Healthy Puppy Chow

Lately, I’ve been feeling nostalgic for the most random things. Maybe it’s because I’m officially an “adult” now being completely done with school and working a full-time job, or realizing I’m only 2 years away from being 30 years old, but time seems to be flying by too quickly!

Last night, my roommate was showing me home video clips she watched after going to her parent’s house for the weekend, and we chatted about all the Disney VHS movies we both owned. Who else was a diehard Little Mermaid fan?

In addition to nostalgia for things like movies, I’ve also been thinking about foods I haven’t eaten in years. I bought a box of shredded wheat cereal to add to yogurt bowls for quick breakfasts last week, and that brought me down memory lane! I used to LOVE frosted mini wheat cereal for breakfast – there was something so satisfying about that sugary flavor and that delicate ratio of milk to cereal that created the perfect texture piece of cereal.

Munching on shredded wheat all week reminded me about a popular snack we had growing up: puppy chow! My own mom actually never made this for us, and I don’t think I was introduced to this treat until middle school at a friend’s house. This crunchy, peanut buttery, chocolately, sugary snack was so addicting.

Puppy chow is traditionally made with peanut butter, chocolate chips, rice chex cereal, sometimes butter and coated in heaps of powdered sugar. I decided I wanted to make a more nutritious version, without compromising on flavor!

My version maintains the same texture and rich peanut butter chocolate goodness, however I swapped the powdered sugar for a blend of powdered peanut butter, cacao powder and cinnamon. Here are some of the benefits of my puppy chow:

  • Whole grain fiber, thanks to unsweetened shredded wheat cereal
  • A boost of antioxidants by using dark chocolate
  • Zero added sugars or preservatives by using natural peanut butter and no powdered sugar

If you guys had puppy chow growing up, I encourage you to try this recipe for a more nutritious trip down memory lane. I plan on making another batch for a Super Bowl snack to munch on!

Ingredients:

  • One 3.5 oz bar of dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or ½ cup dark chocolate chips)
  • 1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • 4 cups shredded wheat cereal
  • ¼ cup powdered peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler on the stovetop. Stir in peanut butter once melted.
  2. Add 1 cup shredded wheat cereal to a large mixing bowl. Add a few big spoonfuls of melted chocolate and mix.
  3. Alternate about 1 cup shredded wheat cereal and melted chocolate, and mix gently until everything is combined. (I suggest using a rubber spatula to scrape out as much chocolate as you can).
  4. In a large ziplock bag, combine powdered peanut butter, cacao powder and cinnamon.
  5. Pour chocolate coated cereal into the bag, close and shake until pieces are well coated.
  6. Pour into a bowl or enjoy! This snack will keep well in the fridge.

 

If you try this recipe, tag @daisybeet so I can see your creations! I hope you enjoy 🙂

My Go-To Breakfast: Cacao-Banana Oatmeal

Rise and shine! You guys know by now how much I love my oatmeal for breakfast. I’ve been eating it every morning 99% of the time for years - it’s almost comical! I occasionally get messages for my oatmeal recipes or for tips to make oatmeal more exciting. I decided to write a post here for you all to refer to! Not to toot my own horn, but I think I’ve mastered the bowl of oats.

Before my oatmeal love affair came to be, I went through many years of protein smoothies for breakfast, starting in college. I would start my day with a smoothie consisting of ice, a frozen banana, some skim milk, and a scoop of chocolate meal replacement protein powder. Sometimes I would add in a spoonful of powdered peanut butter, too. This breakfast couldn’t have been more than 300 calories, and while it was delicious, I never felt completely full afterwards. I always NEEDED a midmorning snack a few hours later as I could hear my stomach rumbling. This coincided with a time in my life where I was very “calorie conscious”. I would select foods based off of their calorie count rather than their nutrition qualities. I was eating a lot of low fat products, that, looking back, were definitely loaded with artificial ingredients. I absolutely loved my college experience, but I realize now that it was an environment which perpetuated this type of eating and thinking about foods. I subconsciously compared my body to others and made food choices based off what my peers were doing, which meant low calorie, low fat, and sometimes lacking real food ingredients.

