Tag: nutrition

Chocolate Tahini Cups

The hashtag “hump day” as it refers to Wednesdays has been around for some time now, and it continues to be quite popular, yes, weekly. Many take  to social media to express their struggle with getting through that middle day of the week. It is far enough from the weekend so that you’re no longer refreshed, and unfortunately it remains still two days away from the next upcoming weekend when you can hopefully catch up on  some of that rest again. People choose different small ways to make their Wednesdays a bit easier. Perhaps a short walk during their lunch breaks which may include a fancy coffee. Exercise can help, too: a quick jump in the pool to refresh  mind and body during summer weeks, or a yoga session. The most common way to release stress and lighten the burden of the dreaded Wednesday is with a sweet treat and a glass of wine (or beer, or any other adult beverage that helps one relax at the end of the day).

Yet, should that one sweet treat mid-week, necessary to help you survive the day, ruin the entire week of healthy eating and exercise? Absolutely not! So here enters our chocolate tahini cups that will extinguish  that need for a sugar pick-me-up, ironically without any white sugar at all!

The recipe for Chocolate Tahini Cups includes ingredients targeted to specifically fulfill your needs during  those slavishly long Wednesdays. The coconut oil in this recipe plays its  part by satiating your untimely hunger after dinner, honey provides natural sugar; cacao powder, of course, is a nutritional must and tahini delivers a creamy texture and earthy taste while delivering the protein. But who has time to make treats on a busy day in the middle of a work week? Well, these only take 5 minutes to prepare, and since they are kept in the freezer, they can be made over the weekend and stored for those “emergency” times when you simply must have something sweet!

We all rely on tricks and sometimes “crutches” to get us through stressful times, but shouldn’t those edible  refuges from the daily “grind” not also fit into  our overall goals for health? They can, and they should! Feel free to make this recipe your own by altering a few ingredients. For example, if you are vegan, substitute maple syrup for honey.  For those trying to increase their probiotic intake, add a dollop of Greek- style yogurt to the top of each cup before freezing these treats.  Instead of chocolate chips, you may stir  in chopped dried sour cherries for a sweet-and-sour taste surprise . Make these cups gourmet by adding a sprinkle of kosher salt on top before freezing them. Go wherever  your creativity takes you.  We would love to see what you come up with, so please share your inspirations on our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account, and tag us including the hashtag  #humpdaytreats.

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Chocolate Tahini Cups

½ cup of Once Again Nut Butter Tahini, unsweetened and salt free

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

2 tablespoons of Once Again Killer Bee Honey

2 tablespoons of unsweetened cacao powder

Chocolate chips, optional

Mix Once Again Tahini with coconut oil. Make sure the coconut oil is liquid at room temperature prior to mixing with Tahini. Now add honey and cacao powder and mix all ingredients  well. Pour into molds and sprinkle with chocolate chips (optional).  Freeze for 30 minutes, then remove these treats from the mold and enjoy! Store leftovers  in freeze.  These treats melt fast when at room temperature. So keep them frosty cold!

All Your Seeds

Are seeds really good for you? Over  the past few years, we have really turned our attention to seeds and all the nutrients they each contain. More so than ever, we are all using seeds routinely, sometimes as an ingredient, sometimes as a topping and other times as substitute for various  components of a recipe. Perhaps the best part of this “seed revolution” is that we are discovering new ways to enjoy them and add them to our diets.

Given this trend, this seems like a great opportunity to review some of the most commonly used seeds and how they can each add to your good health! Besides their protein and fiber contents, seeds also have vitamins and minerals. And of course, in true Once Again fashion, we will give you a recipe to use all these seeds at once. Let’s begin with sunflower seeds. Once Again Nut Butter has two options of Sunflower Seed Butter for you to choose from, one that contains organic sunflower seeds, organic sugar cane and Salt, and another with organically grown, roasted sunflower seeds that are milled smooth with organic sunflower oil…and that’s it! Either one will have all the nutrients and benefits of sunflower seeds.

