Craving Wellness

Nutrition & Fitness


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Protein & Fiber Energy Bites

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Looking for a post-workout snack or nutrient-dense treat to enjoy when you’re fiending for something sweet? These little bite-sized balls full of nutrients are a great option. There are so many ideas for these throughout the Web, but these are my favorite so far. The great thing about these is that you can omit, substitute, or add ingredients to create a recipe to fit your individual preferences!

I adapted this recipe from others that I’ve tried and they have been approved by all whom I’ve shared them with. Enjoy!

Recipe for Energy Bites
1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup chopped nuts/seeds (I used cashews and walnuts)
1/4-1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup low-sugar granola, oats, or puffed rice (or a combination)
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tb vanilla extract
1-2 Tb water or milk of choice (if needed)

Directions
1) Combine dry ingredients (protein powder, flaxseeds, chia seeds, nuts/seeds, chocolate chips, and granola) in a medium-sized bowl.
2) Add wet ingredients (peanut butter, honey, maple syrup, and vanilla extract) to dry ingredients.
3) Mix all ingredients together until evenly distributed. I prefer to use a fork to get the peanut butter mixed will throughout everything else. If the mixture seems too dry, crumbly, or won’t hold the shape of a ball, add 1-2 Tb of water or milk and mix again. If you add too much liquid, add more protein powder.
4) When you have the right consistency, begin forming 1-inch balls with a small ice cream or other scoop, spoon, or your hands. Place the balls in an airtight container and place in the freezer for them to become firmer.
5) After about 20-30 minutes, the bites should be ready for you to indulge in! Continue to store them in the fridge or freezer to maintain the texture and shape.


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Black Bean & Avocado Gluten-free Protein Brownies

If you’ve never tried black bean brownies, you must! Seriously, they are so soft, moist, and chocolate-y with the nutritional benefit of fiber and many vitamins and minerals, and I promise you won’t even notice the beans!

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup Butter, melted
2 oz Coconut oil
¼ cup Maple syrup
1 Avocado
1 12-oz can Black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 cup Whey protein powder (chocolate or cookies & cream)
¼ cup Almond meal/flour
½ cup Flaxseed, ground
½ cup Cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
1 dash Salt
1/3 cup Stevia, powdered
6 oz Semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Grease a 9″x13″ baking pan with cooking spray or butter.
  3. Add butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, avocado, black beans, and vanilla extract into a blender or food processor and blend/process until smooth.
  4. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
  5. In a medium bowl, add protein powder, almond flour, flaxseed, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and stevia.
  6. Mix dry ingredients until well-combined.
  7. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
  8. Mix in chocolate chips until well-dispersed throughout the batter.
  9. Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 20-30 minutes.
  10. Check brownies with a toothpick at 20 minutes and continue checking every 2-3 minutes after until toothpick comes out clean or with minimal residue.
  11. Let cool for 20 minutes, then cut into desired number of pieces and enjoy!

Makes 20 brownies.

Nutrition Facts (1 brownie): kcals: 164, total fat: 10 g, sat fat: 6 g, MUFA: 1 g, PUFA: 1 g, cholesterol: 16 mg, sodium: 254 mg, potassium: 91 mg, carbohydrate: 14 g, fiber: 2 g, sugar: 8 g, protein: 7 g


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The 10:1 Ratio

Weight training is SO important to overall health. I tell every female that talks to me about trying to lose weight to start lifting weights a few times per week. Consistency and quality is key, however, so it’s important to make weights a regular part of your exercise program and to go for the heaviest weights you can use for 8-12 reps with proper form. Often, women rely on cardio and cutting calories to lose weight (I used to), but, while that technique may work at first, it is not sustainable, healthy, or effective for long-term results; eating nutrient-rich foods, cutting down on cardio, and incorporating moderate to heavy weight lifting provides lasting results. I have always enjoyed lifting weights because I love the challenge and feeling physically strong, but it wasn’t until two years ago when I started lifting heavy weights 3-4 times per week that I dropped 12 pounds of weight in a three-month period. During this time, I also did 20-30 minutes of moderate cardio 3-4 times per week and focused on eating nutrient-dense foods until I was satisfied. This has been the only approach that has provided long-term results and it’s so much easier than my previous attempts with counting calories and doing excessive cardio (which only ever worked for about a week at a time).

