Tag: recipe

Spicy Peanut Noodles

Can the food you eat really impact how efficiently your body burns calories? It seems like every other month there is new hype about which foods can speed up your metabolism and help you burn those extra pounds. People respond with curiosity and willingness and try just about everything.  After all, who doesn’t want to eat and shed pounds at the same time?

To better understand how food affects metabolism, let’s review how it works. Metabolic rate refers to the number of calories burned by the body each day. This number comes from a mathematical equation that includes your resting metabolic rate, physical activity and the thermic effect of food. The resting metabolic rate is the largest component, unfortunately, we have very little if any control over this number. Physical activity makes up 30-50% of your rate, and we have complete control over that, as well as the thermic effect of foods (TEF). Although it only makes up 10% of your metabolic rate, what you choose to eat is completely up to you! Carbohydrates burn 5-10% of calories eaten, fat 0-5%, and protein 20-30%.

You may have heard that eating spicy foods can rev up your metabolism. This claim does indeed have some foundation. The belief is that eating spicy foods raises your body temperature which in turns means your body spends extra energy cooling itself, and therefore, increasing your metabolic rate. Numerous studies have confirmed that capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers which gives them all the heat, does indeed raise your metabolism. A 2011 study even found that taking a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper increased the calories burned in the following meal! But before you drown all your food in hot sauce, you should know that the increased calorie-burn only amounted to an average of 10 calories!

Interestingly, drinking cold water also gives you a metabolic boost! If you require a large glass of iced water after eating spicy foods, you are increasing your odds for achieving a speedier metabolism. Research suggests that those who consume 8 to 12 glasses of water per day burn more calories than people who only drink up to 4 glasses per day.

These two facts are good enough reasons to make some Spicy Peanut Noodles for lunch today! However, if you need one more, how about the fact that they taste amazing! The nutty flavor and spicy red chili match in this sauce recipe give new life to plain noodles. No need for heavy cream sauces when enjoying noodles! Try this recipe with the addition of steamed edamame or tofu for a complete vegetarian meal.

Spicy Peanut Noodles by Once Again Nut Butter

Spicy Peanut Noodles

3 tablespoons of red chili sauce

¼ cup of Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

1 teaspoon of sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup of liquid aminos (or soy sauce)

2-4 tablespoons of warm water

Cooked thin noodles of your choice. We recommend rice noodles or whole wheat noodles. Mix all ingredients for the sauce except for water in a container you can seal with a lid and shake well. Lastly, add in one tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency. Pour the sauce over hot cooked noodles and serve!

Tahini and Oats Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Or is it? The idea of eating something in the early hours of the day has been a topic of discussion for years in the health and nutrition field. The simple definition of breakfast has been called into question. Is breakfast the first meal you have in the day regardless of what time it occurs? Or, alternatively, is a meal considered breakfast only if it is consumed before 11 am? Does it make a difference if a person is awake at 5am versus 8am?

These are all great questions, and unfortunately some without readily available answers. Here is what we do know however, and hopefully this information can help you decide how to change— or not change your current lifestyle.

The best time to eat is within 60 minutes of waking up. Your blood sugar is naturally low when you wake up, assuming you have had at least seven to eight hours of sleep. Therefore, eating within 60 minutes of getting up can help prevent a complete blood sugar crash. If you ignore this, and just wait until three to four hours after waking up, close to lunch time, you are at high risk of overeating to compensate for the lack of energy because you are feeling post- blood sugar lows. Timing is important after all, but you may not need to sit down and have a complete meal to prevent a crash. Simply consuming 100 to 150 calories of balanced carbohydrates and protein may do the trick.

However, if you do have time to sit down and have a more complete meal in the early hours of the day, you may reap some benefits. Data from combined studies all suggest that individuals who eat a meal in the first hour after waking up are less likely to be overweight since they are better able to control their meal choices for the remainder of the day.

Have you ever gone grocery shopping when you are extremely hungry? You walk out of the grocery store with double the amount of food you realistically need, including a few items you just couldn’t resist — things that you normally would not purchase. The same concept applies to when you skip that first caloric intake of the day. You operate on a brain influenced by lack of fuel. Our brain uses glucose, a form of sugar, as energy fuel. When you don’t have readily available energy, your reaction may be delayed, your ability to think clearly is impaired, and you are at higher risk for making impulsive decisions.