Let’s consider sunflower Seeds: A popular snack at baseball fields across the county, these tiny seeds pack more than just a satisfying crunch. They are rich in vitamin E and folate. Just a quarter  cup of sunflower seeds supplies over 60% of your daily needs of vitamin E. This combination makes them powerful in promoting cardiovascular health. Vitamin E also neutralizes free radicals as an antioxidant protecting your brain and other cells in your body. They also support healthy cholesterol levels  with high amounts of phytosterols. Sunflower seeds have magnesium which is required by our muscles and skeletal system to maintain proper function. Magnesium has an important role in your maintaining a good mood too. It has a calming effect and has been used in anti-depressant therapies with good results. Finally, let’s highlight the selenium content in sunflower seeds. . This essential nutrient has critical role in thyroid hormone metabolism and has been noted for its ability to encourage DNA repair in damaged cells.

Flaxseeds: They are made up of 18% protein and 42% fat. And that is the good news! The fat in flaxseeds is mostly polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-6 fatty acid and omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  They are one of the richest dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. ALA is an essential fatty acid, which means our body cannot produce it on its own. The fat composition of flaxseeds is what makes them significant fighters in reducing  the risk of various chronic diseases.  They are also a good source of thiamine (vitamin B1), copper, molybdenum, magnesium and phosphorus. One of the most talked about characteristics of flaxseeds is their fiber content. Two tablespoons of flaxseeds contain about 6 grams of fiber, of which 20-40% is soluble and 60-80%  insoluble, including cellulose and lignin. Lignins  are also known as phytoestrogens, which have been linked with benefits for cardiovascular health, metabolic syndrome stabilization and fighting several types of hormone-sensitive cancers.

Chia Seeds: These are fairly new to the scene but quickly gaining popularity. The fact that you don’t need to grind them is a plus! They have a high concentration of plant-based omega-3 fatty acid ALA, Something that I  mentioned above in the flaxseed discussion: They are powerful in lowering triglycerides, supporting healthy cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, depressing inflammatory activity and  promoting heart health.  In addition, chia seeds also have a number of phytochemicals such as myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol, each with its own unique benefits. These phytochemicals are known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.  Two tablespoons of chia seeds can provide 18% of your daily recommended value for calcium, 35% of phosphorus, 24% of magnesium, and 50% of manganese. Chia seeds provide another great choice to maintain heart, bone and overall health!

Sesame Seeds:  Sadly most people were introduced to sesame seeds on top of a hamburger bun. Hopefully we can separate the two and continue to include sesame seeds in our diet beyond just as sprinkle topping to buns. Are those tiny seeds worth our attention? Absolutely! You may have tried our tahini before, which is nothing more than ground sesame seeds. As a matter of fact, in one jar of tahini there are about 177,000 sesame seeds! They are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic acid. Oleic acids help lower LDL and increase HDL, helping prevent coronary artery diseases. They are also a good source of protein. In 100 grams of seeds, there are 18 grams of protein. These little seeds also pack a variety of phenolic anti-oxidants, which help decrease the harmful effects of free radicals in our body. Sesame seeds also contain folic acid (25% of recommended daily intake in just 100 grams of seeds), niacin, thiamin, vitamin B6 and riboflavin. As far as essential minerals, sesame seeds are surprisingly rich in calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium and copper, given  their small size!

Did you know quinoa is actually a seed, too ? Even though most people think of quinoa as a whole grain, it is actually a seed harvested from a plant called goosefoot; but I’ll leave that history for another post!

Although the reasons I’ve noted here are enough to make you look at seeds with a different perspective, the following recipe  will make you fall in love with seeds all over again. Or at the very least, you’ll have a great recipe for a snack, breakfast, post-workout  recovery, fiber- boost or any number of goals you’re trying to achieve with your diet. I suppose seeds aren’t just for birds after all! We should be taking notes  about  them and eating more seeds overall, too! Watch the video to see how easy this recipe  is to prepare.


