Month: May 2015

Calcium: It’s Not Just in Milk! Recipe for Almond- Flax Quick Bread

“If you want strong bones, you have to drink milk.” Well, that is a powerful phrase that many of us have heard before. And these words may be the reason why it’s recommended that most children and adults drink milk.   However, this is not the only way to build strong bones. What do you do, for example, when a person is dairy-sensitive? What about vegans? And what are the recommendations for kids who are allergic to dairy? Where can they get their calcium and vitamin D?

There is no question that we do indeed need calcium! Not only our bones, but calcium is also integral for nerve and muscle function, as well as blood clotting. When we don’t get enough calcium in our diet to maintain proper metabolic function, the calcium is extracted from your bones.  The calcium recommendation for adults age 19-50 years and men 51-70 years is 1000 mg. per day. For women over 51 years of age and men over 70, the recommendation is for 1200 mg. per day.  One cup of milk has somewhere between 275 and 300 mg. of calcium, which makes it a great source of the mineral. But that is not the only great source of calcium easily found in your grocery store! Table 1 below will show you several vegan foods that are just as good, if not better sources for calcium. For example, just one cup of collard greens will provide up to 357 mg. of calcium.

There are several supplements available as well that you can purchase to help you achieve the recommended values for calcium intake. But I suggest you take a look at your current diet and analyze if you need the supplement — or if you are able to increase your intake of some calcium- rich foods instead. The answer is very individualized, but at least once a year everyone should try setting aside a few days to keep a food journal. Afterward, you can analyze it to isolate areas that need nutritional improvement. Most vitamin and mineral- rich foods are healthy choices that will improve your quality of life as you habitually consume more of them.

Here is the best news about calcium today! Did you know that you can meet 10% of your daily needs for calcium with just two tablespoons of Once Again Almond Butter? Recipes that include almond butter will include a calcium boost, too! Adding Once Again Almond Butter to your smoothies is a great way to add calcium and a surge of natural sweetness.

The recipe below for Almond- Flax Quick Bread is amazing! It is pretty simple to prepare, and the bread is fluffy — and just sweet enough. The added flax seeds provide fiber and protein. Make it for breakfast, afternoon tea, a post-workout snack, or whenever you crave something baked but are still looking for something nutrient- rich, too!

Table: Calcium Content of Selected Vegan Foods
Food Amount Calcium (mg.)
Blackstrap molasses 2 Tbsp 400
Collard greens, cooked 1 cup 357
Other plant milks, calcium-fortified 8 ounces 300-500
Tofu, processed with calcium sulfate* 4 ounces 200-420
Calcium-fortified orange juice 8 ounces 350
Soy or rice milk, commercial, calcium-fortified, plain 8 ounces 200-300
Commercial soy yogurt, plain 6 ounces 300
Turnip greens, cooked 1 cup 249
Tofu, processed with nigari* 4 ounces 130-400
Tempeh 1 cup 184
Kale, cooked 1 cup 179
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 175
Bok choy, cooked 1 cup 158
Mustard greens, cooked 1 cup 152
Okra, cooked 1 cup 135
Tahini 2 Tbsp 128
Navy beans, cooked 1 cup 126
Almond butter 2 Tbsp 111
Almonds, whole 1/4 cup 94
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 62
*Read the label on your tofu container to see if it is processed with calcium sulfate or nigari.
Note: Oxalic acid, which is found in spinach, rhubarb, chard, and beet greens binds with the calcium in those foods and reduces its absorption. These foods should not be considered good sources of calcium. Calcium in other green vegetables is well absorbed (1,18). Dietary fiber has little effect on calcium absorption.
Sources: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24, 2011 and manufacturers’ information.

20150308_192312439_iOSAlmond- Flax Quick Bread
4 bananas
½ cup sugar
2 flax eggs (or regular eggs if not vegan)
¼ cup Once Again Crunchy Almond Butter
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1/5 cup ground flax seeds

Mash bananas well, and then add sugar and Once Again Crunchy Almond Butter and mix until blended smooth. Add eggs and beat with a mixer at low speed. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and flax seeds. Then blend into the wet mixture. Pour into a greased pan and bake it in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees   oven for about 40 minutes.

Take Control: Granola Bars!

Take Control: Granola Bars!

Several years ago I was a huge fan of a show of called “Semi Homemade.” It was the perfect show for a beginner in the kitchen like me, inspiring me to create and recreate so many different recipes. The idea that you can take some short cuts while making certain dishes and baked goods and the results are still homemade proved fantastic for me. It made many complex recipes achievable! Most of us struggle with having enough time to complete all our daily tasks; on top of that,  having to cook  long and challenging recipes so that we can have home- cooked meals, explains why so many turn to fast food.

