Protein power smoothie (Recipe Redux)

This month's Recipe Redux theme is "Favorite Chocolate Matches," and bloggers were asked to create a recipe highlighting their favorite chocolate pairings. I decided to go the tried-but-true route with a delicious and satisfying chocolate, peanut butter, and banana combination.
I've been loving this Protein Power Smoothie for quite some time now. It was inspired by my husband's love for Jamba Juice's Peanut Butter Moo'd smoothie, and it has powered many of our mornings, particularly during our recent marathon training. It's silky smooth, thickened by the flax meal, and has perfectly balanced ratios of it's three star ingredients: chocolate, banana, and peanut butter. One serving (about 8 ounces) contains 360 calories and a filling 15 grams of protein to get your day started.


Massaged kale winter salad with crunchy quinoa

As much as I love a good bowl of greens, I just can't bring myself to eat many salads in the winter. When it's chilly outside, I want a hot, hearty meal - not cold, light lettuce. This salad, however, is different. Using dense kale instead of crunchy romaine and topping with warm fried quinoa and shaved winter vegetables, this salad is perfectly winter-worthy and satisfying. Top with garlicky shredded chicken or glazed salmon, and you've got yourself a healthy and hearty winter meal.
Few vegetables have taken the market by storm the way that kale has in the past couple of years. Kale, a member of the Brassica family of vegetables along with cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, is packed full of nutrients. One cup of chopped fresh kale provides 206% of your daily vitamin A, 134% of your vitamin C, 684% of your vitamin K (talk to your doctor or RD about kale if you take blood thinners), and 26% of your daily manganese. We know the Brassica family is fantastic at reducing internal inflammation, which is linked to many chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Glucosinolates, compounds responsible for the pungent flavor of these vegetables, are thought to be responsible for this reduction in inflammation.

Keep eating kale, America.


Maple spiced nuts (Recipe Redux)

I've previously shared about my affinity for snacks. Some people prefer to eat three square meals per day, and that may work for them, but I find snacking to be totally beneficial for the vast majority. Snacks can help regulate blood sugar levels, manage satiety, improve focus and concentration, and help ward off the infamous 3 pm "crash" in energy. Additionally, snacks are often vital in helping active folks consume adequate calories. Let's do some math: the typical "healthy" meal for many active people consists of chicken breast, broccoli or other vegetable, and brown rice. Six ounces of chicken breast alongside one cup of brown rice and one cup of roasted broccoli adds up to roughly 575 calories. If all three meals offer similar caloric density, this would result in around 1700 calories eaten in a day: perhaps enough to support a goal of weight loss in some, but for most, this will not be enough to result in muscle gains, improved body composition, or optimal athletic performance. Enter the essentiality of snacking.

This month's Recipe Redux theme is Start Smoking in the New Year. Bloggers were asked to create a recipe highlighting smoked or spiced foods, and these Maple Spiced Nuts make a nutritionally valuable and delicious snack. They're a satisfying blend of sweet, salty, and spicy: the maple syrup creates a perfect crust of sweetness, and the cayenne pepper adds an interesting bite. I've had a bag stashed in my desk drawer all week. Great decision.
Cashews have popping up everywhere these days, and I'm not disappointed - these guys pack in a lot of nutrients! A quarter cup of cashews (about 1 ounce) provides 20% of your daily magnesium, 24% of your phosphorus, 70% of your copper, and 23% of your manganese. Nut consumption is tied to lower risk of heart disease and gallstones, and weight gain. The copper in cashews assists in a variety of metabolic processes including formation of red blood cells, maintenance of blood vessels and nerves, immune function, and development of bone while the magnesium works to regulate nerve function, blood pressure, and bone structure. Grab a handful - they're good for you!


Cinnamon apple chips

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday complete with family, laughter, gifts (both giving and receiving), and food. I had all of the above in abundance this year, and my heart and belly are full.

I'm pumped to show off my new toy: this dehydrator. Ever since a Recipe Redux theme involving dehydrators earlier this year got me inspired to try drying anything and everything, I've been wanting a nifty gadget like this one that makes dehydrating fruits, vegetables, and more a breeze.

These apple chips are a very basic recipe, but they're easy and make a great snack. Wins all around.
To me, cinnamon is the essence of the colder months. Warm, sweet, and fragrant: precisely what I want when the weather is chilly and I'm craving the homey scents of the holidays. Fortunately for us, cinnamon is also loaded with health benefits. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties that work by inhibiting the release of arachindonic acid from cell membranes. Arachidonic acid is an inflammation-promoting fatty acid that, when released, activates a chain of messages that tells the body to create new platelets and clot blood. Cinnamon also boasts anti-microbial properties that allow it to act as a natural preservative. Cinnamon may help control blood sugar by slowing the rate at which the stomach empties, thus stunting the rise in blood sugar after eating. Add a sprinkle to your oatmeal and your waffles. And make these apple chips.


Blueberry millet muffins (Recipe Redux)

It's time for Recipe Redux again! I've missed a couple of months due to, well, life. It's good to be back. This month's theme is "Grab a Book and Cook," and participating bloggers were instructed to grab the nearest cookbook and cook the recipe on page 42 or 142 in honor of the 42nd month of Recipe Redux challenges. I'm currently loving Amy Chaplin's At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: it's thoughtful, beautifully photographed, and the recipes are delicious. I'm always drawn to the introductory sections of health-centered cookbooks when the author invites the reader into her kitchen to engage in the nourishing rituals of shopping for fresh ingredients, exploring essential kitchen tools and equipment, and piecing together a healthier lifestyle. Amy's book does not disappoint: her knowledge of ingredients, beautiful suggestions for menu composition, and creative use of nourishing foods make the peek inside her sophisticated vegetarian kitchen truly worthwhile.

This recipe calls for spelt flour. Spelt (see photo below) is a grain similar to wheat, and if wheat flour is all you have, it'll be just fine.
There's been lots of hype around ancient and alternative grains this year, so I might as well throw another one out there: millet. Millet is a grain commonly found in bird seed, but it's worth working into the human diet as well. It's is a good source of magnesium, a mineral shown to benefit heart health by lowering high blood pressure and reducing risk of heart attack. Millet is also high in phosphorus, copper, and manganese. As other grains, millet provides fiber, which we know plays a role in preventing type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, stroke, heart disease, and obesity. Muffins are a great way to experiment with this great grain!