All Your Seeds by Once Again Nut Butter

All Your Seeds

¼ cup of Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter, lightly salted
¼ cup of dried apricots
¼ cup of raisins
¼ cup of ground flaxseeds
¼ cup of unsweetened coconut
¼ cup of sunflower seeds, roasted
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
¼ cup of Once Again Killer Bee Honey
½ cup of coconut oil
¼ cup uncooked quinoa (or cooked)
1 ¾ cups of oats (pulsed to flour in food processor)
¼ teaspoon of baking soda

Start by pulsing oats in food processor until you obtain a flour-like consistency. Then add in apricots, raisins, flaxseeds, coconut, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and quinoa. Pulse a few times until the apricots are rendered in small, chopped bits. Lastly, add coconut oil, honey, Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter and baking soda. Pulse a few times until you obtain an even mixture. Add a spoonful to a mini-muffin tin sprayed with oil or buttered . Place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Wait until the bites cool before removing them from the muffin pan. Store them in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Thumbprint Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Thumbprint cookies have been around for a long time! Although there is some controversy as to exactly when they were first created however, there are records of them from the early 19th century. History is also not clear about whom to credit for this cookie’s creation either the Polish, Swedish or possibly the Jewish people of Eastern Europe. Regardless of their  exact origin, these cookies are to this day a favorite in our American bakeries and cookbooks.

I like to imagine that perhaps they came about by accident. A mother somewhere in Europe had just set out a pan of cookies ready to go in the oven, and in the meantime her children, while she wasn’t looking, wanted to check if the cookies were ready and one by one stuck his or her thumb into the cookies! To cover up their mistake the child  added some jam to each little “thumb-hole”. The mother saw the kids around the cookie pan and told them to scatter, quickly taking the pan to the oven without noticing what the kids had done. And just like that: the thumbprint cookie was born. !

Obviously there is no record of how it came about, but it’s fun to think about the possibilities. That brings me to why these are perfect cookies to bake with little fingers around. If you have kids around looking for something to do, this recipe is your answer to a fun and delicious activity to keep them busy. Children’s smaller- sized thumbs make the perfect indentations into these cookies for you to add a few chocolate chips. In case you don’t have little fingers around, just make the cookies bigger and use your own thumb of course. Another option is to use the back of a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon —  this tool will make the  perfect size.

Here are a few other notes about this particular thumbprint cookie recipe. The original is similar to a sugar cookie; this one, on the other hand, is a peanut butter cookie. Instead of vegetable oil, we used coconut oil. A few of our blogs have touched on  why we use coconut oil in baking (see here), but if you are not convinced yet, this is a good recipe to try. It is important to use the egg at room temperature when mixing it with coconut oil. The oil is liquid only at room temperature; when mixed into a cold liquid such as cold milk or eggs, it will solidify. This makes it very difficult to turn this mixture into a cookie dough. Lastly, we made this recipe two different ways: One using regular sugar, and once using sugar substitute (stevia was our choice). Both methods turned out fantastic! We noticed that with the sugar substitute, you need a little more time in the oven, so if choosing this method just carefully watch your cookies while they are in the oven. .

Don’t feel like you have to fill them with chocolate chips either! The choice is completely yours! You can choose jam, chopped nuts, dried fruits, or even an extra tiny dollop of peanut butter. Share with us what you decided to fill your cookies with and post in the comments’ section below. We can’t wait to hear about your version of this old- time, traditional cookie.

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Thumbprint Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

1 cup of whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon of baking powder
½ tablespoon of coconut oil
1 egg at room temperature
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon of Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter
½ cup of sugar or equivalent in sugar substitute
1 teaspoon of vanilla
½ cup milk of your choice
Whisk egg at room temperature and add peanut butter, coconut oil, vanilla and sugar. Mix well, and then slowly add in wheat flour mixed with baking powder. Finally, add  milk as needed to form dough. You may need a little more than a ½ cup for a smooth dough. Roll about 1 tablespoon of dough at a time into small rounds. Using the back of a ¼ teaspoon create small wells in each cookie, or just use your thumb! Then fill each with chocolate chips or your favorite jam. Bake them in  an oven preheated  to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-20 minutes. Store cookies  in airtight container for up to 4 days.

Cherry Bombs: Greens Energy Bites

Every once in a while, I have an aha moment in the kitchen, and something surprisingly creative emerges! These Cherry Bombs Energy Bites were something of  an accident. They are similar to the previously shared Chocolate Energy Bites recipe (here). I was separating out all my ingredients to make a batch of those since my supply was running low. I like to have a few in the freezer at all times; they are convenient snacks to grab before a long run or work out. When reaching for the chopped cashews can in the pantry, I accidentally grabbed the greens powder container instead. I looked at it, and that was when the light bulb above my head went on! What a great opportunity to add some greens to my diet in an unexpected way! It was then that I mixed   four tablespoons of greens powder into the whole batch since I did not want a strong greens flavor in these bites. But feel free to add more in if you are looking to maximize your greens intake. The results were fantastic!

