Month: July 2015

DIY Candy: Chocolate Almond Cups

Many of my friends say my children are deprived and live a sad life because I removed food dyes and most artificial preservatives from their diet, which in turn means that they have pretty much no candy!  Well, little do they know that some of the best candies are made at home without any artificial ingredients. This recipe is one of my favorites to make on a Friday afternoon as a treat for my kids after a long and hard week at school. I don’t know what is more dangerous, the fact that you can eat 3 of them in 10 seconds because they are so good (a bit addictive too!) or that you can make them in under 5 minutes (takes another 20 in the freezer to set).

There are many variations of this recipe, taking into account all the toppings you can add and which Once Again nut butter you pick to mix in. This is the basic recipe that I’ll share with you below. Also, since it is a treat, I like to include the nutrient facts, so you know that even though it is in the candy category for me, it is still much healthier than other similar candies. Each serving (1 cup, recipe below makes 8) has about 112 calories and 9 grams of sugar. The sugar comes from honey which is a much better source than refined white sugar! There are about 8 grams of fat from the coconut oil and almond butter. Research has shown that coconut oil has a positive effect on our hormone for thyroid by helping increase metabolism and endurance, also improves insulin use within the body. Coconut oil has anti-viral properties which boost our immune system — not all fat is the same, and within recent years, nutritional research has lifted previous warnings against consuming coconut oils due to its high saturated fat content. This is a powerful little cup, filled with nutrients and it tastes just like candy, so indulge a little without guilt!

chocolate almond cup2Almond Chocolate Candy

¼ cup honey
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup cacao powder
1 tbsp. almond butter

Use coconut oil in liquid form, if you store it in the refrigerator you will need to slightly warm it to bring it to liquid again. Mix coconut oil and honey together first, then add in cacao powder and almond butter. Mix it well. This is the time to add some chopped nuts, dried fruits or even coconut flakes! Then pour in mini-muffin cups (silicone is best since it is super easy to remove them when ready!) and place in freezer for 20 minutes. Recipe makes 8 mini-cups. Store in freezer for up to 2 weeks.

chocolate almond cup3

How to make a Peanut Butter Apple Crisp the easy and healthier way!

How to make a Peanut Butter Apple Crisp the easy and healthier way!

“An apple a day will keep the doctor .” Who came up with that saying anyway? My research (done out of curiosity) yielded some interesting results! The phrase is from Wales, and it’s a variation from the original, a Pembrokeshire proverb: “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” The apple being an international symbol for health, combines here its properties as antioxidant, fiber and nutrient rich fruit with the fact that it was used as a “teeth cleaning” tool, since eating it would help remove all other stickier foods from their teeth and gum line.

Too much info? Perhaps, but it’s interesting to find out that the silly things we say can sometimes have much deeper meanings. With all of its shining qualities in mind, let’s get to our recipe:  Peanut Butter Apple Crisp! Apples are an excellent choice to include in your daily diet, and they are versatile; you can enjoy them in so many different ways. Simply washing and eating them is the favorite of many, but slicing them up and smothering them in peanut butter is a close second. I use pureed apples20150426_193149112_iOS in baked goods to add sweetness and moisture. As a matter of fact, many people substitute applesauce in equal parts in recipes that call for oil and achieve healthier results without compromising taste and texture.

The Peanut Butter Apple Crisp recipe can be made in a pie dish to serve several people, or even in individual baking dish for single servings! It only takes minutes to prepare before going in the oven, and the ingredients are likely ones you stock in  your pantry. Warning: you may be tempted to make this recipe tonight, and we highly recommend that you give into  those feelings and enjoy a nice healthy bowl of 20150426_202407804_iOSit and share  your review with us.

Below you’ll find the recipe for the larger batch — as well as a reduced recipe for just one serving. If you make the larger batch and don’t devour the entire pan at once (when warm out of the oven with a nice scoop of ice cream), it makes a great topping for yogurt the next morning!

