Bliss Balls aka Carrot Cake Energy Bites

This recipe is from the amazing Laura Lea Balanced Cook Book and we absolutely love it. I make this recipe once a week and Patrick brings two to work with him every day. Lots of protein bars (and things of that nature) that I give him to bring to work- get sent right back home (because he forgets about them) but never these guys. If you are a fan of Carrot Cake like we are – you guys will loooooovvveeee this vegan recipe. Patrick likes them frozen/I like them thawed- so that part is up to you but both are soo delicious!

How did these guys coin the name – Bliss Balls-? One of Patrick’s Co-Residents was a fan and named them for us! 

bites

  • 1 C Raw Walnuts
  • 1 (packed) Cup Grated Carrots
  • 4 Teaspoons Maple Syrup
  • 2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Flakes (unsweetened)
  • 1 (packed) Cup of Medjool dates (about 10)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Ginger
  • Pinch Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Sea Salt

glaze

  • 2 Tablespoons of Runny Almond Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of Melted Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or you can use cooking spray)
  2. Add walnuts to half of the baking sheet (make sure they do not over lap)
  3. In a small bowl, combine carrots, 1 teaspoon of maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Toss to coat, then spread carrots on other side of the baking sheet.
  4. Roast carrots and walnuts for 12 minutes, then allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  5. While carrots and walnuts are roasting, combine oats, coconut flakes, dates, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and sea salt in a food processor. Process until mixture forms a chunky crumble.
  6. Once carrots and walnuts are cooled, add to food processor. Place a new sheet of parchment paper on your baking sheet. Process the mixture until it forms a sticky dough. It should stick together – if not, adding 2-3 dates will help with this.
  7. Once everything is mixed in food processor- roll 2 tablespoons of dough per bite and place side by side on baking sheet. Freeze bites while you make the glaze.
  8. Glaze: Make glaze by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl. If it does not seem “runny”- microwave for 20 seconds. Pull bites out of freezer, roll each in glaze and return to baking sheet. Place bites back in freezer for 20 minutes before enjoying. Place leftover bites in rightly sealed container and refrigerate!

Side Note: Patrick and I actually keep them in the freezer and I pull two out in the morning- this way by the time he has them they are still somewhat cold

Hope you all enjoy your bliss balls! – The Neilan Family

Kindness + Cortisol: Why it Pays to be Positive

I love getting older, with every year- I understand health a little bit better (or so I like to think). For us, nutrition + health is not only about how we eat and exercise. We really try to keep a healthy mind aka we like to avoid stress/negativity as much as we can.  Which, in the world we live in, can definitely be a struggle. Although the type A in me would positively LOVE to control any and all things- it’s just not possible. But we can control what we let upset us. By 28 years old (and Patrick 30) we both really only get stressed out (or try to only get stressed out) about the things that matter – family, friends, our health, etc. One thing that really, truly makes us feel so good- is just plain old being nice and trying to keep our mood positive about ourselves and others. Which takes us to (plot twist!) Cortisol. 

From the Doctor: When you feel stress (anger, jealousy, fear, etc) your hypothalamus tells your adrenal glands to release hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). Cortisol increases glucose in your bloodstream to enhance your brains use of glucose (possibly increasing risk for type 2 diabetes).  Your body is in survival mode and in turn suppressing vital functions in the body; such as: the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes.

Typically once you no longer feel threatened (or stressed) these levels stabilize; however, when you are exposed to “long-term activation of the stress-response system” aka overexposure of cortisol for a prolonged period of time, this can cause inflammation and also put your health at risk for: anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain and memory/concentration impairment.

From the Dietitian: Obviously we can’t avoid stress all together. Cortisol is also necessary for vital body functions so you don’t want to do away with it completely by any means. The goal is to only stress – when it’s necessary and keep negativity as far away as possible. It takes a lot to really get under my skin (or Patrick’s) and that’s something that is purposeful. We’re by no means perfect and we all have our moods because at the end of the day we’re still human BUT we try to find the positive in people, ourselves and in situations. Not just to benefit others but also ourselves. For me, I need something more tangible than breathing exercises (works great for some) to help settle stress sometimes and showing kindness to other people has really gone a long way with keeping my anxiety/stress at bay and my environment positive. I’ve definitely been told “you’re too nice” “too bubbly” but I think people don’t realize it’s for my own benefit too. Letting everything get to you, in our opinion, is just not healthy and there are so many real things to worry about in life when they come up (health of a family member for example) to stress about the little things. Being rude or nasty or negative only takes more energy – so it pays to be kind, positive & just relax!