We believe that you should eat greens  as much as possible in their natural raw state. But for those days when you just don’t have time to prepare a salad, or make a smoothie with fresh greens, turning to green powders is an effective  way to supplement your diet. Until I created these bites, the only way I had previously utilized my greens powder was in smoothies. I have seen some recipes that incorporate them into cookies or baked goods, but I had  never had the opportunity to try them . These energy bites are a well suited vessel for greens powder. They are sweet enough due to the naturally occurring sugar in dates,  covering any bitterness that you may taste from the  greens powder formula.

Another new addition to these energy bites are the chopped tart cherries. As mentioned a few posts ago, (see link here), tart cherries have incredible properties that benefit in muscle recovery and lower inflammation, when consumed post exercise. Their tart flavor added  a bright fruity touch in these super-chocolaty bites, as well. Moreover, you can use any of your favorite Once Again nut butters  instead of cashew butter. The chopped cashews and pecan meals required for this recipe are also easily swapped for other nut flavors you prefer or may have available in your kitchen. Since I always keep a supply of most nuts, I usually get to pick which one to use, but while at a friend’s  house, I decided to show her how to make this recipe when  all she had were  Brazil nuts. We used those instead of the cashews and the final results were delicious.. Just pulse the Brazil nuts a few times in  the food processor to break them up into smaller bits before adding them to the energy bites mixture.

It’s a delight to watch how children love these energy bites.  I sometimes pack a few  in my children’s lunch boxes, and inevitably they come back asking me to write out the recipe because they shared the bites  with a friend who now also wants to make them. That’s partly why I first made the video of the original energy bites recipe (see video here). It’s much easier to show people how to make them than  trying to write it all out. Do you add any fun twists to your energy bites at home? Share them with us in the comments’ section below!

Cherry Bombs Energy Bites

Cherry Bombs Energy Bites

16 ounces of dates

2 tablespoons of cacao powder, unsweetened

4 tablespoons of pecan meal

¼ cup chopped of cashews

¼ cup of chopped tart cherries

2 tablespoons of Once Again Creamy Cashew Butter

4 tablespoons of a greens powder of your choice

Start by adding dates to your food processor. Even though you can purchase dates without the pits, I always recommend checking each one by hand before adding them to the food processor. Pulse them several times until you achieve a ball-like consistency. Next add cashew butter, greens powder, pecan meal and cashews. Lastly, remove dough from food processor and mix in the tart cherries. You may use your hands to fold in the cherries, just make sure to wet your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick to them. Roll the mixture  into balls and keep them in the refrigerator for up  to 10 days. Or freeze them for up to 45 days. (They may last longer, but so far I have only savored  their flavor and consistency after having them stored for a maximum of 45 days.)

Tahini Caramel Chews

Discovering new foods is on top of my list of favorite things to do! And sometimes I  don’t have to travel far to do it. During  a regular trip to the Whole Foods, I wandered  over to the bakery counter to inquire about their honey whole wheat bread loaves . They are one of my favorite breads, and I just love to purchase them as soon as they come out of the oven, and then rush home and spread some peanut butter on a few slices that I devour quickly. While waiting several  minutes for the bread to bake, I found myself  looking through at  the delicious treats the market has  on display, when  one called halva caught my eye. The friendly girl at the counter offered to cut a little sample for me, and I was thrilled to try a brand new food. If you, like me, never heard of halva before, let me explain. I looked it up as soon as I got home to further understand these delicious treats. They are sweets, but more specifically, tahini- based confections of Arabic origins. Sugar and tahini are  the main ingredients;   however, there are variations depending on region where they are made or depending upon  what else is added to them. I investigated a little more deeply and found videos on how to make halva , and as you can imagine, soon I was ready to try making it   on my own.

