Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protien Oats + #Giveaway for Hot Cereal / Rice Cooker

This post and giveaway sponsored by Hamilton Beach, however all opinions, comments, content and enthusiasm are my own.

One morning this summer I made a family favorite recipe for Pumpkin Protein Muffins. When the kids woke up to the amazingly “autumn” smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin baking, they were disoriented. . .. but excited, nonetheless.! “Is it already Thanksgiving, mom? Did we sleep through the first day of school and Halloween and wake up in the middle of the fall holidays?” 

By the way, I’m giving away a really awesome Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker from Hamilton Beach this week – this counter top appliance will Change. Your. Life.  Hop to the bottom of the post to enter.

Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oats in Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker

That got me to thinking. Why DO we primarily limit cooking and baking with pumpkin to the months of September through December?  While fresh pumpkins may be seasonal, the canned puree is equally as nutritious and a heck of a lot more convenient. Pumpkin ( a fab source of fiber, vitamins Vitamin A, and healthy complex carbs) is a veggie I’d like to see more of in my life for the entire year!  And, so here I am in September, as cliché as it may be, sharing a pumpkin recipe – but, good gourd, this one is workable into anyone’s busy schedule, 365.

Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Protein Oats -- 288 calories, 26g protein, fiber and healthy carbs to fuel your day or workout. Plus, this recipe is made in a rice cooker in just 5 to 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oatmeal – why, hello creamy pie-and-coffee-shop inspired morning concoction that is actually as nourishing as delish. I’ve used a blend of old-fashioned oats mixed with my favorite seeds (hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin – you can tweak as you like) along with pumpkin puree, creamy almond milk, and vanilla protein powder to bring each serving into the approximate 25g protein range which is what I strive for at my morning meal

Now Foods Products used in Pumpkin Protein Oats from thefitfork.com

***Please note, the recipe nutrition will vary based on the protein powder you use (I used Vanilla Whey Isolate from Now Foods) and mix ins (I used the Triple Omega Seed Blend from Now Foods) . With just 288 calories per hearty serving, I’ve kept this sugar-free recipes under 300 calories buy using my preferred cup-for-cup measure sugarless sweetener (Sugarless Sugar Baking Blend from Now Foods).

In a rush? This recipe takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. If you’re in a super morning rush, set everything out in the rice cooker (except the perishables) the night before and finish off in the morning. Oh, and did I mention that there is caffeine built right into this recipe thanks to steeping chai into the liquid used to make oatmeal. It’s genius.  Of course, please use caffeine-free tea if you are sensitive.

hamilton-beach-rice-cooker-2Did you notice how I alluded to a Rice Cooker? The convenience factor here is that I’ve made this pumpkin oatmeal recipe in a Rice Cooker!  You heard me right – rice cookers aren’t just for cooking rice anymore, you can make some amazing recipes in a rice cooker like cheesy grits, steamed salmon with rice and veggies, chocolate cakes and more!  I’ve made my recipe in the 4-20 Cup Rice and Hot Cereal Maker from Hamilton Beach, it’s the best small kitchen appliance evahhhhh!  I’m giving one away, jump to bottom of post to enter!

hamilton-beach-rice

I resisted getting a rice cooker for a really long time, thinking it would just hog up space in my cabinets and rarely get used – not the case! It’s more of a “multi” cooker than a “rice” cooker and I it at least once a week to prepare a meal for the family – even my teens know how to make simple recipes for dinner in it. Plus, with a 20-cup capacity, it’s perfect for meal planning – I often double or triple my batches of rice, quinoa, oats or whatever I have going in in the cooker and then freeze portions for later in the month.  It’s a busy mom’s best friend!

Have you cooked anything unusual in a rice cooker? What is your favorite fall flavor? Should pumpkin be a year-round thing? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer

Enter Giveaway Here:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oatmeal (Rice Cooker)
Print Recipe
Enjoy the delicious flavor of pumpkin in a warm and nourishing bowl of oatmeal that has been pumped up with protein powder and seeds. Whips up in 10 minutes in rice cooker!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oatmeal (Rice Cooker)
Print Recipe
Enjoy the delicious flavor of pumpkin in a warm and nourishing bowl of oatmeal that has been pumped up with protein powder and seeds. Whips up in 10 minutes in rice cooker!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Add almond milk, water and tea bags to large glass measuring cup and microwave until hot, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from microwave and let steep another 3 minutes. Discard tea bags and set liquid aside.
  2. In bowl of rice cooker, add oats, nutrition boosters (seeds, etc), protein powder, sugar substitute, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together until combined.
  3. Add pumpkin to bowl and pour in milk/tea mixture. Mix together until everything combined.
  4. Put lid down on rice cooker. Set timer for “heat/simmer” for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened to desired consistency. I prefer mine thicker!
  5. Serve warm in bowls with Greek yogurt and pecans or other garnishes. May store leftovers in refrigerator for days or in freezer for 6 months.
  6. To make in microwave, place all ingredients in 2 quart lidded casserole and microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring halfway.
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Hunger Slaying Dragon Fruit Coconut Smoothie Bowl

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! jennifer dragon fruitThe 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.

Dragon Fruit Varieties

dannon dragon fruit yogurt1I 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!

Dragon Fruit Coconut Smoothie Bowl is brimming with beautiful yumminess -- the perfect breakfast, workout snack or healthy dessert! Of course, you can also pour this smoothie in a tall glass! for on-the-go enjoyment.

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

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)
  • Ice
  • 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

 

Wholly Cannoli Protein Mug Cake #NextLevelNaked

Cannoli Protein Mug Cake with Naked WheyMaybe 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! Cannoli Protein Mug Cake takes only about 1 1/2 minutes to cook and is a healthy dessert option, post-workout snack, or even breakfast!

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?

Vanilla Protein Mug CakeAfter “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!

Naked Whey protein powder over Cannoli Mug Cake

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.

jennifer naked whey 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.

Less Naked Chocolate Pudding

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
Print Recipe
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)
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 2 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 2 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Cannoli Protein Mug Cake
Print Recipe
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)
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 2 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Servings Prep Time
1 serving 2 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Ingredients
Servings: serving
Instructions
  1. Spray a large microwave-safe coffee mug with cooking spray, set aside.
  2. In small bowl, combine protein powder, gluten-free baking mix, sugar substitute, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir together until combine well.
  3. Mix in egg, lemon juice, water, and coconut oil until combined.
  4. Pour into sprayed coffee mug and microwave 1 minute 15 seconds, or until cooked through. Microwave times may vary depending on your appliance.
  5. 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.
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Clean Fuel for Dirty Training + Vega Giveaway and Protein Cake Recipe

For most people, life winds down to a slower pace in the summer, but not me!  Both my work and workout schedules have been in beast mode with several back-to-back business trips and lots of Spartan Race training (dirty training!) to nail a big race goal next weekend.  These mental and physical stressors, along with the fact that my three teen boys are all home for the summer and their junk foods is laying around everywhere, should be tempting me to just chill out on the couch with a bag of chips – but I’m staying strong!

Slack Line Practice

But, thanks to Vega® Clean Protein and Vega® Clean Energy (sent for me to test out as part of a Vega campaign), I’ve been able to avoid these temptations and stay in tip-top shape to tackle the obstacles that have literally and figuratively been thrown in my path lately. I don’t always eat vegan, but it’s a nice option to rotate through my diet for variety – and both these new, premium plant-based products from Vega make it easy for me to fuel up and train clean.

Vega Clean Protein and Energy

In addition to being Vegan Certified, Vega® Clean Protein and Vega® Clean Energy are both Non-GMO Project verified, gluten-free, made without dairy or soy, and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.

To be honest, I’ve gagged on some other brands of plant-based protein – even hidden in blended smoothies. But the Vega® Clean Protein is delicious just shaken up with ice in a shaker bottle – that makes post-workout recovery a snap!  Both the Chocolate and Vanilla flavors are a blend of pea, hemp, alfalfa and pumpkin proteins that boasts 25 grams of protein with only 1 gram of sugar – plus it’s got the full chain of amino acids, 4BCAAs, glutamine and also takes care of 20% of your daily iron intake needs. All of this for just 130 calories.

