Tag Archives: Vanilla

A surprising ingredient…

Three days off of working out, loads of vitamin C, and a pot of Tom Yum later, I am no longer sick! Getting back into the swing of things was harder than anticipated though. I felt so weak back at the gym and had to remove weight from several lifts, though I don’t think that too much of that was due to actual strength loss. When sick, I try to get in plenty of calories and extra protein, to give the body what it needs to fight the infection and prevent muscle loss. Did you know that when you have a fever, for every 1 degree above ~98.6 you are, your basal metabolic rate is increased by 8%? Your body has to synthesize all the antibodies, B cells, and T cells, to fight off whatever it is – and those are all made from protein!

Since veggies are the least appealing when sick, I made a huge stirfry once I felt better. I tossed everything in a peanut-coconut sauce. I swear that combo can do no wrong. Coconut milk + peanut butter = gold. Howeverrr, I did something a little cray and used vanilla coconut milk for the sauce – and it was out of this world. You must try it!

Chicken and vegetables in a vanilla-coconut peanut sauce

Recipe: Serves 2

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked
  • 1 cup quinoa or brown rice, cooked
  • cilantro, for garnish

For the stir fry -

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp grated garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 baby bok choy
  • 2 handfuls brocoli florets
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 5 green onions
  • 6 stalks dino kale
  • 1 tsp chopped chili pepper (or pinch cayenne pepper)

For the sauce -

  • 2 tbsp chunky peanut butter
  • 3-4 tbsp So Delicious Sugar Free Vanilla Coconut Milk beverage (or sub in coconut milk and add 4 drops vanilla extract)
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup cooked winter squash (or sub canned pumpkin or cooked sweet potato)

Directions – Place a pan on the stove on medium heat. Add the oil, garlic and ginger and let cook until fragrant, a minute or two. Chop all the vegetables and pull the kale leaves from the stalks and shred. Add all of the veggies to the pan except the kale and stir fry. Once they are about a minute from being soft to your preference, add the kale. Once the kale has wilted, remove from heat.

Slice the cooked chicken breasts into small strips. Combine the chicken and veggies in a bowl. Prepare the sauce by mixing the PB, coconut milk, tamari, and squash in a little bowl. Stir until homogenous. Pour the sauce over the veggies and chicken and toss until coated. Serve with grains.

Benefits:

Peanuts * a great source of manganese, Vitamin E, tryptophan (calming!), niacin, folate, and copper! Peanuts also contain lots of healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants! They have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and have been shown to significantly lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer.

Chilies * filled with capsaicin which can help fight inflammation. They have also been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood triglycerides, and thus can be considered heart healthy. The heat that you feel after eating chili peppers has to come from somewhere – that would be your metabolism! Also, a recent study showed that eating just a little chili pepper a day helped participants sleep better that night.

Garlic * packed with antioxidants that fight aging, cancer, and heart disease. Garlic can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and eliminate free radicals (which cause cellular damage). It is also used to treat asthma and certain unpleasant infections.

Bell peppers * an extremely potent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants. They also contain fiber, B6, folate, and vitamin K.

Coconut * coconut gets a bad rap because of its saturated fat content, but its fatty acids are mainly medium-chain triglycerides, not long-chain. The long-chain triglycerides are bad for our cholesterol levels, but coconut has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Animal studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can increase metabolism.

Homemade Protein Bars (that actually taste good)!

I am so excited to share this recipe with all of you! It all started a few days ago when my house mate and I were at Savemart. Chelsea asked me which bar she should buy for breakfast and I told her that I avoid basically all bars in general (except Kind almond macadamia and Perfect Foods bars). I think they tend to be full of mediocre and/or synthetic ingredients and are usually high carbohydrate and low protein. Disheartened, she ended up not buying any. When we got back to the house, I offered to try and make her a bar that was both high protein and not super high calorie so that she could munch on other things throughout the morning. After two trials, I am proud to present my recipe for homemade protein bars!

