Growing up in Indiana, I always looked forward to summer.
What kid doesn’t, right? Summer meant no school and that meant lots of warm days and nights filled with fun. I remember playing so hard that when my head hit the pillow, I almost instantaneously fell asleep. Those thoughts and memories make me smile, because I love remembering how easy and wonderful life was then. Summer to me also meant sweet, delicious fruit. And I loved it all, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, peaches, strawberries and WATERMELON!
Who starts a blog post like that? Oh, I do! Why? Because I’m feeling a little bit like a slacker dietitian, because…well…because I’ve NEVER made overnight oats. Nope, never have. I know, crazy, right? Overnight oats are everywhere and everyone claims they’re awesome. They always look tasty, but I’ve never tried them. When I heard that this month’s Recipe Redux theme was to try a fellow Redux-er’s recipe, I knew I had to try Amber’s Blueberry-Walnut Overnight Oats as my overnight oats “guinea pig.”
There’s something so incredibly delicious about Mexican hot chocolate. If you’ve never had it, you must try it. At first all you taste is delicious, creamy chocolate and then, something special happens – a kick of heat. Oh yeah. It’s unexpectedly tasty and leaves you wanting another sip. That hot chocolate is great, but when it’s summer, I’m not in the mood for hot beverages. How else, then, could I celebrate those flavors? Well, through yogurt, of course – with this Mexican Hot Chocolate Yogurt with Berries.
That’s right, you read that correctly, I said “Fertility Friday + Smoothies!” A random pairing? Of course not, I do everything with intention…ok, well almost everything.
Today for Fertility Friday I would like to focus on the amazing nutritional power of smoothies. Yes, I know that people are crazy about smoothies these days. They make their own, they buy the fancy one that costs 10 dollars and they insist on having them every morning for their “bowl” breakfast. But this is one trend where you can believe the hype…at least to a certain extent.
Avocados are great and if you know me, you know I live for guacamole. But sometimes, I could be a little more creative when it comes to what I do with them. Feeling inspired by the upcoming grilling season, I stepped out of my guacamole comfort zone and tried the latest avocado trend, grilled avocado.
And let me tell you this, grilled avocado is awesome. Really, believe the hype. I simply adore the slightly smoky flavor of them and they’re delicious so many ways. Besides being tasty, they still supply that same powerful nutritional punch. All of those satisfying healthy fats can help with everything from cardiovascular health to keeping your skin looking radiant. Time to get to the grocery store and fill your cart with avocados.
5 Ways to Enjoy Grilled Avocado:
Plain, straight up and out of the skin!
Chopped up and thrown into salads.
Sliced and served on top of scrambled eggs.
Mashed and turned into guacamole (of course!).
Turned into a salsa and used as a topping for grilled fish or shrimp.
Want more ideas? Of course you do! Check out my Shape.com article on how to make grilled avocado, recipes included!
Fertility Friday + Recipe for Maple Cinnamon Almonds
Do you remember back in the ’80’s and ’90’s when all fat was considered “bad?”
Looking back on that time, it was almost comical the degree to which we feared fat. Companies worked so hard removing it from their products and people went crazy buying fat-free everything. I remember noshing on a box of fat-free cookies thinking, “wow, no fat, but they sure taste good, I’m so glad they’re good for me!”
Fat is Back?
Oh dear! Luckily research has improved and we are no longer shunning fat. In fact, now we know that fat is vital to our existence. Fats provide energy, help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and can keep our hearts healthy. We just have to be smart about the type of fats we’re choosing and how much of them we’re eating.
But I Can’t Eat as Much as I Want?
While all fats fit, it’s important to keep moderation in mind. Saturated and trans fats are the types of fats we should limit. Research is always on-going on this, and recently saturated fast have been in the news about not being as “bad” as we once thought. My advice? Stick with moderation. Go for the whole milk, but keep your serving to one cup. Enjoy that birthday cake, but choose the small slice instead of the massive monster piece. See where I’m going with this? Don’t over-indulge. It’s never wise to eat too much of one thing, right?
Instead, focus on getting more healthy fats into your diet. We call those unsaturated (specifically monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats. These unsaturated fats can also help support fertility by helping control blood sugar and tamper inflammation. Where do you find them? Great question!
Where to Find The Fantastic Fat:
Sources of polyunsaturated fats: fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines; flax seed and flax seed oil, walnuts and edamame
Sources of monounsaturated fats: nuts (like in these Maple Cinnamon Almonds!) and seeds, avocado, canola and olive oil
Putting it Together
It’s easy! Eat fat, but make smart choices. Stick with moderation and balance your intake with other foods. Eating this way just makes sense! Feeling inspired? Get into your kitchen and make these yummy Maple Cinnamon Almonds so that you can enjoy some of those nutritious healthy fats!
Super easy snack made with almonds, maple syrup and ground cinnamon.
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups almonds
Preheat the oven to 300’F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place the salt, maple syrup, water and cinnamon in a medium pot and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir to combine. Pour in almonds and stir until almonds are well coated. Spread out on prepared sheet pan and bake 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way through cooking time.
It’s a fun word. Say it. Seriously, say it out loud. Super fun, right?
Fun and popular, cacao sure is sitting pretty these days. It’s trendy and it’s hip…even though it’s really nothing new.
