I’m nuts about the holiday season – absolutely, positively, literally nuts! Pecans, cashews, almonds, pistachios, macadamia and more, it’s hard to name a favorite. Only chocolate rivals my passion for nuts, and this year, I’ve come up with an exotically-spiced nut recipe that incorporates my love for these two – Paleo Cocoa Chai Spiced Nuts.
A jar full of Paleo Cocoa Chai Spiced Nuts makes an edible gift that most everyone (with good taste) will appreciate. Plus, the smell of roasting nuts is guaranteed to draw a crowd, so make a couple batches because you may just end up with an impromptu holiday party on your hands! Read on to get this paleo diet friendly recipe that is fun, fit and frugal to give as a gift: Continue reading →
Autumn means ALL the pumpkin-spiced things! It’s a seasonal craze I can support — and, by support, I mean “hold up to my mouth and shove in!”
So, with the hubby’s birthday right in the smack of pumpkin month, I don’t even ask him what flavor cake he wants. He’d normally say “chocolate,” but in September, October and November, the only option is pumpkin spice. Check out my Lightened Pumpkin Spice Crumb Cake (gluten-free), get the recipe and find out what yumminess I served it with. Continue reading →
This post is sponsored by Potatoes USA however all opinions, comments, recipes and enthusiasm are my own!
Ever heard the expression “all meat and no potatoes”?
Ironically, this old-school insult means, “Dude, you’re fat!” But, many would probably assume the opposite in this high-protein diet world where we’re all freaking out over carbs. Yes, while protein is good, so are carbohydrates. I’m not talking about sugary or highly-processed carbs that are stripped of their inherent wholesomeness, I’m talking about complex carbohydrates – like the very healthy potato.
Can I get a virtual high-five for the potato?!
As a lifelong athlete, I’ve used potatoes as part of my training diet year after year. Potatoes are an on point food choice to help fuel an active lifestyle. Spuds for speed, that’s what I’ve always told people! Potatoes are packed with complex carbs to provide the energy my body and brain needs to train, compete and recover optimally. Because they are unearthed from the ground, potatoes are also a great source of minerals including potassium, iron and magnesium. Athletes need these things in abundance and that’s why potatoes are actually a common sight along the courses of ultra-marathons, Ironmans and century rides.Oh, and you can use a 10-lb. bag of potatoes for a pull-up challenge!
Other potato perks — they come in their own wrappers, are simple to cook, extremely versatile in recipes and are inexpensive – I just love the cleverness of Mother Nature! If you need a healthy, balanced meal on the quick and cheap, it’s a loaded baked potato piled high with all the leftovers in your fridge for the win.
Another way I love to eat potatoes, just roasted in a pan with some olive oil.
If you’re getting bored with potatoes, think creatively. There are so many other ways to enjoy them than the traditional baked potato. Plus, there is a rainbow array of varieties including white, red, russet, yellow, purples, fingerlings and petite potatoes. While my go-to side dish the night before an endurance event is a simple baked potato with salt, I am way more potato crazy in the weeks leading up to a marathon or long beastly obstacle race. Mashed, minced, toasted, riced, pureed, grilled, spiralized, oven-fried … whew, I’m the Bubba Gump of potatoes.
Today I’m sharing a unique and family-approved way to eat your potatoes that includes a healthy balance of protein – and, by the way, a medium (5.3 ounce) potato has more than 3g of protein on its own! My recipe for Chai-Spiced Potato Muffin Bars uses the fluffy innards of a baked potato along with Greek yogurt, eggs and a scoop of protein powder to create a marvelously moist “bar” that has the texture of a muffin. Each muffin bar has only 70 calories and no sugar, but 10 grams of energy-boosting carbs and more than 6 grams of protein. Plus, between the potato and protein powder, there’s no need to use any type of flour, other grain or filler, meaning these muffin bars are gluten-free.
I devour these Chai-Spiced Potato Muffin Bars for pretty much any occasion – breakfast, pre-workout fuel, post-workout recovery snack, and dolloped with fruity yogurt for a healthy dessert. I betcha these special spud snacks won’t last long at your house. That’s why I always bake two batches and freeze bars from the second batch individually in zip-top bags for grab-and-go munching – they are always thawed out after my workout!
How are you putting potatoes on your plate? Favorite recipe? What’s the last endurance event you tanked at? tanked at? Do you think you needed more carbs?! Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
Chai-Spiced Potato Muffin Bars
Fuel your next run or workout with this nutritionally balanced energy bar that will optimize performance -- the potatoes provide healthy carbs for energy plus potassium for hydration.
Wash and dry potatoes and pierce around sides with fork. Place in center of microwave and cook on high for approximately 4 minutes, or until yielding when squeezed and soft and fluffy inside. Cut in half, and allow to cool to room temperature.
