Chocolate Protein Poppers

If you haven’t jumped on the protein ball bandwagon, please join me! PS- These plant-based poppers are gluten-free.

proteinpoppers1For years, I’ve loved the concept of raw and healthy snacks that you can easily whip up at home. From time to time I’ll throw together a mixture or try some of the other amazing recipes out in the google-sphere.

Today, was one of those days where I just felt like a cookie. You know what I mean?

For most of us, it’s typical around the post-lunch lull to want something like this. I often sip a hot green tea and nibble on some of my favorite Alter Eco Blackout chocolate. Today I recalled a great post on aloha.com that was recently shared on their website. That got me thinking I ought to whip up some protein balls to cure my cookie craving. I’ve been loving the chocolate Aloha plant-based protein powder in my smoothies and so it was destined to appear in this afternoon’s creation (I get a protein supply mailed to me directly from the company that comes in handy single-serve packets which means I’ve always got it on hand). alohaprotein

Here’s how you can throw together these scrumptious chocolate protein poppers!

Mix the following dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl:

Then mix in:

  • 1/3 cup of 100% pure organic maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup Justin’s almond butter (I used maple almond which I keep refridgerated)
  • and throw in a handful of dark chocolate chips!

Stir well, but let’s be honest…I got right in there! I worked the mixture with clean hands into a well-mixed dough and got to rollin’.  I rolled roughly 10-12 balls and put them on a plate in a fridge for 20 min.proteinpoppers2

20 minutes later… Cookie fix taken care of! Even my little guy liked them! romeoproteinballYou can try this for yourself or get creative and see what you can come up with. Have a little fun and share your creation with me on Instagram by taking a photo and tagging @mindbodybespoke!

Eating Healthy in College

Tips on eating healthy in college (including sample recipes!) by Maggie Russell

Hi! My name is Maggie and I’m super passionate about healthy living and healthy eating. I’ve made it my goal to make healthy eating both easy and delicious. I’m still in University and working so I know the struggle of wanting to eat well but having no time! I hope these simple recipes and tricks will help you achieve your health goals. 

Being healthy and being a student is the ultimate struggle. As students, we are forced to eat at the school cafeterias, the local pizza joint, or the local burger joint and if we do eat a meal we made ourselves… well, it’s usually made with our microwave. So, what is the solution? Thankfully with the way our society is going it is actually easier and easier to eat clean. I personally have faced these challenges being allergic to gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. In my first year of college I was terrified of what I was going to eat because I knew I had to eat in the dorm cafeteria. These are some simple things I did to make my life easier:

  • Buy a mini fridge, you will be amazed at how helpful it is.
  • Stock the fridge with easy healthy snacks like fruit, yogurt and veggies. 
  • If your lucky enough to have relatives near by, USE THEIR KITCHEN! I would go on the weekend and make meals to last me for a couple days.
  • Keep milk, organic granolas, and cereals as they are an easy way to have a healthy breakfast.
  • When in the cafeteria, ask for simply olive oil as the dressing to everything. This way you know there’s no contamination from sauces.

After following these simple tricks I’m sure that you’ll find it easy to stay on track!

Now that I’m out of a dorm, I’ve faced a whole new problem – easy cooking and navigating the grocery store. I recently have launched my own food blog and instagram to help people who are trying to figure out how to eat healthy as well. The first step to eating clean is knowing what to buy. Recently the whole ‘eat organic’ fad has blown up but there’s more to it than just eating organic. If you are really dedicated to giving your body the best, you should also be making sure the products you are buying are GMO (genetically modified organisms ) free. This means that product was not chemically modified by humans, which surprisingly enough can happen even if a product is organic.  So now that you know what your looking for, what should you actually buy? FRUIT AND VEGGIES !! If you are eating for just one, make sure you only buy a small quantity at a time otherwise they’ll go bad. Buy things like lettuce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchinis, carrots, etc. They are all veggies that turn into a very simple meal. As for the other stuff, stock up on chickpeas, red lentil pasta, paleo bread, chia seeds, almond spread, GF rolled oats, nuts and eggs. Obviously, you can buy what ever you want but those are my basic recommendations. 

Here are some breakfast recipes I want to share including dinner ideas as well.

Breakfast:

Over night oats: Grab a mason jar and combine one cup of oats, one cup of almond milk, some chia seeds and raspberries. Shake the jar and place in the fridge over night. 

Almond milk: Place one cup of almonds in a mason jar with water over night. The next morning drain the water and rinse the almonds. Place the almonds with 3 cups of water in a blender. Blend until pulverized, then pour into a milk bag to get rid of the almond bits. To make milk flavored,  simply blend the almond milk with cacao or any other flavors. 

almond milk maggie

Buckwheat pancakes: ½ cup buckwheat flour, ½ cup almond milk, 1 egg. Combine and Voila! maggie pancakes
Dinner: 

Chestnut crepes with sautéed chicken:  This is a great recipe to change up the usual “boring chicken dinner.” The crepes are very simple to make. Simply combine 1 cup of chestnut flour, 1 cup of coconut milk, 2 eggs, ¼ cup of parsley and ¼ stick of melted butter. For the chicken just chop up the breast into pieces and cook them in a fry pan with onions, salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil. Serve together. 

