The advice to not snack before bed is much more fiction than fact! The real story on noshing at night has a happy ending for those of us who are always hungry. Turns out it’s perfectly okay, if not a “good thing,” to eat a little something before bed, especially if you are trying to build or maintain muscle. However, before you start feeding your midnight munchies, there are exceptions and caveats – aren’t there always?!
Ready for a curiously crunchy treat? My recipe for Apple, Walnut & Quinoa Crunch will satisfy sweet crispy cravings while filling you up longer thanks to an unexpected punch of protein from the quinoa and black walnuts– it’s a balanced candy for your “healthy tooth”!
I almost hesitate to even call this easy-to-make recipe “candy,” although it is a take on old-fashioned “nut brittle.” However, the typical peanut brittle or nut brittle uses a boatload of butter, table sugar and corn syrup – gasp! Instead, my healthy candy recipe is packed with wholesome ingredients like 100 percent juice apple cider, ancient grains, dried fruit and nuts, and just a touch of coconut sugar.
I also choose to use Black Walnuts instead of standard english walnuts. Why? The black walnut has the most protien of any tree nut and imparts a more intense, earthy, nutty flavor to recipes. I discovered this news I can definitely use at the Produce Marketing Associations recent Fresh Summit in Orlando when, I auspiciouslly bumped into Hammon Black Walnuts on my way out the door to fly home.
As far as sugars go, coconut sugar (derived from Palm) is a much healthier sweetener in moderation as it doesn’t spike blood sugar as dramatically as traditional sugars. Also, if a concern for you are a loved one, this recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free.
I originally made this recipe for Litehouse Foods and used the Honey Crisp Apple Cider, you can find it in the produce section this time of year. This Cold Pressed, 100 percent pure apple juice has a unique tart taste that is wonderfully balanced with sweet. It’s perfect poured straight from the container, served hot or cold, and also makes a great ingredient in recipes where you would prefer natural sweetness.
Some things to note when making this recipe — you need to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, your oven temperature may vary affecting the overall cook time. Also, it will be soft when removed from oven — give it plenty of time to set up and harden, stick in the fridge to expidite. If it still doesn’t seem crispy, then you can put it back in the oven for several minutes at a time until done.
Another healthier “candy” I’m pulling from the archives to share with you today is my recipe for Sweet Date Chocolate Candy Bar Bites. These are so yummy and I love how the dates provide extra iron in my diet.
I also like to make a batch of my Hazlenut Fudge Protein Balls to stash in the freezer and thaw out one at a time to quell my dessert cravings. These no-bake energy bits are ideal for a healthy little dessert or as pre and post workout fuel.
In addition to the Honey Crisp Apple Cider from Litehouse Foods, which you can conveniently find in your market’s produce section this time of year, here are some other ingredients used in my Quinoa Crunch.a
Do you have a “healthy” candy recipe? What is your go-to when you are craving something sweet? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
Maple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn: So much goodness here, this is a delicious and easy-to-make fall snack. Forget about Cracker Jacks, make your own healthier autumn-inspired version with real maple syrup, a bit of butter and real pumpkin along withthe right spices. Also, did you know you can make your own “clean” popcorn right in the microwave with nothing more than a brown paper lunch sack – that’s how I’ve been doing it for years! Also, do NOT use maple FLAVORED syrup for this recipes, that would be a nasty, corn-syrupy shame. I love the 100% Organic Maple Syrup from NOW Real Food – it’s a light and delicate-tasting amber syrup that makes me think of a crisp, cool breeze and rustle of leaves with every taste! Recipe for the Healthier Maple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn at the bottom of the post!
Also wanted to shout out some other this I’m loving this fall season. First, yay for the POPSUGAR, they sent me the September Must Have Box and, it’s definitely a must have! This awesome lifestyle subscription box always knows how to win me over with products that I’ll obviously love (like the GFB Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites) to unexpected surprises (like the Jack & Lucy Black Felt Hat) that I never knew I needed, but now wonder how I ever lived without! And this specially curated box of goodies even makes the practical contents (like the MANI E.R. purse manicure repair kit) super hip and cool.
If you are looking for a unique gift that gives for a month or e even all year, consider giving your bestie a subscription to the POPSUGAR Must Have Box. Use code SHOP5 (which never expires) at checkout to save $5 off your FIRST Must Have Box!
