Tag: nutrition

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Breakfast, snack or dessert? There are many foods that cross over all of those categories and fit perfectly well into each one. I have one more to add to the list: Avocado Chocolate Mousse, healthy enough to be a good way to start your day, filling enough to hold you over until dinner as a snack, and sweet enough to be dessert!

We’ve highlighted the attributes of avocados before (See our blog link here.), but let’s have  a recap: the main vitamins in these luscious fruits are vitamin K, folate and E; they also deliver  the mineral potassium. They are low  saturated fat; have  no cholesterol, no sodium but plenty of oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fatty acid with multiple health benefits. In short, they are  a super food.

For all those reasons, finding new ways to enjoy avocados is always on my to-do list. However, many children don’t find avocados very attractive at first, perhaps because they are  usually introduced to them as guacamole. This is unfortunate because children’s developing brains have so much to gain from this fruit. As a matter of fact, it makes a fantastic “first food” for babies. Remember of course, babies should be introduced to such foods only after age 6 months, and only using one ingredient at a time; therefore, start with just plain, mashed avocado. The recipe below isn’t appropriate for babies  until they reach  age of 12 months due to the added honey.

If your children or kids you know are not a fan of avocado, try making this avocado chocolate mousse for them and watch their reaction when you tell them the main ingredient is  avocado! This recipe allows you to vary the amount of sweetness that you want by adding more or less honey.  As a general rule, I always suggest starting with the smaller amount and add more slowly; in that way you can keep your final calories under control.

Also, notice the recipe calls for milk. You can choose whichever milk you prefer, from cow’s milk to coconut. But for better results, use full fat versions of your milk. This will make the mousse much smoother and silky. Although, if you are looking for a leaner snack, you can use non-fat milk instead.

Whatever options you choose, this mousse will change the way you look at the dessert!

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Avocado Chocolate Mousse

1 Hass Avocado

3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon of cacao powder

1 tablespoon of Once Again Peanut Butter

½ cup of milk

1 tablespoon of Killer Bee Honey

Using a knife cut avocado in half; then with a spoon, gently remove avocado from skin. Add to blender or to a small bowl, if you plan on using an immersion blender. Add all ingredients, leaving the milk for last. Add the milk slowly until you achieve the consistency you desire. Mix well and place in refrigerator for up to 20 minutes to set. Serve cold.

 

Homemade Peanut Butter Granola

Of course you can buy granola at the grocery store, but there is something about homemade granola that is just special, don’t you think? Well, if you’ve never tasted homemade granola before this question hopefully has sparked your interest. Granola have earned a high spot in the grocery isles as of the last few years. Less than 10 years ago when you looked for granola, your options were limited to one or two brands, and possibly only three flavors. Nowadays there are multiple brands and the variety of flavors is abundant. Yet, they are still packaged granola, which means they are  made in a big batch process and had to be packaged for sale.  can still be   delicious and so convenient, of course. But it shouldn’t be the only granola you’ll ever taste. Homemade versions have a freshness that you just can’t achieve with store bought varieties. The soft crunch, earthy flavors and texture of the homemade granola are hard  to duplicate in prepackaged products.

So how do you make your own granola at home? It is much easier than you think! Perhaps the convenience of reaching for the bag at the store hindered your curiosity as to  how those things are made in the first place. In fact, granola is a pretty simple food. They became so popular in part because of how you can see their ingredients, and their simplicity attracts those who are avoiding excessive preservatives and additives in their food.  Our  recipe calls for a list of dry ingredients and a list of wet ones . They are mixed well and baked at low temperature for anywhere between 45  to 90 minutes.

Although varieties of granola  now fill up a whole section at the store, it is still quite desirable for many to control exactly what goes in theirs. This can be done when you choose the ingredients yourself and make it at home. The basic granola recipe is almost always oats, and what makes it stick into clumps and toasts at low temperature in the oven is the syrup. This syrup can be corn syrup, tapioca, honey, maple syrup or agave nectar .. Our basic recipe below for granola chooses what we believe to be one of the healthiest “syrups”: honey! To keep overall sugar content at a reasonable level, we add peanut butter and coconut oil to help bind the ingredients — while adding a multitude of other vitamins and minerals at the same time.

