Five Healthy Flour Alternatives

Most recipes we 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, meaning that it lacks the fiber and nutrients. It is also commonly bleached white with chemicals.

breads

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.
  • 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!

Healthy Holiday Eating with Bloom & Spark

Aside from cozy fires, warm sweaters, and time with family, the holidays are often full of endless parties and copious amounts of food. There’s no need to deprive ourselves; it goes against the abundance and gratitude that the season brings. Here’s how staying present at the party can help you to in maneuver tricky situations and feel your best:

food-sweet-cookies-christmasBefore the party, make a plan and stick to it. Think ahead what you will eat and what you won’t eat to feel good about yourself. By planning ahead, you can have what you like without going overboard. Maybe you skip fried food, minimize sweets, or limit drinks. Maybe you make a compromise with yourself – have the dessert but skip the appetizers. You could stay near the veggie plate while you chat to avoid mindlessly devouring the plate of pigs in a blanket. You could bring your own homemade dish to ensure that you at least have something healthy to eat. Whatever your game plan is, decide ahead of time and stick to your plan! Eating a light meal or healthy snack at home before you go to the party will ensure that you don’t grab whatever is in front of you out of hunger. These superfood balls may be just the trick to your nutritious and delicious pre-party plan.

IMG_5792Bloom & Spark’s Superfood Balls:

Superfood balls are really popular right now for good reason! The great thing about them is that once you have the base, you can really add anything you want to make them your own. Start with dates and nuts in the food processor and feel free to add coconut flakes, cinnamon, vanilla extract, maca, goji berries, chocolate, even essential oils like peppermint and cinnamon. You could even roll them in ground up candy canes for a festive and tasty holiday touch! These are also the perfect thing to bring to a party if you want to avoid sugary desserts.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 10 dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp maca powder
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1-2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions: Mix everything (except the cocoa powder) in a food processor. Once all ingredients are incorporated, take out half of the mixture and set it aside in a bowl (if you want to make half of the batch chocolate like I did.) Add the cocoa powder to the mixture that’s still in the processor. (If the mixture is a little dry you can add 1-2 tsp of water while it’s still in the food processor to moisten.) Roll both mixtures into bite size balls and let them cool in the refrigerator before serving/eating. Yum!

IMG_5800*Caroline O’Neill is a year round Hamptons resident and health and wellness lifestyle blogger of Bloom & Spark with a passion for nutrition, yoga, food, spirituality and personal development.

 

Spring Superfoods

Spring is slowly, but surely moving on in. Let’s start taking advantage of fresh spring produce, raw fruits and veggies, and a rainbow of color. Incorporating the following spring superfoods into your varied, whole-food diet is definitely a super duper idea indeed!

image(36)

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Berries
  • Bok choy
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggs
  • Greens
  • Kefir
  • Radishes
  • Salmon
  • Scallions

One Healthy Breakdown: spring into the season of freshness!

Green Smoothie for Milkshake Lovers

Who doesn’t love a good milkshake?!  Unfortunately, milkshakes aren’t exactly the best everyday treat, but a green smoothie that TASTES like a milkshake is a whole different story!

photo(27)The first time I blended up some traditional green juice, I was not overly impressed by the grassy flavor or consistency, but as soon as I added flavored protein powder and a bit of vanilla, I couldn’t get enough. This upgraded shake has been my meal/snack of choice lately and it’s great for any time of day! Smoothies, shakes, and juice are super refreshing and this one’s packed with goodness and taste!

  • 1 large handful spinach or greens of choice
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup coconut water
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 shot wheatgrass (I found frozen single servings at Provisions)
  • 1 cored pear or apple
  • 1/4 cup berry of choice
  • 1 tablespoon plain non/low-fat greek yogurt (omit for non-dairy)
  • 1-2 tablespoons vanilla protein powder and/or 1-2 tablespoon chocolate protein powder (depending on your preference, add a little more powder for meal replacement and a little less for a snack)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon maca powder
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
  • a few ice cubes
  • water as needed to blend to your ideal consistency

Blend all ingredients together in blender/food processor, pour into a glass, add a pink straw, and enjoy!  If you’re a real chocoholic, add a teaspoon or two of cacao powder.  The great thing about blending your own green smoothies is the variety – add what you have in the firdge.  As long as you’ve got some greens and a little something sweet, you’re good to go.

One Healthy Breakdown: delicious, nutritious, slurpelicious.