Banana Bread Bars (Vegan, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free)

You know what coffee shop I love??? Gregory’s. They have delicious coffee and reallllly tasty baked goods. You know what I don’t love about Gregory’s Coffee though? The fact that ONE energy ball is $3.50!!!! Every time I buy one of them I savor every bite while simultaneously kicking myself for spending $3.50 on a tablespoon of rolled mush.

These banana bread bars are inspired by Gregory’s energy bites but TBH they don’t taste anything like them. I made these as simple as possible because that’s how I live my life :)

You can spice them up (literally) with cinnamon or nutmeg; maybe add some coconut flakes; get really wild add some chocolate chips - the world is your oyster. If you have a peanut allergy you could also skip the powdered peanut butter and just add a bit more oatmeal to soak up the moisture. Maybe do a little flax meal - hey I’m down for a good time. These bars are great to grab and go in the morning, as a mid-afternoon snack, or a pre-workout bite to fuel you towards your gains. Whatever it is, enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe medium bananas

  • 2 cups rolled gluten-free oats

  • 3 scoops Naked Nutrition chocolate peanut butter powder

  • 1 T chia seeds

  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • dash of salt

  • Optional add in’s: coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. (We ran out of parchment paper so I had to use aluminum foil - just be sure to spray with cooking spray)

  2. Mash bananas in a large bowl

  3. Stir in dry ingredients

  4. Using about 2 T of “dough” form into a rectangle and place on cookie sheet. This should make about 8-10 bars depending on the size

  5. Bake for 12 minutes

  6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

  7. Store in airtight container and keep in the refrigerator to last longer. You can microwave for 15-20 seconds to get them all goey again :)

Banana Bread Bars

Banana Bread Bars

Date Sweetened Granola

Granola is one of those foods you can use in so many ways. Pack some as an easy on-the-go snack, enjoy with some almond milk for breakfast, add some texture to a cup of yogurt or toss some into oatmeal for an extra crunch. This recipe can be altered to meet whatever preferences or sensitivities you may have (almonds instead of peanut if you have an allergy; pumpkin seeds instead of walnuts if seeds sit better with you than nuts: add some flax or chia seeds if you’re feely super crunchy!) Unlike most store bought granolas that are sweetened with syrups and added sugars, this recipe uses medjool dates for a touch of natural sweetness.

Ingredients:

  • 12 pitted medjool dates

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/3 cup chunky peanut butter (or almond butter)

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/8 tsp salt

  • 2 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts (could also use almonds)

  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces

  • (You can also add in another 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, shredded coconut or hemp seeds - or just substitute the walnut pieces for any combination of nuts/seeds)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Combine dates, water, peanut butter, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a high speed blender. Blend until thick and smooth.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.

  4. Stir in the date mixture until well combined.

  5. Spread the granola on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

  6. Bake for 20 minutes.

  7. Remove from oven and stir the granola around.

  8. Bake for another 20 minutes (stir every 10 minutes so it doesn’t burn).

  9. Remove from over after 40 minutes total cooking or when granola is golden brown and crisp.

  10. Allow to cool.

  11. Store in a mason jar or airtight container.

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Tips For Easy Meal Prep

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If you have social media, especially Instagram, you've at least heard the term "meal prep" or "meal prepping." Basically it just means prepping your meals ahead of time. This can help you stay on track with your nutrition goals, and save time and money in the long run. Sounds simple enough right? The first time you try preparing a weeks worth of food you may find it wasn't as easy as you thought it might be. Or perhaps you didn't anticipate spending 8 hours cooking rice, chopping veggies, roasting a chicken and sauteing kale. Here are some tips to follow to make your meal prep fun and easy!

1) Identify Your Goal

Are you trying to save money? Increase your vegetable intake? Feel more energized through out the day? Go gluten free? Put on size? Before you can do anything else, you have to figure out your why. What are you trying to achieve here? From there you can figure out what your meal prep is going to look like. 

2) Pick A Day (s):

I like to prepare my meals on a Sunday so that they are fresh for the week. Everyone's schedules are different. Find what day works well for you. Decide whether you're going to do one large prep or break it up into 2-3 different days. People that have limited fridge/freezer space might need to break their meal prepping up into two days.  If you plan to do one large meal prep, you are going to need to freeze the later half of the week.

