My Paleo Chocolate Nut Butter Surprise Muffins make a great on-the-go snack for hikes, trail runs and trips to the lake. They are low carb and higher protein, making them a good choice for a quick breakfast – or even pair up with a scoop of your favorite “ice cream” for a sensible dessert. Sugar free, gluten free and dairy free, but with loads of YUM! Continue reading
Posting a little ahead of schedule to give y’all a heads up that National Chocolate Cake Day later this week – on January 27th to be exact. I want to give you plenty of time to start thinking of how you to pay homage to one of the world’s most popular desserts — will you partake in a cupcake, a layer cake, a Bundt cake, a sheet cake or even a single-serve mug cake? Heck, make them all!
This year, my Wow, it’s a Sugar-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Cake needs to top your must bake list. I’ve topped it with rich butter macadamia nuts, but it’s equally delicious eaten plain with just the ganache or topped with other garnishes like raspberries, pistachios or orange zest. Even though it’s dreamy and decadent-tasting enough for a hardcore chocolatavore, it’s got some decent nutritional value and is even Paleo diet friendly, gluten-free and lower carb
I have a thaaaaaaaaaang for pears, eating right out of hand and using them as the star ingredient in healthy desserts. If I was a partridge, I’d never fly out of my pear tree –the fruit is just so dang delicious and nutritious. Pomegranate Roasted Pears with Pine Nuts & Blue Cheese is a super simple yet sorta fancy-schmancy dessert or side dish that can be made in 30 minutes!
Cookies are part and parcel of the holiday season in every family, in every culture, from Christmas sugar cookies, rugelach for Hanukkah, bene Wafers (sesame seed cookies) for Kwanza and more. All of these cookies are so yummy (really what cookie isn’t, chocolate krinkles are a favorite) but so many are loaded with sugar, refined flours and whatnot – and not to mention artificial dyes and colorings in the case of the typical decorations for cutout sugar cookies.
Sometimes it’s fun to create new, healthy traditions with your family that meet your own dietary restrictions, taste preferences and needs for optimizing performance. That’s why I came up with these Paleo Pistachio, Chocolate & Beet Cookies – there is no added sugar, 75 calories per cookie and only 5 grams carb. Plus, they are gluten-free but not vegan unless you use a vegan egg substitute.
The beet powder (I used Beet Essence from Green Foods) is rich in antioxidants, many of which help to reduce inflammation. Organic Cocoa, Sugarless Sugar (a stevia-based blend) and Coconut Oil from Now Foods create a sweet, chocolatey taste and pistachios give that salty, nutty taste I love – plus iron! Did you know pistachios are the most iron-rich nut of any?
Strange as they sound, everyone loves these Paleo Pistachio Chocolate Beet Cookies – even Lucy!
Last week, we devoured another winning cookie concoction, Paleo Gingerbread Cookie Brittle. This one is so easy, just smoosh into the pan and break! If you don’t want to cut into tidy wedges, you can just break it off in sweet shards!
What is your favorite “splurge” holiday cookie? Do you have a healthy cookie recipe you like to make? Have you ever been to a cookie swap? Please share in the comments, XOXO, Jennifer
Treats, desserts, goodies, nom noms, whatever name you longingly call a little something sweet after or between meals don’t have to be off limits or induce guilt. In fact, if you are craving something outside of your normal healthy-eating routine, it’s better to go ahead and satisfy the urge with a reasonable-sized portion rather than setting aside an entire day to pigging out on whatever “cheats” you want.
Really, when you think about it, no food is a “cheat.” All food provides calories, which translate into energy to burn through the day. — however, as most of us know, some food provides better quality energy than others! Most experts would recommend keeping your treats to 200 calories or less and don’t feel obligated to indulge everyday if you don’t really want it! If you calorie needs are in the range of 2,000 per day, then a 200 calorie treat makes up only 10 percent – just make sure your remaining diet is balanced with lean protein, healthy whole grains and lots and lots of veggies and some fruit.
1) Guilt- Free: Postponing a treat or small splurge and labeling it as “bad” also sets you up for an unhealthy relationship with food, it creates guilt. A day set aside to “cheating,” how can that be a good thing?
