Nut Butter Balls

It has been a little while since I posted on this site.  In fact, I haven’t posted since I began graduate school in January, but today I want to share a recipe my girls have begged for this summer for snacking.

So here we go:  Nut Butter Balls!

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I start with pepita butter, almond butter or peanut butter. Pick your favorite!

I personally love Naturally Nutty Nut Butters made in Traverse City Michigan.  I often use pepita butter, which is actually a seed butter, but your favorite will do.

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In a large mixing bowl, mix:

2 c nut butter, 

1 c crushed pecans, almonds, or other nut

1 c crushed seed such as sunflower, pepita, etc

1 c rolled oats (If you are worried about cross contamination with gluten, there are some oats certified to be free from cross-contamination.  Also, some who are sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to the oat protein avenin, so please take this into consideration if you have issues with gluten.) I have used corn flour as a thickener/filler in these as well.

1 c chopped dried cranberries

1 c chopped dates

1 c chopped rasins

1 tablespoon honey, molasses, maple syrup, or your favorite natural sweetener

spices to your taste:  I like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, or any of the fall spices.  I have also used vanilla.

optional: chocolate or carob chips, other dried fruit, Flax seed meal, or ANYTHING you can get to stick in the nut ball!  

Stir and press all together well and use coconut oil to help things stick together if needed.  I usually do not need more than 2 tablespoons per recipe.

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Now use a small scoop to form balls and finish pressing together with fingers.

Some of the below are rolled in g-free oats to dry the exterior.

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These disappear in an instant!  In fact, I have to limit how many my girls can eat in a day.

They are easy to wrap in waxed paper or toss in a baggie for packed lunches, ball games, or after school snacks. No need to refrigerate, but if I could keep them in the house a little longer, I might use the refrigerator to keep them fresh.

I would like to give credit for this recipe to my friend and dance teacher Peggy Alberda.  She has a true gift of creativity in everything she does!

  2006 dance behind the scenes 132

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Chia Seed Pudding

There is no recipe easier than Chia Seed Pudding!

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I remember the commercials from the 80s: cha-cha-cha-chia! Wet the seeds and spread them on the terra-cotta–thing–animal–whatever.  Watch it grow!  I always thought it was strange, to say the least.  Somehow the product survived to this day, if only to take on the obscure, mostly being exchanged as gag gifts at company Christmas parties.  

But now there is a new Chia.  We have discovered the health benefits of chia seeds, and the Ch-industry has been revived.  Chia seeds are high in fiber, high in protein, high in antioxidants, and in omega-3 fatty acids.  They are easily digested, and do not need to be ground prior to eating.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/24/business/chia-seeds-gain-popularity-for-nutritional-benefits.html?_r=0

Only two ingredients are needed for Chia Pudding:

Chia seeds and your favorite milk, at about a 1:4.  Just mix 1/2 cup seeds in 1 cup milk, and allow the mixture to sit for an hour or so, stirring occasionally.  What you get is a pudding about the consistency of tapioca, and you can make any flavor you wish.

In our picture, we have used Prairie Farms Red Velvet Milk, and have made a very tasty dessert, but you may use almond milk, soy milk, coconut, etc.  You may also add flavoring, or just start with flavored milk.

So easy a child can do it!

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U (really) R wat U eat!

You really are what you eat!

The human body is constantly working to repair and replace cells and tissues, its building blocks.  So where do the building blocks come from?  From what we eat, of course!  There is no other way to obtain the needed building materials.  So what are you going to build with?  And how many kinds of  materials will you use?  If you were going to build a house, would you start with all nails and wire?  Would you pour the concrete, but neglect the lumber?  The prettiest paint colors will do no good without the drywall.  And how about the quality of your materials?  How would you like asbestos insulation and lead paint?

It’s the same with our bodies.  The end result is no better than the materials we use.

There are loads of excellent books published that will tell you what to eat.  There are also loads of fad diets.  There are loads of “experts,” and I will not pretend to be one of them.  What I will do is recommend some books that have helped me to add nutrition to our family diet, and have taught me WHY certain choices are better than others.

My favorite book on nutrition is Eat Right For Life, by Dr. Ann Kulze, available here: http://www.drannwellness.com/, or here: http://www.welcoa.org/store/product-landing/eat-right-for-life/

I love this book because it is a quick read, and it has lots of pictures!  In short, it’s easy! It keeps my attention!  It is laid out much like a magazine, with text and tip boxes, attractive pictures, and best of all, it doesn’t just tell me what to eat…it tells me why!  I need to know why!  The “why” is my motive!

When our daughter Katy was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes last year (see post entitled “Our Diabetes Story”) this book was my primary guide in bettering our family diet.  The book is inexpensive as well, so at Christmas I gave a copy to each of my coworkers and patients.  I think the message is that helpful.

