Roasted Hatch Relish – these little guys would also work well atop a salad or as appetizers. And, if you have leftovers (and that’s a big IF), chop them up and put in your omelet the next day!

Hatch Green Chile Stuffed Mushrooms Recipes

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 16 large (2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter) white mushrooms (1 lb)
  • 1 large Hatch green chile, seeded and coarsely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1 cup packed chopped kale
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup shredded pepper jack
  • ½ cup crumbled queso fresco
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 400°F.

  1. Pull stems from mushroom caps to create space for filling. Finely chop stems and set aside.
  2. In medium skillet, sauté chopped stems and Hatch green chiles over medium heat until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add kale, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté together for another 2 – 3 minutes.   Cool for about 10 minutes and then toss with pepper jack cheese.
  3. Mound mushroom filling in mushroom caps, pressing gently to pack in as much as possible. Top with a sprinkle of queso fresco cheese. Bake in middle of oven until mushrooms are tender and cheese is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
  4.  Serves 8 (2 each)

thefitfork beef bluecheese mushrooms plated small text

Looking for some other stuffed mushroom ideas?

Check out my recipe for Beef and Blue Cheese Mushroom Buttons (left) or another favorite recipe hearty enough for an entree - Greek Beef and Kale Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms.

 

 

 

 

pepita-pesto-stuffed-mushrooms-ck-l

A stuffed mushroom recipe from Cooking Light that looks delish is Pepita Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms – it’s next up on my must-make mushroom list!

 

Strip Steak Salad with Roasted Hatch Chile Relish Recipe

There are many things to love about the end of summer. Stocking up with anticipation on new supplies for school yet slowing down to enjoy the last moments of lazing around with the kids. Oh, and the food – the boundless bounties of August produce in all its assorted sun-ripened, juicy and (in this case) spicy goodness.   I’m talking about HATCH GREEN CHILES – love them, love them, love them and have been in fire-roasting cahoots with bushels of the New Mexico superstar long before they became the “IT” food of August.


Oh, and in case you aren’t aware of my, ahem, celebrity – I am a past Central Market Hatch Green Chile Cook Off Winner (and have also placed 2nd and 3rd in other years. People, I KNOW my PEPPERS! Check out the video if you want to know how to roast, peel and seed them!

It’s so (yawn) common for people to pair Hatch green chiles with pork or chicken.  Well, I’ve put Hatch chiles in everything from gnocchi to cheesecake (seriously). Also, one of my favorite burgers (and bunless, too) is my Hot Mess Hatch Green Chile Burger on Grilled Squash “Buns.”  Today, I have delicious recipe for Strip Steak Salad with Roasted Hatch Chile Relish – it’s easy and will take your mouth to a happy place.

wet steak rub recipe

First, order of business is seasoning the beef. Strip steaks are very tender and don’t require a marinade to break them down – only a rub to enhance the natural flavors.  My “No-Flub Wet Steak Rub” can easily be made in any quantity you need – use it generously so it makes a nice crust!

beef steak salad with corn green chile relish

Strip Steak Salad with Roasted Hatch Green Chile Relish Recipe

  • 2 8-oz strip steaks

For Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Greek seasoning

For Relish:

  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • ½ pint grape tomatoes
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • ¾ cup fire-roasted Hatch peppers, peeled and seeded (you can buy them like this at most stores)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

For Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

8 oz baby spring lettuce mix

  1. In small bowl, mix together olive oil and spices into a paste. Apply liberally on the front and back of steaks.
  2. Grill steaks over 400 degree heat for 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until instant read thermometer reaches 135 degrees.  Take steaks off grill and let rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Toss together corn kernels, tomatoes and red onion with 2 teaspoons olive oil and sea salt. Place in rimmed baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees in oven or on grill until edges starting to brown, approximately 15 minutes. Stir as needed.
  4. Remove vegetables and chop up roasted tomatoes. Add in roasted Hatch chiles, stir to combine.  Set aside.
  5. For dressing, shake together olive oil, vinegar, chile powder, garlic and cilantro in a mason jar. Set aside.
  6. To assemble, place lettuce on platter. Top with strip steak that has been cut thinly across the grain. Top with relish and dressing. Serves 4.

strip steak whole with hatch relish

There is no shame in saying, “no salad for me tonight.” The Hatch Green Chile Relish (roasted with corn, red onions, and tomatoes), also makes a tasty accompaniment atop a whole steak.

