Best Protein Bar EVER – with Garden of Life

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So…by now y’all are aware that I went all whiny and whingy at BlogHer14, but I came away with a few positives, like meeting the awesome reps from Garden of Life Kind Organics.

I start every day with smoothies prepared with Raw Protein-Beyond Organic Protein Formula

  • Good for those with gastrointestinal sensitivities to milk, whey, and other protein sources
  • Easily digested – supports digestive health and function with live probiotics and protein-digesting enzymes
  • It’s raw, vegan and gluten free.
  • One serving has 17 grams of raw plant based protein.

My family loves my protein bars — I’m on a constant quest experimenting with different recipes to pack as many nutrients as possible in every bite, and THIS one is so good, it could be a meal replacement bar, too.

There are a lot of ingredients, but don’t let that scare you; it makes enough to last a long time.

This recipe uses Garden of Life Raw Protein in Vanilla, but you could use any flavor. Chocolate would be DELICOUS, and if you use that, add 1/2 cup cocoa to the dry ingredients.

“Bomber Bar” with Quinoa and Lentils ©™

We call them “Bomber Bars” ‘cos “bomber” is a term for an awesome wave. In my family, everyone but me surfs, and this is a great snack when you’ve burned all those calories in the water.

Lentil Puree:
4 ounces lentils, approximately 2/3 cup, picked over and rinsed
2 cups water
Cook until soft, about thirty minutes, then mash or use immersion blender. Set aside.

Ingredients:
½ – 1 cup Garden of Life Protein Powder
1½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (we love cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons fresh or ground ginger
1 teaspoon cardamom

2/3 cup maple syrup
½ cup vegetable oil or coconut oil
1 egg (delete egg to make it vegan)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsalted peanut butter

2 cups rolled oats
½ cup raw quinoa
1/2 c. Garden of Life chia seeds or ground chia
1/4 c. ground flax seeds
¼ cup rice bran
1/4 c. shredded coconut, sweetened

½ cup dried blueberries
1 cup assorted dried fruit, such as raisins, cherries, apricots, cranberries
1 cup chopped almonds

Directions:
In a really big bowl, combine the first ten dry ingredients, whisk to stir and set aside.quinoalentilbarCombine the quinoa, chia, flax, coconut, oats, and almonds on a baking sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes @350 degrees until lightly browned.

quinoalentil6in a large pot, mix the peanut butter and maple syrup together and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the rice bran, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, ginger, and vanilla extract.

quinoalentil7Combine the lentils with quinoa/oats/almonds mixture with dry ingredients that were set aside. Whisk to mix.

Pour the peanut butter/maple syrup mixture into the bowl with dry ingredients, add oil and egg (if used).

Add cooked, mashed lentils. Mix well with wooden spoon to completely incorporate.

Add fruit. At this point, I use my hands to mix it all together. The mixture is a bit heavy and thanks to the maple syrup, it should stick together, so you may need to slightly moisten hands as you go.

Line a 13×9 pan with parchment paper, leaving enough hanging over the sides so you can lift it out after it bakes and cools.

Pour the (heavy) mixture into the pan and press down firmly.

*This is a super important step. When my tugboat man is home, this is his job. When he’s not here, I use a one-pound can to roll back and forth until it’s a flat and mooshed(?) together as possible. Pack it down to ensure it fills each corner and creates an even, flat surface.

Bake at 350 degrees for about thirty-forty minutes. Remove from oven, and press down again. The more dense the bar, the less crumbly it’ll be.
Let cool, refrigerate for at least two hours. Cut into 2×2 inch squares. To keep them fresher longer, I wrap each individually in parchment paper and always refrigerated.

quinoalentil8
quinoalentilproteinbar2 quinoalentilproteinbar3One of these bars is a protein packed “bomber” that’s a perfect snack or even meal replacement.

My son needs to eat several small meals with high quality nutrition and these are perfect for his busy, on-the-go lifestyle.

I’m happy because I know my family is eating healthy food made with love.

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How a Gall Bladder Attack Helped Me Lose Weight

gall bladderThe backstory
I’m about the same height as Danny DeVito. He’s MUCH, MUCH wider than I am, but you get the picture. I’m only five-feet-zero-inches. Every extra ounce on me looks like ten extra pounds on a normal sized human. There’s no place for any extra weight to hide. A lifetime of dieting and starvation adds up to one screwed up metabolism, that’s for sure. I’ve been a vegetarian (pescatarian) since I was in high school. I’m the undisputed queen of counting calories, fat grams, carbs, and protein. I don’t smoke, don’t drink (a lot), don’t drink sodas, don’t eat processed foods, don’t eat fried foods except once in a while. We eat a lot of brown rice, beans, lentils, tofu, and veggies. I make broiled, grilled, or seared ahi and salmon. Most of the time all of our desserts and breads are home baked. I have a terrible time losing any weight at all. It just doesn’t go away, no matter how much I work out, go to Boot Camp, walk, lift weights, or use my elliptical. We turned our third bedroom into an office/craft/workout room with an elliptical, weights, rubber bands, jump rope, and a big ball. When I used to teach aerobics, my class combined high intensity aerobics with core training and weights. I’ve got all the tools to know how to effectively burn calories and build lean muscle, but it just wasn’t working on ME!