We have embraced granola and added it to our breakfast bowls, to our snacks with yogurt and even to our desserts as an ice cream topping (if you haven’t tried that before you simply must!) Therefore, making granola  at home every once in a while to personalize it with the ingredients you would like to add to your diet is a fantastic way to enjoy your unique granola. It is an easy recipe  without the need for any fancy tools or cooking skills. Go on and create your favorite granola recipe and share it with us in the comments below! Want to see just how easy it is to make it? Watch our video below and follow along while making your very own homemade granola.

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Homemade Peanut Butter Granola

2 ½ cups oats

½ cup chopped nuts of your choice

1/3 cup Killer Bee Honey

3 tablespoons flaxseeds

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of coconut oil

½ cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup raisins

In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and set aside. In medium saucepan, combine honey, coconut oil and peanut butter and over low heat mix them together well. Add peanut butter mixture to dry mixture and stir to coat evenly. Lastly, add the raisins and pour onto lined baking sheet. Take it to preheated oven of 300F for 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes until oats start to turn slightly brown. Remove from oven and let it cool for one hour before packaging into jars. Will last for up to 30 days when stored in dry and cool place. Makes about 4 cups.

Springtime Pineapple Cake

We are back with another blog focused on giving some of our favorite foods a make-over! Today we are tackling “pineapple cake.”  You may wonder why; it is a bit of an odd choice for a make-over recipe. However, it was a fan request! We thank you, Susan from Florida, for sending in the note: “I am a huge cake fan; I often bake cakes according to season. During the winter I make spice cake; in the fall, I make pumpkin; summertime  calls for citrus, and in the spring, I make pineapple cake. Since spring is upon us, can you help me with a cake recipe that is better for me and my family?”

We are with you on this one, Susan: As fellow cake-lovers we too must find better ways to bake cakes without all the added sugar and empty calories. The beauty of a spring cake is that you can vary it with  lots of fruits such as bananas, pineapples, peaches and berries, for example. The addition of fruit to your cake batter helps hold moisture without the need for extra butter and oil. Of course, fruit  also adds sweetness to the cake, allowing you to decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe.

Moreover, this is a good opportunity to also add protein, vitamins and minerals to your recipe. Most cakes have minimal amounts of nutrients, which makes them a poor candidate for a snack or breakfast food. To save cakes from falling entirely in the treats’ category, add some protein, and watch them graduate them into mini-meal status. But how do you do that without compromising taste? Once Again Nut Butter is the solution, of course! Not only does it add nutrients, including fiber but it also adds amazing flavor.

Since this is a spring cake, the obvious choice to enhance it was Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter (Have you seen the label? The flowers are just perfect for spring).  Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter tastes like a handful of roasted sunflower seeds! You can choose the lightly sweetened variety (which is what we used  for this cake), or the salt and sugar- free variety, if you like..  Once Again  has both to offer. As a matter of fact, if you are a sunflower seed butter fan, make sure that you check stores for the squeeze packs of Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter, which are now available. They are so practical to toss into your purse for a snack, and they are perfect lunch box item for kids of all ages.

But now, let’s zoom in on another ingredient used in cakes that we can certainly find a healthier choice for: the oil. Most cake recipes will ask for vegetable or canola oil. But what if you could instead bake with coconut oil and reap the benefits of its abundant medium chain triglycerides, including lauric acid? Among its many benefits are MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) that help increase blood HDL levels–  that’s the good kind of cholesterol. Actually, coconut oil is a fitting match for cake. Its properties are adequate for baking, and it doesn’t add a coconut flavor to the cake as one would expect. Although we wouldn’t be opposed to that outcome, if it did!

Lastly, let’s talk sugar. Cake without sugar is pretty much bread. Therefore, we know there needs to be some added sugar,but  to make this recipe diabetic-friendly there is an option for using a stevia “sugar” baking mix. The key is that we are increasing the nutrients in the cake while lowering its “empty-calories,” attractive qualities that enable you to  enjoy it more than every once in a while.  Enjoy the cake and keep sending us comments with more ideas for recipe make-overs!

