DIY Protein Bars (Allergy-Free!)

Nut or Allergy-Free Seedy Energy Bars in Skinny Dish!

Nut or Allergy-Free Seedy Energy Bars in Skinny Dish!

Ever thought about making your own bars? Eventhough Larabars and the like come pretty close to home cookin’, this recipe will energize your soul, and help you achieve your lifelong goal of turning your kitchen into a food factory. This is an upgraded version of the one in Skinny Dish with hot-off-the-press chia seeds and hemp hearts for superfood power. Use gluten-free oats and sunflower seed butter to impress even your most allergic friends, and enjoy one while you reread why the world is being taken over by food allergies.

Energy Bars

Makes 12 bars
Prep time: 5 minutes
Hands-off cooking time: 15 minutes plus 45 minutes to chill
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free

1 Tbsp ground flax seed meal or chia seeds, soaked in 3 Tbsp warm filtered water for 10 minutes until a gel forms
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (or gluten-free rolled oats)
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
1 cup hemp hearts, pepitas, or other seeds or crushed nuts
¼ cup packed raisins
1 ripe banana
½ cup sunflower seed butter, peanut butter, or other seed or nut butter
¼ cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, coconut (if using), hemp hearts, and raisins.

3. In a separate small microwave-safe bowl, microwave sunflower seed butter, agave, and vanilla for 30 seconds. Stir together until well-mixed. Add ripe banana and crush with a fork to combine. Stir in gelatinized flax or chia mixture.

4. Press firmly into a lightly greased 9-inch by 9-inch baking dish, and bake for 15 minutes. Chill in the fridge for 45 minutes before slicing.

5. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in individually wrapped bags in the freezer for up to 2 months.

NUTRITION SNAPSHOT with HEMP HEARTS & SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER
Per bar: 210 calories, 12 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 42 mg sodium, 18.5 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 8 g protein, 18.5% iron

50 Sweet and Salty 100-Calorie Snacks

100Need something but don’t want to totally blow it? Here are 50 sweet and salty snack ideas adapted from and added to a list on Greatist.com. These little minis just might take the edge off until the next meal.

SWEET ACTION

    1. Larabar or Pure Energy Organic bar of choice: Half the bar, or 1 Larabar mini-bar
    2. Grapes: 1 cup, fresh or frozen. Freezing makes you eat them more slowly
    3. Chocolate Banana: 1/2 frozen banana dipped in 1 square melted dark chocolate
    4. Latte Love: 8 ounces steamed vanilla almond milk with 1 shot espresso
    5. PB Apple: 1 small organic gala apple, sliced and dipped in 2 teaspoons peanut butter
    6. Shredded Frosted Mini Wheats: 20 of ’em
    7. Barbara’s Cinnamon Puffins cereal: 50 (a little less than 1 cup)
    8. Mini PB&F: One fig newton with 1 teaspoon peanut butter
    9. Spiced Orange: One orange— about the size of a tennis ball— sprinkled with cinnamon
    10. Grilled Pineapple: 2 ¼-inch thick pineapple rounds (about 1 cup), grilled (or sautéed) for two minutes or until golden
    11. Berries n’ Cream: 1 cup blueberries with 2 tablespoons non-dairy whipped topping
    12. Oats n’ Berries: ⅓ cup rolled oats (cooked with water), topped with cinnamon and ¼ cup fresh berries
    13. Dark Chocolate: One block, or three squares
    14. Chocolate Chia Pudding: 1/2 serving
    15. Nut-Stuffed Date: One Medjool Date filled with one teaspoon natural unsalted almond butter
    16. Cinnamon Applesauce: 1 cup unsweetened
    17. Grapefruit: 1 large, sprinkled with Truvia if needed
    18. Milk n’ Cookies: 6 animal crackers with ½ cup vanilla almond milk
    19. Shamrock Smoothie: 1 cup
    20. Jelly Beans: 25 of ‘em! Although reserved only for the worst sugar-craving moments
    21. Apple Chips: ¾ cup
    22. PB Graham: 1 large graham cracker smeared with 1 teaspoon peanut butter
    23. Just Mango: 1 oz dried mango snack bag from Just Tomatoes, etc!
    24. Clementines: THREE!
    25. Strawberries: 25 medium ones, sliced & sprinkled with Truvia for extra sweetness

