Almond Eaters Make Better Athletes + Almond Apricot Bar Recipe

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. Just hanging out with the superheroes at Hood to Coast Relay.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!

A handful of almonds (about 23) makes a hunger-curbing, healthy snack.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.Fruit and almonds make the perfect 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!

Apricot Almond Chocolate Energy Bars

Almond Apricot Energy Bars are the perfect snack for lunch boxes or fueling runs, workouts and post-exercise recovery.

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!

Are you an almond eater? What is your favorite nut? Who your favorite superhero? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

6 Ways Strawberries Aid Athletes + Best Berry Recipes

Someday I will have a strawberry patch in my garden  . . . I just need to work on getting that garden first!  In the meantime, I’ll continue to visit my favorite produce departments and farmers’ markets, greedily buying up all the plump and pretty berries in my quest for the sweetest and juiciest picks of spring.

Six Ways Strawberries Aid Athletes

Strawberries are not only sweet-tooth satisfying; they are a superfood that should be part of an athlete’s training diet.  I eat strawberries to keep my performance and recovery at a peak – here are the top six reasons why:

  1. An entire cup (about 12 medium berries) of strawberries has only 50 calories and serves as a source of quick energy thanks to healthy complex carbohydrates.
  2. A serving (one cup) of strawberries provides more than a day’s worth of vitamin C. This antioxidant offers a host of important benefits for athletes, including immune system protection and helping the body to recover and repair from intense workouts.
  3. The flesh and seeds of strawberries are a sensible source of dietary fiber, an important nutrient that keeps you from feeling hungry right away and also helps to keep digestion moving along.  Fiber also helps to reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, according to many studies.
  4. Strawberries are a great source of potassium and magnesium, essential minerals that are lost through sweat. Runners and other endurance athletes (one hour of consistent exercise or more) require more of these minerals to keep electrolyte balances in check. These minerals are also good for bone health.
  5. Strawberries contain a compound called nitrate that has positive effects on blood flow and oxygen around the body. Some studies have shown nitrates can increase the flow of blood & oxygen to the muscles by as much as 7 percent. This can help prevent muscle fatigue, making exercise easier.
  6.  Strawberries contain an antioxidant called quercetin . This plant pigment has been shown to play a role in heart health and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Some scientists studying exercise biochemistry suggest quercetin may enhance endurance and overall athletic performance by serving as an anti-inflammatory agent, improving mitochondrial (energy) function in cells, and boosting the central nervous system with a caffeine-like jolt.

So, enough about how strawberries can benefit runners and other athletes and on to the yummy stuff —  strawberry recipes!  I recently made a quick and easy recipe for Strawberry Blackberry Greek Yogurt Chia Pudding and Shooters for Litehouse Foods. This healthy recipes work as a sustaining breakfast, sensible dessert or nutritious post-workout snack – in addition to the goodness of strawberries, this “pudding” is packed with chia seeds and Greek yogurt for an extra punch of protein.

Berry Greek Yogurt Chia Pudding

For the Strawberry Blackberry Chia Shots, all you do is thin the recipe down with a little extra milk (2%, coconut, almond, soy, etc).  It’s a refreshing alternative to a smoothie!

Strawberry Blackberry Chia Shots

And, speaking of refreshing, how about a scoop of Roasted Strawberry Coconut Milk Sherbet on a warm spring day?

jennifer fisher - - roasted strawberry coconut mile sherbet 1

My Strawberry Greek Yogurt Tart (with Paleo Chocolate Crust) has always been a big winner in the spring and is a gorgeous addition to an Easter dinner, graduation or other special celebration.

strawberry yogurt pie

What is your favorite way to eat strawberries?

Love at First Bite! Nut Butter Crispies with Cacao Nibs Recipe

Valentines Day Healthy Treat Nut Butter Crispies

Who doesn’t love a crispy rice treat? I do, but not those prepackaged ones made with corn syrup, white puffed rice and a ton of other ingredients and preservatives I can’t pronounce.  Plus, there’s only a scant trace of protein in one of those gooey squares; that means I’ll be crashing lickity-split from my carbohydrate high. What’s a girl got to do to satisfy her sweet tooth and get a little snap, crackle and pop going on? Mix up her own healthier version of this favorite treat from childhood, that’s what! I have a hunch you are going to fall in love with this healthy snack recipe – package them up and give them to your favorite sweetie for Valentine’s Day!

Healthy Gym Snack Protein Nut Butter Bites

My version of crispy rice treats, Protein Nut Butter Crispies, features puffed brown rice, a 100% whole grain, that hasn’t been enriched or fortified with any weird stuff. A couple scoops of protein powder (you can use any brand or flavor) adds long-lasting energy that is perfect before a workout or to help build back up damaged muscle tissue afterward. Almond butter and honey helps hold everything together with delicious taste while cacao nibs lend an extra dose of crunchiness to this fun-to-eat treat.

cocoa_nibsYou may be wondering, “Just what are cacao nibs and why should I be eating them?” Cacao nibs are little pieces of cacao beans that been have roasted, hulled and prepped for the chocolate-making process. While I like to think of them as “nature’s chocolate chips,” cacao nibs don’t really add any sweetness to a recipe. In fact, they are a tad bitter (in a good way) and have a slightly nutty flavor with chocolate undertones. Here are some other good things to know about cacao nibs:

  • Cacao nibs are abundant with magnesium, a mineral needed for in excess of 300 biochemical reactions in the human body including muscle and nerve function and maintaining a steady heart rhythm.
  • Unlike chocolate bars, cacao nibs pack in a lot of fiber in a small serving – one ounce of cacao nibs has nine grams of fiber.
  • Cacao nibs are rich in iron, a necessity for the production of red blood cells  — and a good thing for women, runners and other athletes who need more iron (up to 30% more) than the average Joe.  One ounce of raw cacao nibs provides six percent of the daily recommended value.
  • Cacao nibs provide more antioxidant benefits than eating the darkest chocolate bar around. You’ve probably heard that the darker the chocolate, the better – experts suggest picking a bar with as much as 70% cacao (it can take a while to get used to the less sweet taste). Since cacao nibs are the basis for chocolate candy (after being ground into a paste and mixed with sugar and milk solids), you’re skipping all the unhealthy stuff and going straight to the unsullied source of nutrients..
  • Get creative with cacao nibs! You can eat cacao nibs straight out of the bag, mix them into oatmeal or sprinkle on Greek yogurt – or mix in cacao nibs into any of your recipes for baked goods.

healthy snack nut butter crispies

Protein Nut Butter Crispies with Cacao Nibs Recipe

  • 2 cups puffed whole grain brown rice cereal
  • 2/3 cup (2 standard scoops) chocolate protein powder
  • ¼ cocoa nibs
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup honey (I like Wholesome Sweetener’s Fairtrade Organic Honey )
  • Optional:  2 Tbsp. chocolate candy-covered sunflower seeds

Place puffed rice, protein powder and cocoa nibs in a medium-sized bowl and toss together until combined.

Warm almond butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds so it’s more malleable. Spray spatula with baking spray and scoop out warmed nut butter on top of dry mixture. Drizzle honey on top of this and stir everything until combined. Mixture may be a bit crumbly, that’s okay.

Using hands, form mixture into approximate 1 ¼” diameter balls, packing tightly. Repeat process with remaining mixture.

If desired, lightly press tops of nuggets into candy-coated chocolate sunflower seeds or another topping of choice.

Makes 18.