Second, I’m loving Tommie Copper Compression, again . . . as usual! But this time I’m focused on their compression “sleeves” made for nearly every part and parcel of our limbs! Sometimes I ask a little too much of my bod and not even a rest day can resolve my minor aches and pains. However, I really dislike being sidelined from training – – that’s why you’ll typically see me in some sort of compression gear. If you’ve ever seen my Instagram feed, you’ll see that I’m a huge fan of compression socks. But I also wear compression sleeves for ankle, knee, wrists, elbow and quads when needed for both during exercise support and post-workout recovery. Personally, I really like the Tommie Copper brand – the targeted compression sleeves are low-profile, unobtrusive and make my muscles, tendons and joints feel good (or at least lessen the feeling that I’ve been run over by a truck)!
Tweet “Maple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn + Fall Faves @nowfoods @tommiecopper @PopsugarMH #ad”]
Of all the fall foods, what is your favorite? Or at least, favorite fall flavor? Ever try compression gear for anywhere other than your legs or rear? Please share in the comments, XOXO — JEnnifer
When I want a satisfying snack that tastes super yummy, has loads of health benefits, and won’t have me hungry again in an hour, my “Go for Gold” Turmeric Curry Hummus with Minted Roast Chickpeas is a winner! It’s definitely what to bring to a football tailgate or sports watching party to show that you are the decided victor of dips and champion of chickpeas.
If you’re not familiar with turmeric, you need to get acquainted ASAP. I’ve featured it before in many recipes — my Turmeric Honey “Health” Shots have been popular! While it’s the primary spice in many Indian dishes (such as curry) and lends everything it touches (including hands) a golden yellow to orange hue, turmeric is consumed not just for its warm and mildly peppery taste, but also for the many purported health benefits.
For example, numerous studies suggest that turmeric’s active component, curcumin, helps alleviate or reduce the incidence of everything from certain cancers to depression – and it’s is highly touted as a natural pain-killer and anti-inflammatory. I take turmeric often to recover from hard workouts faster, I’m a fan of these Curcumin Capsules (from Turmeric Root Extract) sold by NOW Foods.
I do advise using fresh turmeric along with the dried ground turmeric as directed in the recipe. The fresh has a more pleasingly distinctive aroma, flavor and health benefits in root form (technically a rhizome like ginger) than from the ground powder. However, the ground turmeric helps distribute the golden-orange color evenly. If you’re looking for fresh turmeric, ask your produce manager to stock it from Frieda’s.
Make a big batch and portion into individual grab-and-go containers to stash in lunchboxes, backpacks and gym bags along with veggie sticks or crackers. However, dipping stuff INTO hummus isn’t the only way to enjoy it! My two other serving suggestions are to 1) pile up high on whole grain bread or a wrap along with other veggies to make a filling sandwich and 2) to toss with warm pasta or vegetable noodles (like “zoodles”) as a creative sauce. I wasn’t sure if the sauce idea would work one night when fixing a “clear the fridge” dinner in a pinch — but it most certainly did!
Just double up that part of the recipe and keep the extra batch for snacking right off the pan – or to use as grain-free “croutons
By the way, I originally developed this recipe for Litehouse Foods using their Instantly Fresh Herbs! Check it out.
Do you use turmeric in your diet, what is a favorite recipe? If you’re at a party, do you go for the dips or the desserts? What’s on your upcoming fall season race season? Please share in the comments, XOXO — Jennifer
If you’re looking for something a little more over-the-top and decadent, lemme just share my recipe for Root Beer Float Fudge that was once featured in Simple & Delicious Magazine! Get recipe HERE
Are you a root beer fan? What is your favorite beverage of summer? Whatcha doing this weekend? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
You may be thinking, “Ummmm, excuse me . . . but what the heck on God’s green Earth are SQUACHOS”? This quick and easy appetizer is a healthy swap for traditional nachos made with tortilla chips which are typically fried, overly salted and plentiful in carbs (if you’re counting). Made on slices of summer’s finest squash, my Steak & Quinoa Squachos are, in two simple words, “life changing!”
The farmer’s markets (and personal gardens of you green-thumbers) are exploding with green zucchini and yellow summer squash this time of year — and this fun and fit finger food is a tasty way to take advantage of a bumper crop and squeeze a few extra veggies into the day.
Recipes similar to this use panko bread crumbs to create that familiar nacho crunch — but that defeats to purpose of my low-carb, higher protein mission. So, instead, I tossed together almond meal and cooked quinoa with a bit of cheese to create a tasty texture on top of each squash disc.
I used two of my go-to non-GMO, gluten-free and certified organic pantry staples from NowFoods.com — Tri-Colored Quinoa and Raw Almond Flour. This tri-color quinoa a blend of white, red and black seeds and is a great source of protein and iron — I typically serve it as a side dish or salad, but freeze leftovers for speedy recipes like this! Raw Almond Flour (or Almond Meal, as some people call it) is simply finely ground almonds and it makes a great low-carb swap for flour in many recipes. If you can’t find these products in your market, I’ve dropped the Amazon links below.
