Archive for the ‘Plant-based’ Category

“Closing Out Pink Awareness With A Nod To Red (Meat)”

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

As “pinktober” comes to a close, I find it ironic that the cancer focus has shifted to red. As in meat.

In the event you missed it, earlier this week the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, issued a press release highlighting its evaluation of the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat.

Suddenly, headlines stating that red meat, hot dogs, sausage and bacon cause cancer were EVERYWHERE, and  comments and conversations ranging from “doesn’t everything cause cancer” to “who cares, we’re all gonna die of something” were being slung around the world wide web.

Here’s a link to the actual press release: World Health Organization Consumption of Red Meat and Processed Meat.

Essentially, the WHO reported a classification of the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans, mainly for colorectal cancer (with associations also seen for pancreatic and prostate cancer), and the classification of processed meat as carcinogenic to humans, again with regard to colorectal cancer.

FYI, red meat refers to beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat, and processed meat refers to meat transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, and smoking.

Here’s my take on this announcement. It’s not new information. The directive to eat a plant-based diet in support of cancer prevention has been recommended for years. And while the overall pattern of one’s diet vs. only single foods is a balanced way to view the impact of food choices, I see nothing wrong with calling out foods that potentially fuel cancer; information that is of particular importance for those who’ve been through a cancer experience.

People who make dietary choices in support of remaining cancer-free deserve to know about food and health associations in order to decide what they’re comfortable including or excluding from their diet. Good health is about healthy choices, and the more information to help cancer thrivers eat to prevent secondary cancers or recurrence, the better.

PUT MORE PLANTS ON YOUR PLATE.

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

It’s true I’m on a tirade against Pink Ribbons, but since I don’t envision them abating anytime soon, I’ve had a flash of insight as to where I feel they’d be most effective.

Wrapped around an enormous box of produce.

And that box of produce would be delivered to the front door of every person on the planet.

Indeed, fruits and vegetables are that powerful. For both protection against and as an aid in reducing the risk of recurrence of breast cancer, research continues to show the benefit of adding more phytochemicals to our diet. Where to find them? Produce!

According to Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a global perspective, a report produced by the World Cancer Research Fund together with the American Institute for Cancer Research; “evidence shows that most diets that are protective against cancer are mainly made up from foods of plant origin.” http://www.wcrf.org/int/research-we-fund/cancer-prevention-recommendations/plant-foods

That doesn’t mean you need to adopt a completely vegan or vegetarian diet, it simply means PUT MORE PLANTS ON YOUR PLATE.

Here’s how: fill 2/3 of your plate with non-starchy fruits and veggies, the remainder with lean protein (plant or animal-based) and complex carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, farro, etc.).

One way to get a jump on your daily intake is with the ubiquitous smoothie. While there are literally thousands of recipes on line, certainly enough to stress you out deciding which is “the best (read, healthiest) one”, trust me, the absolute best one you can choose to make is the one that you enjoy!

Six days per week I use my trusty Vitamix to whip up a smoothie. I like to include two fruits (I use dates (for sweetness) plus frozen blueberries or banana – and sometimes all three – crazy!), a large organic carrot, and a couple of handfuls of frozen kale (I buy Trader Joe’s pre-washed fresh and throw it in the freezer). This morning my supply of blueberries had dried up, presenting the perfect opportunity to add cocoa (3 tablespoons) and peanut butter (well, not exactly peanut butter, but certainly the flavor) to that lonely banana. It was soooo good.

SmoothieIngredients1SmoothieIngredients2Aim for AT LEAST 5 servings (1/2 – 1 cup = 1 serving) per day of a combo of fruit and veggies – but don’t be afraid to go OVER that number. Seriously.

Creating an environment INSIDE your body that is less hospitable to cancer is easy to do, completely free of side effects, and delicious.

Let’s wrap a pink ribbon around THAT.

I welcome your comments, and if you found this post helpful, please share!

