Healthy Flour Alternatives

Most recipes you may come across call for good old white flour, also known as all-purpose flour.  What’s so wrong with that? A lot. All-purpose white flour is basically just empty calories – short-term energy that makes our blood sugar spike without any nutritional value. Did you know that white flour is actually wheat stripped of the whole-grain elements (the bran and the germ) so it lacks fiber and nutrients found in other flour alternatives. White flour is also commonly bleached white with chemicals…yuck.

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Whether you’re making cookies, muffins, pancakes, scones, or dessert, substituting white flour for one of the following healthier options will upgrade your recipe into a lighter, more nutritious, easier to digest option simply with this one easy switch.

  • Coconut flour is made of the superfood coconut, making it gluten-free, paleo, high in fiber, protein, energy, and low in carbohydrates. It’s dense and yields great pancakes (like these Delightful Banana Pancakes) and baked goods.
  • Almond Flour (almond meal) is made of almonds, also gluten-free, paleo, high in protein, and healthy fats. The difference between the two is simply that almond meal includes the whole nut while almond flour is made from blanched (skinless) almonds, both packed in vitamins and minerals. Try these Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins made with almond flour.
  • Quinoa Flour is made of grinding the seed we all know and love, quinoa! You can buy quinoa flour or you can grind your own uncooked seeds. High in fiber and nutrients, this gluten-free flour is light, a bit nutty, and a complete protein, making the perfect post-workout treats.
  • Spelt Flour is a species of wheat that is light, nutty, and high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. It is one of the oldest crops in history and very versatile. Although spelt does contain gluten, it is known to have many health benefits, including numerous minerals necessary for bone health. You can read more about spelt flour here.
  • Chickpea Flour, made of only chickpeas, is high in protein, fiber, and nutrients like folate, iron, magnesium, and zinc, and naturally gluten free.
  • Oat Flour is simply ground oats. You can purchase it at a health food store or just grind up your own raw oats in a blender or coffee grinder. Oats are super high in fiber and other vitamins and minerals, so you can’t go wrong with this healthy option. Just be sure to search for “gluten free” if you’re sensitive to gluten. (Oats don’t actually contain gluten; however, they can be processed in a plant with gluten.)

One Healthy Breakdown: get empowered with healthy flours!

Watermelon Basil Summer Salad

What says summer better than salad watermelon?! This salad will instantly become a summer staple. Soon, any salad without watermelon will seem…incomplete? It’s true. You’ll get it once you try it. Luckily, this one is super simple (like five minutes simple) and the color palette is sure to impress even the most critical BBQ guest. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • dark leafy greens
  • watermelon (cut into cubes)
  • feta cheese
  • fresh basil leaves
  • balsamic vinegar

Simply make a bed of dark leafy greens (we used arugula here, but as long as they’re fresh, any type of greens will do the trick.) Add basil leaves, watermelon cubes, and feta and lightly cover with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle sea salt, black pepper, and toasted hazelnuts if you want to get really fancy. This salad is so fresh, light, and summery that you’ll make it all season long.

One Healthy Breakdown: the salad that screams summer is oh so simple!

Roasted Chickpeas Two Ways

Hummus takes a back seat to these crunchy sweet and savory roasted chickpeas. Roasted chickpeas are super easy, tasty, and healthy. Chickpeas are power packed with plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Whether you like sweet or salty, you’re in luck.

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Sweet Roasted Chickpeas: top with coconut oil, cinnamon, cardamom, and sea salt.

Savory Roasted Chickpeas: top with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, tumeric, sea salt, black pepper, and a tiny bit of cayenne pepper (optional.)

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Simply prep your sweet and/or savory chickpeas and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and pop ’em as is for a snack (great on the go!) or add roasted chickpeas to a salad for a full (vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, meatless Monday) meal.

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One Healthy Breakdown: pass on the potato chips, opt for roasted chickpeas!

Peppermint Mocha Chia Pudding

Wow. Peppermint, chocolate, and coffee culminate to make this perfectly decadent combination. Did we mention it’s super healthy too? Nutritious and delicious anytime of day! With no added sugar, this dessert-like treat can even be enjoyed for breakfast!

