2 Quick Crunchy Nibbles

I love all things crunchy and salty – and let’s be honest, sweet too. Here are 2 super quick recipes that I whip up on a weekly basis.

 

FullSizeRender_3Broccoli “Fries” – These baked little trees are surprisingly delicious. I even have made these for house guests and there is not a tree left on the tray. I usually make two pans and then eat and entire pan when it is still hot and crispy right out of the oven 🙂

Remove most of broccoli stem and separate into the smallest trees possible. Place “crown” side down (very important) on a tray greased with Coconut or Olive Oil. Season with salt/pepper. I like Spike seasoning. Bake at 400 F for 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on these babies, because they are easy to burn.

 

 

 

 

 

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Maple-Oat Crunchies – These are technically cookies, but sometimes I break them up and sprinkle them on my smoothie bowls.

2 C rolled oats, 3/4 C plus 2 T gluten free flour (I Like C4C), 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/8 t sea salt, 1/2 C coconut oil, 1/2 C pure maple syrup, 2 t vanilla extract.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine oats, flour, cinnamon and salt in bowl. Add oil, syrup and vanilla. Drop by rounded tablespoons on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Gently flatten dough (optional – sprinkle extra sea salt on top) and bake until golden brown – about 15 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

 

 

 

COCONUTS – Certified “Awesome”

If I could certify my favorite things as “AWESOME”, Coconuts would be at the top of my list.

My fondest childhood memories are of visits to family in Hawaii. Stringing leis with Tutu (my grandmother), fishing and snorkeling off my uncle’s boat and huge meals of Kalbi (Korean BBQ), Kailua pig, poi (yes, I love poi), and haupia (coconut pudding). Coconut has always been magic to me, but for many years it got a bad rap – “…Too high in saturated fat, it will clog your arteries, etc. ” Fortunately, we now know better and the health benefits of coconut cannot be denied…

imageCOCONUT OIL – The fat in coconut is a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) which is processed by the liver quickly and immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as fat. It is very thermogenic meaning it increases energy expenditure and you burn more calories.

Coconut oil stabilizes blood sugar – it helps glucose enter your cells, slowing and reducing insulin levels in the blood.

Studies also show that the consumption of MCT actually improves brain function in mild Alzheimer’s patients.

Almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut are Lauric acid, so when digested it can kill pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi!

COCONUT WATER- Contains potassium and magnesium and rehydrates the body while reducing inflammation.

Living in Mexico, I feel so fortunate to get fresh coconuts anytime I want. If you do not have a coconut stand on your corner, grab some from the market but BEWARE most coconut waters you see in the markets (yes, even WholeFoods) are pasteurized and/or from concentrate (double pasteurized). And don’t let the “flash-pasteurized” label make you feel better… It is basically saying,

“I am going to hit you in the face, but don’t worry because it will be quick.”

It is still a hit. And in the coconut water world it means it is still killing all the nutrients and enzymes. Who does this? Brands like C2O, Naked Juice, O.N.E, Vita Coco, Zico, Purity Organic, Amy & Brian’s, etc. YIKES. So what does that leave? I personally have only found one brand – Harmless Harvest. It is the one that looks pink!

 
Here are 4 ways I incorporate coconut into my days:

 

imageIt is no secret that I love my post-workout smoothie bowl. It is one of my favorite rituals and Almond Joy (Coconut, Chocolate, Almond) is incredible!

Protein of choice, 1/2 C coconut milk, 1 C. water/ice, 2 T. chia seeds, 2 T. cacao nibs, spinach, stevia optional. Blend all and top with shredded coconut, almonds, more cacao nibs, and sea salt!

 

 

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Awesome Coconut Oatmeal:
In large pot heat 1 can coconut milk + 8 cups water to gentle boil. Add 2 heaping cups steele cut oats, 1/2 maple syrup (or proffered sweetener), 1 T. Vanilla extract, 1 Cup unsweetened shredded coconut, Sea salt to taste. Reduce heat to simmer and cook an additional 35-50 minutes. Stir often.

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Quick Coconut water “sports drink”:

My last 2 seasons of MTB racing this is all I used and I felt great!
Fill bottle with 1/2 water, 1/2 coconut water, pinch of sea salt

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Baked Coconut Shrimp :

These are super awesome and SO EASY!!
Peel and clean shrimp.
Bowl with 1/2 cup cornstarch, salt, pepper, (optional cayenne)
Bowl 2 egg whites
Bowl 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Pre-heat oven to 400F. Line pan with foil and light coat of coconut oil. Dredge each shrimp in cornstarch, then egg white, then coat heavily in coconut. Place on baking sheet. Bake about 15 minutes. Enjoy hot! I serve mine with honey 🙂

 

 

 

Last, but not least, I do use coconut oil on my body, lips and especially dry elbows. Whatever is left on my hands, I wipe through the ends of my hair!

Tea It Up!

I grew up baking with Mom and Grandmother. We were the family that handed out home-made sweet breads, pies and dozens of different kinds of cookies to friends, family, and my parents’ co-workers. Our holiday baking sessions were more like missions. It was days and days, and days and days, of mixing, rolling, cutting, and assembling. (It was also the one time of year that I was allowed to stay up past mid-night.) During these marathon bake-offs my mom would simmer hot apple cider on the stove with fresh cloves, cinnamon sticks and orange rinds. We were not allowed to drink soda growing up so apple cider was a serious treat for me… and how I loved apple cider!

I have continued my mom and grandmother’s tradition and still do baking marathons during the holidays. I do not make fresh apple cider, but The Republic of Tea makes an incredible decaf “Hot Apple Cider” tea that tastes AMAZING. During the last year, I have been experimenting with using the contents of tea bags in my favorite recipes. The Hot Apple Cider tea is the perfect addition to a couple of my favorite healthy breakfasts…

Every single day I make myself a smoothie bowl after my morning workout. I LOVE SMOOTHIE BOWLS – I am not quite sure how I lived my first 40 years without them. Now while most smoothie bowls you see on Pinterest or Instagram are filled with bananas and exotic fruits, mine are a little less colorful* but still full of flavor and, more importantly, nutrition.

*My body does not process fructose very well, so I limit the amount of fruit that I eat.

 

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Apple Pie Smoothie Bowl

1 Scoop Vanilla protein powder (I like Quest)
2 T. Chia
Handful of spinach
1 Hot Apple Cider tea bag
1 t. Turmeric (go easy on this)
Stevia or sweetener of choice
Water/ice – Not as much water as you would for a smoothie drink.

Blend well.
Top with: Hemp hearts, cinnamon, chopped apples, pecans, granola, bee pollen, etc.

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It appears that baked oatmeal is making a comeback. I usually don’t keep oats around, but do have quinoa flakes in my pantry. I adapted a couple recipes and came up with this one using, you guessed it, Hot Apple Cider tea bags! It is super yummy. I like to drizzle more coconut milk and maple syrup on top before serving!

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Baked Apple Pie Quinoa

2 C. Quinoa flakes
1t. Baking powder
1 Hot Apple Cider tea bag
Pinch of sea salt

1 C. Coconut milk
1 C. Water
1 t. Vanilla
1/4 C. Maple Syrup or Honey
1/2 C. chopped Walnuts or Pecans
optional – 1/2 cup chopped apples.

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Place in oven safe dish. Top with more nuts if desired.
Bake 350 for 30 minutes. Do not overbake.

Drizzle with more maple syrup and coconut milk before serving. Enjoy!