P.S. Follow me on my new twitter account: @cathylemanrd

 

“Everybody Into the (Amino Acid) Pool!”

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

I recently had a conversation with a gentleman who shared that his son eats a 100% vegan diet. That’s 100% to the tune of avoiding even honey.

Dad commented that his son has been eating this way for four years, and as far as dad can tell, “He looks alright, like he’s getting enough protein. I think he has to combine, right?”

I’m not sure what dad is expecting to see as an indicator of “not getting enough protein” (the old nutrition dogma that simply refuses to die); sunken cheeks, off-color pallor, muscle atrophy?

Yet I also understand his concern. How one could possibly get enough protein when eating nothing but plants has been the subject of debate, the butt of jokes, and a myth that refuses to be busted FOR YEARS, largely due to a lack of understanding about how the body uses protein from non-animal-based sources.

And who could expect the average person to understand? In our western culture and dietary practices, meat still reigns supreme – irrespective of the fact that plant-based eating is gaining a mainstream foothold.

So, given that plant-based diets are becoming more common (you may even live with or know a plants-only-eater), and having migrated to a (mostly) vegan diet myself just under 2 years ago, I’m writing this post in support of putting more plants on your plate, and putting your mind at ease.

Here’s vegan/vegetarian protein guidance distilled down to two main points. Even if you know nothing else about avoiding meat, but you want to give it a try – these will help clear things up.

  1. What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

Vegetarian – Diet may include dairy and/or eggs. Vegetarian diets that include these animal-based choices provide adequate protein and all essential amino acids.

  • Lacto-vegetarians exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, yet include dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter).
  • Ovo-vegetarians exclude meat, fish, poultry and dairy, yet include eggs.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians exclude meat, fish and poultry, yet include dairy and eggs.

Vegan – Diet contains no animal products (i.e. dairy, meat, fish, pork, poultry, or eggs). Vegan diets require attention to balance, variety and portions (to insure adequate protein intake).

  1. How do I get adequate protein intake?

Proteins in food and the human body are composed of 20 amino acids. Humans can “build” eleven of these as long as we get sufficient nitrogen from our diets (nitrogen is a component of every amino acid).

The other nine (the “essential” amino acids – EAA) have to come from our food, because we can’t make them. Our need for protein is actually a need for these nine essential amino acids, PLUS enough nitrogen to build the other eleven.

All plant proteins contain all nine of the essential amino acids – they aren’t missing any – yet they are always a little low in one or two. This results in a less precise match to human protein needs, which is how the practice of “protein combining” or eating “complementary proteins” at the same meal came about, ala Frances Moore Lappe’s 1971 vegetarian classic, “Diet for a Small Planet”. (FYI, the photo is my own copy of “Diet for a Small Planet” purchased for $5.72 in 1995 at Crown Books – remember that bookstore?!)

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For example, grains and beans have complementary strengths and weaknesses in their EAA patterns; eating them together produces a complete amino acid pattern that mimics patterns found in human body proteins. I’m pretty sure you’ve eaten beans and rice, hummus and pita, or bean soup and bread; common, delicious dishes that all happen to be vegan, as well as being exceptional examples of effortless protein combining.

Even without eating these foods at the same meal, your body essentially does its own “complementing”, thanks to the fact that it maintains a reserve pool of amino acids to draw from when necessary. It’s this ability to use proteins consumed at different meals and snacks throughout the day that renders protein combining an outdated idea.

The best way to get ENOUGH plant-based protein? Eat a varied and balanced diet, adequate in volume for your specific needs, while avoiding the vegan/vegetarian “junk food diet” of veggie pizza, vegan cookies, and French fries!

Need more help? Contact the NutriFit office and schedule a nutrition consultation; we’re happy to clear things up!

“Salad Jar Daze”

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

You know it’s important to eat your veggies – a 3rd grader could tell you that.