Beyond just helping your weight management strategies by curbing your appetite for the duration of the day, eating breakfast also jumpstarts your metabolism. Eating sets in motion numerous biological processes related to digesting and storing food. These metabolic pathways result in increased energy expenditure, also known as diet induced thermogenesis (DIT).  The combination of adequate energy levels post- breakfast and a metabolically active system are positive points leading us to conclude that eating breakfast is indeed a very good idea! This still leaves the question, is it really the “most important meal” of the day?

That is a question that only you can answer! And your answer depends upon   your current priorities. If you are in pursuit of a weight loss goal, then yes, this first meal could be the missing link ready to set you on a path to success. However, what you eat for breakfast is likely the more important component.

To fuel our brain, as mentioned above, readily available energy in the form of sugar is necessary. Including fruits and whole grains takes care of that portion. Also, to meet your daily requirement for protein, it is important to consume about 20 percent of your daily protein goal in the morning. Lastly, healthy fats should also have a presence in your first caloric intake for the day. This is not only due to their value as a satiety tool, but also because they contain essential fatty acids along with other nutrients integral to your health.

Many Americans have time constraints as their main obstacle when it comes to adhering to a healthy breakfast routine. That is where the food industry has thrived in marketing on-the-go breakfast foods such as granola bars, pocket sandwiches and morning energy drinks. A cheaper and often healthier option is to make your own on-the-go items when you have time, and store them for the week. Well then, our Tahini and Oats Breakfast Cookie gives you a reason to get up in the morning! The combination of all the health benefits associated with oats’ high fiber content, the plant protein and healthy fats found in almonds and tahini (sesame seed paste), the touch of sweetness from the honey which contains anti-inflammatory properties, covers most of your needs to jump- start your busy day.

They are also convenient for those who get their daily exercise early in the morning. By condensing nutrients and calories into small bite sizes, you can consume something before your workout and avoid common GI- related side effects associated with eating right before aerobic activities. Feel free to tweak the recipe to better fit your needs. Consider perhaps the addition of flax seeds for an even higher content of omegas, fiber and protein, or the substitution of stevia instead of the honey for a lower sugar content. Stay in control of what you eat by selecting the very best ingredients every time you bake. You can count and rely on our nut and seed butters since they (except for lightly sweetened options, just look at the labels) only contain one ingredient!

Tahini and Oats Breakfast Cookie by Once Again Nut Butter

 

Tahini and Oats Breakfast Cookie

1/3 cup of Once Again Tahini

1 cup of quick oats

1/3 cup of chopped almonds

1/3 cup of maple syrup or honey

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or dried cranberries (You can use both!)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

In medium sized bowl combine tahini and maple syrup (or honey) well. Add in oats, almonds, and cinnamon. Lastly, stir in chocolate chips or dried cranberries. You may also use both, 1/3 cup of each works well. On baking sheet, drop 1 tablespoon of batter for each cookie, and using a fork flatten them to bake evenly. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on edges. Remove from oven and let it cook for a few minutes before serving. Store in airtight container for 4 days at room temperature, or in refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Cashew Delights Sandwich Cookies

Whoever thought up the idea a sandwich cookie was a pure genius! A clever way to enjoy 2 cookies at once made better by a creamy filling. It is no surprise sandwich cookies are commonplace and abundant across the world. That’s right, it is not an exclusively American phenomenon. People in other countries may have different flavor combinations, but they too enjoy the double cookie held together by a delicious middle layer. For example, Australia’s favorite cookie is the Tim Tam, which consists of two malted cookies (or their preferred term: “biscuits”) separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in more chocolate. Brazil has a wedding day tradition to serve and enjoy a sandwich cookie called Bem Casado, which translates to “well married.” It’s two butter cookies with a dulce de leche filling, covered in powdered sugar.

We are also fans of sandwich cookies here at Once Again Nut Butter! So, here we set off to create an easy recipe to make at home using wholesome ingredients. First, there are some basic rules when creating sandwich cookies. There must be two cookies that are flavorful enough to stand on their own. The cookies should be strong enough to hold a filling. When baked, these cookies must stay soft but not too mushy, to prevent them from   blending with the creamy middle.  A crispy cookie is harder to work with since it crumbles too easily when assembling the final product

Ideally, the filling is not sweeter than the cookie. It is creamy and could contain crunchy ingredients to add a surprise texture for that moment when you bite into it. There are several discussion boards on social media dedicated to arguing for those who like to separate the sandwich cookies, lick the middle and then enjoy the cookie versus those who prefer to bite into the total cookie.  Either way, it is important that   each component of the cookie be able to shine on its own. The cookie we created has a soft cashew butter cookie making the outer layers and a creamy- sweet, nutty filling. The amount of filling you add to each sandwich is entirely up to you. In our test kitchen, we had a bit of filling left over, and we weren’t short of volunteers ready to lick the bowl and also try it as a topping for ice cream or a spread for their toast.