Nicole Meadows

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 12.29.04 PMSo the weight roomat LA Fitness has become a “new home” for me this summer, and one thing I can’t help but notice when I go in there is the 10:1 ratio.What’s that?It’s the guy to girl ratio in that area of the gym. Now, I can’t say I’ve alwaysbeen comfortable being one of the few girls in there…

SHORT STORY–>Earlier this year I decided to go to the awesome weight room in the SRSC at Indiana University because I wanted to use the pull up bar bands (if they had any, I didn’t check)since my gym in Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 12.31.07 PMBriscoe didn’t have any. Once I finallyfound the room, (the place is three stories, I looked a bit lost and out of my element) I took a lap and ran back to my gym….never in my life had I felt SO intimidated in…

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Quick Gluten-free Protein Pancakes

These pancakes are seriously fantastic. I’ve done quite a bit of experimenting with high-protein, gluten-free ingredients in baked goods, but the texture (dry, dense, and crumbly, anyone?) and flavor are often far different from the original recipe. I really enjoy coming up with my own recipes by substituting ingredients and using similar ratios of recipes I know work. Here’s a pancake recipe I came up with when I was craving a high-protein breakfast and needed a change from my go-to veggie-egg scramble. The texture is very similar to pancakes made with wheat flour. The eggs and flax seed are essential to keeping these pancakes from falling apart, in addition to adding important nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals.

Almond & Coconut Flour PancakesGF pancake with bananas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2-2/3 cup vanilla or plain almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp honey or other sweetener (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Heat a skillet on medium heat. Coat pan with butter or non-stick spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (flours, flax seed, baking soda) in medium bowl or blender.
  3. Mix eggs, milk, sweetener, and vanilla extract together in separate bowl.
  4. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and whisk or blend until just combined.
  5. Add 1/4 cup batter to skillet per pancake. When bubbles begin forming or pancake is golden-brown and releases easily, flip over and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden-brown and easily releases from pan.
  6. Add favorite topping–like fruit compote or maple syrup. Enjoy!


Servings: 3 (3 pancakes each)

kcals: 287, total fat: 21 g, sat fat: 4 g, MUFA: 2 g, PUFA: 1 g, cholesterol: 141 mg, sodium: 522 mg, potassium: 56 mg, total carbohydrate: 17 g, fiber: 10 g, sugar: 6 g, protein: 13 g


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Veggie Quesadilla

So, quesadillas are one of my favorite foods. I love them so much, and it’s absolutely because I love cheese (pizza is another favorite of mine). Unfortunately, cheese is high in saturated fat and sodium, so I constructed one loaded with veggies and with less cheese than those you would find at a restaurant.

First, I thinly sliced zucchini and bell pepper, then heated it through on a dry pan. Meanwhile, I shredded some Tillamook cheddar cheese and spread it evenly on a whole wheat tortilla. I added the warm veggies to one-half of the tortilla and topped it with arugula. Next, the tortilla was placed on a pan over medium-high heat and heated until the cheese was melted and the bottom was golden-brown. I folded it in half, cut it and enjoyed with some chunky salsa!

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Fruit & Veggie Smoothie

I have often made smoothies with fruit, yogurt, juice and/or milk, but they usually turn out very sweet. I love sweet foods and drinks (who doesn’t?), but after cutting down on the amount I consume, I have found that I am satisfied by much less. I decided that adding vegetables would decrease the sweetness, but the idea of adding vegetables to a smoothie never appealed to me much as it made me think of tomato juice, and I have never cared for that.

Fruit and Veggie Smoothie

So, the obvious use of vegetables in a smoothie was to use those that don’t have a strong or bitter flavor. My choices were spinach, arugula, sweet bell peppers, and cucumber. I added these to some of my favorite fruits, including mango, pineapple, raspberries, blueberries, and pomegranate. I then added flax seed and equal parts almond milk and orange juice and blended to created a thin smoothie. This was one of my favorite smoothie creations, and the addition of the veggies was perfect!


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Orzo Pesto Pasta

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One of my favorite pasta toppings is pesto! I’ve done some experimenting with recipes in the past and recently made a new one with almonds, spinach, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. Yum! I have really only made basic pesto (basil, pine nuts, olive oil) a couple times because pine nuts are so spendy, but these ingredients are fairly inexpensive, especially if you get the almonds in bulk. You can also use a different oil if you are trying to save money, but the taste will be different than with olive oil.

In addition to the pesto, I added sliced sausage, peas, yellow onion, mushrooms, and green bell pepper to increase the nutrient content, my favorite thing to do when I cook!


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Local Strawberries!

Today I visited a local farm in Sherwood, Oregon and was totally excited by all of the fresh produce they had available. I’m leaving on a trip in a few days so I couldn’t buy everything available like I wanted to, so instead, I got half a flat of bright red, fresh strawberries!

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These are by far the sweetest, most flavorful strawberries I have ever tried, and I will probably be gathering more of my produce locally now. I’m not sure why I never did much local produce shopping, but it’s truly worth any extra effort! Yummm!


