No-Bake Vanilla Chip Protein Bars

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend! I wanted to kickstart the week by making a healthy bar to have on hand when cravings hit after a chocolate-filled weekend.Nowadays with all the “protein bar” choices at the grocery store its hard to know which one to pick and also hard to investigate their LONG ingredient list on the back. It’s always nice to make some at home so you know exactly what you putting into your body. The Genuine Health Vanilla Protein powder has such a yummy smell… it reminded me of the Rainbow Chip cake mix we always used to make as kids!!!

These bars can be made in 10 minutes. Quick and easy and pack substantial protein per serving.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 150 calories, 4.5 g (fat), 21 g (carb), 7.4 g (protein)No Bake Vanilla Protein BarsIngredients (makes ~8-10 bars):

2 cups oats (I used Hilray gluten-free oats)
1/3 cup vanilla protein product (I used Genuine Health’s Vegan Protein Powder …SO GOOD).
1/4 cup natural crunchy peanut butter, soften
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup Unsweetened Earth’s Own almond milk
1/2 cup dates, softened and mashed
1 tbsp natural honey
1 tbsp hemp hearts
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:
1. In a mixing bowl, combine and mix oats, protein powder, and softened peanut butter. (See photo of protein powder I used below).

Genuine health protein powder
2. Put 1/2 cup of dates in the microwave with 1 tbsp of water for 30 seconds to soften. When complete, mash the dates and add them to the bowl. Mix.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and dark chocolate chips as desired.
4. Line a casserole dish with parchment paper, spread the mixture evenly in the dish.
5. Store in the freezer until hardened (~1 hour).
6. Cut into granola bar sized squares.
7. Store in the refrigerator, eat, and enjoy!

 

No Bake Vanilla Protein Bars2

Food fact of the day: CORN (my favourite)

It may not be summer back home in Canada… but I’m sure we can all recall one of the best local foods of summer. Ontario corn… mmmm

Corn appears to always be in season here in Laos. White corn and yellow corn. You can buy corn around the corner at the local market or buy it freshly grilled from your neighbour on the street (MY FAV).

corn on the cob

Corn is part of the vegetable family, as I’m sure you already know. However, corn has appeared to have gotten a bad rep over the past few years. I believe this is because many people began to follow the (uneducated) trend toward low-carb diets and corn has a high starch (carbohydrate) content.

SO why should you forget about your “carb-phobia” and enjoy a nice corn on the cob?

Carbohydrates are important to optimal brain function and providing our body with energy…especially healthy carbohydrates coming from natural whole foods (like corn!). I have come across a few myths about corn… “corn is high in sugar” is one of them. One corn on the cob has ~90-100 calories. This is comparable to a banana at ~105 calories.

One banana has approximately 27 grams of carbohydrates and 14 grams of sugar.

One cob of corn has 18 grams of carbohydrates, 5g of sugar, and also a very significant amount of potassium.

So why does the beloved banana get all the attention? The cob is lower in carbs and sugars! The high potassium content also makes it a great post-workout snack (like the banana) to replenish those lost electrolytes (see previous blog post for more information).

Corn is a great natural source of carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C, B vitamins, and of course… insoluble fibre. 

Vitamin C: This vitamin is always in the spotlight. As you know, it is important for our immune system to function healthily. It also plays a role in maintaining healthy teeth, bones, skin, and tissues. Vitamin C also helps you increase your absorption of iron from foods. (Some high iron foods: steak, oats, lentils, spinach, beans animal products, etc).

Insoluble Fibre: I know you’ve all talked about how you’ve noticed (eek!) how your body does not fully digest or break down corn kernels. Well… that is because of its high insoluble fibre content. This is not a bad thing. Insoluble fibre stimulates our digestive system, helps maintain a healthy functioning gut….and obviously helps to promote bowel regularity 😉 Fibre helps prevent constipation and promotes regularity by adding “bulk”.

Moral of the corn story – don’t be afraid of foods that are in the natural and fresh product category. If it’s not in a package and can be eaten right from the garden…. it definitely has a nutritional benefit for your body.

So on that happy note… I’m off to grab a corn on the cob on the street!

Happy Tuesday Followers 🙂

xox

B

Homemade Granola + David’s Tea

limited ingredient granola

I have very limited ingredients in my apartment here in Laos. I don’t have access to all the same spices/ingredients as I do at home in Canada. If I can find them here many are very pricey because they are imported. BUT there’s always a way to make things work with what you have! I was craving a granola/trail mix to top on my smoothies, yogurt, and to snack on throughout my work day. This granola mix is quick to make, free of any refined sugars, has no added oils/fats, and it is so tasty! My secret ingredient to adding the best flavour to this mix is David’s Tea!!

In a small skillet on low-medium heat, (I would prefer to cook granola in the oven but I don’t have one…. so toasting it slowly on the stove top is a great alternative!) combine the following ingredients:

1 cup oats
1/2 cup nuts (I used pumpkin seeds,almonds, and a cashew nut mix)
A handful of raisins
1/4 cup dried pineapple, chopped/diced
1.5 tbsp David’s Tea Banana Nut Bread Tea (SO delicious to drink and EAT!)
1.5 tbsp maple syrup, drizzled throughout.

Continue mixing the ingredients around in the skillet until the oats begin to brown. Once browning, turn the burner off. Allow to cool. Store in an air tight container… or get snacking! 🙂

David’s Tea creates so many amazing tea flavours. Banana Nut Bread and Forever Nuts are my two favourite flavours at the moment and I packed them to bring with me to Laos. Their teas are always bursting with flavour. Sometimes when I am craving sweets I will just have a cup of tea. Banana Nut Bread and their Birthday Cake flavour are really good at putting those cravings to a stop! They are delicious.