Do you have a favorite topping or salad recipe for steaks or are you strictly carnivorous?  

Lunchspiration | Creative Lunch Ideas & #HarvestSnaps Giveaway

lunchspiration

It’s back-to-school time and my kids keep reminding me that brown-bagging can get a little boring! Turkey sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs have been overdone at our house. OVER. DONE. Not only are my guys getting older and more adventurous in their tastes, I personally prefer my mid-day meal to be something anticipate with excitement rather than aversion

I have three quick and easy ways to give your lunch a lift plus a giveaway for a stash of a yummy and healthy snack food to take on the go – Harvest Snaps. Read on!

Lunchspiration - Leftovers

Leftover #Lunchspiration: While some detest a repeated, reheated performance of last night’s dinner, I live for leftovers – in fact, I often plan to make extra, just so I’ll have an encore!  Sometimes, I repurpose dinner leftovers into new creations such as transforming fajita beef strips into baked sweet potato toppings, putting pasta, rice or grain remnants into a soup or chopping up leftover veggies to eat cold in a salad. But, not trying to brag, some of my dinners are so yummy (like this broccolini and tenderloin) that the second showing is just as wonderful as the first!

salad lunchspiration

Salad #Lunchspiration:  I may single-handedly eat more salad than anyone on the planet. It’s not because I’m trying to diet — I’m just a lettuce lover!  The kids always want me to buy Iceberg or Romaine lettuce, but I’m a huge fan of the Baby Spring Mix which features an assortment of darker greens – those darker lettuces are much more nutrient rich. But, eating a pile of lettuce day-in and day-out can get dull as a doorknob so I mix it up with a variety of unexpected toppings including any type of fresh or dried fruit (apples, oranges, blueberries, strawberries peaches or bananas). I dare you to put a banana on your salad – do it! Other creative ideas are leftover proteins (even scrambled eggs!), crushed up chips or Harvest Snaps in lieu of croutons, pan grilled or crisped cheese, and out-of-the-box dressings such as Sriracha mixed in plain yogurt, peanut butter mixed in orange juice or even cold spaghetti sauce. Seriously.

healthy yogurt toppings

Yogurt #Lunchspiration:  Some might think that yogurt is only for breakfast or maybe a healthy dessert. But, I think it also makes a great start to any lunch – I use Greek yogurt because it’s packed with so much protein.  The richness and creaminess of Greek yogurt is something I don’t tire of quickly, especially when flavored with a few healthy toppings from a nearly endless array of options. Here are a few of my healthy yogurt toppings:

fruit and nut combo for yogurt

snap pea bento boSo, every lunch needs a little “crunch” for munching and Harvest Snaps is a favorite brand I like to feed my family. Harvest Snaps are gluten-free, baked (not fried), high in protein because they are made from lentils and peas, and have 40 percent less fat than a traditional potato chips. Oh, and did I mention that every one of the six flavors is delicious?! My current favorite flavor is a tie between the subtle Lightly Salted Snapea Crisps and bam-pow Wasabi Snapea Crisps. The other four and also yummy flavors are Black Pepper Snapeas,  Caesar Snapeas, Tomato Basil Lentil Crisps, and Onion Thyme Lentil Crisps.

bento box snapea

I have two ways for you to win – first you can win a BIG PRIZE directly from Harvest Snaps. How? Well, right now, head over to Harvest Snaps and play the really fun mix and match game where you “make” a bento box – then share your creation on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter for a chance to win one of three prizes for school valued at up to $1,000!

 

 

harvest snaps border

Second, you can enter my giveaway below to win one of three 6-pack assortments of Harvest Snap snacks that will come in really handy for packing those back-to-school or work-day lunches. Enter my giveaway in the Rafflecopter app below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Calibee Harvest Snaps, however all opinions are my own.

Flexibility Foremost – Reebok CrossFit #Nano4 Review & WOD

reebok nano 5.0  overhead shoe text

 

The following post is sponsored on behalf of Fitfluential LLC on behalf of Reebok. 

