Protein Recovery Smoothie

  After a long run or intense training, I’m usually pretty hungry, but also pretty lazy. I don’t want to cook anything and sometimes even a sandwich just seems to take too much effort. I started making these delicious protein smoothies and they fit my post-run needs perfectly: they are easy, quick, delicious, and healthy. With no mystery ingredients or preservatives, these smoothies taste like a chocolate milkshake (more like a Wendy’s frosty), but fit into a clean eating diet. Win-win!

Full disclosure: Learn from my unfortunate experience. Bananas can have a laxative effect on some athletes. If your tummy is sensitive to banana (mine definitely is) have this AFTER your workout, not before 🙂

Speaking of bananas, I freeze my bananas in little bags and use them in smoothies right from the freezer. This prevents me from finding gross, rotten bananas in my fruit bowl and they thicken the smoothie more if they are frozen. If you don’t have any bananas frozen, just use a room temperature banana and maybe add a little more ice. No big deal.

Raw cacao is an incredibly healthy, minimally processed cocoa powder that retains its antioxidant properties because it is not heat processed. It is more expensive than regular Dutch processed cocoa powder, but it has an amazing, rich chocolate flavor without bitterness. Worth the extra pennies, but you can use other unsweetened cocoa powder as well if that is what you have.

Enjoy these warm, summer months, but keep yourself hydrated and your body fed!

Protein Recovery Smoothie (makes 1-2 servings, depending on how hungry you are!)

  • 1 peeled banana, frozen
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of organic peanut butter (any nut butter will work)
  • 1 tablespoon raw, hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup organic, raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup organic rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1-1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or hemp milk
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately with a straw or a spoon.
  4. Enjoy!
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No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

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Like many families across the U.S., we have spent the last couple of weeks hunkered down at home waiting for our unusually snowy and icy weather to go away. We have had seven snow days in the last three weeks and really, it is time for these children to go back to school. Now, I love an occasional snow day with all its excitement and plans to make soup, bread and cookies. In our part of North Carolina, “snow events” are typically 24 hour deals–enough to have fun, but not so much that you go stir crazy. Not this year though. Oi vey. I can only imagine how parents in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Atlanta feel.

This is all to say that when the first snow came, we figured that was our one snow of the year, so we had all the big snow fun we could. We made snow figures, went sledding, baked homemade cookies, soup, bread, pasta and ate up. We ate alot. It was great. Except a week later, we experienced another snow and ice storm. Realizing we could not continue on this eating plan without serious consequences, we scaled back on our hibernation feasts and tried to get excercise.

These gluten free, no bake cookies from blogger The Sprouted Kitchen are perfect for when you need a little something, but don’t need any additional sugar or wheat. They are not low in calories, but they are high in protein and fiber and as rich as they are, one is enough to take care of any sweet tooth issues I have. Enjoy these with your coffee as you watch the snow fall. Or while you secretly wish for summer 🙂

No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies (makes about 20 cookies)

  • 1 cup raw or toasted almonds
  • 1 cup medjool dates, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, no sugar or salt added
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  1. Put the almonds into a food processor and grind until until you have a course almond meal.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients and pulse until you have a moist dough.
  3. Shape into tablespoon sized balls. Flatten each ball with the back of a fork to make a cross hatch pattern.
  4. Refrigerate cookies for 30 minutes.
  5. These will keep in the refrigerator in a air tight container for up to a week.

Homemade Dog Biscuits

This past holiday season, all the good dogs in our lives received homemade dog biscuits! These were fun and easy to make and the dogs seemed to like them very much. We made several batches for less money than we could purchase high end, organic dog treats. We thought perhaps our cat would like them too, but he prefers our spiced sweet potato biscuits to the dog treats–go figure!

This recipe came from Giada de Laurentiis’s weekly newsletter Giada, and it makes about a dozen large treats or two dozen smaller treats. I used a dog bone shaped cookie cutter, but you could make these in any shape you want–I’m pretty sure your dog won’t mind 🙂 The recipe below includes cheese, but I don’t use cheese in our biscuits. Dairy and dogs is not always a good combination and Jessie doesn’t seem to notice anything is missing, so we just leave that out.

Homemade Dog Biscuits (12 large or 24 small)

  • 2 cups organic whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup organic rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup creamy, organic, no salt added peanut butter
  • 1 cup low sodium, organic chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, oats and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir in the peanut butter and broth until the mixture forms a dough. Press the dough to form a ball.
  3. Lightly flour a counter or work surface. Knead the dough for about 30 seconds. Roll the dough into a 10″ circle, about 1/2 ” thick.
  4. Us the cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits and put biscuits on the lined baking sheet, about 1″ apart. Keep re-rolling the dough and cutting out biscuits until you run out of dough.
  5. Sprinkle the biscuits with cheese, if using, and bake for 25 minutes, until golden in color.
  6. Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Tutorial Tuesday #7–Storing and Preserving Nuts

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If you are lucky enough to live in a region of the country (or world) that produces tree and ground nuts, you have cause to celebrate! Nuts are high in protein, fiber and nutrients and while some may pack a wallop of fat, that fat is typically good for you and your body (as long as you are not allergic!). Some nuts, like pine nuts, pecans and walnuts can go rancid quickly when stored, especially in warmer climates. So how do you make the most of your local nut harvest and save your harvest for the future? Here are some great ways to make the most of locally and/or sustainably produced nuts.

