• Energy Bars Recipe

    I like these all-natural energy bars because they only contain a few easy-to-find ingredients and allow you to get protein and a burst of simple sugar while also satisfying a chocolate craving.  They’re great to have during endurance training or when setting off on a hike or bike ride.  The recipe below calls for cocoa but use carob powder instead if you are sensitive to the effects of the caffeine or theobromine found in cocoa.

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    Ingredients

    • 1 cup local, raw honey
    • 1 cup organic peanut butter (or mix half cup peanut butter and half cup almond butter)
    • 1 cup cocoa
    • 1 cup sunflower seeds
    • 1 cup sesame seeds

    Directions

    In a saucepan, heat the honey over low heat until warm.  Slowly stir in the nut butter until it is mixable.  Remove from heat and add the cocoa and seeds.  You can substitute with pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, etc. or add some additional nuts but just be mindful you don’t put in too many seeds/nuts or use something that would affect the cohesiveness.  For example, use slivered nuts instead of big whole nuts.  I have accidentally gone a bit nut crazy at times and they were sort of crumbly.  Feel free to add other dried fruits like blueberries, cherries, cranberries or goji berries.

    Spread mixture in to an oiled (I use coconut) 8 x 8 inch pan.   Dust with coarsely ground sea salt and cinnamon and allow to cool in the fridge for a few hours.  They will keep in there for about a month and can be frozen indefinitely.

    Cut in to squares of 25 or 16 depending on the size you prefer.

    I like the health benefits of the almond butter but I think they make them a bit more gooey, especially if using the freshly ground stuff.  You may want to initially try them with just peanut butter if you eat peanuts.

    After the first night in the fridge, I like to remove the squares and individually wrap them in cling wrap and put half in the freezer.  They make great on-the-go breakfasts in a pinch and Chief loves bringing them to golf.  I also think they would make a great snack for a child’s sports match when feeding the team.  If primarily serving these to kids, it might be a good idea to use the carob powder I mentioned earlier (because of the caffeine factor).  Carob powder is not quite as chocolately tasting but has a similar look and texture to cocoa.  It can be found in the baking aisle of a natural grocer.

     

  • Cherry and Almond Superfood Chocolate Smoothie

    This is one of my favorite smoothie recipes.  It’s a great smoothie to have during times when you are really working your body hard with training or muscle building because it has lots of protein and the cherries help to reduce inflammation.

    Approximate Recipe for 2 Servings:

    • ¾ cup pitted cherries.  I just use frozen organic ones, unless they happen to be in season
    • 2 tablespoons cocoa – I like mine extra chocolately, reduce if you don’t
    • 2 tablespoons almond butter
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • Generous dash of cinnamon
    • 1 ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk or hemp milk

    Cherries contain significant amounts of beta carotene, vitamin C, fiber and potassium.  They are also full of quercetin and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that can help  reduce inflammation from muscle strain or arthritis.  Some studies have shown the reduction to be similar to some well-known pain medications.  Cherries also contain a significant amount of melatonin, which can help regulate sleep and ease irritability.

    As I discussed in another smoothie recipe (the banana chocolate smoothie) idea post, cocoa is full of flavonoids, which can help to prevent heart disease by decreasing blood pressure, reducing inflammation, balancing good and bad cholesterol and improving blood vessel health.  Cocoa and the cinnamon (which I put in most things that also have a sugar component like fruit or honey) help to decrease insulin resistance and help the body better deal with consuming natural sugars for prevention of Type 2 Diabetes.

    I always try to sneak coconut oil and flaxseed in to my smoothies.  The coconut oil has a special medium chain triglyceride in the form of lauric acid, which helps to increase the good HDL cholesterol in the blood.  Coconut oil helps to prevent fungal and bacterial infections in the body as well.  The flaxseed adds fiber as well as omega-3 essential fatty acids.  Be sure to get it ground, as the body can’t absorb the nutrition from the whole seeds.

