Coconut Chip Banana Bread

When it comes to making gluten-free and lower carb breads, coconut flour is a great go-to; it has a delicious flavor and still gives the bread a somewhat 'bread-like' texture. This bread adds in coconut oil for moisture - the result: a soft and delicious gluten-free banana bread. 

 

Coconut Chip Banana Bread

Serves 16

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut flour
1 cup gluten-free oats
3 large bananas, mashed
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or pure vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a bread pan with butter or parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, oats, mashed bananas, baking powder, salt, and coconut sugar. Stir to combine. 

Then stir in the eggs, milk, vanilla, and coconut oil. Stir to combine again, the mixture will be thick. Then stir the chocolate chips into the mixture.

Bake for 60 minutes or until the bread is golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 190 calories, 9 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 180 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 10 grams sugar, 4 grams protein

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Caffeine, Children, and CAUTION

Photo by Bliznetsov/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Bliznetsov/iStock / Getty Images

As a mom and dietitian, it is scary to me the amount of energy drinks and caffeine that young children are consuming! Caffeine is a stimulant and it is finding it's way into a lot of products and drinks, way beyond the traditional coffee or tea - from gums, chews, and energy drinks.

While children and teens may be intrigued by these products, they do not have a place in their routine, even for teen athletes. Additionally beyond the caffeine the other additives like: guarana (a plant-based stimulant) and taurine (an amino acid) are equally if not more concerning to me as they are not tested on children.

On a given day in the US research shows, about 73% of children and adolescents (ages 2 - 22) consume caffeine (Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014).  What was alarming to me is that caffeine intake was prevalent among all age groups in the study (Age ranges: 2 - 5, 6 - 11, 12 - 16, 17 - 18, and 19 - 22); while the intake amounts varied ranging from a low in the 2 - 5 year old age group of mean average intake of 15.9 mg of caffeine up to a high of 122.5 mg of caffeine per day in the oldest age group. Side effects from caffeine can range from insomnia to irritability to more serious health issues like irregular heart beats, blood pressure changes, and even death

If your child or teenager is interested in drinking energy drinks or other caffeinated products, remind them that taking products with caffeine can hurt them and are never a replacement for hard work or a good nights sleep. Two things we adults should remind ourselves of as well! 

Caffeine is not recommended for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents, age 12 to 18, should not consume more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day. Additionally, adults are recommended to limit caffeine intake to 400 mg or less per day. Although, keep in mind, some people are very sensitive to caffeine or may not be able to have any due to underlying medical conditions.

A big watch out is how much caffeine is in products, as it can vary greatly from the low of 5 - 30 mg of caffeine in a decaf coffee to 300 - 400 mg in a large coffee or 160 - 300+ in an energy drink. Check out this chart by the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on the caffeine content in popular drinks and products. 

When your teen is asking for energy drinks, try these energy boosting ideas instead:

- Have then sip water throughout the day to maintain optimal hydration levels

- Snack on filling and energy boosting snacks like: fresh fruit & yogurt, banana and almond or peanut butter, whole grain crackers with sliced cheese & fruit, or baby carrots and dip

- Get plenty of sleep!

- For athletes: focus on working hard and training hard

And again, remind them that taking products with caffeine can hurt them and are never a replacement for hard work or a good nights sleep.

References: 

Caffeine Sources for Teens more Varied Than before, via AAP.org, Accessed May 18, 2017

Branum, et al. Trends in Caffeine Intake Among US Children and Adolescents, Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014

Teen Dies from Too Much Caffeine, CNN, Accessed May 18, 2017

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Oh Yum! Bean & Veggie Dip

Bean & Veggie Dip

Bean & Veggie Dip

This dip is simple to put together and it is perfect in SO many ways! I love it as a dip with tortilla chips, it tastes great with chicken or fish as a topping, or even just as a side dish by itself. 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (11 ounce) can super sweet corn, drained
1 sweet onion, diced
1 diced green bell pepper
1 diced red bell pepper

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Note: for best results, refrigerate overnight before serving! 

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 170 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 200 milligrams sodium, 26 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 9 grams sugar, 6 grams protein

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Panzanella Salad

I absolutely love, love, love panzanella salad! Classically panzanella is a salad of bread and tomatoes although, I like to switch it up and use a base of all different vegetables, like pictured here: cucumbers, red bell peppers, sweet onions. This recipe goes great with Italian meals or even as a stand alone salad. You can serve it topped with grilled marinated chicken or tofu too!

