Peanut Butter and Honey Power Muffins for National Peanut Butter Day

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Peanut Butter lovers everywhere, rejoice! Yesterday was National Peanut Butter Day!

But, but, but? Isn’t peanut butter bad for you? Peanut butter is absolutely, positively, by no means, BAD for you. Well, to be fair, eating half a jar of peanut butter wouldn’t exactly be the best thing for you, but a healthy serving size once a day provides so many health benefits.

Let’s break it down. Peanut butter comes, of course, from peanuts. Natural peanut butter (emphasis on the NATURAL) is made up of one ingredient and that’s peanuts. In case you didn’t know, peanuts aren’t even actually a nut. They’re a legume and they grow in the ground. The peanuts are roasted and ground into a paste to make the spread.

Composed primarily of fat, a serving of peanuts also packs in about 8 grams of protein, so it’s a great plant-based protein source. Keep in mind that the fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated, a good fat that can help lower your LDL cholesterol and benefit the heart in numerous ways.

Just so you don’t get too carried away, a typical serving of peanut butter consists of two tablespoons. For two tablespoons of peanut butter you’ll get about 180 calories, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, and 7 grams of carbs.

This is the breakdown for natural peanut butter. Now some of you may have been raised on named brand peanut butters that were packed full of sugar and other hydrogenated oils, but today, even many named brands have natural options with just the one ingredient of peanuts!

You may have seen my blog a few months ago about the benefits of peanuts (to read, click here). All of those same benefits apply to peanut butter of course. I’ll recap some of the main points:

  • Filled with monounsaturated fats that help to lower LDL cholesterol levels and raises HDL levels
  • Decreases chances of heart attack and stroke
  • Curb appetite
  • Promote weight loss
  • Packed with Fiber

The big takeaway here is that peanut butter is filled with healthy fats. Healthy fats are essential to a healthy diet. So make sure you watch out the “reduced fat” label. In these products, where the fat is taken out, sugar and other additives are added to replace it. Natural, natural, natural, I can’t say it enough!

While peanut butter can be good on toasted whole grain bread…yuuummm, there are so many other ways to use it. Be sure to try this breakfast or snack favorite of mine that I made yesterday for the celebration!

Peanut Butter and Honey Power Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat (or gluten free all purpose) flour
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix the dry ingredients (excluding the oats) in a bowl.
  3. Melt peanut butter and honey together in microwave at 30 seconds intervals, stirring until completely combined.
  4. Allow mixture to cool before adding the rest of the wet ingredients.
  5. Once cooled, add in the rest of the wet ingredients and mix to combine
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until well combined
  7. Spray muffin tin and add mixture to tin. Each cup should be about ¾ full
  8. Sprinkle oats over top of muffins (makes them look extra yummy)
  9. Cook for 12-15  minutes or until a fork comes out clean

 

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Let’s celebrate National Popcorn Day

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It’s going to be a frigid weekend and what better way to spend it than having a family movie night at home with plenty of popcorn! That’s right, I said Popcorn! And the timing couldn’t be more perfect! Tomorrow, January 19 is National Popcorn Day.

Popcorn is a snack that I am a huge proponent of. Why? First, it’s a whole grain! A whole grain has three main elements, the germ, bran, and endosperm. The germ contains many B vitamins, protein, vitamin E, and many minerals. The bran is the primary place where fiber is stored in a whole grain and it also has B vitamins, antioxidants, and protein. The endosperm has some protein and fiber.

So when you have popcorn, you are having all the amazing nutrients that are in the three main components of a whole grain.

If that’s not good enough news, popcorn is low in calories (as long as you don’t douse it in butter).

Get your air popper out and pop some popcorn. Here are my favorite ways to season popcorn:

  • Standard: One tablespoon of olive oil and a few shakes of sea salt per six cups of popcorn
  • Spicy: Spice it up with juice of one lime, one teaspoon of dried cilantro, ¼ teasonn cumin, and one tablespoon of olive oil per six cups of popcorn.
  • Sweet Tooth: 3 Tablespoons coconut sugar. ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil per six cups of popcorn

Enjoy! And feel free to share your favorite healthy popcorn recipe!

Chevre Stuffed Dates

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Earlier this month, I explained in a blog entry why I am obsessed with dates. Click here to read that entry–in a nutshell, they’re loaded with fiber and amazing nutrients. In that initial entry, I shared a sweet smoothie recipe using dates. The following week, I shared a recipe for rice crispy treats using dates. Click here to check that recipe out.

But what about a savory date recipe?! You can easily find bacon-wrapped date recipes with a simple Google search, but I wanted something healthier (even though I admit that I do love bacon every now and then). This is a healthy savory date recipe I came up with and it seriously only took me 10 minutes to make! This is the perfect appetizer to bring to a party!

Chevre Stuffed Dates

Ingredients:

  • 15  pitted dates sliced in half length-wise
  • 4 ounces plain chevre goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Directions:

  1. Spread goat cheese into the crevice of each slice of date.
  2. Top with slivered almonds.

Yes, it’s that easy! Enjoy!

Wishing you and yours happy holidays! I’ll be catching up with you with all types of fun recipes and health tips in the New Year!

 

Healthy Rice Crispy Treats?

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Yes! You read that title right. In my last blog entry, I wrote about how healthy dates are.  And this week in my kitchen I was experimenting and found a way to use them to make healthy rice crispy treats! These tasty little treats are free of refined sugar (yep, no marshmallows-dates instead!).and they’re loaded with fiber–thanks to the dates and almond butter! This recipe requires only five ingredients and you can make them in just 15 minutes. The best part about them is they are kid-approved!

