Craving Wellness

Nutrition & Fitness

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Protein & Fiber Energy Bites


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)

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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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).

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Orzo Pesto Pasta


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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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


–       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)


  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.



Sugar (g)

Fiber (g)

Vitamin C





10 %





4 %

100% Apple Juice




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.

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I have started this blog to inspire people to live a healthy lifestyle that promotes total wellness. I have brainstormed some ideas for posts that I think many people can use some extra guidance on, including inexpensive healthy food, summer produce, and easy ways to reduce the temptation of less nutritious foods. I have a background in nutrition and exercise and love to write about health topics in a helpful, no-nonsense kind of way!