Happy Monday + Keep those Cortisol levels at bay!

Where All The Forgotten Bananas Go: Cinnamon Banana Bread

43b81d373132cd35baf511d944c58c9f--banana-holder-color-clubOops forgot about our bananas & now they’re entirely too ripe to eat – aka Banana Bread Time in the Neilan Household. So yummy and perfect for fall weather! But before we get into the recipe lets delve into some science. 

From the Dietitian: Come spend a day with us dietitians in the office – and you will hear LOTS about bananas. As most of you are likely aware, bananas are a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and antioxidants. But we have learned, through many discussions in the office, people are very particular about the kind of banana they prefer! I, myself, like a banana with some green on it and 0 spots.  But the point I’m getting to is THIS! There is actually some science behind it!

From the Doctor: Benefits of unripe bananas: Low sugar content. Good for people with diabetes or trying to watch their sugar intake. Unripe bananas also have more starch- so they will keep you fuller longer. They contain more probiotics (aka great for gut health).  Benefits of ripe bananas: There was a study done in China, that showed that the spots on bananas indicate (TNF) tumor necrosis factor and could act as an immunity agent, fighting against abnormal cells in the body. Ripe bananas are easier for the body to digest than unripe and also contain more antioxidants.

Bananas could help with anxiety and depression because they actually contain tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin! For someone without chronic disease- having a banana several times a week may reduce the risk of kidney disease by up to 50%. Bananas are also known to be good for cardiovascular and digestive health.

So, to sum it all up, no matter the banana you prefer- you’re getting all kinds of health benefits! Now for the recipe!

for the banana bread

  • 3 Very Ripe Bananas (we used 4 because I didn’t want to throw the last guy out)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 3/4 C Quick Oats
  • 3/4 C All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 C Chickpea Flour
  • 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 2/3 C Sugar (We used 1/4 C and 2 Tsp of Truvia)
  • 1/4 C Canola Oil (We used 1/4 C Apple Sauce)
  • 1/3 C Milk (We used cashew)
  • 1/2 C Chopped Walnuts

for the topping

  • 1/2 C Sugar (We used 3 1/2 Tbsp of Truvia)
  • 2 Tbsp of Whole Wheat All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Softened Butter
  • 1 Tsp of Cinnamon

the recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Prep 9 x 5 loaf pan with non-stick spray (We used olive oil spray or you can just use butter)
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, oats, sugar and salt
  4. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, and mashed bananas (mix with your hands- I guess I’m a weirdo because I love this part!!)
  5. Then mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients (with hands or a spoon)
  6. Time for the topping mixture! In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter- mix with hands until it looks almost like wet sand
  7. Pour half of the banana bread mixture in your loaf pan- sprinkle half of the cinnamon mixture on top- then pour the rest of your batter in and sprinkle the other half of cinnamon mixture on top!
  8. Bake for 50-60 min

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Slice yourself a piece in the morning with some cashew or almond butter to add protein & make it a little bit more filling! Or, for a late-night snack, warm it up 5-10 seconds and have a scoop of vanilla halo top ice cream! 

A Not So Politically Correct Take on Appetite from a Registered Dietitian

OK everyone!!! Patrick is spending the night at the hospital – another 30 hour shift. SO I’ve got some time to share something with you all that I’m super excited about! 

Boy do I. Love. This. Book- “Women, Food and God” by Geneen Roth. Mindful eating- my, how we forget this day and age what that actually means. As a clinical dietitian, you see the repercussions of poor diet around you 24/7. An unhealthy diet is the cause of 678,000 deaths per year- that’s ABOVE tobacco, alcohol abuse, and high blood pressure. I can’t cover diet all in one post but I am going to talk about a piece of the puzzle & the one that I am most passionate about- mindful eating. Because I talk a lot about meal timing in this blog, this post is not appropriate for diabetics (as a dietitian, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that).