The cashew cookie has a thinner batter, and we found it easier to pour about one tablespoon of it in regular- sized muffin tins to bake them rather than using a conventional cookie sheet. This helped ensure that they were evenly sized and baked. The filling will be rather thick. It allows you to stick both cookies together without having to worry about a the  middle spilling out. But if you would like, you may add a couple of tablespoons of warm water to your filling for a thinner texture. And perhaps you have a different idea for your filling? Share it with us in the comments, We are thinking that a little bit of cacao powder could take these delights up a notch— What do you think?

Cashew Sandwich Cookies on Once Again Nut Butter Blog

Cashew Delights Sandwich Cookies

Cookie

¾ cups of Once Again Nut Butter Cashew Butter

½ cup of coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

1 egg

Filling

½ cup of chopped nuts (Choose your favorite, or use a mix!)

5 oz of dates (Deglet, Noor or Medjool)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

4-6 teaspoons of warm water

In a small bowl, beat the egg, and mix in the coconut sugar. Next, add the cashew butter and mix well. For evenly sized cookies, we recommend using a muffin tin to bake the cookies. Add about 1 tablespoon of batter to each muffin slot and tap the pan down on the counter to flatten the batter. Place in oven, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes, or just until edges become golden. Remove cookies from oven and let them cool before removing them from the pan. They will be a bit soft when first removed from oven, but will harden and be crispier when cooled. The recipe will make about 18 cookies, or 9 sandwich cookies when assembled with the filling.

For the filling, add pitted dates and warm water to food processor until you achieve a homogeneous mixture of paste consistency. Add in chopped nuts and mix well in processor. Now add ½ to 1 tablespoon of filling to each cookie and top it with another cookie. Enjoy these amazing delights! Store in airtight container for up to 5 days. They will keep better in the refrigerator.

Breakfast Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

“I am starving! I feel like I could eat a horse!” Many of us have sympathized with this feeling at one point or another. It’s that feeling of hunger that grows uncontrollably until you are able to find something to eat. Your metabolism is so  low on  energy that you are unable to concentrate; your stomach is growling, and all you can do is focus on where your next meal will come from. That is the description of physical hunger. This type of hunger is influenced by your brain, liver, fat tissue and hormones. True physical hunger usually happens when you haven’t eaten for at least five hours.

It is not however to be confused with psychological hunger. This type of hunger is when your inner voices convinces you that you’re hungry even though your body doesn’t need energy at that particular time. Different circumstances  can trigger psychological hunger; one example is the availability of food. Consider this: you’re at work, and only after your lunch, someone offers you a piece of cake.  Maybe you may turn it down at first, but the smell and the fact that it is on  the table next to you slowly triggers your mind to convince you that you are indeed hungry, and that piece of cake will hit the spot! Habit is another culprit in  psychological hunger. You always eat at ten o’clock in the morning since it is your designated snack time. It doesn’t matter  if you’ve had a larger than usual breakfast that day and didn’t have time to get to the gym as you normally do at six am prior to work. One last example, although there are many others, for psychological hunger trigger is the emotional eating. It is perhaps the most common one of all. You may use food to counterbalance negative things that happen during your day, or you eat to celebrate an event. Unfortunately, those instances are usually times when your body doesn’t need energy, but your mind tells you it’s time to eat!

Balancing those two types of hunger entails  a learning process. It is something that takes lifelong commitment and patience. It is part of mindful eating. Mindful eating means being aware of the food you eat, how your body feels when you eat, and when you choose to eat it. It is the difference between “eating to live” and “living to eat.”

There are ways to slowly work on yourself to recognize cues that distinguish between both types of hunger and allow you to achieve balance and mindful eating. One of them is to plan your meals for the day. Structure helps you better adhere to a plan. Pause before eating and ask yourself if you are eating because you are hungry or because it is what you always do at that time. Routinely identifying patterns will allow you to come up with a better game plan.. That’s a mixed metaphor.

This is not to say you shouldn’t enjoy some of life’s pleasures in the form of delicious treats! Just be aware of when you’ll be eating them, and make them  a part of a meal. And always, watch your portions. The problem is not the chocolate cake but the size of the slice, and usually the extra scoop of ice cream that goes along  with it!