SALTY DOG

  1. Trader Joe’s Mesquite Smoked Seasoned Almonds: 15
  2. Carrots n’ Hummus: About 10 baby carrots with 2 tablespoons hummus.
  3. Pistachios: A couple handfuls— about 25
  4. “Cheesy” Breaded Tomatoes: 3 roasted plum tomatoes sliced and topped with 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.
  5. Curried Sweet Potato: One medium sweet potato cooked for 6 minutes in the microwave, mashed with 1 teaspoon curry powder, & a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  6. “Cheesy” Popcorn: 2 cups air-popped popcorn with 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast— tastes like real cheese!
  7. Soy Edamame: 1/2 cup boiled Edamame with 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  8. Dijon Pretzels: 2 ½ pretzel rods with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  9. Kale Chips: 1 cup raw kale— stems removed— baked with 1 teaspoon olive oil at 400° until crisp
  10. Sweet Potato Fries: 1 medium sweet potato sliced, sprinkled with 1 tsp olive oil, & baked at 400° for 10 minutes
  11. Cucumber Sandwich: ½ English muffin with 2 tablespoons olive hummus & three slices of cucumber
  12. Mixed Olives: About 8
  13. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, sprayed with oil (just a spritz!) & baked at for 400° for 15 minutes or until brown. Sprinkle with kosher salt
  14. Balsamic Veggies: 3 cups raw peppers (any color!) dipped in 2 tablespoons low-fat balsamic vinaigrette
  15. Cucumber Salad: One large cucumber (sliced) with 2 tablespoons chopped red onion and 2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
  16. Crunchy Raw Kale Salad: 1 cup kale leaves chopped with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
  17. TJ’s Roasted Seaweed Snack: 1 1/2 packages!
  18. Chick Pea Salad: 1/3 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans) with 1 tablespoon sliced scallions, a squeeze of lemon juice, and ¼ cup diced tomatoes
  19. Grilled Garlic Corn on the Cob: One small-sized ear brushed with 1 teaspoon sautéed minced garlic & 1 teaspoon olive oil, grilled until tender
  20. Chips n’ Salsa: 10 baked tortilla chips with ¼ cup salsa
  21. PB & Celery: 1 medium celery stalk with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  22. Rice Cake & Almond Butter: 1 lightly salted rice cake with 2 teaspoons almond butter
  23. Old Bay Beans: 1/3 cup chick peas baked for 10 minutes at 350° with Old Bay Seasoning
  24. Goddess Veggies: Countless raw veggies dipped in 2 tablespoons Goddess Dressing
  25. Popchips: 1 snack-size bag of the plain potato variety

Cheers until the next feeding!

Superbowl Pant Survival

Of course YOU will survive the Superbowl, but what about your pants? Will they have to take a temporary hiatus in the back of the closet after tonight? To the snackinizer! Here are consumptionaries that will keep your lower half in it’s post-holiday / pre-Superbowl position:

1. Polenta Stuffed Mini Peppers (gluten-free)

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2. Guacamame (gluten-free)

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3. Fiery Cashew Dip  (gluten-free)

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4. Veggie Pupusas (gluten-free)

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5. Any of these Meatless Meats, given high marks by meat lovers

6. No Fant Pants Nachos (gluten-free)

7. Hot Pants Cornbread

JenCornbread

8. Vegan Hot Wings

9. Quick & Easy Veggie Chili

10. Creamy Spinach Dip (video)

Happy chowing!

Oh, NUTS!

Out-Of-Hand Nuts (and a few Seeds)

Unless you have an allergy (obvious, and more about why those are on the rise here), it’s time to pop some nuts into your mouth. A new study published in Nutrition Research concluded that even though nut enthusiasts generally have a higher overall calorie intake, 1/4-ounce or more per day of OOHN (Out-Of-Hand Nuts) meant better overall intake of healthy fats and fiber, and a lower intake of cholesterol, sodium, and sugary carbs. More OOHN also meant lower risk of high blood pressure and better “good” HDL cholesterol–both indicative of lower heart disease risk. And yes, the researchers coined the acronym for Out-Of-Hand Nuts, which literally means nuts that you eat out of your hand versus those stashed in cookies, bread, cakes, etc.

While OOHN lovers DID consume more calories than OOHN anti-lovers, the lovers generally had similar or lower Body Mass Indexes. Perhaps it’s all the calories burned tossing the nuts into one’s mouth. Have you had YOUR out-of-hand nuts today?

Happy Nacho Day!

Football fans and health heroes! Here’s a last-minute recycled video on preparing my famous No Fat Pants Nachos for today’s big game.

Plus, be sure to check out Forks Over Knives Superbowl Recipes for Hearty Nachos, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Tapenade, BBQ Tofu “Wings,” Lentil Chili, and Whole Grain Corn Muffins. Not to mention the Lunchbox Bunch’s Avocado Quesadillas and Meatless Buffalo Bites–perfect for the eat-fest that is the Superbowl.

Happy cheering and chowing!

Protein, not Sugar, to Cure Afternoon Slump

Photo by: NutsInBulk

When you start dragging your heals around 3:00 in the afternoon and then literally drag your heals to the vending machine for a sugary energy boost, turns out the sweet Charleston Chew (do they make those anymore?) or the bag of jelly beans are some of the worst things you could get. The best? Planter’s Mixed Nuts, a protein-rich granola bar, or another similarly high-protein snack.

