Keeping my nutrition in check with my busy family, work and training schedule can sometimes seem like one of the hardest tasks at hand. If I don’t put a priority on properly fueling first thing in the morning before my workouts, and then afterward, I definitely notice an increase in my recovery time, dip in my overall energy and concentration levels, and a reduction in performance the next day. Day after day, this can become a downward spiral. For example, if the stress starts getting to me, I’m prone to lose weight and stop sleeping and that’s no good for an athlete trying to maintain and/or grow muscle mass.
Thankfully, I plan ahead more these days with simple solutions for success, like putting up portions of leftover steak in the freezer for future salads, meal prepping a week’s worth of whole grains like quinoa or oatmeal, and placing my scoops of protein powders and recovery drinks into single-serve baggies for a grab-and-go before the gym. Read on to get the recipes for my easy make-ahead Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Power Oats and learn about some of the sports nutrition products I rely on from Life Time Fitness. Continue reading →
Set aside part of Sunday, or any day really, to meal prep myHoney Garlic Slow Cooker Shredded Chickenthat can be used in the four recipes that I share in this post — its an economical and convenient way to set yourself up for success on your health, fitness or weight-loss journey.
The slow-cooker chicken is spread divided up to make 4 different recipes covering breakfast, lunch and dinner — that means you can stock your fridge with 16 individually-portioned meals than can be enjoyed throughout the week or frozen for use later. Read on to get the shopping list, recipes and execution strategy. Continue reading →
Feedback is in from friends, family and those of y’all around the Internets . . . . this hearty, healthy Banana Quinoa, Oats ‘n More Breakfast Bake is a winner! Other nutritious ingredients I’ve snuck inside this make-ahead breakfast meal — hemp seeds, chia seeds and cacoa nibs!
Ready for a curiously crunchy treat? My recipe for Apple, Walnut & Quinoa Crunch will satisfy sweet crispy cravings while filling you up longer thanks to an unexpected punch of protein from the quinoa and black walnuts– it’s a balanced candy for your “healthy tooth”!
I like to eat it straight off the baking sheet or break up into shards of sweetness to top my Greek yogurt.
I almost hesitate to even call this easy-to-make recipe “candy,” although it is a take on old-fashioned “nut brittle.” However, the typical peanut brittle or nut brittle uses a boatload of butter, table sugar and corn syrup – gasp! Instead, my healthy candy recipe is packed with wholesome ingredients like 100 percent juice apple cider, ancient grains, dried fruit and nuts, and just a touch of coconut sugar.
I also choose to use Black Walnuts instead of standard english walnuts. Why? The black walnut has the most protien of any tree nut and imparts a more intense, earthy, nutty flavor to recipes. I discovered this news I can definitely use at the Produce Marketing Associations recent Fresh Summit in Orlando when, I auspiciouslly bumped into Hammon Black Walnuts on my way out the door to fly home.
As far as sugars go, coconut sugar (derived from Palm) is a much healthier sweetener in moderation as it doesn’t spike blood sugar as dramatically as traditional sugars. Also, if a concern for you are a loved one, this recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free.
I originally made this recipe for Litehouse Foods and used the Honey Crisp Apple Cider, you can find it in the produce section this time of year. This Cold Pressed, 100 percent pure apple juice has a unique tart taste that is wonderfully balanced with sweet. It’s perfect poured straight from the container, served hot or cold, and also makes a great ingredient in recipes where you would prefer natural sweetness.
Some things to note when making this recipe — you need to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, your oven temperature may vary affecting the overall cook time. Also, it will be soft when removed from oven — give it plenty of time to set up and harden, stick in the fridge to expidite. If it still doesn’t seem crispy, then you can put it back in the oven for several minutes at a time until done.
Another healthier “candy” I’m pulling from the archives to share with you today is my recipe for Sweet Date Chocolate Candy Bar Bites. These are so yummy and I love how the dates provide extra iron in my diet.
I also like to make a batch of my Hazlenut Fudge Protein Balls to stash in the freezer and thaw out one at a time to quell my dessert cravings. These no-bake energy bits are ideal for a healthy little dessert or as pre and post workout fuel.