Yet when most people think about adding more veggies to their day, bags of plain (boring) baby carrots and plates of (over) steamed broccoli often come to mind, squashing even the best of intentions. Even a devoted veggie lover like me can’t get excited about that.

If one of your goals is to “put more plants on your plate”, packing a salad (along with the dressing) in glass canning jars is a fun, creative, efficient way to make that happen.

Canning jars come in a variety of sizes, but the wide-mouth pint or quart sizes work well for this purpose. A pint jar holds two cups, perfect for a lunch or side salad, while a quart jar holds four cups – good for crowd or dinner size salads.

Simply pour salad dressing (1-4 tablespoons) into the bottom of the jar, then layer the veggies, starting with heavy, non-absorbent varieties like carrots, onions, cauliflower and cabbage, and ending with the lighter ingredients like spinach, lettuce, arugula, etc. on top.

Press down the veggies, screw on the lid, and that’s it! “Salad jars” keep will in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (yes!), making it super easy to have a ready-to-eat salad available at any time. When you’re ready to eat, just shake the jar to distribute the dressing, or simply pour the contents into a bowl and toss a bit with your fork.

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Have fun mixing and matching ingredients and dressings, and congratulations on accomplishing your goal!

“Unbreak Your Heart”

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Heart

 

 

 

 

 

On any given day of the week diet and nutrition are HOT topics, but you know something really controversial, life-changing or ground-breaking is afoot when one or the other makes the front page of the Sunday Chicago Tribune.

A recent issue featured the perfect example; an article advocating for the heart healthy benefits of a vegan diet.

Right in that front page space – albeit below the fold – the article highlighted enthusiastic support, as well as references to research data on vegan and vegetarian diets from Dr. Kim Williams, a Chicago cardiologist. Dr. Williams not only recommends plant-based diets to his patients, he actually eats a vegan diet, an eating plan long considered somewhat fringe, even a bit extreme.

It made my heart jump for joy.

Dr. Williams made the switch to a plant-based diet after a nuclear scan on a patient with severe heart disease showed startling improvement after the patient followed a vegan diet for 6 months. While surprised, the doctor was also intrigued, and after reviewing a number of published studies documenting similar outcomes decided to try it himself. Turns out that despite his deliberate effort to eat a “heart healthy” diet, his own LDL cholesterol (the “bad” one) had been creeping up.

A number of things from this article stood out for me, the least of which was the fact that an actual MEDICAL DOCTOR stood as such a strong advocate for a plant-based diet. Not just any medical doctor/cardiologist mind you, Dr. Williams is a nuclear cardiologist http://www.asnc.org/content_11495.cfm?navID=481, chief of cardiology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and the incoming president of the American College of Cardiology.

Having someone in Dr. Williams’ position support the heart healthy benefits of eating more plants and less meat – the opposite of what reams of research suggest contributes to heart disease – is like the president of ComEd suggesting we all work to get off the grid.

There are many healthy reasons to eat a diet based on plants, with vegetarian and vegan diets alike conferring benefits for those interested in using dietary changes to improve obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

And for those who continue to hold the belief that “meatless” diets can’t possibly provide adequate protein (that age-old and frankly, tired argument), consider The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position paper on vegetarian diets which states that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

The key is “appropriately planned”; eschewing meat without adding solid plant-based protein sources, nor including plenty of fruits and veggies is never a healthy, balanced approach. See the example below illustrating this concept.

I encourage you to give plant-based eating a try – even adding a “Meatless Monday” http://www.meatlessmonday.com/ to your week helps. If it’s good enough for a top cardiologist, perhaps you can make room on your plate for more plants!

Low-Nutrition Meatless Meal

Breakfast: Bagel with Nutella | Apple juice

Lunch: Slice of cheese pizza | Diet soda

Dinner: Bean burrito | Iced tea

High-Nutrition Meatless Meal

Breakfast: Whole-wheat bagel with nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.) | Fresh apple

Lunch: Slice of vegetable pizza (vegan option, no cheese) | Side salad with garbanzo beans | Water – OR – small fruit smoothie

Dinner: Bean and vegetable burrito | Guacamole | Unsweetened iced black or green tea – OR – water.