Using a tablespoon, scoop pulp of potato and place in blend, discarding skins. Add eggs, Greek yogurt and ¼ cup of the milk and blend until smooth. Next, pulse in vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and white pepper until just combined.
In small bowl, mix together baking soda, salt, white pepper, and protein powder. Pulse this mixture into the blender in batches until smooth, adding the additional milk if batter seems to thick.
Prepare 9” x 9” rimmed baking pan with cooking spray. Pour in batter and bake for approximately 14 to 16 minutes or until turning lightly golden brown and toothpick pulls clean from the center.
Let cool for 30 minutes and cut into 8 bars.
Dust with additional cinnamon and a bit of powdered sugar, if desired.
Pumpkin fans, you’re going to love these waffles a latte! They are crispy on the outside, soft and delicious on the inside with the comforting flavors of pumpkin, fall spices and coffee. Yup, coffee for that little extra morning kick — nothing like keeping the love for PSL strong! Gluten-free Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffles are a must-make for your next weekend brunch – heck, even throw a scoop of coffee ice cream on top for an amazing autumn-inspired dessert!
Made with gluten-free ingredients, nutrient-rich pumpkin, and coconut oil and coconut sugar (low glycemic impact), my waffles are so much healthier than those frozen store purchased alternatives – and really not that hard to prep. My recipe makes 12 huge, 4-square waffles (so 48 individual waffles), that can be stored in the freezer and popped in the toaster oven on those crazy mornings.
Mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.
In a second bowl, add eggs, sugar, pumpkin, coffee, milk, coconut oil and vanilla; beat well.
Gently fold in the flour-spice mixture to the moist mixture.
Cook according to your waffle iron directions, until a deep golden brown and crispy on the outside.
Serve with honey butter, maple syrup or your favorite toppings.
* You can make your own oat flour by putting old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats in a food processor or blender and pulsing until they are finely ground. Oats are gluten-free by nature, by if you have an allergy, make sure that you are buying certified gluten free oats that have been processed in a gluten-free facility.
This post and giveaway sponsored by Hamilton Beach, however all opinions, comments, content and enthusiasm are my own.
One morning this summer I made a family favorite recipe for Pumpkin Protein Muffins. When the kids woke up to the amazingly “autumn” smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin baking, they were disoriented. . .. but excited, nonetheless.! “Is it already Thanksgiving, mom? Did we sleep through the first day of school and Halloween and wake up in the middle of the fall holidays?”
By the way, I’m giving away a really awesome Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker from Hamilton Beach this week – this counter top appliance will Change. Your. Life. Hop to the bottom of the post to enter.
That got me to thinking. Why DO we primarily limit cooking and baking with pumpkin to the months of September through December? While fresh pumpkins may be seasonal, the canned puree is equally as nutritious and a heck of a lot more convenient. Pumpkin ( a fab source of fiber, vitamins Vitamin A, and healthy complex carbs) is a veggie I’d like to see more of in my life for the entire year! And, so here I am in September, as cliché as it may be, sharing a pumpkin recipe – but, good gourd, this one is workable into anyone’s busy schedule, 365.
Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oatmeal – why, hello creamy pie-and-coffee-shop inspired morning concoction that is actually as nourishing as delish. I’ve used a blend of old-fashioned oats mixed with my favorite seeds (hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin – you can tweak as you like) along with pumpkin puree, creamy almond milk, and vanilla protein powder to bring each serving into the approximate 25g protein range which is what I strive for at my morning meal
***Please note, the recipe nutrition will vary based on the protein powder you use (I used Vanilla Whey Isolate from Now Foods) and mix ins (I used the Triple Omega Seed Blend from Now Foods) . With just 288 calories per hearty serving, I’ve kept this sugar-free recipes under 300 calories buy using my preferred cup-for-cup measure sugarless sweetener (Sugarless Sugar Baking Blend from Now Foods).
In a rush? This recipe takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. If you’re in a super morning rush, set everything out in the rice cooker (except the perishables) the night before and finish off in the morning. Oh, and did I mention that there is caffeine built right into this recipe thanks to steeping chai into the liquid used to make oatmeal. It’s genius. Of course, please use caffeine-free tea if you are sensitive.
Did you notice how I alluded to a Rice Cooker? The convenience factor here is that I’ve made this pumpkin oatmeal recipe in a Rice Cooker! You heard me right – rice cookers aren’t just for cooking rice anymore, you can make some amazing recipes in a rice cooker like cheesy grits, steamed salmon with rice and veggies, chocolate cakes and more! I’ve made my recipe in the 4-20 Cup Rice and Hot Cereal Maker from Hamilton Beach, it’s the best small kitchen appliance evahhhhh! I’m giving one away, jump to bottom of post to enter!