Baked chickpea stir fry: This is one my fave meals for dinner. Simply toss your raw chickpeas with turmeric, cayenne, olive oil and salt and bake at 350 for 15 min. Combine with quinoa, wild rice or brown rice and some veggies.

dinner maggie

maggie profileTo learn more about Maggie and her other unique health focused recipes, please visit her website at www.friesoverguys.com and take a look at her active instagram page @friesover.guys !

 

Farmers Market Lovin’

Are you missing out on the glory that is The FARMERS MARKET?!

I was spoiled rotten while living in Ithaca, NY where the farmers market is totally UNREAL. Luckily, in my new spot of Bronxville I’ve been able to hit up the farmers market on a few Saturdays and have been pleasantly surprised to find some great people, produce, and postivitiy! Yeah baby!

TomatoChutneyJPG

If I sound overly enthused about this it’s because I am. The farmers market is a wonderful place and it’s more than what we often think. While I absolutely love to pick up fresh berries and dark leafy greens, it’s also a fantastic place to find unique items and gifts. During my last two trips I picked up awesome homemade spicy tomato chutney by Bombay Emerald Chutney Company, raw coconut graham crackers by Healing Home Foods, and an incredible spicy habanero ketchup by NY Chup. I’m dying to get back for some of the homemade kombucha that caught my eye as I was leaving.

healinghomefoods

RomeopopsicleIt is a great place to take the kiddos because there are samples galore! Here’s my son enjoying a dairy-free avocado lime popsicle. It got ALL OVER HIM and the stroller but he was so happy I just let it go. The sun was shining and he was enjoying a health conscious treat so I was a happy mama bear.

Have you tried your local farmers market? Hit up a google search and find the closest one near you. Check out my youtube video below where I chat more about this awesome way to spend a weekend day.

 

Gardening with the Tower Garden

The Preggers Pantry Fit Mama, Carly Zuffinetti, discusses the benefits of the Tower Garden

CarlyandRioI was so honored when Frances asked me to do a guest piece for her amazing blog! She and I have such similar ideas and desires when it comes to living the healthiest and happiest life possible. I have an Instagram blog that is all about having a healthy pregnancy and raising a healthy baby. It is ever evolving and I have met some amazing people through social media. I love that you can find like minded individuals at your fingertips! We can all learn so much from one another, which is one of the reasons I decided to start my blog.

I taught special education for 12 years and I knew when I had my baby that I wanted to take some time off of my career to focus on my son. I’ve always been interested in health, wellness and nutrition and thought this would be a great time in my life to learn more about how to do the best things possible for the growing baby inside of me. There is so much information out there about what to eat, vitamins to take, how to exercise, what type of birth you want, etc. Research can be very overwhelming for a pregnant mama! I decided to find the things I love the most and share them with my followers. Thus, The Preggers Pantry was born!

CarlyTowerGardenOne of the things I really wanted to do when I found out I was pregnant was start an organic garden. I had no idea how I would have time for this though, as my husband and I travel quite often. So I continued to talk about this garden I dreamed about week after week, every time I bought vegetables or went to a farmers market. Then on my birthday in April my husband surprised me with a Tower Garden! This has been the best investment my family has made since having our baby. The Tower Garden is a vertical garden that uses a process called aeroponics to grow plants in an air/mist environment without the use of soil. I watched the video and checked out the website and immediately started putting my garden together. I ordered seedlings right away from Montecito Farms and went to a Tower Garden training at Socal Urban Farms in San Diego to learn everything I needed to know. It’s been about 2 months since I planted my seedlings and my garden is growing like crazy! I have been harvesting herbs, lettuces, and greens everyday for cooking and my daily green smoothies. I also chop spinach and put it in my baby’s avocado every morning. I decided to do mostly herbs, greens and lettuces in my garden because that’s what I use the most. I planted basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, romaine, butter lettuce, red lettuce, arugula, 2 types of kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, cherry and heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, and squash. A few of my tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini just popped up and I’m so excited!

Check out @thepreggerspantry on Instagram for my green smoothie and salad recipes and for other healthy pregger, mama, and baby ideas! I would also love to hear about any recipes or products you used and loved during pregnancy, too! If you would like more information on how to get your own Tower Garden, email me at thepreggerspantry@gmail.com

CarlyPreg1

What is Gut Health?