1. http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-met-vegan-cardiologist-20140817-story.html#page=1

 

 

Divorcing Old Man Winter

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Dear Mother Nature,

Please divorce Old Man Winter.

I’m personally not a fan of divorce – believe me, I’ve witnessed the damage left in its wake.

Yet there is no question that some relationships become so toxic, anyone remotely connected to the couple can be damaged by the poison that escapes the immediate boundaries of their “love”.

I’m afraid it’s happening.

Those in your path have been suffering through weeks of relentlessly frosty days followed by dangerously chilly nights; enough to suck the life out of even the happy-go-luckiest person. Your relationship casts a gray gloom that leaves folks snappish, lethargic, and depleted, draining energy and triggering cravings for chocolate by the truckload; none of which supports good health, balance, or the ability to utter “Have a great day” without feeling like a fraud.

What started out as a harmonious pairing has turned frigid, icy and bitter to the core. I don’t fault your choice of partners – on the contrary, you’re certainly not the first woman to fall for a man with a bracingly strong personality. But the relentless intensity of your stormy relationship has pretty much lost its appeal. The first melt-down was tolerable, even expected, but now? We’re crying uncle.

Send him packing, yet don’t be cruel. Take the high road and give him this recipe for a soup guaranteed to thaw even the coldest of hearts – after all, a man’s gotta eat.

Crockpot White Bean Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

5 large carrots, chopped

1 pound dry navy beans

2 whole bay leaves

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon paprika

Freshly ground black papper

2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

6 cups water 

  1.  Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, and carrots to the crockpot.
  2.  Sort through the beans and remove debris or stones, rinse them under cold water then add to the crockpot.
  3.  Add six cups of water and stir to combine the ingredients. Cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  4.  After 8 hours, stir soup and mash the beans slightly. Add ½ teaspoon Kosher salt at a time, until the flavor is to your liking.

Adapted from www.budgetbytes.com

Chickpeas Are Missing From Your Diet? Learn How To Add Them, Deliciously.

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

I am crazy about chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans). Especially BAKED chickpeas. And also especially, blended into hummus. Oh, and especially in a curry dish. I think you can get a sense of my especially strong devotion.

My adoration for this scrumptious and completely nutritious food is so strong that this blog post practically wrote itself. So here we go, ideas and a recipe to inspire you to add these cute little guys to your pantry – and your diet.

Chickpeas Dry vs Soaked

Raw, dry on left. Soaked overnight on right.

I like to cook my own chickpeas. They taste better, they’re less expensive, and because they’re not canned, there’s no worry about BPA Are Plastic Bottles and Containers Safe (overview of BPA). It’s simple to cook your own, you just need a couple of tricks to streamline the process.

I buy dried chickpeas from a local Mediterranean market. They’re prepackaged in large sizes and are extremely inexpensive. I typically purchase a 5# bag, which after cooking yields 21 quart freezer bags (holding 2 cups each) of cooked chickpeas! There’s no need to cook the entire bag at once, I just need to be efficient with my time, so cooking all 5#’s worked for me.

Chickpeas must be soaked about 8 hours before they’re cooked. An easy way to do that is to soak them overnight, say, on a Saturday – leaving you a leisurely Sunday to actually cook them. Dump the dried beans into a large stock pot, cover them by about 2 inches with cold water, and head off to bed. The work happens while you sleep! As you can see in the photo above, there’s a dramatic difference in size between dried and soaked beans. Next morning, drain and rinse the soaked beans, and pick out any that are discolored. If you can’t cook the beans right away, cover and store in the refrigerator – I’ve left them for up to 3 days.