Springtime Pineapple Cake on www.onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Springtime Pineapple Cake

3 cups of whole wheat flour

2 cups of sugar (or ¾ cup stevia sugar baking mix)

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

3 eggs

3 mashed bananas

1 can (14 ounces ) of crushed pineapple (do not drain)

¼ cup of coconut oil

½ cup of Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter

1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup of chopped toasted pecans

Add sugar, eggs and bananas to mixer and beat using a low setting. Add coconut oil (at room temperature), sunflower seed butter, and vanilla, next and in that order. In separate bowl, mix flour, cinnamon and baking soda. Now combine the dry mixture by adding it slowly to the mixing bowl and beat  at a low setting. Make sure to beat until the mixture is well blended. Using a spoon, mix in crushed pineapple and pecans.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt cake pan with non-stick spray and pour mixture into it. Bake for approximately one hour and ten minutes.  Allow the cake  to cool for at least one hour before serving. Serve with pineapple ice cream or spread some extra Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter on top of the cake or on each slice!

Creamy Carrot Soup

The simplicity of a single- ingredient- focused soup is what makes it popular and ideal to highlight some powerful herbs and spices. Carrots, all on their own, have a sweet earthy taste that is  brought to the surface when cooked. When combined with maple syrup and slivered almonds, they help create  a side dish worthy of a holiday meal. Carrots are used in juice blends matching the flavors of vanilla or cinnamon very well. However, when combined with ginger and turmeric, carrots are elevated to gourmet soup status. The best part is that this soup is  very simple to make at home. And beyond this obvious convenience, this creamy soup will not need any cream at all!

Why carrots you ask? Carrots are best known for their beta-carotene content, which is what gives them their  orange color. They also  other phytonutrients, including alpha-carotene and lutein. They are also an excellent source of vitamin A, a very good source of biotin, vitamin K, fiber, potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. And that’s not all– they are also a good source of manganese, niacin, folate, copper and vitamin E.  Think you have  the idea? They are nutrient powerhouses!

Unfortunately, it is easy to overshadow all that goodness by adding large amounts of some “not so stellar” ingredients when making creamy carrot soup. Buttermilk, butter and cream are not by any means “villains” (we don’t like to categorize foods in such a way). But they can add a heaping amount of calories and saturated fats to recipes and our diets, which can be counteractive to those trying to stay on a determined eating plan. Therefore, there is a much better ingredient that will deliver that same creaminess to your soup without completely changing the nutrient profile of it . As a matter of fact, my solution  will add a boost of some nutrients such as protein. Just a couple of tablespoons of Once Again Creamy Cashew Butter works wonders in this recipe.  We have tried other Once Again Nut Butters as thickeners for  soup and experienced tasty results as well! Tahini is a popular addition for soups. For this creamy carrot soup, the best match is  Once Again Creamy Cashew butter. It seems that  the cashews and carrots enhance the earthy sweet flavors they both share.

A warm bowl of creamy soup can be your comfort dinner on a cold day.  Although I hope this is not only a trend, I truly appreciate the way we are embracing also enjoying warm soups for breakfast! Talk about a fantastic way to start your day with a nice serving of veggies! So when you make your next batch of creamy carrot soup, besides having the best aroma in your kitchen (ginger and carrot are phenomenally fragrant), remember to save some for your next morning breakfast!

 Creamy Carrot Soup from Once Again Nut Butter

Creamy Carrot Soup

1 pound  peeled and chopped carrots

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 chopped garlic cloves

¼ teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 ½ cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons Once Again Nut Butter Creamy Cashew butter

Juice of 1 lime

To a medium sized pot, add the olive oil, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Heat for a few minutes before adding in carrots. Let carrots be fully coated with olive oil and spice mixture before adding in the vegetable broth. Once added, cook for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Lastly, add in cashew butter and lime juice. Cook for another two to three minutes and remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup into a creamy mixture. Serve hot and a dollop of sour cream, if you like, for a flavorful garnish.