The light and spongy texture of halva reminded me of a sweet, called Torrone, commonly enjoyed by those among  my Italian background. Torrone is a confection typically made of honey, sugar and egg whites with toasted almonds mixed in. They are traditionally consumed during the Christmas season in Italy. I have made Torrone before at home, and it wasn’t an easy task. The results were never close to the original but also yielded a treat that everyone was happy to help consume and critique, while offering  suggestions on how to make the next batch. I found that making halva was a similar experience. After a few attempts, I waved the white flag and declared I was an expert at making Tahini Caramel Chews (that’s what my children called them) instead of halva.

This was one of those times where a failed recipe attempt ended up being  a whole new creation  altogether . Although I didn’t set out to make chewy caramel- like candies, they are delicious and a much healthier alternative to store- bought caramels, actually. The simplicity of it all may  catch one  off guard, however. There are just two ingredients: honey and tahini. But the secret is in the cooking. Apparently to achieve the spongy consistency of Halva you have to stir continuously and stop  at just the right time. I never achieved that point — either I overcooked it or stopped short of the final, perfect temperature. Either way, my results were chewy and not spongy  and light like  the original halva. I am curious to find out if someone reading this post has made halva at home before and has some tips for me. If so, please add your helpful hints to  the comments below. I have not given up and will be trying to make them again for sure!

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Tahini Caramel Chews

½ cup of Once Again Killer Bee Honey

½ cup of Once Again Tahini

Add honey to a saucepan over medium heat. Once the honey starts to boil, wait another 3-5 minutes, mixing constantly. Then add in the tahini. Mix well over medium heat for another 2 minutes or so. Then immediately remove from heat and place in a silicone mold. You may also use a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Let the mixture  cool for 2 hours before trying one! They are very chewy, just like old fashioned caramels. This recipe, however, is not recommended for young children.

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Quick Banana Bread

Not enough time to bake  bread from scratch? Think again! This Quick Banana Bread recipe is perfect for those last minute decisions when you decide to bake when really don’t have the time. To keep the recipe  leaner, we use Greek yogurt and no added refined sugar. The sweetness will come from the natural sugar in the honey and bananas. For that reason,  using overripe bananas will make a sweeter bread. Also, the natural sugars present in Once Again Peanut Butter enhance the flavors derived from the bananas and honey.  Additionally, you can choose to use a flax-egg to keep this bread vegan ,if preferred.

Bread has become a bit of a bad word for  those who are watching their weight. As a registered dietitian, when I see clients who  are searching for help about  how to better manage their health, often one of their first questions  is if they will have to give up bread. Thankfully, I put all their fears to rest when I shout it out: Absolutely not! It’s all about balance. Bread is only a problem when you overeat it. As a matter of fact, the same could be said for most foods. There are no evil foods, or must never eat items, only better-for-you choices. Perhaps bread got its bad rap due to how delicious it is and how easily  one can eat half a loaf in one sitting.  However, there are ways to have your bread and eat it too!

When you choose whole wheat flour among other better-for-you ingredients to bake your bread, the fiber content increases. Also, the bread will have a more balanced ratio of carbohydrates to fats (The added Once Again Peanut Butter helps with that). Both those qualities result in a more satisfying slice of bread, a  slice of bread that will make you feel satisfied  with one or two pieces without running the risk of having to eat the entire loaf. The added protein from Greek yogurt, eggs and peanut butter work well to provide a better nutrient- rich bread. The eggs also help in this regard since you don’t normally find them in a bread. But that is the exact reason this Quick Banana Bread is one step closer to helping us free bread from its bad name on the street.

 

Feel like you can take this up a notch? Try adding chopped nuts and raisins to this loaf for a more decadent bread . Serve with apple butter and a hot cup of tea for an  afternoon reward at the end of a busy week!

Banana Quick Bread

Quick Peanut Butter Banana Bread

1 ½ cup of whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoon of baking soda

2 eggs

2 bananas

½ cup of Greek yogurt, unflavored or vanilla

¼ cup of Once Again Killer Bee Honey

¼ cup of Once Again Peanut Butter (smooth or crunchy)

Mash bananas with a fork; then add peanut butter and mix well. Add in eggs, yogurt and honey, and mix all ingredients  well, again. You may use a mixer on low speed, if you prefer.. Finally, add in flour and baking soda, combining  it to form a smooth dough. Place it in a 9×6 loaf pan, or 2 smaller 4.5×3 pans, which have been sprayed with oil or buttered. . Bake in  a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes or until golden on top and around the edges. Test with a toothpick to check for readiness. Store wrapped in foil for up to 4 days.