Place the beans back into the stock pot and again, cover with about 2 inches of cold water. Add a 3″ piece of kombu (optional). Kombu is a type of seaweed that imparts minerals, nutrients and flavor, and helps soften the beans. It also aids in making the beans easier to digest.

Kombu

Kombu

Bring the beans to a boil, then turn down the heat and place the lid on top, slightly ajar. Take a peek periodically to be sure the water hasn’t reduced too much (add more if needed). After ~ 1 hour, check the beans; they should be soft and practically creamy inside. Once they’ve reached that point, drain them, and pour onto a jelly roll pan to cool (the 1 inch sides prevent the beans from escaping).

Cooling chickpeas.

Once they’ve cooled completely, it’s time to prepare them for storage. Scoop two cups into a 1 quart freezer bag, label, and store in the freezer. That’s it!

Bagged chickpeas (and black beans!)

Bagged chickpeas (and black beans!)

When it comes to using them in cooking, there’s no need to thaw the beans for dishes like soups or casseroles – just add them in. However, if you need to QUICKLY thaw for a salad, run the bag under warm water until it pulls away cleanly from the beans, use scissors to cut the bag open, and place the frozen chickpeas in a glass bowl (NEVER microwave in a plastic bag or container). Put them in the microwave for a short time using the “defrost” option, and check to see when they’ve thawed and are ready to use (all microwaves cook and defrost at different speeds).

Now that you’ve learned a couple of secrets for cooking chickpeas, here’s a fabulous recipe for enjoying them!

 ROASTED CHICKPEAS

2 cups chickpeas

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl. Toss with the olive oil, cumin and salt. Transfer the seasoned chickpeas to a baking sheet in a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake until golden, about 35 minutes, tossing from time to time to keep from burning.

3. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the chickpeas to cool. Store in a sealed glass container for up to one week (if they last that long!).

** Feel free to vary the seasoning according to individual preference; curry powder, garam masala, garlic powder, etc.

 

Cabbage Patch

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Remember those cabbage patch dolls that were all the rage in the 1980’s? People formed long lines outside store entrances for the opportunity to (maybe) snag one for their kids. I didn’t jump on that bandwagon – but I’m wondering if there’s any way that I could start a cabbage rage (for the real vegetable I mean) that would reach anywhere near the same level of enthusiasm.

Maybe if people knew that cabbage is truly delectable when prepared well, little cabbage patches would spring up all over the country. Especially now that it’s spring planting season, cabbage plants are a perfect garden addition to consider.

I cooked up a batch of sauteed green cabbage and sliced onion just last night. I always prepare it in my huge cast iron skillet – love the even heat and the way the food gets gorgeously brown.

Maybe if people knew just how powerfully nutritious cabbage is, they’d rush right out, snatch a couple of heads from the produce department and start shredding, sauteeing, mixing with dressings, and devouring the stuff with wild abandonment.

My friend David Grotto, RD notes in his fabulous book, “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life!” http://www.101foodsthatcouldsaveyourlife.answerstv.com/AnswersTV/index.aspx that that cabbage, as a member of the crucifer family is rich in phytochemicals called glucosinolates, indole-3-carbinole, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane, which may protect against cancer. Cooking reduces these helpful compounds somewhat, but hey – if it’s cook it or don’t eat it, by all means, fire up the stove and try my method!

Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise and cut out the tough center core. Thinly slice the cored cabbage. Peel a large onion, cut it in half lengthwise and thinly slice it. Heat the cast iron skillet, drizzle in olive or canola oil and add the two sliced vegetables. Give them a stir to coat with the oil, then sprinkle in freshly ground black pepper, salt, and about a teaspoon of sugar (yes, sugar). The sugar nudges along the carmelization process, it’s sort of like the secret ingredient. Mix it all together, let it cook for about 15-20 minutes stirring every 3 minutes or so, until everything begins to get brown, carmelized, and soft.

