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 →
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!
Mix together stevia, potato starch, almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, beet powder, baking powder, and salt until combined.
Stir in coconut oil and egg until all dry ingredients are incorporated. If dough seems too wet (could be if eggs were too large), add coconut flour 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough pulling away from sides of bowl.
Shape dough into approximately 1 tablespoon sized balls. Roll into pistachios and press down slightly so they adhere, if necessary.
Place balls on ungreased baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. Press down on cookie dough lightly with the bottom of a baking glass to flatten slightly.
Bake at 350 F degrees for 10 minutes. Let rest on pan for 2 minutes before removing with spatula to cool completely.
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
Cannoli Protein Mug Cake
Coconut oil cooking spray
2 tablespoons Vanilla Protein Powder
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking mix
4 teaspoons zero-calorie measure-for-measure sweetener
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons chopped pistachios
¼ cup “coco whip” or non-dairy whipped topping
1 teaspoon mini chocolate chips
½ teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
Spray a large microwave-safe coffee mug with cooking spray, set aside.
In small bowl, combine protein powder, gluten-free baking mix, sugar substitute, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir together until combine well.
Mix in egg, lemon juice, water, and coconut oil until combined.
Pour into sprayed coffee mug and microwave 1 minute 15 seconds, or until cooked through. Microwave times may vary depending on your appliance.
Remove mug and invert onto plate, gently slide out cake. Let cool for 2 minutes.
Using serrated knife, carefully slice cake crosswise through center, remove top and set aside.
Put ½ of whipped topping on one cake piece, sprinkle with a few of the pistachios and chocolate chips. Add top layer of cake and add remaining whipped topping, sprinkle with remaining toppings including lemon zest, if desired.
We are several weeks into 2016 and I’m checking in to report how I’m sticking with my New Year’s health and wellness best intentions. Increasing my flexibility? Taking baby steps, but to say I’m there is a stretch! Sleeping better? Still just day dreaming about it. Drinking more water? That’s a check! Keeping with my fitness routine? Of course, that’s the fun part of my day! Whipping up creative protein-rich meals and snacks? Naturally – some good things never change!
One thing that hasn’t changed for me over many, many years is my love for Yoplait® yogurt. I have my “old friend” flavors, like Vanilla that is yummy just as it is or as the base for my many fit foodie creations, and new favorites like Plenti already packed with wholesome ingredients. I don’t think my taste buds will ever get bored with Yoplait® — with 125 flavors in the Yoplait® family and my imagination, I think I could come up with a new way to “1-Up My Cup” of yogurt every day for the rest of my life!
Love the Everyday Low Price on Yoplait at Walmart!
For example, adding a little carton of Greek 100 is a great way to pump up my smoothies with a creamy texture and boost of protein. Adding berries, bananas, chocolate chips and some sugar-free chocolate syrup makes a healthy sundae I would feel good about eating every day of the week! Oh, and I’ve made a million yogurt parfaits, put yogurt atop my pancakes, and dipped fruit slices into dessert-like flavors such as Red Velvet Cupcake, Strawberry Cheesecake and Boston Cream Pie! So, are you ready to 1-Up YOUR Cup? Today, I’m sharing Dreamy Orange Vanilla Fluff in an Orange Bowl — a frosty and fit treat made with Orange Crème Light Yoplait®. The Orange Crème is from the “Light” line which is one of my favorite as I’m always looking for ways to avoid added sugar.
Love I can count on the Everyday Low Price on Yoplait® at Walmart.
I’m also happy to report that Yoplait® now adds NO aspartame to any of their flavors and they are easy to stock up on at your local Walmart — that’s where I find all the best flavors!
My recipe for Dreamy Orange Vanilla Fluff in an Orange Bowl incorporates vanilla protein powder to provide even more protein– after intense workouts and long runs, I need to PUMP IT UP with 20 to 25 grams of protein to help my taxed muscles recover. Yoplait® helps me get a good start on that goal as I 1-Up my Cup! This easy recipe doesn’t necessarily need to be served in an orange “bowl” and be tweaked to work with any of the yogurt flavors that appeal to you – how amazing would Chocolate Cherry Cupcake Fluff be?!