There are plenty of perks that make the latest evolution of the Reebok CrossFit training shoe, the Nano 4.0, a winner. First, the nearly indestructible yet lightweight upper holds up to intense workouts filled with jumping, lifting, running and even rope climbing (special RopePro protection). In terms of sole performance, the shoe provides enough stability for Olympic lifting without sacrificing the flexibility and light cushioning that keep feet springy and safe during high-impact moves like jumping and running.  Available in a kaleidoscope of colors, the Nano 4.0s not only look cool but they also keep your feet cool with improved breathability on the uppers.  Feet that sweat less mean fewer blisters and less overall foot stench in the CrossFit box – thank you very MUCH! Even though the Nano 4.0 might seem kind of pricy at an ARV of $119, it’s like getting at least two pairs in one – a pair for running and high-impact activities and a pair for stability on deadlifts, overheat squats, kettlebell swings and such!

collage of crossfit box pictures

Whoohoo, look at all the things I can do in my Reebok Nano 4.0!

However, what really impressed me about the Reebok Nano 4.0 was the overall flexibility it brings to a cross-training shoe. By flexibility, I don’t mean “versatility” — but I should add that as a benefit too, since I did everything in them from box jumping, sprinting, agility course running, rope climbing, gymnastics, weight lifting and even some post WOD yoga!  As far as flexibility, Reebok reports that they re-engineered DuraCage from the Nano 3.0 for greater benefits in the fore foot and toe area. While I don’t have any experience with the shoe’s predecessor, I can tell you that the Nano 4.0 is the most comfortable and flexible cross-training shoe I’ve ever worn without a doubt.

I could share my woes of really black toe nails thanks (make that no thanks) to wearing rigid shoes during a burpee-filled WOD – but I’ll spare you those nasty details. But, I do want to share that as a CrossFit athlete who likes to compete in running (and vice-versa), flexibility in a shoe is a really big deal for me.  It was about five years ago when I worked with Master Pose Method and CrossFit Endurance Coach, Valerie Hunt, to change my running form from heel striker to the much more forgiving mid-foot striker and I have nary an injury to report, knock on wood! Obviously, it’s not merely luck; this type of running is just better for my body biomechanically and, with the addition of CrossFit and proper recovery, has kept me a competitive runner well into my 40s. While, it’s not the shoe that makes the athlete, I won’t argue the proper shoe can certainly help in the process.

While, I probably wouldn’t make the Nano 4.0 my go-to shoes for everyday running or . . . er, like the crazy 50 miler I did on a whim last year , I totally could wear them for casual running – they are really quite light and have that low-profile heel (4mm) I like which aids in proprioception with every foot strike. Whoa, I know – big word. But what I’m talking about when I say “proprioception” or the “proprioceptors in your feet” is the overall body awareness transmitted through the neuromuscular system with each foot strike that can help improve stride and speed. The same idea applies to other taxing physical activities you may be doing in CrossFit as well– just imagine how much quicker you could do box jumps in light, responsive shoes rather than in a pair of clunky cowboys boots! While no one actually wears cowboy boots to the gym, some of those rigid, thick-soled gym or running shoes sure feel like ‘em.

jennifer thefitfork crossfit workout

My final thoughts on the Nano 4.0? They are all-around performers for all around performers – just the shoe to wear for a WOD filled with my favorite things like running, lifting and throwing your body weight around (just like one I made for you above)! And, YES, that’s four MILES of running. ENJOY!*

*Or, if you’re not up to that much running, you can do 4k which is about 2.5 miles!

 So, do you wear a separate shoe for running and going to the gym?

What is your favorite WOD or exercise in CrossFit?

 

 

Fast Chicken Spinach Parm Panini & 8 Back Stretches for Flexibility

Quick Chicken Parm Sandwich

I would say this recipe is a grilled cheese sandwich for grownups, except the kids love to have ‘em for a super-speedy weeknight meal too!  For added convenience, I’ve used a pre-breaded chicken tender from the freezer section at the market, but you can do this step the old-fashioned way if you have an extra hour –  and, if you such a surplus of time, can you please come over? I have a list of chores to share with you!