Once I began researching nutrition more, I realized this protein smoothie habit was probably not the most nutritious way to start my day. Not only did it leave me hungry for real food a few hours afterwards, but the ingredient list was a mile long. There was a myriad of ingredients I could not pronounce. I decided to transition to real food based smoothies, and began making oatmeal in the winter when it was colder. I noticed that oatmeal filled me up much more than smoothies, and sustained me all the way until lunch on my less active days. I also enjoyed the act of eating food, physically chewing, and taking my time enjoying breakfast, rather than slurping down a smoothie in 3 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong now, I think smoothies are delicious and refreshing! They are an excellent way to add calories and nutrients in the clinical setting, and can be very healthy when you are mindful of the ingredients you add. For me, though, physically eating a big breakfast works best. Oatmeal is my breakfast of choice for so many reasons. It is quick and easy to make, cheap, delicious, customizable, and filling.  One of my favorite ways to flavor my oatmeal is by adding sweet caramelized banana, cacao powder, cinnamon and nut butter. This satisfies my undying sweet tooth in a nutritious way! I hope all of you who have a sweet tooth try this recipe.

Here are some of the RD Approved ingredients you’ll need:

  • Old fashioned rolled oats
  • Raw cacao powder (unsweetened cocoa powder is fine, too)
  • Cinnamon
  • Banana
  • Peanut butter (or another nut butter)
  • Salba Chia chia seeds

 

And the nutrition breakdown:

  • Oats: Oats are one of the best sources of soluble fiber. This type of fiber has many health benefits. A diet containing soluble fiber can lower cholesterol levels, because the fiber binds to cholesterol in your body so it can be excreted. It also is not fully absorbed, so it does not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber keeps you fuller for longer because it is digested slowly, and helps keep you regular by adding bulk when you go to the bathroom.
  • Cacao Powder: Raw cacao powder is rich in antioxidants in the form of flavanols. The flavanols found in cacao powder may have more powerful antioxidant effects than those in green tea and blueberries! Flavanols may have numerous heart-healthy functions. They can reduce inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory cytokine production. Flavanols also may prevent blood clots by reducing platelet aggregation and reduce oxidative damage within blood vessels.
  • Salba Chia chia seeds: Chia seeds are also a good source of soluble fiber, and thus exert similar health benefits as oats. Notice how they swell when you add liquid? They expand to 10x their dry weight! This adds a lot of bulk to your diet and fills you up. Chia seeds are also a rich plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids we must consume in our diets, because our bodies cannot produce them. They are essential for growth and development, can lower blood triglyceride levels and may be anti-inflammatory. I love Salba Chia in particular for so many reasons! There are over 100 different strains of chia seeds, but they grow only the 2 strongest varieties.  They are a single source company, co-own and operate all of their farms, and partner directly with the farmers to ensure the best possible seeds. Salba Chia also grows ALL of their chia seeds organically with no pesticides! Therefore, the nutritional profile of their products is always top quality.

Without further adieu, here is my favorite oatmeal recipe. Adding the banana to the bowl before you microwave your oats breaks it down so it becomes super creamy and extra sweet. No other sweeteners needed!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup oats (I use old fashioned)
  • ~1 cup water (enough to top off the oats in your bowl)
  • 1 small ripe banana
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • ½ tbsp Salba Chia chia seeds
  • Dash of Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp nut butter
  • Toppings of choice: I like fresh fruit, hemp hearts, cacao nibs, etc.

Instructions:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, add oats and water.
  2. Slice the banana into the bowl and stir.
  3. Microwave for 2-2.5 minutes, until cooked.
  4. Remove bowl and stir in chia seeds, cinnamon and cacao powder.
  5. Add nut butter and toppings of choice, and enjoy!