2) More- Consistent: A daily treat is there every day if you want/need it! Our bodies respond better to consistent behavior, rather that dieting and overindulging to the extremes.
3) Enjoyment: Enjoy your food, all of it. Being well, healthy and happy means living your life embracing food for what it can do for you and not obsessing over a specific diet, what is good or bad, or setting unrealistic expectations.
4) Extra Energy+: A daily treat can give you those extra calories and other important nutrients you need on days when especially active. You definitely need to consider your activity level when planning snacks!
4) Hormones Happier: Studies have shown that with calorie and carb restriction, Leptin (the hunger hormone) is altered, messing up its ability to tell your brain you are full and to stop eating. Similarly, T3 (the thyroid hormone) can be decreased by calorie restriction and extreme dieting, creating a backfiring situation where your metabolism slows down.
5) Sustainable for Life: With a daily treat, there are no feelings of abstinence, meaning its easy to keep an overall healthy diet for life. If you’re eating a variety of colorful, whole foods the majority of the time, a treat now and then or every single day has no harm!
You know, some days I slice myself a piece of chocolate cake and other times I’m completely satisfied with a healthy snack like these New Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars I found at Target* – they totally take, errrr, the cake! I really appreciate how Outshine® uses simple and honest ingredients — 100% yogurt, blended with real fruit, that’s it! These healthy treats contain no artificial colors or flavorings* and are not gunked up with high fructose corn syrup – with each lick and am treated to simply the bright, delightlful flavor as Mother Nature intended. *Check the Store Locator for other locations.
Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars are available in seven creamy and yummy varieties including Strawberry, Peach, Blueberry, Pineapple, Lemon, Strawberry Banana, and Mango. Also good to know, each frozen bar contains live & active cultures, 5 grams of protein, and 10% of our daily requirement for calcium. The company also makes all fruit bars and fruit & veggie frozen bars!
Of course, Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars make a smart choice to eat after a workout – that little blast of protein helps speed muscle recovery.
And, because Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars are so sensible, I like to occasionally dress these healthy frozen snacks up a little more with my favorite sundae toppings – like today I used the Blueberry bars and topped with whipped topping, fresh blueberries, granola and crushed dehydrated raspberries (those are the “healthy red sprinkles”).
Also, check out Outshine on Instagram — they have a very cute, vibrant and happy page!
What is your snacking philosophy? What is your favorite healthy dessert or yogurt flavor? Any big plans for these last days of warm weather? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
I must say, I slayed yesterday’s tempo run and I think it was the dragon fruit smoothie I made for my afternoon snack. Just like the perfect run, where speed comes without too much suffering, can be elusive . . . so is the dragon fruit. You don’t see this beautiful tropical fruit very often, mainstream markets don’t usually carry them – so if you ever do see one, snatch it up! The Dragon Fruit, also known as a Pitaya, Strawberry Pear or Mood Flower, is the unusually striking fruit of a cactus – don’t worry, there are no thorns or stickers on it! There are different varieties – pink or yellow exterior and white or magenta interiors speckled with tiny edible seeds. Despite their showy appearance, the taste is quite mild, similar to a kiwi – I have found the yellow variety to be the sweetest.
Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit: First of all, like most fruits, dragon fruit is hydrating and provides healthy complex carbohydrates to fuel to body and brain. Dragon fruit is also surprisingly high in phytonutrients. Rich with beneficial antioxidants, this pretty (and pretty powerful fruit) a serving contains 10% Daily Value of vitamin C, polyunsaturated (good) fatty acids, a bit of protein, carotene, and several B vitamins that are essential for the optimal metabolism of carbohydrates.
I recently came into a huge windfall of dragon fruit from Frieda’s Produce, so I ate all I could simple by slicing open and digging out the flesh with a spoon! I’ve also sliced the fruit and put on my salads, in my yogurt and used in salsas. They keep for about a week in the fridge (wrap in plastic wrap to extend the life) and can also be cut up or pureed to freeze. Later this week, before I go into freezer storage mode, I’ll be making Dragon Fruit Chia Jam. Stay tuned for that!