Chocolate Energy Bars/Bites Recipe

What’s the difference between a candy treat and a power-packed  energy snack? It’s a difficult line to draw. Both options are high in sugar, but the quality of ingredients may be the deciding factor. This recipe brushes pretty close between the lines of being an energy snack and/ or  a  candy treat. No need to panic though, it works as both extremely well. But let’s back up a little  and explore  why I developed this recipe and have shared it multiple times already before I was even able to post it! The second I made it, and I snapped  picture of it for Instagram, requests came flooding in for the recipe. Not only my fellow runner friends wanted this magical energy treat but also my friends from our moms’  group. They just had to have this “cleaner and better version” of “candy” that they could offer to their kids.

I have been looking for a quick energy drop that is so easy to digest that one could eat it before going out on a job or an endurance workout . I have some energy bites that I have shared on this blog before, and I still make them often as well. But I wanted one that didn’t have any grains this time for the sake of variety, as well as  having a differently sourced form of  energy. Our body requires energy to run, but how we ingest that energy creates  different  routes  for our body to process it. Carbohydrates and sugar provide this quick energy that our body can burn through while we exercise and or run. It is up to us to find just the right ones for our bodies that result in the best performance. That’s right! This is not a one answer fits all puzzle. Some athletes, for example, rely on a tablespoon  of  honey right before a 5 mile run in order to achieve better running times,  while conversely others prefer a banana with peanut butter.. In the end, they all contain about the same amount of carbohydrates, but how your body digests each and breaks the food  down to “usable energy” remains  a bit different. Therefore, finding the ones that work for you is a matter of trying and keeping track of  performance.

These energy bites are made up mainly of dates. Dates have a high sugar content, making them   a   energy booster. They are also rich in potassium and fiber. In just one cup of chopped dates, you’ll find a combined 12 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as around 415 calories and 3.6 grams of protein. By adding the pecan meal (which can be substituted for any other nut finely ground up into a powder consistency) and cashew butter, the flavor and nutrients are enhanced as well. And since chocolate is my friend always, I added some cacao powder and chocolate chips, which are completely optional. Instead you can add vanilla extract and chopped dry cherries for a new flavor..

The other super fans of these bars or drops —  it all depends on how you choose to prepare them — are kids! Our goal is, of course,  to decrease the amount of  processed sugar in children’s diets. The unfortunate numbers for childhood chronic diseases are  related to their overwhelming intake of sugar, which  is still much higher than desired in our country. These treats, on the other hand, provide a satisfying sweet flavor with added benefits. The nutrients found in these energy drops are not present in the vast majority of candy marketed to children. Although they may contain the same grams of sugar, these will provide vitamins and minerals, fiber, protein and no added artificial preservatives. It is what I like to call a “clean candy.1’ This way we still understand they are high sugar and not something you’d want to provide as a daily afternoon snack, allowing  your child to pop five or six at a time into their mouths. But instead of gum, candy coated chocolate, hard sugar candy,, these are without a doubt a better choice for your kids!

Not sure you can make them at home? Grab the ingredients and watch the video below, so we can make them together!

Energy Bites from Once Again Nut Butter Blog, Carolina Jantac, MS, RD LD

Chocolate Energy Bars/Drops

 1 pound of dates

½ cup pecan meal (ground pecan to a fine powder consistency)

1 tablespoon cacao powder

1 tablespoon Once Again Nut Butter Cashew butter

½ cup dark chocolate chips

Add half of the dates to food processor and pulse on high until the mixture forms into a ball, and then add in the other half of the dates and pulse again. Now add pecan meal and cacao powder to the food processor and pulse until well mixed. Last, add the cashew butter and chocolate chips. The mixture will be very sticky. By slightly dampening your hands with water, it  will be  much easier to work with this “dough.”  Place it on  parchment paper, and place another piece of parchment paper on top of it. Roll it out using a rolling pin until it reaches desired thickness. One half inch of dough  makes a great sized bar. Then cut and place bars in lined pan to set in refrigerator for 15 minutes. You may also roll them into bites. Store in refrigerator for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 30 days. This recipe makes about 18 bars.

Estimated calories: 110 per bar when making 18 bars total.

