Time to hit the trail . . . trail mix, that is! August 31st is National Trail Mix Day and I’d bet my last nut that you’re as hungry to celebrate this salty-sweet day as me!
I’m sharing some past trail mix inspired recipes (think cups and bars) along with a more traditional, but oh-so-insanely good jumble of nuts, dried fruit and chocolate things that I call the Nuts About Chocolate Mountain Trail Mix. Continue reading →
Ahhhhh . . Chocolate. Pistachios. Honey. A hint of cinnamon. My Chocolate Protein “Baklava” Bites are a muscle-making take on this ancient honey and nut dessert hailing from Greece and Turkey (both countries lay claim to its origin).
You’ll notice there’s no thin layers of phyllo in this healthy sweet treat! No need to get distracted with difficulty of preparation (and gluten) this adds to the recipe. Instead, I’ve put together a 15 minute recipe that is packed full of great nutrition to fuel your active lifestyle and requires absolutely no cooking. Read on to get all the nutty details along with the full recipe! Continue reading →
White bread ain’t got nothing, not one single thing on my Nutty Purple Sweet Potato Flatbread. That is, unless you actually like gummy simple carbs and are willing to put your bod through the resulting blood sugar surge/crash and gathering of gluten all from eating one puny slice.
This kinda weird, but decidedly delicious flatbread has none of that nonsense. Featuring Stokes Purple®, a special type of California-grown, non-GMO sweet potato with purple skin and vibrant purple flesh that get even brighter when cooked, this bread alternative is nothing to “loaf” about – flat is where it’s at! #PurplePowerToThePeople
The texture of a Stokes Purple® is a little drier and denser than a traditional sweet potato, rendering it perfect for a substitute flour filler in my grain-free, gluten-free flatbread recipe. Purple sweet potatoes offer similar nutritional benefits of regular orange sweet potatoes in the fact that they are both healthy source of complex carbs with a low GI impact, are full of dietary fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals. The Stokes Purple® also has anthocyanins, a plant flavonoid that not only gives the potatoes their distinctive purple hue, but also have been linked to a host of health benefits including reductions in certain cancers, lowering of bad cholesterol, improvements in vision, liver and heart health, and have also been linked to boosts in cognition.
So back to the sweet potato flatbread details, the recipe also features almond meal, and coarsely chopped pumpkin and sunflower seeds. There are a couple eggs in the recipe, but otherwise it’s dairy-free and suitable for a vegetarian or gluten-free diet. If you have an allergy to nuts, sub out the almond meal for an equivalent amount of oat-flour to keep it nut-free.
Eat this gluten-free flatbread warm out of the oven, spread with a little honey butter – it’s like eating a sweet potato in portable, easy-to-pick-up format. But, a little more interesting and flavorful than that “sweet potato toast” trend on Pinterest. You can also use two slices to bookend your favorite sandwich fillings – since I made these right after the holidays, my gluten-free sandwich is layered with leftovers including turkey, cranberry relish and spinach!
Heat oven to 400F degrees.
In small food processor, coarsely chop sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Add to small bowl, along with other dry ingredients including almond flour, salt, pepper, chili powder and garlic powder.
In small blender, add milk, eggs and 1 cup of pre-cooked sweet potato mash and process until smooth. Stir in remaining cooked sweet potatoes with spatula, adding a splash more milk if needed, but consistency should remain fairly thick.
Scrape this wet mixture into bowl with dry ingredients and mix with spatula until well combined.
Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread batter from end to end, corner to corner, keeping even thickness. Sprinkle with additional pumpkin and sunflower seeds, if desired.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until edges and top are turning lightly golden brown. Remove from oven to cool on wire rack.
Cut into pieces and serve warm or at room temperature. Save leftovers in zip-top bag in refrigerator – reheat in microwave or toaster oven before serving.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of JOLLY TIME Pop Corn. The opinions and text are all mine.