So! I read this book back in college & it was completely game changing for me. The book Women, Food and God (don’t be turned off by the title for anyone who does not have a religious background- it does not delve far into religion by any means) focuses on how we ignore hunger cues for SO many different reasons. Whether it’s because it’s just plain old “time to eat” or “I am supposed to have six small meals a day” or “I promised my friend I’d meet at a bakery”- whatever it is. As human beings, lets be honest, we were meant to work for our food. That is how it always was before technology and all this fancy stuff! We did not have a restaurant on every corner or a vending machine outside our office begging us to get another snack. NOPE. We would go out into the world and hunt and fish and this would take TIME and ENERGY. But here we are. We feel the slightest inkling of hunger (or thirst) and we are on the prowl. We eat when we are bored, we eat for holidays, we eat because it’s “lunch time”, we eat to celebrate a birthday, to catch up with a friend, we eat mindlessly on the phone, we eat while we watch a movie, we eat in the car on the way to work. But are we even hungry? Trust me, I think the social aspect is wonderful. Traveling and trying new restaurants is our favorite past time. However Patrick and I will not eat if we are not hungry- under any circumstance. But that’s the only “diet” we follow & it works. It sounds easy- but it takes work! Is it strange for people at times? Yes it definitely is. It is not easy to not eat with a friend when you are not hungry- but I do it all the time. My friends know this and they know it well. Do not care how uncomfortable it makes someone, don’t care if they’re judging- because it doesn’t make sense. If you’re not hungry your body is saying- “I’ve got the energy we need in here- no worries”. A lot of the time it takes people time to regain hunger cues because if you are used to ignoring them aka eating more or less than what your body needs – your hunger cues may be out of whack but they do come back! It just takes time to relearn how to listen to your body. Starving yourself, only sends your hunger cues into constant FEED ME craziness- so we will cover this in another post because restricting is another topic, for another day, my friends.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest”.

“If you pay attention to when you are hungry, what your body wants, what you are eating, when you’ve had enough, you end the obsession because obsession and awareness cannot coexist”.

“And if you worry that not finishing the food on your plate is a slap in the face of all the hungry people everywhere, you are not living in reality. The truth is that you either throw the food out or you throw it in, but either way it turns to waste. World hunger will not be solved by finishing the garlic mashed potatoes on your plate”.

helath

Sweet dreams & Happy Hunger Cues!

Morning (Anti-Gremlin) Concoction

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Our favorite thing to wake up to in the morning: Matcha and -a-little-bit-of-everything-else too- tea! This recipe is from Laura Lee Balanced & is absolutely amazing- prior to this I was drinking just Matcha & Golden Milk – which is an awesome combo too! DO NOT feel like you need to purchase all of the below to reap the benefits. Main ingredient is Matcha- everything else is a bonus! I call it our Anti-Gremlin tea. 

Side Note- At first when I saw this recipe- I was very skeptical. We actually really aren’t “supplement people”. A lot of supplements do not get absorbed in the body and it can be just a bunch of mumbo jumbo for the vitamin/supplement companies to make money- but the below supplements/herbs are tried & true- for us!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Teaspoon Matcha powder – Our favorite: Teami Blends
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Golden Milk [or turmeric powder]- Our Favorite: Gaia (turmeric, date & spice powder)
  • Splash of Vanilla Extract
  • Lots of cinnamon [to taste]
  • Splash of Maple Extract [optional, but my fav]
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Spirulina [optional]
  • 1 Teaspoon of Coconut Butter [optional]  -Our Favorite: Nikki’s Vanilla Cake Batter
  • 2 drops of Stevia or a drop of honey [we don’t add this because the extracts make it sweet enough BUT if you’d like it a little sweeter]

Boil 2 cups of water (or milk of your choice- we also love it with cashew. But on a regular basis we use just plain old water). Once the water is boiling, throw everything in the blender and mix it up-

  • Golden Milk Benefits: Contains Turmeric, Dates & herbs. Anti-inflammatory & filled with antioxidants. I actually learned about this when I worked on the Bone Marrow/Oncology unit & a whole post on turmeric benefits is a must!
  • Spirulina: Bacteria aka cyanobacterium or simply put, blue green algae. Antioxidant & anti-inflammatory. Contains Phycocyanin, which fights free radicals. Spirulina can help lower LDL and triglyceride levels.
  • Coconut Butter: First off, we just plain old like the taste of coconut- if I didn’t we’d likely leave this out BUT this delish Cake Batter Coconut Butter- Recommended by Laura Lee Balanced- has been life changing. Coconut butter helps with appetite control & increases energy levels because it is high in lauric acid. As a medium-chain-triglyceride, it’s structure allows our bodies to soak it up easily; therefore, in a sense, it serves as a quick source of energy. Great for digestion & combats nasty bacteria!