Freeze ‘Em!

Did you know you can freeze nuts for about a year? Put shelled nuts into freezer bags, label them with the date and tuck them into your freezer for later! No need to blanch them or do anything special–just pop them into bags! I do this with our local pecans all the time. Freezing them prevents that “off” taste when they’ve been sitting too long, and the ease of freezing them encourages me to stock up with new crop pecans when they are available at my farmer’s market.

Make Nut Butter

If you are fortunate to end up with, say, 10 pounds of local almonds (I WISH!), one way to keep them at the ready is to make your own nut butter. When I was a child, peanut butter was the only nut butter around, but now you can easily find cashew butter, almond butter, sunflower butter and more. Some are even flavored. Did you know it takes about 30 minutes to make your own healthy nut butter at home?

Here is how to do it:

Put 1-2 cups of nuts (I use raw nuts, but roasted will work, too) in a food processor. Process at high speed, giving your food processor a break every minute or two, for anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes or until the nuts release their oils and you have something that is spreadable. This will vary widely depending on the type of nut and how much oil it has in it. you will end up with something amazing. And healthy. And delicious. Add some nut oil to hazelnuts (they can be a bit dry) and salt, if you like. Sometimes I add a bit of coconut oil to nut butters that end up on the dry side. Nut butters are very forgiving–if you add too much of a flavoring, just add more nuts. Need more flavoring? Add more and blend again. Easy!

I don’t refrigerate my nut butters–they are gone quickly, and I find refrigerating them makes them difficult to spread. However, you can refrigerate or freeze most nut butters. You will probably eat them up long before they go bad, but refrigerated nut butters will keep for several months. Frozen nut butters for at least a year. The oil may separate during thawing, but just mix it all up and you’re good to go!

Need some inspiration? Here are some ideas I’ve seen (and several I have tried):

  • Choco-peanut butter (peanuts + raw cacao + touch of honey + pinch of salt)
  • Cinnamon Almond Butter (almonds + cinnamon)
  • Almond Joy (almonds + non-sulfured coconut + raw cacao)
  • Heathier Nutella (hazelnuts + touch of hazelnut oil + raw cacao + touch of maple syrup)
  • Maple Almond Butter (almonds + touch of maple syrup + bit of vanilla)
  • Smoked pecan butter [my creation] (pecans + smoked paprika + touch of salt)

So go out there and harvest those nuts! Then squirrel them away for the future 🙂

For more great nut butters and yummy ideas for using them, see www.mywholefoodlife.com. Another blogger with some awesome, healthy recipes!

Chunky Monkey Ice Pops

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Well, my experiments with vegan, dairy-free ice cream were ok, but I have found greater success making creamy ice pops in interesting flavors! These pops are sugar-free, gluten-free, raw and vegan. And magically tasty! Like a fudgesicle that actually has loads of flavor instead of just sugar. I also like that we have individual servings all ready to go–no scooping needed, although I do need to tap the mold on the counter a few times to get rid of those pesky air pockets 🙂

The real secret to these ice pops is bananas. They give the popsicles a lovely, creamy, thick texture without any dairy (I’ve also used soaked and drained cashews–this works well, too). You do need to freeze the bananas ahead of time, but we always seem to have bananas on the brink of disaster, so freezing them before they turn too mushy is a regular habit. I take ripe bananas, peel them, cut them into slices and freeze them on a parchment lined baking sheet. When they are frozen, I pop the slices into storage bags and keep them in the freezer until I need them. They are terrific in smoothies!

Since ripe bananas are pretty sweet on their own, I didn’t add any sweetener, but you could add some raw honey if you wanted to (this would change the nutritional profile). As is, these are cool, creamy, and have a great banana/peanut butter/chocolate flavor.

Many thanks to fellow blogger, The Midnight Baker for sharing her success with the Norpro Ice Pop Maker. Check out her recipes–they look amazing. The Norpro mold makes 10, 3 ounce ice pops, is BPA free and is very affordable. Click HERE for more information.

Chunky Monkey Ice Pops (makes 10, 3 ounce ice pops)
Each ice pop has 100 calories, 5 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein

  • 2 organic bananas, peeled, cut up and frozen
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsalted peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup organic almond or soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Put all ingredients into a Vitamix or Magic Bullet blender and blend until very smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into the ice pop molds. Tap the mold on the counter a few times to release air bubbles.
  3. Freeze several hours or overnight.
  4. Unmold the pops and enjoy!
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