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Runner’s Recovery Cookie

Have you noticed all the “stay active” challenges talked about this year? The “Run 1,000 miles in 2016 Challenge”… “Work out 6,500 Minutes” this year and “Walk 3 Million Steps in 2016” are just some examples of the ones getting a lot of attention on social media. They are all fantastic ways to motivate yourself to stick to  a goal. While nutrition plays an integral part in your health, there is no question that staying active is just as important. As a matter of fact, while some nutrients tend to gain endorsements (for example vitamin D), others fall short of their promised values (such as excessive amounts of protein). Controversial food groups are added or eliminated from diets often; however, exercise continues to be a constant in all plans for  healthier living.

All health professionals agree that increasing your heart rate via exercise at least five times weekly is one of the best ways to prevent some serious chronic diseases. Therefore, to encourage everyone to join in the fun and challenge themselves to create an activity goal this year, we worked on a yummy recipe that will help you recover after a long work out.

This cookie received its name because I developed it with a particular race weekend in mind. I was looking for something easy to transport, since the race was taking place about two hours away from home. Also the cookies  had to stay fresh for a couple of days as well.

A critical time to optimize muscle recovery is within 30 minutes post exercise. It’s not just a happy coincidence that usually after a racing  event, the most common item that runners pick up (after their medals, of course) is  bananas. One of the favorite t-shirts that I purchased at a race weekend event had the saying: “I run for a free banana.”  Bananas are an excellent source of electrolytes and energy when needed to replace your depleted stores. But is there something else you could eat after a race? Perhaps something more motivating to think about during  that last mile of your race? I think so!

Our Runner’s Recovery Cookie may just give you enough strength to power through those last few hundred feet when you feel you have nothing left. And there are two ingredients that make it fit for a post- run fuel. The peanut butter is the first one, providing the sugar, protein and balanced fat your body craves after strenuous activities. The chopped tart cherries are the second ingredient. This one may surprise you, but tart cherries and tart cherry juice are  popular items among  many elite athletes.

Tart cherries, famous for their anti-inflammatory properties, are also able to ease muscle soreness after exercise, speeding up your recovery process. The pain one feels after a long run is attributed to muscle damage, inflammation and inevitable oxidative stress. Fortunately, tart cherries’ concentrated amounts of anthocyanins are able to tackle all three issues. A recent study (1) looked at runners in a 196-mile relay race in Oregon and showed that those who drank cherry juice reported significantly less muscle pain after the race. Besides their delicious tart flavor, this proved to be  an additional  reason to add some chopped tart cherries to this cookie recipe.

Now, since we like to share our cookies when we bring them to a race, we kept this one gluten-free so that everyone could have some! Notice the recipe includes pecan meal. But you don’t have to buy/use pecan meal; simply add pecans to your food processor and pulse until you achieve granulated consistency. If pecans aren’t your favorite, just use almonds or cashews. The recipe also has ½ cup of crushed corn cereal. This can be any cereal you have in your pantry. I used a corn- based one to keep this gluten- free, but feel free to use your own favorite. The dough is super sticky, and using two spoons to place cookies on the baking sheet helps. Use a non-stick spray on the spoon to ease handling the mixture. It makes a large batch, so if you’d like, this is a good recipe to halve  for a smaller turn out when needed.  Just cut the ingredients in half and proceed.

Runner's Recovery Cookie - www.onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Runner’s Recovery Cookie

1 cup Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of oat flour

2 teaspoons of baking soda

6 tablespoons of pecan meal

½ cup finely crushed corn cereal

½ cup chocolate chips

½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes

¼ cup chopped tart cherries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs first. In separate bowl, mix oat flour, pecan meal, crushed cereal and baking soda. Mix well — and slowly add to the wet mixture. This may be easier done with a mixer. Lastly add in coconut flakes, cherries and chocolate chips. Mix well. It will be a sticky mixture. Using a cookie scoop, form cookies and place them on  a cookie sheet prepared by spraying with oil or butter, if you are using a silicone baking mat there is no need to spray it with oil or butter. with a spoon or fork, slightly flatten them. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are golden. Enjoy them after a run or workout! Save these delights in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

  1. Bowtell JL, Sumners DP, Dyer A, Fox P, Mileva KN. Montmorency tart cherry juice reduces muscle damage caused by intensive strength exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2011;43:1544-1551. 