Double Chocolate Sunflower Cookies

I was recently introduced to two brand new words. And they have become my favorite words in the English language of course! For  purposes of transparency, I have not double checked to see if these words are indeed recognized as part of the American language at this point. Also, they were not invented by me. I wish I were this clever since I have been looking for the correct term to describe exactly  two situations. So without further ado, the words are: Snackcident and Runchies.

Snackcident is defined as accidentally eating an entire bag of cookies at once. Many of us can identify with this phenomenon. It is not quite time for dinner yet, but far enough from lunch that you start to feel the need to eat something. Thankfully we have all grown to embrace the snack as part of our routines. Snacks are supposed to be small portion of food that can hold you over until the next meal. You set forth with the best of intentions and grab a bag of your favorite go-to snack food and portion it  out.  Then you go back for just a couple more, and just one more, and the next thing you know: Snackcident. The entire bag is gone and you feel a bit awkward trying to explain it to yourself just how that happened.

Runchies is a runner’s inability to satisfy hunger after a long run. You can have many variations of  this term by just replacing the word run with workout , biking, swimming or any other exercise that requires a substantial amount of refueling for recovery. You’ve worked hard and left nothing behind, after a brief period of rest you are ready to fuel. Unfortunately, you’ve already eaten a sandwich, a salad and three bananas, and nothing seems to do the trick. It’s not unusual to experience  a peak in appetite a few hours after a strenuous physical activity. This term seems to describe it best, and that’s why it was tweeted several times around multiple boards a few months ago when it caught my attention.

It is a good thing that my passion for nutrition and food in general has joined forces with the best ingredients to take care of both those new terms with Once Again Nut Butter. Nut and seed butters are rich in healthy fats which signal satiety when consumed; therefore, helping you feel full sooner than foods low in fats. Nut and seed butters are also good sources of protein and fiber, both nutrients known to refuel and help with recovery. Our blog contains a large collection of recipes that will help you prevent Snackcidents and also cure the Runchies!

Here is one more recipe to add that is perfect for both situations. These Double Chocolate Sunflower Cookies have only ½ cup of sugar, and by the way, you can use stevia substitute for an even lower calorie count and sugar content. They have one egg, but you can use a flax egg instead  to keep this recipe vegetarian. They are so chocolatey and rich that you’ll be satisfied with two cookies instead of having to eat an entire batch, thus preventing any potential snackcidents. Their protein content combined with fiber and fat from the Once Again Sunflower Seed butter has all it takes to cure your runchies fast!

Make yourself a couple of batches and test out the recipe. Let us know what foods you go to when you are looking for a snack, or when you need to refuel fast in the comments’ section below.

Double Chocolate Sunflower Cookies by Once Again Nut Butter Blog

Double Chocolate Sunflower Cookies

1 cup of Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter – Lightly Sweetened

¼ cup of unsweetened cacao powder

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 egg

½ cup of dark chocolate chips

Combine Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter with cacao powder and mix well. Slowly add in sugar, baking powder, vanilla and whisked egg. Then fold in the chocolate chips. Using a small cookie scoop, place cookies on a  baking sheet. They won’t flatten much in the oven, so you may want to press each one down using a fork or your fingers.  Bake them in an oven preheated to  350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. This recipe makes about 22 cookies. Store them in airtight container for up to 4 days.

This week we are giving away a 4-pack of American Classic Peanut Butter! Enter here:

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Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chia Pudding

Did you ever wonder how people  first had the idea of eating chia seeds? Did they decide that instead of adding water and setting their chia seed pet next to the window they would add the seeds to smoothie?  Okay, it probably didn’t happen that way. But it is interesting that we were all so familiar with chia seeds but not as an edible  ingredient. To think the rich source of nutrients was simply a way to grow hair on funny clay vases for most of the 1980s!

