Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Recipe Redux Post # 33 Peanut Butter Pretzel White Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

April’s Recipe ReDux is Spring Cleaning! Our instructions were to “go through your pantry, cupboards, freezer, or fridge; what ‘treasures’ have you found? Pick an ingredient/spice/condiment that’s been hanging out for a while and give it the attention it needs. Share a healthy recipe made using your new-found pantry prize”.  Well... perfect timing,  I thought when I read this earlier in the month because my overstocked, haphazard pantry was long overdue for some cleaning and reorganizing and this challenge was just the swift kick I needed to dive in and get to work. So that’s just what I did.  I pulled everything off the shelves, cleaned and scrubbed the cupboards and then replaced everything with a better, more user friendly approach in mind, checking expiration dates as I re-stocked.  I was sad to see that there were quite a few things past their prime that had to say "goodbye pantry, hello garbage" but luckily the majority of things made it back.  One of the things that barely survived was a bag of glutino gluten-free pretzels that I must have shoved in the back months ago and forgotten about.  It was a few months from expiration and I decided this was just the thing to work with for my ReDux recipe. There was also a bag of white chocolate chips that I found and wanted to use because these lighter morsels have taken a back seat in my recipes lately since dark chocolate has been my chip of choice in most of my sweet treats recently.  White chocolate and pretzels go together like….. (pretty much anything!) and because I am a protein bar afficiando this seemed like an open invitation to pair them and go for it.  I used peanut butter as a base and the three flavors together were divine! I sincerely thank Recipe ReDux for giving me the incentive to spruce up my pantry and come up with this yummy recipe while I was at it.  I  hope you will try and also check out all the other delicious "Spring Cleaning" creations from the talented Recipe ReDux folks.


½ cup creamy or crunchy natural peanut butter (I used PB and Co)
¼ cup pure maple syrup 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 cup oats (old fashioned, not quick, use a gluten-free oats such as Bob's Red Mill if you are on a gluten-free diet)
1.5 scoops of protein powder, preferably unflavored (the average scoop is about 4 tablespoons or ¼ cup, 25-30 Grams, so 1.5 scoops would be approx 6 tablespoons) *
¼ cup of crushed pretzels (use a gluten- free brand such as Glutino if you are on a gluten-free diet)
4 tablespoons white chocolate chips
a dash or two of salt (optional, especially if using unsalted PB)
Wax or parchment paper


In a medium sized bowl, combine the maple syrup, vanilla, salt and peanut butter and mix well.  Stir in the oats, protein powder, pretzel bits and white chocolate chips and mix some more. Press mixture into an 8 by 8 inch pan. (Lining the pan with a large rectangular piece of parchment paper, placing the mixture on one side and then folding the paper over to press down works nicely since the dough is so sticky.)  Chill in the fridge for an hour or more (if you can wait that long!) and cut into 8 bars and serve. Wrapping the individual bars in wax paper and storing in baggies is great for convenience.  Store in the fridge.  These bars also freeze well!

Makes 8 bars

Serving size: 1/8th of recipe  Calories 200  Protein  10 g Carb 17 g Fiber 2 g Sugars 9 g Fat 10 g Saturated fat  2 g Sodium  125 mg


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Gabby's Eats: Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

Gabby loves apples.  She has been keen on the fruit ever since she was a baby, having countless sessions of gobbling down applesauce happily in her high chair. On the occasional grocery store trip that I take her with me (note that I usually shop solo while she is at school) Gabby will gravitate towards the fruit section and really enjoys picking out different varieties of apples to eat at home. She recently lost her first tooth after biting into an apple so they will forever have an important place in her food and life history! 

I was not surprised that apple was her flavor of choice when we decided to make pancake batter together one night to have ready for the morning.  We went with mommy’s usual base recipe that has worked so well over the years and then added small chunks of fresh apple to the batter, partnering them nicely with some cinnamon.  I peeled the apples and Gabby enjoyed chopping them with her age appropriate knife.  She enjoyed mixing up all the ingredients for the batter as well. 

The outcome the next morning was home run delicious! These almost taste like apple pie but in pancake form. This apple pancake has earned a top spot in our collection of home made pancake recipes and I have Gabby to thank for it!


