Skinny Banana Bread w/ Chia Seed

I have my new banana bread recipe from here on out.  I am a sucker for banana bread, but I know it is usually made with a lot of butter and a lot of sugar.  This one I made has:

  • No butter (used applesauce and coconut oil)
  • No white sugar (used agave nectar)
  • Chia seeds
  • and is whole wheat

And this is why I have named this… "Skinny" Banana Bread!
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Walnut Sweet Potato Salad

Happy February!  Did you know that February is National Sweet Potato Month? (and also Fiber Focus month… just sayin')

I could go on about these guys, I loooove sweet potatoes.  Whether roasted, mashed, baked… I'll take 'em!  They are a great source of carbohydrates and they are deliciouseven better than regular taters in my opinion.  One of my other posts on sweet potatoes discusses the health benefits, but here is a little refresher: 

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My First Superfood Spotlight

         I originally started this blog as a health blog, and my goal was to post healthy information along with healthy recipes.  When I realized how long some posts can take, I started getting lazy and my blog has evolved into a recipe book for me.  I know blogs tend to evolve, but I really want to veer back to the core of my passion, health and nutrition.  I still want to continue cooking and talking about food, but I hope to add more nutritional value to my posts.
‘Superfoods’ has become a common term in the health realm.  In my attempt to redirect towards nutrition and healthy eating, my goal is to start a weekly Superfood Spotlight.  I will delve into a superfood, it’s benefits, and a possibly a good recipe to try.  There, I said it.  It is written down for everyone to read.  And I’m hoping it will keep me accountable!
What are Superfoods?
These foods are rated by nutritionists as the most powerful foods.  They are foods full of nutrients and vitamins that benefit our bodies in multiple ways.  By eating these foods, you will receive more nutrition with a smaller amount of food. 
 
By incorporating these foods into your diet, you will receive many more nutrients, vitamins and minerals to make your body healthier.  Once adapting to a healthier diet, you can really tell the difference.  Once I started eating more natural foods and a well-balanced diet, my skin was clearer, my nails were sturdier, and I had much, much more energy.  

Some superfoods are salmon, walnuts, blueberries, spinach, quinoa, beans, and the list continues to grow.  The first superfood I am diving into is… YOGURT!
Lowfat and nonfat Greek and regular yogurts contain 20% or more of your daily calcium needs. The mineral slows production of cortisol, a hormone that contributes to belly fat.  Additionally, yogurt is a probiotic which is essentially healthy bacteria that helps with your digestive system.  It can help yourimmune system, prevent bloating and constipation, and even decrease yeast infections.
Beware of some yogurts.  Some contain up to 35g of sugar!!!  To give you an idea, one regular sized Snicker’s bar has 30g of sugar, and a 12oz Coke has 39g.  As many people think of yogurt has a healthy snack, if you pick the wrong kind, it can be pretty unhealthy. Also, watch out for the fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts, those pack a lot of sugar.
Almost every day, I eat plain Fage 0% Greek yogurt and add a little bit of jelly.  There are a whopping 18g of protein in one serving.  That is more protein than some protein bars even contain!  Plus, with yogurt, you are foregoing all the hydrogenated oil and high amounts of sugar in the bars.  Fage yogurt has ZERO grams of added sugar, and the 7grams of sugar that it contains, is natural lactose sugar.
Yogurt is great as breakfast, a snack, a post-work out snack, and in cooking, as it can replace sour cream/creams.  Fage can be a little thick for first time greek yogurt-ers, but some of my other favorites are Chobani and Oikos!


Zucchini Walnut and Pineapple Muffins

 I was so excited for one of my friends to come over and bake with me.  She makes the most amazing cookies… you think you have had the most perfect cookie, until you have eaten a crazy Aunt Jamie cookie (and you will probably eat five more).  You will know what I’m talking about when she opens her own bakery one day 🙂 
Anyways, I was excited for her to impart her knowledge on me while we bake!  We took my mom’s incredible zucchini bread recipe and went to work.  I wanted to make them a little healthier and she helped me adjust the recipe in order to keep the moisture, texture and flavors.   After they came out they were delicious and you couldn’t really tell the difference!
Zucchini Bread/Muffins
Makes about 24 muffins, and many, many mini muffins!
Ingredients
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Egg whites
  • 1c. Sugar
  • 2 Tb. Brown sugar
  • 1/4c. Maple syrup
  • 1/4c. Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c Applesauce
  • 1c. Whole Wheat flour
  • 1 c. Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1tsp Baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1- 8 1/4 oz crushed pineapple drained (we used a little more)
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 c. Shredded zucchini
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts
Directions:
  1. Mix all the wet ingredients in a bowl (Eggs, egg whites, oil, syrup, applesauce, vanilla, pineapple)
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients (sugars, flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon)
  3. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until no more powdery spots appear.
  4. Add zucchini and walnuts
  5. Pour into muffin tins or bread tins and bake at 350.  (One hour for breads and 20-25 min for muffins)

I add nuts to everything!