Popcorn makes a super on-the-go snack swap, especially as a replacement for common convenience options like granola bars, chips, and cookies that can be higher sugar and fat. Naturally gluten-free and considered a whole grain, popcorn is high in dietary fiber and low in calories – plus for the visual eater, a serving of popped corn looks like a whole LOT of food! I’m especially fond of JOLLY TIME Pop Corn, their Healthy Pop line gets the thumbs up from Weight Watchers and most products are 94% fat-free and have just around 100 calories per serving (give or take) – that’s about 20 calories per cup!
So, y’all know I’m big on getting protein into my snack too! A bag (5 cups) of JOLLY TIME Pop Corn has about 4 grams of protein, which actually surprised me – I thought it would have zip, nada, none! I was wrong, popcorn does have protein! But, I like to pump it up with additional whole food add-ins – especially seeds! Tiny little seeds are powerhouses of nutrition – they are an excellent source of heart-healthy fats, protein and essential vitamins and minerals. For example, hulled hemp seeds are one of the most nutritionally complete sources of plant-protein – containing every essential amino acid an fatty acid the body needs for optimal health.
Check out my recipe for Sweet & Salty Four-Seed Pop Corn Balls made with Healthy Pop Kettle Corn hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds. Instead of a caramel to hold it together like you’d find in a traditional popcorn ball, I’ve whipped up a nutritious binder made from sunflower butter and agave syrup, a low-glycemic index, natural sweetener. This great snack or healthy dessert recipe is gluten-free, nut-free and has no added refined sugar – so enjoy and #haveaJOLLYTIME !
Also, please check out the Healthy Pop Challenge – get a free workout band, enter to win a FitBit Altra and grab coupons for JOLLY TIME Pop Corn. I love the idea that they have to workout while waiting for popcorn to pop – even little bursts of exercise add up. Depending on the length of your popping session and microwave settings (plan on an average of 4 minutes), you can get quite a few exercises done. Try these simple exercises in the kitchen while you wait:
Perform each exercise for 1 minute, as many times as you can safely, while you wait for JOLLY TIME Pop Corn to cook:
Overhead band pulls (or pushup against wall, if no band)
Prepare popcorn according to package instructions. Pour in large mixing bowl and let cool.
In small bowl, mix together hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas and chia seeds. Set aside.
In small sauce pan, add sunflower seed butter and agave syrup, stir to combine. Bring to medium heat, stirring continuously. Once mixture begins to bubble, keep cooking and stirring for an additional 30 seconds.
Drizzle hot sunflower-agave mixture over popcorn and quickly stir to combine as evenly as possible. Sprinkle in seed mixture into popcorn mixture in about 3 batches, stirring quickly each time to distribute.
Spray 8 x 8-inch brownie pan with baking spray and fill with popcorn mixture. Using a piece of wax paper and hands or back of spoon, press down over entire top to compact firmly.
Cut into 9 squares.
****Or the nut butter of your choice, I love Power Fuel from Nuttzo.com
Eating almonds may boost athletic endurance, or so says a recent study published the Journal of International Sports Nutrition. Professional cyclists in the study snacked on either almonds or cookies over the course of four weeks. At the conclusion, almond eaters made the most improvements on bike time trials and researchers concluded that eating almonds helped mobilize more previously reserved carbohydrates rather than breaking down fat as an energy source during intense exercise. To put it simply, almonds are a food for superheros on the course — you may not BONK or HIT THE WALL (as quickly) is you’ve noshed on some almonds leading up to and during intense exercise like long runs, Spartan races, triathlons, ultra marathons and more. Almonds are also a great source of energy-boosting manganese and copper, minerals which minimize the damage free radicals can do to the mitochondria that power our cells and also help keep electrolyte levels in check. Salty almonds, yum!
Whether you are a hard-core athlete or not, the nutrient profile of almonds is a natural fit for fueling healthy, active lifestyles.
A 1-ounce serving of almonds (about 23 almonds, a handful or ¼ cup) has 6g protein, 4g fiber, heart-healthy fats, and lots of vitamin E and other important nutrients – and 163 calories (much less than a candy bar).
Another thing I appreciate about almonds? Almonds are super portable and can go anywhere – toss a handful in a little container and stick in your purse, gym bag, backpack or race belt.