Now, if you’ve been following along on the blog or social media, you know I’ve been sharing my (numerous time) journey on the Protein Challenge and encouraging others to join. This free 30-day challenge sponsored by BeefLovingTexans.com (who I also originally developed the Squacho recipe for) shows you how to tweak your daily protein intake for optimal heath — to be very succinct, you should be getting about 25 – 30 grams of protein at each of your three meals — and also protein rich snacks throughout the day and possibly at bedtime, depending on your activity level. You can register for the Protein Challenge and get tips, support and recipes HERE.
What are your other plans – a race, a vacation, just catching up on the to-do list? Let’s chat in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
This post was sponsored by Ozarka Water, however all opinions, recipes, and enthusiasm are my own.I love living in Austin, Texas and, with the exception of a few boomerang moves, I have called this little place (well, now a BIG place) home my entire life – not many folks can say the same! Sure, the live music scene and hipster vibe has made this town trendy and it’s also the place to be for high tech, politics, and a good food truck fix. However, the opportunities for being active are what I appreciate most about being right here in the ATX. The weather is wonderfully warm and the sun seems to never stop shining on the abundance of parks, lakes and local events where I stay active. And, there are so many local businesses that make products #FromHereForHere (like Ozarka Water) that keep me hydrated and fueled up for my healthy fitness journey.
Sometimes I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. My neighborhood has over 20 miles of hike and bike trails to run and explore . . .
My house is sublimely sandwiched between two bodies of water. Three miles one way is Lake Travis, the largest reservoir of the Colorado River and home to swimming, boating, scuba diving, and even legal nude bathing in the Hippie Hollow park area (we all want to #KeepAustinWeird). Another three miles down the road the other way is the return of the Colorado River at Mansfield Damn before it turns into downtown’s Lake Austin (more recently renamed Ladybird Lake).
I like to paddle board toward downtown for miles or until my arms tire out . . .
Some days I get my motor started by taking the jet ski out . . .
Or, sometimes I just relax and sit in a chair while my son enjoys after-dinner fishing while our dog standing on guard . . .
And, if the water sports in Austin weren’t enough, there is every type of endurance sporting event imaginable – my favorites are probably the Spartan Race in nearby Burnett at Reveille Ranch and the Fit Foodie Race.
Of course, being so active in Austin requires the proper hydration and snacks! And that’s where I can count on Texas to treat me right again! There are so many beverages and foods #FromHereForHere that make it heaven for the adventurous, healthy foodie like myself.
With the heat and amount of physical activity I do in the summer, I always concerned about getting enough water. At the top of my cooler you’ll find Ozarka ® Brand Natural Spring Water, sourced from three nearby springs, this water has a uniquely Texan fresh taste! It’s so easy to stay hydrated with this clean-tasting, crisp water that’s available in convenient single-serve bottles and for Ozarka® water delivery at home.
Gotta have that Ozarka ® Brand Natural Spring Water! I try to drink an ounce per pound of my body weight, even more if I’ve run far or worked out hard!
All these outdoor workouts in in Austin makes a girl hungry So, I came up with a super easy nut recipe using a few local ingredients #FromHereForHere . It’s perfect to pack up in a snack baggie for on-the-go munching at the lake or post run! My Habanero BBQ Almonds use Yellowbird Sauce (a peppery condiment that puts the whoowhee hot yum on EVERYTHING, Sweet & Spicy Mustard Seeds from Taste Elevated that add in interesting mustard sweet-heat flavor and BBQ Sauce from Snow’s BBQ Sauce (named best in the state by Texas Monthly staff).
To make, heat skillet to medium- high over stovetop. add 1 cup raw, unsalted almonds. Toast, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup BBQ sauce, 2 teaspoons habanero sauce, 1 tablespoon moist, jarred mustard seeds (with sauce) and 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt. Cook over medium-low for an additional 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Makes 1 cup.
I also found some new local ingredients for my grilling creations — I can’t wait to try them! The Black Garlic Rosemary BBQ Sauce from Jelly Queens is an umami bomb of flavor! I first learned about black garlic about a year ago as an ingredient, but have never seen it used in a prepared artisan product – this stuff will send your taste buds out of bounds! They also make a fab-looking Steak Rub that will be so on fleek crusting up my flat iron!