Vegan Chocolate Orange Protein Cake

If also the Vega® Clean Protein used it to make this awesome single-serve Orange Chocolate Protein Cake for a clean dessert, bedtime snack or quick breakfast – it just takes 90 seconds! It’s vegan, non-dairy, gluten-free and lower carb!

Vega Chocolate Orange Protein Cake makes a great post-workout snack, quick breakfast or better bedtime snack.

Instructions: In large mug or small microwave-safe bowl, mix together 2/3 scoop Vega® Chocolate Clean Protein, 1 tablespoon gluten-free baking mix, 1 tablespoon gluten-free, oats, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons orange zest, and 1/3 cup almond milk. Microwave for 60 to 90 seconds until set. Remove and sprinkle with dairy-free chocolate chips, if desired.

Vega Clean Energy

On those days when I’m dragging and need a little sumptin-sumptin before a workout, Vega® Clean Energy comes to the rescue. Taken 20 minutes before a run or workout, it’ gears me up for great things thanks to electrolytes, naturally-occurring caffeine from black and green tea and quality carbs to rev the kick start the ole engine with some quick-sourced energy.  It comes in two flavors – Berry and citrus tea!

Aside from these certified vegan sports nutrition products, I’ve been getting lots of great virtual support from Vega on their FuelYourBetter.com page. You should check it out too, it’s loaded with training tips, nutritional articles, and fit-focused recipes that will help you attain all your fitness goals – be those in running, triathlon, Crossfit, weight-lifting, yoga, obstacle course racing, paddle boarding, parkour, rock climbing, team sports or attaining all-around general fitness and shaping up for summer! #FuelYourBetter

vega fueledBeing the Instagram junkie that I am (follow me @thefitfork) I also like to stalk Vega’s new @VegaFueled Instagram page.  You’ll easily agree that it’s an inspiring page featuring real world people that will make you want to get moving too! Follow @VegaFueled  and tag your own photos with #vegafueled and #FuelYourBetter and you may be featured within the Vega community!

In fact, you can  enter for a chance to win a Vega Clean Prize Pack that includes 1 tub Vega Clean Protein, 1 Tub of Vega Clean Energy and a Vega Shaker Cup.  All you need to do is follow me at @thefitfork and the @VegaFueled Instagram Account and post a workout / fitness photo hash tagged #VegaFueled, #FuelYourBetter and #thefitfork.  I’ll randomly pick one winner on 6/30/2016 — No PO #s US/CAN Only.

vega run

Try out Vega for yourself! Use discount code VegaFit at the Vega Store and save 20% off and free shipping – one use per customer and valid until 6/30/2016.  SHOP VEGA HERE!

What are you training for? How are you fueling? Have you ever tried a slack line? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of White Wave. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

6 Easy Strawberry + Protein Snack Recipes

Easy Protein and Strawberry Snack Ideasjennifer spartan training up and over cg arenaSchool’s out, sun’s out and guns are out and the skies the limit on all the fun and fit stuff that’s coming up in the next few months!

Not much could be sweeter about summer, except maybe a top-crop snack of strawberries. Strawberries balanced with a bit of protein are the perfect healthy snack to fuel the body for one warm-weather activity to the next.

On their own, strawberries are quite the super food, providing a quality source of simple carbohydrates that the body can turn into quick energy for runs, workouts and even power-thinking! The high fiber and water content found in this fruit creates a feeling of welcomed fullness, while keeping the calorie count low – a single medium strawberry only has 4 calories! Plus, a powerful wallop of vitamin C is packed in strawberries, an antioxidant that can help keep muscles, skin and tissues in tip-top shape – just eight strawberries match the vitamin C in a medium orange.