Nope, cacao has been around for awhile. Never heard of it? Sure you have, it’s also known as cocoa, the more modern-ish term we typically use here in America. Cacao (and cocoa) refers to the dried beans from the cocoa tree. Generally, cacao is synonymous with the unroasted or raw version of the cocao bean, with cocoa being the roasted and sometimes more processed cacao bean. Cacao can be turned into everything from “nibs”( essentially broken pieces of cacao beans) to powder.
If cacao isn’t new, then why this surge in popularity? Well my guess it’s because people are looking for all kinds of ways to add a nutritious boost to their smoothie bowls, oatmeal, shakes and everything in between. Cacao is a good choice then as it’s got a pretty nice nutrition profile, containing several antioxidants and minerals like magnesium and iron. But like anything, enjoy in moderation.
Looking to try cacao beans? Then try my recipe below for Cacao Pretzel Snacks. They are super easy to make and provide a nice introduction to cacao.
And a big thank you to the Recipe Redux! This recipe was inspired by this month’s theme of building a recipe using an ingredient I’ve never used before.
Here’s the deal, I am not super fancy. Nope, in fact, far from it. I despise dressing up and wearing makeup, but adore having a fresh face and wearing my workout/yoga gear all day. Yes, I am one of those women. In essence, I like being comfortable because when I’m comfortable, I feel like myself. Lucky for me I have a husband who also appreciates my casual approach to life! 🙂 Why do I bother telling you this? Well, because unlike my personal style/lifestyle, I actually like for my food to have flair with a hint of fancy.
Here’s the deal, my family loves granola bars. I’m sure you can relate. I mean, is there really a more perfect snack? Well, of course there is, but this one is just so handy, which makes it the “perfect” snack in my eyes. Here’s the problem though, crappy granola bars are everywhere! Even worse, really good granola bars are expensive! Ugh!
What’s a mom, wife, daughter, friend to do? Why, make my own and share the recipe with YOU, my faithful followers! 🙂
Yes, I want you to have the option of making your own bars because you know, just as much as I do, that granola bars rock. So take that money you were going to spend on the crappy or expensive bars and use it to buy the ingredients to make these perfect little Cranberry Pumpkin Granola Bars.
Need more reasons to love these? Thought so!
They freeze well. Yes they do! So make a double batch and keep some in the freezer so you’re never without. Just cut them before freezing them, then stuff them into a re-sealable freezer bag. Give them a little room and lay them flat in the freezer. Once partially frozen, you can rearrange them and they won’t stick.
They taste good and your kids will eat them. This means no more fights about other junk they want to eat. They will like them and beg you for more. Which, in my world, is sooo much nicer than hearing them beg for pink cupcakes!
Your kids (or hey, even someone else’s) can help you make these! Woo hoo! Who doesn’t need an extra set of hands in the kitchen? And listen, getting kids into the kitchen is one of the best things we can do as parents or care givers!
They make great gifts. Oh indeed and what about hostess gifts? Yes, that too! I mean, wouldn’t you want these wrapped up and given to you? I’ll take them over a candle any day!
Enjoy, my friends!
And here are the pretty pictures:
Check out how I made these beautiful Cranberry Pumpkin Granola Bars!
A Fall spin on the classic granola bar. This one is also gluten and nut free!
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup prunes, very finely chopped (or pulsed find in a food processor)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, very finely chopped (or pulsed find in a food processor)
Preheat the oven to 300’F. Line a 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper. (Using two overlapping strips works well here for removing the bars from the pan after baking.)
In a large bowl, combine the oats and pumpkin seeds.
Heat a small pot or pan over medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, stir in the pumpkin pie spice and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the pumpkin puree and cook 1 more minute. Stir in the maple syrup, salt, prunes and cranberries. Remove from heat and pour over the oat mixture.
Pour the oat mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly across the bottom. Using a piece of foil, wax paper or parchment paper, cover the granola bars and push down evenly on the top to compress the mixture. The firmer the bar, the better it will hold together after it’s cooked. Remove foil, wax paper or parchment and place in the oven.
Cook bars for 15 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and set on a rack to cool. Once cooled, transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill at least 2 hours. Using the parchment paper, remove the bars from the pan and cut into individual bars. (Why chill them? This helps them firm up, which makes cutting them easier!)
Cut bars can be kept in the refrigerator about 5 days and up to 2 months in the freezer.
To keep this one GF, just be sure to use gluten-free oats.
Why I made this recipe: Because I am smitten with smoothies and equally smitten with matcha tea. So why not combine the two? Oh, and because I was hungry and I had these things in my house. Just being honest.
Why I love this recipe: This mango matcha smoothie is one of those recipes that’s super simple to make, yet the ingredients make it feel sophisticated. Love it for that and also because it tastes great.
How this recipe is healthy: Lots of reasons. First, portion size. It’s just one cup, which in my world, is the perfect size for a smoothie. Because let’s face it, take-out smoothies end up more like colossal milk shakes rather than nutritious, cups of joy. Second, it’s got matcha tea powder in it, a really interesting type of tea made out of whole tea leaves, which means you get loads of antioxidants, including those that may help prevent certain diseases like heart disease. Nothing wrong with that, right? Also, I like it because it’s not super sweet. This isn’t dessert, it’s a snack or a nice supplement to breakfast or lunch. Enjoy it as is or use it as the base for an amazing smoothie bowl. Yum!