Month: March 2015

Pre and Post- Workout Snacks: Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Pre and Post- Workout Snacks: Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Sometimes working up the energy and willpower to go on a 5-mile run sounds much like the soundtrack to one of Rocky Balboa’s movies. I tell myself I can do it, and before you know it, I’ve at least gotten my shoes laced up and the iPod ready to go. The feeling you get when you finish that run or similar workout is again much like victory after a boxing match. Joking aside, one of the most important things in the planning of my workout is the pre and post-snacks. I don’t often exercise long enough (usually 1-2 hours max) to need a mid-exercise fuel as well, but the pre and post-snacks are a must. After a few years of studying nutrition and getting some valuable experience, and after gleaning knowledge from the nutrition experts in the University of Florida’s athletic program, I’ve learned that what you eat after a workout is just as significant as what you eat before.

The before snack or meal is best taken within 1-2 hours of the workout, as it provides the energy you’ll need during exercise. The post-workout snack will repair muscle tissue and replenish glycogen stores. But the best piece of information I have to share is that those two snacks are very similar in terms of what they should contain. They both need to have some quality carbs, preferably a slow-release whole grain to fuel your entire workout, and lean protein: your muscles need amino acids for repair, and lean protein has just that.

Eating within 1 to 2 hours before starting the activity will allow your body to stock up on and utilize enough energy without compromising performance. Feeling bloated and full just before workouts is not part of the program. Most people grasp the concept of eating before exercise: it allows for a longer period of activity with better results. On the other hand, the post-workout snack is something most people have to get used to and include in their routine. But those 30 minutes post-workouts are crucial for replenishing your body; after all, there is another workout to look forward to, usually the next day!

20150131_213725643_iOSAfter a run or workout, it goes without saying that you should drink water, but eating something right away is not on most people’s mind, including mine. The idea of eating a sandwich or drinking a 12 ounce protein shake just did not work for me. (Those are great options by the way, if they appeal to you!) But I found it hard to adapt to them. Hence my Energy Bites materialized. They fit the bill for a pre-workout snack, as well as the post-snack. And they are perfect small- portion- sized bites that I can eat after a long run without upsetting my stomach.

They have good quality carbohydrates derived from the oats; due to their fiber content, they provide that slow- release energy that will provide a boost for the entire duration of your exercise. Additionally, the protein from the peanut butter and chia seeds is perfect for muscle repair. Post-workout calls for some quick energy, which the honey and coconut provide. They are pretty easy to make, as you can see on the short video below, and you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Timing is more important than quantity when talking about pre and post-workout snacks. Focus on eating a snack- sized portion of quality carbohydrate and lean protein, and don’t worry so much about how many grams you’re consuming, unless you are training for a marathon or long distance challenge that will require more specific guidelines. And even in those situations, these Energy Bites are a great choice!

20150131_215429477_iOSPeanut Butter Energy Bites
makes 12 servings
½ cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter
2 ½ tbsps. honey
½ cup quick oats
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup chopped nuts
¼ cup raisins
Add Once Again peanut butter and honey to bowl, and mix well. Add oats and chia seeds, and mix again. Lastly, add the coconut, nuts, and raisins. Cool mixture in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, and then roll into small balls. Store in air-tight container in refrigerator.

Watch the video here:

Do athletes need more protein?

The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for protein is 0.8g/kg of body weight per day for adult men and women. This number is based on what the body needs to maintain a positive nitrogen balance; a negative nitrogen balance means that muscle is being broken down to be used as energy (not ideal since we have fat and carbohydrates for energy). But recently there have been many studies — doctors and nutritionists brought  to light that to simply maintain nitrogen balance is not optimal for good health, therefore, making the RDA just the bare minimum for all adults.

bikingAthletes have an extraordinary demand for energy, especially those who participate in long-duration activities such as practices lasting over two hours at any given time. Once other sources of energy are used up, bodies start to break down muscle protein for energy, resulting in a negative nitrogen balance. Most athletes already have changed their intake to adapt to a higher protein need, but what about adults who exercise 2-4 times per week, giving about an hour to each session? They aren’t necessarily your description of competitive athletes, people entering races and challenges; rather they are exercising for health, as a hobby and just for fun.  Do they also need higher levels of protein? The answer is yes! Some suggest that “recreational athletes” should aim for 1.1 to 1.4g/kg. of body weight per day for protein intake, while marathon runners should increase to 1.2 – 2.0 g/kg. of body weight, likewise, per day.