I also like to toss almonds in with fresh fruits for a carb-protein balanced pre or post workout snack.
Sometimes I get “fancy” with almonds and use them in a recipe, here is one of my favorites that is perfect for on-the-go snacking!
Oh, FYI, I just wanted to know that I’m now sharing my recipe on as a publisher on Yummly, visit my Yummly Page! Also, use the Yum button below (in the bar of share buttons) to save my recipes to your personal recipe box on Yummly. If you’re not familiar with Yummly, you should be — it’s a huge recipe database that not only features a digital recipe box for you to save your favorites but also recipe recommendations, shopping lists, and supporting Iphone and Android apps to help you with meal ideas on the go!
If someone says “granola” and do you instantly think sweet, crunchy and . . . spicy? Probably not, but I’m here to share my recipe for Ancho Chile Honey Granola — it might just be the most delicious and versatile granola recipe ever. The secret is a dash of ancho chile powder — don’t worry, ancho chiles (referred to as poblano peppers when fresh) aren’t super hot, they are the sweetest of the dried chiles and most commonly used in authentic Mexican cooking.
Packed with pumpkin seeds, almonds, chia seeds, this easy granola recipe is a fantastic way to get the benefits of the heart healthy fats that nuts and seeds offer.It’s lightly sweetened with honey to complement the mild ancho heat.Use the savory-sweet granola to top a tomato salad (as pictured), to add a crunch factor to green salads, atop soups, as a crispy topping on baked fish or chicken — or simply eaten straight out of the container!
Oh, and you’re going to LOVE that it’s super easy to make — just requiring 10 minutes in a skillet on the stove top rather than the lengthy baking of traditional granola recipes. I originally created this recipe for the Living Litehouse Blog at LitehouseFoods.com, check it out — I’m a big fan of their Instantly Fresh Herbs.
Add coconut oil to large skillet and bring to medium-high heat.
Add pepita seeds, slivered almonds and chili powder to skillet and stir for 1 – 2 minutes or until beginning to toast. Add honey and stir to combine.
Mix oats, chia seeds, dried cilantro and sea salt to skillet, stirring well to coat with honey mixture. Continue to stir over medium heat for approximately 5 – 6 minutes
longer, taking care that honey doesn’t start to burn.
Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes in skillet. Transfer to air-tight container using spatula to break up any pieces stuck to skillet.
Make salad by slicing tomatoes and sprinkling with yellow bell pepper and cilantro. Top with a dollop of ranch dip and ancho chile honey granola.
Runners and obstacle course athletes need superfoods to perform optimally – you know, to run faster than a speeding bullet and jump tall things in a single bound. Not one single wall or hurdle got in my way the other weekend at Spartan Race (recap to come) and nor could Batman beat me to the finish line of a local 5k, probably because I was fueled up with some really good super food energy for superheroes!
If you’re heading out for some weekend warrioring, it’s not realistic to stick a bunch of kale and quinoa or even a beef tenderloin (I’ve tried) into your backpack. But, there are plenty of superfoods that can take the rough and tumble of nearly any outback course – almonds are one! Stick a pouch of almonds in your bag, and you’ll have a sustaining snack when you need to fuel up the tank. Personally, I love the Blue Diamond Sea Salt Almonds and Blue Diamond Dark Chocolate Almonds (the latter are dusted in cocoa, not dipped — so no worries of melting).
Almonds are going to pump up your super powers by offering protein and heart-healthy fats. One recent study suggest that almonds might help athletes mobilize more previously reserved carbohydrates rather than breaking down fat as an energy source during intense exercise. This means you might not “hit the wall” – have you ever seen a superhero hit the wall? I think not. Almonds are also a great source of energy-boosting manganese and copper, minerals which minimize the damage free radicals can do to the mitochondria that power our cells.
