Oat Yeah! Caramel Cashew Energy Bars & OatWorks Smoothie Giveaway

The holidays aren’t over just because December has come and gone. January is National Oatmeal Month and that’s 31 days of whole grain goodness to celebrate.  Now, before I get all mushy about oatmeal, I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of the stuff porridge-style — except when it is dressed up with nuts and honey and fruit. Okay, okay, I love it! I also love to use oatmeal in many of my healthy recipes, everything from granola (oh, you know there will be a granola-palooza post next week) to grinding it up and using it as a “flour” in all sorts of baking and crusting.

Cashew Caramel Chewy Energy Granola Bars

I recently created this super easy, super yummy recipe for Tropical Caramel Cashew Energy Bars for Litehouse Food. Dried mango and pineapple along with cashews are tossed with a hearty pile of old-fashioned oatmeal (and shelled hemp seed for extra protein) and then coated with a packaged light caramel sauce.  Baked into chewy perfection, these bars have less than 190 calories per serving, 5 grams of protein and 2 grams of dietary fiber. Easy to wrap ‘em up and tuck into a lunch box or gym bag, ready to provide sensible, satisfying relief when hunger strikes.

oatmeal dried fruit nuts in bowl

So, what’s so great about oatmeal? There have been numerous research studies that link the consumption of oatmeal with a host of positive health benefits. You can read about these perks in detail at the Whole Grains Council, but here are the bullet points:

  • Oats may reduce asthma in children
  • Oats may boost nutrition profile of gluten-free diets
  • Oats increase appetite-control hormones.
  • Oat Beta Glucans improve immune system defenses.
  • Oats help cut the use of laxatives.
  • Oats may help reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Oats may improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Oats lower bad cholesterol.
  • Oats help control blood pressure.
  • Oats #3 overall, #1 for breakfast in overall satiety index.

did you drink your oatsDid you also know that you can drink your oats? Yup, just throw a handful (approx. ¼ cup) into the blender when making a smoothie. In order to keep your smoothie from being lumpy and clumpy; It works best to grind the oats in the blender before you add the liquid ingredients.

However, are if you are having a crazy morning or need a post-workout snack, OatWorks Oat-Powered Natural Smoothies are a fantastic, fitness-focused and flavorful option to a home-made smoothie. The company sent me some product to try out, tell you about, and share through a giveaway (read on to the bottom for entry instructions).


Made with natural oat fiber (the soluble fiber called beta glucan) and real fruit juices, these individually- bottled beverages are vegan friendly, gluten free, dairy free, cholesterol free, non-GMO and Kosher. There is also no added sugar, artificial sweeteners or artificial anything. So what DO these OatWorks drinks have? Well, each 12-ounce bottle of Oatworks is packed with as much soluble fiber as two bowls of oatmeal, has loads of vitamins and minerals, and is naturally sweet, smooth and delicious. You also get all those oatmeal benefits that I bullet-pointed earlier!

Choose from three not-at-all lumpy flavors —Strawberry-Banana , Pomegranate-Blueberry or Peach-Mango. If you can’t find these smoothie drinks at your market, you can stock up on Amazon. Or, you may be my lucky winner who will receive 6 bottles (3 each flavor) of OatWorks Oat-Powered Natural Smoothies.

To enter, just enter through the Rafflecopter app below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oh, F-word | Bacon-wrapped Salmon Kebabs with Sriracha-Orange Glaze for Dinner

Oh, F word. And by “F word” I mean fat. Seventy two hours into my quest to eat 180 grams of healthy fat a day for 10 days is proving harder than I imagined. I’m doing this as a fat-loading phase of a marathon nutrition plan. I’ve had avocado, almonds and eggs.  I put real cream in my tea. I was thinking whole plain Greek yogurt would be yummy, but am finding it actually hard to find at the grocery store. Everything is marketed as fat-free, low-fat, reduced-fat or I-can’t-believe-its-not-fat! I did find one large carton of yogurt that had nearly half its calories made from creamy goodness, but the expiration date was looming. Conspiracy!

Eggs, avocado and cheese only got me 1/9th of the way to my 180 gram fat goal.

Eggs, avocado and cheese only got me 1/9th of the way to my 180 gram fat goal.

I was planning a fabulous beef dinner crisped up in rendered fat, but keep forgetting to pull the roast out of the freezer. That will happen this weekend, but I still needed dinner inspiration for tonight. With salmon and bacon on hand, it didn’t take long to realize that these two high-fat proteins would pair up like fine wine and Cheetos (really, try it). With salmon rich in heart-healthy polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids and the bacon sputtering with a hefty dose of (one might argue) less-healthy saturated fats, it only took a mere bamboo skewer to bring together these two opposing forces of dietary fat. You can call the fat combo “naughty and nice” or you can call it “yin and yang,” but why not just make this recipe for Bacon-wrapped Salmon Kebabs with Sriracha-Orange Glaze and call it a damn good thang?!  

jennifer fisher thefitfork bacon wrapped salmon kebabs sriracha

Bacon-wrapped Salmon Kebabs with Sriracha-Orange Glaze Recipe

  • 8 ounces wild-caught sockeye salmon, skin off
  • 6 slices of hardwood smoked bacon
  • Zest from one orange
  • Juice from one orange
  • ¼ cup tamari
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • ¼ cup orange marmalade (all-fruit, no added sugar)
  • 6 6-inch bamboo skewers

jennifer fisher thefitfork raw kebabs1) Soak bamboo skewers in water for at least 10 minutes to prevent burning.Cut salmon into 6 equal-sized strips. Thread onto skewers. Wrap skewered salmon with one slice of bacon.

jennifer fisher thefitfork salmon kebabs grill pan

2) Heat grill pan to medium-high heat. Pan grill kebabs for approximately 4 minutes on each side (including sides), for a total of approximately 16 minutes or until bacon is crisped and salmon cooked through.