But often, especially for athletes and those with an active lifestyle, merely munching on a handful of berries alone won’t suffice. Pair up strawberries up with a lean protein source for added nutrients and a few extra calories to feel fuller and more fueled for the most vigorous daily routine. Also, eating a snack of carbohydrates with protein (in a 4:1 to 3:1 ratio) 30 minutes after an intense exercise session will help tired and sore muscles recover more quickly.

Check out these Six Strawberry Protein Snacks that can be made in a snap and will fuel you up for running, workouts, climbing and reaching for the sky!

 

Strawberry Banana Mug Muffin with Core PowerClick here for first recipe Strawberry Banana Protein Mug Muffin (20g protein)

Live Happy, Live Healthy, Live Now + NOW Foods #Giveaway

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of NOW Foods.

 I think my new “Live Happy, Live Healthy, Live NOW” shirt sums it all up to a T! When a company whose products you already love, loves you back with double-puffy-hearted hospitality, it’s a win-win-win – for me, for them, for YOU! Recently, I was invited to visit Now Foods at their Midwest Operations Facility and Corporate Headquarters in Bloomingdale, IL (a suburb of Chicago) to learn more about their products lines, core values and mission to “enable people to live healthier lives.” NOW Foods Blogger Immersion 2016 It was a fun and fact-filled two days with a group of other health and fitness influencers.  Of course, we naturally had fit a group workout into the festivities and headed over to Lifetime Fitness for a specially developed HIIT workout that targeted 9 body parts to promote Target’s awesome athletic line called “C9.” That serious sweat session was followed by a bit of relaxing yoga and a delicious post-workout smoothie made with nourishing NOW products. NOW Foods Blogger Immersion 2016 My excitement is bubbling over from seeing with my own eyes how NOW products are made from start to finish and meeting with company executives including Jim Emme (CEO) and Dan Richard (son of founder). Oh, and by the way, please feel free to take a virtual tour of the Midwest Operations Facility yourself! NOW Foods Midwest Operations Facility Not only did I get a chance to tour the facilities, but also got to participate in some fun and educational sessions including a presentation by the lovely Dr. Wendy Bazilian on Food Tribes (more about this in an upcoming post) and impact these different diet choices (like Gluten-free, Paleo, Vegan, etc) have on athletic performance. It was also fun to partake in a DIY session where we made our own Aromatherapy Bath Soak and also Exercise Equipment Cleaning Spray using very versatile and pesticide/herbicide free Now Essential Oils. So, to recap my amazing experience, I want to share with you three awesome things I learned about this honest, totally-transparent and quality-focused company that started out way-back-when in 1968 as a simple health food store.  Also, make sure to read through to the end, they are generously sponsoring an enormous giveaway of products for one lucky reader to win! 1) NOW Foods makes and sells nearly everything on my shopping list! Seriously, I think this company makes almost everything I need to support my healthy living . . . except fresh fruit and vegetables. Not only does Now Foods make a vast array of vitamins, supplements and sports nutrition products (how I first found them), but they also have an impressive selection of personal care and wellness items, essential oils, healthy foods and even natural pet care products! Even though this large company produces so many different items, each individual product is very thoughtfully and carefully made — it’s as if each came from a single-focus boutique operation. There is just that much passion among the employees at this company that has been recognized as one of the “101Best & Brightest” to work in the nation!