With that said, I will add that Dr. Ann does not discuss food intolerances, which I believe are an important topic to address with anyone…especially if they have digestive problems, or inflammatory diseases (see posts under inflammation and disease).  Gluten, dairy, nuts, and soy are four common foods that cause reactions, but each individual can have his or her own irritants.  I will plan to post more on that topic another time.  For now, I would like to highly recommend Eat Right For Life for your kitchen library.

Effects of Gluten

I came across the following article on the effects of gluten, and I would like to share it.  Looks like I first discovered it from Facebook, but you should be able to follow the following link, even if you do not have Facebook.  The article talks about research findings on the kinds of diseases gluten intolerance could be fueling.  It’s just about staggering, and I would have thought it exaggerated, had we not had our own family brush with gluten intolerance.

http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2012/02/07/health-journal-deciphering-the-ailments-tied-to-gluten/?mod=wsj_share_facebook

The more I talk to people about gluten intolerance, the more I see its possible effects on us.  I hope you’ll enjoy the above link.  It was a very good read (until the end when they make a vague and somewhat out-of-place reference to adaptation to our environment.  I am not an evolutionist…)

Love to hear your feedback and/or experience with gluten issues under comments

Glycemic Index

I promised a post about glycemic index.  This is it!

Every food has a GLYCEMIC INDEX.  This term refers to how fast the carbohydrates in a food break down into sugar in the digestive system.  The higher the index value, the faster the food turns to sugar.  Unless you’ve had your head in the sand the past few years, you’ve probably heard many times over that starchy foods such as white bread, white potatoes, pasta, and white rice break down into sugar in the digestive system.  True.

But the more complete information is that every carbohydrate turns into sugar.  It’s just that some turn to sugar very quickly, causing spikes and then sudden drops in blood sugar. These are the foods with a high glycemic index.  Cakes, cookies, and other sweets fall into this category.  Other foods that are in this category include fruit juice, sweetened breakfast cereals, and of course, regular pop.

What you should eat are foods with a lower glycemic index.  These foods raise blood sugar more slowly, and keep blood sugar levels from spiking.  Generally, foods with a lower glycemic index have more fiber than those with a high index, and often contain proteins, which further help to stabilize blood sugar levels, because they are digested more slowly.

Examples of foods with low glycemic index include the following: Fruit, especially with peels (for fiber), beans, most vegetables, dairy products, and whole grain foods such as oatmeal. 

There are many books and websites that can help you with choosing lower glycemic foods.  Here are a few:

Websites:

http://www.glycemicindex.com/

http://www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm

http://diabetes.webmd.com/glycemic-index-good-versus-bad-carbs

Book that helped me:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1581568.The_New_Glucose_Revolution

If you live in the Fort Wayne area, I can recommend a good nutrition counselor who can help with your individualized nutrition needs.  Her name is Lou Ann Binkley.  She and her partner, Debby Raftree have a website: www.yourlifestylematters.com .

Finally, I want to add that there are many diets out there.  Some  of them use the glycemic index toward weight loss, and while that is an entirely possible outcome, I’ve tried not to post those.  Glycemic index is a tool to help us to eat healthfully, and to make permanent changes in eating patterns.  A host of health benefits will follow. I encourage you to begin to choose lower glycemic index foods as a lifestyle, and not as a diet. 

Sugar’s Chagrin

“Mom, not everybody eats as healthy as we do!”

Wow! Did those words just come from one of my children? And did she mean it as a complaint, while I took it as a compliment?  YES!!!

We really do eat our share of junk food.  Frosted sugar cookies are my #1 favorite food, followed closely by DeBrand Chocolate’s Connoisseur Collection http://www.debrand.com/chocolate_guide/index.cfm?id=8  mmm…If you’re not from the Fort Wayne area, they are worth shipping to wherever you are!

But back to my topic…

There’s nothing wrong with a little sugar now and then.  The problem is, our diets are loaded with sugar in many forms.  By now you’ve probably heard that white flour, pasta and other starchy foods turn to sugar as they digest, so just like gluten (previous post), we get more than our share in the American diet.  Many, many processed foods have hidden sugar, even if it is not a food considered a “sweet.”  While I’m not ready to boycott, There are many good reasons to be cognizant of sugar intake:

Following are just a few ill effects of sugar:

promotes tooth decay

raises adrenalin in kids

increases insulin resistance in diabetes

elevates blood glucose levels

suppresses the immune system

contributes to arthritis

speeds the aging process

decreases growth hormone

can cause depression

increases bacterial function in the colon

can cause hormonal imbalance

increases risk of Alzheimer’s

can cause drowsiness or hyperactivity

can exacerbate Multiple Sclerosis

can cause a yeast infection

contributes significantly to obesity

ok,ok, you get it…you knew it…just reminding you…and me…

Moderation!