The Banana Nut Bread flavour contains small chunks of dates, banana, and almonds. It is delicious as a tea, to add to granola, or even cook it mixed into your morning oatmeal (so yummy). You won’t be disappointed.

Until next time…
xo
B

9-Bean Veggie Soup

veggie 9 bean soup

Beans are a great way to increase fibre and satiety in vegetable based meals. This soup is packed with flavour from the various veggie ingredients and spices… ohhhhhhh I LOVE soup. Such a great way to warm up in the cold weather that is coming our way. It is also great to make a large batch like this and freeze individual serving sizes to heat up for lunches or dinners throughout a busy work week. This will help you avoid snacking while preparing dinner… because it will be ready for you when you are home 🙂

This recipe serves ~6 people.
In a large soup pot on low-medium heat, combine the following:
1 carton Campbell’s vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1 carton full of water
1/3 cup 9-bean mix from Costco (substitute for one can of rinsed/drained can of mixed beans if you cannot find the bean mix!)
1 can (796mL) diced tomatoes
1 small cabbage, chopped/diced

In a large skillet on medium-high heat, saute the following in 2 tbsp olive oil:
1 red onion, diced/chopped
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped yellow pepper
1 large carrot, chopped
1 butternut squash (microwave to soften for 4 minutes – then dice and chop into cubes)
1 garlic clove, crushed

After the vegetables have been softened/sauteed for ~10 minutes, add them into to the soup pot.

Add spices:
1 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp basil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
+ground pepper and salt
+ 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (substitute for parmesan cheese if you do not have this ingredient).

Bring soup to a boil. Then allow to simmer on low for ~4 hours. The longer it simmers – the more the flavours come out!

Enjoy 🙂

veggie 9-bean soup

Kale-Crust Mini Pizzas (Gluten-Free & Nut Free)

Kale Crust Mini Pizzas

I came up with this yesterday as I was looking for an appetizer recipe yesterday! I think I might like the kale crust more than the cauliflower crust pizza!!! Kale has such a mild taste.. you hardly even know that it is in there…except for the green color 😉 This takes the quilt out of pizza – low cal and full of vitamin A, C, K and calcium! You can make this recipe as mini pizzas or as one large pizza.

Ingredients for the crust (Makes 5 mini pizzas):

2 cups fresh kale leaves, washed & trimmed
1.5 cups oat flour
1/2 cup egg whites
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 clove fresh garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 cup water

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a food processor, process the kale and begin to add in the other ingredients. Add in the 1/2 cup water as needed (not all at once).
Mix until you get a moist desired dough consistency.
As you can see below, make into individual pizzas (or make one large pizza).
kale crust dough
Bake this crust layer in the oven for ~10-12 minutes until hardening.
Remove from the oven and add your toppings after this is complete (My toppings included: mozzarella, tomato, tomato sauce, onion, mushroom, and pesto.)
When you have added your toppings, bake in the oven again for ~7-10 minutes and broil for the last 2 minutes (to brown the top).

AND ENJOY 🙂
kale pizza

Protein-packed Quinoa Salad Mixer (GF) 

  
I find that salads always turn out the best when they are unplanned. I tossed this mixture together on the weekend…. It was deadly 😍 

Combine:

1.5 cup quinoa, cooked

1/2 cup chopped spinach 

1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 a red onion, chopped

1/3 cup red cabbage, chopped

1/2 yellow pepper, chopped

1/3 cup roasted almonds 

1/2 garlic clove, crushed 

1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled 

Dressing: I used my homemade balsamic dressing (recipe below). However, I only added about 2 tbsp. Minimal dressing is needed because it already has tonnes of flavour! 

Dressing:

1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tbsp natural honey

1 tsp of lemon juice

Nutz for Nuts!

nuts

Nuts and seeds are a great way to increase fibre and protein in your diet. Nuts are a source of unsaturated fat which, plays a role in heart health and prevention of heart diseases.

I tend to carry ~1/4 cup of nuts/trail mix on me throughout my work day. They are a great snack to curb your hunger and help you last until your next meal. Almonds are my go to nut. Why you ask? Almonds have the highest fibre, highest percentage of unsaturated fats from total fats, and the second highest in protein content (following peanuts with the highest protein per serving).

Although nuts contain all these healthy properties, you still need to watch your intake as they are high in fat content and over-consumption can lead to weight gain. Also, it is important to choose the best nuts and seeds in terms of nutrition content. The nuts that contain the highest % of unsaturated fat from total fats are the best because the fat % that is not unsaturated is… SATURATED.

Saturated fats are naturally occurring in foods as well and may link to heart disease and may raise bad cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol) in the blood. Macadamia, Brazil and Pine Nuts are nuts that carry the highest percentage of saturated fat content.

So what nuts are the best for you to choose to snack on? 

Almonds and hazelnuts are best.. 88% of their total fat is UN-saturated fats. Also, almonds contain 4g of fibre per 1/4 cup and hazelnuts contain 3g per 1/4 cup.

Almonds are also a great source of Vitamin E. This a fat soluble vitamin which may have the ability to improve immune function. This is because Vitamin E is an antioxidant therefore, helps prevent free radical damage to our body’s cells.

Anyway… all nuts/seeds are great in moderation! They will provide you with satiety, a source of healthy fats, protein, and fibre 🙂

Happy Friday!!!