I serve this as a side dish with everything from pizza to veggie burgers (actually, I like it ON my veggie burger) or piled into warm corn tortillas with a bit of melted cheese for a delectable veggie taco – yum.

Cabbage and onion before cooking

Cabbage and onion before cooking

Cabbage and Onion AFTER Cooking

Cabbage and Onion AFTER Cooking

Do You Know Tempeh?

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Tempeh (tem-pay) originated in Indonesia, where it has for hundreds of years served as a high protein food staple. At its most basic, tempeh is fermented soybean cake; doesn’t sound too appealing if you’ve never tried it and have no idea what to envision, right?

I adore it. The same way that some people crave a good steak, I crave tempeh – go figure. Its taste profile is based in umami (more about that in another blog entry, but suffice it to say it’s the opposite of a sweet tooth).

If you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, tempeh is your “go to” meat substitute; it’s whole soy, with 10 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fiber, and significant amounts of calcium and iron per 4 ounce serving.

I like to slice a cake of tempeh horizontally into 1/2 inch pieces, pop them into a hot cast iron skillet with a bit of olive oil and black pepper, and cook until both sides are brown and crispy. I find that 1/2 cup of water mixed with 1 tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce poured into the pan just as it begins to dry out (tempeh tends to absorb the oil) lends just the right level of flavor. Let the tempeh sit and bubble away in the water/soy sauce bath until all of the liquid evaporates; then let the tempeh cook a few minutes longer until it’s deliciously browned; if you can wait.

Serve on toasted whole grain bread (homemade if you can swing it), smothered in a mix of sauteed onions, mushrooms, and cabbage. Melt low-fat cheddar on the bread as you toast it, then smear on Dijon mustard and a touch of horseradish before piling on the veggies and tempeh (thanks to Deborah Madison for the inspiration).

Smoothie Recipes

Monday, January 4th, 2010

On December 31st I had a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate three healthy smoothies on WGN Chicago’s Channel 9. These recipes attack the top New Year resolutions: losing weight, eating healthy, and getting fit. As a bonus they contain super healthy, easy to find ingredients that are kind to your budget. For those of you who missed the segment (it was on early in the a.m.) here it is http://www.wgntv.com/videobeta/watch/?watch=cb9bf275-1461-4eab-b993-2f5807d0ee30&src=front and here are the recipes.

I don’t make New Year resolutions, but my GOAL for 2010 is to blog on a regular basis; no less than twice per month. There. I’ve said it out loud, so it will definitely happen, right? Enjoy my 2010 kickoff blog, and a happy, healthy, delicious 2010 to all!

MUSCLE UP SMOOTHIE:

1 cup reduced-fat chocolate milk (can use soy milk)

1 banana, sliced (freeze it for an extra-creamy drink)

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter

In a blender, puree all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately. Calories 330, Protein 13 g, Carbohydrate 52 g, Fat 8 g.

SOYLICIOUS FRUIT SMOOTHIE

2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate (yep, scoop it right out of the container)

1/2 cup frozen strawberries, unsweetened

1 cup vanilla soy milk

In a blender, puree all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately.

Calories 182, Protein 6 g, Carbohydrate 31 g, Fat 3.5 g

IMMUNITY BOOSTER SMOOTHIE

1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1 tablespoon wheat germ

1/2 cup ice

In a blender, puree all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately.

Calories 221, Protein 10 g, Carbohydrates 42 g, Fat 1.4 g

Cocoa Peanut Butter No-Bakes

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Sometimes you want just a little bite of something sweet, dense, and rich – but you still want to keep it healthy. These gems are just the ticket.

This is a quick, absolutely “no cooking required” (unless you consider microwaving cooking) cookie recipe.  I got lucky; I totally guessed on the measurements, but they turned out really well. Hope you enjoy them!