Each bar has 215 calories, 12 grams of fat (10 of them unsaturated!), 14 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, and 17 grams of protein.

Homemade Vanilla Protein Bars

Recipe: Makes 10 bars

10 tbsp almond butter (or your favorite nut butter)

2 tsp vanilla extract

5 egg whites

5 scoops vanilla whey protein powder (or your favorite flavor, don’t use isolate)

1 cup oats

1/2 cup oat bran

1/2 cup dried, shredded coconut (I used reduced fat for this recipe to increase the fiber)

1/4 cup vanilla almond milk

1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin (optional, I think)

shake cinnamon

stevia to taste

Directions – Preheat the oven to 250. Mix the peanut butter, vanilla extract, and egg whites in a large bowl until smooth and homogenous. Add in the protein powder and stir until well combined. Add the oats, oat bran, shredded coconut, pumpkin, cinnamon, and milk. Stir until well combined. Taste it and if it isn’t sweet enough for you, add a bit of stevia. I didn’t need to because the protein powder was sweetened enough. Pour into 2 greased pie tins (or you can use something square if you want them to be rectangular) and bake until the edges have separated from the tin.

To be honest, I should have paid more attention to how long I baked them for. Between 10 and 15 minutes? They will be soft throughout and a bit gooey in the very center. You don’t want to overcook them because they will be dry and not taste nearly as good, so watch and check them!

Remove from the oven and let cool (you can put them in the fridge to speed process). Cut into 10 bars/slices.

So yummy!

These bars remind me of some of my favorite blogging friends who I know kick ass in the weight room. Ahem Lori, Lindsay, Ms Wood, April, Mimi, and Melisa.

Benefits:

Rolled oats * A prime source of fiber. Also contain potassium, phosphorous, pantothenic acid, and magnesium.

Coconut * coconut gets a bad rap because of its saturated fat content, but its fatty acids are mainly medium-chain triglycerides, not long-chain. The long-chain triglycerides are bad for our cholesterol levels, but coconut has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Animal studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can increase metabolism.

Cinnamon * In one study, after taking 1/4 – 1 tsp cinnamon daily for 40 days, all participants benefitted from a reduction of fasting blood sugar levels, blood triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol! It is very high in antioxidants and can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which will help prevent an insulin spike, and thus the storage of fat.

Almond butter * A great source of monounsaturated fats! These are the fats that raise HDL (good cholesterol) levels and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels!

Vegan Vanilla Almond Pumpkin Pudding

This was so delicious! I can’t even tell you! I actually prefer it in ice cream form, but I like alliteration, so I named it pudding. It is essentially a higher protein, non dairy ice cream or pudding.

Recipe: Serves 2

Blend the following until smooth, then freeze! For a pudding texture, remove from the freezer when its cold. For an ice cream texture, let it stay in the freezer for a couple hours! Its tough, I know.

1 package light silken tofu

1 tbsp honey (okay, I know this isn’t vegan, but to make it vegan simply sub agave nectar!)

1 tbsp maple syrup

3 tbsp brown sugar (or you can use stevia)

a little under 1/3 cup pumpkin

1 tbsp vanilla almond nut butter

1 heaping tsp vanilla extract

lots of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice

good pinch of guar gum and xanthan gum

After you have blended if for a while, taste it! You may like it sweeter or more nut buttery, so you can more of wahtever if you need to.

Options: For more of an almond flavor, add an extra tbsp of nut butter. You could also sub in chopped walnuts or pecans. Or shredded coconut flakes. Or dark chocolate shavings. Or all of the above.

Other options: This recipe also works well for fruity flavors. Simply remove the pumpkin and add 1/2 cup of your favorite frozen fruit. Strawberries, blackberries, bananas, and blueberries all work superbly.

Benefits:

Tofu * 1 package contains 20 grams of protein, calcium, and iron!

Pumpkin * tons of vitamin A and C and the antioxidant betacarotene!