Making panini for the family is always a crowd pleaser — everyone can customize a sandwich to suit their tastes. No cheese, no problem. Extra sauce, add it on! One thing I do insist on though is the kids make their panini sandwiches with whole grain bread. I was shocked to find out that a mere 3 percent of children and teens and about 8 percent of adults are eating at least the recommended three servings per day. Whole grains provide an abundance of vitamins and fiber and have been linked to a reduced incidence of heart disease, diabetes and other health concerns. Even though I’m not a huge grain eater, I always make sure that I’m getting biggest benefit for my body when I do – and that’s by eating whole grains over white “enriched” grains.

litehouse_jennifer_fisher_panini_ingredients_lined_300dpi

I created this panini recipe for Litehouse Foods and you can check it out on their blog. It uses their Opadipity Greek Yogurt Spinach Parmesan Dip, a protein-packed, lower-calorie dip that works great in recipes and is just plain yummy to dip vegetables into.

vegetarian wrapsIf you’re looking for a packable lunch or quick dinner idea, my recipe for Roasted Veggie Wrap rolls up the power of plants into a delicious, nutritious meal.

 

If you roast a big batch of veggies, you can enjoy this recipe for lunch and then keep the leftovers in the fridge for a last-minute supper later in the week.

 

 

 

 

bridge yoga thefitfork

Enjoying some improvements with back flexibility!

Even though I’ve been super rushed, I’ve been making time in the morning to work on the flexibility in my back. As a kid, I used to be very bendy, but fast-forward several decades and several kids, the range of motion in my back had left and gone elsewhere – but, I’m happy to say that with some consistency in stretching (only a couple minutes per day), I’m getting my bendable back back!  Check out these 8 Back Stretches for Flexibility:

how to get a more flexible back with stretching

  1. Child’s Pose: Sitting back on heels, roll torso forward bringing forehead to floor and lowering chest to knees as much as possible. Keep arms extended forward.
  2. Cat-Camel Stretch: On hands and knees, alternate between slowly arching and rounding back.
  3. Upward Facing Pose: On back, pull knees up to chest, grab with arms. Rock slowly back and forth.
  4. Bridge: Lie on back with knees bent, feet hip-distance apart and flat on floor. Inhaling, press into feet, lifting hips toward ceiling. Hold as long as possible.
  5. Torso Twist: Sitting with one leg extended forward, the other bent up toward the chest. Turn torso toward bent knee, grasping to gently stretch back. Repeat on other side.
  6. Downward Facing Dog: With hands and knees on ground, press backward raising knees and lifting tailbone to ceiling. Keep weight on shoulders and then gently push heels toward floor to stretch hamstrings.
  7. Seal Pose: Laying on stomach with legs together, elevate head and upper torso using arms, keeping forearms off the floor and stretching spine.
  8. Scorpion Pose: From knees, rest forearms on ground shoulder-width apart. Kick up into a forearm stand, achieving balance and slowly bend at the knees, arching back and lifting head to look forward.

What do you like to throw together busy-night dinners? Do you have back tightness — what do you do to stay flexible?

 

Quick & Easy Avocado Ideas and How To Freeze Leftovers

We love avocados!

Everything I need to know about avocados, I learned from my dad!

A box of bliss was delivered to my door last week – a case of Bravocado Avocados from my friends at the California Avocado Commission.  With the peak season being from May though September, California avocados are always on hand for my summer entertaining and I’ve been known to use avocados in everything from guacamole and “green eggs” to salads and smoothies.

Avocado Corn Relish

In fact, this latest windfall of ripe avocados was a reward for winning first place in the 2014 All-American Recipe Contest. You’ve might have seen my recipe for  Mom’s Black Bean Avocado & Corn Salad, it’s a favorite on Pinterest and has been popular pick at potlucks and family get-togethers.  The judges said it was packed with flavor and “combines sweet corn, black beans, bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar and spices with fresh avocado for a flavor combination that stands strong all on its own, but goes perfectly with grilled meats or tortilla chips as a dip. Put this one on your must-try list stat”

There are just so many delicious things you can do with a case of creamy, dreamy avocados – but two of my favorite ways to eat them are just so simple. And, surprise – these quick and easy recipes not straightforward guacamole (although, if I could jump in a bathtub of mashed avocado with lime and jalapeno, I would).

Bacon Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes: These cute little cups made out of super sweet Campari tomatoes are the perfect vessels for avocado blended with lime, jalapeno, cilantro – okay, I guess that is guacamole. But, sprinkle on some crumbled bacon and serve on a bed of lettuce with black beans and corn and you have a light and healthy summer meal.