3) While kebabs are grilling, prepare glaze by adding juice, tamari, Sriracha and marmalade into a small microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for approximately 1 minute, stirring once, or until heated through.

jennifer fisher thefitfork.com bacon salmon kebabs close up

4) Remove kebabs from heat and brush with glaze. Sprinkle with orange zest. Use any remaining glaze on the greens, noodles, rice or whatever you are serving*

Serves 2.

When I made the greens, I just kept the rendered fat from the bacon in the pan because I (ahem) wanted it. But, drain off if you wish.

When I made the greens, I just kept the rendered fat from the bacon in the pan because I (ahem) wanted it. But, drain off if you wish.

I served these Bacon-wrapped Salmon Kebabs with a version of my Kicked-up Orange Cashew Kale. Heck yeah, the cashews add a little extra crunch and healthy fat. Instead of kale, I used a 10-ounce bag of mixed greens (turnip, collard and mustard). By the time it cooks down, that big bag (which isn’t all yet in the pan above) serves just the two of us. Convenient because I still  can’t get my kids to eat cooked greens; pretty sure I wouldn’t as a teenager either.

Turn Over a New Leaf! Asian Turkey & Cashew Lettuce Wraps (Recipe)

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - turkey cashew lettuce wrapsInspired by last week’s yummy Asian Lettuce Wrap dinner kit from Greeling.com, I did a redo with store-bought ingredients and my own interpretation of the recipe. I have to admit, I had become a bit pampered with pre-prepped fresh food just waiting to be whipped up into a healthy recipe; it was a total bummer to mince my own garlic and chop my own onions. Note to self; on busy weeknights, always make sure that my box of organic, locally-sourced produce and kitchen kits are scheduled to arrive in time to meet my cravings!

I know Asian Lettuce Wraps have been on the low-carb scene for a while. Hello, have you been to P.F. Changs in the last decade? But there is a good reason why this higher-protein meal has been hanging around so long at my house too. It’s quick to make, filling, fresh and . . . . drumroll . . . even my kids will eat it! My Asian Turkey & Cashew Lettuce Wrap is a crowd-pleaser, but don’t be tied down to a single recipe. Say buh-bye to buns and bread; you can wrap almost anything in lettuce — a scrambled egg with salsa, tomatoes and tuna salad, or sliced beef skirt steak and guacamole.

Asian Turkey & Cashew Lettuce Wrap Recipe

  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup chopped green onions (bulbs & tops)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (more or less to taste
  • 24 large Boston or butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Toast cashews until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove cashews from pan, set aside.

Heat up olive oil in the same skillet. Add garlic and sauté for 1 – 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add in ground turkey breast and stir constantly, crumbling up, until cooked through, approximately 8 minutes. Stir in red onions and sauté for 2 -3 minutes or until softened, but not soggy.  Add in carrots and green onions, and sauté for an additional 1 minute, until heated through

Add chicken broth, hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, and Sriracha sauce to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, for another 2 minutes until mixture heated and sauce cooked down a bit.

Nestle two lettuce leaves together and spoon in mound of turkey mixture. Sprinkle with cashews. Repeat for remaining ingredients.

Serves 4 (3 per serving)

Superfoodie: Kicked-up Cashew Orange Kale Recipe

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - cashew orange kaleAll signs in the vast expanse of the veggie world seemed to indicate that I should make some kale for dinner tonight. Not only did I have a huge bundle of locally-sourced kale in the produce bin courtesy of the organic delivery service Greeling.com, but every magazine I’ve opened for the last few days has been abuzz about this looser-leafed cousin to cabbage. It is a “superfood,’ after all. Convinced to put some green in this running machine, I whipped up a spicy-sweet side of kale using an orange and Sriracha sauce. Try it, you’ll like it!

Kicked-up Cashew Orange Kale Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 8 cups chopped kale
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • 2 ounces cashews (I used cayenne spiced cashews)

Add olive oil to large skillet; bring heat to medium-high. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for approximately 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add kale and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes; add wine, orange juice and Sriracha sauce. Stir well to combine.

Add lid to skillet and let kale steam for 3 – 4 minutes, until softened. Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring as needed, until most of the liquid has cooked off. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with orange zest and cashews.

Serves 2.

all hail the kale

So Why Kale?

And there are many nutritional reasons to exclaim “all hail the kale.” This dark leafy green veggie is high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and also has loads of iron and more calcium than a serving of milk. Kale boasts anti-cancer properties thanks to a chemical called sulforaphane. Another chemical found in kale, indole-3-carbinol, is said to encourage DNA repair in cells. Kale has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels and decrease the absorption of dietary fat.  And, all this for 36 calories per cup!

Steaming, braising, microwaving, and stir-frying are all good ways to cook kale; however, boiling this veggie can decrease some of its beneficial properties. Check out these fabulous-looking, creative ways to cook kale brought to you from some of my fellow healthy food-loving Fitfluential.com ambassadors:

Heather at fortheloveofkale.com has an awesomely unusual kale recipe she’s calling Sexy Salad of the Moment – you’ll have to click to find out what gives it so much appeal!

Laura at sprint2thetable.com threw together a lot of yummy stuff in a pot and is calling it White Bean, Butternut and Kale Soup.  Here in Austin, we’re having a weird April cold front, so I’m making this nutrient-rich and warming meal tomorrow night.

Cat at breakfasttobed.com has me motivated to prepare her make-ahead salad. Massaged Kale and Wheatberry Salad with Feta. It’s true that kale salads are so much tenderer when pampered with an olive oil massage.