Jumbo Flourless Chocolate Muffins

This recipe takes a different approach to  my usual baking,  not so much in the ingredient choices, but in the size of the finished product. If you have been following our recipe blogs for a while, you likely noticed my preference for “bite-sized” type of baked goods, small portioned desserts and mini-sized versions of recipes. But there are times when one just needs a jumbo -sized muffin! Maybe you need one after a long week at work, or a particularly challenging meeting, or perhaps after a bad episode of your favorite T.V. show. Whatever the reason, there are times when it is appropriate to indulge in a super-sized baked treat. And for those times, we want you to be prepared with a quick recipe to go to.

When baking large- sized muffins, it is crucial that the batter  you are preparing have enough leavening agent to grow and stay fluffy during the oven baking process. Not to get too technical here, but your leavening agent, also known as raising agent, incorporates gas bubbles into the dough. The two most often used in baking are baking soda and baking powder. So why don’t we  take a minute to explain the difference between the two? You can use this information to create your own recipes and have confidence they  won’t flop when put in the oven.

Baking soda, aka: pure sodium bicarbonate, combines with the moisture and an acidic ingredient in your mix, resulting in a chemical reaction that produces bubbles of carbon dioxide. These expand when in the oven causing your dough to rise. Since they act immediately, once the baking soda is added, you are on a timer to get your muffins to the oven or else they could fail to rise. Note that the recipe depends on an acidic ingredient for it to work. This can be yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice or even chocolate. Without one, your baking soda won’t work at all. It’s nice to check to see if   your baking soda is fresh by adding a teaspoon to vinegar some of it; if it bubbles immediately, you are good to go!

The other agent widely used in our recipes is baking powder. This one contains sodium bicarbonate as well, but also includes the acidifying agent (cream of tartar) and a drying agent (starch). It can stand a little extra time, as it does not lose its potency so quickly, so you don’t have to rush your batter  into the oven. It will work once it reaches warmer temperatures, allowing your muffins  to rise in the oven while baking. It can also be tested for freshness by adding a teaspoon to warm water; if it bubbles right away, it’s fresh!

Some recipes will actually ask for both, baking soda and baking powder. This allows the raising to happen twice:  once while you are mixing it (because of baking soda) and then again when it reaches the oven (because of baking powder), giving your recipe  an extra boost of air bubbles. The art of baking is a balance of science and experience. And I don’t claim to be an expert in by any means! But learning little facts about the most common ingredients will help us all advance along the  road to becoming  “master bakers.”

As a little  side note, did you know that most (if not all, I’m still investigating this) cake, cookie and muffin recipes that call for a pinch of salt do not necessarily need it? That’s right! If you are concerned about your sodium intake, try omitting the salt when you can and see if your end results are the same. So far in my kitchen, it has worked. Hooray for healthier shortcuts that are successful!

~ Carolina

jumbo flourless chocolate muffins on onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Jumbo Flourless Chocolate Muffins

¾ cup Once Again Cashew Butter

2 eggs

1/3 cup Killer Bee Honey

1/3 cup Unsweetened cacao powder

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons milk or water

¼ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat together cashew butter, eggs and honey. Add in the cacao powder, vanilla and baking soda. If mixture is too thick, add in 2 to 3 tablespoons of water or milk (your choice). Place batter in muffin tins, sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top, and take the batch  to oven for  20 to 25 minutes. Enjoy the muffins  warm, or store them in an airtight  container for up to 3 days. Makes 6 large muffins. #glultenfree #noiol #norefinedsugar

Corn Muffins with Peanut Butter

There are some traditional recipes that are perfect for taking  up a notch! I believe corn bread is one of them. But how can you make this Southern classic any better than it already is? After all, it’s sweet and savory, and when sliced and served warm with a little butter, it is pretty much perfect. But just when you think there is no way to improve that perfection, we throw in some peanut butter !