Granola bars have been a staple in my house for quite a while. Before, the kids, my husband, and I relied on the more processed and protein- rich bars to get us through long afternoons at work, or we reached for them for a quick snack after a workout snack on the ride home before we started cooking dinner. Now with kids around, our granola bars are a bit less protein- loaded and have some extra nutrients, so the kids can enjoy them, too. We have also become very “picky” when choosing the right bars. They must have no artificial colors or flavors but must contain some fiber and protein, that is, wholesome ingredients.  And of course, they should, of course taste good! This results in paying a bit more for snacks and straining my budget. .

Inspired by my go-to method of cooking: semi homemade style, my weekend project was to create a granola bar that I could easily put together and have enough variations so each member of the family could have their favorites in the rotation.  I called this blog “Taking Control” because when we purchase a packaged granola, we leave much of the decision making about ingredients up to the manufacturer. When I make granola bars at home, I have free reign over what to include and how to sweeten my snacks. I can use superior quality ingredients like Once Again nut butters, from a brand I trust. It then takes just minutes to mix it all up and make my very own homemade granola bars!

Ingredients Once AgainHere are a few tips to create yours! It’s so much easier than you may think. Use Once Again nut butter  whichever  kind you prefer; I recommend variations of  almond, cashew, peanut, and  sunflower, each time you make them) to hold all your ingredients together. Honey or maple syrup will also help your ingredients stick together while adding sweetness. Use oats, flakes, cereals and puffed rice or quinoa as your bulking ingredient; they add fiber and crunch. Nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are the ingredients to have fun with and personalize the bars to taste. In the recipe below, I used a ratio of ¾ cup of Once Again nut butter to ½ cup of honey, which makes a batch about 12 bars similar in overall size to most boxed granola bars sold in stores. Keep the same ratios in the recipe below, but alternate the ingredients you use. This recipe requires no baking at all! After just 10-15 minutes in the refrigerator, the bars will set and be ready to eat. Keep your leftovers in an airtight container and consume them within 3-5 days. I like to put each bar in a small plastic bag with a seal, so they can go into lunchboxes easily.

Enjoy making your own and share your results with us!


Once Again Nut Butter Granola BarNutty Crisp Granola Bar

1 ¾ cup Rice crispy cereal
1 ¾ cup oats
¾ cup Once Again Peanut Butter
½ cup honey
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup chopped nuts
¼ cup Goji berries and cranberries

Over low heat, mix together Once Again Peanut Butter and honey, and in separate bowl, blend all other ingredients. Then pour the honey and peanut butter mixture over the dry mix. Mix well until all ingredients are coated. Pour into a baking pan lined with waxed or parchment paper. Spread with the back of a spatula,   pressing down lightly on the mixture. Let it set and cool for 10-15 minutes. . Then cut the set mixture into bars or squares. Refrigerate leftovers to preserve freshness. They can, however, be transported in lunchboxes and are safe at room temperature.

Watch the video below to see just how easy it is to make them!

Playtime in the Kitchen: Peanut Butter Crispy Recipe!

No matter how old you are, all it takes is one bite of a Peanut Butter Crispy treat to bring the biggest smile to your face! Something about the combination of crunchy and sweetness results in an inexplicable nostalgic feeling of happy childhood times. The traditional treat recipe includes loads of marshmallow melted at low heat, which although a simple step, always resulted in burned pans and a sticky mess in my kitchen. So why not solve two issues at once? No more burned pans and another treat satisfying my insatiable craving for peanut butter! Use equal parts of Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter (you can use the creamy too!) and honey for the perfect mixture to pour over the crispy rice cereal. Let it cool for a few minutes, and cut the mixture into squares, or use cookie cutters and get creative.

This recipe is a fun way to invite kids into the kitchen. They can handle the mixing step all on their own, spreading the mixture into the pan and pressing it down with a spatula. These are   simple steps that can boost their self-esteem and spark their interest in cooking. Most traditional holidays are associated with family time in the kitchen, but baking cookies can be a time challenge; however, these Peanut Butter Crispy treats can be made in 20 minutes from start to finish! And no baking skills are required.

Take it to the next level, by adding dried fruit and nuts to the mixture for a more gourmet- like treat. Sometimes I lie in bed trying to fall asleep and think about different combinations to add to my crispy treats! Seriously, I may just have to open a Gourmet Crispy Treat store one day with all sorts of different flavors. What would you think about a Peanut Butter Crispy Treat with chocolate chips and red pepper flakes?

Go ahead and create your own version of a peanut butter crispy gourmet treat and please share your version with us! I promise to make at least one combo you suggest and post a photo on our Facebook page!

Once Again Rice TreatPeanut Butter Crispy Treats

4 cups Rice Crispy cereal

½ cup honey

½ cup Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter

Heat honey and crunchy peanut butter in small sauce pan. Then pour the mixture over the rice cereal and stir well. Pour the mixture into a small pan lined with waxed paper, and using a spatula press down evenly. Let is set for a few minutes before cutting.