Month: May 2017

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.