Cinnamon * contains of antioxidants and has a blood sugar stabilizing effect

I don’t even like soup, but

this was ridiculously good. Lets call it SweetpoCoco soup because its main ingredients are sweet potatoes and coconut milk. Because the soup is already full of carby goodness, the noodles in this dish are shredded KALE! Trust me, its superb.

Recipe: Serves 2, but I recommend doubling it for left overs.

Chop up 1 large sweet potato into smallish pieces and place in a bowl with a tablespoon or 2 of water and cover with another bowl. Microwave  for 7 minutes.

Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot that has been sprayed with canola oil. Throw in 2 chopped cloves of garlic, cover, and let cook until they begin to brown.

Once browned, pour in half of a can of light coconut milk and 2/3 a cup milk. You can use more or less of the coconut milk, just be sure to make up for it with an equal amount milk.

Cover, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Let it simmer for 25-30 minutes. Don’t let it boil the entire time because it will lose too much liquid, but if you do, just add more milk.

Then, remove the bowl from the heat and mix with a hand mixer or electric mixer. Once blended, put the soup back on the stove and add:

2+ cups kale (it will shrink a lot, I promise!)

1 heaping tsp vanilla

a couple shakes of cinnamon

1/2 -1 teaspoon cumin

a dash of red pepper flakes

handful of raisins, salt, and a dash of pepper

Let it cook until the kale is softer and brighter in color.

To eat, top with peanuts! I also added coconut, but I couldn’t taste it, and instead, I wanted more peanuts.

The original recipe can be found here.

Benefits:

Kale * Its levels of vitamins K, A, and C are off the chart! It also has manganese, calcium, fiber, and antioxidants.

Coconut Milk * Is said to have alkalinizing effects on the body.

Peanuts * A tasty source of vitamin E, folate, and niacin. They also have resveratrol, which is the antioxidant everyone is freaking out over in red wine!

Red pepper * Boosts the metabolism!

This will make you a breakfast eater.

This is my 2nd favorite oat combo. I ran out of shredded coconut and slivered almonds for a pretty topping, so lets just pretend…

Easy, Classic Oatmeal

Recipe: Serves 1. Gluten Free.

  • 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats or oat bran
  • 1/2 cup milk (regular, almond, or coconut)
  • 1 banana, ripe
  • dash salt
  • dash chia seeds
  • tsp vanilla extract
  • tsp Maca (optional)
  • 1 large egg white or 2 tbsp egg whites
  • Toppings: coconut butter, almond butter, coconut shreds, sliced almonds, nuts, seeds, etc

Directions – Microwave half a cup of rolled oats (or oatbran!) with a little under half a cup of milk and half a cup of water for about 3 minutes. Be sure to use a tall bowl! In another bowl, microwave a frozen banana until its squishy, about a minute. Stir the banana, a dash of salt, a dash of chia seeds, a few drops of vanilla, a teaspoon of Maca, and a tablespoon or 2 of egg whites into the oats. Top with an overflowing tablespoon of almond butter and coconut butter. I put the almond butter into the spoon first and then pour the coconut butter on top. Top with a pinch of slivered almonds and shredded coconut!

Benefits:

Oats * A slow digesting carbohydrate that will keep you full for longer and not spike your blood sugar because of its high fiber content! Also contains potassium, phosphorous, pantothenic acid, and magnesium.

Almond butter *A great source of monounsaturated fats! These are the fats that raise HDL (good cholesterol) levels and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels!

Maca * Maca has been used by the Peruvians for thousands of years. It is claimed that Maca helps endocrine function which includes sexual function, metabolism, fertility, digestion, and brain function.

Chia * Used by the ancient Aztecs, it was considered food of the Gods. They contain omega 3′s, B vitamins, calcium, niacin, and thiamin. The ratio of protein to carbs to fat is perfect!

Milk * Milk has calcium, vitamin D, and protein! Soy does as well.

Banana * Good source of potassium, fiber, and healthy sweetness.