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Ingredients: (makes one meal serving or 2 smaller snack/dessert servings)

  • 2/3 cup almond or coconut milk (make your own!)
  • 4 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2-4 tablespoons coffee (cool/room temp)
  • 2 teaspoons cacoa powder
  • 2 small drops peppermint extract
  • 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. Mixture will thicken to pudding. Remove, stir again, and serve chilled. Enjoy this decadent (super healthy!) sweet treat!

One Healthy Breakdown: who says healthy doesn’t taste good delicious?!

Super Yummy Energy Bites

Introducing your new favorite {super yummy} snack. Great for breakfast, pre and post-workout snack, and sweet treat, these puppies are full of power and flavor! Also, they taste like cookie dough…Just wait. Luckily, you only have to wait 10 minutes to enjoy these cute little nibbles!

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Ingredients: (makes about 15 bites)

  • 1 cup raw oats
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup nut or seed butter of choice
  • 3 dates (pitted)
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons goji berries and/or apricots (can use raisins or another dried fruit)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon high-quality protein powder (optional for additional protein/post-workout)

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Combine coconut oil, nut butter, vanilla, dates, salt, and half of the oats in a food processor or Vitamix. Once smooth, add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the mixture is consistent, but not completely smooth. Remove mixture and roll into balls about the size of a golf ball. Plate them in the fridge and let sit at least 10 minutes. Devour. You’re welcome 🙂

Optional add-ins for varied flavor: 1 teaspoon matcha powder, 1 drop peppermint oil, 1 tablespoon cacoa nibs or dark chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons pumpkin, 1/4 lemon, 1 slice ginger, 1 teaspoon maca powder, etc. These babies are super versatile – get it?

(*if mixture is too thick to form, add a tablespoon of water or two)

One Healthy Breakdown: enjoy ’em while they last!

Meatless Monday in a SNAP!

This one came out of nowhere, but was a huge hit in the flavor department! All you’ll need is a few simple ingredients and 10 minutes time, and your one-pan, warm and tasty, nutritious and delicious dish is served! Did I mention that it happens to be vegetarian, vegan, dairy, soy, and gluten free? Just sayin’…in case you care about that sorta thing. Best of all, it’s ready in a snap!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (could also use 1/2 cup cooked quinoa)
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (coconut oil would work as well)
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos (soy-free soy sauce alternative)
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

Directions:

Turn stove on medium and heat pan with sesame oil, chickpeas, and snap peas. After a few minutes, stir and add hemp seeds, coconut aminos, tumeric, and curry powder. Continue to cook until peas and beans begin to brown slightly (or until desired.) Turn off heat and serve…easy as that!

One Healthy Breakdown: Nothin’ but lean, green, plant protEIN!

Delightful Banana Pancakes

As far as pancakes go, these puppies are game changers, proving that healthy pancakes can be yummy pancakes. Delightfully full of protein, fiber, and only a few simple ingredients, they’re the perfect weekend pick-me-up and were a huge hit during our Antigua Adventure!IMG_0247

Ingredients: (makes 1 large/2 small pancakes, simple double/triple recipe for larger batch)

  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend or whip all ingredients until consistent – add water or almond milk if needed for consistency. Blending the batter as opposed to stirring it will make the pancakes light and fluffy. Pour batter into pan and top with a few slices of banana (optional.) Flip and serve with maple syrup, butter, or nut butter and/or berries of choice. Enjoy!

One Healthy Breakdown: simplicity is delightful…and delicious!

 

February’s Tiny Change: Eat More Plants

*This post is part of Kale and Chocolate’s year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one small, super doable change-over a year it really adds up! Read about all changes here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges!

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You’ve probably heard about the health benefits associated with eating a plant-based diet, like reducing your risk of heart disease, lowering your blood pressure, and adding years to your life. Food experts, nutritionists, and dietitians may disagree about the right diet, but amidst these debates, they have always been able to agree on at least one thing: MORE PLANTS = GOOD.

This month’s tiny change is just that – tiny. No need to cut foods out, restrict, or diet. Simply add more plant-based foods and recipes to your cooking repertoire. If you’re already eating a largely plant-based diet, wonderful! Try something new and interesting like DIY nut milk. If you’ve yet to dip your toe into plant-based cooking, start easy with something like chia seed pudding.