In addition to the Honey Crisp Apple Cider from Litehouse Foods, which you can conveniently find in your market’s produce section this time of year, here are some other ingredients used in my Quinoa Crunch.a
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160C) and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or use a silicone baking liner as I did)
Using a fine-mesh sieve, rinse the quinoa well under cold running water and spread out on a paper towel to dry. This will prevent bitterness.
Add quinoa, walnuts, oats, crumbled dehydrated apples, and salt to small mixing bowl, stirring to combine.
To a small saucepan, 1 ½ cups apple cider and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until volume has been reduced to ½ cup liquid. Add coconut oil, coconut sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and simmer for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Pour apple cider “syrup” over the dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly coat. Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet and spread into a uniform layer with a metal spoon. Uniformity in thickness will promote even cooking and keep edges from burning.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, rotating the pan around on the oven rack at the halfway point. When removing from oven, color should be deep golden brown in color. Allow to cool completely so that it hardens up before breaking into bite-sized pieces.
If you realize, after cooling that still soft in the center, you can return it to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, keeping a close eye.
Store leftovers in a sealed bag or container at room temperature up to one week, or in the freezer for up to three months.
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. Ditch the chips and grab some Game Changing Flavors this football season! Enter for a chance to win the Ultimate Football Party Prize Pack, get great savings and ideas for delicious snack hacks at GameChangingFlavors.com .We take football SERIOUSLY here in Texas. Friday nights are spent under the lights cheering on the hometown boys and socializing with friends. All day Saturday is set aside for tailgating and stomping boots in the fan stands of our hometown college team (or Pop Warner) and Sunday and Monday we gather ‘round the big screen to rally behind our favorite professional teams.
So, during the season, it’s not uncommon to have four straight days of football. Oh, and the holiday bowl games – those may be the best because usually all the family and friends are around to celebrate! You may not believe this, but it’s TRUE – every year my family pushes our Thanksgiving feast from Thursday to Friday just so some of us can attend a very important collegiate game. Like I said, football is serious business in these parts.
Second to the serious excitement of the gridiron action is the snack table lineup. Actually, I know some (okay, maybe me) would say that good football grub is the most important part of the day – in fact, I go nuts for football food! Nuts, especially almonds, are always part of my starting snack lineup and they pair with everything from cold-cut sandwiches, pizza, wings and healthier things – including the over-the-top Healthy Snack Stadium I crafted for a big bowl game last year!
This football season, I’m serving up Salty-Sweet Smokehouse Almond Bacon Granola – a real winner based on how many times I have to refill the bowl even before half-time! People are like “bacon granola?!” and I’m like “heck, yeah!” – it’s spicy, sweet, smoky, salty, what more could you want? Everyone knows that bacon makes everything better, but so do almonds! Almonds are little powerhouses of nutrition – a handful (about an ounce or 23 nuts) has 163 calories, 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of heart-heathy fat along with all sorts of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. I especially like almonds for a snack because they are hunger-squashing and keep me satisfied until my next meal!
A bowl full of this Salty-Sweet Smokehouse Almond Bacon Granola is definitely going to satisfy the snack cravings of the biggest armchair linebacker or peppiest cheerleader at your party. The bacon definitely pushes this easy granola recipe into the Snacking Hall of Fame (okay, I made that up), but it is also balanced with healthy ingredients like whole grain oats, dried pears (or apples), quinoa, flax seeds, real maple syrup and more.
In small food processor or with knife, chop 3 ounces of almonds (1/2 Blue Diamond can); leave other half of can whole. Set both aside.
In large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high until moderately crispy (don’t over-cook). Remove bacon to drain on paper towels and coarsely chop up. Don’t dispose of bacon fat.
Keep about ½ cup of bacon fat in skillet along with all the delicious crispy bits left behind. Add cayenne pepper and stir into bacon fat until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add maple syrup to this mixture, stirring constantly and allowing to bubble up for about one minute. Remove from heat.
In medium bowl, toss together oats, quinoa, flax seed, chopped bacon, dried pears, chopped almonds and whole almonds.
Stir oat mixture into bacon fat - maple syrup mixture until evenly coated.
Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.
Spread granola mixture out onto baking sheet and lightly press down with back of spoon to compact a bit.
Bake at 325 F for about 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes and them break into chunks
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.