This experiment started off when a batch of warm corn muffins came out of the oven. After impatiently waiting 10 minutes to cool off a bit, slicing one up and going for the butter, I realized we were out of butter! No need to panic, Once Again Peanut Butter came to the rescue. The peanut butter melted a little when it touched the warm corn muffin, and just like that, the new and improved corn muffin recipe with a twist was ready!

So, if peanut butter tasted so amazing on top of the corn muffin, why not try it in the recipe too? I have a couple of corn bread and muffin recipes, so I chose the one that I can make more often. It is delicious, simple, and it doesn’t overdo on sugar and fat, allowing you to have two to three little muffins at a time. And yes, of course, you can use any muffin or cake pan you would like, but as usual, the mini-muffin makes a great portion size. They are also adequate for freezing. If you use the smaller size pan, the yield can be up to 30 mini-muffins, and if you are not planning on consuming them all in the next 48 hours, freeze some. You can later pop them in the microwave or oven for a few minutes before eating them. .

Since this simplified and leaner version of the classic corn muffin usually comes out a little dry in  the added peanut butter really helps hold in the moisture . Also, the addition of apple sauce instead of vegetable oil helps keep the recipe  lean. But you may also try using coconut oil instead of the apple sauce. Both swaps have worked in  this recipe.

Peanut Butter Corn Muffins - www.onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Corn Muffins with a Peanut Butter Twist

1 ¼ cup flour (we prefer using whole wheat)

¾ cup corn meal

¼ cup sugar (you can substitute for honey as well, a little under ¼ cup)

2 tablespoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

1 cup milk (of your choice)

½ cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

1 egg

¼ cup coconut oil or ¼ cup applesauce

Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix well and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix milk, peanut butter (softened you may need to  heat it in a  small pot  using  low heat for 10 minutes, and  then add it to the mixture), oil or applesauce.  Lastly, add the beaten egg. Now combine  the dry mixture, blending it well into the wet mixture. Mix well, but take care not to over-mix.. Pour into mini-muffin pan or the pan of your choice and take it to an  oven, preheated to 400 degrees and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the pan you use. Check by inserting a toothpick.  If it comes out clean, then the muffins are done. Serve warm with butter or extra peanut butter. Freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 30 days.

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

There are several cookbooks dedicated to slow cooker recipes;as a matter of fact, a quick search on the web yielded more than three thousand recipes for your crock pot. That is proof of American’s love for this kitchen gadget that promises to help save you time while cooking homemade meals for your family. I must admit I only tried a slow cooker for the very first time this year. I grew up in South America where they are not very popular; instead, I learned how to cook with a pressure cooker. These two have a lot in common in that they promise to facilitate, simplify and are great for all-in-one pot meals. The main difference between the two is the cooking time. A pressure cooker can cook a whole chicken in broth and spices within 25 minutes, while a slow cooker will take about three to four hours.

The slow cooker works perfectly on  days where the afternoons are filled with activities and appointments, you can place all your ingredient in the crockpot at lunch time, set the timer and have dinner ready by the time you come home later on. I fully understand why so many people eventually invest in more than one slow cooker. They really are very handy and entertaining for culinary creativity. . The recipes vary from your most common stews and soups to cheesecake! Since I am not expert on this cooking device, I am starting with  basics, and so far have been impressed with the results.

I was given  a 6-quart slow cooker, a basic model with a low and high mode only. It Has no timer and no options, so  now I am tempted to invest in, one with a timer and maybe a different size as well. Cooking stews and soups so far has been my favorite use of the pot; today I am sharing a modified Thai Chicken recipe.  With this one, you can throw all the ingredients at once in the pot, turn on for 3 to 4 hours and forget about it. My children aren’t huge fans of chicken, but when I added  Once Again Peanut Butter to it, they were  excited to try it, and that alone was a huge win in my house. The sauce for this recipe calls for peanut butter and soy sauce, which really delivered on flavor while keeping the chicken juicy and soft. To speed up my prep time the second time around making this recipe, I used a frozen blend of chopped onions, red peppers, green peppers, celery and parsley, which I added to the cooker while still frozen, and it worked wonderfully. We served it over sprouted brown rice but you can also use noodles when in a rush, since they take much less time to cook. You will have your meal on the table in 15 minutes or so after the slow cooker has done its job. Note this recipe doesn’t have any added salt or oils either! So, it’s perfect for those watching their sodium intake and managing their weight.