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Panzanella Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1/2 sweet onion

5 mini cucumbers

1 red bell pepper

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon honey mustard

1 tablespoon agave nectar

sea salt and black pepper

4 slices of bread or rolls, cut into bite-size cubes

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, cut into thin slices

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Prepare vegetables by chopping into bite-size pieces and place on baking sheet.

3. Whisk together in a small bowl: vinegar, olive oil, mayonnaise, honey mustard, and agave nectar. Then season with sea salt and black pepper.

4. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and drizzle the rest of the dressing over the chopped vegetables. Roast the vegetables for 20 - 25 minutes or until they are tender.

5. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the reserved vinaigrette and then add the cubed bread. Stir throughout cooking and continue to cook until the bread cubes are lightly browned. Then remove from the heat and toss with the Parmesan cheese.

6. After the vegetables are done add the prepared croutons and top with the Parmesan cheese slices. 

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Tart Cherry Buttermilk Scones

A perfect treat for St. Patrick's day! These scones are so delicious and the dried tart cherries add a balance of sweetness and tartness. Plus the scones are made with whole grains, the base is made with a blend of whole wheat pastry flour and oats. 

Tart Cherry Buttermilk Scones

Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup oats

6 tablespoons sugar

1 stick of butter

1 cup dried tart cherries

1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

2. In a mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients.

3. Then in a food processor add the dry ingredients and the butter. Pulse until the mixture is combined and the butter is all mixed in.

4. Transfer back to the mixing bowl and stir in the buttermilk and cherries.

5. On a floured surface, place the scone mixture and knead (use more flour if needed to keep dough from sticking) to form into a large round circle about 1 - 1.5" thick. Then cut into 8 triangle slices. 

6. Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or butter. Then transfer the triangles to the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. 

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Spring Soba Pad Thai

Looking for a delicious dish that is perfect for spring? This Spring Soba Pad Thai is tasty and quick to put together. The base of the dish is whole grain buckwheat soba noodles and of course, plenty of asparagus!

Spring Soba Pad Thai

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 pkg (9.6 ounces) soba noodles

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoon brown sugar

6 tablespoons rice vinegar

6 tablespoons lite soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup hot water

½ cup scallions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

4 cups of asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons lime juice

½ cup chopped peanuts

 

 

Directions:

Prepare soba noodles per the package.

To make the sauce whisk together the peanut butter, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Then once combined, slowly whisk in the hot water. Set the sauce mixture aside.

In a wok heat the canola oil and add the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the eggs and stir to scramble, about 2 minutes or until soft cooked. Then add the asparagus and peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the drained noodles and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the lime juice. When serving garnish with the chopped peanuts and serve.

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Wild Blueberry Chia Jam

I had been seeing a lot of posts about making chia jam and I had to give it a try.  I am so glad that I did! Chia jam is really easy to make and a delicious lower sugar way to enjoy jam. I picked frozen Wild blueberries although you could use a mix of all different types of berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.). 

A tablespoon of jam typically has three times as much sugar as this jam (about 12 grams), each tablespoon of this jam has only 4 grams of sugar. Plus you get some fiber from the chia seeds!

Wild Blueberry Chia Jam

Ingredients:

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup water

5 cups frozen Wild blueberries

1/3 cup honey

Directions:

1. In a small bowl mix the chia seeds and water. Set aside.

2. In a medium sauce pan combine the frozen Wild blueberries and honey. Heat the berries and honey until the berries are thawed and softened, let the mixture come to a gentle boil. Then lightly mash the berries with a fork or a potato masher.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the soaked chia seeds. Let the mixture cools and then transfer the mixture or a storage jar or container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to thicken.  

Nutrition facts per tablespoon: 20 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 5 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams sugar, 0 grams protein

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Peanut Caramel & Dark Chocolate Bites

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These peanut caramel & dark chocolate bites are absolutely delicious and a tasty treat. Plus they are simple to put together!

First make this simple caramel sauce made from palm sugar (recipe below), coconut palm sugar has a lower glycemic index compared to table sugar (sucrose).

First make this simple caramel sauce made from palm sugar (recipe below), coconut palm sugar has a lower glycemic index compared to table sugar (sucrose).

Then combine the Medjool dates, peanuts, and caramel sauce in the food processor or high-powered blender.

Then combine the Medjool dates, peanuts, and caramel sauce in the food processor or high-powered blender.