Perhaps after flaxseeds paved the way, we were all more open minded to eating seeds on a regular basis. Chia seeds have become  a phenomenal addition to our diets. They are a source of protein, healthy fats, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. They have a high concentration of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid, ALA), making their ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 very good. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds will provide 10 grams of fiber, 18% of your daily recommended calcium, 35% of phosphorus, 24% magnesium and 50% manganese. Not bad for a tiny seed, right?

If you’ve never had chia seeds before, adding a tablespoon to your smoothie is a great way to introduce you to this seed. It doesn’t have much flavor on its own, but the seeds add texture. These mini- seeds absorb liquid pretty fast and become hydrogel capsules. You can compare them somewhat to the texture of tapioca pudding. Since they don’t have much flavor of their own, any liquid you add chia seeds to  will soak up the liquid’s  flavor. . Chia seed puddings are deliciously versatile ways to add nutrients to your breakfast or snack time. Of course we mixed the seeds  with peanut butter and its best match  chocolate. Set  them overnight in the refrigerator so that they have enough time to expand to their maximum capacity, and the results are deliciously refreshing!

A few other ways to enjoy chia seeds are as toppings to your salads, added to smoothies, soups or added to bread dough when baking. You can even use it to make your own jelly. Since they have this gel forming capacity you can skip the pectin usually added to make jams, and just add chia seeds instead. Combine fruit puree, stevia or sugar and chia seeds, blend well and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight.

This Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chia Seed pudding recipe was created as dessert for a “girl’s night” dinner with my friends. They couldn’t believe how beautiful the puddings  looked layered on the glass dishes. Some were a bit reluctant to try it when I mentioned the ingredients, but after one spoonful,  and they were sold! It’s sweet enough, but not overpowering, so you can add some chocolate chips on top  for a flourish . My children were ecstatic to see there were leftovers, since they are big fans of this pudding. Try your own version of chia seed pudding with your favorite Once Again Nut Butter, and let your family and friends rave about the tasty results.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chia Pudding

½ cup of chia seeds
2 cups of milk (of your preference)
2 tablespoons of Once Again Peanut Butter (Creamy or Crunchy)
1 tablespoon of cacao powder, unsweetened
Divide milk into two separate jars. Add half of the chia seeds to each jar. Then add peanut butter to one jar, and cacao powder to the other. Close jars and shake them for about three minutes. Place in refrigerator overnight. Next morning, layer them up or just enjoy them right out of the jar! Topping suggestions: walnuts, chocolate chips, coconut flakes or granola!

Barbecued Peanut Chicken

Do you call yourself a grill master? I know many men in my life, including my husband, brother and a few friends, who  are proud to display their mastering of the grill. According to the urban dictionary, a grill master is someone in charge of grilling food during a barbecue. That definition is not nearly as exciting as I thought it ought to be. Perhaps it should be something closer to: grill master – the one who handles grilling with excellence continuously outdoing himself with his sizzling creations! Too much? Maybe, but what’s important is that anyone can become a grill master. After playing with the dials and tank nozzles a bit, I learned how to turn on the grill all by myself. This was great achievement, since actually I was already familiar flipping the ingredients on the grill and adjusting the temperatures.  Now I too can call myself a grill master.

Do you know what that means? Here comes more grilling recipes using our favorite Once Again nut butters, of course! The traditional taste coming from the grill usually involves barbecue sauce of some variety. But there are so many different flavors the grill can handle,  I couldn’t wait to get started experimenting with them. Barbecue Peanut Chicken was one of my first recipes for the grill and one we go back to very often, mainly because of its simplicity and popularity. The first time I made it was for a small house party. Each guest who  tried it, loved it and erupted into praise about  how hard I must have worked to infuse all that flavor into the chicken. Little did they know that you don’t even have to marinate the chicken  ahead of time! The secret is in making the paste that goes on the chicken when you place it on the grill.

The thick paste is made up of soy sauce, turmeric, lime juice, curry and peanut butter that sticks to the surface of the chicken. As the chicken grills,  the paste softens and penetrates the meat. After a few minutes of cooking it  one side, just flip over the chicken and add the rest of the paste to the other side and repeat the process. The result is a juicy, flavorful and tender chicken with a peanut butter-inspired flavor.