You don’t have to eat less or cut out anything. Just add more vibrant colors, nutrients, and variety to your meals. If a few of those delectable plant-based dishes happen to replace the less-than-healthy ones in your repertoire, that’s just a bonus! So what constitutes “plant-based,” exactly? Great question! Fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and oils are all fair game – all things that originally stem from plants (pun intended!)

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Here are five ways you can make this tiny change easy and awesome!

1. Incorporate these plant-based foods into the way you already eat

The best thing about plant-based foods? You can fold them into absolutely any eating style – they’re totally inclusive! Eating Paleo? Vegetarian? Gluten-free? Locavore or seasonal eater? Great, simply add more plants to your daily routine!

2. View this as an opportunity to experiment with new recipes + types of food
Consider this a little nudge to explore new recipes or make reservations at a new restaurant. Asian, Indian, and Ethiopian cuisines include lots of plant-based dishes, many featuring interesting spices and flavor combinations. Give them all a try!

Instead of trying to plant-i-fy existing dishes, why not try something totally different? We’re much more likely to enjoy a recipe (and make it again) if we eat it with an open mind…rather than thinking “this was much better when I made it with a whole stick of butter…” This tiny change gives you the perfect excuse to push yourself toward easy experimentation and more adventurous eating.

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3. Know that this isn’t just about smoothies and salads
Gotta love a good green smoothie, but there are tons of luscious, decadent plant-based foods out there. In fact, if you want to try just one new plant-based recipe a week this month, how about some delicious oatmeal, hummus, cookies, PB & J, sweet chocolate avocado mousse, and even ice cream?! Plant dishes can be sweet, savory, warm, chilled, and satisfy just about any craving!

4. Swap in one plant-based dish for one meat or dairy dish

Rather than overhauling your entire meal, try just swapping one dish. Munch on a batch of homemade veggie burgers and sweet potato fries for your Friday night Netflix marathon or warm up with butternut squash soup for meatless Monday. Whip up a balanced meal, use DIY nut milk in your smoothie or make guacamole instead of french onion dip. Just one tiny swap at a time; you’ll be amazed how easy it is to eat more plants!

5. Choose plant-based dishes when you’re eating out or grocery shopping

Now, you know I’m a huge advocate of DIY-ing, but most of us are short on time and long on obligations. Who among us hasn’t picked up dinner on the way home from a hectic day?

Remember, there are a surprising number of plant-based options at your local grocery store, and maybe even your favorite restaurant. Grab a tub of guac, baba ganoush, hummus or even black bean dip. Check out the salad bar for freshly prepared veggies, grains, and plant-based proteins to add to a bed of greens.

When you’re eating out, soups, salads, and vegetarian entrees are often plant-based, (and delicious) so give it a try. To help kickoff this tiny change, you could win amazing prizes and tools to fill up your plate with as many colors and nutrients as possible. You’ll be amazed by how simple it is to eat more plants. And the best part? This easy, delicious tiny change can set you on the road to a healthier heart, longer life, and happier body!

One Healthy Breakdown: Crack open you cookbooks and get ready to veg out!

Banana Almond Butter Cookies

Banana Almond Butter Cookies? Why, yes, thank you. Megan of ‘Megan’s Morsels’ shares her super simple recipe for these delicious (and nutritious) treats!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 fully ripe (slightly brown spotted) banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 scoops high quality vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 tbsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/2 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/3  cup pure maple syrup (or more for sweeter)
  • 2 or 3 spoonfuls of almond butter (yum!)

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Combine all the ingredients in one bowl and mix thoroughly until you achieve a thick cookie dough consistency
  • Form balls with the dough and then flatten to make cookies and place on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly firm and even a little golden brown on top
  • Remove from the oven and enjoy!

One Healthy Breakdown: these cookies are perfect for any time of day!

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*Megan Marcotrigiano is a health coach and Pilates instructor. She also makes and sells organic, gluten and dairy free treats known as Megan’s Morsels.

January’s Tiny Change: Do It Yourself

OHH Intro: we couldn’t be more into this month’s challenge to DIY (do it yourself!) You’ll save money, eat way healthier, spend way less time grocery shopping, and shock yourself with how good it feels (and tastes!) Read on for Kale & Chocolate’s rundown of how to become a DIY’er…

If you’re just joining us, this post is part of Kale & Chocolate’s year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one super small, super doable change—it really adds up over the course of a year! You can read about all the changes here. Share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges for a chance to win awesome prizes!

