Breakfast Brownies

Who here can get their children to eat multiple servings of vegetables every day? I’m sure they are obsessed with nutrition, right? Anybody have toddlers who understand that omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks for brain growth? Do your kids readily gobble up all the protein they need to get “big and strong”?

I have to admit that my kids are some of the best eaters I have ever met. That said, they are still 3 and 5 years old and definitely form their own opinions about food. One week they are all about sweet potatoes, the next week they won’t touch them. One day they will eat an entire avocado with a spoon, the next day it’s “Mommy, avocados are spicy” (‘spicy’ is the term my kids now use for things they don’t like. I have no idea how that happened, but here we are).

Sound familiar?

I’ve found a few ways to sneak things into foods that they already like (spinach in smoothies is nearly invisible as far as taste goes, flax meal blends great in pancakes, etc), but I am always looking for more ways to do it!

These yummy and easy Breakfast Brownies are packed full of important vitamins, protein and fats that will keep young tummies full and start the day off right! Perfect for busy on-the-go mornings or a nutritious after-school snack. Forget the cereal and bagels, check out the health benefits of just some of the ingredients:

Almonds – vitamin E, magnesium, protein and antioxidants.

Avocado – more potassium than bananas and loaded with fiber.

Carrots – antioxidants, vitamins A, C, K and B8, potassium and protect the central nervous system.

Coconut oil – the fatty acids kill harmful pathogens and prevent infection, keeps you full longer, and supply energy to brain cells.

Eggs – lots of protein, zinc, iron and rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Zucchini – anti-inflammatory and contains manganese and vitamin C to keep the heart strong.

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Feel free to substitute the protein for another brand, just make sure it’s a whey blend or pea or plant base; isolates won’t work. Been there done thaaaaaaat.

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Peanut Butter White Chocolate Protein Cookies

I’m going to keep this short and sweet:

These are officially my favorite and simplest cookie of all time.

No eggs.

No flour.

No dairy.

No oil.

And they take a total of 10 MINUTES to make and bake. Seriously: 2 minutes to make, 8 minutes to bake. You can’t even make a trip to the grocery store and buy pre made cookies in 10 minutes. I should probably rename these the Instant Gratification Cookies… 🤔

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Triple Chocolate Protein Cake

The only thing better than a chocolate cake filled with three types of chocolate is a chocolate cake filled with three types of chocolate that is ALSO packed with protein and other fabulous-for-you ingredients.
Wow. So much chocolate in that paragraph.
Almost as much as I put in the cake.

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The way this comes out so incredibly fudge-y is… A VEGETABLE! I know. It’s crazy. But a hearty blend of sweet potato purée worked some magic in this batter.

I used regular orange sweet potato, though I should note that white sweet potato has a milder flavor if you want to try this recipe but are skeptical of using a root vegetable in a chocolate cake…
But seriously: No. one. will. know.
And who cares if they do?
Sweet potatoes have a ton of awesome benefits:

  • Vitamin C – wards off viruses, accelerates wound healing and produces collagen which preserves joint health and skin elasticity.

  • Vitamin D – boosts energy level and mood, helps build healthy bones and supports the thyroid gland.

  • Iron – increases white blood cell production, resistance to stress, and metabolization of protein.

  •  Magnesium – responsible for hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body and reduces nerve and muscle stress.

  • Potassium – regulates heartbeat and nerve signals and reduces swelling.

All that in a chocolate cake. Damn. You’re welcome.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

You know what foods don’t get enough love?
Celery. Spinach. Cauliflower rice. Cabbage. Cucumber. Zucchini.
Let’s face it, they are not very sexy foods.
But you know what they are perfect for? VOLUME. Adding substance and helping you feel full without overloading on calories. This is key if you want to drop weight and/or lean out without sacrificing on the quantity of food that you take in every day.

I mean seriously, check out the macros on these! All with no (or very negligible) fat, are low carb and low calorie yet still include some protein and fiber. Oh, and these numbers are based on two cups–yes CUPS–of each!

Zucchini – 4g protein / 8g carb / 2g fiber / 58 calories

Celery – 1g protein / 6g carb / 3g fiber / 32 calories

Spinach – 2g protein / 2g carb / 2g fiber / 14 calories

Cauliflower – 4g protein / 10g carb / 5g fiber / 50 calories

Cabbage – 2g protein / 10g carb / 4g fiber / 44 calories

I usually add a cup or two of one of these vegetables in with whatever meal I’m eating, mix it up, and it suddenly becomes a lot more food in my stomach which means I feel satisfied longer… which is everything.

Other things to try that make these a little more interesting:

– Grilled zucchini topped with garlic salt, oregano, basil and parmesan cheese.

Celery dipped in your favorite nut/seed butter.

– Use spinach in salads instead of romaine or iceberg lettuces. Also add spinach to your morning omelet for extra fiber.

– Make Mexican “rice” using cauliflower rice: add your usual seasonings but use the veggie instead of the grain for a low-carb, nearly identical-tasting alternative!

– Raw cabbage leaf wraps (instead of bread) for sandwiches, or chop and sauté it in a stir fry.

You know what else I love about these veggies? Their low-caloric profile allows me room to eat fun things. Sexy things. Like this banana bread. Yeahhhhhh. Let’s talk about sexy chocolate chip banana bread.

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In addition to the incredible, melt-in-your-mouth texture and rich, tasty combo of bananas and chocolate, this hearty bread is actually made with chickpea flour, giving each slice a whopping 8g of fiber!
Plus it’s also free of nuts (peanuts are legumes, guys, don’t get it twisted), dairy, gluten and soy. Winning.

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I mean…!

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Bone Broth: The Best Thing Ever

I am a huge fan of finding natural ways to maintain and heal my body, especially ones that don’t require half my salary.

Anyone else feel me on this?

In a world full of medications and expensive treatments, I like to focus on preventative measures rather than running my body into the ground and then looking for a drug to fix what might have been avoided altogether. While my lifestyle choices may not always be “mainstream”, they are certainly all done with this goal in mind. I am not perfect by any means, but this is extremely important to me and something I strive to help others find for themselves as well.

When I started making bone broth, I knew it was about to change my whole game. And it seriously has. If you’re sitting there wondering why or how, please, read on, because it turns out all of our grandmas and their magic chicken soups were definitely onto something…

My Top 4 Reasons Why Bone Broth Is the Best Thing Since… Ever.

  1. Makes your joints feel as smooth as eggs.
    Yep, that was my Dave Chappelle reference for the day. If you didn’t get it, don’t worry about it.
    Anywho…
    The proper function of our joints depends greatly on something called collagen: the most important protein in connective tissue, skin, ligaments, tendons and on the end of our bones. Bone broth contains glucosamine, which stimulates certain cells to lay down more collagen in the joints, therefore eliminating pain, reducing inflammation, and providing better joint lubrication.
    Hell yeah. All good things.
    “But couldn’t you just buy a glucosamine supplement?” Sure. But the glucosamine found in bone broth is digestion resistant which means we absorb it in its intact form, which is always better than supplementing.
    Also, if you want healthier hair and nails and smoother, firmer skin, collagen is going to be your new best friend.
    Basically, bone broth makes you look and feel super sexy.
  2. Repairs the gut lining and promotes gastrointestinal health.
    Let’s be honest, most of you reading this right now are experiencing some sort of gut issue: gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, food allergies or sensitivities, or maybe even an autoimmune disease.
    The best nutrient to solve these problems is gelatin, which is the cooked, gelatinous  form of collagen extracted from the bones. It’s the stuff that makes the bone broth wiggle like jello when refrigerated.
    Gastrointestinal health is incredibly important, and often overlooked. Your gut lining is meant to be slightly permeable in order for nutrients to pass through; however, the stress of modern society (technology, traffic, long work hours, stupid people, etc) creates excessive permeability, causing larger food particles to pass through the lining and wreak havoc in your body. The particles are attacked by your immune system and flagged as a danger, creating things like allergic reactions and food sensitivities.
    Read: your body starts to fight itself.
    When your body is in attack mode, it causes inflammation. This chronic inflammation is what causes damage to things like your metabolism, thyroid, digestion… not good.
    So think of your gut like a window screen; it’s meant to let air through and keep bugs out. When the gut is damaged, that’s like punching holes in the screen. Not exactly effective anymore. Bone broth helps repair the screen again.
  3. Provides amino acids.
    Bone broth is a great source of certain amino acids that are difficult to get from diet alone. You may not recognize all of these names, but pay attention to what they do for you:
    Proline – Helps with skin elasticity and smoothness, and prevents arteries from stiffening.
    Glycine – Used for blood sugar regulation as well as muscle growth/repair by regulating creatine and Human Growth Hormone secretions.
    Glutamine – Removes waste (like ammonia) from the body, synthesizes proteins (the muscle building process), and helps repair the gut lining.
  4. Helps get toxins out of the body.
    Did you know your liver is the detox mecca? This vital organ works 24/7 as a toxin filtration system, but stress and poor lifestyle choices will seriously hinder your liver from being able to effectively do its job. It’s ability to detoxify is reliant on the amino acid glycine. Hmm, does this word sound familiar (see reason #3)?

Pretty sweet, right?

You can buy pre-made bone broth at most natural food stores, but I love making my own because it’s super easy and much more cost efficient. If you think this is gross, buck up, because the benefits are absolutely worth it.

Here’s how I do it!

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Yummy, right?

Whenever I cook meat with bones in it (whole chickens, pork chops, etc) I always save the bones in the freezer. Things like necks and feet are GREAT for bone broth because they have so much cartilage.

For this particular batch I used bones from two chickens, turkey backs and necks, and one pigs foot. I’ve also used pork bones and chicken feet in the past, it all depends on what I’ve cooked, and some things (like the feet) I pick up at the farmers market or Whole Foods or Sprouts.

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Chicken and Turkey Bones with Pigs Foot

 

After I put all the bones in the crock pot, I pour chicken stock over everything. You can use store-bought chicken, vegetable or beef stock, just add some chopped onion and carrots to the pot as well.

Whenever I cook whole chickens, I always save the leftover stock (liquid and veggies) and freeze it. I can use it later as a soup base, or for making bone broth. The stock has all sorts of herbs and vegetables in it from when I cooked the chicken, which adds to the rich flavor of the broth.

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Bones and Stock

Next, fill the crock pot with water until it just covers the bones.
Set the pot on low and let cook for 18-22 hours.
Which basically means 20 hours.
But I have to leave a margin for liability purposes.
Kidding.

After 20-ish hours, it will smell amazing and look something like this:

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Strain all the bones through a large strainer, then throw them out. You’ll be left with just the liquid in the bowl.

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Now pour the remaining contents of the crock pot over a wire strainer. This will catch any remaining bone or cartilage particles.

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And now you are left with a rich, nutrient dense, dark-colored broth!

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Keep broth in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. Once it gets cold, you will see the gelatin start to form and it will take on a jello-like consistency.

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Ways to use your super awesome broth:

  • Heat and drink plain out of a mug.
  • Use a spoonful of broth to sauté veggies or meat in on the stove.
  • Make a hearty soup with the broth as the base.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Brownies

One day I will post something that has nothing to do with peanut butter or chocolate…

[in best Viggo Mortensen voice] “…BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY.”

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Three things you should know:

1) These things are the most fudge-y, chocolate-y, peanut butter-y brownie I have ever made.

2) I purposely divided the pan into 9 HUGE servings instead of the typical 12 you find in most recipes. Because I don’t believe in eating small brownies. Ever.

3) On top of all that, they are also gluten free! Okay well the brownie is, can’t speak for the P28 on top, but that’s okay, we aren’t perfect here. If you don’t tolerate gluten or dairy you can easily omit the P28 Caramel Turtle spread and substitute with another favorite nut butter. Whew. Problem solved.

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