Making your favorite treats part of the meal allows you to truly enjoy them without any guilt! They become  a part of your meal plan. These Breakfast Banana Peanut Butter Muffins have many of the making of a healthy breakfast. They have a dose of fruit, protein, healthy fats and a touch of sweetness. Make them in a large muffin pan or a smaller mini-muffin pan for even better portion control. It is much easier to practice balance and mindful eating when you add Once Again Nut Butters to your routine. Protein and healthy fat create satiety, and that is  exactly what you are looking for in your food. You want your food to work for you rather than  you working for your food!

Breakfast Banana Muffins from Once Again Nut Butter Blog

Breakfast Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

4 large over- ripened bananas mashed (about 1 ½ cups)

¼ cup of Once Again Killer Bee Honey

¼ cup of coconut oil

1 egg

2 cups of whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of baking soda

¼ teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/3 cup milk of your choice

½ cup of Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

Combine mashed bananas and Once Again Peanut Butter in a large bowl. Once well mixed, add in milk, coconut oil, honey, egg and vanilla extract. In separate bowl, mix wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon powder. Now slowly add in dry ingredient mix with bananas mixture and slowly mix just until well combined. Fill muffin tins three quarters of the way full and place in an oven pre-heated to t 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until golden on top. Serve them warm or store in airtight container for up to five  days.

Sweet and Sour Gummy

Let us introduce to you the amazing powers of ginger. After reading this, you’ll never look at this root the same way again. Some of you may already be familiar with its digestive properties, but there is much more to ginger. This aromatic root usually sold in grocery stores in the produce isle can also be found dried and ground to a fine powder in the spice isle. The later variety is the one often used in baked goods such as the famous gingerbread cookies.

However, it is the fresh root that will yield the best results when considering  a digestive aid. In herbal medicine, ginger is known as a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas and relaxes while soothing the intestinal tract. There are a few research studies that were able to show ginger as an effective treatment to prevent symptoms of motion sickness, and in fact at times being more effective than over-the-counter prescription medications. Ginger reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweating. This is very useful for women during pregnancy, a  delicate time when early on fetus development it is best to avoid prescription medications, yet  often women suffer from nausea and indigestion. Ginger is safe to use during pregnancy: it is effective and only a small dose needed (Always check with your doctor before using it during pregnancy).

Ginger is also very powerful as an anti-inflammatory. It contains gingerols, substances  attributed to  relief in pain in so many people suffering from osteoarthritis and /or rheumatoid arthritis. Adding fresh grated ginger to everyday dishes such as steamed rice or stir fry is all it takes to reap the benefits this spice. Ginger has also been studied for its potential cancer preventive properties and immune boosting powers.

It is a wonderful thing that ginger has such pleasant spicy flavor:  this  makes it perfect to add it to both sweets and salty dishes alike. But how can you amplify all those qualities while creating something enjoyable to eat? That’s what the goal was when I created  these Sweet and Sour Gummies. A rich dose of vitamin C comes from  lemon juice, along with  natural sweetness and immune boosting properties from honey combined with the powerful zest of ginger! These gummies are fun to make in different shapes and sizes. If you have ever made gelatin before, then you’re only a few steps away from making these gummies. Animal- based gelatin powder is made up mainly of collagen and water. These two ingredients will add protein and the consistency you are looking for in a gummy, not to mention the health benefits of collagen (sounds like a great next post!). But if you would like a vegan option you may also use the vegetarian gelatin powder made of agar.

These gummies are very sour! They were meant to be eaten one or two at a time after a meal or perhaps at the first sight of a cold since they are very rich in vitamin C. But they are not to be compared to gummy candies. If you would like a more child- friendly gummy, omit  lemon juice  and use  orange juice instead. However,  I found that some children really enjoyed the combination of sour lemon and spicy ginger!

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Sour Gummy

6 tablespoons of gelatin powder (unflavored)

2/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

6 tablespoons of Killer Bee Honey

2 teaspoons of finely grated ginger

In a small saucepan, add lemon juice, ginger and honey; mix well before sprinkling gelatin powder. Whisk mixture to avoid clumping of the gelatin powder. Now turn heat on low and mix it continuously until all of the gelatin powder disappears. Do not boil mixture, just bring it to a simmer. This should take around 7 to 9 minutes on low heat. Pour into a mold and allow the mixture  to cool. For faster results, place in freezer for 15 minutes. Store the gummy mixture  in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 10 days.

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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