Roll into 1" bites and then dip in melted dark chocolate or skip the chocolate (although they taste really delicious with a thin chocolate coating!). Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 1 - 2 hours or until the chocolate is hardened. Then transfer to a air tight container and keep frozen or refrigerated. Although, personally I think that they taste amazing when frozen!

Roll into 1" bites and then dip in melted dark chocolate or skip the chocolate (although they taste really delicious with a thin chocolate coating!). Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 1 - 2 hours or until the chocolate is hardened. Then transfer to a air tight container and keep frozen or refrigerated. Although, personally I think that they taste amazing when frozen!

Peanut Caramel & Dark Chocolate Bites

Yield 24 bites (about 1 oz each)

Ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar

1 tablespoon corn starch

2/3 cup milk

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 container of Medjool dates, pitted (12 oz)

1 cup dry roasted peanuts, unsalted

1 dark chocolate bar (3 oz), melted

Directions:

1. Prepare caramel sauce: In a small sauce pan combine palm sugar, corn starch, milk, and vanilla extract. Stir well to combine. Bring the mixture to a light boil over medium heat, stirring throughout. Continue to cook for 1 - 3 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat. 

2. In a food processor or high-powered blender combine the Medjool dates, peanuts, and caramel sauce. Pulse to combine the mixture, until the peanuts are chopped and the mixture is sticky. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 - 60 minutes to help it firm up. 

3. Roll the mixture into 1" bites and then dip in the melted chocolate. Place on a baking sheet that has been prepared with parchment paper. Then freeze for 1 - 2 hours to let the chocolate harden and transfer to a air-tight container and freeze or refrigerate. 

Nutrition facts per bite (34 g): 110 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 15 grams sugar, 2 grams protein

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Wild Blueberries & Mango Half and Half Smoothie

Wild Blueberries & Mango Half and Half Smoothie

Wild Blueberries & Mango Half and Half Smoothie

This delicious smoothie is full of flavor and antioxidants! Adding Wild Blueberries gives this smoothie a more intense blueberry flavor, compared to 'regular' cultivated blueberries. Plus Wild Blueberries have twice the antioxidant capacity compared to cultivated blueberries. Research is linking the potential health benefits of Wild Blueberries to gut health, diabetes, cancer, and brain health. 

Look for frozen Wild Blueberries, in the freezer section of the grocery store! 

Look for frozen Wild Blueberries, in the freezer section of the grocery store! 

Wild Blueberries grow naturally in Maine and Eastern Canada, it is estimated that Wild Blueberry plants have been there for 10,000 years. The plants are interlocking. spread across fields called barrens and are genetically diverse. It is the plants diversity that gives the Wild Blueberries the perfect balance of tart and sweetness. About 99% of the Wild Blueberry crop is individually quick frozen (IQF) at the time of harvest.

Look for Wild Blueberries in the freezer section of your grocery store and make sure the package says "Wild" on it (example pictured right), to ensure you are getting the amazing tasting and antioxidant power of Wild Blueberries. For more information on Wild Blueberries visit: http://www.wildblueberries.com/


Wild Blueberries & Mango Half and Half Smoothie

Serves 4 (7 oz)

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen Wild Blueberries, plus 12 blueberries for garnish

1/2 cup grape juice

6 oz vanilla yogurt (Greek or Icelandic suggested)

1 cup frozen mango cubes

1 cup water

Directions:

In a blender, add the frozen mango cubes and water. Blend until icy and smooth. Add a layer of the pureed mango mixture to each of the glasses. Rinse the blender. 

Next in the blender, combine the frozen Wild Blueberries with the grape juice and yogurt. Blend until smooth and creamy. Top each of the four glasses with a layer of the Wild Blueberry smoothie mixture.

Top each glass with (at least) 3 Wild Blueberries and serve immediately. 

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Beat the Winter Blues - Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

If you are looking to beat the winter blues a delicious smoothie bowl can certainly do the trick! Plus it can give you a boost of nutrients to help give your immune system a boost.

This Blueberry Smoothie Bowl delivers fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and some protein! It would be a great breakfast to start your day or even could be a refreshing lunch.  The recipe is listed below! 

Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen blueberries (reserve some for the top!)

1/2 cup frozen mango

6 oz plain yogurt

1/2 cup almond milk or juice

1 teaspoon chia seeds

2 teaspoons granola

5 - 6 pecans

Directions:

In a blender combine the frozen berries, mango, yogurt, and milk or juice. Blend until icy and smooth. Then transfer the smoothie mixture to a bowl. 

Line the top of the smoothie bowl with the chia seeds, granola, pecans, and the reserved frozen blueberries. 

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