Nuts for Nuts

           Nuts are one of my favorite, favorite foods.  Many people are turned off because of the caloric content, but they are rich in protein, antioxidants, vitamins and other beneficial minerals for your body.  Their roasted, crunchy, delicious taste makes for a good snack or an addition to any baked good or entree.
           Their high-caloric content comes from the monounsaturated fats in the nuts… the healthy fat!  These help to lower LDL cholesterol, the ‘bad cholesterol’, and increase HDL cholesterol, the ‘good cholesterol’.  I remember HDL as the good type by thinking the H in HDL equals healthy.   Nuts are a great source of omega-3 essential fatty acids which by nature, are anti-inflammatories.  This helps to lower the risk of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, strokes and cancer. 

Besides healthy fats, vitamins and minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, fluoride and selenium are provided in nuts:

  • Manganese helps keep bones strong and healthy, synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol, maintain normal blood sugar levels, and promote optimal function of your thyroid gland.
  • Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. 
  • Copper is required for the production of red blood cells.  
  • Iron is required for red blood cell formation.   
  • Fluoride helps protects bones and those pearly whites

In general, nuts provide many health benefits, but each nut has its own unique characteristics and benefits. Go nuts on them!

Almonds
One ounce, 28g-167 calories, 15g fat, 3g fiber, 6g protein

  • Almonds have the most about of calcium of all the nuts, providing 9% of your RDI in one ounce.
  • They also have the most amount of magnesium (27% RDI) of all the nuts and combined with their calcium and fiber contents, are a huge fighter against cancer.
  • They also have one of the the highest fiber contents of the nuts.
  • The BEST almonds (and I won’t buy any other types) are the ‘Dry Roasted Unsalted Almonds’ from Trader Joe’s

Cashew
One ounce, 28g- 161 calories, 13g fat, 1g fiber, 4g protein

  • The cashew tree is native to Brazil’s Amazon rainforest and it was the Portuguese explorers that spread it around the world. 
  • Cashew nuts have a lower fat content and a higher protein and carbohydrate content than other types of nuts.
  • Cashews actually contain more iron per gram than lean steak!  One ounce has 9% of RDA

Brazil Nut
One ounce, 28g- 190 calories, 19g fat, 2g fiber, 4g protein

  • Brazil nuts come from the Brazil Nut tree which is in the forests of Brazil, Bolivia and Peru.  The tree is actually one of the tallest trees in the tropical forests!
  • These are typically the biggest nuts and are one of the highest caloric nuts.
  • They contain high levels of selenium. Just 100 grams of them provides 3485% of RDI. Selenium is an important factor for anti-oxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, which is the most powerful antioxidant. 
  • The nuts are also very good source of vitamin E; just 100 grams provides about 52% of RDI. Vitamin E is required for cell membranes and your skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals.

Macadamia Nuts
One ounce, 28g- 201 calories, 21g fat, 2g fiber, 2g protein

  • This delicious nut (which I always associate with Hawaii) is actually native to Australia! 
  • Of all the different types of nuts, macadamias are the fattiest… but they are good fats 😉
  • Macadamia nut oil is superior to cook with because of its lower level of polyunsaturated fat.

Peanuts
One ounce, 28g- 166 calories, 14g fat, 3g fiber, 5g protein

  • Although it carries many nut-like features, the peanut is actually not a nut, but is a legume.
  • Peanuts have a high concentration of a certain antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
  • Resveratrol, another antioxidant, has been shown to reduce stroke risk, and also has a protective function against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Pecans
One ounce, 28g- 199 calories, 21g fat, 3g fiber, 3g protein

  • Pecans are a part of the hickory family, and are native to the southern and central parts of the United States
  • Pecans are another nut high in vitamin E.  Vitamin E is required for cell membranes and your skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals. 
  • Pecans have a buttery consistency, but are sweet in taste… making them excellent additions to those dessert creations.  Stay tuned for my chocolate pecan pie recipe!


Pistachios
One ounce, 28g-160 calories, 13g fat, 3g fiber, 6g protein

  • These nuts are a great source of minerals like copper (19%) and iron (7% RDA)
  • Copper is an essential mineral that is required in neuro-transmission, metabolism, as well as red blood cell synthesis.
  • I hate stressing calories, but as their commercial states, they really are the lowest calorie nut!  But keep in mind that all nuts have healthy fats and calories that are very beneficial.

Walnuts
One ounce, 28g- 173 calories, 17g fat, 2g fiber, 7g protein

  • Of all the different types of nuts, walnuts are unusual as they contain polyunsaturated fatty acids of both the omega-3 and omega-6 families, as well as monounsaturated fats, but no cholesterol.
  • Walnuts are the main “non-fish” source of, which gets transformed into omega-3 fatty acids in our bodies. alpha-linolenic acid
  • Walnuts are packed with antioxidants! These compounds interact with free radicals to stabilize them and prevent them from doing damage to cells. They have almost twice as many antioxidant polyphenols as almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias and pecans!