When I’m packing a picnic lunch for the lake, my recipe for Mom’s Best Black Bean, Avocado & Corn Salad is ALWAYS a winner – in fact, the California Avocado Association even named it the winner in the July 4th All-American Recipe Contest in 2014! But add some local love to this salad, I take along Queso con Salsa Escabeche from CookWell & Company (built around a blend of blue and cheddar cheeses!) and Paqui’s Tortilla Chips (“better for you” tortilla chips named after the Aztec word for “to be happy”). The family and I are snacking happy until the sun sets!
What do you love most about your hometown? Do you have any must-try local food products? Do you drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
Happy Sunday and Father’s Day! I celebrated yesterday with my husband (who is an awesome dad to our three teen boys) by heading up to Dallas to run a Spartan Race at Jerry’s World, aka the AT&T Stadium, Home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Making a special dinner for my own top pop tonight, a super guy who’s been an amazing father to me for the past nearly 49 years! Since he loves to travel the world and experience new flavors in food just as much as me, I’m thinking grilling steaks with one of my globally inspired wet rubs!
Today, I want share with you some of the healthy foods and fitness gear I’ve tried out lately that have passed my persnickity test of approval!
1) Tommie Copper Compression: First up, some new products from Tommie Copper, a line of active and recovery compression wear that I’ve been wearing for a couple years now. Tommie Copper clothing encourages muscle and joint recovery through compression after a hard workout – they also have performance apparel that is perfect for wearing during running and workouts.
The unique hook of Tommie Cooper is that their compression and active fit (not so tight) lines of performance apparel are fashioned from fabric infused with high density activated copper. Not only does the proprietary copper fabric serve as an anti-bacterial agent, it also releases ions which may help reduce harmful oxidants in the body.
I love LOVE the Women’s Compression Camisole with Adjustable Straps for so many reasons – the vibrant color (other colors available), the hugging fit, and option to make the straps longer or shorter (for some reason, I always need to make mine shorter).
I also tried out a pair of Women’s Shaping Compression Capris designed to provide comfortable compression with a flattering fit. In other words, you butt will look as good as it feels! A curved back yoke lifts and shapes to enhance curves with the contoured waistband holds the tummy in without making a muffin top or feeling squeezed.
Actually, today only you can take 25% off your order at TommieCopper.com with the code FATHERSDAY at checkout.
2) The Pickle Juice Company: Also, I want to shout out The Pickle Juice ® Company, y’all saved my husband (aka “the sweater”) yesterday at the Spartan Race. He gets muscle cramps, even in shorter distances of running, so I knew that the 4 miles (of basically all stair running) was going to set him up for some debilitating cramps, especially since was super hot in Dallas yesterday.
So, I made him drink a specifically formulated the Extra Strength Pickle Juice Shot before he started – and guess what, no muscle cramps were reported. This interesting product is based on the functional properties of pickle brine that have been shown to help relieve muscle cramps while also serving as a hydration aid. Each Extra Strength Pickle Juice Shot contains 10 times more electrolytes than your average sports drink and has been proven to relieve muscle cramps in 85 seconds. We are both going to be carrying a little bottle along on an upcoming summer trail race!
3) Simply Snackin: I appreciate how Simply Snackin makes it easy for me to play hard and snack often (in my preferred higher protein way) with their insanely yummy line of meat-based snacks. Think “jerky” but waaaaay better than the stuff I grew up with as a kid. I’ve enjoyed Simply Snackin’ bars for quite some time now, and they never fail to impress me with their high-quality and amazing array of flavors.
These jerky bars from Simply Snackin are crafted in family-owned micro-snackery with a focus on taste that also supports a health, fitness and wellness. There are 10 amazing flavors, the snacks are all natural, gluten free, low carb, tender and lean, minimally process and packaged to go in individual 1-oz. portions.
It’s sooooooo hard to decide, but I think my favorite flavors are Northwoods Beef with Cranberries & Blueberries, Italiano Chicken with Romano Cheese and Orchard Venison with Apples Every bar has only 60 calories and 10 to 11 grams of protein and 0 to 3 grams of sugar (natural sugar depending on if fruit has been mixed in).
4) Zooma Summer Challenge: Also, the Zooma Summer Challenge kicks off June 27th. This is a great way to expand your workout horizons, experiment with new foods and activities, and get your body and mind strong to prepare for fall race training. For the $50 registration fee you get: a workout and food plan for the 5-week program, weekly emails that explain that week’s workout and food challenge, access to a private Facebook group where you can share your successes and questions with fellow Challengers, fun swag including a tank top and beach bag and a bling-y medal to commemorate your summer fitness success. Register HERE!
So, what new health and fitness products have you been loving lately? What races are you training for? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer