Tahini and Oats Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Or is it? The idea of eating something in the early hours of the day has been a topic of discussion for years in the health and nutrition field. The simple definition of breakfast has been called into question. Is breakfast the first meal you have in the day regardless of what time it occurs? Or, alternatively, is a meal considered breakfast only if it is consumed before 11 am? Does it make a difference if a person is awake at 5am versus 8am?

These are all great questions, and unfortunately some without readily available answers. Here is what we do know however, and hopefully this information can help you decide how to change— or not change your current lifestyle.

The best time to eat is within 60 minutes of waking up. Your blood sugar is naturally low when you wake up, assuming you have had at least seven to eight hours of sleep. Therefore, eating within 60 minutes of getting up can help prevent a complete blood sugar crash. If you ignore this, and just wait until three to four hours after waking up, close to lunch time, you are at high risk of overeating to compensate for the lack of energy because you are feeling post- blood sugar lows. Timing is important after all, but you may not need to sit down and have a complete meal to prevent a crash. Simply consuming 100 to 150 calories of balanced carbohydrates and protein may do the trick.

However, if you do have time to sit down and have a more complete meal in the early hours of the day, you may reap some benefits. Data from combined studies all suggest that individuals who eat a meal in the first hour after waking up are less likely to be overweight since they are better able to control their meal choices for the remainder of the day.

Have you ever gone grocery shopping when you are extremely hungry? You walk out of the grocery store with double the amount of food you realistically need, including a few items you just couldn’t resist — things that you normally would not purchase. The same concept applies to when you skip that first caloric intake of the day. You operate on a brain influenced by lack of fuel. Our brain uses glucose, a form of sugar, as energy fuel. When you don’t have readily available energy, your reaction may be delayed, your ability to think clearly is impaired, and you are at higher risk for making impulsive decisions.

Beyond just helping your weight management strategies by curbing your appetite for the duration of the day, eating breakfast also jumpstarts your metabolism. Eating sets in motion numerous biological processes related to digesting and storing food. These metabolic pathways result in increased energy expenditure, also known as diet induced thermogenesis (DIT).  The combination of adequate energy levels post- breakfast and a metabolically active system are positive points leading us to conclude that eating breakfast is indeed a very good idea! This still leaves the question, is it really the “most important meal” of the day?

That is a question that only you can answer! And your answer depends upon   your current priorities. If you are in pursuit of a weight loss goal, then yes, this first meal could be the missing link ready to set you on a path to success. However, what you eat for breakfast is likely the more important component.

To fuel our brain, as mentioned above, readily available energy in the form of sugar is necessary. Including fruits and whole grains takes care of that portion. Also, to meet your daily requirement for protein, it is important to consume about 20 percent of your daily protein goal in the morning. Lastly, healthy fats should also have a presence in your first caloric intake for the day. This is not only due to their value as a satiety tool, but also because they contain essential fatty acids along with other nutrients integral to your health.

Many Americans have time constraints as their main obstacle when it comes to adhering to a healthy breakfast routine. That is where the food industry has thrived in marketing on-the-go breakfast foods such as granola bars, pocket sandwiches and morning energy drinks. A cheaper and often healthier option is to make your own on-the-go items when you have time, and store them for the week. Well then, our Tahini and Oats Breakfast Cookie gives you a reason to get up in the morning! The combination of all the health benefits associated with oats’ high fiber content, the plant protein and healthy fats found in almonds and tahini (sesame seed paste), the touch of sweetness from the honey which contains anti-inflammatory properties, covers most of your needs to jump- start your busy day.

They are also convenient for those who get their daily exercise early in the morning. By condensing nutrients and calories into small bite sizes, you can consume something before your workout and avoid common GI- related side effects associated with eating right before aerobic activities. Feel free to tweak the recipe to better fit your needs. Consider perhaps the addition of flax seeds for an even higher content of omegas, fiber and protein, or the substitution of stevia instead of the honey for a lower sugar content. Stay in control of what you eat by selecting the very best ingredients every time you bake. You can count and rely on our nut and seed butters since they (except for lightly sweetened options, just look at the labels) only contain one ingredient!

Tahini and Oats Breakfast Cookie by Once Again Nut Butter

 

Tahini and Oats Breakfast Cookie

1/3 cup of Once Again Tahini

1 cup of quick oats

1/3 cup of chopped almonds

1/3 cup of maple syrup or honey

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or dried cranberries (You can use both!)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

In medium sized bowl combine tahini and maple syrup (or honey) well. Add in oats, almonds, and cinnamon. Lastly, stir in chocolate chips or dried cranberries. You may also use both, 1/3 cup of each works well. On baking sheet, drop 1 tablespoon of batter for each cookie, and using a fork flatten them to bake evenly. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on edges. Remove from oven and let it cook for a few minutes before serving. Store in airtight container for 4 days at room temperature, or in refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Cashew Delights Sandwich Cookies

Whoever thought up the idea a sandwich cookie was a pure genius! A clever way to enjoy 2 cookies at once made better by a creamy filling. It is no surprise sandwich cookies are commonplace and abundant across the world. That’s right, it is not an exclusively American phenomenon. People in other countries may have different flavor combinations, but they too enjoy the double cookie held together by a delicious middle layer. For example, Australia’s favorite cookie is the Tim Tam, which consists of two malted cookies (or their preferred term: “biscuits”) separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in more chocolate. Brazil has a wedding day tradition to serve and enjoy a sandwich cookie called Bem Casado, which translates to “well married.” It’s two butter cookies with a dulce de leche filling, covered in powdered sugar.

We are also fans of sandwich cookies here at Once Again Nut Butter! So, here we set off to create an easy recipe to make at home using wholesome ingredients. First, there are some basic rules when creating sandwich cookies. There must be two cookies that are flavorful enough to stand on their own. The cookies should be strong enough to hold a filling. When baked, these cookies must stay soft but not too mushy, to prevent them from   blending with the creamy middle.  A crispy cookie is harder to work with since it crumbles too easily when assembling the final product

Ideally, the filling is not sweeter than the cookie. It is creamy and could contain crunchy ingredients to add a surprise texture for that moment when you bite into it. There are several discussion boards on social media dedicated to arguing for those who like to separate the sandwich cookies, lick the middle and then enjoy the cookie versus those who prefer to bite into the total cookie.  Either way, it is important that   each component of the cookie be able to shine on its own. The cookie we created has a soft cashew butter cookie making the outer layers and a creamy- sweet, nutty filling. The amount of filling you add to each sandwich is entirely up to you. In our test kitchen, we had a bit of filling left over, and we weren’t short of volunteers ready to lick the bowl and also try it as a topping for ice cream or a spread for their toast.

The cashew cookie has a thinner batter, and we found it easier to pour about one tablespoon of it in regular- sized muffin tins to bake them rather than using a conventional cookie sheet. This helped ensure that they were evenly sized and baked. The filling will be rather thick. It allows you to stick both cookies together without having to worry about a the  middle spilling out. But if you would like, you may add a couple of tablespoons of warm water to your filling for a thinner texture. And perhaps you have a different idea for your filling? Share it with us in the comments, We are thinking that a little bit of cacao powder could take these delights up a notch— What do you think?

Cashew Sandwich Cookies on Once Again Nut Butter Blog

Cashew Delights Sandwich Cookies

Cookie

¾ cups of Once Again Nut Butter Cashew Butter

½ cup of coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

1 egg

Filling

½ cup of chopped nuts (Choose your favorite, or use a mix!)

5 oz of dates (Deglet, Noor or Medjool)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

4-6 teaspoons of warm water

In a small bowl, beat the egg, and mix in the coconut sugar. Next, add the cashew butter and mix well. For evenly sized cookies, we recommend using a muffin tin to bake the cookies. Add about 1 tablespoon of batter to each muffin slot and tap the pan down on the counter to flatten the batter. Place in oven, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes, or just until edges become golden. Remove cookies from oven and let them cool before removing them from the pan. They will be a bit soft when first removed from oven, but will harden and be crispier when cooled. The recipe will make about 18 cookies, or 9 sandwich cookies when assembled with the filling.

For the filling, add pitted dates and warm water to food processor until you achieve a homogeneous mixture of paste consistency. Add in chopped nuts and mix well in processor. Now add ½ to 1 tablespoon of filling to each cookie and top it with another cookie. Enjoy these amazing delights! Store in airtight container for up to 5 days. They will keep better in the refrigerator.

Lemon Tahini Dressing

Every year millions of people participate in biometric screenings. They do this either by choice or they may be mandated to do so by their physicians — or they are required to do this for work.  These screenings are meant to flag any individuals who may be at risk for two of the most common chronic diseases in our country: heart disease and diabetes.  One of the numbers often measured during biometric screenings are one’s total cholesterol, including a breakdown of LDL and HDL. Most people recognize those as the “bad cholesterol” and the “good cholesterol”numbers. Those two values allow the medical team conducting the screens to give advice to individuals based on their risk for heart disease based on lifestyle and more importantly what they eat can impact their health.

People either celebrate their high HDL number, or leave with a set of foods they should include in their daily intake to boost their HDL values. However, a recent study found that just looking at your HDL high numbers and resting assured that you’re protected from heart disease may not be that simple. HDL cholesterol is credited with protecting against heart disease because these lipoproteins help eliminate the excess cholesterol from the bloodstream. Therefore, looking at how well they function is just as important as looking at the quantity of HDL present in your bloodstream.

Previously, small-scale trials have shown that consumption of antioxidant-rich foods (virgin olive oil, tomatoes, berries, for example.) improved HDL function in humans. Recently, researchers selected 296 people at high risk of cardiovascular disease and assigned them to either a Mediterranean diet with an additional 4 tablespoons of virgin olive oil per day, a Mediterranean diet with an extra serving of nuts, or a healthy control diet group which included plenty of fruits and vegetables and restricted processed foods (1).  Interestingly, only the control group saw reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels. None of the groups noted a significant HDL increase either. But, the group consuming extra virgin olive oil had significantly improved function of their HDL when compared to others.

These improved functions included increased reverse cholesterol transport, the process where HDL removes cholesterol plaque in the arteries and transports it to the liver for elimination or production of hormones. Also, witnessed were increased antioxidant protection, vasodilator capacity, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies looking at how simple diet modifications can impact overall health are abundant nowadays, and scientists have just started this journey toward optimal nutritional awareness! They are eager to continue investigating food properties and how we can improve quality of life and longevity. We have recently touched on the plant-based eating approach in a previous blog: Finding substitutes for your dips and sauces that replace ingredients with ones that include potential health benefits is just what we had in mind when creating this Lemon Tahini Dressing. It is a completely plant-based dressing that combines the plant-protein rich tahini, with 6 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons of Once Again Tahini, with heart healthy extra virgin olive oil. The touch of garlic and lemon are essential for flavor, and boosting your immunity as well!

We hope you’ll enjoy this dressing with your favorite salad combo, as well as a sauce for roasted vegetables, as a spread for your wraps or as a dressing for your grain bowls. Whichever way you choose to enjoy it, you’ll be adding to your quality of life with each bite.

Lemon Tahini Dressing

2 tablespoons of Once Again Nut Butter Tahini

1 lemon

1 teaspoon of garlic paste

¼ teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2-3 tablespoons of warm water

In a small jar, (Here’s a tip: Use your empty Once Again Nut Butter jars! This is a great way to recycle them) add tahini, the juice of 1 lemon, plus the zest of that lemon, 1 teaspoon of garlic paste (or 1 garlic clove smashed), salt, and olive oil.  Replace lid,  and shake the mixture well. Now add 2-3 tablespoons of warm water until desired thickness for your dressing is achieved. We suggest no more than 4 tablespoons of warm water so that the flavor of the dressing is not diluted. You should store leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

  1. Álvaro Hernáez, Olga Castañer, Roberto Elosua, Xavier Pintó, Ramón Estruch, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Dolores Corella, Fernando Arós, Lluis Serra-Majem, Miquel Fiol, Manuel Ortega-Calvo, Emilio Ros, Miguel Ángel Martínez-González, Rafael de la Torre, M. Carmen López-Sabater, Montserrat Fitó. Mediterranean Diet Improves High-Density Lipoprotein Function in High-Cardiovascular-Risk Individuals. Clinical Perspective. Circulation, 2017; 135 (7): 633 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.116.023712

No Sugar Added Paleo Banana Bread


There is no shortage of banana bread recipes out there. There are recipes to fit every dietary restriction you can imagine: These include banana breads made without eggs, without milk, some without any grains, and the list goes on. But of course, they all have bananas! We developed a banana bread recipe you’ll certainly want to add to your repertoire. It is, in fact a paleo recipe since it does not contain flour or white sugar. But it is also a gluten-free recipe loaded with fiber, protein and healthy fats. Although the recipe includes just one banana, you can use two bananas and simply increase the coconut flour to 4 tablespoons for a larger loaf.

This banana bread is, however, more of a bread than a cake. Usually banana loaves tend to include quite a bit of sweetener, either sugar or honey, or at times sweeteners like stevia. This version only contains the sweetness of the banana and the natural sugars present in cashew butter. Due to the addition of cinnamon, the natural sugars are enhanced giving the overall creation a sweeter flavor. Since it also uses a low amount of coconut flour, but larger protein- rich ingredients such as eggs, flaxseeds, and cashew butter; this recipe makes a powerful option for a breakfast or post-work out snack. This bread is dense and filling, as well.

For a sweeter treat, cut a slice about ¼ inch thick, place it in your toaster, and spread it with your favorite jam or honey! Of course, these additions stray a bit from the paleo diet, one that   excludes sugar and honey.

So probably you are wondering just how much protein does this No Sugar Added Paleo Banana Bread contain?

We used a nutrition calculator to analyze this recipe. The results aren’t 100% accurate, but they give a good idea about the amount of protein in each batch. The full recipe adds up to 23 grams of protein and makes a small loaf made in a 6×3 inch pan. Each serving size of maybe ¼ of the loaf, contains 5.75 grams of protein! Not too bad for banana bread!

There is another ingredient you can add to this recipe as well. We tried adding ½ cup of applesauce, and the banana bread was a bit sweeter but also heavier and took longer to bake. When trying to swap the eggs for flax-eggs for a vegan approach, the recipe failed. It took over one hour to bake and was mushy inside. But the best part of recipe creation is experimenting with ingredients until you get the perfect combination! Feel free to adapt this recipe and change up the ingredients to fit your needs, and then let us know what you’ve swapped and how it all turned out.

No Sugar Added Paleo Banana Bread

1 ripe banana

2 eggs

3 tablespoons of coconut flour

1 tablespoon of flaxseeds

¼ teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of Once Again Creamy Cashew Butter

In medium bowl, mash the banana and combine fruit with 2 eggs. Once well mixed, add the cashew butter and stir. Next, add coconut flour, flaxseeds, cinnamon and baking powder. Mix well using large spoon or hand mixer on low setting. Pour into small pan (6x3inches) and bake in a  preheated oven of 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes, or until done. Store bread in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Tahini Dipping Sauce

Compared to a typical American diet, the plant-based approach to meal planning is higher in unsaturated fats, fiber, usually has better nutrient-density and contains more vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. It is no surprise many people are interested in modifying their lifestyle to follow a plant-based eating pattern!

Perhaps the reasons approach to eating is growing in popularity is that it doesn’t mean going vegan or vegetarian, eliminating any macronutrient or even prohibiting certain foods. Plant-based eating includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, a variety of protein-rich foods such as beans, peas, nuts, seeds and soy. Dairy products, seafood, lean meats, eggs and poultry are also on the menu, but are not the focus. Animal- sourced protein becomes complementary to your meals instead of the dominant choice. It is also encouraged to minimize the use of additives such as salt and sugar to enhance flavor and to rely on herbs and spices.

Plant- based diets are helpful in reducing risk for chronic disease, but it does require some effort to look for some variation to your routine menus. It is not an all-or-nothing proposition, to get started you can simply choose a meal you eat routinely and substitute the plant protein for the animal-based one. For example, if tacos are on your menu, choose two different types of beans for the filling and skip the meat. As an alternative for meat-based lasagna, use vegetables only!

As previously discussed on a previous blog, the clear majority of people are overeating protein. Therefore, when changing to plant-based eating, they won’t suffer any side effects from perhaps a bit lower protein intake. Interestingly, plant-based eating often matches the same amount of daily protein intake. Beans, nuts, peas and other legumes are rich in protein and can easily make up for the lack of animal foods. As a bonus, these foods offer more than just protein. They have a much wider variety of nutrients and fiber, something you can find in animal foods. The recommended fiber intake is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women, with all fiber counting to achieve daily goals.

If you are also moving towards plant-based eating, we have a fantastic sauce for you! This tahini dipping sauce can be used in many ways. For example, it can serve as a topping to roasted vegetables, as a dip for raw veggies and when thinned, and it can be used as salad dressing. Plant-based ingredients can deliver flavorful sauces that include an array of culinary textures and nutrients.

Tahini Dipping Sauce

½ cup Once Again Tahini

¼ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

Warm water

In small bowl add tahini, salt, and garlic and mix well. Next, slowly add one tablespoon at a time of warm water to the mixture until the desired thickness is obtained. Suggestions:  3 tablespoons of water for a dip, or 5 tablespoons of water to use as a sauce for entrees.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Quinoa Brittle

Earlier this year, several better health and living news outlets reported the scoop about a newly developed urine test that measures the healthiness of a person’s diet. It is a five-minute test that measures biological markers in urine created by the breakdown of foods such as red meats, chicken, fish, fruits, and vegetables. This allows for the evaluation of a persons’ intake of fat, sugar, fiber, and protein.  Although the technology is fantastic to have, one wonders about the usefulness of having such a hi-tech and newfangled test. After all, isn’t a person’s nutritional intake more easily tracked by using old-fashioned food diaries?

Unfortunately, people tend to underestimate their caloric intake and usually inaccurately record the true picture of their diets. Since food records are an integral part of weight management, tools used by health workers when helping their patients, this test could aid in filling in the information gap of some lingering questions. Often an individual struggling to follow a plan needs an incentive. Some speculate that the perceived threat of their physicians finding out about their “slip ups” and “cheat days” may be enough to keep clients on track.

Regardless of how you feel about invasive data being used to track a person’s adhesion to a prescribed plan, we believe healthy eating must be made easier and much more exciting to ensure life-long, healthy eating habits. Often, such eating is associated with confronting flavorless foods, dull ingredients, and absolutely no desserts. But why not broaden the definition of dessert, in particular, to include more than just high-sugar, empty-calorie treats? When a post- meal bite includes ingredients such as chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa, oats, and peanut butter, there is no risk of falling into a chasm of empty calories. These ingredients are filled with nutrients including fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats. They may complete the meal by delivering the reminders of one’s needed daily recommended micronutrient intake, while also satisfying a sweet-tooth.

Whatever plan you are currently following, or healthy habits you have adapted into your routine, go ahead and enjoy this  Peanut Butter Chocolate Quinoa Brittle occasionally, without any worries about  the uncomfortable possibility of having to “explain yourself” after a urine test!

Peanut Butter Quinoa Brittle from Once Again Nut Butter Blog

Peanut Butter Chocolate Quinoa Brittle

4 tablespoons of coconut oil

½ cup of quinoa (uncooked)

¼ cup of whole oats

2 tablespoons of chopped peanuts

2 tablespoons of flax seeds

1 tablespoon of chia seeds

1 ½ tablespoons of honey  (Maple syrup can be a  vegan substitution)

2 tablespoons of Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

¾ cup of dark chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1 ½ tablespoons of honey, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and stir well. Now add the dry ingredients in any order you choose (except for the chocolate). Mix well and spread on a baking sheet using a flat spatula. The mixture should be about ¼ inch thick. Place in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden. Remove from oven and let it cool. In small bowl, melt the chocolate chips, and combine the other 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Pour over brittle mixture, and spread it out in a thin layer. Let it cool and set until it hardens. To speed up the process, place the brittle in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Finally, using your hands, break the brittle into pieces and enjoy! Any leftovers  must be stored in the  refrigerator.

Pumpkin Muffin Tops

Online news and social media have an abundance of food and nutrition related story topics. At times, it can be difficult to discern facts from trendy fads. The increase in interest in how foods can improve our health and help achieve our lifestyle goals represents one of our generation’s positive attitudes.  It works if  you can focus on science and study-based recommendations and dismiss  bogus and sometimes money-influenced dramatic headlines.

A recent study is the perfect example of reliably sourced information we can follow and even celebrate, since the results amount to  good news for all peanut lovers out there. This study published by BMC Medicine from the Imperial College London School of Public Health looked at twenty population studies, encompassing  their meta-analysis, totaling over 820,000 study participants. The large data set allowed them to not only draw conclusions about  more common causes of death, such as heart disease and cancer, but they were also able to draw conclusions about respiratory diseases, diabetes and kidney disease.

Researchers found that high intake of peanuts and other nuts reduced the risk of respiratory disease mortality by 24%, and diabetes by 32%. Peanuts only, although other nuts also showed some positive impact, were shown to effectively reduce the risk of stroke and kidney disease. The study speculates that up to 4.4 million premature deaths in North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific may have been attributable to peanut and other nut consumption ranging below 20 grams per day. This offers supports for major public health impacts, including increasing the dietary recommendations for nut consumption to decrease chronic disease risk and mortality. Just 15-20 grams of peanuts, approximately one  tablespoon of peanut butter is all it takes to reap major health benefits!

Of course, we can eat nut butters right out of the jar anytime for our daily dose of nutrient filled energy food; however, making these Pumpkin Muffins Tops (below) will satisfy your cravings for something sweet. The recipe includes only half a cup of sugar – you can substitute  stevia baking sugar or  coconut sugar instead. These muffin tops won’t be overly sweet, but when combined with  peanut butter, the natural sweetness of the peanuts really shines through. Using whole wheat flour and pumpkin puree helps you increase fiber intake and boosts naturally occurring vitamins and minerals in each muffin top.

As you well know, our recipes strive to only use ingredients that will help you achieve your daily nutrient goals! Try making these and storing some in the freezer to enjoy throughout your busy week too. They keep well in an airtight container for up to 60 days.

Pumpkin Muffins Tops from Once Again Nut Butter Blog

Pumpkin Muffin Tops

¼ cup of Once Again American Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter

2 whole eggs

1 cup of puree pumpkin

½ cup of sugar (or 3 tablespoons of stevia baking sugar substitute)

1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice

1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking soda, baking powder, stevia and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine peanut butter, lightly beaten eggs, and pumpkin. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and mix just until a homogenous mixture is achieved. Do not over mix to avoid creating very dense muffins instead of light and fluffy ones. Drop 1 tablespoon dollops onto a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes or until edges turn golden. Store muffin tops in an airtight container for up to five  days.

Source:

Study: Aune D, Keum N, Giovannucci EL, et al. “Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies.” BMC Med 2016;14(207)

Pumpkin Cake Bites

Magnesium is considered a major mineral, and surprisingly one we are eating less of these days. Dietary intake of this mineral has declined among those eating a Western type of diet, and a supplement may be necessary for some people. Over half of the amount of magnesium in our body is found inside our bones, and the rest in soft tissue such as muscles. New research is amounting to evidence of magnesium’s role in much more than just building bones. Its role in maintaining a healthy blood pressure, decreasing and reducing Type 2 Diabetes  as well as preventing migraine headaches has brought much needed attention to magnesium. Fortunately, magnesium can be found across a spectrum of many foods, including oats, wheat flour, black beans, acorn squash, almonds and almond butter! These are just a few examples of good sources of this vital mineral.

Since all our Once Again Nut Butter products contain  magnesium, we believe  it is another great reason to enjoy our nut butters in more recipes!

First, it is interesting and hopefully useful to you, for us to look at the new research  linking magnesium and diabetes.  A meta-analysis published by Diabetes Care looked at over 500,000 participants and showed a reduction in risk for diabetes type 2 of 14% with every 100mg increase in daily dietary magnesium intake. Then in 2015, another researcher looked at over 100 individuals with prediabetes , manifesting  low blood levels of magnesium. The research was published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolism with the conclusion that an oral supplementation of at least 382mg of magnesium daily improved glycemic status in people with prediabetes. More studies will continue to look at how we can prevent and reverse Type 2 Diabetes  with the help of nutrients including magnesium. But in the meantime, it is a good idea for us all to look at our own intake. Evaluate the possible need to adjust it to meet the dietary allowance, which is recommended for ages 19-30 of 310 mg/day for women and 400mg/day for men; and ages 31-50 of 320 mg/day for women and 420 mg/day for men.

It is not necessary to rely on supplements to meet the recommendation. They can easily be met by natural magnesium found in foods. A tablespoon of almond butter has about 45 mg of magnesium, one cup of brown rice has 84mg and 1 cup of black beans contain 91mg for example.

Although pumpkin season may have ended, you can find pumpkin puree year-round in the grocery store. Therefore, the recipe below is a fantastic option to start working on bumping up your magnesium intake right away by combining some good sources from  almond butter, pumpkin, and even maple syrup. For a paleo diet option, make this recipe  with maple syrup and almond butter only. For a vegan option, use flax eggs which actually worked out very well in this recipe. Stay with the maple syrup, but you can use peanut butter or any one of your favorite Once Again nut butters. Since  this recipe  uses honey or maple as a sweetener and no sugar at all or flours, it  is also diabetic friendly, and gluten free. The serving size is helpful aiding in portion control for those watching their weight and total caloric intake each day.

Pumpkin Cake Bites from Once Again Nut Butter

Paleo Pumpkin Cake Bites

1 cup of pumpkin puree

¼ cup of maple syrup (or honey if preferred)

¼ cup of Once Again Creamy Almond Butter (or peanut butter)

¾ tsp of baking soda

1 tablespoon of almond milk

2 eggs (or flax eggs)

½ cup of coconut flour

2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice

¼ cup of dark chocolate chips

In medium sized bowl, mix pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and almond butter. Once well mixed, add in two  lightly beaten eggs. In separate bowl, mix coconut flour with pumpkin pie spice and baking soda. Then add  the dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Once well combined, fold in the chocolate chips and place in 8×8 baking dish lined with parchment paper. Place  it in an  oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes. Once edges are golden, and center is done, remove from oven, and let it cool. Cut into small squares and serve as cake bites. Optionally, melt ¼ cup of chocolate chips and use as topping for the cake bites. Store in an airtight container for up to five  days.

Chickpea Veggie Stew

Chickpeas or garbanzos, whichever name you prefer, it doesn’t matter! These tiny legumes are a power house of nutrients, fiber, and protein to add to your plate. Interestingly, this legume has been cultivated for a very long time. Remains of its cultivation have been found in the Middle East from 7,500 years ago. It is part of a legume family called Fabaceae, which includes peas and sweet peas.

Dried chickpeas are a tough legume that requires a lengthy amount of cooking to make it ready to consume. They are usually rapidly boiled for ten to 15  minutes and then simmered for two to three hours. To speed up the process, you can soak them for 12-24hrs prior to cooking and shorten the simmering time  down to 30 minutes. Most people skip this time-consuming procedure and buy the canned variety.  This is a fantastic  option to have, as long as you choose a brand that uses the minimum amount of salt needed for preservation. By the way, the  water that you discard from the can, or from your pot after cooking is called “aquafaba.” If you haven’t heard of it before, stay tuned, as we hope to experiment with this ingredient soon in our own recipes. It is a liquid which contains nutrients from the legumes cooked in it, and can even be used as an egg substitute in some recipes!

Chickpeas are also the main ingredient in hummus when combined with tahini and spices. There are many ways to enjoy chickpeas, including in soups, in salads, or as a main dish. They are well-known and regarded for their protein content. One cup of cooked chickpeas provides about 11 grams of protein, while delivering  just 210 calories. This plant protein comes packed with 10 grams of fiber, vitamin B6, iron, calcium and magnesium. With that many nutrients in play, chickpeas are ideal as a main dish any day!

Our recipe below takes this mild tasting legume and infuses it with rich, deep flavors to elevate this simple bean to entrée status. A thick and creamy sauce made up of ginger, olive oil, red peppers, onions and cashew butter complements the texture of garbanzos. Steamed carrots and yellow summer squash complete the dish forming a delicious vegetable stew. Serve it warm with a side of brown rice, or by itself as soup.

Cashew butter thickens this sauce without overpowering the taste of the spices and vegetables. Most nut butters work well as thickeners to sauces, but their flavor comes through in the result. At times, this is just what you want, but when you are looking for a thickener that doesn’t impact or clash with other ingredients, then cashew butter should be your first choice.

Let us know if you try this recipe and how you like it in the comments section below. Since it is a vegetable stew, the more veggies you add, the better. Feel free to add zucchini, eggplant, beets or whatever is in season at the time in your area.

Chickpea and Veggie Stew on Once Again Nut Butter Blog, gluten free and vegan

Chickpea Veggie Stew

¼ cup of chopped onions

2 tablespoons of fresh minced garlic

½ cup chopped red peppers

½ cup sliced carrots

2 medium sized summer squash, diced

2 cups (or 1 can) of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ teaspoon of dried ginger

4 tablespoons of Once Again Nut Butter Creamy Cashew Butter

1 ¼ cups of vegetable broth

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

First, steam carrots and summer squash for about 10 minutes, until soft. In separate medium sauce pan, add olive oil, garlic, ginger, onions and peppers. Let it sizzle for a few minutes until the onion is starting to brown. Then add in broth and cashew butter and bring everything  to a boil and then remove from stove top heat. Using a had processor or blender, blend mixture until smooth. Return the mixture to the  stovetop set at medium heat ,and add in squash, carrots and chickpeas. Cook for about 10 minutes and serve warm! It’s optional to serve this stew with brown rice or noodles!

Cinnamon Crackers

Ever wonder why some people crave sweets while others don’t care for them  as much? Some of the explanations can be found in our DNA! The chances of you having a sweet tooth for life may have started as early as your life in the womb. Studies show that our ability to taste begins when we are still a fetus. Amniotic fluid can transfer flavors, and these very first exposures can stick with you after birth. Some people are born very sensitive to sugar, while others are sensitive to salty, sour, or bitter tastes and foods.

Our taste buds perceive four basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. You have about 10,000 taste buds! Each one connected to a sensory neuron that relays information about a flavor to the brain. Every person has different taste buds. Genetics isn’t completely responsible for your preferences though, In the early years of your life, your experiences play an important part in determining if you’ll have a sweet tooth. For example, if you were constantly rewarded with candy as a toddler for good behavior, your brain made the emotional connection of pleasure and satisfaction with your  sugar intake. Perhaps this knowledge gives us  an opportunity  to change the next generation? I’ll leave it to you to think about that possibility!

If you are one that struggles with a high affinity for sugar and would like to better curb those cravings, then cinnamon could be your answer. Although not likely to resolve sugar urges completely, cinnamon has the power to decrease some of your sugar cravings. As a matter of fact, a tablespoon of peanut butter can also help fight against a lust for sugar.

Cinnamon, a common spice you probably have in your pantry, has many health benefits most aren’t aware of. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, and it is an excellent source of fiber and trace minerals such manganese, and it’s a good source of calcium. This combination is important and can be helpful for prevention of several health conditions.

It is a great idea to add a tablespoon of cinnamon to your fruit, or other high starch foods such as cereals and breads. The  addition of cinnamon can help lessen the impact of the sugar in your blood . Cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after a meal, therefore reducing the rapid rise in blood sugars after consuming  food. It also helps those with Type 2 Diabetes improve their ability to respond to insulin, and hopefully decrease their need for medication by normalizing their blood sugar levels on their own.

However, there is much more to learn about cinnamon. The scientific community is not done researching the health benefits of the many spices and herbs we have available for our culinary creations. That is something to look forward to and embrace: a whole new way to taste foods beyond just sugary or salty options!

Our recipe today is a great example of how to use cinnamon to enhance the natural sugar flavor of  foods. Cinnamon crackers are fantastic to snack on or to enjoy as a desert. The recipe uses coconut sugar and pecan flour to also reduce the carbohydrate in the final product, making it a more diabetic-diet friendly food. It naturally contains a bit more protein and healthy fat than your average cinnamon cracker. Enjoy it with a cup of hot tea for a relaxing experience that could replace a high sugar desert in your daily nutritional routine.

Cinnamon Crackers made with Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter

Cinnamon Crackers

½ cup Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter, lightly sweetened

3 tablespoons of sugar or coconut sugar

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

2 tablespoons of pecan flour

1 egg (at room temperature)

2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Topping:

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

½ teaspoon sugar (optional) or use coconut sugar.

In medium bowl, mix sunflower seed butter with sugar, coconut oil and egg. Add in pecan flour, cinnamon and vanilla. The mixture will be the texture of a soft cookie dough. Spread it over  a cookie sheet, pre-sprayed with non-stick spray. Using a spatula, spread out the mixture thinly without causing any holes. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon mixture on top of it.  The mixture should cover an area of about 10×12 inches. You may also use parchment paper instead to line the sheet. Bake for 45-50 minutes at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Take out of oven and allow it to cool completely before scoring and cracking into pieces. Store in airtight container for up to seven  days.