1 cup oat flour (if you are on a gluten free diet use a brand such as Bob’s Red Mill or you can make your own to by grinding gluten free oats in food processor)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ cup egg whites
1 cup nonfat milk (we used unsweetened almond milk)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup peeled chopped apples


In a small bowl combine the baking powder, flour, cinnamon and brown sugar together. To a larger bowl add the egg whites and milk and whisk together. Then slowly whisk in the flour mixture until a smooth, thin batter is formed. Stir in the apples. Let stand for a 20-30 minutes (or overnight in sealed container) in the fridge to thicken. Add ¼ cup (for 1 pancake) to a non stick skillet, or one coated with cooking spray and heat on high for 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned on each side. Repeat with ¼ cup mixture 7 more times for a total of six small pancakes.  (Note: if you make this ahead of time and keep in the fridge it will thicken up quite a bit, so you can whisk in a little milk before cooking to thin out if desired.)
Makes 7 pancakes, six servings

Serving size: 1 pancake Calories 80 Protein 2 g Carb 14 g  Fiber 2 g Sugars 4 g Fat 1.5  g Saturated fat 0  g Sodium 140  mg

Gabby's Shot:


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Honey Roasted Baby Carrots

A simple but delicious side dish that’s very easy to make!
1 pound baby carrots
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
cooking spray
(salt and pepper to taste)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add the carrots to a medium bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and olive oil. Pour the olive oil/honey mixture over the carrots and mix well to coat. Spread the carrots on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and roast for 15 minutes. Turn and toss the carrots and heat for another 5-7 minutes until lightly browned. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired
Makes 3 cups, six servings

Serving size: ½ cup  Calories 70  Protein g 1 Carb  11 g  Fiber 2 g Sugars 7 g Fat 2.5 g Saturated fat  0 g Sodium 40  mg (not including any added salt)


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Delicious Salad Recipe and Some Interesting Tidbits From the Cranberry Institute

I am excited to share this new and yummy salad recipe forwarded to me by the Cranberry Institute.  Check it out along with some other cool info about cranberries they provided too!!
A Fresh Salad for the Start of Spring!

Try a delicious and simple Cranberry & Cilantro Quinoa Salad (recipe below) for meatless Monday this week.
Yield: 8 servings

2 cups water
Pinch of salt
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup minced carrots
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
½ cup chopped yellow bell pepper
3 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
3 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
¼ tsp. salt
Pinch ground red pepper

1.       In a small sauce pan, bring water and pinch of salt to a boil over high heat; stir in quinoa, reduce heat and bring to a low simmer. Cover pot and cook until all liquid is absorbed (about 13 minutes).
2.       Remove from heat and transfer to a medium bowl. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
3.       To the bowl of quinoa, stir in cranberries, carrots, red and yellow peppers, red onion and cilantro until mixed.
4.       In a small bowl, mix together lime juice, oil, salt and ground red pepper and pour over quinoa-cranberry mixture; toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Does not have to be served cold.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories 150, Calories from Fat 30, Saturated Fat 0g, Trans Fat 0g, Total Fat 3.5g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 115mg, Total Carbohydrate 29g, Sugars 11g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Protein 3g, Vitamin A 40%, Vitamin C 45%, Calcium 2%, Iron 6%

Recipe courtesy of the Cranberry Marketing Committee, uscranberries.com

Cranberries Go Global 
Swap out a few basic ingredients in the above Cranberry & Cilantro Quinoa Salad recipe and see how cranberries can fit into any international cuisine.
·         Asian: Swap out red onion, cilantro and lime juice, for scallions, ginger and soy sauce.
·         Greek: Swap out carrots, cilantro and lime juice for tomatoes, olives and chickpeas. Make it even better—add feta! 
·         Indian: Swap out carrots, peppers, cilantro and lime juice, for winter squash, sweet potatoes, pecans and curry paste. Add an extra kick with cayenne pepper!
·         American: Swap out peppers, cilantro and lime juice, for celery, turkey breast and thyme. Who knows? Quinoa could become your new favorite Thanksgiving leftovers recipe.

Tasty Tidbits about the Tiny, Tart Cranberry

·         Cranberries may help reduce the risk of stomach ulcers by reducing H. pylori levels in infected subjects.
·         The unusual PACs found in cranberries have an A-type linkage structure that sets them apart from most other vegetable and fruit PACs, and is responsible for their bacterial anti-adhesion properties.
·         Not only do cranberries have PACs, but dried cranberries are also a good source of fiber – 10% of the Daily Value – with 2.3 grams per serving (40 gram serving).