Slice oranges (or tangerines) in half crosswise. Use serrated spoon to carefully remove segments, leaving outer peel intact. Set scooped out “bowls” aside.
Squeeze juice out of extracted citrus segments (approximately ¼ cup). Use whisk to incorporate protein powder, adding a bit more juice or water if mixture gets too thick – but it should be pudding like.
Gently fold in yogurt until just combined. Spoon into orange cups.
Place in freezer to set up along with any excess “fluff” still in bowl. To serve, top filled oranges with remaining semi-frozen fluff and a sprinkling of chocolate chips and pistachios.
I am here to rescue you from last-minute gifting stress and solve holiday side dish dilemmas – both at the SAME time! You can thank me later. In my opinion, there’s nothing more tasteful than a healthy gourmet gift, and my recipe for Fruit & Nut Holiday Couscous Mix will delight all the fit foodies on your list. This homemade gift looks like a lot of time and effort went into it, artistically arranged with jewel-toned layers of cranberries and pistachios between pearled whole wheat couscous. In reality, it’s super simple to make (like a kiddy sand art project) and, for my craft-challenged self, more time and effort went into tying the bows and making gift tags!
You can use a new mason jar, recycled glass jar or any container of your choosing – get creative! Also, I’ve made the same mix and swapped out other types of dried fruit and nuts for the cranberries and pistachios with excellent results. Consider combinations such as Apricot & Almond, Apple & Pecan or Date & Almond – the possibilities are nearly limitless! Here is a gift tag you can print out on sticker paper and place right on the jar – or use with card stock, write your personal sentiments on the back, and then tie around the neck of bottle with ribbon.
While you’re busy making batches of these jar food gifts to give friends, family and neighbors, don’t forget about stocking your own pantry. The Cranberry & Pistachio Couscous makes a fast and festive side dish that pairs beautifully with beef, chicken, pork and more and can be completed from pot to plate in just 5 minutes. I’m serious!
Fruit & Nut Holiday Couscous Mix Recipe
Supplies needed: 3 approximate 12-ounce jelly or mason jars, ribbon, gift tags.
1 tablespoon dried mint*
1 tablespoon dried parsley*
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes*
2 vegetable bouillon cubes that have be smashed into powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pearl (Israeli) couscous
1 1/2 cups regular pearl (Israeli) couscous
• 1 cup raw shelled pistachios (can sub any nut)
• 1 cup dried cranberries (can sub any dried fruit)
In small bowl, mix together mint, parsley, dried onion, crushed vegetable bullion and pepper.
Pour approximately 2 tablespoons of spice mix into the bottom of clean, dry jar. Repeat for total of 3 jars.
Layer ingredients in a manner that pleases you until ½-inch from top. The approximate measurements I used for my layers were 1/3 cup for each couscous layer and 3 tablespoons for each fruit and/or nut layer.
Also, I want to share with you a delicious granola that I was recently sent to sample – Michele’s Granola! I tried the Cherry Chocolate and Pumpkin Spice flavors and they were both oh-so yummy (better than cookies!) that I can’t wait to munch on every other variety of this handmade, small-batch granola. Michele’s Granola is made with 100% organic whole grain oats (most other ingredients are organic too) and everything is also GMO-free, preservative-free, dairy-free, wheat-free and peanut-free.
You can find Michele’s Granola at natural food retailers (Whole Foods in Austin), grocery stores or online at MichelesGranola.com. Use promo code FRESH10 to get 10% off your online order.
Do you make any homemade food gifts for the holidays? Please share your ideas!
Okay, if I didn’t get you to do a double take at this drool-icious photo of Baked Pistachio-Honey Doughnuts, then Ms. Piggy will certainly grab your attention as she shows us how to “do it like a diva” when it comes to eating these yummy green tree nuts. What a fun commercial from Wonderful Pistachios, I love it!
Some people assume that eating nuts is a no-no, but that is so wrong! Nuts, including pistachios, can be part of a healthy lifestyle that embraces exercise along with a balanced diet. In general, nuts are packed with protein, fiber and heart-healthy fats not to mention a host of other vitamins and minerals. From the almond to the walnut, each variety of nut offers its own unique mix of nutritional perks – some nuts are healthier for you than others. It happens to be National Pistachio Day (2/26) and I want to give a huge shout out to this small little nut that packs a big nutritional punch.