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3) Have A Game Plan/Make A Shopping List:

What is your plan for the week? Do you have certain recipes you know you want to try out? Do you plan on prepping one time on Sunday or twice a week? Do you know what ingredients you have vs. what ingredients you need? Make a list of what meals you plan to cook and write down a grocery list before you head to the store.

4) Be Prepared:

Did anyone else think of Scar and the Hyenas??? No? Just me? Okay cool….Most people will likely have your basic kitchen items; knives, pots/pans, cutting board etc. But if you're new to packing lunch or preparing multiple meals, you may need to pick up some things. Do you have all of the following?

                1) Enough Tupperware/containers, various sizes
                2) Ziplock baggies
                3) Measuring cups / food scale (if applicable)
                4) Aluminum foil
                5) Cooking spray
                6) Cutting boards
                7) Knives
                8) Pots, pans
                9) Can opener
               10) Vegetable peeler
               11) A cooler or lunch box

5) Multitask / Time Savers:

A big complaint I hear is that meal prepping takes too much time.  Yes it might take some time while your preparing, but during the week you'll be able to grab and go. The more often you meal prep, the better and faster you get. Multitask safely. For example you can hard boil eggs on the stove while you bake chicken or roast vegetables in the oven.  Try some of these tricks to save time. 
        Time-savers:
             1) Chopped onions
             2) Spiralized zucchini
             3) Pre-cut butternut squash / sweet potato
             4) Frozen cut veggies
             5) Individual pouches of nuts (Trader Joe's Just a Handful)
             6) Hard boiled eggs (although I much prefer cooking my own)
             7) Rotisserie chicken 

6) Clean As You Go:

If you have a tiny Manhattan kitchen, you don't have much of a choice but to clean as you go. Even if you have more than 2 ft of counter space, don't leave a massive mess for yourself. Load your dishwasher or clean different bowls/utensils as you finish using them. 

7) Have A System:

Labeling containers can be a great way to keep track of which containers are which. If you use similar ingredients in different meals, it can be hard to tell what's what.  If you prepared food for an entire week, I would highly recommend freezing half of your meals. If you don't, you'll likely be eating mush by Friday. Organize your fridge and freezer so you can easily see where everything is. 

8) Pack Your Meals:

Pack your meals in a lunch bag or cooler the night before. Pull what you plan to eat for breakfast to the front of the fridge. This is supposed to save you time in the long run. You don't want to be rummaging through the depths of your refrigerator at 6:15 in the morning now do you?

9) Pat Yourself On The Back:

Give yourself some credit. You took time out of your busy schedule to make time for your health and well being. 

The Healthiest (and Trendiest) New Oil

Whether you’re paying $2.00+ extra to add it to your Chipotle bowl, brunching with your besties over some smashed toast, or scrapping the sides of the bowl for that last scoop of guacamole, avocados are all the rage and I know you can’t get enough of them. Not only are they super trendy, but they’re super healthy as well. Move over coconut oil, there’s a new fat on the scene! I give you…..Avocado Oil.

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What is Avocado Oil and How Is It Made?

Avocado oil is exactly what it sounds like…oil from an avocado. It is made by pressing the pulp surrounding the avocados pit. The fancy word for this process is mechanical extraction (similar to olive oil extraction). For a more in depth and mildly corny explanation, check out this video.

What Makes Avocado Oil So Healthy?

The fat profile of this oil is one reason it is so healthy. Avocado oil is 76% monounsaturated fatty acids (very high in oleic acid) which is known to be anti-inflammatory. This oil is also high in antioxidants (a-tocopherol), chlorophylls and carotenoids. Studies have shown avocado oil may help to prevent the development of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels (1).

What Makes Avocado Oil Better Than Other Oils?

Not only can you use avocado oil in uncooked foods such as dips or for salad dressings, but it is highly recommended for cooking because of it’s smoke point (the temperature at which the oil starts smoking). When the oil begins to smoke, not only does the flavor change, but the structure of the oil begins to break down and creates cancer-causing free radicals. If you see smoke while cooking with any type of oil, turn off the stove and throw away the food that has been in contact with the oil. Start the cooking process over again to avoid putting free radicals into your body.