Here’s the recipe! Give it a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of packed pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups of rice crispies

Directions:

  1. Process the first four ingredients in a food processor until it forms a paste (don’t worry-it’s not too sticky)
  2. Move the paste into a bowl and pour 2 cups of rice crispies into the bowl and knead with your hands until well combined.
  3. Add the other two cups and do the same thing.
  4. Mold the mixture into an 8 by 8 pan lined with parchment and pat down.
  5. Cut into squares and your’re done!
  6. You can store these at room temperature in an air-tight container for one week.

 

Why I’m Bananas over Dates

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Yes, dating your loved one is healthy for your health, but I am talking about the wrinkly little dried fruit that is oh so sweet! We’re right smack in the middle of the holiday season and this is the time of year that people are hooked on sugar and it’s so hard to get off it once you’re on it! I use dates to satisfy my sweet tooth in a healthy way.

Dates come from the date palm plant. In our country, they are primarily grown in California and Florida. There is also a destination in Arizona where they are grown, appropriately named Dateland!

Here are some of the amazing health benefits of dates:

Phenomenal Fiber

Do you know that you are supposed to get at least 30 grams of fiber today?! It’s likely that you do not consume enough because the latest research shows that only 10 percent of American get enough fiber! Dates are one way that you can up your fiber intake! One serving of dates has a whopping 7 grams of fiber!

Fiber can help your digestion and helps prevent your blood sugar from spiking!

Packed with Phenolic Acid

Phenolic acid is an antioxidant that has amazing anti-inflammatory properties, which can help protect you against almost any disease, including heart disease and cancer!

High in Minerals

Dates are high in potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and even have a decent amount of iron. These minerals help promote bone health. Potassium is excellent for heart health as well. And iron is important for carrying oxygen to your muscles and your brain!

Are you going to join me in eating dates this month?! Here’s a recipe to start you off! And because I want to help you defeat the sugar temptation this month, I promise to post a new date recipe each week in December!

Bananas over Dates Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 frozen bananas chopped
  • ½ cup dates
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon ground gloves
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: Place all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

 

 

 

 

 

Sensational Autumn Parfait

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Yes, it is still autumn amidst these snow flurries!

Parfait in French means “perfect.” It’s quite fitting because a parfait can be a perfect meal!

A parfait is simple, light, and delicious. You can have it for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert. It can be pretty much anything you want, but usually consists of yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola.

This is a meal I often have for breakfast because it’s quick and easy! It’s also satiating, which can help you deny those holiday treats that are flooding into your office this time of year!

I like to use Greek yogurt in my parfaits because it packs a ton of protein: about 20 grams per cup, as opposed to the 8 grams you get from a cup of milk.

To assemble your parfait, all you need are the three ingredients I listed above. You can use any kind of fruit and any type of granola, though I do recommend using a granola with a lower sugar content as many granola may seem healthy, but when you check the nutrition label they can be packed with sugar. Find a granola with less than 8 grams of sugar per serving! A great brand I use is Barley+ granola. It provides a high fiber content with low amounts of sugar per serving.

Try out this fall parfait for a yummy treat:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sweetener (maple syrup or honey)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin purée
  • ¼ cup  granola
  • 1 apple cut into small chunks

Directions:

  1. Combine yogurt, sweetener, pumpkin, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  2. Spoon a few tablespoons of yogurt into you bowl or cup.
  3. Then add a layer of granola, followed by apples.
  4. Complete this until you’ve finished your supply of ingredients and enjoy!

 

Peanut Butter Cup Oat Squares

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Did you know that October 29 was National Oatmeal Day? IT’s not too late to celebrate!

There isn’t one bad thing I can say about oatmeal. Oats are a cereal whole grain that are harvested for their seed. A typical serving of oats (½ cup) contains 150 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrates (of which 5 grams are fiber), 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat.

You often see oats labeled as “heart healthy.” The consumption of oats has been linked to lower cholesterol levels. Oat bran, the outer coating of the oat, is packed with soluble fiber which aids is lowering LDL and overall cholesterol in general, which reduced the risk of heart disease.

Also found in the bran of the oat are Beta-glucans. These help to regulate blood-sugar levels. While some foods cause blood sugars to spike, eating oats can help prevent that. Studies have shown that consuming oats on a regular basis will provide this benefit.

Considering the holiday season, here’s a yummy treat you can try with oats to curb your sweet tooth! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cup Oat Squares

  • 3 cups of oats
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 cup peanut butter (+1 tbsp for drizzle)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips (+2 tbsp for drizzle)
  • 1 tbsp flaxseeds
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1-2 tbsp of milk

Instructions:

  1. Grease an 9×6 pan with parchment paper. (variously sized pans will work)
  2. Combine peanut butter and honey or maple syrup in a bowl and heat in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring until combined.
  3. Add in oats, cocoa powder, and flaxseeds. Stir to combine. (Add in 1-2 tbsp of milk here if mixture is too dry)
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Add mixture to pan.
  6. Melt coconut oil and additional chocolate chips in a bowl at 30 second intervals, stirring until melted.
  7. Drizzle melted chocolate and peanut butter over top.
  8. Place in fridge for 2 hours to harden, then remove the parchment paper with the bars from the pan, cut into squares, and enjoy!