Now Sports Plant Protein Complex and Sprouted Brown Rice Protein  Over here to the left, a couple of the protein powders that started my love affair with NOW Foods. Oh, and their food lines is amazing and so many of their products, from BetterStevia™ (it really is better) to gourmet, small-batch Ellyndale Foods™ to  , are the foundation for many of my healthy recipes on the blog including my Kiwi, Apricot and Feta Salad with Hemp Honey Dressing   (I used their organic hemp seeds and avocado oil for this yummy summer dish). Gold Kiwi Apricot & Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing is an easy, elegant and amazingly nutritious addition to your dinner party. Also, the Living Now™  line up is has a nice variety of tasty, junk-free products that make it easier and more convenient to keep a gluten-free diet. Ellyndale Gourmet Oils by Now FoodsWe also had an interesting and informative “oil tasting” led by the adorable and talented Executive Chef in their corporate test kitchen. Apparently, there is a proper way to appreciate the flavor of oils (think wine tasting) and I slurped in little bits of various oils one at a time, from pumpkin seed and almond to olive and sesame, and let them slowly wash over my tongue!  At the end of this taste-test, I have very moist lips as a whipped up a homemade berry salad dressing using the macadamia nut oil.  We also made to-go salads for our travel home that day and packed our jars from a rainbow array of produce, nuts and healthy grains – of course, I went straight to the Organic Tri-Colored Quinoa from  NOW Real Food™ , one of my favorites ( because, when meat isn’t on the menu, this near-celebrity-status seed offers a complete amino acid chain). Jar Salad with Now Foods Tri Colored Quinoa 2) NOW products are a blessing for my body and budget Now Foods products are both affordable AND high-quality — gasp, I know!  These two factors are important to so many of us trying to live, role model and share our passion for the “fit life.” It’s such a common assumption in the natural health food and supplement industry that the more expensive, the better   — not so! In fact, many times (not always), an expensive product is actually quite cheap in quality and just jacked up with a big marketing budget. But NOW Foods never tries to trick you into thinking that you’re getting something you’re not. They don’t waste money (which is ultimately your $) on overkill advertising because they are confident that their products always stand up to the test – literally!

My reaction at the hotel to my bags full of NOW products! High quality and affordable, whoohoo!

My reaction at the hotel to my bags full of NOW products! High quality AND affordable, whoohoo!

Just one example, I can get NOW Whey Protein Isolate for double the amount for half the price (okay, that’s a generalization, but the point is it’s a very good deal) as many other brands I’ve tried – plus the macros are spot on in my opinion, as opposed to many of the other protein powder options out there. Same goes for product after product in their collection of hundreds (if not thousands) of different items. NOW also maintains a highly efficient, low-error operations facility that helps keep costs down.  And, because NOW is privately-owned, they don’t have to jack up prices to please profit-margin focused shareholders – actually, NOW wants to please YOU, even if that means a little less moola in their own pockets 3) NOW Tests to be the Best

NOW Foods labratory

Learning some of the high-tech testing that goes on at the $40M lab at NOW.

So what did I just mean when I just said in #2 that “products always stand up to the test”?  I mean that NOW is highly committed to quality and bringing you the cleanest, safest products. Their 263,000 square foot facility is widely regarded as one of the most scientifically-advanced in the natural products industry. The $40+ million lab of this privately-owned company is simply amazing and is nearly unmatched both nationally and world-wide. I could tell from the giddy grins on the otherwise serious chemists, bio-scientists and other laboratory professionals’ faces that the NOW lab was THE place to be. jennifer now foods facilityNot only does NOW test the quality of their finished products, but they also monitor and maintain quality all through the entire manufacturing process which starts with product development and receiving raw ingredients from vendors and ends with storing in appropriate thermostatically-controlled environments and shipping out from a precision-inspired, highly-streamlined warehouse.  They also keep samples from each batch of products for a lengthy six years to ensure that if there ever is a problem, they can identify and correct immediately. I really appreciate that NOW is very transparent about the make-up of their natural products, ingredient lists and macros for nearly everything on their website. Plus, with all this testing I’ve described – I am 100% confident I’m getting what’s sold. Plus, they stand by their products if there ever is a rare, rare, rare exception.  The overwhelming majority of NOW products certified organic and non-GMO, those few that aren’t are always in the pipeline to meet those standards as soon as viable in the ingredient sourcing process. Feel free to read more about the Must Use Ingredients and Must NEVER Use Ingredients. Join the twitter chat on June 16th (9PM EST) to learn get into the conversation — follow @NOWfoodsand #NOWgetfit Gigantic giveaway of NOW products Enter my giveaway for a huge haul of NOW products, the same two huge bags of items they sent me home with!  It’s so much stuff, I can’t even describe it all – but it’s a bit of everything (probably $200+ at least) and you won’t be disappointed! USA only! Thank you FitFulFocus.com for the photo of loot, because I was so excited to try everything that I forgot to snap a pic! Don’t miss #NOWGetFit Twitter Party 6/16 9pm EST w/ me @NowFoods and @Fitfluential #ad a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hazelnut Pecan Protein Fudge #MySignatureMoments

Thank you Randalls and Albertsons for sponsoring this post. Check out the new Signature family of brands from Randalls and Albertsons, with more than 4,000 Signature products available and a 100% money-back guarantee.