Science Bites: News from Cranberry Scientists 

Drinking Cranberry Juice Cocktail is Associated with Less Inflammation and Normal Weights!
Cranberry products, such as cranberry juice cocktail, are rich in polyphenolic compounds (i.e., flavonoids) and have been studied for their link to health benefits. Cranberries are naturally low in sugar and high in acid content; therefore, they are frequently sweetened for palatability. The final product, such as with cranberry juice cocktail, is one that contains similar or lower amounts of sugar than commonly consumed 100% juices. Despite the added sweetener, researchers have found that cranberry juice cocktail has several health benefits. Most recently, a cross-sectional study found that U.S. adults who consume cranberry juice cocktail had statistically significant lower levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation, compared to those that did not drink cranberry juice cocktail. Cranberry juice cocktail drinkers also trended toward lower weight and waist circumference, BMI levels, fasting glucose, insulin, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This research indicates that drinking cranberry juice cocktail was associated with healthier anthropometric measures and less indication of inflammation. Although more research is warranted to validate these findings, drinking cranberry juice cocktail was not associated with higher weight, increased likelihood for being overweight or obese or a higher total energy intake compared to non-consumers.

Reference: Duffey, KJ, Sutherland, LA. Adult consumers of cranberry juice cocktail have lower C- reactive protein levels compared with nonconsumers. Nutr Res. 2015 Feb;35(2):118-26. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2014.11.005. Epub 2014 Dec 3.


USDA-Reviewed Cranberry Health Research Review 
The USDA recently reviewed an updated cranberry nutrition and health review published in the Cranberry Health Research Library on CranberryInstitute.org.  

Cranberry Health Research Library 
Browse the selections by year to find the most recent publications: http://cranberryinstitute.org/doclib/doclib_search.cgi

Comprehensive Review of the Health Benefits of Cranberries in Advances in Nutrition Available for Continuing Education Credits through Today’s Dietitian. Ends April 7, so register now! 
o   “Cranberries and Their Bioactive Constituents in Human Health,” published in Advances in Nutrition, provides in-depth information about the bioactive compounds in cranberry and the pathways by which they may help protect against urinary tract infection, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The Cranberry Institute and Today’s Dietitianpartnered to create a continuing education course for registered dietitians with permission from Advances in Nutrition. Registered dietitians will receive four credits after studying the review and completing a multiple-choice exam. 
o   Click here to read for continuing education: http://ce.todaysdietitian.com/CranInst


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Birds Nest Protein Bites

Here's a Spring treat you can feel good about enjoying! Packed with protein and relatively low in sugar, (yet decadently delicious) this makes a great dessert, snack or goodie for Easter baskets or parties.


½ cup creamy or crunchy natural peanut butter or almond butter
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla  
1/2 cup oats (old fashioned, not quick, use a gluten-free oats such as Bob's Red Mill if you are on a gluten-free diet)
1.5 scoops of protein powder, preferably unflavored (the average scoop is about 4 tablespoons or ¼ cup, 25-30 Grams, so 1.5 scoops would be approx 6 tablespoons) *
48 M&Ms or small jelly beans
1/8-1/4 teaspoon sea salt (if starting with unsalted PB/almond butter add the 1/4 teaspoon)
Wax or parchment paper


In a medium sized bowl, combine the maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and peanut/almond butter and mix well.  Stir in the oats, protein powder and mix some more. Press mixture into an 8 by 8 inch pan. (Lining the pan with a large rectangular piece of parchment paper, placing the mixture on one side and then folding the paper over to press down works nicely since the dough is so sticky.) Chill in the fridge for an hour or more (if you can wait that long!) and roll the dough  into 16 balls. Press 3 pieces of M& Ms or jelly beans into the center and serve. Store in the fridge.  These bites also freeze well!

·      I have had great success with Nature’s Best Isopure Perfect Natural Whey Protein Brand- Unflavored, it is all natural, gluten-free, lactose Free and works great

Makes 16 bites, sixteen servings

Serving size: 1/16th of recipe  Calories 100 Protein 5 g Carb 8 g Fiber 1 g Sugars 5 g Fat 5 g Saturated fat 1 g Sodium 65 mg


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Recipe ReDux Post # 32 Meets Gabby's Eats: Mediterranean Lettuce Wraps

I was very excited to partake in March’s Recipe ReDux for two reasons.  First,  the “Two for One” challenge idea was awesome! (We were asked to take one of the recipes already posted on our blog and show how to use the leftovers in an additional original new dish),  And second, my daughter Gabby wanted to help me all along the way :)  It was fitting that she would be my partner in crime for this ReDux since the recipe I wanted to use was one that she and I developed together- her Mediterranean Rice Salad. It was a special creation of ours and we actually made a cooking video about it and entered it in the Uncle Ben’s Beginners cooking contest last fall.  Although it did not win, we still were so happy to have made this great salad together to enjoy for lunch or dinner.  I decided that it would pair well with two other of my previously posted recipes, my Cucumber Salad and Baba Ganoush.  Gabby and I have never made lettuce wraps together before so we thought rolling all three of these recipes into one would be a delicious and unique type of wrap, and it sure was!  The wraps were fresh, flavorful and healthy and our whole family enjoyed them!  If you do not want to make your own baba ganoush, you can buy store bought or even use hummus. We hope you will try our ode to leftovers and also take a look at all the creative Two for One recipes from the talented Recipe ReDux group as well! 