Today, I’m sharing that smoothie I hinted at, the one that made me run fast – haha! My recipe for a Dragon Fruit Coconut Smoothie Bowl is a nourishing sweet treat that is a quick fix for breakfast, a pre or post workout snack or healthy dessert. It was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. If you can’t find the fruit fresh, I’ve noticed that many upscale grocery stores sell it in the frozen fruit section.
Dragon Fruit Coconut Smoothie Bowl
- 1 cup dragon fruit flesh (fresh or frozen)
- 12 ounces almondmilk/coconutmilk (the carton kind from refrigerated section like Blue Diamond)
- 1 scoop vanilla protien powder (or substitute 1/2 banana)
- 2 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 tablespoon cacao nibs (I like the ones from NOW Foods)
- Additional dragon fruit for garnish
To prepare, add dragon fruit, unsweetened coconut milk, and protein powder to blender. Process until smooth. Pulse in enough ice until desired consistency achieved. Pour into bowl (or tall glass) and top with shredded coconut, cacao nibs and additional dragon fruit if desired. Serves 1
Have you ever tried a Dragon Fruit? What is your favorite smoothie ingredient? Had a good, end-of-summer run lately? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
Maybe I don’t do desserts as decadently as the Italians, but after digging into one of my Cannoli Protein Mug Cakes, your taste buds will be exclaiming, “Batta Bing, Batta Boom!” And, with 20 grams of protein per serving of cake (yay, the entire cake), so will your biceps – BOOM!
I keep the signature chocolate and pistachio garnish of cannoli, but ditch the custard-filed fried shells for a light and tender “cake” made with protein power, a bit of gluten –free baking mix, an egg, and skosh of coconut oil. It’s a healthy option for dessert, post-workout, or even breakfast – and, did I mention it takes less than 90 seconds to cook?
After “baking” in the microwave, your mug cake is going to look pretty “plain vanilla,” but that’s okay. It is vanilla, after all, made with Less Naked Vanilla Whey Protein from Naked Nutrition. The Cannoli Protein Mug Cake recipe at the bottom of the post, without the garnishes, makes a versatile basic mug cake base that other ingredients (like fruit or peanut butter) can be stirred into before cooking or sprinkled on afterward. But, today we are going healthy CANNOLI all the way, and you’ll soon forget about any diet-busting cravings you may be having – FUHGEDDABOUTIT!
So, as I just name-dropped, this recipe uses protein powder from Naked Nutrition. It’s definitely “nutrition with nothing to hide.” Naked Nutrition has a variety of products, but I’m focusing on the whey protein today, because that is what I use in my daily routine. This quality whey protein comes from grass-fed cows’ milk sourced from small dairy farms and state-of-the-art manufacturing process that ensures that the product has what it needs, and doesn’t have what it shouldn’t – it’s clean, lean protein with no artificial anything! For example, the Less Naked Vanilla Whey Protein is made with just three ingredients -grass fed whey protein, vanilla, and organic coconut sugar and each serving has 25 grams protein and 5.9 grams BCAAs. And, of course, it’s non-GMO, soy free, growth hormone free, and gluten-free.
I like that Naked Whey is sweetened with Organic Coconut Sugar, sometimes I need a bit of quality carb energy to fuel my workouts, but white table sugar is definitely out of the question for me and zero-calories substitutes don’t put any gas in the proverbial tank. Coconut sugar is a great option as an energy-providing sweetener because it is lower on the glycemic-index (preventing dramatic rises and falls in blood sugar) – refined white sugar has a glycemic index of 99 and coconut sugar only 35. In addition, coconut sugar (also called palm sugar by some) is inherently loaded with nutritional benefits, notably a high level of inulin (a dietary fiber) that serves as a prebiotic to support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. Studies have shown that a healthy digestive tract can reduce the incidence of certain cancers and diabetes while increasing fat metabolism and encouraging a healthy body weight. Sign me up.