I hope you guys enjoy this simple recipe. Oatmeal is very customizable – I love to experiment with different spices! Tag your oatmeal bowls with #Daisybeet so I can see your lovely creations.

Pumpkin Banana Squares with Chocolate Chips and Peanut Butter

Pumpkin spice season is back in full force! As much as we try to deny it, I think the majority of us shamelessly love curling up with a warm and cozy pumpkin spice anything. Pumpkin itself is full of health benefits, as are the traditional “pumpkin” spices. But, all the pumpkin spice products you’ll find in coffee shops and on grocery store shelves may be full of added sugars and other ingredients that negate the nutrition benefits you’ll get from the good stuff. For example:

  • Starbucks Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte: Has 4 grams saturated fat and 48 grams of added sugar. That is more sugar than a can of Coke! For a visual, 48 grams of sugar = 12 teaspoons of sugar, or 12 sugar packets! I doubt you all would add that many packets to your regular coffee at Starbucks.
  • Pillsbury Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix: This quick bread mix has 15 grams of sugar per serving. Sugar is also the first ingredient listed on the label, meaning it is the most abundant ingredient in the mix. These pre-made mixes are also full of preservatives, dyes and unnecessary ingredients.
  • Whole Foods 365 Pumpkin Spice Granola: This granola has 3 kinds of added sugars listed in the ingredients, plus the dried fruits included are processed with sugar.

After making my blender banana bread the first time, I started dreaming up a pumpkin version. The cooler temperatures were begging for a cozier version of this treat! This recipe is very similar to my blender banana bread. It has minimal, nutrient-dense ingredients, is easy to make using just your blender, and tastes incredible!

Here are some of the highlighted ingredients:

And the nutrition breakdown:

  • Canned pumpkin: I wish pumpkin and winter squash were seasonal all year round! Pumpkin is high in fiber, which helps with digestion and may help lower elevated cholesterol. It is also rich in Vitamin A, so it supports healthy vision, skin and immune system. Make sure the only ingredient is pumpkin when buying canned pumpkin.
  • Chosen Foods Avocado Oil: I just recently started using avocado oil, and it’s become my favorite oil to cook with (along with good old olive oil). Avocado oil has a similar fat profile to olive oil, so it is very high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats and low in saturated fat. Avocado oil is better than olive oil for high heat cooking, because the smoke point is 500 degrees F. This means the fats in the oil will not oxidize into harmful substances at temperatures lower than 500 degrees. It also has a mild, neutral taste and odor, making it extremely versatile.
  • Peanut Butter: This is one of my pantry staples! Peanut butter is an inexpensive source of plant based protein and healthy fats. Nuts and legumes are also rich in micronutrients such as potassium and magnesium. Studies show that including this food group in your diet on a regular basis is linked to maintaining a healthy body weight. Make sure your peanut butter only has one ingredient – peanuts!

I hope you guys are ready to embrace pumpkin spice! It’s going to be hard to share these RD approved squares with everyone, but I know you’ll all be nice 🙂

Ingredients:

½ cup mashed very ripe banana (one medium banana)

½ cup pumpkin puree

2 large eggs

3 tbsp Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

3-4 tbsp maple syrup or honey (can use less if banana is riper)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups almond flour

1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

½ tsp salt

2-3 tbsp creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or grease pan.
  3. In a small bowl, mash banana with a fork.
  4. Add mashed banana, pumpkin, eggs, avocado oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract to a high-speed blender, and blend on medium until smooth.
  5. Add almond flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt to the blender, and blend again until smooth and well combined.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Pour batter into the loaf pan and smooth out with a spatula. Drop spoonfuls of peanut butter on top of batter, and use a knife to swirl throughout. Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips, if desired.
  8. Bake for 30-45 minutes until edges are just starting to brown.
  9. Let cool before cutting into 8 squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.

I hope you guys love these pumpkin spice treats! Tag your photos with #Daisybeet so I can see your creations 🙂