Welcome to 2016! Most people think of January 1st as the one and only day to turn over a new leaf, but if you’ve been participating in the #12tinychanges challenge, you’ve been building healthy habits since September (go you!) And if you’re new to the challenge, welcome to the simplest, least painful habit-shifting program you’ll ever tackle, #12tinychanges challenge.

blog-images-chocolate-barkAfter the holidays, when so many of us fall off of our routines, we may be tempted to kick off the new year with some BIG promises to ourselves, but it’s really, really, really hard to stick to BIG goasl for the long haul. The population at the gym has already cut in half since January 1. Instead of being one of those, get on board this tiny change and bite off exactly what we can chew. Sound good? Let’s spend a little time in the kitchen in DIY mode making delicious items we may ordinarily buy.

Are you already asking why on earth you’d complicate your life by hand-making purchasable foods? It probably seems more convenient to just grab things off the grocery store shelf and plunk down some cash. But once you try making some of these everyday items on your own, you’ll be amazed by how easy (and delicious) it can be! Why waste precious time and energy running to the store for almond milk when you can make your own tastier version in five minutes right in your own kitchen? What about your morning smoothie? How about that $15 jar of almond butter we all know and love?

IMG_3513You might think it will be boring, time-consuming, or expensive to DIY. Guess what – it’s not! It’s actually fun, significantly cheaper, and far healthier than buying everything pre-made.

Why should you try DIY-ing something you’d normally buy?

It’s incredibly satisfying + fulfilling. Few of us have ever made our own bread, nut butters or jams. (Hello, awesome homemade PB & J!) Contemplating the processes of making these items can feel intimidating, totally understand. Until I started creating my own staples, there were so many recipes I avoided because I feared their complexity. Why should I spend time learning how to DIY something when I could just toss it into my cart and buy it instantly?

Making your own staples can actually have a ripple effect through your whole life. Confidence and capability in one area often trickle over into other areas of your life, in the kitchen and beyond. Once you’ve mastered whipping up your own almond milk or putting together mason jar salads, there’s no telling what you’ll attempt! If you think something is out of your reach or beyond your skill set, it’s extremely satisfying to finally try it, figure it out…and then work it seamlessly into your weekly routine.

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When you make it yourself, you can customize it. Have you ever bought a granola bar and thought, “Hmm, I wish this was a tad less sweet…or why does this have 20 grams of sugar and tons of chemicals in it?!” When you make your own bars or bites, you can customize them to taste exactly the way you like…without the chemicals!

Create your own trail mix exactly how you like it. Add more of the things you love while skipping the unnecessary sugar, salt, and fillers found in the packaged versions. When you DIY, you know exactly what’s going in…and you control exactly which not-so-healthy ingredients you leave out!

You can view DIY-ing through the lens of curiosity + experimentation. This tiny change is just that: tiny. You don’t have to replace every store-bought condiment or staple in your house. You don’t have to make everything you eat from scratch. You don’t have to whip up award-winning sauces or a picture perfect superfood smoothie bowl the first time you try, just take it one step at a time.

Consider how making from scratch improves the quality of the food you eat, and how much you’ll learn about your ingredients. Notice how much more you appreciate your meals when they include your homemade staples, this will lead to more mindful eating and enjoyment!

If you’re really interested in kicking up the DIY challenge a notch or two, check out my book, Whole Food Energy. It’s packed with 200 easy-to-make recipes designed specifically for busy, active people who want to stock their kitchens & pantries with healthy homemade snacks and light bites to eat on the go. It’s pretty much a DIY goldmine!

Remember to go slowly and pick one or two DIY projects a week. Once you experience a homemade latte, (best part, you don’t have to leave the house!) sweet potato fries, (better than take out!) or the best brunch around, you’ll be hooked.

Lastly, I want to give you the tools to get going. I’m giving away amazing prizes each week throughout January on Instagram. Think: signed copies of my book, superfoods from Windy City Organicsc to enhance your creations, and much more! Just tag #12tinychanges to enter and follow @kaleandchocolate and @hamptonskiley while you’re at it!

One Healthy Breakdown: No time like the present, start gathering your ingredients and get ready to dig in!