    I usually have almond milk on hand, but hemp milk works great too.  The hemp adds extra protein.  If you are purchasing the almond milk (as opposed to making it), be sure to buy the stuff that is unsweetened and then sweeten the smoothie to your liking with local honey to help deal with allergens and get a good dose of the antibacterial benefits of consuming honey.

    The almond butter adds a natural source of protein, fiber and monounsaturated fats.  The health benefits of almonds are well known and include the ability to help improve cholesterol ratios, control weight gain and prevent heart disease.  They are good sources of magnesium, manganese, riboflavin and vitamin E.  The magnesium helps to prevent muscles aches and pains.

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  • Banana Chocolate Smoothie

    This is one of my favorite things to drink right after a hard workout.  The natural sugars help restore energy and the protein repairs muscle.  It also makes for a really delicious and satisfying breakfast.  It tastes like a milkshake if you need an appetizing word to lure your kids to consume something healthy.

    • 1 medium size ripe banana
    • ¾ cup whole raw milk (or almond milk for vegan or lactose intolerance)
    • 2 tablespoons cocoa
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1 tablespoon flaxseed
    • Couple dashes cinnamon
    • 1 cup ice cubes

    Blend all ingredients together using a blender or hand-blender.

    Bananas are full of potassium, which can help balance fluids in the body and maintain muscle function (e.g. prevent cramps).  They are also full of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin B-6 and work great for any indigestion issues.

    I have recently discovered a dairy farm nearby, Stryk Jersey Farm, from which I can get raw unprocessed milk from pasture-raised, grass-fed Jersey cows.  It is unpasteurized, is not homogenized and contains a healthy distribution of beneficial bacteria, enzymes and nutrients in their raw form.  This milk is really high in protein and mixing it in to a smoothie will keep you full for hours.  It’s not available in some states, but look in to if you’ve been curious about making your own dairy products or introducing the health benefits of raw milk.

    Cocoa is full of flavonoids, which can help to prevent heart disease by decreasing blood pressure, reducing inflammation, balancing good and bad cholesterol and improving blood vessel health.   And it tastes divine!  Cocoa does have a little bit of caffeine so be sure to consider that when deciding what time of day to have this smoothie (or giving it to little ones).  Cocoa also helps to decrease insulin resistance so can help prevent Type 2 diabetes or decrease the amount of sugar-related health problems you might be having such as problems with yeast, or Staph.

    Flaxseed is high in fiber, lignans, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  Be sure to buy the kind that are ground so the body can more readily absorb what is contained within the seeds.  They need to be stored in the refrigerator.

    Honey contains beneficial bacteria and is full of antioxidants.  Try to use local honey in helping the body to adjust to local pollens for controlling allergies.  Be sure it is raw and unprocessed so that pasteurization does not destroy the healthy bacteria and other beneficial natural compounds.

    Any time I am adding a sweetener like honey or a type of fruit sugar, I like to add some cinnamon because cinnamon helps regulate insulin levels in the blood.

  • Dark Chocolate & Cherry Chia Seed Pudding

     

    Ch-ch-ch-CHIA!

    Chia seeds are a whole new craze this time around. You know the ones. We previously knew them better for their ability to grow fuzzy little grass creatures through terracotta shapes from the chia seed sprout contained within. It is these seeds that are one of the “newest” superfoods. In actuality, chia seeds have been around since pre-Columbian times but have only recently been re-discovered by health foodies. Most health food stores have them and they can be purchased in bulk for a relatively low cost.

    The Aztecs harvested them for their nutritional value. They have omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants. The protein in chia seeds is unique in that it contains all nine essential amino acids. Our body cannot produce these on its own and so they must be consumed. Normally, it is animal protein that provides these complete proteins. Chia seeds, therefore, are a very healthy addition to those of us who do not have a lot of meat in our diet or for those trying to add protein to bulk up or stay full.
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