Today I’m sharing my recipe for Hazelnut Pecan Protein Fudge Balls, a healthier dessert option for those days when the sweet tooth is acting up (pretty much all the time with me). This no-cook recipe is quick and easy and fits into my healthy, busy lifestyle so nicely – my family and I enjoy it as a more balanced option to candy – it has no added refined sugars, only honey.Hazelnut Pecan Protein Fudge Balls make a healthier dessert option and are great for workout fuel and recovery.

With an approximate 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio, these energy protein balls also make a nice little workout recovery snack or race fuel to eat on the course.

Hazelnut Pecan Protein FudgeIt’s been my experience that the success of a no-bake recipe can only be as good as the quality of the ingredients that found within. I was a national name brand devotee in the past, but have found that many of the store-label products are just as good (if not better) than the items I grew up with. Randalls and Albertsons grocery stores are making it easy to tackle my shopping list and keep whipping up healthy recipes with their new, exclusive line of Signature products. From coffee to juice, soup to cereal, fresh fruits and veggies to fried chicken and other yummy pre-prepped foods, there are more than 4,000 different products available that help make my life tastier, easier and all-around neater (that’s because they also stock all my must-have home staples like paper towels and cleaning products)!   Oh, and I’m saving money, too! Whoohoo! Hazelnut Pecan Protein Fudge Balls = with Randalls Signature Select

I used Signature Kitchens Chopped Pecans, Signature Kitchens Clover Honey and Signature Select Hazelnut Chocolate Spread from Randalls in this yummy, easy protein snack recipe.

Randall Signature Select CoffeeSeriously, I can’t express my love for Randalls enough, and not just for the Signature line. When they opened a location at the front of my neighborhood a few years ago, I literally cried from sheer joy– I’m not kidding! Prior to this, “a quick trip to the store to grab a few things” was a 1 to 2 hour time commitment depending on the time of day.  I would have to drive about 10 miles one-way to make an emergency coffee restock for the morning or to pick up ingredients that were left off my list. Because of this, we often did without! Imagine the horrors and distress this created for me, an unorganized food blogger!

Randalls supporting my neighborhood fun run!

Randalls supporting my neighborhood fun run!

The staff at my neighborhood Randalls rock! The cashiers and managers know me personally, always take the time to smile and say hi, and answer my questions if I can’t find a particular product I need for a recipe. If I ever have a problem with a purchase (a rarity), it’s always resolved immediately — Randalls stands behind their 100% money-back guarantee on the Signature line of products. Management at this nearby location supported my oldest son’s Eagle Scout Project with a huge donation of bottled water and bakery cookies and promote health, fitness and an active lifestyle as sponsors of an annual fun run in the neighborhood. I am always the first one over to their tent to pick up water and goodies!

randalls signature spaghette

Dinner super quick, easy and yummy with go-to pantry items in the Signature line!

Find out what I’m raving about yourself! I buy my Signature products here in Austin at my local Randalls and Albertsons stores, but they are also found in the whole family of Albertsons Companies grocery stores including ACEM, Jewell-Osco, Vons, Pavilions, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Shaw, Star Market, United Express, United and Carrs/Safeway.