A one ounce serving of shelled pistachios has 49 kernels, 160 calories and a variety of different vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytonutrients. For example, pistachios are rich in copper and manganese, and a good source of thiamin and phosphorus. Per serving, pistachios also offer 20% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin B6 and 12% of the DV for fiber. Goodness knows, we could all use a little more fiber! In terms of fat content, pistachios have a bit less fat than most other nuts, although they are still about 75% fat (that’s why you should stop at a handful). The good news is the fats in pistachios are the “good” kind of fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, and have been linked to supporting healthy cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Another thing I love about pistachios is that they are portable and ready for an outdoor adventure (like me) and versatile enough to be enjoyed plain or dressed up (like me). Yeah, the shell might be a protective layer, but once you get down to the meat of a nut, then you’ll be glad you went to all the trouble! I always have a small pack in my purse or gym bag to snack on!
In honor of National Pistachio Day on February 26th, I’ve whipped up a healthy recipe with a bunch of these little green guys. So, crack open a can of pistachios and get cooking, this addictive recipe for Baked Pistachio Honey Donuts is both delicious and nutritious. Plus, the baked donut recipe is gluten-free, so you can enjoy all you want without worry.
Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly spray mini donut pan with baking spray.
Combine the coconut flour, almond meal, ¼ cup ground pistachios, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; mix well. In another bowl, whisk the egg* and then whisk in almond milk*, honey, applesauce, oil, and vanilla extract. *It is best to start with the egg and milk at room temperature so that the coconut oil doesn’t congeal back up.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the doughnut molds. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until lightly golden brown around the edges. Allow to fully cool before topping.
To make the topping, if necessary, chop the pistachios. Microwave ¼ cup honey in microwave-safe bowl for approximately 20 seconds until hot. Generously spoon over the tops of the doughnuts and then sprinkle with ground pistachios and a light dusting of sea salt.
Another popular pistachio treat that I’ve gone back to time and time again is my recipe forPaleo Pistachio Chocolate Cookies. Chocolate + pistachios = pure happiness!
The big news about being a semi-finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest has had me in the mood to crank up the oven for some cookie making. By the way, have you voted for my Spicy Beef & Sweet Potato Samosas? It’s an easy 1x vote through Thursday, June 27th — look for the recipe and my name (Jennifer Fisher).
Okay, back to the cookies. While I love the Doughboy and am an eater of all things, these Salted Pistachio Chocolate Cookies are whipped up especially for my Paleo diet-following friends with more caveman and cavewoman-inspired eating habits. The cookies are dairy-free, gluten-free with a sweet-salty surprise! If these cookies look familiar, that’s because they are the base cookie recipe from my White Chocolate Protein Ice Cream Sandwich recipe. That’s right people, double the recipe and keep the extras in the freezer for sustained snacking options –today it’s a simple but oh-so-good topping of chocolate and salty nuts and next week maybe the frozen protein filling! Oh, and the Paleo cookies are good plain too!
Salted Pistachio Chocolate Cookie Recipe
¾ cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ cup coconut sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 large egg
3 tablespoons almond milk
½ cup dairy-free, organic chocolate chips
¼ cup salted, roasted pistachios, coarsely ground
In a medium bowl, add coconut flour, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix thoroughly.
In a separate bowl whisk together the melted coconut oil, eggs, and milk. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until thick dough is formed. Dough will be fairly crumbly at the beginning; use your hands to form it into one big ball.
On a clean work surface, roll out the dough to approximate ¼” thickness. Using a round 2 ½” diameter cookie cutter, cut out circles. Reroll dough scraps as necessary and continue cutting circles until all dough used. Dough should create enough for 16 cookies. Bake cookies on a lined baking tray at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack to let cool completely.
With sharp knife or food processor, coarsely grind pistachios. Place in shallow bowl, set aside.
Place chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until smooth, melted consistency achieved.
Spoon chocolate over top of a cookie and spread around with back of tablespoon. Immediately sprinkle with pistachios. Repeat for remaining cookies.