                     Peanut Butter Apple Crisp

20150426_202635484_iOS(Measurements for one serving appear  in parentheses)

3 large apples, cubed (1/2 apple)
4 tbsps. Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter (1 tbsp.)
1 lemon (1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice)
1 tsp. cinnamon (1/4 tsp.)
1 cup oats (1/4 cup)
2 tbsps. Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter (1/2 tbsp.)
1 tsps. cinnamon (1/4 tsp.)

Apple crispStart by mixing the 4 tbsps of Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter with the juice of 1 lemon. If you’re peanut butter was refrigerated, then first warm it up in saucepan for just a few minutes, this makes it much easier to mix in the lemon juice. Now add cinnamon and stir well. Fold in the apples until they are well coated in the mixture. Place it in a baking dish and sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on top. For the crumb, in a small bowl mix the 2 tbsp Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter with oats, forming a crumbly mixture. There will be larger chunks in it, and that is what makes it so good! Add cinnamon and mix it in the crumb. Now top the apple mixture in the baking dish with the crumb mixture and bake for 45 minutes at 350F. Enjoy it warm! Or place it in covered dish and save it in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Top 5 One- Day-Hiking Essentials

20150420_132458000_iOSAlthough I’m fairly new to hiking, I have always been a planner; making lists and checking things off is something I live for (What can I say? It’s the little things!). Each day’s adventure requires some real work and preparations.  Once the trail is picked, you can easily make a list of essential items you must pack. That list always starts with the same 5 things I will never go without on a hike, for safety reasons, as well as to ensure an enjoyable  and memorable trip.

If you haven’t planned and taken a full day hike, you must schedule some time for one soon! Regardless of where you live, there is likely a hidden spot you’ve yet to explore. Most people don’t realize all the nature that is around them until they take the time to plan a day trip. Just a short 25- minute drive from where I live, there is a park with trails varying in distance from 3 miles up to 22 miles long. During my first- time adventure there, I wasn’t quite as prepared as I might have been and struggled a bit to finish the journey   on time, so by necessity, this list below became my must- haves for a day’s hiking trip. Even though there were some challenges, at  times we spotted   wild turkeys, encountered some  alligators, and  were  able to see over 10 varieties of oak trees (I should explain that I have a life-long obsession with trees, and I collect leaves) made it all worth it in the end!

  1. Sun protection – Pack a sunscreen that is safe to use on your face as well as your body.  You can find some now that come with bug repellent, and this is not a bad idea! Two jobs accomplished in one application is great. Also, the smaller the size the better — it’s a day trip and you don’t want to add too much weight to your pack. Also a lip balm, hat and sunglasses help. Even if it’s a warm day, I like to wear a long sleeve shirt and pants when hiking through vegetation.   You can search online for some great gear now with UV protection made with light materials that will keep your body cooler.
  2. Rain poncho – I found one that is just perfect for day hikes. It folds up very small, but when open it is big enough to cover me and my pack. It also serves as a great “tarp” to sit on during eating breaks, and it serves as an emergency cover if you need it. It is imperative that you check the weather extensively before you go on your one day hike, and you should always be prepared with a poncho.
  3. Swiss Army knife f gadget – This item makes me feel a bit like “MacGyver” every time I use it. You never know when you need to snip a branch, or cut a piece of clothing, or patch up broken gear. Bring along a small roll of duct tape, as a supplement for your gadget.
  4. Hydration – Don’t just bring a small water bottle! It is important to remember the amount of refreshment you need to bring. You will be carrying it the entire time; therefore, weight will be an issue. You want to stay hydrated before going on your hike; as preparation, drink up to one quart of water an hour before taking off for your hike; then carry with you about 1 quart for each 2 hours of hiking time. It’s not a bad idea to invest in a water bottle with a filtration system, so you can refill from water sources along the trail when hiking for longer periods of time.
  5. Food – This is another very important element for a full day hike. You must have fuel to complete your journey but weight is an issue as well as portability. You need the kind of food that will sustain you for long periods without refrigeration. The nutrition you bring with you should also be balanced in terms of carbohydrate, protein and fat. Avoid foods that may be irritating to your digestive system since you will be walking for long periods of time. Of course, I must bring along  on  every hike no matter how long it is, my essentials: Once Again Nut Butter Almond Butter Packs. The single packs are the perfect size for a snack, or if you may bring along some bread or tortilla for lunch as well and slather it with the nut butter. A single Organic Lightly Toasted Almond Butter pack has 200 calories, 7 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of carbohydrates.