Also, enter for a chance to win one of 40 $25 gift card to Randalls so you can fall in love with the new Signature line of products, too!  The giveaway ends on May 6, 2016 – must be 18+, a US resident and only one winner per household.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Hazelnut Pecan Protein Fudge
Hazelnut Pecan Protein Fudge Balls
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
18 balls 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
18 balls 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Hazelnut Pecan Protein Fudge
Hazelnut Pecan Protein Fudge Balls
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
18 balls 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
18 balls 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Instructions
  1. In medium bowl, mix together hazelnut chocolate spread and honey.
  2. Stir in chopped pecans and chocolate chips.
  3. Stir in protein powder until beginning to ball up. Use hands to knead mixture until smooth.
  4. Divide “dough” into 18 equal parts – about 1 tablespoon each. Roll between hands to form into ball.
  5. Eat! Store leftovers in refrigerator to maintain firmness.
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Blueberry Pecan Oat Mug Muffin – Master Mix Recipe

Blueberry Pecan Oat Protein Mug Muffin -- food prep the master mix and have breakfast read in less than 2 minutes.I’m on this mug muffin kick lately. I have a zillion iterations, from Lemon Raspberry Protein Muffin Mug to this Blueberry Pecan Oat Protein Mug Muffin that I’m sharing today. I usually mix up this protein-packed breakfast scoop by scoop in the morning, but I love this one so much that I big-batched it! Meal prep, y’all – I can’t believe I’m so organized. Haha.

Blueberry Pecan Oat Protein Mug Muffin -- food prep the master mix and have breakfast read in less than 2 minutes.

Love Grown FoodsSo, come morning, when I’m not feeling human, all that’s left to be done with my breakfast is add two liquid ingredient (egg white and almond milk) to my mix and stick in the microwave. I tried to use an egg white powder in the mix to make even more convenient, but I didn’t like that so much – plus, how is cartoned egg-white not convenient?! Other things to love  about this Blueberry Pecan Oat Mug Muffin recipe in addition to the homey taste is the wholesome nutrition – it’s gluten-free, sugar-free, low-cal and packed with protein (32 grams protein and about 240 total calories per serving).

When I say that this is a Master Mix Recipe, it means you can swap out the blueberries and pecans for the other dehydrated fruit and nuts of your choosing — bananas & peanut, pineapple & macadamia nut, raspberries & almond are just some ideas!

Blueberry Pecan Oat Protein Mug Muffin Nutrition Label

I ran the nutritional info for you tracker types!

Instead measuring out the oats, chia seeds and pecans separately, I like to just use Love Grown Foods Super Oats with Chia & Nuts – that stuff ROCKS my world.

 

Here’s a run down on most of the products I used in this recipe:

What is your go-to easy meal in the morning? If you were swapping out the fruit and nuts, what would you choose? Please share in the comments — XOXO, Jennifer 

Blueberry Pecan Oat Protein Mug Muffin -- food prep the master mix and have breakfast read in less than 2 minutes.
Blueberry Pecan Oat Mug Muffin - Master Mix Recipe
Print Recipe
Whip up a big batch of this yummy protein-packed mug muffin mix and enjoy a quick, easy and healthy breakfast all week. Microwaves in less than two minutes!
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Blueberry Pecan Oat Protein Mug Muffin -- food prep the master mix and have breakfast read in less than 2 minutes.
Blueberry Pecan Oat Mug Muffin - Master Mix Recipe
Print Recipe
Whip up a big batch of this yummy protein-packed mug muffin mix and enjoy a quick, easy and healthy breakfast all week. Microwaves in less than two minutes!
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
90 seconds
Ingredients
Wet Ingredients for Cooking:
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. To make master mix, add protein powder, baking mix, oats, chia seed, pecans, stevia and dehydrated blueberries to large mason jar or storage container and shake to blend.
  2. To prepare individual serving, add approximately ½ cup mix into large mug or microwave-safe bowl. Stir in 3 tablespoons of egg white and 5 tablespoons of almond milk. Microwave on high for between 1 and 2 minutes – exact time will vary by microwave strength (the magic time at my house is 90 seconds). Mug cake will rise dramatically while cooking and then settle back down and is “done” when no longer wet and has consistency of a bread pudding.
Recipe Notes

*In lieu of these three ingredients, you can swap out with just a little skosh more than 1 ¼ cup of Love Grown Food Super Oats with Chia & Nuts

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