I will continue to experiment recipes with my slow cooker, but would love some advice, suggestions and tips for you all out there. Please comment on this blog and I will start working on some new creations combining my new favorite kitchen gadget and our amazing Once Again Nut Butters!

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken - www.onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

2 boneless chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)

½ cup chopped green peppers

½ cup chopped red peppers

½ cup chopped onions

¼ cup chopped celery

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

½ cup vegetable broth

¼ cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

1 tablespoon of lime juice

2 tablespoons of soy sauce (or liquid aminos)

¼ tablespoon of cumin

Place chicken on the bottom of the slow cooker, and then add  chopped peppers, onions, celery and parsley. In separate bowl, using a whisk, mix together  the vegetable broth, soy, peanut butter, lime juice and cumin. Add sauce to slow cooker and set on low for 3-4 hours. At around the 3-hour mark,  remove the chicken, shred it with a fork and return it to the slow cooker for another 30 to 60 minutes.

Peanut Butter Donuts, Chocolate Covered!

      What lands a food on  the “no-no list”? The answer to this question depends on who is asking and more importantly who is answering. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of diets that include a list of foods to avoid. Most diet plans rely on such lists to ensure success. If you are a person following the plan and can’t avoid chocolate- covered candies for example, the plan will likely fail. . Taking a hard line  and excluding a variety of food groups amount to  the main downfall of a multitude of diet plans and fads marketed today. Over the years, one truth still stands:  balance is the key to healthy living. And that just not only applies to  talking about food, but overall, as in when individuals are able to work and still take time off for vacation, to eat  healthy meals but still enjoy chocolate in moderation – then they are able to maintain that lifestyle in  the long run.

Let’s answer the question we first posed at the beginning of this post (if you haven’t noticed, at times it’s easy to get lost in thoughts and get off subject when writing about food and health!). Usually a food that is high in sugar or  fried has too much salt or no nutritive value ends up on the “don’t eat” list. But we take that as a challenge! Instead of prohibiting these foods, let’s swap a few ingredients and revamp the recipes , so that it becomes something  we can enjoy every once in a while without guilt. You will see many posts to follow with this in mind, and I would love some suggestions from you for foods or recipes you’d like to see revamped.  First on the list is my husband’s favorite: donuts. The poor guy had to say goodbye to the sweet deep fried rings when he said “I do” to a nutritionist. Although we still indulge in the traditional donut a couple of times of year, that hasn’t been enough for him.

Thankfully, adding nutrients to donuts wasn’t extremely difficult. Donuts lack protein, but adding peanut butter to the dough significantly increased this recipe’s  protein content. For a better ratio of macronutrients, a slight decrease in sugar does the trick. The main issue of concern with donuts is the deep frying: the saturated and trans fats that result from this process may be extremely harmful to heart health. But the good  news is that baking a donut is pretty easy with a donut pan. They are available in either silicone or non-stick steel- like materials. Of course the texture of a fried donut will not be exactly the same as a baked donut, but when you crave a donut and are trying to stick to a better healthy-eating plan, these will do the trick! The sugar was reduced in this recipe to just ½ cup; for a sweeter version add another ½ cup of sugar and increase the milk to ½ cup. The dough will be very sticky, so using some non-stick spray really helps. ?  Try: What should be the next recipe that we make over?

~ Carolina

Skinny Peanut Butter Donuts  www.onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Donuts

 1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 egg

1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons of milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup brown sugar

Dark chocolate chips

Combine peanut butter (Make sure it is soft. If stored in the refrigerator, take it out for 20 minutes to soften), sour cream, milk and vanilla. Mix well, then add in the beaten egg. Next, add in the sugar and mix it well. Lastly mix in the flour and baking powder. The mixture will be thick and sticky. Spoon into donut molds and place  a preheated oven at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes or until baked through. Melt dark chocolate chips and dip one side of the donuts into the melted chocolate. Decorate the donuts  with a peanut butter drizzle and enjoy! This recipe makes 12 mini-donuts.