Researchers dedicated to understanding the afternoon slump and then beating it with food (slump quashers), just published their recent findings in the journal Neuron. Apparently the orexin cells in your brain–which stimulate wakefulness and tell your body to use up energy–are not only blocked by glucose (carbs/sugar), but the amino acids in protein actually block the blocking ability of the glucose. Block blockers! So, once your lunch has digested and a whole army of glucose is floating around your bloodstream, you’ll start to get sleeeeepy. But no you wont! Eat some protein sans sugar (unsweetened nuts, edamame beans, etc.) and quash that snoozy feeling. As an added bonus, grabbing protein rather than pretzels, fruit, or candy this time of day actually helps with weight control too. Read more about those details and your new friends the orexin cells here.

For avid Bitchin’ Dietitian followers, you may remember my VERY FIRST BLOG POST addressed this important topic, and it looks like I pretty much nailed it.

St. Patty’s Day Week: Green Food #1: TJ’s Seaweed Snack

Photo by: Deana Gunn

St. Patrick’s Day chez Reilly is more festive than any other occasion, so we celebrate it the whole week. Take for example our breakfast this morning (March 14th): Green oatmeal and green soymilk on cereal. Good thing we’re head to toe in green clothing as we’ve learned that foods with extra food coloring usually end up in our laps.

In honor of green foods, and since I haven’t been posting our recent new food creations (they’ve become top secret for my new Trader Joe’s cookbook, which you’ll be able to see in print in November!), I’ll be posting a new favorite GREEN food each day this week. Today’s snack would make St. Patrick, RD (the dietitian sibling) VERY proud: Trader Joe’s Roasted Seaweed Snack. I (thankfully) picked up 3 of these new creations at TJ’s last night. They were on sale for $0.99 each and who doesn’t like roasted, seaweed, or snacks? No risk in buying 3, and hallelujah, since we were down to 1 package within 10 minutes of my arrival home.

What the critics said:
Bitchin’ Dietitian: “I can’t eat these fast enough!” (and completely inhaled 1 entire package consisting of “2” servings)
Bitchin’ Husband: “These are stinky. And they taste like fish.” (Victory for Bitchin’ Dietitian!)
5-Year-Old: “THESE ARE SO GOOD!!!” (and completely inhaled 1 entire package minus what 3-year-old brother grabbed)
3-Year-Old: “Yum! Kellllerrrr!!?! Save some for me!”
1-Year-Old (if he could talk): “I’ll have one. Ooh, look at this thing crumble up into a static mess on the carpet! Another please!”

What green snacks help YOU celebrate the Irish life?

SuperBowl Sunday: Chips, Dips, and No Fat Pants!

Eventhough it’s the commercials that draw me in more than the actual game, and despite my bad Buffalo Bills track record, I always watch… and munch… for the duration. Go Bills!

According to the Snack Food Association, the average SuperBowl viewer downs 1200 calories in snack food (not including meals & drinks). America hoovers 27 billion calories in potato chips alone. That’s 1.8 billion grams of fat (!!). Let’s see Oprah wheel THAT in! The second most popular snack food is tortilla chips–coming in at 8.2 million pounds–which are often buried in a sea of belt-blowing cardiac catastrophe… until now!

Dun Dun Duuuunnn!! Introducing a way to annihilate a plate of nachos and keep the fat pants in the closet!:

No Fat Pants Nachos
Makes enough for 8 fans

1 13-ounce bag tortilla chips (they don’t need to be the low-fat Baked kind)
1 16-ounce can low-fat, or fat-free “refried” beans (like the delicious ones Bearitos makes)
1/2 cup water
1 jar (about 16 ounces) favorite salsa
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 avocado, cut into small chunks
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Hot sauce, as much as possible

Get 4 plates. Evenly distribute chips on the plates. Heat the beans with water in a microwave-safe bowl or glass liquid measuring cup. Pour 1/4 onto each of the 4 chip plates. Pour salsa evenly over the 4 plates and sprinkle each plate with chopped veggies, avocado, and cilantro. Coat liberally with hot sauce, if using. Chow down!

Nutrition info per serving: 229 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 538 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber, 8 g protein, 32% of your daily Vitamin A, 9% of your daily Calcium, 87% of your daily Vitamin C, and 13% of your daily Iron.

*A serving of “Fat Pants” Nachos may have 800 calories and over 20 grams of fat!*

Not bad, right?!?

Football Fare for Non-Fat Fans

Photo by: Chris Connelly

You know that cruddy feeling you have after dedicating 3 hours of your day to football viewing, and then your team loses? And did you eat 30 wings?