The Gut Microbiome by Alexandra Weinstein, RD CDN

Gut health has been a hot topic lately. The buzz-worthy word “gut” refers to the alimentary canal, including the intestine and stomach: essentially the entire Gastrointestinal Tract or digestive tract. New research has revealed that the bacterial content (or “microbiome”) of your gut may impact overall health, particularly the risk of certain chronic diseases. The human gut contains a vast number of microorganisms known collectively as the “gut microbiota.” Factors including age, genetics, environment and diet may influence the makeup of this microbiota. Each of us has a unique combination of healthy microflora (bacteria) living in our digestive tracts. Our unique microflora is affected by certain factors such as how we were born (vaginal delivery vs. caesarian section), whether or not we were breastfed, what antibiotics we may or may not have been exposed to in childhood, illness, diet, and other environmental factors. The microbiome becomes more stable with age, meaning less subject to change. The microbiome community carries out a range of useful functions for the host, including digesting foods we cannot easily digest including some fibers, stimulating the immune system, and blocking the growth of harmful microorganisms. Though the research is quite young and there is little to put into practice at this time, the goal is that treatment for some diseases can be tailored to each person based on their unique microbiome.

[ File # csp11929586, License # 2246430 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / doctor

The exact content, meaning types of bacteria, in our microbiome and how that affects our risk of chronic disease has been the subject of recent research. Researchers have been looking into the gut microbiome for how it relates to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Disease, obesity, insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. For example, researchers have found a reduction in diversity of the microbiome which is associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Regarding obesity, recent research in mice has highlighted an increased ratio of a class of microbes called Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes in obese mice relative to their lean counterparts. (SOURCE: The gut microbiota and its relationship to diet and obesity: New insights. Siobhan F. Clarke, Eileen F. Murphy, Kanishka Nilaweera, Paul R. Ross, Fergus Shanahan, Paul W. O’Toole, and Paul D. Cotter. Gut Microbes. 2012 May 1; 3(3) 186-202.) Researchers have shown that long-term dietary patterns affect the ratios of Bacteroides, Prevotella, and Firmicutes, and that short-term changes may not have major influences. In addition, researchers have studied the impact of a strict vegan or vegetarian diet on the microbiota, and found a significant reduction in Bacteroides spp., Bifidobacterium spp., and the Enterobacteriaceae, while total bacterial load remain unaltered (SOURCE: The Microbiome in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Current Status and the Future Ahead. Aleksandar D. Kostic,1 Ramnik J. Xavier,1,2 and Dirk Gevers. Gastroenterology. 2014 May; 146(6): 1489-1499.). The implications of these changes in microflora have yet to be fully discovered, but stay tuned!

What can we do to improve our gut health? Foods that support gut health include fermented foods (lactic acid bacteria have acted on the food pre consumption to break down the sugars into lactic acid, making the food easier to digest) such as sauerkraut, pickles, olives, tempeh, Kimchi, Kefir, yogurt, miso, cultured non-dairy alternatives such as some soy, almond, or coconut milk-based yogurt products, soy sauce. These foods contain probiotics, or live bacteria, that can potentially improve our population of these healthy microflora. Probiotics are live microbial organisms present in food or supplement form. On the flip side, it would be advisable to avoid animal products treated with antibiotics, as these might destroy healthy gut flora.

kimchee

In addition to eating foods that contain probiotics, they are also available in supplemental form. With the supplement market so flooded, how do we choose a probiotic? Look for an expiration date- this will help guarantee that the pill does actually contain live cultures, because a probiotic is no good if the bacteria are not live. Probiotics are filled with living microorganisms that if not properly made, shipped or stored, may not actually contain what they were manufactured with. Look for a probiotic with multiple different strains of bacteria. Look for at least 1 billion or more live organisms. Consumerlabs.com is a great resource for information on whether products actually contain what they say they contain, and what contaminants might be present. Store probiotics in a cool, dry place out of sunlight. Some probiotics require refrigeration. Generally, studies have indicated that probiotics are safe, however caution should be taken in a person who is very young, very old, or immunocompromised, and particularly in the critically ill population.

A prebiotic is “a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well being and health”. (SOURCE: Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics. Michael de Vrese, J. Schrezenmeir. Food Biotechnology. Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology Volume 111, 2008, pp 1-6607 May 2008). They are nondigestible or partially digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon. Food sources of prebiotics include inulin and chicory root (nondigestible fructo- oligosaccharides), which can be added to foods to increase fiber content, or can be found in Jerusalem artichoke, onions, asparagus, leeks, dandelion root, burdock, and artichoke. Of note, prebiotic foods may be poorly tolerated in those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome due to their propensity to be fermented by gut microflora and produce gas.

To close, the subject of the gut microbiome is fascinating, and we have just broken the surface in the world of research on this subject. The best advice for now would be to consume both pre-and probiotic foods as tolerated, as part of a healthy, “clean” diet, and to avoid pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in food as possible. I look forward to learning more about what our unique microbiome means!

AlexGuestBloggerAlexandra Weinstein, RD CDN, is a Manhattan based Registered Dietitian. Alex graduated from New York University and went on to complete her Dietetic Internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Alexandra has worked for New York City teaching hospitals for the last five years, both in inpatient and outpatient settings. Alex’s expertise is focused around Digestive Disorders.

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