I resisted getting a rice cooker for a really long time, thinking it would just hog up space in my cabinets and rarely get used – not the case! It’s more of a “multi” cooker than a “rice” cooker and I it at least once a week to prepare a meal for the family – even my teens know how to make simple recipes for dinner in it. Plus, with a 20-cup capacity, it’s perfect for meal planning – I often double or triple my batches of rice, quinoa, oats or whatever I have going in in the cooker and then freeze portions for later in the month. It’s a busy mom’s best friend!
Add almond milk, water and tea bags to large glass measuring cup and microwave until hot, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from microwave and let steep another 3 minutes. Discard tea bags and set liquid aside.
In bowl of rice cooker, add oats, nutrition boosters (seeds, etc), protein powder, sugar substitute, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together until combined.
Add pumpkin to bowl and pour in milk/tea mixture. Mix together until everything combined.
Put lid down on rice cooker. Set timer for “heat/simmer” for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened to desired consistency. I prefer mine thicker!
Serve warm in bowls with Greek yogurt and pecans or other garnishes. May store leftovers in refrigerator for days or in freezer for 6 months.
To make in microwave, place all ingredients in 2 quart lidded casserole and microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring halfway.
Cooler, crisper days have arrived and I have a hankering for a more homey and comfy breakfast than my typical smoothie or on-the-go protein bar. But with the craziness of my morning routine (my personal running, tying up work loose ends and giving rides to school), I rarely have time for anything coming out of the oven. But my recipe for Cinnamon Super Oatmeal Stuffed Apples can be quickly prepped and cooked in the microwave, so I’m winning before sun up. In fact, this is what I ate for breakfast the morning that I woke up really early to drive to Marble Falls, Texas and ended up winning the entire Hill Country Half Marathon.
My “super” oatmeal is far from the cement-like, sugar-laden and fake-flavored oatmeal packets found next to the Fruit Loops and Pop Tarts. Instead, this powered-up oatmeal stuffed in my apple has been fortified with extra taste, texture and nutrition thanks to the addition of uncooked quinoa, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and spices mixed together with my dry, quick-cooking oats. I typically will make a big batch and then scoop out what I need in the morning for this apple recipe or just for a simple bowl of oatmeal.
After pulling my stuffed apple out of the microwave, I drizzle it with Almond Vanilla Opadipity by Litehouse sweet Greek yogurt dip. I love this lightly sweet Greek yogurt dip as a healthy topping on all my family’s favorite breakfast foods including this oatmeal recipe, but also pancakes, waffles and granola parfaits.
I like to use a great big Honey Crisp apple as my vessel to hold my mix of “super” oatmeal, the center is just scooped out with a melon-baller to create the perfect edible bowl.
Now, not all apples are the bomb for baking – some varieties, like the ubiquitous Red Delicious, seem crisp and crunchy when plucked off the tree (or out of the produce bin) but can turn mushy and mealy in the oven. For treats like apple pie, tarts and muffins (and especially my recipe for Super Oatmeal Stuffed Baked Apples), I prefer my apples to remain a little al dente – and I think most would agree! Here is a list of my favorite 10 apples with flesh that stands up to baking and offer a delicious balance of sweet and tart flavors. Try using a variety of these apples for a more complex flavor and colorful presentation.
10 Best Apples for Baking
Pink Lady (Cripps Pink)
If you are looking for more healthy apple recipes, check out this bumper crop collection from CookingLight.com.
Slice top off each apple approximately 1-inch down.
Use melon scooper to scoop out apple flesh, leaving a ¼” to 1/3” thickness on apple.
Pick out seeds and core of flesh and chop remaining apple flesh finely.
In medium bowl, toss together oats, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and Stevia. Stir in chopped apple pieces.
In microwave-safe measuring cup, boil water and stir in ONE CUP into the oatmeal until combined.
Place apples in microwave-safe baking dish. Stuff mixture evenly into the two apple “bowls,” packing down and over stuffing, if necessary. Set “lid” apple pieces in the side of baking dish.
Add ¼ cup water to bottom of baking dish. Cover with dish lid. Microwave for 3 minutes on high, and then in additional 1-minute increments until oatmeal is cooked through and apple is tender (microwave times will vary by appliance).
To serve, top oatmeal stuffed apples with Opadipity Greek Yogurt Dip, extra pumpkin seeds and a dash of cinnamon.
I don’t need to explain myself, it’s October. But, I will because I like to talk! October is the month when all things pumpkin happen and I when I kick up my running into a higher gear for a late fall season marathon. This year, I am also doing Spartan Beast in Dallas on Oct. 31st — I know, SCARY in so many ways!
The point is, I need some extra power in this month of pumpkin-mania and so I’ve pumped up my recipe with protein powder. You can use whatever type of protein powder you prefer — whey, soy, pea, or whatever! This recipe is also sugar-free, gluten-free, nut-free (pumpkin seeds are SEEDS, duh) and Paleo friendly. Enjoy!