Salad with Guacamole Stuffed Tomatoes

Avocado and Lime on the “Half Shell”: It doesn’t get any easier than this – slice your perfectly ripe an creamy avocados in half lengthwise and pull out the seed. Sprinkle with sea salt and squeeze fresh lime – and eat with a spoon!

avocado halves with lime

If, in the rare instance, you find yourself with too many avocados to eat before spoiling sets in, you CAN freeze them. Earlier in the year, I did a tutorial on how to freeze guacamole – check out the link. You can also freeze avocado slices with a pretty good outcome too! The texture is not quite as creamy when you thaw the frozen slices, but it’s still yummy and so much better than tossing your ripe avocados out.

freezing avocado slices

 

Do tell, what is your favorite way to eat avocados?

Honey Buzz! Not So Chunky Monkey Granola with Blue Diamond Almonds

Sometimes a girl needs a treat, and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of sweet. But, before you reach for a pint of ice cream, cupcake or even diet soda, you should think about enjoying a wholesome treat made with the oldest sweetener around – honey!  Even though honey contains simple carbohydrates and its fair share of calories, honey is in no way comparable to refined white table sugar.

honey

The combination of fructose and glucose in honey help to regulate blood sugar, meaning you won’t be jacked around with the jolt and subsequent crash found with regular sugar. An abundance of cancer-preventing antioxidents are inherent to honey as are gut-friendly bacteria (probiotics) that can help tame digestive issues.  Also, some believe eating locally-sourced honey can also help lessen certain seasonal allergies. The jury still out on this, but because honey tastes so good, I’m willing to take a daily spoonful for . . .er, medicinal purposes!

chunky monkey almond granola

Lately, a honey-sweetened (and pollinated) treat I’ve been enjoying are a couple new flavors of Blue Diamond Almonds – Honey Roasted Vanilla and Honey Roasted Chipotle. What’s not to love? Sweet, salty and crunchy with just the right level of supporting flavor – it’s impossible to say whether I love the Honey Roasted Vanilla or the Honey Roasted Chipotle better. Both are creating major buzz with my taste buds! Of course, almonds are perfect for eating right out of the can (I always keep them in my purse) but they also make recipes rock – like my honey and almond inspired Not Quite So Chunky Monkey Granola!

honey granola with chocolate, almonds and banana protein

 

“Not Quite So” Chunky Monkey Granola with Blue Diamond Almonds Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup organic honey
  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (2 scoops) vanilla or plain protein powder
  • 1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (Gluten-Free, if needed)
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ cup freeze-dried banana slices
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 6 oz. can Blue Diamond Honey Vanilla Almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
  2. Place the coconut oil, honey, mashed banana, water and protein powder and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium-low and whisk until mixture is smooth, thick and creamy and just beginning to bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.
  3. Pour oats and coconut flakes into pot, stirring to combine and coat. Pour mixture out evenly on prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes, stirring once or twice. If granola still seems moist, keep baking in 5 minute increments until dry. Remove from oven and let cool completely on sheet. Crumble up in bowl and stir in dehydrated bananas, chocolate chips and almonds. .
  5. Store cooled granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.

*Sugared and honey-coated nuts tend to burn easily, so I add them after baking. However, if you substitute raw almonds, they may be added with the oats before cooking.

honey_badgeYou know what else I love about theses Honey Roasted Blue Diamond Almonds? The company donates money to help support honeybee research – to date, Blue Diamond has backed more than 70 studies in support of bee health. The almond industry, as a whole, is 100-percent reliant on honeybees to pollinate almond trees every season – and 1/3 of the world’s food crops are also pollinated by bees!

 

As an athlete, I also appreciate honey as a way to supplement my nutrition before and during a race or intense workout. As you probably know, carbohydrates are the primary (but not only) source of fuel the body uses during exercise. Honey offers 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, making it a dense and efficient source of energy while on the run – literally. I will often stash restaurant “take-out” honey packs or convenient honey sticks in my pockets during a long run. And, as an athlete, I also appreciate almonds as a way to recover from a workout – it’s best to take in a protein-rich snack within 30 minutes post-exercise and almonds are a convenient, perfectly portable for travel, non-messy snack to stick in a gym bag.

I'm a sweet nut

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds, but all recipes and opinions are my own.