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Cheers all & have A Happy Monday Night! 

Matcha > Coffee & Adderall

MATCHA! I love it in and on all things. Pancakes (see below), oatmeal, yogurt, obviously my daily morning concoction (that I’ll share with you all) – I mean I’d sprinkle it on pizza if people wouldn’t look at me all funny. I tried it for the first time in high school and have been hooked since! I sprinkle it in almost everything for a bit of clean feeling energy & that earthy taste that keeps me comin back every time.

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Side Note: Add a tablespoon of Matcha to your pancake batter & a teaspoon of spirulina. I made these pancakes with whole wheat & coconut flour. Post to follow on benefits of spirulina & the pancake recipe!

From the Dietitian: Hope you all are seated because I could go on about the health benefits for quite some time. I’m gonna bullet it for you all so it’s not a bunch of mumbo jumo. I get excited and then everything starts running together haha! Background: I just got Patrick started on Matcha. Let’s just say the guy is not easy to convince (totally a science guy-EVERYTHING must be proven with research and yadda yadda). At first he looked at me like I had 10 heads and then he tried it and he now drinks it every morning & is equally as obsessed as I am. Why did I start Patrick on it this month? He started his rotation in the MICU (Medical ICU). This means 30hr shifts/>80hr work week and a lot of intensity. Clean, calm, alert energy- YES! Perfecto timing you could say! I make a matcha drink in the morning with a lot of additions- I’m going to share this with you on a later post but the main ingredient is MATCHA!

From the Doctor: He can’t say much because he just started drinking it two weeks ago! But like I said, he drinks it every morning because he feels like he has sustained energy throughout the day without the crash! Do we still drink coffee sometimes (yes- we are not anti-coffee at all. Just prefer Matcha).

From the Dietitian (I’m back again!): 

  • Stuffed to the rim with antioxidants, EGCG (or epiocatechin gallate – great for metabolic & cardiovascular health), L-theanine and polyphenols- this puppy serves as quite the immune defense
  • But back to L-theanine. Because this is my favorite thing about Matcha & why I will forever choose tea over coffee. L-theanine is an amino acid that has a calming effect. It’s found in both black and green tea. A lot of people will take L-theanine for anxiety! This is why there is less of a crash with tea like a lot of people have with coffee. Matcha gives me a calm/alert feeling that I love love love. Who needs nasty adderall? 👎🏻

Side note: We all are super busy humans these days. We work hard and don’t rest as often as we should. Probably why people love adderall so much- it’s why I did. I was prescribed adderall throughout college. I’d take it and then stop because I HATE the side effects- but I loved the focus. Matcha gives me that mentally alert feeling without the horrible crash that makes me turn into a gremlin! I’m not going to delve too much into adderall because a. my hubby isn’t home so I can’t pretend like I know all about the logistics (not my scope haha) BUT b. I hate the stuff & for me- I didn’t think it was good for my body.

  • Polyphenols-  Before I go here, there is ongoing research with this topic. Polyphenols are a great source of antioxidants. And we all say antioxidants but I think people forget what it actually means and I love love chemistry so I’m taking this opportunity! Definition: An antioxidant is a molecule that prevents another molecule from oxidizing. Lots of processes in the body cause oxidation naturally (this can also happen from poor diet/pollution/UV rays etc)- the intake of antioxidants is needed to counteract some of the negative results of the build up of too many oxidized molecules. Picture you have three molecules: You have a healthy molecule (full of electrons aka happy), you have a free radical molecule (missing an electron aka unhappy) and you have an antioxidant molecule. The free radical wants to take an electron from your happy molecule (causing damage) BUT instead the antioxidant (as kind and generous as it is) gives an electron to the free radical so it doesn’t have to take an electron from your happy molecules (see photo below)!  AND IN TURN reducing the progression of diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative  (ex: Alzheimer’s) and cardiovascular diseases. Sounds pretty fabulous to me- if that doesn’t make you want to drink matcha and eat your fruits and veggies I don’t know what will. ATOMS2
  • Matcha can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar
  • High in Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin C, chromium, and magnesium- I will post about importance of mineral don’t you all worry. But I’ll spare ya since I just went on a chemistry binge.
  • Contains fiber (anti constipation club here)Matcha-Antioxidants-Chart-Other-Foodscaffeine-chart-ig_1024I hope you all enjoyed & Knox wishes you all a very happy Sunday!