I find the unflavored and vanilla whey proteins to be a great base for my protein-based baking, like protein pancakes, power muffins, and mug cakes like the Cannoli Protein Mug Cake I am sharing today. Oooh, but this girl sure does love chocolate, and a massive 5-pound tub of Less Naked Chocolate Whey Protein makes my mind start spinning with smoothie and healthy dessert-like creations, like protein brownies, protein pops, protein truffles, and more. Thanks to my stash from Naked Protein, I’m sure you’ll be seeing more chocolate protein recipes from me soon.
In the meantime, check out this Chocolate Protein Pudding recipe from the Naked Nutrition Instagram profile. Seriously simple and insanely delicious, just peel the lid off a 6-ounce Greek yogurt and stir in a scoop of powder. I ALWAYS take a protein-rich snack at bedtime because 1) I’m hungry and 2) muscle most muscle growth and repair happens while we sleep!
In addition to Vanilla and Chocolate whey protein powder, Strawberry and Unflavored are also available. Naked Protein also makes so many other quality protein options to meet a variety of dietary, recipe and taste requirements including Grass-Fed Whey, Goat Whey, Casein Protein, Pea Protein, Egg White Protein, Organic Rice Powder Protein, Peanut Butter Powder and more. CHECK OUT ALL THE PROTEIN OPTIONS HERE.
When you need something sweet, what do you usually grab? To you make mug cakes or mug muffins, what is your favorite mix-in or topping? Racing this weekend? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
This blog post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Pure Protein. All opinions are mine alone. #KeepOnTrack #CollectiveBias
Summer has been busier than a gym in January but I’m not letting my hectic schedule sabotage my good intentions. I’m keeping on track with my higher-protein diet by keeping my pantry, purse, gym bag, and mobile snack station (haha, the car) stocked with the new Pure Protein Plus Bars. Considering I’m out of the house most of the day working, running errands, shuttling my teen boys to their sports practices, and finding time for my own fitness routine, having a few of these insanely delicious protein bars at the ready has kept me from getting so hangry that I have the mother of all mother meltdowns. In addition, the bars can be used to make quick nutritious desserts, like my recipe for Clean Apple Pie on Protein Bar Crust that I’m sharing in this post.
To make this nearly sugar-free pie, I used one of the NEW Pure Protein Plus Bars that I purchased at Walmart. When you shop Walmart for Pure Protein Plus Bars, be sure to use Ibotta to earn $1.50 back.
For more Pure Protein Plus Bars inspiration, visit this website. Make sure to enter the sweepstakes below too for a chance to win prizes to help #KeepOnTrack!
These bars are available in four flavors (Cookies and Cream, Mocha Brownie, Apple Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough) that all sound ultra-decadent, but after checking the nutrition label, I found they actually make a quite balanced and sensible snack solution. I’ve been grabbing one for a quick breakfast, bedtime snack or for post workout recovery.
The preferred amount of protein I look for in a nutrition bar is around 20 grams with low sugar content and, ching-ching-ching, this new product delivers. Additionally, the NEW Pure Protein Plus Bars have that soft and pleasantly chewy texture I crave plus they are GMO-free, gluten free, have no artificial sweeteners and are high fiber (15 – 16g).
Oh, and the super delicious flavors are worth shouting out again (and again!) Hello, Cookies and Cream, Mocha Brownie, Apple Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough — welcome to my life. But, unlike the real deal desserts, these bars are mindful of my mission to #KeepOnTrack with a higher protein, lower carb diet.
So, ready for that apple pie I mentioned earlier?! My recipe for Clean Apple Pie on Protein Bar Crust takes all of five minutes and is made with an Apple Pie Pure Protein Plus Bar. It’s a super speedy, protein-packed and no-sugar-added version of my favorite, all-American summer dessert. It’s almost magical how, after the bar is soften for a few seconds in the microwave, it becomes malleable enough to roll out or break in bits and press into the bottom of a pan.
While “making” the crust, slicing and softening your favorite variety of apple tossed with a sprinkling of cinnamon in the microwave takes just mere minutes. No added sugar required – apples are a great source of naturally sweet, complex carbohydrates that can be quickly accessed by the body as fuel for running, workouts or the relentless demands of a hectic life.