Cocoa Peanut Butter No-Bakes

1/2 cup oatmeal (quick cooking or old-fashioned)

1/4 cup natural peanut butter

1/4 cup shredded coconut

2 tablespoons cocoa

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Put all of the ingredients into a medium glass bowl.

2. Microwave on high for 15 seconds. Remove the bowl and stir the contents. If the peanut butter is still sticky, not melted, put it back into the microwave for 5-10 seconds more.

3. Mix well, until all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Let the mixture cool briefly until you can handle it comfortably, but don’t let it cool completely. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the “dough”. Press, squeeze, and mold the dough back and forth between your palms to form 1 inch balls.

4. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cookies on the baking sheet and stash it in the freezer for 30 minutes (or several hours if you can wait that long).

5. Store the cookies in the freezer in a zip lock plastic bag. Makes 10 – 12 cookies, but you can double the recipe and make a larger batch.

Energy Bar Recipe

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

To all of you who promptly jumped onto my blog in search of the “missing” energy bar recipe that I referenced, I apologize for the confusion.

This recipe is from Eating Well magazine, a subscription definitely worth purchasing if ever there was one. The first time that I tasted this recipe I thought it was overly sweet, but then it grew on me, as long as I consumed it in small doses. I especially like it with a big glass of skim milk after my early morning workouts. The protein and simple carbohydrate mix is great for recovery following heavy strength training or an extra long cardio workout (something in excess of 60 minutes.)

This quick recipe doesn’t require baking, a huge plus and particularly appealing during hot summer weather, assuming that summer even makes an appearance in Chicago this year.

  • 1/2 cup dry roasted salted peanuts *
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds or other chopped nuts
  • 2 cups raisins or other chopped dried fruit
  • 2 cups rolled or instant oats
  • 2 cups toasted rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (optional)
  • 1/2 cup creamy or crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup or honey **
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Coat an 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
2. Combine peanuts, sunflower seeds (or other nuts), raisins (or other dried fruit), oats, rice cereal and wheat germ (if using) in a large bowl.
3. Combine peanut butter, brown sugar and corn syrup (or honey) in a large microwaveable bowl; microwave on High until bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes. Add vanilla and stir until blended. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until coated.
4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Press down firmly. (It helps to coat your fingers with cooking spray.) Let stand for about 1 hour to harden. Cut into bars.

* Assuming that you use unsalted, natural peanut butter, the salted peanuts add the only sodium in the recipe, but it’s perfectly fine to use unsalted peanuts if you prefer.

** I used honey.

Fun Nutrition Presentation!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

This morning I was privileged to be featured as a speaker at our local cozy, cute bookstore aptly titled, “The Bookstore” http://www.justthebookstore.com/. Two women from my community are participating in the AVON Breast Cancer walk and were interested in bringing folks together over healthy food in support of their fund raising efforts. I came in to speak about nutrition and cancer prevention, and eating to fuel activity (like a 2-day, 30+ mile walk!).

A few points that I made during the program were 1) focus on REAL food, 2) choose food that is as close to its original form as possible, 3) focus on a plant-based diet.

I prepared energy bars made with wheat germ, nuts, dried fruit, and oats, and whipped up soy smoothies made with vanilla soy milk, frozen strawberries, and orange juice concentrate. I wanted to share these easy recipes and tips to show just how simple (and inexpensive) it is to make your own energy bars.

I find that many of energy/meal replacement bars on the market are glorified candy bars. Preparing them yourself allows you to control the sweet, salty, and fat components of the flavor profile. You can even customize with your favorite dried fruit and nut combo – recipes are really just a guideline.

We had a great turnout, everyone loved the food, and we had an interesting conversation about the power of “real” food. As I like to say, make your kitchen your medicine cabinet!

Here’s the recipe for the smoothie we sampled; enjoy!

Fruit and Soy Smoothie

  • 2 Tbs. orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, unsweetened
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk

In a blender, puree all ingredients until creamy. Serve immediately.