Avocado oil’s high smoke point makes it a great option for most types of cooking, especially those at high temperatures. See how it compares to some other common fats used in cooking.

  • Avocado oil 520°F (12:1 ratio of omega-6 : omega-3, high in vitamin E)

  • Sunflower oil 440°F (inflammatory 32:1 ratio of omega-6 : omega-3)

  • Peanut oil 440°F (inflammatory 40:1 ratio of omega-6 : omega-3)

  • Refined corn oil 450°F (inflammatory 83:1 ratio of omega-6 : omega-3)

  • Extra virgin olive oil 320°F (73% monounsaturated, high in Omega 9)

  • Extra light olive oil 468°F (74% monounsaturated, high in Omega 9

  • Butter 350°F (in so many words-grass-fed butter healthy; conventional butter is trash)

  • Coconut oil 350°F (86% healthy saturated, lauric acid. Has antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral properties and contains 66% medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).

  • Ghee (clarified butter) 485°F

How Can I Use Avocado Oil?

This oil can be used in place of other oils to do most things in the kitchen. It’s basically the “jack of all trades” of oils:

  1. Toss some veggies in the oil and roast

  2. Drizzle on top of hummus or guac to be super extra and fancy

  3. Use it to make avocado oil mayo

  4. Place some on a dish with some balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes or sea salt as a dip for bread

  5. Drizzle it over fish before baking or roasting

  6. Add some to your smoothie for a MUFA kick in the face

  7. Use it to make homemade salad dressings

  8. Drizzle a swirl over some soup, hot or cold

Avocado oil is popping up everywhere so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding it in stores. I bought this bottle of Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil from Whole Foods for $10.99 (“on sale”). After the bottle has been opened, it will last for about 6 months (but it probably won’t make it that long because it’s delicious and wonderful and is the greatest thing since sliced bread).

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Fountain of Youth Protein Shake

Inflammation is at the root of all chronic diseases. By reducing our consumption of processed, artificial and inflammatory foods we can reduce our risk for developing numerous chronic diseases such heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer’s. One way to reduce inflammation is by balancing out your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. We can do this buy:

  1. Switching from conventional meat and animal products, to grass-fed, grass-finished ones

  2. Choosing healthier fats like avocado, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil instead of vegetable or peanut oils.

  3. Consuming wild caught fatty fish like salmon 2-3 times per week

  4. Incorporating flax, chia and hemp seeds into your diet

Now a food doesn’t have to have omega-3’s to be considered “anti-inflammatory”. Plenty of foods such as blueberries, broccoli, spinach and bone broth fight inflammation. Green tea, herbs and spices like garlic, turmeric and ginger can help as well.

I’m always looking for ways to reduce inflammation so I can live until I’m 105. I’m also always trying to do so in a way that is easy and delicious. This protein shake packs a punch with bone broth protein concentrate and Sunfoods Golden Milk Powder. This powder is made with:

  • Turmeric and black pepper to balance inflammation in the body.

  • Maca, which helps to balance hormones and provides natural energy

  • Goji berry which provides antioxidants that eliminate free radicals

  • Boswell is which helps support immune function

  • Cardamom and ginger to help with digestion

  • Cinnamon which helps stabilize blood sugar and makes it delicious

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Fountain of Youth Protein Shake

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop Ancient Nutrition Vanilla Bone Broth Concentrate

  • 1 tsp Sunfoods Golden Milk powder

  • 1/3 small zucchini

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage

  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds

  • 1 tsp Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil (optional)

  • 6-8 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 30-60 seconds

  2. Pour into glass and sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top

Apple Pie Protein Shake

This fall-inspired protein shake packs a nutritional punch delivering 2 servings of veggies, brain boosting octane oil and collagen protein. You can enjoy this for breakfast, lunch, post-workout or dinner. Enjoy the taste of apple pie without the blood sugar crash or stomach ache!

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Apple Pie Protein Shake

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup riced cauliflower

  • 1/4 zucchini

  • 75 g gala apple

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp @bulletproof brain octane oil (optional)

  • 30 g vanilla collagen protein 

  • 10 small ice cubes (5-6 large)

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender (I use a Vitamix) and blend on low speed for 15-20 seconds.

  2. Slowly increase speed to high.

  3. Add more liquid if needed.

  4. Pour into glass and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.