The greater number of hours and intensity of exercise will translate to higher protein needs. That’s not to say you can do itcarbohydrates and fats aren’t also important. They each have a role and are an integral part of an athlete’s diet. It is crucial to consume enough calories to support your body through your personal exercise regimen. There is no indication that a high-protein diet is required; however, maintaining 10% to 35% of your calorie consumption from protein is ideal. Although there is no upper range for protein, it is believed that an intake above 35% of calories coming from protein may be detrimental to health since it will leave the other sources (carbohydrates and fats) below the recommended levels.

joggingThis looks like a good time to remind you that most athletes (professionals included) get a share of their protein intake from nuts and nut butters! They are an easy source of protein and so very versatile to add to your diet and overall routine! Fruit slices with peanut butter, almond butter- based smoothies, or just a tablespoon of Once Again Nut Butter after a workout will do! Whether you work out once a week or every day, Once Again Nut Butter is the perfect fit for you.

… keep active and eat well,


What is folate and are you getting enough?

Folic acid is a B-vitamin, also known as folate. Folate is the naturally occurring form, while folic acid is the synthetic, lab- made form. Our body needs folate to create new cells: it works in the production of DNA and RNA, which is our fundamental genetic material. It is crucial for proper brain function and even plays a role in mental and emotional health.

Most people relate folic acid with pregnancy and infancy. Indeed, during child- bearing years, women should take at least 400-800 mcg of folic acid daily to prevent brain and neural tube defects in fetuses. Women of all ages should make sure their diet is rich in folate and take a supplement daily to meet those higher than usual needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Folate is important for men and women during all stages of life. Research shows that people who consume higher levels of dietary folate may have an advantage when it comes to heart disease prevention, one more reason to double check if you are getting enough of this folate. Research also shows that most Americans are not getting enough of this vitamin.

Now that you’re tuned in to your needs, just where can you find this powerful vitamin?

Green leafy vegetables, citrus, beans, and fortified grains are great sources of folate. Another good source that is not often mentioned comes to mind: peanut butter! Just 2 tablespoons of Once Again Creamy peanut butter will deliver 10% of your daily requirement.

So there you go, just one more reason to enjoy an extra serving of peanut butter every day! It will help you meet your folate needs, not to mention provide 7 super grams of protein in those 2 tablespoons. As a dietitian, I often turn to nut butters to meet many of my client’s needs — it is just that powerful!


Classic with a Twist: Peanut Butter Cookies – Vegan and Gluten-Free!

Classic with a Twist: Peanut Butter Cookies – Vegan and Gluten-Free!

Recently a friend asked if I could make some cookies to bring to a meeting. I am usually the one who brings the food to all our gatherings since I like to cook, and I am excited to have some “taste testers” for my new recipes. A cookie is a pretty easy request, but my challenge was to make a classic cookie with only vegan and gluten-free ingredients since we were honored to have a prestigious guest at our meeting that week, and she had those dietary restrictions.

After the excitement wore off, the panic set in! The most important quality in my recipes is that they must always taste good. When you say “classic” and “cookie” together, a few come to mind: chocolate chip, sugar, and peanut butter, for example, all of which call for wheat flour (not gluten-free) and butter (not vegan).  The classic peanut butter cookie is not only my favorite but the one in which you can increase the peanut butter and leave out the butter, therefore, solving the vegan dilemma.

20150206_225214831_iOSMy favorite gluten-free flour is derived from oats. It is very versatile, and it’s super-easy to make on your own at home. I start with about 1 cup of whole oats and process them in a food processor for about 1 minute, which yields about ¾ cup of oatmeal flour. It will be a coarse flour, one in which you can still see some of the oat flakes, but that’s my preferred type to bake with anyway. It holds moisture more readily, and it is easy to swap one- to- one for wheat flour.

Those two swaps made this recipe for Classic Peanut Butter cookies a winner! They are crunchy around the edges and just chewy enough in the center.  We often make accommodations for dietary needs 20150206_233536054_iOSnowadays when entertaining or feeding family, but you don’t have to compromise when it comes to taste and texture. The recipes that are most successful are those that still use wholesome ingredients and let that one main flavor shine through; in this case, that’s the peanut butter! The Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter is the star, and its flavor is what makes this cookie one of my all-time favorites. It doesn’t hurt either that the oat flour adds a bit of fiber that you wouldn’t find in the regular cookie recipe!

… enjoy,


Peanut Butter Cookies – Vegan and Gluten-free20150206_235332910_iOS

1 cup sugar
2 tsps. vanilla extract
¾ cup oat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup water
1 cup Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter
In a large mixing bowl, cream together sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla. Next, add oat flour, baking soda, salt, and last, the water. Mix well, and then using your hands, roll into small balls. Place on baking sheet, and employing the back of a fork, flatten out each cookie. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until edges are golden. This recipe will make 18-24 cookies, depending on size of each serving.