Gabby’s Mediterranean Rice Salad, (for recipe click HERE)
Cucumber Salad  Recipe (for recipe click HERE)
Baba Ganoush (for recipe click HERE, or use store bought)
Romaine or other large green leaf lettuce


Prepare the Rice Salad

Prepare the Cucumber Salad

Prepare the Baba Ganoush or use store bought, which we did this time around!

To make one large lettuce wrap, spoon ¼ cup baba ganoush, ½ cup rice salad and two heaping tablespoons of cucumber salad into the middle of the lettuce, roll up and eat!

To make one smaller lettuce wrap, use 2 tablespoons baba ganoush or hummus, ¼ cup rice salad and 1 heaping tablespoon of cucumber salad.

Eat immediately and Enjoy!

Serving size: 1 large wrap  Calories 280 Protein 10 g Carb 30 g Fiber 9 g Sugars 5 g Fat 12 g Saturated fat 1.5 g Sodium 470 mg

Serving size: 1 small wrap  Calories 140 Protein 5 g Carb 15 g Fiber 4.5 g Sugars 2.5 g Fat 6 g Saturated fat 0.75 g Sodium 235 mg


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bringing Back The Shout Out Posts! This One Goes Out To Karen Page and Her New Book "The Vegetarian Flavor Bible"!

Remember my Shout Out posts, a special section of my blog where I give "props" to others who have done amazing work in the field of food, nutrition, writing etc...?  Well I haven't done one in awhile and the prefect opportunity came up this month, so here it goes.....

I was BEYOND excited to be contacted by Karen PageTwo-time James Beard Award-winning author of THE FLAVOR BIBLE, WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT, THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF, CHEF'S NIGHT OUT, DINING OUT, CULINARY ARTISTRY, BECOMING A CHEF, THE FOOD LOVER'S GUIDE TO WINE and now THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE, along with her husband, author and photographer Andrew Dornenberg.  It was a great honor to be asked to review their latest book The Vegetarian Flavor Bible and post about it on my blog as part of a her Virtual Book Tour in celebration of National Nutrition Month this March. 

After I accepted, I could hardly wait for my book to arrive and once it did, I dove right into it!! Let me begin by saying there was A LOT of greatness to explore.  The book is a hefty 554 pages and all of it is useful and interesting information. The introduction begins with a heartfelt account of the author's decision to adopt a vegetarian, plant-based diet after losing both her father and step mother to cancer. She then goes on to describe her approach to this eating style calling upon both her nutrition and culinary expertise thus giving sound and really creative recommendations.

Then the first chapter, For the Love of Plants: Vegetarianism Through the Ages, discusses the history of vegetarianism with a very detailed and thorough timeline of key events relating to this diet from 3000 BC  all the way up to the present. It is filled with all kinds of exciting facts and tidbits that were very enlightening and inspiring.

Chapter 2, Maximizing Flavor: Creating a New, Compassionate Cuisine, reviews 5 key trends that Karen believes will mark the evolution of a "new compassionate cuisine" over the next decade, which are:  vegetarianism, health, globalization, gastronomy and flavor.  We should all be so lucky and grateful if these 5 concepts continue to take off and influence ways of eating throughout the world and I love her examination and explanation of them all.

The real heart and majority of the book, the literal piece de resistance, is Chapter 3- Vegetarian Flavor Matchmaking: The Lists.  Here the reader is presented with an overwhelmingly useful, detailed and thorough A-Z list of many, many ingredients and foods from A (starting with Acai) to Z (ending with Zucchini blossoms).  You will get so much information about each item listed, such as flavor descriptions, key facts, pairing and cooking suggestions and even substitutions.  These lists can be a springboard for creativity and encouragement to try and experiment with a new food/ingredient in the kitchen and they give fresh and fun twists on things that may be familiar to you already as well. 

I can't even begin to describe how much is in this section, you will just have to pick up a copy and be wowed for yourself!  I am confident that this book with be a learning tool for me to use, a sort of kitchen counter encyclopedia,  as I continue on my journey of recipe development and food blogging. Another thing I look forward to is sharing this book with my daughter as she grows, creates cooks and blogs with me in the kitchen, as I am sure she will enjoy using it as well.

So a big shout out to Karen and her husband to creating this amazing piece of work and a huge thank you to them for allowing me to read and share it. 


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