IMG_2223Recently, my husband and 4 of his  went on a 4- day hike in the North Carolina’s mountains; packing gear plus the essentials was a challenge. I was quite the hero when I gifted a box to each one of them of the Once Again Nut Butter Single packs! Big score for the “best wife ever.”

Share with us where your hiking adventures take you and Once Again Nut Butter! Please post photos on your social media, and use #OnceAgainNutButter and tag us, we’ll be happy to repost and share your photos! (twitter: @onceagaincoop Instagram: @once_Again_Nut_Butter)


Eat for Glowing Skin!

Tired of spending money on creams for your skin and really never getting the glow that the girl on the picture in front of the tube is showing off? Well, the missing link may actually be in your diet. What you eat will directly impact your skin’s health. In general, we are all too familiar with the knowledge that two nights of pizza and chips in a row will lead to some pimples and oily skin. Often we associate the negative effects of what we eat with negative outcomes on our skin. There is another side to this story –that’s the good news. Eating antioxidant rich foods, foods high in vitamin E, selenium and collagen, on a regular basis, will give you radiant and younger looking skin.

Here are the top 8 foods you can eat every day for healthier skin:

  1. Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter: Loaded with vitamin E, sunflower seeds keep your skin young by protecting its top layers from the sun. It is rich and high in essential fatty acids, and just a little goes a long way! Eat 2 tablespoons per day, and even apply it topically to treat extremely dry body parts such as lips and heels. Check recipe below!
  2. Kidney Beans: They’re high in zinc; studies have shown a correlation between blemishes and low zinc levels. Kidney beans goes along with zinc’s healing properties. Just 4 ounces will do the trick; eat them daily for best results. The good news is that beans are also good for just about every other part of your body, too!
  3. Pineapple: Or any other tropical fruit such as papaya, kiwi, guava, are all rich in Vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant helps protect your skin form the damages of sun rays and its damaging free radicals. Vitamin C also aids in the body’s production of collagen, a protein that keeps your skin firm and elastic.
  4. Once Again Almond Butter: Almonds are a great source for vitamin E, which nourishes your skin and protects it against free radicals as well. Besides being delicious, it is also super- versatile and easy to eat daily!
  5. Carrots: These veggies are high in beta carotene, which is an antioxidant that is converted to vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A aids in skin tissue repair while also offering protection from damaging sun rays. Eat them raw or cooked! When cooked, they have even more beta-carotene.
  6. Salmon: or herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and rainbow trout all have omega 3 fatty acids, fortifiers for skin cell membranes, and again, protectors from sun damage. (Do I sound like a broken record here with the sun damage…? Well, that’s your skin’s number one enemy!) They also fight inflammation, help keep toxins out, and reduce the risk of cancer! Avoid frying your fish though: try them grilled or baked.
  7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This wonder oil is rich in antioxidants like polyphenols, and phytosterols. It is good when applied topically, helping prevent premature aging, and it doesn’t clog pores. It is great as an exfoliant too!  When you add it to your daily intake, it helps restore skin smoothness and protect against the ravages of UV light. As a bonus, its monounsaturated fat and unsaturated fat composition are known to promote cardiovascular health.
  8. Water: Skin depends on moisture to stay flexible. Just mild dehydration can lead to dry, tired and grayish-toned The trick is to drink water routinely, throughout the day! When you work indoors, you may forget about water since you are not sweating, so always carry a bottle of water, or try infused water with fruit for some flavor!

The best part of this list is that all of the foods in it will not only help your skin but different systems in your body, as well, such as the cardiovascular system, nervous system and digestive tract. So eat them up and enjoy the experience! They are easy to incorporate on a daily basis, too!

20150527_201510561_iOSSunny Carrot Shake

2 tbs. Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter
½ Cup shaved fresh carrots
1 tbs. honey
½ tsp. ginger powder
¾ cup chilled almond milk
½ cup crushed ice
Place all ingredients in blender and mix. Enjoy chilled!