Growing up in Bills country and hosting bad-karma Superbowl disaster party year after year, I’ve often wondered if the football snack food was a touch healthier, would the post-game funk be less funky? Not that I’m hoping your team loses (unless it’s the Dolphins), and not that the Buffalo wings, ribs, French onion dip, and nachos washed down with Labbatt’s Blue aren’t to die for (literally!). But, if Bitchin’ Dietitian existed back then, what would’ve been served, and would we have felt better about our sucky team because our tight ends stayed tight? Let’s give it a shot. At the very least, our ends will thank us. Here are a few snack recipes (followed by lower calorie beer options) for a crowd-pleasing, offensive lineman-limiting menu:

Scott Norwood Should’ve Eaten These Nachos
Makes enough for 8 fans

1 13-ounce bag tortilla chips (extra credit if they’re Baked)
1 16-ounce can fat-free “refried” beans (like the delicious ones Bearitos makes)
1 cup Daiya shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 bunches green onions, chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 jar (about 16 ounces) favorite salsa
Hot sauce, as much as possible

Get 4 plates. Evenly distribute chips on the plates. Heat the beans in a microwave-safe bowl or on the stovetop until all melty. Pour 1/4 onto each of the 4 chip plates. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on each chip/bean plate (if using), and then microwave for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the chopped veggies, pour the salsa, and dash with hot sauce. Chow.

Nutrition info per serving with regular chips & the cheese (2 servings per plate): 234 calories, 5.3 g fat, 662 mg sodium, 40.7 g carbohydrate, 8.8 g fiber, 8.1 g protein.

*A serving of “Loose End” Nachos may have 780 calories and over 20 grams of fat!*

Colorful Corn Salsa (served with baked chips)
Makes 4 ½ cups (9 servings)

1 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup chopped red onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup chopped orange bell pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons rice or cider vinegar

If using fresh corn, blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes and rinse in cold water. If using frozen corn that is not thawed completely, blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes and drain. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Serve at room temperature.

Nutrition info per 1/2 cup serving: 26 calories, 0.2 g fat, 2 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2.2 g sugar, 0.8 g protein.

Creamy Spinach Dip served with chopped veggies & pumpernickel bread. Cholesterol-free? SA-Weeet!!!

Low-Fat Guacamole (served with baked chips, or heck, maybe go full-fat this time?)

Hot Wings That Will Blow Your Mind!


BEER

Now for the thirst-quenching end of things. Based on calories:

Choose Amstel Light, Guinness Draught, Rolling Rock, Yuengling Lager, and Beck’s Light.

Stay Away From Bass Ale, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Corona Extra, Bud Light, Heineken, and most IPAs.

My fave is a good Hefeweizen… which is like Switzerland. Neutral in calories & Delicious!

What will you eat and drink this weekend, and who are you cheering for?


Smart Snacking

Photo by: Seth Anderson

The continuous drip method of eating (medium/mini-meals every 2-3 hours) is metabollic utopia. When you’re constantly feeding your system, your metabolism doesn’t freak out that you’re stuck in the desert without food and react by conserving fat. On life’s top list of things you shouldn’t do, #2 is conserve fat. (#1 is ride a motorcycle without a helmet). A day of constant eating looks something like this:

7:30: Breakfast
10:00: Mini-Meal/Snack
12:00: Lunch
3:00: Mini-Meal/Snack
5:00: Mini-Meal/Snack
7:00: Dinner

That’s a lot of eating, right? It sure is! And the good news is that by the time you get to dinner, you may actually be tired of eating. If that happens, don’t skip it, but go for something light… a vegetable salad with some beans and rice, or even a bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit. We’ll talk more about meal ideas later, but as for the mini-meals/snacks, here are 3 rules:

  • Start with a large glass (8 ounces+) of filtered water
  • Stick with the 200-300 calorie range, and at least 5 grams of fiber
  • Try for a balance: a little protein, something starchy, and something naturally colorful (sprinkles don’t count)

Now for some real-life medleys:

  • Granola bar (such as a Larabar) + 1 tennis-ball-size serving of fruit = ~270 calories
  • 1/4 cup hummus + 10 wheat Saltines + as many cucumber slices as you can handle = ~220 calories
  • Raw veggies (lots) + 3 tablespoons dressing for dipping (try Annie’s Woodstock Dressing!)+ 1 large handful pretzels = ~275 calories
  • Homemade trail mix: 1/2 cup Cheerios, 1/4 cup raisins, 2 tablespoons cashews, 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips = ~300 calories
  • 1/2 nut butter & jam sandwich on multigrain bread + 1 baseball-size serving of fruit = ~300 calories
  • Veggie wrap: whole wheat tortilla + 2 tablespoons bean spread or hummus + shredded veggies & lettuce = ~250 calories
  • 1-inch slice of vegetable-infused bread, like this scrumptious Pumpkin Apple Spice Bread = ~290 calories

Isn’t it about time for another feeding?

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