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Oat, Almond, and Banana Pancakes

This morning, I was in the mood for something sweet and healthy… and well, I’ve always been a fan of pancakes. So, I decided to take a basic pancake recipe and transform it into something with more nutritional value! And honestly, I was pleasantly surprised with how delicious these healthier pancakes were, and I’m quite sure you will be, too!

banana pancakes

 Oat, Almond, and Banana Pancakes

Ingredients

–       1 ½ cups skim milk
–       2 eggs (or 3 egg whites)
–       ½ tsp vanilla extract
–       ¼ tsp almond extract (optional)
–       ¼ tsp lemon extract (optional)
–       ¼ cup canola/vegetable oil or melted margarine
–       1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
–       ½ tsp baking soda
–       ½ tsp baking powder
–       ½ tsp salt
–       1 tsp cinnamon
–       ½ cup oats (old-fashioned or quick)
–       ¼ cup wheat germ
–       ½ cup sliced almonds
–       1-2 bananas, sliced
–       Maple syrup (a light version will save some calories and sugar)

Directions

  1. Heat a skillet on medium and coat with cooking spray or a little oil.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg, all extracts, and oil or butter.
  3. In a larger bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix in oats and wheat germ.
  4. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir until incorporated. Add in almond slices.
  5. Pour ¼ to 1/3 cup batter onto skillet for each pancake. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until bubbles begin to form on the top. Flip and cook for 1-2 more minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Top with banana slices and syrup, if desired. Enjoy!


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Choosing Whole Foods Over Processed Foods

Convenience foods have increasingly become more popular over the last 30 years due to the time- and labor-saving benefits that they provide. The value of cooking has also decreased so people are less likely to plan out an entire meal ahead of time that requires the preparation of ingredients and the use of more than two or three utensils, pots, and pans. As a result, processed foods have become a major part of many consumers’ diets, and negative health consequences are becoming more prevalent. Consequences directly reflecting poor diet include many weight-related issues, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Processed convenience foods often contain added sugar, salt, and saturated and trans fats. These additional fats and sugar add calories to a product, which can contribute to weight gain. In addition, consuming too much sodium (in the form of salt or not) can increase the risk of high blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. The main ways to prevent these health problems are by:

  • Eating less processed foods
  • Eating more fresh, canned, and frozen vegetables
  • Choosing low-sodium foods
  • Rinsing canned vegetables and beans well to remove as much sodium as possible

In order to replace processed foods and to include more fruits and vegetables, whole foods should be the main focus in any diet.Whole foods have endless health benefits and can reduce the risk of many diseases. Whole foods usually don’t contain added sugar, salt, or fat and are processed and refined as little as possible or not at all. These include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, meats, and fish. Some general qualities of whole foods are a low glycemic index, which helps to maintain blood sugar and insulin at steady levels; fiber, which can aid in preventing weight gain by increasing satiety and, therefore, reducing the number of calories consumed; and antioxidants, which help heal and protect the body from chronic illnesses. The main difference between whole foods and processed foods is nutrient density. Whole foods are more nutrient dense than processed foods, meaning that for a certain number of calories, they have a greater amount of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.). This also means that foods that are more nutrient dense will have fewer calories and more nutrients than the same quantity of a processed food.

Here is an example of nutrient density:

All measurements are in 100 grams, which is roughly equivalent to ½ cup, but it varies. Percentages of vitamin C is a Percent Daily Value and is based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Food

Kilocalories

Sugar (g)

Fiber (g)

Vitamin C

Apple

60

10

2.8

10 %

Applesauce

70

15

1

4 %

100% Apple Juice

45

10

0

0 %

Table 1. Nutrient comparison of apple products

As seen in Table 1, raw apples are more nutrient dense than applesauce because they have fewer calories and more fiber and vitamin C. While 100% apple juice may contain fewer calories, the only nutrient it contains is sugar, so it lacks the satiety factor of fiber and the disease prevention of vitamin C.

Other whole foods considered nutrient dense are all fruits and vegetables; whole grains, such as quinoa, wheat, oats, barley, and rye; legumes, such as black beans, soy beans, chickpeas, and lentils; and nuts and seeds, such as almonds, cashews, flaxseeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.

While it may not always be convenient to eat and cook with whole foods all the time, it can greatly improve your health and reduce the risk of multiple diseases and conditions. When whole foods aren’t an easy option, choose foods that:

  • Contain less than 150 mg sodium per serving
  • Are low in unhealthy saturated and trans fats (10% or less of saturated and no trans fats)
  • Contain less than 5 grams of sugar per serving
  • Contain at least 5 grams of fiber per serving
  • Have 5 ingredients or fewer

Following all or the majority of these guidelines will insure that the foods you are eating are as nutrient dense as possible and contain few added ingredients.