For quick energy, I like to pair almonds with a the concentrated complex carbohydrates that come from dried fruit – again, an easy, mess-free food to pack in your bag for races, hikes and expeditions of epic proportions. Dried apricots are a personal favorite because they are high in iron –an impressive 41% DV for a cup. Anemia, or even a moderate iron deficiency (a surprisingly common problem in athletes), can make a superhero feel tired, hinder athletic performance, work capacity and lessen VO2max.
If you want something a little more “fancy” than almonds and dried fruit, it’s not hard at all to make your own energy bars with ingredients like nuts, apricots, feel-good chocolate and dash of salt for extra electrolyte balance. My no-cook recipe for Apricot Chocolate Almond Energy Bars can be whipped up in the food process in less than 10 minutes. Stick them in the freezer for 30 minutes to cut precise bars if you’re into perfection – you can also roll them up into balls and carry along for race fuel. And, they taste really, really good! If you’d like to make these more abundant in protein, like if you think you might me skipping a meal or have intense workout recovery need, just swap out the almond meal (although keep the ground up chocolate ones) and swap measure-for-measure with your favorite brand of protein powder.
Also, depending on how strict your interpretation of Paleo diet is, these should fit in your diet — definitely Paleo-ish and made with whole foods. Drop the chia seeds and protein powder if these rub you the wrong way.
Line and 8 or 9 inch baking pan with plastic wrap, and set aside.
Pulse Blue Diamond Chocolate Almonds (these are dusted chocolate almonds, not chocolate coated) in food processor until coarsely ground, leave in work bowl.
Add in coconut, apricots, almond meal (or protein powder), palm sugar, chia seeds and sea salt in food processor and process until apricots chopped and well combined with other ingredients.
Drizzle and pulse in coconut oil one tablespoon at a time until mixture begins to stick together when pinched between fingers. The amount of coconut oil you need to use will depend on the size of apricots and whether you used almond meal or protein powder as a binder.
Gently pulse in mini chocolate chips. If using regular sized chocolate chips add them to step 3.
Firmly press the apricot mixture into the baking pan, using the flat surface of a measuring cup or drinking glass to create a flat even layer.
Place pan in the freezer for 30 minutes, then remove and cut into 12 rectangle bars or roll up in balls (size of your choosing). Keep in an airtight container and store for up to one month in the fridge.
Almonds are little powerhouses of nutrition and one of my favorite snacks on the go. I love to use them in recipes (like for granola) too! A handful of these crunchable, munchable nuts are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and heart healthy fats. Almonds are one of the most abundant sources of protein, fiber, calcium, niacin and vitamin E when it comes to tree nuts. So, you’re nuts if you don’t eat this nut!
If you’re wondering what a handful serving is, it’s an ounce or about 23 nuts. This ounce of almonds has 163 calories, 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat – but, don’t worry about the fat. The fat found in almonds is monounsaturated fat, the kind that is beneficial for your body – like olive oil. This kind of fat has been linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, and a myriad of other problems.
A recent study from Spain suggests that eating almonds and other nuts can keep you from gaining weight. After 28 months of a diet with or without nuts, the test group who ate nuts at least two times per week was 31 percent less likely to put on pounds than the group who never or rarely ate nuts. One reason may be that the fats and protein in almonds and other nuts curb hunger longer that other food choices, leading to less mindless snacking throughout the day.
While I never tire of almonds, sometimes it’s always fun to add a little extra flavor. But sweet or savory flavor, that’s hard to decide! Blue Diamond Almonds has so many varieties of roasted almonds dusted with flavor – Honey Dijon and Honey Cinnamon are two of my newest favorites. One flavor is bold and the other is sweet as honey – sorta like me!
The six-ounce cans are perfect for popping open when friends drop by – or for dropping in your purse for nearly a week’s worth of snacking. That’s one thing I love about almonds is that you can keep them on-hand for refueling in a gym bag, purse, desk drawer or glove box without worry of spoilage. Take almonds on vacation! Another place I like to carry along my Blue Diamond Almonds is on a hike or trail run – perfect for nipping “hangries” in the bud!
Speaking of trail running, I have a fun/tough workout that combines running with a series of Tabatas. Have fun and don’t forget to eat your almonds!