Health history and numbers
My cholesterol is textbook perfect. My blood pressure is normally 105/60-ish, resting heartrate about 60. The only medical problems I have is asthma, allergies, and a bit of a sluggish thyroid. I use Advair for the asthma and .50 mcg Synthroid for hypothyroidism.

Except for a lot of sore throats, I’ve never really been sick. A few months ago, I got a super bad stomach ache, like the worst one ever, I mean like rolling on the floor and moaning, that kind of pain. It’s a good thing the captain was here, ‘cos I thought it was almost ER time. With a mom who was an RN, I immediately imagined my abdomen separated into four equal quadrants. If you’re in the medical field, you know what I mean. I knew that pain in the lower right quadrant could have meant appendicitis. My pain was in my upper right quadrant near my ribs. It was tender to the touch. I thought I exhibited all the signs of a classic gall bladder attack. I made an appointment with my doctor and he agreed with my tentative diagnosis and suggested an ultrasound to be sure. The US revealed a healthy liver, pancreas, kidney, and bile ducts, but there was either a cyst or one small 4.5 mm stone in my gall bladder that seemed to be the cause of my pain. Removal of my gall bladder is not a good option for me; I like to work on things homeopathically first. My doc suggested I keep a food diary and figure out which foods cause a problem and eliminate or avoid them. That was a great idea. As Dr. Oz says, “Do you think that’s something you can do?” I learned that peanut butter, cheese, chocolate, and alcohol are my trigger foods. What a load of crap! Those are the things I love the most. I love to eat spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar. I love chunks and chunks of cheese.

chocolate

I’d like to take a bath in this chocolate.

Can you imagine not being able to eat chocolate? It’s just not fair! What did I ever do to deserve the “no chocolate” karma?? It was kind of fun to sample a variety of alcoholic beverages to determine which ones are off limits. I can now cross gin off my list–no more Tanqueray martinis or gin and tonics. Vodka is OK, but only about two ounces. That’s hardly worth it! Chardonnay and champagne pass the test, not so much red wines.

Silver lining: losing weight!
My last “attack” was in April. After that, I eliminated all fats from my diet except for olive oil. In case you didn’t know, dietary fats are a causal factor in a lot of gall bladder situations. It definitely is my problem. I have had no cheese, no peanut butter, and no chocolate. Not only have I been symptom free since then, that stubborn weight is falling off. It’s not like I had a lot to lose-but even five pounds makes a huge difference in the way clothes fit. I dropped two sizes in Joe’s Jeans. (I won’t divulge the specifics, but trust me, it made my day.)

joes jeans

This is NOT me, well, maybe in my head it is…

I’m certainly not recommending that an inflamed gall bladder should be a weight loss tip. What I’m saying is that I learned that reducing or eliminating the fat in my diet helped me shed those last few stubborn pounds and it might work for you, too.

The Mayo Clinic says:

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine.

Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Some people develop just one gallstone, while others develop many gallstones at the same time.

Cholecystitis (ko-luh-sis-TIE-tis) is inflammation of the gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine.

In most cases, cholecystitis is caused by gallstones that block the tube leading out of your gallbladder. This results in a buildup of bile that can cause inflammation. Other causes of cholecystitis include bile duct problems and tumors. Cholecystitis signs and symptoms usually occur after a meal, particularly a large meal or a meal high in fat.

If left untreated, cholecystitis can lead to serious complications, such as a gallbladder that becomes enlarged or that ruptures. Once diagnosed, cholecystitis requires a hospital stay. Treatment for cholecystitis often eventually includes gallbladder removal.

Signs and symptoms of cholecystitis may include:

  • Severe, steady pain in the upper right part of your abdomen
  • Pain that radiates from your abdomen to your right shoulder or back
  • Tenderness over your abdomen when it’s touched
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Abdominal bloating

The following factors may increase your risk of cholecystitis:

Gallstones. Most cases of cholecystitis are linked to gallstones. If you have gallstones, you’re at high risk of developing cholecystitis.
Being female. Women have a greater risk of gallstones than men do. This makes women more likely to develop cholecystitis.
Increasing age. As you get older, your risk of gallstones increases, as does your risk of cholecystitis.