Now this recipe is part of our weekend routine. Sometimes I prepare the paste ahead of time and leave it in the refrigerator so that someone else can handle the grilling. Saturdays have become quite busy with the start of baseball season, swimming meets and gymnastic practices for the kids. It is nice to know that lunch will be ready in minutes when we arrive back home hungry from our morning activities! To complete the meal, a fresh green salad, steamed broccoli and corn on the cob are often family favorites. But go ahead and pair it up with your own favorite barbecue foods!

Barbecue Peanut Chicken

Barbecued Peanut Chicken

1-1.5 pounds of chicken breast
2 tablespoon of Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter
1 tablespoon of lime juice
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/3 teaspoon of curry
1/3 teaspoon of turmeric

In a small bowl, mix peanut butter and lime juice. Once well mixed (you may find it easier to mix using an immersion blender) add in the reminder of the ingredients. Using a sharp knife, butterfly the chicken breast. The mixture will be enough for 2 medium-sized chicken breasts. Place directly on the grill and brush half of the mixture on the chicken. After 10 minutes, flip over the chicken and brush the other side with the rest of the mixture. Grill until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Enjoy with a side of broccoli or corn!

Chicken Kebabs with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Chicken Kebabs with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Let’s kick off grilling season! As soon as the department stores take down sweaters and pants to make room for bathing suits and shorts, we know it’s time to think outdoor activities. When it comes to food, it presents us with  a welcome break from  our kitchen ovens and stovetops. It is the time of year to think about picnics and barbecues.

The grill adds many options to our menus. From grilling vegetables to meats, the possibilities are endless. Grilling chicken can take some time, there is a certain art to it to cook it long enough to achieve the correct internal temperature without burning the outside. However, depending upon the thickness of the chicken breast, this can be a challenge. So why not go for  chicken kebabs instead? The smaller chunks of chicken on the stick are much easier to manage on the grill.  Kebabs are a good solution for beginner grill masters who want to achieve  the perfect texture, grill mark and flavor of the  chicken.

There are a multitude of  recipes available for chicken marinades. The vast majority include lemon juice. It is important to note that the acidity of the lemon juice can actually start to cook the chicken. Therefore, when marinating chicken with acidic based mixtures, keep the steeping time  to under 40 minutes, and place the marinated meat  the refrigerator, always. Overall, ,  kebabs aren’t much of a party platter all on their own. They just beg for a dipping sauce to kick them  up a notch, making them the talk of the party. The right dipping sauce can pull a meal together very nicely. For example, try this easy peanut dipping sauce made with Once Again Creamy Peanut butter that takes only minutes to prepare.

You’ll find this sauce is good on anything, from chicken to grilled broccoli. It’s made with only 4 ingredients. Thus, its simplicity allows you to taste the peanut butter and lime juice, which interestingly enough make  the perfect flavor-match for chicken kebabs. Feel free to throw in a few of your favorite spices to make your own version of this dip. A good addition would be red pepper flakes for a spicy twist.

How phenomenal is it to have a dipping sauce that is neither mayonnaise nor ketchup based!? Our peanut dipping sauce has been  very popular with children of all ages. And one  that adds healthy fats, protein and vitamin E is almost worth the double dipping (pun intended!).

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Chicken Kebabs with Peanut Dipping Sauce

1 pound of chicken breast

2 tablespoons of lime juice

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons of cumin

½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes

Dipping sauce:

1 tablespoon of lime juice

2 tablespoon of Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

2 tablespoons of milk (of your choice: I used plain almond)

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Start by cutting up the chicken breast into small cubes. Then add them to a plastic seal bag with lime juice, olive oil, cumin and pepper flakes to marinate for 30-minutes, maximum. In the meantime, if you are using wooden skewers for the kebabs, soak them in water so they won’t burn on  the grill. To prepare the sauce, mix all ingredients in small bowl using a whisk. Or for a smoother consistency, use an immersion blender. Place dipping sauce in refrigerator until it is ready to serve. You may add more or less milk to achieve the thickness of your preference with  the sauce. Place your marinated chicken cubes on  the kebabs and grill until chicken is well cooked. Serve with sauce on the side!